Trouble In (Writing) Paradise
|Pencil Buddies, by Taco Ekkel, CC-BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr|
Here's one possibility as to the cause.
I've had one or two "hiccups" in my writing life recently.
One of those hiccups has been the demise of Squidoo and the other has been an issue in Simplenote.
Simplenote is a note taking application which I sometimes use for quickly typing up blog posts and book chapters when I am away from my home desktop.
It really is simple to use and has a clean interface, without loads of bells and whistles.
It also has an iOS app, so I can write on my iPod Touch on my lunchtime walks in the park.
To be honest, I tend to use Evernote more for my blog posts at the moment, just because I am so used to it being part of my standard workflow.
Simplenote And ScrivenerHowever, Simplenote has one thing going for it that makes me want to move all my writing there: it synchronises with Scrivener.
If you've not heard of Scrivener, then know that it is one of the best pieces of software out there for writers, some would say the best.
I'm still using the (fully functional) trial version of Scrivener at the moment, but I know I will end up buying it eventually, because it is so much better than Word for writing books.
It allows me to order - and reorder - my thoughts as much as I want, make changes to the text while keeping snapshots of how it was before, keep character studies, research and ideas alongside my draft ...and so on.
The only problem is that Scrivener is currently desktop only (I have it on Mac. There is a Windows version too, but the last time I looked, the sync I am talking about here was not available).
The saving grace here is that I can set up some chapters to go across to Simplenote, edit them while I'm away from my desk, and then sync the changes back again on my return.
Trouble In Simplenote?I'll get round to telling you more about Scrivener another time, but let's get back to the point.
I've been working on some short stories, which I have been publishing individually on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing.
I've been happily splitting the stories into smaller scenes in Scrivener, to make them more manageable, and then syncing them with Simplenote.
The sync appeared to work perfectly, but recently I have found text disappearing from individual notes in Simplenote.
I would open it up and find a note was completely blank: it was present as a note, but there was nothing in it.
Losing work is obviously every writer's nightmare, but to be fair, it wasn't too big an issue for me, because I was able to use Simplenote's "time slider" to restore the previous version.
It happened a few times, but only intermittently, so it was difficult to work out what was happening.
It wasn't the sync itself, because the notes were disappearing hours or even days after a sync had taken place.
So I had a small mystery on my hands.
Finding The CulpritThen one day, I opened up a note, checked its settings (I couldn't remember whether I had formatted it to use Markdown or not) and on closing the dialog, wham - the text disappeared.
I carefully restored the previous version and then checked again.
Sure enough, bye bye text!
Now I knew how to reproduce the issue, I sent an e-mail off to Simplenote support.
I was surprised when they came back with, "do you happen to use Lastpass?"
Well, the answer to that was a definitive, "yes".
Lastpass is my go-to application for all my online security needs, generating and remembering passwords for me, so I don't have to.
Surely, Lastpass couldn't be the culprit?
Support asked me to go into my Lastpass vault, find the entry for Simplenote and then untick the auto-login feature for that site.
I followed the instructions, went back into Simplenote and tried it out and everything was fine.
Third Party AppsSo there you have it.
A third party app, in this case Lastpass, was causing my woes.
I have contacted Lastpass to find out their opinion on the matter, so when I hear back I will let you know.
Don't let that put you off Lastpass, by the way.
It's the best password manager around in my opinion, and it's never let me down.
In fact, it has saved my bacon on several occasions and I have written about it here and here.
In the meantime, if you have a problem in Simplenote, don't be too hasty to lay the blame.
Have you encountered similar issues with Simplenote or another note taking app?
What apps do you use for your writing and note taking needs?
Let us know in the comments.