a rickety bridge of impossible crossing


Don't have much on my mind today, so just a general status / meta / what I'm up to kind of post (this might accidentally become a new tradition for Saturdays.)

Apologies if anyone saw an early version of this pop up in their feeds, you'd think by now I'd know the difference between the "publish" button and the "save as draft" button, but apparently I'm not quite there yet.


I was a little disappointed that I couldn't make the list of blog posts the front page of the siteβ€”I thought it was a bit of a hassle to make people have to go to the /blog url to see the blog, and I didn't need an introductory homepage, since the blog is the main focus. I felt having one was sort of redundant.

Well, I was looking through the discovery feed and found a blog that did just that: no /blog page, the homepage itself was the list of posts. I went back through the feed trying to find it, looked at the homepage for all the recent/top posts, and I can't seem to find it; maybe it was a spam blog that slipped through the cracks, or maybe it was someone who changed their mind about having a blog.

At any rate, I knew it was possible, so I tried to figure out how, and my first guess was the correct one: you just leave the box for homepage content blank. Somehow I missed the fact that having any text on the homepage was optional, and when you don't have anything there, it just duplicates the /blog page (with one caveat.) Thanks, whoever accidentally helped me learn something! All of the pertinent info and jokes that used to be on the homepage have been relocated to the info page.

The caveat is that it doesn't duplicate the blog page exactly: it doesn't have the list of tags at the bottom. Which is okay, I don't figure most people would see them there anyway, so I created a tags page to make them easier to find. It's a simple but effective hack: I just tag that page with every tag used on any other page, and set the date to something prior to every other entry so the tags page always shows up at the bottom of the list.1

If you tag non-blog content, it still shows up with a date next to it when you do a tag search, so standalone pages that aren't part of the site structure are set to July 19, 1936 to clearly differentiate them. This also makes them easier to find them when I want to edit them: I can just scroll to the bottom of the list.

Here's another tip for any fellow bear-bloggers who might be reading this: if you want a few pages in the navigation strip like I do, set them to a date far in the future, so they always show up at the top of the list. Much easier to find them when you want to make changes.

bear blog post interface

Life Hacks For Bears 101

Speaking of making changes to them, if you haven't looked at them in awhile (or at all) I added a bunch of stuff to the archive and I upgraded the reading list to a general links page. The reading list (or "blog roll"2, as we used to call it) is still at the top, I added a section for homepages after that, and eventually I'll add all the podcasts I listen to and youtube channels I subscribe to.


Since my last few personal sites have been on a paid webhost, I haven't had much need to use the website imgur (which I will always pronounce IM-gir) in awhile. Which is good, because that site sucks.

I remember it being pretty good at first, back when waffleimages died and Something Awful posters needed a new site to host images on. Then as time went on, the UI got worse and worse, it added bizarre social networking features, and it made it as hard as possible to actually hotlink an image. They really want you to use their shitty little embedded widget, and eventually they stopped even exposing the actual image URL in the interface.

Uploading is even more of a hassle on a phone. The mobile version of the site is read-only; to upload an image, they helpfully suggest, just install the app!

So I have to use the desktop version of the site, which on a phone looks like this:

imgur desktop site on mobile phone. red arrow pointing to the very tiny "new post" button

I can probably tap the "new post" button, let me go get my jeweler's loupe and a carbon nanotube.

So, that's an unpleasant experience. But since it's Saturday, and I have more time to blog from my computer, I experienced a pleasant shock when I discovered/realized that Linux has an imgur uploader built right into the screenshot interface


A meta-comment about a screenshot of the screenshot interface in a post about posting

I figured if this was the case, there'd be an easy way to upload any image from the command line too, and there's a nice simple bash script. So now, I just save whatever image in my documents folder and type imgur whatever.png and it instantly gives me a URL I can right-click and paste.

See, this is what the command line is good for. No endless switches to memorize, no inscrutable barely-written documentation that half-assedly explains how they work. Just do one thing and do it well. I like it. I've come up with a name for this philosophy: I call it rockmore.

So I never need to go to the imgur website again on my computer, thank god. What about phones? Well, I searched the f-droid store for "imgur", and it's only mentioned tangentially in the description for apps focused on reddit, which isn't what I'm looking for. There may be some all-purpose image uploading tool that doesn't mention imgur by name, but I wouldn't know how to find it.

Luckily, this is an excellent opportunity to fulfill my life-long dream as of yesterday to become a mobile app developer. I've never used an API before, so figuring it out should be an interesting experience. The bash script relies on curl, and I don't want to mess around with dependencies, so it looks like it's time to finally find out what the hell a RESTful API is.

I think this is something I can do in SmallBASIC? It can do http requests and stuff. There's an example program for searching DuckDuckGo. It doesn't work, but I figure that's because DDG changed the API, not because they posted an example that doesn't work. I hope I can do it that way, because I don't know if my 2006 laptop can handle whatever full-blown SDK I would need to do it in java or whatever. Man, phones are so weird. Why are we still using java? Is it 1999? Are we still adding sweet fire animation applets to our Final Fantasy 7 shrines?


Spriteclad gave me an incredibly kind shout-on fedi, which I will quote here only in part out of a weird anxious compulsory humility:

@matt's blog [...] updates daily, somehow

Thanks! I'm glad the daily updates are appreciated, and I hope I can keep my streak going. I'm sure there will be days I have absolutely nothing to say, and post a minimum-effort joke or a link to something cool so as not to have a missing day in the post history, and does that even count? Probably not, but if I can post 3700-word essays some days, I can have an off day here and there. I figure one post per day isn't enough to get annoying even if there are dry spells.

Also last week Herman, the person who built and maintains bear blog, posted a short retrospective about the site on hacker news where he said this:

Since then it's been cracking along well, with about 150 blogs per week being started, and some prolific bloggers settling into it.

Now, I know I'm not the only prolific blogger here, but I might be the most prolific to pop up recently, and on the off-chance I'm one of the prolific bloggers he was thinking of, I'm glad to be part of such a cool community/project.

He goes on to say:

Currently there are a few people sponsoring the project (about $240 per month) which pays for the server and my coffee. It's fun. I only put in a handful of hours a month to maintain, update, and secure the blogs.

Next steps? I'm thinking of just keeping it up. Over the next few years it will become more refined, more robust, and more secure. This isn't a financial project (my other company pays me a salary). It's just fun building the blogging platform I want to use.

I'm glad it's not a financial burden, and I'm excited that the project has a future. Many thanks to Herman for building something cool 🦝

  1. It turns out that posts dated in the future don't show up in a tag search, which makes a lot of sense. So I moved the tags page up to March of 2100 with all my other nav links, and it'll never pop up where it's not needed πŸ‘β†©

  2. Hey wait a sec, was that always a rhymey wordplay on the british slang for toilet paper, "bog roll"? Or just a coincidence? If it's intentional, very cheeky, british bloggers. πŸ‘β†©