Future-proof your skills with Linux, Python, vim & git as I share with you the most timeless and love-worthy tools in tech through my two great projects that work great together.

Figuring Out Good Vim to TikTok Journaling Format

I'm learning to incorporate my daily journaling into social media like TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube. I'm optimizing the vertical format, and using my 'Green Lantern' green highlighting trick to imply force of will. I'm figuring out the ideal number of characters across for the text, and then I can screen capture it and read it. I'm also looking for a way to show my face on the computer's desktop while I'm recording. Follow my journey and learn how to be on Linux

Discovering How to Use Vim and TikTok Together for Journaling

By Michael Levin

Sunday, July 30, 2023

I’ve got to get my butt off Windows 11 and this laptop with a cracked screen. It was an extra laptop I had lying around, and when my Windows 10 laptop died, I just started using it. I figured it was my opportunity to give Windows 11 a chance, and my scripts that let me do my daily journaling now just flow around to any system that hosts Linux subsystems, which Windows 11 does as well as Windows 10. So why not?

Why not is because I can’t eliminate all distractions, and the keyboard shortcut for switching left and right between virtual desktops doesn’t have the animation that gives you a sense of where you are in the virtual desktops. I’m constantly losing my place, and re-orienting is itself a big flow-breaker. I can use a four-finger swoosh on the touchpad, but now it’s tied to the touchpad and particular OS-implementations.

Much about computers is designed to lock you into a host OS environment. Few places is this as obvious as the Windows key on keyboards, and the Command and Option key on Macs. By standard conventions, computer keyboards had Control and ALT keys (before Mac), but Apple went and introduced the Command and Option keys, and Microsoft went and introduced the Windows key. And now, you need them to switch between virtual desktops and other things. This hard-wiring your habits to OS-keys is part of the OS-wars.

On Macs, the copy and paste commands are generally performed by using the “Command” key and the “C” key for copy, and the “Command” key and the “V” key for paste. On Windows, copy and paste are usually performed by using the “Control” key and the “C” key for copy, and the “Control” key and the “V” key for paste. So the main difference is that Mac uses the “Command” key while Windows uses the “Control” key. Anyone switching between Macs and PCs regularly know this can be the bane of your existence on a daily basis. Nothing attacks your muscle memory quite so hostilely as the soldier-ghost of Steve Jobs in the eternal OS-wars.

I am currently pushing out a series of videos on “switching” to Linux from Windows, but I think I have to re-position it a bit.

I’m coming up with a clever way of doing this, finally incorporating what I do here in my vim journal into my social media’s like TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube. They’re all favoring vertical (or TikTok) format, and I’m now leaning into it. I just do text in here that I can screen capture my nifty green highlighting trick, and really imply that whole force-of-will thing through the Green Lantern green color I use for vim visual select mode.

I have to figure out the ideal number of characters across for the text, and then I can just screen capture it, and then I can just read it. I did a few experiments yesterday, but it’s time to optimize it. Get a ruler! Measure how many centimeters up-and-down the screen is: 18cm (not including 2 lines of vim user interface). Okay, now what’s the aspect ratio for TikTok? 9:16. So that’s 9cm across by 16cm down. So I can do 9cm across and ballpark it pretty well.

So then the rest of this is what zoom to use to control how much text actually ends up on such a vertical slice of the screen. I don’t want any more to show than I can comfortably read in about a minute, which is the length of one YouTube “short”. YouTube still has a time-limit on shorts, otherwise I guess they wouldn’t be shorts. And this is right as TikTok opened their video length limit to 10-minutes, haha! They’re each trying to capture the other’s audience naturally.

Okay, so let’s make a text-ruler…


Thanks, Copilot! It’s worth noting I only got that pattern started and Copilot immediately knew what I was trying to do and finished all that typing for me. Now all I have to do is hold a ruler up to the screen and do Ctrl+ and Ctrl- to zoom in and out until I get the right number of characters across.

And the answer is at 9cm across, I can fit 30 characters across at my current (and preferred for my poor old-man eyes) zoom. Forget font-sizes. It’s all relative to how big it is on the screen. This is also with the vim rulers turned off. I don’t need them for the TikTok videos. They would only be distracting.

Okay, this can give some pretty good insight into me and my process. I should also think about how to make this more interesting. I can maybe let my face show. I could do that with OBS’s (Open Broadcast Software) standard ability to show your face in a corner of the screen. But you can’t see your face while you’re recording. I’d like a cut-out of my face that I can see while I’m recording. And I’d like to not have the sync-problems of using 2 different video sources that I’d have to edit together. I want to do it in one take, easy peasy.

I need a way to show my face on the computer’s desktop while I’m recording.

Are you on Windows or Mac? Then you can be on Linux too!

No, not as new Desktop, but as a way to keep all the skills and muscle memory you develop working for you for life.

Don’t let all that work you invest into something new go to waste due to some major fad-shift or version upgrade.

It’s a myth that EVERYTHING’S a moving target. You CAN get better at a small set of timeless tools for life.

Build on the fundamentals so key that Microsoft had to build their own mortal enemy, Linux, into Windows 10 and 11.