The Journal Newsletter – March/April 2007

The Journal Newsletter

March/April 2007


It’s Spring 2007!

In March we released a new add-on package for The Journal. Writing Prompts 2: Prose Challenges, by fellow indie developer Mike Hommel of Hamumu Games, is now available. Check out the “News” section for more information.

Nancy Custer shares how she uses The Journal to keep track of her busy life, and we have a new set of writing exercises. Plus, learn how to include your own Calendar Charms in The Journal.

Thank you for using The Journal!

Tips & Tricks

TRICK: Creating Your Own Calendar Charms

The Journal includes a small (but growing!) set of Calendar Charms. It’s possible, though, for you to add your own Calendar Charm.

Here are some tips for creating your own Calendar Charms:

  • Calendar Charms can be single images (one Calendar Charm per image), but are most often collections of small icons arranged in a grid.
  • Grid layout – Arrange the icons in a simple grid (don’t actually include grid lines), with every icon the same size.
  • Think small – If you want to use the icons on the calendar (instead of just inserting them into your entries), it’s best if you limit your icons to 16×16 pixels or 24×24 pixels. Larger icons will be reduced to fit the calendar, and they may not look as good.
  • Transparency – Calendar Charms are assumed to be transparent. The color at pixel position (0,0) will be made transparent when the icon is inserted or used on the calendar. The best transparency colors are very bright and obviously not part of the image (like fuchsia in the example above).
  • Use BMP Images – When you create your Calendar Charms, save them as Windows Bitmap files (*.BMP). This way your images (and your transparency) remain crisp.

Loading Your Calendar Charms

Once you’ve created your collection of Calendar Charms in a BMP image, you will need to load them into The Journal.

1. In The Journal, click on the “User” menu and choose “User Images…”

2. Click on “Load Image”, and select your new image.

3. Set the image type to: “Calendar Charms”

4. Set the “# of Charms Across (X)” to: (the number of icons across, left to right)

5. Set the “# of Charms Down (Y)” to: (the number of icons down, from top to bottom)

And that’s all there is to it!

Writing Prompts

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your title or starting phrase: “In the determination of the jury…”

Journaling Prompt – Put the most recent week (or month, or year) of your life “on trial”. Start out with opening statements from both the “prosecution” and the “defense”, and proceed with imaginary witnesses to bolster the cases for both sides. Feel free to have the prosecution and defense interrupt up each other with objections. If you’re really getting into it, write up the jury deliberations too. Make an effort to keep the judge in the case impartial, but also try to make his “verdict” and, if necessary, his “sentence”, positive and constructive.

Memoir Prompt – Have you ever served on a jury? Describe your experiences and emotions as you learned the process of the trial, heard testimony, and deliberated on the verdict. Did you change your mind as the trial unfolded? Were you swayed by the evidence? Or the arguments of the lawyers?

How I Use The Journal

Editor’s Note: The Journal is used by people from all over the world, from many nations, representing a variety of personal, professional, and religious backgrounds. Journaling is by definition an intensely personal undertaking, so it should not be surprising that when someone writes about how or why they keep a journal that they will end up sharing personal information. The Journal Newsletter does not support any particular personal or religious lifestyle, but rather attempts to support anyone who keeps a journal, for whatever reason they do so. Thus, the views and opinions expressed in “How I Use The Journal” are solely those of the submitter and not necessarily the views of DavidRM Software. Whether you agree with the submitter’s views or not, I encourage you to read the article and glean from it the information and techniques that “ring true” for you.

by Nancy Custer

I don’t use the actual “journal” feature of The Journal as much as I would like. I always have good intentions of recording the events of the day. In fact, I purchased the program to attempt to compensate for my increasing absent mindedness.

But I’ve found that the loose leaf notebook feature is more suited to my purposes. I have categories for a variety of projects and interests. For example, my husband and I travel a lot on business–both in the US and Europe and Asia. Most of our trips are multi-faceted, exhibiting at trade shows, giving presentations to meetings and conferences (my husband), visiting family and friends, and sightseeing.

