Posted on Leave a comment

Telegram for Social Networking

Telegram is a great chat app, but there is more, and less to it, than say Twitter and Facebook. The first thing is that a lot of this gamification of likes/thumbsup is gone. Want to know if someone read your post? That has to be done either via direct message, or in a group (and the person has to respond). Recently there are new apis that help enable discussions on posts, as well as connecting channel posts as annoucements in groups.

Types of Accounts in Telegram

There is a single namespace in telegram for all entities: users, channels, groups, and bots. Users are individual accounts tied to a phone number (I think that is mandatory). Telegram Channels are one-way broadcast accounts, which can have multiple admins (but messages are signed by the channel. Membership in channels is unlimited. Telegram Groups can include up to 200,000 users, and everyone can post.

Using Bots for Commenting and Discussion

Note that for feedback on channel posts one can add a like bot or other such simple feedback, or add a discussion group and put that information in the channel description. A third new option is to have a comment system using an app which would also be available on the web as a preview (without logging into Telegram). The preview bot that does this works nicely and shows off what kind of api/developer support Telegram.

No Manipulation or Advertising

Instead of the constant intrusion of 99% annoyance in terms of timeline distortion and advertising as found in Facebook and Instagram (and to some extent Twitter, which is going down that same path).

Essentially, the use of channels with comments can replace any given social network (other limitations apply), such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. While those platforms still have the lion's share of engagement and users, moving over to the Telegram way of things makes sense. for Longform is a longform microblog platform which is very simple and also has zero advertising. There is a nice Telegraph App in the Google Play store.

Posted on

Podcast Platforms

Podcasting is growing (slowly) and offers a great opportunity for brand engagement. Generally free, the idea is to be where the audience already is, and have a reliable host for content and the rss feed.

Media and RSS Hosting

Google Podcasts and Google Play Music Podcasts

Note, these are two different things: First Thing - Google Podcast (part of Google Search) - Google Podcast Publisher Tools - Google Podcasts App Second Thing - Google Play Music Podcasts

Pocket Casts (#4 platform

Stitcher (#3 platform)

Spotify (#2 platform)

iTunes/Apple Music (#1 platform)

WordPress Plugins

Posted on

Epub Editing Tools

Tools change over time, but it seems that in the Epub world we have more of the same. As of November 2018: - Calibre's Epub Editor is pretty nifty - Sigil development stalled, then picked up again - Pagina Epub Checker is still under development and useful - Pandoc with or without some kind of TeX, LaTeX, or XeLaTeX -- the last one is better for font support Things haven't really changed over the past X years, much. Certainly not since the 2017 note on Epub tools.

Some Pandoc Resources

Posted on

Kindle Paperwhite 4th Gen

I've used a Kindle since the Kindle Keyboard (3rd gen), and since then purchased and used the DX for a while (the much larger model). On 06 September 2012 the Kindle Paperwhite was released and I registered mine on 10 September. I broke that model within six months by wedging it in a bag that had too many objects in it, but Amazon sent out a replacement free-of-charge (which included free shipping, and I live outside the United States). Well folks, the first generation Paperwhite has served me well, and I did not feel a need for an upgrade, at the prices that were available for fancy versions like the Voyage and Oasis, or non-Kindle devices such as what Kobo offers. However, at this point, on the eve of the release of the fourth generation of the paperwhite, that has changed, and I intend to upgrade.

Specifications of First and Fourth Generation Paperwhite

Generation Dimensions Weight Lighting Screen Storage Bluetooth Audible Waterproof
First Gen 117 x 169 x 9.1 mm 213 grams 4 led 212 ppi 2gb no no
Fourth Gen 116 x 167 x 8.2 mm 182 grams 5 led 300 ppi 8/32gb yes IPX8

Reasons to Upgrade

At 12% smaller (mainly due to thinness) and 15% lighter, less is more, and this is a significant motivator to upgrade. Storage is not an issue for me, and 8gb will be fine. The increased quality of the lighting 5 vs. 4 led) and screen resolution (300ppi vs. 212ppi) are nice, but not essential. Bluetooth audible is ok. I don't use audible now but might later. I certainly would not upgrade for that feature. The waterproof quality, combined with dimensions/weight and screen, is what puts this over the edge in terms of a desire to upgrade.

