Weekly Musings

Thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

You might have noticed that there wasn't a letter last week. The good, the bad, and the ugly (and there's been a lot of each) of 2021 finally caught up with me last week. And, to be honest, I needed to take a break.

This delayed edition of the letter branches off from Musing 134. How? You'll have to read on to find out. I can't make it easy for you, can I?

Just so you know, what you're about to read started life in my personal notebook and appears here via a CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Feature Parity

Back in 2015, I briefly chatted with John O'Nolan, founder of the blogging platform Ghost. You're probably wondering why the web needs another blogging platform, when WordPress powers millions of blogs and runs about 25% of all websites.

Prior to creating Ghost, O'Nolan worked for Automattic (the company behind WordPress). But he found that WordPress had:

too much stuff everywhere, too much clutter, too many (so many) options getting in the way of what I really want to do: publish content

Instead, O'Nolan wanted to take blogging back to basics. And Ghost was born.

Read more...

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This isn't the musing I had planned for this week. A few reasons for that, at least one of which will become clearer once you start reading what's below.

This edition of the letter is going off on a somewhat different tangent, even for me. At least, a tangent that I haven't followed for quite a while. I hope you enjoy it.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Cover Songs

Writing this musing was a struggle. More of a struggle than usual.

I was bouncing between two competing ideas. One would grab my attention, and I'd dive into it. Then, out of nowhere, the other idea would snatch my attention back. I was writing a lot but not finishing anything.

That clock, as the kids used to say, was ticking. My deadline (even though it was a self-imposed one) was rapidly moving my way and I feared that I'd have nothing to publish this week.

Taking a step back, I put on my noise-cancelling headphones and piped some music through them. A random mix of instrumental, ambient, and classical, in case you're wondering.

Read more...

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

As I promised in the intro to Musing 133, this week's edition of the letter isn't cranky or a rant. And while the starting point of what you're about to read is technology, this musing isn't about technology so much as attitudes towards technology.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On the Perfect Tool

Back in the mid 2010s, an acquaintance decided to catch one of the waves that was washing over the online world at the time. A wave that was exhorting people, no matter what their backgrounds or perceived ability, to start writing. A lot.

Instead of putting words on screen or hitting the books to learn more about the mechanics and subtleties of writing, said acquaintance became obsessed with tools for writing. He spent an inordinate amount of time trying everything from desktop word processors and text editors to note taking tools to online and mobile writing apps.

He was convinced that if found the perfect tool he'd reach writing nirvana (his words, not mine). And by reaching that state with the right tool in hand, he was convinced that he'd become a better and more productive writer.

Read more...

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This week's letter is a bit longer than usual. It continues along the path cut by Musing 125 and Musing 132. And, again, what you're about to read is a symptom of my current feelings of dissatisfaction with technology.

The next edition of Weekly Musings will be less ranty and cranky. Promise!

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Sustainable Technology

Technology's great. Until it isn't.

I don't (just) mean when it inevitably falls over. As just about any technology is wont to do, either due to age or load or some flaw or when someone sneezes too loudly. I also mean the endless path of upgrades, a path which stretches beyond the digital horizon.

Every 12 months or so there are newer, faster, sexier devices and gadgets being plopped on the tables that make up the fabled market. Shinier software, whether installed on your devices or available on other peoples' computers, is constantly released into the digital wilds.

Read more...

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This week's musing comes from the same vein as Musing 130, but flows in a slightly different direction. The flow of both essays start from the same point: a general sense of dissatisfaction with technology that's been weighing on me for a while now.

On Building Tech For the Masses, Not the Classes

Recently, I had a long, wide-ranging conversation with a friend. A conversation that somehow turned to the subject of electric cars. If you know me, you know not to steer me to that subject. I like electric cars and electric motorsport. A lot.

I haven't owned a car since the early 2000s. If I do buy one in the near future (or further ahead in time), it'll be an EV. I mentioned that to my friend, who was more that a little surprised when I stated my first electric would probably be the MG ZS EV.

Why do I have my sights set on the MG and not, as my friend thought I would, something like a Tesla or a Lucid or a Jaguar I-Pace, or even a Ioniq or a Niro EV? Part of it has to do my my long-standing affection for the MG marque. Mostly, though, it's because the MG has everything that I need in a car. And, of course, I can't discount the fact that the ZS EV fits comfortably into my price range.

Read more...

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

And welcome to the letter's new(ish) home. It's a slight change in look, but the same old Weekly Musings.

