All Posts - Page 1 of 5
How to Create a Free, Private Knowledge Base
Posted 22 Jan 2023
I have a mind like a sieve, so I take a lot of notes for myself. I try to jot down notes on everything from important takeaways from great non-fiction books, like Decisive, to solutions to problems I’ve run into that I may run into again, like how to get the network scanner on my printer working.
After a while, the problem becomes how to organize and find things across your notes. I used to use Google Docs for everything, but ironically searching for things in Google Docs sucks and Google Docs doesn’t encourage any kind of organization, so your notes become a mess. Plus, where possible I’ve been trying to reduce my dependencies on Google.
At work, we have a great team of InfoDev writers who create and manage our product documentation, and I thought, I want something like that for myself. While creating a huge, super-professional documentation site for yourself is overkill, it turns out that you can easily create your own, free, private knowledge base site with minimal effort.
Here’s how it works: you will capture your knowlede base notes in Markdown files, which get turned into a searchable website by Docusaurus, and then are published privately on the web via Gitlab pages. Then you can access and search them from anywhere.
I’ll walk through each step, or you can just fork this project template and get started.
How to Run Emby in the Cloud
Posted 20 Nov 2022
I’ve been running Emby locally within our network on an old mini-pc because I’ve found it’s the easiest and most user-friendly way to share media within a family. However, when you have it inside your network, it’s harder to access from your phone and you can’t hook it up to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. I wanted to try hosting it externally to see if it would simplify things, but I couldn’t find a good resouce on how to do this. I eventually got it working and figured I’d share how to do it in case it helps others.
However, if your main goal is to hook up your Emby to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, my recommendation is not to bother. The integration is cumbersome and buggy. Alexa mostly works but Google Assistant doesn’t work well at all with Emby. Maybe in another year or so it’ll be ready.
Speedy meetings are awesome, but not the way Google created them
Posted 18 Oct 2022
Google introduced Speedy Meetings in 2011, which shortens meetings from 30 to 25 or 60 to 50 minutes. The intended goal was to allow you to “prep for your next meeting or get to your next appointment if you have a packed schedule.”
Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, speedy meetings the way Google has created them just don’t work. The temptation to keep the meeting going until :30 or :00 is just overwhelming. Human nature leads to people to keep talking past the supposed speedy meeting end time.
But there is a solution. Instead of ending meetings early, I’ve found it works much better to start meetings late!Read More
How to start using 100% renewable energy at home without installing solar panels
Posted 25 Sep 2022
You probably wish you could do more to support the fight against climate change, but it’s not clear where to start. Luckily, there’s actually a really easy step you can take that will dramatically decrease your carbon footprint, and it only takes 5 minutes!
I’m talking about switching where you get your home energy from. And I don’t mean switching away from your provider, since in most places that’s impossible. But ever since energy deregulation, most energy providers make it easy to tell them that you want to pay a little more to get your energy from greener sources.
One caveat - the actual electrons coming into your house are probably not going to be the same electrons generated by the actual solar, wind or hydro sources you will be supporting. But that’s besides the point. By switching your energy preference to green sources, your money will go to support more green sources and won’t be going to support dirty coal or natural gas sources. The way we ensure our money is actually going to renewable energy generation is via something called a renewable energy certificate, or REC (pronounced: rěk, like wreck). The EPA has more info on RECs but long story short, this is the most common way to pay for green energy.Read More
Switching from Google Workspace to Zoho - the Good, the Bad and the Buggy
Posted 30 Jul 2022
Late last year, Google announced they’d be doing away with their free, legacy G Suite (now called Google Workplace) program. I’d been using G Suite with my jedfonner.com domain for 17 years to handle email, calendar and Google Docs. When Eli and Isaac had gotten old enough, I’d given them accounts at jedfonner.com too. Even though Google eventually walked back their plans to force people off their free tier, this scare made me realize I didn’t want to be beholden to Google for such crucial systems as my email and calendar for me and my family.
Looking around for alternatives, I looked at a few like ProtonMail and Tutanota but eventually I settled on Zoho. I’d actually been using Zoho Notebook for a while, ever since Google Keep stopped working on my phone, and I liked how the company was focused on being a low-cost but full featured suite of products for teams and businesses. So I decided to take the leap and move from Google to Zoho Workplace.
Let me tell you about my experience moving away from Google. If after reading this post you are interested in signing up or switching to Zoho, use this referral link to earn $100 in promotional credit: https://go.zoho.com/uDa.Read More
Shared Slides Clicker Ups and Downs
Posted 09 Jun 2022
It’s been over 2 years since the start of the great WFH experiment created by the Covid-19 pandemic. And it’s been over 20 months since I released the Shared Slides Clicker browser extension to make presenting remotely using Google Slides and Meet more bearable. Read more about that here.
More recently, we’ve seen many businesses shift to encouraging more return to office (RTO) for their employees. Whether this is good or bad is not the topic of this post (go to HN if you want to read about that). I was curious whether RTO would reduce the usage of the Shared Slides Clicker. Turns out it’s had a huge impact! Check out the usage over time below:
How to upgrade from Api.ai to Dialogflow v2 using Firebase Cloud Functions
Posted 03 Aug 2021
You can add Dialogflow v2 chatbot integration to a website for free using Firebase Cloud Functions, but there are a few tricks you need to know about. Read on to learn more, or just check out the code.
Four years ago, I thought it would be fun to add a chatbot to my website. I had been playing with Chatbot integration at work, and I realized it could be a fun way to add some interactivity to this personal site.
Back then, Dialogflow was called Api.ai and it offered a really easy way to set up a chatbot agent and integrate it into a website via simple REST calls. They even provided a client-side JS library to help. So I entered some info about me to the chatbot agent, added a nice UI on top of the integration (thanks to Botui), slapped it all together on my website and promptly moved on to other things.
Over the years, Google bought Api.ai, they renamed it to Dialogflow, they deprecated a lot of Api.ai code, and most recently they shut down the client-side library altogether. That meant that suddenly my blog’s chatbot integration wasn’t working anymore! 😱
I assumed there would be a drop-in replacement with the new API, dubbed Dialogflow v2. But it turns out that Google has adopted a new authentication approach which precludes a simple client-side integration. So fixing this was going to be harder than I thought. Dialogflow now only offers a server-side Node.js library for integration purposes (in addition to other server-side language integrations like C++ and Java). So how was I going to integrate my static, 100% client-side website with Dialogflow?
After much pondering, I realized that Firebase Cloud Functions could be the perfect intermediary between Dialogflow and my website.
But how to get Diagflow to work in a Cloud Function? 🤔Read More