Open Source, Open Content

While I do use a Kindle, most of my content I have in PDF and Epub formats. PDF is not very readable on the Kindle and I rarely do it. However, Epubs are easy to convert using Calibre, an open source, cross platform library and ebook management tool. The DeDRM toolkit is very useful for stripping out the nasty DRM that comes with Kindle ebooks. I prefer unlocked files as my main library repository. Also, many ebooks are available at a variety of locations including Library Genesis, a resource of unparalleled breadth and depth. I prefer to use the Kindle device due to its quality hardware, and ease of access of their ebook offerings (I do regularly purchase content from Amazon). The DRM they use I simply work-around/ignore. In the past I've rooted both the Kindle Keyboard (3rd Gen), Kindle DX, and Kindle Paperwhite, though my current version is using stock Kindle software on the device. I'm not irrevocably mated to Kindle and Amazon, but it is my current preferred platform.

Posted on

Dokuwiki – The Canonical Wiki

Dokuwiki, over the last 10 years, has become the canonical wiki. By this I mean that Dokuwiki is the go-to wiki for most uses. While there are many other wikis which are popular and in use (e.g., Xwiki, MoinMoin, TikiWiki, etc.), the competitors (other than Mediawiki) do not exceed half of Dokuwiki's popularity. The only real competitor in terms of global mindshare is Mediawiki, and the only reason for that is of course Wikipedia and the other wiki properties run by the Wikimedia foundation. Since Mediawiki is pretty much a shit show when it comes to management and resource consumption, Dokuwiki is the winner by default. Even with such a behemouth as a competitor, Dokuwiki has reached the point where it has more than half the generic searches in Google worldwide compared with Mediawiki. That said, overall attention on wiki software as a category has declined over time, perhaps by half in the past 5 years for Dokuwiki (and much more for Mediawiki). The wiki as a communication tool has many competitors these days, especially in terms of enterprise and cloud-based groupware. That said, the main reasons for the ongoing success of Dokuwiki, I believe are threefold: - Ongoing, consistent, quality, incremental updates; - Community-friendly architecture for plugins and themes; and - Minimalist resource requirements that includes a flat file-only data store option (as standard).

Wiki vs. Blog

My own emerging use case is something that I tried to do years ago with Mediawiki, but because of the nature of Mediawiki (impoverished community and technical incompetence), it ended in tears. That is, as of now, I intend to replace websites which have been maintained on a multisite WordPress (+ Woocommerce in some cases). A Dokuwiki-based wiki farm along with a third party ecommerce service (Gumroad) should make things simpler, easier to maintain and extend, and escape MySQL hell. Note that I also intend to migrate off of a Mediawiki installation as well, but the multi-site blog replacement is as much of a pain point as the current Mediawiki is.

Desired Functionality

There are quite a few functions/services that are needed for full-fledged sites, including the following: - robots.txt - sitemap.xml + notification on updates - commenting system - user accounts, including email alerts, password mgmt - page and topic subscriptions - rename/rewrite/redirection on page name change - analytics (GA) - caching - ecommerce - Markdown extra - youtube video lazy load - anti-spam - contact form - quotes collection - widgets - cookie notice - seo metadata (Title, Description, norobots, noindex) - search (usable) - multi-site support -

File Locations

  • /etc/nginx/nginx.conf

Pre-Dokuwiki Installation

Some kind of Web server and some (recent) version of PHP. I used to use Apache and MPM Prefork with Opcache and Php 5.6. As of now it is Nginx with Php 5.6, PHP-FPM and APC Cache. All of these are hosted on AWS, either EC2 or Lightsail (preferably). For full instructions, see: - OpenVPN on Amazon Linux, and - Amazon Linux, Nginx, LetsEncrypt, PHP.

Dokuwiki Installation

Dokuwiki Configuration

Dokuwiki Architecture

Dokuwiki Farms

Important Dokuwiki URLs and Location Info

  • `` -
  • `` -
  • `` -
  • `` -
  • `` -

Limitations of Dokuwiki vs. Mediawiki

Limitations of Dokuwiki compared with Mediawiki, what can Mediawiki do that Dokuwiki cannot: - Dokuwiki cannot read DJVU files and generate images and pages that can then be edited using the Proofread extension. This is a key part of the workflow on Wikisource. I think that's it.

