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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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In some exploration of Ruby today I came across instiki. Short run-down: Instiki is a self-contained wiki, implemented in ruby. It provides web server functionality, persistent data storage, ability to export to html, and all of that out of the box. Nothing beyond a basic installation of ruby is required to run it. It reminds me a lot of some self-contained projects in python I’ve seen, except that it works. Oh yeah, and it has built-in textile formatting. I’m continuing to smoke from the ruby crack pipe, and I like what I’m tasting.

But ruby proselytization is not quite what I’m after here. Instead, I think I have an interesting idea. While I’m sure somebody else has discussed it on google, a quick search didn’t yield anything obvious. The idea is that of a ThumbWiki (this term, at least, doesn’t seem to exist at all on google, which is refreshing). You carry around everything you need to run a wiki on a thumb drive, and just fire it up off the thumb drive when you need to retrieve/edit anything. This whole idea centers around the idea of storing personal notes, ideas, lists, plans, and scribbles in a wiki which I’ve tried with some success (and some failure (I’ve been moving lists to Ta-Da Lists, also with some advantages and disadvantages)).

While using a wiki on the Internet is sufficient in many cases, there are at least a few things that come to mind:

  • Sometimes one can’t access the Internet, but would like to update/view data in their wiki. Such as:
    • When on a plane
    • When in a wireless dead spot
    • When behind a firewall or NAT
    • On a hike or in some remote location
    • When the latency of using something online makes it too painful
  • Other times, it may not make sense to have a wiki on the Internet in the first place:
    • The data is private and there’s no advantage to putting it online beyond making distributed access easy
    • The data is private and one doesn’t want to store it or transmit it insecurely
    • The data should not be accessed online

So to solve it, I say throw instiki and ruby (as necessary) onto a thumb drive, and your very own low-latency portable wiki is with you everwhere you go.