HEY World, it's now official! (#hey #heyworld #blogging)

They flipped the switch to ON. HEY World is LIVE! I’m so glad, curious and already excited to use this other channel to share my written content with the world. I’m already thinking about my first post on this new platform. Furthermore, I think this addition brings even more value to an already useful service, on which I depend every single day. Recently, I asked: How many websites can a blogger have? Well, as soon as a newcomer doesn’t add too much friction when publishing content, it’s ok to have many. HEY World seems to be such a service. Count me in.

After spending so many hours trying to understand the requirements to set up my online presence to support the IndieWeb movement… I’m close to just giving up. I fail to get the whole picture and none of the sites that I look at has a complete explanation that corresponds to my use case. Gosh. I’ll put this aside for a while and eventually come back to this. Maybe.

I often read the word “Quill” in here but never really paid too much attention, until now. Quill allows for posting content to your blog from a simple web page. You knew that, already, right? Not me. Sorry for the interruption, normal programming to return in 3, 2, 1. Thank you.

Quick Poll on Writing During the Pandemic (#blogger #writer #poll)

Today, I would like to do a quick poll among my blogger / writer friends here on Micro.blog. How did the pandemic influence your writing habits? Do you write more? Less? What could be the reasons behind the change of habit?

To help you out and start the thread, I’ll answer to my own poll. The pandemic brought me closer to be what we call “a writer”. I write a lot more. I do put more efforts into each piece. I use more tools to help me. My research goes deeper. I have many pieces in the works, all the time. I spend around 5-10 hours for writing each week.

Now, why do I write more? Because there is less noise in my life in general, thanks to the restrictions (no travels, curfew, work from home: no commute). This “silence” created a pool of free time. My creativity took over. So, I write. And I love it.

Tell me your story? Let’s discuss.

This is what I call a VERY productive Saturday.: three articles published (on Medium, on Numeric Citizen I/O, and on my Numeric Citizen Blog) and a monthly newsletter went out! 😎 Time for a break. 🏃Oh, and thank you for reading my stuff! 🙏🏻

I Tested HEY World! (#hey #heyworld)

Today, I tested HEY World. This is my non-review. It could have worked great, but it’s not ready yet. One could say “Nice try, buddy”.

I love their response to my test message. One thing stands out from their response, though:

“For now, HEY World is just an experiment. …

“Assuming there’s demand, we’ll begin opening it up for more people soon. And then, hopefully, for all HEY for You customers. Personal blogs will finally be as easy as sending an email.”

It seems to me that they are on the fence. They already have their tag line. They keep the door wide open. Could it be closer than we think or want to say it?

Now, what I’d like to see is how many emails like mine they get each day and what are they saying?

If they actually turn the switch on, count me in. I’ll find a use of it. For sure.

Ghost’s Killer Feature (#ghost #blogging)

After reading “Ghost on the iPad, a Review” from Tablet Habit, I tried to remember my experience when I tried the service myself. It wasn’t a good one for the thing I wanted to do with it: create a photography-oriented blog.

In recent days, it seems that the “Ghost” name is gaining traction in the blogging arena. I have to wonder if Ghost is better at this than what I experienced for photography. I don’t think I’ll try it again, but I think they do have one killer feature that other platforms don’t have: the combination of a blogging platform and a newsletter publishing tool. They really look to be well integrated.

One could argue that the difference between blogging or sending a newsletter is small (Think of HEY, World). I could easily agree. But sometimes, the actual implementation of the integration between those two features can make a real difference.

I’m currently using Substack for my monthly newsletter (Numeric Citizen Introspection Newsletter) and WordPress as well as Micro.blog more my blogging needs. Sometimes, I do wish there would be less friction when I’m publishing my work. A single platform doing all of this in a basic manner would be certainly very enticing.

How many websites can a blogger have? (#blogger #blogging #bloggerlife)

How many websites a blogger can have? Good question. I do have (too?) many, each filling their own niche. On that subject, something caught my attention yesterday in the public announcement of HEY’s experiment: “Hello, World!”. Jason Fried explaining why he never had a blog:

“It was primarily because setting up a personal blog was just too much of a hassle. It felt formal, it required yet another tool, yet another place to write, yet another platform to pay for just one feature. I had to pick a template, I had to think up a name, I had to make the relationship official.”

Sure, setting up a blog can be a hassle. For me, it is some kind of challenge and an exercise in creativity. This brings me to something I want to share with you. I’ve been working on something new in the last few days. I’m very excited about it. I started a “metablog”. Yes, another place to publish content. What is it? Well, it is a blog about blogging.

Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say about the word “meta”:

Any subject can be said to have a metatheory, a theoretical consideration of its properties, such as its foundations, methods, form and utility, on a higher level of abstraction. In linguistics, a grammar is considered as being expressed in a metalanguage, language operating on a higher level to describe properties of the plain language (and not itself).

Why do I feel the need to create yet another numeric space? Well, I believe in focused channels in general. I wanted a dedicated space for writing about being a blogger, using tools and services to put things together and out to the world. In other words, it is more about the “how” than anything else. I believe people like to get a look behind the curtain. I certainly do. So, I created this space where I’ll post my updates to my blogger workflow, in more detail.

So, there you have it: Numeric Citizen I/O. You’ll be able to comment on each individual post (I’m using Commento, a privacy-friendly commenting service.). I dearly encourage you to engage in discussion, ask questions or leave your comments. Thanks for visiting!


Writing is fun.

Hey, World (#hey #newsletters)

Each day, it seems there is always something new happening in the world of newsletters. When it’s not someone famous who joins Substack, a company out of nowhere offers a brilliant idea built around supporting newsletters in one way or the other. I’m thinking of Hey in particular.

“Email is the internet’s oldest instant self-publishing platform. Except you have to define a small audience every time you write. But what if you didn’t? What if you could just email the web to reach the world? Introducing the HEY World experiment” - Jason Fried from HEY

Yesterday, the company behind the popular HEY email client tentatively announced a new service for their customers. The idea behind is to allow any HEY users to create newsletters and publish them just by sending them to world@hey.com. The service would then post these newsletters on the web, complete with the author’s name. A simple static page, no tracking, no nothing more. I call this: simply brilliant.

The service is not currently available, only in some form of alpha-stage for internal use only. They announced it to read the room and see if there is some interest in something like this that could become some soft of hyper-distributed publishing platform.

I’m personally interested in this kind of service simply because it removes friction in the publishing process. What could be simpler than just writing the newsletter like we do with emails and then hit “send”!? Simply brilliant. For the reader, they can subscribe by email or by using the available RSS feed.

You can read the announcement here. I like the simplicity of this implementation. Very clean. Very lean. I’m in love. Too bad this isn’t available — yet.

Are we digital nomads? (#blogging #internet)

In the last few months, on Twitter and on Micro.blog, I’ve been witnessing something that takes the shape of a small phenomenon: people are moving from one place to another in the digital space. Many are writing about their experience of moving from one hosting site to another. Some are leaving WordPress to return to Ghost. Others are proudly putting together their hosting solutions. The same happens in the newsletters hosting space: people are leaving Mailchimp to go to Substack or Revue. People are looking to get better return on their investment both in time and money. Others are simply trying to optimize their blogging workflow. There is a myriad of reasons why people decide to leave a place for another one.

I find these numeric movements quite fascinating. Are you one of those guys?

Learning Blot.im the hard way (#blot #selfhosting)

So I started another experiment involving Blot.im. For those who don’t know Blot.im, it is a static web site generator that seems popular among the crowd here. On paper, the process of publishing is very simple: you drag and drop files on a specific folder on your computer and they get instantly published on the web. Sound great, right? That’s what I thought.

My goal with Blot.im is to do some “meta blogging”; a place where I could write about the tools, services and my blogger workflow. So I registered a new domain with GoDaddy: numericcitizen.io. Then, I opened my Blot.im account and stated experimenting. The initial setup is pretty simple. And then challenges pretty quickly started to emerge.

First, I wanted my new domain to point my Blot.im domain. Tried to follow the Blot.im instructions to make it work but all attempts failed. GoDaddy doesn’t support ALIAS DNS records as Blot.im ask me to create. I asked for help from Blot.im support. Still a work in progress.

Second, I chose to use Git as the “client” to push content on the service because I don’t want to use Dropbox, a service I despise. By using Git, I need a Git client on my Mac. I’m tentatively settled on Nova. So far so good. After cloning the Git repo from Blot.im to my local machine, I can then use Ulysses to write my posts and push them with Nova. The workflow is very geeky: create .MD file in Ulysses, “commit” within Nova then hit “push” to publish. Not as seamless as I would like. But here another issue: inserting images with a Markdown file is not as easy as it seems. Again, trying to figure out instructions on Blot.im site doesn’t work. The other thing is that if you drop an image within a folder, it will trigger Blot.im to create its own blog post, something that I don’t want. Not cool. Again, I’m asking support to help me here with this supposedly trivial task.

