Boris Mann

Open Source. Community. Decentralized Web. Building dev tools at Fission. Cooks & eats.


Sunday, January 10, 2021

Marfa Theme Edits

Doing some work on the [[Marfa Theme]] for my [[]] site. Running [[Hugo]] locally is really fast! I still have about 200 orphaned posts that I’d like to import into Mb at some point, which I use for testing, and with Hugo it’s pretty instantaneous.

I’m stuck in the dark with Hugo a little bit, as I can’t prototype locally because how to structure this for Mb isn’t really documented. I guess I’ll file another issue in the help documentation, as the only public place you can kind of file this stuff. I really wish Manton would just open source the whole thing or more properly make it non-commercial / source available.

Micro and Macro Blogging

I’ve been blogging a lot lately. Daily posts about doing a walk outside. Basically “Instagram-style” photo posts with a few words.

Having Mb with [[Gluon]] on my phone and it “just works” is nice. I can write something short, or just keep typing and it ends up as a blog post, all written and posted direct from my phone, like this post about @kemitchell’s [[StrictEq]] project. Yes, it’s being renamed, head over to the [[Artless Devices Forum]] for longer discussion.

Longer posts like this music one were done sitting at my desktop, composed and posted with [[Mars Edit]]. This is good for short posts, too, like documenting some tide / calendar research I did for my mom. A side effect of spending lots of time WFH – having default desktop app tools.


I’ve turned on cross-posting to Mastodon and Twitter automatically. People seem to enjoy my more “social” posts on Twitter, which is great. And I definitely reach different people on Mastodon, in a nice way.

Using the StrictEq post as an example again, yeah, I hate the “title”:

“The code you depend on depends on you” @kemitchell’s commercial license sales for public software

But I have to craft it knowing that it will get cross-posted to Twitter and to Mastodon. I guess that’s another wishlist item for [[]]: for non-micro-blog posts that have a title, allow for a “cross posting excerpt”.

Otherwise, your only other option is to:

  1. turn off cross-posting for the initial publish of the blog post and then
  2. make a micro blog length post that links to your blog post.

Hmm. Now that I think about it, that’s actually not bad, but I’ve found toggling cross posting to be really confusing. I need to experiment with the Mb mobile app and run some experiments to see if I can figure it out, the UI is just not good for this.

Federated Social Networks

With Trump being kicked off Twitter, the discussion about Parler being kicked off [[AWS]], there’s lots of discusison about federated and censorship proof social networks.[[I RTd @QuinnyPig who has a good thread on AWS terms of service, and other cloud providers more broadly. Aimed at explaining even to non-technical people, a good one to share.::lmn]]

I got drawn into a long thread kicked off by Stefan George of [[Gnosis]], who wanted to post a bounty to save/store Twitter stuff to IPFS. I pointed out that Twitter archives already exist.

From there I got into a whole back and forth, including people suggesting that Twitter data should be mass exfiltrated to setup an alt social network. Maybe at one point I would have reached for a purely technical solution like this, but here’s my final take:

Technical tricks to try extract Twitter data is probably orders of magnitude harder than …just doing the work in building out critical mass communities.

The difference between the two approaches? One is technical challenges, the other is marketing and community building. @bmann

I am… somewhat distraught that a lot of decentral type people think about this issue as censorship, rather than the “let’s deplatform fascists issue” that it actually is. Twitter is in no way a public utility. Own your “distribution” – whether it’s direct mailing list subscriptions or your own community social network: run your own Discourse or Mastodon server. Twitter is today’s mass media: use it for distribution, but know that you’re there at the company’s sufferance.

And of course, when I see lots of crypto people happily using Medium and Substack, I’m not going to take the rest of their opinions seriously. Your words need to get backed up by actions, my dudes.

Jeff Henshaw popped back up on Mastodon – and he’s hosting his own Mastodon server. He was asking me why I’m on Mastodon, here’s my answer:

the concept of collective ownership / maintenance.

Nothing wrong with “multi user” systems, but we have to clearly understand that it costs people time and some server resources to run things.

I’m working on a model of awareness that people should pay for apps — that behind that app are real people, not just corporations.

“Exit to community” is a related theme. Plus governance, etc etc

Yes, I’m posting my own content back to my own site. Which means it becomes part of my forever content, and also I can link to and include it in search.

Twitter Archive

I guess I should document my [[Twitter Archive]], which lives at In a week or so, when [[Fission]] has [[Github Actions]] support, I can start publishing this to [[IPFS]] directly, instead of hosting it on Github Pages. Doing this direct from Google Sheets to Fission would be ideal, as a little one off Twitter Archive app.

It was really easy to setup. Michael Hawksey’s @mhawksey post explains it all: [[Keeping your Twitter Archive fresh and freely hosted on Github Pages]].

I just emailed Michael to see if I can send him some thank you money, or donate to some project on his behalf.


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Christmas Flu

I’ve been sick with a horrendous flu since Christmas Day. TLDR, it was “just” a bad flu.

