Today I learned (from the Bing bot, and thanks to my kids’ curiosity) that there are approximately one septillion stars in the universe. A septillion is ten to the 24th power. It’s a number so large it is unfathomable to me.

🎵 Today’s listen: Boston by Boston. I’m trying something retro for a rare weekend gym day.

Currently reading: The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt 📚

I decided to finally go all in on using my Planck EZ keyboard at work. I am still trying to get faster at typing on it and sometimes forget where I mapped certain symbol keys, but I am finally loving it. Now I want another one for my Mac, which wouldn’t be a big deal if they weren’t so pricey. ⌨️

My friends from high school would never believe that I attended religious services twice this week. There was a lot of music and merriment each time.

 🎵 Today seems like a good day to listen to a ton of Lana Del Rey.

I followed a bunch of (semi-famous, mostly tech) podcasters I listen to in Mastodon and it totally became Twitter again for me, in good ways (there is content) and in bad (it’s a lot of outrage and virtue signaling). I don’t really know people on the platform, so I think it might just not be for me.

Finished reading: Constance by Matthew Fitzsimmons 📚 It was an OK sci-fi thriller. The writing was competent but it was never exciting. It was obvious from the start who the big bad was, and the characters seemed to lack inner lives. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of 5.

I have been enjoying playing chess puzzles and correspondence chess at lichess lately. It is free and is really, really good.

I joined Club TWiT this evening. Leo’s pleas finally wore me down. I look forward to seeing how ad-free podcasts affect my listening preferences.

Is Dilbert over now? It seems so weird. I remember 20 years ago when Dilbert comic store part of every internal IT presentation. I wonder what will happen to it. Will it get picked up by NewsMax or Truth Social or Fox News?

I had begun to think that my tolerance for hot, spicy food was very high, but the Peruvian chicken place I tried today is making me question that. 🌶️🔥😅

On the most recent Accidental Tech Podcast, I’m pretty sure Marco Arment mentioned that he uses one of my iOS apps, Simple Call Blocker, to block whole town’s worth of potential spam phone numbers.

I'm tuning out most AI think-pieces for a while

I have gone from excited about AI to unnerved by it. At this point, I am limiting my exposure to the news articles and blog posts about it. Overall, I am worried about AI now. It seems unbelievably disruptive. Reading endless think-pieces about it is not going to resolve anything for me, though, so I will tune most of them out for now.…

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Currently reading: Constance by Matthew Fitzsimmons 📚 It’s a thriller with a sci-fi premise. I hope I like it. I hated the last book I started!

🎵 I’m just playing the hits today.

Finished reading: American Girls by Nancy Jo Sales 📚 I abandoned this book pretty early on. There’s nothing new in it if you follow tech and social media issues. No rating, because I did not complete it.

I’m really enjoying the Super Bowl. It’s a great game! I don’t really care who wins.

Finished reading: Fairy Tale by Stephen King 📚 I enjoyed it but wished it was 100 pages (or more) shorter. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of 5.

Bing it with AI

I love how people are interested in Bing again. I don’t think I know anyone who uses it other than myself, and that’s only at work. (I like keeping all my tools Microsoft-only, if possible, at work, where I am mostly searching for Microsoft-owned things.) I hope the AI integration Microsoft announced today will help it be a credible competitor to Google.…

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🎵 Today’s listen: Dog Problems by The Format. It’s a classic combination of feel-good music and “I feel bad” breakup lyrics. Nate Ruess, who fronted this band before he sang with fun., has a distinctive voice. Standout tracks include “Time Bomb,” “The Compromise,” and “Snails.”

I still have a Google Voice number and at this point I don’t know why.

Public service announcement: If you cut your finger in the kitchen, like I did last night, those silly-looking finger cots (or finger condoms) are awesome for protecting the wound.

Ice Cubes, the Mastodon client, has been getting better at a rapid rate. There are updates every day, it seems. Impressive.

🎵 Today’s listen: In The Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel. It’s an indie rock masterpiece. That’s all I can say.

Tom Brady Retires: The Revised Edition

This “track changes” article by Ben Shpigel of The New York Times is wonderfully snarky: Tom Brady’s football career traced an arc that bordered on mythical, ascending from sixth-round N.F.L. draft pick to seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback and global celebrity. And, after more than two decades of unparalleled brilliance in his sport, plus another season, it has ended. …

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🎵 Today’s listen, Groundhog Day The Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording), composed by Tim Minchin. It is wonderful and timely.

I find the Magic Trackpad (which is connected to my Mac mini) to be very janky compared to my wired trackball (or to the built-in trackpads on MacBooks). The pointer skips around a lot. I wonder if everyone has that but no one complains.

🎵 Today’s listen: Come Get Your Wife by Elle King. Much of it is fun, “angry woman” country music. Whether you enjoy it or not probably hinges on how much you like its hit single, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home),” which is a duet with Miranda Lambert.

Paid Search Engines

A couple new, paid (or optionally paid) search engines have caught my attention recently: Kagi and Neeva. I am trying to figure out if switching to either of them, and paying for a search engine for the first time, makes sense for me. The main problem with search engines—and Google is the prime example of this right now—is that search results are often worse in quality than they were five or ten years ago.…

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🎵 Today’s listen: John Coltrane and John Hartman I just learned about this album this week. As far as I know, it is the only vocal jazz/standards album John Coltrane ever made. John Hartman has a deep, silky voice that’s so good I am surprised I never heard of him before.

📺 I’m watching The Last of Us. Love it.

🎵 Today's listen: Heaven or Las Vegas

🎵 Today’s listen: Heaven or Las Vegas by Cocteau Twins. This is purported to be one of the greatest albums of the 1990s, and a foundation for the dream pop and shoegaze subgenres. I never listened to it before today. I liked it but didn’t love it enough to keep it in my library. I think its genre may not be for me.…

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📺 Television Is Better Without Video Games

Ian Bogost’s essay comparing the TV adaptation of The Last Of Us to its video game forbear was a good read. I especially enjoyed his thoughts about what content makes sense in a video game vs. a television series. I don’t fully buy his argument that video game storytelling is inherently inferior to other media. It works differently, which I don’t think the author fully realizes. At one point, when descriving his experience playing The Last of Us (the video game), he states:…

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My daughter performed in front of a couple hundred people in her elementary school talent show tonight. I am so proud of her. I was not brave enough to do such a thing at her age.

Want to read: You Are a Badass® by Jen Sincero 📚 Thanks, @greghiggins.

🎵 Today’s listen: To Venus and Back by Tori Amos. I haven’t listened to this album in many years, but I remember liking it in 1999 and 2000. I remember Tori Amos being very divisive when I was in high school (in the mid 1990s); I can’t remember why.

📺 I finished watching His Dark Materials season 3 last night. I found the last season to be a letdown in many ways, especially the last few episodes. I think an adaptation of The Amber Spyglass that I would like would be twice as long and cost a hundred times as much.

If you stop doing something, you get worse at it. Last fall, I stopped writing for myself every day. I’m tring to get back to it now. I’m finding it harder to stich together thoughts and sentences. Typing—outside the context of my day job—feels weird. My writing has lost its voice—at least for now.

🎵 Radio Paradise

One thing that has been making me happy lately is Radio Paradise, which is an Internet radio station. Several things about it make it special: It is completely ad-free. It runs on the public radio model, in that it is listener-supported. A DJ breaks in between songs a couple times an hour to say hello and remind listeners that they can donate. These breaks never annoy me. Its “Main Mix” is the best eclectic rock radio station I have ever listened to.…

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I have been playing more chess lately, and I have never played worse, I think. It is a humbling game sometimes, especially if you are not a visual thinker.

Currently reading: American Girls by Nancy Jo Sales 📚

Currently reading: Fairy Tale by Stephen King 📚

I’m happy Tapbots’s Ivory Mastodon client is out. My love for its predecessor, Tweetbot, far exceeded any feelings I had for Twitter. I installed it and am trying it out. At present, however, I’m not that interested in Mastodon, and I don’t think Ivory will change that. It was hard to kick my addiction to Twitter and I don’t think I need to replace it with something that is almost exactly the same.

I have been happy to sit out the whole Twitter implosion, though I am beyond tired of hearing about it all the time on the podcasts I listen to. I still have an account over there, mostly to be able to read tweetstorms (that really should be blog posts) that other people link to. I haven’t posted anywhere in a while. I’ve been busy reading and working and haven’t had much to say.

📺 I have been watching Obi-Wan while at the gym because it is relatively mindless. And wow is it mindless! Seeing more Darth Vader and Obi-Wan is fun, but boy does everybody suck at their jobs on that show. 😀

HBOmax keeps canceling shows and, in unprecedented fashion, wiping them from its catalog. It’s unbelievable and petty. From the outside, it just seems stupid. How can the company that made them lose money by streaming them? Im glad I’m not a subscriber right now.

Hades II is in development! This is unexpectedly good news. (It feels wrong to use a Roman numeral after a Greek god’s name.)

The New York Times iPad app got a dark mode recently (I noticed it yesterday), after a million years of not having one. The iPhone app, however, still does not have a dark mode. What is the big deal with the Times about reversing black and white in their app?

We plan to visit my mom for Christmas again this year. It has been several years since we could, due to the pandemic or us being sick. We are all feeling happy about it. I just hope we can stay healthy that week, because it has been a very rough autumn for us, illness-wise.

Today I’m taking my family to Boston for a short trip. We are excited. My wife and I went to college near Boston and have fond memories of the city.

My son and I are sick for the second time since school started. No one liked wearing a facemask last year but I didn’t catch a cold or COVID until my son stopped wearing his.

For the first time in about 15 years I am no long a customer of Verizon Wireless. My family is living the MVNO life. I hope it works out, but I get the impression that, because eSims make switching quick and easy, we can always switch carriers again if we need to.

Upgrade+ from Best Buy sounds incredible. It is tempting me to buy a MacBook that I really can’t afford right now—but could easily afford if paid for over the next three years. 😅 That’s dangerous.

Python 3.11

I have been looking forward to the Python 3.11 release all month and it is finally here. It wasn’t released early enough for me to install it at work this morning, though. I’m eager to see how much performance has improved. I’m also looking forward to better error messages and the Self type hint for class factory methods.…

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Tonight I signed up for wireless service through Tello. I will test it alongside Verizon Wireless (via my iPhone’s eSim) for a short time and see how well it goes. I wanted to try Mint, but I need monthly billing for expense reimbursement through work. I almost signed up for Visible but their poor customer service scares me.

Here’s a game for a Big Data nerd like me: Is it Pokemon or Big Data?. Very (ok, somewhat) funny and informative.

I received a small windfall today in the form of a prepaid virtual prepaid card, which is quite difficult to spend vs., say, money in my bank account. My office offers the same thing for spot rewards, and even the U.S. government used this scheme for one of the COVID payments last year.

I wasted an hour trying to get it added to my Apple Wallet so I could actually spend it, before I gave up (because it would not work) and requested a plastic card, for a small fee, to be mailed to me weeks from now. The whole thing seems like a scam. How hard is it to send people checks?

I hate it how I can no longer call a doctor’s office and get ahold of a person. The online MyChart sites that all my doctors have are not a good enough replacement for a person who answers the phone.

🎵 Who else is looking forward to Taylor Swift’s new album? My daughter and I are anxiously awaiting its release tomorrow.

It amuses me that the tech pundits seem to hate Apple’s latest iPad and iPad Pro updates.

The Excel gods have not been smiling on me this evening. I can’t get two different worksheets merged the way I want to, which is without requiring my users having to do anything other than click “Refresh all Queries.” It isn’t working. Poor data quality seems to be the culprit.

Did you know you that, in Windows 10’s File Explorer, you can easily copy a file’s full path to the clipboard? You right-click it while the Shift key is down, and select the “Copy as path” item from the context menu, which otherwise isn’t there. 🤯

I think that widescreen 16:9 presentation slides look worse than 3:2 ones. Text gets too wide to read comfortably. Some people divide their slides into two areas side-by-side, like they are two slides in one, which also isn’t good. Those are too busy, I think.

The once and future lawnmowing man

My monthly “don’t have a lawn that embarrasses me” budget has increased dramatically over the past few years. It has gone from a good buy (about $30/week) to eye-wateringly expensive (a little over $100/week). Part of the increase is that we changed lawn services from a company that did a poor job to one that did a good job. I have tried to shop around for a cheaper, but still good, service, but haven’t found one yet.…

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It is stupefying to me that Apple’s new low-end iPad supports the first-generation Apple Pencil and requires a special adapter to pair and charge it. Who thought that would be a good idea?

📚 Greenlights

I read Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey last night. I picked it because it was the first nonfiction book I found in Libby that I thought would be fun to read on a quiet night. I first heard about the book from an interview McConaughey did with Bill Maher where I initially thought Maher didn’t like him. I am a fan of McConaughey’s acting and his positive attitude, though i am not always sure if he really has a coherent philosophy.…

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I started using to browse Hacker News in a less redundant way. It collects the stories that reach the front page of Hacker News and groups them by day. Each story shows up once and doesn’t move around, so it takes a lot less time to browse.

I finally changed over my personal email address to use iCloud. That will save me $20/year on my bill and give me an excuse to use my iCloud email account, which has been checked fruitlessly by Apple Mail for many years.


I stopped writing blog posts a couple months ago for no reason whatsoever. It has been very hard to get back into the habit of posting something regularly. I have not lost interest in blogging. Something stranger has happened: I have lost interest in myself. I don’t completely know why. I am not overly depressed or anything—just maxed out. My general feeling about the past couple months has been that I have put in more effort, and reaped fewer rewards for that effort, than I have in years.…

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I have some light reading tonight: Polars User Guide. I basically hate Pandas’s API and hope to use something more nicely designed, and a heck of a lot faster, instead.

📺 I finished watching Slow Horses Season 1 tonight. I loved it and can’t wait for Season 2. I’m wondering if I would like the books that the show is based on. I also wonder if it will get more than two seasons.

I’m uninstalling Visual Studio from my work computer. It feels weird to do it, but I haven’t used it in years. Visual Studio Code killed it for me.

Is there no good and fast way to create an ETL job in Python?

I love using PETL to read, transform, and validate datasets. Its API is simple and straightforward to use, and its documentation, while not perfect, is really good. Unfortunately, PETL’s data processing—especially loading data into SQL Server—is very slow—to the point of being completely unusable for anything but the smallest datasets. Odo promises to be much faster at data loads, and seems dead-simple to use, but I cannot get it to work.…

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Chess is just poker now

The chess cheating scandal du jour is puzzling and fascinating. Matteo Wong’s article in The Atlantic does not really unpack the issue, but instead provide some depth into how computers have changed the game over the past 25 years: What once seemed magical became calculable; where one could rely on intuition came to require rigorous memorization and training with a machine. Chess, once poetic and philosophical, was acquiring elements of a spelling bee: a battle of preparation, a measure of hours invested.…

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Long-running data feeds are a real thing after all

Over the weekend I wrote a SQL Server stored procedure and some user-defined functions it relies on that cleaned up data and inserted it into a new table. It was the sort of thing that took a short time to write, but an awfully long time to execute and to troubleshoot. It gave me an opportunity to learn more about using SQL Server’s “Include Actual Execution Plan” and “Include Live Query Statistics” features, which helped point me in the direction of creating an index that supposedly sped the whole process up by 30%.…

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🎵 Today’s listen: Autofiction by (The London) Suede. It’s really good! They went “punk” after 30 years. 😀

I wrote a SQL script that queried, cleaned, and loaded data into a table. It failed after 9 hours of runtime because of a NULL value in the source data that I had forgotten about. 🤦‍♂️

I am still learning new T-SQL operators. Today I discovered CROSS APPLY, which is for joining to a table-valued function (with parameters pulled from the other tables).

🎵 Today’s listen: Asphalt Meadows by Death Cab for Cutie. I’m excited to hear new music from one of my favorite bands from the aughts.

Tableau is a very powerful data visualization tool. The more I use it, though, the weirder it is to me from a UI standpoint.  I find it both easier and harder to use that it’s nearest competitor, Microsoft Power BI.

I coded and tested an update to one of my iOS apps tonight. It has been too long since I touched Xcode. I have been working more evening hours this year than ever before—mainly because I am on dad duty during daytime hours—and don’t get to work on my hobbies as much as I used to.

My son lost his first tooth today! It happened while he was at school, eating an apple. His teacher wrapped it up for us and sent it home with a note.

iOS 16 is very nice! I am enjoying the new Lock Screens and how they tie to the system Focus feature.

My idea to eat healthier on my vacation was poorly conceived. 😅

Whitefield, New Hampshire, band concert. My father-in-law is playing a song he arranged and my kids are dancing and running around the town green.

It is my family’s annual drive off to vacation day. We are all excited. I will be driving pretty much all day.

I am supposed to be packing my tech gear for my vacation, so of course I am updating all my Linux boxes and freeing up space on my file server instead.

Yesterday I wiped my old iPad, which was running iPadOS 16 developer beta 3, and reinstalled iOS 15.6. Of course, an hour after I did so, a new developer beta was released that may have fixed the Music app crashing bugs that were vexing me.

🎵 Today’s listen: Gold by Sister Sparrow. Apple Music labels it an “Alternative” album, but it is blue-eyed soul all the way. My favorite track is “Can’t Get You Out of My Mind”; it’s fierce and fun.

My writing as a child:

Why use a small word when a big word will do?

My writing as an adult:

Why use a big word when a small word will do?

🎵 Today’s listen: firstborn by Nicolle Gaylon. It is a veteran country songwriter’s first album. It is full of autobiographical songs which are, interestingly, chronologically ordered from birth to death.

The Music app on the most recent iPadOS 16 developer’s beta crashes a lot. I regret installing the beta for this reason, but it was on a device I could live without, and I did need to test one of my apps.

I don’t need a better notes app. I need to take better notes.

I want to install Linux on an old PC that I have. After looking at all sorts of reviews and videos showing the various desktops and distros I could try, I came to the conclusion that boring old standard Ubuntu would probably suit me best.

🎵 Today’s listen: Emotional Creature by Beach Bunny. I loved this emo-pop band’s debut LP, Honeymoon, a couple years ago. I didn’t know this album was out, so I’m excited to listen to it. The lead single, Oxygen, is good.

Standard Ebooks

In my quest to fill my new Kobo with some good things to read, I quickly found Project Gutenberg, which has tons of public domain books to download in various ebook formats. Unfortunately, most of its books are basically plaintext files. That is great for longevity and flexibility, but is not great for readability on an e-reader. Many (most?) of its books don’t look great on your Kindle or Kobo (or what have you).…

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Back to converting e-Books with Calibre

I bought the Kobo Clara HD thinking that I could side-load ePubs on it without converting them. While that is true, when you read a normal ePub—with at least some of them I have tried—you cannot change the font, margins, or line spacing. That is very frustrating. I learned that Kobo has its own format, kepub, which is basically ePub with some extra stuff added to it. Kepub files work exactly how you would expect e-books to work.…

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Google Fonts

I don’t always like Google’s products or business practices, but some of its offerings are great. Google Fonts is a case in point. From its (hard-to-reach) footer: Google Fonts is a library of 1,429 open source font families and APIs for convenient use via CSS and Android. The library also has delightful and beautifully crafted icons for common actions and items. Download them for use in your digital products for Android, iOS, and web.…

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Lexend: Change the way the world reads

When installing fonts on my new Kobo e-reader, I came across a font that I had never heard of before: Lexend. It is a free, sans-serif font with a bold mission and a rather audacious website. Here is some of its most informative copy: In 1999, as an educational therapist, Dr. Bonnie Shaver-Troup, working with clients, began observing that reading issues masked the individual’s true capability and intelligence. In 2000, Bonnie theorized that reading performance would improve through use of:…

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First impressions of the Kobo Clara HD e-reader

I got my Kobo this afternoon, set it up, and started noodling with it. My library card needs to be renewed, so I was locked out of logging into Overdrive to worry library books. Side-loading books was very easy, and I don’t need to convert my ePubs beforehand either, which I had to on my Kindle1. I wish the Kobo had a USB-C port instead of micro-USB, but I won’t be plugging it in too often, so that’s not a big deal.…

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ChromeOS Flex

Today I learned about ChromeOS Flex, which is an easy way to install Chrome OS on any computer: Try the cloud-first, fast, easy-to-manage, and secure operating system for PCs and Macs. ChromeOS Flex is a sustainable way to modernize devices you already own. It’s easy to deploy across your fleet or simply try it to see what a cloud-first OS has to offer. I don’t really have a use for it, but I wish I did.…

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Rubik’s Cube

I taught my daughter how to visualize and calculate volume using one of my Rubrik’s Cubes tonight. Since school ended I June, she and I have covered most of the fifth grade math curriculum and some of the sixth grade math curriculum, too. We are just starting volume calculations, and still need to cover measurement unit conversions and graphing on a coordinate plane. Geometry is where things get tricky. She told me tonight she wants to get 100 on all her test so she could move up to the highest math level at the end of the year.…

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JSON with my son

To my surprise, my son1 asked me to teach him how to use JSON in Python today. His grandfather showed him JSON files from his website earlier today, and now my son is mad for reading and writing JSON himself. We graduated from Turtle graphics to data structures and file I/O. I introduced to him Python dictionary and the list, showed him how to converted both to JSON, and then showed him how to write the JSON to a file.…

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Impulse purchase: Kobo Clara HD e-reader

I just impulse-purchased a Kobo Clara HD. I hope it wasn’t a bad decision. I need an e-book reader only for a few weeks each year, during my summer vacation, which is coming up soon. I have an old Kindle, which I trot out annually to read outside with during my vacation, but its lack of a backlight and its low resolution make it hard to read in way too many places—not just indoors, but outside in the shade as well.…

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🎧 An update on the Sony WH-1000M4

A little while ago, I bemoaned that the Sony WH-1000M4 headphones were disappointing to me. I’m happy to report they have been working pretty well as my gym headphones. The fit is pretty good (they don’t fall off unless I’m practically upside down) and the sound plus noise cancellation are more than adequate. The creakiness I observed when they were brand new seems to have gone away. My only complaint is that, when I bring my iPad with me to watch TV shows while doing cardio, it can be a pain to get the headphones to connect to it.…

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🎵 Today’s listen, Stop the Clocks by Oasis. It is a greatest hits album that is supposedly curated by the band to resemble on of their live show setlists. It is all the Oasis I need, and maybe a bit more.

I am excited to teach my daughter division by unit fractions this evening. I have been telling her that multiplication and division, much like addition and subtraction, are inverse functions. Now I get to show it in action, and it may blow her mind.

📺 I very much enjoyed Stranger Things season 4. After I finished it, I re-watched seasons 1 and 2 (so far), which I have not seen since they debuted. I think they hold up well and I liked them even better than the first time I watched them.

I don’t use Drafts anymore even though it used to be my all-time favorite iOS app. It became way more than I need it to be. Ulysses and Apple Notes have completely overtaken it for writing, and I don’t bother using it any more to create calendar events or execute searches.

Learning with VS Code on Chromebooks

My son needs a Chromebook for school and a computer to run Visual Studio Code in. I kind of want to get him a MacBook Air (which can run Chrome), but one is too expensive. I kind of want to get him a Linux laptop (which can also run Chrome), but that is likely not going to work 100% right. Why not get him a Chromebook and install Visual Studio Code on it?…

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🎮 Today’s listen: The London Suede and Similar Artists Station on Apple Music. This is probably a personalized BritPop playlist. I’m discovering a lot of album cuts I didn’t know about or bother listening to in the 1990s. Also, I now think Blur holds up far better than Oasis.

Pilcrows and silcrows

I have been writing and editing documentation all week—so much so that I have been dreaming about applying styles to text in Microsoft Word. Today I really got deep into the minutiae of Microsoft Word and legal citations. I was delighted to find an online guide called Typography for Lawyers, which not only has lots of useful tips about typography, but also tells you how to do it in Word, Mac OS Word, and WordPerfect.…

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At work, I rely on compression to keep my hard drive from filling up with huge data files that I need to work with and keep for the duration of a project. Because I mainly care about saving storage space, when it comes to file compression, I care mostly about compression ratio and only secondarily about compression and decompression speed. Over the years I have become somewhat of a file compression nerd.…

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🎵 Today’s listen: I Miss Britpop. Because I do.

Everything takes longer to do than I expect

A miser knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. I feel that way sometimes about the people tracking my time at work. The thing is, they don’t bother me about how long it takes me to do my work. I bother me about it.1 A constant source of frustration for me is that everything I do takes longer than I expect it to. This is true whether I am doing something for the first time or the hundredth.…

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The beautiful, overwhelming vastness of the universe

The first public image from the James Webb telescope was made public today, and it is amazing. From the article: Thousands of galaxies – including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared – have appeared in Webb’s view for the first time. This slice of the vast universe covers a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground.…

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Common Table Expressions

Early in my career, I ended up working on Microsoft SQL Server projects as a software developer and a business analyst. Over several years, I became an expert1 in data modeling, performance tuning, ETL, numerous database connection options, numerous database programming libraries. Even after I left my software development job behind, I wrote queries and developed metadata layers for analytical reporting. Over that time, I wrote a ton of SQL queries, and I had a very opinionated way of structuring them, which was essentially clean ANSI SQL.…

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Azure Data Studio

One thing I learned today is that Microsoft essentially made a fork of Visual Studio Code and customized it for database work. The app is called Azure Data Studio. Out of the box it supports Microsoft SQL Server, including non-Azure-hosted versions, despite its name. With an extension, it supports Postgres, too.…

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Oh, Schiit

My Schiit Magni 3 amplifier is acting up again. Tonight it is ground loop hum. Before tonight, it has been annoyingly sensitive (that is, it pops loudly) to the tiny amount of static electricity generated by my feet scuffing the low-pile carpet when I rise from my chair. When I stand up while wearing my headphones, it pops very loudly, which is painful to my ears, and then it will hum angrily the rest of the day.…

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I was delighted to learn this evening that I could install the excellent, open-source database Postgres on my Mac by downloading a simple app bundle——and copying it to my Applications folder. In contrast, installing SQL Server on my Windows machine at work was a big deal.

🎮 Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Over this past week I played through Ori and the Will of the Wisps on the Nintendo Switch. It is a challenging Metroidvania with beautiful graphics and a moving story. I highly recommend it—especially if you enjoy platforming challenges. The way that Ori moves, jumps, bashes off enemies, and launches into the air is pure delight. I had purchased the game almost two years ago when it first came out, and abandoned my save file because the game kept crashing.…

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ETL with Python

I have been experimenting with writing ETL (extract, transform, load) scripts in Python for work. The scripts were mostly fun and easy to write, but the outcomes have been disappointing: unacceptably slow load times. I usually work with an instance of SQL Server that runs locally on my computer. I use it for data collection, analysis, and reporting, and have never needed a shared server. In the local environment, I have always loaded .…

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Dependence Day

On Independence Day, we Americans celebrate throwing off the yoke of tyranny of the British Crown and declaring that we, and all people, have certain inalienable rights under natural law. The Supreme Court has made a mockery of this idea in its recent decision Dobbs v. Jackson. Now we are being led to believe that our natural rights are not natural at all. Instead, they depend on national tradition—specifically what the Supreme Court majority deems to be national tradition.…

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📺 Stranger Things season 4 really clicked for me. Sure, it has some clumsy bits and didn’t serve half its characters with a real story, but overall I was hooked from the start and loved every minute of it.

Summer computer science

I started teaching my son Python turtle graphics this week. He’s only 5, but he is absolutely mad for computers and is thrilled to get to use them to do something. I first learned to program using turtle graphics in Logo when I was in third grade. It was back in the 1980s, when computers were too expensive for my family to own, so it was also the first time I ever used a computer.…

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Summer math

It took a few days of cajoling, but I somehow convinced my daughter to study math with me over the summer—at least until we go on vacation in about a month. We are going through a “step up to fifth grade” packet that her math teacher gave us. I am making up my own problems based on the material and challenging her to think mathematically, too. She is an A+ student in the middle level of math in her grade, but she has been unable to pass the school’s rigorous, though largely arbitrary, criteria to gain entry into the highest level.…

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I have been resting and collecting thoughts long enough. I plan to start writing blog posts again! I just need to make some time to do it.

I have not felt like I have anything to say lately. It has been a weird, intellectually empty feeling—probably born of overwork and my new, thrice-weekly exercise habit. My mind is scattered and I cannot complete a thought.

I am afraid I am becoming a workaholic. I keep returning to work or work-related stuff in the evenings now, almost every day. I feel like I can’t get enough done during the day anymore.

Today was my son’s preschool graduation. The whole family went to his very cute graduation ceremony this morning. We had a pizza party in his honor this evening, and my wife made a delicious cake to his specifications (chocolate cake, vanilla buttercream). He is very proud of himself and I am very proud of him.

I watched Apple’s WWDC keynote this afternoon. I am most excited about the new MacBooks because I have been hoping for that kind design since 2020. I really want one, but the closest I will ever get is buying one for my daughter next year to use for middle school.

Ask Can anyone recommend a good PC game controller for young children? I think my kids' hands are too small for my Xbox controller. There are many choices on Amazon but many seem low quality. I’m planning to set up a retro gaming machine.

My son, the programmer

Today I showed my son how to do a couple things in Python for the first time. We only spent about half an hour on it, but it was a lot of fun. First, I showed him how to to use a Jupyter notebook in Visual Studio Code. We made Markdown and Python cells. For the Python cells, I walked him through a Hello World example. I then had him print out whatever he wanted many times in a for loop.…

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My current Python project

I have been burning the midnight oil over the past week writing a data validator program—basically a front-end to the PETL validate function—in Python. This would be my third such program, and it is going to be the sort where it can be configured entirely, and flexibly, with configuration files. Theoretically, it should not require coding, or at least not that much coding, to set up validation rules. It has been a fun project thus far, and it is nearing the point where all the pieces will come together.…

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Today was my son’s first playdate, which has been long delayed due to COVID. We met our son’s friend’s parents, who were very nice, and had a fun cookout this afternoon. I even made coffee ice cream in my new ice cream machine.

Enable Recycle Bin on mapped network drives

My favorite tech discovery of the week was this one: an old TechNet post titled “Enable Recycle Bin on mapped network drives.” This article helped me figure out how to get the Windows Recycle Bin working on my primary documents folder, which is a mapped drive that isn’t really a mapped drive. For historical reasons, I store my documents on a mapped drive that is actually a deeply nested folder on my hard drive.…

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I did my first workout at my new gym tonight. I am happy I did, and am proud to say that it was not as hard as I thought to get back into cardio and weights again after many years away from them.


Much to my surprise, I have been relying heavily on a very old Windows app, Robocopy, at work the past few days. Part of the work I need to do this week involves moving very large files to and from a network share over a very slow VPN connection. Those file transfers were hosing my file manager, DoubleCommander, so I started doing them from Windows Terminal via Robocopy. It’s a tool I haven’t really used in about 20 years, when I wrote batch jobs to deploy my software or move data files around, but it still works.…

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I joined a gym 💪

I joined a gym today. It has been 12 years since I last had a gym membership. Getting to the gym has seemed impossible to me due to work and kids—and then the pandemic. Last weekend, my wife said I should try, and I jumped at the chance. I hope I like it, and can find time to go—probably after my kids are asleep (or, at least, sopposed to be asleep.…

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I’m setting up a web server for my five-year-old son to play with on an old Raspberry Pi that fell into disuse a long time ago. I was delighted to discover the Raspberry Pi imager exists now to make OS installs a breeze.

Windows PC setup is still a pain

I set up an old MacBook Pro for my son a little while ago, which I finally gave to him today. I set up an old—but, compared to the Mac, far newer and far more powerful—Windows machine today for my daughter. Setting up my son’s Mac was a breeze. Nearly everything was downloaded via the Mac App Store, and I needed one reboot for a system update. Setting up the Windows 11 machine took a lot more work.…

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Today was the first 90º+ day of the year for us in Central New Jersey. I took my family out for ice cream, and later to the beach, to beat the heat. I think everyone had a great day.

🎧 Sony WH-1000M4 headphones are just OK and that sucks

Listening to the AirPods Max for five minutes in an Apple Store ruined me for other noise-canceling headphones. Not because they sounded good. In fact, I listened to them only long enough to learn that they are bass heavy and exciting. What wowed me about them was the active noise cancellation. It was far better than anything I had ever experienced. It made the din of the Apple Store—all those human voices, which are difficult for ANC to cancel out—go away completely.…

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Thinking about my next role at work

I spent nearly all of my writing time this evening drafting a job description for the Senior Data Analytics Manager job I hope to be promoted to, sooner or later, at my firm. I feel good about what I wrote, which describes the specialist position that I have carved out for myself at my company, but I’m running it by a couple mentors for feedback anyway. I had a great year at work this past year, but promotion is by no means guaranteed.…

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I am trying the no-case lifestyle again with my iPhone 12 mini. I am pretty sure my case is the reason why wireless charging is so flakey. Let’s see how long I can go before I drop the slippery thing.

Generating dummy data with Python

Today I learned a good way to generate dummy data for use in the data analysis training I am going to perform next month. While there are services like that can produce dummy datasets without requiring any programming at all, those tend not to work for me. My data needs are domain-specific. I don’t just need random names and addresses and things like that; I also need specific columns, including some inter-related financial data columns, for a dummy dataset to make sense to my audience.…

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I am starting to write a job description for what will be (I hope) my next job—or at least my next job title. As a start, I am researching all the other similar job descriptions from open job postings. I hope I can cobble together something good by the end of the week.

I finally caught COVID

My blogging interlude this month has been brought to you by COVID-19. For a long time I didn’t know I had it. It entered my house just as peak tree pollen season started, and its symptoms mimicked my springtime allergy attacks. At present, I am still getting over it. I hope to feel 100% by the end of the month.…

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My seasonal allergies have been worse this week than they have been in years. I can’t think straight. I’m hoping pollen season ends early this sprint. 🙁

Working Late

Because I seem to get far less done in the daytime hours than I think I should, I found myself working late tonight. I created a short presentation on data validation using Python. I dared to include a tiny bit of source code in this one. It will be fun to see how that goes over.…

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Ah (Choo!), Spring

I did bit enjoy being in an allergy-induced brain fog all day. My son’s allergies are much worse than mine. He is too little to willingly take his allergy medication, which makes helping him difficult. My wife identified a bush near our front door that flowered for the first time I years, and seems to be a major source of our allergies. She is wants to get rid of it, which is understandable, but it hard for us to do quickly enough for it to matter.…

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I’m writing my self-evaluation tonight for work. I’ve blown past the suggested length, but hope it will be OK. I’m that good, after all. 😀

Annual Reviews Are a Terrible Way to Evaluate Employees

Of course, on the weekend I have to write my annual self-evaluation essay for work, I read this article in the Wall Street Journal by Marcus Buckhingham. He spells out the problems with the annual review process: The failings of the annual performance review fall into three broad buckets: They are too infrequent. They are dehumanizing. They are irrelevant to real-world performance. For years I have complained to my “performance advisors” about the absurdity of the annual review process.…

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Crypto is winning, and Bitcoin diehards are furious about it.

Elizabeth Lopatto’s account of the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami Beach is a rollicking and chilling account of a conference that is supposedly centered on the granddaddy of all cryptocurrencies, but is actually centered on the number one right-wing hobbyhorse: grievance. I’m at Miami Beach, in weather so hot and humid it feels like being inside a mouth, to try to get a sense of the vibes. I’m uncomfortable because of the heat and also the flashes of antisemitism.…

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🎮 Knotwords: A New Word Game From Zach Gage and Jack Schlesinger

Today I found out about a new game by Zach Gage and Jack Schlesinger, who created one of my favorite iOS games, Good Sudoku. It is a word game called Knotwords. Playing it is a little like playing crossword constructor. You fit letters into an empty crossword grid so that they make words. The tutorial and first few levels are very easy, but the game gets more challenging—and more fun—once you pass them.…

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Henry Winkler Breaks the Curse of Stardom

Yesterday, The New York Times published a very well-written profile of actor Henry Winkler written by Matthew Klam: When the producers of the HBO series “Barry” asked Henry Winkler to audition for the role of Gene Cousineau, they assured him that he was on a short list. Winkler said he was willing, as long as the list didn’t include Dustin Hoffman. “Because he’s a movie star. He’d get it. If Dustin was on the list, I wasn’t going in.…

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All billionaires are oligarchs

Leo Laporte, on this week’s MacBreak Weekly podcast, said that he is going to start calling Elon Musk an oligarch rather than a billionaire. I found that very interesting. For some reason, we reserve the word “oligarch” for very rich, powerful men in Russia, but I think it may be an apt term for any billionaire. Having that much money certainly grants a person outsized authority and autonomy. Each company Elon Musk owns controlling stake in must feel to him like a fiefdom in which he can do whatever he wants.…

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When I used Mac OS 8

Seeing Mac OS 8 emulated in a web browser today brings back some pleasant memories of my years as a Mac tech in college. Most of the machines I worked on for that job ran OS 8 or OS 8.5, which to my Windows-centric mind were beautiful and fun to work on.1 For two years, I worked in the theatre building with one of my best friends. We were in charge of keeping the theatre professors’ computers—and almost all of the computers in student areas, working.…

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📺 I rewatched all of Barry over the past week, and watched the first episode of season 3 tonight. So far, season 3 appears to be off to a fine start.

Elon Musk acquires Twitter for roughly $44 billion

Douglas MacMillan, Faiz Siddiqu, Rachel Lerman, and Taylor Telford reported today in The Washington Post: Elon Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion on Monday, the company announced, giving the world’s richest person command of a highly influential social media site that serves as a platform for political leaders, a sounding board for experts across industries and an information hub for millions of everyday users. The acquisition followed weeks of evangelizing on the necessity of “free speech,” as the Tesla CEO seized on Twitter’s role as the “de facto town square” and took umbrage with content moderation efforts he views as an escalation toward censorship.…

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Feeling old

Playing basketball with my kids this weekend and moving a bunch of unwieldy deck planks around my property today made me feel old in ways that I was not expecting. I am not sure how to get back into shape at this point, because I have been away from strenuous exercise for so long, but know that I have to start out slowly.…

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I realize now that I’m writing my blog for my children. A body of work—even a body of an unimportant, inconsequential work—is a better thing to leave behind than nothing at all.

Jazz music is tolerated by my children

To my amazement, my kids seem to like jazz. By “like”, I mean don’t seem to mind, which I will consider a win. They don’t mind when I play John Coltrane (who is one of my favorite jazz musicians) on the kitchen smart speaker. They don’t blink an eye when albums like Jazz at the Pawnshop or Kind of Blue are playing. Today, I put on a Louis Armstrong playlist during breakfast, told my kids about him while I was playing, and my daughter expressed actually excitement about it.…

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Prepping my old MacBook Pro for my son

My five-year-old son is really into coding. He doesn’t know how to do anything yet, but he wants to learn. Currently he plays around with Swift Playgrounds a lot on his iPad (which is a little too old and slow to run it properly). He also orders his grandfather to program a collection of JavaScript games, utilities, and other doodads for him on a personal website. I’m going to start him on Scratch and Swift Playgrounds on the Mac.…

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A keynote address

This morning, my presentation group and I presented our InsurTech webinar for a third time. This time, our audience was a group of insurance regulators attending an in-person training seminar. We presented remotely to a large room that none of us ever saw. From our side, it was the same as presenting a webinar, except we got even less feedback from the audience until the Q&A period at the very end.…

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📺 Netflix canceled my daughter’s favorite show, The Baby-Sitters Club. I haven’t broken the news to her yet, because it would crush her. Consequently, I don’t feel too bad that Netflix has been beaten up by Wall Street this week.

A hastily built presentation is better than nothing

Last year I told myself that if I have the opportunity to present to somebody, I will always create some visual aids to complement what I say. It’s an easy way to differentiate myself from my peers, who rarely make slide decks unless they are training clients. It also shows that I’m well-organized and a structured thinker. I found out today that I can build a good-enough slide deck in about ten minutes and present it right afterward.…

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📺 I started rewatching Barry in preparation for the season 3 premiere. It seems impossible that the last episode of season 2 to air was almost three years ago. 🤯

A Python Refactoring Day

I have spent practically all day coding, coding, coding. I am adding features to, and (more than anything) refactoring, the Python data validation program that I have been working on for my day job. The result isn’t perfect, but it is far better than where it was this morning. First, I broke up my 600-line script into numerous module files. I was happy to learn how easy this is, but I am still a novice at what I can do with the Python package I have created.…

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Chateau Picard

When I was a kid, I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation. One thing that I remember is that Captain Picard—in some future timeline, at least—retires to his family’s vineyard in France. It was a place that looked pleasant but terribly boring. It was far afield from the exotic, exciting locales that his starship captain career brought him to. I always wondered why someone with such an exciting life would end up someplace so boring.…

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Be excellent to each other

Tonight I had deep conversations with my wife and (later on) with my half-sister. They were rewarding, but they have exhausted the part of my brain that likes to write meaningful, or at least useful, blog posts. I guess my message to the world today is: be excellent to each other, even when it’s hard.…

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🎵 Betwixt

When I was in college at Brandeis University, a friend of a friend1 was in a band. A cool band. He played cello in Betwixt, which was, at the time, a critically-acclaimed Boston-based noise/art-rock band. They played a few shows on campus, and I’m pretty sure I saw them play in Boston at least once, too. It was always a blast to see them perform. Their onstage vibe was cool and sexy.…

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I’m giving OneNote an honest try this time

I am giving Microsoft OneNote a try again at work. This is surprising to me. I’m a plaintext lover who has taken notes in Sublime Text or Visual Studio Code for years. It seems crazy to move from simple-to-understand text files to a clunky, proprietary format stored in a monolithic database in a weird location on my system. Furthermore, OneNote is the one corner of Microsoft Office that I have never liked.…

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🎙 The Most Thorough Case Against Crypto I’ve Heard

The best podcast episode I listened to today was the April 5th episode of The Ezra Klein Show: Dan Olson is the creator of a two-hour-YouTube video, “Line Goes Up,” that has now been viewed nearly seven million times. “Line Goes Up” is the single most comprehensive critique of crypto that I’ve ever heard. And that’s because Olson isn’t just focused on cryptocurrencies as a technology or an asset class, but on the crypto universe as a distinct culture underpinned by a powerful ideology.…

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📺 Friday Night Baseball

I watched about an hour of Apple TV+’s Friday Night Baseball last night. The picture quality was fantastic, both in terms of sharpness and color. I think that the MLB service also has great picture quality, too, but Apple’s streams looked better to me than Thursday’s streams from I liked the near lack of graphics and other nonsense on the screen. The announcers were sporadically good, but sometimes they were so far off topic that they didn’t bother to call the game.…

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My daughter is turning 10 next month, and we are finally getting her some “older-kid” gifts. I just ordered her a pair of HomePod minis to use as a stereo pair in her room. I think she is going to love them. Someday she will play something other than Taylor Swift on them, too.

I am wondering if a wireless CarPlay adapter would be worth it. It seems intriguing, but maybe dealing with BlueTooth is more trouble than it’s worth.

My wife and I just ran lines with my daughter for a skit she is working on for her acting class. It was kind of hilarious to act with her. I am either a terrific actor or a terrible ham. I can’t tell which, but I think my wife thinks it is the latter. 😅

📺 Why does the premiere of Apple’s Friday Night Baseball have to coincide with the season finale of Severance?

Refactoring Python

I completed my Python program this morning, but could not resist refactoring it this evening. I cut my main method’s size in half, compartmentalized my code better in classes, and made the program structure more data-driven rather than process-driven. The work should pay off for me, because I will have to make copies of my program and customize each copy for a different type of data valuation. I probably over-engineered it, though; it went from 525 lines to 625 in the process.…

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Python for data validation

I spent a good chunk of time today creating a data validation program using Python. Python is a language I know (to some extent) but I barely use. Instead, I write scripts in PowerShell, create more complex programs in C#, and analyze data with SQL queries, Galvanize Analytics, or Power Query in Excel. My goal today was to find a way to validate a large number of .csv files, which have a great many columns and will be of questionable quality.…

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The reward for doing good work

At the start of my career I learned an important lesson: The reward for doing good work is always more work. That often works in your favor. As you advance in your career, you move from doing many simple, repetitive tasks to solving fewer, more complex, and more interesting problems. In general, my experience bears this out—but not always. In my first real job, I was a software developer in a small group within a large company.…

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🎮 Children of Morta

Over the past week, I played through Children of Morta on my Nintendo Switch. It is a Roguelike game built around combat and dungeon crawling, with several gimmicks to keep it interesting. There is a strong story element and a very enthusiastic narrator; unfortunately, I didn’t think the story amounted to much in the end. Overall, I enjoyed it. It reminded me a little bit of the Diablo games, though my memory of those games is quite hazy.…

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My wife and I hired a cleaning service for the first time since the COVID pandemic started. Of course we spent most of today frantically cleaning the house to prepare for them. 😅

I can’t seem to read books lately. It’s hard for me to even watch TV shows. I wonder if my attention span is shot.

