Jim bad choices make great stories

Early Starts

It hasn’t been reflected in my earnings whatsoever but I’m having a pretty good time with waking up earlier to get a bit of writing done before the day starts in earnest.

Most of my early start writing has not benefited me financially whatsoever and some days I spend too much time comparing writing tools than actually, you know - writing.

But at least I’g getting into the habit of grabbing a cup of coffee, fire up spotify and just get to town writing.

It’s not very good writing, but it’s writing all the same and most importantly it helps me create the habit of writing. At this early phase of just a few months into the project the fact that I can regularly sit down and get used to the idea of putting something down in whatever app I choose is a very good start.

I’m back to giving google docs a spin as I write this because after yesterday’s post I found that due to resolution scaling that the text with the Caret app is a little blurry and that’s driving me nuts. Also, I’m trying to simplify my setup and writing in Google Docs might be the best way in the long run.

I think I have A.D.D when it comes to geItting some writing done and tools I use. But it’s fun to compare writing apps and in the end as long as I get some words published I guess for now that’s half the battle.

That’s all I have for today - a very busy Saturday is ahead but at least I got up a bit early and even as uninteresting as this post is It proves that I’ve got more than a few days of consecutive writing under my belt and for now I’ll call that a success.

Writing with Caret on the Chromebook

I have spent too much time wondering what tool I should use for blogging and I know that I should just write I also like to have a nice writing environment too so I don’t really think it’s a waste of time.

And I think I have finally settled in writing with Caret compared to all the other choices I have.

I wish there was an app for ChromeOS for Caret but in the meantime I have to get a little nerdy and put the Chromebook into developer mode and then use Crouton to install a command-line only verison of Ubuntu

Once I have installed Ubuntu I can download Caret for Ubuntu. It won’t launch on first go as the fresh install of ubuntu is missing some libraries but a bit of googling sorted this out for me.

Once I have Caret installed, the next is Spotify. I can use the spotify web player with ChromeOS but I find that it times out and you have to reload the tab and it’s bothersome, so the workaround is to install the Ubuntu version and it works great.

Once I have all this installed thanks to the crouton extension I can then fire up the command line and launch either Caret or Spotify and the app will launch as a window so there’s no real difference between using a Chrome app and these Ubuntu apps as they both have their own windows.

Installing Ruby and Jekyll

The next step to get things setup is to install ruby and jekyll and all dependencies and it’s pretty easy:

  1. Use RVM to install ruby.
  2. install git and curl on ubuntu (install curl before you install ruby)
  3. git clone your jekyll repo
  4. install all gemfiles needed as well as jekyll

check that all works and i now have the benefits of ChromeOS and the other tools I need for working with the command line to commit my changes to github too.

It really is a nice system.

I had thought about just using Cloud 9 as the IDE and the free version is okay and would do me find but I like the idea of always on workspaces so I was going to cough up the 20 bucks a month for the service but now that I have a command line and git here on my ChromeOS devices I don’t really have a need so that’s a $240 annual savings.

It’s a bit nerdier than just using Google Docs or even writing with plain text but this method cures the few remaining issues I have with going Chrome OS only.

Twice

I just realized I just posted twice yesterday which is kind of amazing so I figured I might as well continue today and see if I can continue the track.

I’m not sure what to write about today but I did want to share that I’m writing this in Caret as I find that it’s just easier to fire up a text editor and start writing than obsess over what I should use to write.

The fact is, I should just write and keep things simple.

Is Less More?

The next step will to be thin my computer herd to just one computer. I have an Asus C302sa arriving soon and if it meets my expectations it will be my only computer. It will be hard to let go of my others but I only really need to have one (possibly 2) computers.

I’m writing this on a Dell Chromebook 13 which is a very nice fast chromebook with a touch screen and one of the best touchpads I have ever used. The keyboard is pretty nice too.

But if the touchpad on the Asus is just as good as the Dell then the Dell might be up for sale as well. I might end up keeping it though because I got a fantastic deal on it from the Dell Outlet that I would not be able to reproduce again if I tried.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for today so far. If I have something else come up I will write again today.

Torn

I’m ready to write.

The trick is - what tool do I use?

