Oatmeal

A digital pillow fort

In reply to: Eli’s Pastel Bubbles

Thanks @kicks! The layout of your site, and wiki-like structure where some of my major design inspirations going into the website re-build. Also the music of Sylvan Esso and this song.

As for National Treasure, I think you speak truth. Alas…the world isn’t ready for a 3rd installation.

A group of wooden gnomes making and eating pizza.

Some folks watch football. We paint wooden gnomes and make little felt hats for them so they can run a small cafe.

Washing dishes.

And lo, a plague beset their house

February! We made it to the month I most commonly misspell. In mid and late January I had my doubts if we’d make it. I would like to propose that we re-schedule Christmas, or some other really big event that involves lots of decorations (namely lights) for somewhere in the middle of February.

December gets all the hoopla, January gets to ride the December hoopla-wave for a bit while February and March (poor March) get squat diddly save for the continual grind of the winter, and, this season at least, seemingly relentless colds and flu.

Beyond seasonal mope, though, the month was good. Tova launched her freelance endeavors (don’t miss her blog!) and I cleaned mine up a bit. I was invited to GM a D&D campaign (probs one of my favorite things to do, ever). There was much technical fiddling with my website. Work is going well. Aaaaand we started to read longer books to the kid. Moomintroll, FTW!

Looking back January wasn’t all that bad…we just used a lot of tissues.

A drawing of a bearded person wearing a blue beanie.

It me

A pro of working from home: I don’t have to wait until the weekend to do laundry.

A con of working from home: I am always doing laundry.

Link logging

CSS: From Zero to Hero

The crashiest crash course for all things CSS. Covers all the basics — you won’t be ready to tackle all the things, but you’ll be good to go for most things.

How Many .com Domain Names Are Unused?

Some key features:

There are currently 137 million .com domain names registered.1 Of these, roughly 1/3 are in use (businesses, personal websites, email, etc.), another 1/3 appear to be unused, and the last 1/3 are used for a variety of speculative purposes.

My take away, as always, is that the internet is REALLY big…but only a little itty bit of it sees a meaningful amount of traffic. Leading us to…

Why isn’t the internet more fun and weird?

Three things MySpace got right

  1. To make a page on MySpace, all it took was text in a textbox.
  2. The text could be words or code.
  3. Anyone could read the words and see the code.

Continuing, later:

The internet is the great equalizer (1996). People used to believe that. Today, it sounds sarcastic.

We — the programmers, designers, product people — collectively decided that users don’t deserve the right to code in everyday products. Users are too stupid. They’d break stuff. Coding is too complicated for ordinary people. Besides, we can just do the coding…so why does it matter?

I’m all for making the internet weird again. It is something I’m trying to get more cozy doing here, on my personal website.

And if you want to do that (make the internet weird again) we should preserve folks’ ability to get their feet wet, and their hands dirty on the web!

HTML, CSS and our vanishing industry entry points

However, when it comes to frameworks and approaches which build complexity around writing HTML and CSS, there is something deeper and more worrying than a company having to throw away a couple of years of work and rebuild because they can’t support a poorly chosen framework.

When we talk about HTML and CSS these discussions impact the entry point into this profession. Whether front or backend, many of us without a computer science background are here because of the ease of starting to write HTML and CSS. The magic of seeing our code do stuff on a real live webpage! We have already lost many of the entry points that we had. We don’t have the forums of parents teaching each other HTML and CSS, in order to make a family album. Those people now use Facebook, or perhaps run a blog on wordpress.com or SquareSpace with a standard template. We don’t have people customising their MySpace profile, or learning HTML via Neopets. We don’t have the people, usually women, entering the industry because they needed to learn HTML during that period when an organisation’s website was deemed part of the duties of the administrator.

Neopets forever.

Also, read this thread, then read it again…and then maybe a 3rd time.

Decentralization is Not Enough

This (medium) post does a great job spelling out the pitfalls of a lot of the new wave of web tech that is purported to be saving” the web, or whatever. It is groovy if you a nerd…but essentially this new tech is just helping to build a walled garden for nerds. Sure anyone” can join…but very often you must be this nerd to enter. I think this is a very real issue for the IndieWeb community, too.

Leaving the web-punditry-zone now.

A few early marketing thoughts

I’ve been re-assessing my freelance work, and found this post from Julia Evans to be wicked timely.

