Andrew White

I had a conversation today in which we figured out that on a daily basis I use Apple hardware built in:

  • 2010 (an old 15” MacBook Pro that my daughter uses for homework)
  • 2012 (an iPad Mini that I use for recipes and videos while cooking)
  • 2016 (an iPhone SE that’s primarily my daughter’s, but we also use for feeding the Chromecast)

I also have a BlackBook that I’ve mentioned before that’s still in occasional use. The only other hardware I have that’s around that old and in regular use is my Synology DS213j that dates back to 2014. My phone is three years old, and I’m not in a rush to replace it.

I have a few take-aways. Apple stuff lasts, and I believe it’s worth the premium. We don’t need to upgrade as often as we do. And it’s imperative that we support right-to-repair laws. Computers should be able to last this long.

I redid my Raspberry Pi 4 (1GB) with a full desktop today to see what the experience was like. It was really good. I could definitely see the 8GB version working for a lot of people as a full-time computing device. Sticking VNC and xrdp on it, I was able to use the desktop reasonably well remotely as well, which opens up some interesting possibilities.

Humble Bundle have released a bundle of games in which you can pet the dog.

Bullet-list musings on our cyberpunk dystopia

  • We’re all masked up
  • We are in the midst of a pandemic, and an accelerating climate catastrophe
  • People are setting video of our world to the soundtracks of Blade Runner movies, and it really works
  • Corporations are approaching governments in power and influence
  • Corporations are also becoming more concentrated through M&A, and it’s getting harder for new entrants to the market to challenge them. This is particularly true in technology
  • We all walk around with portable computing devices that have more oomph than all the computers that existed in the world together until very recently
  • Heck, that’s also true of many of our watches
  • Inequality is accelerating, and all of the gains we have made in productivity lately are more and more concentrated
  • The super-rich are getting ready to bail on us, and ride this whole thing out in mega resorts, or maybe even orbit
  • Yesterday my bank stored my conversation with them in order to create a voice print for security reasons

In my continuing and totally unnecessary quest to find some new notetaking system to which to move, I’ve been playing a bit with encoding images in markdown files using data URIs. I don’t think that’s going to work. Even though in theory HTML is valid within a markdown document a surprising number of markdown parsers don’t seem to like it. And just providing a data URI in the usual markdown image link hasn’t worked for me yet.

Love it.

The quantified self, but not really

I’m not a big quantified self type. Some of the things I’ve seen people track have exhausted me just reading about it. But I do track a few things using really simple systems, and I’ve had some genuinely life-changing insights from it. The big ones have been:

  • I am significantly happier on days where I have a balance of getting things done and quality down-time
  • I am similarly happier on days where I have a good balance of family time and personal time. Time with friends moves the needle as well, but not as much
  • Drinking alcohol
    • makes me irritable the next day after drinking it once I’m over a couple of drinks
    • really dramatically increases my anxiety. Even small amounts have some impact
  • I run and walk slower when I listen to podcast and audiobooks than I do when listening to music or nothing
  • When I switch from one type of generic drug to another (the NHS doesn’t always provide the same manufacturer’s drug) I have mild symptoms like the ones I experience starting the drug
  • I used to take walks through a local nature reserve along the river to a nearby pub. I’d sit, have a pint or tea, read a book, and then walk back. Weeks when I included that activity I was much happier and had more energy at the end of the week
  • My blood pressure and resting heart rate are more variable than I expected, and are affected by exercise (and I believe time outdoors), caffeine, alcohol, and preprepared food
  • I can avoid that desperate need to use a washroom that many runners have by getting up about 20 minutes before my run and letting nature take its course in advance
  • On vacation
    • I enjoy myself more when I continue to exercise as I would at home
    • I sleep on average one-and-three-quarters-hours longer than “normal” for a total of around eight hours
    • I lose weight despite eating more restaurant food because
    • I am very active
    • I don’t snack out of boredom, stress, or other negative states of mind

All I use for my tracking are my Withings watch, a Wahoo heart-rate monitor, a Eufy scale, and forms I put together first on Google Docs, and then in Tap Forms, the nearest equivalent to Access for Mac users. I generally start with a hypothesis, and then design a form to track and test. It’s all much simpler than it sounds, and it’s really improved my quality of life.

Edit: Forgot about Moodnotes and Day One.

It’s surprising to me how little friction is required to get me to change behaviour. In order to play a game in my gaming PC, I need to swap two cables. This, combined with the expectation of having to deal with some update, is often enough to get me to say “oh, I can’t be bothered” when I know I’ll only have half-an-hour of game time. Takeaway: I need to learn to use that friction to push me in good directions!

Alright! Back in the land of reliable wifi, post-vacation insanity is over. I’m going to get back on to daily postings. Haven’t decided how I’m going to handle the days I’ve missed. The options are: just saying “I blew it, but I’m going to post every day until the original 100 days are up,” or extending the project by the roughly two weeks I was unable. I’m leaning towards the later.