I know, this is a rookie mistake. It’s like when they first announced desktop publishing and you had to try all the fonts before you realized that Helvetica looked the best for most stuff anyway.

And that’s how I feel about my writing.

IF Only I Could Start

I use a Chromebook so by that fact alone I should use Google Docs right? It’s free, easy to use but there’s just something about it that doesn’t feel right when I use it and I keep on going back to just writing in plain old markdown.

I could just fire up any old text editor like Caret and get to work but I prefer to be able to use a ‘distraction free’ text editor that centers the text and allows me to better see what I am writing. Also, keyboard shortcuts are handy even though it doesn’t really take a lot to write in markdownas there’s really only two commands I need to use: adding links and bold text - the rest is just plain old text.

Going Chromebook Only

I’m trying a test to use just my chromebook for all my work (and there’s no reason that this isn’t possible) but one thing that ChromeOS does not really have is a good markdown editor.

The best of the bunch I have found is Marxico as it’s a web app really so if you visit marxi.co you get the app in a web site. It syncs with evernote which I don’t need though and after evernote’s decision to modify their privacy policy I have switched to google keep for my note-taking.

There are other online tools but they all have some flaw. One big flaw with marxico is you can’t open text files - you can create documents and then export them as markdown files but there’s no way to open a text file.

Just Start Writing Already

Google Docs would be the easy way and I might just have to use that but I rely on a plugin to publish to my jekyll blog and the plugin is a beta at best, and I don’t want to commit to a Google Docs workflow.

So. I guess for now (at least this post) I will write with Marxico. It’s rare I need to edit my posts anyway as for the most part they are set and forget anyway so I guess I can always use a plain text editor for any edits.

Still Here

I wish I could say that I have been working hard with trying to make some money online but that would be a lie. It seems I have been distracted by using my computer(s) as toys moreso than work tools.

I read somewhere that if your fingers don’t hurt from typing then you’re not working hard enough and you won’t make any money. This should come as no surprise, but it’s true.

If there’s good news at all is that I have finally figured out a way to get my money maker back up to it’s fighting weight again. I had written previously about adding a whale post and I still might do that but for now it’s on the back burner.

Mini Posts

I’m going to make a lot of mini posts instead as this method gives me a never ending list of topics to write about and I hope I can make some money online with this method. This will also make it a more reasonable expectation that someday I will actually hit my 1000 post goal.

One Computer

One reason I haven’t been getting much work done is that I have too many computers to use and too many operating systems to play with Windows, Mac and Ubuntu I have tried them all but at the end of the day I am going to try and use **just my Chromebook ** for all my efforts and if it goes well I will sell my other computers.

I’m writing this in Google Docs and it works just fine. If I do need to use the command line to tweak my sites I can do so with Cloud 9 if I need access to a text editor and a terminal to edit my jekyll site via git.

Anyway, I haven’t given up yet but I have been avoiding the obvious: to get some actual work done.

The Whale Post

It’s been said that for SEO you want to be able to have at least one post that is one big mother to attract eyeballs and even if the big post is not your moneymaker it would attract links over time and that will bring your other lesser pages up to in the search results on Google.

So, I am going to try. Most of my attempt at writing 1000 posts to date have been small posts that take me no more than twenty minutes to bang out but for this effort it will be a constantly updated post that will change over time.

For this post it will take a long time to write and because it’s about an ever-changing topic it will always need to be added to over time.

I still want to have 1000 more posts written but I think I want to try and write this post first so my 1000 posts might take a little longer to write but there’s really no deadline for this and to be honest I just want to see if I put in the effort will I get the results?

I bought, but have yet to read - Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance and from what I have read of the intro blurb the gist of it is that if you stick to something that over time you actually succeed.

I have found that you can go from rank beginner to at least an intermediate level much faster than you think and considering the goal with this project is to write for money if I write this article and more then over time I should be able to translate some of my grit to money.

Speaking of grit, I don’t have much lately and the first of the year so far has been pretty much a dud so there’s always next month to try again. :)

So here goes.

I have no idea if this will be worth the investment in time but there’s only one way to find out.

Enough

To be completely honest, I am not sure what to write about today so I thought I would write about having enough stuff.

