Blogging


Ah, the optimism of the 1st January!

As I reflected on 2018, it became apparent that ‘starting, not finishing’ is a big problem, chez M0CUV. My muse bestows plenty of interesting ideas, but some of them are a bit ambitious. I start, then things grind to a halt. This, coupled with chronic procrastination means a lot of churn, and a feeling of dissatisfaction, angst, and despair at not being able to find the time to do all this – or to prioritise better. A look back through the log shows a big gap of radio silence from June to October, a page of digital mode contacts, and not a single CW QSO throughout the whole year. On the software side, I hung up my own P2P stack after a baffling test failure wore me down. I do want to return to that.. However, I spent most of my hobby development time working on the Parachute project, which despite being really tricky, is going well. I never thought writing an assembler would be this hard. The devil is in the details.

So, after giving myself a good slap for a lacklustre radio year, 2019’s going to be goal-driven. Hopefully these goals are SMART (Specific/Stretching, Measurable/Meaningful, Agreed-upon/Achievable, Realistic/Rewarding and Time-based/Trackable). There are quite a few, and only the tech/radio-related ones are blogged about here. I’ve been using the Getting Things Done method for a while, and it stresses the importance of defining the Next Action on your activities..

So…

  • 1 blog post/month, at least. Progress updates on projects, etc.
  • 1 CW QSO/month, or 12 in the whole year. This’ll probably be really tough.
  • 1 QSLable QSO/month, or 12 in the whole year, any mode/band. FT8 makes this much easier!
  • Try to contact each month’s special callsign for the Bulgarian Saints award from Bulgarian Club Blagovestnik. I’ve already bagged January’s, LZ1354PM via SSB on 1st Jan 🙂
  • Take the next step on the magnetic loop project: build the frame, house the capacitor. I bought some wood and a food container for this yesterday.
  • Box up the 30m QCX transceiver properly – then use it.
  • Keep up with magazines as they arrive rather than building a pile of them.
  • Fix the current bizzare bug in the Transputer assembler – then ship the first release on Windows, macos and Ubuntu/Raspbian
  • Convert the Parachute Node server to use the IServer protocol – then write the IO code for eForth.
  • Build a web application with elm. I’m thinking of a web-front-end to WSJT-X, to allow me to operate remotely.

Let’s see how I get on…!

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I’ve started using the Qumana offline blog editor to prepare blog posts. I’m using version 3.2.4 on Mac OS X Snow Leopard. I’m impressed so far. Here are some initial thoughts on it.

I’d considered ScribeFire, I used it previously, but was not impressed. I’d hoped that it might have improved recently, but a recent rewrite received something of a panning in reviews, hence, the search for something better. Qumana seems to do what I need.

It syncs up well with WordPress; I now have some of my earlier posts on the laptop.

It doesn’t seem to like the apostrophe in my blog title, showing it as a HTML Entity – bloggers do use apostrophes, you know; some of us, correctly. It does the same with categories, one has an ampersand which it shows as &. Hmmmm.

It gets the funky foreign letters in BoøkWürm correct; and even inserted that as a hypertext link to that category. As I mouse over the link in the editor, its address doesn’t show anywhere. I’d have to switch to HTML Source View.

I can’t seem to add categories from it. That’s a pain. It does allow me to add tags though, which link through to Technorati

It’s written in Java. This has pros and cons. Portability is good. There are small resize and toolbar layout problems; it has that certain Javaesque je ne sais quoi. I know from my own Open Source Mac OS X endeavours that making Java programs look beautiful is hard, and on the Mac, even harder. (I use Quaqua; Qumana uses JGoodies Looks, which I use on Windows and Linux)

The editor is very nice – offering WYSIWYG and HTML Source View. It has basic formatting options: fonts, underline/bold/italic/strikethrough, alignment, lists, blockquotes, indent/outdent, images and links. Just enough; I don’t want anything fancy. Word count would be useful. The spell checker is useful, but I can’t change the language from American English to British English.

I won’t be making use of its Ad feature. The Blog Manager allows multiple blogs. Could be useful 🙂

In all, a nice application – and it seems reliable so far.

I learned to touch-type in the 80’s, as I got into computing, with help from a lunchtime class that our commerce teacher ran. Not so easy to touch-type on a ZX81 – we used typewriters. I’m fairly fast, but I’ve drifted from doing it properly, and tend to keep looking down at what I’m typing.

As I expect to be programming and using computers until I can’t physically do it any more, I need to look after my ability to type effectively. Qwerty isn’t optimal.

A couple of times in the last few years, I’ve tried to remedy this by learning the Dvorak layout. I’ve gone through lessons with a tutor program twice, but then as soon as I started using it for the day job, the difficulty of adjusting my muscle memory’s knowledge of Vim and Eclipse rears up, and I stop using it. Having to enter the usual panoply of symbols whilst programming is also more difficult.

If I were only writing straight English, this wouldn’t be so much of a problem. So, write more English… like this blog, which has become woefully neglected. There’s also the possibility of resurrecting writing short stories. (Thomas Pynchon need not start getting worried.) I also like the idea of 750words.com, where a writer puts down 750 words of any stuff that comes into your head, first thing, every day.

The Colemak layout is supposed to be better for programming with than Dvorak, so for my third and final attempt at speeding up, I’m using aTypeTrainer4Mac with this layout. It’s going well so far; I’m just moving off the home row.

So the plan is to train up, then when I’ve got all the keys in muscle memory, write English daily with it. Then and only then start looking at adapting it to use for programming.