Back to Netlify

baty.net is back to being built and deployed using Netlify. I moved everything to Amazon S3 a couple of months ago as a way to figure out how to do that. I still think S3 is a great way to host static sites that don’t change often, but I haven’t liked it quite as much for hosting a site that is updated frequently, like my blog.

Using S3 required a combination of sync scripts, invalidations, keys, cloudfront distribution configuration, etc. Overall it felt like more trouble than it was worth.

So, back to Netlify. It goes something like this:

  1. Create a “site” in Netlify
  2. Point it at a Github repo
  3. Update DNS

Now I have continuous deployment, automatic SSL, a global CDN, and a bunch of other stuff I don’t even use yet. For free.

Tracking my Time with Org-mode

Org-mode has time tracking built in. Of course it does.

I have been trying to consistently track my time spent on projects. This encourages me to decide what I should do next. It also makes me reconsider my priorities when I notice I’m not doing anything useful. As I tend to do, I have configured a few Capture Templates to help with this.

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'(("t" "Todo to Inbox" entry
   (file+headline "~/org/tasks.org" "Inbox")
   "* TODO %? \n %i\n")
  ("T" "Todo and Clock In" entry
   (file+headline "~/org/tasks.org" "Inbox")
   "* TODO %? \n %i\n" :clock-in t :clock-keep t)
  ("e" "Create Event" entry
   (file+datetree+prompt "~/org/events.org")
   "* %?\n%T" :empty-lines 0)
  ("E" "Create Event and Clock In" entry
   (file+datetree+prompt "~/org/events.org")
   "* %?\n%T" :clock-in t :clock-keep t)

I have two versions of my TODO and EVENT capture templates. Using the uppercase versions cause the clock to start as soon as I create the entry. For example, if the phone rings or someone walks into my office, I hit C-c c E and a new “Event” entry will be created with the clock already running.

To help easily manage jumping between clocked entries, I’m using org-mru-clock.

When it’s time to send some invoices, or just to see how long things are taking, I can run a quick Clock Report that looks something like this:

Clock Report

Nifty.

It’s hard for me to remember to always start a clock, so I’m still looking for ways to make that easier. For now though, just building the habit is a good start.

Logging Food With Org-mode

For some reason I enjoy recording what and where I eat. Usually I do this in a paper notebook, but I decided try it using Org-mode files instead.

To make entry as easy as possible, I created a new capture template.

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...
("F" "Food Log" entry
        (file+datetree+prompt "~/org/food.org")
                "* %?\n%t\n%^{Meal}p%^{Type}p")
...

Now, I can type C-c c F to bring up the capture template and quickly fill in details about a meal. This is then saved automatically in my ~/org/food.org file and put in the proper location, organized by date. It looks like this so far…

Food log

The %^{Meal}p and %^{Type}p parts of the capture template are for setting “Properties”. In this case I am asked to enter the Meal and Type properties. Properties allow Org-mode to act like a rudimentary database. Switching to Column view shows a table of the values for each property, like this:

Column view

I’m including an active timestamp with each entry (using %t in the template) so that they will be included in Org’s Agenda for that day.

There’s no real need to log my meals, but Org-mode makes it quick and painless so why not?

My Photos are a Disorganized Mess

I've made a huge mistake

My photos have become a disorganized mess. For years I’ve known where all of my photos were. I kept them in dated folders, period. Sometimes the specifics of how I organized things changed, but I could always count on any given photo being in something like ~/Photos/2018/04-April-2018/ThisIsANicePhoto.jpg.

Then the iPhone and Apple Photos came along. Initially, nothing changed. I would plug my phone into the computer, copy the photos from it, delete them from the phone, and move them to the proper folder, where they belonged. Go ahead, narrow your eyes at me, but it was a great, predictable system and it meant that every photo ended up in the same place. Be it film or digital, taken with the iPhone or some other camera, a photo went into a folder forever.

At some point I decided not to do it that way. I tired of moving images off the phone and dealing with them. I decided to use Apple Photos to store my iPhone photos. Zero friction, right? I’d continue to manage non-iPhone photos as I always had, then just copy the keepers into Photos so I had a “complete” library.

As you can imagine, I now have two libraries, and neither of them is complete.

This was a huge mistake.

To fix this, I’m going to have to essentially merge two similar-but-not-the-same libraries. What do you think the odds are of me not losing anything or ending up with tons of duplicates? That’s right, the odds are zero.

Don’t ever let me try anything like that again.

Using Karl Voit's File Naming System

I name most of my files with an ISO formatted date and then some descriptive text. For example…

2018-05-06 This is a File.txt

A couple years ago I ran into Karl Voit’s article about Managing Digital Files. I originally wrote it off as a bit over the top and I didn’t give it another thought. Then today I decided to go all in with it.

You can read his entire article if you like, but the gist of it is that he names files using a pattern like this:

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2018-05-06 This is some file -- tag1 tag2.jpg
|_date___| |_description___||___tags_____|

It’s a little verbose but that hasn’t gotten in the way. The trick of the whole thing is to use his suite of tools to help manage things.

