You might have seen here and there on my webpages the following text with a link to my 'Brain' on the topic of Science & Technology. This webpage will look rapidly at what this 'Brain' is, and what I had to do once to recover it.
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Alongside these pages I have also a ‘Brain' on the topic of Science & Technology. The application is ‘TheBrain’ and it helps me create and visualise a personal network of facts, links, references, etc., which they call 'knowledge'. In my case it is an incomplete, but ever growing and changing network of stuff I’ve read, want to read, want to keep, or just want to understand better (…one day).
To access my ‘Brain’ click on the link. Be patient, it can take a minute to load …
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So what is a 'Brain'?
TheBrain is developed by TheBrain Technologies, and put very simply it's a mind mapping application. However there are many, many other features, for example, the user can exploit thought and link types to create ontologies, including inheritance of properties for more consistent relationship mapping. On TheBrain website there are a series of tutorials that help understand what TheBrain does.
Why do I use TheBrain?
Originally I used it when I was working. It was a tool that helped me organise my work content, practices, schedule, contacts, etc. One bit I found useful was the way I could collect random ideas and 'bits of stuff' and keep them in a place I could see and review easily. I could then later connect them to more concrete activities. Frankly, at that time I did not use it for my personal interests, etc. It was a pure work tool.
Now retired, I use it to keep noted, links, etc. about what I have read or intend to read, so it's a kind of digital memory. I also have a website on specific topics. I see my website and my Brain as being linked. I have also tried to use TheBrain to collect both personal memories and very practical information on our (my and my wife's) past and on our homes. I do not keep sensitive information in it, e.g. account numbers, PIN's, etc.
What's on this webpage?
What I've collected below are useful (non obvious) tips and a couple of 'procedures', etc. I've come across.
Recovering my Brains
In late 2019 my newish MacBook Pro failed, and through an unusual set of circumstances I ended up recovering it's contents but in a disordered and messy way. I was left wondering if I had actually recovered my Brains. Now I subscribe to TheBrain Cloud Services (a so-called TheBrain Pro Combo). So I can 'publish' on the Web one of my Brains, the one Science & Technology. But initially in restoring my Brains it appeared that I had only access to older versions from a Time Machine backup.
The question was, where are Brains stored, and what do they look like? I contacted the support services for TheBrain, and despite the time difference, service was fantastic.
It turned out that all my Brains were uploaded to the 'TheBrain Cloud', even if only one of them is open to public viewing. So it is possible to recreate a copy of those Brains back on to my new MacBook Pro.
The Brain application is under Macintosh\Users\[username]\.The Brain, but it's a hidden folder. Placing '.' in front of a file or folder means that macOS will treat it as hidden.
To make hidden folders and files visible, there is a keyboard shortcut. You first go to the folder where the hidden files may be located, this can be the root directory Macintosh HD. Then press Command + Shift + Period (full stop) and all the hidden folders and files will be shown (see below). The same shortcut also hides the files again.
You can see that the hidden '.TheBrain' is now visible with all it's daughter folders, etc.
The next step was to change TheBrainMeta.db to TheBrainMeta.db.old.
Next I went to my version of TheBrain on my internal HD, and logged in. I found all 4 of my Brains. By opening each a new TheBrainMeta.db was created.
In addition, further down under Macintosh\Users\[username]\ there was another folder called 'Brains' (see below) which contains the actual Brains.
By opening each of the online Brains, the local Brain was updated. As we can see above B02 through to B05 are my four Brains.
Warning - Many hidden folders and files are a necessary part of the operating system and as such they should not be moved or modified.
So I was very lucky to recover all the most recent versions of my Brains, thanks to the use of TheBrain Cloud and their excellent support service.