Category: technology |

Getting Lost in Rabbit Holes

Rabbit Holes

In retrospect, I should have known there was going to be a problem. It seemed like such a simple thing, after all. I just wanted to switch to YAML to define my post front matter. YAML, which stands for YAML Ain’t Markup Language, has a very simple job: it provides a structure for keyed data (or metadata) that is human readable and portable1. Even more importantly, my markdown editor (Typora) has this neat little feature that lets me set up a YAML front matter section right in the post. It is a nice little bonus in what is, already, a gorgeous markdown editor.

The Python Markdown processor that Pelican uses doesn’t require YAML, but I prefer it for cross-compatibility with other platforms and processors (pandoc, Jekyll, etc). Luckily, there was a YAML plugin already designed for Pelican, so I decided to check it out. I won’t deny that I was a bit dubious about the plugin. It has been quite a while since it was updated. Nevertheless, I added it to my config and set it to build.

And crashed.

I expect this from time to time. One of the real joys of working with open …


Breaking Away from the Fan’s Approach to Technology

Tech Reviews

When it comes to hardware and software, I think there is a part in all of us that really loves the critic. This is especially true when the product being critiqued is one that we don’t like or don’t think we’ll like. After all, the critic just reinforces how smart we are. They become the voice of the child in the crowd pointing out how silly the emperor looks with no clothes and we can sit there and say, “I know! Isn’t that stupid. Can you believe those silly fans still buy that garbage?” We get to feel smug and superior, and that can be a hard feeling to let go.

Of course, it’s a very different feeling when something you actually like is being criticized. Then, the critic is just wrong. They “obviously” don’t understand the product or its inherent value to you. Those silly fools are in the pocket of whatever company is supposedly competing with your product and should be ashamed.

This is what happens on every tech page and review site that I read. It isn’t all that surprising, either. When you consider how important our technology has become …


Revisiting Notion

A while back, I posted a critique of Notion in which I took it to task for not having an easy method of export and usability. At the time, I said I loved what Notion did as a software platform, but I felt it didn’t really give a clear option of how to migrate away if something changed or the platform became unavailable. That is a big deal to me. I don’t want to be bound to any single platform or company, and I felt that using Notion would do that.

My wife, however, disagreed. I am married to a wonderful historian who spends a lot of time working with and using technology both for the work she does and for her day-to-day life and recreation. We are both fascinated by different hardware and software platforms and spend far too much time arguing about their different affordances and constraints. In these discusssions, she is (usually) the enthusiastic adopter, and I am the tech curmudgeon. This was absolutely the case when it came to Notion. She argued that the ease-of-use of the platform, its accessibility and availability, the collaborative features it provided, and the speed at which we could …


LaTeX in a Humanities World

Let’s talk about LaTeX for a second. WAIT! Come back! I know we’re going deep into techcomm nerdom for this one, but I think it’s worth talking about. I’ll try not to get too lost in the details, and I promise that this isn’t going to be me telling that the way you write is wrong. I like LaTeX, a lot, but our tools have to be able to adapt to fit our use cases. I’m not sure it does that. LaTeX presents certain challenges to what have become typical strategies for writing and editing documents. This is especially true when it comes to writing documents outside of traditional STEM disciplines. Which is, primarily, what I do.

LaTeX is, essentially, a open system of tools for typesetting and text formatting. It can be a powerful resource for writers and editors. While intimidating at first, once you get a feel for it and the sense of control you have over your page, it is hard to go back. I still remember compiling my first document and thrilling at how everything was exactly where I told it to be. Then I discovered that I was just …


Rethinking Social Media - Engage or Disengage?

I had a whole post ready to go talking about the attempted bombings by a domestic alt-right terrorist and the role social media played in his actions. That was before the nightmare in Pittsburgh. That was before another mass murderer, his violent bigotry honed through sick communities of hate whose work is actively published on these same social media platforms, stepped into a place of worship and killed innocent people.

So here I am, revising this post as I go, but the question to those of us who still use these sites remains: what do we do in the face of an ongoing tide of hatred on social media? Is it time for us to leave these platforms?

It might not be a big surprise that I don’t interact a lot on social media. Facebook barely exists for me. Except for specific work accounts, I almost never post on Facebook, and I rarely look at my personal messages or my wall. The posts that do go to my wall only go to me. If I do respond (mostly to birthday wishes) those responses are also not shared, and I quickly migrate offsite if the messages continue. I am not …


© Geoffrey Gimse. Built using Pelican. Except where noted, all photos are my own. Other images used on this site are in the Public Domain and available from Openclipart, or have been purchased for use via The Noun Project.