Things may have been a little janky earlier - I decided to actually add the cookie to set whether the site is displayed in normal "Today view" or the new "Daily view".

A new dynamic link is in the footer to switch between the new "views" and the cookie is valid for 30 days from the time it is set. It's a bit of fun.

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I wrote in this morning's session about how having to work from home meant that my day had an element of structure, that I wasn't scrabbling around for something to do for those 8 hours each week day. The idea was that this structure keeps me occupied and stops me getting bored.

I think it would actually be the opposite.

My job is predominantly reactive, we work according to strict SLAs: our hotline must be answered within three rings, emails picked up as quickly as possible and everything to be responded to within 15 minutes. It's the kind job where, unless you're working on any particular task or project, you spend your day waiting for things to happen.

When everyone is in the office this isn't so bad, there is normally quite a lot going on and the busy periods surpass the downtime. With everyone working from home a different reality has set in, a lot more is being done via phone call or video conference, the range of work being done is reduced meaning there are less things that might require assistance or support resulting in less for my team to do.

We use a remote VPN tunnel solution which means that our laptops and IP phones connect just as they do when in the office (I had to have this shipped to me after lockdown kicked in) so the rules about responding to things still apply. The problem is less to do means any failure to meet those rules introduces a disproportionate percentage failure: 1 missed call out of 100 is only 1 percent, 1 missed call out of only 3 suddenly means your stats look appalling!

Consequently, the feeling of being stuck at your (makeshift) desk is amplified for fear of missing anything. This actually makes things more boring with the longer periods of downtime interspersed with fewer tasks. I manage to do a few non work related things during the day (typing this post for example) but am never able to give them my full attention, the attention that they deserve, leading to a feeling of frustration.

While I would not have the enforced semi-structure to my day, I feel not having to work would allow me to be more productive, more creative; I could get more things done around that house, I could spend more time concentrating on writing, could do more reading, or assist my wife with various things as she works from home.

Perhaps there is an element of "forbidden fruit" about this, that were I to actually have an extra 8 hours a day to do with as I pleased that I would soon get bored and start craving the structure imposed by work. Perhaps there would only so much that I could find to do before cabin fever set in meaning this whole point is moot.

At least I would get bored on my own terms.

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I made a subtle change last night now that no previous posts are listed on the Today page. Rather than the "day link" above the menu always pointing to yesterday I thought it made sense for it to point to the last day with posts if there weren't any yesterday or Today.

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I thought the Queen's speech last night was excellent, perfectly measured and exactly what people needed to hear without being condescending.

The narrative around coronavirus has long been that we are at war and she built on that perfectly with various references both obvious and subtle, even down to the "we'll meet again" nod summoning up images of Vera Lynn and the whole war time spirit.

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A few emails have gone out to certain people and it feels good. Perhaps there's an element of selfishness there, that I feel I've done it for myself rather than for the act of connecting, but I hope that it's actually come from the right place.

It's good to talk, good to stay in touch, good to let someone know you're thinking about them; even if it's been a while.

I intend to send a couple more but that will probably be tomorrow. If I achieve nothing else this weekend that will have been enough.

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I thought I would take the clean slate/blank page metaphor to its logical conclusion and created a version of the Today page which is just that and nothing more.

I've called it (unsurprisingly) Daily.

There are no links to other days or the archive, just Today's posts - if there are any.

Clicking the page title will still take you to the normal Today page and going to individual posts will return you to the standard behaviour but I thought it was a fun concept.

I even wondered about having the option to set a cookie to determine which version of the Today page visitors might like but, if I ever decide to do it, that's a job for another day.

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It's crazy times but that's no excuse for tardiness. This morning I admonished myself for not nurturing the one-to-one relationships I have written about, not taking the time to reach out and just say "hi" even if that's all it is.

Crazy times are when we need to connect the most, when we need to exert what control we can over those things we are able to influence, to restore a little normality.

So this weekend I resolve to fix this situation and reach out to a few people just to check in, just to say hi. It's the least I can do.

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Sameer wrote a wonderfully contemplative and meditative post about "The sounds of the tea kettle" as it boils, realising that he emulates its behaviour -"simmering, and then roiling ... releasing a whistle of emotion before I grumble and sigh back to some kind of stasis" and so needs to rebuild his patience.

Let's face it, we're all a bit stressed and anxious right now.

It wasn't this that really caught my attention, however, it was this link to a piece about writing in the margins of books or otherwise marking them up as "an expression of hope for the future" or "a message for future readers, or for future versions of yourself."

I've never really been one to "read with a pen" - on the rare occasions that I do it's also with a notebook so that I can scribble my thoughts separately. I know why, it's because I went for so long without writing anything by hand, everything was done directly on my phone. Even now when I want to highlight a passage in a book I will, more often than not, take a photo of the page (or relevant section) for referral later.

Old habits die hard.

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Today marks the 12th anniversary of this site - the first post was actually a re-post from the old blog but you've got to start somewhere.

To date there are 1929 posts, plus pages and the muse-letter, with somewhere between 430,000 and half a million words depending on what word count plugin you believe; personally I don't believe any of them.

It would have been considerably more had I not taken the breaks that I have or written elsewhere for a while but, as I mentioned before, I probably needed the change to help me realise what I was doing with all of the this.

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The way I strip @mentions from the start of micro.blog replies in comments only worked for the first mention. If a reply included more than one mention at the beginning the rest would still be shown. I've now included the process in a while loop so that all are removed from display. It's still non-destructive so they're still in the database, just not displayed.

