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How Do You Organize Your Data?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the intelligently-laying-things-out dept.

Data Storage 713

kpellegr asks: "After returning from a well deserved holiday, I was faced with an exploding inbox. While organizing and deleting my mail, I realised I was having trouble classifying each mail into one specific folder. I had the feeling I should be able to link to one email from several folders (e.g. product information should be linked to from the 'vendor' folder, as well as from a specific project folder where this product is used). The more I thought about this, the more I realised that trees (such as the Windows filesystems) are not really ideally suited for organizing data. On UNIX-like filesystems, symbolic links allow the creation of simple graphs for organising data, but I have the feeling data could be organized more efficiently. How does the Slashdot crowd organize their data? How do you manage files, email, contacts, meetings and all the relationships that might exist between them?"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

I put everything in one folder (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855201)

That way, I never need to worry about what folder to put it in.

Archaeological Filing system (4, Interesting)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855250)

A friend of mine used to use what he termed an archaeological filing system.

It was based on the simple principal that the older something was the further down in the pile it would be.

Your all-in-one-folder technique and "ls -t" would work equally well.

Re:Archaeological Filing system (4, Interesting)

wemmick (22057) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855280)

It's scary when you see yourself in this sort of thing. I use "ls -t" so frequently, that I've added the following alias:

alias recent='ls -lt | head'

ObFuturamaQuote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855298)

It's been sent to the master in pile!

this is easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855203)

I don't...-lol

I make a list (4, Funny)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855205)

And I check it twice.

Checking twice really helps.

Re:I make a list (1, Troll)

einer (459199) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855270)

Off Topic? Come on! That shit's funny!

eat me mods.

Easy (4, Funny)

mrpuffypants (444598) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855206)

How do you manage files, email, contacts, meetings and all the relationships that might exist between them?

Easy! Do what I do and don't have any friends, contacts, meetings, or relationships with people!

Well... (3, Funny)

madcow_ucsb (222054) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855207)

I started with a Mac back in the day, so I just throw everything on the desktop and clear it out once a month or so...

There's nothing wrong (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855212)

Motion to close the __ debate
Initializing object behavior
Warning the __ to the __ are going to be cut
That would give free ____
Motion to close debate to be deserted
______
(Factories factories factories factories...)

Everything is under control

Powa
The United States of America
Herr Weltschaft
Der Commander
Dr. Detroit
Genius
The artist formerly known as Dr. Roole
gott

Initializing object behavior
______
Warning __ of the __

Ready... Go!

___ the data
Maybe you're overloaded
__ for the ___ of the Uni...

There's nothing wrong

This post is not a first post. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855217)

I FAIL IT :(

Ok, first thing's first... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855219)

...what is this "organize" ?

Virtual Folders (5, Interesting)

spencerogden (49254) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855220)

This is exactly the concept behind virtual folders. The idea is that folders, whether they be in the context of an email program or a filesystem, are actively updated searches. For example, all of your emails could be in one pool, invisible to you. Then each folder would be associated with a rule similar to email filter rules we use now. If an email matches, it shows up, maybe in multiple folders. Bayesian rules allow for even better classifications, if an email is similar enough to several catagories, it can show up in all of them.

ms outlook xp (1)

CowBovNeal (672450) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855255)

That is what quite a few people using windows use. Eventhough it does not have some features, people prefer it because its more standardised.

Re:Virtual Folders (4, Informative)

jigma (470246) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855290)

Lotus Notes (domino) has been doing this for years.

Re:Virtual Folders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855329)

Evolution provides this.

Opera M2 (5, Informative)

tlianza (454820) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855360)

It also sounds similar to how Opera handles mail with the M2 [opera.com] e-mail client. It defines "access points" that can (but don't have to) look like folders for jumping into messages that meet a certain criteria. For example, all messages with an attached image are grouped together, as are all messages from a specific person, and all messages meeting some sort of user-defined criteria might also be lumped together under an "access point." In the end though, there really is only one mail box, these tools just allow you to "slice and dice" through your mail.

I just dump in on my Desktop.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855221)

When I can't see alll the icons then I shift it...

Evolution.... (1)

tickticker (549972) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855222)

Virtual Folders

'nuff said

-This is not a sig, it's an optical illusion

Evolution Virtual Folders (2, Informative)

jwells (305970) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855223)

I think that Evolution's Virtual Folders will let you do what you describe, for email.

