Music to get Snowed in To

I can't believe I'm writing this
I can't believe I'm writing this

Drake is terrible for the most part but this record is so good.

Leaving Instapaper

It goes without saying that Instapaper, the formerly good read-later service, has stagnated badly since Marco sold it. Until recently, the main advantage of Instapaper was that the alternatives were much much worse.

Enter Pinboard, which I’ve been using since 2013 to store all of my bookmarks in lieu of iCloud sync.1 On iOS, I use Pushpin, whose extension allows bookmarking URLs from anywhere there’s a share sheet. The defaults for all new bookmarks look like this:

Pushpin defaults for bookmarks added from the share sheet.
Pushpin defaults for bookmarks added from the share sheet.

Notice that the defaults for all new bookmarks are “Public” and “Unread.” The “Public” part doesn’t concern me because I have the Pinboard account setting activated that never allows anything to be Public, no matter what I click. The “Unread” setting causes bookmarks to be sent to their own special list inside Pinboard that acts as a “Read Later” service. After accidentally adding a few articles in this way, I learned that this is a very capable replacement for Instapaper.

Though this was probably not true in 2013 when I started using Pinboard, between Pushpin for iOS (and its’ extension) and ReadKit for Mac, there isn’t a reason to keep Instapaper around.2

Getting your reading list out of Instapaper is also no problem. From your Instapaper Settings screen, click “Download .CSV file.” Pinboard’s importer understands this CSV with no extra work on your part.

Left: Instapaper export. Right: Pinboard import
Left: Instapaper export. Right: Pinboard import

Now there’s one less icon cluttering up the phone’s share sheets and springboard screens, and one less “save this link for later” service I have to pay for.

  1. This was in the bad old days before iCloud sync got decent; still don’t fully trust it.

  2. Not to mention that I already pay for Pinboard.

DokuWiki for the Lazy

Today I needed to get up and running quickly with a basic documentation system. For now, it’s OK if the system is simple because we don’t have much content, but it needs to be able to handle a lot more complexity down the road. It also needed to restrict all access to anyone without an account, and be editable by many different contributors within the organization. The obvious answer is to install a wiki, and DokuWiki seemed to be the gold standard for this use case. It’s PHP-based, you can install it on your own server, it stores everything in flat files,1 it’s been around for years so most of the biggest bugs are probably squashed, and it’s not a complete black box for users.

Some notes about my installation:

The only thing I added to this installation other than a new theme was a sidebar with a basic navigation structure so that people would know where to start adding documentation when the time came. The long-term plan is to use plugins available within DokuWiki to roll up the entire site in PDF form, as a sort of “employee handbook.” In the meantime, there are a lot of different departments and interests who need to put their own documentation into the system.

  1. Though with plugins, it is possible to make it write to a database, including MySQL and PostgreSQL

  2. Maybe other wiki software too?

Montblanc e-Strap

The Montblanc e-Strap

The name they’ve chosen is completely awful, but I give the concept a thumbs-up. It’ll land in Montblanc’s TimeWalker Urban Speed in July of this year; no word on whether it will ever be available for purchase on its’ own.