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Emacs Selection Woes 🔗

Yeah, another post today. How about that?

So, Emacs has an interesting problem. Selecting things is... unintuitive and often just wrong. For example, in a stock Emacs system, pressing M-@ (Alt-Shift-2) will run mark-word. This should do what you think it does: Mark/select a word in highlighting so that you can modify it somehow. However, if you're not at the beginning of that word, then mark-word does not do what you might believe. In fact, all it does is highlight to the end of that word, leaving any other letters before the point just sort of hanging out there.

Now, there are methods of fixing this in elisp. As a matter of fact, there is an excellent package called expand-region that intellegently expands a selection, moving outward (or inward) as you repeat the command. That's kind of the problem, though. I shouldn't need an external package to do stuff like "selecting text between quotes" or "selecting text inside of a function". Emacs is smart and has been around for 40(?) years! This should be a solved problem by now.

Of course it is. Well, not really, but there are some built-in tools that don't work really well. Mainly, selecting objects can be done with some wrapping around thing-at-point, which gives you information around what the cursor is on. This would allow you to write code to then add a mark to the extents of that object, and even move outward, as expand-region does.

To that end, Drew Adams has a elisp library that does... some of that. It certainly wraps the thing-at-point code well enough that it can be used by a mere mortal. However, the functionality is lacking. If I want to select successive words, I can cycle through the selection objects, but none of them usually fit. I, more often than not, end up having to wrangle some part of it with manual movement adjustments.

Maybe I'm just pampered by the idea that expand-region is so close to the solution that I'd like, that not having the building blocks to begin with is frustrating. Especially since I'm finding so much of Emacs built-in functionality has my needs covered nicely.

Spider-Man 🔗

I love this short Spider-Man comic that I found on Tumblr(?) so many moons ago. It absolutely captures the spirit of the character. Dorky, werid, but ultimately a good guy who is willing to help whenever he can, even if it's just walking a girl home.

Emacs Archeology: IMenu 🔗

This probably sits loosely in the category of "archeology". IMenu is a tool that allows you to find major sections of a buffer by name. For example, in this HTML document, if I were to run M-x imenu, I would get a listing of all the headline tags (H1 through H6) that I could use to quickly jump to that area. Very useful.

Imenu seems like something that would be awesome if it were better exposed. Much like the other tools that I've explored, there are countless gems in Emacs that get recreated because of their lack of exposure, or poor naming.

I am glad to have found Imenu though. It seems like a very useful tool to jump around without having to find another package, like ace-jump or similar. While it may not do everything that those packages can do (it can be extended, though), I would wager that jumping around is generally more useful around major sections, versus "locally". I don't know, I don't code anymore.

Vacci-Nation 🔗

I wish the COVID-19 pandemic never occured. For a multitude of good reasons, but the most recent one is this: When I learn someone refused (i.e.: not because they couldn't) the vaccine, I automatically think lesser of them. They may be perfectly normal people that I would otherwise like, but due to their… opinion on vaccines (likely due to the current political climate), I feel like I have a deep, and uncomfortable insight into the rest of their personality. I'm not sure if that makes me a bad person, but it's what I feel.

Plumbing the Depths: Rec Mode 🔗

Another article about disused Emacs features that I likely wont use? Youbetcha!

Today's bit of archaeology is rec-mode. It's a mode that is meant to be used in conjunction with the GNU Recutils package. These tools generate, maintain and operate on plain-text database of records. These can be used for a wide variety of data, from loaned books, to movies watched to a sort of DNS-esque databse for GNUNet. Handy stuff. In Emacs, this functionality is exposed when you open a file with the extension of .rec. By default, you get a read-only narrow'd view of records that you can page through and manipulate. Typically, you're supposed to use the command-line tool recins to add items (so that the data integrity can be maintained), but of course Emacs can edit that buffer, as well.

I am, proverbially, kicking the tires on this mode by making a simple address book that can be queried for things like email addresses, names and phone numbers. The nice thing about this that it's just text. I can manipulate it, compress it, encrypt it, slice it, dice it and even store it in a version control system like git. I don't have to worry about the format going out-of-date, or not being able to read it in the future. Again, it's just text. Obviously, there are some downsides. A lot of downsides, actually. It's really a nice solution, though.

rec-mode has some nice features. You can query the database and get information about the contents, right inside Emacs. There is a lot of nice features and because it's text, and because the features use standard lisp functions, you can integrate it with all sorts of other Emacs tooling. Even org-mode has query support to look up data in your database(s).

While there are some rough edges with editing things, and I had to come up with my own skeletons for adding new records, I feel like there is a lot that can be done with this tool.

I Am so Tired 🔗

I dunno. I am tired. I can't quite place my finger on it. Probably depression. Lots of bad news out there that makes it hard to empathize, lest I burn out that way, too. Spending a bunch of money on appliances at home, because after roughly sixteen years, they're finally failing. My wife is stressed, which makes me stresed, which makes my son upset.

My parents are finally moved down, but they have their own issues. Trying to get them integrated with the way things "work" down here. That's causing some friction and misunderstandings. Plus, lots of extra work and moving stuff. I wish I had the focus and wherewithal to implement the things I think I want, but I lack the planning or understanding to properly implement them without a flaming mess on my hands.

I feel tired because I see all of this stuff and I'm indecisive enough to not know what I want from what looks cool at the time. On top of that, I have a limited budget. So, often, I think "my eyes are bigger than my stomach", when it comes to implementing things. I know my family isn't going to care one whit about using Jabber or SIP/Asterisk or track their contacts in Monica, or do bills and other stuff in Firefly. They have their own little things they do and use, and they leave me to play in my own sandbox, alone.

I guess I should just embrace it and either do what I want or fall in line.

Mindustry 🔗

Help. Mindustry has me. I don't know how long it will take me to escape the byzantine pathways of conveyors and mining systems. I hope not long, because I would like to be productive again. I'm actually surprised I was able to break away and type up this message.

If you find this message. Send help! And Silicon. I need more silicon to expand my tech tree.

My Favorite iOS 16 Feature 🔗

So, Apple's iOS 16 and watchOS 9 just released yesterday. While there isn't much but bling to note, one of the useful features I found out about was a medicine tracker. This feature allows you to setup a schedule for your medications and reminds you when to take them. While I used to use a calendar entry for this, I can now clear off those annoying clutter entries for something more direct and useful. The feature will even log when you've taken them, so you can remember what you've had and what you've missed -- something a calendar entry can't do.

With this entry and some other health-related items, I can see Apple devices being the go-to for medically and health concious consumers. While many of these features are not "sexy", they're really helpful and something that actually add value over the more cosmetic changes that everyone seems to give more attention to.

Reaping What You Sow 🔗

Certainly, you never expect your own actions to come back to haunt you, when you have a child. Much less see the bad behaviors you sometimes exhibit reflected so clearly in their own behaviors. It's heartbreaking. Especially when those behaviors are something you're trying to work on yourself. Fitting, as it may be, it is a bitter reminder that children are absolute sponges when it comes to information and acceptable behavior.

I am currently reaping that with my own son, with his addicition to screens, to the point that he ignores fun and exciting things that we want to do with him over the immediate gratification with his own game or whatever. I did this. I know it. I don't have to search my feelings or understand myself any better to know that what I'm seeing is the product of my own bad behavior reflected back on me. It hurts. I know it's something I must accept, though. I have to work on making it better, but I also must come to terms with the idea that I have unintentionally created something I dislike about myself in someone else.

It hurts. So much.

More Emacs Archeology 🔗

image-dired is not a new tool to me, I have been aware of it for some time now. It has always proven as a sort of sub-optimal image browser to me. However, it seems I've "Been Using it Wrong"™ this whole time. You can use dired to mark images, then image-dired-display-thumbs to generate a new buffer with their thumbnails. Neat! I had frequently been using the bare image-dired command, which did all of the images in a buffer.

