We’re back on WordPress

I need a break from using an SSG for this site. I don’t feel like fighting with go templates. I don’t feel like troubleshooting Hugo modules when they break. When I want to edit a post, I want to just click “Edit” and not have to go find the original Org-mode entry, then re-export to Markdown, then build and deploy the whole site every time. I’m in the mood to Click “Edit”->Type->Click “Publish”. I want to just drag a bunch of images into a post and have a nice gallery built for me. I want comments, stats, easy upgrades, and endless plugins for the picking.

WordPress, for all its many faults, satisfies all of the above.

Neofetch

I just learned about Neofetch:

Neofetch displays information about your operating system, software and hardware in an aesthetic and visually pleasing way.

Here’s my MacBook Pro…

Posting from iA Writer

This post, in iA Writer

Sometimes I feel like changing things up a little. I get bored writing the same way using the same app for everything. Today, for example, I’m typing this in iA Writer. Writer is a very nice, simple, lovely app for writing Markdown that can post directly to WordPress and is a nice change of pace.

Beyond the Infinite

I collect a lot of “stuff” on my computer. I’m one of those lazy people who just drop most of it onto my Desktop and assume I’ll figure out what to do with it later. The problem is, I rarely actually figure out what to do with most of it.

Late last year I created a folder on my Mac’s desktop named “Beyond the Infinite” . Anything that ends up on my desktop that isn’t important enough to file away but is something that I’d still like to keep, “just in case,” gets tossed into Beyond the Infinite.

It’s become a minor treasure. It’s like a journal of things that barely matter at the time, but become valuable later. Screenshots, text snippets, URLs, etc. I love it.

Mere humans

AI continues to enthrall everyone. Here’s DHH on AI creativity vs humans:

Why shouldn’t the same be true of AI generated novels, plays, or movies? What realm of creative production does not benefit from the out-of-the-norm inferences that computers have already proven they can make within the bounds of chess and go to great effect? Is what we call human creativity all that different from a large language model anyway? A distillation of observations, inputs, mimetic tendencies, and a wetware random generator? 

DHH, More creative than mere humans

Fair questions. I just wish he wouldn’t keep calling us “mere humans”.

OpenAI Logo

I was playing with the amazing ChatGPT and it felt like something new. Using it felt like the first time I dragged to resize a filled shape in MacPaint on my Macintosh Plus.

I imagine that before too long, just like filled shapes in a drawing program, AI will become just another boring, everyday tool. But not today. Today, to this mere human, it’s magic.

An experiment using WordPress

First, I dislike using WordPress. Second, I’m using WordPress anyway.

Let’s call it an experiment in “simple” blogging. It’s an excuse to get away from the hassles and friction of using a static site generator. I just want to click “New post”, type some words, and click “Publish”.

UPDATE: We’re back on WordPress

Converting Markdown to Org-mode syntax in current buffer

There are some great tools for bringing web content into Markdown files, but few that offer the same utility for Org-mode (Orgdown) files.

For example, I use Markdownload extension all the time. It works great with nearly every site I use it on, but instead of Markdown, I’d prefer having Org syntax, so I’ve worked around it by creating a function which converts the current region from Markdown to Org.

(defun jab/md-to-org-region (start end)
  "Convert region from markdown to org, replacing selection"
  (interactive "r")
  (shell-command-on-region start end "pandoc -f markdown -t org" t t))

I copy the Markdown from the Markdownload window, paste it into an Org buffer, and run the function. It’s not perfect, but until someone creates an “Orgdownload” extension, it’ll do. (Pretty please, will someone create an Orgdownload extension?)

My first real AI moment

I’m a latecomer to AI, but I just had my first real AI revelation moment while using OpenAI’s ChatGPT. I asked it an honest question that I had and got a complete, sensible, and correct answer. It’s like if Google had a brain, or if I asked an assistant to look something up for me and report back. Here’s part of the thread:

Me, chatting with a computer about Emacs

Can you imagine where this leads? I didn’t really get it, until having the above conversation. I’d love being in high school right now. It’s like being in that brief period where calculators were still rare, so having one was like cheating. AI feels like cheating, in a good way.

