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Day 100

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

So it has come to this.

(... relevant xkcd.)

If I'm counting correctly (I'm... hoping I'm counting correctly?), this is the 100th article of the series that started very close to a year ago, with Sockets: part 1. And... as it turns out, having a hundred articles solves the problem of "my site is a pointless, empty ghosttown with posts with the word 'test' in their title" fairly reasonably well!

For some background on what this entire thing is... there is also the article written halfway through. But... of course, the 100th of all of them has to be yet another retrospective! So here it is.

Some conclusions

Beeminder works. At least for me. Being threatened with having to pay them $30 if you don't finish today's article, even though you're tired and it's late in the evening and you really don't want to, does wonders. Sometimes I did end up getting ahead, just for fun (... kinda the green dots?), but most of the time, it was "last minute" posts.

At the same time though... often, I really didn't end up having the time to do something Actually Interesting and write about it. Some of the posts that I did like a decent amount were about e.g. hacking some MIDI stuff with Wireshark... or talking to an SMTP server by hand and writing about it; doing this needs a lot of time than "let's write something in half an hour before falling asleep". Instead, there was a lot of "weird philosophy speculation about the nature of programming", which might not have lead anywhere interesting.

Nevertheless... consistency gets you fairly far. Sure, not all articles ended up being especially fancy, but whenever I had the chance / mood to do something fancy, there was an article, because I was writing one every 2-3-4 days, so the process of creating one has been worked out fairly well.

At the same time... at some point, I stopped posting every article on my Mastodon account, since... I didn't think many of them made it over the quality bar. Which is still a lot better than not writing them because of speculation on them not making it over the quality bar.

Was it worth it?

Hell yes.

Much has been written about how writing ideas down helps actually thinking about them. Even if no one ends up reading them. So getting in the habit of doing this is nice already (even though it's been a specific, mostly computer-y subset of ideas so far).

But then... my article on writing shell scripts in Lisp has been surely visited a lot of times... just by me, as a reference. Not sure whether there were additional visitors, but this was already worth it. (... update: apparently, it's getting visits from, of all places!)

On the other hand, my Emacs OS Mobile article made it into the Linux on Mobile newsletter! How cool is that?

That article was, by the way, the most popular one, by number of visits. Runner-ups include Web Vitals (in which it turns out that this site isn't super fast, after all... we might have fixed it with a new front page though?), the one on SMTP, the Amazon Prime's evilness one, and one trying to make certificates slightly more intuitive. Also, stuff on copyright, tabs, Signal and Discord.

What's next?

Well... first of all, yet another round of thanks to Kev for making up this idea!

And... no, the current cadence of articles is definitely not going to continue. I'll need more time to actually make them interesting.

On the other hand... they're also not going to stop coming entirely. Having an Actual Website with Actual Articles is something that I now know how to do; although I won't have "100 days" to blame for low quality, I hopefully have learned already not to care a lot. I do agree with Joels 101th article on this: it's just getting started!

On the other hand... not having to keep them coming will hopefully let me fix a few things. In no particular order:

... can we make an ActivityPub feed of all the articles so that anyone from the Fediverse can follow them? and then boost good ones from my actual account?

Also... actually posting them somewhere might be a good idea sometimes, too.

Along with... maybe a redesign for the actual articles, not just the title page?

But most importantly: this idea of consistently producing a ton of questionable-quality stuff to make some cool things in the process seems generalizable to... a lot of other things, too! So that part might continue. Maybe it will be large amounts of weird synth / piano songs; maybe finally learning Blender reasonably well; maybe writing some Actual Software (yes I do have some Lisp-related plans there).

Finally: thank you for everyone who ended up reading any of the many, many articles... hope you found something fun / interesting somewhere!

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