📺 Bill Hader Created a Killer to Cope

Rebecca Keegan wrote an entertaining and informative profile of Barry star and co-creator Bill Hader in The Hollywood Reporter: In Barry, which returns to HBO for its third season April 24, Hader plays a reluctant hitman who wants to be an actor. Barry is just really great at killing. This is not so different, Berg points out, from Hader, who became a star on SNL in his 20s almost in spite of himself, fought crippling anxiety on the live broadcasts, and really just wanted to write and direct.…

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Hot Sauce

I have watched enough episodes of Hot Ones on YouTube to pique my interest in hot sauces. So far I have a bottle of a chipotle-inspired sauce and a bottle of sriracha. I am trying to enjoy them. So far they taste more acidic than hot to me. Perhaps I need to learn to cook with hot peppers instead of dabbing sauce on things.…

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Try telling Memento Mori to a five-year-old

My five-year-old son just realized that he, and everyone he knows, will die someday. It has lead to unexpected, devastating dinner conversations the past two evenings. I don’t know why he started thinking about it. Out of nowhere, he started asking questions about death at dinner last night. At the time, my daughter and I had just started talking about Beethoven. I had looked up the composer’s Wikipedia entry and was reciting when he was born and when he died.…

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🎙 Draft of the Ages

The best podcast episode I listened to today was the 400th episode of Upgrade: It’s episode 400! We evaluate the forward-looking predictions we made back in episode 300, and then draft stories we’ll be talking about over the next hundred episodes! Also, an Apple TV+ movie won Best Picture and we round up an awful lot of Apple rumors. Upgrade is one of my favorite tech podcasts. Hosts Make Hurley and Jason Snell have a great rapport, and mostly talk about Apple and streaming TV services, which are beats that I enjoy learning and speculating about.…

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📺 Rick Beato on YouTube

One thing I have gotten into lately is watching videos on YouTube in which musicians talk about music. One channel/host I like is Rick Beato. He does everything from break down the music theory behind certain pop songs, to live interviews, to simply gushing about great performances and great audio production. What makes his videos enjoyable is his infectious enthusiasm for all kinds of music, and his deep respect for artists, engineers, and producers.…

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Will Smith hits Chris Rock over joke about Jada Pinkett Smith at Oscars

I’m super glad my wife and I didn’t bother to watch this nonsense last night. 🙄…

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🎵 Do you really want to cry today?

Watch this video: “Hurt” by Johnny Cash. I dare you. Everything about Cash’s performance is powerful. Honestly, though, the music video’s imagery is perfectly attuned to the music and to the singer. Director Mark Romanek and his small team who made the video were working at the top of the game. (I didn’t just learn about this song or video. On Friday, I watched a short documentary about music producer Rick Rubin that reminded me of it.…

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🎵 FTHC by Frank Turner

One of my favorite artists from the last few years, Frank Turner, has a new album out: FTHC.1 It—at least parts of it—represents a swing back from his acoustic guitar-led singer-songwriter fare to his roots as a hardcore artist. Yes, that means it’s peppered with screaming and righteous anger. That usually isn’t my cup of tea, but I’m down with it. Frank Turner is cool and makes good records; you should listen to them.…

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🎙 Tim’s Back! On Substack!

The best podcast episode I listened to today was the unexpected return of an old favorite: Tim Goodman’s TV Talk Machine. The show ended in 2020. I never unsubscribed, and was surprised this week to find new episodes waiting for me. I would not have noticed them if there hadn’t been a redesign of Overcast, my podcast player, for me to look at this week. It’s been 612 pandemic-fueled days.…

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I learned today that one of my cousins died. Before this I didn’t even know he existed. I am not entirely sure how I should feel. Vaguely sad is all I can muster right now.

🎙 How WordPress and Tumblr are keeping the internet weird, with Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg

The best podcast episode I listened to today is this interview of Matt Mullenweg on Decoder with Nilay Patel: Matt Mullenweg is the CEO of Automattic, the company that owns, which he co-founded, and Tumblr, the irrepressible social network it acquired from the wreckage of AOL, Yahoo, and Verizon. Matt’s point of view is that the world is better off when the web is open and fun, and Automattic builds and acquires products that help that goal along.…

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One thing that I learned about this year in chess that I never thought about is this:

For grandmasters, sportsmanship is resigning when your opponent will clearly win. For novices, sportsmanship is playing out the game and allowing your opponent to checkmate you even if it is inevitable.

I have not been doing much writing lately. I looked over a white paper I started writing in the fall, and realized I haven’t worked on it since December. I do not wish to abandon it; I’m just not that interested in it right now. I have been busy—and have wasted time—elsewhere.

📺 I love Severence on Apple TV+. It is a strange, darkly comic, slow burn of a suspense story. I thought it was a miniseries, but I learned from Wikipedia that season 2 has already begun shooting—and not too far from where I live. My mind is spinning. Where could they take this weird story?

🎮 Classic Mac games I used to enjoy

During my freshman year in college, my friend Saul and I played a Pong-inspired game on his Mac called Mortal Pongbat. It is basically Pong with lasers and bombs you can use to destroy your opponent’s paddle. As a two-player game, it was a ton of fun. We also would play a one-player Centipede clone called Apeiron. It was frenetic and had some humorous sound effects. While these games look very dated today, they were a lot of fun in 1995.…

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Is increased productivity worth the increase in stress?

I think about productivity a lot. I wrote up my productivity system about nine years ago. I created todo.txt apps for iOS and macOS. I have strong feelings about how to stay productive. Because of all this, when I don’t feel especially productive, I stress myself out about it more than I think I should. I even stress out when I feel like I have had a productive day but think that it took me too long to do that work.…

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🎮 I played through through Celeste this week. I really enjoyed the challenge until the last couple levels, when I had to turn Assist Mode on to get through them. I am glad I made it up to the top of the mountain, no matter how I got there.

Plaintext Sports

I found out about from a Daring Fireball post. The site’s Twitter account describes it thusly: Live sports scores, play-by-play and boxscores, in plain text. No ads, no tracking, no loading. I love it. It is fast and no-nonsense. Clicking on the box scores loads a page full of stats for each game. There is even a “hidden” page that lets you follow all the teams in certain cities or regions.…

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One of my old websites is #2 on Hacker News right now.

A Groggy Senate Approves Making Daylight Saving Time Permanent

Luke Broadwater and Amelia Nierenberg report in The New York Times: After losing an hour of sleep over the weekend, members of the United States Senate returned to the Capitol this week a bit groggy and in a mood to put an end to all this frustrating clock-changing. So on Tuesday, with almost no warning and no debate, the Senate unanimously passed legislation to do away with the biannual springing forward and falling back that most Americans have come to despise, in favor of making daylight saving time permanent.…

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⚾️ I’m watching the Red Sox/Twins opening Spring Training game. I’m happy that baseball is back! Instead of following the Sox, I may watch the MLB free game of the day and jump around the league this year. It will be interesting to see how the new universal designated hitter rule plays out.

🍀 We are having a St. Patrick’s Day dinner tonight. I put the corned beef in the slow cooker and got the potatoes ready for roasting later. I’m even going to cook cabbage for the first time. I plan to sauté it, and hope it turns out well.

All I know is that I don’t want to create a paper maché volcano

I want to help my daughter do a science fair project and create a fancy 3-fold poster for her elementary school’s science fair next month. I like the idea of making oobleck (a.k.a. “slime”) with cornstarch and water and doing some simple experiments with it. I think it would be a lot of fun. I wonder if it is too basic for fourth grade, but I expect it would be OK.…

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🏈 Tom Brady Barely Left and Now is Back

Kevin Draper reports for The New York Times that Tom Brady is rescinding his retirement announcement from only eight weeks ago: Brady, the 44-year-old quarterback who has won the Super Bowl seven times, wrote on his social media accounts Sunday evening that he would return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to play his 23rd N.F.L. season. I can only admire Tom Brady’s gumption here. His numbers last season were so good that his retirement seemed unnecessary, despite his age.…

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Book Fair

My daughter had a book fair at school today. She was so thrilled about it that she told me about it many times over the weekend before it happened, and several times today after it happened. She proudly showed my wife and me the books and the fancy pencils and erasers she bought there today. It is wonderful how much she loves to read and to write. I always loved book fairs in elementary school, too.…

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My son is starting to get interested in ScratchJr on his iPad. It is a visual programming environment for kids. It seems like a good way for kids to learn programming. I set him up with it on Saturday and tried to help him get started yesterday. So far his favorite part is the image editor, which of course is the non-programming part. He has been drawing and coloring with it most of the time.…

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I got a chance to try Universal Control tonight. It is pretty cool! I think it will come in handy sometimes, when I want to type on my iPad without having to get my BlueTooth keyboard.

I have not had much interesting to say lately. I have been doing boring things like preparing my taxes and watching way more TV than usual. I hope to get out of my creative slump soon.

Judging by the weather—wind, cold, snow, sleet, hail, and rain—it is the last gasp of winter here in New Jersey. All I have wanted to do is sit under a blanket and watch TV. isn’t just for blitz games

I play chess on, thanks to a challenge request from Andrew Canion a while back. We play “1 Day” games, which are essentially correspondence chess. It is great fun playing against Andrew, but I don’t get to play with him in real time because we live on different sides of the planet. To see if I can beat an opponent—who is not one of my kids—in real time, I have played a number of blitz games, which are 10-minute games.…

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⚾️ Apple’s big baseball deal, detailed

Jason Snell, on Six Colors, shared some interesting information about Apple’s Major League Baseball announcement on Tuesday : Though NBCUniversal’s Peacock is rumored to be picking up ESPN’s old package for Monday and Wednesday night games, what Apple is doing is an entirely new license from Major League Baseball, containing three separate products… He goes on to provide details about MLB Big Inning, linear and on-demand archival content, and Friday Night Baseball, which run the gamut from normal televised baseball to something akin to the NFL Red Zone.…

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🎮 I bought 992 games today from the Bundle for Ukraine. Now my backlog is over 1,000. 😅 I (selfishly) wanted to pick up cross-platform, DRM-free versions of Celeste and Baba Is You for cheap. The rest is gravy.

🎮 New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is one of the disappointments in my Nintendo Switch collection. I had hoped it would bring me the same joy that Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. did in the past. Instead, I found it punishingly difficult, due to devilishly positioned enemies and a physics engine tailored to make the characters slip off platforms all the time. (Don’t even get me started about the Ghost Houses.…

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Thinking about the new Apple products

Since watching the Apple announcement today and learning about the Mac Studio, I have never been happier that I did not wait for a more powerful Mac mini before I bought mine. The Mac Studio is more computer than I need and is out of my price range (for a desktop at least). I am thrilled that it exists for other people to use, and will happily listen to the pundits talk about for the rest of the month.…

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Looking forward to Apple’s product announcements tomorrow

I am excited to see what new Macs Apple announces tomorrow. I would love for there to be a new MacBook that follows the design language of the iPad Air, with flat sides, rounded corners, and anodized aluminum shells in several different colors. Ever since I got the generation 4 iPad Air I have wanted a MacBook that looks a little like two of them sandwiched together. For a little while longer I can dream that one will be unveiled tomorrow or later this year.…

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I am thankful for sun, warm weather, and my home office loudspeakers this morning. It’s going to be a good day.

🍴 My wife and I ordered Indian food tonight. That may be a non-event to most people, but for us it was a revolution. My wife never tried it before. I hadn’t had any since before she and I got married. We absolutely loved it and are still excited about it.

My day blew up, but everything is OK

My wife was in a car collision this morning. She was uninjured but was understandably shaken up. I cancelled my morning meetings to go help her. Most of my help consisted of coordinating the tow truck and the body shop. While this was happening, my son fell out of his chair at preschool, hurt his back, and was given an ice pack, and my daughter was sent to the school nurse on account of her chapped hands, which were bleeding.…

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Advice for giving effective presentations

I gave a coworker some advice for giving effective presentations today. I told her some things worth remembering: You are the star of your presentation, not your slide deck. Structure the presentation around ideas rather than facts. Make the presentation structure seem simple and obvious to the audience. One thing should always lead to the next. It is better to present fewer concepts well than it is to present more concepts poorly.…

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🇺🇦 I stand with Ukraine and my heart breaks for them

My little corner of has not had much to say about the invasion of Ukraine. This is probably a good thing, because it provides me a respite from grim news and unsubstantiated reports from the front lines. If I still had a Twitter timeline to scroll through, I’m certain that it would be full of performative, meaningless platitudes1, and strident back-and-forth arguments from people who (like me) have no bearing on the outcome of the conflict about what should be done about it.…

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Sentence outlines, or How I accidentally learned to write a long thesis project essay

Recently, I converted all of my (very old) academic writing from outdated document formats (WordStar and Microsoft Word 6) to more future-proof formats: either Markdown or OpenDocument format (.odt). While I did not re-read every essay I ever wrote for school during this process, I did notice something in my files that surprised me: From my junior year of high school to my final semester of grad school, I created outlines—full sentence outlines1—for all of my papers that were over a few pages in length.…

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M.L.B. Cancels Games, Delaying Start of Season

James Wagner reports for The New York Times: Major League Baseball canceled the first two series of the 2022 regular season on Tuesday after the league and the players’ union failed to reach a new collective bargaining agreement. After nearly a year of negotiating, including nine straight days of talks between the league and the union in Florida starting Feb. 21, the sides could not come to a new pact by M.…

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I have been doing fairly well at work this month, but I feel kind of terrible about it. I feel like I am falling short in terms of productivity every day. Part of it is that I have been spending a lot more time managing than doing. I am keeping abreast of what my team needs, at the expense of getting my own tasks completed. I probably won’t be able to prioritize my tasks as well as I would like to for the next two of three months.…

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The Poet

The poet often sits upon the edge of reason, testing the waters of both sides with both his hyperactive poet-senses and his nightmarishly sluggish normal-senses. Treading both sides for a time, he realizes both of these seas are just as cold and just as briny, but the one just beyond reason is far deeper. With this, he dives in, drinking deep, closing his eyes beneath the surface, coughing up the salt when he bobs up for air.…

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On a break

I have been taking a brief, unplanned blogging break. I overloaded my brain last week with too much work, too much programming which led to the same dead end I always end up in, and too little sleep. I also had an important doctor appointment yesterday that I was very uncertain about. Fortunately I am past that and can start to think more clearly again. Overall I am well and am looking forward to the future.…

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I wasted a ton of time tonight trying to convert some old Apple sample code from an obsolete version of Swift to the current one that compiles. If only I had checked the Swift Package Index first! Of course, someone else had already done it and created a package based on it.

A big success is made up of many smaller ones. A coworker reminded me of that today, and I really needed to hear it.

The Thin Veneer of Modernity

Modernity is a thin veneer over thousands of years of baser and humbler human history. Almost everything we take for granted today—like electricity, telecommunications, antibiotics, vaccines, knowledge of the internals of the atom, an understanding of DNA, the discovery of plate tectonics, limited space travel, microchips, complex computer modeling, the internet, and so on—was invented or discovered within the span of two or three lifetimes. When I was a little kid, some of the things I was taught in science class had only been discovered or agreed upon within the past twenty years.…

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The Tower of Babel

When I first started work as a systems analyst I knew nothing about business and nothing specific about systems, but I knew a lot about language. I realized early on in my career that technical and non-technical people approach problems so differently that they are, in many cases, not even speaking the same language. In meetings between the business team and the IT team, I would always either start the meeting, or steer the meeting toward, defining common terms for both sides to use to talk about the problem.…

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Today was my son’s fifth birthday. We had two family parties for him this weekend and all had a great time. He got presents. We ate cake. We spent a lot of time together. The important thing to me is that he knows he is loved.

Grounds for Sculpture

My son turns five tomorrow. As part of our celebration for him, we all took a trip to Grounds for Sculpture. It is a huge sculpture garden that my kids love to visit. Part of their fun, which my wife and I can’t fully understand, is that they both bring their nearly-identical stuffed penguin toys there to stomp on some of the sculptures. They have also named a bunch of the sculptures and enjoy visiting them and pretending to have a chat with them.…

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🎵 I love the album All Mirrors by Angel Olsen. Everything about it is stunning.

🎵 A new album from an old favorite of mine dropped today: Lucifer on the Sofa by Spoon. A straight-ahead rock album is a great excuse to turn up my speakers today.

Knock-off Laser Toner

Tonight I performed some surgery on my color laser printer’s empty toner cartridges and installed knock-off ones in their place. I feel a little dirty, but I saved about $400. I resent that toner cartridges now have microchips in them that are required for the printer to print. The chips help the printer report its toner levels, but otherwise are there to make a rather generic toner cartridge into into something proprietary and overpriced.…

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My soon-to-be-five-year-old son is typing…something…into Swift Playgrounds and thinking he is programming. It’s not that different from what I do most days. 😂 At least he is very excited about it.

📺 The Book of Boba Fett

I am sitting down to watch the final episode in the weakest Disney+ series I have watched so far: The Book of Boba Fett1. The show is flawed in many ways, but some of it is fun, some of it looks good, and it is, in all but name, a continuation of a show I do like, The Mandalorian. Not a book, by the way. ↩︎ …

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Maybe I’m lying to myself, but it’s working

Last month I started a new, private ritual. Every morning, before I start work or before cleaning up the family breakfast table, I say to myself, “This is going to be a good day.” Sometimes I say it to myself again in the middle of the day when I have a break from work, or when I see the moon or stars in the evening at the start of an errand.…

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How I manage my work emails now

At my job, we use Webex and Jabber and Microsoft Office 365 for messaging and collaboration, but email is still king. Over the years I have organized my emails by year, project, and client using the various tools that Microsoft Outlook provides: folders (sometimes nested), categories (which are tags with names and color coding), and flags. Recently, I have simplified my filing system to use no categories, no flags, and only four essential folders:…

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Everybody wishes to be seen and heard

At some point, everyone wishes to be seen and heard. Giving people the attention and consideration they deserve takes focus, patience, and a commitment to preserving their dignity. Sometimes the person wanting to be seen and heard is a victim; other times that person is a bully. It can be very difficult to see and hear them both.…

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Recent wins

I tend to minimize good things that happen to me, but am trying to change that. To that end, here is a list of small wins for me this week. I got a complimentary email about my productivity guide, PlainText Productivity. I got a complimentary email about my free call blocking app for iOS, Simple Call Blocker. I responded to a bug report in my todo.txt app, SwiftoDo for iOS, fixed the bug, and published the update.…

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Memory selects the wrong things

The worst part of memory is its selectiveness. I can remember, in excruciating detail, every embarrassing moment, every incidence of social awkwardness, every chance I should have taken but didn’t, every blunder or pratfall, every mistake on an important exam, every poorly written paper, every taunt hurled at me, and every dressing down I ever received. I wish I could say that I remember all the successes and great things in my life just as vividly, but it simply is not true.…

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Strong punctuation preferences

One thing I never planned for in adulthood is developing a strong preference for trailing punctuation to remain outside of quotation marks1 unless the period, comma, or other punctuation mark itself is being quoted. I wonder if the people I work with, who read my emails and technical writing every day, think I don’t know how quotations marks are supposed to work in American English2. No one has ever called me out on it.…

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Moonlighting as a terribly inefficient coder

One of the bad parts of moonlighting as a programmer1 is that, at the time of day I can code, I am often a terrible inefficient coder. The time I have available for coding is very late at night, typically 11 PM to 1 AM. For the most part this is fine. I can’t get to sleep until 1 AM or later most nights, no matter what I do, and going to bed before I feel tired is counterproductive.…

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Tom Brady Announced His Retirement Today

Tom Brady finally retired today. For most of my adult life, I was a football fan. The whole time, my love of the game sat uncomfortably beside my real concerns about how dangerous it is. In the 1990s and early 2000s, there was some false controversy about whether the NFL was dangerous to the athletes who played in it. I never got caught up in it: I was always certain football was a dangerous sport.…

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Things I am learning from playing chess, part 2

You aren’t the best. You’re not even close. And that’s OK. I love chess now, but I am not very good at it. When I first got into it again, however, I thought I was hot stuff. I beat a bunch of bots with higher and higher ratings until I reached what I thought my level was (Elo 1,000). I thought that was a pretty good rating for me, considering I hadn’t played in 20 years.…

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I have discovered that past me was also me, at least on the page

I have been converting my high school essays from their borked Word .doc format to Markdown, to preserve them for future readability. So far, I have converted my ninth grade work and half of my tenth grade work. As I go, I don’t read each essay in depth, but I have read some of them and found them to be incredibly, unmistakably me. I could have written them yesterday—even my very first high school paper.…

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Things I am learning from playing chess, part 1

Take your time I have played most of my chess games against the bots found on When playing against a bot, it will make its moves instantly. It is tempting to keep pace with it. You shouldn’t. Unlike bots, humans—especially those of us who are not chess masters—need time to look at all the pieces on the board, weigh different moves against each other, and consider both the good and the bad outcomes that would come from each move.…

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Things are going pretty well

The last two days I have been busy doing work for people and myself, busy achieving things, and have gotten positive feedback from my coworkers, my family, and the world. Things are going pretty well. I have been so active doing things that I have not been reading the news, engaging with politics, or thinking deep thoughts all this time. Maybe that’s why things are going well.…

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FancyZones, Microsoft’s tiling window manager for Windows

Last week I started using FancyZones, one of Microsoft’s PowerToys for Windows, on my work computer. I think I love it. FancyZones lets you create a tiled window layout and snap windows into pre-defined zones (or areas on your screen) via drag-and-drop. It makes it easy to divide your monitor into halves or thirds and arrange multiple windows neatly. Compared to manually sizing and placing multiple windows, it is much faster to snap them all into place by dragging them anywhere onto a zone or by typing a keyboard shortcut.…

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Converting my old school papers to Markdown

Last night I started converting the essays I wrote in high school from the old Microsoft Word .doc format to Markdown, so they will be readable as long as plain text files are readable. My process is simple: Open the Word .doc in LibreOffice. Copy the text and paste it into Ulysses Replace double-spaces after periods with single spaces. Fix all the paragraph breaks, using the version opened in LibreOffice as a guide.…

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Preserve your writing with open, simple file formats

Last night when I fished a high school essay out of my archives, I was dismayed to find that all my old word processor documents related to school are still saved in the antiquated Microsoft Word .doc format. The file format is now so old that none of the word processors I had installed—not even the online version of Microsoft Word—could open them. I was pretty sure for a moment that all my old work, which I have retained in my document folder for decades, had been lost.…

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The Writing Life

When I find myself struggling to be creative or productive, I always think of a story I read in Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life. It was about a rower who was pulled out to sea one evening by the ocean tide. He rowed and rowed all night and kept being pulled farther and father from land by the ebbing tide. In the morning, however, the direction of the tide reversed, and he was pushed back to the shore to safety.…

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On having nothing to say

I have been having trouble lately coming up with something to say each day on my blog. I am feeling somewhat uninspired. This lack of spark probably stems from spending many hours this past week (far more than usual) writing software. The many hours spent programming have taxed my brain so much that the acts of writing, doing chores, or doing my other day-job work have felt exhausting and unrewarding for the past few days.…

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My son can play a reasonable game of chess for a four-year-old. I have to explain to him how to get out of check sometimes, but he is getting a knack for the game. I am proud of him and more than a bit amazed.

I got a raise today. It’s off-schedule—a total surprise. I feel it is uncouth to take a victory lap, but I did promise myself last year to celebrate my wins. Right now I feel happy, and think my hard work and change of attitude last year paid off.

🎮 Steamworld Dig

Earlier this week I played through Steamworld Dig on the Nintendo Switch. I bought it for a song during Nintendo’s New Years sale, and I found it well worth it. It is a high-quality game with a fun—and brief—game loop. First you explore the mine and collect treasure, then you return to town to sell the treasure and purchase upgrades. There isn’t any more to it, unfortunately, but the gameplay is fun nonetheless.…

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How Old is Your Brain?

Back in 2006, I bought a Nintendo DS and was fanatical about the game Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day. It was a game that promised to make you mentally sharper, as long as you did solved simple cognitive training puzzles every day. For several months I played it daily, for five minutes or so, before I watched TV or played a more conventional video game. I told everybody about it.…

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My son plays chess now, too

I taught my four-year-old son how to play chess a couple days ago. It was his idea. He was curious about it because I have been talking about chess with my wife, and because our chess board is on the underside of the Chinese checkers set we have been playing with as a family. He and I played a few games over the holiday weekend. This afternoon, he played with his grandmother and grandfather, which was his idea.…

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I am grateful that I have meaningful work to do today. I hope I can get it all done.

VBA will never die

I spent all day coding in VBA for work. I’m creating Excel templates for data submissions. These templates need (at least I think they need) data validation routines that the people filling them out can run. Those routines will help prevent some data quality problems down the line. The only tool for the job to code those routines is VBA, which is bar far the oldest language I code in on a regular basis.…

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Chess against humans

Correspondence chess Several days ago, @canion challenged me to a game of chess—basically correspondence chess—on I’m pretty sure he is beating me right now, but we are just in the middle of the game, so we will have to play it out to be sure. Simultaneous online play Tonight I played a real-time game against someone else on for the first time. I won! Except for the one, slow game with @canion, I haven’t played against a real person in chess for about 20 years.…

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Long division

I’m pretty sure I re-learned long division tonight as I helped my daughter through her homework assignment. That was a skill that bedeviled me when I took the GMAT twenty years ago. The GMAT, at that time at least, did not allow for the use of a calculator. To make it worse, none of the figures on the math problems divided evenly. Many of the math problems were painful to get through, not because I didn’t know the math, but because I could not remember how to calculate the final answers with long division.…

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⌨️ Having trouble adapting to the Planck keyboard

I have been thinking that my goal to replace my work keyboard with the Planck EZ Glow—a 40-key ortholinear keyboard—has been a bust. I tried to learn the Colemak-DH layout and customize the heck out of the board. I was fairly successful at both of those things, but not successful enough to feel comfortable typing in Colemak-DH all day long. I stumble on some of the letters, like B and K, and otherwise make a lot of mistakes.…

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We lost power for the second night in a week. I’m not sure what’s going on. My kids do not think it is as fun as I did when I was young.

Another office setup revision

Late tonight I reconfigured my desk setup for the umpteenth time. The main reason is that my last setup revision, which moved my monitor forward and my keyboard and mouse to a pull-out drawer under the desk, left my headphone and stereo amps in a no-mans-land behind my monitor, completely out of reach. My desk is strange, and I wish I had one or two normal, five-foot-wide rectangular desks in its place.…

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I am grateful to the team and community for the (relatively) new plugins system. The stats and search plugins are blowing my mind right now. They are exactly what I have wanted from “day 1” and did not know how to create myself. Thanks @amit and @manton and to others who contributed.

A miracle

Digital media is a miracle. It is infinitely reproducible with no loss of quality. The internet and all the devices we have make sharing digital media less expensive, on a marginal basis, than was possible via any other technology that came before it. We have invented a way to make some resources—like art and entertainment—effectively unlimited and nearly free. We take it for granted now, and moneyed interests are busy trying to dismantle it with blockchains as I write this, but I think we should all step back sometime and consider how incredible and wonderful it is.…

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Thanks to all the checkers games I have been playing with my kids, my mind has turned to the other, better game you can play with the same board: chess. I have been enjoying playing lots of games on’s iPhone and iPad app, which is part of Apple Arcade. The chess app has an assortment of bots with various skill levels to play against. I quickly plowed through the beginner bots and the first three intermediates.…

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I advised a colleague today to research web3, because I think it may be the most interesting InsurTech technology of the year. I don’t think that glomming cryptocurrency and smart contracts onto the web is a good use of technology at all. The idea is especially dubious, and that is the reason it is interesting to me. I honestly think that web3, along with the cryptocurrencies that make it possible, are based on a long con.…

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Double Commander

I am on a mission to replace Far Manager, which is a Windows file manager that I really love, and have used for over a year. Far Manager is a text mode file manager that has been in development since the 1990s. It is a lot like Norton Commander, which I used briefly in my DOS days. I like how fast the UI is, how easy it is to navigate the filesystem, and also how easy it is to read the file and folder names in text mode.…

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Since I started intermittent fasting a few days ago, hunger feels less like a had headache and more like disappointment. So far I am doing pretty well with no breakfast, a cheese omelet and coffee for lunch, and a low-carb (but certainly not no-carb) dinner.

🎬 Nobody

Nobody is a surprisingly good action movie. It nails everything there is to nail about the action genre. Specifically, the writing and editing are top notch. The story is set up with great efficiency, and every set-up is paired with a call-back later in the film, which is very satisfying to see. Also, Bob Odenkirk’s acting in it is fantastic. I will admit that it does play a little like a mashup of The Accountant and John Wick, but I liked it better than either of those two movies that share its genre.…

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My kids are really into playing checkers since winter break. I have played a lot of games with my son and daughter in the past week or so. To get a better handle on the rules and strategies, I also played some games alone on my iPhone (there is an Apple Arcade Checkers game). Checkers is a game that, until last week, I had not played more than once or twice since I was five.…

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I should never have bought my daughter an iPad with only 32 GB of storage on it.

I never imagined she would use it as a camera and fill it with photos and videos. iCloud Photo Library has been enabled from the start, and we have plenty of cloud storage space. Unfortunately, Photos will not free up space no matter what I do. If you delete a photo or video from Photos, it is deleted everywhere, so that is not an option. Tonight, as I update iOS via tethering the iPad to my Mac, I am weighing my next move.…

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I have a big, scary pile of “important” papers in my office that I have started scanning and shredding this week. It’s something I don’t do often enough. I am finding papers from 2019 at the bottom of the pile. 😳

The Republic

Last night I started reading Plato’s Republic again. I have been unsuccessful finding a good book to read start-to-finish, and have had a desire to read something intelligent for a change. Naturally, I decided to return to first principles and go back to the dawn of modern Western thought. I read through Book 1 last night and enjoyed it very much. I had read it—or at least large portions of it—when I was a freshman in college, in a very eye-opening seminar course on justice.…

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Work day two of my 16:8 (or no breakfast) fasting regimen has been a greater success than yesterday. I have been more alert and more productive at work, and have not been hungry since before lunch yesterday.

Still no snow where I live.

Intermittent fasting

I started 16:8 intermittent fasting a couple days ago. It basically means I skip breakfast, then eat a normal lunch, dinner, and maybe snacks, between noon and 8 PM. So far, during the tail end of my winter vacation, it has worked out all right. But today is my first day of work in almost two weeks, and I feel very rusty. I don’t know if I am hungry, or if being away from work for so long has slowed down my mental processes.…

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An Omicron snow day

The Omicron wave has been a source of concern for my family and my town. School systems north of us have pre-emptively closed schools and have gone remote for the week. The school superintendents where I live are adamant that they cannot (or, really, will not) close schools unless (or until) there is a breakout in a particular school building. Because schools have been closed since December 24, there can be no outbreaks inside particular schools.…

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🎉 Happy fifth anniversary to the community! I am very grateful that it exists.

“That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” —Christopher Hitchens

I saw my best friend for the first time since the pandemic started (since February 2020 really). It was great fun and I wish we had gotten together sooner.

🎮 My Nintendo Switch game haul and backlog

If it weren’t for the SwitchUp YouTube channel, I would have played little more than Breath of the Wild and Hollow Knight on my Switch. Now I watch their videos to monitor Nintendo eShop sales weekly, and have developed quite a backlog of games. In the past few months—mostly after Black Friday—I acquired (all on sale and usually for $5-10 per game, with the exception of Metroid Dread), the following games:…

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🎬 After days of trying, we finally got the whole family together to watch a movie today. We picked Encanto and really enjoyed it.

The audience wants you to succeed

I don’t get nervous speaking in front of people. I never have. The main reason is that I firmly believe that the audience wants you to succeed. And, if you don’t succeed, the audience will generally forgive you. Just show them respect at every step, and things will go fine.…

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Christmas is about family

My feelings about Christmas are complicated. There are numerous legitimate reasons why, which I won’t go into. But they are there, and they have left me feeling and seeming like a villain in a Christmas movie. I don’t love Christmas (any more). I have heard enough carols. I have seen too many Santa Clauses. I don’t care much for Christmas trees, or elves, or angels. The lights and decorations overwhelm, rather than delight me.…

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Now that my vacation has started, my mind has turned off. I am sinking into a few days of family time, TV, and video games.

Last day of work in 2021

My employer has always been generous with holiday time at the end of the year. We always get extra time off. This year, for some reason, it is being especially generous. Today was my last day of work for the year. The rest of the year is paid vacation or holiday time, and none of it comes out of my bank of “self-managed time off” hours. I also got a gift card from my employer in the mail, and used it to buy an Apple Magic Trackpad, which is something I have always wanted but could not justify spending the money on.…

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Finally back to iOS programming again

I am working on one of my iOS apps for the first time in about half a year. For many different reasons, I couldn’t bring myself to work on it for a long time. The problems I was facing with it seemed insurmountable. In truth, some of those problems still seem insurmountable, but I feel ready to move forward again with it. Last night I stayed up late (which happens to me a lot when I am coding) and fixed a build that had been broken since the last time I touched it.…

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My article on Big Data and data call projects was published in my company’s newsletter today. I am happy another one my goals for the year is complete.

⌨️ I got my warranty replacement Planck EZ today. Everything on it works, and it came with clicks Box White key switches rather than the Cherry MX Browns my original one came with. I am very happy with it, and hope to get back on track with the Colemak-DH layout soon.

🎬 No Time To Die

I watched the most recent Bond film, No Time to Die, last night. I have seen every Bond film at this point, largely inspired by John Gruber, who famously (in tech circles at least) is a Bond fan. Despite having seen dozens of Bond movies over the years, I don’t consider myself a Bond fan. Most of them are ridiculous and their sexism has obviously not aged well. I like to think of James Bond as a terrible spy.…

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I brought the family to a drive-through holdiday lights extravaganza this evening. It was a little underwhelming, but we are all glad we went. I will never forget the animated “prehistoric Christmas” Santa sleigh being pulled by pterodactyls, though, even if I try to.

Today was one of those days where everything went wrong.

First, my wife decided to keep our oldest child home from school, out of extreme caution related to the TikTok school shooting challenge, which I immediately dismissed as a hoax. My wife stayed home as well. At breakfast, my four-year-old son sneezed and coughed once or twice, so I suggested we give him a rapid COVID test before sending him into preschool. He did not seem sick, but I thought we should do the responsible thing.…

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I may have a problem when it comes to AirPods

Last night I misplaced my AirPods. I didn’t realize it until this morning, when I always take them off of my dresser and put them in my pocket. At 7:15 AM, they were gone. I didn’t mind at first. I knew they were at home, because I wore them while I was unpacking the groceries, but I had no idea what became of them. I looked for them at breakfast time, and couldn’t find them.…

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I completed my final presentation of the year

Today my group and I presented on InsurTech to for an industry group’s free training day webinar. It went really well, which I expected because it was our second time making the same presentation. Still, I think that we all improved as speakers. We made our points more clearly and more cogently than we did the first time, and did so with greater focus and energy. We did some ad-libbing, answered some questions from the audience, and covered all of our material with only a minimal amount of rushing at the end.…

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🎮 Shantae and the Seven Sirens

Over the past week I played through Shantae and the Seven Sirens, which is one of the many games I bought on sale after Thanksgiving. Once I started it, I realized that I already played part of it. In 2019, it (well, a small part of it) was a launch title on Apple Arcade. At the time, I, like most Apple nerds, got the Apple Arcade free trial. I did not click with Apple Arcade.…

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My data analysis bot

Today I spent the majority of my work day creating a massive Excel template. Tomorrow I will code the data analysis bot that will fill that template with data tables and command logs that document the analytical procedures. Over time, these two days worth of work are going to save me many, many hours. I have always automated the data analysis part of my job, but never enough of it for my tastes.…

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I am presenting my InsurTech slides to a new audience on Wednesday after about a month away from the material. I have to start rehearsing soon. Hopefully it will all come back to me quickly once I look at the slides again.

One last thing about the Apple TV today

It puzzles me why the optimal settings for HDR and framerate are not selected by default. I always have to go to the audio/video settings and set the frame rate to “match content”. If I don’t, I get audio drift (lip sync problems). I also learned tonight that I have to set the default video output to non-HDR because the Apple TV menus look terrible in HDR, but then set the HDR setting to “match content.…

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The top of the new Apple TV 4K remote looks just like the iPod click wheel. Unfortunately, it does not work anything like one; you can’t slide your thumb around the perimeter to scrub. I don’t get it. It seems like a big missed opportunity to me.

Now that my media- and backup server appears to be running stably, I’m turning my attention to setting up my new Apple TV 4K. Somehow it has remained in its box since I received it on Wednesday. I…don’t watch much TV these days. 😀

Why do I even bother running a home file server?

Over the past year, my TrueNAS Core server has been bugging me every few months about one of my boot failing. In this case, the boot drives are simply two USB sticks, run in a mirrored configuration. If one fails, the other one handles the load. (The reason I use a USB stick for a boot drive is that my server has an internal USB port for that very purpose, and no other place for the boot drive to go.…

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I shared the article I wrote to one of my mentors today. He said he loved it and that he would help me get it published in an industry journal. Things are looking up!

Maybe It's Just a Product Nobody Wants

I love how Matt Birchler compares crypto to BitTorrent in his latest blog post, “Maybe It’s Just a Product Nobody Wants”: I don’t think crypto is going to disappear, by the way. I think it will always have a place in the world, but much like bittorrent before it, it was new & exciting, people tried to use it for basically everything, and then it settled into being used for, well, nothing for most people.…

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My first adjustable desk ended up non-adjustable

I received a motorized sit/stand desk today for my kids to use in the family room. I assembled the whole thing this afternoon, which was not too hard but took about an hour. Once it was done, I discovered that the left side would not lift. It was a frustrating way to end up. I emailed product support and hope to get some kind of answer. I’m afraid that, no matter what, I’m going to have to disassemble the whole thing to fix it.…

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Some days I feel like a hero just because I got dinner on the table and my kids’ homework completed.

🎮 Gris

Earlier this week I played (twice!) through Gris. It is a beautiful platformer that represents a metaphorical journey of a girl overcoming grief or depression. It is the kind of game that is meant to be an emotional experience rather than a challenge. In fact, it is impossible to lose. What struck me about it is how beautiful it is. The graphics are painterly and the music perfectly fits with the game’s themes and action.…

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📺 I watched the first few episodes of Hawkeye on Disney+, and that was only because I was on my iPad half the time. I think it is the weakest Marvel or Star Wars series that Disney+ has produced. The plotting is lazy and makes no sense, and at every turn it goes out of its way to undercut and ignore its title character, which is frustrating.

My wife and I had parent-teacher conferences with my daughter’s teachers. My daughter is doing great (which we already knew) and her teachers love her. I am very proud of her.

🎵 I’m enjoying “The Weeknd Essentials” playlist while I work this morning. I have learned to appreciate his music over the past two years. I was familiar with his biggest hits, but I wasn’t sold on his sound until Due Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia” came out and reminded me how cool and sexy modern 80s-inspired R&B can be.

I wonder what specifically happened this week to make “web3” a topic on every tech news site and every tech podcast I listen to.

⌨️ My expensive Planck EZ keyboard with the broken LEDs is being replaced with a new one. The customer service rep is even seeing if I can get it with different keyswitches than it originally came with, to match the set I switched to.

My main (or only) contribution to gift-giving for my kids this holiday season

My main (or only) contribution to gift-giving for my kids this holiday season was a biggie: I bought them a multi-function color laser printer. (Don’t worry, my wife bought them a ton of other presents that are a lot more fun.) I got the idea to buy a color printer because my son’s preschool prints everything in color, and the administrators there said that color printing is phenomenal for kids’ worksheets.…

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Feeling dispirited

I had a couple dispiriting meetings toward the end of the week that killed the enthusiasm I had for what I have been working on over the past few months. First, one of my co-presenters said he thought that the lack of audience questions during our webinar indicated that everyone in the audience was just playing on their phones while we talked, waiting to collect their CPE credits. Then, later in the week, one of the partners I report to on technology initiatives seemed unenthusiastic about the automation bot I created, which took basically all year to figure out how to do.…

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A Hanukkah COVID exposure scare

In the middle of our Hanukkah celebration tonight my wife got a text that informed us that our son had been exposed to a classmate with COVID a couple days ago. My brother-in-law’s family left immediately because my son and his kids are unvaccinated. (They are all too young.) I’m not concerned that my son is sick (pre-symptomatic) because the rest of us as vaccinated. My son’s entire preschool class must stay home all next week, due to the exposure rules.…

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The elliptical machine and the treadmill stand proudly in my basement like dusty monuments from a forgotten age.

Tonight I fell asleep in my chair in front of my whole family. I have officially become my dad. 😅


Today, after almost two months of not having any usable time work on it, I finished coding the automation project that has been bedeviling me for half the year. I got over the technical hurdles months ago; all I needed was eight hours uninterrupted, so I could rewrite my code and test it. It took me a long, long time to find that time, but I found it today. It felt great to finally get it working, and even better to remove about half of the code as I optimized it.…

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Final revision

Today I made my final revision to the article I wrote for my company newsletter. It is an article about Big Data, which is a term that is both readily understandable and has no agreed-upon definition, which I intentionally did not bother to define in the opening paragraph. I was asked to define it anyway, right up front, and to cite it from a source. I did so and ended up with a real head-scratcher of a second sentence.…

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⌨️ I have been walking through the troubleshooting steps that ZSA customer support sent me, but nothing is turning the LEDs back on again. I hope that the warranty will cover it.

I am starting to miss coding in Swift every day. I must get back to it.

🎮 I bought myself a ton of Nintendo Switch games that were on sale for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. My backlog is embarrassingly extensive now. I must have a year’s worth of games to play. Perhaps I can stop buying them for a while.

Hanukkah is a great holiday, but does it have to be eight nights in a row? It’s night three and I am exhausted. 😀

I swapped the keyswitches on my Planck EZ and now the per-key LED lighting does not work at all. I am bummed. This thing was very expensive and I didn’t do anything with it that it isn’t designed to do. 😕

I will be driving most of the day. Thanksgiving is over and now I am looking forward to Hanukkah, which begins tomorrow night.

Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim died today. The world has lost a titan. My wife and I were lucky enough to see him sit for a long interview at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers a few years ago. He was sharp and witty and gracious, and we learned a lot. It is no surprise when an old man dies, but our minds are spinning nonetheless. At least he was able to live a long, productive life.…

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I finished the article I was writing last night just in time for Thanksgiving. I am relieved and hope I don’t have to revise it hastily next week after I turn it in.

Trying to land the plane

Right now I am trying to finish the article I am writing for my company newsletter. At turns I love it and I hate it. I don’t think it is my best work. I don’t even think I can give my best work right. The article resembles an introduction to the (huge) white paper I am working on far more than a standalone article. This was my intent, but because of that, it lacks a proper ending.…

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My day was actually really good. My mom and I had a nice time together on the long car ride from her house to mine. We did not hit much traffic, either. We all had a big family dinner this evening, too, and it was great. I’m surprised and grateful at how chill everything has been.

I am driving to Connecticut tonight to pick up my mom and bring her back tomorrow for Thanksgiving. I am hoping that I left late enough to avoid a lot of the nasty rush hour traffic.

My car cat

The oddest thing happened to me today. My neighbor texted me this morning saying that she heard a cat crying and thought it was stuck in my car, which was parked in my driveway. I went out to look—and looked pretty thoroughly—but saw and heard nothing of a cat. I thought my neighbor must have been mistaken. An hour later my neighbor texted me again saying the cat was still in there, but stopped crying when I went outside to look.…

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My wife and I went grocery shopping together (without the kids), for the first time since my daughter was born 9 years ago. We went to a huge Italian market we had never been to before, bought a bunch of stuff we didn’t plan to, and had a really great time together. It’s funny that these little things can be so wonderful.

This is my handiwork for the night. Most of the kids’ Hanukkah presents are wrapped. 😮‍💨

Writing to move forward…in my career

After a week away from it, I finally sat down and wrote a little bit more of my article for my company’s newsletter. I still have about a week and half to complete it, and I am most of the way there. My topic has drifted a bit from what I intended to write. I started with the intention of writing about how to execute a data call project. (A data call project is when a government organization asks private companies to send it data, which it then uses for analysis and reporting.…

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A rebuilding year

A real “rebuilding year” is when a sports team is broken down and reassembled, basically from scratch, after—and as a response to—a dreadful season. 2020 was a dreadful season for, well, everyone on earth due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It certainly was for me. I experienced some deep trauma back in 2018 when my father died, which I thought went away after a few months, but never really did. Watching my father die (of Alzheimers and old age) completely messed me up.…

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🎵 I have listened to Adele’s new album, 30, about five times today. I’m into it!

The Stevenote

My wife teaches a public speaking course, and from time to time we talk about what examples of public speaking would be good for her students to watch. While we go through the usual speeches by luminaries such as President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and also pick apart the speeches of politicians of our day, I always argue that, if you want to learn public speaking, you could do a lot worse than viewing and analyzing Steve Jobs’s many famous product launches.…

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I don’t journal anymore, and I think…”what am I hiding from myself?”

🎵 I can’t wait to listen to Adele’s upcoming album, 30, which is coming out on the 19th. I have been looking forward to it for weeks.

My wife and I brought her car into the dealer tonight because its passenger-side-mirror lane-checking camera stopped working. I wonder if the global chip shortage is going to make a repair pretty much impossible.

🎮 Shantae

I started playing Shantae on the Game Boy Color last night, and was blown away by its ambition and the technical prowess it exhibits. Although its resolution is indeed very low, it still offers every bit of the charm of the recent Shantae games, along with satisfying gameplay, great music, and fun character designs. It is hard to believe it was written for an 8-bit system, because it exhibits tricks like parallax scrolling backgrounds that I know were possible until the 16-bit era began.…

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I gave my presentation today. It went very well. It was all I achieved today, though. As soon as it was over, I couldn’t do anything for the rest of the day.

My next presentation for work is tomorrow morning. I am really looking forward to it. I think I created a solid concept and structure for my team’s talk. I hope good things come of it.

🎮 I beat Metroid Zero Mission tonight. It is a fun game, and much better than the original game (Metroid) that is is a remake of.

