I hope I Haven't Broken Too Much This Time

I happened to see the Hugo 0.19 release announcement and didn’t think too much of it until I read this…

Native Emacs Org-mode Support

Well now!

I installed it and tested with a few Org files and between my love of static sites and Org Mode I’ve replaced everything with a new Hugo-generated version. Again.

Why I Still Read Printed Newspapers

Here’s a quick list of reasons I still read printed newspapers.

  • Reading a newspaper is a distinct, deliberate effort to catch up on the news
  • I find the act of reading a printed newspaper to be relaxing, even when the content is terrifying
  • Ads are unintrusive and do not track me
  • No video or shitty slideshows
  • Headlines and ledes are on front page, with the longer version just a page turn away
  • No irrelevant and annoying clickbait to lead me astray
  • It’s possible to completely finish the news, put down the paper, and go on with my day.

Dear News Media: Create News For People Who Have Never Read A Newspaper

Media Center Lab:

OK, look: Breaking away from old conventions is hard. I get it. But it doesn’t make sense to force the norms of 50 years ago onto people whose parents weren’t even born then.

Adapting a newspaper for the modern web isn’t good enough for people who never read newspapers in the first place. We deserve something new

“Deserve”, really? I think what you meant is “want”.

I understand the overall sentiment, but…

This kind of layout is what we’d expect from a newspaper. But something created for a young and sophisticated audience needs better design, better visual hierarchy and more color. We grew up in the age of iPod ads, and for us, design matters.

Of course only the young are sophisticated enough to know and understand that design matters.

Here’s a tip. If you want to get the most out of the news, read real, printed newspapers. Really, it solves many of the problems described in the article.

Mailhub and Apple Mail

I’ve been reeling things in lately, software-wise. I’ll write more about that some other time, but I right now I want to share something I’ve found during the process.

MailHub

Mailhub is “a ‘smart’ plug-in for Apple Mail that revolutionises email management”. Sounds great, but I haven’t used Apple Mail in years. I use MailMate, which is a fantastic email client.

Or at least I used to use MailMate.

After reading Dr. Drang’s Back to Apple Mail post, I realized that switching to the stock Apple email app would fit right in with the reel-things-in phase I’m going through. Dr. Drang mentioned Mailhub so I jumped right in.

Mailhub is terrific. It files mail like I’ve always wanted something to file mail. It feels and works like a tool I would have made, if I was able to do such a thing.

After a few days of this I’m quite happy to be using Mailhub and Mail.app.

Leica M6

My first Leica was an M6 TTL. I sold it in the mid-2000s and have since gone through a number of Leica bodies, from an M3 to an M8. For the past several years I’ve used an M3 and M4. I love them, but I sometimes missed having a meter in the camera rather than on the camera.

So I bought an M6

It’s the perfect M6 for me. It is one of the last 10 “Classic” M6 bodies ever produced (1998). It has had the finder optics upgraded to the flare-free “MP” version. The only framelines displayed are 28, 35, and 50mm. This makes for a bright, beautiful, clutter-free viewfinder.

I chose the M6 “Classic” version because they are generally less expensive than the newer TTL models, with no real disadvantage. I prefer the direction of the shutter dial to be the same as my older bodies.

I’ve put one roll through it, and it’s just as smooth and solid as the M3 and M4. Don’t let the forum trolls convince you otherwise.

As handy as having a built-in meter is, I found that I spent more time obsessing over the meter’s lights than I did looking at the subject. I didn’t expect that. I also ended up with a few badly-exposed shots due to a backlit subject. I would normally have just guessed the exposure. Instead I listened to the meter. I’ll have to re-learn when to stop trusting it!

Here are a few shots from the first roll. It’s Tri-X, shot at 1250 ISO and developed in Diafine, then scanned on the Pakon.

Steve (2017)

Ed (2017)

Shoes (2017)

Social Is No Fun

I recently re-activated my Facebook account after a few months away. I missed seeing updates from family members and a few close friends. I also missed some of the topic-based “groups” I was part of.

I took a month or so off Twitter also, but now am back.

