I use tt-rss, which provides a mechanism to produce an RSS feed of “shared” posts, and optionally include an “article note” for each. I point my micro.blog at the produced feed (as well as my WordPress blog), which works great, except that the article note sometimes shows up on my micro.blog feed and other times does not.
I’ve had a blogroll since I first started using blogging software instead of rolling my own site with hand-coded html and php. Even before that—almost 20 years ago, when I was getting set to go to Clarion—I was linking to the websites of writers I knew. Probably a dozen people in my class (or the Clarion West class of that same year), plus a few teachers, editors, and other writers that I had some connection to had blogs, and several others had websites. I made a point of linking to all of them.
I kept it up pretty well for a while, following people to their new sites and new links as they acquired domains and changed software. I figured one big benefit of getting to know a crop of fellow new writers was being able to link to one another’s websites, and then preserve those connections as (to varying degrees) we became famous. But various things—time, differential success, fashions in internet presence—have made blogs and blogrolls less of a thing. At the same time, my interests have expanded in other directions besides writing.
Sometime in the next week or so, I’m going to go through my blogroll and check what I’m linked to. I’ll delete dead links, and shift sites to the “website” category if the blog is there but no longer being updated. I’ll make similar changes to my list of websites. (Note: as part of my “Facebook is evil” thinking, I’m going to be dropping people whose only link is to a Facebook or Instagram page. Sorry, but: Evil.)
If you’re on my blogroll but your site is moved or idle, let me know what you want me to do—link to your new site, keep you on the blogroll (because you’re going to start blogging again one of these days), etc. If you’re not but want to be, let me know that too.
I’ve been purely a lurker, watching the Field Notes RSS feed, checking out their posts and videos, literally for more than a decade: I remember admiring their products from my cubicle back when I was working at a regular job. I even kept that RSS feed in my reader after they broke their website and didn’t have a valid feed for a couple of years.
Now, just a few minutes ago, I finally pulled the trigger on an annual subscription to their notebooks, starting with the National Parks series. (I have promised Jackie that I’ll share the notebooks with her, and I’m sure she’ll be thrilled to see that the National Parks are what we’re starting with.)
Updates once I get my first shipment!
Here’s a great summary of all the things I never quit using: a personal website, #RSS, blogroll, etc. Now augmented with indieweb stuff like webmention, micro.blog, etc.
This used to be automatic, and I have no idea why that’s no longer true. “So if you write or put any kind of content on your site, also make sure to add an RSS feed.” https://matthiasott.com/articles/into-the-personal-website-verse
Whenever I tweet about a company, I like to go ahead and tag the company in the tweet, so they can see what I’m saying about them. Besides that, I’ve a natural inclination toward brand loyalty (for companies whose products I like), so I like to keep up with what the company is doing, and twitter is a good way to do that. (Not nearly as good a way as an RSS feed, but that’s neither here nor there.)
The upshot is that I’m not infrequently searching for a company’s twitter handle—and just lately, I’m pretty often not finding one. More and more companies are limiting their social media presence to Facebook and Instagram—both of which are terrible choices.
Facebook is very bad. It tries to monetize passing on information! It deliberately holds back information that the company wants to share and that I want to see, specifically in order to pressure the company to pay up.
Instagram may be even worse. It is inherently about sharing pictures, whereas information is often best presented as text. Worse yet, it won’t share links, which is almost always what companies (should) want to do, if they’re trying to tell me about the sorts of things I want to hear about.
Twitter is a bad company that provides a service which is bad in many ways, but at least it will show me all the tweets of the company I’ve followed, tweets which can include text and links as well as pictures.
The photo at the top is of a donut I bought this morning at Industrial Donut—the latest company I noticed limiting its social media presence to Facebook and Instagram.
I went ahead and removed the link to my Google profile from the social media menu at the bottom of each page here, and removed Google+ from the list of tabs I routinely open on my browser.
For some time now I’ve found myself in the middle of an unusually large number of books. Actually, that’s not quite true—I’ve forever gotten myself in the middle of multiple books; what’s different lately is that I’ve found it difficult to crank on through to the end of them.
I recently figured out why, which led to me telling Jackie, “I used to be able to just sit down for four or six hours and finish a book or two or three, but I don’t seem to be able to do that any more.”
Jackie of course immediately spotted the issue, which was why I put it that way. “With your new focus on movement,” she said, “you’re much less willing to just sit down for four or six hours to do anything.”
I actually have data showing this. My new Oura ring has a feature to alert me if I spend 50 minutes sitting (or standing) still, but that nagging function is going virtually unused—I’ve gotten exactly one ding for a “long period of inactivity” in the past month. I just don’t sit still for as long as fifty minutes any more.
