Being Basic as a Virtue - Nadia Eghbal

Nadia Eghbal:

Similarly, if producing ideas becomes a symbol of work (having to think about stuff all day), rather than leisure (freedom to think about stuff all day), I wonder whether basic behavior will start to become covetable. Instead of signaling how much we’re thinking, maybe we’ll start to signal how much we’re not thinking. Rather than a private coping mechanism or a way to unwind, basic behavior would become a way to display total unawareness of those who toil in the idea mines all day; a blissful unfamiliarity with the social signal factory.

“…a blissful unfamiliarity with the social signal factory”

How nice that would be.

Maybe I'll try Linux again another time

I have a (5th Gen?) ThinkPad just itching to run Linux. I’m a decades-long Mac user also itching to try Linux. This combination meant that I’ve been experimenting with Linux for several months.

But it’s over…for now.

I’ve found running Linux to be death by 1,000 cuts. Things like…

  • There seem to be 50 ways to remap caps lock to control but for the life of me I can’t get any of them to work consistently. This is an immediate must-have thing for me.
  • Why can’t I copy and paste from a terminal? I’m sure it’s possible but I can’t figure it out.
  • The Touchpad on the ThinkPad is horrible and I can’t configure it properly.
  • Why is there no sound?
  • Why can’t I get Dropbox to start automatically?
  • Shit, I forgot I don’t have TextExpander, which I use constantly on my Macs

All of these things are solvable, but solving them isn’t why I want to run Linux. I want to have a relatively inexpensive, non-Mac laptop with a decent keyboard. I want to learn some of the magical things available to me on Linux. I want to experiment with different desktop environments or distributions.

This weekend I spend half a day re-installing Manjaro i3. That’s not true, I spent about 20 minutes installing it, and then four hours swearing at everything I couldn’t get to work properly. I’ve tried a few other things like Ubuntu, Mint, Manjaro xfce, etc. but i3 is the one I’m most interested in, but oops! “There’s an error in your .i3/config”. Of course there is.

It just hasn’t been fun. Linux should be fun, right?

I’m going to shelve this experiment for a while and revisit it later. I don’t know that I’ll ever be comfortable actively running both macOS and Linux. If I were going to go all-in Linux, I’m sure it would be a better experience because I wouldn’t have a machine running macOS right over there that basically just works and has more than everything I need.

I’m not giving up on Linux yet. Just pressing pause.

I just can't leave you, DEVONthink

On August 22nd I wrote

I took DEVONthink out of the rotation today. Too much overhead for how I use it (as a glorified file manager). HoudahSpot does a fine job of helping me find things. I’ll miss capture and inboxes, so we’ll see if it takes.

It didn’t take. I’ve been using DEVONthink since 2005 and I should have known better.

DEVONthink Pro (DTP) is a deep and powerful app that can masquerade as merely a fancy file manager. I sometimes feel that it’s unnecessary overkill for my purposes, so I move things out of it and into the Finder. (DEVONthink makes this almost too easy).

Then, I find a snippet of text that I want to save and I don’t know where to put it. Evernote works for that but I don’t want to use Evernote.

Or I scan a document and it ends up on my Desktop and not OCR’ed because I can’t remember how to configure ScanSnap to do that. It was so much easier to just let DTP handle it because it’s very good at that sort of thing.

Then I try cleaning out my Downloads folder and there are a bunch of receipts in there that now need filing. DTP’s AI features make filing documents almost automatic and I suddenly miss that.

Or I want to link to a file I just created but the file is still on my Desktop so the link will break once I move it (manually) to it’s new home. DTP makes it easy to generate permanent links to documents that don’t break no matter where I move the file.

What if I want to take notes about a document? In DTP I just add an annotation and type as much as I want. Finder comments aren’t nearly as flexible or accessible.

You see what I mean? For something as simple as a “glorified file manager”, DEVONthink sure brings a lot of power to the process of capturing, managing, and finding information.

I just bought the upgrade to version 3 and I’ll be spending time today bringing everything back in (which, of course, DTP also makes easy work of).

Simplicity (II) - Bastian Allgeier

Bastian Allgeier:

Whenever there’s no package.json I know it’s going to be a good day. Whenever there’s one, Pandora is coming along the way with her fucking box.

