Alex Johnstone

Daily Notes ☕️

Wednesday, 26th January, 2022

⏱ 1 min 👓 355 words. 🏷️

One application I enjoy coming back to and lightly use is Dynalist. I did try using it for daily logging, and todos, and various things, but most of them didn’t stick. The main use that has stuck around the longest is lists of things, typically longer timeframe lists. Such as gift ideas for others, gift ideas for myself 😁, a list of things I want to buy, and occasionally a big list of work topics. Each time I use Dynalist, I think that I should use it more as I do like it, it has mobile apps, and the free tier has plenty of functionality. I also like the look and style of it.

The list that gets updated the most is my list of things I want to buy. It is good to write them all down and see everything at once. It helps me pick what would be most beneficial to get first given everything. Also helps me think about if I really need it or not. I can also keep results of any research I’ve done with makes and models, or approximate prices etc. The outline nature of the list is nice to be able collapse things I’m not interested in anymore but don’t want to throw away the information.

Using it also reminds me of my effort to find a self-hosted alternative. I still prefer web apps for their use across all platforms and locations. I’m still yet to find anything that’s as nice or good. So Dynalist will do for now. I think it’s pretty reliable. I’m sure there’s still plenty of paid subscribers. The developers have mostly left dynalist and are working on Obsidian. However, as obsidian is proving very popular and there’s paid subscriptions for it, I hope that this means dynalist lives on given the developers are still making money and can cover the costs of both services.

If anyone knows of a nice outliner like Dynalist that you can self-host I’m all ears…This is my list. Although I’ve not broken it out into web hosted etc. Maybe I should install Vimflowy this time.

Tuesday, 25th January, 2022

⏱ 1 min 👓 317 words. 🏷️

Tripod mounted camera for film scanning

This is much better than that arm I had. It’s much more stable and finely adjustable. Maybe I need one of those hot shoe spirit levels but I feel like I’ve bought enough stuff for this film scanning…

I hope the 4x5 development is enjoyable…because if it’s a chore then it defeats the purpose of all this. I should try 35mm development as well - although I still need something to mount the film in to take pictures…There’s home built solutions or there’s the Essential Film Holder that everyone recommends. That’s another £90…🙄

I’ve been a bit bored of the computer recently, and haven’t have much interest for using many applications. Spent a while watching YouTube one night this week which was probably a big waste of time. Videos were split between cameras and lenses, and then random TV clips from various shows. Swapped that out for watching The Expanse, so at least it’s quality TV instead.

I have a Curve card, partially out of curiosity, but also because I thought I might be able to get more cashback on things. However, after investigating it more, I don’t think it’s worthwhile unless you need/use the travel insurance, or if you have lots of credit cards with specific benefits you want to move expenses to but want the convenience of one card. They invited me to join their new Flex product. This is a buy now pay later system that lets you take any transaction and split the payment into installments. Quite a clever idea and implementation, as you can even go back in time up to 12 months to split previous expenses, but horrible for encouraging debt. Particularly with a 13% APR 🤯 I don’t think these companies (like Klarna) are regulated like other loan services. People are going to get themselves in trouble…

Monday, 24th January, 2022

⏱ 1 min 👓 145 words. 🏷️

I’m procrastinating on developing the 4x5. Not sure why. It should be better this time with the SP-445. The new tripod did arrive today, so that should help mounting the camera to photo them. It was also greeted with another look from my wife and “buying more things?” 😅

Started watching the 6th season of The Expanse.

I felt ashamed of myself today at work, some sort of wisdom or proverb no doubt has warned me of this situation yet still I did it. I spent so long focusing on how others did a bad job that I didn’t prepare myself and also ended up doing a bad job. Probably even worse than theirs. I don’t think other people would’ve said any of our work was bad, but when people ask you to do things that you thought you’d already done, it’s still not great.

