Mixed nuts • September, 2020

Oddities, observations, offal

published:  September 3, 2020

Photo: Peter Feghali; Unsplash

Time for another “Mixed nuts” post, another selection of various and sundry emissions from my brain. And, no: I mean, even more various and sundry than usual.[1]

If you like to advise your tweeps every time you put something on your own website, save yourself some frustration, first, by running the URL past the Twitter Card Validator—and do it as many times as it takes before the featured image appears. Otherwise, because Twitter refreshes its image cache only every few days, your tweet will show a generic placeholder image rather than the image you chose. (H/T to Mito Studios for the tip.)

While I’m on the subject of images: I have yet to regret anything about my recent adoption of Cloudinary’s amazingly generous free tier for this site’s image handling—except that I waited so long before making the choice. Incidentally: if you choose to avoid my error and give Cloudinary a try sooner rather than later, I humbly request that you use this invite link, from which I will get a few extra Cloudinary credits if you sign up (even if only for the free tier).

In the last ten weeks, I’ve moved the site four times after its previously having been on Netlify every day since the (site’s) launch in September, 2018. Coincidentally, I see the domain is for sale, albeit out of my miniscule price range.

If an email provider charges for support of a custom domain (so you can be rather than, that’s like a cellular service provider charging for texts—which is to say, a ripoff—because it costs the provider little or nothing to do this. Change my mind.[2] Really.

Speaking of email-related sins: Microsoft continues its (willful?) failure to give the Mac version of Outlook one specific feature that Outlook for Windows has had forever: the ability to see one’s own sent emails in conversation threads. And I don’t mean the hacky, unintuitive “talk balloons” method the Mac version uses; I mean the way the Windows version does it. Microsoft should read and act on the hundreds of complaints, dating back for years, on its own frickin’ “Outlook User Voice” page about this missing capability.[3]

will say this for Microsoft, however: at least it keeps trying to push the enterprise market away from the awful, obsolete Internet Explorer. Same goes for Windows 7 (the FBI, too, has had a few choice words to say about Windows 7) and, for that matter, the totally-not-for-the-office Windows 10 LTSC.

The data from Fathom Analytics (affiliate link) continues to tell me the same story that I received previously from Google Analytics and Netlify Analytics: this site’s two most popular posts—and, as you’d therefore guess, highest-ranked on Google—are “Why I left Ulysses” and “Why I left Hugo for Eleventy.” There’s probably a lesson there somewhere, but I’m not sure what it is.

Another thing about Ulysses that perhaps is worth a note: I originally expected “Posting with Ulysses” to be a one-shot experiment but, lo and behold, here we are a month after “Posting with Ulysses” and I’m still using Big U rather than iA Writer for at least the writing of these posts, as opposed to the final creation of their Markdown—which, from Ulysses, is best done as an export.[4] Sue me, but I really like writing in Ulysses, especially with the great dashboard improvements introduced in Ulysses 20.

In large part, this experience with Ulysses is because, as novelist Chris Rosser observed about these apps: “Where iA [Writer] tries to create a zen-like focused drafting experience, Ulysses nails it with its aesthetics and the graceful way in which it handles ugly markup.” So exactly how does each app handle “ugly markup”? Look at these screen captures of how the two handle the same paragraph—in this case, the one, above, that starts with “Another thing about Ulysses.” Ulysses goes first.[5]

Screen capture of Ulysses for a given paragraph

Screen capture of iA Writer for a given paragraph

Although the Next.js and Nuxt.js JavaScript frameworks have significantly improved their abilities to generate static websites, dedicated static site generators (SSGs) like Eleventy (which powers this site) are ’waaaay easier to use and far less finicky. Want to build a web app? Either Next.js or Nuxt.js is great for that. Want to build and maintain a website? Use a dedicated SSG.

The vast majority of all web browsing now occurs through only two browser engines: Blink (e.g., Chrome) and WebKit (e.g., Safari). By comparison, Firefox’s Gecko engine is now down to about 4% and headed south. (Data: StatCounter and NetMarketShare.) It’ll be a sad day, especially for those who write and maintain CSS, if this trend continues to its perhaps inevitable conclusion.

  1. For those unfamiliar with the point (if that’s the word) of this particular type of post, please see the original from last year. ↩︎

  2. There are hack-y ways out there to do this from a free email account (both receiving to and sending from your custom domain), but that’s not the point. I’m talking about doing so without such hacks, as simply one option. (Whether it’s wise to use free email, given the likely compromises involved in such, is a totally different question.) ↩︎

  3. Maybe I should’ve saved this for my third annual post of “curmudgeonish” observations (see the previous examples); but I thought I’d do it while I’m mad about yet another brief try of the Mac version of what now is called Microsoft 365. ↩︎

  4. I still hold out slim hope that Ulysses will be given more friendliness with standalone Markdown files, as I noted in “Posting with Ulysses,” but also am realistic enough to know that’s not something for which the vast majority of Ulysses users are screaming. ↩︎

  5. The iA Writer sample actually shows the Markdown exported from Ulysses; so, in fact, had I indulged in my previously typical iA Writer habit and used an identifier word for the footnote reference (shown here as [^5], indicating the accurate footnote number as of when I did the screen captures), it would have been even nastier-looking. Moreover, when writing in iA Writer, I usually put each footnote right under the paragraph in which its reference goes, simply as a way of keeping it all straight; but, with Ulysses’s export process moving it all down neatly to the end, that kept the Markdown still “prettier” than it would’ve been otherwise. If you’re curious to see the differences, look at this site’s GitHub repo and compare the Markdown for the following two posts: “Transformed” (GitHub version here), done with iA Writer in straight Markdown; and the post you’re reading now (GitHub version here), done with Ulysses and exported to Markdown. ↩︎

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