Getting in plenty of movement is great, and I certainly feel better for doing it, but until recently has had an unfortunate side-effect: I’ve found it very easy to waste those less-than-fifty-minute blocks of time.
In fifty minutes I can check my email, scroll through my twitter feed and my facebook feed, read a couple of articles people have shared links to, and check my RSS feeds. And then after going for a walk or a workout (or just making a cup of coffee), I can waste another fifty minutes.
But fifty minutes is plenty of time to get something useful done, such as reading a chunk of a book. Just lately, finally, I’ve been using those blocks of time that way. (Like a grownup!)
By applying myself to reading books, I am making good progress. I just finished Eliot Peper’s Borderless, which was excellent, and I’m more than halfway through Mathew Walker’s Why We Sleep, which is absolutely fascinating. I hesitate to start Sean B. Carroll’s Endless Forms Most Beautiful until I finish the sleep book. But, having made some progress, I feel like . . . . Well, not like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. More like I figured out how to go spelunking in the book-reading caverns without bonking my head, scraping my knees, and getting a crick in my back.
It’s not like the old days, when I could curl up in a chair (or sprawl out on the floor) and read for hours. But it’s probably better.
A year and a half ago, my brother gave me a Raspberry Pi 3 as a birthday present, suggesting that I should use it to run my own server.
I used to run my own server. A friend who liked to build such things had built it. It had two ethernet ports, one connected to my cable modem and the other connected to my WiFi router, and it was running OpenBSD (then the most secure OS easily available) and was configured to serve as a firewall.
I used it as a server in other ways. I put an extra disk drive (40 GB!) in it where I could store files that I might want to access from elsewhere. (In particular, when I went to Clarion I copied my latest draft of my current story there each evening, in case of catastrophic computer failure.)
It didn’t require much upkeep, but it required more than none—which turned out to be more than I wanted to devote to it. At some point a serious security flaw was discovered in the OpenBSD release I was running. By then most desktop machines had built-in firewalls as did most routers, and I had Time Machine as a backup solution. It seemed safe to give up my server, and easier than updating it.
In the years since then, the use of cloud services has become ubiquitous, to the point that practically everything I do ends up in the cloud—my photos go to both Flickr and Google. I also use Dropbox (where I have Scrivener stash a backup copy of everything I’m writing) and I stash some amount of my music at both Google and at Amazon.
That’s all great—those services are well backed-up, and the servers are very likely running the latest security patches—but I really like the idea of having my own data on my own machines. But I want that without giving up the advantages of having my data in the cloud. Hence wanting to have my own server.
All that as prequel to my brother coming to visit this past week, and helping me get my Raspberry Pi server up and running.
Once the basic install of Raspbian was up and running, I went ahead and ordered a bit of hardware for it. I got a short ethernet cable to connect it to my router, so that it doesn’t have to do WiFi for basic connectivity (although WiFi and Bluetooth are built in). I also got a slightly more powerful USB power supply for it, mainly because I also got a portable USB hard drive that takes its power from the USB port, meaning that the power needs to be available to the Raspberry Pi. Finally, I got a case for it, so that I don’t just have a naked circuit board sitting on my dresser.
This time the hard drive is 1 TB rather than 40 GB.
For cloud functionality I’m following my brother’s example and running syncthing, which has the advantage of being able to handle being behind a NAT and not having a port exposed to the outside world. I’m running it on my Android phone as well and sharing my photos with a third place: my server. The server then shares them with my desktop machine, so they’re available to use. (That’s how I got the photo above: Taken with the phone and then transferred to the desktop within about a minute.)
I’m still sorting out my sharing strategy. I don’t want to share my whole Music folder with my phone, because it would use all the space there. (I’ll probably end up making a folder with an “essential subset” of my music to share with the phone.) I don’t think I want to share my whole Documents folder on my desktop machine, but I’m not sure yet. For the time being I’m sharing a folder I call “Active writing” with the files I’m currently working on, on the desktop, the server, and my laptop. That way they’ll be available wherever I want to work on them.
Other things are tougher. I’d like to have my own calendar server, but that doesn’t seem easy. I should go back to my post on the google-free option and see what else I was thinking about that I might now be able to implement.
For now, though, I’m pretty happy.
My previous server was rack mount width and maybe four or five inches tall, about the size of a stereo component. This one is maybe 3 inches by 5 inches, rather smaller than the hard drive it’s sitting on.
After a long gap (years) Field Notes finally (as of about 6 weeks ago, but I just found it) once again has an RSS feed for their Dispatches.