Re:Evolution Virtual Folders (-1)

Androgynous Coward (13443) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855327)

The way virtual folders work is you can specify filtering against any number of real "folders" and do sub-filtering based on the results and it's stored as a "virtual folder".

When I am doing billing I frequently make vfolders with project names & dates and use that to reference. It does not physically move the mail from the original folder it was in so there is no duplicate entries in the IMAP folders themselves.

Re:Evolution Virtual Folders (2, Informative)

Androgynous Coward (13443) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855353)

Duh...Ximian explains it better:

Q: What is the difference between a virtual folder (vFolder) and a regular folder?

A: A vFolder is a powerful new email management feature available only in Ximian Evolution. vFolders save email searches to dynamically create powerful, contextual views of your online messages. Regular folders are populated with physical copies of emails that are moved manually or automatically. vFolders represent the next level of email management, allowing messages to appear in multiple folders without requiring multiple copies.

More info here: http://www.ximian.com/products/evolution/features. html [ximian.com]

Evolution? (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855225)

Although I've never used it, I seem to recall that Evolution's virtual folders were created specifically to allow this sort of thing.

my system (4, Funny)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855226)

I organize files according to breast size, number of women, and relative perversity of the acts commited.

Duh!

Agreed... (5, Informative)

Suhas (232056) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855228)

...it's a windows only product, but for organizing email on windows boxes, I would recommend Nelson. I use it at work, and it allows me to organize a single email using multiple classifications and has a ton of other feartures. Check it out. [emailorganizer.com]

Re:Agreed... (2, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855324)

Well, I hate to say it, but Groupwise (while being awful at a lot of things) I can organize my emails rather quickly and rather well.

The Link-To feature allows me to store it in multiple folders at once.

I especially appreciate the Shared-Folder. It makes it easier for me to make emails, documents, etc, available to those that haven't a clue. The IT department is busy working on too many other things and the Novell iFolder is unacceptable for my use (my other option).

I wish I could make subfolders under Search Folders but that's for another version maybe.

Just my worthless .02

Inefficiently (4, Interesting)

pheared (446683) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855229)

A dash of arbitrary directory trees and a pinch of grep.

But seriously, this subject is kind of lacking. The problem I have with organized storage is keeping it organized. I don't have the time nor the will. I need some sort of automagic organization.

Hierarchical bastard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855230)

I'm still using a flat file system, you insensitive clod!

Get an integraded enviroment (1)

Cavalkaf (656724) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855231)

If you want to manage everything (or almost everything) in a pretty organized way, get a fully integraded enviroment, such as KDE or GNOME. Set up some filters for your e-mail so it gets automaticly to the wanted folder. Get your files in separated folders, too. Than set up a backup system so you don't lose everything. This system works pretty well for me and for most people that I know. If set it up properly, you can even get it to work with your PDA!

Intergraded even! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855263)

What strikes me as odd is that you managed to butcher the spelling of intergraded while still managing to spell separate correctly.

Easy data management... (0)

Jasin Natael (14968) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855232)

It's called search.

No, seriously? There are no secrets anyway. Just put it on the web and Google for it.

Drat. 3rd time's the charm... I have no personal files, you insensitive clod!.

One more try. HOT GRITS!

Crap. There's not a shred of sincerity left in me tonight. Good luck organizing your data, though.

--Jasin Natael

trees (0)

hedrush999 (585858) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855234)

i usually roll up a big cone, and wait for random acts of organization to happen...

2 Folders (1, Redundant)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855236)

1. Junk

2. Not Junk

Whay more do you need?

Suggestion (2, Informative)

igabe (594295) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855241)

There is a application called "Spring" which has been out for a while now. The company that released it a revolutionary new way to organize and completely tasks.

Links to check out:
-Their site(scroll down to "PATHS" for what probably will interest you) http://usercreations.com/spring/SpringContent.html

How do you mantain your data in sync (1)

neves (324086) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855242)

Better yet: how do you mantain this well organized data in your palmtop, desktop email addressbook, PIM applications, and mobile phone syncronized? Sure, you can query it with your LDAP aware email client and access in a reserved web page when you forgot your mobile devices.

Home Directory (2, Interesting)

suwain_2 (260792) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855244)

What I do is I realize "This is all a mess" as I see thousands of files in my home directory. So I created a bunch of subdirectories for various things. (Some were logical, some were just by file type -- /png, /txt, etc.) Then, I found that making such an organized structure was too complicated, and stopped before I acually moved anything into any of the subdirectories.

