Regular readers will know how much I enjoy a good tinker with my system. I have
been playing with Tiddlywiki recently, partly as a result of admiring Jack
Baty’s rudimentarylathe.wiki instance of Tiddlywiki, and partly because of Soren
Bjornstad’s Grok Tiddlywiki book, which I think I also found out about via Jack.
I had tried out Tiddlywiki before but never quite got it. Soren’s book helped me
to see how flexible it could be and how I might be able to use it in a similar
fashion to the way I have been using org-roam. While I still enjoy org-roam,
things feel (to me anyway) a bit up in the air with it at the moment, as there
are big changes coming in version 2 which will probably involve a bit of
backwards incompatibility. I couldn’t decide whether to wait to make the
changes, or transition to the new version now, and that indecision made me
reluctant to add to my collection of notes. In addition — for reasons too long
and boring to go into here — I have also moved (reluctantly) from Bookends to
Zotero. I like the flexibility that Zotero offers to those of us having to live
in a dual Word/Pandoc citations world, but I really miss Bookends’ speed and UI.
Anyway, this change in the tools I depend on left me with a puzzle: how could I
export references (with metadata) from Zotero to Tiddlywiki so that I could make
notes (known as ‘tiddlers’) on each journal article of interest? There’s a
vanishingly small possibility that anyone else might want to solve a similar
problem in exactly the same way as me, but in case anyone is curious, this is
how I made it work.
Back in the mists of time before Covid, Mr Bsag and I booked tickets for a
Singing With Nightingales event (hosted by the folk singer Sam Lee) for
April 2020. I had wanted to attend one of these events ever since I had heard
about it, and the tickets were a 50th birthday present, partially funded by kind
gifts from friends and family. I don’t need to tell you what happened next,
because you were all there: lockdown happened, events were cancelled, and all of
our lives contracted. I booked again for April 2021, determined not to be denied
my fix of folk song and bird song, and once again, plans had to change. Luckily,
this time the event was just postponed, rather than being cancelled, so last
week, we set off for Sussex to attend the event. After all the waiting, all the
pent-up need be somewhere other than our local area, it could have all been a
huge anti-climax but (spoiler alert!) it was not. It was one of the most magical
evenings of my life.
It shouldn’t surprise me because it always happens this way, but somehow it does
surprise me, every time. I have recently finished a piece of work which had
consumed almost all of my time and focus at work for a number of weeks. There
was a fixed deadline and it was a substantial and complex piece of work. For
these reasons, it was also a bit stressful, but that’s the way work is from time
to time. What surprised me (and shouldn’t have done) is the way I felt after I
had finished it.
I might be terrible at learning human languages, but I really enjoy learning
programming languages. In my last post, I mentioned setting up Johnny.Decimal,
and that I was thinking of writing some tools to help me interact with the
system. I’m a dedicated Alfred user, and when I spotted a very nifty library
called awgo for writing Alfred workflows in Go, it seemed like the perfect
excuse to dip my toes in Go and learn another programming language. The result
after only a couple of weeks of tinkering in spare moments was this alfred-jd
workflow. I really like Go.
I’ve had a bit of an obsession with spring cleaning recently. I’ve tidied and
cleaned elements of our physical space (nothing makes you more aware of how much
junk you have accumulated than a period of lockdown), but I’ve also had
a ‘services and digital’ spring clean too. It has taken quite a bit of time, but
I do feel better for it.
It’s interesting how your perspective on things shifts as you get older.
A little while after Valentine’s Day this year, I remembered an experience (many
years ago) when I came across a poem while browsing in a bookshop, just after
Valentine’s Day. I had just endured a very painful and messy break-up of a
relationship, and my bookshop meandering was an attempt to distract myself for a
while. I picked up a book of poetry at random (Michèle Roberts’
collection ‘All the selves I was’), and opened a page at random. Bam.
When I’m working in Emacs, I like to have some visual separation between
different workspaces (which roughly equate to different projects). Previously, I
was using Doom Emacs’ workspaces feature, which uses persp-mode. My initial
reason for disabling workspaces was because I found that
projectile-switch-project didn’t work properly with it enabled, but I also
thought it would be interesting to see what I could set up using built-in Emacs
functions. What I ended up using was Emacs’ built-in tab-bar.
I finally gave in and gave myself a haircut today. Surprisingly, the results
were not terrible. Along the way, I have learned a little bit about the process
of cutting hair, and realised that very few parts of this process are in any way
possible to do well when cutting your own hair.
My Emacs tweaking tends to go in waves. I keep an eye on the Emacs subreddit and
the Doom Discord channel on a fairly regular basis, but I try not to jump on
every cool new package I see discussed there. Every now and again though, I see
something interesting which coincides with an itch to tinker with Emacs, and
away I go… This time, it was reading discussions about a constellation of
relatively new packages concerned with incrementally narrowing lists (and other
related functions) that caught my eye. This sounds very niche, but for many
people (me included) being presented with a list of things and being able to
type to incrementally narrow the list and then select something is a core part
of the Emacs UI. Since I use Doom, and it offers you an easy way to choose
either Ivy or Helm, I had been using Ivy, for the sake of easy configuration.
Both are fine packages, but having tried both, I preferred Ivy’s more minimal
interface, and the fact that it used the minibuffer rather than a buffer for
completions. However, it — and the related packages, Counsel and Swiper —
are somewhat complex and difficult to get to grips with. I was also not using
all the features that they provided, so was curious if I would enjoy using
something even simpler. That’s why I tried out Selectrum.