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forum escalator
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forum statues
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disc golf drive

Father's Day Links

I'm trying to take some time to think about what it means to be a father today. Whatever your relationship is with that aspect of humanity—I hope you'll also take some time to think about it in the context of current events. I'm tired of the tone policing, edge casing, whataboutism, and just asking questions around this topic. The subject is basic human decency.

I'm going to be rereading this article about Mr. Rogers several times today: Mr. Rogers Had a Simple Set of Rules for Talking to Children.
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chicken
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rotunda
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Prairie Schooner
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kind of blue
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backyard creatures

Link Carousel

Thanks for joining me as I clear out my saved links. It is time for week-old links to enter the carousel...

Recommend Me A Book is a fun site. It shows the text from the first page of a book and you can reveal the title and author after you read. I had fun trying to guess the book as I read.

I also had fun this week playing with random text engine Perchance. You give it some base text, a few simple rules, and you get a random text generator. I made one that predicts what's coming next in technology: next gen. (e.g. "hyperlocal ocelot conferencing" is the sort of thing this would generate.) Looking at the generators community page I see there are lot of people using it for D&D so I predict that I will be back in the future to make more.

I'm still on my mechanical keyboard bs. Massdrop is a site that organizes group buys of keyboards and keycaps. They have a good overview of why some people get into them: Mechanical Keyboards 101. I don't buy keyboards anymore though, I just read Massdrop for the articles.

The worst aspects of web culture were on display this week in Kathy Griffen's Standing up to Trump and Erin Biba's What It’s Like When Elon Musk’s Twitter Mob Comes After You. These are a good lesson in punching up/down and a reminder that this behavior isn't inevitable. The people who own and control the spaces where we interact online (hi, Twitter!) can stop this.

Zeldman on modern web development: The Cult of the Complex. I was nodding along with this, especially: "The question for web designers should never be how complex can we make it. But that’s what it has become." I don't think people consciously try to make development processes complex, but they end up that way through decisions by folks who aren't thinking about projects past their next deadline. Sean Kelly posted a thread on Twitter about what he looks for in a software engineer that seems related to me.

One of the reasons I went with a Logan's Run reference up top is because I just finished watching the Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country. I'm pretty sure the Logan's Run designers were inspired by 70s commune fashion. This documentary uses a lot of TV video footage from the time paired with beautiful modern cinematography. It gave me a lot to think about—I'm going to be processing this one for a while.

Also processing: this Twitter thread by Erynn Brook on mansplaining and different conversational styles. (Continuing wish: less Twitter as a platform for these kinds of conversations and more personal blogs.)

We don't deserve it, but there's a new Neko Case album!

Renew, renew!
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still life

Controlled Link Burn

The underbrush of my link ecosystem has become so wild and thorny with hrefs that it's time to break out the blogging driptorch and burn them all so the mighty oaks of thought can live free once more.

Last week Andy Baio broke the Twitter time continuum with a well-crafted Twitter search that shows activity from the people you follow from 10 years ago. Reading a 2008 feed made me think about text vs. media embeds and I enjoyed the discussions about tweeting in the modern world. Someone put together a handy page of Twitter time-traveling links if you'd like to try it out.

Jessamyn West is fighting the good fight against Equifax by suing them in small claims court over their data breach. A week or so ago she went to court: Equifax Statement for Small Claims Court. Be sure to read the the follow-up tweets at the end of the article about how it went. Equifax probably won't pay a meaningful price for their recklessness with our data, but I'm glad Jessamyn is trying.

How is the smart speaker craze going? Vox epxlains How an Amazon Echo ended up recording and sharing a private conversation. I think it was @sudama who suggested calling them smart microphones instead so we remember data flows both ways.

I spent way too much time having fun at WASD Keyboards customizing keycap colors. I don't really need another mechanical keyboard. I don't really need another mechanical keyboard. I don't really need another mechanical keyboard.

This is some digital spycraft wizardry: Glyph Perturbation, The Science of Font Steganography. By imperceptably changing how fonts are displayed, you can embed encrypted messages within innocuous carrier text.

This was a good reminder for me to make time for reading with my kids: What's Going On In Your Child's Brain When You Read Them A Story?.

I recently started playing electric guitar again for the first time in *cough*+ years and that opened a whole new world of YouTube tutorial videos I wasn't aware of before. I'm here to recommend Paul Davids and fun videos like his 10 Extremely Tasty Licks.

The link thicket is light on web developer help this time around, but this 2014 article about How to Write a Git Commit Message is still great. My favorite tip is Use imperitive statements as the subject line. I always try to do this and I think it gives commit messages a timeless quality—like you're explaining to someone mid-process how to recreate your steps.

With my weekly URLs now ablaze, the only thing left to do is fire up Portland Cello Project playing Paranoid Android (a good version finally online!) as background music while I watch my reading list disappear.
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The Cycle of Link

The big links tend to eat the smaller links, but new links are born every day to replace them. Here now are a few links gathered from their natural habitat and presented for exhibition.

Remember TV? They still make shows for it and some of them are enjoyable. If you're a fan of Ernest Shackleton or the Age of Discovery you should check out The Terror. It's not Shackleton's story unfortunately, but it is speculative fiction about Franklin's lost expedtion with some supernatural horror elements thrown in for—I don't know—fun? It's very well done and you could follow it up with a recent NOVA episode called Arctic Ghost Ship to ground the story in reality again.

I've also been enjoying Legion which is the least Marvel-y of all the Marvel shows and has some stellar acting. You really need start with the first season on this one to get up to speed and it helped me to watch along with the fine folks of MeFi.

