WordPress for a while

Anyone following along with me here should be used to changes. I never leave this site alone for more than a couple months. Turnover has been unusually high recently, though. I’ve gone Hugo->WordPress->Hugo->Ghost->Hugo in the space of two months. And as of today, May 19, 2022, we’re back in WordPress. Again.

There’s no honest justification for moving back to WordPress other than “I wanted to.” Over the past couple of weeks I have been running an experiment I’m calling Reset to Defaults. Basically, I’m trying to stop the ever-expanding complexity of my “system” by reverting to default apps and processes. I’m avoiding tools that lend themselves to endless tweaking.

How does WordPress fit into this? I’m not sure it does. My rationalization is that WordPress is easy, free (I already have a server), and does everything I need right out of the box. 1 click. But mostly it’s because the “default” way for me to blog is to hit a “Create Post” button…type some stuff…and hit “Publish”. WordPress lets me do that. I need not worry about deployment scripts or format conversions or image resizing or local dependencies or any of that. Click…type…click. It’s not cool, but it’s good at what it does.

AirPods Max are amazing but I kind of hate them

I’ve had a pair of Apple’s AirPods Max for almost exactly one year. The headphones (please don’t call them “cans”. That’s unnecessary insider hoohah) look nice and sound very good, but I don’t enjoy using them. I’ve been thinking about why that is, and came up with the following list.

There’s no Off button. I hate this. I don’t use them every day, and if I don’t remember to either plug them in or put them in the case (for “low power mode” or whatever it is), the batteries are often dead when I go to use them.

They feel unstable on my head. I can’t figure out what it is about the way the AirPods Max fit, but I find that I’m always aware of them on my head and am constantly adjusting them. Maybe it’s because of my giant head, but they aren’t as comfortable as they should be.

They steal audio from the AppleTV. Occasionally, when my wife is doing a workout using the AppleTV in the next room, I’ll put on the AirPods, and they steal audio from the TV instead of connecting to my Mac, which is right in front of me. I haven’t been able to figure out why this happens, but it bugs both of us.

I can’t stand the clicking sound they make when moving them around. If the AirPods are folded flat, they bang together when I pick them up and move them around. The sound is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. Why is nobody talking about this?

The “case” is stupid. Who approved that thing?

I wish I enjoyed them more. Spatial audio is nice, and the noise canceling works great. They sound really good, too. However, and as much as I hate wires, I find myself plugging in the Sennheiser HD 650s most of the time instead. The 650s fit perfectly, sound even better, don’t need charging, and never do anything wrong.

Blogging with Curio

I’ve used Zengobi Curio for many years when I needed a visual system for managing projects and associated files. In a recent version, Curio gained a Journal feature. It’s fairly rudimentary compared to dedicated journal apps, but I recently started testing it as a way to create a sort of scrapbook each day. It works pretty well for that. I export a PDF of the day’s entry, print it, and put it in a binder.

While farting around with Curio exports, I tried exporting a few entries as HTML and was surprised how much fidelity is maintained when exporting. For giggles, I uploaded a few days’ exports to a web server. I had a crazy idea that this could be a daily blog. Here is my test site.

It’s neat, right? I slap images, notes, cards, mindmaps, lists, anything on the day’s entry, and it ends up as a web page.

While a fun experiment, I don’t think it makes sense long-term, since the resulting web pages are a mess on mobile, offer no accessibility, and managing navigation, etc. is a pain. Still, it’s a neat trick and I may throw pages out there every once in a while, just for fun.

A few photos from Mother’s Day

Had brunch at my parents’ house yesterday to celebrate Mother’s Day. It was nice. My mom has been suffering from pain in her leg for a few weeks, but the combination of new meds and time seems to have helped quite a lot. I took the Leica Q2 Monochrom and made a few snaps. Here are my favorites from the day.

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Use what you have

I have some pretty nice things. I’m fortunate enough to have more “stuff” than I could ever need. And yet, it seems as if I’m always buying something new. It’s just that I like to try new things, whether it’s tools, software, gadgets, or what have you. I want to see what different things feel like to have and use.

The photo above is from my dad’s garage, taken this year. I took it because I’m always amazed at how little it changes. My dad rarely buys anything new. He just uses what he has.

