Missed posting

I missed posting on the 19th. We are working our way through a box set of Game of Thrones and succumbed to ‘just another episode’. Not a lot to post today, it’s been a quiet Sunday all I’ve done is cook dinner. We had a beef casserole with mash potatoes, brussel sprouts and carrots.

An Inventory of the media consumed today is:

So although not that busy, I’ve learned quite a bit.

Writing can be hard

Some days a blog post can just flow and take shape without effort (apart from the follow up edit for grammar and readability). Other times it will twist and turn out of my grasp. Today for instance this is the 3rd attempt. I started out trying to make a statement about my views on tracking ETFs and Funds and how, although Warren Buffet (the sage of Omaha, an investing legend) recommends them as the best way to invest for most people, they may be riding for a fall. I think that if the bull market becomes a bear market the whole tracking model may become challenged. However that post became a post about Shares versus Funds.  Then I had to fight the urge to describe the difference between Funds and ETFs, but ended up writing about the variety of investment styles funds can use and the what and why of that.

That blog post turned into a mess. It challenged my confidence in my understanding of the subject. Putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) crystallises the gaps in your knowledge and makes you confront them. I could write that post, but not today as I would need to research my facts better, and do several drafts to ensure that the ideas/facts are in a coherent order to be readable, understandable and make the intended point (rather than drifting off). That was not going to be possible in the 45 minute slot I had on my train journey today.

The attempt at writing that post has been positive though. Through my failure to write on the topic, I now know more about the gaps in my knowledge on the subject, I can see where my mind has covered over the gaps in my knowledge with unsubstantiated assumptions and I’ve got a draft post sitting there which one day may become a decent blog post if I put the work in.

Further thoughts on writing blog posts

Aside

Further observations on writing blog posts

  • Leave the title until you have written the post (it will probably change)
  • Review the first sentence, will it hook the reader into the rest of the post
  • Pictures are nice but the words matter, get the words done then add pictures if there’s time (unless you already have a picture that says more than words could)
  • If you’ve written a short/quick post use the time to start working a future post

(this is not today’s post)

On Writing

I embarked upon the 100 days of blogging to improve my writing. It’s known that practice is one of the best ways to learn. But I embarked without a clear idea of what I wanted to get out of it other than to increase my confidence in writing.

With this being my 20th post some things have become apparent. There are definite areas for improvement:

  • Punctuation – when I write punctuation doesn’t happen automatically. I have to go over everything I write and punctuate it after the fact. Hopefully this will improve with practice.
  • Sentence construction – I regularly have to reorder the phrases in sentences to make them readable.
  • Structure – get the ideas in the right order to make the article coherent.

A key thing that I’ve learned is to read before pressing ‘Post’. It’s been a case of fix it, then read it again, fix it again, then rinse and repeat until you can’t find a mistake. But there will be mistakes.

It will be interesting to review this post topic again toward the end of the 100 days.

Goodby to [ ! Not Secure ]

If visiting this blog in recent days with an up to date Chrome browser, you would have been warned that it is not secure. Thats because there was no security certificate installed and so the encrypted version of the HTTP protocol, HTTPS, was not available.https url image

That’s sorted now with a Let’s-Encrypt certificate installation and a forced HTTPS redirect, making communication with the blog website more secure. I had missed upgrading this blog when I upgraded other services I use.

You might think, “So what it’s only a blog, I’m not putting in any of my passwords, personal details or credit card numbers”.

It does matter though. Websites that have been corrupted by internet bad guys is one way that computer viruses are spread. If communication with the website is not secured by HTTPS, there is a good chance that the admin and in this case blog posting to that website is also in clear text. That leaves open the opportunity for a bad actor to capture the credentials, get into the site admin and plant malware. This is now much less likely for this blog.

All web sites should now be secured with a certificate, if they are not they are vulnerable and potentially make you vulnerable if visiting them. With the free certificates from Let’s Encrypt project and the scripts they provide to keep them automatically updated, there’s really no excuse not to run a site with HTTPS.

 

Posting every day

I’ve been inspired by a Seth Godin blog post to do a daily blog post.

“For years, I’ve been explaining to people that daily blogging is an extraordinarily useful habit. Even if no one reads your blog, the act of writing it is clarifying, motivating and (eventually) fun.”

He suggests that the 1st 1000 are the most difficult, but initially I’m committing to 100 daily posts, after that we’ll see.

To reduce the burden on daily posting I am not going to commit to adding pictures for every post.

Code presentation in WordPress posts

I have edited my recent post on Removing unwanted pastes from Stikked. I used the <code> tags to delineate the command line interactions from the descriptive text. However I wanted the code to appear more like quoted text in a Mediawiki instance. My first  thought was to hack the css to make the code tag work how I wish, however whilst searching for help on that I discovered that the <pre> tag gave exactly the effect I required, whilst the code tag remains useful where you might wish to use a fixed width terminal style text in line with your content.

The other advantage of the 'pre' tag is that it will not force a line wrap if you have a long line of code

The only thing that I still had to do was reduce the font size for these two fixed width fonts as 13px looked a bit chunky along side the normal text.

P.S Having written this I found this comprehensive page on the WordPress site http://codex.wordpress.org/Writing_Code_in_Your_Posts

Welcome to my new blog

I’ve called this blog In My Feed after the title of the episode I did for Hacker Public Radio. The ‘In My Feed’ episodes contain highlights and reviews of the stuff I come across in my RSS feed reader and via the podcasts I listen to, along with interesting things I find about tech stuff such as Linux, and some work related IT.

I started preparing for a second episode which entailed me writing up notes for each section of the episode, then I ended up with too much material and ran out of time to produce the podcast.So here is where I’ll be putting all that material.

I’ve previously run separate blogs one for Linux related posts and another for everything else. I had been using Blogger, then for a while I used Posterous and fed the Blogger site from it. When Posterous went away I stopped blogging. I blog faded so to speak.

After suffering from the demise of various free online services (Google Notes, Google Reader, Posterous to mention just some) and the wholesale unpredictable UI changes I’m withdrawing from future use of such services in favour of running my own (more on that in future posts). Therefore this blog is running on WordPress on a hosted virtual server, which so far has been a relatively painless an inexpensive experience.

So next is to set up categories for posts. Eventually I want to tidy up the design (I quite like the look of DanLynch.org), but as long as its reasonably presentable and readable I’ll be adding content …