How I try not to be rude when accidentally talking over someone at work

When I cut somebody off in an online meeting, I now apologize to the person I spoke over and say “I’m just excited” about whatever it is we are talking about. It may be a lie (because how exciting is my job, anyway?) but I think it is usually appreciated. After I do this, I shut up and listen. I almost never mean to cut people off in meetings, by the way.…

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Why do Americans work so hard?

Two reasons: Culture. The Puritan work ethic is one of the foundations of our culture, and has been since colonial times. Work is righteous and cleansing to the soul. Of course this is nonsensical, but it is baked into the culture. People are brought up hearing that our ancestors pulled themselves up by their bootstraps (itself a nonsensical idea if you think about it), and that when times get tough we should do the same rather than reach out to others for assistance.…

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Instant Pot beef stew update

My Instant Pot beef stew came out very well. I didn’t use a recipe; otherwise I would share it. I simply dumped all the ingredients in raw, cooked it under high pressure for 40 minutes, let the pressure naturally, and let it sit on the warm setting for 40 more minutes. It was nearly perfect.…

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Instant Pot beef stew

I’m attempting to cook a beef stew in the Instant Pot right now. I’m not sure if it will come out right. I don’t make stew that often, and when I do I usually use a slow cooker or (gasp!) my stove and oven. If it works, though, it could be a game changer for me. I both need to use the Instant Pot more often, to justify its place on my counter, and I need more convenience in my approach to cooking big meals.…

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🎵 Red (Taylor’s Version)

One thing I didn’t expect when listening to Taylor Swift’s honest-to-goodness money-grab re-recording of her album Red is how good it is, and how many songs she added to it. Hell, Red (Taylor’s Version), even sounds better. The engineering and production are amazing, and I very much enjoy listening to it on my best speakers and headphones. Now I am very much looking forward to Swift’s re-recordings of 1989 and Speak Now, which are my daughter’s favorite records.…

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🎮 I am enjoying my retro handheld very much. Yesterday I played through Super Mario Land for the first time since the 1990s. I also got through about 50% of Metroid Zero Mission, which I don’t think I ever played before. Some of my enjoyment is nostalgic, but most of it is because I have been playing some fantastic games.

I don’t know what I want for Hanukkah or Christmas. I feel like I’m letting down the people in my family who want to buy me a gift. It makes me sad to think about it.

I learned that I can actually do something about my awful, monolithic office furniture setup

I have a corner desk that is connected to a second, straight desk, which looks really cool, but is a pain (literally) to use. While it offers me enough space for two desktop computer setups: a necessarily sloppy-looking windows laptop-and-monitor setup for work, and a more streamlined Mac mini-and-monitor setup for home, it causes a lot of problems. The desktop is so high that it puts pressure on my forearms when I use the keyboard, which leads to wrist pain.…

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In college, one of my humanities professors, Prof. Klein, told me that genius is being able to look at the same things everybody else does but see something different. She told me a story to illustrate: One time she had company at her house—a friend and her kids—and they needed to find a place for three little kids to sleep for the night. There was only one bed, but it was a queen-sized bed, which she thought would only suit up to two people.…

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Sharing presentations

One fun thing I did with my daughter tonight is to compare the slide decks we are developing. I’m working on an InsurTech presentation for work, and she created a Civil Rights & Women’s Suffrage presentation for school. I think it’s fun for her to see that we are doing a similar thing. Tonight I walked her through the concept of a build slide using one I created for my talk next week.…

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Time to bail

I have been writing for an hour and forty five minutes tonight and have come up with, maybe, one paragraph of useful text for the Big Data/Data Calls article I am writing for work. I am not blocked. I am not distracted. I am pushing sentences around like a kid pushing peas around on a plate. The right way to connect my ideas and my sentences together is just not coming.…

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One of my coworkers called me today and, before talking about business, he praised me for my presentation skills, based on presentations I gave weeks ago. 😊

🎵 Cool jazz

This is my music find of the week. I asked my Amazon Echo speaker to play “cool music” while I was making dinner and had no idea what I wanted to listen to. (I was hungry and tired, and couldn’t even name an artist of a genre at that point.) Alexa starting playing a “Cool Jazz” radio station on Apple Music, and it was actually perfect background music for making and eating dinner.…

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Writing for three hours at night sure makes me hungry. It’s nearly 11 PM. Do I risk eating a snack so late? How could I even avoid it?

Inflation and stock market highs

One of the disheartening but more interesting things you learn in business school is that most of the growth in the stock market can be attributed to inflation. That’s why I’m not that excited that my retirement portfolio has been growing quickly lately as the stock markets keep reaching new highs. I know that there’s a catch. Those dollars aren’t worth as much, and that’s part of the reason that markets are rising.…

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📺 The Americans

My wife and I started watching The Americans this weekend. We stumbled upon it when browsing Amazon Prime Video. It’s good to have something to watch on Prime Video, because it is criminally underutilized in my house. The last thing I watched on it was Invincible and I don’t even remember how long ago that was.…

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Why I have been playing so many video games lately

Looking back on last week, I played a lot of video games. A lot more than usual actually. It’s a sort of thing I do when my brain is so tired I can’t do anything else, not even focus on a TV show. I have been working really hard writing system walkthroughs or performing data analysis during the day, and working on a presentation and an article for publication in my company’s newsletter during the evenings.…

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🎮 I finally beat Metroid Dread! I thought it would be impossible, but I persevered. What a cool game!

My daughter got her first COVID-19 vaccine today. I am grateful that she will be fully vaccinated relatively soon. I think my 4-year-old son will have to wait until his fifth birthday to get the jab.

🎵 Best of You

Do I like Foo Fighters now? Today I’m loving when their tracks come up on my randomized Apple Music post-album ∞ (“infinity”) playlist. I have had a grudge against that band since I saw them in concert almost 20 years ago and hated their set. Maybe Dave Grohl was having a bad day that day. I thought he hated the crowd, of which a small majority, including me, were there to see the co-headliner, Weezer, who performed before him.…

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🎮 25 years late to Pokémon

My retro handheld, perhaps understandably but not by design, has become a dedicated Pokémon machine. I never played a Pokémon game before last week, and honestly never understood their appeal. Last night, when my brain was too tired for anything else, I had fun grinding away at Pokémon Yellow for hours. I am missing out on the game’s social features like trading and battling. It must have been amazing to have been a little kid with a Game Boy, a link cable, and like-minded friends.…

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🎮 Giving Up on Raven Beak

I may never beat Metroid Dread’s final boss, Raven Beak. I’m just not fast enough on the controller, and I don’t have the time or patience to “git gud”. That’s OK with me. I could never beat the true final boss of Hollow Knight, The Radiance, either, and have played through that game, start-to-nearly-the-finish many times. Playing through the game is fun; finishing it is optional for me.…

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The New Jersey governor’s election is certainly a nail-biter! Maybe Phil Murphy will pull out a win after all. I can’t help thinking, though, that there is no good reason any statewide election should be this close.

New Jersey Polls

If, after enjoying double-digit leads in Monmouth University and Fairleigh Dickinson polls last week, Murphy loses the New Jersey gubernatorial race (which seems pretty likely right now), the pollsters deserve to be roundly criticized, once again, for relying on unrepresentative sampling or making incorrect assumptions in their production modeling. Campaigns rely on these polls to gauge the impact of their efforts, and voters see large leads in the polls as an excuse to stay home, as their votes are not needed for their candidate to win.…

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I’m working on an article for my company newsletter right now, and it feels like I am just pushing words back and forth and nothing is gelling together. I write, I delete, I move things around, and my word count stays the same, and each section remains unpublishable.

Election Day

It is Election Day today in New Jersey. Everyone in my family voted early, by mail (as it should be), so there’s nothing to do but wait until evening when the results start rolling in. I’m hoping that Phil Murphy wins re-election, and that we don’t have a repeat of the 2009 gubernatorial race. The year after Obama won the White House, Republican Chris Christie was voted in as our governor.…

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Sen. Manchin says he's not ready to back Biden's $1.75 trillion budget package

Barbara Sprunt reports for NPR today: Sen. Joe Manchin has announced he cannot yet support the $1.75 trillion framework for President Biden’s social spending package that congressional Democrats were hoping to push through this week. “I will not support a bill that is this consequential without thoroughly understanding the impact that it will have on our national debt, our economy and, most importantly, all of our American people," the West Virginia Democrat said in a statement Monday afternoon.…

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I carved a happy jack o’lantern this Halloween.

Double chocolate cupcakes for Halloween.

🎃 Lots to do today for Halloween! We’re making cupcakes (my kids can’t eat much candy due to allergies), chili, and cornbread for a family party, and we’re trick-or-treating, too.

You are not how others perceive you

In America, we could all unite politically, but only if we all decided to be Republicans. That is what happened, briefly, after 9/11. It could never have gone the other way; there is no way we could all put down our differences and become Democrats for a while. That is by design. For as long as I have been alive, Republicans have defined what Democrats are. To them, Democrats are many horrible things, but they are primarily unpatriotic, ineffectual, and toxic.…

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A vaccination, blood test, and an MRI all in one 24-hour period was too much for me. 😮‍💨

Today I watched some videos from Great Art Explained on YouTube. The videos on Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, Hokusai’s The Great Wave, and Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights are fascinating. Watching them have me some serious flashbacks to my art history class in college.

I just got my Moderna booster shot. They are in such demand that CVS called me and asked me to come in three hours early to get it.

I have completed the New York Times crossword puzzle every day for years, but for some reason I stopped about a month ago. I have been having trouble getting back into it, too. Too many lousy puzzles turned me off.

🎵 I listened to Lana Del Ray’s new album, Blue Banisters today, plus a new single by Beach Bunny, and enjoyed them very much. Adele’s new album is coming out soon, and I am really looking forward to it, too.

On the divine right of kings

One thing I certainly do not believe in is the divine right of kings. When considering why this is, I originally thought it was because I am American, and come from a country whose founders rejected the monarchy. But that can’t be it. Americans love monarchies, especially the British one. I realized that my feelings about it go deeper, and distract from my enjoyment of the fairy tale movies and stories my kids consume, which very frequently include princes and princesses whose right to wealth and power is never questioned.…

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Sex education, but not the TV show this time

The latest controversy in my area is another type of fight between conservative parent activist groups and school boards. This time it is not about mask requirements, but about sex education. Two things specifically rile the shouting class this time: (1) Masturbation exists, and (2) so do LGBTQ+ people. Apparently, there are enough prudes out there to give the school superintendents hell about teaching about masturbation in schools (grade 3-5 specifically, in my case).…

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I have been working all evening on my InsurTech presentation and totally blew through my self-imposed blogging deadline. No worries. My mind was engaged and my time was well spent.

I'm voting by mail from now on

I mailed in my request for a mail-in ballot for all future elections. (My state has an off-year election cycle for state-wide offices, so this is timely.) I did not do so before because I had thought it would be better to take my kids to the polls to show how voting works. I realized that I can also do that from home. Really, we should all be voting by mail.…

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My daughter’s iPad wont take system updates because over a third of its storage space is taken up by “Other”, which I cannot delete. Hooking it up to my Mac and doing the update from the Finder is working a treat. Who knew?

🎮 I have been loving the new Metroid game and it has been kicking my ass. 😂 It is the toughest and most fun game I’ve played since Hades and Hollow Knight.

I was so tired this afternoon that i couldn’t talk good (er…) and stuff at my last meeting today. Thankfully it was not a meeting with a client. 😅

💉💪 I scheduled my COVID-19 booster shot appointment. I hope to be able to vaccinate my kids soon, too.

Saying something old, but saying it better

I have thought so many Big Thoughts about the InsurTech presentation I am working on that I have come full circle. I realized today that what I have built thus far contains pretty much the same information and ideas as my prior presentations on the topic, going back four or five years. I think my current presentations slides and speaker notes are much better, and that the talk will be have better focus and clarity, but I am surprised at how much I want to say seems to be recycled from what I already had thought about the topic.…

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🎮 Starting out with retro gaming

I spent some time today trying to set up my new Retro handheld gaming system. I flashed ArkOS on it and copied some games over. I had to find YouTube videos to help me configure it correctly. I hope to figure it out well enough to give the cool, inexpensive handhelds to my kids someday.…

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A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance

This video from University of California Television hit close to home (literally) for me: Follow a team of UCLA anthropologists as they venture into the stuffed-to-capacity homes of dual income, middle-class American families in order to truly understand the food, toys, and clutter… Watching this video was like watching a newsmagazine segment about my own house. My house is a mess, my kids won’t pick up their toys and have taken over the entire house, and I spend so much tome tidying the same few messes every day that I can’t seem to move forward on any projects that would actually make my home better.…

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The new MacBook Pros…wow!

Today’s new MacBook Pro models are the first in a very long time that seem too “pro” for me. Their processor specs make my M1 Mac mini—which is fantastic—seem pretty pathetic by comparison. I’m not in the market for a new machine, but I look forward to reading the reviews. After a long time it feels great to be a Mac user again, because there are really good products up and down the line.…

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🎮 I ordered a retro handheld 😅

I was very excited early this month for the release of Metroid Dread so I watched a bunch of videos on YouTube of gamers playing through classic Metroid games. Eventually the YouTube algorithm led me to learn about retro handheld devices. These are emulators that can play games from many older systems. I quickly got obsessed with them and ordered one, an Anbernic RG351MP, despite my history of not really liking many of the classic games available on my Nintendo Switch.…

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Working on my slide deck, in the zone

I have been diligently working on my InsurTech webinar slide deck this evening. I was so locked in the zone that I forgot about everything else for the last four hours. I completed 20 slides, which is probably about half of the slides I will end up creating entirely. My presentation team partners will be creating the rest. I don’t have enough time to make my slides look perfect, which is unfortunate.…

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I learned about something new today from three separate podcasts I listened to, and a New York Times article I stumbled upon: popularism. It’s an idea that David Shor wrote about that apparently boils down to this: To win voters, Democrats should talk about what is popular rather than focus on racial tensions, identity politics, and calls to dramatically alter government and social systems (“defund the police,” for example, would be out).…

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Breaking things down

I have tons of different “extra-curricular” projects right now, mostly for my job, but also to satisfy my own desire to build, develop, and share. I have systems projects, programming projects, presentations, and a white paper to write. This is on top of my normal job and home life, and my desire to read a book or play Metroid Dread sometimes, too. I have started to break down each project into discrete tasks, and plan for only the next couple.…

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An InsurTech webinar

Tonight I started preparing a slide deck for a presentation on the topic of InsurTech that I, and a couple coworkers, will present online next month. I presented on InsurTech several times before, dating all the way back to 2017. This time is different, however, because I have leveled up my presentation skills. I am excited to get the chance to present again, and am embracing the opportunity to find something new to say about technology, insurance, and investments.…

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Cake day

It’s my birthday today. My in-laws bought me dinner and my wife baked and decorated a delicious birthday cake for me (her best one yet, I think). I am now in a post-cake coma, and will be taking the rest of the night off.…

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I fixed my office ergonomics and ruined everything else

A few weeks ago, prompted by a flare-up or RSI pain in my wrists and forearms, I moved my keyboard and trackball from my desk (which is a corner desk that is apparently too high for me) to a siding drawer beneath my desktop. Now I have to sit almost a foot further away from where the monitor was, which necessitated moving my monitor forward almost to the edge of my desk.…

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📺 Sex Education

My wife and I have been watching Sex Education season three. True to its title, the show actually does weave sex education into its stories and strives to impart sensible information to its audience. In one of the episodes, a trans student acts completely confused about which of the two sex–specific (boys and girls) sex education classes that the school’s new, conservative principal set up that they should attend. Because the trans character is new to the show, this scene seemed like a zeitgeisty political statement that the show’s writers crammed in, rather than a story beat that grew organically out of the characters and themes of the show.…

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In Praise of Folly

One of the more memorable books I read in college was assigned to me in comparative literature class: Erasmus’s In Praise of Folly. It is an exploration of human folly, written during the Renaissance by Erasmus, who was a philosopher and theologian, as an elaborate inside joke for his friend, Sir Thomas More. Folly is personified as a particularly vain goddess who praises herself (which is itself folly) for all of the great joys and accidental discoveries that folly brings to our lives.…

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⌨️ Keybr

I have been practicing typing on Colemak-DH on my Planck keyboard regularly all week, after a two week hiatus. Keybr still has not enabled more than the initial six letters in its typing practice. It assesses my confidence on each key, and it still is not high enough for me to move on to the next letter. It is slow going, even though I have memorized the layout 95% at this point.…

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ISO 2145

I never knew there was an ISO standard for numbering document sections. I kind of love it and kind of hate it. I am the sort of person who developed a deep preference for the ISO 8601 date format, so it may be inevitable that I end up adopting it.…

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🎮 Metroid Dread is really fun. I spent a couple hours on it last night. It is really fun. It is weird not having the morph ball right from the start, though, and you pretty much have to figure out wall jumping is possible on your own.

🎮 Metroid Dread

My copy of Metroid Dread was just delivered. I am so excited to play it, but I’m not sure when I’ll get to start. I’ve got to help out the kids to bed and plan to watch the season finale of Ted Lasso tonight as well. In anticipation for the new game, over the past few weeks, I played through about most of Metroid and Super Metroid to get back into playing shape for it.…

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A boring dystopia

One of my favorite subreddit names is “a boring dystopia”. It is certainly not one of my favorite subreddits to browse—it is too depressing for that honor—but its name perfectly catches the zeitgeist. So many bad things happening right now are so dreadfully mundane that we don’t even want to think about them. One aspect of our boring dystopia lately has been the failure of global supply chains to keep up with demand.…

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After hours of struggle last night on an automation project I am doing for work, I had a breakthrough today. I feel good about the project for the first tome in months. In my experience, robotic process automation (RPA) cannot be coded in the same way as, say, VBA to manipulate data. I am very good at coding in VBA, even though it is my least favorite programming language. VBA was built for traditional programmers like me.…

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Why did I let that in?

This morning, I just had to click on a news story about somebody’s kid who tragically died of COVID. This evening I just had to listen to a podcast about the Supreme Court’s capricious behavior and what lies ahead in its term. These things didn’t teach me anything, or give me any insights I didn’t already had. Instead they leached me of energy. Now, when I read an article or listen to a podcast that I know, going in will make me upset, or sad, or depressed, and inevitably does make me upset, or sad, or depressed, I find myself asking myself, automatically, “Why did I let that in?…

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Tough conversations

My daughter learned about slavery and the Civil War today in school. We talked about both—mostly slavery—over dinner. Needless to say, it was a heavy conversation—the first of many about race, racism, and the cracks in the foundation of our country. My daughter was, rightly, very shaken up about what we told her. It made me think of when I first learned about slavery in detail, when I was in high school.…

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Don’t mistake domain-specific knowledge for intellect.

While you’re at it, don’t compare yourself to other people.


Today, to thank my in-laws for all the help they give to my family (which is a lot), I cooked them a nice dinner—chili and cornbread, which they love—and my daughter wrote them a thank-you note for the various nice things they do for her. I am trying to teach my children to express gratitude. I’m not sure that part was completely successful, but we all had a great time.…

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You are not your work

I have two seemingly conflicting ideas in my mind right now: You are what you do. You are not your job. You are what you do. Annie Dillard wrote, “how you spend your days is how you spend your lives.” That thought has guided me since I read that, in an A.P. English class my senior year of high school. Action defines who you really are, but I have learned that it does not always inform who you think you are.…

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The story is less important than the telling

Today I listened to a lecture that Stephen Fry gave to Nokia Bell Labs a few years ago. He told stories about Pandora’s Box, about the invention of chess, about how doubling grains of rice on each square of a chessboard will eventually lead to counts of rice grains larger than the number of atoms in the known universe, about the founding of Intel, and so on. Stephen Fry’s stories were old, familiar, and, many of them, not literally true—but he connected them together to his ideas about technology and its effect on humanity in ways that were central to his thesis.…

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Perfectionism, or why I blog now

One reason I decided to publish something (even something short, as long as it is creative) to a blog every day was to help me get over the perfectionism that has limited my creative output so much over the years. I don’t publish because my writing or even my thoughts are “done”. I publish because it is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. That’s what I do. I do this every day.…

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Sense memory

Every year, when the air starts to get chilly, I flash back to this sense memory: I am four years old, sitting atop a hay bale in front of a farm stand with my kindergarten class, drinking apple cider and eating a white powdered donut. I can still taste the apple cider—sharp, sweet, with a distinctive bite because, as I would later figure out, it was turning hard. I can still see the bright white of the sugar on the donut and smell the hay that scratched my skin when I kicked my legs over the side of the bale.…

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Material obsessions

I have two collections that I love but cannot justify: high-end headphones (each is sub-$500, but still really expensive and good) and mechanical keyboards (each is $240 or less). It took ten years to build up these collections, so the embarrassing amount of money I have spent is spread out over a long, long period. I was wondering today if people who spend a lot more than I do on vacations do so because they forego (and don’t care about) material objects like pricy headphones and keyboards.…

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⌨️ I got back to practicing Colemak-DH typing this evening. I am still not great at it, but I didn’t lose a step during my break from it, either.

What do people actually do at work all day?

I have worked from home for more than half of my career. I’m no stranger to working in an office, but I find myself wondering what people actually do at work all day. I always imagine that my coworkers are more focused on their tasks than I am, or more driven to earn a promotion, or more highly structured in their approach to managing their work than I am. I’m pretty sure, though, that that can’t be, because no one I have ever worked with in person was much more focused that I was, with the exception of one or two workaholic bosses I’ve had.…

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I am nearing 2,000 posts on my, which is about 1,950 more posts than I have made on any other blog I started in the past. Do any micro.bloggers know how I could generate any stats, like word count, about my blog?

A Chemical Hunger

I have been fascinated by this anonymously published paper/series of articles about the obesity epidemic. Part I, covering mysteries about obesity that I did and did not know about, drew me in. The authors’ thesis, which isn’t presented until Part III, is that chemical contaminants are the primary cause of the epidemic (not why individuals gain weight, but why obesity in entire populations increased dramatically since 1980). I’m not sure I buy that, but it is an interesting argument to consider that I had not previously given any weight to.…

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I’m not great at weekends.

Today I did too many chores, then did way too little of anything, and ended up eating too much ice cream this evening. I should give myself a break because our plans for today were canceled at the last minute. Still, I wish I could wake up on the weekend and just have fun, or at the very least take up the unstructured time I sometimes have on a Saturday or Sunday and do something productive with it.…

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⌨️ An update on my Colemak-DH experiment

I have temporarily stopped practicing on, or changing to, the ColeMak-DH keyboard layout. I haven’t been using my new Planck-EZ keyboard at all. I am still too slow with that layout to use it for “real” writing, and I have been writing and writing and writing for the past couple weeks. I think I am still very excited about moving to the Planck and to a non-QWERTY layout. But I am more excited about my writing projects right now.…

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Yesterday at work I was asked to give a status update on my team’s status call, which is a Webex. I decided to create a slideshow and make a good presentation out of it. I have decided to take every opportunity, even the little ones, to improve my presentation skills.

I played too much Scott Pilgrim vs. the World this week, and have been rewarded with wrist pain in my left hand. I should have known I was overdoing it because my typing became more and more inaccurate as the week progressed.

The tree service my wife and I hired accidentally severed the internet connection cable outside my house. Did I mention that I work from home and my kid has Google Classroom-based homework?

🎮 “First you were ve-gone, but now you will be gone.”

On a whim this weekend I purchased the beat ‘em up game Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World for the Nintendo Switch. It was an impulse purchase of a game I had not heard of and didn’t know was any good. I have been wanting to play a brawler for a while, but it is a genre I have not played since I was a kid, so I was not sure I would still enjoy it.…

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Writing for other people

I have been busily writing a bunch of stuff for other people this week. First there were work papers for my day job. Yesterday and today I wrote three long product reviews for Amazon. Since late last week (and for hours last night) I have drafting a white paper that covers a topic at work that I am an expert in—that’s going to be a rather long project. I was just drafted into a presentation team on Friday, and I spent last evening brainstorming and I spent this evening writing an 800-word outline for it.…

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Two of my wife’s students went home today because they came to school with COVID. We’re doing great. 😅

“He who buys what he does not need steals from himself."—Swedish proverb.

The conservative mindset

I characterize the mindset of American conservatives—specifically the ones who are blasé or antipathetic toward anti-COVID measures such as vaccines and face-masks—thusly: Bad things happen to other people. That is, until they happen to me. Oddly enough, that is also my progressive-but-not-lunatic-fringe-liberal mindset. I figure that it is more healthy to assume I will probably be all right, given the precautions I take, rather than to expect the worst and be anxious about it all the time.…

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Parenting is indeed a verb

I have been emotionally exhausted from all the deep conversations I’ve been having with my daughter this weekend—mostly on account of dealing with bad behavior rather than with her wanting to sit and learn at her father’s knee. I am not upset about these talks—I think I am good at this stuff, and firmly believe that it is my responsibility as a parent to shape my children into good, well-adjusted people—but it does take a lot of energy out of me by the end of the day.…

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I do this every day

On Thursday I embarked on an ambitious project related to my job. I am writing a white paper based on the presentation I wrote earlier this year, with the goal to publish it—or articles based on it—in an industry journal. It’s about how to do a certain type of project that I specialize in at work. That’s a topic I know a lot about, but have lacked the confidence to understand that it really is something valuable.…

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📺 I, for one, thought that yesterday’s divisive Coach Beard dark-night-of-the-soul episode of Ted Lasso was great. It wasn’t perfect, but I admired its ambition and loved every minute of it.

The importance of a classical education

Viewing this wonderful lecture on the importance of a classical education made me wonder if I had, or did not have, a classical education. I read a lot of great works, struggled a lot with deep reading, philosophy, and trying to understand the human condition, but I have many, many gaps in my reading and education, too. Reading Ulysses for the first time lately has truly impressed these shortcomings on me.…

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Move slow and fix things.

Grace is accepting others’ limitations. Humility is accepting your own.

Incremental improvement

I think all the products Apple announced this week are great. I am tired of hearing that some people are disappointed that they are only incremental improvements on the previous models, or that Apple isn’t exciting anymore. That’s true of every product that isn’t a new invention. And how exciting could the umpteenth smartphone be? The steady ratchet of incremental improvement is one of humankind’s greatest achievements. The entire modern world is built on it.…

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I have been working at a more measured pace to increase accuracy at work. Hope no one notices in a bad way that I am spending more time on some tasks, because I am double-checking more thoroughly than before.

Wisdom is neither quickness nor intellect. It is seeing the world how it really is.

I learned yet another horrible thing today that I wished weren’t true

According to the superintendent of schools, some parents in my town are sending their children to school wearing “fake” masks that superficially satisfy mask wearing requirements while being completely ineffectual. These masks do not protect the wearer or anybody else from COVID or any other type of disease. They are specifically designed to be as flimsy as possible; some are even see-through. It’s a product for people who want to be assholes, pretend that COVID is not real, and thumb their noses at responsible people.…

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What I am dealing with now that school is back in session

My daughter has been in school three days so far this school year. Every school day, our entire community has received an email from the superintendent of schools stating that there are new COVID cases affecting students and staff at all, or almost all, of the schools in the district. This is from today’s email: As stated previously, I realize that our school community has varying viewpoints on COVID-19 and specifically on mask protocols.…

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I need laundry folding TV

I can’t clean my office because I’m too busy to do anything with it all day, even though I am working in there, and at the end of the day I don’t want to be in there anymore. I have been thinking that I should break up the mess into chunks, box part of it each day, and organize the box while I watch TV. The problem is, I don’t really watch TV much anymore.…

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Pasta party

On Saturday, my nine-year-old daughter hosted a pasta party for the family that she had been planning for weeks. She created invitations that listed a schedule full of activities. She also created a menu of four different types of pasta (spaghetti, ziti, farfalle, and elbows), homemade meatballs, homemade bread, and for dessert, chocolate pudding and homemade shortbread. My wife, my mother-in-law, and I cooked. During the party, my daughter led us through telescope painting and decorating (the telescopes were paper towel rolls) and a pasta parade (we walked around the block while my kids held toy pots).…

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A good skill to know in case society collapses

I got my first job when I was sixteen. I was a dishwasher at a restaurant for about half of summer. Soon after I started, my mom wanted me to tell my grandfather about my new job. She was proud of me for getting a job, even though it was a job with low status and poor pay. My grandfather had worked as a short order cook and a baker for most of his life, so he was well-versed in working in a kitchen.…

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⌨️ Chording

I have just started to use my new Planck keyboard for work for a short, short time each day. It has been rough going so far. I expected to have trouble typing in Colemak-DH because I just started learning that layout. I did not expect to have as much trouble with chording keyboard shortcuts. The problems I am facing are making me doubt whether I really can use a 40% keyboard for work, where it would give me the most benefit.…

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⌨️ Shifting

One challenge with the Planck that I did not anticipate is that I have trouble hitting the (little) left shift key, and I miss having a right shift key (the Planck has none). It is especially surprising to me because I rarely used the right shift key before I made it a goal last year to use right-shift all the time, rather than stretch my left pinky crazy distances. I think one reason left-shift is more difficult to hit is that the Colemak-DH layout keeps my fingers on the home row all the time.…

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⌨️ Chunking

I have been typing more and more each day with the Colemak-DH layout on my new Planck keyboard. I basically know where all the keys are, but my typing is laborious and slow. I have to think very hard to type every word. At my best right now, I make a plan for the word I will type next, then try to execute that plan without making too many errors. At worst, I look down at the keyboard and hunt and peck.…

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Lost sleep

Tomorrow is my daughter’s first day of school—in-person school—since March 2020. Thinking about the sleep schedule changes this will require for all of us has been nerve-wracking all day. Remote learning and remote work have, for the last year and a half, given all of us in my family an extra hour of sleep every night. Because my daughter and I are all night owls, it will be impossible for us to make up the lost sleep.…

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Another humbling thought

We are all replaceable. That is written into our biology. Our social and economic structures reflect it, too. We are all unique. A human life is irreplaceable. But a human is replaceable.…

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Humbling thoughts

You don’t have to be smart to be right. Just because you are smart doesn’t mean you’re right.…

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Rosh Hashanah

L’Shana tova for all those who celebrate. Let’s hope for a better year ahead.…

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Bias doesn’t make sense. That’s why it is bias.

When I was in business school, back in the early aughts, I did a team presentation project on the topic of the male/female wage gap. To this day, I am embarrassed at my work on this project. I was young, hard-working, and idealistic, but I was unknowingly naive to the world and think I got it all wrong. At the time, I worked at an insurance company, and there was a huge number of women in the departments I worked with at manager and director levels.…

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Teaching YA Lit in High School English Class

In the 1990s, the old guard of educators—mainly white men like Harold Bloom—decried the decline and of the Western canon. In general, the Harold Blooms of the world lost that argument. High school reading lists today are far more diverse and are—as my high school English teachers feared—diluted in quality. The classics have been pared back, to make way for new ideas and more diverse voices. Case in point: my wife is teaching The Hunger Games to high school juniors this school year.…

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I am proud of my wife today

After getting very upset at our daughter’s elementary school’s plan for lax COVID safety protocols announced during a webinar last night, she woke up at 4 AM this morning and wrote impassioned emails to the superintendent of schools, the school board, and the principal. She emailed and talked to other teachers at the school, our rabbi, our pediatrician, and her doctor friend to ask for advice. She and I seriously talked about disenrolling our daughter and home schooling her.…

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I didn’t get everything I wanted to do done this week. I’m OK with that. Life intervened. Stressful things came and went. I did right by my family each day. That has to be the most important thing. It’s time for a holiday weekend and then Rosh Hashanah. Onward.

I am trying a new keyboard layout, Colemak DH, and have switched around keys and reprogrammed the Planck EZ to enable it. Colemak is proving easier now that I can look at the key legends for the correct letter.

COVID mask mandate temperature exceptions make a mask requirements a joke

My daughter’s elementary school will not require masks if the outside temperature is 75°F or over. They said that means masks will effectively not be worn on classrooms for the entire month of September, and probably through October as well. In general, the COVID measures are based on outdated conjectures about how the disease is spread, and will be ineffective against an airborne pathogen. My wife wants to pull our daughter out of school.…

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Vulnerability is a new ideal masculine trait. Being open, honest about, and comfortable with your flaws is nontraditional, unexpected, and disarming. But that isn’t vulnerability. It’s invulnerability. You need to be tremendously self-assured to take social risks and not be flummoxed if things do not go your way.…

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The philosopher next door

When I was in college, I longed not to be learned but to be wise. I was learning rapidly, and soaking up new ideas all the time. I was making connections between all sorts of different systems of thought and culture. I thought I had human nature all figured out. I was, however, wise enough at the time to know that I would be foolish to consider myself wise. That paradox never really resolves itself.…

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I have a voice but nothing to say

I can write. I always could. In high school, I wrote cogently and forcefully, like someone who read the up-Ed pages of two newspapers every day. Unlike most of my peers I had figured out how to revise and shape text—how to edit out hedging and weasel words and unfinished thoughts. Essay structure and organization fascinated me. In college I wrote passionately with explosive figurative language. I wrote and put on a play: a farce poking fun a dorm life at my school.…

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Full Decaf

My caffeine experiment is almost at its end. For the past week, I have only drunk decaffeinated coffee. One funny thing I noticed is that decaf coffee is not nearly as disappointing when you are no longer addicted to caffeine. My caffeine free (or almost free) lifestyle thus far has left me with no downsides: my energy level is just fine all day. I am not tired at all during work hours, and I no longer desperately crave an afternoon coffee each day.…

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Oryx, Wally, and Planck

Today I started flashing custom layouts to my new Planck EZ keyboard. It runs QMK firmware, but the manufacturer has tools call Oryx and Wally that make customizing and flashing simple. On a software level, it is the best keyboard I have ever used. On a hardware level, it is solid, too, but I am not used to the ortholinear layout yet or the layers system. Typing with my left hand, especially the letters C and X, is a little problematic for me, because the Planck requires the use of different fingers than what I use for those keys on staggered layouts.…

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What do you do? I help people.

I always used to dread meeting new people. They always asked “what do you do?” And what I do (for work, naturally) has mostly been nebulous and boring and unglamorous. When I worked in corporate systems, I was too young to be an interesting (read: rich) tech nerd. When I worked in management consulting, no one really knew what that meant, and neither did I. When I worked in internal audit, no one wanted to hear about it.…

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📺 Ted Lasso Season 2 Isn’t In A Slump, It’s Headed For A Breakdown: This is a great analysis of what’s going on with the tonal shift in Ted Lasso season 2.

We stayed at the beach until it got dark tonight, which was a first for us. We like to go at dinner time and stay until dusk. It is quieter and cooler then. Sunset was pretty, if a bit subdued compared to the last couple times we have gone. This time, I brought my camera, though.

Work has become stressful again. I don’t have enough time to do everything I have to do—not just work, but taking care of my family and house, too. I’m taking my wife and kids to the beach tonight to just hang out, which is wildly irresponsible, but may be the thing I need to clear my head.


I have started to learn the Colemak keyboard layout on my new ortholinear keyboard. Colemak is a modern keyboard layout designed to reduce finger travel (and overall hand movement around the keyboard), while preserving the position of some keys that are vital for chording with the Command or Control keys: C, V, X, and Z. It has been brutally slow going. I have been a touch typer on normal, staggered QWERTY keyboards for over 30 years.…

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A COVID vaccine for under-12 kids cannot come soon enough. It looks like Pfizer is a few months ahead of Moderna on this front, but it has been a frustratingly long wait. The Delta variant, which seems to be more virulent in children than o.g. COVID, has made me quite anxious.

My birthday present arrived a couple months early: a Planck EZ 40% ortholinear keyboard. Please excuse me for a while: I need to relearn how to type. 😅

The reason we should study literature

In college, I studied literature. What I learned about literature is that history, religion, and general knowledge are all wrapped up in narrative. So are our memories. We are the story we tell ourselves, as individuals, as nations, as peoples. Narrative is memory, and sometimes the narrator is an untrustworthy one. I learned a lot about literature there, but I missed the important lesson: Why do we study literature? To learn empathy.…

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It doesn’t matter if it’s good. It matters that it’s yours.

When I was in high school, I was a guitar teacher. I was probably a terrible guitar teacher, but it wasn’t a job I wanted, it was a job I kind of couldn’t get out of. I had only one student, the son of a very nice teacher at my high school. After school in the drafting classroom, my student and I would listen to music he liked and try to transcribe it and learn how to play it.…

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To err is human. To forgive, divine. But to have a good chance to detect and correct mistakes, you need controls. That’s what I have learned in my audit career. A control helps you understand if a transaction or business process completed completely, correctly, and timely. It is designed to answer the auditor’s most probing question: “How do you know?” The term itself is jargon, and isn’t widely understood outside of accounting, finance, audit, and compliance circles—unless you are pulled into an audit of some kind as a subject matter expert.…

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Drip, drip, drip

After over twenty years as a coffee drinker, I am now the owner of a drip coffee maker for the first time. Its make and model are nothing special, and it doesn’t actually brew better coffee than my AeroPress or French Press or Chemex ever did. In fact, the coffee it produces (with far less manual effort) is actually a little worse. Strangely enough, that is the whole point. I want coffee to be less enticing to me, because I am trying to wean myself off caffeine and maybe even cut coffee out of my diet entirely.…

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Quarter Decaf

Last night I told my wife I was going to go entirely to decaffeinated coffee starting today. After one look from her, I chickened out, and revised my goal to “quarter decaf”: half decaf in the morning, and full decaf in the afternoon. I still plan to eliminate (almost all) caffeine from my diet, but I am not sure if I will just drink decaf coffee twice a day, to preserve my warm beverage habit, or if I will forego coffee altogether.…

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Today I, along with a small team, gave the biggest presentation I’ve done in years: a webinar for my company’s clients. We did an outstanding job. Now that it is over, I feel relieved and exhausted. I spent several months earlier this year gearing up for this day. I decided early on to level up my presentation skills, which I thought were already very good. I took the learning process very seriously.…

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📚 Dubliners

I read James Joyce’s classic short story collection, Dubliners, while I was on my vacation. I read it as part of my presswork for tackling Ulysses, which I am slowly navigating now. I don’t normally enjoy short stories because they usually seem incomplete—cut off just before they got interesting. Short story collections are usually disjointed; I prefer collections that have common characters or plot threads that run through all the stories.…

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Background music and Endel

Sometimes when I’m working, I want music playing, but I don’t really know what I want to listen to, and I don’t have the patience to think about it. In these situations, I have tried listening to classical music, jazz, and lo-fi (hip-hop/trip-hop, etc.). Over the past week, I gave Endel an honest try, too. While I enjoy classical music in a live setting, I don’t like listening to it in my headphones.…

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Today is my first day back at work after my vacation. I have found that, now that I consume less caffeine, I am finding all of the catching up, surprises, and unexpected requests to be less stressful than in prior years. Let’s see how I feel (maybe tired?) later this afternoon and evening.

After thinking about it quite a bit (too much really) I ordered a 4-pack of Apple AirTags. I think it will be useful for my wife and I to have them on our keychains and in our go-bags, especially because we are spending more time away from home now. I look forward to kicking the Tile app off my phone.

My wife and I are unpacking and cleaning house after our time away from home. I always need this buffer day after a vacation to reset the house and, most importantly, the kitchen before I return to work. (I wouldn’t need a buffer day if we ever got back home before midnight. 😀)

My day will be all about packing and driving, and a visiting my mom for a little while, too.


I have been lowering my caffeine intake over the past month or so. While I don’t drink that much coffee, but I think that my two (strong) cups per day allotment is causing me some minor health problems. I am at the point where trying to quit (or at least drastically lower) caffeine consumption seems like a reasonable approach to try to improve things. In retrospect, it is embarrassing how long it has taken me to even consider lower caffeine intake as a possibility.…

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I am at the point I my vacation where I am contemplating how I can be a better person after I return home.

I am not able to attend due to vacation travel-related reasons. I wish everyone the best. 😀

This afternoon at Burns Lake in Whitefield, New Hampshire.

Lake Winnipesaukee is a fun, low-key place. We spent an afternoon there with some old friends yesterday.

I’m driving to Lake Winnipesaukee today. We are going to see one of my wife’s college friends who we haven’t seen in years.

Lies I tell myself, vacation edition

One of the lies I told myself when I packed for vacation is that I would spend more time writing and coding (for fun) each day. My MacBook has sat in a box in the closet, unused for all but one evening. I did not expect: My kids going to bed at 10:00 or 11:00 PM My RSI to make typing in the MacBook quite painful (at home I use an external keyboard exclusively these days) Me taking up reading through the prose of James Joyce (I recently started Ulysses, after reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners) and all sorts of related background material I am OK with this.…

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Today’s activity was blueberry picking at a nearby farm. My kids really loved it. We have a ton of blueberries now, and plan to bake something yummy with them: a blueberry buckle, perhaps.

We found a new lunch spot today at Moore Resevoir, and had a conversation about the Connecticut River (the river I lived near my entire childhood) while we were there.

We spent the afternoon at Echo Lake in Franconia State Park. It is a great place for the kids to swim and play. They made sand castles, lakes, and swimming pools for their toys on the beach.

Here is a view of “our lake” in New Hampshire. We spent the afternoon there a couple days ago. The kids played in the sand and water, the adults chatted, and I took pictures. More recently we went on a couple short hikes and spent an afternoon at Santa’s Village, a theme park.

Monuments to a Loser, or the Second Lost Cause

One frequent and inescapable sight on the rural roads of New Hampshire is the Trump campaign sign. In every town, there are Trump campaign signs flanking the ends of driveways. Huge Trump/Pence billboards are proudly hoisted over the signs for legitimate businesses, presumably by the owners themselves. Trump flags—and the occasional anti-Biden flag—hang limply from the front of houses; some of them are accompanied by the MAGA battle flag: the black-and-blue parody of the Stars and Stripes.…

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The Old Man of the Mountain

My family’s plans for a picnic lunch and an afternoon of swimming at Echo Lake, in Franconia State Park, were cut short because tickets for the lake were sold out. Echo Lake is one of my family’s favorite spots in the White Mountains. The mountain views are beautiful and there is a large (artificial) sandy beach to sunbathe and play on. We went to the nearby Profile Lake instead, and ate our lunch at the Old Man of the Mountain viewing area.…

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Beaver Brook Falls

Today I drove the family to a tiny park in northern New Hampshire that consisted of a picnic area, a waterfall, and a couple of short trails. We ate a picnic lunch when we got there and then explored the place. We enjoyed experiencing the roar and spray of the falls and had multiple great vantage points to view it from. It was a great time.…

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It’s day three of my vacation and my sleep schedule is already completely messed up. 😬

A low-key day in Littleton, NH

After a sunny, exciting day at the fair, today was overcast, cool, and low-key. We took the kids to a playground (with a view of a mountain) and to the bookstore/toy store in nearby Littleton, New Hampshire. The kids had great fun, but we had to cut our visit to down short due to rain. Ironically, for the warmest year on record, this has been the coldest stretch of days that I have ever been in the mountains.…

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The North Haverhill Fair

My family and I very much enjoyed the North Haverhill fair today. We had perfect weather, and I lucked out with the fair food (my wife and I shared the best fried Oreos I have had in years). My kids loved seeing the animals (one thing we saw was a goat obstacle course contest) and enjoyed the rides. I find that I enjoy fairs—especially the agricultural aspects—a lot more as an adult than I ever did as a kid.…

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⌨️ Somebody please tell me I don’t need a $245 ortholinear 40% keyboard! 😱

My vacation starts today. My family is going to the North Haverhill fair in New Hampshire. We always have a fun time there. My daughter is mad for rides and I am looking forward to fried Oreos. The rest of the family gets ice cream (maple soft serve) there.

📚 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

I read James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man this week. I approached it in nearly the same way I approached books that I studied in college when I was an English major: I read some background about the book and where it fit into the literary cannon. I read it closely, and re-read parts that didn’t quite make sense at first. Lastly, after I finished the book, I read essays about it to make sure I didn’t miss too much of its meaning.…

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Procrastination is just a fancy word for avoidance. Socially, it is acceptable to procrastinate. After all, everyone does it sometimes. This makes it easy to not even think about why you are procrastinating. Conversely, it is not normally acceptable to avoid something or someone. It smacks of cowardice, and almost no one wants to be considered a coward. Think about that when you know you are procrastinating on certain tasks. Ask yourself: What am I avoiding?…

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Who here wouldn’t want to buy a “I’m really big on” T-shirt? 😀

My wife took this picture while I was working today. I missed a beautiful day at the lake. Fortunately I had a good day, too.

