Obsidian

    After importing notes from #Evernote into #Obsidian, the typed portion of the notes will be placed in a folder, while the images and other files will be located in another folder. But is this the best way to keep everything in Obsidian organized?


    Isn't it nice when technology makes things simpler?

    As I mentioned in yesterday’s article, there are still certain steps to take before I have Micro.blog set up the way I intend it to be. This is a test of two new configurations I’m working on.

    If everything goes according to plan, this post will be automatically added to Bluesky and LinkedIn. Cross-posting to other services is possible, but I’m taking it slow and starting with only the ones above.

    The Micro.publish Obsidian plugin is another thing I’m trying with this post. It has been created on an Obsidian note and will be converted into a blog post with very few mouse clicks. In other words, you are witnessing the tests and preparation I do when producing a video for my YouTube channel.


    What inspired me to move from Obsidian Publish to Microblog?

    TL;DR: a gateway to a thriving online presence

    What if I told you there is a tool that can replace your blog, website, newsletter, podcast, bookshelf, and more? 🤯 It’s even compatible with the ActivityPub protocol.

    In a recent article, I discussed how owning a domain and using permalinks can help you seamlessly move from one hosting service to another without losing your audience. Then I published another article devoted to describing a similar approach for your social media presence.

    Well, there is a way to combine the best of both words in a single place. Better yet, what if you could also include other services, like a newsletter? Have I mentioned that the price is a fraction of what you would pay for a combination of similar services from other companies?

    Since this is too good to be true, I feel like a disclaimer is needed. No, this is not a sponsored post. I paid for my subscription, and no one at Micro.blog had any input on this article or any content I’ve been publishing about them. I’m doing it because, as you already know, I’m an enthusiast

    Anyway, I hope you’ll find the information below helpful.

    My previous set-up

    I have an institutional website for many years, but have been posting my articles on Medium for a long time to take advantage of the algorithm. Two YouTube channels, one in Portuguese and another in English, a newsletter hosted by Substack, and a presence on multiple social media platforms.

    I believe that diversifying like this helps spread the word because I can take advantage of algorithms from multiple platforms. However, my entire business is run by myself, and things can quickly become overwhelming. So much so that last year I was forced to pause my newsletter for several months.

    Why Obsidian Publish didn’t work for me

    When I moved my website from WordPress to Obsidian Publish, I was trying to simplify things by having my notes and the website in the same tool. But if I’m being honest, it ended up creating more work. Not because of the publishing process, which is easy and straight-forward. The problem was me. I love taking notes, so I suddenly felt compelled to share as much as I could, and that came with its own set of complications.

    Instead of just taking notes, I was constantly thinking about how to structure my notes to have them ready for use and, at the same time, good for publishing. Furthermore, my folders structure became a little chaotic due to the numerous additional files needed to create a website. I was constantly afraid of accidentally moving or deleting files.

    There’s no way to have a blog when using Obsidian Publish, but I was kind of okay with that because Medium was my blogging platform at the time. I also read numerous complaints about SEO, but I’m not a specialist on this topic and cannot say much about it. However, the final hurdle was the verification process at Mastodon, which could never identify the needed code because of the way Obsidian Publish builds the website.

    I couldn’t care less about verification, but I have already been impersonated, and unfortunately, some people following my YouTube channel in Portuguese were scammed. After that, I’ve been constantly trying to do all I can to prevent it from happening again.

    What’s next?

    In 2022, I tried Micro.blog, but it lasted for less than a year. It was the way the platform handled engagement that made me give up on it. If you would like to learn more about it, I have already explained everything in more detail in another article.

    For those of you who are not aware of Micro.blog, we are talking about a complete online presence solution. It is a space to share short posts like ‘tweets’ and pictures, a blog, a website, a newsletter, a podcast hosting service, and many other amenities like bookmarks plus a ‘read it later’ with a highlights feature, a bookshelf, and more. And the price is amazing. US$5 or US$10, depending on the features you need. To learn more about it, I suggest you watch the video below. But beware that it doesn’t cover all its potential.

