Posts from September 2016

Link Finders

The latest episode of Reply All is all about online scams: #78 Very Quickly to the Drill. As a balance to all of the scamminess mentioned, they talked about a service called The Ring Finders. It's an organization that lists people with metal detectors across the country who will help find lost wedding rings. It was a great way to end the episode, and a good reminder that lots of people have the impulse to help—and people can get problems solved with that help.

That train of thought led me to the idea that there should be a website called The Link Finders. There's nothing more frustrating than knowing you've read a certain article or seen a certain piece of information that you can't find again. I wrote about some strategies for finding lost sites in 2006: Finding Lost URLs. It's a recurring theme in MetaFilter's backchannel, MetaTalk. There are two of those types of post on the front page as I type this: someone read something on MetaFilter somewhere, they've tried their personal searching bag of tricks, they come up empty, and they need assistance finding it.

Seeing that process in public is satisfying. Someone has a specific problem, others chime in with suggestions, and most of the time the person finds their bit of info. If the information is also of interest to you it's even better. You get randomly referred to a link you might not have seen otherwise and you get a sense that there is justice in the universe.

Lazyweb, go!
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Morning River View

This set made my day and I'm not sure how but that last track was perfection. Thanks, kottke!
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new donut shop! ????

c2bk Infrastructure Report

Infrastructure updates to this blog continue apaceish:
  • HTTPS1 on at all times
  • Emoji everywhere
  • Friendlier URLs for posts with slugs
  • CSS now SASS-y
  • Super modern git and CDN deploy process with a bash script
  • Cutting edge access reports with analog
  • Most recent CodeMirror for textarea while composing posts
  • Deferred loading of video embeds
  • Bug fixes and performance improvements

And for fun here are the services I use for this site:
I still feel more couch than blogK at this point, but ticking off items that have been on my to-do list since the early part of this century feels good.

1 Proper pronunciation?
2 The hovering businessman emoji's ska roots.

Election Profit Makers

Someday this election's going to end...

And when it does, the Election Profit Makers podcast will end. But today is not that day. When life hands you election absurdity, one response is to transform it into better absurdity. That's EPM: better absurdity. If you're not already gathering intel and riding those waves, it's time to invest while you still can.

This site that sprang out of a Hacker News discussion of a Tim Bray post is relevant to my interests.

Wednesday night moment of zen. You might need a chaser.

danah boyd on what the traditional media can learn from the internet: don't feed the trolls.

Let's Encrypt

I'm a big fan of Let's Encrypt. They made the task of setting up and maintaining SSL/TLS certificates—a process more convoluted than it should have been—into something simple. I've been using it for the certificate here and for several other sites for quite a while now and they have a solid process.

To top it off, their certificates are free (as in beer). They have taken away most of the excuses people use for not making their sites secure. (If you care about Google rankings you probably moved to a secure site years ago. If not, the time is now.)

All of this free goodness isn't free. They just shared their operating costs and are asking folks to donate to help keep it going. Even if you don't use their service directly, there's a good chance some of the sites you frequent do. I think it's worth supporting a more secure Web.
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morning jade

c2bK: Comment Emojification

As part of my Couch to BlogK program (c2bK), I'm making some infrastructure improvements around here. This blog uses some home-rolled PHP, a handful of Perl scripts for snagging photos from other services, and love. I figured suffering the slings and arrows of a public commenting system would help me stay on task, but my old commenting system felt a bit dated. I knew there was only one thing that could bring my weblog comments into the Slack millennium: emoji.

I don't have research to back it up, but I'm fairly certain that kids these days don't even use text. They share pictures and write elaborate encoded messages with a set of pictograms that communicate with more verve than the stolid word. Who am I to fight against a tide of verve?

Once the decision was made, I thought it was just a matter of making sure my database was using a character set that could handle emojis and I'd be off to the races. Iñtërnâtiônàližætiøn is a solved problem! UTF-8 has solved everything! Well...

Using emoji on your phone is easy. Using emoji on your desktop is not as easy. And even though I'm bringing this website up-to-date for the kids who might not even know what a desktop is, I'd like our elders to be able to participate in the fun. Building my own emoji-selection contraption felt like a tall order, but I google stumbled on wdt-emoji-bundle by Nedim Arabacı which did most of the heavy lifting for me. He was inspired by the Slack emoji picker which translates emoji into a colon-delimited short name that can mingle easily with text.

That led me to Slack's own Cal Handerson's project emoji-data that is the rosetta stone of emoji. You see, different device manufacturers use different codepoints to represent the same glyph. So even if you're storing the incoming emoji characters correctly, not everyone would be able to see, for example, Down-Pointing Red Triangle on the other end. emoji-data does the work of saying that Android's arrow is here, Apple's arrow is there, and you don't need to just give up on people being able to emoji together.

(This doesn't even touch on the problem of different visual implementations across different emoji sets.)

Instead of storing the universal emoji characters, I opted to store the short name as plain text and then do a bit of translating on the other end. Another of Cal Henderson's projects, php-emoji made it easy for me to write some quick translation functions and then I really was off to the races! (No, I don't have emoji implemented for posts yet.)

Long story short: emojis are hard, this hand-coded blog now has a comment system with a Slack style emoji menu, support for emoji short code text, and a bridge to interface with the Snapchat generation thanks to folks like Cal and Nedim sharing some of their work in public.

And all of that means I'm on my way to blogK.
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sci-fi & fantasy
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garage sale mask

Margaret Glaspy

Margaret Glaspy is my current musical obsession. I've had her album in constant rotation for weeks and I'm still not tired of it. I've been trying to figure out why and I think it's just the simple guitar hooks she weaves in with her singing. That light, crunchy tone she gets with a telecaster pairs perfectly with her light, gravely voice. Pop needs guitars!
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Couch to BlogK

What if I started blogging again? I used to enjoy putting words in an order specific to clearly convey ideas in a public setting. So my blog voice is rusty. That's why I need a program to help get me off the couch to go get my laptop and then back to the couch where I can craft content for the open Web. (Did we stop capitalizing Web?)

What do I have to lose? The blogosphere is a burned-out, empty forest with a few giant redwoods that survived that great social media blaze of the mid 2000s. I know the score. I have Google Analytics running here. It's just me and those few bots that know how to trick Google Analytics into thinking they're legitimate traffic. Come with me, clever bots, while I reclaim my corner of the blogosphere!

This program will consist of a forced writing regimin.

What dark magic is this? Manual for iOS 10 just added the ability to shoot RAW photos.
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garden fairy
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Meanwhile, inside an Eagles album cover...
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Good Morning Terrebonne
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basket o' apples
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In the Basket
  • Buster Benson put together this concise way to think about cognitive biases by grouping them into four big problems our brains have evolved to deal with. There's a lot to think about (potentially systemically irrationally) here.