On Windows, it's slightly different. I save everything to my desktop, then when it gets 'full,' I delete just about everything, realizing I no longer need it.

Not that I RECOMMEND these strategies, but it works.

that's easy (5, Funny)

underpaidISPtech (409395) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855245)

porn1
porn2
New Folder
New Folder(1)
unsorted_porn
mp3s

Don't worry, already solved (3, Interesting)

elsilver (85140) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855246)

Ah, what you want is some kind of data store, where you can classify arbitrary data by arbitrary categories, dynamically.

The good news is, that while the Window's file system may not support this, if you wait until 2005 (2006, 2007?), this highly demanded feature will be in the next release of Windows -- yes, everyone's favourite Longhorn will turn everything into a database.

Frankly, I don't think turning an OS into a DBMS is the right thing to do, but for certain applications, having this functionality omnipresent will be useful. Well, OK, for this one application, I'm still waiting to see examples of others.

thats easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855247)

/home/josh/PICS, /home/josh/MUSIC, /home/josh/DOCUMENTS, /home/josh/VIDEO,

Re:thats easy (1)

p4ul13 (560810) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855333)

Well this wont even begin to work.....

My name isn't Josh!

Seriously though; I often break things down into a calendar hierarchy /Documents/2003/May/ for time sensitive stuff, and/or by topic. In other words I'll have a /Documents/business/2003/ path and so forth...

Wiki (5, Informative)

arrogance (590092) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855248)

I love wikis [c2.com] (see also Twiki [twiki.org] , a very flexible one, and Openwiki [openwiki.com] if you prefer M$ technologies): you can organize anything you want, with anyone you want. It's more suited to a workgroup of people, but they work for individuals too. They're totally flexible, extensible, and templatable.

I'm sure people here will come up with ideas like knowledge trees [runtime-collective.com] and weird topological concepts [upgrade-cepis.org] , but gimme a wiki any day.

Re:Wiki (4, Informative)

mikeboone (163222) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855357)

I've been using TWiki for about a year, and I like it. I've been stuffing all kinds of data into it. I use it for project ideas, basic documentation, to-do lists (with the Alert plugin it does a good job of organizing them).

TWiki is a good bit of work to set up, but I like its features more than most of the others I've seen. It has good access control, page versioning, formatting features, and extensibility.

If my email was integrated, that would be great.

Big Pile (NT) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855249)

NT

Well, (2, Interesting)

evanbro (649048) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855251)

Hmm...this isn't how I do it, but what about something like this:

Disclaimer: This works in theory; practically it would require a hell of a lot of resources.

The basic idea would be a relational database. You've got say the files in one table, and categories in another. The categories can have a parent, so you get something of a tree view going. Then, when you select something from a tree view, it comes up with all items from that category.

Creating this would be easy; optimizing it wouldn't be.

I found that... (0, Redundant)

JRHelgeson (576325) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855252)

I have found that you can file a LOT of stuff under Miscellaneous. Also, If you start creating sub-folders under deleted items to categorize your trash, you need professional help.

Re:I found that... (1)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855317)

Also, If you start creating sub-folders under deleted items to categorize your trash, you need professional help.

I find that with the amount of spam I get for some unknown reason, it's completely impossible for my operating system to manage that number of deleted spams per session. So, I hash all my deleted spam into /deleted/a-m and /deleted/n-z0-9. otherwise, i'll delete the current batch, and after about the 35,000th spam, it'll freeze up. pretty soon i'll need three hash directories. anyways, cheers. mike@digitalsushi.com [mailto]

Database for email (1)

tcyun (80828) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855253)

I have been mulling the same thing for a while. I have considered dumping all the mail into a database and having each email "point to a folders." The would allow a single email to be described by several different parameters.

I have often wanted to be able to place an email into a folder without copying the entire email thread. However, doing this removes the email from the context of the thread. In my mail client (MozMail), there is no way to have an email in one folder point back to a thread in a different folder. At least no way that I know of.

I believe that some email clients do use a database back end for mail. However, re-indexing is supposed to take a long time. I am not sure of the best solution to the re-indexing problem, but I suspect that a few simple tables containing subject lines and message ID's should not be too difficult. If a small table such as this pointed back into a filesystem where the full text of the email resided, one might be able to separate the problem into managable chunks.

Maybe it is time for a quick perl/mysql proof of concept...

