Trying to live on the iPad for a while

As an antidote for my usual spiral of sitting at a giant screen full of a dozen windows, staring, clicking, staring, clicking, etc. I thought I’d try living on my iPad for a while. I’m not an iPad person, even though I’ve used one since the day they were released. I just don’t understand how anyone thinks they can be anywhere near as productive on an iPad as on a “real” computer....

June 23, 2021 · 304 words

Comments on the Safari 15 beta

Riccardo Mori has a few comments on the beta of Safari 15 showed up. Here’s one: In other words, what a browser needs is horizontal breathing room, instead we have Apple doing things backwards, sacrificing horizontal space to give us what, 28 more vertical pixels? @morrick I can’t begin to describe how deeply I dislike the new tab handling in Safari 15.

June 19, 2021 · 63 words

A visual thinker using text-based tools

Yesterday I was asked something about a project I’d worked on two years ago. At that time I’d used Curio to help manage the project. I opened the Curio project and within thirty seconds of just looking at the workspace I had a handle on the project and easily found an answer to the questions I’d been asked. Whenever I revisit something that I’d created in TheBrain or a mind map or Curio or Tinderbox, I find the spatial layout of the information to be instantly useful....

June 18, 2021 · 300 words

Using Zotero as a bookmarking and read-later service

I’m almost certainly using Zotero wrong. Instead of for citations and research, I’m using Zotero as a bookmarking tool and read-later service, and it’s working really well. Is no one else doing this? I’ve used many tools meant for saving links for later, from to Pinboard to Instapaper to Pocket to Raindrop. All of them are fine. Some focus on social bookmarking, some on archiving, some are meant as “read later” services....

June 16, 2021 · 208 words

The M1 iMacs: Unnecessarily thin – Riccardo Mori

Riccardo Mori: But this review was underwhelming and, as I commented on Twitter, with unusual fanboyish tones I’ve never really detected in his past product reviews. I notice that when someone agrees with a review, it’s “thoughtful and detailed.” When one disagrees, however, it’s “a brief from Apple’s marketing department”.

May 24, 2021 · 50 words

Writing everything in TiddlyWiki and publishing just the public parts

I take all my notes in TiddlyWiki now, and publish most of them to For the past few years, I’ve published my wiki using TiddlyWiki. I write daily, publicly sharable notes there. Private stuff goes elsewhere…or did, until yesterday. It’s the “elsewhere” part that drove me nuts. I have a private Roam database in which I would track things I don’t want to share. Or maybe I should write it in Org mode....

May 8, 2021 · 1031 words

A headroom so high you’ll never see it again – Riccardo Mori

Software-wise, this incredibly powerful iPad is as capable as a 2014 iPad Air 2 (the oldest iPad model that can run iPadOS 14). There is still, in my opinion, a substantial software design gap preventing iPads from being as flexible as they are powerful. Software-wise, iPadOS still lacks flow. Don’t wave Shortcuts in my face as a way of objecting. Shortcuts are a crutch. A good one, no doubt, but a crutch nonetheless....

May 2, 2021 · 123 words

Structure and Transclusion are the sidewalk around the quad – Robin Sloan

It’s 2021; structured data and ~transclusion~ are still the sidewalk around the quad, while screenshots are the diagonal desire path, worn to bare dirt It’s embarrassing how true this is. His tweet was part of a short thread about Multiverse, which is something else entirely, and it’s adorable.

May 1, 2021 · 49 words

May is "Easy Mode" month

I’m exhausted. I think it’s because I haven’t been working in more than a month and my brain has had too much free time to “figure stuff out.” (Yes, I know how it sounds to complain about exhaustion while not having a job!) As an experiment, I’m going to live the month of May in “Easy Mode”. This means I’m going to solve problems with quick, obvious, easy solutions. I’m going to use the easy-to-use tools....

May 1, 2021 · 154 words

reMarkable is sleeping

I’ve been using the reMarkable 2 tablet for almost three months now. I’m often asked what I think of it. The short answer is this: I use the reMarkable tablet every day. I love writing on it, but it won’t be replacing my paper notebooks. If you are thinking about getting one, I have no reservations recommending that you do. The hardware is very nice and the experience of writing on it is terrific....

