This is still the header! Main site

Halfway Through

This is post no. 50 for Kev Quirk's #100DaysToOffload challenge. The point is to write many things, not to write good ones. Please adjust quality expectations accordingly :)

50 posts.

Given how this post is being written as a part of a challenge to write 100 arbitrary-quality posts on basically anything... it's really tempting to fill up one's blog with posts on writing posts on a blog. After all, it's clearly of interest to the writer of such posts at the point of their writing. Yet, they are... probably impressively boring to everyone else.

Thus... I didn't actually end up doing it (... I... think). Until now. After all, "50 posts" is a neat milestone!

Also, I'll get to show around pretty graphs.

a graph from Beeminder, with data points up and to the right, on number of blog posts vs. date

Since this seems to be just like the thing Beeminder has been made for! It's... this website where you commit to incrementally achiveving a goal, and then if you don't, you have to pay them. Also, you can modify how much you commit to, but only a week in advance; this is good enough for Actual Goal Changes, but will filter out excuses like "I just don't have time for this today".

(If this sounds an impressively stupid setup... you'll have to believe me that for some people, this actually works.)

More tools

Given how many of these posts you have to produce, it's definitely neat to make starting one as low-friction as possible. Except... if you're doing this entire "writing HTML in HTML" thing, starting a new page is... not overly convenient. Or, it wouldn't be, if if wasn't for Emacs.

(... I should really write a post on this.)

What actually happens is... I just open up the site directory, type ssafar-make-new-post, give it a title, and, voila, new buffer with some HTML I just start typing into right away!

(defun ssafar-make-new-post (post-title)
  (interactive "MPost dir name: ")
  (mkdir post-title)
  (let ((new-post-file (concat
               (file-name-as-directory post-title)
    (copy-file (concat
                (file-name-as-directory "..")
    (find-file new-post-file)))

(I presume most UNIXy people would use a shell script for this. Elisp is nicer though.)

Is it worth it?

It most definitely is.

First of all, I just ended up having more ideas on what to write about. If I were to write a list of 100 (even 50) posts I would write back when I started, I would've run out of them real quick (... or would have had to think up some real stupid ones). In contrast, as of now I do have an ideas.txt with a growing list, with another one on my phone. You just... walk around in the world, keep thinking about things like before, but "I should totally write a post about this" is now a possible reaction that comes up waay more often.

It's also an excellent device to conclude that a lot of said ideas aren't actually... well-thought-out ones. Expanded into an entire post, it becomes fairly obvious if important parts are still missing, if you aren't sure of how some things work, or you need to look up some more stuff. (... also learning something in the process; e.g. see this one on Amazon Prime.)

But then you keep going anyway. Stick it into the (also handwritten) RSS feed, mark it as done on Beeminder, go on with life. Maybe post it on your Mastodon account if you think it's not particularly bad. (I might have gotten a bit more selective with those.)

Producing these takes up a lot more time than you would expect from something about arbitrarily short and / or stupid posts. But yes, I'm going to keep doing this. I'm slightly behind schedule until next April (see the little upward curve adjustment on the graph), but still definitely doable!

Finally, a shoutout to Kev Quirk who has come up with this entire idea in the first place; thank you for making the world a place with... more people writing stupid blog posts that are maybe sometimes good! (I'm definitely counting this as a plus :D)

... comments welcome, either in email or on the (eventual) Mastodon post on Fosstodon.