Sunday, 23rd January, 2022

⏱ 1 min 👓 219 words. 🏷️

Two threads talking about if Leica glass “is worth it”. Focused on M mount glass. I like my Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 II MC and don’t think I’d notice the difference with the Leica equivalent. Still trying to pick up at least one Leica lens, just because, and the 90mm seems the most likely. Although I may give up given the limited availability of nice ones in the UK, and just get the new CV 90mm!

Everyone has tested positive now, so it’ll be a fun week of all the kids at home.

YouTube keeps reminding me of all the Tinderbox guide videos I’ve not watched. Is it trying to help me or taunt me?

I’m enjoying my old, revitalised static gallery. Been looking back at all the old photos. Also makes me want a X100 series camera again. Some of them I noticed where I’d put the files through Lightroom vs. just straight out of camera. Usually it was Auto, then maybe medium contrast curve or some setting like that. Back with my Nikon I used Punch preset a lot. Not sure if I still like the look but it does help prevent the images looking flat. I’ve noticed that Apple Photos Auto doesn’t tend to do very much. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not.

Saturday, 22nd January, 2022

⏱ 1 min 👓 198 words. 🏷️

We watched Howl’s Moving Castle last night with out daughter. She’s reading it as her school book but not getting on with it particularly well. Thought the visuals of it might encourage her. I’ve not read the book but have seen the film before, although such a long time I’d mostly forgotten what happens. She says there’s quite a few differences from the book. Makes me want to read it now though. Funny that the book’s author is an english woman, because of the film I assumed it was a Japanese book.

I had planned on doing some more 4x5 development last night but after the film was done it was too late to start that. I shouldn’t leave it too long, but I also should practice loading the SP-445 first. I still need to find something to mount my camera on to take photos of the negative. I guessing I’m looking for the £50 copy stand. That’s the amount I think they’re worth and willing to pay but they don’t exist. Or at least not readily available ones. I should look at that now and try and find something. Plus maybe some clips to hang drying negatives.

Thursday, 20th January, 2022

⏱ 2 mins 👓 440 words. 🏷️

Can’t believe it’s the 20th already.

Hmm the down arrow on my ipad smart keyboard doesn’t reliably work. Guess it means I’ll need to switch to Vim.

I really like The Expanse, and have just started watching season 6. If only I could remember what happened in the previous seasons. I do remember some things but not sure of the order and probably large gaps in between.

I’ve been running my dad’s email off Google Suite for years, now someone is going to have to pay…or we move it elsewhere. iCloud+ would be ideal, but think his Apple ID would need to be part of my family, which isn’t ideal. Maybe I can add it for myself and then let him change the password or something but I’m sure it’ll all be linked to iCloud accounts and likely to be a pain. I haven’t actually received an email from Google myself so maybe my account is later or something…

I can now spend a never ending amount of time pruning, trimming, re-arranging and generally faffing with my Photos library now. It’s fun because I get to rediscover old photos and remember previous times. Like all those SoCal beach trips when we lived there 🌄

I want a new computer but I really don’t need one. So I’m now considering the home server. That is also just fine as is, but I think (or talked myself into) the fact that a newer gen CPU would be better for transcoding HEVC files, and so storage could be optimised. Also it would be nice to have some NVME storage to run services off…for reasons…and a general excuse to sort out all the services. They’re running off an ancient docker-compose file and traefik 1.7 (as the new version syntax was confusing). I think I’d move to a similar model as my VPS, which is docker to run the services but then nginx on bare metal with the virtual servers configured. It’s much more convenient that way if I want to run things outside of docker, like just static files. I have been wondering about separating storage from applications. Maybe some low powered storage solution, e.g. This Asustor, and then a small PC (like a NUC but not necessarily one, perhaps even a Dell refurb etc.) for the server. That way upgrading in the future is compartmentalised and likely that the storage will last a long, long time. But maybe this is all my subconscious trying to get me to buy more things.