I, also, didn't know that image-dired could tag photos and keep them in a seperate database. What a neat idea, one I could see working for a small collection of photos and images.

I keep finding these little tools. In addition to these little internal pieces, Emacs has such a delightful amount of customization that tools practically write themselves:

(defun sentin/break ()
"Break a sentence out and work it in a new buffer."
  (interactive)
  (backward-sentence)
  (kill-sentence)
  (switch-to-buffer-other-window "*sent-breakt*")
  (erase-buffer)
  (yank))

(defun sentin/choose ()
  "Choose a sentence and go back to the other window."
  (interactive)
  (backward-sentence)
  (kill-sentence)
  (other-window 1)
  (kill-buffer "*sent-breakt*")
  (yank)
  (delete-other-windows))
                            

Little tools like that allow you to sculpt Emacs into not just a programmer's text editor. You can make it your writing swiss-army-knife, or your tool for operating on remote machines, or your email platform, or even your music and chatting tool with emms and circe. As long as the information can be processed as text, then Emacs can be sculpted to work with it.

R.I.P. Queen Elizabeth II 🔗

I don't even know what to say. She wasn't even the real or virtual monarch of my country, let alone my state. Yet, I feel saddened to know that someone I've known as a graceful, if perplexing force for good in the world is now gone. Good bye, Queen Elizabeth. You will be missed.

She-Hulk 🔗

She-Hulk is amazing. Marvel fans? Eh. Many of them are worse than some of the villans. I say that because every new episode of any show (especially ones with female leads), gets picked apart on an atomic scale. Sure, there are lots of different easter eggs and nods to other shows/movies and it feels fantastic when you notice them, but the people producing these shows are also human. Some mistakes or mixups are going to happen. However, the biggest criticisms seem to be about the female leads themselves.

I find this particular point exhausting and disheartening. Are so many men that insecure that they can't enjoy something if they're not explicitly represented as the lead role? They seem to posess an ego so fragile that it seems like the mere idea of there being a strong female lead (good or bad) is enough to draw more than their fair share of ire. At least they're posting them where we can see them and shame them.

I, for one, am enjoying this sort of… "girl power" moment going on in the MCU. It not only provides more insight into the mind of the characters and what they go through, but it also makes you realize just how much shit the average woman has to go through just to exist. Let alone what a super-powered woman has to endure.

So, bring it on, Marvel. I know that She-Hulk is leaning in to poking the haters, but lets see some more powerful women on the screen. Lets give everyone some heroes to root for, because that is what these sort of stories do. Give people something to rally around.

Tempation of Org 🔗

As this blog gets longer, the larger the tempation of using some sort of organizational system looms large. Using Emacs, org-mode is a natural draw. It's integrated with Emacs, can be used for all manner of things, and has a handy/clean export feature that can generate whole projects of marked up content. Almost tailor-made, if you're looking to stay within Emacs.

I think there is some friction for me, due to the way that I'd have to rewrite some of my posts with some sort of sensible markup for galleries, and the fact that I'd have to continually add things like properties to ensure ID's don't get broken and much, much more. The list of items is daunting. I also don't really look forward to migrating to something else, like Hugo or Jekyll or even WordPress, as they have their own overhead and migration issues to deal with.

I feel like I've tread this line of thinking before. A good takeaway is that other systems seem nicer, they have thier own problems to deal with.

Making Image Thumbnails is Hard 🔗

For this site, making image thumbnails is not an automated process. Generally, it looks like this:

fdfind -e jpg -x convert {} -define webp:size=128x128 -thumbnail '128x128' -background white -gravity center -extent 128x128 -strip -unsharp 0x.5 {.}_thumb.webp

>fdfind -e jpg -x convert {} -define jpeg:size=128x128 -thumbnail '128x128' -background white -gravity center -extent 128x128 -strip -unsharp 0x.5 {.}_thumb.jpg

Then I move the files to where I need them. I constantly have to look this information up (to the point that I have an Emacs bookmark to the file/section), because when I use it, I always forget some options, which result in images that aren't square, but at least appropriately sized to 128px on one side.

It's to the point that I have an Org-mode file dedicated to ensuring that I have that command above cemented somewhere that I can find it. I'm not sure why I don't write a shell script to do this for me, but I imagine I'd even forget I had that.

Disney's Star Wars: Starcruiser 🔗

I'm back from outer space! I had a lovely trip aboard the Halcyon and while the cruise was cut short by some…shenanigans, it was an adventure to remember! I only have a few photos to share. Many of the others I and my family took are with us in them, so not suitable for public sharing. I hope you'll understand. (plus, I don't want to spoil too much of it for you.)

Emacs Newsticker 🔗

If there was ever a package with a poorly thought out name in Emacs, it'd be the built-in "newsticker" package. At first glance (and even after looking at the docs) you'd be right to think that it pops up some small scrolling buffer of items in your news feed. Something newsticker-ish, right?

Emacs 'newsticker' mode, default configuration
Emacs 'newsticker' mode, default configuration

Yeah, wow. I uh, didn't expect it to actually look and act like a "real" feed reader. Let alone one that looks like it's better configured than even Elfeed, which is saying a lot. A bit of deja vu, given all the sort of "emacs secrets" I've been 'discovering' while looking into the bundled packages. Emacs seems to have more "batteries included" than Python, at this point.

Toolkit-less Emacs 🔗

There is some recent discussion on the emacs-devel mailing list about how using GTK as the UI backing for various "frame" chrome (think: toolbars, menus, etc) is causing more issues than it resolves. Moreover, it has known open issues that they're relying on the GNOME developers to fix. This is unlikely to be fixed. Mainly because the GNOME developers are a bunch of children who think they know best and have a long-open bug detailing an issue that Emacs has with their system, that they have refused to fix. I don't put any trust in a toolkit that behaves like that.

Today, I decided to try and build Emacs on my own. On Debian, it's a pretty easy series of steps:

apt install build-essential git

apt build-dep emacs-lucid

git clone --depth 1 --branch emacs-28 https://git.savannah.gnu.org/git/emacs.git

./autogen.sh

./configure --with-x-toolkit=no

make bootstrap

make install

This works well and builds a new(er) copy of Emacs than Debian stable contains. While some of my packages have reacted oddly to this, overall, it seems like a good upgrade. I don't use any of the menu/toolbars or the scrollbars, so those UI components don't affect me anyway.

The idea of a toolkit-less Emacs that connects to X11 or Wayland is actually a great idea. It leaves the problems of any particular toolkit behind and can do their own thing. While I might prefer QT/KDE, this is the next-best thing (especially since it seems like there isn't much of an appetite for C++ in the Emacs system).

Cosmic Rewind 🔗

I got to ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
I got to ride Cosmic Rewind!

I had been pretty down on Disney lately. Their prices are going up (along with everything else…), but during a recent date to Disney, my wife and I were able to join the virtual queue for the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ride that was recently added/completed in Epcot. Historically, new rides have always been swamped, but the new virtual queue system (for all it's faults) is actually a smart solution to the overcrowding problem.

The ride feels like a huge cross between Space Mountain's roller coaster in the dark, and a vastly better themed ride that has some great before and after ride features. The appearance of Terry Crews and the original cast (minus Bradely Cooper's Rocket, and Vin Diesl's Groot) makes the whole thing feel like an awesome adventure, rather than a rollercoaster.

Personally, if you're able to get into the virtual queue, it's worth visting Epcot for (yeah, the festivals are still going on, so there's that, too.)

Voted 🔗

I voted!
I voted!