Third, I would like to use Github as the source of truth. Setting up a new repo is simple and cloning it to my local machine too. But, now, how do I make Blot.im to use the Github repo as the source of content? Again, trying to figure out Blot.im instructions but failing to make it work. Still trying to figure that out.

Fourth, tweaking the visual appearance is not as easy as I would have liked. There is a theme editor and I still need to be pretty knowledgeable in HTML and CSS. I did fork one of the theme to make it mine and started to do some tweak but it is a painful trial-and-error process.

All in all, I’m far from positive about Blot.im right now. I spent way too much time on these issues. I’m not sure where this is all going. If you are using Blot.im, please, do me a favour and chime in!

Testing, testing, 1.2.3. (#webmention #indieweb #openweb)

I’m still new to the Indieweb world. Today, I’m learning about webmentions. I like the idea of linking reactions back to the origin. So, after enabling a plugin on my main blog, I’m trying to link back to one of my recent post and see what happens. One day, I wrote “The Journey is the Reward”. I don’t post personal things very often. Thanks for your feedback.

Love and hate (#microblog)

I’m in love with Micro.blog. It’s simple, not too busy. Based on open web standards. But today, I’m a bit frustrated with the bad sad of being too simple. My most important grievance is the lack of design flexibility. Built-in themes are too basics and unappealing. You have to be a HTML and CSS expert to try to figure out how to make simple tweaks. This frustration is behind my recent desire to look elsewhere for hosting the whole thing. I’m willing to invest quite a bit of my time to gin control of the appearance of my online presence. I’m patient. The guys behind Micro.blog are working on the next features and I hope they will address some of my complaints.

Looking behind the scene. (#blogging #Hugo #html #git #github)

It all started with the idea of tweaking my micro.blog visual theme. I don’t like it, but this is the best that I could find from the included themes. After reading for a while and seeing people writing about their blogger workflow, I found out that Micro.blog is using Hugo, a static website generator. Then I started to learn about Hugo by searching for introduction videos on YouTube. Then, I learned about Hugo themes and how they are constructed, and at the center of how a website is displayed. Since static websites need a place to be stored, GIT and Github came into the picture. So, I started to read about GIT and Github. Git and Hugo both can be installed on my Mac mini to locally create content and generate a microblog from that. It a great experimentation place to learn and dig a bit deeper. Github is also a place to find new Hugo-based visual themes. Then I learned that I can import one of those themes on my machine so can change the visual appearance of my local Hugo microblog. Then, came the idea of publishing this content on the web, on Github, for free. To close the loop, services are available to take Github content and generate a static website, again using Hugo, behind a domain name of my choice. Then came the question: why do I need Microblog then? I could own the whole widget! It’s not that simple.

All this because I’m not satisfied with my current Micro.blog visual appearance. The next step is to dig within Micro.blog custom templates and see how I can update them. I’ll have to refresh my memory about HTML and learn a bit of CSS. The latter seems a bit an arid subject. Oh well.

Dear Micro.blog, where do you plan to go next? (#microblogging #microblog)

Thought of the day for @manton and @jean: there is something that could be improved regarding micro.blog: opening up the evolution and improvement roadmap of the platform. I do appreciate when a service do put out their roadmaps so the community get a better look at where things will be going in the future. Mailbrew, Plausible and Craft are very vocal about their future plans, you just have to find the place where they talk about it.

So, where is Micro.blog heading? In particular, how do you plan to expand on themes support and customizability? Why the web editor doesn’t allow support for Grammarly? Do you plan an opt-in option to see how many followers a user have? Those are just a few questions that I have regarding Micro.blog future plans. Thanks in advance.

Hey @jack! Let’s start a discussion.😊 I’m looking at your sites, your work and the tools and services you use. I’m very curious about how it all fit together. I’m curious about this Hugo thing, Github as a storage service and content editors and how they all talk to each other. Maybe others would be interested to discuss their options and workflow too. Chime in!

Let’s start like this: I started to look closely at Hugo and now I do have a better idea of this engine. What is less clear is this. Suppose I’m running an instance of Hugo on my M1-based Mac mini. Where does Github fit? Why I would use it?

Writing, like so many creative acts, is hard. Sitting there, staring, mad at yourself, mad at the material because it doesn’t seem good enough and you don’t seem good enough. (Ryan Holiday, Ego Is the Enemy)

I know this feeling really really well.

Giving without asking in return (#bloggerlife #blogging #writing)

Greg Morris recently on his blog about trying hard as a blogger to make something out of all this:

“I asked, I’m giving, and I am still blogging — now more than ever.”