When I was younger, I thought that the mantra ‘he who has the most toys at the end wins’, but now I realize that you really do not need a lot of stuff. Yes, you might want stuff but I bet you really don’t need it.

Case in point: I never used to know about heated steering wheels and when I heard about them I thought to myself how dumb. But then one day I tried one and now if it was an option on my next car I might consider it.

Do I need it? No.

Do I want it. Yes

And here’s where it get interesting: Do I want to pay for it?

The wants for the most part end up costing money . There’s the rub. In most cases the four wheel drive, heated steering wheels, fast computers, fancy stereos etc all cost money and the older I get the value proposition of this stuff is not worth it most of the time I’m finding.

And that’s because most of the stuff I have is good enough.

My computer isn’t the fastest but it’s good enough. Same goes for my computer monitor, my headphones, my ten dollar keyboard I am writing this with and a lot of other stuff.

For somebody that shopped non stop for the first half of his life, as I have gotten older I realize that there’s very little I need.

An example of a want I currently have is a new chromebook. It’s fast and thin and light and aluminum and the screen flips around and it’s touch screen and so on..

Oh, and it’s five hundred bucks. Perhaps you’re in a diffferent fiscal situation than myself but to me $500 is a good chunk of change. I could argue that I make money online and that it’s a business expense but expense or no, it’s still five hundred bucks.

Or…I could find a cheaper alternative. It’s not as fast, is all plastic build and cost about half of the chromebook I want. It would do and it would indeed, be good enough.

But when do you settle for good enough and when do you go for what you really want?

I could buy this. I have the money.

But I already have a computer - more than one to be honest, and now that I have decided to write with Google Docs my computing needs are pretty light and any computer I have that’s been made in almost the last decade is good enough for my needs. I don’t edit video or even photos any more. I write, and pay verizon online every month and sell some stuff on eBay once in awhile and that’s about it.

I have 2 macs, 2 PC’s and a chromebox. I need this other computer like a hole in the head. Instead I could thin the herd some of my collection but I don’t have any replacement in mind that’s worth the effort. Nor do I have the need to buy the biggest and latest product.

I’m actually having more fun with old PC’s I find on eBay for cheap and installing MacOS on them than I could ever have with a new Chromebook. In fact, the disadvantage of having a chromebook is the hobby of owning a PC is lost. Half of the fun for me is troubleshooting and discovering different apps and operating systems.

I guess to summarize I’m writing this to talk myself out of buying a new computer right now.

I don’t need it, no matter how much I want it

For now, the stuff I own is more than enough.

Screwing around with Hugo

I have spent a good part of the evening messing around with hugo, the static site generator and compared to jekyll - it’s fast! I created a test site with just one post, so it’s going to be fast but still it’s a lot faster than jekyll

I’m sticking to jekyll because now that I have my sites setup the way I want them to look and now that I use Google Docs and the gabriel add on for it I really don’t need to touch the command line at all so it doesn’t really matter how long it takes for me to post.

I can’t preview the site before I publish this article like I can with the command line either but considering that there’s just text on my sites and no images to worry about, what I am seeing in google docs is pretty close to what the site is going to look like.

Hugo vs Jekyll

Jekyll gets all the love because it’s merged with github and although you can host it other places like amazon or netlify or anywhere a static site can be hosted it’s hard to beat free web hosting at github pages.

You can host your hugo site at github pages too but I tried once and couldn’t get it to work but if I stuck with it I would have been able to figure things out I am sure.

If I was to do it all over again (and I might, on some rainy Sunday) I might go with hugo. One reason besides the speed is that hugo is an app you download and install where jekyll is a ruby gem and you have to install ruby on your PC. If you’re relatively smart you can google and read how to do this but installing a pre-made app is easier still.

Also, with hugo you get real-time changes. This is great for designing your site because you can see the changes right there and then at time of the change, where with jekyll it will regenerate the pages but it takes time.

For now, I am sticking to writing in Google Docs because I’m starting to like the fact that all my work is in one place and as much fun as screwing around with ubuntu or linux and the command line there is something to be said for easy and writing with a chromebook is much easier in Google Docs.

