Jun 17, 2022

For anybody drifting through here, I use Buy Me a Coffee as the likely next transformation of the newsletter for my blog. Here's a quick(?) overview of the idea.


Everyone, even if you don't give me any money (which is fine) or don't create an account here (which is not my argument to make), receives the following, to your e-mail inbox.

  • An announcement for every post to my blog, shortly after the post goes live. If you read blogs with an RSS feed reader, then you probably don't care about this, but not everyone enjoys working with technology that looks old and has spent a decade under fire from Big Tech because it cuts them out of communications. What kinds of posts?

    • Every Monday morning, I post a "developer diary" entry, discussing what I worked on and feel at liberty to talk about. Usually, that includes code that I pushed to GitHub or a similar location. Sometimes, it includes a recipe. Once in a while, it includes an improvised craft project, where I hacked together something out of corrugated cardboard.

    • On Tuesdays, I give everybody a break from my big mouth...for now.

    • On occasional Wednesday mornings, I post a "tech tip," if I have one, a quick-and-dirty guide to some (software) technology that I learned about. These have ranged from the tiny (specific commands to make an application behave in certain ways) to the large (how to build an application on a specific platform).

    • Every Thursday evening, I post an installment of Real Life in Star Trek, where I take off my "fan hat" and analyze an episode (each in a predictable order) to answer the question of what kind of culture the characters represent. Along the way, I try to point out the cultural references in that episode, and occasionally point out where the writers could have improved on an episode. I think of it as anthropology, but for fictional characters.

    • Every Friday afternoon, I post a "round-up" of my Twitter posts, for any readers who don't like Twitter.

    • Every Saturday morning, I post the Free Culture Book Club, where we have the opportunity to read/watch/listen to/play a work where the creator has/creators have released the work in a way that allows others to build on it or scrap it for parts.

    • On occasional Sunday mornings, I post about whatever has occupied my mind. I might write short fiction, officially release a project, talk politics and history, dig into certain tropes in genre fiction, complain about Big Tech, or otherwise rant.

  • On the Tuesday after the official newsletter release, I post the same text here, minus Mailchimp's overhead. Until Mailchimp goes wrong and makes my life miserable, I send out the newsletter there on (deep breath) the Saturday of the Sunday-to-Saturday week that includes the last day of a month. So, for June 2022 when I write this, the last day of the month falls on a Thursday. The Saturday of that week is the second of July, so Mailchimp readers got the newsletter that morning, my time. Followers here receive it on the following Tuesday, the fifth of July in the example.

    • If that seems confusing, the rule for Saturday as I originally created it was "the Saturday after the end of the month, or the last day of the month if the month ends on Saturday."

    • The newsletter is partly "behind the scenes" of the blog. Issues include a couple of discussions that were too short or too specific to make good blog posts, project previews, my "media diet," a round-up of the month's blog posts, articles that I saved when they whooshed by, and web pages that I bookmarked.

In other words, following me here should mean that you don't need to follow me elsewhere.

Members: Whispers

For the people who want to toss me a couple of dollars a month (it comes out to something like paying less than a dime per post), they get to see previews of what I write about the television shows that I watch, the drafts for some of what will end up in the newsletter. If I see an uprising in the making, I'll add more. I have Discord open enough that I wouldn't hate starting a server. And my commitment to Free Software should endear me to Matrix.

Members: Voices

For the people who want to kick me a few more dollars a month, they get to see previews of everything that will ultimately land in the newsletter, other than the links to things. Again, I can probably find something more to add for people willing to actually contribute to supporting me.

Why Here?

I originally chose Mailchimp, because it has a solid API, competitive free tiers, (mostly) handled the problems with sending people e-mail, private ownership, and a lack of paying people who other companies have rightly de-platformed. They lost some of my confidence when Intuit (the company that lobbies Congress to keep tax preparation complicated) bought them, undermining the fourth point. They lost more of my confidence when, for about two hours, their API kept telling me that I could only access it on a paid account, undermining the first two points.

As of now, Buy Me a Coffee lacks a decent API, but it mostly seems solid on my other points, plus it provides the possibility of a community, people who know each other, rather than just knowing me.

We'll see where this takes us.

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