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w/e 2022-12-18

I’ve been doing some preparations for the upcoming third reading of Pepys’ Diary, including for moving the site from Heroku to the VPS. I won’t get everything done I’ve thought about, in time for the start of the year (all those blogs took longer than expected), but I’ll manage a few improvements. I even managed to close an issue I’ve been meaning to tackle since last time around. Yes, it only took ten years.

I’ve also been setting up a new email newsletter to replace the current one that sends out each day’s diary entry (by reading the RSS feed). It’s currently a “subgroup” on which, in retrospect, is way too confusing – anyone wanting to only receive the diary entries must subscribe to the main discussion group, then to the subgroup, then turn off emails for the discussion group. I’m surprised and grateful that 460 people managed it. So I’ve been doing lots of tweaking of newsletter settings elsewhere, and lots of fiddling with dummy RSS feeds and Zapier.

Because this list will cost money to run I’ve been fiddling with the settings to allow optional paid subscriptions. It’s so hard to know how to charge for things, and these emails – where paying is optional, there are no paid extras, and it’s not an expensable work-related newsletter – seems even harder.

In all the years I’ve been putting stuff online it’s the first time I’ve thought about charging money for anything and it’s got me wondering if I should/could do more, like set up Patreon (or something less bad) to cover all things I do. There are several reasons I’ve never done it before, such as:

  • What I imagine to be the typical British awkwardness of talking about money, never mind asking for it.

  • I’d be making these sites anyway – it’s a hobby – so why charge for them? Or, why (in the past) sully them with adverts? (The Pepys emails are an exception; it’ll cost me money and it’s not something I would make for, or use, myself.)

  • The fear of failure: there are few things more dismal than someone’s long-running Patreon page with only three subscribers paying $1 each (before costs) per month.

  • Would it change how I feel about doing all this stuff for the worse? Would I feel an obligation to strangers that I don’t feel now? (er, as much)

Of course, a mythical Optimistic Phil might see it changing things for the better in various ways, but we can only attempt to imagine such outlandish ideas.

If you’ve done something like this, or have read or watched good things on the topic, or have other thoughts, do send them my way.

§ A photo taken from a hill, looking across a shallow valley of green fields and bare trees dusted with snow. Just down the hill is a field with a large tree in its centre, next to which a horse nibbles the grass.
I’m not a fan of the cold weather, but when the sun’s out, and you have warm enough clothes, it can be pretty nice, for a bit. This is the other side of the hill from us.

§ I upgraded my MacBook to Ventura this week and was pleased to see that it’s now possible to tell at a glance whether the Music app has Shuffle or Repeat turned on or not: they’ve added a dot under the icons when they’re enabled. Well done boffins, it only took you a few years to fix that.

They’ve even worked out how to make it so that if you’re viewing some albums, click one to view it, then go “back”, the list of albums is in the same place as you left it, instead of back at the top. I expect Tim Apple had to fix that tricksy one himself.

But who, out of Apple’s 164,000 employees, is capable of making it so that if you drag a music file from the Finder into a playlist, the track doesn’t immediately disappear from the playlist? Probably requires some faster processors or something. I doubt it’ll be possible (again) for another couple of rounds of Moore’s Law.

§ This week we finished watching season two of Industry (on iPlayer) which was good. After Snowfall and Happy Valley I needed something where the worst thing likely to happen was someone wealthy and unlikeable losing lots of money. It’s a bit silly and soapy (in a similar way that This Life was), and sometimes I didn’t quite follow the financial shenanigans, but it’s still quite exciting.

I found myself enjoying Ken Leung’s performance most – something about keeping so many things – anger, frustration, fightiness – trapped inside, barely visible, eyes staring hard. The few occasions when he has reason to smile, or even laugh, are such a relief, a breakthrough.

§ That’s all. Not sure if I’ll write on Christmas Day, or sometime round then. So have a good Christmas or Yule or whatever.

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