Is This the Life We Really Want? - Roger Waters

Is This The Life We Really Want?

After nearly 25 years I’d sort of given up on seeing a new solo record from Roger Waters. Then, surprisingly, here comes “Is This the Life We Really Want?”

He’s still angry and writing about the same basic things he has for the last 40 years or so. Fine with me, that’s what I’ve always liked about him. For example, this bit from “Broken Bones”:

When World War II was over
Though the slate was never wiped clean
We could have picked over them broken bones
We could have been free

But we chose to adhere to abundance
We chose the American Dream
And ooo, Mistress Liberty -
How we abandoned thee

And then there’s this more current note, from “Picture This”:

Picture a courthouse with no fucking laws
Picture a cathouse with no fucking whores
Picture a shithouse with no fucking drains
Picture a leader with no fucking brains

I really like this record. Some of it is very Floydian, and that’s never a bad thing.

From TextExpander to Alfred

One side effect of an app developer’s decision to move to a subscription model is that the monthly charge is a regular reminder for me to re-evaluate that app’s value. Sometimes I decide the value is no longer worth the monthly overhead in both money and friction.

Such is the case with TextExpander. I’ve relied on it for years and use it many times every day, but darn if that monthly fee hasn’t been nagging at me.

So today I moved1 all of my snippets into Alfred and canceled my TextExpander subscription. Alfred’s snippet implementation is not quite as complete as TextExpander’s, but it’s good enough for how I use it. I’ll miss the occasional benefits on iOS but I don’t write that much on iOS. What I won’t miss is the monthly cost and mental overhead of a software subscription it turns out I didn’t really need.


  1. Thanks to this tool by Daniel Diekmeier [return]

Wonderful Software

I love software. Even though I long to be one of those “I’ve only used X for 10 years and nothing else matters” people, there’s just no way. I use, and love, many things. Here I list a few of my long-time favorites. These are wonderful apps that have held up for years and continue to be useful and valuable.

Tinderbox

Where to begin with Tinderbox? I’ve been keeping notes in Tinderbox for at least a decade. I occasionally stop using it for a few months and then feel a flood of relief when I come to my senses and launch it again. Tinderbox is clever and powerful and a little weird, but in such a good way. Tinderbox can be anything, and everything. It’s an outliner and a visual mapping tool and a smart agent for processing notes. Mostly, it’s wonderful software.

Curio

Zengobi’s Curio is another application that can be anything. Its core is simply an infinite whiteboard onto which you can place files or write or both, but it’s much more than that. And, like Tinderbox, it’s riddled with thoughtful touches. I work well in a visual environment. Spacial memory helps me find and remember things so I love Curio on the big iMac. It’s beautiful and feels wonderful to use. Also, the developer, George Browning, is almost inhumanly responsive.

DEVONthink

DEVONthink is a workhorse. It’s big, complex, and powerful. I keep years of history and thousands of documents in DEVONthink and I can find things in a snap. With the new version of DEVONthink To Go I have access to everything on all of my devices.

The Brain

Whenever I demo The Brain I get a lot of oohs and aahs. It’s one of a kind and it’s wonderful. Everything links to everything. It’s the most powerful mind map you’ve ever seen, only better. Prior to the upcoming Version 9, The Brain was a Java app, which always made me feel a little dirty and made my OS complain. Version 9 is a native rewrite and it looks and feels much better. My main brain file only has about 3,000 thoughts but I can find any of them quickly, and then easily jump to linked topics (thoughts). The Brain pleases the visual connection parts of my actual brain.

Those are a few of the wonderful apps that I’ve used and loved regularly for many years.

QLMarkdown

I thought it odd that Quicklook doesn’t work on Markdown files. I found the quicklook plugin, QLMarkdown, which not only makes Quicklook work with Markdown (.md) files, but it actually renders the markdown.

Installed using Homebrew as directed and it just worked.

$ brew update
$ brew cask install qlmarkdown

Elfeed

My ongoing efforts to stop using Emacs continue to fail.

Moving away from Emacs becomes more difficult every time I adopt a new Emacs module, replacing yet another tool or process. This time, I’ve started using Emacs for reading RSS feeds. I’m trying Elfeed as my feed reader. It looks like this…

Elfeed

The list of feeds is maintained as an Org Mode file using elfeed-org. I have the feed list and elfeed’s database in Dropbox so everything syncs nicely.

Elfeed is fast, easy way to burn through a long list of feeds using familiar keybindings in a familiar environment. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, I guess.

