I need to meet Hugo

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Last night I successfully deployed Netlify to create a Hugo-based website. You can see it (at time of writing) but it’s just a silly default template pretending to be a coffee website.

Screencap of the test post I uploaded last night.

The problem is that Netlify does too much of the work for me, which means I’ll still be relying on someone else’s service to create the new site. If I’m going to take control, I need to take control properly. I’m taking Willem’s advice and I’m going to roll my own.

There’s going to be a big learning curve here. I’m going to need to learn about Hugo and its templating system; deal with GitHub pages; establish a workflow that can post based on Markdown files from my computer as well as from my mobile devices.

I use Editorial for text files when mobile. There are workflows available to do all of this, but it’s going to take a lot of configuring.

At the same time, I have to play around with the design of the site, look at how I’m going to make the best use of CSS grid and work out how to implement it all.

Looking for a Simpler Way

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I’ve wanted to do a few little tinkering projects recently around CSS Grid and also maybe a git-based CMS for blogging.

Writing shouldn’t be a chore. I write all my notes in Markdown.I have for years. I work in text editors whenever possible and hate having to rely on services inside a browser to collaborate or create content.

WordPress has done marvelous things over the past few years. They’ve come a long way into the domain of true commercial CMS competitors. They achieved the goals I always knew they were capable of.

But at the same time, I feel like it now surpasses my needs. I almost never post anymore. I’m more time poor than I used to be and WordPress became an unfamiliar landscape based around SEO and social media and competing with platforms like Squarespace.

I just want to type and post. I want to dabble and play. I want to test out concepts and designs in a much simpler way.

So, I’m going to experiement, starting with Netflify. The theory is that I should just be able to write a blog post in a text file in my text editorand push it to my git repository.

So I’m going to try to minimise the friction between writing and publishing. I used to find it easy and enjoyable. I wonder if I’ll get to do that again.

At the moment I’m still waiting for the DNS to propogate, so there’s nothing there. This, I’m sure, will be small steps taken over a long time. But I’ve needed a project around this part of my life for some time.

Post Script: Also, WP doesn’t seem to be playing nicely with my Firefox settings at the moment, so that’s just another barrier. Sigh.

It’s been two years

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According to the blog folder I keep on the cloud somewhere, it’s not true that I didn’t write a blog post in the last two years.

But writing and publishing aren’t the same thing (just ask my third episode of This is Modern Living. It sits somewhere, also “in the cloud”, waiting to join its siblings on the outside, but knowing it doesn’t have an ending.

Two years ago, when I wrote the preceding blog post, I was in NYC. I escaped there for four weeks, renting a room in a six-storey walk-up on Houston and Eldridge.

My job of almost six years was over. I hadn’t felt anything in months. When I left Melbourne, Hilary Clinton was on her way to becoming the first female President of the USA. When I landed in LA 14 hours, the news reminded us that a one-in–20 chance is still a good chance. Trump rolled a natural 20 and nobody knew how to feel. I had transported myself to be a numb person surrounded by other numb people.

What I love about New York, though, is its perseverance. Those who move to NYC to pursue a dream do so knowing it’s going to be difficult. There will be hardship. The people in that city continue to exist despite others. They help each other through the hardship.

Two years later and my home was rocked by mindless violence. In Melbourne a man set a car on fire and started stabbing people. He killed a man who meant a lot to many Melburnians. Sisto Malaspina lived his life publicly as the perfect emblem of Melbourne: he made us feel welcome and he fed us.

So much of Melbourne feels touched by his death. So many of us were touched by his life.

I’m seven hours away, by plane. I’ve been living in Singapore for the past 5 months. This country has had the some government for the last 53 years. The current Prime Minister (Singapore’s third) is the son of their first. Some people criticise the government (privately, in their cars). Some continue to spruik the country, taking huge pride in its cleanliness and its airport.

It’s rare to hear a siren here. I don’t know what that means except it’s a clear sign I’m not in Melbourne or NYC.

My life has changed a lot in the last two years. I’ve accomplished more than I thought I would. A couple of months later I started a new job. I learnt a lot. I met a lot of passionate people who what to make the world better and intend to do so with technology.

I’m feeling more hopeful than I was then. There’s a lot more to be hopeful about. Nihilism has its benefits, but hope is more likely to get results. That’s where what I’m sitting with now. Hope, action and support. Let’s give that a try.

Politics in November 2016

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The following are rambling thoughts, typed with exhaustion, as a result of travelling from St Kilda to Soho, New York over 26 hours while an election was happening in the US. It probably has too many pop-cultural references in it.

We were in the air when it happened. The plane landed at LAX and as it headed towards the gate, people started turning on their phones. The text messages spread through the cabin and the conversations started immediately.

It was only when I heard other people talking about it that I realised Lyndal wasn’t playing some kind of terrible practical joke. This was real and the most difficult thing to deal with, at the time, was how credible it actually was.

During the whole lead-up to the election, different news organisations kept pointing to the numbers. The polling showed how far behind Trump was. But the numbers were ridiculous because they were gathered under the rules of the way the game used to be played.

In the first season of the TV show Survivor the contestants began their time on the show trying to survive in a remote location without the luxuries of home. Most of them thought that was the game. People were voted out because they were weak.

The game changed very quickly once Richard Hatch started forming alliances, telling people what they wanted to hear and playing the game the way he saw it. The other players were blind-sided. Even when they knew the way Hatch handled players and situations, they couldn’t keep up or bring the power over to their side.

The game changed before our eyes and we acted too late and couldn’t bring ourselves to play this new game. In this new game governing well is a distant second to power. Power comes from telling people what they want to believe but good governing comes from doing what someone believes is best for everyone.

We saw this play out with Brexit. We’ve seen it in the Philippines. We’ve seen it in Australia.

But we also saw it in Russia.

And we saw it in Animal Farm.

The giant appeared and announced “It is happening again.” And we’re like Agent Cooper, sitting in that roadhouse, knowing that we’re powerless to stop something that has already started.

These are dark times. We might feel helpless. That’s what they want. They will bank on that. Maybe we should start talking about what’s important to us more than every three to five years.

But we probably won’t, because it’s easier to just let it keep happening again and again.

Just remember: it’s a lot easier to push over a pig when he’s walking on two legs.

Dramatic reactions

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We will continue to be angry with ourselves for being made into fools. Foolish things will continue to distract us from the real harm.

I almost posted this as a response to someone’s (yet another person’s) Facebook post about the video with the hawk and the snake.

But Facebook isn’t the place for being told to care about other things. It’s there to care about everything. Everyone’s opinion is valid about everything and Facebook sets its algorithm to show us posts we are more likely to agree with and confirm that opinion.

It brings us the video, encourages us to share it and then encourages us to rage against its makers for giving us something we found entertaining.

Now, more than ever, we have always been at war with Eastasia.