I called the BC public health line at 811 on the 3rd evening of being sick, the nurse recommended that I get a COVID test. The next morning (yesterday) I went to the drive through at VCC and got tested with the saline mouth gargle. They didn’t test Rachael because she didn’t have symptoms. This was shortly after 9am.

By 9:30pm, I got an SMS notice that my test was negative. What a relief.

I did a log of my interactions, working backwards:

  • Fri, Dec 25th: went for a walk and realized feeling very weak. Made it home and then badly sick from the afternoon onwards.
  • Thurs, Dec 24th: cooking all morning, parental hand off of food
  • Wed, Dec 23rd: comic book and cookie hand off with Su, Evo to Granville Island to Propeller Design. Standing in line outside Rio Friendly Meats for 1hr+
  • Tues, Dec 22nd: office breakfast and then lunch, with Brooke, Katie, and Rachael
  • Mon, Dec 21st: Lyft to Revolver, see Roland, go for walk in rain with Riad, tea & whiskey at Miku to warm up, Tom Lee Music to pickup [[Arturia KeyStep]], cab to office, Evo home
  • Sun, Dec 20th: bike to do masked pick up at Cadeaux Bakery, drop off at the office
  • Sat, Dec 19th:
  • Fri, Dec 18th: home office, biked to do a masked cookie pickup and wheat beer handover
  • Thurs, Dec 17th: home office, Fission Demo Day
  • Wed, Dec 16th: Fission office with Brooke

Brooke and our shared office space is part of my bubble. On the 21st, obviously I had lots of interactions with different people, but all were wearing masks and/or 6ft away.

Of note: I got really chilled and wet out in the rain on the 21st. Then, on the 23rd, I again got really cold waiting in line outside Rio. And, in general, coming off a bunch of work and “relaxing”, so I guess my system hit the wall and collapsed.

Digital Notes Garden

So Christmas is traditionally “tinkering with my blog” time. I’ve got things running OK on [[]] for The embed on the home page here works fine.

I’m doing updating of notes here only when I’ve got free time on a weekend or an evening at a full computer desktop. It takes 2.5 minutes to generate the site, which really sucks.

The other deficiency is that I can’t really provide a feed of updated notes. I could go and add dates to all the notes and then have a modified date as well, but really that doesn’t make a lot of sense.

And this Journal is looking an awful lot like a blog, which I decided I didn’t want a feed for, because it really is just me writing for myself.

I’m still on again / off again with [[Roam Research]]. I use it for my private notes and simple TODOs and it’s been fine.

Anyway, this is all working for now, and I’ve been enjoying actually blogging, with things like Bandcamp Fridays.

via @agentofuser, [[Neuron]] is a [[Haskell]] based [[Zettelkasten]] / [[Second Brain]] implementation.

Open Subscription Platforms

via @rosano, the people behind [[Ghost]] are putting together OPen Subscription Platforms:

A shared movement for independent subscription data. With everyone getting into subscriptions, it’s never been more important to be in control of your customer data.

And in the footer:

An open standards working group committed to data portability for independent subscription platforms

This is mainly about data exports, not [[platform risk]] – so no discussion about open source here. I thought [[Ghost]] and [[Substack]] were pretty rivalrous, but Substack is listed right there as well.

[[Medium]], [[Patreon]], and [[ConvertKit]] get specifically called out as closed platforms.


Saturday, December 19, 2020

Microblog Sidebar

Got the [[]] sidebar installed on the front page. Yeah, my username is boris, even though Boris Jabes has the blog name :)

Hmm. Not really usable. It doesn’t include permalinks to the entries. Going to embed it on the [[]] page as an example, along with requests for what I’d like to see.


Also installed [[PostHog]] which I’m going to use for [[Fission]] but just testing it in the header of this blog now :)

Forked the FOSS repo (none of their proprietary enterprise code in it), so that I could edit the README so that the [[DeployToHeroku]] could deploy the FOSS version.

Bandcamp Request for Design Change

I’ve been using [[Bandcamp]] more. Whenever I’m using it on the web, I get tripped up on how small / hidden wishlisting an album / track is.

Look at this screenshot:

Bandcamp Screenshot

Rather than that little heart that says Wishlist / In Wishlist, I always hit the big heart at the top of the page…which takes me to my favourites, and doesn’t heart the page at all.

My brain has been conditioned by Instagram and other systems that I can double-click on the big image and/or somewhere top right of the page to “heart” a page.

So: hide that heart at the top that is actually “my favourites” and stick it under my avatar or otherwise more than 1 click away on an album page.

Make it so that I can “heart” by double clicking the album art! Clicking to get a big album view

…sure, give me a magnifying glass icon to embiggen it. Or, give me an “invite to heart” on that embiggened album image. Let me look at this album…oh yeah…favourite, wait, I need to cancel at top left, and then navigate alllll the way back to that tiny Wishlist under the album and click again. Wait what, there is ALSO a “view” link here once it is “In Wishlist”? And that pops open my wishlist in a new window?