So that this post has some actual value: Black Panther comics are free right now on Comixology.

Having a very hard time meeting my post-a-day goals. Unfortunately I have very limited connectivity where I am. Having a lovely vacation, though, so it’s hard to be too fussed!

I’ve been tempted by, but getting a email address isn’t appealing to me. One of the things that’s been very cool about the service, though, have been the number of people thinking about replicating or improving upon their features in other platforms. I hope Hey succeeds, but they’ve already forced folks to innovate in that space again.

Thoroughly enjoying my old-skool Mac apps and desktop patterns.

I have always liked visiting the Barbican, but I’d never been to the conservatory before. Got a chance to go yesterday, and the experience was incredible. I love gardens, but this one feels positively otherworldly. Actually, what it felt like is part of a set for a Logan’s Run remake. A new favourite London spot.

It is remarkable how much more usable train wifi is these days.

More farting about with browsers. Got Links working with SSL and graphics on my Mac. To do so, install XQuartz, libpng and OpenSSL through homebrew. Then set the following flags:

set -gx LDFLAGS "-L/usr/local/opt/openssl@1.1/lib"

set -gx CPPFLAGS "-I/usr/local/opt/openssl@1.1/include"

and run

./configure --x-includes=/usr/X11/include --x-libraries=/usr/X11/lib/ --enable-graphics --with-ssl

sudo make install

In reading a newsletter, I came across a recommendation for using GitLab for a wiki. I poked around, and I really liked what I saw. I also like their web-based editor, and I like how much I can get done there on my phone. I’m seriously considering a private repo as my notes, knowledge base, and to-do system. I can search inside issues, the wiki, or my files (although each is silo’d, and oddly, search only searches inside files, not for file names). It’s very portable. Collaboration is possible, although probably too technical for the people with whom I usually collaborate. And I can even have offline versions of my files on my phone with Working Copy. This could work…

(In case it’s not obvious, I spend way too much time on yak-shaving.)

My Kindle is an ancient device I picked up for £7 from Cash Converters. For the first time ever I bought a book that isn’t compatible with it. I viewed the book on my phone, and I can see why the ebook is terrible; it’s laid out like it’s in print. It’s unreadable even on my iPhone 8+. Why would a publisher do that? There aren’t even illustrations.

Two neat aticles today I’d like to share with you lot:

The Google trends for many of these home entertainments suggest that their new popularity may outlast the pandemic. If so, the world could end up poorer in earnings—but richer in experiences.


Llamas generally are not known to be cozy with humans, and at 5-foot-8 and 350 pounds, Caesar could appear intimidating. But Caesar doesn’t turn from affection or back away from chaos. When people meet Caesar, they tend to melt in his calm presence, said his caretaker, Larry McCool, who lives in Jefferson, Ore., on the Mystic Llama Farm.

I have finally got my NAS up and running after a couple of months down time. The ethernet cable to it had gone bad. Fortunately that was one of the first things I checked. It’s so great to have it back again. And I have it successfully backing up to Backblaze B2, and have enabled the new security features. Quite pleased! It’s been on my to-do list for weeks.

My daughter has a couple of friends who like to play Mariokart when they come over. Only issue has been we have only the one pair of joycons, and one wired controller. So one of the girls gets the good controller, and the other two have to use a single joycon I the sideways set up. So I finally bit the bullet, and bought a used GameCube-type controller. Totally for the girls. Absolutely not to scratch my nostalgia itch.

Had some chili I wanted to use up as nachos, but the shop near me doesn’t have plain tortilla chips. Substituted Ryvita thin breads. Came out awesome. I will be doing that again. Kid loved it; couldn’t get enough.

Getting into a habit of taking an after-dinner swim in the river on Fridays. It’s really lovely. And there’s enough of a current that you’re surprisingly tired at the end of it all.

It’s suddenly got so hot again that I feel like it’d be foolish to turn on the oven. So I’ve been making lots of big, hearty salads. And I have two pro tips to share. Firstly, get a spiralizer. My wife picked on up years ago, but I never liked the consistency of cooked vegetable “noodles”. But thin noodles of carrot or courgette really adds something to a salad. Secondly, marinated tofu is a great way to add protein if you’re getting tired of beans.

Sanebox update: going pretty well. My inbox is usually pretty empty, and very few things show up in my “SaneLater” box after only a week of training. I am finding I’m missing the granularity of my imapfilter rules, though. After my trial of Sanebox is up, I am going to try and implement some of the rules Fastmail recommend, and see if that plus imapfilter get me where I want to be. Otherwise I may use imapfilter with Sanebox, and see if that work.

A “currently reading” update: Reading the Weather, Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and listening to the first Nightvale novel.