Eshell Is My Jam 🔗

Eshell is such a cool terminal. Not only do I not have to leave Emacs to access a terminal, but this one (in particular amongst the Emacs shell modes) gives me access to Tramp. Tramp, for the uninitiated, allows you to access remote filesystems of various kinds. Things like SSH, telnet and even things like sudo can be access and even chained together to access what you're looking for. This functionality extends to many parts of Emacs, including Eshell. Accessing remote hosts, like this server, can be as easy as:

$ cd /ssh:me@host:/path/to/directory

Emacs/Tramp will access the host behind the scenes (prompting for authentication as needed) and give you access. Now I can do things like run commands against the host without having to pop open a new shell and do an ssh/sudo dance.

It feels kind of like magic. You can just access hosts naturally and interact with them without breaking your flow, all using a 'single' tool, gaining access to the tooling and functions you've already become accustom to, and likely will be using to manipulate the data anyway.

I wish more tools were as accomodating. KDE's Dolphin file browser comes close, but in using KIO for accessing remote filesystems, you end up having to deal with the data in Dolphin not being accessible anywhere else unless you have a newer version that utilizes KIO+FUSE.

Tiling on Laptops 🔗

I, recently, decided to switch to i3 because I felt like I could be more efficient with my windows and handle more parts of the system with better tooling that I could directly control. This is not new, I used to use i3 on my desktop, paired with two monitors, it was pretty efficient. However, those were two 1920x1080 displays, and not a (mostly) single 1366x768 display.

My trip report is that i3 is not really viable on small laptop displays. By "small", I mean low resolution. Having limited pixels makes it difficult to manage side-by-side windows without resorting to using the tabbed window layout, or selectivively full-screening them. For some cases, it's fine. I can swap the vertical split mode for the horizontal one, and use a terminal under the browser, for example. However, lots of other cases are just more annoying. I have to keep a sort of mental state of how the next window is going to open, and if that's going to make it more difficult to manage. I can set floating on different items, but finding them without them being sticked to the top can be frustrating. Actually, app management in general is frustrating. Trying to switch between apps, can be slower and tedious. If I need to find a specific window, often I need to use another program to find it. Where as on a "stacking" window manager, I can alt-tab my way through windows. There are doubless ways to fix these kinds of shortcomings, but the small real-estate and the somewhat limited keyboarding space makes it difficult to really feel more productive.

The other issue I ran into is that laptops have a lot of ephemeral parts. Things like docking stations, monitors, keyboards, mice and need to frequently change wireless or wired networks. All of these things can be managed individually just fine, but having it all work in concert is frustrating. When docking and undocking, I found I had to run scripts to manually rearrange my display layout, sometimes leaving me with a freshly undocked laptop with nothing on the screen until I blindly ran a script to reset it. The issue compounds itself when they keyboard layout changes from the internal to an external or vice-versa. A keyboard mapping for swapping the capslock and ctrl keys will break in such a situation, as the mapping is usually only good for one keyboard.

Using something like KDE, on the otherhand, had/has none of these problems. Docking and undocking do "the right things". Networking, and other connectivity management are handled seamlessly, and keyboard mappings stay applied to any keyboard plugged in. It's really nice.

While I love i3 and tiling as such neat solutions to the multi-window interface metaphor, I don't think they're well suited for mobile devices. That's not a bad thing. They have their niche, just like "windows"-like desktops work well for laptops, but not for tablets or phones.

It's Been a While 🔗

: Well, not really. Like, what? Four months. Sheesh.

Time moves slower when you're not on TheSocials™. Actually, it's just as busy and things are just as crazy, you're just dealing with RealPeople™ instead of virtual strangers.

So, I logged onto my Fosstodon account for the first time in a while. Mostly because Kev was talking about how the service is 5 years old, now. I was interested to see what people were doing while I was gone. Did they miss me? What are they up to? Did I miss out on any cool tools? That's when it hit me: Oh no! The FOMO monster is back! Dark patterns everywhere.

Instead of dragging myself through that particularly nasty addiction cycle, again, I decided to update my profile with my contact info. As there were some requests from the community as to how I was doing. 👋 Hi! I'm doing fine. Well, as fine as anyone suffering from depression and accute laziness could be.

Anyway, it's weird knowing that there is something there that has this whole activity stream going on, and I'm choosing not to be a part of it. Part of me misses it. I do know that it serves less of a productive purpose in my life, and that it's far too easy for me to get addicted to the back and forth with people online. To the detriment of my real-world friends and family.

I wish I could successfully manage that part of me, but it continually elludes me. Maybe one day. Maybe one day I'll have my life sorted out. Until then: just keep swimming.

Skeletons in My Closet 🔗

I've decided in my quest to simplify Emacs down to the bare minimum acceptable configuration that I can tollerate that I will use the Emacs Skeleton package over the more robust, but ultimately not-included in the defaults, yasnippet package. I like yasnippet just fine, really. If I did more programming, I guess I would have more use for it, since it makes creating and expanding snippets almost magical. However, I am not a programmer, and with yasnippet included it feels like I've added yet more bloat to a already … healthy configuration size. Besides, why go out and buy a super deluxe hammer when the base model that came with your toolbox is vastly more than you need already?

So, Skeletons, what are they? As part of the autotype features of Emacs, they're designed to alliveate typing frequently inserted things.

The simplest kind of skeleton will simply insert some text indented according to the major mode and leave the cursor at a likely place in the middle. Interactive skeletons may prompt you for a string that will be part of the inserted text.

Initially, it feels like skeletons are just fancy function syntax. You define them in much the same way you would a function:

(define-skeleton name
  "doc string"
  "What is your name? "
  "Hello, " str)

Part of my reasoning for this is that you can do all sorts of werid stuff inside skeletons, like set variables, process text and more. Sure, there is extra syntax for doing other, more snippet-like things, but it helped me understand the concept when migrating from yasnippet. The concept of how things work in skeletons seems like it should be documented way better than it is. I actually had to look up what other people had done just to get an idea for how I could implement some of the things I needed. Once I got that under control, I was on much more sure footing.

One of the werid thing is that the second line of the skeleton is actually something you can use to prompt the user. If you were to run that code above, you would be prompted for your name. You can substitute other expressions in here, or even nil, if you don't need anything. Sometimes you'll want to ignore the user until you're good and ready, so they also provide stuff like (skeleton-read "Text: ") that allows you to further prompt the user. Using that with let or setq gives you lots of flexibility.

One thing I haven't yet figured out is how to make it indent correctly. Maybe there is a setting to just do what the mode indention rules say… I mean, it is Emacs, and I'm sure this has come up before me. Though, with embrace-commander and <Tab>, it's a trivial task to fix the alignment when done. This is especially useful for me while editing my site's HTML/XML.

Maybe I should come up with a guide to what I know and learn about skeleton mode, like how it integrates with abbrev for easier insertion of snippets.

;; Example from M-x edit-abbrevs <RET>
;; This runs the 'name' skeleton when you insert
;; whitespace after typing "hello" in an org buffer
(org-mode-abbrev-table)

"hello" 0 "" name

I'm going to head back into the manual. It's not always an obvious read, but there is usually something there that surprises me. Maybe,one day, I'll master it.

I'm Watching You 🔗

But I'm watching you...
But I'm watching you...

Uh huh... okay. Well, enjoy your swim, sir.

Make My Day 🔗

I had a small amount of friction in Emacs when deploying this site. Often, I'd be in some file deeper in the project than the root, then decide I want to deploy after making changes. In VSCode, the build steps worked fine, as it had explicit instructions on how to do it. For Emacs, though, I opted for a simple Makefile. This, however, posed a bit of a problem: In Emacs, the "working directory" is wherever that buffer's file happens to be. Which means when you invoke M-x compile, make would fail, because there was no Makefile in the directory that that buffer is visiting. As a work-around, I would visit the root index.html file and run compile from there. Not great, but it worked.

