The eli4d Gazette – Issue 067: Fast.ai’s Deep Learning Course and SvN Blog moving from Medium to WordPress

Fast.ai’s Deep Learning Course

I came across this deep learning site: https://www.fast.ai/2019/01/24/course-v3/. It looks like a great learning tool for anyone who is interested in machine learning.

Additionally, the Hacker News thread about this site also references other deep learning resources which seem pretty neat.

The Signal versus Noise Blog moving from Medium to WordPress

The Signal versus Noise Blog has been around since 1999. It is a mixture of a company (Basecamp) blog and the strong opinions of Jason Fried, as well as DHH (aka David Heinemeier Hansson).

The blog just got moved from Medium to WordPress. Medium is a blog publishing platform that changed business models over time (like many businesses that starts with a freemium model and realize that it’s unsustainable at some point).

I find it instructive to look at the reasons for this move:

  • DHH’s tweets about the move from Medium to WordPress
  • Basecamp’s podcast episode covering the move

Thoughts? Feedback? Let me know: @eli4d on Twitter


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The eli4d Gazette – Issue 066: GitHub’s FREE private repos, Neat 2019 Tech Conferences, and the Amazingly Written “Leviathan Wakes”

GitHub announces unlimited free private repos

GitHub is the standard when it comes to Git based source control management.

Up to now, you could get a free account as long as your code was publicly viewable. While this has been great for public facing open source projects, it was problematic for those that wanted private source repositories (aka ‘repos’). A viable free private repo alternative has been Atlassian’s Bitbucket.

GitHub has recently announced unlimited free private repos. This change is great for anyone who wants to experiment around with some code without exposing their cruft out in public.

Some folks have lamented that now there will be many personal projects that will be locked away in private repos and that takes away valuable code that could be “out there.” While I understand this objection, I think it’s somewhat questionable. Every developer has the right to determine what is crappy code and what isn’t, and whether s/he is comfortable publishing it. After all, once something is public on the internet, it’s there forever.

Before GitHub’s change, Bitbucket was already used for private repos – so what exactly has changed? Am I to understand that Bitbucket’s free private repo feature was so secret that no developer ever used it? Or perhaps developers were too lazy to switch from GitHub to Bitbucket for personal projects?

Some interesting conferences from Delicious Brains

Delicious Brains is a WordPress company that develops high-end plug-ins for WordPress developers. They have a really nice development blog.

In a recent blog entry, they had a comprehensive listing of upcoming JavaScript, WordPress, CSS, UX, Tech and PHP conferences: https://deliciousbrains.com/php-javascript-wordpress-conferences-2019/

Just Finished Reading

I just finished reading Leviathan Wakes which is the first book from The Expanse Series. This was an amazingly well-written book covering the near future. In all honesty, no amount of words can express how well written this book is so I’ll pick three sentences that scratch the surface of this writing:

Here is a description of a space ship…can you see the image?

Three-quarters of a kilometer long, a quarter of a kilometer wide—roughly shaped like a fire hydrant—and mostly empty space inside, the Canterbury was a retooled colony transport.

What about these sentences?

Seven years in Earth’s navy, five years working in space with civilians, and he’d never gotten used to the long, thin, improbable bones of Belters. A childhood spent in gravity shaped the way he saw things forever.


Thoughts? Feedback? Let me know: @eli4d on Twitter


Posting to WordPress by email

Overview

This is a quick post about posting to wordpress by email. WordPress has excellent instructions on posting by email ( via https://en.support.wordpress.com/post-by-email/ ). This post is more about limitations of the post-by-email feature and how to use TextExpander to be more efficient.

Why post by email?

My thinking is that I want to be able to post short snippets by email. I got the idea for this approach from Manton Reece. Like Manton I think that Twitter and Facebook are too ephemeral. So my goal is to post only short snippet-ish posts by email. I’d like to limit these posts to 200 characters if possible but I don’t have a good way of universally controlling the size of the post when posting by through my other devices (without putting my post in a separate editor).