    I still have my two YouTube channels, and they are not going anywhere. But I reactivated my blog on Micro.blog. I won’t stop publishing the articles on Medium, but I started adding a ‘Canonical Link’ that tells Google that the story was originally posted at a different place.

    Micro.blog can be used as hubs to share the same content on other websites, like Medium. However, for now, I’m doing it manually.

    ActivityPub

    Regarding the newsletter, I am still using Substack, but I also intend to transition it to Micro.blog in the future. However, the feature in which I’m most interested is precisely the one that made me live in the first place. The blog is compatible with ActivityPub and, as explained in another article, anyone can follow it from any Fediverse service.

    The strategy Flipboard is using inspired me. Their Mastodon instance — flipboard.social — works as a Twitter alternative, where the community can share and interact with one another. As for flipboard.com, it is being converted to be 100% compatible with the ActivityPub protocol. If all of this seems too much, please watch the video below. It may help you better understand the terminology I used above.

    My plan is to rebuild my Twitter community on Mastodon, while Micro.blog will host my blog, site, and other services, acting as a central point to help people access all the content I’m constantly sharing online.

    27 APR 2024 | UPDATE: I migrated all my followers to @vladcampos@vladcampos.com and that’s the only Fediverse account I’m using now.

    Nostalgia

    This doesn’t necessarily count as a rational reason, but since when is feeling at home something that’s rational? When I first tried Microblog in 2022, I noticed a familiar face among the team: Jean MacDonald. I had the opportunity to meet here only twice for brief moments during the 2013 and 2014 Evernote Conferences. Nevertheless, the conversations we had were so pleasant that those moments remain etched in my memory to this day.

    Jean MacDonald and Vladimir Campos at the 2013 Evernote Conference
    Jean MacDonald and Vladimir Campos at the 2013 Evernote Conference

    In conclusion, there’s nothing terribly wrong with Obsidian Publish. On the contrary, during those months I used it, it proved to be a fast and reliable service. But there’s no blog or ActivityPub there, and those are some reasons why Microblog is gradually becoming my online home.

    Another reason, as I mentioned before, is that Micro.blog can work as a hub for publications. At some point in the future, when I finish my migration process, I’ll start using it to automatically cross-post content to other social media platforms.

    Combined with all the other benefits I mentioned above, I’m expecting Micro.blog to significantly reduce the work I currently do every time I publish a new article or video.


    Obsidian's new editor is a big step in the right direction

    As a user, I enjoy Markdown. However, as an instructor, I almost hate it. Most of my clients find it challenging to understand and use, especially in a world where every basic text editor has a formatting bar.

    We, the Markdown enthusiasts, see it as a great invention, and it is, but it is meant for people like us. My first computer was an Apple II+ where I learned to write programs in Basic. If you are a Markdown lover, I bet you have a similar background or passion for technology. But how many people do you think there are like this in the world?

    The good news is that the Obsidian team seems to be steadily figuring out a way to allow users to pick their preferred text formatting method without any hassle.

    What is Markdown?

    It is a set of characters used to format text in compatible editors. For example, if you put one asterisk on each side of a word or sentence, the Markdown editor will show it in italics. So, to use it, all one has to do is memorize all the symbols and use them in a compatible editor. Since there are not a lot of formatting options and, at the same time, many compatible editors exist, dominating and using Markdown is not hard. But why would one do that instead of clicking the “I” or “B” or any other formatting icon on a formatting bar?

    Another way to think of Markdown is as a simpler version of HTML, which is the language used to make the pages you access online with a browser.

    My background

    I learned how to create my first website back in the 1990s by looking at other people’s source code. But that’s as far as I went. I was unable to learn any other advanced programming language, even those that are only slightly more complicated than HTML. However, having this background made me look at Markdown and find it to be the easiest thing to learn and use on the planet.