I recently ran across a blog post that fixed all this for me with the simplest inclusion.

							
(defun my-compile ()
  (interactive)
  (let ((default-directory (locate-dominating-file "." "Makefile")))
    (compile "make")))
							
						

Of course Emacs has a tool to do this. Apparently this locate-dominating-file is oft-underused, but wow, what a difference!

Starting at FILE, look up directory hierarchy for directory containing NAME. FILE can be a file or a directory. If it’s a file, its directory will serve as the starting point for searching the hierarchy of directories. Stop at the first parent directory containing a file NAME, and return the directory.

Shockingly, not officially documented in the Emacs manual.

I wonder what else lies, lurking below the surface, waiting to be discovered and improve my experience.

Stadia Down 🔗

Rumor: Google Stadia May be Getting Shut Down

😄😄😄

Hahaha!

Picard 🔗

Sigh.

I guess I have to catch up on Season 2. Though I'm sure it's probably some kind of dumpster fire after Season 1's appaling ending.

300 is Not a Number I Like 🔗

My shame
My shame

I hit 300 pounds today. After a month of cruise food, eating out and generally being mindlessly eating, I hit a milestone I never thought I could, and one I dreaded for so long. I'd like to say I've learned something along the way, but I feel like I'm just continuing to drift and go through the motions of the day. I still go to gym 3 days a week, and I sweat up a storm, but that probably doesn't dent my idle eating. I have WW, which I've been paying for, but I haven't used it in a while. In short: I'm in a deep funk.

One of my biggest problems is availability of cheap junk food. There is a vending machine here at this satellite office I'm working in, and because my eating habits are all messed up, my willpower evaporates when I'm the slightest bit bored. I can easily purchase ~1000+ calories of junk for less than $3. Which I can easily justify for myself, even for stretches as long as a week.

My wife, in her infinite wisdom, would probably say something to the effect of: "Well, okay, what are you going to do about it now and in the future?". She's smart, because she knows you can't change what you've done, only what you're going to do. Why she puts up with my constant crap is anyone's guess, but I won't complain about her sage advice. I'll try and put it to good use.

What I'm Going to Do About It

I've been doing some prelimiary thinking, and I think I can do two things at once: Deprive myself of the materiel to make bad choices and give to charity/open source projects. To that end, here's one idea:

  • Find 3 charities/open source projects
  • Setup a monthly recurring payment (change per month?)
  • Bring more healthy snacks to help curb bordeom hunger

Of course, this doesn't get to the root of the issue, which seems to be boredom. I've tried to fix that with Emacs customizing and Morrowind, but those eventually lose their shiny attraction. That sends me back to idly browising the Internet/Reddit/HackerNews/Github/IRC while waiting for scheduled appointments to come and go.

That problem may require more thought and effort. I still plan on going to gym, I still plan on using WW, but I need more hooks... Something to work on.

Windows 11 and Rejecting the "New" 🔗

My wife, has been pretty frustrated with Windows 11 lately. The new UI changes are rubbing her the wrong way, since they changed it so much and removed some customizations that made her comfortable. I can understand that feeling, given how much I customize Linux and Emacs, it can be frustrating to have a new UI paradigm forced on you.

I also know that I have little difficulty adapting to odd interfaces. I use all of "the big three" OSes daily, and I am able to be productive in each. For most people, they want to use their tools without the fundamental interface changing too much. Yes, change is constant, but the idea of hammer being a poundy thing on the end of a stick hasn't changed much in thousands of years.

As I get older, I wonder if this desire for less "churn" in familiar things is a function of that aging process. The deisre to see faithful tools and things be the same as they were at their most familiar. I also see this in a lot of contemporary things. Conservatives, for example, seem to want for things to go "back to the way things were", as if they were simpler or more "sensible".

I also find that I'm falling into the same thinking trap. I pine for the days where things were simpler, or less complex, or just "easier and more familiar". Anytime I find myself thinking this kind of thing, I try to look at it more objectively. However, it's very easy to fall back into the trap. I guess it just means that I have to be more mindful about how I look at situations and how I respond to them.

Rejecting the Modern 🔗

I like new stuff. I like trying new stuff, too. It's how I get into trouble a lot of the time. I can't help myself. Especially if it looks neat, or cool, or delicious. I just have to try it.

I guess that's why I find it so hard to manage this site the way I do. All the new sparkly new things coming out. I have my own predelicitions about modern web development, but not being a designer means I have to put up with a fair amount of it anyway. I guess I could fix that.

Actually, I am going to fix that. CSS Layers are neat, but Firefox's inspector has some issues with them, and I spent at least an hour wrangling simple.css' changes to my menu. So you know what? Lets make this even more simple. Lets take this back to raw HTML and images. Lets see how I like it.

Longevity of the Simple 🔗

I'm actually pretty surprised how long I've kept this format of blog going. Normally I would be half-way to tearing my hair out trying to wrangle all the different bits and pieces. Apparently, not anymore.

I think that CSS and the overwhelming simplicity of editing raw HTML has made this more of a joy. Though there are still pain points. Large galleries are a chore, and for some reason I've spent an inordinate amount of time crafting templates and CSS around those... I guess I create my own problems!

I'm sure, one day, that I'll go back to writing in a content management system, and that'll take care of most of this stuff for me. For now, though, I'm pretty happy banging away at this in Emacs or VSCode. And that's enough for me.

The End 🔗

One chapter from my life is now closed. My parent's old house. My old house. Has been offically sold.

Home, no longer
Home, no longer

Goodbye, old friend. I'll miss you.

Tomorrowind 🔗

Tomorrowind
The problem where you play Morrowind for long enough that when you're done "for the day" it ends up being the next day.

I've been getting back into Morrowind, now that OpenMW is fully working with the base game and it's expansions. Plus, the game runs on basically anything that has come out in the past 10 years, including potatoes. While the graphics are … not great, the story and RPG systems are.

Since it’s release in 2002, I played Morrowind a lot. Despite my computer barely being able to handle it at the time. It was amazing. A truly open world where you could go and do anything. Want to follow the main story? Sure, go right ahead. Want to go drink Skooma and sprint around at stupid fast speed until it wears off? Sure, kid. Want to become the Archmage and the head of the Thieves Guild? With a little finagling, you can be them both! You were given the tools to play and some story to go on, and told to have fun (much like the parenting at that age… ba-dum-tisk).

Open Morrowind has rekindled my love for this game. While it’s very thoroughly broken in many ways, it’s also a monument to what “open” can mean. We have a dearth of “open world” games, now. The problem is that many of these games define open in almost a sandbox or amusement park kind of way. There is stuff to do, but a lot of it is really shallow and boring. With Morrowind and Oblivion (and to a lesser extent, Skyrim), you had not only stuff to do, but much of it was story-rich and engaging. Not to mention, the immersion of not telling you exactly where to go, but just giving some very human (read: vague) directions invites exploration and discovery.

OpenMW is keeping this lovely game alive and inviting a whole new generation of gamers to pick up and experience one of the true classics of the RPG/Open World genre. One that helped spark off a slew of copycats that never really stood up to the original. For that, I thank them.

Moving 🔗

Well, my parents just sold their house. That means my childhood home is no longer going to be in the family. I'm not sure that strikes me as sad, or good, or just indifferent. I suppose it should have some sort of influence on me, but I'm finding it difficult to react one way or the other.

I mean, I know I'm happy for them. It's a big change for them, and now that they're retiring, they want to spend more time with my son, which means moving down here. All of that is good, in many ways. I'm sure it'll be a change for myself and Erin's family, but it'll work out. So, why the "meh" feeling?