Recently, I have been striving to be more like my dad. Whenever I start looking for some new thing to help me do some old thing, I say to myself, “Use what you have!” It’s working pretty well. I have not purchased anything new if I already have something similar that will do the job. No gadgets, cameras, pens, notebooks, computers, etc. I already have all those things, and they work great.

Book logging in Emacs

I’ve kept a list of books I’ve read as a plain text (well, technically, Markdown) file for years. I wrote about it here . The public version is rendered using Github Pages at books.baty.net . This is fine, but at some point last year I also started logging books in an Org mode file, just to see how it felt. It felt pretty good!

My books.org file is just an outline with some custom properties. An entry looks like this:

** DONE Leonardo da Vinci
CLOSED: [2022-04-11 Mon 11:10]
:PROPERTIES:
:author:  Walter Isaacson
:year:    2017
:name:    Leonardo da Vinci
:url:     https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34684622-leonardo-da-vinci
:pages:   600
:rating:  *****
:END:

The outline looks like this:

That’s fine, but doesn’t show much information other than a short title. That’s where Org’s Column View comes in. Column view shows a summary of a set of headings in a customizable view. The setup for mine is this:

#+columns: %50ITEM(Title) %author(Author) %pages(Pages){+} %8rating

This sets columns, widths, titles, and even a total of the number of pages (via the {+} flag). Then, I have a block which generates and saves the column view for me. Here’s that block.

#+BEGIN: columnview :hlines 1 :id global :skip-empty-rows t :indent t :match "-noexport"
#+END
My books.org file

I like it. It’s like a little plain-text database.

I probably won’t bother backfilling it with earlier entries, but I plan to keep it updated from now on. I haven’t yet created any fancy org-mode “Capture templates” because let’s be honest, I don’t finish enough books to benefit from that kind of automation. I simply copy and paste an earlier entry and modify that. Maybe I’ll do something smarter at some point, just for fun.

Org mode is pretty great and can do just about anything.

I need a new film scanner

My Epson V750 Pro, purchased in 2009, has scanned thousands of rolls of film, slides, and prints. After making strange grinding noises recently, it has finally ground to a halt.

Here are the last images it was able to scan from the most recent roll (2022-Roll-066)…

Alice, 2022
Self-portrait, 2022

So now what? I guess I need a new scanner. I have a PrimeFilm XAs but it’s 35mm only and can be quite fidgety to use. And it only does 35mm. I need to scan 35mm, 120, and 4×5 negatives.

I am trying to decide between two options: A new flatbed Epson V850, or a digital camera scanning setup. I already have most of the doo-dads needed for digital camera scanning. I just don’t have a feasible digital camera and macro lens up to the task.

I’m leaning toward the Epson V850 flatbed because I’m used to the workflow and, although expensive, it would be cheaper than buying a new camera setup. On the other hand, I can use the new camera as, you know, a camera too, which would be nice.

It’s just that I tried scanning with a digital camera before (Fuji X-T3) and didn’t like what it did to the grain. I don’t know that a higher-resolution camera and better macro lens would fix it.

What I might do is rent something like a Nikon Z7 and one of their macro lenses for a week and see if I like the results. The Nikon Z is probably what I’d look at if I were interested in a new mirrorless kit for general photography anyway.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Searching Org-roam files

Org-roam is “A plain-text personal knowledge management system” using Emacs and Org-mode and I put nearly all my notes in there. While it’s easy to find notes in org-roam based on filename, there’s no obvious way to search the contents of notes. Weird, right?

I could use the default projectile search, but my org-roam files live within my main ~/org directory, so the results are littered with all my other org documents. I’d prefer to only search in ~/org/roam

I use a simple lisp function to help with this. It uses consult-ripgrep:

(defun jab/search-roam ()
 "Run consult-ripgrep on the org roam directory"
 (interactive)
 (consult-ripgrep org-roam-directory nil))

I added a keybinding for it to my other org-roam bindings:

(map!
 "C-c n f" 'org-roam-node-find
 "s-u" 'org-roam-node-find
 "C-c n i" 'org-roam-node-insert
 "C-c n t" 'org-roam-dailies-goto-today
 "C-c n d" 'org-roam-dailies-capture-today
 "C-c n c" 'org-roam-capture
 "C-c n s" 'jab/search-roam               ;; <-- my new keybinding
 "C-c n l" 'org-roam-buffer-toggle)

Now, with a quick C-s n s I can search my org-roam files using the blazingly fast ripgrep .

If there’s a better way to do this, I’m all ears.