Re:Database for email (1)

tcyun (80828) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855276)

I should have noted that the "other" email client is evolution.

Re:Database for email (1)

viware (680138) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855310)

Opera7 Mail. Works like a charm.

Opera (4, Informative)

viware (680138) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855254)

Someone has to bring it up, so it might as well be me! Opera7 mail folders are really filters onto the mail database, meaning you can have the same message in multiple folders. Just in case you didnt know :)

homedir (2, Interesting)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855256)

I have my home directory (on a redhat box). the root level of my homedir is my crap directory. dangerously, the organized data lives in there in directories. for example, i have an Organized directory. in there, i have sub directories of different types. i wont go into how that is because i'll change my mind about it once i write it up, and i dont feel like redoing it right now. so, everything just ends up in my home directory until i sort it.

i wish my view of the system was more abstracted. i'd rather have my homedir as /, and then have a /system/libs/stuff, /system/configs, and all that good stuff. either that or just not see it period. speaking of period, i guess it'd be ~/.system instead of ~/system. I hate organizing my stuff, too. It's arguable how much easier it is to find once I organize it, if my mind one day decides that it should be "schoolwork" and another day "development", et cetera. i guess organizing your piles of junk is like your fingerprint... everyone's is different.

another thing i wish, though, is that the filesystem were more... i dont know what to call it. but i wish i could store more meta data about my files. i wish my filesystem had a comments field, and i wish that doing a directory listing would spit out file attributes like dimensions, content length, number of words, and whatever other stuff i could glean by hand. i just want it to all show up. hell, i wish i could do a recursive directory listing based on file type, not file name. and not based on the extension... cause who says i use extensions? (of course i do, what are you, daft?!) unless its a text file. unix spoiled me and i dont put extensions on those.

heck. i wish there was a way to just export my entire home directory with everything i said into one giant 22 gigabyte compressed file that i can save somewhere, drop into a new computer, and just be up and running again just like that.

Re:homedir (1)

izto (56957) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855319)

another thing i wish, though, is that the filesystem were more... i dont know what to call it. but i wish i could store more meta data about my files. i wish my filesystem had a comments field, and i wish that doing a directory listing would spit out file attributes like dimensions, content length, number of words, and whatever other stuff i could glean by hand. i just want it to all show up. hell, i wish i could do a recursive directory listing based on file type, not file name. and not based on the extension... cause who says i use extensions? (of course i do, what are you, daft?!) unless its a text file. unix spoiled me and i dont put extensions on those.


If you don't mind using a GUI file manager (I do mind, anyway), Nautilus lets you do most of that stuff: notes, metadata, searches.. even the "I-haven't-figured-them-out-yet" so called "emblems". Check it out.

Flat ASCII files ... (3, Insightful)

IchBinEinPenguin (589252) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855258)

... and grep

;-)

that's what an administrative assistant is for (2, Interesting)

segment (695309) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855259)


Seriously, I try to keep different partitions set for specific things, this helps in case something gets borked on one drive, it won't mess up other partitions, of course there are backups made to ensure not much is lost.

Try doing something like this (if on *nix)

  • /dev/hda3 /home/$USERNAME/pers (personal stuff like diaries or so)
  • /dev/hda4 /home/$USERNAME/codes (if you're a programmer)
  • /dev/hda5 /home/$USERNAME/music (take a guess)
Get the picture? The good thing about this setup is, one could always umount in case someone gets physical access to the machine, heck it could be scripted to mount and unmount on login and logout. Or you could encrypt the partitions for added security.

At first it looks bulky, but in the end it's very easy to maintain since everything tends to fall in place. e.g. If you're scripting you could just cd /home/$USERNAME/code and not have to wonder where to save this. Unless you're really odd (like me) and begin everything with test.c or test.py or something.

Maybe no folders could do it. (5, Interesting)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855261)

I've been toying with a folderless idea to organize e-mails.

All mail are kept into one place (say, a MySQL database). You, however, setup filters (that is, SQL queries) that show your e-mails in virtual folders.

That is, messages can be in as many folders as they meet the selection criterion of.

In addition to the obvious "from", "date", "subject", you could assign an arbitrary number of categories which could constitute more selection criteria.

Re:Maybe no folders could do it. (1)

hbo (62590) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855311)

I still like the old fashioned folders because they give me automatic, time based context. That is, if I have a discussion going with a regular group, but suddenly someone new chimes in. Or an existing set of contacts suddenly reorganizes around a new topic that I couldn't have predicted in advance.

