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Jeremy Cherfas

Tenets to live by

1 min read

"Try to understand things"


"Don't go around hurting people."

That has certainly always worked for me.

From The Online Photographer: Wednesday Open Mike: Least Heat-Moon and the Spider Woman

Jeremy Cherfas

Whistling to myself

1 min read

If you don’t take care of yourself online, someone else will. That someone is likely not a peer but a megacorporation that is tracking and selling your preferences in a silent auction, a government surveilling your movements and religious affiliations, or a hacker collective that feels entitled to publish your sexual indelicacies. That someone probably already is.

Read a nice thing from Paul Ford, who is always so good to read, and found myself almost nodding my head off. And feeling futile at the same time.

Also, this:

“Submit” (perhaps the most well-chosen interface word of all time)

Jeremy Cherfas

Falling out of love withKnown

1 min read

I had really high hopes for Known on this site as a way to own all my content and send it from here to where I thought it might also be happy. But there's a lot of little niggles that make me wonder. Like the photo plugin that doesn't respect rotation. I mean, c'mon. It also does not appear able to take pictures, although that could also be my fault for not allowing it to do so. Then there is the lack of Markdown in status updates, which has been promised forever. My impression is that the development team is focused, probably quite sensibly, on their community-in-a-box vision for education. But I'm not skilled enough to work withKnown on my own, and nobody seems to be offering the kind of service I'd be willing to pay for. In the meantime, though, I'll keep on keeping on while at the same time start to explore how easily Grav could play with the Indieweb.

Jeremy Cherfas

This may be the kick in the head I need

2 min read

Having gone nuts and done a clean install of El Capitan, I'm trying to recover bits of my working life. Mostly, that is going well. But not with my main website. I moved that from a well-dodgy WordPress installation to a static site generated by Octopress a few years ago, and while I enjoyed getting that system up and running, I didn't really want to go through it all again. It is just too inflexible for my needs.

Even before the clean install, I had been casting around for a replacement, without lighting on anything. Then, a post by Ben Brooks mentioned a CMS new to me: Grav. I took a look around and liked what I saw, although it did also seem a bit intimidating. But the tutorials are really clear and relatively simple, and I soon had a local version up and running.

That made me like it more. Enough, in fact, to start thinking about transferring all 1413 entries from the archive.

Grav and Octopress both use a special section of front matter to tell the system what to do with the content that follows, and for a while I thought I might attempt to do some fancy stuff and automate converting one to the other. Good sense prevailed. So I went back to the first of the 1413 posts (which is by no means the first ever of my posts, but that's another story) and copied it into my local website.

That worked fine, but I took the opportunity to check the link it contained, and of course it had rotted away. A bit of searching turned up the piece to which the link referred, but that is now behind a paywall. And you know what? That site can go get stuffed.

That blog post will now exist only in my archive, if I decide to keep it. And I will take the opportunity to check each post.

I may be some time.

Jeremy Cherfas

Workflow neither works nor flows, for me

2 min read

More and more, I do my catch-up reading on the iPhone. As I scan the incoming tide, I send things either to Instapaper or Pinboard and then, when I get a moment, go through them there. So far so good. The thing is, more and more of the things I want to take a closer look at these days are podcasts. And the way I generally do that is to save the audio (at least if it isn’t hosted on ShitCloud) to Huffduffer. On the phone, that’s a pain. In fact, I don’t know how to do it. If I am in Instapaper, reading a piece that contains audio, I have no idea how to tell Huffduffer to save the audio.


Surely smarter minds than mine have the same problem, and have harnessed the power of Workflow to do their bidding? But no. There are workflows for sending the podcast you’re listening to to Huffduffer, but that hardly serves my needs. If I’m already listening, I don’t need to Huffduff it.


I need to give up and just accept that I will do it manually. Already I have probably spent more time trying to solve the problem than I would save over the next decade if I did solve it.