I guess I've just been so disconnected from my parents, from Maine, that I don't really consider myself part of that place anymore. It's been so long, that I'm rounding the corner on having been here longer than I have lived there. That's not to say I don't miss some things, but those things are largely gone, or have changed, or I have changed. I just don't feel connected to it anymore.

Maybe I'll feel something when visiting it for the last time. Maybe I'm just broken... who knows?

Ms. Marvel 🔗

Yes, I know I'm a day late. I watched Obi-won yesterday, and had a busy evening. Of course, a busy day meant I couldn't pay as much attention to it as I'd have liked. Today, I got to watch Ms. Marvel uninterrupted.

What a treat it was!

I had read most of the early comics of hers when they came out, so some of the differences were a little suspect, but given that the only mention of the Terragen Mists was in a different reality... we'll let it slide.

Imani is absolutely great in her role, and her family dynamics feel fluid and awkwardly real. While I'm not a child of immigrant parents, I felt like there was enough of the teenage expereince that trancedned the sort of 'foreigner family' trope that gets played up often in western media. Teenagers know how it feels to be denied something they feel is critical to their being and their social lives. Teenagers know how cringey and embarassing their parents can be trying to 'fit in'. It doesn't matter where you're from.

I am psyched to see more. Absolutely psyched.

I Thought I Wanted... 🔗

Note: I'll be getting those photos sorted soon enough. They're uploaded, but I just can't be bothered with the markup right now...

I, recently, was assigned a brand-new Macbook Pro at work. We're getting a bunch of new-hires in that will be using them, so we need to ensure they'll work with our enviornment. While that's not really a concern of mine, I understood that this came from higher up on the food chain, and did what I needed to do.

One thing I like to pride myself on is being versitile. I can use lots of different operating environments and still be mostly productive. While I have a some Windows-centric things for my position, the rest is mostly just email and phone calls.

For a lot of my life, I was an Apple user. I had a big 'ole Grey iMac G3 and a Powerbook G4 as well as varying newer models. I've also been a long time iPhone user, which makes being a Mac user an easy decision, especially as the two platforms have grown closer. I've also been a frequent Linux user and a professional Windows support jockey. Finding middle ground between all of these platforms hasn't been easy, and usually takes a heaping amount of compromise.

Recently, though I can't find the blog post it was in, I expressed interest in going "all in" with Apple. I already use their phones, their music and movies, I may as well settle in for a well integrated (at the cost of being more flexible) experience and let my fortunes be what it may.

However. I spent a decent amount of time poking around in the newer versions of macOS, only to be disapointed at how stripped down it has become. Sure, I could rely on Homebrew to paper over some of that, but it feels like I'm either no longer the target demographic, or I'm fooling myself into believing that I'm something that I'm not. Recently, I feel like it could be either of those things.

Reading that Apple is stripping out all scripting languages like Python, Perl, Ruby and more is disheartening, but it doesn't really affect me. As I've said before: I'm not a programmer. I do, however, feel like just knowing this strips some of the luster away. Sure, their hardware feels great, and the performance is impressive, but to what end? I'm just a regular power user, now. I write some HTML and CSS, tinker with some configuration, and read comics and the news. Isn't it time I get real and choose a platform that emphasises those experiences?

I wish it were as simple as that. Having a Linux machine tells me that freedom is liberating, if exhausting. Windows tells me that a consistent, long-term experience is a value in-of-its-own. Mac tells me that for better or worse, we're all going to be shoehorned into choices that we may not on the surface like, but fit ourselves better.

Computers really are something awful.

Alaska Photos 🔗

Paid vs. Free 🔗

One of the ongoing debates in my head, and I imagine with most people, is do I use the "free" product, or is it worth paying for a more "premium" product? Often, this comes down to what you need out of it, and what you're willing to "put up with" as far as frustration and limitations are. For some, thriftiness is king and the use of nominally free products is more important than removing frustration and roadblocks. To others, having a frustration-free, or much easier/enjoyable experience is much more important than low cost. I would imagine that, like me, many fall somewhere in-between.

For instance: I would never pay for a text-editor. With the dearth of absolutely incredible tooling out there, for free, and my relative needs, there isn't really any onus to buying something like that. However, I will absolutely pay for things or access to stuff like manga, music, movies, TV shows and others in lieu of simply pirating them from the many sources online. Same thing goes with email: I would rather pay for good email service rather than rely on "free" services, as my email is private communication and free services tend to infringe on that as part of the non-monetary cost.

Search is an interesting subject. Like news, we've been conditioned to see search as something that has infinite value, and therefore should be free. From Altavista, Yahoo and Dogpile to Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo, we're continually told that search indexing is both free and invaluable. It's not until you actually look at the problem of search that you realize just how massively complicated and expensive it is to run. It's, therefore, small wonder that advertising and sponsored content is all the rage with search engines.

I write all this because it seems like there isn't much to do about it. Others are musing about it, and some solutions have been created, but it doesn't seem like there is any solid path forward. Do I need to pay for every service I want to use? That seems counter-productive or at the very least exclusionary to less well off users. It also brings up the idea of what is part of the critical infrastructure of the Internet. DNS, HTTP, SSL Certificates, routing... all behind the scenes services, all paid for by someone, usually a provider of some kind. However, what would it be like to pay for all of those things ala carte? Would they bundle? What kind of fragmented access would that provide? Should we add search to that stack? I know that search isn't a protocol, but it seems like the web is prohibitively large enough to need it. While I understand the problem is complex enough, that making it free without some kind of compensation is kind of a big ask, even for large companies with the capital to fund it. It still seems like a fundamental part of how we use the web.

Search seems to be moving into an interesting place. Despite the size and complexity of it, there is strong headway in making it more digestible and easier to index through many open-source projects. While not on the scale of their for-profit fore-bearers, they will seemingly make some kind of waves in the world of search. I could reasonably foresee a future where such indexes are distributed and each user has a small indexer that scrapes what is visited and distributes it to an aggregator. Though, that's also fraught with problems.

I don't know if I like where this is all going. We've had this duopoly for ages now, and it seems like there is no quantitative relief in sight if you want a robust search engine that respects your privacy, gives you good results, and is accountable to you. Given how much any average search engine knows about your personality through your searches, it probably knows as much as your phone does, and that's a lot.

Oops! 🔗

I just noticed that I was encoding images as .avic instead of .heic for that new format. Yeah, that doesn't work 😄

After a bit of fussing and judicious use of convert and the excellent fdfind, things should be right, now. They seem to load for me on Firefox, anyway.

I'm looking in to converting images to JPEG-XL, now that it's a standard. Though Debian Stable doesn't have an imagemagick new enough to encode to it, so I'll be waiting on that.

I Wish All Conflicts Could Be Solved Like This 🔗

I wish all conflicts could be solved like this.
I wish all conflicts could be solved like this. Credit: Viz/ONE/Yusuke Murata

I'm Back 🔗

I'm back.

My ears are still stuffed up and I still feel the motion of the cruise ship. I had a post I had written while out there, but it was more about Emacs than the vacation, so I binned it.

Turns out, a bunch of shit happened while I was out and I don't really want to think about it. I'm going to do what I can to work off this jet lag, ear poppin' and phantom motion.

Tipping Point 🔗

Managing this site at the pace that I am updating it is taking a bit of a toll on me. While I enjoy the viceral feel of hand crafting HTML and CSS, I am getting tired of managing the entire tree myself. This is felt particularly hard when I add pages. Granted, I don't foresee myself adding many more pages… but it does take cognitive effort to manage.