Virtual folders are a powerful idea, but I prefer them as a complement to existing mail organization, not a replacement.

Of course, you could make the traditional view just another virtual folder. Perhaps that's what you had in mind?

Scopeware and Evolution (5, Interesting)

hbo (62590) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855262)

David Gelertner, the comp sci professor author and unabomber victim, has created software he calls Scopeware [scopeware.com] . It basically organizes information in a series of related chains. These can be date based or otherwise. I haven't used it, but I've read that he is responding to some of the same concerns you mention.

On a less lofty, but free, note, Evolution has "virtual folders" in which you can place anything a filter expression can select. I use them to sort my email by sender address. I still have my main inbox, and all the categorized subfolders, but the virtual folders select particular people out of the massive mail database. So I can recall that Joe said something three weeks ago that relates to a current problem, and look in the "Joe" virtual folder to find it. There's still no easy way to add arbitrary messages to a virtual folder, other than adding a filter rule that selects just that one message. At least I haven't found a way. But it seems to address part of your concern, for email at least.

By scam (4, Funny)

El (94934) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855265)

One folder for offers from Nigerians to make me rich, one folder for penis enlargement, and one folder for pr0n offers... that handles about 99% of my incoming email. Isn't that what everybody else does?

easy... (4, Funny)

Polo (30659) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855266)

I just export it to my web server, wait a couple of weeks for google to index it, and then google it.

three easy folders (2, Insightful)

MadLibs (603254) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855267)

Inbox.
Deleted.
Sent.

the "find" function is a godsend.

Chronologically (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855268)

I store email in chronological order, grouped by month.

4 years worth of email, haven't had a problem finding anything yet -- just use 'Search'.

procmail rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855271)

Nowadays I use spamassassin and some procmail rules I cobbled up that assign spam scores over 10 to /dev/null, and scores from 5-10 to a folder called (wait for it) "spam".

Besides that, I don't get any other mail.

Two Folder Organization with Replication (5, Funny)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855278)

I have a organizational system which uses two folders and replication.

Folder 1: INBOX
Folder 2: SENT EMAIL

Any email which is important I send to one or more anal-retentive people who will create nice organized folders in which to store the email. This how I implement replicated storage with automatic retrieval. If I ever need an email back I can simply ask for it and get a copy forwarded to me. Using this method I don't have to waste valuable brain power deciding what folder things go in. As a backup, if for some reason my replicated storage goes on vacation or is out of the office, I can search my sent folder and usually find what I need in there.

This method works extremely well plus it has the advantage of replicated storage which helps thwart hardware failures.

Good luck! Staying organized is a full time job!

Re:Two Folder Organization with Replication (1)

hbo (62590) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855352)

Sounds like you have a very nice stable of "anal-retentive" people to do your bidding. Can I have their addresses? I have some paperwork I need done by Friday. 8)

Organize? (1)

dan14807 (162088) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855279)

According to this poll [slashdot.org] and this poll [slashdot.org] , a lot of them don't.

list and spam mail (1)

Maliuta (16315) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855283)

I personally separate my mailing list mail into one folder per list and spam into a spam folder. Everything else just sits in my "inbox" making it easier to find.

I use procmail to filter all my mail on arrival, it means I can prioritise what I want to read.

Chaos is the best Organization (4, Interesting)

jefu (53450) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855285)

Or is that KAOS (as in "Get Smart") ?

I'm currently playing around with putting all my mail messages, bookmarks, web pages loaded, file accesses (on a day to day basis) into a database. Maybe not all the actual data, but the stuff that might help me find it when I need it. I'm hoping to eventually scan everything that changes on my computer or that I do for keywords and so on and then organize them so I can browse them by some kind of visual graph/map metaphor on any of several axes (type of file, date/time, keywords, directory ....).

I want to be able to go in with a query like "sometime in july I did something having to do with a picnic and watermelon" and get a list of possibilities, then be able to rate those in the hopes of finding the exact info I'm looking for.

OK, so far I only have some pieces of it. But I'm getting closer to a database schema for the information and that will help me figure out better what info I need to collect.

Organization? What's that? (2, Funny)

mendax (114116) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855287)

I use a tame black hole as a filing system.

Re:Organization? What's that? (1)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855368)


I use a tame black hole as a filing system.
/dev/null?

Intertwingle (3, Interesting)

Panoramix (31263) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855288)

As many people will probably point here, you should check out Evolution's "virtual folders".

