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Craig Pilcher

successfully migrated to fresh server. hello digital ocean

Craig Pilcher

The Indie Web

2 min read

I have been griping about leaving Facebook and owning my data for a while now, but I may have finally found a solution.

The indie web, its called. Made up of the people who got tired of talking about these concepts and decided to start doing something about them.

I first heard about them on one of my weekly must-hear podcasts, In Beta (episode 90). Then a guest on another webcast I enjoy regularly - This Week in Google #241 - brought it up near the end. (TWiG actually just dedicated most of an episode to it - #266.)

I always viewed blogging (at least my blog) as a spot for thoughts that skewed toward longform writing, that could not be fleshed out in a short snippet. The indie web, however, encourages tweet-length thoughts as well as longer posts, which can then be syndicated to whatever social network you choose. The point is to not keep those thoughts siloed somewhere that may eventually shut down or change their policies, but to control your online identity, on your own terms. You can build your own tools, or you can browse the IndieWeb site to find something pre-built to use on your site.

But how will people see these posts if they are on or ? Well, they thought of that too. POSSE stands for Post (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere. By syndicating, your non-IndieWeb friends will still get to see what you are up to. And using the webmention protocol, comments and replies will be pulled back into your own site as well.

If you are feeling less brave, one of the higher-profile indie web tools just launched a beta. It is called Known, and it has been treating me well so far. I look forward to their hosted/beta service adding a Wordpress plugin. But if I did my work right, you should see my post about this article down below.

TL;DR: if you see anything oddly formatted posts on my site or one of my social profiles, it is probably an attempt at implementing one of the Indie Web projects. Maybe if you are getting wary of Facebook and you're looking for a technically-inclined side project, you should check it out too.

Craig Pilcher

Bullet Journaling

2 min read

Flip-flopping yet again, I found another organization method to try out called the Bullet Journal. This one is decidedly analog, and the only major commitment is carrying around a notebook.

The idea is to record everything as a bullet point. Tasks get checkboxes, events get circles, and everything is gets a standard bullet. It seems simple enough, but there are some benefits over digital.

  • The act of writing something down makes you more likely to remember it.
  • It forces you to be constantly reviewing1 your notes, which keeps them fresh in your mind.
  • It keeps you mindful about what you record. I still type faster than I write, so I am not going to take the time to record something in the journal that will have little value.
  • You have to stick with it. With the digital services, I could jump back and forth between them while testing them out. I am in this Bullet Journal thing until I run out of pages in my notebook, which could take several months.

So far it is working well. I did need to upgrade to a larger notebook; I thought the 3.5 x 5.5 inch one would do, but it is hard to fit everything in. is already suited for this, with its own notebooks and OCR capability, so my technology geek cred is still relatively intact I think. (And I fist tried it with Workflowy, which worked briefly but became a little unwieldy). If you are a habitual note taker, I recommend giving this method a shot.


  1. No matter how many times I yelled "CONTROL F CHECKBOX" at my Moleskine, it would not highlight unfinished tasks for me. 

Craig Pilcher

Craig Pilcher

More blogging tools!

2 min read

I can’t decide anymore. There are so many places to blog now. Varying feature sets keep me from fully locking into one, but I realize that it is pretty hard to follow a that keeps moving.

FeaturesWordpressTumblrScriptogramSvbtle
Full featured in hosted version No Yes Yes Yes
Themeable Yes Yes Sure… Color?
Stylish (my opinion) meh… Yes Close to it Yes
native in editor No well… Yes Yes
Footnotes1 (Multimarkdown or Markdown Extra2) No No Yes No
Ability to publish from outside Yes Yes Can only do this No…?

These services are obviously all trying to do different things. Tumblr is more social and doesn’t do as well for longform posts. Wordpress is the everything box that doesn’t excel at anything. Scriptogram is as simple as a text file in your Dropbox. Svbtle is new and pretty but missing a couple of key features (for me, anyways).

These two new ones have caught my eye, and if the one gets better looking or the other adds MultiMarkdown, pilchernet may have a new home.


  1. I love footnotes. I blame Chuck Klosterman (who probably got them from David Foster Wallace).
  2. Both of these are indispensable (well, you need at least one). I made that table in 10 seconds, and formatted it in another 5 seconds, just stream of consciousness. Not possible in HTML.

Craig Pilcher

The Year of the Blog (specifically, mine)

5 min read

My new year’s resolution for 2013 has been to write. Just, in general, write when you can. I enjoy experimenting with technology and software, so I thought a would do the trick. It has gone through several iterations, but this is where it has ended up.1

was the major internet trend in the early- to mid-2000s, which is why seemingly no one does it anymore and all the cool people broadcast their thoughts on their social network of choice. But there are several advantages to it that people forget about in the age of the like and the tweet. Blogging creates your own personal space on the web, free from advertisers devising new ways to use your own data to push their product more effectively. If done correctly, you own the content you put out, and you can learn a lot of about web hosting and internet protocols if you so choose. I was only just starting, so I tried going the free route to see what I could find.