I've been kicking around using Hugo, again, to manage the site. It's powerful and neat and entirely too much for what I need. Or maybe it's just enough. No idea. It's all experimental. I don't like the templating situation, it's entirely overcomplicated. The shortcode situation is also one that requires thought. While I can see it being useful, I'm not sure I want to dig into it, yet.

Fortunately, there's no cure for burn out better than going on vacation! So, that's what I'm doing. I don't think I'll post from it, but I'm obviously too vain to promise anything of the sort.

"Ogres Have Layers; Stylesheets Have Layers, Too" 🔗

While pounding out some HTML and other crap content for this site, I stumbled upon some new features coming to CSS. Specifically: Layers.

A CSS layer is like an extra precidence trick to allow you to apply sets of CSS with increasing or decreasing orders of specificity. The upshot is that you can now include your CSS resets, base typography, colors, utilities and then your customizations. As the browser works its way down the list, older/earlier rules get overwritten with newer ones until the layering has ended.

This has a lot of potential with CSS frameworks, but it also has helpful organizational use for people like me. Allowing me to have a basic style ruleset, then layer customizations on top of it, without having to break out the !important's to override tricky selectors. That way, code-wise, everything stays pristine. The browser is the mixologist.

Too bad it's too new to use. If you're using less than version ~100 of your respective browser, you'd be out of luck and (likely) get wacky results. Hopefully things get sorted out soon.

Print & Play for Travel 🔗

So, I'm going on a little trip with my family. It's going to be a long airline ride, and probably more driving on top of that. So, in order to help with duration, and to help cut down on the screen time, I've started looking, again, into print and play games.

I've done this once before, during the pandemic (well, it's still the pandemic, but 2 years on already…). I printed Supermarche , Four Against Darkness (bought), Bargan Basement Bathyspheres (of Beachside Bay) , and Utopia Engine . Many of these I just sent to Kinkos/FedEx/Whatever to get printed on nice stock or lamenated for multiple plays. This time, I've chosen a few new ones.

I was really tempted to print Gloomholdin' , but I tend not to be in the mood to play something complex in a confined space. I'd rather spread out and enjoy a complex experience. Travel also makes complex things frustrating. I don't think anyone is going to want to be any more frustrated than they will be. To that end, I've sent ~$17 worth of printing on nice cardstock to FedEx:

Both have simple rules and simple materials. Mini Rouge can be co-op, and both are small enough to comfortably sit inside a backpack or pastic bag. Of course, I'll be taking dice, some meeple and a tray, too.

Update: I found a great video on how to make good print-and-play cards:

Excellent Laminating!

VSCode vs. Emacs 🔗

My love afair is a triangle
My love afair is a triangle

I love Emacs. I really do. I use for lots of things. However, I absolutely love using VSCode for web stuff, and Python. It feels like there is a more comfortable setup configured for these languages than in Emacs. I imagine I could make Emacs work better, but at what time cost to me?

Update: Thinking about this, Emacs feels like an all-or-nothing affair. When you use Emacs, you're practically encouraged to use it for everything. I mean, why leave if you can access all or most of your tools from within Emacs? Need to kill a process? M-x proced. Need to read some email? M-x mail (or one of the many variants). Need a terminal? M-x eshell. Even things like organization, calendaring, note taking and chat can all be done inside Emacs. It becomes an integral part of your life, except when you can't use it. Which means while on the go you're stuck without your second brain. One of the biggest reasons I kind of stopped using it was due to this. Even as I type these words into Emacs, I know that it doesn't quite fit for me. Which is sad, because I like it so much.

Link: The Expert vs the Impostor

Woof, Impostor Syndrome. Story of my life.

I spent nearly ten years working on websites and doing "coding" (for whatever values of that you're willing to accept for writing PHP). This was a position I inherited because I had tinkered with it as a kid and had an affinity for it. I was far from being a professional.

I often have to remind myself that I am not:

  • A developer
  • An artist or creative type
  • A systems engineer

I have an expertise in doing desktop support. That's pretty much it. Everything else is just me learning enough to be, as Kev puts: "dangerous". I sometimes think that everyone behaves this way, and no one is a expert. However, that is clearly not the case. People may not know every aspect of a thing they have expertise in. However, for all intents and purposes, they're an 'expert'. I just wish I knew where the line was.

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Another Day, Another Positive 🔗

Turns out I'm still positive. However, my sinuses are empty enough that I can taste and smell again. So, it's still a mixed bag.

I just hope all this clears up soon, I'd like to actually go somewhere.

Flavorless 🔗

It's been a whole day, now, without smell or taste. At first it was a novel thing. I was intreguied by the odd "numbness" of food. It's not that what I was eating didn't have texture, it's just that the food lacked anything particularly defining about it. The biggest surprise wasn't anything I was prepared for.

Being full on what feels like nothing. Eating my fill in bulk food, without regard for flavor, has a weird almost painful feeling, without any of the satisfaction.

I'm not going to lie. It's depressing. Smell is less important to me, but flavor. Wow, it's going to be hard to overcome.

Loss 🔗

Today, I woke up not being able to smell or taste anything. COVID is having one more laugh at my expense.

Working From Home While Sick is Sometimes Nice 🔗

Lots of Nothing 🔗

This whole Twitter acquisition thing has me thinking about the "microblogging" movement of Twitter and platforms like it (read: Mastodon, etc).

It feels like microblogging platforms allow people (including myself) to say a little about a lot of stuff. In the end, I'm not sure if that's as useful or novel as people make it out to be.

I'm not sure that I need to make a comment about every little thing I've read or did or thought. While I know that it can be very funny or topical, looking back, I'm not sure that it was really as useful as I made it out to be.

Can't Sleep 🔗

I can't seem to sleep lately. I, at least for now, am attributing it to a combination of the medicine I'm getting from my doctors to treat COVID symptoms and naps. I am beginning to think that daytime naps are the bigger contributor to my inability to fall asleep at night. I tend to take naps in the afternoon after work.

I should probably cut back on those. However, they do help with my energy levels. Perhaps moving them into earlier afternoon, like during lunch time, would be more productive.

I dunno, but I'm just done with COVID right now. Between the snotting and coughing all the time. I know I'm lucky due to being previously vaccinated, but this still sucks in it's own special way.

COVID 19 🔗

Well, it finally happened. I got COVID. I feel like crap, but I also feel like I'm doing better than most. I had not only my vaccine, but I had two boosters.

The thing I fear most, now, is that I'm going to loose my sense of smell/taste. I know it's not a foregone conclusion, it is possible. Time will tell, I guess.

Meow, Meow, Meow! 🔗

😸😸😸

Looks like "Lightyear" is going to be a pretty funny movie. Sardonic robot cat? Sign me up.

Discomfort 🔗

I've been one to throw myself into awkward computing situations. Frequently, I install new updates and explore features that are barely tested. In short: I don't shy away from "new". Even if it's a big change. I spent more than a year booting from a floppy to load BeOS when even Firefox was barely working on it. I've toyed around with different Linux window managers, including ones like DWM which require you to know some C to configure it, compiling it after each change. Hell, I used Emacs and Notmuch mail with POP3 in 2021 on Exchange because I thought it'd be neat.

I don't know why, then, that Windows 11 rubs me so wrong.

It's not like the interface has changed so dramatically that I can't work anymore. I feel like it's a death from a thousand small cuts. From menu items appearing cramped and odd looking. To the total revamp of the Settings application and how nothing works right. 11 should have been Microsoft's time to absolutely blow people away with the runaway success of 10. My first login experience was multiple messages about some Teams DLLs not being correct for my platform. Again, I shouldn't be bothered by any of this, but I am.