Posted on

Image / Scaling / Compression

Size matters, and the smaller the better, when it comes to generation, modification, transmission, and storage of information. The vast amount of unoptimized documents and images on my very own local storage, much less what we send and receive all the time, is astounding. The idea that we need 100gb or 1tb of storage (thank you Dropbox) is sheer waste and sloth. I've addressed these issues a bit in the past, but it is time to take a bigger picture approach.

Past Articles on Compression

Maintaining Perceptible Quality

The key to the discussion is a focus on quality (relevance being its proxy in the engineering world). Quality is of course in the mind of the beholder, and so we look at whom that is. Generally we are talking about humans on computers and mobile devices, websites and native apps. For a more sophisticated audience we are talking about display and print formats. Yes, generally more pixels might be considered better, but we are dealing with human eyes. For the moment or decade we can put to the side the audience as not (yet) having machine eyes which have learned to see in some way.

Relatively Lossless Approaches

... MORE NEEDED HERE ... (Actual testing) ... Here are some resources to try... - How can I reduce the file size of a scanned PDF file? - PDF Quality when converted - Cleaning up and shrinking a PDF file - Optimize PDF Files


DPI -- dots per inch -- and PPI -- pixels per inch (why not cm?) are meaningful only in relation to a given size (x by y inches), from which one can calculate the digital image size (number of pixels). This is from the world of print, though it now bleeds into digital display as well. Printers and digital platform vendors (e.g., Amazon, Apple, Google, Kobo, Nook) have specific DPI and image pixel size requirements based on what devices and formats they support. A given image may have a DPI setting, but that is metadata only (which is sometimes ignored, even if present -- we're looking at you, Adobe). It is quite simple to change the DPI metadata of an image. There are drag and drop websites for this.

Posted on

Caret vs. Caret – A Tale of Two Editors

Caret the Chrome App vs. Caret the PC App -- not sure which came first, but they are very different (except for the name, and the fact they are open source).

Caret the Chrome App

Note that Caret may possibly replace Atom in my workflow - Caret in the Chrome Store - Caret website - Caret source on Github - Caret wiki on Github

Caret the PC App (Linux, OSX, Windows)

Note that while Caret the Chrome App may possibly replace Atom, Caret the PC App has some great built in Markdown display (it is Markdown-focused rather than general-text-editor-focused). - website - Caret on Github - Caret wiki on Github - Caret on Twitter

Posted on

Grav CMS on Debian

This post will be frequently (or infrequently) updated. It is meant to help me learn Grav and Gravcart, and in particular migrate off of WordPress and Woocommerce.

Related Artices in Debian Services and Applications - Debian on AWS Lightsail - OpenVPN on Debian + UFW Firewall - Nginx and Letsencrypt on Debian - PHP & MariaDB on Debian

- Grav CMS on Debian

Grav, Gravcart vs. WordPress, Woo

WordPress and Woocommerce have such overhead, including dependencies such as MySQL, that it is important to seek out a functional but higher performing option to manage modern websites and web storefronts.

Installing and Configuring Grav

The best approach is to download the Grav + Admin zip file, unzip and move contents to the webroot. I've had issues with using github and composer, so the zip file is a less problematic place to start. ... details to come ... Finally run bin/grav install to get plugin and theme dependencies

bin/grav install

File Rights

I've found that permissions get jammed every now and then. Overwriting them with a script is the easiest approach, as follows:

chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/WEBROOT
find /var/www/WEBROOT -type d -exec chmod 2775 {} \;
find /var/www/WEBROOT -type d -exec chmod g+s {} \;
find /var/www/WEBROOT -type f -exec chmod 0664 {} \;
find /var/www/WEBROOT/bin -type f -exec chmod 0755 {} \;

Resources for Grav and Gravcart

Posted on

Inkscape – Open Source Vector Graphics

Inkscape is an amazing vector graphics editor. It is free and open source and works on a variety of platforms, including Linux, Windows and OSX. Inkscape replaces Corel Draw and Adobe Illustrator and can read their files, and is a first class citizen among these other editors. > This page will be semi-regularly updated to put my own Inkscape experiences into words. Last updated 19-Mar-2019.

