Andrew White

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.

We’ve taken advantage of Eat Out to Help Out twice today, and managed to save over £40. We’re not but restaurant folks while we are at home, but given we have a bit of travel ahead in August, that’ll come in handy!

Started reading a book on reading the weather today. Just a ways in, and it’s fascinating. Think I’ll start sharing my notes from it with you all as part of my daily posts. Later, though. I’m on vacation-ish today.

Two days ago I had never heard of randonauting. In the intervening time, I have seen it come up in conversation twice, and had no fewer than four articles on it come through my feeds. Is this the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon in effect, or a message I should start randonauting?

I may have an update on comic book organizations soon, but I haven’t had a chance to do a deep dive into the suggestions yet.

Went for a swim in the river Cam today for the first time tonight! We biked over after dinner for a dip. It was lovely and cold; just the thing on a hot day. A dude on a road bike was angling to nick our backpack (boy, would he have been disappointed), so if you do it, keep an eye on your stuff.

Last minute change of plans for the weekend. The region to which we were going is listed as “an area of concern” regarding the novel coronavirus, and I just found out many of the sites in the area as closed as the council has been stiffing the charity that manages them. So that’s all fun.

Looking for a way to manage digital comics

So I am drowning in comics in CBZ format (legit; purchased mostly from Humble Bundles). I would really like a way to manage them. All my epubs end up in Calibre. I know Calibre handles comics as well as books, but it doesn’t feel like the right tool. Does anyone have anything like Calibre, but specifically for comics? I’m willing to pay for the right solution. Doesn’t even need to be able to push stuff to my tablet.

(Oh, and is there a good comic book reader for Android that I can install on a Fire tablet?)

My laptop right now is sitting on the kitchen table, positively dripping with external hard drives. The next computer I purchase will have as much storage in it as I can reasonably afford. This is all my own fault. And that of Apple for charging way too much for SSDs back in 2018. (Now the price has dropped from way too much to just too much.)

Mapping, cycling, and the inevitable march of featuritis when you scratch your own itch

I’ve set myself another challenge. Not a big one, so I don’t feel like I’m overloading myself. I discovered the Bike Citizens app, based on Open Street Map. You can unlock free detailed maps if you cycle 100K in 30 days. The Cambridge map isn’t particularly detailed, but I thought it’d be fun to get. I’ve managed 11K today, because I forgot to have the app open for my other ride.

I have a site I maintain called I just chuck all my meme-y images on there. It used to be just an open directory with some .htaccess funkiness for better listings. Then it was a php script that generated a listing. Then it was a script that generated a static html page for the listings. Then I added pages for each individual image with embed information.

Now I’m actually looking at adding tagging with an admin interface, adding a database…all to get something that looks like a directory listing.

I have temporarily shelved my imapfilter set up in favour of SaneBox. We’ll see how it goes. It doesn’t have the kind of granularity that my setup has, but training it means just moving stuff between folders and deleting things. I don’t need to worry about updating the script on my server, or any of that.

NoScript update: it’s permanent. I love it. I browse a lot of web pages and let them just look broken. I can read the content fine.

I have realised that I expend an awful lot of mental effort on worrying about making everything I do accessible on my phone, but it really never comes up.

Finally, if you’re not playing (if that’s the word) Townscaper, correct that oversight immediately. It’s so chill, and only five quid.

Productive meditation

I missed something in yesterday’s post about training for deep work: productive meditation. This is part of the focused training. In productive meditation you essentially go for a walk, and dedicate that time to chewing over one single question. Approach it like mindfulness. If you wander from that question, gently but firmly redirect yourself. You can read more about productive meditation in this post.

Training for deep work

I was listening to Cal Newport again today while doing housework, and he had tips for developing the ability to focus and do deep work. He likened it to training for an athletic pursuit. First you have the general wellness stuff like eating well, getting enough sleep, etc. Then you have the targeted stuff: swimming laps, doing timed sprints, whatever.

In deep work, the general wellness stuff comes down to a willingness to be bored, and the ability to engage with something that’s more than just a quick hit. Here he said do things like run errands, take walks, without something to distract you. Leave your phone at home. And read books. Of any kind.

For focused training: set a timer, and do one thing until that timer goes off. If you get distracted, it doesn’t count. Track your repetitions, and when you can easily do a short period, lengthen your times. Keep at it until you can do 90 minutes.

Interesting and actionable tips.

A quick update to yesterday’s browser experiments: after running NoScript for a couple of days, and blessing lots of stuff to make sites work, I barely notice it’s there. Except when stuff loads with a quickness. And you can import and export your list of allowed sites.

My daughter was complaining the other day that she reads interesting facts, and then forgets them. I think I may have her semi-convinced in the value of keeping a daybook. Some stealth handwriting practice never hurt anyone!

Some small web browsing experiments

I tried a few browser experiments today: compiling and using Dillo, running Waterfox, and running NoScript.

Dillo: the font rendering was terrible, I had to apply a patch to get the thing to compile, and specifying that it be compiled with SSL support didn’t get me SSL support. Everything is https these days, so it was a total no-go.

Waterfox was a nice experience. It grabbed my configuration from Firefox, set up sync, and was most of the way to a drop-in replacement. The only issue I had was my containers set up didn’t come along. It may become my browser of choice.

NoScript: I want to like it. It’s amazing how much faster the browser is without Javascript. It’s a bit clunky, though. What I’d really like is a way to set it up so a click on the big S just allows all JS in that tab, and then colour that tab differently to make things obvious. I may keep it, although it feels dangerous to have it installed in the browser on which I do most of my development and testing.