I’m not really certain if I should be doing any marketing, to be honest, and if I should be doing any, I’m not sure what kind I ought to be doing.

The 26,000-Year Astronomical Monument Hidden in Plain Sight

On the western flank of the Hoover Dam stands a little-understood monument, commissioned by the US Bureau of Reclamation when construction of the dam began in 01931. The most noticeable parts of this corner of the dam, now known as Monument Plaza, are the massive winged bronze sculptures and central flagpole which are often photographed by visitors. The most amazing feature of this plaza, however, is under their feet as they take those pictures.

The plaza’s terrazzo floor is actually a celestial map that marks the time of the dam’s creation based on the 25,772-year axial precession of the earth.

I’m hooked. Also, are they gonna make a 3rd National Treasure movie? I’m ready for it.

In reply to: Every month my dad creates and incredibly detailed, interesting, and easy to understand breakdown of what’s happening in the night sky for the coming month.

This is awesome! Check out the project at its source, too.

My biggest complaint about wireless headphones: if they get wicked cold they stop working.

I guess this is true of most things, but annoying nonetheless.

A dog gets some pets, leaning against flannel patched jeans.

I spent a chunk of time this afternoon organizing and systematizing all of my freelance projects. I’m feeling good about trying to hustle up some more of them! beardandbeanie.com

Through blot’s dashboard you can inspect a 404 log for your website. This is essentially a list of all the whiffs against your domain — whenever someone tries to visit a URL at your domain that doesn’t actually exist that gets logged. No info about the person/bot visiting the site is saved, just that someone or something tried to visit a specific URL that doesn’t actually exist.

Reviewing the log this evening I learned a few things:

There don’t seem to be many folks missing what they hope to find on my site (this is good!).

My domain receives more malicious traffic than I would have guessed — it looks like a lot of automated attempts to brute-force into common WordPress, Drupal, and other big-name CMS vulnerabilities, as well as a surprising amount of plain old SQL injection.

Stay safe out there in internet-land.

On a similar, yet tangential note: I have no desire to add any sort of analytics to my website, but I am curious from time to time about how many folks read this thing, and more importantly, in what format — RSS, micro.blog syndication, something else? Is what you are doing working for you? Is there anything I could do to make that experience better? Would anyone be interested in my starting an email newsletter? Let me know if you’ve got thoughts on this!

Lunch date. Bagel date. Sick day.

A building with some hand lettered typography: “oysters”.

A building with some hand lettered typography: “oysters”.

I’m really into this treif typography.

Link Logging

This metal is powering today’s technology—at what price?

The renewable” future — replacing one sort of extraction with another.

Life Without the Everything Store

Kottke’s digestion (always primo) or go straight to the source: I Tried to Block Amazon From My Life. It Was Impossible.

tl;dr? Amazon. It is everywhere. It is hard to avoid. Really, really hard to avoid, most especially if you do pretty much nearly anything online. Amazon is legion.

WebSockets the UNIX way; Full duplex messaging between web browsers and servers

PIPES!

Five-minute Explainer: What Is Gravity?

What even is gravity? Learn in (about) five minutes! I very much enjoy Emily Sts science writing.

Designing for the web ought to mean making HTML and CSS

The medium is the message…and sometimes we use the wrong medium to communicate a message.

…regression is lurking, because the industry is making it too hard to work directly with the web. The towering demands inherent in certain ways of working with JavaScript are rightfully scaring some designers off from implementing their ideas at all. That’s a travesty.

Follow up! Paying tribute to the web with View Source

Make Your ARIA Labels Sing on Key

This article does a great job contextualizing aria-labels, and how best to implement them. The audio examples provided are perfect — I think it is interesting that I’ve never actually seen anyone else bother to create examples like this before. The audio examples bring aria-labels from an abstract concept, to a concrete interface element.

When To Buy Your Own ISBNs

Sharing this because I had no clue one could purchase ISBN numbers, let alone their power!

Twitter aliens

A story told on Twitter, in the first person, featuring aliens, a smart phone, and bananas.

A love letter to Blot, one week in

Gone are the days of running my own, home-spun CMS. They were fun, and I learned heaps, but I was ready for a change. I’ve moved to blot.im. I am smitten.

