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w/e 2020-04-12

Hello. Happy Easter Apparently.

It only seems like a couple of days ago that I was sitting at my computer in a chilly room wearing all the layers of merino wool, plus hat, scarf and duvet. Now I’m in shorts and sandals, the window’s open and the curtains are shielding me from the glare of this infernal sun. Did the weather change suddenly? Is this normal? The weeks are both flying by and taking forever; how many have passed since lockdown began? Are months longer than seasons or is it the other way round? What year do we put the recycling bin out?

§ This week I unsubscribed from a couple of blogs and newsletters I was trying out, simply because I was confused by them. I find it odd when someone’s blog and email newsletter contain similar, but not identical, stuff. I’ll read a blog post and it’ll say, “Excerpted from my email newsletter, subscribe here!” Or a newsletter might say, “I wrote in more detail on my blog…”

I’m easily confused. If I like what someone has to say then I want to see all of it, and not worry I’m missing out on material that’s only in another medium. When the two formats are mostly-but-not-quite-entirely overlapping it’s really hard to tell. I think the ways that work for me (but, I guess not everyone) are:

  • Blog posts are also sent out as newsletter emails, or vice versa. Identical content.
  • Blog posts and newsletters contain entirely different content.
  • There’s some overlap but the frequency, formats and purpose are different enough not to confuse.

The first two are nice and clear. The relationships are distinct.

To expand on the final point, this is what Warren Ellis does. He has his blog and his newsletter. The blog often has several posts a day, usually, but not always, brief. The newsletter is weekly and might contain bits from the blog, clearly signposted, but also has a bunch of other stuff. Because the frequencies are so different, and the size and format are so different, and it’s clear what originated where, it works. The blog and newsletter have very different purposes and feels.

But if someone posts longish blog posts once or twice a week, and sends a longish email newsletter maybe once a week or so, and there’s maybe 80% crossover between the two… I’m baffled. Have I read this before? Maybe. Is this bit new? Who knows. Which one should I be reading? I’m easily confused.

§ Relatedly, I’m enjoying Cory Doctorow’s new thing, Pluralistic, since he left Boing Boing, which I stopped visiting regularly years ago. I read it as a daily blog post but it’s available in lots of formats, and this is his publishing workflow:

For those of you who are interested, here’s the Pluralistic workflow:

* New posts start off as Twitter threads at @doctorow

* These get manually, simultaneously reposted to the fediverse as Mastodon toot threads

* Every morning, these are anthologized into a blog post for

* That’s then turned into a newsletter post for the Plura-list

* Then I create daily anthology threads for Mastodon and Twitter that have links to all the day’s threads, and pin it to the top of each account.

* These are then turned into individual Tumblr posts, which are injected into the stream at:

(That comes from MetaFilter although I’m not sure where it originates.) It’s quite… something! Anyway, as ever, I’m in awe of how much Cory gets done and I’m enjoying the daily blog post via RSS. It’s not better or worse than several shorter posts today, but I like the frequency and its finishability.

§ We watched His Dark Materials this week and I enjoyed it more than I thought I might. It wasn’t as “children’s TV” as I’d feared. I haven’t read the books so it was all new to me, it looked great, it was fun, and Lyra was very good. The only downside was that, because there are further books to adapt, the ending was more of an ellipsis than a full-stop.

The house that Will and his mum lived in was a mid-to-late-twentieth-century modern house, all big windows and nice wooden interiors which was very attractive, if unlikely (given how few there are compared to more conventional houses). It reminded me of how in The End of the F*ing World most of the houses were a vaguely similar style and era, as if it’s set in a slightly alternate Britain full of tasteful Scandinavian design. Which is a nice variation on the usual slightly alternate Britain that’s overly influenced by a nostalgia for the 1940s-1950s, all cute villages, cheery postmen, and jam for tea. I guess a gently modernist 1960s-1970s influence is a slight advance, or at least a change.

§ Like many other people-like-me I enjoyed Emily Maitliss’s introduction to Newsnight a few nights ago. Yeah! Right on! And then I saw a few tweets like this:

Time’s Carcass @_JackGraham
This Maitlis thing showcases a key dynamic of capitalist media: a complaint abt injustice can be safely expressed if encompassed within mainstream narrative & offering no meaningful systemic challenge; anyone challenging the system (i.e. Corbyn, albeit imperfectly) is a villain.

And, yeah, that too.

§ If you ever want a reason not to write your own website, here’s the process I went through to fix a tiny, simple bug on my site:

  1. Ideally, write a test that catches the bug.
  2. Find and fix the bug in django-ditto (adding a single line of code). Nearly done!
  3. Run tests.
  4. Commit the fix to a new git branch.
  5. Wait eight minutes for the tests to complete across different versions of python and Django on Travis CI.
  6. Do a Pull Request on GitHub to merge that code into the master branch.
  7. Wait eight minutes for the tests to complete across different versions of python and Django on Travis CI
  8. Change the version number of django-ditto and update the CHANGES.rst file.
  9. Rebuild the documentation.
  10. Commit and push those changes to GitHub.
  11. Wait eight minutes for the tests to complete across different versions of python and Django on Travis CI.
  12. Publish those changes to PyPI.
  13. After waiting a while for our flaky internet connection to fail to upload the files to PyPI, cancel it and try again.
  14. In the code for my actual website, update its python dependencies to pick up the new version of django-ditto.
  15. Let’s be sensible and also run the tests for my own site.
  16. Commit that change and push to GitHub (yes, direct to the master branch, it’s my own website and I’m living dangerously OK).
  17. Wait 2 minutes 45 seconds for the tests to complete on Travis CI.
  18. Wait a minute or two more for the code to magically make its way from GitHub to Heroku and for the live site to update.
  19. Run the command which had the bug.
  20. Emit a “Yessss!” when reloading the offending page and seeing “Herman Düne” instead of “Herman Düne”.

OK, not all bugs involve such a laborious process and this is largely a ridiculous piece of baggage of my own making. Some parts of my site are entirely separate Django apps, packaged up as reusable python projects, with lots of documentation and tests, and sort of rigorous release processes mainly because it’s good practice for me. These are then used, and customised, in my own website. But this does make fixing a bug on my website, that’s caused by one of them, a bit silly.

§ That’s all. Have a good indeterminate amount of time until the next probably-week-notes.

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