I’m happy that I get to work with some great developers so that I don’t have to be one myself. I couldn’t handle modern web development.

(via Baldur Bjarnason)

100 Best Notebooks 2019 - The Strategist

Lots of neat notebooks listed and briefly reviewed in New York Magazine.

One that sort of rubbed me the wrong way was:

I had a hard time with the “I’m a person who carries around a Field Notes notebook”–ness that carrying around a Field Notes notebook signifies, but that’s perhaps my own issue.

Yes, perhaps it is.

The first ugly iPhone


I find the iPhone 11’s camera conglomeration to be rather ugly. Function over form is new for Apple, no? I could get used to it, but sheesh, it’s a shock to the system.

Post about after rather than before

I would prefer seeing fewer aspirational posts/tweets/etc. I’m not terribly interested that you’ve started to read a book, but please do let me know how you liked it when you’re finished. It’s great that you’re planning to work out every day, but why tell me that? Intending to regularly write morning pages before breakfast isn’t actually writing anything, but I can’t wait to hear how it’s helped you after you’ve done it for six months.

Writing aspirational posts can be self-motivating, and I’m guilty of it myself. And of course feel free to write about anything you damn well please. I’m just asking for fewer before and more after posts.

I just set up a blog again

For a time, I was using Dave Winer‘s blogging tool, Fargo. After support for Fargo faded I followed up with his newer tool, and loved that too.

Dave’s a busy guy with lots of ideas, and he followed those ideas elsewhere, leaving 1999 behind. Supporting the tools he builds doesn’t seem to be Dave’s favorite pasttime, so 1999 languished.

Still, it’s a pretty nifty blogging tool. It’s open, uses nothing but age old web stuff like OPML and RSS, and is relatively easy to install for someone comfy with server stuff.

Anyhoo, 1999 has been mentioned a few times recently over on and it got me wondering if I could still get it running.

It turns out that I can. I have it running at

Here are a few notes about the process.

I spun up a small EC2 instance running Ubuntu. Then I followed Dave’s instructions nearly to the letter.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nodejs
sudo apt-get install npm
git clone
cd nodestorage
npm install

My config.json looks like this…

"myPort": 1999,
"websocketPort": 2000,
"myDomain": "",
"where": {
	      "flUseLocalFilesystem": true,
          "publicPath": "publicFiles/",
          "privatePath": "privateFiles/"
"homePage": {
             "productnameForDisplay": "Jack's 1999 Blog"
"twitterConsumerKey": "z[REDACTED]s",
"twitterConsumerSecret": "p[REDACTED]X"

I installed nginx so that I could serve the static files generated by 1999 directly (and not at port 1999).

server {
        root /home/jbaty/nodestorage/publicFiles/users/jackbaty;
        index index.html;

        location / {
                try_files $uri $uri/ =404;


Up to this point it all worked without a hitch. I hit a wall while trying to get it running with an SSL certificate. I’d forgotten that 1999 doesn’t work well with SSL. I could’ve sworn I’d solved it at one time but I can’t remember how.

So for now it’s just running on port 80 at an old-school http URL. I have no idea if I’ll do anything with it, but it’s fun to play with.

UPDATE 2019.09.06: I really want to keep trying, but I’m suddenly hitting too many snags and I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble. It’s a shame, really.

No Serious Defenders - Robin Sloan

Robin Sloan:

There’s a rhetorical habit that is very prevalent and very bad. It involves: finding a ridiculous version of an argument you oppose, possibly by using Twitter’s search function; pointing to it; saying, “See! Look at these assholes!”

This is so bad it’s actually self-indicting, by which I mean, a person who indulges in this kind of straw-man “weirdo safari” is telling you very clearly that they are not worth your time. The instant you detect the habit, you should just close the tab.

There might—might!—be an exception, in which an idea truly has no serious defenders. But in that case, as a writer you really ought to ask: why am I wasting my breath? Does everything obvious need to be litigated? Wouldn’t it be more concise and convincing simply to say, “The idea has no serious defenders”?

“Does everything obvious need to be litigated?” I wish the answer was “No”.