I’m already numb to the automation prompts in the Mojave betas. I now just click “Allow” without reading the whole message, even though I know it’s a bad idea. This feels less secure to me.

My blog is a mess and I’m fine with that

I wonder how much time I’ve spent worrying about my various blogs. So much time, is how much.

Should I include short posts on the main timeline? Should I always use titles? Is it too cluttered if there’s a sidebar with recent posts and whatnot? Serif or no? Static HTML is cool, but I wonder if I should just make things easy and use WordPress.

It’s endless!

All of this is fun to think about, but I’ve sort of stopped worrying about the shape of things around here. I’ve posted whatever I’ve felt like posting to wherever I felt like posting it in whatever format I felt like at the time.

My writing has never been precise, why should my blog be? I play pretty fast and loose with content, so why should the blog be tidy and carefully considered? And who wants everything to look like a Medium post, anyway?

So yeah, it’s messy here. It’s inconsistent. It’s unfocused. I love it.

Setapp or Not?

As I was reviewing my growing list of software subscriptions, I remembered Setapp. I’ve been subscribed to Setapp since launch. I like the idea of “Netflix but for apps”. Access to a large and growing list of useful apps for ten bucks a month is pretty great.

But is it worth it to me? Let’s see.

Apps I regularly use

  • Forklift
  • Marked
  • Ulysses
  • BusyCal
  • Renamer
  • CleanMyMac
  • iStat Menus
  • Permute
  • TaskPaper
  • Sip
  • Flume
  • Squash
  • Timing

Apps I occasionally or might use

  • Aeon Timeline
  • Bartender
  • BetterTouchTool
  • Declutter
  • Downie
  • Gemini
  • Gifox
  • Merlin Project Express
  • Netspot
  • NotePlan
  • Numi
  • Paw
  • Screens
  • WiFi Explorer

I’d say that settles it. Nearly 30 apps I either use often or only need occasionally for $10 a month makes it a no-brainer. I don’t even need to do the math on how much just the regularly-used apps would cost me. Also, Setapp regularly adds new apps, so the value continues to increase over time.

The Downsides of a Static Site Generator – Drinking Caffeine

Martyn Chamberlin:

On the whole, the cons of a static file generator seem less tangible than the pros

This is a topic I’m a little obsessed with. I struggle with static-vs-CMS on a regular basis. Martyn makes good points, but also a few that make less sense to me. Each of his points favoring static site generators are spot on, although just saying they’re “geekier” would be enough. No need to blame it on ego.

It’s the downsides that I have some issues with.

Database-driven design gives you better flexibility

I’d say it gives you different flexibility. Some of the things done using a database come easily for us ego-driven nerds using text files and our favorite editor. The SSG handles most of the rest.

Every time you do a new deploy in a file-driven system, you have to rebuild the entire website

That’s true. On the other hand, with a WordPress site you have to rebuild each page every time it’s requested 1.

Yes, there’s a slight performance cost to increasing the number of rows in the wp_posts table, but it’s infinitesimal compared to increasing the file count in a file-driven system

Re-rendering my entire 3000+ page Hugo site takes about 2 seconds, so I don’t agree with this one. “Infinitesimal” seems a bit of an exaggeration, at least. I don’t feel at all like I’m slowing anything down by adding new static posts to Hugo. And again, any performance hit is once-per-deployment rather than once-per-view.

Related, every time you write a new post in Hugo, you’re creating a new file in a flat directory. Pretty soon you have hundreds or thousands of files

Yep. I have thousands of small, easily manageable, storable, backup-able, versionable text files in whatever directory structure I want on my own machine. So soothing!

WordPress has 28% of the global market. How much does Jekyll have? How much does Hugo have? A lot less than that.

True. The ecosystem around a product is important. There are two parts of the longevity consideration: How long the platform is available, and how long the content is available. He misses the second part here. I’m convinced that the odds of my content being available as a static site in 40 years is higher than if I were running it with WordPress. And even the platform availability matters less with a static generator, as I expect to be able to render static Markdown files using something for the foreseeable future. Still, he’s right about the ecosystem. WordPress offers a ton of resources.