One syllable

An exchange between myself and my wife, about someone else we know: Her: It’s hard to say no to her. Me: No it’s not. It’s two letters. One syllable. Simple. Done.…

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Back to Feedly (for now)

I have given up on Reeder 5’s native RSS feed handling with sync via iCloud. I had expected my devices to keep in sync, and for Reeder to sync in the background rather than whenever I started it. I think I asked too much from it. I use three iOS devices each day, and Reeder was showing me stale content on all of them at various points each day. I suppose local device syncing of 75 feeds was a bit too much for it to handle quickly and smoothly.…

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The Work-ation

It’s a uniquely American thing, I have read, to work while on vacation. I have had to, as recently as last year. Some of my coworkers were reading, reviewing, and revising work papers and memos while on vacation last week. My vacation this year hasn’t technically started yet, but I am now in my family’s summer-vacation spot, my in-law’s lake house, primed to report in for remote work in the morning.…

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The Lie

I missed David Rothkopf’s article, “We Still Won’t Admit Why So Many People Believe the Big Lie” on The Daily Beast, when it was published a couple weeks ago. He asks why some people believe the “Big Lie” that Donald Trump really won the 2020 presidential election. His answer is an obvious but largely unspoken truth: …even the most modest amount of analysis and introspection will reveal that buying into the nonsense peddled by the former president and his clown college of cronies is not an aberration, not due to some momentary lapse on the part of the American electorate.…

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Apple to Pull 'iDOS 2' DOS Emulator From App Store

I am neither surprised or disappointed by Apple’s impending pull of “iDOS 2” from the App Store. The whole point of buying Apple hardware has always been to buy into a unique ecosystem: the “walled garden.” While the Mac has never been locked down to Apple’s Mac App Store, the iPhone has always been locked down to its App Store. It’s easy to forget now, but the iPhone grew out of Apple’s prior consumer electronics smash hit, the iPod, which was was completely locked down.…

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The Cleveland Guardians

I like the new name of Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team. I think the team’s old name, the “Indians,” and especially its already retired Chief Wahoo logo, were problematic and absolutely needed to go. If you find the term “Indians” as applied to a ball club to be inoffensive, know that that merely means you are not among the ones who are offended by it. I am sure that, at best, a lot of negative stereotyping went into the choosing of that appellation.…

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Tonight I learned my son has a LinkedIn profile. What’s more, he works for Microsoft.

My son is four years old.


My family is at the county fair this evening. It is a little hot but we are having a fun time. The kids love the rides.

I’m going to be driving most of the day tomorrow, so, via Ulysses, I’m scheduling tomorrow’s blog post to be published tomorrow. I am not sure if the post hits the timeline, though. If it did, I would probably use that feature more often.


Panic’s bright yellow pocket game system, the Playdate, looks cheerful and cute. I want one, plus the blocky stereo dock, just to put on my desk like other people place toys and figurines. Ars Technica published a review of the hardware and a preview of some of the games yesterday, which whet my interest. I don’t know if it is worth the money for me to have a geeky object d’art for my workspace, though.…

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What Lies Beneath Ted Lasso

Elizabeth Nelson wrote the best, most accurate take on Ted Lasso (the character) that I have ever read: Unceasing optimism defines Ted Lasso. But roller-coaster mood storms, manic reveries, and seemingly deliberate head games also define Ted Lasso, the players’ coach, and make him one of the best and most-layered characters of the peak TV era. He’s a man who presents himself as two-dimensional, but who might actually be playing three-dimensional chess.…

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The double-entry bookkeeping system and the tyranny of spreadsheets

If there is one thing I would like my kids to learn from me, it is that one of the greatest, most impactful human inventions of all time is the double-entry bookkeeping system for accounting. If my son or daughter ever throws that term out in class when a teacher is writing a list of inventions on the board, there may be some “ums” and blank stares in the classroom, but I would be very proud.…

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Call a spade a spade

When I was a kid writing essays for school, I always peppered my writing with big, fancy words in places that small, simple words would do. In part, I was showing off my big vocabulary to my teachers. For the most part, though, I was afraid to use the small, simple words because I thought of them as childish. I figured that small, simple words would make my writing seem small (as in insignificant) and simple (as in simplistic) as well.…

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My new grill was delivered today, but it arrived damaged and I had to refuse it. No grilled hamburgers for me today, I guess. At least I noticed the dent and scuffs before the installers got far along with its setup. Hopefully a replacement will come before the end of the week.

Love is an action you must repeat ceaselessly.

I read this quote years ago in a novel called The Gargoyle that fundamentally changed my life: Love is an action you must repeat ceaselessly. —Andrew Davidson Love is an emotion that does not meaningfully exist unless it is expressed through action. Actions are governed by choice. Thus, to act with love is a choice you have to make every day, many times a day. It doesn’t matter how you feel: love is what you do.…

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You are the story you tell to yourself. Make it a good one.

Today we are going to a family birthday party, then restocking the fridge for a week’s worth of camp- and work lunches.

Failure is a great teacher, but it is not the only teacher.

It is popular now to lionize failure. Both fictional stories (thematically) and nonfictional accounts (explicitly) praise failure as a stepladder to greatness. It makes sense. Failure is a great teacher. It teaches us what does not work. It teaches us what we need to do better, and what we need to work harder on. It teaches us what our limitations are, and prods us into further developing our strengths. While this is, in some way, timeless wisdom, the overt emphasis on it in the business book, personal productivity, and self-help space is relatively new.…

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The Coddling of the American Mind

I think about education a lot, not only because I have kids, but also because my wife is a high school teacher, and I like to help her think up lessons. If I were a teacher, I would challenge my students to think really hard, to question what they have been told, and to go beyond the material and create new thoughts of their own based on what we discuss in class.…

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The Steam Deck

The Steam Deck looks fantastic. It’s like a Nintendo Switch for Steam games. Considering I wrestled with a Windows laptop for 8 hours to get it ready to play Steam games just days ago— and had the whole thing fail, the very next day, to understand how to work with the very Xbox 360 controller I was using the day prior—I never want to bother with PC gaming again. It’s too fiddly and too expensive.…

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📚 Going back to the classics

I have been having a lot of trouble finding books that excite me lately. Over the past month, I read through the first Grishaverse novels trilogy (staring with Shadow and Bone) and found it only OK. (It could have been a single, much faster-moving novel, I think.) I started Leviathan Wakes, the first novel in The Expanse series, and couldn’t get into it. Most recently, I started Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse and, after reading a few chapters, concluded that it is not for me.…

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I decided to upgrade my Windows laptop to Windows 11 yesterday. It was an awful slog, replete with many failed Windows Update attempts, permissions issues that prevented me from changing the necessary diagnostic data sharing settings, and even a hardware firmware update. I ended up having to “reset” Windows—which deleted all my apps, data, and settings—to move forward. However, hours later, once Windows had finally gotten all of its updates in, I had the opportunity to use Winget for the first time.…

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Too Smart

I enjoyed reading Morgan Housel’s blog post on the Collaborate Fund blog. The ideas in the post are some that I want to explore in my blog, too. All these items are direct quotations from the post: The ability to create complex stories makes it easy to fool people, including yourself. What’s boring is often important and the smartest people are the least interested in what’s boring. Intelligence can make it difficult to communicate with ordinary people, who may have the missing insight you’re looking for.…

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The nuclear option, or how I gave up completely (on my music library) 🎵 💣 💥

I have been an Apple Music subscriber from the service’s very first day. I was an iTunes Match subscriber before that. I have been pulling an enormous electronic library of albums and songs forward with me since I was a teenager. We’re talking about thousands of albums, dozens of playlists, and a lot of complications that have stuck around in my library since the CD days. Apple Music gobbled up all that music info and turned it into a frustrating mess for me.…

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You Really Need to Quit Twitter

I saw this article by Caitlin Flanagan on Om Malik’s blog. It’s a fun read if, like me, you’ve been through the quitting Twitter part she goes through.

Preference vs. duty

What you would prefer to do isn’t the same as what you would be willing to do. I think that distinction gets lost a lot if times in interpersonal relationships. If you ask for one and then ask for the other, don’t be surprised if the answer changes.…

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The cake I made for my wife today came out tasty but a little messy. I am wildly inconsistent when it comes to frosting layer cakes. This one ended up with crumbs mixed in, and I didn’t have any frosting left over to put flowers on the top. The ganache and raspberry filling was great, though.

After ten years of service, my gas grill rusted out to such an extent that it is unusable. I thought I could get another couple months out of it, but, alas, part of it fell apart today. I ordered a new grill online right away. Fortunately, I won’t have to assemble or lift it.

Pfizer says it's time for a Covid booster; FDA and CDC say not so fast

Maggie Fox of CNN reports: Hours after Pfizer issued its statement, the FDA and Centers for Disease and Control issued a joint statement saying Americans do not need booster shots yet. “Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time,” they said. In a statement to CNN on Friday, the World Health Organization said, “We don’t know whether booster vaccines will be needed to maintain protection against COVID-19 until additional data is collected,” adding, “limited data available on how long the protection from current doses lasts and whether an additional booster dose would be beneficial and for whom.…

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Transloader: A remote control downloader for iOS and macOS

I learned about the app Transloader thanks to a MacStories article that popped up in my RSS feed today. Transloader lets you send a URL from any Mac or iOS device you have to your Mac, and the Mac will download it, send it to an app, or pass it or the downloaded file to an Automator workflow. Saving downloads to my NAS is something I have longed to do for ages.…

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I have a bunch of half-finished blog posts lying around, but not enough time to spruce any of them up into something presentable.

Just be yourself...or not

When I was in fourth grade, my family moved to the town across the river. The move was not traumatic, but it was socially isolating. We had to move out of our old house three months before our new house was finished being built. We ended up as the only tenants in an apartment complex across town from where we used to live. For the fall, I went to my old elementary school and saw my old neighborhood friends and familiar classmates during the day, but I saw no one my age outside of school during the week or on weekends.…

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The hourglass

Life experience has a definite shape to it. Time isn’t a straight line. It’s a funnel. Well, really, it’s an hourglass. The future is infinite. The past is infinite. The present, however, is really, really small. Right now is the ultimate pinch point. You can only do so much. You have a tiny amount of time. You have a finite amount of attention. Now is the time. Now is your time.…

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What does America mean to me?

I find myself thinking this, on the fifth of July, after enduring with fusillade after fusillade of illegal fireworks, and thrum of dance music blaring from several neighbors’ backyard parties, and the thump, thump, thump of basslines permeating every barrier between them and my family until almost midnight last night. (Let’s just say my kids don’t sleep on July 4th.) What does America mean to me? It is a promise to do better, to try harder, to fight for justice and freedom, and to stand up again after being knocked down.…

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What I’m looking for in an open source project repo

When the client apps were open-sourced, I reviewed the Github repos for the two I use most (the iOS app and the macOS app). I wondered if I could contribute something to the projects—probably something small, like more hardware keyboard shortcuts or an enhancement to how the post editor works. I wasn’t sure if that would be welcome, based on the brief “About the open source project…” verbiage in the REAMDE, and based on (1) the very old, but open, issues in the iOS repo, and (2) seeing no issues in the macOS repo.…

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Reading the news is a waste of time

On Thursday I configured NextDNS to block (for my personal devices only) Google News has been my Internet obsession since it debuted in 2002. It is not a healthy one. Whenever my mind gets lost for a second, I find myself opening a browser tab and checking Google News to see…what’s new, I guess. Sometimes I close Google News out of disgust or boredom and then, almost immediately, open it up again.…

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Some of my neighbors appear to have town-sized budgets for their Independence Day fireworks displays.

On open-sourcing the client apps

This week @manton open-sourced the iOS and macOS apps. I think that is a great move in general, but it is not one of the things I require in the software I use. I never felt that comfortable when, a while ago now, I read users’ blog posts expressing anger or dismay that the client apps were not open-sourced. (Let’s put aside, for now, that what makes work is the server-side code.…

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My carpal tunnel flared up so much today that I won’t be writing a proper blog post. 😕

On bullies, or why I have character

I often joke with people that I am not as nice as my wife is. It’s a self-deprecating remark, but I do mean it. I am a nice person, just not as nice as my wife is. I’m not as nice because I was bullied for most of my childhood. I never got beaten up (though I did get into fights), and I was never afraid to go to school (though it was a gauntlet and a crucible), but I was picked on mercilessly, incessantly, and for everything—my name, my weight, my glasses, and most of all for being smart.…

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The Cut

I have recently finished crafting a slideshow, and writing a talk to go with it, that is the best one I have ever done, probably by a mile. I spent hundreds of hours this year watching talks on YouTube (both good and bad ones), watching instructional videos on speaking and on creating effective visual presentations, and trying new slide design techniques (and throwing out all the things I tried that didn’t work).…

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One of the difficulties my family has had due to the pandemic is finding a suitable summer camp experience for my nine-year-old daughter. She loves camp, and there was no camp last year. This summer, we opted for what we thought was the safest camp option: a drama camp that promised to be outside only (under tents and such) or virtual if the weather was bad (presumably, if it rained).…

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I keep eyeing the AirPods Max listing on Amazon. The price is dropping below $500 now. They don’t seem perfect and I only tried them for a second but the noise cancellation puts the NC in my Beoplay H9 to shame.

I cleaned out my closet today, which is both exhilarating and depressing. So many clothes to get rid of! So many things held onto for too long. Now I have empty shelves and drawers and nothing to refill them with. May it stay that way, at least until I get an office job again.

We visited the beach tonight and really enjoyed it. Sunset is my favorite time there.

Trying to change my mindset

My work week has overflowed with head-desk moments, turnarounds, and setbacks. It has been frustrating beyond belief. It’s not often that I experience big parts of my work projects blowing up in my face, especially for unexpected reasons. Fortunately, all the problems I am facing are technology-related, not interpersonal, and can, I think, be solved by doing something I, by nature, kind of hate doing: asking for help. I am trying to change my mindset from “I can’t do this anymore” to “I can do this.…

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All speech is persuasive speech

My wife teaches speech, debate, and dramatic arts to high school students. I love it when she asks me to help her with her lesson plans, because it gives me the chance to take a subject that she has to teach, however uninteresting it may seem (especially if you’ve taught it for 10+ years in a row), and blow it up into something that is the foundation of everything. Here’s an exchange we had this spring:…

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“Real artists ship”; or, at what point did I lose my nerve?

“Real artists ship.” Steve Jobs said that to motivate the Macintosh team in 1983. It’s a statement that reverberates in my mind and absolutely drives me crazy sometimes. Why? Because I have tons of code that I haven’t shipped. Hell, some of my best code hasn’t shipped. At some point, I lost my nerve. I couldn’t finish the projects I started. I couldn’t make a small change to a UI because it would inevitably spiral out into something that would require a rewrite of the entire app.…

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I just had to reboot my iPad due to some wonkiness. I wonder when iOS/iPadOS 15 developer beta 2 will drop. I think we just passed over the historical median age of an iOS beta 1.

📺 My wife and I watched the first episode of Hacks tonight and thought it was a hoot. The writing is outrageous, the characters have no filter, and Jean Smart is a treasure.

🎧 I turned on the crazy hi-res audio settings on my Mac tonight. I want to justify why I have an expensive DAC. 😀

Why do we begin emails with “Dear so-and-so”?

I write a lot of email at work. Almost every one I write starts with “Hi, <name>.” It seems perfectly normal, until you realize that every email client already includes that in the “To” field above the body of the message. The reader knows her own name, and it is written on the screen in the “To” field next to her email address. Why do I write it again in the body of the email?…

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I finally got a Prime Day Deal, but it was from Best Buy

I picked up a Product (RED) Apple Watch 6 at Best Buy for my wife for a great price. Her Apple Watch 3 broke a couple weeks ago, and I ordered her an Apple Watch SE with a red band from Apple. It wasn’t supposed to be delivered until late July, which meant I was able to cancel it and pick up the Apple Watch 6 for her, tonight, for the same price as the Apple Watch SE, thanks to the insane Prime Days sale that other companies glom onto, too.…

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Ted Lasso Season 2: Is it going to be…too cute?

Ted Lasso season 2 has unexpectedly huge shoes to fill. I have not been heartened by either of the two previews, which I think are veering too far into the cute end of the show’s tone. I loved the first season, and hope they can keep what make season 1 so engaging keep going. It wasn’t the cuteness of Ted’s cheery attitude. It was the overcoming of cynicism in everybody else that made it interesting.…

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The bad guy thinks he’s the good guy

One of the best lessons that literature has taught me is that the bad guy thinks he’s the good guy. In more abstract terms, the villain thinks she is the hero of her own story. That is what drives villains, and that is what makes them dangerous. Sometimes, as in real life, the villain may in fact be the hero of his own story, because the story as we know it isn’t over, and it isn’t about what we thought it was about.…

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I think this is the best Father’s Day I have ever had. I think the work I put into being a better dad has been paying off. I’m a little misty-eyed right now. 😀

As of right now, I am very glad that, twelve months ago, I bought the extra temples for my daughter’s eyeglasses. 😮‍💨

I don’t think my Father’s Day post made it to the M.B. timeline for some reason. Here it is.

Problems and questions: a Father’s Day post

I am teaching my daughter how to solve problems. Math problems. I find or think up challenging math problems for her (she is a third grader), and, to make them more fun, I rewrite them to include mention of her friends and family, favorite characters, and favorite things. We work through them together before bedtime. It’s fun, and we both get a lot out of it. I always close our math session by asking her a question.…

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Father's Day Blanket

I already know that one of my Father’s Day presents is a nice warm L.L. Bean blanket. It’s not because I’m old and need a nap. It’s for watching TV at night in the summer. To keep our upstairs anywhere near comfortable for sleeping, our central air has to work very hard. This makes our TV room, which is one of the lowest rooms in the house, absolutely freezing. My house has central air but we also have room air conditioners in two of the upstairs bedrooms because the central air is not enough to cool them.…

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It looks like someone stole my credit card info again. Fortunately, I was able to lock the account online to prevent more transactions. Unfortunately, the credit card company’s fraud center closed before the time stated on their website, and I couldn’t talk to anyone last night about what transactions I need to dispute. What kind of huge credit card company doesn’t have a call center running 24/7?

This is me showing up

Seth Godin says that everyone should have a blog. Moreover, everyone who has a blog should blog daily, primarily because it reinforces the idea that the important thing about it is to show up, every day, day after day, and actually do it. Well, this is showing up. I’m here. I’m thinking about how I can be better at everything I do. I’m trying to build myself up, brick by brick, after whatever the heck happened to me during the COVID-19 pandemic.…

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I hit a technical snag at work that is absolutely killing me right now. The first step in fixing it, I think, is to uninstall Microsoft Office 365. If only that were the last step, too!

The UIKit Date Picker 😠

Last night I became unreasonably upset that UIKit does not let me use an inline date picker (the date picker control that looks like a calendar) as an input view (i.e., in place of the software keyboard on the iPhone). There is some kind of maximum height of the input view/keyboard area, and the top of the date picker gets truncated. I tried a lot of ways to make it work, but I guess I’ll have to wrap it in a popover and have some “special cases” code paths in my view controller to make it work.…

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One of my heart’s dull aches is my memory of driving up the Maine coastline with my parents every year in my childhood. I did not always appreciate those trips back then, but they are etched into my mind indelibly. I just have to think about it and I can feel the cool breeze in my face, smell the salt air, and see the black rocks at the edge of the water and the glint of sun off the waves. I long to go back someday.

Pipeline Investigation Upends Idea That Bitcoin Is Untraceable

Nicole Perlroth, Erin Griffith and Katie Benner report, in The New York Times, on how the Justice Department traced and recouped a huge ransomware payment: Bitcoin is also traceable. While the digital currency can be created, moved and stored outside the purview of any government or financial institution, each payment is recorded in a permanent fixed ledger, called the blockchain. That means all Bitcoin transactions are out in the open.…

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I wish I could be more methodical at work, but my stupid, whimsical mood is hard to overcome. I get things done, but not always in the orderly way I had hoped.

We are going (in person) to a (real) birthday party today, for the first time in…oh, never mind. Anyway, my daughter is jumping up and down in excitement, and that’s what is important. 😀🎂

I’m installing the Xcode 13 beta on my new Mac mini and I’m installing iOS 15 developer beta 1 on my old iPad Pro. I will probably install iOS 15 on my old iPhone 7 Plus later this weekend. Because I upgraded hardware this year, I actually have old devices kicking around for pretty much the first time ever. All it took was spending a ton of money!

🎬 My wife and I had only time enough to watch the opening number in In the Heights so far. We absolutely loved it and can’t wait to watch more tonight.

This is turning out to be a terrible year for Apple device spending for my family. I had to buy my wife a replacement Apple Watch yesterday because the screen stopped working on her Series 3 and it is out of warranty. It is the fifth Apple device I have purchased this year. 💸

I had forgotten that Apple said Siri will operate on-device starting in iOS 15. Tom’s Guide says it is a killer feature. My biggest problem with Siri is the “Siri is not available” messages I get a lot of the time. Maybe that problem will go away for me.

🎬 I can’t get enough articles about the In the Heights movie. Vulture has a fascinating one about how the “96,000” pool scene was filmed.

Many People Have a Vivid ‘Mind’s Eye,’ While Others Have None at All

I have been following stories about aphantasia with interest because I am 99% sure I have it. Carl Zimmer reports in The New York Times: Dr. Adam Zeman didn’t give much thought to the mind’s eye until he met someone who didn’t have one. In 2005, the British neurologist saw a patient who said that a minor surgical procedure had taken away his ability to conjure images. Over the 16 years since that first patient, Dr.…

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📺 I am looking forward to watching Loki tonight or later this week. Truth be told, it is the Disney+ Marvel series I have been least looking forward to, but I am bored with TV right now, and think it will be fun.

I have been listening to Apple Music’s “Made for Spatial Audio” tracks all morning with my external DAC and my closed-back planar magnetic headphones. So far, I have decided that I prefer the lossless stereo mixes to the Dolby Atmos mixes. I guess I prefer a narrower soundstage.

I am appreciating the lossless tracks on Apple Music. I probably don’t have the ears to actually hear the difference anymore. But my equipment is good enough to make use of the extra bits, I am listening more closely than usual, and I am enjoying it.

You can change the Windows 10 mouse cursor color?!

I discovered today that Windows 10 lets you change your mouse cursor’s color as well as its size. You have been able to change the mouse cursor set to a different one since Windows 3, I think, which would allow you to switch the color in a different, less flexible way. This feature is different. I now have a slightly larger, bright-yellow-with-black-outline mouse cursor on my huge 4K monitor. It is much easier to spot when I am returning to my desk after a break.…

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🔥 Climate change 🔥

My region’s climate has changed significantly in my lifetime, and, seemingly to me, more quickly than before in the past ten years. It is dismaying. Here are some of my observations of it from this week: It has been over 90ºF every day since late last week, and it is only early June. Ninety degrees is not just hot for June here: it is hot for summer. My daughter’s elementary school has two early release days in a row this week, due to excessive heat.…

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Oh, cool: Apple Music’s lossless audio quality tier is now live. Check out iOS Settings > Music to turn it on.

Huh. No new hardware was announced at WWDC. I can’t wait to hear hot takes about that all this week and next on my nerd podcasts.

I’m looking forward to watching WWDC while thinking about the last virtual conference I attended, last week.

🎬 My daughter and I watched Raya and the Last Dragon this afternoon, partly because it is too hot to play outside. We really liked it.

🎬 I rewatched Wall-E today with my daughter and enjoyed it even more than the first time I saw it.

I have one hour to work on important stuff right now, and here I am, looking at my timeline instead. 🤦‍♂️

It’s my third day of attending a virtual conference. I have seen too many presentations in a row, and consequently my mind is now a blur. My biggest takeaway is that presenters often lack focus, which causes them to run out of time before they get to the most critical points.

I am feeling much better about the slide deck I am creating for a data calls talk that I and my team will present this summer. I soaked up presentation after presentation for the past month, and put a lot of it into practice today without even having to think about it.

We had a one-second power outage in my neighborhood two nights in a row, after 11:00 PM. I can’t figure out why.

I have been attending a virtual conference most of the day today. Technically, today is the pre-conference training workshop/training day. So far, it is pretty good and I am learning something.

Boycott all the sports press conferences!

I am sympathetic to Naomi Osaka’s mental health-based arguments for skipping press events during the French Open. I am also sympathetic to the French Open’s argument that participation in these press events is a mandatory part of her contract. While I am more sympathetic to Osaka’s position, I think we should all end the charade of bringing up an athlete in front of a media panel to answer for her poor performance or to gloat about her good performance in a match.…

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🎮 I started another run at Hollow Knight after quite a while away from it. I have missed a step or two… 😅

‘60s pop like The Four Seasons sounds great from the tiny, terrible, mono Amazon Echo speaker in my kitchen. The music must have been mixed with transistor radios in mind.

I’m spending this rainy morning listening to jazz and reading The New Yorker.

Burnout: Modern Affliction or Human Condition?

I enjoyed Jill Lepore’s recent article on burnout in The New Yorker: Burnout is a combat metaphor. In the conditions of late capitalism, from the Reagan era forward, work, for many people, has come to feel like a battlefield, and daily life, including politics and life online, like yet more slaughter. People across all walks of life—rich and poor, young and old, caretakers and the cared for, the faithful and the faithless—really are worn down, wiped out, threadbare, on edge, battered, and battle-scarred.…

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🎮 I have been very much into playing Good Sudoku again lately. I am trying to master its Pro level, where the puzzles start to get very tricky. I am trying to learn how to spot the Y-wing pattern, but still need to resort to hints quite a lot to find them in the grid.

Today was a good day because I got to spend all morning outside with my kids, and because the family all shared a nice meal together in the evening.

Republicans Block Independent Commission on Jan. 6 Riot. It’s shameful. I don’t think we need an independent commission to know and understand what happened, though. It is no secret what happened. It is no secret what went wrong. Everybody knows who is responsible.

Micro Camp sounds like it will be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I’ll be traveling during it, so I won’t be able to attend.

I am on Zyrtec, so I don’t get many allergy symptoms anymore, but I think this is the longest and the worst allergy season in many years. I read somewhere, years ago, that climate change leads to increased pollen levels, and I believe it.

I have the day off to spend with the kids today. 😀

The washing machine is installed and running an empty load as a test. After that, it will be deluged with all the laundry that has piled up since our old machine broke. I feel sorry for it.

I am waiting for a new washing machine to be delivered to my house. Let’s just say that my family really needs it ASAP. 😂

I don’t drink that much coffee each day, but I missed my afternoon caffeine dose yesterday and felt completely awful until I had a coffee at dinner time. It was scary! Now I’m looking into strategies to reduce my dependence on caffeine.

🎵 I love the new Bleachers single “Stop Making this Hurt.”

I just learned that I get Friday off as a “bonus holiday” before Memorial Day. Now my schedule is in sync with the rest of my family’s, which is fantastic. I look forward to letting them know at dinner tonight. 😀

I actually achieved all my objectives at work this week. I am still floored by that! 😅

It is starting to get hot outside and it is not even June yet.

Apple support came through for me again this evening. I brought in my iPad Air 4, which appeared to have a faulty region in the screen (it was really minor, but I thought it would get worse over time), and came home with a brand new iPad.

Plasticity of Mind, or Lack Thereof

This week, I programmed for many, many hours. Often when I do this, while I wait for builds to complete or unit tests to execute, I pick up my Rubik’s Cube and solve it (or scramble it, if it is already solved). For the past three days, I could not solve my Rubik’s Cube anymore. I couldn’t remember how to do it, and I kept making mistakes even in the earlier portions of my solve.…

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Lossless Music Discussion on ATP Podcast

The latest episode of Accidental Tech Podcast has a great discussion about lossless music, which is coming to Apple Music next month.…

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I am a little too excited to be getting Office 365 installed on my work laptop tomorrow. I have been on Office 2016 for so long it is absurd.

I am going to try to not do any programming today. It has been a huge part of my job lately, and I enjoy getting in the zone when I do it, but it has taken a toll on my body. I have spent way too much time typing, and I feel it in my wrists, forearms, and even my shoulders.

This morning I decided to add one more feature to the app I’m developing for work. Twelve hours of coding later, I have rewritten the entire app, and am just now getting to test if that one new feature is working right. 😅

Google wants to build a useful quantum computer by 2029. If it does, I’m sure it will cancel the project by 2030.

I look forward to reading the 2021 M1 iMac reviews later, even though I will likely never buy that computer. It’s the sort of thing I would want if my family were structured more around, say, a central computing location in the family room or something. We all have iPads instead.

WebEx has virtual backgrounds?!

A software update at work pushed out the virtual backgrounds feature for WebEx. Since my home office—at least the part of it that is behind me and not under my control— is a mess, I enabled it. Sadly, it looks pretty awful. The background mostly leaves a halo around me un-obscured; sometimes it clips portions of my face or shoulder off. I have a very high-end laptop and a “very good” Logitech webcam (all webcams are terrible, I think), so I have concluded that WebEx’s technology is way behind Zoom’s, which does the virtual backgrounds flawlessly.…

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I’m up late coding. I have been up late coding many nights in a row now. I’m trying to get some of my projects completed (as much as software can be completed). I feel like I am inching uphill day after day. It’s not a bad feeling, though. I feel peculiarly tenacious lately.

I did not have to wait long for the Apple Music announcement to drop.

Apple Music can release its rumored lossless tier any minute now. I’m waiting with my best headphones. I don’t care at all about spatial audio or Dolby Atmos, though, so I hope that isn’t the only kind of thing coming.


Phew! I finally fixed a bug that bedeviled me for days. (Well, nights, because it is in my hobby project.) The fix was adding two lines of very basic code to a function that hasn’t been touched in years. I think the Swift compiler changed something about implicit protocol compliance, and it caused the function to stop processing the intended read/write logic for one of my protocol data types. I’m rewriting that library to not need that function anymore, and must code some better tests for it than I did before.…

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My daughter and I made some flower cookies to celebrate the lovely spring day.

Is a higher-quality Apple Music tier on the way?

I hope so. I am a sucker for lossless codecs, even though I probably can’t hear the difference between them and AAC-256.…

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Apple is Poised to Lose its Antitrust Battle

I think that Apple is going to lose whatever antitrust cases are eventually brought against it in the EU and in the US. I don’t actually think Apple should lose, because I don’t think it is correct to call Apple a monopoly. The general antitrust argument against Apple is that its App Store platform is too locked down, and that is unfair because Apple is a monopoly (insert eye roll here) of its own platform.…

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I have been using SQL for 25 years and I just learned today that SELECT [...] FROM Table1, Table2 is called a “cross join” an can also be expressed as SELECT [...] FROM Table1 CROSS JOIN Table2. 🤦 In my defense, I must say that I have only had to use a cross join a few times in my entire career.

I unblocked earlier this week because the domain keeps coming up in tech question-related search results. After only a few days, I’m back looking at mechanical keyboards and expensive headphones on Reddit like an addict. I just blocked the domain again.

⌨️ Durgod Zeus Engine Upgrade

To my complete surprise, I discovered today that Durgod released an update to their keyboard configuration: Durgod Zeus Engine. The interface looks a lot better, and it is a little easier to use. They didn’t change the keyboard hardware driver to support function layers, which is unfortunately. I really want that. (Honestly, what I want is the ObinsKit software that powers the Anne Pro 2 to apply work on it.)…

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Report: Apple’s M2 chips may launch as soon as July 2021

Napier Lopez reports in The Next Web: Apple only just released its new iMacs featuring the acclaimed M1 ARM-based processor, but according to a report from Nikkei, the company plans to launch M2 as soon as July. I don’t know anything in particular about Apple’s plans, but it seems crazy to me to expect a faster chip at this time. What I would expect is more I/O, driven by more cores and supported by more RAM.…

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I am very conservative about cities re-opening too soon, considering the pandemic has not ended. But NYC reopening on July 1 almost seems reasonable to me. Time will tell.

🎵 I’m going to lean into my New Jersey-ness today and listen to a ton of Bruce Springsteen. First album up: The Wild, The Innocent, & the E Street Shuffle. This is one of Springsteen’s records that I never think to listen to, but, of course, it’s great. It was made back when Springsteen still wrote songs with a torrent of stream-of-consciousness-style lyrics like a verbose street poet.

I did really well at my presentation today. Practicing over and over definitely paid off. The talk I ended up with was almost completely different than the one I started with, even though my slideshow stayed the same.

Microsoft is changing the default Office font and wants your help to pick a new one

Per Tom Warren In The Verge: Microsoft is changing its default Office font next year and wants everyone to help pick the new default. While there are more than 700 font options in Word, Microsoft has commissioned five new custom fonts for Office, in a move away from the Calibri font that has been the default in Microsoft Office for nearly 15 years. I am unusually attached to Calibri so I am not looking forward to this change.…

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I’m rehearsing for an online presentation to my entire company later this morning. I feel good about this one.

🎵 I think it is cool that Counting Crows is releasing a new album next month. It has been seven years since their last one, and I honestly thought they had given up writing new material.

I’ve been coding a lot over the past week. I’m coding right now. I’m taking the core of my iOS and macOS apps and putting into a cross-platform Swift package. It’s been a fun excursion from doing UI work, but it has a purpose. I am dismayed, however, at how buggy Xcode 12.4 is. I can’t create a new file and rename it in the sidebar without trying to rename another file first. Also, automatic protocol compliance only sometimes works. Does anybody at Apple actually use Xcode, because little bugs like these should not be in there anymore.

Laughably, for no good reason, seeing a bunch of bad takes on new Apple products last week sapped my will to share, well, anything on my blog for many days. 😅 I’m trying to get back to normal now.

The Sequence 🎮

Yesterday I decided to re-play a game I loved a few years ago called [The Sequence]. It is a puzzle game where you, essentially, build a machine with various component parts to move a ball (well, the game calls it a “binary cell”) from one part of the screen to another. It sounds simple, and it starts out fairly simple, but it becomes very challenging as you progress. It’s the sort of game a programmer, or anyone who enjoyed Human Resource Machine would enjoy.…

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Fez 🎮

I am delighted that I discovered a video game that is new to the Nintendo Switch, but not at all new to the world, called Fez. This is the game’s official blurb: Gomez is a 2D creature living in a 2D world. Or is he? When the existence of a mysterious 3rd dimension is revealed to him, Gomez is sent out on a journey that will take him to the very end of time and space.…

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The shooting likely lasted one or two minutes.

I am unsettled today by yet another mass shooting in my country. It seems like not a day goes by without a New York Times news alert about it. (I plan to turn those alerts off after I finish writing this.) This time, a gunman killed seven people, then himself. This detail about the story jumped out at me: “The shooting likely lasted one or two minutes.” I think the news media covers mass shootings like they are exciting, like some kind of action movie where bad outcomes only happen to the extras, and the rest of us get to watch.…

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iPhone 13 mini could be the last 'mini' iPhone, says Kuo

Stephen Warwick reports in iMore: Kuo says that next year Apple will drop the 5.4-inch model and run with two 6.1-inch models instead, one Pro, one regular. This rumor is a prime reason I upgraded to the iPhone 12 mini early this year. I absolutely love the size and weight of it. It fits better in my hands and in my pockets than my iPhone 7 Plus ever did.…

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My First NuGet Package

Last night, I published my first NuGet package: TodoTxt.Library. It is a code library meant to help develop todo.txt applications in .NET. I wrote the code back in 2015, open-sourced it on GitHub, but otherwise left it alone because I had moved on to more macOS and iOS development by that time. This week, I upgraded the code base work on .NET 5, so that it is cross platform (rather than Windows-only, as was my original version), and figured out how to package it and upload it to NuGet, where it may have a shot at actually being used.…

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I filed my taxes and now I can spend my after-work time on more productive things again.

Microsoft announces Surface Laptop 4 with choice of Intel or AMD processors

Tom Warren’s article on The Verge caught my eye: Microsoft is refreshing its Surface lineup with the Surface Laptop 4 today, which now offers the choice between AMD or Intel processors across both the 13.5- and 15-inch models. Both sizes will ship with Intel’s latest 11th Gen processors or AMD’s Ryzen 4000 series processors. Microsoft is shipping its Surface Laptop 4 on April 15th in the US, Canada, and Japan, starting at $999 for the AMD model and $1,299 for the Intel version — a $300 price gap between the pair.…

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Siri Reveals Apple Event Planned for Tuesday, April 20

I’m assuming that somebody’s job, every day, is to wake up in the morning and ask Siri “When is the next Apple Event?” I’m glad I didn’t try to change careers back in 2009 or 2011 (when I thought of it) and get into tech journalism.…

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I spent some time tonight working on my tax filing, and some time learning how to create and publish NuGet packages. I want to package up one of my .NET libraries soon. I think it will be a fun, short project—unlike filing my taxes!

I never would have predicted that in 2021 I would be using a text-mode file manager from the 1990s, a command-line based to-do list program, and, at least sometimes (by choice!), the Vim text editor.

Tonight I published a huge update to the website for my first iOS app: SwiftoDo. What was once a one page site with a very outdated template is now a Hugo-based site full of information. There is a lot more that I could add, it is now so much better than my old site I had to publish it.

I have been up way too late for the past three nights, because I am working on a website. I bet a lot of micro-bloggers can relate. 😀

James Hoffman’s AeroPress video

Last year when I was looking for something soothing to watch on YouTube, I came across James Hoffmann’s many videos about coffee, coffee machines, coffee products, and so on. I have watched a ton of them, mostly because I like his voice and demeanor. His latest video is about the AeroPress, which I have used for many, many years. I actually learned something new from it: People use the funnel, which is meant to help put your coffee grounds into the press without making a mess, to brew coffee into cups with mouths too small for the bottom of the AeroPress.…

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Linux on the M1 Mac Mini

The Linux kernel is gaining Apple M1 support. I have been wondering if, years from now, I can move my M1 Mac Mini to a home app-server role, running Linux, when it gets too old for Xcode and stops getting macOS updates. I have a Celeron based PC doing that for me now, but it runs hot and can be noisy, too. If a machine can run Linux, it extends its lifespan considerably for me.…

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Relearning how to type without arrow keys

Yesterday I turned off the tap layer on my Anne Pro 2 keyboard which is basically only for using Fn, Fn2. right-Ctrl, and right Swift keys as arrow keys. (The keyboard does not have dedicated arrow keys.) I did this because I think the tap layer causes me a lot of problems, like the cursor moving up a line when I just meant to press the Shift key for its normal function.…

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I both wish that I could give up coffee and that I could drink twelve cups of it a day. 🤷‍♂️

My (first) failed attempt to flash QMK on my mechanical keyboard

I wasted an hour last night trying to install QMK firmware on my work computer’s mechanical keyboard, a Durgod Taurus K320. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love that it has the best build quality, rigidity, stabilization, keycaps, and typing feel and sound of any of the many (many!) keyboards I have owned over the years. I hate that its software is buggy: so buggy that sometimes the keyboard hangs and I have to unplug it to fix it; so buggy that I have to plug it in directly to my laptop rather than through a USB hub; so buggy that that I cannot program its layers the way I want to.…

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🎵 I’m listening to Gaslighter by The Chicks again today. It is one of my favorite albums of 2020. Everything is great about it, from the catchy choruses to the close harmonies to the clean production. My favorite part of it is the songwriting, which is fueled with righteous anger and makes for compelling country-pop music.

Today I discovered that there is an open-source community creating a modern GUI file manager for Windows. It’s called Files and it is OK and seems to be heading in the right direction. It is a shame that Microsoft essentially abandoned feature development for their file explorer many years ago.

We are getting ready to go to the zoo today. It will be our first post-pandemic outing as a family that isn’t to a local park. I’m looking forward to it, and think it will be safe for us because we will be outside pretty much the entire time.

Today I made the mistake to look up someone I knew while I was in high school. I was reading an article about illegal drugs, and thought about a high school friend’s younger brother who ran into some drug problems about 20 years ago. Sadly, I discovered that he died last year. I can only conjecture, but it seems, based on what else happened to him over the past few years, that drug problems led to his premature death. Learning about what happened to him made me very sad.

Apple Arcade just got a huge update of new games, including some mobile classics

As reported by Andrew Webster in The Verge: Apple’s gaming subscription service just got a massive influx of new titles. The headliner is Fantasian — the latest release from the creator of Final Fantasy — which is joined by other titles like new versions of NBA 2K and The Oregon Trail, and World of Demons from PlatinumGames. As part of the update, the service is getting two new categories of games: Apple calls them “Timeless Classics” and “App Store Greats.…

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Fully vaccinated people may travel, CDC says

As reported by Lena H. Sun and Lori Aratani in The Washington Post: Federal health officials gave the green light Friday for fully vaccinated people to resume travel as an estimated 100 million Americans have had at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, and evidence mounts of the shots’ effectiveness. That’s good news, but it doesn’t make me want to go out and travel by plane or train anytime soon.…

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⚾️ For the first time in over a year I have a baseball game on in the background as I work. I hope to get by the with MLB “free game of the day” offering this year, rather than paying to subscribe to the season package. There was no free game for the season opener yesterday, though, so I’m watching a spring training game.

Today I was very happy to find a command line todo.txt app that works on Windows.

📺 The Sopranos

My wife and I started watching The Sopranos a few days ago, and we are hooked. Both of us watched the show sporadically while it first aired, but didn’t catch much of it. Back then, I subscribed to HBO only during free trials I received from switching cable providers after I moved, so you could imagine I didn’t catch that many episodes. Now we subscribed to HBO Max to watch something else, and are likely sticking with it for a long time now.…

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After a few evenings of work, I completed an update of my Simple Call Blocker app and submitted it to the App Store tonight. It feels good. Now I plan to start the revision of my other apps' website.

🎵 I’m enjoying the new album, Obviously, by Lake Street Dive. I think, though, that if I heard this album when I was a kid I would have hated it. My music tastes have broadened considerably since then.

After a few days of work, I just published my new, Hugo-based website for one of my iOS apps: Simple Call Blocker. The site is not as beautiful as I would have liked, but it is way better than it was, and now I have a framework I can use to add more content to it if I need to.

OpenAI’s text-generating system GPT-3 is now spewing out 4.5 billion words a day

James Vincent reports in The Verge: The best-known AI text-generator is OpenAI’s GPT-3, which the company recently announced is now being used in more than 300 different apps, by “tens of thousands” of developers, and producing 4.5 billion words per day. That’s a lot of robot verbiage. This may be an arbitrary milestone for OpenAI to celebrate, but it’s also a useful indicator of the growing scale, impact, and commercial potential of AI text generation.…

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One inexplicable thing I discovered today was that the git repo for one of my iOS apps did not have a working remote defined. It was pointing to a repo on BitBucket that doesn’t even exist any more. What the heck I have I been doing with it over the past couple of years?

I am putting the finishing touches on the website I am rebuilding with Hugo. I hope to go live with it sometime next week. I forgot how much work there is in building a website—even when you are not coding its theme.

Today was mostly about family time and the Passover Seder. It was a great day.

There is no perfect template—just pick one

I stayed up late last night drafting a new, Hugo-driven version of one of my websites. I went from having nothing at all built to having about one third of the site done in a couple hours. The result, I think, will be more plain (and maybe more ugly) than the existing site, but it will be less janky on mobile devices. I sank a lot of time over the past week looking for a Hugo theme that is perfect for my needs, but I couldn’t find one.…

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The organizational rabbit hole

This is a short, short version of what happened to me over the past week when I decided to get organized. Form a desire to organize my project files differently. Discover the Johnny Decimal system. Create a taxonomy for my files in a text file. Start writing PowerShell script to switch folders based on the Johnny Decimal number Start writing a PowerShell script to index all the Johnny Decimal numbers in my folder tree Think about working with files from the command line more often Install Midnight Commander for a command line file manager Learn a lot of Midnight Commander shortcuts and customizations Learn about Far Manager, which is a lot like Midnight Commander but works much better on Windows Run into keyboard shortcut conflicts with Windows Terminal Learn about assigning and removing keyboard shortcuts in Windows Terminal Start thinking about using todo.…

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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier 📺

I watched episode one of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier this week. It’s a show about two MCU characters I don’t particularly care that much about, so it wasn’t something I was really looking forward to, but I pay for Disney+ anyway and thought I may as well check it out. Reader, I liked it! My first impression is that it looks like it cost a zillion dollars. Special-effects-wise, it looks on par with the Marvel movies.…

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The menu key

I was thinking about creating a training presentation to help my coworkers with keyboards shortcuts, but was dismayed to see that our Lenovo laptop keyboards (which I never use, because I work from home and use external peripherals) don’t even have a menu key. Someone decided that Print Screen was more important, which may even be true, but it doesn’t help me make a good presentation for my coworkers. The menu key alternative, Shift+F10 is going to be a very hard sell, especially because F10 on the laptop requires the Fn key to be pressed, too.…

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🎵 “Canada’s Country”: I’ve been enjoying this laid-back playlist while I work. Honestly, I didn’t know Canada made country music. Unfortunately, there’s nothing particularly Canadian about it. It would be cool if there were.

People on LinkedIn still use a lot of #hashtags non-ironically. Who are they tagging content for?

Does anybody know if scheduled posts, posted from Ulysses, show up in the timeline? I think my 1:00 PM Eastern blog post did not show up in the timeline, but made it to my blog on time.

🎬 Zach Snyder’s Justice League

I was not I initially interested at all in the Snyder Cut of Justice League but I ended up watching it anyway, over two nights. I’m glad I did. I thought the theatrical release of Justice League was pretty bad, but not quite as bad as the professional movie review consensus was. I figured that the Snyder cut must be better, but I was surprised at how much better it is.…

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I have been using AutoHotKey for many years, and I never thought until today to map Windows+Q to quit the active app and close the active window. That creates something very similar to Mac’s Command+Q shortcut to Windows. The default Windows keyboard shortcut for quitting an app is Alt+F4, which is a two hand operation for me. Note that in AutoHotKey, you don’t even need to send that key command; you can use the WinClose function instead:…

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Intel invests $20 billion into new factories, will produce chips for other companies

Chiam Gartenberg reports in The Verge: At the company’s “Engineering the Future” announcement today, Gelsinger announced plans to outsource more of Intel’s chip production to third-party foundries; a $20 billion investment into two new fabs in Arizona; and a new branch of the company called Intel Foundry Services, which will see Intel’s foundries produce chips for other companies. Intel has had an awful decade, having missed out on smartphone chips and having stalled out at their 14nm process for years.…

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Seven mass shootings in seven days

Josh Berlinger of CNN reports today that the Colorado attack is the 7th mass shooting in 7 days in the US. It seemed like there were periods in recent years in which we had a deadly mass shooting in the national news at least every week, if not several times each week. There has been something of a pause due to COVID, for understandable reasons. Unfortunately, we seem to be un-pausing now.…

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🎧 on, and getting into the ⌨️ zone now. Maybe I shouldn’t have stayed up till 1:30 last night, but that’s what ☕️ is for, isn’t it? 😅

Ulysses and

It is amazing that Ulysses supports posting to now. I love the functionality, and its inclusion definitely cements Ulysses as my only writing app on iOS and macOS at this point. Now let’s bug the Ulysses team to do some other cool things: Implement publishing workflows, by which publishing a sheet can automatically trigger the sheet to be tagged with a keyword, be moved to a particular folder (such as “published”), or call an iOS Shortcut.…

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I have been feeling behind at work, even though I am probably no more behind in my work than anyone else I work with. It’s been a struggle the past few days. I think I am pulling out of it now, but I’ve had to work overtime to get here.

