December 6, 2018

Running Tiddlywiki on a server

I’m still tinkering with Tiddlywiki because I’m convinced there’s something to it. Version 5.1.18 was released recently and included improvements to the web server features.

The thing I’ve been waiting for is the ability to run the node version as read-only for anonymous users but editable by authenticated users. This worked great while testing on my local machine, but I had trouble when running it out on a server, proxied via nginx.

The problem was that even after I authenticated, the wiki was still in read-only mode. I think what may be happening is that the nginx proxy isn’t forwarding the proper headers and so Tiddlywiki doesn’t know that I’m logged in.

Another issue was that the node process would die after a handful of requests. I’d see a Killed” message in the terminal and the app would stop responding.

So for now I’m still doing it the old-fashioned way. I’m editing locally and rsync-ing the results to the server. I created a little Makefile to make it easier.


deploy: build
    @echo "\033[0;32mDeploying updates to $(TARGET)...\033[0m"
    rsync -v -rz --checksum --delete --no-perms ~/Dropbox/wiki/batywiki/output/index.html $(SERVER_HOST):$(SERVER_DIR)

build: clean
    @echo "\033[0;32mBuilding site...\033[0m"
    tiddlywiki ./ --build index

    git add -A
    git commit -m "Build site `date`"

    git push origin master

    rm -rf $(PUBLIC_DIR)

tiddlywiki wiki
December 2, 2018

A quick tour of my Tinderbox Daybook

I’ve been keeping a Daybook” using Tinderbox since at least 2008. My Daybook is basically a collection of outlines and notes. Here’s a quick overview.

The main sections are:

  • Daybook - This is a daily log/journal, organized by month
  • Meal Log - I log what I eat, when, the type of meal, and a quality score
  • Media Log - I record books read and movies watched
  • Weight log - Most days I enter my weight.

At the end of each month I export the Daybook outline for the month as Markdown, which I also then convert to PDF and print. From there it gets punched and put into a 3-ring binder.

Tinderbox Daybook outlineTinderbox Daybook outline

There’s a simple dashboard Map” view showing aggregate metrics.

Tinderbox Daybook DashboardTinderbox Daybook Dashboard

Tinderbox lets me add any metadata I want to notes. For example, the Media Log contains the following:

  • StartDate - When I started a book or watched a film
  • EndDate - When I finished a book or film
  • Rating - I rate things on a scale with 1 (I didn’t care for it), 2 (It was fine), and 3 (I enjoyed it)
  • Media Type - Currently this is either Book or Movie. I thought would include Podcast and TV but have not done that
  • URL - Usually a link to Goodreads or Letterboxd
  • Authors - Book author
  • BookTitle - Full title of the book
  • PublicationYear - Year of release
  • ISBN - for books
  • Genre - Fiction or Non-fiction

Tinderbox Media LogTinderbox Media Log

Outline titles can show not only the note’s title, but any other metadata as well.

Outline titles showing Media metadataOutline titles showing Media metadata

Outline titles showing Meal metadataOutline titles showing Meal metadata

The thing about all this is that with minimal input, I can get all sorts of interesting output and insights. I’ve tried other ways of keeping a Daybook like this but nothing has come close to the utility and flexibility of Tinderbox.

tinderbox workflow software
December 2, 2018

My first ride on the Peloton bike

Once my house sold, I promised myself I would by a Peloton bike.

Peloton CyclePeloton Cycle

The bike arrived yesterday and I took my first class” this morning. The class was a pre-recorded, 30-minute Advanced Beginner” workout. It reinforced that I am in terrible physical condition, but it was also kind of fun.

The instructor was engaging and supportive, which is good because the group fitness aspect is the Peloton’s biggest selling point. There are more than a dozen live” group classes available every day, along with nearly 5,000 on-demand classes. I have a feeling Leaderboard feature is going to be important. I finished in the top third of people who did the same workout, and found myself watching my ranking closely during the ride.

For the books, here’s a summary of my first workout.

December 2, 2018

Why do I try so hard to use an iPad for everything?

I’ve been trying very hard to adopt the iPad as a tool for Serious Work since at least 2013.

I’m not sure why.

It probably started when Federico Viticci (@viticci) started writing about switching to using an iPad only. He claimed to love, and actually prefer it, even though his posts were full of ways he’d learned to work around shortcomings in iOS and how everything was fine”. Still, it sounded fun.

Many people seem to get along well with only an iPad. I envy them, but why? I’m not at all unhappy with having a desktop Mac or two, and a Macbook or Air or whatever’s relatively portable. What’s the rush?