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Amit asked a good question:

"I do wonder though, won’t this ‘blank slate’ metaphor work better if you are editing your homepage as-is? The way Dave (Winer) can? Do you do that? If not, isn’t the homepage primarily for the readers, who may not appreciate a blank page?"

As this is WordPress I am not literally editing a blank page so we are definitely in the realms of metaphor but, as I replied, I visit my blog every day to see what's thrown up by "On this day" - I get to experience the blank page just as a reader would.

Not only that, but knowing the Today page is blank until I post something gives me a sense of freedom to do whatever I want unencumbered by previous posts.

But what of the reader experiencing a blank page?

I previously listed "yesterday's" posts (and before that the last 3 posts and before that the last 5) but this always felt like I was doing it for the sake of having something there, as though I needed to appease the reader and give them something to look at even if I hadn't posted that day.

I suppose from the perspective of wanting people who stumble upon your blog to dive straight in and, maybe, stick around this makes a lot of sense. That, however, is not why the blog exists. It is a very personal thing that has been evolving for some time - I'm just lucky enough to have people subscribe to the feeds or visit from time to time to see what's going on and experience the journey with me.

I just recalled episode 38 of the Internet Friends podcast in which Jon says (about 50 minutes in) that he would like to check someone's page to see what they wrote that day, as if that was the only thing that mattered, and then it is replaced by something new. And that he is intrigued by the idea of a site:

"wiping itself out at midnight that person's time... so that... there is nothing there if they didn't write anything that day"

The blog is doing just that, although there is still the option to go back over older posts rather than doing away with archives and things being completely ephemeral. In a way, the groundwork has been laid ever since I first considered a Today page nearly three years ago. I think it's now reached the logical conclusion of the path it's been on for all this time, and why everything has shifted towards the "daily unit" with the feed and emails.

It feels almost like a Zen thing: the past is behind me - I can't change it only learn from it, link to it - all that matters is the now, the current moment (in this case pushed out to 24 hours) and tomorrow will take care of itself when we get there.

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If you're reading this then the update to WordPress 5.4 was successful. Updates are always a little nerve-wracking when so much of your site is hand coded and held together with chewing gum and sticky tape. You're never entirely sure that it's going to load up or work properly afterwards.

Still, everything keeps going, feeds get built and mails sent so I suppose I'm being a little hard on myself. That's just how it feels.

For some time, and especially since the introduction of the new editor in WordPress 5, I've seen the paths that I and the CMS are on diverge considerably. While I may have completely changed how the blog operates, and added all sorts of tweaks and features, my overarching goal is to make things simpler, cleaner, to strip it back so that there is less to distract from the words.

WordPress itself, on the other hand, is increasingly about being more and better. There are ever more options and ways to present your posts, more blocks to include and manage media, new APIs to tweak all sorts of things. It's easy to see how WordPress is so many things to so many people and why it makes up so much of the web.

I don't want or need any of that. In fact, you might wonder why I still use WordPress rather than going for something simpler. The main reason is familiarity; while I may not be a dev and there's a lot of stuff I don't know I know enough PHP and my way around WordPress to get it to do most of what I want.

I could switch to another type of blogging system, something more in tune with my desired aesthetics, maybe a static site builder, but it would take me way too long to learn enough. I feel that I would be compromising the way I want to blog, the way I want things to work, for the sake of moving.

Yes, WordPress is way too complex for my needs but I'm not sure the trade offs would be worth it.

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I wanted to share what I wrote in this morning's pages:

Now I start each day with a blank page, both physically and digitally. A clean slate, an opportunity to begin again, to shape each day as I see fit.

This lockdown means that things lose their definition, everything kind of blends into everything else. The challenge is in making each day unique, in trying to mark the passage of time somehow, to give each day a shape and a sense of identity.

It's hard.

The morning pages are specific to that day, unique; even if I might write about similar things they are never the same. The blog is also "of the moment", divided into days by design. Daily activities may be limited but I can try to shape each day with words, give it a purpose and character.

I think writing has become more important than ever, as an escape, as a way to understand myself and my thoughts, as a way to communicate that to others.

Our opportunities to meet and talk have been removed so we must remake our connections digitally. For some than means social media or video apps, for me it means sharing words and thoughts, their passage from mind to page to screen.

It's not much in the grand scheme of things but it's something I can do every day, something I can control and that's all any of us want at the moment: just to feel like we have something that is within our power to influence seeing as so much is currently denied to us.

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In reply to: I really love this idea, Colin, as we… | Mr.Kapowski...

Here's a reminder of how it all works:

The Today page uses a custom page template and is set as the default home page of the blog. This runs a custom query to check if there any posts from today and list them in chronological order - if not it says so.

The Today page also does a bunch of other things such as "On this day" and on-the-fly building of the Daily RSS feed each time it loads. The full content of this is also loaded into the database ready for the Daily Email to be created overnight.

I have then customised the normal WordPress archive template for when the view is_day() to replicate the look and feel of the Today page, keeping things consistent between days.

In the footer I dynamically create the previous/next day links (inserting yesterday or today accordingly) based on the dates involved. These links then open the archive page in the day view.

There's not really that much too it, it's just a different approach to the standard reverse-chron default that younger with WordPress.

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Now I can look at the blog and relish a fresh start every day, embrace the blank page rather than fear it. I can wonder "what has today got in store?"

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In the name of experimentation I have changed the Today template so that it gives a blank slate every day - no previous posts listed, just "On this day" and the link to Yesterday at the bottom.

I think it's an interesting idea that gives a true sense of starting each day afresh.

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Colin Walker
Colophon. Content: CC NY-BC 2.0 UK, Code: GPLv3