But Hugo is something I might like to use if I ever create another site and or go back to working in plain text.

No Images

I wrote recently about fast sites and that in a way I wish the web would go backwards a bit and get a bit uglier in the name of a faster and nicer to use web experience and I got thinking about my current project of 1000 posts and I got to thinking:

Do I need to use images?

I don’t think I do. All the images do is slow you down and take away from the writing which is what I want the reader to concentrate on anyway.

So I have decided: no images. All my images were swiped from Amazon anyway in the hopes of somebody buying something but I think I might not add the images to future posts and just let the links and content do their thing.

This will allow me to write more posts faster as I don’t have to worry about uploading images at all and worry about bandwidth some other problems. When I don’t use images I don’t have to worry about all that and this will allow me to post faster. Most of the posts I am creating are about 250-300 words with a few links to Amazon sprinkled in here and there.

With my new ‘no image’ policy it’s one less thing to worry about.

Most images - despite the pretty design of the site don’t really offer a whole lot anyway. I visit sites that offer the content I want - regardless of whether it has a nice design or not or whether there’s images.

I know at least one writer that’s been writing for years and although he does use images he concentrates on the writing first and just uses the standard default wordpress theme for his sites. And you know what - it doesn’t matter. I read his words - not the stock photos he finds somewhere and posts.

If you’ve read this far you have noticed I have no images. Did you miss them?

It seems the web is getting more and more clogged with crap all the time, and I want to explore the benefits of writing as an attempt to make a buck or two.

I find this funny now that I think of it. I have a photography degree and my current day job is with a camera so I guess it would make sense that the first thing I would kill would be the photos as I slowly get going on my effort to change my career from photographer to writer.

If the dream of either 1000 posts or making $1000 a month online is every going to happen, then killing images is a good idea I think as in my case, they offer very little value for my goal.

I really just want to see if I can dream up 1000 topics to write about (a challenge on it’s own) and then worry about whether I can actually write them and not having to worry about adding images is just one less thing in the way of what really matters, and that’s the writing.

Enough Screwing Around

I’m back to using Google Docs as my blogging tool of choice. Combined with gabriel for jekyll sites it’s just too easy to write and add links so the advantages are more than the disadvantages.

I know I have waffled on this so many times but I have spend almost the entire month of January tweaking and installing different OS’s when all of this does not make me any money whatsoever and I’m better off just using Chrome OS and getting some work done instead.

I really need to up my game as I only have written about a dozen posts so far this January despite the fact that I only have a part time job where I work about 30 hours weekly.

So, Simple

It’s back to simplification for me. I will miss the tweaking element of using windows and ubuntu or some other linux distribution and I like the way Caret works too but this gabriel add on seems to be working fairly well for me so I will keep using this for the time being.

The Google search integration works great and allows for a very easy way to add links to my articles quickly.

I will miss the geeky ‘blog like a hacker’ feeling but there are scripts for word count if I need to and that’s really the only thing I think I will really miss compared to using Caret as my writing tool of choice.

I have also tweaked the font to be a bit more readable on docs which allows for a much more enjoyable writing experience than the default font that I was using. (source sans pro if you care) .

January has been a wash for writing because I have spent much, much too long screwing around with different writing tools when what I need to concentrate is on the writing instead of the tweaking.

If and when gabriel stops working for me I will find another way to edit and update my site but for now, gabriel does it fairly well.

The cross-platform compatibility is something else too. I can start a post on one computer and then finish it on another - tablet, phone or desktop - it doesn’t really matter.

I like writing in markdown too but this will do to be sure. I guess I’ve pretty much screwed the pooch when it comes to getting some work done but I wonder if in the long run it was worth the time of screwing around and finding the best workflow for me to work with.

I still have some thinkpads that I use from time to time because even though I prefer to work with ChromeOS it’s sometimes fun to use a different computer for a change. I had thought about selling the thinkpads and just going all in with ChromeOS full time but it’s nice to have a plain old PC around sometimes and I have created dual boot versions so that I can use the thinkpad as a chromebook if I like by installing cloudready by neverware.

So that’s where I am. Back to google docs again! Hopefully it will stick this time and I can concentrate on the work more next month than I have been this month.