Check out these early data visualizations from 1953 by Herbert Bayer: The World Geo-Graphical Atlas. I found this via a great profile of Field Notes: Why Field Notes Have Remained Curiously Addictive for a Decade. That also lead me to their collection of promotional memo books. There are still lessons to learn from this almost forgotten, functional design.

I use Stack Overflow just about every day and they recently launched a neat new way for teams to use their knowledge-gathering tools privately: Stack Overflow for Teams. And by 'they' I specifically mean my friend Geoff at SO who worked on this project, congrats on the launch!

The Tarot Cards of Tech will help you think about the future of something you're making. These cards have questions that don't come up when you're focused on the next to-do item and they seem like a fun way to step back and think about the big picture.

I haven't used The Greatest Keyboard of All Time (IBM Model M) and I'm skeptical of that title since we all agree that Realforce Topre keyboards are the GOAT.

I've been thinking about shift vs. support conversation since I read The Mistake I Made With My Grieving Friend.

If you haven't seen Childish Gambino's This is America you must have been offline for the past seven days. Welcome back and you have to see this!

Let us now fade into the background having examined links outside of their natural environment. Perhaps we will better understand them next time we ecounter: The Cycle of Link. [music swells, credits]
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Guy Davis
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wired

Link Defragmentation

I save links in Safari's Reading List on my iPhone so I can reference them later. Sharing them here on my blog is their final resting place. Once posted here, I remove the links from my reading list and the cycle of cruft can begin again. It's a similar process to—and as exciting as—defragmenting your hard drive. How many hours did I spend watching the defrag visualization colors rearrange themselves in Windows Disk Defragmenter? That's rhetorical, but many. Many hours. Of watching. Now you too can watch the metaphorical defrag colors along with me:

First, go listen to the latest episode of Matt Haughey's podcast Hobby Horse where he interviews people about their side projects. In Episode 4 he talks with Erica Baker about ancestry and geneology and it absolutely changed the way I look at family trees. We’re all connected in ways I hadn’t thought about before. So great—go listen!

While I'm talking podcasts, Gimlet has a new one out called The Habitat that I'm hooked on after one episode. It's about a NASA study to determine how six humans live together for a year in a confined space. They're trying to simulate the conditions that people would live in on a mission to Mars. You can binge the whole thing.

Last week I posted about the SmugMug/Flickr exchange and I've been enjoying the takes: Tom Coates, Ben Cerveny, Jim Ray, and for context this 2012 article (cold take?) by Mat Honan: How Yahoo Killed Flickr and Lost the Internet.

Did you know you can look up at least some of the interests Twitter has assigned to you for personalized advertising? I was surprised at how accurate some of the more obscure interests were but I shouldn't be. We need more privacy and dumber phones.

Google set up a new way to query information in books called Talk to Books. As an introvert I feel like Google really gets me with this project, you know? I'll just be over here talking to books.

@lhl found a tumblr dedicated to gathering depictions of floppy disks in anime. It's even better than it sounds.

ok, off to delete my reading list. Defrag complete!

Font of Inspiration

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Aaron Draplin at the OSU Brand Symposium showing the inspiration for his DDC Hardware typeface. The onfocus title up there is DDC Hardware.

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Red Doors

Flickr of Hope

So the big news in my corner of the Internet on Friday was indie photo site SmugMug buying Flickr from corporate bohemeth Yahoo/Oauth (or whatever). You can probably tell by my framing how I feel about it. I'm hopeful!

I posted my first photo to Flickr on August 18, 2004: luna in her office bed. (This was back when the founders would comment on new photos!) I wrote little hacks for Flickr like Add Camera Images to Flickr. And a year after that first photo I was co-writing a book about Flickr that was released a few months later. I was all-in on Flickr and it was central to my online life.

But all was not well in the Flickrverse and I became more and more disappointed with what Yahoo! was doing with the service. A year after Flickr Hacks came out I started writing here about ways to move off of Flickr and back to hosting my own images: Going Off the Flickr Grid. My personal photo site/Flickr clone lived from 2007-2010 or so at photos.onfocus.com. (I posted what I thought would be my final photo to Flickr, here on March 14, 2007: 301_moved.)

After that initial burst of off-the-grid activity, my personal photo blog features couldn't compare with the upload, album, and sharing features available at Flickr. I didn't have time to scale up my site so I continued posting to Flickr—especially when I wanted to share a collection of photos. I was disappointed with myself for not living up to my online ideals. (This is a constant life theme!)

Anyway, all of this is just to say that my relationship with Flickr is complicated. I know my mixed feelings are nothing compared with the folks who were inside building Flickr and I hope their story gets told. I'd love to know why Flickr missed the mobile revolution and today we have Instagram influencers instead of Flickr luminaries (or whatever). I think this acquisition (is it? More details please!) is a great chance to revive the good parts of Flickr—especially its sense of community where Flickr started.

Philosophize This

I stumbled on this great podcast about philosophy that you should check out if you also like things such as philosophy and podcasts. (I didn't so much stumble on it as Spotify's recommendation algorithm put it in my path and then I stumbled on it.)

Each episode is about 20 minutes of host Stephen West walking us through some problems that philosophers have tackled through years. For example, are we condemned to be free as Sartre thought or are we limited by the structure of our cultural mythologies as Barthes thought? If you need a place to start, you can't go wrong with his look at Simone De Beauvoir's The Ethics of Ambiguity. West has a real knack for making dense, often technical philosophical ideas accessible.

When the prescription for fixing our dystopian techno-hellscape is often adding more humanity, I think it's worthwhile to take some time to think about what it means to be human. Philosophize This is an entertaining way to see how that question has been answered in many radically different ways.

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Barn Cat