JWZ once proposed a more sophisticated approach to store mail without the hierarchical folder structure limits. You can read about it here: Intertwingle [mozilla.org]

I don't what came out of that. I think it is a good idea still waiting to be implemented.

Flat files and full-text search (2, Insightful)

gvc (167165) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855294)

I have all the email I've ever received stored chronologically in flat files. I use full-text search and navigation tools to locate what I need.
I use much the same technique for organizing the papers in my office.

In general you can spend effort imposing some organizational schema on your data, hoping that your organization will enable you to find information later. Or you can leave the data as it lies, and spend the effort at retrieval time, once you know what you're looking for.

Current tools, particularly those in Windows, aren't particulary amenable for this purpose, but they're getting better. For example, you can download a seearch engine and index your hard drive much like the web.

Even primitive tools like grep work pretty well for a few hundred megabytes of mail.

Tree or Personal Database (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855297)

I was starting a personal database.
Arbitrary lists of key words, and a description.

But generally I organize by the type of document, then the topics.

Images/topic
Code/program task
documentation/area

Evolution's Create Filter on Message is Key (4, Interesting)

peterdaly (123554) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855299)

I know other people have mentioned Evolution's vFolders, but here a little more.

My goal is to never have an email that has value to me land in my inbox. Every time I get an email of "value" which stays in Evolution's inbox, I right click, and "Create Filter from Message". (I'm paraphrasing.)

Every good message should have at least one filter putting it into at least one folder. Some emails have more than one rule, but the whole right click -> create filter thing makes this quick and easy.

-Pete

Kind of simple way (1)

beacher (82033) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855300)

Project Name / {email|docs|notes|data|code} / Revision/files. Files are in yyyy_mm_dd_filename format with leading zeros filled. Then again.. I'm a DBA and nobody emails me, nobody calls me, blah. It works for data. There's no nice neat way to do it. I recently attended a franklin covey [franklincovey.com] class and it really re-iterated a few things. Use one system, cross-reference, and keep it up to date. That's all I got out of the class because I think putting data on paper kills the data and it seems to be a real inefficient way to do things from a database standpoint.

So now, I run by the seat of my pants, 90 miles an hour with my ass on fire. I have one system that works. Put out the fires that'll get my ass burned. -B

Try Procmail (1)

elfdump (558474) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855303)

At least for organizing mail, procmail [procmail.org] is the best way to go. It uses egrep-compatible regular expressions, scoring, and comes with header reformatting utilities, plus it integrates nicely with the unix environment.

Once you have procmail set up, it would be trivial to extract names and addresses into a MySQL [mysql.org] database and use it from there.

Some argue procmail syntax is difficult to understand, but so do all beautiful, powerful languages appear to the benighted. :)

Modern Windows OS filesystems (2, Funny)

Trinition (114758) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855305)

Since Windows NT 4 at least, I have been able to make hard links. Granted, the OS didn't come with a tool to do it, but it did support it. Several third party tools [hlm.inc.ru] are available.

Also, I know in Windows 2000 and Windows XP (and I heard also Windows ME), Folder Shortcuts [microsoft.com] (these are NOT shortcuts to folders) are also supported. These graft folders into the namespace that actually exist elsewhere. I've tested this across physical drives, and I believe it would also work with network-mapped drives. Note that on Windows XP, you have to temporarily switch to the classic start menu to create a Folder Shortcut.

Until OS X... (3, Insightful)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855306)


...organizing data was quite simple for Mac users. (All you Mac people out there have to admit: You're right with me on this. Don't lie!)

The process was simple:
  1. Save everything to the Desktop.
  2. When you couldn't see the background pattern anymore, create a new folder called "Desktop crap" or something, and move all the files into it.
  3. Move the folder on to the hard drive.
  4. Repeat.
:-D

It's not just Mac users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855347)

There are a lot of people who do the same thing with Windows, too...

Powermarks indexing (1)

behindthewall (231520) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855308)

Powermarks (www.kaylon.com) is a well-regarded bookmarking utility that uses a keyword index rather than a tree. It will automatically pull keywords from a page's title, and one can type others in quite easily. They need not be in any particular order.

Searching is quite rapid, and one can quickly winnow several thousand bookmarks down to what one wants.

Since it's based on keywords, things can be as cross indexed as you like. No "where do I put this", eanie meanie meinie mo. Want it there? Type the keyword. There too? Type that keyword.

