Higgins Restaurant, Portland, OR
Higgins Restaurant, Portland, OR

The doctor assured me the cold I was down with last week was not Covid. I started climbing out of it late in the week and had enough pent up energy on Saturday that the weekend became fixit-and-learn time, cleaning up web presence stuff and learning some new tools:


  • I’ve been using Blink on my iPad, but finally got mosh set up everywhere I could set it up on the server side.
  • I used to use tmux, but lost my config a long time ago. In the process of trying to put it back, I learned about Byobu, which puts training wheels on tmux and screen. It makes using a terminal from an iPad a lot more livable.
  • BBEdit’s pattern playgrounds are really wonderful. So much web work over the long haul – living with content handed off between a dozen or more CMSes over the years, is about cleaning up weird markup glitches. Being able to model a pattern, then pre-flight it by just finding everything and confirming, then doing a mass replacement over 800 blog entries was pretty nice.
  • Stripped my Emacs config down to something suitable for editing code over mosh, not writing org-mode from the GUI. I did that after trying and discarding a few small emacsen and next-gen console text editors.
  • I really want to like Ulysses. I do like Ulysses. But I don’t think its approach to Markdown is the right one, even if its heart is in the right place. It’s a fine line determining when to tell the user they’re just going to have to learn something new, and I would have drawn the line at link markup, which Ulysses makes needlessly fussy. So I’ve been doing prose in ia Writer, which interacts just fine with the iPadOS git client Working Copy for the actual content of each site – no round-tripping or making copies of writing – it’s all just in version control now.

Dev services

I learned about the ins and outs of GitHub pages and actions, replacing some clunky scripting on a web hosting provider with Jekyll sites and publishing actions.

I got there in a circuitous manner: I’ve got a WordPress.com account, and considered putting it to use again, but it took about five minutes to remember why I don’t like WordPress and truly hate trying to make a theme of any sophistication work. Jekyll has its own kinds of twistiness, but it was interesting to come back to it after a long time away from doing any sort of web stuff: Liquid, for instance, might not be HAML, but it’s not that bad. Especially with a decent local setup for previewing changes and getting realtime feedback.

So I shopped around for Jekyll themes, found one I liked a lot for some things, and another I liked for others, and was able to bang together a few beta-level Jekyll sites and update my theme here on micro.blog to match. Still lots to do in the way of editing the content and tying it all together, but it went so much faster with Jekyll than it would have with WordPress.

It took me a few deep breaths and a couple of momentary screwups to get GitHub pages working the way I wanted, but it feels so tidy to:

  • Pop into mosh and edit a page
  • Fire up the preview server on the Mac Studio in my office to preview from my iPad in the living room
  • Commit and push
  • See the updates live in a minute or so

Something useful I learned about Jekyll to get live previews working from the living room on the iPad is the host argument for serve:

bundle exec jekyll serve --host=mac_studio.local -lw

Front ends

SASS wasn’t much of a thing for me the last time I did much web work, but it’s just a thing now. I had to learn the basics to get all the themes I was working with into a place I wanted them. I’m nowhere near proficient but learned enough from poking around to see the value. It was interesting to see how each theme author used its affordances. I was immensely grateful to the person who just used a _vars.scss file to declare the interesting parts in one place instead of scattering the highest-level elements of typography and color scheme throughout.

I used these themes:

  • Forty for my landing page.
  • Garth for a blog I’m considering.
  • Paper for micro.blog.

I borrowed Forty’s underlying color scheme and Garth’s typography for all three. I still need to just fork Paper on GitHub and use it directly on micro.blog instead of carrying modifications over the stock theme and there’s some consistency stuff I should work on over time, but they’re all same-ish now.

So that’s all that. Here’s the output:

And after all that, dinner at Higgins.