There’s also the issue of post title – should such short posts have titles? Manton indicates that microblogs should not have a title. At this point I’m not too dogmatic about this so I’m fine with having a title where I distinguish it with a ‘Snip’ at the beginning.

To setup just follow the instructions

WordPress’s instructions are excellent

To setup just follow the instructions

When you post via email you get a response from WordPress.com

This was my test post (draft – never published) where I tested Markdown support. It’s a very nice response email telling me that WordPress received my post.

When you post via email you get a response from WordPress.com

Limitation – no Markdown via email 😦

It is somewhat strange but posting by email to WordPress does not interpret Markdown. WordPress’s instructions indicate that different email clients handle formatting differently which is why formatting is limited. Markdown is perfect for posting by email but it does not work with this approach (currently). I think that WordPress would need a new tag such as [markdown on] (with the default being off) and then interpret Markdown in the same way that the WordPress site editor interprets it.

I’ve sent WordPress support a question about this

I’ve sent WordPress support a question about wanting some Markdown love.

I've sent WordPress support a question about this

WordPress support response

WordPress support response

Using TextExpander

TextExpander is awesome and helps me reduce typing significantly both on the Mac and on iOS. Below is my current TextExpander snippet.

Some notes about the choices of the tagging:

  • I choose to explicitly put the title in the body of the email rather than through the subject line. My thinking is that this is close to the meta settings for static blog systems.
  • The [end] tag is very nice because I can put some optional tags or reminders in case I want to change things. I was initially thinking of using a pop-up menu for all the tags on my site but this seems like overkill. It was easier to just copy the tag cloud and put it in the optional section

Version 0.1 of my TextExpander snippet – the popup design choice

This was a first good try but TextExpander custom keyboard on iOS doesn’t work well with TextExpander snippet popups. In order to use popups I would need to use something like Drafts. Drafts is a great app but I don’t want to complicate my toolchain.

Version 0.1 of my TextExpander snippet - the popup design choice

Version 0.5 of my TextExpander snippet – the flat design choice

In my experiments I found out that normal publicize settings through the WordPress web editor (Twitter in my case) do not kick up without a tag push. I also added a ‘Snip’ in front of my title. I also went with a publish status that is offset by a 2 hour delay just in case I completely mess up a snippet. My original tags were also messed up because I used a gigantic phrase for one tag.

This non-popup design allows me to use the TextExpander snippet on my iPhone mail app, save it to draft and pick it up on my Mac’s mail app.

Version 0.5 of my TextExpander snippet - the flat design choice

Conclusion

It is extremely easy to set posting by email in WordPress for those that are using WordPress.com.

Pros:

  • Post from anywhere you have email access
  • Fairly good controls on post (status, date, etc..)
  • Use of TextExpander make posting consistent, reliable and easy

Cons:

  • No Markdown support (hopefully one day…come on Mattmake it so)
  • For microblogging – controlling the character count is not possible (it would be great to let WordPress.com provide feedback via a [count 200] type of tag)

One thing that I didn’t experiment with is using anchor tags to create links within my microblog post. WordPress’s docs indicate that their system will interpret HTML as follows:

As much formatting as possible will be retained, although the Post by Email system will strip unnecessary HTML tags so that your email is displayed correctly. Note that you will need to use an email client that supports rich text or HTML formatting in order to make use of this feature. Most website based clients (Hotmail, Gmail) do support this, as do most desktop clients (Outlook, Mail). You may need to switch your client into rich text or formatted mode.

HTML and email clients are still a big mess in 2015 😦 .

One last last thing – auto-posting to Twitter and Facebook. At some point I’d like to auto post the actual microblog post to Twitter and Facebook rather than a link to it via WordPress’s publicize settings. There’s probably a neat Node.js or Go solution. It’s another task on my never-ending Omnifocus list.