Matthew Lang

Freelance web developer specialising in Ruby on Rails

Jan 8th, 2021 · 4 posts

I'm always torn between how picturesque it is when it snows and when it will melt enough to get back on the golf course. I'll enjoy this view for the moment though until it clears.

Looks like I've missed the release of Edition 2 of the bullet journal notebook. I hope they get more in soon. Almost at the end of my current notebook.

Started something of a ripple tonight with my Signal post. Will catch up with replies in the morning. 👍🏻

Jan 7th, 2021 · 3 posts

Just curious. Are any of my blogging buddies using Signal?

Ultimatum for WhatsApp users

Another classy move from the Facebook family.
WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messenger that claims to have privacy coded into its DNA, is giving its 2 billion plus users an ultimatum: agree to share their personal data with the social network or delete their accounts.

WhatsApp gives users an ultimatum: Share data with Facebook or stop using the app
I use WhatsApp for chatting with family and friends as well as a means of communicating with a few groups at the golf club. I haven't agreed to the terms yet (and I don't want to), but I suspect that I will need to before the 8th of February when the new privacy policy will kick in.

Facebook has really backed everyone into a corner with this one, but I suspect that amongst the millions of users, there won't be much of a revolt against this. There are other options to WhatsApp like Signal, but for most people, they just can't see beyond Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

Emma Cragg's bullet journal setup.

Always interested to see how people set up their bullet journals. I usually find one aspect of it that I would like to introduce on my own.

Jan 6th, 2021 · 1 post

Plans for the blog

With the basics of my blog now in place, I can focus on other parts of the blog that I would like to build.

I've been writing notes for an aggregator of sorts that would subscribe to content streams. These content streams can then be shown on my blog. RSS would be the initial type of stream that I would offer as these are open and simple to integrate into the blog. Other types of content streams may follow if I decided to incorporate them into my blog. This aggregator will then be displayed on its own page or on my blog's sidebar if I choose to put it there.

One of the great blogging platforms that I miss the most is Posterous. The idea of this blogging platform was simple yet highly effective. Instead of writing your posts in a password-protected section of your blog, you write your posts with email and mail them to your blog. Starting small by being able to email posts without titles would be a good start. Posts with titles and attachments would then follow.

Cross-posting to Twitter is definitely something that I want to include in the blog. It's more the shorter posts that I would post on Twitter, but not all of them. I think for this a simple checkbox would be sufficient.

Building my blog using Rails has been a great way of making something that I can experiment with more. It's also something that I can create at my own pace. The blog is still using the CDN version of TailwindCSS, WebPacker hasn't been set up, and no there aren't any tests.

This isn't a business system or a product, though, so I can afford to do these things in my own time. It just feels good to be writing code in Rails that I don't need to worry about too much and can do in my own time.

Jan 5th, 2021 · 2 posts

If you like tracking what you read, you might want to consider The StoryGraph. After a few months of being in beta, they've finally launched—a good alternative to GoodReads.

A word for 2021

Niklas Göke's word for 2021 is "matter". He'll use this word as his theme for the year to centre all his thoughts and actions. More of a guide for the year than a goal.
A theme is a baseline ideal, one that you use to guide your actions and decisions. It isn’t worried about tomorrow, nor does it care what happened yesterday. With a theme, all that matters is what you do today. It turns happiness into an attainable, daily standard that’s based on your behavior, not your accomplishments.

How To Set a One-Word Theme for 2021
I've always liked the idea of themes, whether they be daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly. I must admit though, I haven't done a yearly goal for a couple of years. I have definitely wandered off my intended path over the last couple of years.

I think I have a word in mind for this year, but I'll just keep it to myself if you don't mind.

Jan 3rd, 2021 · 1 post

Jen discovered another notebook retailer for me over the holidays, Notebook Therapy. I can definitely see me ordering from here in the near future. 

Jan 1st, 2021 · 2 posts

New year, new Techo planner.

A new blog, of sorts

In the last few months, I've been fairly quiet on the blog front. Just like everything else that went wrong in 2020, I could blame it on the global pandemic, but that's not why I stopped blogging.

I started blogging on while it was in the Kickstarter phase. I liked the idea of not only having a new blogging platform, but one that focused back on RSS feeds. Now though, I feel like I have outgrown It's has a nice collection of features and themes, but I'm looking for more from my blog. I want it to do more than just display posts and pages. I'd like it to handle long-form articles that fall outside of the chronological order of the blog, handle bookmarks, and track other places where I am active on the web.

To get started, I decided to start moving some content over from my so that it's now hosted here on my main domain. I've been putting everything together using my own blogging engine, which does just enough to display posts in chronological order, supports an RSS feed, and has an admin section to manage posts.

I've still got a lot to do in terms of development, but the main thing I'm taking from this is that I am working with Ruby on Rails again. It's been a long time since I worked with Rails in a full-time capacity, and I do miss it. Rolling my own blog engine gives me the chance to get myself familiar with Ruby on Rails and try out a few different ideas.

Dec 31st, 2020 · 1 post

Dec 30th, 2020 · 1 post

Enjoyed a walk with the family yesterday. So lucky to have this at the bottom of our street.

Nov 10th, 2020 · 1 post

Cal Newport’s Time-Block Planner looks interesting, but I can’t see the justification for a dedicated notebook for it. I could use the same process on a plain old dot grid notebook.

Nov 9th, 2020 · 1 post

The power of pen and paper

Seth Etter reminds us that pen and paper is a powerful and simple tool that can help you start to solve problems.

Pen and paper. Whenever I catch myself stuck in the whirlpool, feeling not-great because I know I’m not doing what I want to be doing, or what I should be doing, I step away, grab pen and paper, and start writing.
The simple act of writing can focus my thoughts and attention in a way that nothing else can. Free from distractions, just a canvas to pour my thoughts into, and turn them into something with a sense of direction and purpose.

Start with pen and paper
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been using the Shape Up process on a couple of projects to see if I can get some traction on them. The Shape Up process suggests using fat marker sketches so that you don’t get bogged down too much in details.
A fat marker sketch is a sketch made with such broad strokes that adding detail is difficult or impossible. We originally did this with larger tipped Sharpie markers on paper. Today we also do it on iPads with the pen size set to a large diameter.

Fat Marker Sketches for Shape Up
I’ve been using a pocket notebook to sketch ideas for user interface designs but purposely using a thicker marker so that I can just get an outline instead. I’m finding the process quite useful. Sure I throw away a lot of designs for one reason or another, but I do eventually settle on something that works.

Software and apps come and go. There seems to be a never-ending release of new features, bug fixes and other changes to improve what many software makers tout as an already great product. If it’s already great, then why keep changing it?

Pen and paper suffer from none of these problems, and yet remains for me, the most effective tool for problem-solving and gaining a clear solution.

Nov 3rd, 2020 · 2 posts

I’ve been trying to get some traction going on a few web applications over the last couple of months. It’s just not been happening. Countless distractions and lack of motivation have been difficult to get past. Going to give it another go though over the next six weeks.

Nov 2nd, 2020 · 1 post