Or maybe the Pro version…but they both do H.265 transcoding…without looking I know a custom built will be cheaper…

Wednesday, 19th January, 2022

⏱ 1 min 👓 51 words. 🏷️

I finally got COVID.

My expensive colour film arrived. Would be nice if I didn’t have to save this for best but I guess that makes it even more special.

A stack of four Portra 800 boxes of film next to an old Minolta SRT100 film camera

Tuesday, 18th January, 2022

⏱ 4 mins 👓 801 words. 🏷️

Last year during lockdown I bought a bike trainer, and subscribed to Zwift. It was quite fun for a couple of months but I didn’t like paying for Zwift. Particularly as there were a lot of features I didn’t care about and several that I did that were missing. I just want to know how far left on my ride!

I cancelled it and haven’t sat back on the bike in about 9 months. I also don’t like that it’s heavy legs and nothing too much on upper body. I’d like an even workout. Also now that I’m back at the office I cycle to work each day and not really interested in doing more cycling at home.

So I want to buy a Concept 2 Rowerg. Amazon sell them and offer their free installment plan so it makes it less obvious you’re sending money. They were out of stock and I’d set an alert and told myself when it comes back in I’ll buy one. Well now that it is back in stock I’m agonising over the decision on whether or not to buy one.

Careful readers will point out I’ve not used my current equipment for 9 months so why would I use something else. Spending £800+ on a rower might not be the solution to the actual problem.

Other people would’ve just seen it in stock and thought “great, let’s buy it”. Then 10 seconds later they stop thinking about it until it arrives the following week.

Cool old computer history.

Apple Photos to my static site is a bit of an ordeal but I’ve figured out all the steps and settings:

  1. Mark photos worth with keyword tags (still not sure how to apply without having the keyword manager open)
  2. Filter to those tags
  3. Export - medium quality and full size jpeg. Tick box for keywords and title (actually means keep all EXIF as well)
  4. Rename jpeg to jpg 🙄
  5. Run build script
  6. Rsync to server
  7. Phew!

The last 3 can be put into a script that I can just run when I’m ready to upload. Save me remembering the commands. This is instead of picking the photos and dragging and dropping them into Piwigo webUI…but I like the look of it better so there’s that.

Watched a little of this video, showing what it was like to go on the computer and internet in the late 90s. The modem sound will never be forgotten. Don’t know how I was so patient. Guess I didn’t know any better. The first computer I used (and went online) was actually at my friend’s house. His dad worked at AWE, and came home with a CD-R that was a deep blue on the dye side, and written in marker was Cappuccino 95. This was a disc loaded with pirate software, including Windows 95, Office (whatever it was called), Lotus, games, all sorts of stuff. We used to think it was secret technology as I’d never seen a blue CD-R before. However, I just think he nicked it from work and they used blue as they were meant to be durable! When we drove past the AWE site, we’d ask my friend’s dad what was in all the buildings. He’d just say they were boiler houses. We figured on top was boiler houses and then underneath it was SAM silo. There was also the story of his dad putting his glasses in some water and shining a laser through it to clean them.

I moved my photo gallery back to the static site. Now I just need to upload some recent photos!

Boy #2 might need glasses, maybe not quite now but probably soon. As a glasses wearer since age 8 I’m sad for him. He was excited at the opportunity to get glasses, but I don’t think that’ll last.

I better not buy a Q2 given all these Q3 rumours now 😅

Writing up my family journal in DayOne on the iPad and thought I’d have a look at the gallery site. Oh I love it so much. It’s so clean, and has nothing extra than what’s needed, and the subtle EXIF data is perfect. I’m not sure I love the font, I might change that. It’s a little hard to read. Thinking of making a film only version where I group photos by emulsion or maybe camera. Camera is probably silly as it’s really lens plus film but camera is mostly a proxy for lens for me. Hopefully this will encourge me to add more albums (although I’m not going back 2 years worth to add them 😅).

I got a cold head cycling this morning and has made me feel terrible all day. I should get off the screens and go to bed!

