In 2015 Derek Sivers proposed the idea of sharing one’s status by creating a /now page off of one’s web site. The intent of the page is simply sharing what one is doing. The idea caught on and today many sites, some more current than others, have a now page.
I decided to create and maintain my /now page using Dave Winer’s Little Outliner because I felt it was a good editor for this type of writing, and it worked particularly well with another piece of software by Dave called pagePark. PagePark is a HTTP server that renders the OPML files that Little Outliner creates into HTML. Dave hosts an instance of pagePark that is integrated with Little Outliner such that as soon as an outline is saved, the HTML version of that outline is nearly instantly available. Consequently, the process of editing and publishing changes to my /now page was as simple and quick as loading Little Outliner and writing. Low friction increases the possibility of keeping the page current.
Connecting my /now page to my blog was straightforward because the hosting provider makes it easy to create pages that redirect to other pages. Therefore, when you type https://frankmcpherson.blog/now you end up at my /now page. I took the idea of the page redirect off my blog a step further by purchasing a domain, frankm.info, that I configured to forward to the site. If anyone asked me online, what am I doing, I can tell them to simply go to frankm.info to find out.
Over time I expanded beyond the single /now page to add pages that listed the technology that I use and the books that I have read, each with their own alias URL. Using a forwarding URL enables me to move the actual location of the files, update the forwarding destination in DNS, and instances of the alias URL that I have in my writing will point to the current location.
Since the time that I set all this up using Little Outliner, Dave created a new “version” of it called Drummer. I’ve used Drummer since its beginning and always knew that it would some day replace Little Outliner. I didn’t move my informational outlines to Drummer until recently when Twitter made changes to its API that Dave has been using for user identity management and login. Dave announced he would be updating Drummer with a new login process and also move access of it to HTTPS. He stated he did not intend to make changes to Little Outliner, and advised anyone using it to move to Drummer as soon as possible, and at that time I migrated my files over so that I can edit them in Drummer, and I updated the alias URLs accordingly.
Dave had to make the changes quickly because Twitter had not stated a clear deadline by which it would cut off access to its API, and that means prioritizing what he works on first. For example, the blogging capability Drummer provides currently does not work. I am sure that capability will be restored, and Dave will get to it when he gets to it. The “publishing” of OPML files via an instance of pagePark is also lower on the list. Consequently, I started thinking about what I can do to restore my ability to publish updates to my /now page.
One option was to stop using Drummer to edit these pages, but that would create a lot of work moving the content and formattting it. The option that I took was to build my own instance of pagePark. First I tried using an instance of pagePark that I built under a free account at Render. Render only allows HTTPS access and the free account takes the site offline after 30 minutes. When you request the site, it’s brought online but there is a noticable delay. Consequently, I built a new virtual machine using free resources provided by Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.
I’ve updated my projects outline with the details about how I set this up, it was pretty straightforward after I figured out how to get around firewall issues. What I have is not integrated with Drummer, so there is now a publishing step that involves downloading the files to my computer and syncing them to my instance of pagePark. I can edit at any time with any computer, but publishing is restricted to few computers I’ve set up.
Right now access to these pages is only via HTTP. I’ve looked at the page source for Drummer to see how Dave has changed the includes and I think I should be able to edit the templates pagePark uses with the right form of those includes to eliminate the mixed content errors. I intend to use the instance of pagePark I have on Render to test that work when I have time. If I get access to these files working on Render I will then have to decided how to handle the SSL certificates if I move off Render, which I would probably do by using Caddy.