Reorganizing my blogging experience – write markdown in Evernote with Postach.io and sync to WordPress

Original post: http://kleineblase.postach.io/reorganizing-my-blogging-experience-write-markdown-in-evernote-with-postach-io-and-sync-to-wordpress

I loved Postach.io the first time I saw it in Evernote Dev cup this year. I know it will win and it did.
As I was also a participant, I know how smart they have to be.

Put it simple, you write in evernote and it will automatically publish to your blog.

highlight is it solved two problems at once
– you want to save what you wrote really secure – Evernote did it
– you want to keep the posts updated – you update once in Evernote and it publishes & sync to the audience

TO-BE Workflow

Nth explain better than a picture

Workflow

It looks complex, but good news is most paths are just automated and I focus on the main part – content.

Requirements and old issues

Several things I need when I blog:

Secure, available, anywhere

Availability is why I don’t host my own blog like other developers do. I have enough things to busy with and maintaining a server up is not in my list.
I am fine with WordPress’s free account. At least I know my blog is unlikely to be down.
Just after all blog providers do shut down, like xanga. There are more concerns like encoding and you want to have control on your own stuff and backup them.
Lost everything during you have written 80%, I tried, is just a terrible experience. Find a reliable editor.

Evernote is very secure in all these which has goal to keep it for at least 100 years

Write once, update everywhere

It is most important. In my existing workflow, I write in evernote or other editors then publish to wordpress. Then I find a grammar mistake. I find a link broken. I need to update that in local and then edit that in the duplicated wordpress again. Make things worse, formatting matters. I used markdown – I need to convert manually, healthcheck and post again. This is the least fun part of blogging and kills productivity.

Markdown and formattings

Markdown is one of the greatest “discovery” about formatting text.
I just cannot hate any kind of text-formatting methods any more. WordPress has a nice WYSIWYG editor – but it is still annoying when you blog.
Not to mention these formats are very unlikely to transfer seamlessly among different platforms. e.g. your Word editor and on WordPress. Not to mention when you have code snippets to show.

When blogging, keep source in markdown. Publish the converted markdown is much easier.

I spent quite a lot of effort to investigate how to use it everywhere and with its traction I know many people have the same question.
I also created Cheeatz on how to covert markdown & gist in evernote, for developer cheeatsheet purpose.

Platform and Audience

SEO and analytics of wordpress is really nice. You know people from which country visited, which keywords they used in search engine to reach your blog. Mobile app is also available.
This is something postach.io unlikely to beat in near future. There are also communities and social networks within wordpress then make your blog higher exposure.
like the “ping back” system – your posts are visible in posts you mentioned, and they know you mentioned them.

Medium is a high-profile blog platform startup that I am interested. (By Evan Williams who is “Making systems for typing and thinking” (twitter/blogger)). However, so far I don’t see killer features.

Postach.io is able to auto-share to twitter and Facebook which is good enough for me. WordPress there are more hooks, up to your need. More sophisticated user may want to even control the time of publish – to avoid posts ignored by social network algorithms when finish it tiredly at 3am.

My take will be – keep the wordpress there for audience and perhaps availability. I will sync from postach.io to WordPress.
This is tricky – syncing directly from evernote to wordpress is doable via tools like zapier.

Proofreading

When I blog, I am in hype. You are excited about your ideas and you want to push it right away. After publish you feel a sense of “done” meanwhile you keep checking has anyone commented.
One day or two after you found it tastes a bit different, you got other thoughts and you can see there are quite a lot of grammatical mistakes.
It is how our brain functions – big topic aside – review is better done a while later after your are less “dived” in details.

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So above are my requirements, below are my actual flow ( refer to the diagram)

Markdown editors

Writing markdown directly in evernote may not be that friendly – you want preview.
This has been discussed several times – one can use online editors Markable.in or Stackedit(https://stackedit.io/) or my own trial cheeatz.com which, to confess, is little bit broken now.
I am trying to write in sublime – with syntax hightlighting and then use SublimeEvernote(https://github.com/jamiesun/SublimeEvernote) to send to Evernote. This is not perfect, as every time a new note is created.

Sync New post in postach.io to WordPress

Zapier or IFTTT are great services to schedule automated tasks among your cloud services. Meanwhile Postach.io is not available in Zapier yet.