My Windows 11 welcome
My Windows 11 welcome

I'm also really bothered because I feel like the Windows 10 install on my old potato computer is as good as it can get. Upgrading to 11 on a newer laptop feels like it would be a wash, both in productivity and in functionality. I mean, I plan on upgrading at some point. I just don't know when. This makes me strongly reconsider Linux, though I'm not in love with that idea, either.

Article Feed: Now Up 🔗

There is now an ATOM feed available for this site. It's not comprehensive, but it's a start and it's hand made.

Simple Notes 🔗

Why are open-source, self-hosted solutions so… boring? I want to host something that I can really use, not some enterprise wannabe app.

Link: Better Blocker Forgotten

What an absolute tool. I don't even know why I bother with anything Aral has to say. He's such a blowhard, spinning up projects that he has no intention of finishing, or even supporting when he's bored of it. I guess this is a "shame on me" moment.

Not 3 years ago, Aral was talking about how their iOS ad-blocking app "Better Blocker" was doing middlingly well, but gave them a decent chunk of change a year (more than some make doing actual jobs). Now, because Apple didn't fight doing searches for child pornography on people's photos, they've taken it down.

Mind you, Better Blocker was a paid appliction. One that required only maintenance to stay in line with the app store rules and to throw up block list updates on some external server. Not exactly rocket science. When they took down their app, they didn't even bother to tell paid users. It just stops updating. The app page is unavailable and there is nothing but a blog post on his personal site about it. Wonderful.

What a pretentious douchebag. If you want to steer clear of non-profits doing more harm than good, then stay away from the so-called "Small Technology Foundation". Nothing good comes from either of these two grifters using the guise of non-profit to live a privleged life..

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Link: My Time to Fly

You might have heard this little ditty while on hold. I think it's an amazing work and I wish I could actually…you know, purchase it.

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"All the things you said. Running through my head…" 🔗

Sometimes I find it hard to write about anything here. Not because I don't have something to say. If my posting history on Fosstodon was any indication, I had a hard time shutting up. I just have a hard time coming up with things to talk about at length.

For instance, I've been playing Downfall, a Slay the Spire mod which lets you play as the bosses. I've been picking back up Marvel Champions now that the spider-verse expansion is out. I've also been hand-wringing, trying to decide if I want to get a new laptop or not spend that kind of money on, essentially, a gaming platform that does other utility things. I've also been massively busy with school and work because it's getting toward the end of semester, and the board of directors meetings are going on.

I'm awfully tired. I'm pretty tired of this dumb diet my trainer has me on, and I'm also tired of feeling like every day is the same set of tasks, with little to differentiate between them. I take all this with a grain of salt, though, because I'm going to Alaska soon-ish.

I kind of see why there is a growing trend of people doing "monthly summary" posts to fill in those odd gaps of all the things that aren't important enough to warrant a full post. I guess that's something to consider.

USS Orleck 🔗

Jacksonville's Naval Museum has a big exhibit coming to downtown.

Omakase 🔗

Once upon a time, I watched a movie/documentary called "Jiro Dreams of Sushi", a delightful film about this master sushi chef that has a small, but extremely exclusive sushi resturant in the bottom of a Tokyo office building. Jiro, the titular character, is a man driven by the desire to perfect his sushi and delight his patrons. Spoilers: He does so.

Jiro's sushi is served in the style of omakase, translated as "I'll leave it up to you [the chef]". You don't order food like you would at a traditional resturant. You come in, sit down and are fed what the chef has in mind for the night. Sometimes this is pre-set for a particular season, sometimes it changes on the chef's whim or availability of ingredients. Regardless, it's a very facinating experience.

That all being said, my wife recently discovered that there is an omakase-style resturant in town that is just sort of getting started. It's got a small, ten-person seating for the omakase event and she got us seats for our anniversary. What a delight it was. I've never had sushi like this, nor have I had any sushi that compares.

The interior is very intmate. While they're expanding to take up the reminants of the resturant that they moved into, they're starting with this and a small outdoor seating area. Very cozy.

The food is prix fixe, meaning you pay first and you get what you get. Kind of risky, but if you like sushi, having a master chef take you through 17 different courses of deliciousness is hard to pass up.

Seventeen courses. That seems like a lot, thinking about it. However, you're eating your meal roughly one bite at a time, so it doesn't feel overwhelming. You also get the "show" of seeing sushi chefs do what they do best. Hyper-sharp knife skills, picky about fish choices and attention to the smallest details. It's art.

It was an absolutely unforgettable experience. I'm so happy my wife decied to take me!

"…Hovering[sic], in Much the Same Way That Bricks Don't" 🔗

It feels weird to say it, but hover events (mouse style) are becoming old fashioned selectors on the web. That's not to say that there aren't plenty of users using mouse and keyboard on the web. It's just that there are probably many more on their phones or tablets, browsing your site. These users don't have any standard method of triggering these events.

Just eariler today, I was working on some CSS on my site, when I noticed that the hover events don't work well with touch screens. I understand why, but the workarounds… don't spark joy. One I found, a is just a sort of open-ended loaded the touchstart event and things ✨ magically ✨ worked.

I'm pretty sure that we're not far off from a future where hover events are a legacy thing that gets added to tick a box. I hope I'm wrong, maybe screens will get a near-touch hover event. Who knows...

For anyone looking to be pendantic, like me, you can wrap your :hover psuedo-selectors in a @media screen and (hover: hover) to gate the effects behind a feature lookup. Note: this appears to be hit-or miss as mobile browsers will sometimes fire hover events on hover-esque touches. So, YMMV.

10ft Paywall, 3ft Ladder 🔗

Managing Markdown with a Myriad of Mediocre Mislabeled Misfits 🔗

I don't care much for OneNote as a note-taking tool. It works alright, but it's slow and often feels sloppy and disorganized. I much prefer plain text. It's universal and note prone to corruption like the former. So, then why is it so hard to have everywhere?

Bear

What a beautiful app. Too bad it's probably the worst. Not only do you pay $1.49/mo. for sync on it's own systems, but you don't even get web access for non-Apple platforms. No choice of sync to preferred services.

Emacs

Ah, yes, my favorite editor. Not really something that you would call a "markdown" editor, specifically. However, it does edit Markdown, and it can save to any location the device has access to, including OneDrive or iCloud. There is just one problem: No iOS. Not surprising, really, but it makes it a shitty cross-platform tool for taking notes.

Byline

Another iOS, Markdown-focused editor. Saves to a number of locations, just not OneDrive, not even through the files app. While you can access already created notes on it, you can't start them there.

iOS Notes

It saves notes in Exchange Online (or iCloud) and syncs with Outlook and kind of OneNote, but not really. Also, very limited if you're not using iCloud as the back-end.

OneNote

Has decent enough applications for Windows, macOS and iOS (and Android), syncs with OneDrive and has connections to notes in Exchange Online. Has lots of features and whatnot. It's just slow, clunky and unintuitive and messy and... bleh.

Conclusion

Is OneNote really the only answer? ☹

Photos 🔗

All Apologies 🔗

What else could I write?
I don't have the right
What else should I be?
All apologies

Nirvana - "All Apologies"

I don't feel much like myself today.

PHP Traps 🔗

There are a lot of ways to automate things. PHP has, historically, been very good at making HTML templated things like blogs. Even as it has expanded in purpose with command-line utility, it still does and amazing job at sticking content in HTML and sending that to a browser.

So seductive is this ability to make content appear in HTML that even stupidly trivial things, like this page, whisper their almost silent promises of making it so much easier to write and publish on it. Thankfully, this has already been done to death by a dearth of links to abandoned PHP projects smeared across the gleaming black and white surface of GitHub's project listings pages.

Would I like to make this whole process easier? Of course I would. That's not the point, though.