I’m finding that being on social media isn’t much fun anymore. I’ll stay for now, but the thrill is long gone.

More Shooting With The Hasselblad And A Flash

While many move toward carrying only an iPhone or small, mirrorless system, I’ve been thinking bigger.

Hasselblad 503CXi, 150mm Sonnar, Prism finder, D-Flash 40 on a bracket

A Hasselblad is big enough on its own, but add a prism finder, longer lens, and that big awkward flash unit and it becomes downright unwieldy. It’s also awesome. Most of my favorite images from recent years are from the Hasselblads. I blame the Zeiss lenses. I love the look they produce and have yet to find anything matching it.

The flash, a Hasselblad D-Flash 40, is a recent addition. With the 503CXi body, it’s fully TTL and meters directly off the film. This means getting a decent exposure every time without doing much of anything. I just set the camera to f8 and 125th second and shoot.

This is terrific for shooting indoors. I just don’t have the eye or the hands for handheld natural-light shooting indoors. I’ve always preferred natural-light photography, but using the Hasselblad handheld with an on-camera flash creates a different look, and I’m learning to enjoy it.

Andrew (2017). Hasselblad 503CXi. Zeiss Sonnar 150mm. HP5+

Steve (2017). Hasselblad 503CXi. Zeiss Sonnar 150mm. HP5+

Josh (2017). Hasselblad 503CXi. Zeiss Sonnar 150mm. HP5+

Arq for Backups On My Macs

Arq

I’m diligent when it comes to backing up my computers. I make sure to always have local and offsite copies of everything. Years ago I began using Stefan Reitshamer’s Arq utility for making offline copies (to Amazon S3) and it was great. That is, until ongoing storage costs became prohibitive. S3 was relatively cheap at the time, but I was still paying hundreds of dollars per year for storage. When Backblaze and Crashplan showed up at \$5/month for “unlimited” backups, I switched (to Crashplan).

I never got on well with Crashplan. I never felt that I could “see” what was going on with my backups. The interface feels janky and the app would sometimes refuse to run after OS upgrades. But, it did the job and was cheap.

While reviewing my backups after the new year, I took another look at Arq and was reminded what a nice app it is. Arq just feels better. It can back up from anything to just about anywhere and does so quickly and securely. And the costs? One of the targets available is Amazon Cloud Drive, which offers “unlimited” storage for \$60/year.

So I’m back to using Arq for my backups and couldn’t be happier.

Capturing To An Org-Mode Date Tree In Current Buffer

I use Capture Templates in Org Mode for all sorts of things. Frequently, I want to capture something to a date tree, which automatically organizes entries by Year->Month->Day.

The usual way of doing this is to specify the target file as part of the capture template, like this…

1
2
3
("d" "Daybook" entry
(file+datetree "~/org/daybook.org")
"* %?\n%t")

What I also wanted to do was capture to a date tree in the buffer I’m already visiting. This meant that I couldn’t specify the file name ahead of time. I assumed doing this would require a bunch of fancy tricks (I’m not good at writing lisp), but it turned out to be easy. I simply replaced what would normally be a string containing the target file’s name with buffer-file-name, like this…

1
2
3
("l" "Current file log entry" entry
(file+datetree buffer-file-name)
"* %? \n%u")

Now, I can easily add an entry to a date tree in any file I’m working on.

The Lomo'Instant Wide Camera

A photograph becomes real only when it’s printed. I love photographic prints of all kinds. This is why I’ve loved the Fuji Instax cameras. All you get is a print. No muss no fuss.

The Fuji Instax210 has been fun, but let’s face it, it’s kind of ugly. The later versions are better, but still not great. I loved the Lomo’Instant Wide the moment I saw it. Especially the “Central Park” version, so I bought one.

It’s great. Here’s why I like it (compared to my old Fuji):

  • It looks great
  • Zone focusing on the lens rather than via menu
  • Controls are on the back, and are buttons and led indicators. No LCD.
  • The lens cap doubles as a remote shutter release. Genius!
  • Comes with various lens attachments (Close-up, super-wide, etc)
  • It’s plastic, but not as “plastic-ey” as the Fuji
  • There’s a PC sync port. I can use an external flash!

