WIP: Dead Tree Publishing

I started work on my publishing website again (Dead Tree Publishing). The idea is to make a really, really convenient way to get a physical copy of a PDF/epub book. Think: “send me a printed copy of this mailing list / tumblr”. Right now things are looking encouraging.

I use a “back end” publisher who does all the actual printing, and the one I was using before charged quite a lot and wasn’t amazingly fast; I just used them because they were the only publisher who was at all up to date. Seriously, order of $100 – $200 for a 100 page book, just absolutely ridiculous levels of expensive. I’m switching over to a new publisher who can offer that same book for something like $7 (maybe $12 in hardback), which is absolutely reasonable, and with similar 2-week turnaround times.

First you upload a PDF:


Uploading a book

Then I tell you what your ordering options are (hardcover, softcover, color), and what they cost. I’m also supposed to ask you your address to ship the book, and for you to pay for it,  but those aren’t done yet.


Book-buying options

Hopefully in the next day or two I’ll have something up and running so people can order books, and then make it gradually nicer! I’m very excited about this website existing.

Roll-your-own git push-to-deploy, and markdown support

Today I added support for development of za3k.com using git:

and markdown support, via a cgi markdown wrapper someone wrote for apache (yes, I’m still using Apache).

Edit: I ended up wanting support for tables in markdown, so I used Ruby‘s redcarpet markdown gem (the same thing Github uses, supports this style of tables as well as code blocks).

CGI support via http://blog.tonns.org/2013/10/enabling-markdown-on-your-apache.html

Screen and Tmux IDEs

I don’t usually like IDEs. They’re hard to switch off of, they do too much. They don’t let me customize things, and I always have to use external tools anyway. I’d really rather do things with a bunch of small tools, the linux way. The problem is, if I close everything, I’ll have trouble getting started back up again. Saving state is one solution. Quick start-up is another. Basically, write a checklist for myself to make starting things up easy (open such-and-such files in the editor, start the server in debug mode, etc).

But we’re programmers, so obviously we’re not going to use a literal checklist. Instead, we’re going to write a little script to auto-start things in a new screen session:

Or if you prefer tmux:

Note the main features being used: a shebang line hack for screen, to let this file be self-contained and executable. Opening files in vim in place of a text editor. Binding keys for unit tests, running the program, restarting the server, etc. Now, a similar approach is to add new key bindings to the text editor, but I feel like text editors should edit text, and I like being able to document all the additions with help menus (which screen and tmux both support).

Note: ratpoison is similar to screen/tmux so you can do similar things in X.

One thing I’d love is if this kind of file was easy to dump from the current state, especially for things like positioning windows, etc. A little assistance is available, but not too much. Ratpoison and tmux let you dump sizing information. Nothing outputs keybindings or a list of running programs with their windows.

There is a program called tmuxinator to let you write the same config in nested YAML of sessions, panes, and windows, which might appeal to some users.

Also, check out dtach if you don’t need panes and windows, and just want a detachable process.


The best practice or goal emphasized above with respect to templates and views is KISS and DRY. As long as the implementation does not become overly complex and difficult to grok, keep the template code DRY, otherwise KISS principle overrides the need to have template code that does not repeat itself.

Vertebrae Framework

A nice illustration of conflicting positive principles and resolution.