Sync directly from evernote to WordPress has an issue – there is no conversion for markdown in source.

Luckily, we can use RSS postach.io which shows list of entries in postach.io, so

New Item in Postach.io RSS -> Create new WordPress Post

You should find the RSS url in your postach.io blog (depends on your template) and you can configure the RSS feed in settings.
e.g. mine is http://kleineblase.postach.io/feed.xml

I created a simple recipe here, not sure if it works for you

Use “Content Text”, not Content directly

With this whenever I blog in postach.io, a wordpress entry is created!
It looks good, as at least wordpress is able to feed in the text with format in html.

Improvement and Tradeoff

Posts update in postach.io are not sync to wordpress

I am not a hollyword star so managing feedbacks in multiple platforms is not my top concern. I focus more on the workflow of producing. (an idea will be try to use same disqus in different platform? I am not sure, free wordpress don’t support this anyway)
It is also less likely to need to update wordpress if original post went through proofread process.

This is little big hard – Need postac.io ‘s RSS feed to provide information of “Update” or a smart tool that do more to keep removing & updaing rss items.

Anyway, the current approach is good enough to keep my workflow running

Create Preview in postach.io

There seems to be no draft preview in postach.io
One trick is to have a “pre-prd” /”staging”, well, a less geek term, draft notebook which corresponding to a private blog and you (and your peers!) can review it before actual post. It is not possible to make it totally private, but I think for me it is fine. You feel a fake sense of “done” meanwhile you can ensure its quality.
To switch from “pre-prod” to “prod” (actual blog) is just a notebook switch in evernote.
Btw i just did proofread and publish of this article using evernote app in mobile and I find it comfortable.

All in all

I am experimenting with the workflow. Postach.io is not very mature, but I think it will grow and give us more features.
(I can see some linked produced by my markdown syntax []() breaks if the link is picked up by evernote already. Ironically, when you “paste as plain text” in Evernote, it is automatically converted into link which I need to remove manually)

I also did not disucss on one topic – how to organize your “to blog” ideas, which need further explore. Without suprise before I blog I had some ideas written in —Evernote, which I will tag with “to blog”. I also create lists in Trello for things I need to write.
Also there are some work to export my old wordpress blog posts to postachio, which here is a reference

Hope this post helps you. Credits, if any, should be given to above tools’ teams and most importantly, Aaron Swartz, who invented RSS and markdown.

Reorganizing my workflow and “info flow”

Original post: http://kleineblase.postach.io/reorganizing-my-workflow-and-info-flow

This is the first post in this postachio blog, and first of series of posts – as titled.
I am obsessed in optimizing my workflow. I am also obsessed in information retrieval.I read wikipedia for consecutive several hours. I keep distracted by articles. I do “research” from astronomy to chinese medicine while I consider my job a developer who naturally read tons of documentation & code.  Everyday I am fed up with information and feel there are tons of things that are outstanding.I need to organize them and finally I have time to work on it.
I am talking about cognitive limit of human here – re-organizing this not only make me more productive, it reduces my cognitive stress. It definitely changes my brains as the Internet does
This is the outline of stuff. I dare to consider myself like a machine which do “IO”.
Input:– articles- books- ideas
workflow– tasks- calendar
output:– blogging- notes- (social network)
The first thing will be of course, about blogging. Creating this new blog is part of it.

Code for Hong Kong

tl;dr

I am founding a team & an organization – Lets gather geeks to hack for a better hong kong and meanwhile sharpen our skills

Why

It all starts with Code for America

Jennifer Pahlka: Coding a better government is one of the best TED talk I ever watch. It is an initiative that creates network of geeks, act to speak louder than words, shows what is possible and mobilize citizen engagement to change the government. Rock star developers are hired to work as an internship in government and revolting the bureaucracy using technology, encouraging citizen participation in the governing process.

I can’t explain better than the 12min tech talk. Please really watch the video and visit their website especially if you consider yourself a technology professional.

Code for Hong Kong?

There is Code for America. Taiwan folks asked can they have Code for Taiwan and created g0v.tw. Numerous hacktivists around the globe work hard to shape our world.

