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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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 and PPI

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.

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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). - Caret.io website - Caret on Github - Caret wiki on Github - Caret on Twitter

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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

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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 https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo
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.
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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.

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MediaWiki vs. WordPress

There of course is no MediaWiki vs. WordPress in the sense of a battle. As Wiki and Blog platforms go, each is the winner in their category in terms of raw number of users/pageviews. That said, there are definitely (different) concerns with each platform, architecturally as well as accidentally. And therefore, we dreg up the battle metaphor. To the fighting pits!

Markdown vs. Wikitext

Markdown isn't the default in WordPress, indeed there is way too much emphasis on the visual editor. That said, Markdown is common and available via plugins, and shortcode functionality is also prevalent. For MediaWiki, the wikitext markup remains dominant, to the exclusing of Markdown. But no where else than MediaWiki is wikitext deployed.

Namespaces and Transclusion

MediaWiki namespaces are ways of organizing kinds of documents (sometimes without much real effect other than naming), as well as allowing for transclusions and templates. For WordPress templates, or better custom post types, are monolithic and govern an entire page of a certain kind (for example, products). While custom posts and templates are distinct, and there can be more than one template for a given custom post type, they essentially are managed as an area for programming, vs. the looser, and easier to edit templates (powered by WikiMedia transclusion extensions), so that moderately capable editors can customize the look and feel of pages without needing administrative access. This gives MediaWiki a more democratic and flexible system, that however ends up creating an additional level of administrative editing work. I've you've got millions of editors, this is fine, and necessary, but if not, it becomes more difficult to manage.

Caching Techniques

MediaWiki has some built-in caching, and for WordPress this is the domain of plugins. Still, these sit on top of PHP, MySQL, and Apache, so the caching strategy is the same.

Themes and Skins

Themes in WordPress are where the look and feel, layout and design live, while for MediWiki these are skins. As with most things CSS (and a little javascript), the customization can be extensive. The trouble with skins, besides the fact that most are very ugly, is that the paradigm of the Wikipedia page generally dominates. Wikiwand has gone far to beat back that design, and done so effectively.

Templates, Templates, Templates

Templates tend to grow like mushrooms. For example this page has 53 templates. There are mainly just a few template types: - Page or fragment formatting templates - Info-box style templates - Weird parsing or inclusion templates From an architecture perspective, this is obviously nuts (a technical term). First off, getting down to the root of it, there should be widgets, templates, and plugins. While certainly it is convenient that this is the WordPress model, the reality is that not managing these issues site-wide is a recipe for disaster. One ends up with... 53 templates. Bartleby the Scrivener, indeed.

Javascript and CSS

For WordPress, including javascript and css is generally straightforward, and there are plugins such as the masterful HeadSpace which makes insertion of includes straightforward. In comparison, MediaWiki's approach doesn't always work very well. There are the common files, but adding includes is not obvious. Wikia documentation helps out (but again, is incomplate). Technical documentation of MediaWiki is by far the weakest and most troubling part of the distribution. Technical documentation is either non-existent, incomplete, or out of date -- usually a combination of all three.

MediaWiki and WordPress - Deep in Technical Debt

The attempts to make sane improvements to MediaWiki and WordPress (and most recently, WooCommerce) have exposed an enormous amount of technical debt. MediaWiki makes mention of this, but their attempts to address this are essentially don't touch what we can wait to touch later. WooCommerce 3.0, in less than a month, has released six bug-fix patches, having broken a huge amount of their customer base. The insanity continues on WordPress releases, which no longer have timelines (only some kind of undefined feature release rationale).

A Revisit for Sanity

Both MediaWiki and WordPress have extremely poor core technology stack, and while it can be made to work and scale, the process is generally painful. In addition, with core version control distributed collaborative editing and website display, there are few reasons not to build something that can fix both of these problems, provided the core functionality of both applications is built first, and the architecture is thought out better. This should fix speed issues and caching issues.

Challengers and Replacements

Because part of the issue has to do with the database requirements, flat file systems have a distinct advantage. Additionally, active, full-featured projects that are able to do some kind of migration/import, are a strong consideration. Two in particular are: - WordPress / Woocommerce --> Grav / Gravcart - Mediawiki --> Dokuwiki