What you're about to read wasn't what I had planned to publish this week. But, as often happens, another idea elbows its way in and takes over. It's an idea that started life as an entry in my personal notebook.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On the Fallacy of Doing More

Over the last several months, a few friends have been trying their best to convince me to start using a certain piece of software. A piece of software that they're convinced will, in their words, make me a more productive writer.

To them, being a more productive writer means someone who writes a lot. No, make that a lot. Said friends mean well, but they've been too heavily influenced by how every many blog posts on the subject that they've read. And they've been influenced by the bandwagon that was popular a few (probably more than a few) years ago that encouraged everyone to write. Again, not just write, but to write a lot. Every day. Several times a day. Because, as we all know, more is always better ...

Like many people, folks like my friends are caught up in the modern demand for, the modern drive for, the modern obsession with the idea of productivity. An idea which is a bastardized version of the concept. The idea of productivity that more than a few people have come to embrace is one that unthinkingly adopts the always grinding ethos. It's a group of people who jump on the treadmill of work for the sake of ... well, doing work. Nothing more.

Read more...

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This time 'round, you're getting a musing that started with an online interaction that I had in the recent past. The memory of which, in turn, was catalysed by a blog post I stumbled across shortly before writing this letter. Funny how that works ...

And in the interests of transparency, a portion of this letter first appeared, in a slightly different form, at my blog Open Source Musings and appears here via a Creative Commons NC-BY-SA license.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On What Users Really Care About

A few years back, I wrote an article about a minimalist web browser called Min. A browser that's developed with a framework called Electron. Let's say that more than a few software developers, for a variety of reasons, strongly dislike Electron.

One of those developers responded to the article with the curt, terse comment Electron != minimalism! My equally curt response was Having few features *does* = minimalism!

Read more...

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This musing isn't the one that I'd planned to send your way this week.

What I can only describe as a chain of suggestion, in the hypnotic sense, led me here. A mix of something a friend or two recently told me about and what I saw and read on visits to a couple of websites came together. Then, after some mixing with a large mental spoon, the idea for what you're about to read shifted into my frontal lobe.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On the Typewriter

Recently, I had a weird dream. OK, about 60% of my dreams fall into the weird bucket, but this one was weird and vivid.

That dream started innocently enough. I was at home, staring down the barrels of a pair of looming deadlines. As as I got ready to get to work, I found that one of my laptops, then the other refused to start. Worse, my wife and daughter weren't home and they'd taken their laptops with them. And I could find neither my phone nor a tablet.

Panic, which is always a lot more amplified in a dream, gripped me. In my agitated dream state, I started rooting around in a closet in desperation. There I discovered a beige case. I hauled it out and wiped away the thin crusting of dust. Up went the metal clasp on the front and open flipped the lid. Inside lay a somewhat battered Royal portable typewriter.

Read more...

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

As I did with Musing 015, I'm going a bit meta with this edition of the letter. It's another one of those ideas that has been tugging at various ganglia and I needed to get that idea down and out. So here it is.

For the record, a chunk of this musing started life as a post in my personal notebook. I'm reusing that post here because ... well, because I can.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Publishing a Letter, Not a Newsletter

Almost from its inception, I've tried to refer to Weekly Musings as a letter rather than a newsletter. Being a fairly flawed human, I've slipped a few times in doing that. I have, however, done my best to keep the distinction active in the 8-bit computer that's encased in my skull.

Over the life Weekly Musings, more than a few people (readers and otherwise) have asked me why I call it a letter. To me, there's a distinction between a traditional (if you want to use that word) email newsletter and what I'm trying to do.

Newsletters are often put out by people who are reporting to their followers — what they're up to, what they're thinking about, what they're selling. Often, those newsletters include more than a few links. Others are purely linkstations, consisting of outgoing links wrapped in an intro and an outro. Regardless, most of what's in those types of newsletters is in small, bite-sized chunks.

Read more...

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

A slightly shorter edition this week. This letter follows the path of its topic and is more akin to thinking aloud about an idea rather than being the definitive statement on the subject. There's definitely more to come about this in the future.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Blogging As Thinking Out Loud

The tone and character of blogs has morphed since they first debuted on the web in the freewheeling online days of the 1990s. Once solely personal journals, the advent of so-call pro blogging in the early 2000s changed blogs and the act of blogging. In many cases, not for the better.

Contrary to what some have said (and continue to say), that didn't drive the ordinary person away from blogging. It did, however, shove personal blogs to the side while the spotlight pivoted to illuminate the slicker, fancier blogs that started popping up everywhere.

Read more...

Enter your email to subscribe to updates.