It’s harder to get Go compiled and running than PHP and MySQL, simply because PHP and MySQL are more popular

I don’t understand this one, since you don’t even need to have Go installed to use Hugo. Hugo is a self-contained, pre-compiled binary with basically zero dependencies. Jekyll is a different story, but for some reason he didn’t use that in his example.

Getting your content from WordPress is a lot easier than from Jekyll or Hugo. That’s because it’s easier to get importable data out of a database than it is from a collection of markdown files.

I don’t understand this one either. I don’t have to “get my content” from Hugo. I already have it, no? It’s more like I have to put my content into Hugo than get it out.

Anyway, I’m not trying to pick on the article, really. I struggle with these same issues so I’m just using it as a way to think things through.

I run both static sites (Hugo and Blot) and CMS-managed sites (WordPress and SquareSpace). Both have merits, which is why I can never pick just one!

For me it tends to come down to convenience. I find WordPress more convenient to publish with. Click…type…click…done. The decision is harder with longer, more text-heavy writing, but I frequently post short pieces containing images and there’s no contest there. Drag a photo into WordPress and everything is taken care of for me. Some UIs for SSGs are starting to make this easier, though.

With a SSG, there’s more distance between the writing and the results (although Blot comes close here). See WordPress is a Typewriter.

Other things I think about…

Backups are pretty easy both ways. I don’t worry about losing content due to a database. Anything longer than a paragraph is usually written locally as text first, so I always have that copy. I also run httrack occasionally (gives me a static version of my entire WP site) and export everything occasionally to XML or whatever. That last bit is beyond what “regular” people are likely to do, but for me it works.

For me the biggest difference is on the hosting side. Static sites can just be dropped anywhere and will be fast, secure, and easy. WordPress is, while not difficult, more of a pain to host. It’s also prone to security and performance issues.

With all that said, I’m typing this in MarsEdit for posting to my WordPress blog. So there’s that.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

  1. I’m conveniently ignoring the option of WP static caching here. 

Fallback Tools

It’s fun to try new things. I experience a strong fear of missing out when it comes to gear and software, so I try almost everything. What if that other thing is better? I should try it!

The New Thing is always fun and interesting, and it some cases I decide that I no longer need the Old Thing and go all in.

Then it happens. I stumble over some missing feature or unanticipated side effect so decide to fall back to the thing I know. The Old Thing. Sometimes it’s only to get over the current hurdle, but most of the time I end up staying with my old standbys. My fallback tools.

Software examples are: BBEdit, Apple Notes, OmniFocus, Apple Mail, Tinderbox, DEVONthink, and Curio. For photography gear it’s a Leica M6, Fuji X100T, Tri-X, HC-110, and 5×7 RC paper.

I’m currently trying Capture One again for image management and editing. My fallback tool is Lightroom, so we’ll see what happens there.

Experimenting with new tools is my favorite meta hobby, but it’s good to know there are things I can always count on.

The greatest lie I ever told myself was that all of these “optimizations” will help me be more productive

Having 1Password automatically put a OTP in my clipboard is worth whatever security tradeoffs I’m making so I can have that feature

DEVONthink – Import Files and Folders

2018 08 20 devonthink import

There’s a lot to be said for using the Mac’s Finder for long-term, portable, stable storage of files. It’s always right there. Add Dropbox and everything is seamlessly synced across both of my Macs.

On the other hand, there’s DEVONthink, which is where I’ve kept important files and documents for a number of years.

Once in a while I get it in my head that I need to remain as OS-independent as possible. DEVONthink is Mac only, so I export everything into matching filesystem folders and swear that “All I really need from now on is the Finder and Spotlight!” It’s such a relief knowing that everything is in its place and not dependent upon expensive third party software.

Here’s what happens next.

I periodically scan all of my paperwork (bills, receipts, letters, etc.). This gets me a folder full of PDFs to deal with. I like things organized, so I drag them one at a time into the proper folder inside my “File Cabinet” folder. It’s a pain, and reminds me that DEVONthink has this magic way of suggesting a destination for each file, based on its contents. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough that I mostly just hit “Move To” for 95% of the new files and they are automatically put where they belong.

Then there’s searching. DEVONthink searches are faster and at least as accurate as Spotlight. The key is that the results are super easy to browse and preview and search terms are nicely highlighted for me. I can always find what I’m looking for more quickly using DEVONthink. Plus, it’s a more pleasant experience.