Hong Kong need this more than any other places. Hong Kong is a great city, just now sick. Anyone with common sense will know Hong Kong is having problems in numerous perspectives which need fundamental changes in how our government and society works. Every year Hong Kong people march to voice out our opinion and anger. I see talents go away as Hong Kong get worse.

Technology is one of the few things that stands a chance to fight against monopoly and bureaucracy. Egypt succeed in evolution with the help of social media technology. Startups grow rapidly in Chile or Vietnam changing the landscape. After empty words of “Cyberport” and the dot.com bubble years ago, we need to ask why we didn’t have technology revolted our lovely Hong Kong. We need to show the possibilities. We need to engage developers and every citizen to participate in saving our city. More importantly we need to TRY.

Your lack of software and science start-ups will hurt you

Eric Schmidt commented that on Hong Kong’s technology industry during his recent Hong Kong visit . It is about capability, having a strong technology industry to support social movements. It is also about respect. As the Chinese saying goes, a man must despise himself before others. The first thing to do for gaining respect is respecting yourself. There are all sorts of developers out there. The industry is largely misunderstood and people can’t differentiate good from bad and we are hurt as a whole. There must be reasons why most other countries software developer enjoy easily twice the wages and higher social status. It is our own responsibility to build up the industry such that it is as professional as when people talk about doctors, lawyers or accountants. Hong Kong need developers that knows their stuff and shows professionalism. We are talking about Ethics here — The book Clean Coder is the bible for programmers on this. Good news is we can improve together and community is growing. Start-up incubators, social entrepreneurship facilitators and co-working spaces are now there.

How

Another organization?

There are nice communities out there and I am glad to have joined them this year. To name but a few, CodeaholicsHK Web developers Meetup and Open Data Hong Kong are awesome. I also see lots of passionate developers or designers that start up ideas which are turning Hong Kong into a better place. From LegcovotesLawn Map tohttp://www.diamondcab.com.hk/

I myself as a developer faced lots of difficulties when I try to code something like that. These ideas need continue support after hype in hackathons. Adding features, keep servers running or gain media coverage. These need to be done after overtime for your day job.

Code4HK want to unite these initiatives and work as an engine to support them. We seek practical ways such that we together achieve the cause.

Guild as the answer

How such organization should work, guild is perhaps the answer. After inspirations from Spotif’s Tribes/Squads/Chapters & Guild.

Guild is an old concept. For us it resembles our experience in online games like World of Warcraft. Meet friends, beat the bosses together, have fun and level up.
Of course it actually exists since the Middle Ages for craftsmanship. It is where apprentice can become master. Every programmer have their own job. Their own projects. Their own skills and corresponding community. Code4HK as a guild serves to co-ordinate them for a common cause.

There are communities sharing the same cause of coding a better world – Social Innovation Camp , Open data HK or #hack4good. We are trying to position to complement them and look for their support as well. We hope members form teams bringing our ideas to their hackathons and hack there. Members join communities sharing our ideas and exchange technologies. Through these initiatives we achieve our 2nd goal – peer improvement

Peers

We don’t want a hierarchical organization. Everyone can code for Hong Kong. Everyone can become a “crew member” and form teams. These teams get their hands dirty and work on “missions” as open-source projects that will change Hong Kong. Again, we position these teams as SWAT that act and deliver. Code jam (Dojos) are organized for peers to hack on technical stuff together to know each other better and improve their skills.

What

We are building applications including map that showing pollution spots; app that counts number of participants in 1st July demonstration using big data and scientific way. We want to create HK version of PolitiFact, a crowd-sourcing fact-checker of HK politicians. We want to make platforms allowing citizens to voice out why they march on 1st of July, to vote, discuss on politics issues and organize themselves for protest.

With all these we want to show possibilities and explore how far proxy democracy can go and how citizen engagement and technology will make the difference.

It is possible to run hack days for Charity, helping NGO to setup websites, there are limitless potential meanwhile we will have focus and priority in changing the way Hong Kong government works.

Stay tuned

I already have brilliant friends that take this serious and consider these goals as one of their career objectives. Currently this idea is in incubating stage that we are looking for founding crew of 5-7 people to explore how things work out. Still we will need your support and know how you feel. We hope to deliver the ideas and open it to public soon in 2014. Follow @code4hk and #code4hk in twitter. Leave a comment if you have any idea.