Super fun, cute, and more versatile than the one it’s replacing. I’m happy with it.

Selfie (2017). Instax. Lomo'Instant Wide

AirPods are Awesome

I’m not going to write a long review or anything, but I did want to say that I love the new Apple AirPods. They are the most Apple-like new product I’ve used in a long time. After using the AirPods for a few days, one wonders what the hell every Bluetooth headphone maker has been doing for the past decade. I’ll forgive Apple the Siri-only interaction model with this round, but they need to fix that. Otherwise, the entire experience is wonderful.

Apple has (at least historically) been good at eliciting reactions like, “Well, of course this is how it should work!” They’ve done it again with the AirPods.

Ektachrome is Back

Ektachrome

Film Is Not Dead:

We are very much pro film, in favour of film! Film is our heritage and we’ll continue to look at these opportunities and the one we can look at today is Ektachrome. — T. J. Mooney, Kodak Alaris

I haven’t shot any color reversal film since Kodachrome went away, but I may have to dust off the JOBO and mix up some E6 chemistry soon. This is good news.

A Short Break From Twitter

I haven’t been “on” Twitter since the first of the year. As of today that means it’s been a whole week. It sounds stupid just saying that, “A whole week.” Big deal. But, it’s been surprisingly difficult to stay away.

I realized that I was using Twitter as an excuse to do nothing useful. I’d scroll and click and scroll and click and I loved it. So what’s the problem? The problem is that I was always looking for something new to do, or more likely, just hoping to be entertained. Nothing inherently wrong with that, but I was doing it during every spare moment, and frequently in moments that I couldn’t spare. Not productive.

Too much of a good thing is a bad thing, so I’m taking a break. I don’t know how long it will last. It’s just an experiment.

  • I’d like to lose my pervasive fear of missing out.
  • I want to know if my background stress level changes.
  • I want to learn to seek things out deliberately rather than passively having everything streamed at me.
  • I want to reduce my intake of snark and false outrage.
  • One immediate side effect is that after one week without Twitter I’m already less angry at the world. That’s something worth pursuing.

In the meantime, I’ll be here at baty.net and probably more active on Instagram.

The Untouched Touch Bar

I don’t use the Touch Bar on my MacBook Pro for anything other than Function keys and Touch ID. I love having Touch ID on a Mac, but man I sure miss having real Function and Escape keys.

Maybe I’ll learn new behavior over time. Maybe there really is a decent use for the Touch Bar. Right now though, I would swap the Touch Bar for actual keys in a heartbeat. Also, still hate the keyboard.

Open Letter to Apple - Dave Pell

Dave Pell:

But I’m a grown-ass man. I’m not some punk you can distract by making me ponder which version of black I want on my next iPhone. I want the same keyboard I’ve been getting the hang of for the last decade. I want the same form-factor. I want what’s coming to me. I want the best consumer computing device ever put on a store’s shelf.

I want a new MacBook Air.

You tell him, Dave.

I’ve had one of the fancy new Touch-Bar-having MacBook Pros for a few weeks and it’s a lovely machine. But, what I’d rather have is a slightly-faster MacBook Air with a Retina display. I want the old keyboard and I want real function keys. I want that razor-sharp leading edge and wonderful taper. Maybe we could compromise on the Touch Bar and just give me Touch ID up there in the corner.

I don’t like that the best computer I’ll ever have is the one I can no longer have.

I would also like a new MacBook Air, please.

This Is a Job for Beeminder

I ran into the word Akrasia again recently and it reminded me of myself:

Akrasia (əˈkreɪzɪə; Greek ἀκρασία, “lacking command”).

…a lack of self-control or the state of acting against one’s better judgement. The adjectival form is “akratic”

I think about this sort of thing in January, naturally. I had first heard of Akrasia when I was actively using Beeminder a few years ago. I’m not sure why I quit using Beeminder (well I do, but I’ll never admit it). Since I’ve become fatter and more out of shape than I’ve been in years, I’m firing up Beeminder again to see if it helps curb my akratic tendencies.

