• Workflow for importing my old blog entries

    Since discovering my old blog entries I’ve been developing a workflow to import them into my current WordPress blog. Spanning 2002–2012 there is value in bringing it all together, even if it takes some time. There are a lot of ideas in there which were valuable at the time, and are still valuable now.

    Workflows involve chaining tools together with the output of one feeding into the next. 10 years of posts across 600+ PDF pages is too much to do completely manually.

    My workflow is:

    1. ☑️ Convert PDF file to DOCX format using Nitro PDF Pro. I tried a conversion to TXT but that put a new line into every paragraph which was unworkable.
    2. ☑️ Convert DOCX to TXT by using Microsoft Word’s Save As feature. I needed to select UTF-8 for compatibility otherwise quote characters and the like came out wrong.
    3. Load the TXT file into Ulysses for splitting, review, correction and publishing. I was originally going to create a Python script for this and spent 1-2 hours on it. In the end, the Ulysses split function allows me to correctly split the single document into individual posts. I can review each in turn.
    4. Publish from Ulysses direct into WordPress. Each post shows an icon once published.
    5. Finally, grab the post into my Obsidian-based digital garden using an RSS import plug-in.

    This post has been written in Ulysses as a test and I’m confident it will replace the WordPress interface. You can only be productivly lazy if you have the right tools in place.

    Nitro PDF Pro and Ulysses sourced through a Setapp subscription. Very handy when doing this type of work. Let’s me grab find suitable applications easily.

  • Here’s proof

    Per my last post, it is absolutely 20+ years since I began blogging. I had another hunt through my files and found a 636 page PDF dump of entries from 1 June 2002 to 10 June 2012. I may choose one day to upload them all here. That will require some automated conversion on my part as uploading the whole file is overkill and I expect most of it is irrelevant now.

    Here’s the earliest post I can find. It’s a testament to the plasticity of our nervous system to modify itself to remember something.

    Be very, very careful what you put into that head

    I came across this quote this morning in reference to the coriolis effect on flushing toilets. Those of you familiar with this piece of “knowledge” will recognise that the water in a toilet spins in a different direction depending on the hemisphere in which one flushes. The article debuking [sic] this myth appears on a Bad Meteorology site, one of the many sites on the Internet trying to set things straight. (Another great site is Bad Astronomy).

    “Be very, very careful what you put into that head because you will never get it out”

    Cardinal Thomas Woolsey

    This is a good example of how quickly people believe things because they seem to make common sense and are of such grandness in scale “Wow, the Earth spinning effects my toilet!” that they must be true.

    But the important point is – once in there, you can’t get them out.

    I have recently been personally struck by the massive amount of memories that I hold. Since the birth of my daughter I have been having regular flashbacks of my past. Perhaps they are a result of the tiredness that comes from a new-born but I think also because my thoughts are “waking up” again as I get more and more excited about my work.

    None of the flashbacks last more than a single frame but they are extremely diverse, extend over all scales of my life and for most I have no real reason to remember them. Why would I think of filling the car with petrol on a holiday in Denmark. Why remember flashes of conversations. Why remember, but why keep it in the first place? Cardinal Woosley was right. Once it’s in there you can never get it out.

  • 20 years on

    I don’t have any record of my first blog post. It has to be over 20 years ago now as I was blogging before my first daughter was born. That at least, I do have records of.

  • The Great Race

    This year’s Bathurst 1000 is over but I saw this great little history piece and comment on why it’s a great race. Nice to have someone who’s not Australian talk it up.

  • I succumbed to temptation

    The sign said, “STOP! This walkway is closed.”

  • Expanding my comfort zone

    I have never liked the phrase “Step outside your comfort zone”. Why do that uncomfortable or scary thing? An impliction of stepping outside is that I can step back inside whenever I like.

    I prefer to engage in Being a Learner and take the steps necessary to expand my comfort zone. Once expanded it is less likely to shrink in the future. And I can choose the direction to expand it in.

  • Test post

    Don’t get too involved in this post. It will will disappear.

  • What’s old is new

    Today is the running of the Bathurst 1000, a v8 Supercars race held annually at the Mt. Panorama circuit in Bathurst, NSW, Australia. There is a corner complex called The Chase which was introduced in 1987 to take some speed out the cars at the end of Conrod Straight and raise the circuit to international standards.

    Historical documentary on track improvements in 1987

    Even so, cars enter The Chase’s first right-hand kink at 300kph (186mph) before slowing to a sharp left-hander.

    Compilation of action through the years

    The thing is, The Chase was built in 1987 so this is its 36th year as part of Bathurst. I’ve seen 1000’s of cars pass through it over the years. Yet, my mind still tries to make the false assertion that it’s relatively new.

  • Blogging builds connections

    A few day’s ago Dave Winer wrote this on his blog.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a group of bloggers, people who write regularly, who are friends but might view things differently, but agree to read each other’s pieces and speak up if they had something to say. They would know what they said would be read by other bloggers.


    It’s a nice idea and one that he’s had before. As a founder of Radio Userland, this is how we did blogging in the early 2000’s. Read something on a blog, and comment on your own linking to the original. Always respectfully. Sometimes in a long chain of responses back-and-forth.

    It’s how I met Euan Semple, Matt Mower, and Terry Frazier. They might not invite me to stay a few days if I visited, but we’d certainly find somewhere to share a meal and have a good chat if I was in town and half-way across the world from my home.

    For years and years however my blogging has been sporadic as I got caught up in the story of blog to create an audience according to formula X. I’d forgotten that I’d created an audience in the past just by being me.

    Today, I blogged to comment on a blog post from Euan. It felt different. It felt connected. Expect more of that in the future.

    Some additional thoughts:

    • Like Radio Userland of old, WordPress lets other bloggers know when one of their blog posts has been linked elsewhere. That’s how links to newly found bloggers are made.
    • You don’t need to blog to build such connections. You can do the same with responding to forum posts in any of the forums you follow.
    • I can’t get this to work for me in Twitter, though I know many can. 140-280 characters is not enough.
  • I see (and feel) the overwhelm as well

    Euan Semple posted today about the digital overwhelm we are facing more and more as online systems become ever more dictated yet poor interface design makes them unusable. If you’re waving at someone to get their attention for assistance, and they continually ignore you, you will submit and put up with the pain.

    Lately I’ve been thinking along similar lines as I see more and more technology changes fall upon deaf ears. For example, Microsoft 365 has a large and constantly changing suite of technologies for collaboration but when people are not guided in their use, the benefits can’t possibly be realised. And that is unfortunate.

    A symptom of Euan’s digital overwhelm is the deaf ear. People stop listening because it’s all too hard. And just as overwhelmed are those who have been trying to assist them. Why bother trying to help someone who doesn’t want to listen. In that moment we forget we are all people trying to do our best to help each other. Instead it becomes me and them. I’m right and they are lazy/incompetent/ignorant.

    It will get better. I have faith in that. It has too… And I’m trying my best to help where I can. If only they would listen to me!