Have another giant heart top left? next to album name? or somewhere else that gives me a nice big target.

Come on Bandcamp! Make hearts better!

BTW, this particular screenshot page is a recommendation from @bgins, Drum ‘n’ Space, by Elaine Walker / ZIA.

MIDI Keyboard

The same @bgins from above makes Moon Forge, an app with [[Fission]] webnative integrated, that connects to music keyboard synths with [[WebMIDI]].

He recommends the Arturia KeyStep.

I found it on local Vancouver music store Tom Lee Music. Purchased!

Maybe I do music now?


Sunday, December 6, 2020 theming and Hugo

OK, so I am continuing working on this from

I thought I’d actually install [[Hugo]] and get it working locally before I attempt to upload it into [[]]. brew install hugo and you’re done, which is great.

Looking at hugo --help showed me that Hugo has a [[Jekyll]] import function.

Since I had those social posts that I eventually want to get into Mb, this ended up perfect. I ran hugo import jekyl PATH-TO-JEKYLL . to transform those posts into Hugo compatible files.

I forked the marfa theme and put it into the Hugo folder. Error about a missing custom_footer.html file. Pretty sure this is part of the default Mb themes, so I just created an empty one in partials, and the site built and served locally! Very fast compared to my Jekyll experience: 568 ms for 569 pages and 220 static files!

[[]] has a help page about custom themes. Looks like the Blank theme needs to get merged in for files like custom_footer.html to exist.

Looks like custom footer was the only one missing. I’ll keep track of edits to it on the [[Marfa Theme]] notes page.

Looking at Mb plugins. Found [[BigfootJS]] again via the Mb plugin for Bigfoot. Probably better for me to use on this site rather than the super custom margin / side notes.

Enabled the OpenGraph plugin so I get social previews.

Added a Blog category to the navigation, for all the actual blog posts with titles, rather than just short social ones.


Saturday, December 5, 2020

Instacart Near and Far

We’re talking to Rachael’s family back in Ontario, and looking at supporting her mom and helping out so that R’s sister Kathy doesn’t have to do everything. We’re doing a test grocery delivery using Instacart to see if that works for them.

The large stores all have their own delivery, but all of the systems are terrible.

Instacart is slightly better in that it is has one mediocre interface across all the different stores.

I decided to try out an order here in Vancouver, and got delivery from T&T Supermarket, a large Asian grocery store. So, cutting noodles for dinner!

Blog Shuffling

I tried once more to import social posts from my blog into [[]]. Didn’t error or anything, so I emailed support.

At some point, my previous support request about getting my archive and photos pages working ended up getting fixed. Now I’m flipping around between themes again, and seeing about customizing something.

I decided to go ahead and swap the domain over from microblog to just blog, and updated the colophon. Whatever happens with the old social posts being automatically imported, I can just sit down with [[Mars Edit]] and recreate them. Hmmm. Although, just looked it up, and 274 posts is a LOT to do manually. Theming

Mb runs on [[Hugo]] themes, and I had previously gotten as far as cloning the internet-weblog theme. Have to merge that with the default templates and in general figure that out.

I cloned the Marfa theme so I can see about figuring out the defaults.


Sunday, November 29, 2020

Went for a social distanced walk around Stanley Park with @seanlynch. Really great discussion!

I mentioned [[When Tailwinds Vanish: The Internet in the 2020s]] as I do to all people building Internet businesses these days.

Sean mentioned [[DBT]], which he described as “Jinja templates for SQL” – basically, a way to make SQL more modular and more maintainable, without having to have an abstraction layer over top of it.

Question from Sean, who lived in Vancouver’s West End about 15 years ago, was why it didn’t seem to have changed much. That is, different businesses and a few changes, but that it seemed “sleepy”, in an area of the city that’s right next to English Bay and Stanley Park and would seem to be generally desirable to live in.

My theories are:

Limited Turnover: long term rentals, not a significant amount of new building to make a difference, and not a common place for things like student rentals, so not high turnover on a regular basis.

Two buses from anywhere: to get anywhere else in/out of the West End, you’re always going to have to take at least two buses (or a bus to get to a Skytrain connection).

I guess there have been some new buildings closer to Burrard / along the water, but that’s not really the west end anymore, and they have all been exclusive / expensive condos and townhouses, so again not large numbers of people.

We talked a bit about housing since Sean knows I’m interested in [[Cobuilding]]. Berlin and their rent freeze came up, and also the term “Overton Window” [[Overton Window::lsn-transclude]], which is a conceptual tool I find myself using a lot, so now I’ll have an entry here for it.


Saturday, November 28, 2020

Flancian’s Anagora

I’ve been having a conversation with Flancian about their [[Anagora]] project: a meta / multi-user knowledge garden. They have implemented [[Roam Research]], [[Foam]], and [[Obsidian]] adapters so far.

Since I’m working on a [[Simply Jekyll Template]] repo that is less customized than my site here, I can use that to see about connecting into Anagora.