This feels like the first time I dragged and resized a filled shape in MacPaint on my Macintosh Plus. Or the first time I pinched-to-zoom on the original iPhone.

Keeping my Org Agenda updated based on Denote keywords

I’ve recently switched from using Org-roam to using Denote for my notes. Org-roam is powerful and cool, but I prefer the more straightforward approach of Denote.

I keep all my notes in Denote, including notes about current projects. For example, we’re planning to remodel our kitchen. This is a project and so I have a Denote file named “20221130T130143–kitchen-remodel-2023__house_project.org”. In this file, I keep a list of TODOs. In order to see these TODOs in my Org Agenda, I need to add the file to org-agenda-files. This can be done a few ways, but all are manual. I am forgetful, so I wanted a more automated way to keep my org-agenda-files up to date with Denote projects.

David of System Crafters created a video about hacking Org-roam containing something like what I was looking for in the show notes, but for Org-roam not Denote.

I took the idea and implemented it for Denote instead. All it does is search denote-directory for files with a specific pattern and append the results to my default list of org-agenda-files. It looks like this:

;; Add all Denote files tagged as "project" to org-agenda-files
(defun jab/denote-add-to-agenda-files (keyword)
  "Append list of files containing 'keyword' to org-agenda-files"
  (interactive)
  (jab/init-org-agenda-files) ;; start over
  (setq org-agenda-files (append org-agenda-files (directory-files denote-directory t keyword))))

(jab/denote-add-to-agenda-files "_project")

That’s it. Now I can keep my project TODOs in the project Org files and view them in the Agenda. You’ll notice that there’s nothing in there that actually depends on Denote. It’s all just basic Emacs stuff. That’s one of the reasons I love Denote so much; even I can riff off it. I haven’t found a good way to add newly-created project files to the agenda without reloading Emacs or calling the function manually, but I’ll get to that later.

How I’m feeling about large format film photography

Self-portrait. Linhof Master Technika

The short version is that I have a love/hate relationship with large format film photography.

I love the detail and depth. I love the tonal values and focus fall-off that seem impossible with smaller formats. I love that I can decide on a frame-by-frame basis what film, developer, or process I’m going to use. There’s no waiting until the end of a roll. It’s as close to instant gratification as one can get when shooting film. I love the big negatives!

On the other hand, everything else about large format is a pain in the ass. I thought I’d do studio and environmental portraits when I bought my first 4×5 camera in 2013. I admire the portrait work of photographers like Judy Dater and Judith Joy Ross who worked primarily with large formats. It turns out I’ve only done a handful, and most of them are self-portraits. An example…

Self-portrait. Linhof Master Technika.

When they work, they really work. There’s nothing like it. But when they don’t, it just ends up being a giant waste of time and money. My “hit” rate is pretty low, so the net result is that I get very few images that I love and a lot more that are mediocre or worse.

And then there’s all the supporting gear needed. Loupes and dark cloths and tripods and hoods and releases and bags and film holders. Not to mention that printing 4×5 film requires a ginormous enlarger.

Film is expensive, large format film is more expensive. Per exposure prices are hovering around $2.25 for black and white and $5.50 for color. Then there’s all the gear for processing 4×5 sheets.

The more I think about it, the more I wonder if it’s all worth it. I guess if I could have a permanent studio with a camera mounted and ready to go, it would be easier to justify all the fuss. But setup and teardown introduces so many opportunities for failure that I’m less and less likely to bother.

Maybe one day I’ll decide it’s worth the trouble, but right now I’m thinking of leaving large format film photography behind.

When I feel the urge for smooth, high-detail film photography, I think that medium format (120) and the Hasselblad will do just fine, and without nearly as much fuss.