One Advantage of Not Using a Fully Manual Camera

Jack at JT's (2018)

When carrying a fully manual film camera, it’s difficult to ask someone take my picture without first running a 10-minute training session on focusing, etc.

On the other hand, most people know what to do with a modern, digital, auto-everything camera. It’s the best way for me to get a portrait of myself that’s not a selfie.

Choosing between Kindle or Physical Books- Audacious Fox

K.Q. Dreger:

A Brief Explanation of How I Choose Between Buying a Physical Book or the Kindle Edition

I don’t. It’s impossible. Sisyphus spends less energy pushing his boulder than I do when debating paperback or Paperwhite. The only compromise is to buy both. My budget hates me, my wife shakes her head in disapproval, but my bookshelves have never looked better nor been more portable.

How did I not think of this!? :)

Hugo newContentEditor

Oh for crying out loud. I’ve wasted so much time working on ways to automatically edit new Hugo content immediately after typing e.g. hugo new post/ I had no idea there was a built-in setting for it.

newContentEditor = "bbedit" # or vim or emacs or whatever

Now all new posts are opened in BBEdit as soon as they’re generated. That was easy.

Editing Digital Photos Is Fun

Editing photos on the iMac

I’ve been shooting mostly digital lately and I’m learning to really enjoy the process.

It could be simply that I like the novelty of changing things up, but it feels like more than that this time. Here’s what I think is helping make processing digital photos fun again.

  • I bought a fancy new full-frame digital camera and the DNG files are such a pleasure to work with
  • I switched back to Capture One and watched every Capture One video I could find and I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of it
  • I’m using Affinity Photo in combination with Capture One and it’s just so much more fun than Photoshop
  • I’m more actively posting things to Flickr and Flickr makes me happy
  • I’ve been changing up how I manage all my files (more on this later)

It’s good when things are fun.

Scripts for Keeping a Journal Using Bear

I’ve been giving Bear another run as the place I take notes. I don’t plan to use it as a journal, but if I do, Robert Jorgenson has created a nice set of bash scripts to automate the process.

Bear Journal - Robert Jorgenson

There’s one for daily and one for monthly entries. They can be easily tweaked to suit particular requirements.

Weaning Myself From Emacs and Org-mode

My ongoing effort to wean myself from my dependency on Emacs and Org-Mode has only been intermittently successful. Whenever I try moving out of Emacs I have to find replacements for all sorts of tools and processes. Things like task management, journaling, email, project notes, text editing, and general note taking are all things that I’ve been doing in Emacs for a while now and if I’m ever going to move away from it I’ll need to find replacements.

So here we go again. I’ve taken a run at this over the past few months and this is where I’ve landed:

Apple Mail, OmniFocus, Day One, DEVONthink, BBEdit, and Bear.


I’m using Apple Mail. It’s good enough, pleasant to use, and integrates nicely with my other tools. It’s nice that it’s built-in. Mail gets goofy once in a while, but I’m ignoring that for now. I don’t like to overthink email and Apple Mail helps with this.

Task Management

Back to OmniFocus. I waffle between OmniFocus and Things for to-dos, but OmniFocus has always been powerful and reliable and it can do pretty much anything I need. The recent release of version 3 added tags, which I’d grown to rely on while using Things.


Nothing beats a paper notebook for journaling, but not all journaling makes sense on paper. For those things, there’s Day One. Photos, location, weather, tags, exports, and search all make Day One entries fun and useful. It’s a delightful, purpose-built journaling app. I have nearly 2,500 entries in two journals and they are priceless. For long-term viability, I export entries each month to both PDF and HTML formats. I’ve also started printing books, which is very cool. This is future-proof enough for me, so I don’t worry about Day One going away.

Project Notes

I’ve been keeping project-related assets in DEVONthink Pro for years, so I’ve started keeping notes there as well. I don’t enjoy actually writing in DEVONthink, but it’s easy enough to create a markdown file in it, and then “Open With…” whatever app I feel like, so that’s not a big deal. Now everything related to a project; files, emails, bookmarks, and my notes are all in one place and benefit from the terrific organizational and search capabilities of DEVONthink.