I would find something similar wrapped into an email utility very useful.

Unfortunately, Powermarks hasn't yet made it out of Windows space. So, those interested in having a look (shareware) will have to play with the beast.

you're gay (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855309)

fuck you fag

RT (2, Interesting)

ttyp0 (33384) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855314)

I was struggling with a similar issue myself. People in my organization would constantly email me with requests "can you do this real quick". Well 50 emails later that day it became impossible to prioritize the information. I installed a ticket system [bestpractical.com] called RT which has greatly simplified my life. Runs on mod_perl and is open source, I highly recommend it.

Anti SCO T-Shirts [anti-tshirts.com] . Donates to the Open Source Now Fund with each purchase.

Every email goes into a database... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855318)

I keep all incoming emails (except spam) in a database. I probably get about 150 - 200 emails a day and it takes about half an hour to go through them every day.

I use Filemaker which indexes every word so I can search for any previous email by keywords. I also have scripts written that parse out the to, from, and subject fields into separate fields.

Have another field where I put comments and action items.

Have been using this system for several years and have over 150,000 emails in the database.

Also have other databases set up for keeping track of web sites I visit, newspaper articles, telephone calls, and configuration, problems, and solutions of my pcs.

I know it sounds like it takes a lot of discipline, but once you get used to using a system like this, it becomes automatic to use it, and it is great because I can go back and find emails going back years ago.

Data Resource Quality (1)

Silmaril (19015) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855321)

Brackett's Data Resource Quality [amazon.com] is the definitive tome on organizing data. From creating a sytematic data naming taxonomy with comprehensive field definitions to specifying precise data integrity rules, this book tells you everything you need to know to manage data collections of any size.

That said, this is probably overkill for your stated purpose of categorizing email messages. A good email search engine [freeuk.com] would probably serve you better.

YYYY MM DD (1)

msheppard (150231) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855323)

I know it's pathetic, the file create date or something else should tell me the date, but I find naming folders and files with the first 8 digits being YYYYMMDD helps me alot. They always sort in date order. It's not a solution only a step I think helps.

Uhm... (1)

rjoseph (159458) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855326)

Procmail. Procmail for everything.

That's simple (5, Funny)

jdc180 (125863) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855331)

I use microsoft exchange, and it randomly deletes, my data and users so i don't have to worry about organizing it :)

Sorry, i'm frustrated... I'm setting up an exchange server right now.

Honestly, think (1)

gspawn (703815) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855334)

There are a few important factors. 1-Make smart folders. Maybe you're missing some more obvious relations between people. 2-What about simple shortcuts? Where applicable, create the one file/profile/link/etc you'll use and make shortcuts where you can. 3-GET RID OF STUFF YOU DON'T NEED. The most exhausting but succesful way to organize everything: get rid of whatever's in the way. 4-Find a better method. If you keep too many addresses, get a Rolodex or PDA. If you have too many folders, consider external storage (this drive/partition for work only). If you have too much pr0n or mp3s... consider an alternate lifestyle.

Windows Notepad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855342)

Windows notepad and files on my desk: "Todo home" and "todo work". Oh, and "Todo download from winmx/kazaa" :-)

the best way to do it (1)

thexdane (148152) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855343)

#!/bin/bash

if $1 == porn then

mv $1 /porn/

else

mv $1 /dev/null

fi

i think that's all the file management anyone really needs

Shortcuts (1)

tuxlove (316502) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855345)

The more I thought about this, the more I realised that trees (such as the Windows filesystems) are not really ideally suited for organizing data. On UNIX-like filesystems, symbolic links allow the creation of simple graphs for organising data,

Isn't a Windows shortcut essentially just a symbolic link (though perhaps a bit less transparent?).

Organization, or the lack thereof (1)

Stephonovich (601356) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855349)

I have My Documents renamed to Stephan's Crap Dump, and store my videos and Miscellany in there. MP3's and FLAC rips have their own folder. And then I have a Downloads folder with patches/demos/warez. (-:Stephonovich:-)

chronologically first... (1)

capsteve (4595) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855350)

most of my mail goes in chronological order, and every few months, i'll migrate old mail into sub-folders('02, '99, etc) i've kept an archive of email going back 4 years and it's saved my ass a few times. i'll tag/label my mail so i don't miss internal email, usually in red(eudora or entourage)

regarding vendor based mail, i usually only keep mail from a vendor if it's relating to a specific tech support issue, which ends up turning into a mini knowledge base for myself.

maillists go in their appropriate folders so i don't inadvertantly toss them out, but these email don't get archived.