    I’m confident to say that people with similar backgrounds, for example, Excel enthusiasts, will also find Markdown super easy to learn and use. However, that is too much for people who only use computers as basic tools. I know this because I have seen it happen to my clients time and time again.

    Trello is a great tool I use a lot in my consulting business, but it took them ages to adopt a regular text editor. Before that, the only way to format text was by using Markdown, and only a very few of my clients were willing to use it. It was rare that anyone took the time to learn it.

    An entry barrier

    All that said, I always saw Markdown as one of the biggest barriers to any non-tech-savvy person thinking of adopting or switching to Obsidian. Again, I’m not making assumptions here. I don’t have numbers, but I’m constantly hearing complaints from clients and reading comments on my videos and articles about how complex it is.

    It’s true that one has to memorize just a handful of symbols to use it, but that’s not natural, especially when all the other text editors regular people use have a formatting bar. Most people don’t even use Ctrl+B, I, or other formatting shortcuts. Clicking on icons is significantly more intuitive.

    A big step in the right direction

    If you haven’t yet, I invite you to watch the video below and stay with me for a moment while I move items from one column to another on a table using Markdown. No matter how much you love Markdown, that’s insane! It’s a huge waste of time.

    Thankfully, Obsidian 1.5 added a terrific table editor while keeping all the Markdown behind the scenes for the enthusiasts. Another important addition is right-clicking a word to format it or right-clicking on the note to add items like tables, paragraphs and many others. Again, the Markdown is still there.

    The gradual adoption of more familiar ways to format text is a big thing. In my opinion, this is the way to go. It will attract more non-tech-savvy users while keeping the Markdown layer under the hood.

    Great move, Obsidian!


    Will 2024 be my first year without Evernote?

    I think it’s fair to say that everyone was a bit astonished when the news broke on the third day of 2023. Bending Spoons, a company barely anyone knew about, had acquired Evernote. 

    For the past 15 years, I have never considered leaving Evernote. To be more precise, the thought never crossed my mind. Now it looks like 2024 will mean more to me than just a new year. Maybe it will be a year without Evernote. But it’s rare for something so big to happen suddenly. We have to go back to the beginning of 2022 to understand what’s going on.

    I was already experimenting with Obsidian for my video production workflow when some of my clients asked me to help them build their workflows on Obsidian. That ended up starting a feedback loop of fresh ideas and more experimenting and teaching. Long story short, by the end of 2022, this learning and teaching system was at full speed. Then, boom! The acquisition news in January 2023. And, let’s not forget the chaos Twitter was in because of its own acquisition. What if Evernote experienced the same fate?

    There you have it. It was a perfect storm forming before my very eyes.

    What I’m trying to say is that it’s rare for only one event to cause a big change. It is usually the culmination of many small things happening simultaneously that creates the perfect conditions.

    Most of my notes—about 80% of them—are still in Evernote. But if I’m quoting Pareto, the 20% of notes I’m using 80% of the time are already in Obsidian. And this makes all the difference. When I need to find something, chances are that Obsidian will have it. Which ended up helping me create the habit of opening Obsidian first. Oops!

    Another important aspect of Obsidian is the fact that the mobile clients are fully functional. During short trips or vacations, I do not bring a computer with me, and I can still use Obsidian on my iPad as if I were at my office computer.

    It’s not all roses, though

    I was an early adopter of Postash.io back in 2014, and I loved the fact that I could convert any of my Evernote notes to pages of a website or blog posts. Sadly, the service never worked properly, and I ended up going back to a conventional website hosting service. Obsidian Publish seemed like the perfect opportunity to try that again, but although it is a very reliable service, it came with its own set of problems. As you already know, I went back to a traditional website hosting service. But this is a story for another day.

    For the moment, I will leave you with this. It’s more likely than not that 2024 will be the year I switch from Evernote to Obsidian.

