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comment by johnnyFive
johnnyFive  ·  235 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: August 29, 2018

Technology is a fickle thing.

Some good news, I resolved the file sync issues I complained about here. The iOS Nextcloud client just decided to start working, so that was cool. It's a great setup, and given the ongoing concern with privacy issues these days, it's nice to have a little more control over stuff. I generated the SSL certificate myself, and the files are encrypted on the server, so within reason even the host doesn't have access. (I know it's not foolproof, but nothing is.)

Meanwhile, there's been a big bruhaha online (I've mainly seen it on reddit) about VPN providers potentially being shady. Now, I've seen evidence (on hubski included) of Private Internet Access doing some shady stuff to try to discredit its competitors. I'm doing a separate post about this, but the tl;dr is that a company suing Tesonet, a company based in Lithuania that is involved in data-mining, claims that NordVPN is actually Tesonet's. It's still unclear, but to be safe I decided to switch VPN providers (since I was in my 30-day window for a refund). The denial Nord posted a few hours ago is too vague to satisfy me, but I acknowledge that it's not definitive. Still, Nord is run by a shell company based in Panama, and there's enough going on that I figure we're in the "where there's smoke there may be fire" category. I also found a new one that is more transparent, doesn't dump as much money into advertising and affiliates, and so far has been faster.

In other news, I'm finally sitting down and giving honest-to-God writing a shot. It's fun so far! (This was part of the reason I was looking for a good file sync setup: to move a file from my tablet to whatever computer I happen to be in front of at a given moment.) It's been a trial finding apps I like, since I tend to be really particular about text editors for some reason. I'm very into the aesthetics of the printed word, and so really like things to look just so. (It's also a way to procrastinate, I'm learning.) I found iA Writer for iOS is perfect: minimalist without being drab (or feeling amateur...they even developed their own font variant), saves wherever I want (so Nextcloud syncing is automatic), and has some great Markdown shortcuts. Plus, their blog is legit one of the most thoughtful tech-related blogs I've ever seen.

On desktop, FocusWriter is my jam. Open source, cross-platform, customizeable out the ass, good aesthetics (recognizes markdown, does typographer's quotes, etc.), and saves to basic text so iA Writer can read them too. For each style, you pick a background image and then customize the text box that sits on it (size, background and foreground colors, whether it blurs the text underneath, where it sits on the screen, etc.). I have a few different ones that I switch between depending on my mood. It's basically perfect.

My next quest, so to speak, is to find a good app for journaling. There are some nice-looking ones on iOS (which is where I'd like to have it thanks to the portability element), but none are really that trustworthy to me. A couple require subscriptions, and even the ones that don't are not particularly open about where your data actually ends up. At best they may sync to iCloud, which I don't want. For now I'm thinking I'll probably just use iA Writer and a Nextcloud folder, but that's not ideal.

goobster  ·  235 days ago  ·  link  ·  

IA Writer really is brilliant. Focusing on the words, and not their presentation, is such an important step to moving from "casual" to "professional" writing.

I used to use FocusWriter, too, but eliminated that step eventually. Now I go straight from IA Writer into Scrivener, Word, or InDesign.

johnnyFive  ·  235 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Sure, that makes sense. For me, FocusWriter is the composition step on the PC, so there's no intermediary :)

veen  ·  235 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Oooh, I hadn't noticed iA Writer for Windows got out of beta! I too prefer their app for mobile Markdown editing. I messed around with Typora for a long time, but it is just slightly too cumbersome to customize IMO. I currently use Visual Studio Code for my notes, which is not as unsuitable as it sounds. But I really dig the iA's Focus mode, so I'm gonna probably buy software again like it's 2011.

My journaling is part of my Markdown notes system - I wrote a small Python script to generate one .md file for each month of this year, with a date-formatted header for every day in that month.

johnnyFive  ·  235 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yeah, I liked Typora at first, but it's kind of shady from a licensing standpoint (it's free until it's not), and Electron makes stuff clunky as fuck. A text editor shouldn't take 150MB of RAM.

I haven't touched the iA desktop apps. It seems like they could be nice, but honestly there are a lot of free programs that do at least as much (if not more). Check out FocusWriter and WriteMonkey (the old version, not the beta, which uses Electron).