I’ve had several iPads, starting with the original in 2010. I now have the latest 12.9″ iPad Pro and it’s a wonderful, powerful, beautiful machine.


It’s not a viable full-time device for me. Here’s why1.

The iPad doesn’t multi-task well. Yes it does!” you exclaim. No, it doesn’t. Not really. What it does is pretend to multi-task by letting me glue two apps side-by-side. That doesn’t count, unless your definition of multi-tasking is quite different than mine.

There’s no terminal. I don’t enjoy working on a device that doesn’t offer me a reasonable set of tools available using the command line.

I want a filesystem. I know, we’re supposed to be in a post-files era, but I’m not ready for that yet. Sending files between apps has gotten better, but it’s still awkward, slow, and inconsistent. Having to import photos from a card reader into one specific app just to get them where I wanted them in the first place is crazy-making.

The software I rely on isn’t available on iOS. Software such as…

  • Tinderbox. There is nothing like Tinderbox, anywhere, on any platform. Tinderbox alone is enough to keep me forever on macOS.
  • Capture One Pro. After flirting with Capture One several times over the years, I finally went all-in last year and it’s fantastic. Why would I want something so much less capable just so I can use an iPad? I wouldn’t.
  • BBEdit. There are some nice, surprisingly powerful text editors on iOS, but they’re nothing like BBEdit. (or VS Code, or Atom, or Vim, or Emacs, or…) for dealing with text.
  • DEVONthink. Yes, there’s DEVONthink To Go, which is nice and I rely on it on the iPad, but mostly as a way to get at the stuff I put into the macOS version. I use templates and AI and scripts all over the place in DEVONthink Pro. I would be worse off without them.

It’s not all bad, of course. I really love my new iPad. Here’s why.

Taking meeting notes and annotating PDFs with the Apple Pencil is fantastic. Once I learned to use Notability and LiquidText on the iPad, I’d never want to go back to doing those things on my Mac.

Photo retouching is more fun on a touch screen. I know I said that I rely on Capture One for processing photos, but for actually retouching them, the Pencil and fingers make great tools. I’m looking forward to doing more of it, but until there’s a way that I can reasonably manage photos on the iPad, retouching them there will be more work than it should be.

I’m doing a little drawing with Procreate. I have a soft spot for real sketchbooks and pencils, but the ability to freely experiment digitally is pretty great, especially since I’m not very good at drawing.

The iPad is great when I just want to go somewhere and write something. Calling the iPad distraction-free” isn’t accurate. I’m always just a gesture away from many of the same distractions available on the Mac, but it’s just a little harder to get to them. On my Mac’s 27-inch screen I can often see three or four app windows at the same time2. One of them is bound to hold something I can use to keep me from doing whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing. The barriers to multi-tasking on the iPad make for a distraction-reduced” environment. And a darn fine environment at that.

All this to say that for me to do the things I want to do on a computer, the way that I want to do them, I still prefer using a Mac. The number of things I prefer doing on the iPad continues to increase, and some day it may reach a tipping point. Today, though, I’ll continue using both devices for the things each is best at. There’s no reason to push so hard at switching. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. I’m not sure why I find it hard to remember that.

  1. You may have all sorts of ways to demonstrate why I’m wrong about everything I’m about to write. Good for you. These are my reasons.

  2. Of course I could maximize apps and/or use multiple desktops, but that’s not how I like to work.

ipad ios apple workflow
November 26, 2018

Rotary Pay Phones Return, This Time to Foil Drug Deals - NYT

Rotary PhoneRotary Phone

Douglas Martin, The New York Times:

The rotary dial is a step backward technologically, but it prevents a drug dealer from paging a customer or runner,” said Steven Marcus, a Nynex spokesman, who said the change was made as an absolute last resort,” since the phones cannot take advantage of many new services, like voice mail, that rely on push-button phones.

I have to admit, I love stories like this.

November 25, 2018

The self-deceit of Future Proofing”

There are tricks we use to convince ourselves to buy the newest, most powerful devices. I myself have an entire quiver full of these tricks.

I’ve read a number of posts recently in which someone claims that buying the biggest, fastest iPad, iPhone, MacBook, etc. will future proof” their purchase. I wish I’d have written them all down, but here’s one recent example from Federico Viticci at MacStories:

My First 48 Hours with the New 12.9″ iPad Pro

The way I see it, this year’s 1 TB iPad Pro is the iMac Pro of iPads — the very best that is going to serve me well for years to come.

That sounds like a good plan, and one I often use. But, and I could be wrong, I have serious doubts that he’ll still be using that particular iPad for years to come”.

We should just admit that we like having the best option currently available, and will buy the latest, greatest model every year or so whether we need one or not.