Nitin Khanna

I was once described as a philosopher programmer. I think I'd like to describe myself as a lifelong student.

Watching Dead Poets Society reveals a lot about the viewer. Are they a realist and accept the ending of the film? Are they a romantic and accept the profundity of the lesson the students learn? Or are they a Bollywood aficionado and realize this is where Mohabbatein got most of its plot! 😂

My blog was down for the better part of the evening due to excessive MySQL logs and expired cached media filling up the entire 50 GB hard disk with noise.

Now freed up 55% and all my sites are back online. What a way to spend a Friday evening.

Replaced the Apollo app on my phone with Instapaper

I’ve been addicted to Apollo for most of this year. The way people doomscroll Instagram and Twitter, I do Apollo. Mind you, it’s not Reddit, but Apollo, that I use. Reddit just happens to be the backend for this app in addicted to.

Therefore, now that Reddit has gone and killed off third party apps like Apollo, I’ve moved that app into a folder and replaced it with Instapaper. Since I’ve been spending so much time in Apollo, I’ve got a long of Read Later catching up to do.

I intend to move my RSS feed reader of choice – Fiery Feeds – to that spot at some point. I like catching up on what’s going on in my subscribed feeds.

But post-Apollo, I realized that much like on other addictive social networks, it’s the anticipation of what the next post will bring, that is the most addictive component. It’s not so much the emotions themselves that keep us hooked, but the rollercoaster of guessing what the next post will bring – will it be happy, sad, upsetting, or delightful? No matter how much I control my RSS feeds and my news apps, these will fundamentally still have that same “feature” – I can’t know what the next post will be about. I can only guess and that guessing game is addictive.

In contrast, Instapaper is largely under my control. I feed into it manually (except for a few automated emails that go into it – Airmail and LitHub). Therefore, I know what’s in it. The lack of anticipation is good.

It’s another form of slow living – trying to control what you consume on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute basis. Perhaps it’ll be good for me.

Otherwise, I’ll jump back on the bandwagon on some social network. Just not Apollo.

I can read non-fiction!

red and black open neon signage

I think I’ve figured out what type of non-fiction I enjoy.

It’s called a biography memoir. The idea is that it has to be a collection of memoirs of multiple people, and it shouldn’t be an autobiography. I can’t deal with that. It has to be written by someone else.

Not just that, though. I think I prefer feminist biography memoirs.

The latest one I’ve read is The Baby on the Fire Escape by Julie Phillips. I just finished the audiobook last night and will be working tonight through the bookmarks I’ve made. I have the physical copy of the book and I borrowed the audiobook from Seattle Public Library. So I’ll transport the bookmarks to my copy before I relinquish the library loan.

Before this, I read Figuring by Maria Popova. It’s quite a tome and again, I own the physical copy, but it was infinitely easier to work through the public library audiobook instead.

I believe my love for biography memoirs started with Poland by James Michener and solidified over War and Peace. They’re both fiction, but written in a very matter-of-fact, almost-non-fiction style. Then, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf turned me on to feminist writing. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon turned me away from men writing about women characters. Pynchon’s an idiot.

I know most of the titles I’ve listed above are pure fiction or semi-autobiographical. But I’ve never confessed a love for non-fiction writing. So it’s a big deal for me to recognize that there is some non-fic that’s palatable to me.

In conclusion, while I’ll continue to enjoy fiction all my life, feminist biography memoirs will be what I’ll pick up when I want to read about real people’s lives.

Quick Read: Write Less

Fewer words are fine. Social-length posts are fine. Link blogs are fine. You get to keep your own output, where you want it, and the form it takes is entirely up to you.

You only need to give yourself permission.

Write Less, by Matt Gemmell

This makes so much sense to me!

This is what digital gardens and second brains are all about – quick notes that coalesce into something greater, because you keep going back to the tool over and over, thinking through it instead of on it, or outside of it.

Goes well with my post about how you shouldn’t Moleskin your blog.

via Colin Walker

Coffee Notes – Milk

Camel in desert

Well, this one isn’t about coffee. To be precise, it’s not about a specific coffee (pod), but all coffee.

Well, most coffee. I know some of you don’t put milk in your coffee. Some don’t even put sugar! Heck, some don’t even put water. But I do.

I put milk. Specifically, cool milk with foam. I don’t like it warm or hot or lukewarm. When I get a café latte from the local French coffee shop, I tend to wait for the coffee to cool down before I enjoy it.

The setting on my Nespresso for milk is – don’t change the temperature, but make it frothy AF.

I recently changed that. The seasons are a changing. I got influenced by that and decided to up the milk temperature to “normal”. I’ve also been experimenting with reducing the sugar I ingest with my coffee. It’s not a lot – one spoon. But I removed that too recently.

The result? Disaster. When my milk was fridge temperature, the coffee was good, tasty, sweet even!

But as soon as I set it to normal, the final result is kadwa! Sorry, bitter (kadwa is bitter in Hindi). It became so bitter!

So here’s my question for all you coffee drinkers – is your hot coffee bitter without sugar? Why?? This isn’t an acquired taste situation, which you must get used to in order to enjoy something. Alcohol, caviar, spicy food, blue cheese, natto come to mind. There are ways to mitigate their tastes too, but they’re largely enjoyed exactly as they’re meant to be, so it makes sense to acquire those tastes.

But coffee comes in so many forms! Why would you suffer through the bitterness if you’re having hot coffee?

End of rant. I’m now going to go change the temperature back to what’s normal for me.

Have a good hump day!

Request for some Photo Blogs

I love reading RSS feeds. But sometimes words get tiring. Today is one of those days.

Luckily, I have a folder with a few very nice photo blogs that I fall into when I’m in such a phase.

I’ve got the following blogs on there –

@muan’s photos – This has got to be one of my favorite photo blogs. The aesthetic is decidedly Instagrammy-personal. It’s a very direct peek into what Mu-An Chiou, a software engineer living in Taiwan, sees around her. She posts her pics as stories using the Open-Stories format and has an added layer of what is called the Open Heart protocol. It lets me hit the little heart button from within the RSS feed. That’s so cool! Of course, if you’re on her site, you can hit the little heart icon on her pics there. I love this setup much more than the horrible implementation by WordPress, so I hope someone takes the time to port this over so I can use it one day.

Manuel Moreale Instagram Style RSS Feed – Manuel is a software dev in Italy. I love that he calls his photo RSS feed “Instagram style”. I don’t know if he posts the same to Instagram, but it’s interesting to see how that social network has influenced the way we think about photography. I loved the recent trip Manuel made to Umbria. He posted a link to an iCloud album and it’s gorgeous! In his own words (via email to me) – “But that’s Italy for you. There’s just too much to see.”

There are a few others in the list who are MIA – Don’t Take Pictures, Licht Years. Would be cool if these blogs get revived at some point.

Through Mu-An, I recently discovered the Bring Back Blog directory and I’m slowly searching for and adding feeds that include photography (and some that don’t) to my feed reader.

But I’d love to hear from you, dear reader – any blogs you’d recommend that I follow? I hold dearest personal, “day in the life” photography. But I also love landscape photography that showcases the great outdoors and adventures of hiking and camping.

BTW, one of the things I miss the most is a short-lived project called bwrss by Giles Turnbull, which was black and white photography, delivered exclusively through the RSS feed and not visible anywhere else on the Internet. Giles, if you’re reading this, maybe bring it back? kthxbye.