I could implement a PHP page to iterate through a directory of Markdown files and render them unto this page. I could have a PHP powered image pipeline to crop, slice, dice and thumbnailize images included on the page. I'm fairly sure I could even create those things myself.

I don't like that, though. It feels cheap. It feels … sterile and formless. I don't want that because I'm tired of managing that. The workflows, the process, making sure things go right. Setting up infrastructure on my laptop to make sure that the code I'm pushing doesn't break on the server.

Feh!

I have a preview function in VSCode, and even if I didn't, the dwindling number of browsers out there would be more than sufficient for the task.

I'm not above a certain level of irony and dissonance. I know that VSCode is basically a hyper-fancy webpage for writing code. I know that most applications I use are just webpages guissied up and mangled beyond their original intents. But this is my site, and I get to make the rules.

DST Sucks 🔗

Daylight Savings Time is awful. You either get an hour of false extra sleep, or you struggle for like two weeks while your body adjusts to the 'new normal'.

Not only does it increase risk of heart attack, increase risk of stroke, increases your risk of being injured while working, and increases the risk of car accidents. It also increases the amount of sleep depravation that teenagers experience.

Why do we, then, continue the practice when at least half the country dislikes it so much that they're trying to abolish it?

Ms. Marvel 🔗

Looks like we're finally getting Ms. Marvel! While the (origin) story is decidedly different thant the comics, without having covered the whole Terragen Mists thing, this is as good as origin as any.

Can't wait for June 8th

Obi-Wan Kenobi 🔗

It's happening!

AHHHHHHHHHH!!

The Fear of Missing Out 🔗

Fear of missing out
Graham Roumieu for BuzzFeed News
F.O.M.O. or "The Fear of Missing Out"
Fear of missing out (FOMO) is the feeling of apprehension that one is either not in the know or missing out on information, events, experiences, or life decisions that could make one's life better. FOMO is also associated with a fear of regret, which may lead to concerns that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, a memorable event, or a profitable investment.

I have a problem with Social Media. It stems from my underlying depression. With social media, I can create a persona that is similar to me, but is designed to be a much more symapathetic overview. To what end? More interaction.

The more replies, likes, boosts and other buttons, the more my head gets a tiny little dopamine kick. String those along for enough time and it becomes habit. The problem with this, though, is that while dopamine is all well and good. It doesn't keep you coming back. That's where FOMO comes into play.

"A challenge is that the part of our brain that reinforces behaviors is stimulated by novelty; social media scrolling always promises something new with the next scroll."

Dr. Michael Jaffee, director of the Neurology Sleep Clinic at the University of Florida

Forget drugs! Scrolling Reddit, Twitter or Mastodon allows you to get that "just one more" satisfaction. Infinitely. That makes it not only hard to quit, full stop, but also hard to just put down.

For me, it wasn't something I could handle responsibly. I tried, like the author, to do things like:

While app developers want to keep you engaged for as long as possible, most of them do offer tools to limit screen use. So I did what I don't think (anecdotally) many people do — I set up time limits on my social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to help manage my screen use before bed with the hopes of getting more sleep.

Sometimes it worked and I would surrender my phone to my bedside table, irritated but also appreciative of the sweet relief of darkness on my eyes. But other times I would plug in the passcode, ignoring the tinge of regret that pinched my stomach and knowledge that my future self would be angry — and tired — in the morning.

Katie Camero, BuzzFeed News Reporter

Only to ignore the rules I had set for myself and just plow on, unhindered. It was really surreal the first few times, and pretty much automatic by the time I had my blow up. For me, the problem wasn't lack of sleep. It was the crumbling relationships I had ignored for too long. Worse than being tired or cranky, I had to deal with real human issues around my additction. I still do.

I feel it still. The need to post pithy little comments. Engage in conversation and insider's humor. Every time, though, I need to understand that it's not that important. Especially it's not important enough to interrupt family time, or other important events, where I should be present.

To that end, I am seeking professional help for my addiction. I know I need help, and now I'm going to get it. Maybe one day I'll be in control enough to re-engage with social media, but my suspicion is that I am going to have to treat this like Alcoholism and just abstain.

Anti-social Media 🔗

I've been using social media a lot. My drug of choice is the federated system known as Mastodon. It's an ad-free, user supported system of services that have no one central point of control or failure. This means you can chat with all kinds of people on all kinds of wacky subjects.

That's kind of the problem.

I've been using it as a substitute for my own life. I've used it in ways that have hurt others, but mostly I've used it for the minimal dopamine kick that you get when someone does … whatever, respond, like … etc. Small kicks frequently enough over time make you feel good, in control and liked. Regardless of the actual state of things.

Destroying my life for a dopamine kick isn't exactly sustainable. Hence, my abstinence.

To help fill that void, I've decided that I want to journal more. I got a book and a pen and I've been writing. I also have this blog to help me with that. Despite my misgivings around WordPress, I've tabled them until I can get my head and life straightened out.

I'm going to take this opportunity to take a good hard look at myself and what I get out of the tools and systems I use. I want to be enriched by things, not dragged into small highs that I seek more and more of to the detriment of everything else.

So, if you're looking for me. I'm here, just not there.

GNUPG Sucks 🔗

GNUPG, the so-called "GNU Privacy Guard" and only realistically suriving member of the PGP band from back-in-the-day. Sucks. It does. Don't @ me, I don't care about your opinion.

It sucks because everything about it is old, hard-to-use and made by people who still think that terminals are what everyone should be using. Packages distributed for desktops that are actually used (read: Windows and Mac) are out of date or have seperate certificate trust chains that cause problems looking up key server information. Honestly, it's just a mess.

Fortunately, public key encryption has come a long way. Services like Matrix implement security almost entirely transparently. We need more stuff like this to make real encryption and certification/signing a real thing that is available to the masses.

Right now? I'm tired of waiting. Fuck GnuPG.

All Good Things… 🔗

I used to like WordPress. Back when it was just a naicent blogging platform with spaghetti code PHP and an friendly interface.

However, it's turned into a monster. A monster that wants to be everything to everyone without actually fixing anything. This feels dangerous, as it doesn't feel like anything substantial is being done to help ensure that the codebase is more organized or easier to interface with. Instead they add features, like Gutenberg, and press the "advantages" of "Full Site Editing". Throwing the theme world on it's head, pushing more and more features into JavaScript instead of using the proper tooling already installed on the server. They push more WooCommerce plugins and online store updates to monitize and drive "engagement" and "click throughs" and "sales".

I want the old WordPress back. The one that was designed to be a blogging platform. It filled a niche that was needed, and left the more generic Content Management to the heavy-hitters like Joomla and Drupal. You can see the fragments of the fevered development in where they put things in the database. Tables once only intending to hold one type of content now layer lots of different options and configurations in a haphazard manner. Things like theme customizations appearing in the post content tables along side block customizations. Term tables house post content information. It's chaos.

So, for now, I'm back to hand-editing this content, in a text editor and uploading it to my server and serving it statically. No content management system like Hugo, no PHP or Laravel or Node.js. Just me, an editor and a bit of time. I'm sure a time will come where I migrate to (or back to) something. Right now, I'm just enjoying the feeling.

Press X to Doubt 🔗

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Press X to Doubt.

Content Management, Who Needs It? 🔗

I mean, I do, if I want to manage more than a handful of articles. Maybe that'll push me to use Hugo or whatever. So far, I think I'll stay hand-editing this … whatever this is. Running train of thought? Experiment in retro-blogging?

🤷️

Hello 🔗

Don't mind me. I'm just working on my website while the world falls apart and I'm stuck on a conference call with Microsoft.

Content Warning: Russia/Ukraine Conflict Images
Content Warning: Russia/Ukraine Conflict Video
Video of the car crush incident. The man survived.