Monday, 17th January, 2022

⏱ 1 min 👓 160 words. 🏷️

Not come across this site before it seems like a sane place to get opinions.

It’s taken me several months to realise that if I paste a URL in VS Code whilst highlighting some text, it makes it a markdown link automatically 😅 Perhaps I should learn more about it as it’s become my main tool for writing this site.

I am wondering about switching to textile instead of markdown. Mostly so I can use paragraph formatting and add custom ids without a song and dance (Tinderbox 😙). If I want one I can just write p(#id). If I don’t then just leave it blank and the default is a paragraph. Does mean I have to come up with the id name. Does also allow for more customisation of individual blocks with styles. Not sure if I really need that though, or just think I need it.

Snapshot Handheld 4x5…interesting…also not just 4x5, multi system.

Sunday, 16th January, 2022

⏱ 2 mins 👓 483 words. 🏷️

Sometimes I think life (I?) would be better if I didn’t have a computer. It wouldn’t be there for me to go and sit on automatically and mostly waste away time. I know people at work who have no computer of there own, except their smartphone. They have a work laptop that I suppose they probably use for bits and pieces, but likely just admin stuff or things that can’t (or just nicer) be done on their phone. I struggle to understand that. No computer is probably annoying though. You can do pretty much everything on a phone, just sometimes the screen is so small it’s annoying. Not sure how you’d deal with paperwork, but I guess you use an app or service from someone else? Although maybe iCloud or Google docs makes things easy to download or scan from your phone. You could even write a blog from your phone.

When I go on holiday I don’t miss not having the computer. I usually have my phone and recent years I’ll take my iPad, but perhaps I shouldn’t as it now just fills the space of the computer. Stuff that’s annoying to do on the phone is fine to do on the iPad as the screen is bigger. My wife remarks how strange it is that I can go from sitting on a computer all the time (work and then my free time) to then nothing whatsoever whilst away.

Like today. It’s a lovely sunny, although chilly day. I did spend the whole morning with the kids at a soft play and then the beach (so I did go outside 😅), but now that I’m home and everyone wants some quiet time, I’m straight on the computer. I could’ve taken my cup of tea and sat on a sofa in the sun, and read one of the books I have. Although I’m writing this (and thinking about Tinderbox, photo galleries, Hugo, …) vs. watching YouTube or something.

WellI’m not going to sell or get rid of the computers so that was a nice set of words with no purpose.

Was still looking at Hugo themes. CodeIT is a nice one, fairly simple looking but loads of features. Probably don’t need them all but feel like it’s nice to have just in case. Although I still can’t help the desire to build it myself.

When I import photos into Photos app and kept the folder structure (which I like as it helps narrow down on photos when I see the event) it makes a folder and then within that an album of the same name. I don’t need that first folder and just want all the albums under the year folder. Not sure how to change that without manually moving them all up a level. This applescript is one solution - although not to my current problem - for new imports.

Saturday, 15th January, 2022

⏱ 3 mins 👓 580 words. 🏷️

I did remember/find Lektor static site generator that allows you to make a page up from blocks. This could then replicate the tinderbox/drummer style blog, whereby each paragraph can be its own entry. I used this about 6 years ago for my blog. Think it had just come out and seemed like a novel way of doing static sites. It comes with it’s own admin user interface that you run. I remember it taking me quite a while to figure out how to piece it all together, and now that I look at it again, I have no motivation to try and reconstruct something.

This was after I spent all evening messing about with YAML and JSON structures to see how I could construct the site. Again, all possible, although finding a nice way to enter posts might be the tricky part. YAML is probably the cleanest to type into but it’s still a bit funny with longer text. Then I remind myself that (a) this is mostly pointless, and (b) I already have Tinderbox that can do it all. I just need to figure out the exporting part and then it’s good to go…I assume. Then I return to wanting to type elsewhere and the circle continues.

I did come across people’s little projects on Github making static sites from config files which were all interesting to look at. It’s still an option but not for today.

