Past year or so in Notebooks

My first more-than-£1.50 notebook was quite recent. A few years ago I came across a baby blue Leuchtturm1917. You know the type. I felt almost guilty about spending almost £15 for a book of paper. I did ultimately buy it due to some of its fancier features: numbered pages and table of contents to fill out. Although I continued feeling guilty, I’m aware of the worth now.

The problem I have though was being unable to fold it over. A notepad with a wire binding was quite important for me, for practical reasons. How else are you able to comfortably use both sides of the book and have it lie flat?

Around this time I discovered Whitelines Link. Fancy paper which allows you to take a photo and archive the pages electronically with a mobile app. This is less and less useful now though as Evernote does a commendable with any piece of paper given. I am delighted by the grey paper and white lines of the pages though – less harsh on the eyes.

Until recently, the notebook you’d find in my bag would have been a wire-bound Oxford Black and Red or a more luxury nuco elite. Since they’re just A5 notebooks, they take up little space in my bag. The hard covers let them stand up for themselves in the midst of the warzone in my bag. The wire-bindings fold flat.

I can’t spot any Black & Red’s at the moment, but I do have a trusty, brown nu elite. The stock in it is a good paper, with a little too much gloss. This means that wet ink doesn’t bleed through, but is a lot more likely to bleed and a touch slower to dry. Looking through this book, I’ve got many ink smudges.

Christmas arrived this year, and with it my boyfriend brought me a Moleskine notebook. A4, soft shelled, section sewn, and rather somewhat thin paper. The opposite of what I usually carry.

To my surprise though, I’ve switched to this notebook almost exclusively. Writing in an A4 book seems a lot more pleasant. Less worry about when to break a line, and fewer interruptions to turn the page. Despite the larger size, my bag is more than capable. Even the soft cover helps out here – it molds into whatever curve I need it to.

The folding flat issue was a genuine one to start with, but I’ve fixed that with a change of habit. Why bother writing on both sides of the book? I’ve never found writing on the left side of the book particularly comfortable anyway. Thinking back, the only reason I do write on the back sides of each sheet is because it was drilled into me in a cost-saving high school.

The paper maybe thinner than I’m used to, but the quality certainly isn’t lacking. A blue fountain pen is visible on the opposite side, but it certainly doesn’t bleed.

This Moleskine is lovely.

How I Write Blog Posts

This is how I’m going to start writing blog posts.

vim on the left, Marked on the right
vim on the left, Marked on the right

The Problem With WordPress

Annoyingly, WordPress has lost a few of my posts now because it doesn’t really act as I would like it to.

Over the holidays I was at my partner’s parents’ house, and was happily typing away on my laptop. I’ve been writing up my findings of the web sockets “game” which turned into a fairly lengthy blog post (still working on it!). I was pretty happy that WordPress was occasionally telling me that it was auto-saving once in a while. I get called away for dinner, so I just close the lid of my laptop.

My state really should be saved at that point, right? That’s what you expect when you leave your computer – for the stuff you had on the screen to still be there. Unfortunately, that’s not what happen. I came back to the session expiring in WordPress, so I had to log in again. I went to find the draft post I was working on but it was missing a couple of paragraphs.

Thinking that auto-saving every few minutes is enough is just not cutting it. Every character I type is important, and each character I type should be saved. That might not be economical to do with AJAX though, so I can understand why WordPress avoided that solution. Similarly, localStorage isn’t good enough yet (at least that’s the last I heard of it).

Despite finding the WordPress writing UI really pleasant, this is fatal flaw that I can’t live with. The possibility of losing massive chunks of work is too high.

Using Vim and Marked

Whenever I’d write in WordPress I’d almost always use the Distraction Free mode – it strips out all of the UI, and leaves you with just a blinking cursor and the words “just write.” There are still some distractions with it however: my tabs for one thing, Facebook blinking at me telling me I’ve new messages.

vim on the overhand literally just has a blank, black screen and lets me type.

Of course, I could just use Notepad (or whatever OS X’s alternative is), but the opportunity to spend more time in vim is exciting for me. With IDE’s I’m using at work getting more bloated, the slim line text editor is looking more and more appealing, so I’m happy to be getting more experience. It’s true that coding and writing are different styles of keyboard usage, but being more comfortable with it can’t be a bad thing.

I like the idea of having most my posts’ content backed up outside of WordPress, in normal text files, too.

The problem, you might bring up, is that I lose the WYSIWYG editor. Not to worry though! I have Marked for that. Marked basically watches for changes in a file, and then renders the markdown for it. I love this. You can’t use Markdown in WordPress, which is a shame. Markdown really makes styling easier since I never have to reach for my mouse to go to some button to make the highlighted text into a link. I just wrap it in brackets, or add some asterisks for emphasis.

Typing code in WordPress was dire too. Going into the source view, wrapping <pre> tags around things (which WordPress would inevitably muck up). I don’t want to see HTML when I’m writing, I just want to write.

Getting it into WordPress

This is pretty simple too. Marked lets me copy the HTML of the view it’s rendered, and I just paste that into the source of the WordPress editor.

I do have to manage adding images into the posts within WordPress, but that’s not a bad experience at all.