Ryan P. Randall bio photo

Ryan P. Randall

Instruction & Outreach Librarian at the College of Western Idaho ∴ Literary, media & cultural studies ∴ Web Editor at In the Library with the Lead Pipe ∴ Sous les pavés, la plage ∴ We are, as always, stubborn, stoked, and petrified - GY!BE

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historical A statement at the end of a book, typically with a printer’s emblem, giving information about its authorship and printing. OED

Should you ever ask yourself, “how does one make such a thing?,” start looking for a colophon. If you make something mentionable, try to let others know how it was done.

This Very Site

This page is built with Jekyll, hosted on GitHub Pages, and looks like this under the hood. It uses Michael Rose’s Minimal Mistakes theme, with some slight modifications.1

Jekyll and GitHub Pages make for a great alternative to WordPress if you’re looking for a bit more control, want to learn a little more about what is going on behind the magic, or just plain don’t want to pay for hosting while you’re a student or emerging scholar/professional. If those things resonate, I suggest you check out Trevor Jones’s series of posts on setting up a Jekyll/GitHub Pages blog and/or Mike Greiling’s post “Jekyll from Scratch”.2

Bigfoot.js provides the fancy pop-up footnotes, Reveal.js serves as a splendid presentation alternative to PowerPoint or Keynote, & FontAwesome delivers some of the icons throughout the site.

The favicon (currently the little ellipsis in a speech bubble) is by Scott Lewis, available with a CC BY-3.0 license from the Noun Project. I cropped and shrunk it into the favicon format.

Writing Formats

I’ve been using Fletcher Penney’s MultiMarkdown so long, it’s committed to muscle memory. In other words, it’s part of my way of interfacing with the world, just like other languages and syntaxes. If you plan to use any variant of Markdown, I recommend this one.

For keeping my mental lines of flight somewhat directed, I’ve developed something that’s an awful lot like Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal. Even if you’re not prone to distraction, that well-designed website deserves a visit.

Notekeeping & Text Editor Programs

Brett Terpstra’s nvALT combines plain text files, Dropbox sync, and a variety of well-thought features to make it the writing equivalent of the maximal-minimalist, delight-is-in-the-details visual aesthetic that The Designers Republic™ often use for Warp Records. For those unfamiliar, that means it’s ace.

Sam Nguyen’s TextDrop lets you connect to your Dropbox notes even when you’re not on your own device. I almost always have this open in a tab at work to keep a log of what I am doing, will do, and haven been doing.3

Dillinger.io can’t be beat as a ubiquitously available Markdown playground, whether you’re just wanting to learn Markdown or if you need to quickly turn your thoughts into various formats and export or save them elsewhere.

For editing the code, Atom, Brackets, TextWrangler, & Sublime Text all excel in various ways. The first three don’t cost anything, and you can evaluate Sublime Text until you decide if it’s for you. Jan T. Sott has made a spate of lovely themes, of which I particularly like Paraíso Dark for Atom and Paraíso Black for TextMate & SublimeText.

For longer writing and task management, I use an odd duckling of a program called FoldingText that combines aspects of an outliner with a Markdown previewing editor. Jesse Grosjean’s making a version of FoldingText for Atom, so keep an eye on that if you’re interested on where it’s going.

Whenever possible, I link to WorldCat records for books. Why not work to make library access our default practice?

  1. Michael Rose has a page about his various free, open source Jekyll themes in case you’d like to see others.

  2. I’m probably going to make a separate post about all this before long, but until I do, here’s a bunch of other useful links for Jekyll things. Michael Rose’s “Going Static”, Mike Greiling’s “Jekyll From Scratch”, & Barry Clark’s “Build a Blog with Jekyll and GitHub Pages” all do the job of introducing Jekyll admirably. Carl Boettinger’s “Learning Jekyll” and W. Caleb McDaniel’s “Open Notebook History” each show how Jekyll- or Git-based sites work well for scholarly notebooks.

  3. Yes, that last bit is a nod to Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the troubles time travel presents to grammar. Of course, we’re all time traveling—just in one direction. But I digress….