17 Feb 2021

Migrating from OneNote to Markdown

Over the past few weeks, I've been working on migrating my extensive collection of notes from OneNote into Markdown files. I am writing my migration process up for anyone else considering moving from OneNote to Markdown.

Why Migrate?

I recently found that I wasn't making use of my OneNote notes as much as I had previously. I realised that I hated using the OneNote client on my iPhone (5s, so a small screen), and also that my notes had grown so large (after 8 years of use) that they really needed pruning. Additionally, I didn't really like having my notes in a proprietary format that I was unable to backup and version. So I looked at the usual alternatives (Notion, SimpleNote) and also at open source alternatives (Joplin, and Laverna), but ultimately, I decided to use Markdown files in a VSCode workspace, synchronized using Dropbox.


I used this PowerShell script to export my OneNote notes into a basic Markdown file from the OneNote desktop client on Windows 10. It took approximately 4 hours to export all my notes (some 2640 files), across vraious OneNote notebooks.

I then wrote a second PowerShell script to format the exported Markdown files. This second script:

  • Removed any non-ASCII characters from the exported files
  • Set the page title as a level 1 header
  • Remove any empty comments from the exported files
  • Correct the list indentation for the rules used by the MarkdownLint extension in VSCode
  • Remove blank lines
  • Update source path for images (also exported out by the initial script)


As noted already, I'm using VSCode to edit my new Markdown files on my desktop. I created a new workspace for my notes that I have colour coded using the Peacock extension for VSCode. I have my notes organised in a Dropbox directory, and this is automatically backed up daily to a Git repository.

I can then access my notes on my mobile via the Dropbox app. I tried initially to use the built-in Dropbox text editor, but found this a bit limited. I eventually settled on using the 1Writer app to create and edit notes on my mobile, and I've been impressed by how intuitive it is to use.

I have been using my current setup for a few weeks now. The main pain has actually been curating the exported notes, and archiving those no longer required. I have came across a few more structured ways of using Markdown files (Foam, Obsidian), and may end up using one in the future, but for now I'm happy with my current setup.

3 Feb 2021

What I'm Reading #3


Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing

I'm only halfway through this book, which gives a detailed history of the development of the UK computing industry since the first computer, Colossus. (To any American readers, let me save you some time: ENIAC was NOT the first programmable electronic computer. Get over it.)

In particular, it focuses on the social history of the computer, and how the first computer operators were all female, and how the gender of the workforce changed as computers became more important in business and government. An in-depth and fascinating read.

Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View

I'm not a huge Star Wars fan, but my son is currently obessed by the Lego Star Wars cartoons, so I picked up this anthology of short stories based on the initial film over Christmas. It was very a different read to what I had enviaged. It consists of 40 short stories (one for each year since the release of Star Wars in 1977), each story giving the viewpoint of a minor character in the original film: one of the scrap droids in the Jawa transporter, Wuher (the barkeep in the Mos Eisley catina), the Dianiga in the Death Star's trash compactor, one of the rebel X-wing mechanics. In each story, you get to see how they become, in some small way, part of the larger saga. Some were strangely moving, like the one discussing Obi-Wan Kenobi's desert vigil - I had never thought of it as a test of his religious faith before. Recommended, even (or perhaps especially) for those who didn't enjoy the film.


Have we reached ‘peak international students’ in the UK?

This article asks a question that I had also recently started asking myself - have we reached peak international student numbers? Given the recent shameful reporting that some international students have been forced to use food banks, I suspect that we have.

How Cyberpunk 2077 Sold a Promise—and Rigged the System

I'm not a gamer, but one of my brothers is. He gave me the heads up about this story, which shows how the company behind Cyberpunk, CD Projekt Red, managed to manipulate the reviews of the game and led to the choru sof disapproval from gamers on actually playing the title.

David Squires on ... Marcus Rashford v the Tory government

A classic...

Built To Last

An interesting read on the attempts of some US states to blame the COBOL programming language (and the lack of COBOL programmers) for unemployment systems not being able to cope with the increase of unemployment claims due to the pandemic. And how it relates to the wider issue of a lack of investment in critical infrastructure.