Jack Baty

Director of Unspecified Services

Fending off the Futz Monkey

<p>When is trying to avoid futzing actually just more futzing?</p>

Mike Hall's daily notes resonate with me again with a post (mostly) about futzing with stuff. It's like he's in my head when he writes about "keeping the futz monkey off my back."

I'm in my version of a similar place. For example, yesterday I posted to or updated four different websites. Each of them managed using different and unconventional software. There's Tinderbox, TiddlyWiki, and Kirby CMS. Another is just static HTML/CSS. They all depend on a pile of custom templates, scripts, and sloppily-documented setup. They work, but what if they don't? I'm not always in the mood for fixing things that break when I touch them wrong.

Those four sites are run on two different servers, one Ubuntu and one OpenBSD. I had this idea of moving all of my stuff to the OpenBSD instance, but I spent hours trying to get Kirby/PHP running under the built-in httpd server and failed. Caddy is so much simpler, and I'm familiar with it, so I'm this close to dumping the BSD box and pulling everything back to Ubuntu.

Always choosing the clever option makes for so much extra work. Too much.

Speaking of clever, Emacs and Org-mode are super clever. Maybe too clever for my own good. I probably spend three or four hours a week futzing with my Emacs setup. It's fun, though, right? Yes, it can be fun, but it's also unnecessary. I mean, it's for notes, right? I could use anything for that, but of course I've chosen the clever option again.

The draw of Emacs is that I have convinced myself that since I can do nearly everything in Emacs, the time spent making it look and act just the way I like it is worth the effort. Maybe it is, but it's still a lot of time spent.

It's not entirely Emacs' fault. I could move everything to, say, Obsidian and then I'd just futz with that instead. But maybe not as much? I don't know. Sometimes I switch tools because I've convinced myself that I'm actually simplifying things. This is a convenient lie. On the other hand, the Futz Factor of even something as tweakable as Obsidian is a lot lower than that of Emacs, so I try it (or Logseq, or NotePlan, etc.) every few weeks or months. It never lasts, even though one of those is probably the correct answer. Or would be if I actually enjoyed using any of them for more than a few days.

Ideally, I'd use tools with the lowest possible futz factor, but the futz monkey is a sneaky bastard, so the best I can hope for is something with an acceptable blend of simplicity and futzability.

Right now maintaining multiple blogs is not the right amount. Neither is Emacs. I don't have the energy to figure out why CTRL-e doesn't do what it's supposed to in Emacs. I don't feel like running different servers with different operating systems and web servers. I don't feel like futzing with all that all day, which is what I've been doing for some time now.

So, you'll probably see me writing exclusively here at baty.net and putting notes about stuff into the wiki and THAT'S IT! I'll move sites from OpenBSD back to the Ubuntu server. I may even fire up Obsidian again. It sounds a lot like futzing, but I've convinced myself that it's the best way to avoid futzing. Take that, you stupid monkey!