Strangely, pure coincidence I guess, I wrote this last week-end “The journey is the Reward” in which I said:

“It doesn’t really matter if nobody comes and reads my stuff here or there. What matters is the process and the thinking that took place behind my writing. It’s all the small moments where I had to pause, think, read, learn and write. It’s about feeling creative. Alive. The rest is just another tiny drop in the numeric ocean. A few will taste it, and most won’t. That’s the life of a blogger and a writer in a sea of abundance. So, I’ll keep doing it, no matter what.”

The journey is really the reward for me.

Desktop vs Laptop vs Mobile vs Tablet (#blog #bloggerlife #analytics)

Here is something absolutely fascinating and surprising to me. According to my main blog’s visitors statistics, thanks to my recent switch to Plausible, over the last thirty days, the distribution of devices type used to visit my blog puts the tablet far behind the desktop, the laptop and the smartphone. One would think the tablet form factor to be much more popular.

The iPad is massively popular. I’m still in love with this form factor after all these years. These numbers doesn’t jive.

Our secret? Optimizing workflows (#blogger #writer #tools)

I like to see other people talk about their own writing or blogging workflows. Here’s an interesting tidbit from Greg Morris about using Apple’s Shortcut to publish to WordPress:

“Shortcuts is a really robust way to publish to WordPress and not have to use the WordPress app or third-party app.”

Apple’s Shortcuts are also an important part of my blogger workflow. Since I’m using Ulysses, which supports publishing directly to WordPress, I don’t need a shortcut for that. But for many other small things, it is a valuable tool in my arsenal. Shortcuts are an interesting technology within the iOS and iPadOS ecosystem.

Being robbed, again (#stealing #robbing)

Someone stoled my most recent article. I hate when this happens. I guess my article was good enough for this guy to bother.

This morning, I got a pingback on WordPress for an article being published elsewhere as shown below.

Someone copied my latest article “The Ultimate Twitter Tips and Tricks for Mastering Your Twitter Experience”. By doing so, he forgot to remove one of the URL pointing back to another previously published article, “My Review of Mailbrew: a Powerful and Time-Saving Internet Information Aggregator”, I was notified via a pingback. I paid a visit to the “publisher” and sure enough, 90% of my article was reproduced. The guy removed the screenshots but left the captions (weird). The title was modified too. The conclusion was removed. Here is what I wrote to the “published”:

I also posted the same thing on the comment section but comments being moderate, I don’t think the guy will republish them. I will see what happens. This is the second time this happens to me.

Meanwhile, The Startup magazine on Medium accepted my article submission. More than 750K followers can see it from the magazine homepage. 😃

That one was hard (#blogging #writing #article)

I just published one of my most difficult to write article in a long time. It is about transforming your Twitter experience to make it more focused, enjoyable, tailored to your personal interests. I’ve been working on it for the last few months. Along the way of writing this long piece, my Twitter experience was profoundly changed. I’m pretty happy with the end results. If you’re on Twitter, consider giving a look to this guide. Hope you’ll like it.

The Ultimate Twitter Tips and Tricks for Mastering Your Twitter Experience

Dear bloggers, let’s not forget about the link posts (#blogging #writing)

In “A Love Letter to the Link Post”, CJ Chilvers lament the lost of link posts from the blogosphere. Link posts marked the debut of so many websites raison d’être back in the nineties:

“At that time, they weren’t even called blogs. You’d simply update the front page of your website every day with a few interesting links you discovered since the day before.”

I love link posts. I follow many bloggers just to have a peek at their discoveries and comments about them. A big portion of my monthly Numeric Citizen Introspection newsletter is built around sharing a curated content of links that I find interesting. They generally fit within the boundaries of my deep interests. Link posts within newsletters = 🥰

In summary := Link posts > comments on a social network.

Optimizing my blogger workflow (#writing #tools #workflow)

This is a test with (redacted) currently in alpha, which introduces support for posting to Micro.blog. I’m a big user of (redacted). This new feature alone could significantly enhance and simplified my blogger workflow. I’ve been waiting for this feature for a long time. When the update is ready, on iPad or the Mac, it means that I’ll be able to start the initial writing in Craft, then export to (redacted) using the TextBundle format, finish the editing in (redacted), then publish to Micro.blog. On the Mac, the same sequence applies, rendering MarsEdit unnecessary. How cool is that? Optimizing my workflow is very satisfying. 😎👨🏻‍💻

This is a first post with (redacted), things could break.