Computing Thoughts

Bruce Eckel's Programming Blog

Jul 6, 2023 - 3 minute read

Trying Substack


I’ve noticed that I haven’t been writing here that much lately, and I began to suspect it is because of the necessary ceremony of creating a blog post. Which, really, isn’t that much but I’ve started to see that even the smallest amount can be an impediment.

When I began trying to paint, I discovered these impediments, and they’re different for each person. In my case, the stretched canvas was “too important” and I resisted putting paint on it (both parents grew up in the depression, so I am overly careful about wasting things, which makes experimentation hard). Also I have a problem with perfectionism, and I didn’t know how to paint so that it “looked like something.” I solved the first problem by getting a lot of cheap canvas boards, so many that I couldn’t look at them as a scarce resource. The second problem was solved by becoming an abstract painter. Of course, these approaches simply allowed the next problems to move forward. But at least I do periodically put paint on things and sometimes I enjoy the results.

For me, the little things do make a difference.

The problem with the ceremony necessary to publish a blog is that I have an idea of what I want to write about and before I even get started I have to shift gears into the how of configuration and presentation. My current hypothesis is that this often blocks me from even getting started.

I started poking around at different blogging platforms and eventually found Substack. I like their business model because, instead of ads or trying to own your content, they have paid subscriptions. These are optional and I have not turned any of that on at this point, although the site regularly encourages this because they take a percentage of your subscription fee. This way the reader doesn’t have to look at ads, the company is self-sustaining (so perhaps it won’t go through “monetization” and the associated craziness) and they can focus on running the platform and adding value for the writers and readers.

One thing I like about it is the simplicity of the writing process, which is quite clean. This way, if I feel like writing there are no hurdles to trip me up; just push a button and go. Also, you see what it’s going to look like as you’re writing. The publishing process is effortless, and it also sends the article in email form to your subscribers.

It’s not perfect; there are some things I’m still getting used to. In particular, there are either no keyboard shortcuts for code font, or those shortcuts are hidden. I’ve searched and found some described, but I accidentally stumbled across one that I have not seen mentioned anywhere: If I’m inside a code block and I press Ctrl-Enter, the cursor pops out of that code block. This is quite useful, and it makes me suspect there are other hidden shortcuts.

So far it seems to be greasing the blogging wheels for me; you can find posts at