Resuming my experiment with Known

A month ago, in Pausing my experiment with WithKnown, I wrote that Known was “accidentally a decent IndieWeb-enabled blogging platform”. After a few weeks trying to wrangle Wordpress into a useful IndieWeb platform, I feel differently about Known. Known is a darn fine, simple, and IndieWeb-complete blogging platform. It works so well that there can be nothing accidental about it.

So, as I tend to do, I set up a new site using Known at stream.baty.net. The theme is simple and posting things couldn’t be easier. In fact, it’s very “Tumblr-esque”, which I like for this type of site.

I set up cross-posting to Twitter and Mastodon via easy-to-configure plugins. I connected Brid.gy for bringing Instagram and Twitter likes and replies (webmentions) back into the original posts.

The entire process took maybe an hour and I’m already posting and seeing webmentions. That was easy.

Expired Delta 3200

I’m trying to use up a bunch of expired film in my freezer, so I put a roll of Delta 3200 (exp 2011) through the Hasselblad. Just a few quick shots of Josie around the house. This one isn’t helped by the dirty window glass I shot through, but she still looks cute and the film worked fine.

Josie Josie. Hasselblad 500C/M. 80mm Planar. Delta 3200 @1600. HC-110.

The Hasselblad is Back

After spending several months out for repair with David Odess, my Hasselblad 500C/M kit is back! Isn’t it beautiful!

Hasselblad 500C/M, Zeiss Planar 80mm, and A12 back

I had begun to notice that my exposures were all over the place. At first I thought it was just inconsistent metering on my part but it turns out the shutter mechanism in the lens was badly broken. Considering the camera was made in the 1980s, I thought it was time for a CLA of the whole kit. I sent the lens, body, and back to David and waited patiently for their return.

Here’s what was fixed:

500C/M Body

  • upper plate foam
  • front plate foam
  • release button spring
  • base plate
  • screw for base plate

80mm CF

  • main spring
  • cocking ring spring
  • gear train

A-12 Back

  • light trap
  • light trap foil
  • nylon stop
  • drive gear

Also “Body, lens and magazine were cleaned, lubricated and adjusted in accordance with factory specifications”

Everything about the camera now feels and works wonderfully. I’m happy to have it back and intend to use it for many years to come.

Here’s one frame from the latest roll. I’ve always loved how the Zeiss lens renders.

Josie (2017). Hasselblad 500C/M. 80mm Zeiss Planar. Tri-X

Hugo is very fast

hugo-render

I did a little template cleanup today, and Hugo’s rendering times got even faster. It’s pretty great being able to manage a static site with thousands of pages and not worry at all about rendering speed.

A change to my Org Mode journaling

Keeping up with a journal every day is hard. I’ve tried to make it easier by using capture templates in Org Mode. My usual approach is to have the capture template create a “datetree” entry in my Daybook.org file. This works well for short, individual entries like the following:

** Received the Hasselblad back from David Odess
   <2017-06-24 Sat>
   
   Total cost: $1,244
   
   He fixed and CLA'd the 500C/M, 80mm, and the older A12 back
   

I’ve been trying to write longer posts every day, so the capture template approach wasn’t ideal. I needed a way to write journal entries as more than just headlines. A few years ago I was writing at 750words.com and I liked the pressure and style of just making sure I wrote at least 750 words every day. The only thing that mattered was getting the words out. I didn’t have to care what to write about or that it was written well or, hell, that it was even coherent.

There are a couple problems with using 750words.com. First, I’m more concerned about privacy these days, so I don’t want everything sitting out on their server somewhere. More importantly, I prefer writing in Emacs to writing in a browser.

I made a few changes in order to use Emacs more like 750words.com.

I want my journal entries to be individual .org files, one for each day. As it happens org-journal by Bastian Bechtold works that way by default. Org-journal lets me open today’s journal file by hitting C-c C-j any time. A new file is created if one doesn’t already exist. I can simply start typing and it goes at the end of the day’s entry.

I’ve changed a few of the default org-journal settings. For example, I don’t want a timestamped heading to be created each time I trigger a new entry. Here are my settings…

 '(org-journal-file-format "%Y-%m-%d.org")
 '(org-journal-time-format "")
 '(org-journal-time-prefix "")

To keep an eye on my word count, I installed wc-mode which displays the buffer’s word count in the modeline. To get a running word count I can use the command line and simply run the following in the journal directory…

wc -w *.org which outputs something like this…

496 2017-06-23.org
788 2017-06-24.org
 80 2017-06-25.org
1364 total

This all works great. Some day I’d like to create a way to better visualize word count and missed days over time, but for now this is an improvement over the capture template approach I was using.