Lily’s upstairs putting Iris to bed. I’m sipping fernet and soda water, my pandemic drink of choice. (A little fernet, a lot of soda water, a dash of lemon, ice.)
We walked in the sun with Ruth earlier. Iris was interested in her. Possibly smitten. Staring at her as we walked. Occasionally, accidentally, blinding herself in the sun, still low in the sky these days at this latitude.
I’ve cleaned up the kitchen (salmon, salad) and was thinking about watching 15 minutes of Shutter Island. I find Mark Ruffalo quite charming.
That guy at the party who just wants to talk about Billy Joel. (‘Yeah, man, totally – Billy has a song about that’.) And you, because you’re not a jerk, nod along politely and maybe ask some questions about Long Island. Then, an hour later, that really cool person you’d like to get to know shows up, and you’re angling for an introduction, and finally it happens: ‘Oh, you should meet my friend — yeah, he loves Billy Joel.’
This came to mind as I opened Youtube today, and, because I watched 15 seconds of a video about the NYAG’s settlement with some cryptocurrency bad actors (redundant, perhaps), I’m shown a screen full of recommended videos about Bitcoin speculation.
‘This guy loves Billy Joel.’
Now that it’s rolling out widely, Clubhouse is getting criticised for being iOS-only. I don’t care much for or about Clubhouse, but it put me in mind of this episode from 2010 when Paul and I caused a bit of a stir for actively blocking Internet Explorer. I’d completely forgotten about this until seeing an irate tweet about Clubhouse, and was transported back to January 2010, sitting in a computer lab (imagine!) at Trinity, gleefully scrolling through absurdly angry forum posts and blog comments.
It made ‘business sense’, probably, to focus on the browsers our likely early-adopters most use. And we probably took some pleasure in being opinionated and snobbish. Our messaging around it was juvenile and I, I hope, would be more accessibility-minded today. (Whom are we refusing to serve when we block IE or Android?)
Following up on my first post about implementing this site in an in-memory Elixir app:
In the interest of writing smaller posts more often, I implemented Aaron Parecki’s micropub spec so I’d be able to use an external client to easily manage and draft my posts. I like the spec a lot, but I’m a bit disappointed in its ecosystem. Actually — that’s unfair: I’m disappointed that the fantasy client I had in my head (basically MarsEdit for micropub) doesn’t seem to exist. And the beauty of the micropub spec, of course, is that I should take that disappointment and use it to motivate my building of the client I’m imagining.
I’ll add that to my list.
There’s a sample track of Danny Diamond’s new album on Bandcamp: The Twenty-One Highland / Miss Shepherd / The Flood on the Holm. Very worthy.
His album from a few years ago (edit: 2014 apparently!), Fiddle Music, was my Christmas present for everybody that year: the best indication I can think of that it was my favourite album of that year. I don’t have the vocabulary to describe the intricacies of Irish fiddle playing without making an ass of myself, but, well, it’s damn good.
Evan launched Planetary the other day. I’ve been beta testing for a while, and it’s an impressive piece of work. It’s built on top of Dominic Tarr’s SSB so it’s properly decentralised, but with a pretty slick user experience that incorporates some thoughtful insights about how we use social media and how it could be a less toxic force in the world.
Evan’s been kicking around this idea for a while. (There’s some evidence of an aborted 2015 attempt that I had some vague involvement in on Github.) It’s a really tough nut to crack: you’re competing with entrenched super aggregators and you have your hands tied behind your back. A valiant struggle!
Continuing on that affected-anti-design train of thought: it’s funny how much easier it is to design something for some b2b saas product. You just adopt the house style and show off a bit around the periphery. Even when you’re being ambitious, it’s under the shared assumption that it’s something of a mercenary exercise.
But when it’s any kind of non-commercial project, I think I’m either over design or not over myself.
I find it difficult to get over myself enough to design something that feels right. Everything’s either rinsed, trendy or too designy, but then if it’s not trendy or designy it feels like I’m doing an affected anti-design thing. We struggled with this when we were designing and decorating the bookshop. You want it to be well designed, but not well designed. That’s not what it’s about.
Like, I imagine, a great many internet people, I’ve spent far more time over the years devising elaborate blog architectures and designs than actually writing anything. I’m delighted to report that I’ve done it again.
The latest is my silliest architecture yet. It’s written in Elixir, for one, which is not necessarily a perfect fit for the project. But Elixir is a language I’ve been wanting to use more and have especially been wanting to get more comfortable deploying. I’m deploying it to a Digital Ocean droplet (set up with Ansible) using a very stupid Github Action that creates the release on the server itself, stops the old release, replaces it the the new, and starts that one up. I have no idea if this is an acceptable way to go about deploying an Elixir application, but it seems to work.
The little Elixir app itself does a number of silly things. It uses no separate database, for one. It starts up a little GenServer that reads a bunch of markdown files from a particular folder in the filesystem, parses them into little blog-post structs, and stores them in an in-memory ETS table. That’s the whole blog. When you hit the home page, the app just pulls all the posts out of memory and dresses them up for you. If I update a blog-post or add a new one, the GenServer picks it up and updates the ETS table accordingly – no deploy required. If the server restarts or crashes, the app rebuilds itself from the markdown files when it starts up again. It’s very fast. And the whole thing runs on one tiny server, which is nice. And I like the fact that there’s no need to backup the database or anything because the definitive source of truth is just the little folder of markdown files.
Why not use Jekyll? Or Hugo? Or any other static site generator?