Blot is a blogging platform with no interface.” It allows you to plop a bunch of markdown, txt, doc, or even image files into a folder and automatically builds and deploys an update for you! Blot can use either Dropbox or git as its sync engine. But what about all that indieweb goodness!?” you shout?

Aye — it is still here! Because blot templates are wicked extensible it is relatively trivial to extend them to do all kinds of things.

Getting off the ground with blot was a breeze.

The blot.im homepage.

As of right now (January 2019), blot doesn’t offer a free trial. The first thing to do is register an account.

Registration doesn’t ask for anything out of the ordinary, was wicked low friction.

The blot.im registration page, note – the price is about to go up!

  • Email
  • Payment details
  • BOOM!

Once registered you receive a confirmation and a receipt email — then you are up and running!

Select your sync provider, either git or Dropbox (this can be changed at any time).

The next steps are to set up a username (which doubles as your subdomain at the blot.im domain) and choose a sync provider.

I don’t know why, but it is amazing to me that you aren’t locked into a sync provider after making your initial choice. If, down the road, you decide to swap git for Dropbox, or the other way round, that isn’t an issue! No lock in. Great for portability. 🕺

Your blot dashboard! Well, this is an image of mine, but, you get the idea.

At this point you have a blot site. It has some basic boilerplate content, and is waiting for you to start adding content and configuring your template. Blot comes with a couple pretty templates out of the bag, but is also wicked extensible. The documentation is decent, but certainly has a few holes in it here in there. The good news is that blot is open source, so if you know what you are looking for you can poke around in the code. Or, and this is probably blot’s best feature, the primary (perhaps sole?) developer behind blot, David, is easy to contact, and happy to lend a hand.

Blot allows you to configure a lot of extras, including setting up redirects, on an either per-page basis, or by following regex rules.

After fiddling with a few settings, and switching a few switches I took a step back to take a look at my existing content. I needed to migrate just shy of 3,000 posts from my old website to blot, and I wanted to preserve their URIs if at all possible since, URIs shouldn’t change.

A dash of hacky PHP to migrate from my old plaintext json filestore to plain old markdown files with a bit of front matter.

Luckily for me, migrating my content was as easy as writing a sloppy little bit of PHP to convert each json file into a markdown file. I added a bit more extra metadata durring the migration process, just to make sure I was preserving as much info as needed moving forward.

Once the data was re-formated, I just had to plop it into my fancy blot directory! ZAP BOOM!

It is pretty much magic.

Some of the magical redirects in the digital flesh!

Once my content was in place I set up a basic redirect rule to map my old URI pattern to a new one, and everything just sort of worked.

With content in hand, the next step was to create a custom theme. This was way more fun than I anticipated it would be. Blot uses mustache templates, which I’ve used a bit in the past and always found frustrating when compared to something more feature-full, like handlebars, but in this instance, mustache does the job wicked well — I didn’t have to jump through any hoops, or come up with any hack-y solutions to get around mustache’s lack of useful logic.

The custom theme I came up with supports a few fun things (if I might say so myself).

Two worth calling attention to are bespoke-css files, and IndieWeb compatibility.

When I create a new post or page I can add an optional bit of metadata, bespoke-css with the name of a css file as its value. For instance, this post has the metadata:

title: A love letter to Blot, one week in
date: 2019-01-28-16-07
bespoke-css: article.css
tags: meta, blot

Setting bespoke-css will override the css file that would otherwise be associated with this post — that means I can tie particular css files to specific posts. No real reason to do this, it is just something I often want to do.

Finally — the IndieWeb goodness:

To set the stage, my old site had decent support for most of what I consider to be the core indieweb features, micropub, webmentions, and microformats.

My new site currently supports receiving webmentions (thanks to Amit) and includes all the necessary microformats markup.

All my posts are funneled through micro.blog, so that mostly handles my outgoing webmention needs, and, if not, sending a webmention manually is not difficult.

My new site does not currently have a micropub endpoint. They exist for blot, and seem easy to write, actually (I also noticed that David is thinking about adding one to blot’s core code), but so far, I haven’t needed/wanted one. I think I posted a wee bit mindlessly to my old site because it was so bananas frictionless. Posting is still wicked easy, but I want to bring a bit more intentionality to my posts…I mean, I want to try to do that. We’ll see how it goes.

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