Pressing & Tumbling

I started out with a wordpress.com blog. It had everything I needed to start , so I did. The community at wordpress.com is centered on writing, which was good encouragement. But once I started to get the hang of it, it seemed like there was a lot that the free account would not let me do. The open source Wordpress is a powerful tool, and their free site gives you just enough of a taste to know you can do more. I still was not ready to fork over any money, so I packed up for the other major free ‘blogging’ tool on the web today, Tumblr.

I had started a Tumblr account a while ago, but hadn’t used it much. I came back to compare features with my new Wordpress blog, and there was a lot to like. The site is very stylish and minimalist, which is kind of the opposite of Wordpress (unless you put a lot of work into it). It is easy to find a lot of interesting people on Tumblr, and the mobile app is great (better than Wordpress at the time). The combination was enough to keep me there for most of the year.

Ghosting

In late October, an episode of one of my must-listen podcasts focused on blogging (In Beta #70), and it convinced me to try to build my own blog. I finally had a feel for the writing part, and I wanted to make a place of my own that didn’t end in ‘dot something dot com.’ The one that sounded the most interesting, Ghost, had just launched to the public. I registered my domain, hacked around in my router settings, and started hosting it from my own laptop. This was obviously not an ideal situation, but I still wanted to experiment before venturing into the confusing world of web hosting services.

The experience was enlightening. Ghost will soon be a great blogging platform, but for the technical layperson it is not there yet. I enjoy the minimalist approach, and they are still adding features, but there are bugs. I was not able to even upload a picture, a simple task on another framework. I could not nail down whether it was a bug in the code or a bug in my makeshift server settings. My laptop was also hosting my Plex server and kept getting kicked off the network in favor of my NAS, so I finally gave in and found a cheap webhost. Ghost is too resource intensive for shared hosting, so back to Wordpress I went.

Tools and Takeaways

One of the major lessons I learned from all this is that formatting a post is much easier in Markdown. The native editor in Ghost offers Markdown support (which I miss), but the others have not added this (or have done it poorly). So, for the most part I composed posts with outside tools. Draft has been my tool of choice, and I have been using it since its release. It supports Multimarkdown (footnotes and tables and such), and it also allows professionals to review your work for a small fee. Draft moved to a freemium model, and has started to really push for users to subscribe. Although the writing features are invaluable I don’t feel like I write enough to justify paying (is this a recurring theme?). Because of this, I have tried out some other writing tools recently. Editorially and Dillinger are two good ones that I have found, but the best so far feature-wise is StackEdit.

What else did I learn?

  • Writing can be very therapeutic. A blog is a good place for venting frustration or righteous nerd anger.
  • I am apparently a cheapskate. I guess I did not know what I was doing, so going the free route made sense, but it did not hit me just how far I went to avoid spending money until writing this post.
  • Open source is the way to go. The wide open nature of the web would not be nearly as wide if it were built on proprietary tools. You can almost always find an open source, (nearly-)free version of whatever tool you need.

photo: paolovalde (via Flickr)


  1. In fact you are reading the fruit of my labors now!

Craig Pilcher

Untitled

1 min read

Can now blog directly from Path. Kewl

View on Path

Craig Pilcher

Hello world!

1 min read

New new home. Went through many URL ideas, from pilchblog to baltimization (I may still reserve that one for something). Anyways, hope you like it.

Craig Pilcher

Mundanity

1 min read

I am battling with how to write a post without dropping into the mundane details of everyday life. It is something we have all become aware of with the rise in social media. There are people that inherently know how to use it, and there are people who do not. It is an ongoing internal struggle for me to grok this. It is probably why I started this blog.

I don't think I've ever been that guy that puts up 14 pictures of the omelet he just made for breakfast. And that is not just a "do unto others..." thing; it mostly stems from the feeling that I don't have much important to say. I don't text friends or family out of the blue, even really good friends. I'm good at returning email, but not initiating the conversation.

So, before this post ends up eating itself, get to the point. That is why this blog was started. See if inspiration can be wrung from the person described above. Or, not even inspiration -- just content. Balancing sparse entries with insight. Learning to make fingers type sentence good. Creating.

Craig Pilcher

from IRL

1 min read

Ok, for real this time.

This is all very new to me. But this seems like a good landing point for thoughts and aspirations and observations and GIFs of dogs.

My name is Pilch. I believe myself to be a coder, but I rarely do it. I enjoy technology, sports, and humor. I have a wife and a puppy whom I love very much. You will be hearing more from me in the future.

Craig Pilcher