RDB Filesystem (0)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855351)

Unfortunately, I don't think there are any really great solutions until we get relational database-like filesystems.

I understand the Reiser file-system is ultimately supposed to be like this.

And I heard that MS will incorporate this in Longhorn. I imagine Linux will play catch-up to this.

I use too many folders, would LOVE a good solution (1)

rushfan (209449) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855354)

I just have the horrible nested folders which get rearanged in to categories way too often. Makes it hard to find stuff. Grep doesn't work too well on OpenOffice documents, etc.

There's Neo, Agendus for Windows users, and a couple of other products out there, but this is definately a place where a 'killer app' could be used. The only problem is that too many companies use Exchange vs. IMAP or some standard that people can't get off of Outlook (and Outlook sucks). Evolution has their Outlook connector so you can use it, but it's too similiar to Outlook (but at least it can get you off of Windows).

I know there is a better way, but I don't know what it is....

grep (3, Interesting)

Crispy Critters (226798) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855361)

In practice, I make sure everything is stored in plain ascii and run grep alot. What file did I put that phone number in? grep -i smith * */* | less

Keeping email organized is a lot harder than it should be. There is no good way to deal with things like a seminar announcement that I need to keep for two weeks but is junk after that, or stuff that I need to remember to read or reply to but don't want to read right now (or stuff I keep because I should read it but don't want to actually read ever).

It is also hard to remember that, when someone emails me some document, the place to store it is not in an email folder, but a directory dedicated to that project or subject. Like if someone sends a reference for a paper I am writing, it should go in ~/papers/journalname/papername/references or something, not just stay as an attachment in my inbox.

And once in a while, you have to waste a day or two reorganizing your crap and deleting old email. This is especially hard when I have copies of documents or programs on different computers, because I have to figure out which ones are the most recent and are the authoritative copy. CVS and rsync help here; CVS makes it obvious which copy is the best one (the one in CVS), and rsync makes it easy to keep things identical on different machines so you don't have the problem to begin with.

What was the question? Oh yeah. Let google index your entire file tree and use it to find stuff.

Personal Brain looks interesting (1)

darnok (650458) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855364)

Check out www.thebrain.com - they've got a product called Virtual Brain that looks pretty interesting. You create a bunch of "thoughts" with names like "Business", "Family", "Sports", "Porn", then you can create "sub-thoughts" under these to categorize things further.

You might put links to photos, or Web pages containing photos under "Family". You can then crosslink these links to "Sports" for pictures of the kids at their school sports, and so on and so on. You can link in Excel spreadsheets etc. as appropriate; I've got my company's Excel phone list linked under "Business" for example.

It looks pretty interesting - been checking it out for a few days now and haven't decided whether it's a keeper or not.

Windows only, unfortunately. My biggest gripe with it to date is that I'm trying to wean myself off MS software, and this would lock me back in again.

Outlook categories... (1)

hadesan (664029) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855366)

At work, I use the category option within Outlook to assign categories to the various messages. Using the filters you can setup things to automatically categorize information. In your example you could assign the category as: Vendor, Projectname You could then group and sort your email with one click by clicking on the Category Column. I group my email in this fashion and do not have to use the Search feature that often. I get around 400 messages per day - from various projects I manage and system status messages (another 200-300 statuses get automatically deleted if there is no warning or failure key word in them)... My .02

The right way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855367)

I put everything in "My Documents" and "My Pictures" and "Favorites", just like I'm supposed to. Clippy wouldn't have told me to do it that way if it weren't the best way to work.

Easy! (0)

csoto (220540) | more than 11 years ago | (#6855372)

I just print out every single email and dump them on my desk!

Lately the pile marked "Your details" has been getting pretty heavy...

the bofh answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6855373)

"In a flat-text file, with grep to look stuff up. The way God intended it to be."

Of course, I spend probably 99% of my time in console mode (high-res framebuffer actually) and prefer to use Lynx and small unix tools (and Perl, lots of Perl) to get shit done. Old mail just gets deleted. The only stuff that's important enough for me to keep around is server backup files and any source code I might be working on, and those get versioned (with RCS) and burned to cdrom every couple months. I have a TOC (flat text file) on the cdroms and also keep a copy of each TOC on my hard disk for fast lookup (with grep, of course).
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