  • date2name for prepending the file’s creation date
  • appendfilename for adding to the filename without disturbing the date or tags
  • move2archive for moving the files to a dated folder hierarchy
  • filetags for managing tags and creating a tag hierarchy

Seems like a lot of fuss, but the goal is to have a future-proof collection of well-organized files with no chance of lock-in or abandonment. This is one way of achieving that. Voit’s tools aren’t necessary, just helpful. If they went away nothing would be lost. The whole thing lines up nicely with my preference for keeping files in organized, date-based folders.

I often use the Ranger file browser and so I added a few key mappings to make managing filetags, etc. easier. Here’s part of my Ranger config file:

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map Fm shell m2a %s
map Ft shell filetags %s
map Fn shell date2name %s
map Fa shell appendfilename %s

I mark one or more files in Ranger and hit “F” then one of m, t, n, or a to move, tag, add the date, or rename them.

A nice side effect of this is that all files named using YYYY-MM-DD… are swept up by my Memacs scripts. This causes any file or photo in the archive to show up in my Org-mode agenda on the day it was created.

Agenda

That’s a nice bonus. The Memacs thing is going to have to be a whole other post.

Managing Dotfiles With GNU Stow

Every so often I reconfigure the way I manage my dotfiles. There are all sorts of tools out there for this.

You get the idea. I never got along with any of them for one reason or another.

I’m now trying GNU Stow. Stow isn’t made specifically for managing dotfiles but it does the job pretty easily. I like it because I can easily organize things and install/update them as needed. To do this I group related dotfiles into folders in ~/.dotfiles. Like this…

Dotfile tree

Each directory contains the folders full of dotfiles organized the way I want them to be symlinked in $HOME. For example, I can have Stow create and symlink dotfiles for Vim by typing stow vim. This creates symlinks for both the .vimrc file and the .vim directory. I like grouping things by app, but I could also group by environment or machine if I wanted.

I like this because it makes sense to me and there’s not too much magic involved. Stow can be installed on macOS using Homebrew.

brew install stow

Here are a few articles that helped me get started.

datetime-separator

IBM Watson Analyzes My Twitter

IBM Watson analyzed my Twitter account and came up with this:

You are skeptical, inner-directed and unconventional.

You are reserved: you are a private person and don’t let many people in. You are independent: you have a strong desire to have time to yourself. And you are self-conscious: you are sensitive about what others might be thinking about you.

You are motivated to seek out experiences that provide a strong feeling of discovery.

You are relatively unconcerned with both tradition and taking pleasure in life. You care more about making your own path than following what others have done. And you prefer activities with a purpose greater than just personal enjoyment.

Try it

SmugMug buys Flickr and hope is restored to the internet

Me, writing about Flickr in 2004:

So far, Flickr rocks. It’s still officially in beta, and things change/improve almost daily. The site is a great combination of easy to use and geek-friendly. The developers are focused on all the right things. There seems to be a core set of ideals that touch on things like standards-compliance, ease of use, extensibility, accessibility and other goodies.

And again, a few months later:

The community features are a great byproduct of the site’s main goal, photo sharing. And they don’t get in your way if you don’t care.

The APIs and RSS everywhere. I’m writing a gallery and can think of a half-dozen cool things to do with it. Flickr is a platform. That fact alone will give them the edge. I bet we’ll see a cottage industry spring up of folks creating Flickr-based apps

I’ve been a Flickr user since Caterina Fake still had time to comment on my photos.

In a perfect world, Instagram would not exist. Flickr would still be the go-to place for posting, organizing, and talking about photos. Flickr is better than Instagram at everything around photo sharing. Everything except the active user counts, I guess.

Yahoo botched such a great opportunity, it’s maddening.

But, here we’ve been for nearly a decade. Last year, Maciej Cegłowski had a great thought about Flickr:

If you could have Flickr back the way it used to be and run competently, everybody would be on there right now. I think it would be wonderful if the old Flickr crew could get the site back and run it the way they wanted to.

My comment then was “Seeing Flickr back in caring, competent hands would be the ideal outcome.”

And out of seemingly nowhere, SmugMug comes along and buys Flickr1. I’ve been a SmugMug user for nearly as long as I’ve used Flickr. They’ve always struck me as a company that cared about the user first, profit second. This is why the announcement yesterday has me so giddy. SmugMug seems like our best chance at the “caring, competent hands” I’d been hoping for. I believe Don MacAskill to be smart, patient, and a photographer at heart.

I dare not guess where the SmugMug purchase of Flickr will lead, but I’m unreasonably happy about it. Hopeful, even.


  1. I’d link to the SmugMug announcement page but it’s a horrible, overwrought, janky mess of a page. This is the only discouraging thing about the whole thing so far. [return]

In Praise of the News on Paper - WSJ

Barton Swaim, WSJ:

The newspaper brings a kind of epistemological definition to the everyday work of being literate. You can hold the day’s knowledge with two ink-stained hands, and when you’re done with it, you can throw it away. It won’t update and demand to be read in a few hours, and it won’t follow you around on your smartphone.

I’m convinced that reading the news “in the paper” is the best way to stay informed without losing one’s mind or dying of anxiety in the process. It feels great to be done with the news for the day.