January 19, 2021

I can’t decide about self-hosting

Having my own instances of things is cool. Websites, apps, databases, all mine and completely under my control. Except I’m beginning to wonder whether I want that control.

I’m down to 2 instances at DigitalOcean. The first is my static” server which runs the Caddy web server. I keep all of my static sites and files there. Until yesterday, this site was there, too. The other server runs Ghost, the engine for my CopingMechanism blog.

Over the weekend I made a bunch of changes to this blog, and in the process moved hosting back to Netlify. I’ve gone back and forth on this at least a half-dozen times. It’s such a relief to simply do a git push and have Netlify grab the repo, build the site, and pour it into their CDN. I don’t have to worry about a thing. And yet, before long I always miss worrying about the things.

Having a folder of HTML files served up with a simple web server is so comforting. Hosting is a breeze on cheap hardware. I have access, direct access, to everything about the site. I have server logs that can analyze traffic and look for 404s and such. I can put my arms around it. This is also comforting.

And what about other apps and services? I still have a free tier of Cloudron on an EC2 instance running a photo gallery. Cloudron makes me want to host my own stuff. It’s so easy. But a while ago I’d decided against having to manage a bunch of separate self-hosted apps, so I’m supposed to be phasing that out.

But what about?… :)

I don’t even remember which app I considered self-hosting when I began writing this post. One minute I’m trying to get rid of everything I have to manage and the next I’m pulling it all back in.

Well this ends with no resolution whatsoever, sorry. I told you I couldn’t decide.

January 17, 2021

Nadia Eghbal on messaging

Or maybe it’s about drawing (semi-arbitrary) physical boundaries in digital spaces: I need ways to differentiate between the digital equivalent of talking to someone in the street vs. at a restaurant vs. in my house, and drawing the line between diff apps lends a bit of physicality to those relationships

Nadia Eghbal, 2020–12–09

This is exactly the way I use messaging apps.

January 16, 2021

I wish podcasts would go away

You know what I hate? I hate when I’m reading a nice article or blog post or whatever and the author mentions something that I might be interested in and helpfully links to it. but when I click the link, I find myself staring at an embedded audio player that says 1:39:06” somewhere on it.

Well shit, it’s a podcast. Never mind, I guess.

I mean, I do want to learn about the thing, but to do that I don’t want to wade through two minutes of unnecessary intro music followed by ten minutes of two dudes humble-bragging and laughing at their own jokes, then a Squarespace ad, and then 30 minutes of stuff I’m not interested in. Or 75 minutes. Or 10 minutes. How am I supposed to know where it is without listening to the whole stupid thing?

It’s the same with video content, but at least with video I can often scrub through visually and get close to what I came for. With audio I’m stuck either click-guessing or listening at like 3x and neither of those are good options.

I want anything not intended as entertainment to be published as a blog post. That way, I can easily skim it or search it to find what I came for. I want to be able to copy the useful bits for my own use later.

Many people love podcasts, obviously, and I wouldn’t want to take that away from them. So technically I don’t really want them to go away, but on the other hand, podcasts bury good information in audio, making it hard to find and use.

Until more podcasts contain decent show notes and indexed links, I’d prefer text, thanks.

January 12, 2021

It’s not a good darkroom, but it works

My last house had a proper darkroom. It was a little janky, but there was a big sink, room for three enlargers, a wet side, a dry side, etc.

When I moved into my new house, I originally planned to turn an extra room in the basement into a shiny new darkroom. That didn’t happen, so I’ve been using the bathroom instead. It works fine.

Here’s my fancy darkroom.

The basement bathr…ehem…darkroomThe basement bathr…ehem…darkroom

The worst part of the whole thing is that tiny faucet. At minimum I should put in a tall one. As it is now, I need to fill a 1qt measuring cup, and then use that to fill containers. It’s a pain. The HomePod is nice because I can just tell it what to play in the dark.

Print washerPrint washer

I don’t have a fitting for the faucet to run a hose into the washing tray, so I just let the faucet pour into it.

Film and print dryerFilm and print dryer

I ran some string across the shower to use as a hanger for drying prints and film. Works great.

Enlarging sideEnlarging side

Here’s the meat of the operation. This is the bathroom closet, converted into the dry side”. There’s room for this Leitz Focomat V35 enlarger. The V35 is a fantastic piece of equipment, but only enlarges 35mm film. I’m considering something that can do medium format as well. I have two 4×5 enlargers in storage but there is no way they’d fit. I can, however, make 4×5″ contact prints on 5×7″ paper. I love making those, so that should do.

Paper and suppliesPaper and supplies

There’s room for all sorts of photo paper and chemicals. I’ve only been making enlargements up to 8×10″ so some of this is no longer needed but I can’t bring myself to get rid of it. I also store my film scanner here.

Anyway, that’s it. That’s my darkroom. I was planning to not shoot any film in 2021 but I don’t think that’ll stick, so I dusted everything off and mixed up a fresh batch of chemicals in preparation for spending more time here.

Misc Photography
January 10, 2021

I forgot I wasn’t going to shoot any film this year

It’s not that I made a promise or anything, but I had no intention of shooting film in 2021. I put away my scanning rig, stored the chemicals, and placed the cameras on a shelf.