Jeremy Cherfas

Items of no note

2 min read

My week (almost) in Cork and Kilfinane is coming to a close and my head is swimming with ideas; new podcast series, new approaches to episodes, things unrelated to audio. The thing that didn't work was recording any of these thoughts digitally. I have a few notes written in my little notebook, but that's all. A few tweets and the like too, but they are mostly pure celebration, rather than cerebration. And I the end I am only writing this to the website because I am early for my flight and nursing my final Guinness of the trip (see previous post).

Of course I could have taken the time each evening to write in my journal, digital or analogue. My excuse on that front is that it was too bloody cold and all I wanted to do was warm up under the covers. But I also think that none of my digital tools is up for the job. Typing on the phone, as I am now, is tiresome. Carrying even the light little MBA around just for a few extended notes isn't worth it. The little notebook is the answer. Or, and given that this was an audio festival I am kicking myself that I didn't do this, audio notes would have been great. I should have done that, after each session. And my excuse is that, having been listening to such great audio, even the best quality on the iPhone would not have been good enough. Dumb, I know.

Maybe next time I'll have a better plan. And maybe I'll maintain my current level of enthusiasm long enough to turn some of the little notes into bigger thoughts.

Jeremy Cherfas

Managing the internet is hard

2 min read

A nice, friendly email alerted me to the fact that there were a few people still subscribed to this website by email or RSS, who have possibly been confused by what it has become. More likely, of course, they're just ignoring it in the way that I ignore emails from things I subscribed to ages ago and that no longer interest me. So much simpler to ignore than unsubscribe. Anyway, the site that used to be at this domain was originally intended as an online presence for the great Russian plant explorer N.I. Vavilov. It was funded by the same people that funded Gary Nabhan's book Where Our Food Comes From: Retracing Nikolay Vavilov's Quest to End Famine, and after that funding ended I kept it up as long as I could, but I couldn't honestly sustain it.

Then a bad crash at the original host left the website unusable. I have all the material in a backup, natch, but in the meantime I have started to use this domain for an experiment. I thought I had cleaned up the feed and RSS emails for the domain, but I hadn't, so now I am. Subscribers are about to get an email explaining what's going on. Some of them may, I suppose, get this post first.

I feel bad that I have neglected the Vavilov material, but other things have pushed it down my priorities. Putting it back up is one of the important but not urgent, back-burner projects that never seem to come to the boil. I need to turn up the heat on myself.

Jeremy Cherfas

Podcasting: zero sum on not?

2 min read

Such fun to see what look like two different answers to the same question, especially when they happen in the space of less than a day.

Matt Lieber, the cool drink of water on a hot day at Gimlet Media, told Shannon Bond on the FT Alphachat podcast that podcasting was definitely not a zero-sum game. (I don't have the exact time or words because life's too short and podcasting search and discover still sucks.)

Meanwhile, Seth Godin writes that "the game is becoming zero sum".

And the thing is, they're both right.

Lieber is right that most podcasters are happy to cooperate not compete, because they're all trying to grow the pie for podcasting, and the more people who listen -- the bigger the pie -- the more listeners each podcaster can have.

And Godin is right that he can't listen to something new without not listening to something else.

Even for somebody who is into listening, maybe even into high-speed playback, there's only so much time in the day.

For the little independent podcaster, there's a double challenge. Attract new people to listen to your podcast; grow the pie. And get them to add you to their regular playlist, even if they have to drop something else.

What is to be done?

Jeremy Cherfas

Why I like RSS

1 min read

Because when a site I used to enjoy springs back to life after two years or thereabouts, I find out about it. And while the site is dormant, it costs me nothing to have my RSS reader keep an eye on it.

Jeremy Cherfas

All hail Josh Strange

1 min read

Thanks to Josh Strange, who wrote a script to import Narrato entries into Day One I now have all my online journal entries in one place. Josh was also kind enough to update his script to account for changes in Narrato's data export format.

I am very happy.