Feeling well enough to record a podcast, I published episode 11 of Timetable today. I talk about why I wish I could’ve launched my new platform on the same day as Twitter rolling out their algorithmic timeline.

→ 2016/02/11 11:51 am

Typed.com progress updates

The folks at Realmac have been blogging about their progress with Typed.com, a new blogging platform that successfully raised $120k on Indiegogo last year. In the latest monthly report, they announce a new free tier:

“With this new free tier, people can sign-up, use the service, take their time. They can blog for free, for as long as they want, and when they need or want the extra features we offer they can upgrade to a paid account. We also think this will be free marketing for the service, the more blog out there that are hosted with Typed.com then more people will find out about the service.”

This blog is in the spirit of Buffer’s open blog or Ghost’s Baremetrics reports. It’s especially great to see a company sharing numbers when they know they still have a lot of growth ahead of them to get where they want to be.

If you’d like to start a new blog but aren’t sure where to host it, check it out. Typed.com has a well-designed admin UI that is refreshingly simple compared to much of the more bloated web software out there.

It’s also possible to use Typed.com as a microblog. I pointed to some tips for this last year. Since the title of a post can’t be blank on Typed.com, I suggest using a date/time for the title. My new microblog platform is smart about treating those kind of short posts correctly when reading from an RSS feed.

River5 and twtxt

Two new microblog-related services have launched. This week, Dave Winer announced River5:

“So I decided it was time to do a restart of my JavaScript RSS aggregator, and it’s now ready for Node users — it’s called River5. […] This is a foundation for developers to build on, but it’s also possible for an adventurous user to set up their own rivers.”

River5 is built on a few XML and JSON formats, including River.js. I’m pretty interested in River.js as a format for aggregating multiple feeds together, so I’ve supported it in my new microblog platform. As a next-generation RSS, though, I prefer the proposal I wrote about in a post called RSS for microblogs.

Next up is twtxt, which attempts to recreate Twitter as a distributed, command-line based system with self-hosted text files:

“Instead of signing up at a closed and/or regulated microblogging platform, getting your status updates out with twtxt is as easy as putting them in a publicly accessible text file. The URL pointing to this file is your identity, your account. twtxt then tracks these text files, like a feedreader, and builds your unique timeline out of them, depending on which files you track.”

I’m less sure what to think of twtxt. The simple plaintext format is nice, but we already have a good infrastructure for this with RSS. And as I’ve noted before, having HTML in RSS with inline styles and links is nice for microblogs, and it’s not clear to me whether that would fit well with twtxt.

If you want to start an indie microblog, my suggestion remains to use existing blog software that can generate simple RSS feeds. Short posts, no titles. This is a widely-deployed format that we can continue to work with for years to come.

Algorithmic timeline now rolling out

Dan Moren reports that Twitter is rolling out their algorithmic timeline, where tweets aren’t strictly reverse-chronological. It is opt-in for now, and likely won’t apply to third-party clients:

“I’d also guess that third-party clients won’t be able to implement this for a while, if ever. So users of Tweetbot, Twitterrific, and others won’t really have a substantively different experience.”

I don’t see the setting in my Twitter account yet. As a user, I hardly care, because I don’t read the Twitter timeline directly anyway. But I’ll be watching how people react to this and how it might affect my own microblogging plans.

A couple folks have asked me if I will have a Slack channel for my new app. Thinking about this today… no. I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed with Slack right now.

→ 2016/02/09 2:56 pm

Slowly getting back into work after being sick for a couple days. Also took a break from the new podcast since my voice was horrible. Hope to get caught up on both coding and recording soon.

→ 2016/02/09 10:33 am

Charles Perry’s microblog

Charles Perry has started a microblog. On the balance of what he should post to Twitter and what he should post to his own site first, he writes:

“Most of the things I write on Twitter are snippets of conversations or other thoughts that I don’t necessarily want to preserve. Those will stay on Twitter. But some microposts—is that a thing?—I think are of interest on their own. These I plan to post to the DazeEnd.org microblog and mirror to Twitter. That should allow me to preserve and archive my thoughts on my own website and use Twitter just for distribution.”

