Eleventy and my Daily Notes

Somehow, for reasons unknown, I’ve rebuilt daily.baty.net using Eleventy.

It started when I was struggling making some tweaks to the site, which is (was) generated using Tinderbox. Tinderbox, being Tinderbox, is ridiculously powerful and flexible, but it wasn’t doing what I thought I was telling it to do. So I stepped away and started tinkering with its inspiration, my Drummer blog. For a hot minute I considered going back to using Drummer, even though I worry about it’s longevity. Drummer is how blogging is supposed to work (at least in my head), so I started looking at it again.

Then Twitter decided to shut off its free API, which Drummer depends on for identity. Thankfully, Dave is working on a path around the Twitter problem, but in the meantime has temporarily shut down Drummer.

While I waited, I wondered if instead I could make Hugo look and work like my Tinderbox blog, but I quickly realized that I’m never going to understand Hugo’s templating process/language enough to do anything clever with it.

What about Eleventy? I’d never really considered Eleventy but I know some people really like it. When I saw that they had recently announced the v2.0 (beta), I figured it was a good time to see what it was all about.

The short answer is that I like it! I found the basics much easier to grok than Hugo. I had a simple blog put together in a couple of hours. It was one of those incremental things where I experiendce small, early wins, so I was encouraged to continue.

I pulled the (admittedly outdated) CSS and markup from my Tinderbox templates and shoehorned them into Nunjucks files. It was surprisingly easy, so I kept going and was so successful that within a few more hours I’d decided to go all-in and now daily.baty.net is running Eleventy. Good times!

Drummer and Twitter

Dave‘s blogging tool, Drummer, will be affected by Twitter’s API rug pull.

I’ve maintained (on and off) a blog using Drummer since its release. Drummer thinks the way I do. Drummer was a direct inspiration for what is now daily.baty.net. I basically recreated the parts of Drummer I like but built it using Tinderbox.

I sometimes consider going back to using Drummer, but I hesitate because I worry about it’s long-term viability. Dave’s got a lot of ideas and he doesn’t waste time dealing with the old ones. If Drummer ever becomes an “old idea” then I fear I’ll be left without any support. Dave sometimes struggles with support as it is, but zero is worse than a little.

Anyway, I’ll keep an eye on Dave’s progress and who knows, maybe Drummer will become A Thing for me again.

2023-Roll-101 (Stylus Epic)

The little Olympus Stylus Epic is fond of missing focus and flaring. I also seem to have some kind of leak. But, it’s still a great little camera to have in my pocket.

My Antinet and Barthes’ “Camera Lucida”

The first book I read with my Antinet in mind was “Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography” by Roland Barthes. I’m not doing a book review here, but I wanted to say a few things about the process of reading with the goal “installing” notes into my Antinet.

Camera Lucida and my bibcard

I’m not someone who needs a Zettelkasten. I’m not working on a book or paper or anything. I want to use what I’ve read. Even better, I’d like to integrate the things I’ve read with my own thoughts. I want to learn.

The problem for me has been that I don’t remember what I read. I have several bookshelves packed with books and I couldn’t tell you the first thing about what’s in most of them. It’s frustrating, and such a waste. I’m sure I must’ve gleaned something from all that reading, but what? And what can I actually do with it?

I have always believed that using an analog (pen and paper) process is better for thinking, but I’ve been so enamored with digital “Tools for Thought” the past few years that I’ve spent much of my time reading blog posts about “How to Take Smart Notes” using Obsidian or Roam or Emacs or what-have-you. All I have to show for it is a thousand text files and a useless bubble graph. I don’t need a “second brain” I need to better utilize the first one.

After reading Scott Scheper’s book, “Antinet Zettelkasten”, I was sufficiently inspired to go all-in with the Luhmann method, so I sat at my desk with “Camera Lucida”, a pen, and a blank 4×6” index card.

