Posts

My First 10 Years With Ebooks

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Ten years ago, in July 2010, I left traditional print books for ebooks, and I haven’t looked back.
Over the past decade, I bought about 300 ebooks and half a dozen print books and read around a hundred free ebooks. Of these print books, two were very interesting but unavailable in digital format. I bought a couple other traditional books because friends wrote them or I contributed to works, so I wanted a tangible artifact as a memento or signed copy I could hold in my hands. Finally, I got the last couple of print books to give as presents.

My transition to ebooks and digital reading happened almost overnight. I never had regrets or second thoughts.
I regularly shared my experience with ebooks on Google+ and later on this blog where, in 2019, I posted a retrospective of my first 9 years with ebooks. The 10th anniversary is a suitable occasion to tell in some detail how the transition happened, what my experience with ebooks has been like, and what devices and tools I used.
Why I moved …

Repl.it Redesigned the Mobile Experience

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The cloud IDE Repl.it was redesigned to improve the user experience on mobile devices.
On smartphones, now the focused REPL pane takes up most of the screen. The redesign takes advantage of native mobile design patterns and lets you switch to a different pane from the bottom navigation bar. There are panes for the code editor, the console, and the output.

Tapping the code in the editor brings up a contextual menu with some options of the desktop version. You can select, search, or paste text, or open the full command palette.
On my Pixel 2 XL phone in Chrome, lines with up to 42 characters fit in the editor’s width. The editor wraps longer lines. But most of the code usually keeps the original indentation and its structure is still clear at a glance. The console pane wraps text, too, so no horizontal scrolling is required.
You can get an idea of what Repl.it looks like on mobile by opening the browser on your device and visiting a Python REPL I set up for testing the mobile interface

Following: A Marketing Guide To Author Platform

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Indie writer David Gaughran published the ebook Following: A Marketing Guide To Author Platform. It’s a free bonus you can download by subscribing to David’s weekly book marketing newsletter.

The book brings clarity on the confusing issue of building an author platform writers and authors face, especially when going indie and self-publishing. Its greatest value is a concise and clear definition of what an author platform is and what it's supposed to do, along with a prioritized roadmap.
Although you’ll find practical advice in Following, the book comes with an online resource section David keeps up to date with how-tos, step-by-step guides, videos, lists of service providers, and more.
David presents a framework grounded on two pillars, an author website and a newsletter. You can add other activities and online presences modularly on top of those as your time and resources allow.
David recommends setting up an author website with self-hosted WordPress. I disagree.
WordPress is an…

How to Get the RSS Feed of a Revue Newsletter

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To get the RSS feed of a newsletter hosted at Revue, enter the URL of the newsletter’s sign up and archive page into your feed reader. This returns a partial feed with an entry for each issue.

If the reader doesn’t recognize the feed, add ?format=rss to the newsletter’s URL. For example, the URL of my newsletter is http://newsletter.paoloamoroso.com and I can get the RSS by rewriting it as http://newsletter.paoloamoroso.com?format=rss
Another trick is to append ?format=text to the URL of an issue to get the ASCII text with some HTML formatting. An example is this URL of one of my issues http://newsletter.paoloamoroso.com/issues/freeing-up-storage-on-android-deleting-youtube-s-watch-history-and-more-252454 that returns the text via http://newsletter.paoloamoroso.com/issues/freeing-up-storage-on-android-deleting-youtube-s-watch-history-and-more-252454?format=text
The usual way of receiving a newsletter is via email. The archive page gives access to back issues, which you can browse as …

FindYour.Blog Showcases the Essence of Blogging

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FindYour.Blog is a new blog directory — remember those? — aimed at new or niche bloggers. It lets you browse, search, review, and like blogs. You can also submit your own blog.

The directory has a clean design and is easy to use. But there’s something that makes it stand out: the community. FindYourBlog seems to attract passionate bloggers who value writing, sharing, and thinking.
There are almost no marketers and the blogs in the directory don’t smell of SEO or have pushy selling, modal pop-ups, or heavy ads. Their posts focus instead on content and ideas with not much thought to ranking in search or selling yet another course. The writing has readers in mind, not search engines.
Submitting blogs requires approval, and the editors are doing an excellent curation job.
FindYour.Blog is a labor of love that brings back the roots and essence blogging had in its early days. It's helping me discover great blogs, content, and bloggers.
Let’s hope the marketers will keep away.

All Blogs Are Minimalist

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One feature that made Medium popular is the minimalist design of its blogs. They emphasize text and images and have no blogrolls, widgets, tag clouds, or other distracting elements.
It was a unique feature in the days of the desktop web when Medium came out.

Now the web is mobile-first and all responsive websites have a similar minimalist design on the smartphone and tablet screens the majority of readers use. They hide most of the design complexity behind a hamburger menu with links to other pages. If you open a post, the text and images dominate the page area.
Just like Medium.
For example, my Blogger blog has a responsive template that works the same way. Visit it on your phone. There are a few links at the top of the page and a handful of post recommendations at the bottom. These minor elements are hardly distracting. WordPress blogs and most other responsive websites do the same.
The mobile revolution pushed these minimalist site designs and made them ubiquitous.

Experimenting With Selling App Recommendations

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Are you looking for an app that does something you need but can’t find it, or don’t want to put in the time and effort to search for it? For a small fee, I will search the app for you and recommend one that matches your requirements.

I can search for Android apps, web apps, cloud tools, Chrome extensions, add-ons, or websites that work in Chrome. Except for games as I’m not into gaming. I’ll recommend at least one app that does what you want, summarize its key features and issues, and try it on different Android and Chrome OS devices to report how it works — if possible or practical.
If no such app exists, or I’m unable to find it, I’ll suggest one that does something similar or matches some of your requirements.
I have extensive experience with searching for Android and web apps. I love looking for and experimenting with new and interesting apps I may need someday. I showcase some of the best apps in my Practicing Google newsletter.
I set up these app recommendation services on my p…