The iOS version of DEVONthink is darn nice and everything syncs quickly and (finally) reliably. The DEVONthink databases are exposed as folders in the iOS Files app, so it’s almost like having it both ways.

Let’s be honest, I’m a Mac user and that’s unlikely to change any time soon. Seems a shame not to take advantage of a superior way of working.

So, I open my DEVONthink libraries, select File->Import->Files and Folders… and swear I’m never going to change my mind again.

Agenda Mac

2018 08 19 agenda logo

I’ve tried using Agenda for my notes several times and only recently has it “stuck”. Here’s why.

I am not trying to keep everything in it. Agenda doesn’t work for me as an “Everything Bucket” and that’s what I was trying to use it for. Instead, I’m using it only for time-based, project-related notes. Anything that involves specific dates or that could benefit from a nice, chronological history becomes a “project” in Agenda. Agenda’s deep calendar integration is super useful for planning and reviewing.

The “aha!” moment for me was when I realized that each project in Agenda becomes like a little blog for that project. I love blogs! Thinking of project notes this way is helpful, and has prompted me to take better and more consistent notes for work projects.

I’m looking forward to a couple of features that should make Agenda even more useful to me.

  1. The ability to archive projects somehow. I’m currently dumping them into an “Archive” category but that’s not ideal
  2. Inline files and images. I’m nervous that being able to drop files and images directly into notes will become a slippery slope toward the “Everything Bucket” problem, but it certainly can come in handy if used sparingly.

Emacs vs Vim vs None Of The Above

BBEdit for years. Then Vim for years. Then Emacs for years. In between I’ve used just about every editor there is. I love them all.

Emacs is everything anyone could ever want in an editor, and more. It’s the “more” part that gets you. At some point this weekend I realized I had spent nearly two hours trying to dial in Emacs window behavior and failed. Even if I had succeeded, it was still two hours I could have been doing something else.

Something else like play with NeoVim, maybe? 🙂

Oh for crying out loud. I had almost forgotten that I was actually using NeoVim instead of Vim but never completely finished getting things set up. Spent the morning working on it before realizing that I was doing the “just a few more tweaks and it’ll be perfect” thing again. I also wanted to see what the NeoVim GUI landscape was looking like these days so I tried Oni, and VimR and…

By about 10:00am this morning I had gotten so frustrated with myself that I gave up and decided to use neither Vim nor Emacs for a while. I need a break from myself.

I don’t edit code much, so what I really want is a place for writing and taking notes. If I keep everything in Markdown I can use any number of apps interchangeably. Right now it’s looking like some combination of iA Writer for writing, BBEdit for text/code editing, The Archive for research and miscellaneous notes, and Agenda for project notes.

Everything changes.

A Remaining Problem with Title-less Posts

When showing title-less posts in the archives, I would prefer to show the first few words of the post rather than nothing. Is there an easy way to do that?

UPDATE 2018-07-15: I ended up making a child theme and hooking into the simple-yearly-archive plugin, which I’m using for the archives page.

The only catch is that the plugin doesn’t include the post content column in the query so I had to edit the actual plugin query to include the column and also pass the entire $post object in the sya_the_title hook. I’ll have to watch out for updates, as they’ll overwrite this. Or I’ll just need to fork it.

add_filter( 'sya_the_title', 'my_sya_filter_title', 10, 2 );

function my_sya_filter_title( $title, $post ) {
	return $title == '' ? jab_truncate(strip_tags($post->post_content)) : $title;

function jab_truncate($string,$length=50,$append="…") {
  $string = trim($string);

  // break at word
  if(strlen($string) > $length) {
    $string = wordwrap($string, $length);
    $string = explode("\n", $string, 2);
    $string = $string[0] . $append;

  return $string;

It makes me so happy to have found my first computer. It’s a TRS-80 Pocket Computer PC-1 from 1980. I spent many, many hours making tiny programs with it.

There goes Facebook

Delete Facebook

I finally, officially deleted my Facebook account today. No need to make a big deal about it. We all know by now that getting away from Facebook is the right move. My account has been deactivated for months, but today felt like a fine day to be done with it for good. It is, after all, “Independence Day” 🙂

I just wanted to write it down.