April 30, 2021 · 424 words

Tools and Toys

…skip any definitive conclusions, as we know you might change those at any time. ???? @ron on Ron was referring to my still-forming opinions about the reMarkable tablet, but he could be referring to any number of things. I have a reputation for frequently changing up my process/tools/systems/workflows/what-have-you. This reputation is not unfounded, but for some reason I feel the need to explain (defend?) myself. Or perhaps it’s easier to describe what I’m not doing:...

April 28, 2021 · 645 words

HEY or Fastmail? The Answer.

TL;DR: I’m sticking with HEY for my email, but there’s a surprise twist: I’m also sticking with Fastmail. Hear me out. I was initially disappointed with the implementation of custom domains in HEY. You can read the whole almost-rant here, but the short version is that I thought I was going to lose both my address and my access to HEY World for quick blogging. And it would cost me $20 more per year for the priviledge....

April 24, 2021 · 353 words

Hey for Domains? Maybe.

(Updated with notes about the custom domain discount) Other than having a couple of nits to pick, I really like using HEY! for my email. After considering the pros and cons and waffling between dropping the service and going all-in, I’ve been leaning toward all-in. HEY offers an opinionated, clever, and pleasant set of features that’s not found elsewhere. A big missing piece for me has been custom domain support....

April 23, 2021 · 502 words

Are automatic backlinks useful?

When I started using Roam, I found the way it handled backlinks to be a revelation. Other software does backlinks, but Roam’s implementation made it feel new. Suddenly, backlinks felt necessary. I started writing everything in Roam’s Daily Notes, and I’d link things by putting brackets around each word or phrase that I thought I might want to review later. I made lots of links. After a while, I noticed that many (most?...

April 10, 2021 · 791 words

Back to Fastmail?

My first annual subscription to Basecamp’s HEY email service is about to expire, meaning it’s time to decide whether I will be renewing. I don’t think I will. This makes me sad, because I really like using HEY for email. They’ve done a great job re-thinking how we interact with email and most of their decisions have been spot on. I forward email from Fastmail to my HEY account and, now that they support SMTP forwarding, I can reply from there as well....

April 8, 2021 · 299 words

Moom, Minus, and Keyboard Maestro

Using a single 32-inch monitor with my M1 Mac Mini has caused me to re-think how I manage apps and windows. After a few iterations, I’ve settled on the following layout. This layout includes Finder, iTerm2, Safari, and Emacs. Safari takes up the majority of the center. Finder and iTerm are split equally on the left, and Emacs is on the right, divided into two windows (or “panes” as most other software calls them)....

April 7, 2021 · 524 words

Doom Emacs from scratch

A week ago I decided to cancel Doom Emacs and go back to building Emacs from Scratch, and once again I was reminded what a terrible idea that is. Seriously, stock Emacs, even with a leg up from Nano Emacs, gets so many things “wrong” that I could spend the rest of my life fixing things and still wanting more. I thought building from scratch would help me avoid Configuration Fatigue....

March 10, 2021 · 239 words

Posting from iA Writer

Is this something I can do? Sometimes I want a better environment for writing and posting to my blog. Ghost’s post editor is fine, but not “nice”. For writing with Markdown, iA Writer‘s editor is hard to beat. I thought I’d see if there’s a way to post from iA Writer to Ghost. There is. First I had to add an “App” in the control panel so I’d have an API token....

March 7, 2021 · 129 words

Book logging in plain text

Of all the ways I’ve logged books, I’m thinking that plain text remains the best. I’ve been adding books to a text (Markdown) file for while now and it’s not pretty, but it works. And it will always work. I publish a copy at Like I said, it ain’t pretty. On the other hand, I use it regularly by simply running little searches. If I want to know how many books are read in 2020, it’s just grep 2020- books....

March 6, 2021 · 395 words

Daily minutiae and record keeping

mi·​nu·​tia (noun) – a minute or minor detail—usually used in plural I like the word “minutia”. I’ve been thinking about the various little things that happen throughout a typical day as daily minutiae. Things like “Paid the gas bill” or “Had a minor headache” or “Changed oil in the car”. It’s all trivial and boring, but I find that I value having a record of these things. But where to record all of this minutiae?...

November 24, 2020 · 728 words