It’s a lovely sunny day. I should be getting the 4x5 out again. I was meant to practice loading it in the dark bag this week but was watching Lost in Space. Finished that now so suppose I could do it. Or I just leeroy jenkins it and load new film and take some more pictures.

Now I remember what I did last night…looking at static gallery generators. Got 1 day until I have to decide if I’m keeping my SaaS instance of piwigo. Someone wrote an article about using nanogallery2 with Hugo. Not quite a how to but maybe enough to get started. I tried Fussel which was nice but it sorts alphabetically. This is probably the route I should take but the thought of yet another static gen site to configure isn’t filling me with joy. It’s only €39/year for piwigo. I don’t love it but requires zero effort…I guess I’ll renew and then next week I’ll be super keen to make my own and regret renewing.

I find it baffling how many static gallery generators don’t have any screenshots or a demo site with them. Literally that’s the whole point.

I bought 4 rolls of Portra 800. It’s not going to be this cheap again, and means I can use some for birthdays and the wedding. I also was one review away from enough points to get £10 off, so that helped. Made them just over £10 / roll.

Why am I looking for a new static gallery generator? The one I use is just fine. Well python2 isn’t ideal, but as long as I can install the python2 libraries then it’s usable. Not sure if I should start a new one

Way back when I was interested in scrolls, but it wasn’t really obvious how it worked. The author has made a try it site. I’m still a little confused where stuff is actually defined but I want to try it out.

Been collecting resources and ideas for my inky impression.

Friday, 14th January, 2022

⏱ 2 mins 👓 503 words. 🏷️

Baby Shark is the first YouTube video to exceed 10 billion views. When there’s something funny or catchy that my kids want to see, we do have to watch it a minimum of 10 times. So I can see why this and all the recommended kids videos in the sidebar have millions and billions of views. More top videos.

Tweaked my snippet so that it puts my cursor at the end of the day (using $0) so I can just type the ordinal. I think it could be done automatically but requires a whole host of regex and replacements and so much that I don’t think it’s worth the effort of figuring it out.

So much film now! Ordered 4x Portra 800 last night as Analogue Wonderland has a promo on, £8 per roll including development. Makes it the cheapest colour film available!

lol - I got confused…it’s actually £8 for development, and £12 per roll. So cancelling my order and will reconsider. Maybe just pick up a couple of rolls as cheapest price there is.

Price history of Portra 800

Those increases.

I was looking at Gold and Ultramax too but I’ve got a lot of film at the moment. I do see people in forums who’ll stock up when sales occur and they’ve got a whole separate freezer for it. I’m not at that stage yet… AW also have a competition on, to submit Portra 800 photos. Conveniently I just used a roll of it at Christmas, so might put in one or two in that. Not sure I’m going to use my 800 until a special occasion…perhaps kids’ birthdays coming up or the wedding we’re going to later in the Spring. Maybe I should’ve bought more than four…but then I remembered I’m meant to be using the B&W I bought and doing home development. Which then reminds me I don’t have a tripod or mount system. I did ask in talkphotography forums about using enlargers - which seems to be the trend as they “can be found cheaply” - and then mounting the camera on it. I like that idea as then it’s a nice fixed vertical system. I’m just yet to find any of these “cheap” ones. People suggested some model numbers to look for, so I’ll keep an eye out and maybe setup some eBay search notifications. If that fails I’ll be back to tripod. It’s just that’s a minimum of £100. Ideally I’d befriend a local film guy (min. age 65) who has heaps of stuff that he doesn’t really use. In exchange for listening to him at great lengths, he’d offer me something 😁 Actually, I’d enjoy listening to him, and he’d probably have some great development setup and things from decades gone by. There is a film club in the town, maybe even two, plus the college. Just everything is all shut-up due to COVID and they’re not exactly convenient to get to from my house.