I was really happy to see these posts show up in my RSS reader. There’s some momentum around indie microblogging right now. You should start one too.

Here are some more of my posts on the topic:

Listeners of my new Timetable podcast also know that I’m writing a short book about independent microblogging. You can hear a little about this on episode 9.

Introduced more bugs in my cross-posting logic. This is one of those rare pieces of code that actually needs good unit tests.

→ 2016/02/05 7:52 am

Core Intuition 218

On this week’s Core Intuition:

“Manton and Daniel talk about Apple’s current and future stock price, and their potential to branch out into other technologies such as virtual reality. They discuss Facebook’s shuttering of Parse and the implications for iOS developers and Facebook’s PR. Finally, they respond to listener Q&A about getting up to speed on using and implementing your own web services.”

Toward the end of the show, I also discuss my approach to password-less accounts for Searchpath and my not-quite-released latest web app. While still far from perfect, I think getting away from passwords is an important next step for apps. Passwords are just too annoying for users to keep track of and enter, and a potential security issue and headache for system administrators.

Found an old EC2 instance and couple EBS volumes to delete, to trim my AWS monthly bill. Really just using S3 now.

→ 2016/02/04 12:42 pm

The new Day One release reminded me I’ve wanted to import some entries from our Europe vacation blog last summer into Day One as an extra copy. Highly recommend private family blogs as a way to remember a trip and share with others.

→ 2016/02/04 10:40 am

Cute release notes

Ben Brooks takes on the trend of cute stories inside of release notes:

“With disturbingly increasing frequency, companies are deciding to let their marketing departments handle their release notes instead of the engineering team or product manager.”

I agree. These were fun at first, but the release notes don’t need to be entertainment. They should be a summary of what changed, with bullet points for key changes. (A single “bug fixes” line is also not helpful.)

I personally like to start each line with a clear statement: “Fixed <something>” or “Added <this feature>” or “Improved <something else> by <doing this>”. You can see this in the history of my Tweet Library release notes, for example.

Microphone and microcast details

A few weeks ago I started a new short-form podcast called Timetable. Each episode is 3-5 minutes. It has been really fun to record the show because I can try new things without investing too much time.

One goal from the very beginning was to record from iOS so that I could easily record outside the house. I wanted not just the flexibility to be away from my computer, but a stereo microphone that could capture some of the surrounding environment, to give it a more informal feel. (I’m actually cheating in some cases and using multiple tracks, to make editing easier, but I think the effect works. All the episodes have been exported to mono so far, though.)

I ordered this cheap iPhone microphone for testing — only $10 when I ordered it! — and figured after some experiments with my iPhone 4S, I would invest in something new. I liked it enough that I’m still using the mic with my 5S via a Lightning cable adapter. I’m also using a foam pop filter that I already had from a previous old mic.

Microphone

This may be the single best value in a tech gadget I’ve ever purchased. Total cost for producing the podcast:

I certainly didn’t invent the idea of a “microcast”. There are other good short podcasts, such as Bite Size Tech. But I’m happy to see even more people trying out the idea. Michael even started a new podcast called Driftwood to chronicle the development of his Jekyll template for microcasts.

Ferrite also continues to impress. It’s a very high quality iOS app and is competitive with Mac multi-track audio editors. For a good introduction, check out Jason Snell’s review.

Posted episode 10 of Timetable. Recorded and edited with Ferrite, except for MP3 conversion. Still need a good iOS solution for that.

→ 2016/02/01 3:16 pm

Some people say you shouldn’t mix personal and business blogs, but I do it anyway. I’ve been blogging for about 14 years. It’s all there.

→ 2016/02/01 10:47 am