Text Editing

BBEdit is king here and has been my goto for at least a decade. I’d love to consider Vim but then I start to think about how nice it would be to use Vim bindings everywhere and then I open Spacemacs and then I’m back where I started. BBEdit it is, with maybe a little VS Code thrown in for variety.

General Note Taking

This is the hard one for me. Org-Mode is so great for note-taking. The good news is that outside of Emacs, there is a dizzying array of great choices available. I think I’ve tried them all. What I want to use is Apple Notes, and I’ve been testing that for a month or two and although it comes close, it’s just not quite right for me. Writing in Notes doesn’t feel enough like plain text and there’s no Markdown support. There’s no “Copy link to note” feature, and this one ruins it for me. I’m a wiki guy from way back and cross-note linking is a must-have. So, as nice as Apple Notes has become, I can’t live there. Evernote is out because it’s, well, Evernote and I don’t get along with Evernote. Other contenders are The Archive, Agenda, iA Writer, DEVONthink, Tinderbox, Bear, and nvAlt. All of these are great in their own way, but I’ve settled on Bear. The problem I’ve had with Bear in the past was that it doesn’t feel right somehow. On the other hand, it does everything else pretty well. Very well, actually, so I’m going to continue living there for a while and see.

Note that all of the above have a couple of features in common. First, they all have very good iOS counterparts. I love using my iPad and having basically the same tools available there is rather nice. Second, they all allow me to easily get my content out in a format I can deal with. I know, plain text is sooo future proof and portable, but dammit it’s just not as useful day-to-day. If any of the above apps go away, I’d lose some of the features and conveniences, but I wouldn’t lose any content. I’m okay with that tradeoff.

DragThing is no longer for sale

DragThing is no longer for sale:

While we have not yet made a final decision, we do not feel comfortable selling an app with an uncertain future, so DragThing is no longer for sale. It should continue to function on 10.14 Mojave for now.

I haven’t used DragThing for a long time, but I loved it while I did.

Ben Thompson on Instagram after Systrom

Ben Thompson - Stratechery

How much of the affection people have for Instagram, particularly relative to Facebook, is precisely because the photo-sharing service has not been as aggressive as the “blue app”, and how much of that good will in general and good user experience in particular might disappear without Systrom’s restraint?

I’d wager most of it.

Consolidated a Couple Things Today

Things were starting to sprawl around here, so I’ve consolidated some of the services I use.

First, I moved all of my private repos into Github. I’m already paying the $7/month so there was no increase in cost. I had a bunch of repos in Gitlab and a self-hosted Gitea instance. Now I know where all of my repos are.

Second, I moved the files I was syncing with Syncthing back into Dropbox. I’d love to remove my depedency on Dropbox some day but I’m not ready for that yet, so now I know where my synced files are and I don’t have to worry about remembering how Syncthing works.

Third, I merged all of my personal notes into Apple Notes. I had things in Deft, The Archive, Bear, etc. I don’t think Apple Notes will survive long-term but at least for today, if it’s something personal, I know where find it.

Fourth, I started using the Hobonichi Techo as my only daily planner/notebook. I now know where I wrote it down.

I’m not sure how long it will be before I get bored and want to try something else, but for now it’s nice not having to think about where things are.

Using Flickr for my blog images

I’m considering reversing my “no external dependencies” policy when it comes to my blog. The difficulty of dealing with images when using a static site generator (e.g. Hugo) deters me from posting.

What if I used embedded Flickr photos instead? Like this…

Nikon F3

It’s super easy to copy a photo’s Flickr embed code and paste it into a blog post. Otherwise I have to export from Capture One, copy the file to Hugo’s image folder, copy or remember the filename, and then create a markdown image link in the post. I’ve got this somewhat automated, but still.

Embedding images has the benefit of making Flickr into a sort of CDN. Plus, the images can’t get lost when I inevitably shuffle things around.

But there’s of course one really solid argument against doing this, and that is: “What if Flickr goes away?” It’s a great point, and one I’ve used to convince myself not to embed photos for about fifteen years now. I think maybe it’s safe. Besides, if something should happen to Flickr, I bet I’ll be able to export everything and do some regular expression jiggery pokery to fix it all up.

I think I’ll try it for a while.