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 1999.io 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, 1999.io 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 Micro.blog and it got me wondering if I could still get it running.

It turns out that I can. I have it running at 1999.baty.net.

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.

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sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nodejs
sudo apt-get install npm
git clone https://github.com/scripting/nodestorage.git
cd nodestorage
npm install

My config.json looks like this…

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{
"myPort": 1999,
"websocketPort": 2000,
"myDomain": "1999.baty.net:1999",
"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).

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server {
        server_name 1999.baty.net;
        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”.

Deleting Tweets

I just deleted 14,247 tweets going back to 20061.

Why? Aren’t I supposed to archive and keep everything forever? Yes, and that’s what I did. I downloaded my entire Twitter archive before deleting anything. I still have a local copy of everything.

I kept all tweets from 2019 and a bunch of my favorites going back to 2007. Eventually I’ll maintain a rolling set of maybe 90 days and delete everything older than that.

Data is becoming a liability. I’m not worried about being called out on things I said ten years ago, but having everything I’ve muttered since 2006 on someone else’s servers feels icky and this is one place where I don’t see the harm in getting rid of it.


  1. I used the paid version of Twitter Archive Eraser ↩︎

Spaceline for Emacs

I’m trying Spaceline in Emacs.

This is the package that provides Spacemacs with its famous mode-line theme. It has been extracted as an independent package for general fun and profit.

I’d been using a super minimal mode line and was finding it a bit too minimal. Rather than just add things to my config, I let Spaceline do it for me. Looks like this:

The relevant config looks like this…

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(use-package spaceline
  :ensure t)

(use-package spaceline-config
  :ensure spaceline
  :config
  (spaceline-helm-mode 1)
  (spaceline-emacs-theme)
  (spaceline-toggle-org-clock-on)
  (spaceline-toggle-minor-modes-off)
  (spaceline-toggle-version-control-off))