Regular Expressions App for macOS

I was bummed to find out that my favorite regular expressions editor for the Mac, Oyster, completely disappeared from the App Store (and it seems, the Internet). I wish I hadn’t deleted it from my old MacBook Pro, because RegEx is hard, even if you have used them off and on for decades. After failing to find something helpful for free, I had to buy another app (Patterns) which did the trick.…

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I deleted my LastPass account today. I have switched over to Bitwarden and love it.

CDC Says Schools Can Now Space Students 3 Feet Apart, Rather Than 6

As Anya Kamenetz, Cory Turner, and Allison Aubrey report on the NPR website today: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance for schools. On Friday, the agency announced it “now recommends that, with universal masking, students should maintain a distance of at least 3 feet in classroom settings.” Previously the guidance stated, “Physical distancing (at least 6 feet) should be maximized to the greatest extent possible.…

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🎵 I’m currently listening to Chemtrails over the Country Club by Lana Del Ray for the first time. I have been waiting for this one. Lana Del Ray is one of my favorite artists. It’s too soon for me to tell how much I like it.

Friday is time for Inbox Zero

I have been an Inbox Zero guy since the early 2000s. Now I can’t keep up with my email; it comes in too fast, and I actually have work to do that demands my attention. Consequently, my Inbox is almost never empty. Now, mostly on Fridays, I just select all my Inbox emails (Ctrl-A) and move them to my Archive folder (Ctrl-Shift-1 thanks to an Outlook Quick Step I created), whether I have processed them or not.…

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I am investing some time trying to see if I could implement a Johnny Decimal system for my files at work. Some of the constraints are tricky to deal with, but the general idea of it dovetails into what I have been doing for organization, and takes it one or two steps further.

Apple's new iPad Pro leaks ahead of rumored event

Corinne Reichert and Stephen Shankland report in CNET: Apple will launch a series of new iPads in April, a report Wednesday said. The new iPad Pros will come with Apple’s homemade M1 chips, a Thunderbolt port, and better cameras and screens, according to Bloomberg. They will reportedly come in 11- and 12.9-inch display sizes. That’s cool. Maybe I’m not a “Pro” but the iPad Air 4 is just about perfect for me.…

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Effective Presentations

When it comes to creating effective PowerPoint presentations for work, my reach still exceeds my grasp. I know a lot of important concepts, including the following: The slide deck is a visual aid, not the presentation Focus on one idea per slide Focus on very few visual elements/focus points per slide (e.g., five or six, maximum) Light text on a dark background is easier on the eye Unfortunately, when I try to apply those ideas, I feel like I’m not getting anywhere.…

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🎵 The Hold Steady’s latest album, Open Door Policy, is growing on me. I know reviewers love it, because it is a return to form, but I was hoping for something different. It’s hard to say, what, though. Something that’s a mix of fun and depressing, like my favorite Hold Steady lyrics, I guess.

Apple discontinues original HomePod, will focus on mini

Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch reports: Apple has discontinued its original HomePod after four years. It says that it will continue to produce and focus on the HomePod mini, introduced last year. I, like many audiophiles, passed on the original HomePod due to its high price and lack of connectivity. I’m sure I would have enjoyed how it sounded, and its size is just right for me, but I would likely have had to buy two of them to be fully satisfied (stereo separation is important to me).…

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The COVID-versary

I guess, based on the occurrence of a President Biden speech, that this week marks the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 in the United States. To me, the baleful presence of COVID-19 has been around for what feels like much, much longer—so long that I can’t even remember it clearly. My COVID panic started in early January, when we thought the disease was only in Wuhan. In America, for a couple weeks at least, it still seemed likely that the disease would never leave China, much like H1N1 and SARS never made a big impact here.…

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There was a brush fire yesterday not too far from where I live. Brush fires are incredibly rare where I live, so this is a curiosity to me. We have had dry, windy weather for about two weeks now, which makes wildfire conditions rife. My family was outside yesterday but fortunately we didn’t notice it; we must have been upwind.

I’m probably being a climate-change alarmist right now, but I think we have never had such frequent windstorms in New Jersey as we have had this winter.

I have been well this week, but not in the blogging mood. I am working on gaining momentum now on all my work projects and hope to get back to my personal projects—like programming—soon. I have been so into coding for work the past couple months that I haven’t even turned on my Mac mini (which I almost exclusively use for coding) in two weeks. (Shameful!!😅)

I am at a place where I am feeling more positive about the future (and specifically my future) than I have in quite a long time. I am not euphoric or anything—just hopeful. And I am trying to be more grateful, too, for my family, and for the opportunities I have now to do good things.

I am grateful that the weather has changed from snowy and blustery to warm and calm. I have been able to take a walk after my lunch break for two days in a row. It feels nice.

🎵 I loved all of the “Playlists from Visionary Women” that were front-and-center on Apple Music for International Women’s Day today. I’m glad they are still there today on the “Browse” page.

Aeterna Noctis

This game looks 100% like a Hollow Knight rip-off, but maybe it will be the best Hollow Knight rip-off there is. It seems to marry Hollow Knight environments, character movement, and platforming challenges to Castlevania character- and background design. As long as it doesn’t take in the Castlevania-style grinding, it could be very fun. The more Metroidvania games I play, the more I think that Hollow Knight is the best one ever.…

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🎬 I watched Frozen 2 again with my family today. We still could not really understand some of the workings of the plot. I do admire the music and the visual appearance of the movie even more than on my first viewing.

I really wanted an iMac Pro at one point. I was most excited about its cooling system, of all things, because promised to be inaudible. I’m sorry to see the product go, and am hopeful that it means M1-based iMacs are coming soon.

'This Is The Reality Of Black Girls': Inauguration Poet Says She Was Tailed By Guard

Matthew S. Schwartz reports for NPR: To millions of people around the world, the young poet Amanda Gorman represents hope, change and the promise of a better America. But to a security guard on Friday night, the young African American woman represented a potential threat to public safety. This is a sad story. My first thought was that Amanda Gorman could legitimately have been harmed in a situation like this.…

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Mermaid 🧜‍♀️ for flowcharts

Tonight I learned about Mermaid, which is a plaintext markup language and renderer for creating flowcharts and other kinds of diagrams. I want to make flowcharts quickly for my technical projects at work, but i don’t have Visio, and I hate fiddling with a GUI to line up shapes and worry about arrow lengths and so on. The way my mind works, I just want to type out what I want and have software figure out how to lay it out for me.…

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I realized today that part of my job is writing a short, really boring book about how I do my job. That, indeed, is the life of an auditor.

Ulysses invited me back into their beta testing program, and now I can test direct publishing to!

I’m setting up a new Celeron based mini PC. It came with Windows 10 Professional on it, which surprised me for such a low-end PC. Microsoft must be giving those licenses away now. Its fan spins up and for a second or two each time I do anything, which reminds me of the frequent hard disk chatter from my 90s and 00s PCs.

📺 Gen: Lock

I watched Gen:lock over the past week. I was disappointed that it introduced a premise-breaking plot development in the penultimate episode. My beef is 100% spoiler-y. The shows is a mecha anime. Its premise is that, in some future war in which big robots piloted by people fight each other, a new type of mech is developed that is remotely controlled by very rare, very special kind of person. That person must bind her mind to the mech through a lot of hand-wavey technology called gen:lock.…

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Jay-Z sells majority stake in Tidal music streaming service to Jack Dorsey's Square

Per Mark Sweeney in The Guardian: “Why would a music streaming company and a financial services company join forces?!,” Dorsey posted on Twitter, posing the obvious question as he announced the news. “It comes down to a simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work. New ideas are found at intersections, and we believe there is a compelling one between music and the economy.” This is great news if you’re Jay-Z.…

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The first time I heard the term “NFT” was yesterday, and I’m already sick of it.

I am grateful I received my COVID vaccine, but yesterday’s second dose has really knocked me for a loop today. 🤒

Google to Stop Selling Ads Based on Your Specific Web Browsing

Sam Schechner and Keach Hagey report in The Wall Street Journal: Google plans to stop selling ads based on individuals’ browsing across multiple websites, a change that could hasten upheaval in the digital advertising industry. I don’t even know what to make of this, unless it is a flex of Google’s monopoly power in search, maps, and video (YouTube). Who needs to track users across websites when every browser tab starts at or ends at a Google-owned website?…

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Neera Tanden is Biden’s first Cabinet-level nominee to withdraw

Ella Nilson at reports: But much of Tanden’s résumé was overshadowed by her proliferous online posting — at least 1,000 tweets raking both Republicans and leftist Democrats over the coals — that Tanden quietly started deleting in November 2020. I haven’t been following this story, but my interest was piqued when I learned that Neera Tanden’s nomination chances were in jeopardy because of her tweets from the past.…

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Today i will receive my second COVID-19 vaccine. I am excited to be so close to finished with the process.

Microsoft OneDrive iOS Files Integration 🙄

I just looked at the latest release notes (see picture). So that’s why I couldn’t save my files to OneDrive this week. 🤦‍♂️ I figured out a workaround, but was bamboozled for days why something that once worked now did not. OneDrive’s iOS Files integration was always pretty unreliable. Maybe after this feature pull Microsoft will finally fix it.…

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Having tons of meetings all the time is kind of killing my impulse to micro-blog. Perhaps it is because of all the social interaction I am getting at work, that I usually don’t.

Programming has got me pulling my hair out today. There seems to be no good way to do the simple things I want to do. I’ll have to pick a bad way and just deal with it.

Spotify’s new lossless tier isn’t enough to make me switch, but I would pay Apple more for lossless tracks on Apple Music. That makes me sound like a fanboy, but I was a Spotify subscriber before and like Apple Music more.

I have come to the conclusion that the best way to automate moving data around in Excel and formatting it, via Automation Anywhere, is by simulating keyboard shortcuts and putting delays in between them. I wish there was a slicker way, because it sure is fiddly.

The “projects” listed on my Hugo-based website are hyperlinks when I run it via hugo server but are not when I publish the site. Sadly, I have no idea how to fix it. Perhaps I have to try another theme.

I created a landing page for myself

I updated my home page/landing page using Hugo: I definitely don’t have the hang of using Hugo yet, but I’m learning. One thing that made me feel stupid is that I don’t know how to get rid of the “Blog” section that the template I’m using wants to include. In the interest of getting something that is not bare HTML published, I created some meaningless blog posts. The last time I used a static website publisher, I had to create my own themes from scratch.…

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Mo Willems and The Storytime All-Stars Present: Don't Let The Pigeon Do Storytime!

📺 My wife and i accidentally found the Mo Willems special, “Mo Willems and The Storytime All-Stars Present: Don’t Let The Pigeon Do Storytime!”, on HBO Max earlier this week. We watched it with our kids this afternoon, and we all loved it. It is so joyous and nutty and fun that we got sucked into it right away. Mo Willems is a treasure.…

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🎬 I enjoyed Pixar’s Soul quite a bit.

I installed Hugo a fifth time tonight. (Is this a record?) My network is being stupidly slow, and having all these little website files bouncing between three computers is causing latency problems in my text editor. Hugo is running on my mac Mini, and I found a way to do it that does not require homebrew to be installed.

It’s amazing how little I paid attention to the lyrics of OK Computer in the 1990s. It is way more depressing—and poetically expressive about it—than I knew back then. I will blame not having decent enough speakers or headphones to make them out clearly.

Apple reportedly plans March 16 event with new iPad Pro, iPad mini and AirTags. This is just a rumor at this point. The only Apple thing left for me to buy this year is AirTags—if they ever get released. I actually have been waiting for them eagerly. I want to get rid of my Tiles, mostly because their app got annoying, and partly because I bet Apple’s version would work better.

As if I didn’t already have enough to worry about, my county—which administered my first COVID-19 vaccine about two weeks ago—ran out of COVID vaccines due to delivery delays, and canceled almost a week’s worth of appointments. I hope my appointment early next month does not get canceled. I guess a lot depends on the weather.

Microsoft Excel Power Query—Who know all it could do?

This week, I have been watching educational videos on YouTube about Excel Power Query. My wife thinks it is insanely boring, but I am learning things that are going to be very useful at work. Power Query is a feature of Excel I have used sporadically for the last five years to pull data in from SQL Server. I recently discovered that I barely scratched the surface of what it can do.…

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I think we got a foot of snow today! It’s not as fun for us, though, now that school is virtual. The local schools used up all their planned snow days, so they just do online learning (and teaching) when it snows.

Bravely Default is a classic RPG series designed for lapsed fans

I’m a lapsed fan of RPGs in general. I wish I had time to play them. The demo of Bravely Default II is waiting for me on my Switch, and may be waiting for me forever.…

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I migrated from LastPass to Bitwarden’s $10/year plan last night. Bitwarden is equally unpolished as LastPass on the Mac, and seems on par with it, in the good way, on iOS. The switch gave me a good excuse to update my master password and to organize my mess of passwords into folders.

New Model M Is an American-Made Keyboard That Puts a Spring Back in Your Typing

I don’t want this, but it does resemble my first (or maybe second) PC keyboard. I didn’t know how good I had it back then. Clicky mechanical keyboards are the best.…

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I have been writing good meeting agendas for work lately so I don’t have to think so hard at meetings anymore. I hope it is appreciated.

Sennheiser says it’s open to selling its consumer audio business. This could be bad news for headphone audiophiles like me. Sennheiser sets the standard in many ways.

Living at the Office

Seth Godin: …many people are working from home–which is very stressful, because what it really means is: you’re living at the office… I love this quote. I have worked from home for many many years, and never expressed the situation so perfectly.…

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Do any micro.bloggers trust Bitwarden as their password vault? I’m a longtime LastPass user looking to jump ship. I am not sure about 1Password, but maybe I am being silly.


Trust relies on three things: Competence—can you do something well? Benevolence—are you doing good? Integrity—will you do the right thing, even when things are bad for you? I heard this breakdown on a podcast episode earlier this week, and loved the idea so much that I hastily dictated a note to Siri about it (I was in my car at the time), but I can’t recall which podcast I heard it on or who said it.…

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Trying to learn Hugo

I have been slowly teaching myself Hugo tonight. I haven’t gotten to the fun part yet, I guess. Due to incompatibilities with themes and, in the case of my first install, with the location where I want to store my site files, I had to install Hugo (on my Linux server) four different times now: via snap, apt, the “hugo” .deb package, and finally the “hugo extended” .dev package. I am finally at the point where I may have found a theme that is suitable for my personal site landing page.…

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Covid Vaccines for Kids Are Coming, but Not for Many Months

I wonder about when my kids can get Covid vaccines every day. What the New York Times reports today tracks with what I thought: late summer, at the very earliest.…

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📺 After a long work day, I finally caught up on “WandaVision.” It is weirdly delightful. I like to think that cast was having fun with its nutty premise.

For some reason, I really do not want to install homebrew, npm, or Hugo on my new Mac mini. I have bad, but completely unrelated, memories of completely borking (that’s a technical term) my prior Mac’s Python environment, homebrew install, command-line git install, and so on. Plus, I had planned on using the machine only for Xcode, Fork, Mail, Safari, and PDFScanner. So much for that, now that I want to refresh my websites.

Websites moved to Linode...mostly complete

I transferred all my websites, other than my hosted of course, to a single Linode instance. I set up nginx, fail2ban, and certbot from a bare Debian 10 install. I set up DNS to point 5 domain names to it, and got my email MX record set up properly on the firs try. I feel pretty good about it, mostly because I didn’t have trouble with the typical things: permissions, users, groups, etc.…

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My webhost got hacked and is going out of business. I can migrate my blog here, but I will need some cheap webhost for my four other low-traffic websites. Anyone know a good, cheap web host? I wish I knew of a good tutorial to get all of my sites with different URLs to be hosted on the same server.

I have been building tiny bots in Automation Anywhere this morning. It has taken me a little bit of time to figure out how to do what I want to do without resorting to writing a Python script—which I can do, but don’t want to do—but I am getting there. 😀💪

Boston Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia announces retirement from MLB

Joon Lee of ESPN reports: Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who hasn’t played since 2019 because of a knee injury suffered two seasons earlier, announced his retirement Monday. “Could it have ended better and I finished my career the right way? Yeah of course,” Pedroia said on a Zoom call with the media. “But there was a reason I was the first one dressed at 5:30 for a 7 o’clock game.…

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I found myself reading the Wikipedia entry for Groundhog Day this morning. I doubt I have time to watch it again anytime soon, but I may listen to the different-but-also-excellent Tim Minchin musical adaptation later.

NYU researchers find no evidence of anti-conservative bias on social media

Kim Lyons reports in The Verge: “The contention that social media as an industry censors conservatives is now, as we speak, becoming part of an even broader disinformation campaign from the right, that conservatives are being silenced all across American society,” the report’s lead researcher Paul Barrett said in an interview with The Verge. “This is the obvious post-Trump theme, we’re seeing it on Fox News, hearing it from Trump lieutenants, and I think it will continue indefinitely.…

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The winter storm in New Jersey today is more likely than not to delay my COVID vaccine appointment. It is snowing more than I ever expected to see again here, after the past 4-5 years.

I really like the simplicity of the Keysmith app, but I can’t find any use for it.

📺 Fullmetal Alchemist

While I have been working a ton lately, I can’t work every second of the day. I have been watching the “Fullmetal Alchemist” anime series (there are two), mostly late at night, to unwind. I watched the entirety of “Fullmetal Alchemist”—which is the first anime adaptation of the manga—first. Because it veers widely off of the plot of the manga (which, since I am not a manga reader, I don’t care about), it seems to be widely considered the lesser of the two adaptations.…

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📺 Little Voice

My wife and I recently discovered the Apple TV+ show “Little Voice” and very much enjoy it. It is different in pace and tone from other shows (like “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) that we have been watching lately. While there is a lot going on in each episode, the pace feels slow and thoughtful, as if the show is focused mainly on the growth of its characters and on illustrating (a version of) the New York City music scene.…

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I have been super, super, super busy today, and it just won’t stop. It looks like I’ll be working a lot of overtime…like right now. At least, once the kids go to bed, I can put my headphones back on and enjoy some music while I work.

The Business of Influenece with MKBHD

I found this fairly long interview on The Verge with Marques Brownlee (MKBHD on YouTube) to be very interesting: But what looks effortless and fun to the viewer is often the result of careful planning and investment. YouTubers are entrepreneurs, and Brownlee — my guest on today’s episode of Decoder — talks that talk with the best of them. Marques Brownlee could be described as “tech reviewer” or a “social media influencer” or a “YouTuber.…

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My name got mentioned three times on the all-team call at work today, which is three times more than usual. 😎

I don’t really want to criticize TapBots for making TweetBot version 6 a subscription app. I would like to highlight that $6.99/yr is a reasonable price to pay every year if you use an app every day. I wish more annual app subscriptions were below the $9.99 level.

The Covid-19 Vaccines Are Amazing. Let’s Quickly Get Them into People’s Arms.

Jason Kottke’s blog post offers some great advice that we all should heed: So what can you do about this right now? 1. Stop worrying about the variants until the experts let us know we have something to worry about. 2. If you are eligible for the vaccine, get it! 3. Spread the word about vaccine availability in your area. Yesterday Vermont opened signups for vaccination appointments for all Vermonters 75 and older, and I texted/emailed everyone I could think of who was over 75 or who had parents/relatives/friends who are over 75 to urge them to sign up or spread the word.…

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I wrote a support email to Ulysses last week inquiring about support. I got a response that said that it was on their “immediate roadmap” which is pretty exciting and still slightly mysterious.🤞

I can’t believe that Tom Brady is going back to the Super Bowl. Then again, it seems like the most normal thing.

New iPhone Day

After dithering on it for several weeks, I finally ordered a blue iPhone 12 mini late Friday night. I plan to keep it for the next four years, and also plan to keep using my iPhone 7 Plus as an occasional video player/video game player around the house. It was supposed to be delivered here on Tuesday, but it came late this morning—a couple days early. Strangely, I find myself not ready for it!…

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Children's books to read next

The following children’s books are on the docket for me to read aloud to my daughter: A Wrinkle in Time The Secret Garden Little Lord Fountleroy Pollyanna The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe That should keep me busy for the next few months or so. I wonder if the sequels to A Wrinkle in Time will be demanded immediately.…

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I have never watched an inauguration before, and don’t plan to today, though the rest of my family is very interested. My wife’s school has disallowed live-streaming it over Zoom due to its political nature. My employer sent an email warning people in the NYC office of potential demonstrations and unrest over it. What a messed up country and time to be alive.

This is old news, but I just discovered it this week. If you use Arq for backup on the Mac, you can email their support team for access to the next version, Arq 7, which (among other things) ditches the non-native interface in favor of a much simpler and much quicker native UI.

Note to self: just use rsync to sync files. Stop avoiding the terminal!

I’m doing the usual Monday morning brain boot-up sequence right now. I hear the hard drive platters grinding in my head. 😅

Today, I read the second-to-last chapter of A Little Princess to my daughter, and chose the next book I will read to her: A Wrinkle in Time. She is very excited.

2021 MacBook Pro will ditch the Touch Bar and bring back MagSafe, say reports. I don’t know about the Touch Bar disappearing, but I expect it to look a lot more like the iPad Pro, have 4 USB-C ports, and thinner bezels than the current models do.

COVID vaccine rollout in New Jersey is disorganized and haphazard. After a few days of nail-biting stress and uncertainty about it, I, and the other adults in my family, finally got appointments for our first dose, for about three weeks from now.

My cheap plastic iPhone 7 Plus case broke and now I want a new phone. 😠😳😢😅

A noisy server that I once again love

I spent about two hours last night trying to figure out if I can move my FreeNAS server, which constantly generates about 40 dB of fan noise white noise in my home office, to the basement, so that I can escape the noise. The problem I have is that there is nowhere else in my house where I can get a wired connection. I tried a wireless-to-ethernet bridging solution, and was super disappointed with how slow it was (40 mbps up/down).…

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Impeached twice. Not a good look. Let’s hope for the sake of the country that this is a one-time thing.

I haven’t had my M1 Mac mini for very long, and have only done a little Xcode work on it thus far, but I already love having a silent desktop that has tons of power. Since yesterday, I have mostly used that power merely to move tons and tons of gigabytes of data around my home network and to cloud storage, and everything has been rock solid and unnoticeable.

I have been very busy automating processes at work. I just got access to Automation Anywhere, which is a cool platform to build bots with. My practice with iOS Shortcuts in the past couple weeks is serving me well with its click, drag, and customize programming steps interface.

The House of Representatives is voting for impeachment along party lines so far, which is disappointing but not unexpected. Republicans don’t get it. It’s shameful.


On my M1 Mac mini, KensingtonWorks software somehow disables double-clicking on my Kensington Slimblade trackball. I can assign another button to perform a double-click, but it is hard not to double-click anyway, after doing so since the late 1980s. I found a third party mouse utility called SteerMouse that does a much better job than KensingtonWorks, and offers a lot more options. I’m not sure I want to spend $20 on it, but I do like all my mouse buttons to do something.…

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Record low flu cases show how COVID-19 is more contagious and 'less forgiving,' experts say

This article in USA Today confirms my suspicions that all the anti-COVID measures would drastically reduce the prevalence of seasonal flu in the U.S.: During the 2019 flu season from Sept. 29 to Dec. 28, the CDC reported more than 65,000 cases of influenza nationwide. During the same period last year, the agency reported 1,016 cases. I get a vaccine every year for the flu—and luckily have not caught it since I was in elementary school—but other than that, I never think about it.…

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🎵 I’m trying out PlexAmp again, and am listening to Herbie Hancock’s “Gershwin’s World” (in ALAC) which has been in my library for over twenty years and probably hasn’t been listened to since 2000.

My thought of the day, as I do my house tidying: Systems of human behavior break down when people stop putting energy into them.

I have been writing Amazon product reviews thousands of words long this evening, on products as mundane but important as insulated coffee mugs. Ten years ago I was pretty close to being ranked in top 1,000 Amazon reviewers, and was very close, but couldn’t quite crack it.

Barry Season 3 Delay Has Allowed Season 4 Scripts to be Finished Ahead of Schedule

Per Ethan Anderton on SlashFilm, quoting Bill Hader: “Right when the lockdown happened in March, we were a week away from shooting. So the last time I was in a room with a lot of people was the table read episodes one and two of season three, and we were ready to go. Then it all got shut down. Season three is completely written, ready to go, and then during this time we actually went and wrote season four.…

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I made the mistake today of turning off my home media server (HP N54L) for a few minutes to see how quiet my office is without its fan running. Now I can’t help but be annoyed by it. 😀

Music for Programming is definitely not for me, but I love the all-text site design.

Why did I get a webcam again? 😂

I just got a Logitech C920 webcam to use for video calls at work. Testing it out has shown me that (1) my office looks awful, and (2) I look awful. 😅 I thought the default webcam settings made me look like Emperor Palpatine, but an image search soon revealed that Emperor Palpatine looks much, much better than I do. 😂 I did find out how to adjust the white balance to make me look less cadaverous.…

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Pelosi, Schumer Join Chorus Of Calls For Invocation Of 25th Amendment Against Trump. I cosign. Swear in President Pence and swear him out in about two weeks when Biden is inaugurated.

When “American Carnage” is the Tone at the Top

I was having a pretty good day yesterday, full of minor but meaningful personal and professional accomplishments, and then all hell broke loose in Washington, DC. I pushed the news of it away as best I could, so I am less informed than I otherwise would be, but I am sad, angry, and ashamed nonetheless. Per Philip Rucker in The Washington Post: The “American carnage” that Donald Trump vowed to end at the dawn of his presidency was revived in terrifying, treacherous form at its sunset Wednesday, as Trump made a fiery last stand and incited his supporters to storm and sack the U.…

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I realized today that in, ACL, a scripting language I use at work, I have been using a mixture of PascalCase and snake_case (like this: Table_Name) that is the worst of both worlds in terms of typing difficulty. Fortunately, ACL is not case-sensitive.

It appears that the M1 Mac Mini I ordered is going to spend 8 hours today riding around on a delivery truck in an area only a couple miles from my house before it is delivered to me. That’s OK. I’m just excited to finally get it. My current Mac is almost 8 years old.

Neil Young and Jimmy Iovine sold part or all of their music catalog publishing rights to Hipgnosis. This closely follows Bob Dylan’s catalog sale to Universal Music Group. Strange things may be afoot in the music industry.

I posted my “Publish to” Scriptable script on the Automators forum to help share it with the people who are most interested in iOS automation.

I published a Scriptable script that lets you publish text posts to from any iOS text editor using the standard share sheet. I am excited to share it with the community. Maybe @jean or @manton would be kind enough to share it more widely than I can.

I have been using the Magnet app on my Mac for years now, and I still can’t remember any of the keyboard shortcuts for it.

I am working on a Scriptable script to publish to via iOS share sheets, so I don’t have to rely on Drafts for that purpose forever. I am preparing it for publication on GitHub, and am making too many changes to its variable names right now in the process. 😅

I submitted a small but vital bugfix to one of my iOS apps this evening. It feels good. 😀

I created a Siri Shortcut to send my daughter a “Word of the Day” email (which is based on a template I created) to help her build her vocabulary. It’s the first Shortcut I created that does something that’s actually useful!

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposes national lockdown on England to combat new Covid variant. Yes, we have vaccines now, but COVID-19 has mutated into a much more contagious strain. It feels as if the whole world is in a macabre race right now.

Microsoft planning ‘sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows. I use Windows for work at least 8 hours each weekday. The last thing I need is a “sweeping visual rejuvenation” of it.

Google workers announce plans to unionize. This is, potentially, a great development. I am curious to see how many computer engineers unionize. I know, if it were me, it would be a tough sell to pay 1% of my salary to a group without collective bargaining power, even though I strongly believe in unions.

Chipotle launches cauliflower rice nationwide as consumers cut grains from their diets. This is a good idea. Cauliflower rice can be very good, at least when it is not overcooked. Still, it probably won’t get me to go back to Chipotle ever again. 😅

Making pound cake in a bread machine does not result in the softest, most perfectly baked cake. Next time I will use the oven like I normally would. It was a fun experiment, though.

I am making poundcake in my new bread machine today just to see if it will work. 👨‍🍳

I’m back to late-night debugging: a nasty bug has gotten worse, not better, since I started compiling my app on the iOS 14 SDK. It’s not the best idea to wait until late at night to think really hard about a mind-bending problem, but that’s the only time I have to myself.

I’ve gotten to the point with my cooking that I always think that I have no idea what I am doing, but end up rejecting most recipes I find, and my dinners come out really good anyway.

My subscription is lapsing in two weeks. I think I will let it expire. I have been a member for five years, and in that time have used Pinboard, and bookmarks in general, less and less. I wish I had joined it back when it offered lifetime subscriptions.

🎬 Wonder Woman: 1984 was all kinds of just OK. I mostly enjoyed the set pieces but through the whole thing didn’t fit together that well. I would love a better-written, more cohesive adventure, if there is another sequel. Maybe team up Gal Godot and Linda Carter.

🎮 Ori and the Will of the Wisps is Great

I got a chance to play a few hours of Ori and the Will of the Wisps over the past couple days, and think it is absolutely amazing. While it definitely rehashes some of the same scenarios and story beats from the first game, the gameplay is actually significantly more complex and rewarding. I think I’m benefiting from my experience with the first game, which I played through twice, but I have found the sequel to be a little more forgiving in its difficulty.…

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Merry Christmas

I have been busy with family most of the time the past few days, mostly doing Christmas-y things. I barely celebrate Christmas any more, mostly because my wife and kids are Jewish and I have a complicated relationship with Christmas. (Couldn’t we just celebrate Saturnalia or something instead?) This year, I found some Christmas music I actually like (the “Jazz Christmas” playlist on Apple Music, plus “Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas” and Nat King Cole’s “Christmas Music.…

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His Dark Materials Renewed for a Third Season on HBO and BBC

“His Dark Materials” is another “limited” series that has been reviewed for its third and final season. It is based on a three-book series, so three seasons of TV adaption makes perfect sense. I hope that more book-to-one-season-of-television adaptations are made going forward, because it offers more time to tell the story than a 2-hour movie, but not too much time, like an open-ended TV series adaptation would. While it is not my favorite show on TV right now, it is up there.…

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How can there be no emoji for “idiot?" 🤯

Ted Lasso Likely to End After Season 3

Per Russ Burlingame on “Ted Lasso is a three-season show. After the third season, I will desperately try to get Mr. Sudeikis to do a…” Lawrence started, and then he stopped to rephrase. “The only way I think a fourth season of Ted Lasso exists would be if TL went and coached a soccer team that played about a block from Jason’s house in real life, you know what I mean?…

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Last night I started playing Ori and the Will of the Wisps on the Switch. I only had about 15 minutes, so I barely got into gameplay, but I was floored by how beautiful the game is. The beginning is like watching an animated movie.

I like Reeder 5, but I have been dissatisfied with feed syncing over iCloud for the past few days. The feed lists and unread posts have not been keeping in sync between my iPhone and iPad. I can’t be the only one experiencing this. Hopefully the developer will sort it out.

Netflix and Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate agree to dismiss lawsuit over Sherlock Holmes’ emotions

From Adi Robertson in The Verge: The Enola Holmes case hinged on Sherlock Holmes’ complicated copyright status. Most Holmes stories sit in the public domain, and stories like Enola Holmes — which reimagines Holmes (played by Henry Cavill) having a younger sister — can freely repurpose their elements. But 10 of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories are still protected by copyright, and the Doyle estate argued that they depict a meaningfully different version of the character.…

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I am taking a Robotic Process Automation online course for work today. Maybe, after I complete it, I will create a bot to take the rest of the courses for me.

Switch games to play next year

I took advantage of the Nintendo eShop sales this week to buy a bunch of games, at varying discounts, to play in the new year: Ori and the Will of the Wisps Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Horace Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom This strategy has worked out pretty well for me the past couple years, though it does mean that some games remain unplayed for months.…

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I started getting emails that frontline medical workers in my area have already received the COVID-19 vaccine. That is reassuring. Based on how the year has been going, I expected controversy and uproar already.

Boba Fett show heading to Disney Plus in 2021

From Julia Alexander in The Verge: The show, The Book of Boba Fett, was not included as an announcement during Disney’s big investor day last week. Several other Star Wars projects, including two Mandalorian spinoffs — an Ahsoka Tano show and Rangers of the New Republic — a Lando Calrissian show, and a Star Wars anime, were announced last week. I can’t help but think that Disney may be planning to give fans too much of a good thing.…

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I was right to be concerned about snow removal, because our snow plow guy just quit and passed us off to someone else who hasn’t called me yet. It will be dark out in about half an hour, too.

Eric Lander, who is a genius brimming with charisma, is probably the best Armchair Expert podcast guest ever. Listen if you have any interest in the Human Genome Project, which he helped lead.

🎮 I am happy to see that Hades is getting some “game of the year” nods, from Polygon and from Chiam Gartenberg of The Verge. It is easily my favorite game since Hollow Knight.

I woke up to a decent amount of snowfall, which totally surprised me. I am unsure how we are going to clear it off our driveway and sidewalks, though.

I finally got an Apple TV+ free trial. 😎

The snowstorm started and my kids are excited.

Chris Welch’s AirPods Max review asks the question “Apple still doesn’t offer a lossless tier, and I have to ask, if not now, when?” I don’t think Apple is ever going to offer lossless audio, mostly because 256-kbps AAC really is good enough for most listeners.

The local news is predicting 6-8 inches of snow today in my area. Dark Sky is predicting about an inch, plus some rain. 🤷‍♂️ We’ll see, I guess.

Got the new iPad 4 and bought Reeder 5 to use on it!

A robotic kitchen for rich people is kind of a cool idea, I guess, but the setup looks pretty scary. If robots can cook, where will that leave restaurant cooks in 20 years or so, when the technology gets cheaper?

I am eagerly awaiting for the shipment of a new iPad Air 4 today.

Live: Here Are the Electoral College Results, By State. Why on earth would I want to track this live?

I took a required course in ethics this morning, and wish I could have just watched a few episodes of “The Good Place” instead.

Taylor Swift to Release New Album, ‘Evermore,’ Tonight. 👀 I guess if there’s no new Bleachers album this year I can be happy about this, which sounds like it’s “Folklore” part 2.

First impressions of the Apple AirPods Max are starting to trickle in. I am looking forward to reviews that speak more to the sound quality and less about the impractical case.

Democrats Want To Bring Earmarks Back As Way To Break Gridlock In Congress

Per Susan Davis on NPR: When earmarks were a regular feature of congressional business, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said Democrats and Republicans were able to cut more deals and pass more bills with bipartisan support. This sounds like a bad idea at first, but it probably is actually a good one. Congress can’t pass meaningful legislation anymore, in part because there is almost no bipartisan agreement on important bills.…

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Apple announces $549 AirPods Max noise-canceling headphones, coming December 15th.

Wow. Apple’s “December surprise” actually happened: By moving into the premium headphones space, Apple will directly compete with brands like Bose, Sony, Sennheiser, AKG, Bowers and Wilkins, and others that have years of experience and a long list of products between them. Apple is going higher than just about all of them on price, but the company is riding the momentum of the AirPods and AirPods Pro, which have dominated the true wireless earbuds market.…

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When I was a kid, I was fascinated by Chuck Yeager and by test pilots in general. I did not know he lived to see 2020. Rest in peace.

🎵 Today’s listen: “Everything Will Change” by The Postal Service. It’s the remastered audio part of a filmed concert from 2013. Sadly, it isn’t new music, but it’s fun to hear the band play live.

It could just be end-of-the-year malaise, but I have given up on Inbox Zero. I will probably just declare email bankruptcy on January 1 and archive or delete everything in one fell swoop.

I would have thought that Bob Dylan’s entire song catalog, which he sold to Universal Music Group, would be worth more than $300 million. After all, that was the going rate for Taylor Swift’s much smaller one.

I’ve become so accustomed to global warming that I now expect December temperatures to be 40-50ºF and a sub-freezing day like today feels unusual.

🎵 Today’s listen: “My Woman” by Angel Olsen. I am a huge fan of her newer album, “All Mirrors”, so I decided to listen to her prior album. It’s pretty good, and has a strong finish, but it is not as compelling to me as “All Mirrors” is.

After about eight years of service, the right-click button on my trackball just stopped registering clicks. I guess the switch is broken. Luckily, there are two other buttons I can use, so I remapped right-click to one of the buttons on the top. I hope I can get used to it.

I enrolled in the Apple Small Business program today. I am grateful for it, even though I am among the smallest of the small developers on the platform.

Puerto Rico: Iconic Arecibo Observatory telescope collapses. I’m sad to see this observatory damaged so badly. It loomed large in my imagination as a child, mostly from magazine articles and SETI, and then the movie “Contact.”

The podcast landscape is changing apace. Spotify seems to be doing well with its exclusive podcasts and its various podcast network acquisitions. I’m of the opinion that their exclusive podcasts are, essentially, _not _podcasts, because I can’t listen to them in my preferred app, Overcast.

Apple Names App of the Year Winners. I guess this is important. I haven’t bought an app for myself all year (on iOS at least), though I am still paying for my Ulysses and Overcast subscriptions.

🎵 Some good news for fans like me: The Hold Steady Announce New Album, Share New Song.

I have blocked at the DNS level because I can’t stop wasting time there. 😒 Now that I don’t need headphones or mechanical keyboards, I really should stop checking them out, and then getting lost in memes and other internet detritus.

WTF Happened in 1971? I heard about this site, which is full of scary economic charts, on TWIT. Apparently, the year 1971 is a major inflection point in the trajectory of the American economy.

🎵 I found a new Bleachers single today, featuring Bruce Springsteen. I was hoping for a new album this year, but this will have to do for now.

I probably shouldn’t have baked this tonight, but I’m glad I did.

The Taylor Swift “folklore: the long pond studio sessions” film on Disney+ is phenomenal.

I’m happy my work week is over, and I’m looking forward to desserts tomorrow.

This metal monolith in Red Rocks is quite an expensive, and bland-looking, prank.

I’m weirdly not into Thanksgiving this year. I don’t even want to bake a pie (I love pie—usually). I really want brownies instead. And I want lasagna instead of turkey—but I won’t get my way with that, I’m afraid.

Elon Musk is now world’s second-richest person, as net worth has grown more than $100 billion this year

That Elon Musk’s wealth grew by $100 billion this year is super alarming to me.…

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Jeopardy! will start filming new episodes with Ken Jennings as interim host

Who else but Ken Jennings could possibly take the helm?.…

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I Lived Through A Stupid Coup. America Is Having One Now

Indi Samarajiva compares Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his loss of the election with a coup she lived through in Sri Lanka: The coup was a farce at the time but how soon it turned to tragedy. They called it a constitutional crisis, but how soon it became a real one. Right now, the same thing is happening to you. I’m trying to warn you America. It seems stupid now, but the consequences are not.…

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iJustine’s M1 Macs review video is absolutely hilarious.

I find, the more I work with git, the less good I seem to be at it! Yes, this seems to be the Dunning–Kruger Effect in action.

‘Reach Out to Trump Supporters,’ They Said. I Tried.

Wajahat Ali, writing an op-ed in the New York Times, has given up on Trump supporters: We cannot help people who refuse to help themselves. I get it. It was shocking that Trump actually gained in the vote count after four years of doing everything he could to diminish American standing and influence in the world, and the rights and lives of people within his own borders. It is worse to have lived through an era in which the Republican Party went from a political movement with some bad ideas about taxation and social services to a full-on fascist personality cult.…

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This article has something interesting to say about Ron Howard’s films, but I disagree with its premise that Ron Howard is “typically dismissed as a studio workman rather than an artist.” Who “dismisses” the director of Apollo 13, Frost/Nixon, and A Beautiful Mind?

John Gruber’s suggestion of a progressive, tax-bracket-like system for Apple’s App Store commissions is much smarter than the system Apple announced today. They should just run things like this by him (@gruber) first. 😂

Apple’s biggest App Store critics are not impressed with its new fee cut for small developers

Nick Statt in The Verge reports: Epic Games and Spotify, united in their fight against Apple, each released statements on Wednesday slamming the iPhone maker following news of its new App Store fee reduction for developers making less than $1 million per year. File this under “some people are never happy.” While I don’t love all of Apple’s policies—for example, it is ridiculous that developers have to opt in to the small business program—I believe that, as the owner of their platform (which is not even the majority platform), they do have the right to make and enforce whatever rules they choose.…

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New York City to Close Public Schools Again as Virus Cases Rise

Eliza Shapiro reports in The New York Times: New York City’s entire public school system will shutter on Thursday, Chancellor Richard A. Carranza wrote in an email to school principals, in a worrisome signal that a second wave of the coronavirus has arrived. Schools have been open for in-person instruction for just under eight weeks. This is no great surprise to me, despite having hear Mayor de Blasio say the contrary just yesterday on the radio.…

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The Rise and Fall of Getting Things Done

I very much enjoyed Cal Newport’s rumination on Getting Things Done (GTD), and Merlyn Mann’s contributions to personal productivity culture, in The New Yorker. Finding Getting Things Done, through Merlyn Mann’s 43 Folders, was transformative for me. It supercharged my productivity, for a while at least, numerous times in my life. GTD techniques and processes have not fixed the root problems with knowledge work, which Newport points out in the article:…

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Gruber’ s review of the M1 Macs is the only one I plan to read closely. I want an M1-based Mac Mini so badly now. In any other year I would have ordered it already.

I don’t know if it is my imagination, or just my desire for a new computer, but Xcode 12 seems so slow on Big Sur.

I have updated my very old MacBook Pro to Big Sur, and am pleased that it actually works and is more-or-less acceptable in appearance, sound, and operating speed. I long for one of the new Mac Minis, though. I bet it would be so much faster and smoother to use.

It seems really weird to me that Pfizer’s COVID Vaccine Has to Be Stored at -80°C. How unfortunate. I hope people can work out the logistics of it.

I’m looking forward to watching the next episode of “The Mandalorian.” It is my favorite Star Wars property since the original trilogy, by a long shot. I don’t even consider myself a Star Wars fan anymore, but I like “The Mandalorian” a lot, because it is so different.

None of the Trump flags (huge flags!) in my neighborhood have been taken down yet. All but one of the Biden signs are down. At this point, I’m expecting the Trump flags never to be taken down.

I still don’t fully understand how iOS apps will run on the Mac without a touchscreen. I am very familiar with the iOS Simulator, so I get the basic idea. What I don’t get is how multitouch would work, or how scrolling will be handled (without a touchpad or mouse wheel).

I updated my late 2013 MacBook Pro to the Big Sur release candidate this afternoon. It was an uneventful upgrade, which is a best-case scenario, I think. The new UI will take some getting used to, but all my software appears to be working so far.

Ooh! An Apple Silicon Mac Mini. I am excited to see that!

I very much enjoyed the “His Dark Materials” season 2 premiere last night. I also hope that the producers didn’t blow their entire visual effects budget on that one episode, because it looked absolutely amazing.

Pfizer’s Early Data Shows Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective

As reported in the New York Times (and elsewhere): The company said that the analysis found that the vaccine was more than 90 percent effective in preventing the disease among trial volunteers who had no evidence of prior coronavirus infection. If the results hold up, that level of protection would put it on par with highly effective childhood vaccines for diseases such as measles. No serious safety concerns have been observed, the company said.…

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Alex Trebek has died. It certainly is the end of an era.

My wife and I watched the Biden-Harris acceptance speeches with our daughter, who has never seen anything like it before. We are feeling excited and hopeful. I am especially eager to follow Kamala Harris’s work as Vice President in the hopes that she will be a transformative figure in the office.

I was at first surprised that Trump gained voters across the board since 2016. But then I recalled that he went from joke candidate in 2016 to the actual President of the United States (who haunts our every waking thought and nightmare) in 2020. The incumbent always has many advantages, but legitimacy may be the most important one.

I am puzzling a lot of things out right now, and trying to focus on physical and mental health.

I wonder if Apple silicon Macs will have good/better/best processor options like the Intel ones always had.

I can’t believe that the Red Sox re-hired Alex Cora.

If I were more of a gamer, I would be more excited about the new Xbox and PlayStation reviews published today. It’s weird and wonderful that the two systems are coming out at the same time. I’m happy with my Nintendo Switch.

News outlets started calling the presidential race for Joe Biden this morning. In no sense should it have been a close call. It is deeply embarrassing. I consider the USA a failed state in the midst of a slow moving fascist coup that began with Nixon, found its footing with Reagan, and found its most effective bomb-thrower and wrecking ball (because he is the most shameless) in Trump. I am not sure reform is possible at this point, but if it is (and I hope it is), it will take a long, long time.

I am wondering if a new, faster Mac would make me more excited about coding in Xcode again. Xcode has been a dog for me lately, and I think my current (super old!) MacBook Pro is too old for Swift UI development (at least for live previews). I’m looking forward to seeing what Apple announces.