Thursday, 13th January, 2022

⏱ 1 min 👓 259 words. 🏷️

My Spearman SP-445 arrived today. So hopefully that’ll make 4x5 development easier, improve the results and be more consistent. I’ll need to practice using it in the dark bag. Along with practicing loading the film holders too. Not entirely convinced I managed that correctly the first time.

Mirrorless camera film scanning setup

Sent the angle-poise arm for film scanning back. It wobbled and was annoying to position. I should probably just get a tripod as that’ll be useful for several things.

This is a nice overview of using Apple Photos app, including ideas for smart albums. I’d say mostly obvious but a few good ideas you might not have thought of. I should use the keywords for tagging pictures to upload to my website….if only I could decide what to use for it. I guess a static gallery should be easy now:

  1. Import photos to NAS
  2. If film - use exiftool to set EXIF data
  3. Import into Photos app
  4. Pick/edit photos
  5. Filter to those and export

Can even export large or custom resolution so it’s all ready for the website. Or use ImageOptim to resize in place. Then run the generator and upload!

Still not made my new blog. Of course I actually already have one…but think I’d rather have a static gen one. I have written down a few ideas for potential posts. I’m too busy watching Lost in Space in the evenings to do it. Perhaps once I finish that I might get round to it.

Wednesday, 12th January, 2022

⏱ 3 mins 👓 610 words. 🏷️

Now each day I get the joy of using my text snippet to insert the front matter.

I installed the 2TB SSD into the mac mini last night. I did manage to forget to include the drive mounting screws. When I put the new drive in, it did wobble about a little which I thought was strange but continued re-assembling it. I only noticed once everything was back in. As it has two drives installed the screws aren’t actually needed, so I decided to screw them onto the drive I took out and store that somewhere. If I ever sell it, I’ll put that drive back in and keep my large one. I don’t need to replace it, it works just fine for everything I do on it (it is the quad core i7 model) but it is now capped on OS version, iPad screen extension doesn’t work with it, and max monitor resolution is 2560x1440 via displayport. Most of these things don’t concern me but the draw of a new mac might be hard to resist. Either if they release new models this year, M1X Pro etc.?, or the current M1s go on fire sale. The sales are mostly for the 256GB model and occasionally the 512GB model, but never anything larger.

Reinstalling macOS over the internet is great, albeit a little slow. Weirdly cmd+r didn’t work but cmd+option+r did work. Seems like it might try and install the original version with cmd+r and then the latest possible with cmd, option R. I didn’t have much installed and quickly got everything back on. Started importing photos into Apple Photos to use as my master library.

It was quite quick to import them. I was worried it would be the spinning colour wheel for hours. I also purchased iCloud and all the pictures should be syncing. There’s no clear indication of progress or status though, so will have to trust it’s uploading. I’ve logged into icloud.com and the photos are there, so guess it’s working. It doesn’t appear to sync Albums though. Well it has ones from my phone but not from my mini.

My iCloud subscription includes Hide My Email and private relay (VPN). I should look into that and maybe use hide my email for any new services I sign up to. I wonder how quick it is to make a new address though.

VS Code has a settings, extension, keyboard shortcuts and probably other things sync option. It saves to github or somewhere so all installations are the same. This seems ideal although every time I add a new VS Code install it complains about the settings file. I think it’s just checking I want to overwrite the stock one it sets up on install but it’s still unnerving and gives me doubt each time I do it.

Oh it seems I also have Custom Email Domain service too with iCloud. I may actually use a personalised domain email address now…! I’ve had a domain for >10 years, and even one on the old Google business account thing when you could use it for free with 5 users. But I still find it hard to move away from my gmail. Everything goes there and it’s easy. Plus my address is reasonable.

I think this is a good theme for my “normal” blog. I’m not quite sure I like the front page but probably can tweak that. The rest of it is nice, and I like the footnotes being asides.

Adding all my photos to Apple Photos is great. Don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner, and by it I mean just any library management tool.


👉Check out the rest of the posts in the Archive👈