Blog logoMatthew Lang

Time to kill the personal website?

 •  Filed under Posts, Blogging

Rachel Kaser over at The Next Web certainly thinks so.

Like it or not, social media provides an easy-to-use template that lets anyone make their personal information available — and most of those sites are a hell of a lot easier to use than even the mildest website creation software.

It’s time to kill the personal website by Rachel Kaser for The Next Web

I can certainly see Rachel's point. With all the progress we've made on the web, the days of self-publishing means that you don't need to be tied to a domain or a way of publishing your thoughts online. Social media and blogging platforms make publishing online easy.

Where I disagree though is that while these social media platforms are easy to use, they require an investment of effort in order to be effective. In order to stand out you need to be publishing consistently and that requires investing time and effort in that platform. I'm just not prepared to make that investment in order to build my name when I can use a personal website.

Having my own website means that I'm only investing in the content at my own website and then optionally using social media to get my content out further. I not only control the content but I also having a simpler delivery method for people. I have a place where people can follow me without the pressures of social media timelines. You can visit my website or subscribe to my RSS feed. It might be less convenient than following me on social media, but when you consider that you can read my website in a less crowded environment, away from the timeline, then I think having a personal website is essential if you want people to actually read what you're publishing.

Ulysses Subscriptions

 •  Filed under Posts, Tools

So following the footsteps of TextExpander and Day One, the writing app Ulysses is now moving towards a subscription service.

I've wrote in the past about subscription services. I get why people and companies are doing it. Subscriptions provide a more stable revenue stream and allow consistent development of the product.

If I was a keen writer and I used Ulysses on a daily basis then I imagine that I would take out the Ulysses subscription. For just under $5 a month I'm getting a great writing tool that I can use on all my devices.

$5 isn't a lot of money, but when you're working on the Internet on a daily basis, it won't be the only subscription service you'll have. You'll have other subscriptions for other products and services that you use and these all add up. With all these subscriptions, they can quickly mount up.

I used TextExpander for a few years until they announced that they would be moving to a subscription plan for their users. Many seen as it as a good move for TextExpander to support the business and I agree with that. What I don't agree with though is the pricing. Paid monthly, TextExpander is only 83 cents cheaper than Ulysses. Two vastly different products, but very similar in pricing. Are they priced right? Who knows. All I know is that I refuse to pay a monthly subscription service for a product that I only use on a single device.

I'll be interested to hear what Curtis has to say on this. I know he's been a long time user of Ulysses but we emailed each other recently and he did say he was cutting back on subscriptions. Will he cut back on this? I'd like to say he'll stump out for the subscription, but I'm not entirely convinced.

Lastly I also just remembered that Ulysses is available on SetApp. It will be interesting to see if Ulysses remains on Setapp as it only costs $9.99 per month and for that you get access to an increasing number of apps for OS X as well as Ulysses.

Update 2017-08-10: It looks like SetApp user's don't need to worry as Ulysses will be unlocked on your other iOS devices if you have already picked Ulysses using SetApp. Good to know!

In addition to those “big” arguments from above, there are bunch of smaller advantages, too. One example: if you use Ulysses via the Setapp subscription, we will now automatically unlock the iOS app as well. And the way we modeled and priced our subscription plans, now much closer resembles the value each plan provides, than a “pay once” model ever could.

Why we’re switching Ulysses to Subscription by Max Seelemann

Hello Ghost 1.0

 •  Filed under Posts, Ghost, Blogging

It's been a long time coming, but it's finally here. A couple of weeks ago the first major update to the publishing platform Ghost was released.

I was on holiday at the time so I decided to leave upgrading until I got home. It's been a few days now since I got back but this morning I decided to upgrade the two sites I have running on Ghost, this one and my DigitalBothy website. The upgrade process itself was straight-forward. Warnings were provided to indicate deprecated helpers in the themes for each site, but aside from that I didn't have any trouble upgrading.

The new UI is a welcome change and includes a number of beneficial changes but perhaps the most important change is the editor itself. Gone is the side by side editing and preview panes (although you can still use this if you need to) and instead there's a single pane for writing that is editable and displays your writing in a better format. Bigger, bold text for headings, links highlighted and many other improvements.

This is a welcome update to the publishing platform and I look forward to spending more time writing for my blog than I have done recently.

The least loved great sportsman?

 •  Filed under Posts, Cycling, Sports

On a day where a Brit has won his fourth Tour de France, the focus seems to be more on Jordan Spieth's win at The Open. Why isn't Froome's success more of a talking point then?

There is no fluking a yellow jersey. Three weeks of physical attrition, of relentless mental calculations and stress, of staying ahead of a shifting mass of rivals ganging up to unseat you, of managing egos and efforts within your own team, of high mountains and cruel cross-winds.

And yet when Chris Froome won his third Tour last year, having run up Mont Ventoux in his cleats on his way to victory, he failed to even make the 16-strong shortlist for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year.

Tour de France 2017: Is Chris Froome Britain's least loved great sportsman? by Tom Fordyce for BBC Sport

I was a long time fan of cycling. Ever since I first seen Miguel Indurain capture his Tour wins, I was hooked. Every year I would watch the Tour. Then I started watching the Giro and the Vuelta too. I love watching the big cycling tours. It was the highlight of my sporting calendar. Only the Super Bowl rivalled it in terms of how much I looked forward to it.

Then there was the Armstrong period, and then after that a number of incidents involving other riders. That's when I started losing interest in the sport. Despite those many years of following it, I just couldn't watch it anymore.

I tried watching a stage of the Tour this year but I couldn't keep my focus on it.

I admire Froome's success, I can't help but think though that perhaps there are other factors in this. Is the UK is falling out of love with cycling? Do we have success fatigue with cycling? It's a terrible thought considering a British rider has achieved his fourth win of the Tour, but with all the recent success that Great Britain has had with cycling, perhaps it just doesn't have the same appeal it used to have.

Perhaps the Tour de France needs a change of format to make it more interesting? One thing that usually happens in the tour is that the winner of the yellow jersey holds onto the jersey for a number of days before the last stage of the race. The last stage of the tour is frequently a foregone conclusion. Does it need to be changed up a bit to make it more difficult for riders to hang onto the yellow jersey?

I don't know why Froome isn't getting more spotlight in the media for his success.

All I know is that my preferred sport to watch on the day is golf rather than cycling. So I settled down today to watch what I could of the golf and enjoyed every minute of it.

It's a tribal thing. I used to be part of the cycling tribe, but recently I started enjoying golf more. I still cycle every now and again but it just no longer has the pull that it had in the past.

Open source Medium

 •  Filed under Posts, Blogging, Medium

Dave Winer ponders on the possibility of an open source version of the popular blogging platform Medium.

What if Medium had been designed from the start to be the Mother Node of a network of clones. The basic software would be available for installing on your own server, but if you want, there's a place you can put your document today, now, quickly, where everyone will be able to read it, now and for the foreseeable future.

What if Medium were open source by Dave Winder

This is the kind of thing that I can get behind. I like Medium's approach to easy publishing but I dislike the fact that everything is on their network.