Posts from January 2020
Darkest timeline continues. I’m just going to get news via the dictionary now.
Speaking of fonts, Inter is nice. In fact, if you're reading this at my website you're reading this text in Inter right now.
This is a free typeface for developers that looks niiiiice. Consolas is my preferred font for programming but I will give JetBrains Mono a try. Similarly, I'm enjoying the Dracula color theme in console windows and VSCode. It's similar to my usual preferred theme Solarized (dark), but sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and try a new font and color theme, you know?
If you watch nothing else from the impeachment trial, please watch Schiff’s argument that truth should matter. See also: Is the Oath a Joke?

This is also a good time to mention Daniel is watching every minute and then summarizing events so you don’t have to watch every minute. He’s doing a great service that’s worth pitching in for.
closeup of a schoolbus with Stop sign in view
Here's another must-read article even for chronic sufferers of tech-culture outrage fatigue—sorry.
"At my request, a number of police officers had run my photo through the Clearview app. They soon received phone calls from company representatives asking if they were talking to the media — a sign that Clearview has the ability and, in this case, the appetite to monitor whom law enforcement is searching for."
If you don't have or want a NYT subscribtion, The Verge has a good summary: Go read this NYT expose on a creepy new facial recognition database used by US police. (Interesting that a Facebook board member is funding a company that is seemingly breaking the Facebook terms of service?) Another must-read, Bruce Schneier's take on banning facial recognition: We’re Banning Facial Recognition. We’re Missing the Point.
"A ban on facial recognition won’t make any difference if, in response, surveillance systems switch to identifying people by smartphone MAC addresses. The problem is that we are being identified without our knowledge or consent, and society needs rules about when that is permissible."
ps. (1/21) Vox has a great explainer video: What facial recognition steals from us.
Linux Journal
Bash is like a friendly nemesis to me. I use it all the time for simple commands and I often think, "If I could just string two or three of these commands together with some simple logic I won't need to move to a ‘real’ development environment!" But then stuff like this...
"This looks very much like the if conditional statement in any programming language. However, it's not."
...means six hours later I have a bash script and 99 problems. This article helps explain why I run into trouble by describing how bash evolved.
Signal v. Noise Signal v. Noise
A note from our dystopian present where software ate everything and humans are API endpoints rather than driving the system:
"A future that plans on everything going right so no one has to think about what happens when things go wrong. Because computers don’t make mistakes. An automated future where no one actually knows how things work. A future where people are so far removed from the process that they stand around powerless, unable to take the reigns."
Not a big deal for watching movies but this could be tragic applied to more critical areas of our lives. It's good to watch out for this and push back on it.
train cars with buildings visible behind them
looking through you

Turn ebooks into audiobooks

I'm a big fan of using the iOS accessibility speech features to read books—mostly while I'm driving. It's also great when I've been reading on my iPhone for a while and need to do something else but I'm also really curious about what's going to happen next in the book. It's easy to turn on:

Open iPhone Settings -> Accessibility -> Spoken Content. Or search for Spoken Content. Turn on the Speak Screen feature:

screenshot of Speak Screen control

Once this is on you can swipe down with two fingers inside the Books app and you'll have an instant audiobook that looks and sounds something like this:

I've found that it works a little better if you disable Scrolling View in the Books app under the font/brightness controls, here:

screenshot of Scrolling View turned off

Once started it will read page after page without any intervention. The controls appear for a few seconds and then move behind an arrow on the left side of the screen that you can tap if you need them.

The downside is that the synthesized voice is robotic and has annoying robotic tics. (One example: it reads years like 1850 as "one thousand eight hundred fifty", annoying in history books that can be date heavy.) iOS has several voices available though and it's worth going through to see if one works better for you than others. Just click Voices on the Spoken Content settings page to see the options. I like one called Ava (Enhanced). It's not a real audiobook as read and interpreted by a real human, but it does work for switching from reading to listening.

Need something to read? I love the books from Standard Ebooks. They're a massive improvement over the varied quality you find somewhere like Project Gutenberg. The book in the video clip above is the Standard Ebook version of Wired Love by Ella Cheever Thayer.
two images of winter nature, a thorny branch and wet rocks
winter texture
BunnyCDN BunnyCDN
As a collector of dumb domain names I am shocked (!) by this performance report. How could anyone go for these idiotic TLDs? Also wondering: is .shocked available?
Wait But Why Wait But Why
image from Wait But Why
Your weekend long read that attempts to explain why the US is politically polarized:
"Destructive cherry-picking breeds fear, anger, and cynicism. It’s why we always think crime is getting worse even though it’s almost always getting better."
The most resonant part to me was about media negativity bias and disgust. It's a cliché that we don't hear good news but it's also true and feeds our cognitive biases.
LOL. Nerds.
Nelson's log Nelson's log
"The new thing here is that Yandex is working not just as a reverse image search tool; it seems to be doing facial matching."
Nelson has an interesting follow-up to the bellingcat guide to reverse image searching I posted recently.
The Outline The Outline
"The warmongers are never ruined by their mistakes."
Justified outrage at the media's willful ignorance of recent history.
Thoughtful ideas about team communication from Basecamp with a focus on writing vs. meetings:
"Speaking only helps who’s in the room, writing helps everyone. This includes people who couldn't make it, or future employees who join years from now."
It makes sense that they're down on chat (the competition!), but I don't agree that live chat is a mind-killer. Some decisions require quick consensus rather than lengthy position statements for the ages.
dark room with lit music stand holding sheet music
music space

Productivity Train

Two aesthetics that aestheticize well together: YouTube train cams and lofi hip hop. For example, throw on the Bergen Line:

And this Spotify playlist:

Leave the volume up on both. You won't know if those muffled clicks and light mumbling are part of the song or happening between Bergen and Oslo.
Chicken looking back and brooding
Dramatic Chicken
Pile of puzzle pieces and a glass of mimosa
Hello 2020