🎵 Today’s listen: “All Mirrors” by Angel Olsen. I love this album. It has the sort of sound that transports you to other, weird, wonderful places. The opening track reminds me, oddly, of early Björk and The Velvet Underground, and is yet completely its own thing.

iOS 14.2 is here. I’m still hoping Apple will fix some of the glitches I’ve been experience on my 2017 iPad Pro. If they don’t, maybe its a hardware problem and I need to replace it (sigh).

I hope the orthopedic I’m going to today helps me fix the stoop in my back after I stand up. (I don’t know what I did to my back, but…ouch!)

A pot of chicken soup is bubbling on the stove, and some bread is in the oven. I’m looking forward to a relaxing lunch.

I’m trying to get back into the swing of things this morning. I’ve been working at night to make up for time I am missing due to appointments during the workday. Now it feels like I never left my desk since before bedtime last night, which isn’t a good thing.

My mood improves when I am near my headphones and my music collection. They have gotten me through this evening and last.

Nothing that will happen today will astonish me, I’m afraid.

New Jersey made it easy for me to vote by mail this year, but I usually visit Vote Save America for the details I need.

I am trying to think of what to do tomorrow night, instead of watching (incomplete) election night results trickle in. I don’t expect the “election” to “end” (I’m not even sure where the scare quotes belong) for weeks.

OK. I just wrote a link post. Now, time to concentrate on work again.

Raspberry Pi 400

The always interesting Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced a new “desktop PC” form factor that integrates its latest board into a keyboard: We’ve never been shy about borrowing a good idea. Which brings us to Raspberry Pi 400: it’s a faster, cooler 4GB Raspberry Pi 4, integrated into a compact keyboard. Priced at just $70 for the computer on its own, or $100 for a ready-to-go kit, if you’re looking for an affordable PC for day-to-day use this is the Raspberry Pi for you.…

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It’s dreary inside my mind right now, The dank weather isn’t helping. 🌧

🎮 I played the Hyrule Warriors: Age Of Calamity demo for about an hour and a half and left it feeling nauseated due to the poor frame rate. The game was kind of fun, but the frame rate was really bad! I am doubtful now that I will shell out $60 for the full version. 😔

Breath of the Wild prequel gets Nintendo Switch demo

Per Patricia Hernandez in Polygon: The surprise Nintendo Direct at the end of October ended with another glimpse at Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity that shows off how the Breath of the Wild prequel will let you control the powerful Divine Beasts from the open-world Legend of Zelda game. It also noted that the hack-and-slash game has a playable demo that fans can download via the Nintendo Switch eShop now, and it includes the entirety of the first chapter.…

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N.J’s Largest City Shuts Down Again as Virus Cases Surge

Per Tracey Tully and Kevin Armstrong in the New York Times: Newark required nonessential businesses to close indoor operations beginning at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. COVID cases are on the rise everywhere now, and may be about to get much worse soon, as temperatures drop in November. There have been reports of cases in the schools in my town, too, some of which first opened to students ten days ago.…

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I am taking online workplace harassment training, and I have to say, the acting in the demonstration videos is a joy to watch.

🎵 Today’s listen: “New Adventures in Hi-Fi” by R.E.M. I kind of forgot about this album, and haven’t listened to it in years. I knew it was a “road record,” but I never knew before today that a lot of the songs were recorded in stadiums, at sound checks, before R.E.M.’s live shows.

I am trying out the new Microsoft Edge for my work-related web browsing. I know that is based on Chromes engine (Blink). I am disappointed that is basically is Chrome with nicer looking menus.

🎵 A new Bruce Springsteen album is always welcome. I can’t get over how he keeps putting out good music. One thing I learned about him, from an alumni event (long ago) with his onetime producer, Jon Landau, is that Springsteen was not able to write dozens and dozens of songs and pick the best for his albums. He wrote relatively small numbers of good (and sometimes great) songs. That makes it all the more impressive to me that he has been releasing new material so regularly, and the quality is still high.

I think I am really into headphones again, after a six month retreat into speakers. Luckily for me, I have lots of headphones and don’t need to buy any more right now. I have been using a different pair every few days for serious listening sessions, and am having a blast.

🎮 After about 20 runs, I finally beat Hades tonight. What a fun game.

My most frequently visited web page this past month has been Wired’s guide how to solve a Rubik’s cube. I have been diligently practicing their algorithms a few minutes per day.

I have a car. Whenever a new car comes out, I don’t read all the reviews and imagine what it would be like to upgrade. I’m in the same place with my smartphone and tablet now. It’s a different feeling than I—a self-professed technology geek—am used to.

iOS and iPad OS 14.1 dropped today. I hope they clear up the screen freezing on my iPads. 🤞

The Real Divide in America Is Between Political Junkies and Everyone Else

Per Yanna Krupnikov and John Barry Ryan in the New York Times: For partisans, politics is a morality play, a struggle of good versus evil. But most Americans just see two angry groups of people bickering over issues that may not always seem pressing or important. It is easy to think that “most Americans” are somehow wise to not follow politics closely enough to identify the issues of the day.…

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Doctors May Have Found Secretive New Organs in the Center of Your Head

Per Katherine J. Wu in the New York Times: A team of researchers in the Netherlands has discovered what may be a set of previously unidentified organs: a pair of large salivary glands, lurking in the nook where the nasal cavity meets the throat. If the findings are confirmed, this hidden wellspring of spit could mark the first identification of its kind in about three centuries. I don’t even know what to make of this—but in a good way.…

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I’m puzzling over if it makes any sense for me to upgrade from Reeder 4 to Reeder 5. Maybe I will wait for a point release, because the dev tends to tone down the visual effects in a couple point releases in each cycle.

As Local News Dies, a Pay-for-Play Network Rises in Its Place

From Davey Alba and Jack Nicas in the New York Times: Maine Business Daily is part of a fast-growing network of nearly 1,300 websites that aim to fill a void left by vanishing local newspapers across the country. Yet the network, now in all 50 states, is built not on traditional journalism but on propaganda ordered up by dozens of conservative think tanks, political operatives, corporate executives and public-relations professionals, a Times investigation found.…

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Apollo for Reddit is an app that I install and uninstall on a weekly basis.

Holmdel Park

Hades is a fun game. I finally made it to Elysium (the third area) tonight. 😅

I have a new nephew today! 👶🏻

Postal worker in N.J. faces charges for dumping bundles of mail, including nearly 100 election ballots

From A U.S. Postal Service mail carrier has been charged by federal authorities for allegedly discarding bundles of mail, including 99 general election ballots that were supposed to be delivered to Essex County residents, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday. Looks like election fraud is happening just as Trump/Pence want it to. As a NJ voter, my confidence in the election process has taken a hit, and it is not because liberal, illegal immigrants are voting multiple times for the Democrats.…

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Up Spell looks pretty fun, but, in my opinion, most of these “spell as many words as you can” games fall down because of too many nonsense words in the lexicon. Up Spell’s whole thing is that just about everything is in its lexicon. The game’s 2-letter word lexicon doesn’t fill me with hope that I will enjoy it. Maybe there will be a 3-letters-and-up mode in a future update for grumps like me.

My hi-fi pet peeve is the “record needle popping and scratching” track on lots of modern lo-fi, hip-hop, and R&B tracks. I spent so much money on a clean-sounding system that it is a waste to listen to noise through it. 😀

🎵 I’m listening to Ben Kweller and flashing back to the early aughts.

Holmdel Park

Holmdel Park

I’m glad I didn’t waste my evening watching the presidential debate.

Coding, coding, coding…🤖🤖🤖

I am baking a carrot loaf cake for a family dinner tomorrow. I don’t know what got into me. I baked emergency chocolate chip cookies last night, too.

I often think, before I go to bed, about the music I plan to listen to at work the next morning. Then, when next morning comes, I’m not in the mood to listen to music at all, and listen to podcasts instead. I wonder why that is. I guess I’m just not a morning person. 🤷‍♂️

I have been coding too much (at the day job) to think about writing (microblogging, journaling) this week. I must get back into my flow next week.

I didn’t realize that Amazon was having a hardware event today. Am I the only one who has been hoping for updated e-ink Kindles?

The lovely blue sky above Thompson Park today

It is sad that Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. She was a a towering judicial figure, but it was selfish of her not to retire while Obama could have named her replacement.

We woke up to slipper weather this morning! I love this time of year.

I made matzoh balls tonight and chopped veggies so I can make matzoh ball soup in time for dinner tomorrow.

Rubik's Cube

After reading this article about Erno Rubik, inventor of the Rubik’s Cube, I ordered myself a 3x3 speed cube (not a Rubick’s brand cube). I had a Rubik’s Cube as a child, and never solved it. At one point, I remember having solved it except for two squares, and I peeled the stickers off and swapped them. (That was sort of my “…” moment, I guess. 😂) At this point, I don’t care if I ever do solve it on my own (there are guides to solving it that I might decide to follow), but it will likely be fun to play with while I’m on conference calls or watching TV.…

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🎮 To see if I should buy the “Super Mario 3D All-Stars” game for the Nintendo Switch, I started playing “Super Mario Odyssey” again last week. I beat the game (which is, basically, completing only about a third of the objectives) and have enjoyed, somewhat, the post-game experience. I have concluded, though, that I am terrible at Mario games. Lots of the platforming sections are frustrating for me, maybe because I didn’t grow up with 3D gaming and can’t get used to the perspective. Perhaps the Zelda “Hyrule Warriors” sequel would be more my speed.

I am looking at pictures of trees and wondering which park my family and I should go to on Saturday.

With their iPad Air and their Apple One offerings, Apple is continuing its strategy of offering too little, or just barely enough, storage at a base price, and then a big jump up in both storage and price for what you probably need to buy.

I can’t save money with Apple One, because I am not interested in most of the bundled services.

Pixelmator Photo Adds ML Super Resolution Powered by Apple’s Neural Engine and Split-Screen Preview Slider. I love Pixelmator Photo and am excited to try out these features. Hopefully my old iPad Pro isn’t too slow.

The new iPad Air looks very, very compelling. It leaves me with no reason to want an iPad Pro anymore, other than if I want to keep the 12.9" screen size.

Apple’s iPhone 12 lineup won’t have high-refresh 120Hz displays, says analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. People are so bored with smartphones they feign disappointment at things like this. 🙄

🎵 I am very late to the “lofi hip hop radio - beats to relax/study to” craze, but I am enjoying it. For convenience, rather than than streaming YouTube all day, I am just plugging that phrase into this search box in Apple Music, which has numerous playlists (like this one) in that genre.

The turkey chili I made to repay my father-in-law for fixing our kitchen sink today was a really big hit!

I am trying to find ways to make PowerShell/Windows Terminal more useful. I’m not an admin, so it isn’t immediately obvious what I can do. I want to use it to launch things (maybe groups of apps) and automate folder tree setups for new projects. That can’t be too hard.

Holmdel Park

Holmdel Park 26A7EA1B-088E-4611-BEC9-A3A02A1BA969.jpg

My mantra for today is “I have been overthinking things.”

Zoom completely failed today for my daughter’s classroom. The teachers' stream had distorted audio and frozen video much of the morning. I think the school lacks sufficient upload bandwidth, because the other students' video feeds were smooth. It’s frustrating.

My favorite internet search thus far today was: “calming music that is not annoying.” All it turned up was YouTube videos, which I wasn’t really after.

Silly me. I thought my (real) work was a basically done for the week and I would have an easy day today.

I am trying to find ways to make PowerShell/Windows Terminal more useful. I’m not an admin, so it isn’t immediately obvious. I want to use it to launch things (maybe groups of apps) and automate folder tree setups for new projects.

The stress level at my house is extremely high. The first week back at school sure is fun. 😳 It’s even weirder when it takes place at home.

I am grateful that I don’t have to experience directly the California wildfires. If things had turned out differently for me, it’s feasible I would be in the San Francisco area, in the thick of things.

☕️ I am enjoying a freshly steeped cup of Yorkshire Gold (loose leaf) tea.

I slept through a little earthquake this morning that was centered only a mile or two from hy house.

I should take photos of my kids every day. I don’t know why I don’t, but I should.

Because it is back to school time, my mind has once again turned to collecting new recipes to try for easier fall cooking. Vegetable soups are the top priority today.

Thompson Park

📚 I am enjoying Dan Moren’s latest book, The Aleph Extraction.

I decided I wanted a universal snippet on my Mac to use to insert the date in the format I want it in. To my surprise, Dash, my code reference tool, can do that. If I want something more focused, it looks like aText might be the best, cheap app to do it on the Mac (and there’s a Windows version, too). (I used to run TextExpander, but that’s too expensive and way more feature filled than I need.)

There are thousands of COVID-19 cases at colleges and universities in the news this week. What happened to the elementary, middle, and high schools that have opened already? What’s going to happen in a week or two when students around where I live start going back to school? All the news articles I came across about them were about parents' anxiety rather than the actual consequences in schools that opened up in August. Has nothing much happened? That seems impossible, based on what young adults (not that different than high school students) are facing.

I gave myself a haircut today. It seems that it takes longer to do the less often I do it. It has been hard for me to keep to a once-per-week schedule, but I like the idea of having that kind of discipline.

How can it be that the teapot emoji hasn’t existed until this year and that Apple doesn’t support it yet, even on the iOS 14 beta?

I’m thrilled and relieved to discover this morning that the reason my desktop stereo stopped working yesterday is because, somehow, I toggled the input switch on my DAC (which I never touch) to some incorrect setting. Of course, I pulled all the components (with dials and switches I use all the time) apart and tested them individually first. 😅 87BF4145-30D7-474B-8CFC-6205493D0063.jpg

My AnyList subscription is expiring soon. I am strongly considering switching to Paprika 3 for my grocery list app. I already own it, it does what I need, and, most importantly, its Apple Watch app doesn’t require an annual subscription. My wife and I are going to try it out next week.

Lord & Taylor is closing all its stores. Pier One closed all their stores earlier this year. Years ago, when I was in business school, I thought that retail stores mostly were going away. I expected it, but it still feels weird to live through it as it slowly happens, especially when places nearby are going to close and it is unclear what will replace them.

I am wrapping up a huge project at work today and tomorrow. It feels good.

School is starting today for my wife, who is a teacher, and for my daughter, who is a student in a different school and district. Both are starting the year remotely. We will see how it goes for the surrounding towns doing in-person/hybrid models. The news reports about COVID spreading in universities are really worrying. I hope for the best, and I hope that students and teachers can learn and work remotely for the whole school year.

Nintendo bringing Super Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy to Switch. This is great news for me, because I missed all those games. Of course, now I don’t have any time to play them. 😅

After about a month I am still playing several games of Good Sudoku by Zack Gage every day. I highly recommend it!

At this point in the pandemic, I am still limiting grocery store trips to once per week, but I started to forgo wearing gloves and to use (touch) my Apple Watch and iPhone for my shopping list (on AnyList). I wash everything with soap and hot water after I get home. I hope I am doing enough to keep safe.

I am pretty sure that I need scissors to open my new scissors. 🤦‍♂️

As Apple pundits debate whether or not a new product announcement looms in the near future, I am trying to psych myself up for another year with my super old devices. I’m trying to appreciate the value I am extracting from them, which isn’t as fun to think about as ooh, new, shiny.

Amazon’s Alexa has been a pretty lackluster addition to my household. It gets our music-related requests wrong most of the time: usually playing the wrong radio station or, for albums with a title track, it plays the song and not the album. Mostly, the kids try to get it to say stupid things.

Tonight I assembled a desk that my wife bought, so she could work from home more easily.

Now that it is September, it is finally time for me to upgrade my iPhone to the developer beta. I have been running the developer betas of iPadOS 14 for some time now without incident.

It amuses me that Gruber and Moltz are recommending “Ted Lasso” on “The Talk Show” this week. My wife and I love that show, too.

Prepping pancakes to surprise the kids in the morning.

I have been enjoying Apple Music’s new iOS 14 beta feature for infinite playback of similar music after an album ends. I can see it being annoying sometimes, because you might not know that your album has ended, but it is nice when my main goal is to fill my head with pleasant sound and not worry about being my own personal DJ.

If I am lucky, this week will be a return to normal working hours and stress levels. If I am not lucky, well…

🎵 Today’s listen: “The Third Gleam” by The Avett Brothers. I had no idea this album existed and am thrilled it does. It is more lovely music from one of my favorite bands.

This article, about the uselessness of blockchain for just about anything, really tickled me. I have given training on blockchain and have described it as a vector for criminal activity (such as ransomware) that wasn’t possible before.

Kamala Harris Goes Beyond the White Pantsuit

Come on, New York Times. This type of article is sexist and demeaning. What is Joe Biden wearing? What does it mean?…

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🎵 Today’s listen: “Gimme Fiction” by Spoon. I remember not liking this record as much as Spoon’s earlier work, but whatever criticisms I have had of it are long forgotten. It is great.

Coronavirus is in the air. Here’s how to get it out.

Brian Resnick’s article on Vox summarizes some of the issues we are all facing in the back-to-school period. Coronavirus is in the air, and being indoors with an infected person for a prolonged time increases the viral load that one is exposed to. This is critical to understand. As Derek Thompson observes in the Atlantic, a lot of places have put on a big show about cleaning surfaces — what he calls “hygiene theater” — though surface contamination is not thought to be a large source of Covid-19 transmission.…

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Stormy weather. I am glad I’m inside.

We’re having a morning thunderstorm right now. The sky is black. The barometric pressure is low. It is making me so sleepy!

I spent some time tonight editing vacation photos, mainly because I was too tired to do any programming or work any overtime. It feels good to start the process of sorting, editing, and sharing them with the family. Last year I took way too long to get to it, and I felt bad.

I basically figure that I am old and anxiety-ridden now, because my big, exciting delivery from Amazon contained a Withings Thermo and a pulse oximeter. I need to have things on hand in case I or anyone in my family needs them.

🎵 There’s a new EP by Norah Jones.

Apple Music 1” is not nearly as fun to say as Beats 1.

I very much enjoyed listening to Antony Johnson’s interview of Dan Moren on the Writing and Breathing podcast. I am reading through Dan Moren’s Galactic Cold War series now, which is a fun “spies in space” space opera.

📺 I finally watched “Picard” this week. Overall, I enjoyed it, but I thought the ending was a mess and a cop-out. I was king of hoping for the “Logan” version of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (something dark and elegiac and serious from start to finish) but “Picard” started that way and retreated into magical Star Trek silliness. I’m not sure I’ll be on board for season 2.

I am reading on the porch, during a steady, soothing rain, after a large meal with my family. It is nice to relax sometimes.

The Good Sudoku game has really grown on me. Despite some early bugs, which were quickly fixed, and some night mode colors that really don’t work for me, I find the app very appealing. The gameplay choices really streamline the game and make it easy to focus on the logic rather than the busywork of solving.

We are getting a ton of rain today in New Hampshire. I enjoy the rain when I am out in the woods a lot more than I do at home.

If I had a NY Times crossword micro blog, my posts would consist solely of the puzzle date and “blerg!” or “hmm…” Tuesday, December 21, 2010 definitely merits a “blerg!” from me.

I am on vacation with my family, enjoying simpler things like walking outside.

I was amazed this week to learn that my Game Boy Advance, which is nearly 18 years old still holds a charge and works perfectly. (The screen sure is dim, though, but maybe it always was.) My Sony PSP, which is nowhere near as old, is completely dead.

Apparently, iPhone 12 price leaks are suggesting expensive prices in line with what we have today for the iPhone 11. My phone of choice would cost about $1,200, and I’m not sure it’s worth it. Wait till October when I buy it with cash. 😂

I am astounded by the sheer number of keyboard shortcuts I have memorized, and how I can keep them straight across applications and devices.

The best tech thing I did all week was to create a PowerShell script that opens the most recently created file in a particular folder, and then map that script execution to a keyboard shortcut via AutoHotKey. I’m using it to quickly launch the reports I am generating for work.

My work computer is generating data extracts in Excel via a PowerShell script, and I’m afraid to use it for anything else right now!

I’m working really, really hard this week. (Sigh.) I’m hoping for a chance to take a breath later this week.

I just noticed that the analog clock widget in the latest iPadOS beta does not display the correct time. (It is half an hour slow for me, on New York City time.) But the sweep of the second hand is beautiful. 🙄

Two of my independently hosted WordPress sites were down for several days last week due, I presume, to DDOS attacks or something. I’m grateful that I’m not on the hook to makes sure my hosted site stays online. 😀

🎧 My speakers and headphones sound so clear and exciting again now that I’ve got my equipment stack up and running again! 977C4ADF-963E-4B97-B266-997339257268.jpg

My favorite piece of Schiit came back to me in the mail today. Now that my Magni 3 Heresy is repaired, it is as good as new. C9E53635-247A-4998-908F-CC56149E6F2F.jpg

I spent some time today preparing for my family’s vacation—about a week ahead of time. Unfortunately, I expect to work a bit while I’m on vacation, which is disappointing. To make things easier, I scrounged up and tested a setup with some B-level home-office equipment (my old monitor, keyboard, and trackball). Bringing that stuff with me will make whatever work I end up doing much easier.

Hmm…I don’t mind them myself, but I think the swears on Taylor Swift’s new album might be too much to expose my 8-year-old daughter—our family’s resident Taylor Swift fan— to. I don’t mind the f-bombs in “Hamilton,” but the meaning there is different.

The Fn key on iPadOS 14 Developer Beta 2

I noticed something strange on the latest iPadOS developer beta. The Fn key on my Apple Magic Keyboard (the old Bluetooth one, not the expensive new iPadPro peripheral) now has two new functions that kind of conflict with each other. First, Fn-Backspace finally works as “forward delete” as it always has on the Mac. (That not being supported on iOS has long been a source of occasional frustration for me.)…

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My daughter is going to freak out when I tell her that a surprise Taylor Swift album dropped today. It’s getting rave reviews.

Someone needs to inform The New York Times that black text on a white background, even in dark mode, is not a “brand identity”—it’s just rude at this point.

John Gruber’s Return and Enter Are Two Different Keys has got me thinking about all sorts of uses in my computing life for Fn+Return (aka Enter) key commands.

Work this week and next are shaping up to be an absolutely epic grind for me. After today I expect to be working overtime late at night. Hopefully I will find a groove each day and settle into it.


I decided to retire my pi-hole install yesterday, in large part to reduce the pain points I was having administering it. (It is no fun when you don’t have network connectivity, sometimes, because the pi-hole server isn’t accepting connections for no reason in particular.) I signed up for NextDNS instead, and so far I’m really happy with it. It blocks malware; it blocks adult content; it blocks ads. Unlike the pi-hole, it can be used away from my home network, too.…

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Thunderbolt 3 Dock

I finally got my work laptop connected to a Thunderbolt dock that charges it, drives my peripherals, and drives my 4K monitor. It was not as easy as it should have been to set up, though. It does not help that my laptop has a USB-C + charging port, and a Thunderbolt 3 report (that also charges, though that wasn’t clear at first). I was not sure why I could not charge my laptop through the dock, until I noticed the distinction between USB-C and Thunderbolt, and I was not sure why my Thunderbolt-to-DisplayPort cable would not work from a USB-C port in the dock.…

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🎵 I am really enjoying the new album by “The Chicks”. That band wasn’t on my radar for a long, long time until the recent news that they changed their name.

Cable management in my office is kind of a nightmare. I am now having crazy thoughts of buying really long cables, so that I can put my computers far away from my desktop peripherals, or, maybe, putting my work computer underneath my desk somehow. I probably need different office furniture, but it would take a wrecking crew to get rid of what I have now.

Podcast Mentorship

Myke Hurley’s Podcast Mentorship program is a really good idea: TL;DR: I want to mentor people who are under-represented in the tech-focussed podcast world. If you are starting out and need some help, please read on. The mentees that Myke selected appear to be promising new voices who can enrich the tech podcasting space. I hope that other seasoned podcasters will join Myke as mentors in the future.…

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📺 I rewatched the first episode of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” last night to gauge how approve would be for me to watch with my 8-year-old daughter. Considering she doesn’t know what “war” is (lucky her), it might be a bit hard for her to get into. I think it is worthwhile, though, because the series is rich and complex while still being fun enough for kids.

🎵 I’m trying something different tonight: a K-Pop playlist of BLACKPINK. I think I like it. At times, my brain certainly is getting scrambled. 😅

We are getting a ton of tall, wobbly pine trees taken down in our backyard today, because they are at risk of falling, and tend to lose boughs whenever there is a windstorm. It is a bit traumatic—the noise, especially—but it will be nice to not have to worry about falling boughs and trees. I guess we’re going to see a lot more of the sky and of our neighbors than we are used to. 😀

I am still struggling to get my app rewrite done in UIKit. Next year, for real this time, I’m going to learn Swift UI.

Oh, nice! It’s iPadOS 14 beta 2 time.

I tried Apple News again to see if the experience is any better on the iPadOS 14 beta. Sadly, for me, it is not. Apple News feels like a junk drawer full of some news content plus a bunch of headlines that are really ads, because they lead to listicles full of affiliate links. Ironically, Google News—from a company that makes most of its money selling ads—seems less ad-filled and spammy to me.

📚 I finished reading another novel to my daughter tonight, the fourth Emily Windsnap book. My daughter loves reading time, and I do too. It is the best thing I do all day.

📺 I bought Axiom Verge for the Nintendo Switch tonight and really like it so far. It is giving me Super Metroid vibes!

I have been listening to thunderous fireworks for about an hour now from my home. I thought all the fireworks celebrations had been cancelled. Surely my neighbors can’t be responsible for all these booms.

I have been using Xcode for so long and I just now realized that Control+Command+Left/Right Arrow goes back and forward in the editor’s navigation stack. Is there a head-smack emoji? 😅

I am back to tracking my food intake—because, well, reasons (haha)—with the Keto app. I am not on a keto diet, though. I don’t know how that would be possible for me with only going to the grocery store once per week now. Salad greens don’t last that long.

My buy-and-hold strategy with flip-flops finally paid off tonight, in that I threw out my worn-out pair from last year and swapped them for the identical copy of them I bought at a tremendous discount off-season last year. I still have one more pair for next year.

⌨️ Oh, cool, my new Anne Pro 2 keyboard supports Bluetooth, and here I am, clicking away, wirelessly, on my Mac. 😀

Does Xcode 12 beta 1 crash less than Xcode 11.5?

📚 Based on the prologue I read last night, which was a lot of fun, I think the next novel I’m going to read is Dan Moren’s The Caledonian Gambit. I hope I can stick with it. Lately, I have been starting books and dropping them well before finishing them.

iPadOS 14 beta 1 is great so far!

My day one experience with iPadOS 14 beta 1 is astounding. It is fast and stable. All my third party apps work. The UI updates to the Music app, which I use all the time, are most welcome. The Scribble feature with Apple Pencil exceeds all expectations; it isn’t perfect, but it is really well thought out, and it reads my printing and cursive writing. The new three-column layout for Apple apps looks great, too.…

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Well, my Schiit Magni Heresy just got fried. 😢 While listening to it over headphones, it made a popping sound, then started humming and crackling loudly. I hope Schiit honors their warranty, because I loved that thing. I use it as a headphone amp and a preamp for my desktop speakers, the latter of which have just been rendered useless.

I decided to install the iPadOS 14 beta on my iPad Pro. Let’s see how it goes!

I just had my butt saved by Microsoft Outlook’s “did you forget to attach a file to this message” feature. 😅

Right now, my family is in a weird state of (1) seeing each other more often again without PPE, and (2) starting to panic more about the recent rise in COVID-19 cases nationwide. We are all concerned about schooling in the fall; both in-person and distance learning seem fraught.

One cool thing about the Anne Pro 2 ⌨️ is its tap layer. It does not have arrow keys, but the cluster at the lower right of the board (right shift, FN, FN2, and Ctrl) act as arrow keys when you tap them, and as normal modifier keys when you hold them. It works perfectly.

I love mechanical keyboards, and I treated myself this week to an Anne Pro 2, which is a 60% board with Kailh Box White switches (clicky!), RGB lighting, multiple function layers, and Bluetooth connectivity to up to four devices. I’m really happy with it so far.

The iHeartRadio ads that are now intercut into the “Slate Political Gabfest” podcast are so irritating that I am considering unsubscribing entirely. If I wanted to listen to annoying radio ads, I would listen to the radio.

When iOS 14 comes out, will there be a third party app that basically is from iOS 12? I would make it myself if I had the time.

Hmm… I don’t think my MacBook has enough disk space for a new partition to install the macOS 11 Big Sur. Almost half my disk is full of “Other”, whatever that is. 😕

😷 My first reusable facemask

I got my way-too-expensive, but hopefully useful for a long, long while, reusable facemask from Tom Bihn delivered today. I feel a little silly buying it, considering we still have a stack of disposable facemasks left, and they started showing up in stores around here (finally) a couple weeks ago. That said, I feel like we will be wearing facemasks—at least sometimes—for a long, long time.…

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I have been coding quite a bit at night lately. The visible UI of my app rewrite is nearly complete, minus keyboard shortcuts and some of the settings. I am excited to get this update out of the door sometime later this year, because it has been in flight for far too long.

The best WWDC takeaway for me is that all of my hardware—even my 7-year-old MacBook Pro—is still going to be supported by the new OSes, so I don’t have to upgrade anything if I don’t want to.

Apple vs. Hey

I have tried to avoid most of the talk about the Apple vs. Hey kerfuffle about in-app purchasing rules. It does not affect me, and I have enough to worry about at the moment. Apple is really handling this situation incredibly badly, though. It’s astonishing to me, because this is the sort of thing that will make Congress consider them a monopoly and, maybe, drop the hammer on them. For the record, I do not think that Apple really is a monopoly, because it does not have sufficient market share, but I don’t think that will matter in the court of public opinion.…

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CloudFlare's for Families

Both of my kids now are on iPads all the time, and I started to worry about them running into porn and malware online. Luckily, I found CloudFlare’s for Families product. It makes blocking that stuff at the DNS level as easy as changing two settings values on my router. It’s free, which is a requirement for me, because I could roll my own service with a Raspberry Pi, but I would rather not have another thing in the house to support.…

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It’s certainly a hot day when I have to turn on my office air conditioner before noon. It’s loudly whirring now.

I’m working my “day job” now because time no longer has any meaning.

Re-opening is beginning now in my state. I don’t plan to go out any more than I have been for the past couple months, though. Let’s see what happens, first.

The recent buzz about ARM-based Macs maybe being announced at this year’s WWDC is pretty exciting. Maybe I will finally update my MacBook Pro when they appear.

🎵 I have been enjoying the Breaking Singer/Songwriter playlist on Apple Music quite a bit today.

WHO: Data suggests it's "very rare" for coronavirus to spread through asymptomatics

Axios reports: Contact tracing data from around the globe suggests that while there are instances of asymptomatic coronavirus patients transmitting the virus to others, they are not “a main driver” of new infections, World Health Organization officials said at a press conference Monday. How can this be true, based on all of what we have observed so far? At least Axios adds some context to the statement and concludes: “The bottom line: These statements are a reminder of just how little we understand about this virus.…

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Programming Style

I code in C# at work and in Swift in my home life. Each language has a default indentation style, different mostly on whether opening curly braces ("{") are placed at the end of a line or at the beginning of a line of their own. The former style is called the “K&R” style, though I know it only as “the one true brace style.” The other style is called the “Allman style,” though I have never heard it called any name in particular, and think of it, myself, as “C# style.…

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🎵 10,000 Maniacs

Tonight I’m taking a trip down memory lane with 10,000 Maniacs. “MTV Unplugged” was a huge hit from 1993, when I was a sophomore in high school. Back then, I listened to ”In My Tribe” and “Our Time In Eden” (my favorite 10,000 Maniacs record) back-to-back all the time. Another live performance, from 1998, was just released a couple days ago, too.…

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I’m grilling and enjoy the day, which is a nice respite for me, because the last few days were kind of rough.

Wondering tonight…

What is an effective way to counter a bad-faith argument? Do you call out the other person for arguing in bad faith, or does that always backfire?

I can’t think of a NYC mayor more hapless than Bill DeBlasio. I don’t know enough about him or about NYC politics to understand why everything goes wrong for him, but I do think that people just don’t like him, which may even be unfair to him, like the stupid “controversy” in 2014 about how he ate his pizza with a fork.

Obsessing about scores

The credit card companies have trained me very well to be really, really concerned about my credit score at all times. I check my credit score about once per week, even though it has always been in the “excellent” range and I have no real reason to check it. I have no reason to care about my credit score (I guess I am fortunate in that way) but I obsess about it nonetheless.…

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It’s day two of me learning new keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Excel (on Windows). There are so, so many. It’s almost embarrassing that I didn’t know them; I have been using Excel almost daily for about 20 years! 🤯

Cop Shows

This article by Constance Grady on Vox argues something I have been thinking a lot about this week: Our opinion of the police is heavily influenced by cop shows.

One of my favorite shows right now is Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It’s characters, while being funny, eccentric, and often immature, are all portrayed as valorous and extremely dedicated to their jobs and to justice in general. That is part of its appeal to me. I don’t see it as pro-cop propaganda, but it does work that way just a little bit, by presenting the world we wish was true, and allowing us to live in it for a while, as if it were true.

Maybe—and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here—but maybe Mark Zuckerberg isn’t nearly as smart as people give him credit for. 🤷🏼

Upgrade Episode 300

I enjoyed episode 300 of Upgrade, which was part victory lap and part looking forward to the future. Upgrade is one of my personal top three tech podcasts (the others being Accidental Tech Podcast and This Week in Tech). My favorite part of Upgrade is the camaraderie between hosts Jason Snell and Myke Hurley. I enjoy the enthusiasm and energy they bring to the well-worn topic of Apple news every week.…

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Oh, so Microsoft Office does have a command palette! It’s accessible via Alt-Q. I knew that “Tell me what you want to do…” option was in the command ribbon for years, but I thought it was just a useless online help lookup tool. All of a sudden I feel like much more of a power user.

The Alt key in Office

One of my personal projects this week is to train myself to use the Alt key-based keyboard shortcuts in Microsoft Excel and Word a lot more often. I had forgotten that the entire command ribbon is keyboard accessible, and the implementation is actually pretty clever. I would prefer a command palette, though.…

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Wegmans was twice as crowded as usual tonight because everyone brought their spouse to the store. It was date night, I guess. At least everyone wore masks.

I wish AutoHotKey didn't have its own programming language

I wrote an AutoHotKey function today to paste decoded URL-encoded strings, which I have to do quite a lot because I’m emailing people about files stored on SharePoint quite often now. It is useful to be able to paste a folder name or a file name without “%20” in the place of every space, and other URL-encoding garbage. I like AutoHotKey well enough, but I wish it didn’t have its own programming language.…

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My wife and I watched Jerry Seinfeld’s “23 Hours to Kill" Netflix special tonight and really enjoyed it. I especially liked his opening bits.

I found a Visual Studio Code extension for todo.txt today. I am happy. I don’t think any todo.txt extensions existed the last time I looked, in the early fall last year.

I’m not 100% sure about this, but I am finding that I prefer tabs over spaces for code indentation all of the sudden. 🤯 I have preferred spaces since 1992!

 Another head-desk moment tonight

I have spent many hours over the past week trying to do something that can’t really be done: replace the default iOS software keyboard with a custom picker view that also can become the first responder and respond to hardware keyboard shortcuts. I thought, earlier this evening, that I had given up my fancy implementation and was returning to something simple that I got working very quickly. Somehow, though, I went down another rabbit hole tonight and wasted the last hour.…

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I have been self-editing an awful, awful lot lately. I think it’s due to the mixed up combination of stress and existential dread this global pandemic has brought to me and my family. I want to share more online again. Hopefully I will get back into the habit.

All work weeks should begin on Tuesday. 😎

I finished reading all the Kenzie-Gennaro books by Dennis Lehane last night. I’m going to try starting True Grit by Charles Portis. I love the movie versions, especially the Coen Brothers one, and hope that the book is even better.

This is a test post from iA Writer

This is a test post from iA Writer on iOS. It is cool that iA added MicroPub support. 😀 I had some issues with the authentication, and had to generate and enter an app token manually. The app creates a new draft and opens it up the web browser; it does not publish immediately—which is a good thing and a bad thing, I guess.…

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My state (New Jersey) announced today that school is closed for the remainder of the school year. This is exactly what I expected, but it is still going to be hard to explain this to my daughter, who misses school desperately. It’s for the best, though.

I am reading a lot more lately, basically to try to tamp down the level of stress and existential dread. I just loaded the last of the six Kenzie-Gennaro novels on my iPad.

My son’s preschool announced today that it is closing for the remainder of the academic year. It isn’t a surprise, but it is upsetting to think of the learning and socialization opportunities he is missing. He’s a bright, bright kid, and we just can’t pay as close attention to him as we want to right now. It’s sad.

I just set up a “Windows" style keyboard (it’s a Razer BlackWidow Lite) with my Mac for a trial run. I mapped the Alt key to “Command”, and the Super/Windows key to “Alt” so that it is more Mac-like. I’m still getting used to the layout, but it is working out all right so far.

Well, my wife and I gave me a haircut this afternoon, and now I know exactly what I will look like when I, someday, lose all of my hair. 😀

I still haven’t attempted to cut my own hair during this “social isolation” period. I guess I could give myself a buzzcut with these instructions. My wife has, thus far, not been willing to help me cut my hair, especially after the cut she gave to our son.

Is the Virus on My Clothes? My Shoes? My Hair? My Newspaper? My wife and I area asking ourselves these questions every day, and we are at relatively low risk. I only go grocery shopping once a week, and we don’t order takeout anymore. But some essential supplies must be ordered and delivered every few days.

Right now, I’m thankful for my good BlueTooth headphones, a Radiohead playlist on Apple Music, and not being on the phone anymore for work.

The new iPhone SE looks like a great option for me if I break my current phone, which is a three-and-a-half-year-old iPhone 8 Plus. Mostly, though, thinks I can stay on my current phone for another year, or even more, if I can get another battery replacement.

Just wondering, does anyone use the “menu” key on the bottom right of their computer keyboards? I feel like I should start trying to, to see if I can rely on the mouse (well, in my case trackball) a little bit less in Word and Excel.

I find myself listening to fewer podcasts, but more podcast ads (I don’t skip them as often), now that I’ve been social-isolating for so long. I want to hear the soothing voices of my favorite podcast hosts talk about something other than Covid-19.

I learned this morning that lawn services are up and running my neighborhood. I guess they are “essential services”; who knew? It’s a good thing and a bad thing, really. I detest the noise, which never seems to stop in my neighborhood, but my kids do need the lawn mowed, especially now that their only playground is our back yard.

I spent more time tricking out my Visual Studio Code install today. I installed the Local History extension, which, after some configuration, will save a copy of every file I edit, every time I save them, to a folder tree on my machine. I had something like this on Sublime Text for years, but this is even better. It integrates the the editor, and shows diffs between versions.

I kind of wish I had COBOL skills to help out my state right now. Why can’t the state retirement systems run on Swift? (I kid!)

I created an even more useful Excel VBA module that lets you resize the currently selected chart to cover, exactly, a range of one or more cells. You specify the range after you run the macro.

I created an Excel VBA module for resizing the active chart to a (hard-coded) standard size. This sort of thing is useful at work when developing reports.

The March 2020 Visual Studio Code update just came out. Microsoft and the community are adding feature after feature to it at an astounding pace. As long as you have a fast computer, it is an amazing programmer’s editor and Git client now.

I don’t know what took me so long to think to do this, but today I coded a VBA module with macros that increase and decrease Excel row height by one row at a time. I call them via the “Quick Access” toolbar, which is easy to customize.

Arq Backup 6 was released

Arq Backup 6 was just released. It is really compelling software if you want to “roll your own” backup service, rather than use something tightly integrated with the back-end, like BackBlaze. I’m very glad, now, that I bought a lifetime license when Arq Backup 5 came out, four years ago. I got a free (as in, already paid for) upgrade! Arq Backup 6 is much simpler looking than prior versions were.…

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Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race. It is amazing that I didn’t get a New York Times news alert about this.

This story about Wisconsin’s primary election is very upsetting. It is yet another symptom of a larger problem: American democracy is in deep, deep trouble, now that Republicans, who need low voter turnout to win elections, have taken over the Judiciary.

Neutron stars are so strange. I was recently trying to explain them to my daughter, who just got really interested in black holes and cosmology. I wonder if she would be able to follow Randal Monroe’s explainer in the New York Times today.

Pixelmator Photo, my photo editing app of choice on iOS, dropped a new version with more great features. I love this app, because it is very easy to use, and it integrates very well with Apple Photos. I hope that, someday, it does not become subscription-only, because I don’t know if i use it quite enough to justify a monthly payment.

🎵 I am enjoying “Future Nostalga” by Dua Lipa.

📚 Most of my “social isolation” reading has been the Kenzie-Gennaro series of detective novels by Dennis Lehane. I had read the fourth, “Gone Baby Gone”, back in 2007, the year its movie adaptation came out, without realizing it was part of a series. In my opinion, the first one is pretty good, the second is a lot better, and the third is starting out even better than the second.

It looks like I’m not the only person who moved to Apple Books recently. Bradley Changers at 9to5Mac did, too. Now I kind of want an iPad Mini just for reading, though.

Sort of by accident, and mostly because it is the default choice, I have switched my ebook reading to Apple Books on my iPad (mostly) and iPhone (sometimes). To my surprise, it looks really good and works very well. I just wish I could choose a custom font.

I am not super thrilled about the articles and online advice entreating us to make our own protective masks. I don’t think I have the skills or the raw materials necessary for these projects—and, considering I can barely buy soap or paper towels right now, it is probably very difficult to acquire them.

Well, I just (and finally) submitted my household’s census form. It was really quick and easy. Everyone in the US should get it done soon. It is vital to be counted: representation in government and social services money of all kinds are tied to population counts determined by the census.

Adam Schlesinger Dies of Coronavirus Complications at 52. This sucks. Fountains of Wayne is one of my favorite bands, and Schlesinger’s more recent work on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” was really entertaining, too.

In a way, I’m happy that Apple is acquiring Dark Sky, because it is a great weather service, and Apple probably wants to own its own weather information service at this point. It sucks that they will be closing their API to third party apps at the end of next year, though. Open, relatively inexpensive weather data APIs let a ton of interesting and beautiful mobile and web apps blossom over the past ten years or so, and that time is slowly coming to an end.

I haven’t been microblogging lately because I just don’t know what to say anymore.

🎵 Today’s listen: “I Miss Britpop.” So do I, Apple Music, so do I.

I am currently rebuilding my macOS Photos library, which is something I never wanted to do. It’s missing months worth of photos, which is not making me feel as comfortable as I would like to about its management of all those memories.

🎵 Today’s listen: “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships” by The 1975. I must be crazy because I did not like this album earlier (I thought it was wildly overrated), but I just had to listen to “Love It If We Made It” today, and the rest of the album came along with it. 🤷‍♂️

I am starting to enjoy drinking Yorkshire gold tea (loose leaf) with a dollop of heavy cream and a few drops of liquid Sucralose. For many years I have taken my tea black.

WestWorld season 3 keeps looking better and better. I wonder if it will be its final season. There is an “endgame” line in the trailer.

Good(?) Old Games

When I bought the Nintendo Switch, I thought a lot more of my time playing it would be spent playing the classic NES and SNES games available through my Switch Online subscription. To my surprise, a lot of the games just felt old and not nearly as engaging as I remember them—even stone-cold classics like “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” and “Super Metroid”. When I look for a 2D game fix, I always end up playing newer games, like “Hollow Knight,” rather than playing the older games that I did legitimately love when I was a kid.…

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Andrew Yang joins CNN as a political commentator. Is that the best he could do?

🎵 Today’s listen: The “Andrew Bird Essentials” playlist on Apple Music. I don’t know Andrew Bird’s music too well, but I’m really enjoying it so far.

I’m working overtime, late at night, after a long day at work. I was on the phone about 7 hours out of 9, which is a lot for one day. At least I can listen to music now.

🎵 Today’s listen: “Honeymoon” by Beach Bunny. I’m a big fan of the lead single, from way last year: “Dream Boy”. The rest of the album, which I’ve been waiting a long time for, is a fun listen. I love lead singer/bandleader Lili Trifilio’s balance of insecurity and poise in her both her lyrics and performance.

I bought “Frozen II” for the kids to watch today, because it was not a school day. I’m glad the movie is available already. It sure made my daughter happy this afternoon.

It is going to be a long, long, long work week for me, I’m afraid.

I got bookshelf speakers today, set them up in my office, and absolutely love them. Of course, now I want to put them on stands to make them ear-level, because I can’t stop spending money on my audiophile hobby. 🤣 💸

The President’s decision to expand his power post-trial has stunned Washington. Has it, though? (That’s what I want to say about just about every headline these days. We are through the looking glass now.)

“The French Dispatch” appears, from its initial trailer, to be the most “Wes Anderson” Wes Anderson movie ever.

Should I stop trying to keep all my original photos on my MacBook Pro?

Uh-oh. Apple Photos started saying my full-resolution photos will no longer fit on my Mac. I have 80 GB free on a 500 GB SSD, but Photos is still complaining. I’m debating what to do about it. A huge part of my backup strategy is using Arq backup to back up my full-resolution photos (the entire library, really) to Backblaze B2. Maybe I will export all my photos (the originals) and copy them to B2, then turn on “Optimize Storage”, and then stop trying to back up my originals on my Mac.…

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I just learned the specs of my new, upcoming work laptop. For the first time since 2000, I think, it will be higher-speced than anything I own. 😳

Google’s head of HR is stepping down, but that won’t fix the company’s internal problems

Shirin Ghaffary at Recode reports that Google’s head of HR, Eileen Naughton, is stepping down. Executive leadership changes happen at major companies all the time — but at Google, Naughton’s move is notable because she was a key figure responsible for dealing with an unprecedented level of internal employee turmoil and dissent. In recent years, Google workers feuded among themselves and with management over issues ranging from the company’s alleged mishandling of executive sexual harassment cases to its crackdown on employee speech in the workplace.…

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One thing I started doing recently with my almost-8-year-old daughter is saying “I’m happy I could spend this time with you” as often as I can to her. Results so far have been excellent.

