Tinderbox Sparks and Flames

Perhaps I’m just hopelessly naive, but I normally try to assume the best intentions from people (at least, most days… sometimes an ill wind has been known to blow from my direction, however briefly, and I try to make amends when that happens). I tend to believe that everybody is intrinsically good, but that folks often make mistakes, take a wrong turn, or lose touch with their nature. As such, I’ll try to take someone at their word.

Which is why I’m a little confused by a post from Lee Phillips, who suspects a hidden agenda behind my recent review of Tinderbox as a brainstorming and writing tool. I can’t imagine I’ve personally slighted him, so I can only assume a sort of paranoia at work. (He runs a mailing list about the product which he calls “uncensored,” which is a little unusual in itself.) Now, I’m not going to get all kumbayah here, calling for peace on Earth and all that (it’s been done), but I would like to set the record straight on the back-story.

One of the little D*I*Y Planner side projects I’ve been playing around with lately has been a way of using OpenOffice.org templates to import (via macros) some external data, essentially populating the forms and prepping them for print-out. I’m only at the early stages of it right now, but I wanted a nice self-contained tool for experimentation that would let me structure information in various ways and export ready-to-use data for OOo. After trying a few dozen alternatives, I decided that Tinderbox –with its outline stucture, agents and high-powered export template language– would be a good choice to start with.

I contacted Tinderbox creator Mark Bernstein about the project, asking for his opinion about how his software might fit the needs of my crazy scheme. He said that it could probably work, and offered to donate a copy of the program for our little non-profit project. Now, where I live –eastern Canada– one good turn still deserves another, even in this day and age, and so I offered to run an ad for Eastgate on my sites for the month of December, free of charge. Eastgate not only carries Moleskines, which would appeal to many of my readers, but also index card briefcases and Florentine journals (that, alas, I can only drool over right now). I thought the fit was apt, and I could return his kind consideration.

Now, my review came, as they all do, as a result of the dedicated usage of the product for a few weeks. The fact that it was favourable is simply because… well, it’s a damn good product. That’s it, really. No money exchanging hands, no Eastgate conspiracy, no grassy knoll, and no little red guy sitting atop my shoulder with a pitchfork. It shouldn’t be that boring, but it is. If I hadn’t liked the product, I probably wouldn’t have bothered reviewing it at all.

As for the “smell,” I do try to wear a strong deodorant and take a shower daily, but I am a really big, hard-working man who spends a lot of time in the woods with a dog. Sorry, Lee, but I’d advise standing up-wind….

2 Replies to “Tinderbox Sparks and Flames”

  1. Hmmm… looks more like someone who is looking to ‘be controversial’ rather than do some homework, read some of your other posts and recognise you as the true and gorgeously-talented wordsmith you are.

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