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The Amazing Workflow of Datagubbe

Meta shitposting about lo-fi web publishing for lazy gits

Summer 2021

"How exactly," I hear nobody at all wondering, "does one go about publishing one of the grumpiest sites on the web?"

Well, dear reader - I'm glad I just made up both you and that question nobody asked! I too want to jump on the bandwagon of excessively dull meta posts that lists platforms, technologies and tools used by tech bloggers in the hope of upping their nerd cred and attracting casual clicks from people so bored and blasé they'd rather pretend to read texts about copying files and editing HTML than do whatever else the world has to offer (Such as swimming in the ocean, eating ripe gooseberries fresh off the branch or trying to figure out what exactly goes on in the head of a 9 month old baby).

Write something

This is both much easier and much harder than it sounds. The process usually looks something like this:

  1. Get angry about or interested in something.
  2. Ruminate for several months or even years about this thing.
  3. Instead of sleeping, lie in bed and think of (hopefully) clever angles to approach the issue at hand and how to formulate them in writing.
  4. Do "research", which means spending inordinate amounts of time on Wikipedia and other websites about the subject. Also make sure to check out books and magazine articles.
  5. Realize that at least five other netizens have already written at length about the subject, reaching the same conclusions as you.
  6. Disregard the former fact and write something anyway.
  7. Spellcheck and proofread the text multiple times.
  8. Publish the text on your home page and announce its existence in your RSS feed.
  9. After publishing, realize that multiple rounds of spellchecking and proofreading are never enough.
  10. Fix the remaining errors in the live article.
  11. Repeat.

Tools for writing

General setup

I still mostly use my Acer Swift 1 running Lubuntu (though I sometimes use my Raspberry Pi 3), and I'm currently running FVWM because I find it easier to configure for keyboard use with my recent tennis elbow woes than CTWM. I have a cheap-ass Logitech keyboard, a Logitech mini mouse that's now close to 20 years old and a cheap 24" Asus 1080p screen with built-in speakers.

I also use xterm, bash, dash and a bunch of other tools. For testing, I use Firefox, Links2 and w3m.

How to make words in a computer

I use a word processor for writing. A word processor is a program that lets you enter text into a computer and then work with the words it consists of. It should do as little else as possible. I've found Wordgrinder to be the best option. Since it runs in a terminal window, there's almost no input lag at all. It also has the indispensable feature of marking misspelt words in a non-intrusive way.

How to make words into web

For converting Wordgrinder files into HTML, I use a small shell hack I've decided to call hotify, because a salesperson once asked me if I knew "how to program in hot-mell." Understanding what that meant took a bit of parsing, but it in the end it translated into HTML - which describes hotify reasonably well. The resulting file is a crude bunch of <p> tags which I then edit by hand to add links, headers and other formatting.

On the server, I use Server Side Includes to make content management just a little bit easier and the content itself just a little bit dynamic. It is for example used to include the style sheet, which has been minified using mincss, another small shell hack of mine.

How to make less errors in words

For spell checking I use shpell, another little shell hack that can (mostly) handle HTML files as well as plain text. The name, being a combination of "sh" and "spell", is the script's best feature.

Feed me!

For updating my RSS feed, I use rssh, a script where the best feature is once again the name (a combination of "RSS" and "sh"). It probably produces RSS XML that goes against all common sense, best practices and industry standards, but the result does seem to work in most popular readers, including newsboat.

Live editing

Apart from Wordgrinder, hotify and shpell, I use GNU Nano for all my text editing needs. Emacs does too much for my taste and vi/vim does everything in far too complicated ways.

Let the fun begin!

Sometimes, someone will read a text or even post it on a site where it will attract even more readers. This is the best part; after all, I write texts in the hope that someone will read them. Sometimes this will lead to someone agreeing or disagreeing enough to send me an email, which is always fun and appreciated. I usually answer all emails within a day.

Reading the server log summaries is also a very rewarding activity. I've gotten visitors using - among other things - Sun Solaris, AmigaOS, old Power Macs, SGI Workstations and RiscOS. I hope the site provides a pleasant experience for you and all others who might be running IBrowse, AWeb, Netsurf, Dillo, lynx and w3m. If not - please let me know!

But what about redesigns?

I actually did a slight redesign of the site about a year ago, but I think that'll be the last one. The site is now - in my opinion - fast, legible and "responsive" enough to work on most devices and screen resolutions including everything from modern smartphones to text-mode browsers on 16-bit micros (provided they can handle TLS). Static HTML is mostly nice and fast to work with, but it's true I'm going to be in a bit of a pickle if I ever decide to make a massive overhaul of the site layout, navigation or directory structure. I have therefore decided to never decide to make a massive overhaul of the site layout, navigation or directory structure.

More information

Check out the site colophon for the rationale behind my workflow and how the site is built and served.