I’m interested in the New Hampshire primary results, but what I am really thinking about tonight are the speakers I’m expecting to get on Friday. I just unpacked a Chi-Fi amp that will drive them, and ordered some cables for them.

Michael Bennet Drops Out of the 2020 Presidential Race

I thought that I kept up with politics pretty closely, but I don’t think I even realized this guy was even running for president.…

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Andrew Yang Ends His Presidential Campaign

Andrew Yang dropped out of the presidential race tonight. He certainly stayed on brand when announcing it: > “I am the math guy, and it’s clear from the numbers we’re not going to win this campaign,” he said. “So tonight I’m announcing that I am suspending my campaign.” I hope he does something good with his newfound fame.…

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🎵 Today’s listen: “Out of Time” by R.E.M. This is one of the foundational albums in my music collection. It’s 10th track, “Country Feedback,” is R.E.M.’s best song, in my opinion (and in Michael Stipe’s).

App Review approved my app update within an hour of my submission of it tonight. That is a new speed record for me.

My daughter got a ukulele and is starting lessons. I just ordered one for myself so I can play with her. Hopefully that will keep her motivated and be a fun thing we can do together.

Now I’m a crank who hates the new Google Maps icon.

Tech pundits' election security advice is well-meaning, but backwards

There is a lot of confusion surrounding election security, and how voting machines should work. Every tech pundit podcaster I listen to says that electronic voting machines must have a paper trail, so there is a backup if the software behind the voting system fails. That sounds reasonable. The thing is, they all have it backward. The original vote should be on paper. The paper trail should be the actual votes cast, not the results recorded by voting machines.…

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🎧 I haven’t been listening to all my awesome headphones nearly as much for the past week, because of some tinnitus-related problems (which I have discovered may not have anything to do with noise exposure). It’s uncanny how weird they sound all of the sudden.

I wonder if/when Mitt Romney will be booted out of the Republican Party.

⚾️ The Mookie Betts trade, which was rumored for months, is still disappointing enough to me to consider not bothering with my MLB TV subscription this year. He was my favorite player to watch on the Red Sox roster.

🎵 Today’s listen: “Old Dominion” (2019) by Old Dominion. This is a pleasant country album with great playing and production. None of the songs really grabbed me, but I enjoyed the album nonetheless. It’s the sort of music I like to have on but not really listen too closely to.

I am looking forward to the upcoming Hamilton movie. I like that it is just the filmed stage performance; I’m not really interested in an immersive, realistic adaptation. (How would that even work?) October 2021 seems so far away, though.

My third (third!) 12.0" 2017 iPad Pro is starting to exhibit backlight bleed on the bottom (left) edge of the screen. It stays on my desk most of the time and isn’t abused in any way. All the other iPad models my family has have never had screen issues. At this point, I’m considering it a failed product model. Hopefully the next iPad Pro, which I hope comes out later this year, will be much better. I’m ready to upgrade, despite the cost.

Jeremy Egner, of the New York Times, interviewed show runner Michael Schur about “The Good Place," which is ending its run on Thursday. I’m not sure how I feel about how the show’s plot is winding down—endings are hard to pull off well—but I love so much of it that its humor and its moral philosophy are always on my mind.

Today’s listen (#2): “Songbook” by Frank Turner. Disc 1 is basically a Frank Turner greatest hits collection, and it is so damn good.

🎵 Today’s listen: “WestWorld: Season 2 (Music from the HBO Series)” by Ramin Djawadi. I am getting psyched for season 3, which starts in March. Season 2 had some awesome atmospheric music as well as cool covers of “Runaway”, “Heart Shaped Box” (I like the piano one best), and “Seven Nation Army”.

The iPad Awkwardly Turns 10

John Gruber does not like the iPad multitasking interface: The iPad at 10 is, to me, a grave disappointment. Not because it’s “bad”, because it’s not bad — it’s great even — but because great though it is in so many ways, overall it has fallen so far short of the grand potential it showed on day one. To reach that potential, Apple needs to recognize they have made profound conceptual mistakes in the iPad user interface, mistakes that need to be scrapped and replaced, not polished and refined.…

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🎵 Today’s listen: “Manic” by Halsey. Overall, I like it. But, after one listen, I don’t have a strong opinion about it or any track on it. I’ll give it another shot later this week.

This afternoon my cable internet provider’s tech support told me there is something wrong with my cable modem. The woman sounded concerned about how messed up it is in a way that was kind of hilarious, like it was haunted or something. I hope the replacement I ordered comes in time for me to send the current one back for a full refund.

Reading this article about an article about an article about TV streaming service subscriber counts made me think about the relative lack of new content, being released regularly, that I am interested in on Disney+. The library is important, but I don’t rewatch things enough for the library to be enough.

I have been giving my ears a multi-day rest from headphone listening, because I have had terrible tinnitus lately. I’m starting to think it is related to the medicines I am taking, rather than volume level, however. I never listen to music that loud though my headphones. 🤷‍♂️

Google’s ads just look like search results now. This is yet another bad move by Google. I’m glad I don’t use Google for search anymore.

My internet connection has been on and off sporadically today. It’s day #2 with a new cable modem on a new ISP. I hope there is just some kind of bug in the ISP’s provisioning process that will sort itself out. It has been frustrating to have to reboot the modem so many times.

I’m cancelling FIOS over the phone now. Where I live, I have two ISPs to choose from, and (have) had to switch providers every two years or so because each one hikes the bill quite a bit after a certain period. I’m glad I have the option, but it is an annoying to have to do it.

📺 Cool! “Star Trek: Picard” is getting some good reviews, like this one.

This morning amounted to a last-minute doctor appointment and a trip to the pharmacy. Winter colds are not fun.

‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Is Now the Worst-Reviewed ‘Star Wars’ Movie

Per Matt Golderberg at Collider: Now, the final Rotten Tomatoes tally has come in, and it looks like The Rise of Skywalker is the worst-reviewed Star Wars movie ever, sitting at 52%, one percent lower than Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. I actually enjoyed Rise of Skywalker. The Last Jedi was the film that ruined the Star Wars franchise for me—it wasn’t really bad, like The Phantom Menace, but it both added and threw out so much of the Star Wars canon that it made the phone thing seem silly and unimportant.…

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🎵 Today’s listen: “Kiwanuka” by Michael Kiwanuka. With its mix of soul, Afrobeat, and psychedelia, it sounds timeless, or, maybe, somehow plucked out of time and brought forward about forty years to now.

🎵 "Gotta Get Up" in "Russion Doll"

I was thinking of “Russian Doll” and put on “Gotta Get Up” by Harry Nillson. Curious about the song, I looked it up on Wikipedia. From Wikipedia: In 2019, “Gotta Get Up” was prominently featured as the “reset” song in the Netflix series Russian Doll. The song plays each time the series’ protagonist Nadia (co-creator Natasha Lyonne) dies and returns to the same location – a bathroom at her 36th birthday party.…

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📺 The Morning Show is actually pretty good

I was sick all weekend and, consequently, watched way more TV than usual. I watched most of the Apple TV+ series “The Morning Show”. From what I had heard about it online and in various podcasts, I had anticipated a disappointing, underwhelming drama that grasped for, but never reached, Aaron Sorkin-esque heights. I was pleasantly surprised, however. I liked it quite a bit. If this is mediocre TV, then much of what I have been watching the past couple years must be truly bad.…

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I am giving up on Marvin 3 (an iOS ePub reader) once again. The app cannot remember my place in the book I’m reading, and that is infuriating. I am back to using Hyphen.

🎵 Today’s listen: “Free Yourself Up” by Lake Street Dive, which is a fun, Boston-based, blue-eyed-soul group. My favorite track on this album is “Good Kisser”, which is what I mainly choose listen to when building a playlist, but the whole record is worth a listen.

I’m all for dropping “Fox” from 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight studios, now that Disney owns them. Good riddance.

🎵 Today’s listen: “69 Love Songs” by The Magnetic Fields. This is an amazing triple album full of diverse, smart, and interesting songs-not just love songs, but songs about love, and even about love songs. There really are 69 songs, 23 per album, which make it almost a box set in and of itself.

Maybe this version of Xcode (11.3.1) will be good. 😅

🎵 Today’s listen: “Immunity” by Clairo. It’s studio-produced lounge pop from a lo-fi bedroom pop YouTube sensation. “Sofia” is my favorite song on it. It reminds me a lot of my old “Blonde Redhead” albums.

I wish that Corbin Smith’s article “Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s firing and Houston Astros' punishment for stealing signs is absurd” supported the argument in the headline even more forcefully. It was fun to read a contrarian take on the MLB cheating scandal du jour.

🎵 Today’s album: “Heard it in a Past Life” by Maggie Rogers. It’s a decent pop album and I really like her voice, but overall it wasn’t a terribly interesting listen for me.

🎵 Today’s listen: “1989” by Ryan Adams. It’s a melancholy, largely acoustic cover of Taylor Swift’s massively more famous album of the same name. I think reinterpreting these songs was a great idea, but I prefer the big, studio sound of the original album.

Cory Booker dropped his presidential bid. I really like Booker, though I was never convinced that his presidential run would succeed. I (selfishly) hope that he remains one of my state’s senators for a long, long time.

Joker’s Oscar Nominations Are a Joke

Dan Kois, on Slate, rips into “Joker”, which today was nominated for a surprising 11 Oscars: Today—as Joker receives 11 Oscar nominations, the most of any movie, including Best Picture and Best Director—is the day that someone must stand astride the tracks and say: Enough. Stop the madness. Joker is not the best picture of the year. Joker is dumb as hell. The entire article is a fun-to-read tirade against the movie—it’s the sort of contrarian opinion piece that Slate used to be renowned for.…

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🎵 Today's listen: ["Reveal" by R.E.M.](

This album is probably known as one of R.E.M.’s lesser efforts. When it came out in 2001, I didn’t like it. Compared to R.E.M.’s earlier work, it felt pat and drowsy. The mid-tempo arrangements lacked insistence and energy, and all the studio sound effects felt unnatural and unmusical to me at the time. I played it once and didn’t listen to it any more. A few years later, one of my friends said, offhandedly, after “All the Way to Reno (Our’s Gonna be a Star)” came on the radio, that he absolutely loved the album.…

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📺 “Russian Doll" is a really trippy take on the Groundhog Day-type plot. It has managed to get really, really weird now that I’m close to the end. (No spoilers, please!)

I’m working overtime now because life is unfair sometimes.

My iPhone 7 Plus has—for a second time, due to a battery swap over a year ago—gotten to the point in its life where I have to recharge it a couple times to make it through the day. It’s not at the point where a new battery is warranted, but it is starting to feel old.

🎵 Today’s album: “The King is Dead” by The Decemberists. It’s acoustic, Americana-inspired, and is one of the best produced, best sounding albums in my collection. The sound is so warm and the melodies so gentle that it’s easy to forget the album’s themes of death and rebirth.

🎵 Today’s album, “Cut & Stitch” by Petrol Girls. It’s fun, furious, feminist punk rock, peppered with rage, teeming with energy, tinged with emotion, and full of interesting and varied soundscapes.

❓Do any micro-bloggers use reusable grocery bags? I’m trying to find something suitable for huge shopping trips (imagine a shopping cart filled to the brim). The boxy, rigid-sided ones seem appealing, but I’m not so sure about machine washing them, which apparently is necessary.

🎵 Today’s album: “Diatom Ribbons” by Kris Davis

Kris Davis is a jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader. The New York Times crowned “Diatom Ribbons” as the #1 jazz album of 2019:

Kris Davis, 39, has spent years as her generation’s powerhouse pianist in waiting. No longer. On “Diatom Ribbons,” her skills as a composer, band assembler, system builder and improviser — a musical auteur, basically — come fully into focus. Ms. Davis builds her compositions on crooked patterns and splintered loops that somehow become a kind of magnetic touchstone, bringing together wildly diverse musicians in tangled unity.

I don’t listen to jazz that much anymore but I used to listen to it for hours on end as I read and wrote my way through my senior year of college. (It helped that I could get countless jazz CDs for free at the library.) “Diatom Ribbons” is more edgy and experimental than the classic jazz I grew up on, but I found it quite enjoyable. Listening to it is like visiting a musical world I kind of understand, and kind of don’t, but feeling warm and welcome all the same.

I need to start thinking of exercise as an excuse to watch TV rather than as punishment for eating too many cookies.

🤫 Don’t mind me, I’m just testing new 🎧 today. 🎵😃🎵

As with the original Segway, my thoughts on this new product are: “why would anybody want this?”

🎵 In lieu of music this morning, I’m listening to the folks at The Incomparable overanalyze The Rise of Skywalker. It’s fun to listen to, especially because the last two Star Wars movies were so divisive. It will be fun to hear Gruber’s take on “The Talk Show” someday.

This article about ChromeOS’s shortcomings made me wonder just how much better the web would be if Google had never bought Android. Once, Google made some of the best user-facing software for the web. It has not done so in years, in my opinion.

🎵 Today’s album: “Two Hands” by Big Thief. I saw this album on the top of Bob Boilen’s top ten albums of 2019 list. I liked it a lot more than I liked UFOF, but I don’t think this band speaks to me. I probably will revisit the first half of this album sometime, but that’s about it.

I forgot this guy was even running for president.

🎧 Does tremolo that ping-pongs between the left and right channels bother everybody who listens through headphones, or is it just me? It literally makes me feel seasick. 🤢

🎵 I can’t decide on an album to listen to this morning. I wish there was a playlist for “how do I start the work week on a Thursday after nearly two weeks off?” I guess Jason Snell’s 2019 Selections playlist will do for now.

This list of the 50 best shows on Netflix cheats a bit by actually recommending 100 series. The amount of content out there is just overwhelming.

I want to start coding every night once again. I kind of fell out of the habit last year due to being sick, exhausted, or busy with holiday-related stuff. Now’s as good a time as any to jump back into my personal projects with both feet.

When Christmas Day and New Years Day fall on Wednesdays, the end of the year feels like a series of three-day weekends, rather than a week or so off. Tomorrow and Friday will likely be quiet, kind of pointless work days.

I am not planning to look back and reflect on 2019. Instead I will look forward to the future.

🎬 I really enjoyed Rise of the Skywalker. Sure, it contains fan service, but, honestly, all sequels are fan service. I liked it a lot more than The Last Jedi, and think that reviewers like A.O. Scott are just blowing off steam about franchise films or something.

🎵 Album of the day: Better Oblivion Community Center’s eponymous debut. B.O.C.C. is the duo of Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst. I’m only familiar with Conor Oberst, and I think this album fits in very well with the rest of his work. It is quiet, moody indie rock. The songs are beautiful and the production sounds good.

When I read articles about the obesity rate in the United States, like this one, I’m surprised to learn that it is as low as 40%. It seems so much higher here.

I’m really looking forward to latkes all of a sudden.

🎵 Album of the Day: “Designer” by Aldous Harding. It is a quiet, intimate, folksy album that reminded me a little of Hope Sandoval from Mazzy Star.

Obamacare Insurance Mandate Is Struck Down by Federal Appeals Court

Abby Goodnotes reports in the New York Times: A federal appeals court on Wednesday struck down a central provision of the Affordable Care Act, ruling that the requirement that people have health insurance was unconstitutional. Who didn’t see this coming? Surely not the Republicans in Congress who removed the ACA tax penalty for not having health insurance.…

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Pop mastermind Jack Antonoff is N.J.’s artist of the decade

Bobby Oliver posted a profile of one of my favorite current musicians (songwriter, producer, collaborator, and band leader), Jack Antonoff: Antonoff is an overwhelming, chameleonic presence and an easy pick as New Jersey’s most dynamic and prolific artist of the 2010s — no local musician has created so much or touched so many corners of the industry. His extensive impact is felt at the Grammys, on the radio and deep within whatever streaming service millennial listeners call home.…

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I bought my ticket to “Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker” and can’t wait until Friday night to be disappointed by it. 😅

The Miseducation of the American Boy

Peggy Orenstein’s article in The Atlantic exploring the sorry state of musculinity, as experienced by the American teenager, is well written and worth reading: Feminism may have provided girls with a powerful alternative to conventional femininity, and a language with which to express the myriad problems-that-have-no-name, but there have been no credible equivalents for boys. Quite the contrary: The definition of masculinity seems to be in some respects contracting. When asked what traits society values most in boys, only 2 percent of male respondents in the PerryUndem survey said honesty and morality, and only 8 percent said leadership skills—traits that are, of course, admirable in anyone but have traditionally been considered masculine.…

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🎵 Album of the day: “U.F.O.F.” by Big Thief. I found it on several “best of 2019” lists. It’s a quiet folk-rock album, with ruminative lyrics and a sound that borders on dream pop in places. I’m not sure if it really speaks to me, though.

I’m releasing updates of two of my apps this week, with very minor updates. I have found it hard to sit down and work on new features or the next version of any of my apps for the past couple months. One thing that keeps happenings that I get caught up in indecision about what to do, how to design it, and how to code it. I’m hoping to move past this phase and get back into a flow state soon, but first, I have to push forward.

NPR Music Staff Picks: The Best Albums Of 2019

If I were smart, I would listen to every album on this massive list-of-lists, over the next few months. I kind of like the idea of all the critics' top albums in one place a lot better than a single, definitive list.…

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LogMeIn is being acquired by a private equity firm. I hope this doesn’t make LastPass, which LogMeIn acquired in 2015, worse or more expensive.

🎵 Today’s album: “So” by Peter Gabriel. It’s a masterpiece. I kind of forgot that, and had not listened to it in several years. I barely know what else to say.

Maybe I am unplugged from things because of my age or something, but it seems to me that hardly anyone is excited about the new “Star Wars” movie coming out this week. I’m not excited either, but I want to see it eventually. I’m wondering if the drastic tonal shifts in “The Last Jedi” killed fans' enthusasiam the franchise.

I have reached the time of year in which my hands are so dry that fingerprint sensors no longer work for me.

I really like this video in which audiophile YouTuber DMS describes all the jargon you need to know to decipher hifi headphone reviews. I wish I had seen this six years ago or so when I first got into good headphones.

📺 “Watchmen”, which ended last night (spoilers ahead if you read the linked article) is easily the best sci-fi/fantasy show I’ve since since “Westworld” season 1. I actually hope HBO either (1) doesn’t make a season 2, or (2) gives several years for something that equals it to be developed, because “Watchmen” was just perfect.

The reviews for “Frozen II” might be lackluster, but I really liked it, and think that the songs, though few in number, are great. I think I preferred them before I saw the movie, but that’s just me.

🎵 Today’s listen: Hawksley Workman’s “For Him and the Girls”. The songwriting is strong and eclectic, some of the hooks are really catchy, and he played all the instruments and recorded it himself. The top track for me is “No Sissies” though I’m not sure how well its title has aged.

The real problem with robocalls, contrary to what is in The Verge today, is that they have undermined the usefulness of the telephone. Do you pick up the phone for “unknown caller”? I usually don’t. All phone calls have become suspicious for me, unless they are pre-scheduled meetings.

Van Halen’s “1984” is a great album and still holds up today, I think, even with all those synth lines. It certainly sounds great all the way through. It’s a shame about rock being dead and all…😅

Plex is a great music player on iOS. I’m playing lossless tracks (from my old CD rips) stored on my home server, over the network, over AirPlay, controlled by my iPad. I love seeing the song’s waveform on the progress bar, and reading the rich metadata about each album I listen to.

I’m spending some time pruning my music collection, which I barely listen to anymore, but is higher quality (all CD rips or 24/96k files!) than Apple Music. It has been so long, though, that I forgot most of my file renaming and converting tricks.

FreeNAS Plans - 2020 and Beyond!

It looks like FreeNAS is, eventually, going to run on top of Debian Linux, not just FreeBSD. VP of Engineering Kris Moore posted today: […] we’re going to be hard at work in 2020 to make our 12.0 code portable across multiple OS platforms. The middleware at the core of FreeNAS is already pretty portable today, and we want to start extending its reach. That’s pretty cool. Good on them to unbolt their software from the underlying OS.…

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Social media is a scam. Who knew?

Davey Alba reports in the New York Times:

[…The] report also brings renewed attention to an often overlooked vulnerability for internet platforms: companies that sell clicks, likes and comments on social media networks. Many of the companies are in Russia, according to the researchers. Because the social networks’ software ranks posts in part by the amount of engagement they generate, the paid activity can lead to more prominent positions.

No kidding that engagement is fake. Paying for fake “Likes” is the same kind of thing as paying for fake clicks, which is a scam performed to goose online ad revenue.

Samantha Bradshaw, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, a department at Oxford University, said easy social media manipulation could have implications for European elections this year and the 2020 presidential election in the United States.

“Fake engagement — whether generated by automated or real accounts — can skew the perceived popularity of a candidate or issue,” Ms. Bradshaw said. “If these strategies are used to amplify disinformation, conspiracy and intolerance, social media could exacerbate the polarization and distrust that exist within society.”

Of course, paying to amplify a message will, indeed, amplify it, even if that message is false or destructive to the fabric of society. It’s too bad that social media is so addictive. It is cause so many problems.

Our dishwasher broke over the weekend. I washed dishes for hours Saturday and Sunday, and we are still behind on it. I’ve got my fingers crossed that it can be fixed today. I’m tired of, and don’t have time for, this drudgery!

The rumor that Apple’s 2021 iPhone will have no ports disturbs me for one big reason: CarPlay. No cars that I know of support wireless CarPlay (did that even ship?), and phones often need a charge on a long car ride. Apple could solve those problems with some kind of adapter, but who wants yet another dongle?

If AirPlay 2 really is cracked, and will work soon in shareport-sync on Linux, that is pretty exciting for me. I have been really enjoying pushing all my audio from all my devices (iPhone, two iPads, and a MacBook Pro) to a single Linux server, running shareport-sync, connected to my external DAC/Amp. Uncompressed audio goes over the network via the AirPlay 1 protocol. AirPlay 2 is better for multi-room audio, and has a shorter delay.

🎵 Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Today I learned that the Beatles' “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” is widely reviled. From the Wikipedia article: “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” is often the subject of ridicule. In 2004, it was included in Blender magazine’s list titled “50 Worst Songs Ever!"[61] and was voted the worst song of all time in an online poll organised by Mars.[62] In 2012, the NME’s website editor, Luke Lewis, argued that the Beatles had recorded “a surprising amount of ropy old toss”, and singled out “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” as “the least convincing cod-reggae skanking this side of the QI theme tune”.…

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Peak TV is exhausting to me. I recognize about half of the titles on this best-of-2019 list, and I listen weekly to a TV-related podcast.

🎵 I’m changing pace today with a classic rock album: “The Kids are Alright” by The Who. I’m very familiar with some of the tracks, of course, but I don’t think I’ve ever listened to this album.

🎵 I’m taking the “COMPLEX Best Alternative R&B Artists” playlist on Apple Music out for a spin today.

JDS Labs Element II

I have been eyeing the JDS Labs Element II desktop DAC/amp for about a week now. It looks great (I want the huge volume knob), it has all the power I would ever need, and it has gotten some great reviews regarding its sound quality and the excellence of its amp. I have almost bought it twice, and have almost bought its cheaper, older sibling, the famous Objective2+ODAC once from JDS and once from its other US manufacturer, Mayflower Electronics.…

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🎵 House music, which is not normally my thing, sounds much more exciting with my more bass-heavy V-Moda headphones. 🎧

🎵 Green, by R.E.M.

I spent most of my workday listening to music today, and really enjoyed it. One album I revisited, thanks to a remaster and, basically, nostalgia, was “Green” by R.E.M. Green was my first R.E.M. album, which I got when I was in middle school. (I don’t remember how I learned about them. I know it wasn’t from hearing “Stand”. It was probably from browsing “Rolling Stone” in a bookstore.) Now, instead of reading liner notes while I listen to an album, I surf the web for album reviews to read instead.…

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📺 “Watchmen” is still fantastic. I’m going to miss it once season one is over—which is really soon.

Today is day one for my diet, once again. Thanksgiving turned from a one meal deviance to a week-long cargo-loading buffet. Now I’m back to clean eating (I hope!).

I’m not a big Black Friday shopper, but I did pick up a bunch (too many) Nintendo Switch games for sale for $15 and under.

The gingerbread looks good to me. I’m excited to try some tomorrow.

Prepping to make gingerbread later

Baking snickerdoodles

Lin-Manuel Miranda isn't the Lee Scoresby we remember from _His Dark Materials_, but he isn't meant to be.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is both (1) the primary reason I got interested in the “His Dark Materials” TV series, and (2) didn’t seem right to play the “grizzled Texas cowboy” character, Lee Scoresby. I barely remember the movie version of “The Golden Compass”, but what I do remember is Sam Elliott playing that role. Myles McNutt, writing for the A.V. Club, argues that that is intentional, and has a pretty good take on Miranda’s part:…

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We changed my son’s crib into a toddler bed today, and he hasn’t gotten out of it yet! (I’m tempting fate by sharing this, I bet.)

I don’t mind that Apple removed user reviews from the Apple Store website. Honestly, those reviews were sparsely populated and completely unhelpful.

AirPlay and an audiophile DAC/Amp on Ubuntu

I did a little audio geekery this evening. I set up shairport-sync on the little Ubuntu server that sits toward the back of my desk, so that I can AirPlay to it from all my iOS devices. AirPlay is great because it transmits audio over WiFi with no quality degredation, and AirPlay devices are always listed in iOS, unlike BlueTooth speakers, which have to be connected to. Next, I configured PulseAudio to automatically switch to my headphone DAC/Amp when I turn it on.…

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Why do I keep wanting to buy new audio equipment (DACs and amps, mostly, now that I have so many headphones), when what I probably should want is a subscription to a lossless, hi-def streaming service? I am happy with, but stuck with, an Apple Music family plan.

I canceled my Apple Arcade subscription. It was…not for me, which surprised me, to be honest. I wish I hadn’t bought an Xbox Wireless Controller to use with my iPad and Apple TV, but I can still use it for other games, I guess.

🎵 I am enjoying the album “All Mirrors” by Angel Olsen.

I was doing pretty well with the New York Times crossword puzzles this week—until this morning, that is. 🤯

📺 I watched Bears from Disneynature tonight with my kids. The photography is just incredible, and it is exactly the sort of thing I want to get my kids interested in. My daughter loved it so much she drew a picture of a bear. 🐻😀

One thing holding me back from ordering more Amazon Echo Show devices, for other rooms in my house, is the feeling that I don’t own them. I can’t fully control what is displayed on the screen (I just want the clock), which is frustrating.

I wish there was a social club for people who want to go to concerts that aren’t too loud for my ears to handle.

I can’t wait until the day that Google announces that Android is canceled. That has to be coming someday. Google will stop updating Android and start releasing Pixel phones based on some GoogleOS that is more locked down and more beneficial to Google.

Google is shutting down its Cloud Print feature in 2020. Never rely on Google to keep anything around that isn’t Search. 🙄

I’m doing some work out of order today because I just discovered something that will make putting my current tasks off even more difficult. 😱 It doesn’t help that it’s Friday, and I’m not working at 8:00 AM tomorrow.

Tonight was another night when the Apple two-factor authentication popup started alerting me over and over that someone was trying to sign in, in my area, with my account and password. I don’t see how that is even possible, but I changed my password yet again.

🎵 I love “Dream Boy” by Beach Bunny. It’s such a fun song, and everything about it is great, from the lyric to the vulnerable vocals to the production. I wish it had been around when I was younger and listened to a lot more power pop and emo—it would have fit right in.

The Kids Who Love ‘Frozen’ and the Parents Who Love Them

My daughter is a little like the kids in this light article by Kevin Noble Maillard: What’s the most accurate way to describe kids’ relationship to “Frozen”? Adoration is insufficient, and obsession is downright weak. It’s more like a cathexis, an acutely intense energy focused on a singular entity. My daughter was borderline obsessed with Frozen for about five years. It lulled a bit for a while, but the existence of “Frozen II” on the horizon has revived her enthusiasm, especially with Elsa, quite a bit this year.…

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Disney+ Nature Movies

I am going to start trying to get my kids to watch the nature documentary-style movies on Disney+ later today. The new ones look gorgeous, and the old ones had fun narratives, invented from the wildlife footage, to follow. I loved the old True Life Adventures movies that used to be on the Disney channel all the time when I was a kid, and found one of them, The Living Desert on Disney+ last night.…

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I’m pushing a small bug fix update out for one of my apps, and re-thinking my git branching strategies a little, because I have been stuck in version control hell for a while now.

I got over my last cold-turned-sinus-infection late last week, and I am already coming down with the next one. Oh, the joys of having a toddler in preschool. 🤧😕

I am updating my FreeNAS box right now, not because I need to keep it current (it’s working fine), but because I can’t help myself. 🤞

My personal life today consisted of no news, then bad news, then good news, all on different fronts. I plan to unwind a bit, later on, and watch “His Dark Materials” on HBO.

I am happy that I have subscribed to the “Poem-a-Day” email series from Each new poem makes my world a tiny bit bigger. Poetry is something I have missed, without realizing it, since I studied and wrote it in college.

The Mister Rogers No One Saw

Jeanne Marie Laskas’s article in The New York Times is absolutely wonderful: “If you make him out to be a saint, people might not know how hard he worked,” Joanne said. Disciplined, focused, a perfectionist — an artist. That was the Fred she and the cast and crew knew. “I think people think of Fred as a child-development expert,” David Newell, the actor who played Mr. “Speedy Delivery” McFeely, told me recently.…

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I started my day by putting “do something great" at the top of my task list. The greatest thing I did today was rather humble: I cooked delicious butternut squash soup for my family. I will count that as a win.

The credit card my wife and I use the most got compromised again yesterday. It happens about once every year or two. I don’t know how it happens, but the bank’s fraud detection always catches it somehow, so I guess we are ok. 🤷‍♂️

I have to do required ethics training today for one of my audit certifications. Unfortunately, having watched “The Good Place” does not excuse me from the CPE requirements.

I hope to start to get more meaningful programming work done this week. I have been sick or on antibiotics (which knock me out) for the past three weeks.

There’s nothing like an unscheduled play date in a few hours to get me to clean up the messy parts of the house I normally don’t want to bother with.

Democrats should not move to the left or the right to win in future elections. They should move to Wyoming.

The amount of family disruption that has started since our 2-year-old son discovered he can boss around Alexa is absolutely staggering.

Thoughts on Apple Arcade

So far, I have found Apple Arcade to be overwhelming, in terms of number of games available, and underwhelming, in terms of whether I want to spend more time playing games. One gem I found was “Shantae and the Seven Sirens” (a colorful Metroidvania-style game). I wanted to like the Oceanhorn sequel better than I did, but it just didn’t grab me. There are lots of irreverent, mobile-style games, too, which I tried, but can’t really justify putting more time into.…

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The Wonderful world of Chinese Hi-Fi

I enjoyed this article about Chi-Fi from at The Verge: The factories that make the drivers don’t care who they sell to; they maintain a certain level of quality because their clients depend on that. And once you’ve sourced the parts, it’s not expensive at all to put them together. “If you have a van and a bottle of glue,” Klasco says, “you can be in the business.” I am a happy customer of one of the oldest Chi-Fi brands, HifiMan, which makes planar magnetic headphones at super low prices.…

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I voted in my town’s local election this evening. It worries me, in a way that it hadn’t before, that our voting machines do not create a hard copy record of our votes—just an idiotic, digital bloop. I hope my vote still counts.

I am not sure why, but I keep thinking lately that I need to read poetry by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

I had to reboot my iPad (iPadOS 13.2) to get the Files app to show me the same files on iCloud Drive that my iPhone (iOS 13.2) shows. As the developer of a Files-based app, this kind of thing is really frustrating! 😢

Call me crazy, but the last thing I want to read is “How Trump Reshaped the Presidency in 11,000 Tweets.”

I think the clock change today actually allowed my family to catch up on a little sleep today. That’s a first!

I have a cold. 🤒😤

I made it through Halloween without eating any candy! I did eat a little homemade brownie, but I don’t feel too guilty about that.

I both (1) don’t want everything to be partisan, and (2) don’t understand why two Democratic representatives in the House (including one from my state) voted against the Trump impeachment rules resolution. Note that I already don’t expect_any_ of the Republicans to act in good faith.

Foul weather, though not as foul as expected, canceled my daughter’s Halloween parade this morning. We’ll see in a couple hours how trick-or-treating will be affected. It’s not raining right now, so who knows?

Teal Pumpkins Make Halloween Less Tricky For Kids With Food Allergies

[Tove Danovich writes about the Teal Pumpkin project on](Teal Pumpkins Make Halloween Less Tricky For Kids With Food Allergies): Having a teal pumpkin on the doorstep (teal being the color of food allergy awareness) is a way to signal to people with food allergies that this is a safe home for trick-or-treating, says Jennifer Norris, president of the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET), which started the project.…

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Twitter Will Ban All Political Ads, C.E.O. Dorsey Says

Kate Conger of the New York Times reports: Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, said on Wednesday that the social media service would ban political ads on its platform, in a stark contrast to rival Facebook, which has faced blowback for taking a hands-off approach to political advertising. This is definitely the correct position to take, based on what we already know about the scale and effectiveness of social media disinformation campaigns, which are largely driven through social media advertising.…

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I ordered an Apple Watch Series 3 for my wife last night. I hope she loves it. I wonder if we will actually use the walkie-talkie feature.

🎵 R.E.M.’s Monster is an underrated album, though it certainly is very much of its moment (the mid 1990s).

I am currently baffled that Apple’s NSDataDetector will not identify the “tel:” link in the string “call tel:1-212-555-1415” but will identify it in the string “call_ tel:1-212-555-1415” and in the string “call tel:212-555-1415”. I guess “call” is a magic word when it precedes " tel:" for some reason.

The Secret Ingredient That Improves Meat Every Time is mayonnaise. Nope. No, no, no! I think you’re a genius, Kenji, but no.

My wife really wants an Apple Watch. I can’t believe it. She is eyeing the Series 3 (the lower price is a big factor, as is the smaller size).

Sony to shut down PlayStation Vue in January 2020

Samit Sarkar reports about the impending closure on Polygon: “Unfortunately, the highly competitive Pay TV industry, with expensive content and network deals, has been slower to change than we expected,” said John Kodera, deputy president of Sony Interactive Entertainment, in a statement on the PlayStation Blog. “Because of this, we have decided to remain focused on our core gaming business.” That’s too bad, but not at all surprising.…

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🎵 Peter Buck and Mike Mills (of R.E.M. fame) are in a supergroup that only performs original songs about baseball. The world is a weird and wonderful place.

Maybe macOS 10.15.1 will stop Xcode edit windows form tearing and revealing snapshots “The Matrix” behind them when I switch tabs. 🤞

Peter Luger Used to Sizzle. Now It Sputters.

I hate to admit it, but I love reading a good pan of an expensive restauarant. Case in point, today’s review of Peter Luger, the Brooklyn steakhouse, by Pete Wells, in the New York Times: The restaurant will always have its loyalists. They will laugh away the prices, the $16.95 sliced tomatoes that taste like 1979, the $229.80 porterhouse for four. They will say that nobody goes to Luger for the sole, nobody goes to Luger for the wine, nobody goes to Luger for the salad, nobody goes to Luger for the service.…

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Once again, WinSCP is making me happy. It would be even nicer if I could drag from one instance of it to another, though.

🎮 I got the Xbox Wireless Controller that I ordered today, after a weekend of telling myself I will cut back on the hours I spend on gaming (only a few per week, but still).

📺 I remain excited for the “His Dark Materials” series. The last preview I saw made me wonder if it would be more goofy than good, but this teaser, in which author Philip Pullman provides some soundbites, has pulled me back in to being into it.

Apple introduces AirPods Pro

Dan Moren, on Six Colors, reports: Boasting a new design with flexible ear tips, the AirPods Pro add the highly-anticipated Active Noise Cancellation feature to remove background noise and provide better sound. I am happy that the AirPods Pro will not replace the base AirPods model, which I like precisely because it (1) does not fit inside the ear canal, and (2) lets outside noises in, which is great for safety and comfort.…

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🎮 “Hollow Knight” kicked my ass this evening. I tried to beat The Trial of the Fool for about an hour, to no avail. The game was so much easier when I was playing it for a couple hours every night. I lost a lot of muscle memory since I stopped.

The Curious Design of Mail’s Message Action Toolbar in iOS 13

John Gruber took note of the terrible UI decisions Apple made on its iOS Mail app. The new toolbar in iOS 13 Mail is just strange. The old toolbar had discrete buttons for Flag, Move, Trash/Archive, Reply, and New Message. Now it’s just Trash and Reply, with all of the other functionality stashed in the new Reply action sheet, pictured here half-height and full-height. That new “Reply” action sheet is really a “Do Something With This Message” sheet — I’m not sure what the icon for this should be, but the Reply icon seems like an odd choice.…

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🎮 I just used the last of my birthday money to purchase an Xbox wireless controller, which I can use with my Windows 10 PC, my Apple TV, and my iPad Pro. I’ve had my eye on one since Apple Arcade came out. I’m starting to eye Steam, too, for more metroidvania-style games.

🎮 I started a third playthrough of Hollow Knight last night. I am eagerly awaiting its announced sequel, Silksong, and don’t know what other game to buy that will scratch the same itch for me. It is such a well-crafted game, and its bosses are still quite challenging to me.

My commit history, in my apps and in my life (if that is a thing), is a mess.

📺 I watched the premiere episode of “Watchmen” a couple days ago and am still a little shaken by it. I am not sure I liked it, but it certainly made an upsetting and confounding impression on me.

I noticed that Lucas/"AppleProgramming" is posting new tutorial videos to YouTube, after a 3-year absence. I learned a lot from his videos when I was developing my first Mac OS X app. (He has lots of iOS tutorials as well.) His videos are really good, and there is a terrible dearth of information on the web about Mac programming.

📺 I got to watch it a bit late, but I was please that “The Good Place” returned to form in their last episode. I have thought that Season 4 has felt tired so far (the new characters really don’t help), but last week’s episode was sharp and funny. I hope tonight’s is as well.

Tech podcasts have been a huge bummer to listen to lately. Tech used to be fun (for the most part), but it is now it is so entwined in the downfall of civilization that I am seriously considering unsubscribing from podcasts I have listened to for over ten years.

⚾️ MLB At Bat has been crashing on me every time I try to watch a World Series game this morning. 🙁

🎵 I have been listening to all the singles and EPs from Us the Duo while working the past couple hours. Their recordings all sound great and are relaxing, but not too relaxing, sounds to work to. (I think some of the songs are covers, but I’m not sure.)

I noticed a big price drop on the Chord Mojo, a highly rated headphone DAC/amp combo. I have birthday money in my pocket, but I don’t think a new DAC is the best way to spend it.

🎵 There’s a new, remastered version of “Jollification” by The Lightning Seeds out now.

Things don’t look too good for “Sunnyside”, which looks to be cancelled in all but name. I watched the pilot a couple weeks ago, and found it the most sitcom-y of Michael Shur’s shows so far, which isn’t a good thing.

At some point, Apple Music started supporting a lot more terrestrial and online radio stations. I’m listening to WQXR American Standards, which wasn’t available before unless I launched the TuneIn app or something similar.

I don’t know what to say re: everything at the moment. 🤷‍♂️

Beats announces Solo Pro on-ear headphones with noise cancellation

Chris Welsh from The Verge reports: Beats is today introducing the Solo Pro, a $299.95 set of wireless headphones that add noise cancellation to the on-ear form factor shared by the company’s long line of previous Solo headphones. These are, for all intents and purposes, the Solo 4 Wireless, but they’ve been rebranded to match the Powerbeats Pro (and iPhone 11 Pro and every other tech product that now has “pro” tacked on to its name).…

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🎵 How did I not know there was a new Avett Brother’s album?

I have learned that my 2013 rMBP is too old to be compatible with Catalina’s Sidecar feature. I guess it’s one less thing I have to worry about.

Apple Releases macOS Catalina With Find My, Screen Time, and No More iTunes

My Catalina upgrade was a headache. Here is a bullet list of my woes: The install process stalled for about an hour on “Setting up your Mac”. I eventually gave up waiting and forced my Mac to shut down. Luckily, after a reboot, the installation continued and completed in mere seconds. System Preferences alerted me that there was a problem with my iCloud account sign-in. Entering my credentials again (several times) did not resolve the warning.…

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The local high today is predicted to be 93º. I really miss fall, which is a season we used to have between late September and late December.

🎵 I discovered new albums by “The New Pornographers” and “Belle & Sebastian” today. They totally made my day.

Apple's New Map, Expansion #5: Northeast U.S.

Apple Maps is significantly better in my part of the world (New Jersey) than it was a couple days ago. Justin O’Beirne documented many of these improvements in an epic article, full of graphics that illustrate the types of improvements that were made: On September 30, 2019, Apple’s new map expanded to the Northeast U.S. This is the fifth time that Apple has expanded its new map since its public launch in September 2018.…

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I should start a “Why did I even read this article?!” link blog.

📺 I am excited that “The Good Place” is returning tonight. This season will be its last. I hope they nail the ending. 🤞

I long for the days where the tech podcasts I listen to are less politically charged than the political podcasts I listen to.

I know the iOS 13 beta season was rough, but iOS 13.0 (non-beta) was not so bad for me. I think the press has been overly harsh about the production releases (13.0 and 13.1) so far.

I just learned that to replace the busted blender jar and lid in my kitchen will cost $175 + tax. Excuse me while I lift my jaw up off the floor. I guess I’ll go buy a new blender.

How to Boil the Perfect Egg

I am 100% on board for a new food column in the New York Times by J. Kenji López-Alt: Years ago, in an effort to answer a perennial question — what’s the best way to boil an egg? — I hatched a plan using the only method I know: lots and lots of testing. Kenji’s egg boiling method, which is egg steaming actually, is probably better than my own, which I picked up from Alton Brown.…

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I hope that today wasn’t the last day this year that my family will visit the beach.

🎮 I will probably hold off on trying Apple Arcade until it is available on Apple TV. I prefer gaming with a controller and on a big screen. I am currently very much into my Nintendo Switch again, and don’t need more games right now, either.

I am giving Icro 2.0 a serious go right now, and I am very impressed.

Cooking updates: Homemade chicken soup is still delicious, even after three weekly iterations. As a bonus for my kids, I am baking a chocolate snack cake for tonight’s dessert.

Web browsers I use, ranked in the order of how much I like them

Safari: This is the only browser I use on Apple’s platforms. It is fast, has just enough extensibility to block ads (with 1Blocker), and has a great reader view. The only reason I use the others is that I have a Windows computer and a work computer that runs Windows. Firefox: Firefox’s looks and speed have improved since the last time I looked at it (a couple years ago). It is the most privacy focused browser there is, and its reader view is great.…

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For non-work browsing on Windows, I’m switching back to FireFox.

Doctor’s offices seem to be asking for coinsurance payments up front lately rather than sending me a bill after my appointment. I wonder what all the reasons for this are.

I just kicked Calendars 5 off my phone. iOS 13’s Calendar, NotePlan, and Drafts’s “Fantastically Good Event Parser” will have to do.

I really like the new watch faces that come with watchOS 6.

I’m upgrading my iPhone 7 to iOS 13.0. 🤞 I am debating whether to jump on the iPadOS 13.1 beta for my main iPad, a 2017 iPad Pro, so that I keep on the same major release across devices.

Cooler autumn weather means roasted chicken, chicken soup, and home-baked bread for my family. I’ve got the chicken and soup down pat, but I am re-learning how to make bread properly in our old bread machine. The first loaf rose too much and didn’t bake to my satisfaction.

🎵 Amazon Music HD

I have the premium headphones and DACs that would make Amazon Music HD, it’s new hidef tier, worthwhile for me. But…I really don’t want to subscribe to anything other than Apple Music, due in large part to Apple Music’s integration with all my Apple hardware, which makes life easier for me and every member of my family. Also, I do not like how Amazon’s Prime Video app looks or works so much, and don’t want to invite that kind of friction in my music listening experience.…

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🎮 I wonder why no one is saying much about “Oceanhorn 2” in regards to Apple Arcade. I don’t have early access to Apple Arcade, so i can’t find out myself, but that is the game I was most looking forward to out of all of them.

watchOS 6: The Birchtree Review

Matt Birchler posted his review of watchOS 6 today: watchOS 6 is not a massive update to the platform, and you will likely use your watch in largely the same way you always have, but there are some new apps, nice usability updates, no real regressions, and frameworks that will allow third party apps to get better in the future. Basically, it won’t all change your life, but there is probably at least one or two things that you’ll really enjoy in this new update.…

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📺 I didn’t think I would like “Good Omens” but I definitely do. It is funny and I really like the cast. I’m about halfway through it, so I hope it stays as amusing as it is at the start.

I think it is funny that many video game and tech sites are expressing surprise today that Apple Arcade is actually good.

My pie was good but the crust did not meet my standards. I absolutely nailed the Apple filling, though. My family loved it, which is the most important part.

Looks OK so far. It will be difficult to wait till after dinner to try my Apple crumb pie. I think I need to find an actual recipe the next time I make it, though. I’d like a different kind of streusel topping.

Today, I am trying to make the first pie I have made in a very long time.

