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Spring cleaning

Where I live spring is in the air. I normally do not like cleaning too much, but now I feel Featherweb is begging for a good clean. And...I'm in the mood for it! It is surprising how much stuff gets collected over a year and how easy it is to pretend there is no dust collecting.

I'll start by making a list, that always helps:

Bye-bye Buttondown

When I started Featherweb, I did not really know Neocities. I found the open source project 'Buttondown' and immediately liked it. That looked like a great RSS solution and a good way to create a newsletter. I soon discovered two things.. rss was already available in Neocities and writing a newsletter conflicted with my inborn tendency towards laziness. I told myself writing a newsletter on top of writing a blog post is simply not efficient.

Adieu Comments section

A little over a month ago, I added a comments section at the bottom of each blog post. By the time I got it running, I had strong doubts already: There was a whole lot of noisy machinery in the background that ran without my comprehension, permission or trust. But it sure looked professional...

So I decided to get rid of it. One thing less to worry about. A comments section was my answer to a question no one had ever really asked. It wasn't that busy either. ;) I remember receiving an email notification, telling me a certain Peter had commented on my blog. The joy was short-lived when I realized it was me, test-posting a comment under the name Peter. Ahem...

The end of Staticforms

It was only yesterday I discovered that Staticforms.io, the engine behind the Contact page, no longer exists. The name has been bought and the domain 'parked', as investors love to say. It must have gone out of business half a year to a year ago. What saddens me is the fact that there was no notification about this for existing users. I have no way of knowing how many of you have tried to send a message from the Contact page only to receive a total silence as my response. If you are in that situation, my sincerest apologies, but I plead not-guilty.

Feedback form added

After finding out about Staticforms' fate, I decided to replace it with a feedback button on every blog page. This button links to an online form by Formsubmit. This is a completely secure way of sending messages. I have set it up so it opens in a new tab, so that you can switch back and forth between it and the blog post content. The Formsubmit form is a little impersonal, somewhat businesslike, but that's okay: if something works well, minor imperfections are easily forgiven. Talking about security: they added a Capcha to check if you're human. I'm not that fond of that type of capcha either ("Click all images with a taxi"), but prefer it mightily over an endless stream of spam. This is a very good replacement for the traditional, but risky 'mailto:' solution. Formsubmit calls it Email Link. It is still in beta but seems to work flawlessly: all messages Peter sent arrived in perfect shape.

Colors ~ anyone?

At the moment I feel unable to write friendly about colors. I never had the intention to devote much time on ways to provide color choice for a website or blog. But during the last weeks I have been dealing with just that quite intensely.The nice thing is I learned new things and more or less succeeded offering a theme switcher, that remembered your color choice. But here it ends for me. I want a fresh start, a clean sheet,quetly waiting to be written on and not half-filled with color theme stuff. Also, I am not qualified enough to continu this color development. One thing works in Firefox, but not in Brave and the next thing vice-versa. I am unable to solve these problems, but able to see I have created them, by adding all these variables into the mix.

I want to go back to B.U.T.S again. Or even to the days before that.

That was simple and foolproof. you could argue that my choice for B.U.T.S is egoistical, as it does not allow site visitors to choose their color theme. True of course. But also true is, i.m.h.o:

Welcome back Atom, I missed you!

Real men only make two types of choices: wise ones and impulsive, emotional ones.

By now, this blog must have already convinced you I am a really real man. One day my editor preference goes to Atom, as one of the biggest and most succesful open source projects ever. Next day I fall for a charming little yellow teapot which moreover is called Geany. Do I feel a story brewing?

3000 Teapots pouring tea

It may be already some years ago, but I remember clearly the chemistry lesson where Mr. Split explained the power of an atom. On his giant blackboard he showed us that the energy contained in one atom equals the energy contained in 3000 teapots, the moment before they start pouring tea. We were young and in awe and that's how we started life.

Strangely enough I was reminded of that story recently, when pondering my ongoing relation with both Atom and Geany. It's horses for courses. For adding a quick new link to my browser's homepage, Geany is perfect. For writing a complete html article with all the usual bells and whistles, Atom is way better. Lately I started to be disappointed in Geany's capabilities. I struggled with the snippets.conf, I could not get the snippets the way I wanted. Also, interface changes were surprisigly difficult to achieve and make permanent. For the html preview I use Epiphany ("Web"). That's okay for relaxed writing, but once starting to actively edit files, copy-as them, rename them,etc, Epiphany quickly becomes overwhelmed, starts slowing down and often freezes completely, taking part of your work with it.

My choice for the Geany-Epiphany combo, was partly based on romantics and stubornness, wanting the simplest possible solution to satisfy all my needs. It didn't.

So here I am, back in Atom. A great relief and a joy to write in. I had forgotten the speed and richness of Atom's snippets. I also had forgotten the speed and accuracy of the built-in html preview. And yes, if needed, I can wrap-around tags again!
Part of the reason I left Atom, was that, it being part of Github, it changed ownership a few years ago. I foresaw dark clouds coming, despite the broad-mindedness in the official MS speak. But very recently I read someone saying something like: ""If they threaten it too much, the community will simply fork it". The power of open-source again!

Time to reconsider markdown?

I fully realize that in this website I have not given markdown the treatment it deserves. I've always been inspired by its model, a simplified, readable, marked down version of html, but never liked the new limitations it imposed. In fact I thought of sort of mimicing it in pure html. I still do, but it seems not many are as crazy as me.

Now that I'm back in Atom, I discovered there's a package I had not seen before, called Markdown Writer. It looks very exiting, blog-aware, really made for , ahem, writers. I will test it more seriously very soon. Also took a look again at Stackedit, my favorite of a few years ago. Not bad at all, if only...

Developers seem to swear by markdown and have almost all taken that route to do their writing, being it for technical documentation or for their personal blog. What can we learn from them? I remember the days when wikis were all the rage. While the wiki format still has its place, nobody uses it for things outside of technical doumentation.

My biggest question is: are we not fooling ourselves while using markdown? It is much more readable, sure, but does it not prevent us from seeing a more straightforward, less inefficient markup solution?

The end of suffering

is near!