It was amazing. First, sitting at a desk while reading is a great idea because I didn’t fall asleep after three pages like I normally do. More importantly, I found myself reading with a goal. I was actively looking for things to remember, and writing them down. This was in contrast to my usual approach which is looking to “have read” the book. I filled my “bibcard” with quotes, references, and ideas from the book as I read it. These notes are meant to be processed and “installed” in my Antinet later, but even if I were to skip that part, I gleaned much more from the book than I normally would. I’m remembering more than from, say, highlighting passages in the Kindle. I’m telling you, there’s something to this whole paper thing! :).

I don’t know if my Antinet will ever amount to much more than a half-assed attempt at “Knowledge Management” but so far the simple act of creating it has paid dividends. I’m excited to see where it leads.

Christina Crook: Scapegoats

We are too prone to make technological instruments the scapegoats for the sins of those who wield them

Christina Crook, “The Joy of Missing Out”

Cal Newport on tool selection

The Any-Benefit Approach to Network Tool Selection: You’re justified in using a network tool if you can identify any possible benefit to its use, or anything you might possibly miss out on if you don’t use it.

Cal Newport, “Deep Work”

Indexing my paper notebooks

I keep a simplified version of a Bullet Journal in paper notebooks. I write in it every day. I write tasks, log meals and moods, write journal entries, copy quotes, etc. This way of working fits my brain, and I see no future in which I’m not doing some version of it.

But I must admit that y’all are right, searching paper notebooks kind of sucks. However, I’m not moving my notes to digital just so I can search them more easily. That’s not a trade-off I’m interested in. Instead, I’m working on a system that makes my paper notebooks easier to search. Or perhaps it’s better to say that I’m working on making it easier to find things I’ve written in my paper notebooks.

A year ago I started highlighting key words and topics in my notebooks (see Highlighting in Notebooks). This works great. It lets me quickly scan my notes and pick out important topics. What I’m now doing is adding those topics to a separate index. I already maintain a table of contents in each notebook, but that’s not the same as an index. My index is kept in a box of 3×5″ index cards (see photo).

The beginnings of my notebook index

Each notebook gets a number (e.g. 01) so the index entries reference this. For example, if there are several pages about “Health” in Notebook 01, it gets indexed like this: “Health: NB01.23, 45, 67”. The “NB” prefix may be unnecessary, but I’m thinking that at some point I might want to differentiate between sources. I might have written something in a notebook (NB) but there might also be something written in my Antinet, so I can do “AN2024/1/2A” to reference the specific card. Or perhaps I filed something written using a typewriter in a ringed binder. That might be “B02.34-35”. I’m still noodling on this.

Speaking of my Antinet, the contents of my notebooks/index differ from that of my Antinet experiment (which I’ll write about later). This index is for personal notes, observations, interactions, etc. The Antinet is for topics I’m interested in.

Have you tried keeping an index like this? If so, I’d be interested to hear how you’re handling it.

Photo wall

I hang random prints on these magnetized strings in my office. If I were to worry about order, or frames, or any kind of formality, nothing would end up on the walls. I love the chaos.

The “photo wall” in my home office.

Print your photos!

Contact Sheet: Josie

I adopted Josie years ago. She was a sweetie but was incapable of being around other dogs, and my life at the time involved being around other dogs. We found a new home for her with a lovely woman who enjoyed dogs but had none. What she did have was 5 acres of land and immediate love for Josie.

Josie contact sheet. Tri-x, shot with the Hasselblad.

I recently ran across the above contact sheet taken shortly after bringing her home. I love medium format contact sheets, since they make a fun polyptych. I often make a second contact sheet expressly for hanging. Sometimes I make a third and cut the small images out for my journal.

I could cheat with digital photos and make something similar, but it’s not the same.

You’re Pointing Your Camera the Wrong Way

There is no simple way to banish the ennui of our age, but maybe it would help if we stopped looking at our own faces and turned instead to documenting the vanishing natural world in all its manifestations.

Margaret Renkl, NYT

I love self-portraits but I hate selfies.