For example, I have an airline Itinerary category with a document page for each set of flight reservations.Then I have a category for each specific trip where I include a calendar itinerary of where we will be each day and some notations of what we will be doing. (I just make the calendar in table form on one page.) I also include entries where I import web pages about things we might like to do or see, information and reservation confirmations for each hotel, and I import weather forecast web pages, note visa information, packing lists of both business and personal things I might forget, correspondence with travel services and business contacts. Often I copy and paste correspondence from an email or Word document to have it readily available.

I have a category for each of the trade shows at which our family business has a booth. There I keep deadlines for various orders and submissions, lists of things to bring, announcements and other correspondence, hotel reservations, travel arrangements, etc.

I chair a committee that puts on information forums in our community. I have a variety of pages for that category, schedules, announcements, informal minutes of committee meetings, copies of important communications, reminders of when announcements are due for different media, etc.

I am a volunteer for the US Joint MIA/POW Accounting Command (JPAC) looking for family members to donate DNA Family Reference Samples to help identify unidentified remains from previous wars. Currently that project takes up a large part of my journal. I have a subcategory section for each casualty for whom I am looking for a family member. These searches involve searching census and other public records and general Internet searches (whatever I can think of). For each search, I keep subentries of service information, birth and death dates, images of all census pages (that I access online) and other documents, separate pages for different branches of a family, copies of all contact attempts by both email and regular mail, correspondence with JPAC, and whatever other notes I might need to keep the details straight in my mind. Currently, I have about 60 individual searches in various stages. I use calendar charms to code the subcategory entries as to what stage of the search they are in–completed, letter mailed, email sent, lots of information but no contact yet, challenging, maybe hopeless, etc.

I manage a fairly large and complicated Surname DNA Project for which I have another large category including member contact information and ancestry, DNA results, correspondence, etc.

I keep a category for gifts that I have given or am planning to give. I find from holiday season to holiday season, I forget what I have given people. Also I buy gifts through the year and often forget what I have so that is now all organized.

I’m also planning to start a log of what I serve when I have dinner guests so I don’t serve the same people the same thing over and over.

Whatever comes up in my life that I need to remember a lot of details for, I make a category. The MIA project and trip and trade show categories are the major categories. Sometimes I have transient categories that last only a day or two. I back the file up to an external USB hard drive from time to time.

I realize that my use of the journal is very esoteric. It will undoubtedly be different for everyone. The beauty of the Journal for me is that I can have everything at hand with only one program open. Toggling from document to document is almost instantaneous. Before I got the Journal, I used Windows Explorer to keep the MIA Project and my DNA Project organized. That entailed keeping several different programs opened simultaneously and was very difficult to move from search to search or document to document without having multiple programs/documents opened at once. Now, I have everything easily accessible so that I can check a flight itinerary, a correspondence about a forum and a census record for an MIA casualty without having to open three separate documents. I like that I can move a web page into an entry easily too making them available offline.

I use a notebook computer but I find it very helpful to use a secondary external monitor (at home) where I keep the journal opened and use the notebook screen for the current task at hand.

I hope this isn’t too long and rambling. In general, I think you just have to think about the projects you have and commitments you make and what you want to remember and want to be able to access quickly. I am a retired teacher and I surely wish I had had the Journal when I was teaching–Lesson plans, lab set up instructions and check lists, correspondence, student reports, grades . . . Wow, it’s almost enough to make me go back to teaching!


Submission Information

If you would like to contribute to the “How I Use The Journal”, “Writing Exercises”, or “Tips & Tricks” sections, or would like to submit an article about journaling, writing, or another The Journal-related topic, we would love to hear from you.

Submissions for the newsletter should be sent to:

If you are submitting for a particular section, please indicate which one. Try to limit your submissions to 500-1000 words. Submissions may be edited for length and content.

If you prefer to remain anonymous, please state this in the email. Otherwise your name (but not your email) will be used in the article heading.

As always, if you have any suggestions for, or bug reports about, The Journal, please feel free to email them. Both are always welcome.


Editor: David Michael (
The Journal Newsletter Copyright © 2015 by David Michael.
Updated: June 19, 2015 — 9:49 pm