Baty.net

The personal weblog of Jack Baty

I wonder what my social media stream would look like if I followed more people actually doing stuff rather than just talking about it. Also, what if I actually started doing more stuff?

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I’ve added cross-posting from my baty.net feed directly to Twitter via micro.blog. If it works, you’ll see this.

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Toying with the idea of integrating “micro” posts into my main blog.

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Micro-services are the future - CircleCI

Paul Biggar:

“So I just need to split my simple CRUD app into 12 microservices, each with their own APIs which call each others’ APIs but handle failure resiliently, put them into Docker containers, launch a fleet of 8 machines which are Docker hosts running CoreOS, ‘orchestrate’ them using a small Kubernetes cluster running etcd, figure out the ‘open questions’ of networking and storage, and then I continuously deliver multiple redundant copies of each microservice to my fleet. Is that it?”

I’m fascinated by the shift to micro services, but I’m wary of it turning into something like Paul’s cheeky description.

Maciej makes a terrific suggestion about Flickr

In an interview on The Verge about his recent Delicious acquisition, Maciej Cegłowski says:

If you could have Flickr back the way it used to be and run competently, everybody would be on there right now. I think it would be wonderful if the old Flickr crew could get the site back and run it the way they wanted to.

Oh my, that would make me so happy.

Maybe if Amazon does buy Slack, Stewart will have a little more free time and a lot more cash. Could happen, right?

Flickr is still my favorite image sharing service. I have optimistically clung to it in recent years, although I’m not sure I’ll be able to get past the recent Verizon acquisition. Seeing Flickr back in caring, competent hands would be the ideal outcome.

Switching task managers is meta-meta work

Rob Milanowski:

I was spending more time on meta work instead of real work

As someone who frequently switches task managers, I can relate to this. The problem is that switching task managers is just another form of meta work. It’s meta-meta work.

I’ve rationalized changing task managers in more ways than there are task managers. It’s always some feature or other that I need and the current tool doesn’t have. Or it’s that the iOS version is so great. Or it’s that it needs to be cross-platform, or any number of other “reasons”.

Fact is, I switch task managers when I get bored and doing so is way more fun than doing actual work.

Sticking with Org Mode

I tried moving away from Org Mode four days ago. Doing so required finding replacements for the following:

  • Email client
  • Task manager
  • Code/text editor
  • Note-taking app
  • Outliner
  • Publishing tool (PDF)
  • Git client
  • Daybook/Journal

I have favorite apps for all of the above, and I love using them, but it means that I end up with my “stuff” spread all over the place. I get hung up deciding where to write things down. Should it be a note in the Things task? or in Bear or just a note in DEVONthink?

In Org Mode I don’t have that problem. Everything is just text and notes, and TODOs can be mixed together any way that suits the task at hand.

Also, Vim keybindings will always be my favorite way to edit text. With Spacemacs and “evil” mode, every bit of text I write can be written using Vim keybindings; Email, notes, git commit messages, everything.

So, after just a few days away, I decided to stick with Org Mode.

Org Mode is weird in that while putting everything in it feels “open” and future-proof, it also sort of locks me in to using Emacs for everything. I’m OK with that1, because the everything-in-one-place-ness of it is worth it.


  1. For now. I’ve been through all this before. Recording my thought process when I go through things like this helps. [return]

Replacing Google Analytics with Piwik

I’ve been running Shaun Inman’s Mint since 2005 and it’s always been more than enough to let me know that almost no one visits my site. I like Mint.

Shaun stopped supporting Mint some time last year, but I thought I’d just keep running it indefinitely. Unfortunately, after a recent server update, it stopped working. Rather than trying to figure out what went wrong I decided I’d find a replacement.

The obvious answer is to use Google Analytics. I’ve been using Google Analytics for various sites since it was an expensive self-hosted package called “Urchin”. Google bought Urchin in 2005 and since then it’s pretty much become the de facto standard for web analytics.

I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with Google owning so much of my data so I thought I’d look for an alternative.

Back in the day I used AWStats. I like the idea of analyzing actual server logs rather than relying on pings from embedded JavaScripts but let’s face it, AWStats is homely and cumbersome. I’ll pass this time.

I decided to try Piwik. The basic version is free, open source, and looks to be very capable. I like that it’s self-hosted so I own all the data. In less than ten minutes from hitting the download button I had a fully-working installation of Piwik on my server.

Piwik is overkill for the handfull of visitors coming to this site, but it’s better than a broken Mint installation and it’s way better than handing everything over to Google.

Maybe click a few links so I can give it a workout.

Sticking with Apple

It has become trendy to question our allegiance to Apple.

There are certainly times I wonder why I continue to use Apple products. Between a bunch of little things always breaking and my disappointment with the new MacBook Pro I grow frustrated and threaten to leave Apple completely. I become curious about how the other half (or two-thirds, or whatever) live. I like to shake things up now and then, so this all leads to hedging my bets against Apple.

To this end, I’ve been using fewer Mac-only apps, more web apps, and have gone all-in with Emacs and Org Mode. You know, just in case one day I decide to switch to Linux or Windows. In recent months I’ve been this close to buying a fast Linux laptop and an Android phone, just to see how it would feel.

Fact is, that’s crazy talk. I can’t imagine I’d ever actually switch. Avoiding everything that macOS and iOS have to offer, just in case I change my mind some day, seems foolish.

My use of the iPad Pro has increased, and the updates in iOS 11 have cemented that trend. The relatively seamless integration between my Mac and my iPad is pretty compelling.

So, for now I’m clearing my head of any thoughts of switching platforms and will be moving my stuff into my favorite Mac and iOS apps.

For now, those are:

  • TheBrain for managing projects and files and connections
  • DEVONthink for storing everything in an eminently searchable way
  • Things for managing tasks. This one is new, and so far I like the v3 upgrade.
  • Apple Mail for email. At least until I run into too many things I don’t like.
  • BBEdit for text processing and editing
  • Bear for taking notes. I may end up using Apple Notes or nvAlt’s replacement but for now, Bear is pretty great.

My concern is that as great as the above apps are, Org Mode really is the best all-around productivity tool I’ve ever used. I may end up missing it too much to leave out of the rotation, and once it’s back in the rotation, it eats everything else.