I’ve been so excited by the new Leica SL2-S that I figured I’d just spend my time with that camera for a while. You know how I am, though. I picked up the M6 and saw that it was loaded with film and couldn’t help myself. That camera just begs to be used, once you touch it.

Anyway, I made a few mirror self-portraits, annoyed the dog, and documented the state of my desk. The usual mundane stuff one shoots when bored and holding a camera during a pandemic in winter.

I finished the roll of Tri-X, shot at ISO 800, and processed it in HC-110. I love HC-110 because it lasts forever on the shelf, and is easy to mix and use. I’m no longer experimenting with various developers and processes. They all look basically the same to me, and HC-110 is cheap and easy.

It remains to be seen how much film I shoot, but I’ve dusted off the gear and I’m ready for whenever the mood strikes.

Film Photography
January 9, 2021

Following along with all my blogs

I created a combined RSS feed for all my blogs.

TL;DR is just subsribe to this…


Longer version here

January 9, 2021

What might I use Craft for?

Kevin asks, I’m curious to know what kind of stuff you are tinkering with in Craft Editor?”. Good question, but I don’t have a great answer yet.

The short version is, not much.

Craft is a new-ish notetaking app for the Mac and iOS. It’s quite pretty and rather fancy. I of course try every new app for notes, so I have been playing with Craft for a couple of weeks.

Craft immediately reminded me of Notion.so, but I don’t like using Notion, so I dismissed it at first. After tinkering a bit, I grew to see it as a simpler, faster tool than Notion. It seemed to include the useful bits without all the hoo-ha of Notion.

So how might I use it? Well it’s certainly not going to be a replacement for Roam Research.

Roam has transformed the way I keep records and take notes. None of its competitors have tempted me away for any length of time.

I remain all-in with Roam for my daily notes.

Then, there’s Emacs.

For a few years I used Emacs for everything. Too many things, if I’m honest. Today I’m down to using it for notes on certain projects and for document creation. I’d like to move away from Emacs eventually.

I love LaTeX and Org-mode, but man, what a pain it all is to get right. I tweak and I tweak and I tweak. Personally, I love the way LaTeX renders and typesets documents. The people I share those documents with are less enthusiastic. I get, Can’t you just send me a Google Doc?” a lot. No, I can’t send you a Google Doc. I don’t like Google or its Docs, so Craft could be a good option for the document creation tasks I now use Emacs for.

Craft makes it easy to create and share good-looking and easy-to-use documents, so to answer Kevin’s question, I’m considering Craft for creating documents I intend to share. I don’t know yet if that will be worth paying for, but it’s where I’m headed.

(I also posted this as a Craft document, but I’ve copied it here in case I delete my account.)

January 9, 2021

Bi-directional linking between anything using Hook

A few apps have offered some form of bi-directional linking, but it was Roam Research that made it famous. I’ve been using Roam for more than a year and it has transformed the way I take notes. It’s the way Roam does bi-directional linking that has me hooked.

Roam is great at connecting nodes within Roam, but the missing, er, link, for me has been the connections between files and other apps. For example, I’m not using Roam for my todo list, but I don’t like using my todo list for notes, either. If only there was a way to link all these things together somehow.

Enter Hook — Find without searching

Hook is basically a tool that lets me connect things that are related to each other on my Mac. I can connect an email in MailMate with a task in Things or a Github issue or a note in DEVONthink or a blog post or…you get the idea. I can even connect my notes in Roam with stuff in nearly any app or file.

What’s really helpful is that when I link something to something else, the link goes both ways. That means that if I’m viewing a file in the Finder I can, for example, link to the web page from which it was downloaded.

Another feature I’m experimenting with is Hook to New”. This reminds me of using Org-noter in Emacs, but lets me annotate everything and without having to use Emacs.

I’ve been using Hook to New as a way to annotate files and web pages. For example, while reading a web page I trigger Hook (Command-Shift-Space) and hit Command-N. This creates a new Markdown document, opens it in BBEdit, and creates a Hook link from Safari to the note and from the note back to the page in Safari. The difference between this and putting a link and notes in Roam is that I can jump to the notes directly from the web page, while I’m reading it. And back again.

Previous attempts to integrate Hook into my workflow have failed. This time, however, I’ve learned from Roam the value of backlinks, which gives the whole concept a better chance of sticking.

Workflow Software
January 8, 2021

Time Traveler, by Waltzer


Bought my first new vinyl in like a year. This is Time Traveler” by Waltzer.

January 2, 2021

The answer to Whom should I let manage my photos?”

You’re lookin’ at him.

I’ve been asking myself, Who[sic] should I let manage my photos? as a way to talk myself into letting Lightroom and the Adobe ecosystem take over the nitty gritty of file and library management. In the end, I couldn’t go through with it, so I remain in charge.

Yes, it can be a pain to deal with files, folders, storage, backups, naming, and so on. But, managing things myself is the way I’ve always done it. One of the most important things I own” are my photos. Why would I give up any control over them? For now, at least, I’m not going to. I’m back to my process of culling, naming, tagging, and cataloging with Photo Mechanic Plus and editing in Capture One Pro.

So, 2021, here we come!

Photography Workflow