Inkscape on Linux (Debian)

Install Inkscape from flakpak:

sudo apt install flatpak -y
sudo flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub
sudo flatpak install flathub org.inkscape.Inkscape
sudo flatpak update -y

Adjust the shortcut to run flatpak run org.inkscape.Inkscape

Inkscape on OSX

Unfortunately the mainstream OSX release runs on xQuartz which is slow and doesn't support the standard OSX keystrokes and menus. Plus the windowing is not flexible enough. The main branch has continued development while the idea is to get a native release working with Gtk 3, but it is unclear if or when that will take place. For years I have used an old 2013 release from Valerio Aimale. There is now a 2017 release for Inkscape 0.92.2 but it doesn't run on OSX 10.01 (Yosemite), so I am unable to test or use. While s_uv is working on a next version of OSX with Gtk integration (called OSX Menu), it still is wrapped in xQuartz, with the same issues. As of mid-2018 I no longer use OSX, so things may have changed since then.

Inkscape Features and Functionality

  • Inkscape Keyboard and Mouse Reference I use Inkscape as a drawing and illustrating tool and also for editing images in terms of compilations, extraction and svg-ification, logos, book covers, basically everything under the sun. As with any tool, getting efficient with Inkscape is a discovery process with a learning curve. As well, I happen upon a variety of features that continue to amaze, including:
  • Barcode generation: > Extensions > Render > Bar Code
  • etc. Inkscape supports extensions including:
  • Inkscape Map Inkscape SVG files to HTML image map or coordinate list
  • Inkscape Table Support
  • Etc.
Posted on

Pandoc, Markdown, XeLaTeX, EPUB

EPUB documents are essentially a kind of html document as a collection of files which are zipped, and include html, css, and images. There are several ways of organizing these, but the most straightforward is one html document for each chapter (or section), a set of images organized in a subfolder, and a few metadata files regarding the collection. An epub document can be even simpler, and consist of a single html file, no images, and a few metadata files. Generating an EPUB can be as straightforward as editing html and the metadata files with a simple text editor, such as Atom. It is about this point that the simplicity ends.

Install XeLaTeX, Pandoc, Calibre, Atom, Kindlegen

These five tools provide the editing (Atom), typesetting (XeLaTeX, Pandoc), file generation (Pandoc, Kindlegen), and auditing (Calibre E-book Editor).

sudo apt-get install -y texlive-xetex
sudo apt-get install -y pandoc
sudo apt-get install -y calibre
sudo apt-get install -y atom

Note: Pandoc is ancient on the Debian distribution, best to install from Pandoc on Github, or better the Unofficial Nightly Builds. Install Amazon Kindlegen manually - See also the Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines

Elements of a Publication

There are several elements of a publication which recur from one publication to another. It is best to get organized. - Metadata: Title, Subtitle, BISAC code(s), pages, date of publication, date of revision, Author, etc. - There are two files for this in ebook generation: title.txt and metadata.xml - Cover image (this will be in several different sizes depending where it is used) - Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Preface, Introduction, Content (Chapters), Acknowledgments, Glossary, Index - Note that the above sections can be one document, or several documents - Any fonts specifically used/embedded /fonts/ - Additional images (figures, tables) /images/ - Stylesheet stylesheet.css - Table of contents (should be generated) - Note that there are two tables of contents, one automatically created via the reader, and another in html (helpful for pdf files as well). - For a print edition, a full cover is needed, and one will want ISBN barcodes and perhaps a qrcode as well.

Edit, Transform, Publish

Editing all html by hand can be tedious, and certain markup can best be managed with markup tools such as Pandoc-flavored Markdown and XeLaTeX, and text transformation tools such as Pandoc. If no extended external font support is needed, markdown alone and some YAML/XML files are all that is needed. - Note that with XeLaTeX, one can do some extensive formatting, such as ShareLaTeX's nifty sample templates. - For more about Markdown, but sticking with Markdown Extra, which is generally suppored by Pandoc. Steps - Work out the document structure, list of files, get everything in place. - With all files or a set of example chapters, get the epub generation process and specific command line to use - Organize the final epub (and print pdf) into different marketplace versions, e.g., Apple iBooks (epub), Amazon Kindle (print, azw), Google Play Books (epub), Ingram (print, epub), Kobo (epub). For the Thai market, Meb and Okbee. Audio/Video - Create additional audiobook, spoken word, video directories (audiobooks via Findaway Voices), as well as spoken word audio and video distribution on all major channels via RouteNote. Note the shortform video opportunities (30-60 second Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). This is also where Blender creative content can come into play.