Andrew White

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 youreno.fun. 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.

Today would have been my daughter’s last day of year one. What a crazy year. I hope she doesn’t feel like she’s missed out on too much.

I have, surprisingly, finished Halo 3. It’s a shorter game than the others, definitely, but still…that’s really fast for me.

After living in our rental for a year, the property manager finally sent someone around to look at our wonky fridge. Apparently it’s not the type of fridge that I thought it was, and it needs manual defrosting. So once we’ve eaten through everything in there, we can run the nearly day-long defrosting process. And then figure out what’s wrong with it.

Meanwhile I had to buy another new appliance for our place in Toronto.

Weeknotes and Fraidycat

I mentioned weeknotes in a previous posting, but I thought it was worth expanding on. There’s a trend lately of posting end-of-week wrap ups that contain the little thoughts and notes that one might dump on Twitter, Facebook, or Mastodon. Too small for a blog post, but in aggregate, something worth reading. I have started to follow folks who post these things in an app called Fraidycat. It’s an RSS aggregator intended for following personal blogs. So far the experience has been positive, even though I’m following a whopping two people, and looking to add more!

I am about to start Halo 3. I have, so far, managed to start each Halo game within days of its rerelease, and finish it just prior to the next one coming available. So I’m averaging finishing a game every two months?

I finally broke down and bought a good daypack today. My wife and I have been cycling through cheapie daypacks for years. We usually use her Mountain Warehouse 20L bag on days out, and I end up carrying it. It gets hot, it sags, and the pocket arrangement makes no sense. It drives me nuts. Back when I was in highschool I paid good money for a bag, and I had it for nearly a decade.

Buy well, buy once.

So today I bought an Osprey Skarab 30. I got it from Open Air who have opted for appointment-only shopping in light of the virus. It was a great experience. I look forward to heading over there to filling the gap in my shoe selection!

Gopher blog (“phlog”, yuck) is up and running: https://gopher.commons.host/gopher://sdf.org/1/users/sincarne/

I’m doing weeknotes there, which is the format this blog will likely take after my 100 days challenge is up.

If you’re into flight sims at all, there seem to be a number of lower end joysticks and HOTAS on sale on Amazon (all countries) in anticipation of the August release of MS Flight Simulator. Many of the high end ones seem to be on sale as well, but I’m cheap.

An app recommendation: Seek by iNaturalist. My daughter and I have been using it for about a month, now. It uses computer vision and machine learning to identify species. We’ve gone from “there’s a ladybug” to knowing there are about six species of ladybug that we can commonly find in our garden.

Spent some time on trying to get a gemini server running today, but couldn’t figure out the certificate part. However I remembered that sdf.org have gopher hosting, and I fooled around with that. I honestly am enjoying messing around internet things that aren’t the web.

I spun up a VPS today on my terrible cut-rate host. I’m running the previously mentioned imapfilter script on it as a cron job. (I was running it manually on my Mac before, but I do a lot of triage on my phone, so it made more sense to have it running constantly.) Thinking of adding a gopher and gemini server for kicks. Maybe have it mirror what I write here?

The kiddo had a tough day today. She’s been pretty brave and resilient, but today she was in tears over all the things she’s not able to do.