Previewing Markdown in Emacs using Marked

In some cases I prefer to edit files using Markdown rather than Org Mode. Marked App works great for previewing Markdown and quickly sharing or saving in various formats.

The Marked Bonus Pack contains a bit of Lisp for sending my current Emacs buffer to Marked for preview…

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
(defun markdown-preview-file ()
  "use Marked 2 to preview the current file"
  (interactive)
  (shell-command 
   (format "open -a 'Marked 2.app' %s" 
       (shell-quote-argument (buffer-file-name))))
)
(global-set-key "\C-cm" 'markdown-preview-file)

Now I just hit “C-c m” and the current buffer is instantly previewed in Marked App. Nice.

MLKSHK

I don’t know what to use mlkshk for, even though I’ve been a paid user for several years. What I do know is that Mlkshk is so quirky and different that I’m planning to find a place for it in 2017.

Here’s mine: http://mlkshk.com/user/jackbaty

Update 02/22/2017: This from MLKSHK today: “We are closing MLKSHK. 🙁 ”

I was mostly inactive, but still paid, user. I wanted them to succeed.

Weather Logging In Tinderbox Updated

For the past couple of years, I’ve used a “Stamp” in Tinderbox to append weather conditions to the current note’s text.

See Recording The Weather In Tinderbox for background.

While preparing my Daybook for 2017 I decided I wanted to include just the current condition and temperature rather than the entire weather summary. The following script grabs the weather (using wu) and returns either just the current conditions and temperature or, if a date is passed, it returns summary information for that date.

 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
#!/bin/sh
# Jack Baty, 2016 (https://baty.net)
# Grab and parse weather info using 'wu' by Stephen Ramsay
# https://github.com/sramsay/wu
#
# Pass the date as YYYYMMDD to get summary info for that date
# If no date is passed, just get current conditions

# Assumes $GOPATH is set
GOPATH=/Users/jbaty/go

if [ $# -ge 1 ]
then
 DATE="$1"
 WEATHER=`$GOPATH/bin/wu --history=$DATE`
 HITEMP=`echo "$WEATHER" | awk '/Max Temperature/' | cut -d':' -f2-`
 LOWTEMP=`echo "$WEATHER" | awk '/Min Temperature/' | cut -d':' -f2-`
 PRECIP=`echo "$WEATHER" | awk '/Precipitation/' | cut -d':' -f2-`
 COND=`echo "$WEATHER" | awk '/Weather summary/' | cut -d':' -f2-`
 if [ "$COND" != " " ]
 then
 echo "High:$HITEMP, Low:$LOWTEMP, Conditions:$COND$PRECIP"
 else
 echo "High:$HITEMP, Low:$LOWTEMP"
 fi
else
 DATE=`date +%Y%m%d`
 WEATHER=`$GOPATH/bin/wu --conditions`
 TEMP=`echo "$WEATHER" | awk '/Temperature/' | cut -d':' -f2-`
 COND=`echo "$WEATHER" | awk '/Conditions/' | cut -d':' -f2-`
 echo "$COND$TEMP"
fi

My Stamp calls this new script, adds the results to a custom attribute named “Weather” and then adds Weather as a KeyAttribute to the current note. This way the weather is only displayed on notes for which I explicitly asked for it. The new Stamp looks like this:

Now, if I want to include the weather conditions with a note, I apply the “Get Weather on \$StartDate” Stamp and it looks like this…

Note that this gets the weather on the date set in the \$StartDate attribute for a note. It could easily use the \$Created attribute instead but I always set \$StartDate explicitly so that’s what I use.

If I only want the current conditions, I use the “Get Weather Conditions” Stamp instead. It’s basically the same thing, but without including a date parameter. The results look like this…

Goodbye Mint, Goodbye Fever

Shaun Inman:

As of today I’m officially suspending sales and support of Mint and Fever. But! As self-hosted software, absolutely nothing changes and you can continue using both Mint and Fever as you were yesterday.

That’s a shame. I’ve used Mint for many years and for my purposes it’s been nearly perfect. As Shaun says, I can keep using it indefinitely, which is what I plan to do.