    Happy New Year!


    Building your brand out of a domain name

    TL;DR: Social media is a great space to become known, create authority, and grow your audience, but you need a home base that is yours. Buy a domain, create a basic website if you don’t want to spend too much time on it, and always, always promote it on all the social media services you are using.

    How having my own domain gave me so much freedom

    Like many of us, I have grown tired of social media, and in recent years my posts have shifted to basically promoting the content I create and getting in touch with other creators and potential partners.

    About 20 years ago, after using Geocities and other similar services, I decided it was time to establish a web presence by creating a self-hosted WordPress website with my name as the address. When that became too technical for me, I switched to WordPress.com. But I didn’t stop there. I decided to give Squarespace a shot long before it became the recognizable name it is today, primarily because I wanted a more professional-looking website.

    Many years after that, I moved to Google Sites because I was already paying for it on my Workspace subscription. It ended up not working out for me because of some limitations, and last year I went back to WordPress to give it another try.

    Between all the switches described above, I also tried Micro.blog and Postash.io for a while. More on this shortly. Finally, last week I moved to Obsidian Publish.

    Despite all these transitions, people could always find me visiting my website. Having my own domain and using something called permalinks made this possible.

    If you search for ‘what is a permalink?’ on Google, many of the results will be explanations based on the SEO benefits. That’s a good reason on its own, but I also think they are a great tool for moving your website to another hosting service. Let me tell you what I mean by this.

    When you publish a page or post on a website, it may end up with an address similar to this:

    your-website.com/2023/08/have-your-own-domain.html

    Sometimes the address is, in reality, a permalink. In other words, an address created by the website hosting service you are using that points to a real address that is usually more boring. Something like:

    your-website.com/post12345.html

    This will keep the public address, or permalink, the same, no matter where you move that page in the website folder structure. Even better, if you move to another service that doesn’t have the same internal structure as the old one, you can set each post to use the permalink instead, and the external world, specifically your visitors, will have the impression that you haven’t moved at all.

    This was precisely what I did when going from one service to another. Many times I used the moving opportunity to remove some posts and rearrange others. But because the permalinks were kept the same, rearranging pages in different places didn’t break anything.

    Here’s an example:

    For a long time, I have had a page listing some of the books I have already read. The address has been vladcampos.com/library since I created it. But when I recently moved to Obsidian Publish, I decided to rearrange parts of my website structure. I now have a ‘toolbox’ directory containing the ‘library’ and other pages, like one for my filmmaking gear. So instead of the address above, I ended up with:

    vladcampos.com/toolbox/library

    Because the page is now located inside the toolbox subfolder, I set vladcampos.com/library as a permalink. Now, if you type vladcampos.com/library, the website will present you with the correct page. In other words, old visitors and Google Search will still find the page.

    Yes, you can set up permalinks on Obsidian Publish.

    Why did I move to Obsidian Publish?

    Back in 2014, a company called Postash.io released a service to create blog posts from Evernote notes. All one had to do was add the “publish” tag, and the note would be converted into a blog entry. And, yes, removing the tag would unpublish the note.

    Until this day, I still believe that this is a genius solution because all of my articles start with an idea that I write down and work on using an app like Evernote or Obsidian.

    Postash.io is still available, but it hasn’t been updated in a long time and doesn’t have many important features a website need. That’s why I used it for less than a year back then and quickly moved on. However, as a concept, Postash.io still makes a lot of sense for my workflow, and that’s why I recently moved my site to Obsidian Publish.

    Publishing became so much easier, but there are many other reasons that I’ll explore in future articles and videos. Furthermore, having the original posts on my computer as notes is like having a backup of a backup, and this is pretty comforting.

    What were the lessons we learned today?

    Social media platforms come and go. Use them to your advantage, but make sure you have a home base — a website with your own domain name. And if you wish to experiment with other hosting services, permalinks can help you keep all the old links working.


← Newer Posts