I wish there was something like RSS for Apple Music. I want “show me everything new by these artists thatI pick in advance, automatically, and I don’t want to miss a thing”. I know Apple Music’s algorithm gets me most of the way there, but I think I still miss new releases quite often.

Why don't I just use an IDE for everything?

I have been working on a PowerShell and SQL-heavy project at work for about a week now. To facilitate PowerShell development, I installed and configured Visual Studio Code, which is Microsoft’s Electron-based code editor. I was not a fan of Visual Studio Code (hereafter called, simply, Code), due mainly to its lumbering speed when compared to Sublime Text, and somewhat, too, due to its brutalist design aesthetic. I must say, after using it for PowerShell development and debugging, that Code has grown on my quite a lot.…

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I have noticed that, since the Apple Card was released, the other credit card companies that I have cards from have substantially updated their apps, cribbing many of Apple Card’s features. From my perspective, the rising tide has raised all boats.

HBO’s His Dark Materials adaptation will premiere on November 4th

Per Chaim Gartenberg of The Verge: After months of teasers and trailers, HBO has finally announced a release date for its upcoming His Dark Materials TV series, which is adapted from the popular fantasy book series by Philip Pullman. It’ll premiere on November 4th on HBO and a day earlier (on November 3rd) on BBC One in the UK. This is something I am excited about—excited enough to subscribe to HBO again to watch—despite not absolutely loving Philip Pullman’s books or the movie version of The Golden Compass.…

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I expect to be getting a new, very powerful Windows 10 laptop soon. I plan to install Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code, SQL Server Express, some kind of Git client, LastPass, maybe iCloud Drive, maybe FireFox, and nothing else. (Just watch: I’ll get into PC gaming somehow.)

It looks like somebody at TidBits forgot to replace the boilerplate text in one of their RSS feed entries today. 😆

Apple Watch Series 5 has an always-on display and comes in titanium or ceramic finishes

Per Brian Seifert of The Verge: The big new feature this year is an always-on display option so you can see the time without having to move your wrist, something that has been asked for since the Apple Watch first debuted in 2015. Apple is going to sell boatloads of Series 5 watches to upgraders, due to the new, always-on display. That is the one feature—and pretty much the only feature—I wish my Apple Watch 4 had.…

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Why is Amazon Cloud Drive turning off all third-party app access? Is that service being folded? I’m glad I did not go all in on it a few years ago.

I will try to watch the Apple keynote later and get a hint of what my next iPhone will be, next year. I’m still rocking the 7 Plus.

I feel really good about the work-related code I wrote today for loading a database (via T-SQL and PowerShell), but I concluded, at the end of the day, that I have to rearrange all the components, and basically rewrite it, tomorrow.

As great as git is, every six months or so I find a way to completely mess up one of my repositories. 😤

I’m digging through documentation into the SQL Server bulk copy command (BCP) this morning, so that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel with my next project.

Tonight, I’m fixing more bugs that I wish my app did not have. 😬

We took the kids to the park, and later ate lunch outside, to take advantage of today’s lovely September weather.

I picked up “Dead Cells” for the Nintendo Switch this evening, and had a blast going through it for an hour or so. I found it really easy to get into and a lot of fun.

🎵 Try to Remember

I love the richness of Jerry Orbach’s baritone on this recording of “Try to Remember” from The Fantasticks. The lyrics are simple, deep, and beautiful, too. Try to remember the kind of September / when you were a tender and callow fellow I like to put this song on repeat when September begins. It’s the sort of song that moves into my psyche and stays with me for a long time.…

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Howard Schultz, Former Starbucks Chief, Won’t Run for President in 2020

From Matt Stevens of the New York Times: In a letter to supporters, Mr. Schultz said he had concluded that an independent bid would pose too great a risk of helping President Trump win a second term. No kidding. I had almost forgotten about Howard Schultz’s completely underthought, hubristic, and irresponsible foray into the U.S. presidential race. I’m glad he finally saw reason.…

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I have spent a ton of time this evening and last with Xcode’s memory graph afeature nd in Instruments, tracking down memory leak bugs. I’m glad I can do this, but it isn’t exactly what I thought I would be working on this week.

Apple Music launches on the web

Chaim Gartenberg of The Verge brings some exciting and long overdue news from Apple: Apple Music is getting a big expansion today with a new web interface that will let subscribers stream music directly from a browser without having to install iTunes or a separate Apple Music app. The new web interface launches today as a public beta for subscribers at I probably won’t use it too much, because I have the full suite of Apple devices at my disposal, but it would be nice to use Apple Music on my Windows laptop without having to install or use iTunes.…

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I RMA’d my daughter’s ChromeBook yesterday. There was about one week left before the 1-year warranty ran out. ASUS paid for the shipping label, which was unexepected but nice of them. Hopefully they will resolve the problem quickly.

I baked and ate some desserts over the holiday weekend, and now my keto-adapted body is, once-again, carb curious. Fortitude!

John Sundell (@johnsundell) is (still) killing it with Swift by Sundell. I love his new, statically generated (by Swift) website.

The Apple Tile-like Device

Per Joe Rossignol and Steve Moser in MacRumors: Apple is developing a Tile-like accessory that will help users keep track of their personal belongings, such as their keys, wallets, and backpacks, according to an internal build of iOS 13 seen by MacRumors. I am a Tile user, and have been for years. I tried and gave up on Tile’s main competitor, Trackr, because Tile worked better, despite its higher cost.…

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Of course, on the day before school starts for my daughter, her $500 ChromeBook dies due to battery problems. The ASUS flaky support website is making me yearn for Apple’s support.

I’d like to extend a hearty thank you to whoever invented Safari Reader Mode. I miss it so much on my Windows 10 work computer, on which I have to run Chrome.

I do not think my apps will be updated in time for iOS 13. Fortunately, it appears that iOS 13 will also not be ready in time for iOS 13.

I don’t want to wear my Apple Watch to sleep. I did so with a FitBit for a couple years and learned nothing of value from sleep tracking.

Getting back into the school day routine

It’s my wife’s first day back at school (she’s a teacher) and Thursday is my daughter’s first day back. We started the school year routine today, which means earlier wake times and lots more prep for each day. I’m feeling good about things so far, which is good. Let’s see how everything goes.…

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I find classical music to be far more joyous when heard in person rather than on a recording.

I signed up for Disney+ using the promotional rate I learned about on the “TV Talk Machine" podcast. I would not have bothered, if not for the discount, but I bet my family will use it.

My grocery store has rolled out its enormous Halloween candy display. It is still August.

The terrible thing about being a programmer is that you regularly run into periods of incompetence that you must overcome to move forward. That may be true of most professions, but it hits me hardest in my programming work. At any rate: excelsior!

🎮 I should probably stop playing “Breath of the Wild” (I’m in the middle of my second play-through) because it keeps me up too late at night. That may be a promise to myself that I can’t really keep, though.

🎵 I am very much enjoying NPR’s New Music Friday playlist today. It helps to have two Lana Del Ray tracks and one from TOOL on the list.

Deaths From Red-Light Running At A 10-Year High, AAA Study Finds

Per Bobby Allyn of NPR: Deaths caused by motorists running red lights has risen to a 10-year-high, a newly released study finds. I would assume that those ubiquitous red light cameras aren’t working to keep people safer. AAA came to the opposite conclusion: AAA recommends putting red light cameras in areas that have a pattern of crashes, with local law enforcement officials directly supervising the cameras. “Camera enforcement is a proven way to reduce red-light running and save lives,” said Jessica Cicchino of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.…

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🎵 I am immune to the charms of “Baby Shark.”

Democratic Candidates Jostle, and Gripe, as Debates Winnow the Field

Reid J. Epstein’s article in the New York Times captures, pretty well, the frustrations of the low- and middle tier Democratic presidential candidates who probably don’t belong in the race to begin with: Still, some party officials lamented a system that limited exposure for lesser-known candidates. The Nebraska Democratic Party chairwoman, Jane Kleeb, a leading figure among rural Democrats, said a debate process that excluded Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana was bad for a party trying to win back voters who flocked to President Trump in 2016.…

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As a fan and user of Apple Mail on iOS, I am not looking forward to the iOS 13 release. There have been too many users complaining about bugs. I wish Mail were somehow not bundled into the OS.

The Joys of Being a Late Tech Adopter

Per Brian X. Chen of the New York Times: I’m neither a Luddite nor a cheapskate. But after testing hundreds of tech products — and buying some along the way — over the last dozen years, I’ve come to a conclusion: People will almost always get more joy from technology the longer they wait for it to mature. Cutting-edge gadgets can invoke awe and temptation, but being an early adopter involves risk, and the downsides usually outweigh the benefits.…

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I am trying to get back into drinking tea. For today: oolong.

I have no appointments on my calendar today. I’m suspicious. It’s almost too good to be true.

My mind feels cluttered today. I am very busy but not very productive. I’m getting something done, but it doesn’t feel like the important things are getting done.

Apple Music Introduces ‘New Music Daily’ Playlist

From Ryan Christoffel at MacStories: What was formerly known as Best of the Week has been changed to New Music Daily, which as its name implies, makes this a daily-updated playlist rather than weekly. I am happy to see that Apple Music made this change. Increasing the churn rate on new music playlists should, in theory, put more artists and tracks in front of lazy but passionate music fans like me.…

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Zero (the fasting app for iOS)


I am a big fan of the Zero app, which is a tracker for intermittent fasting. It is free, attractive, and has just enough features to keep me engaged and motivated, and no more. Currently, my favorite feature is its Apple Watch complication, which fills up a ring (similar to the Activity app’s rings) as you progress through your fasting period. I find that filling that ring every day, and the app's cheerful notifications every morning, really help motivate me to stop snacking or having an extra meal at night.…

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Five Years Later, It’s Time To Admit We Overreacted About Apple Putting A Free U2 Album On Our Phones

Culture critic Steven Hyden argues that U2’s Song’s of Innocence was unfairly maligned. But looking back all these years later, I can’t help but wonder: Why were we so mad about U2 putting a free album on our phones? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live again in a pre-Trump world, where you had the luxury to get worked up about a so-called Orwellian scheme involving a melancholic late-period U2 record?…

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Ransomware Attacks Are Testing Resolve of Cities Across America

Ransomware Attacks Are Testing Resolve of Cities Across America

I read this article in the New York Times with interest, because I am an information security auditor by trade, and we have been educating companies and regulators about the dangers of Ransomware for what seems like forever, but has probably only been four of five years now. The part of the article I found most interesting, because I have worked in and for the insurance industry for the past twenty years, relates to cyberinsurance:…

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What the heck is Eck talking about? ⚾️

Red Sox broadcasts have been somewhat incomprehensible to me since Dennis Eckersley started doing most of the color commentary for NESN. I wish I had seen Chad Finn’s article, complete with glossary about a year ago. Case in point (this is a quote from Dennis Eckersley from the aforementioned article): “The other day something came out that was new, and I don’t know where the [expletive] it came from. I started saying ‘pair of shoes’ about three months ago, and honest to God, I don’t know where it came from.…

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The Keto Diet Is Popular, but Is It Good for You?

The Keto Diet Is Popular, but Is It Good for You?

As a ketogenic dieter, Anahad O'Connor's article about ketogenic diets is pretty balanced, but his premise, described in the block quote below, doesn't hold up to much scrutiny: Low-carbohydrate diets have fallen in and out of favor since before the days of Atkins. But now an even stricter version of low-carb eating called the ketogenic diet is gaining popular attention, igniting a fierce scientific debate about its potential risks and benefits.…

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All my WordPress sites stopped working via XML-RPC, so I cannot publish to them with Ulysses or MarsEdit. I wonder what happened, and wonder how to fix it.

Opting out of forced arbitration for the Apple Card took me literally 5 seconds over iMessage.

Ubuntu Linux on my Toshiba Satellite Laptop

I was finally brave enough to install Ubuntu Linux on the laptop sitting in my home office that serves as the family’s Plex Media Server. It helped that Windows Update messed up and rendered the machine’s original Windows 10 Home install unusable. I got fed up trying to figure out how to fix Windows, so I burned a live USB installer for Ubuntu and tried it out. It worked very well, and made installing Plex Media Server a one-click operation.…

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I must be old. I am more excited about getting a new pair of eyeglasses this fall than learning about whatever the next iPhone is.

Thoughts on Apple Card

I got the Apple Card about a week ago, and just started using it this weekend. Here are some initial thoughts: I very much like the security and privacy features Apple Pay and the Apple Card. I try to use Apple Pay whenever I can to take advantage of most of these features, no matter what card I was using. I very much like the enhancements to the Wallet app on my iPhone to review transactions and spending.…

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Sabbaday Falls

We got back from vacation last night after midnight. Today has been a busy day of unpacking and getting the house, and ourselves, ready for normal life again.

My vacation ends tomorrow. My family had a lot of fun and some relaxing days in the mountains, but boy do I miss WiFi!

What Makes a Red Sky at Night (and at Morning)

This article by XKCD creator Randall Munroe amused me. My dad used to always say “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.” It is one of the sayings that he etched into my memory when I was a child.…

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Paradoxically, my children appear both to eat constantly and consume no food all day long.

Another Baseball Mystery: Why Do Players Seem to Live Longer?

I think the answer to the mystery is found the final paragraph of Nicholas Bakalar’s story: Over all, there may be another factor contributing to the long lives of players: Major League Baseball has a robust retirement program, regarded as among the most generous in professional sports. Players get substantial pensions even after spending just a few months in the big leagues, and all players qualify for full medical benefits beginning on the first day they join a team.…

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It’s amazing how much faster LTE is after 10:00 PM.

Can Britain’s Top Bookseller Save Barnes & Noble?

David Segal’s article poses the question. I hope the answer is yes. Barnes & Noble has been sliding toward oblivion for years. Nearly 400 stores have closed since 1997 — there are 627 now operating — and $1 billion in market value has evaporated in the last five years. This week, Elliott Advisors, the private equity firm that owns Waterstones, closed its deal to buy Barnes & Noble for $683 million.…

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Nicolas Cage on his legacy, his philosophy of acting and his metaphorical — and literal — search for the Holy Grail.

I really enjoyed this profile of Nicholas Cage, by David Marchese. I wanted to know why Cage, Hollywood’s greatest surrealist, whose personal and creative unpredictability has led him to attain near-mythological status in certain corners of the internet, acts in so many movies — 20 in the last two years — and why so few of them make mainstream ripples. (His most recent release: the straightforwardly titled thriller “A Score to Settle.…

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The best part of vacation packing this year is not having to find a place for a massive stroller in the trunk of our car.

Monmouth County Fair

Facebook to Add Its Name to Instagram, WhatsApp

From Alex Health in The Information: In a big shift, Facebook plans to signal its control of Instagram and WhatsApp by adding its name to both apps, according to three people familiar with the matter. The social network will rebrand the apps to “Instagram from Facebook” and “WhatsApp from Facebook,” the people said. This is bound to end badly for Facebook. I can think of no one who thinks Facebook is a strong brand, let alone stronger than Instagram or WhatsApp.…

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🎵 The New Pornographers are releasing a new album on September 27 (via Jazz Monroe of Pitchfork). I love this band, and I love the music of one of their members, Neko Case, even more.

iPhone Home Screen

I am trying something new with Apple organization: Three apps in the home row instead of four, and only productivity related apps (and audio apps, which I use all the time) on the first screen. It is no longer organized based solely on what I use most, but what I need to get to the most quickly, when I need it.…

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Peanut allergies

My wife and I learned today that my two-year-old son has severe peanut allergies. My daughter does too, so at least we know what to do, but it is very unfortunate news. It is a deadly serious condition. There are so many foods that peanut allergy suffers can’t eat—most of which don’t even have peanuts in them, but are processed on equipment that also processes peanuts—that most packaged foods are disallowed.…

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After Decades of Music, Tanglewood Talks

Seeing this article, by Michael Cooper, today, a couple days before I leave on vacation, made me really miss visiting the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts: For more than 80 years, Tanglewood, the bucolic summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has made the Berkshires a vital destination for classical music. Now it is getting into the talk business, too. Listening to classical music, at and after sunset, on Tanglewood’s great lawn is one of my fondest memories.…

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Monmouth County Fair

Open baskets of vegetables on a table at a fairOpen baskets of vegetables on a table at a fair, more close upA flower cart with little flowerpots on it.

Monmouth County Fair

Monmouth County Fair

Sleater-Kinney Asked St. Vincent for a Creative Spark. The Trio Blew Up.

From what I have heard of Sleater-Kinney’s new album, “The Center Won’t Hold”, it certainly sounds different than their older stuff. This arcticle, by Melena Rezwik, in the New York Times, provides some context why: Since its self-titled 1995 debut, Sleater-Kinney has been revered as one of indie rock’s most musically fierce and lyrically sharp bands, cutting a path for passionate musicians who refuse to check their politics or their emotions at the club door.…

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I wish TidBITS posted more content, because their site loads so damn fast.


I am wondering right now whether a gin-and-tonic is in my near future or my far future.

Where Did It Go Wrong for Beto?

Mimi Swartz, for the New York Times, ponders something I have been wondering about, too. The once obscure congressman from El Paso who brought in an astounding nearly $80 million in his Senate race reported a measly $3.6 million, way down from his $9.4 million in the first quarter. Jay Inslee is gaining on him. How did this happen? Many answers lie in the difference between running for office in Texas and running nationally.…

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Oh, another big data breach. Just wondering, does anybody pay for their own credit monitoring? I have had “free” credit monitoring for years, all paid for by companies that should have been keeping my data more secure.

My wife and I worked on packing clothes for our vacation—starting Saturday. We are really ahead of schedule this year! Or, at least I am. My wife needs a whole week to pack for herself and our two kids.

Monmouth County Fair

The Monmouth County (New Jersey) Fair

Sony’s latest RX100 camera finally gets a mic jack

Via The Verge: Sony may have only released the RX100 VI last year, but the company is already back with an updated model called the RX100 VII. I am excited to see that Sony is still revving its RX100 camera. I have an RX100 Mark I, which I don’t use too much any more, since I got a micro 4/3 camera, but I still love it. It takes great pictures, is incredibly versatile, and fits in a relatively tiny belt-loop holster case, so I can take it anywhere.…

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I upgraded my hosted’s Photos page to the new, built-in one that @manton released last week. It loads very quickly and I’m happy with how it looks and works. I love that the hosted blogs keep getting better.

I am thankful for Panic’s Transmit app today, as it tears through terabytes of file moving on my home network. Now, if only I knew why my SeagateNAS, which I am emptying in case of failure, has had blinking LED lights, since our power failure last week.

I use git almost every day, and I still have to look up commands and workarounds to error messages sometimes. Merging is still a little hard for me, though git-flow helps with my normal workflow.

My family and I enjoyed the local county fair this weekend. We went right after it opened for the day, before it got very crowded and before the temperature got too high.

The “Bat out of Hell” Broadway musical is oddly fascinating to me. I actually love how bombastic and over the top Jim Steinman’s songs are. Seeing them in a show, though, could be either great or just too much.

I got my first iTunes “Uploaded with warnings” message for my Mac app tonight. It was easy to solve (I didn’t need to check StackOverflow), but I am puzzled why it didn’t pop up over the prior 6 versions I uploaded this year.

🎵 It’s a bright and cheery “Country Caffeine” afternoon for me, as I close out my work week.

I started the most important part of packing for my vacation: syncing some TV shows to my iPad via Plex.

I wish I had purchased my first pair of (good) open-back headphones about 8 years ago, when I started on this headphone hobby of mine. I think they sound better, though their sound leakage means I can only use them while I’m alone. I work alone, so that’s not a problem for me.

The $60 Gadget That’s Changing Electronic Music

I enjoyed reading this article from the New York Times: Estrada was playing a Pocket Operator, a device released four years ago by a Swedish company called Teenage Engineering. To date, the company has made nine different models of the same basic design, and it has sold more than 350,000 of them worldwide, making the Pocket Operator one of the most popular synthesizers in history. The Korg M1 — famous for producing the sound of Seinfeld’s slap bass and Madonna’s “Vogue,” and one of the best-selling and most influential synths of all time — is estimated to have sold 100,000 fewer units over nearly twice as much time.…

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Faxing in 2019 😠

I just had to re-send a fax to my health insurer because the prior fax, sent last week by a third party, did not fully print out. No one notified me until now. I am 99% certain that my insurer’s fax machine ran out of ink, which is the cause of the problem. Companies should not be using fax machines anymore.…

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Panic’s Nova code editor, which is entering private beta soon, looks incredible. I wish I were in the market for a code editor on the Mac. I only code in Swift on the Mac, and Xcode is fine for that. I only code in other languages on the PC, for work.

I was thrilled to re-learn today that WinSCP can connect to SharePoint sites via WebDAV. I know SharePoint sites can be opened in Windows Explorer, but, for some reason, my user account does not have that ability. WinSCP gives me a more reliable method than a WebDAV share anyway.

I updated my iPad Air 2 to iPadOS 13 Developer Beta 4, which is the only device I have that I can live with beta-related bugs for a month or two. So far, the app that I develop, SwiftoDo, works, though it did not work prior to this beta, so I am happy.

I don’t think the person who put a hard-coded limit on Excel file path names, one that is way lower than the longest path name allowed on the file system, ever imagined how much grief it would cost me at work.

I may finally set up a RetroPie “for the kids”. 😀🕹

I had a plumber repair my bathroom faucet today, and I am starting to question the intelligence of having running water altogether. 💸 😀

In 2020 Democratic Fund-Raising, Five Candidates Stand Out

I think that every bit of this article from the New York Times illustrates what is wrong with the way we pick presidents in the US. Five Democratic presidential candidates raised a combined $96 million from individual donors in the last three months — about three-quarters of the total fund-raising by the entire Democratic field, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on Monday. I have to admit that I am annoyed because my favorite candidate is not at the top of the fundraising list.…

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Sometimes I think I should run for office so I can share my political opinions endlessly and, just maybe, someone would listen to them.

Like a true nerd, I am drafting a technical document for work using five Markdown tabs in a Sublime Text window, rather than in a huge Word document. Word will get used in the end, though, when I integrate all the Markdown sections together.

I think another Amazon Prime Day will pass me by without enticing me to purchase anything.

I’m proud of myself for teaching myself so much of Microsoft Powershell this week. I really get it now. Unfortunately, since I’m not a Windows administrator, my list of uses for it are short. At least I can write elegant scripts now, though.

I don’t know what’s better: (1) having an email address that is not tied to Gmail, or (2) deleting almost all of my incoming emails rather than archiving them forever. (Most of my emails are notifications from companies.)

My summer project is to get into drinking fizzy water…which is not particularly ambitious. 😃

I added some “pages” to my

I fleshed out my hosted with a few new pages tonight:

Just fixing bugs on one of my iOS apps tonight while my work PC chugs away generating analytical reports from a program I’ve been working on for weeks now.

I just upgraded my Mac’s external display from a large but mostly awful 28"4K TN panel from Dell to the “BenQ PD2700U 27 inch 4K UHD IPS Monitor”. It is way, way better—almost as good as getting a new set of eyes.

I’m super happy that I did not install the iOS and iPadOS betas on any of my devices yet, based on the comments I have seen from other iOS developers. I don’t really have “test” devices lying around that I wouldn’t mind getting screwed up for a couple months, anyway.

Potential uses for a Raspberry Pi 4

Once I figure out how to fit them on my shelf, I will probably pick up at least one Raspberry Pi 4. I use two older ones so far for: Pi-hole server (DNS/ad-blocking) Homebridge server (to control my Nest thermostat via Sirit & HomeKit) I could use one or more newer, faster Pis for: A VPN server A self-hosted RSS back-end for Reeder (accessible via the VPN) A download server that connects to my NAS (I used to use a Raspberry Pi for this, but it was really, really slow) I could, of course, replace all of these single-purpose servers with a single Intel box running virtual machines.…

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Raspberry Pi 4

I’m excited about the newly announced Raspberry Pi 4, especially about the news that it will have gigabit Ethernet that is not tied to is USB bus. I have several older generation ones (I skipped gen. 3) that are in use as little servers in my house. I wish, however, that the form factor was a little neater for cabling. I don’t like having power and Ethernet on different sides. (I probably need some kind of Raspberry Pi server rack, if such a thing exists.…

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I set up a new email address at my own domain, and now I’m deleting almost every email from my Gmail account that wasn’t sent to me by my wife…as you do.

Facebook may have too many users for its cryptocurrency to fail — even if you don’t trust it

From Vox: Facebook doesn’t have much consumer trust. But it does have a hell of a lot of consumers. And that’s enough to make Libra, the new virtual coin that Facebook is announcing on Tuesday, the most consequential cryptocurrency effort undertaken in several years. I have done a lot of research on cryptocurrencies for work, and keep coming back to my thoughts that they are a scam. Bitcoin works like a pyramid scheme, where the early adopters (the early miners) gain the lions share of wealth, once the value of the coin increases, due to the way that mining works.…

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🎵 I was happy to discover today that NPR has added curated playlists to Apple Music. It will be another, alternative source of new music recommendations for me.

SwiftUI for My Apps

SwiftUI is definitely the way forward for development on all Apple platforms, and I am excited about it. That said, it is only going to be supported on new OS releases going forward. My plan is to support the current version of iOS and macOS going forward for at least a year, which will make it challenging for me to switch my UI code to SwiftUI at that time. Next fall, however, when Apple’s OS cycle turns over again, would be a great time for me to finish up SwiftUI-based rewrites and push them to production.…

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My wife and I baked a cake for her mother’s birthday. It was really good!

🎵 Somehow I made it from Beats 1 to Robyn Hitchcock’s “Chronology”, which is a fun listen but very far afield from the hip-hop I started the day with.

🎵 It’s a Beats 1 morning for me. I don’t often listen to Beats 1, but today I had no idea what to listen to while I worked.

Thompson Park

Thompson Park

Marlu Lake

Turtles at Marlu Lake

Marlu Lake

One of the bat houses I saw today. For some reason, I thought they were really cool.

🎵 Texas 25 is a great pop (ahem, blue-eyed soul) album. The band reworked eight of their hits, and added four new songs, to celebrate their 25th anniversary.

Ocean Grove, New Jersey

My MacBook Pro came back to me with a brand new top case and all its data intact. It looks great. I hope it gives me a couple more years of service.

Ocean Grove, New Jersey

My Apple Support Laptop Limbo Is Ending (I Hope) Today

FedEx just sent me a text saying I have a delivery scheduled today, which can only mean that my MacBook Pro is coming back to me from Apple’s repair center. Apple never gave me a case number, sent me an email, put a record of the repair on its support website, or gave me any idea that it knew that it had my laptop. It seems weird to me to get no type of receipt after handing over my laptop, but if it comes back today, all is well in the end, I guess.…

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Ocean Grove, New Jersey

Ocean Grove, New Jersey

🎵 “What’s Up Danger?” by Blackway and Black Caviar. (I’m starting my day in the Spider-Verse.)

I took my 2013 MacBook Pro to the Apple Store yesterday to get a new battery. It’s quite an extensive repair (whole case-top replacement), so I will be without it for about a week. I have multiple backups, but hope that its SSD does not get wiped.🤞

Answers to the most common questions about SwiftUI

Answers to the most common questions about SwiftUI: SwiftUI is not compatible with earlier versions of iOS, macOS, or any of Apple’s other operating systems. So, to start adopting it, you either need to decide that it’s acceptable for the app in which you’ll use SwiftUI to only work on the latest operating systems — or you’ll need to ”gate off” the features written in Swift UI from older versions, using Swift’s @available syntax.…

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🎧 Listening to ATP’s WWDC live show at the top of my work day.

iOS 13 Sherlocks Simple Call Blocker

My Simple Call Blocker app won’t be that useful once iOS natively allows users to block all unknown callers. I still would use my app, because I need to answer certain unknown callers for work reasons, but most people wouldn’t need it anymore. That doesn’t bother me, however, because I released my app for free, and I get a lot of support email related to it.…

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It looks like the iPad Air 2 is not supported by iOS 13, at least based on the beta downloads available on Apple’s developer site. It may be time for me to trade it in and upgrade.

I’m looking forward to watching the WWDC keynote and state of the union later today. I am curious what kinds of changes are in store for iOS, both on iPads and on iPhones. If a iOS 13 beta drops later today, I will immediately install it on my older iPad Air 2.

Thompson Park

Thompson Park

Marlu Lake

As I feared, my 2013 Macbook Pro has a swollen battery. Cycle count is low, but battery life has diminished somewhat over time. The trackpad doesn’t click anymore, though, which is bad. I’m weighing whether the $129 replacement cost is worth it for such an old computer.

Marlu Lake

Thompson Park


Thompson Park

I’m going to try using Fork instead of SourceTree for my Mac Git client. SourceTree is great, but I keep having authentication issues with GitHub.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Today, Bose announced its long-awaited successor to its flagship headphones, the QuietComfort 35 II. They look cool, but the name, the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, could be a lot better. I wonder what reviewers will say about them.…

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I got to the end of “Hollow Knight” last night. There are still some (impossible) bosses I have not beaten, but I think I am done with it, at least for now. I seem to play the hell out of games and never get around to beating them by the time I want to quit.

We took the kids to the splash park today. They had a blast.

We watched turtle races today at the Staten Island Zoo. It was silly and fun. The kids there got really into it. The lighting wasn’t great for photos, but we got to see a bunch of different turtles vie for the gold medal.

Two turtles racing inside a ring.

I wrote 1,800 words for a new headphone review (it’s not complete yet, unfortunately), and submitted a small bugfix update of SwiftoDo Desktop to the App Store this evening.

I wish there was a definitive test for “is this a cold, or is it allergies?”

The new MacBook Pros

Apple’s new pro laptops sound fast, but until they get an entirely new keyboard design, I am out of the MacBook Pro market. My 2013 Retina MacBook Pro still works well enough for me for Swift programming and photos.…

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📺 “Westworld” season 3 looks fascinating. I’m excited, as always, to see where this show is going, and can’t wait to see Aaron Paul play off of Evan Rachel Wood and (hopefully) Jeffrey Wright.

I am not sure I’m interested in seeing Toy Story 4. (The final trailer dropped today.) I thought “Toy Story 3” was a great ending to the series, even though half of that movie seemed unnecessary to me.

The Game of Thrones Finale

I thought the “Game of Thrones” finale was a fitting end to the show. Like the rest of season 8, it managed to be both slow and rushed, which is quite a feat. I am actually feeling relieved that it is over, and I don’t have to think about it anymore. That said, I will happily read the final books in A Song of Ice and Fire, when (if?) George R.…

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This accessory may not be supported

I thought that iOS 12.3 made my headphone DAC/amp not work anymore. Luckily, switching to a new Lightning cable (the one that came with my AirPod 2s) made everything work again. I wish Lightning cables didn’t flake out over time.…

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I don’t expect to read about or the IndieWeb in The New Yorker, but when I do I am happy about it.

There is nothing quite like silencing 100 compiler warnings in Xcode when you think a “right click all these warnings and fix all of them the same way” command would have sufficed.

I have not watched nearly enough baseball this spring. I have followed my team, the Boston Red Sox, more closely than ever via box scores and live game update notifications, but fewer than ever based on number of minutes watching games.

Game of Thrones Season 8 has become yet another thing for everyone to be angry about

I did not hate the latest “Game of Thrones” episode. I actually liked it, thought it was effective, and thought it made sense. This recap from Vulture describes the way I feel about it pretty accurately. Of course, having browsed the web since the penultimate episode aired, I now think that I am in the minority opinion. People are so angry about what is going on in this season that I am quite taken aback.…

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Bye bye Homebridge support for Nest

I noticed an email from Google in my Spam folder this evening (copied, by someone else, here) stating that the Works with Nest API is shutting down on August 31. That’s the API that makes my Nest work with HomeKit, via the homebridge-nest plugin. It is yet another mildly upsetting thing Google is doing that involves killing a product that some people use. I have had a Nest thermostat for years—well before Google even owned Nest.…

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I may have just done the last commit for SwiftoDo Desktop version 4.0. 🤞

After being professionally-speaking, out to sea for about a week, I am now taking a different tack. Right now I am creating a fresh C# project in Visual Studio. I’m going to write a program to automate lots of analytical reporting creation drudgery.

My FreeNAS server is back from the dead!

My FreeNAS server is back from the dead. After it stopped working and wouldn’t boot, I needed to plug in a monitor with a VGA connector (which I didn’t have yesterday) to see what was going on. It turns out that the boot drive, a USB stick, had failed. Luckily, I have a couple other USB sticks lying around, and I had saved the FreeNAS configuration to my Mac recently. I was able to re-install FreeNAS to a new USB stick, re-upload my old configuration, and I lost no data or settings.…

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FreeNAS Server - I should not have tempted fate

The same week I wrote a blog post about how great my FreeNAS server is, it has decided to die, or at least become unreachable on the network. Of course I no longer have the VGA cable needed to hook it up to a monitor to do a reinstall. Oh, and upon further inspection, none of my monitors have a VGA input either. Hopefully there are adapters available. On the plus side, my office is so quiet now.…

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Now that the new trailer is out, I can conclude that the next Spider-Man movie looks delightful.

🎵 I’m listening to Aja on my V-Moda Crossfade 2 🎧 tonight. Steely Dan isn’t always my thing, but their records sound so good.

Let’s not talk about the $150-off sale on Hifiman Sundara headphones, OK?

Much to my surprise, I think I prefer the Razer Orange switches on this keyboard (pictured) to the Cherry MX Blue switches on my old one. It doesn’t hurt that the new one lights up, too. (Razer Orange switches are “silent, tactile” switches similar to Cherry MX Browns.)

I am using MarsEdit more and more for microblogging. I like it being “write-only”, as compared to using the official app, because it keeps me focused on getting the post done. Like lots of bloggers, I have a lot of unfinished blog post drafts lying around.

Maybe writing a todo.txt app with a task list and a text editor mode is not the best idea.

So…my new SwiftoDo Desktop app for the Mac would be 100% complete right now, if I hadn’t decided, 75% of the way through writing it, to add a secondary edit mode for the todo.txt file. That mode makes the user interface comparable to the iOS version of SwiftoDo, but is also loads better in subtle ways, such as being able to reload the file (in either mode) if an external editor (such as iCloud Drive) modifies the underlying task list file.…

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🎵 I never get sick of Lana Del Ray, especially when a song of hers shows up in my “Chill Mix”.

I think AppKit will be around for a long, long time.

My Hobby: Moving Files Around

I have found that my home server hobby is more a “moving files around” hobby. I have reached this conclusion based on the countless times I have found myself moving files from one place to another. My FreeNAS media server I have run FreeNAS on a HP N54L Microserver for over five years. It has been a fantastic server. I bought it, a slightly used review unit, loaded with four 500 GB drives that it would not have normally come with, for a song—less than a new one with no storage drives included.…

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This week, Apple Music’s recommendations for me are completely ruined by all the children’s music I have to play in the car for my kids. Do I have to “dislike” all children’s music in the app now? I can’t be the only parent with this problem.

Since I started dogfooding my new Mac app, I have found a few new bugs that I never noticed before. That “having never noticed it before” feeling is so weird sometimes that it stops me in my tracks.

After months of development, it feels nice to be testing my newly updated (completely rewritten) Mac app on a day-to-day basis. I keep finding bugs here and there, which is the point of using it all day, but I am nearing the finish line.

🎮 The biggest lie I told myself this week is “I will not play ‘Hollow Knight’ for hours tonight”. Well, 10 PM through 1 AM last night were lost to an enjoyable romp through late-game bosses and achievements.

I think I need some time late in the evening to listen to music with my really nice headphones and plug away at mostly solvable problems in Xcode just to feel normal. It was that way tonight. I fixed some bugs, inched closer to a releasable build, and don’t want to go to bed.


🎵 I’m giving “Hadestown” a first listen tonight. I never heard of the show until today’s Tony award nominations. , which surprised me, because I try to keep track of all the Broadway musicals. I thought that this was another very weak year for new musicals, so I am happy to learn of a completely new one. I hope that it is a new classic. I’m not sure, though, how closely the “Hadestown” on Apple Music resembles the Broadway version; I read that the show went through a bunch of changes over the years.…

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After seeing “Game of Thrones” and “Avengers: Endgame” over the past two days, I can now breathe again and use the internet like a normal person.

Initial impressions of Reeder 4 for iOS

I’m trying to get my mind around Reeder 4 for iOS. It looks great, has a very nice article view and the smoothest scrolling around, and features an excellent use of animation throughout the app. I miss the (admittedly old-fashioned) direct sharing link option (which I used for Pinboard) and the old gray theme (the new dark theme is darker). The J and K Emacs-style keybindings are welcome, but it puzzles me that arrow keys and the space bar are not allowed for navigation.…

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I normally wouldn’t post pictures with family members in them on my blog, but I’ll make an exception for this one. Me wife and son are kind of hard to spot in it.

Monmouth Battlefield State Park


Carole Cadwalladr: Facebook's role in Brexit -- and the threat to democracy

I listened to this TED Talk yesterday, via the TED podcast. Carole Cadwalladr’s message was chilling but not at all surprising, considering just how much news there is about how Facebook (mostly) is abused to undermine trust in facts, in institutions, in each other, and, ultimately, in democratic elections. Dark money flowing into ephemeral, misleading, highly-targeted advertising is rightly identified as the leading cause of these problems. Sometimes I think that if the advertising element were removed from Facebook, a lot of these problems go away.…

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Monmouth Battlefield State Park

🎵 Nancy Wilson, who I have known about forever but have never really listened to, is awesome.

Holmdel Park on a cloudy day

Longstreet Farm


Longstreet Farm


As much as I love Auto Layout, I also, in equal measure, hate it, too—mostly when I can’t figure out why I can’t get something to work.

I took my son, in the stroller, on a long, long walk through a local park on Sunday, while my wife and daughter did an indoor activity there. It was so nice to walk for an hour or so outdoors, in warm weather, while the trees were blooming.

I did not ever expect to see giant ray-, octopus, and squid-shaped kites, but now they haunt my dreams. Thanks, Point Pleasant Kite festival!


The Notre Dame fire, or, upsetting things are upsetting

The burning of Notre Dame shook me to my core yesterday. The images and videos made me so upset that I thought I was going crazy. After all, it is just a building, and presumably no one died, so what is the big deal? Still, the cathedral is a symbol of beauty and hope—literally of reaching to the sky to a higher power—and, to me at least, of human achievement, collective action, and indomitable spirit.…

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I have been in a weird state lately in which I am not excited about any company’s recently released, or recently announced, products or services. I feel grateful that I didn’t drop everything in 2007 and start covering the smartphone and gadget market for a living. (I wanted to!)

Thanks to the couple of warm-weather days we had this week, I discovered that I need to replace not one, but two air conditioners shortly, before I really have to turn them on again. Sigh. 💸

Temporary, by Feathermerchants

I was poking around my iTunes library, found an old album I loved from senior year of high school, by a local Connecticut band called Mr. Right. After some Google searches, I found a copy of a song that was one of my all-time, lost, never-had-it-on-a-proper-CD, never-could-get-it-anywhere songs: “Temporary”. It wasn’t what I expected, however. It was a different arrangement, which was entirely unexpected. When I first heard “Temporary”, it was a power pop song, recorded by Mr.…

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I just purchased my ticket to “Avengers: Endgame”. I got a Monday night showing, because I have a wife and kids to spend the weekend with. I’ll have to stay off the internet, I guess, between the movie’s premiere and my showtime.

Journal 2019-04-07

This weekend was great. On Saturday, my wife and I took the kids to the Staten Island Zoo. One of my wife’s best friends is the director of education there, and she gave us (my 6-year-old daughter, mostly) a private tour. We all had a great time, and my daughter had an absolute blast. She loved everything about it, and got to touch a bunch of animals (sheet, goats, birds, snakes, lizards, an armadillo, a rabbit, and a chinchilla) that we never through she would touch.…

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My (Former) Hobby: Home Media Streaming

For someone who is, now, only marginally interested in television and movies, I have spent a lot of time and money over the years to make my television watching experience awesome. I used to be really into it, and—unless you had a lot of money to burn—it used to be hard to get it working correctly, which fed into my engineering mindset and led me to tinker with hardware and software frequently, for almost a decade.…

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⚾️ My hot take on the Red Sox vs. Diamondbacks game: 😢🤷‍♂️😤

Ulysses, I can’t quit you. If only I knew how to to publish from you to

🎵 The new Sara Bareilles album is really good.

Classic Margarita

My favorite warm weather alcoholic drink is the classic margarita—but not just any margarita. It has to be homemade and must have freshly squeezed lime juice and Cointreau. No mixes! Here’s how I make it: Ingredients 1 part freshly squeezed lime juice 2 parts Cointreau 3 parts tequila Technique Mix the three ingredients together, with ice. Serve on the rocks (after a good stir) in a highball glass, or, serve up (shake with ice and strain) in a martini glass.…

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Iced Tea

My favorite non-alcoholic warm weather drink is iced tea—but not just any iced tea. It has to be homemade and cold brewed. Here’s how I make it: Ingredients 4 PG Tips tea bags water Technique Put four PG Tips teabags into a 1.5 L glass pitcher. Fill the pitcher with water. Refigerate for 24 hours. Serve over ice. …

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⚾️ Dennis Eckersley uses the word “cheese” an awful lot when he is calling a game. 🧀

I finally deleted my Facebook account today. I had deactivated it a long time ago, but I decided that we are never, ever getting back together.

Google’s constant product shutdowns are damaging its brand

I could have written this article from Ars Technica, because I don’t trust Google to stick with any of their products, except Search, in the long run. It is frustrating that the geekiest and of the big tech companies does not stand behind any of their products, except the one (Search, obviously) that is actually good and makes them money. Due to my frustration with Gmail’s web UI and their lackluster iOS and Android apps, I have concluded that Google is not good at application development or design, despite its obvious skill at developing, and running at massive scale, hardware, software infrastructure, and platforms.…

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⚾️ It is very early in the season, but it has been difficult watching the Red Sox lose so many games. I don’t expect them to finish last in their division, which is where they are now, but it has not been fun to watch so far.

Why do my children love Daniel Tiger so much, and why does it cause so many problems?

Thanks to it being April Fool’s Day, I can save some time by not reading the news today. That used to be frustrating, but now it feels freeing.

There is a forest fire in New Jersey, very far away from where I live, but it has been smoky and hazy all over my region of the state since lunchtime yesterday. It is kind of awful, to be honest, though it is barely bad at all compared to what happens in Southern California.

I submitted Simple Call Blocker to App Review tonight. The update is practically nothing, but it does feel good to be shipping software again. My rewrite of SwiftoDo Desktop, for the Mac, has been taking me a while.

My wife and I watched another (very old) episode of the Great British Bake-off tonight. It’s a fun show. So far, the first season is still my favorite, despite not being in HD.

One of my minor projects of the week was, essentially, moving terabytes worth of media files around my home network. Having a home media server is like that, sometimes.

The Swift 5.0 Migration

I started updating my apps to Swift 5.0 today. It has been a pretty easy migration for me, so far, but it has reminded me how much I dislike dependencies and CocoaPods. I think I’m going to ditch all CocoaPods eventually and just take over, for myself, whatever open source code I use. I will be submitting the new build of Simple Call Blocker, my free anti-neighbor spam app, soon. I don’t plan to release the update to my other iOS app, SwiftoDo, for another week or so.…

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My thoughts on Apple Card, written in the Apple style of trying not to say “the" before the product name.

Apple Card

Apple announced Apple Card at its event on Monday. Details are incomplete, but its announcement excited me more than the media-related services Apple announced at the same event. Perhaps that is because I pay for things every day, but don’t watch much TV, and my wife and I are happy with our New Yorker subscription (she reads the physical magazine; I read it online) and our New York Times subscription (which we both read via its iOS app).…

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I am a little baffled that the most exciting announcement from Apple’s event today is a credit card.

Unlike most iPad users, I can write apps for the platform, and know an awful lot about iOS APIs. Like most iPad users (I imagine), I had to search online for instructions on how to restore it from an iCloud backup.

I brought my iPad Pro with the LCD backlight bleeding problem to the Genius Bar tonight, and they kindly swapped it (out of warranty) with a brand new one for only $100. Not bad for a $1,000 iPad!

📺 I am super late to it, but I may just like “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” even more than “The Good Place”. (I don’t even know myself any more!)

Journal 2019-03-20

I have been working pretty steadily on finishing version 4.0 of SwiftoDo Desktop. I feel pretty good about the app, in general. It is coded in Swift now, as opposed to Objective C, and has a much more mature, and hopefully easy to support, architecture. It will be a massive upgrade from version 3. While I would like to charge for it, even for my current customers, I feel bad enough about drastically changing an app I sold, even if it is for the better, that I am strongly considering just releasing it as a free upgrade.…

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I had no idea that MLB has to ship tons and tons of dirt to make “safe”, regulation baseball fields for its non-US games. That will definitely limit the number of overseas games each year!

Sign me up for these new AirPods. My AirPods' batteries are almost toast. They last about 30 minutes on a charge, which is too short for a typical trip through the supermarket or a treadmill workout.

I have one more feature to create for my huge SwiftoDo Desktop update. After coding that, plus testing the whole app, I will be ready to move onto release-related activities.

I’m trying something new on the big blog: occasional longform journal entries. Journal 2019-03-15

Journal 2019-03-15

I am going to try to post a journal entry now and then, because I have been neglecting my blog, and even my micro blog, for a long while now. Today was a good day. At work, I automated a data analysis process—and, just as importantly, the work paper creation process associated with it—that I will have to run about sixty times for one of my current projects. I am hopeful that all the effort will have been worth it when I can start using it next week.…

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iPad Pro Backlight Bleed

As of today, my second 2017 iPad Pro has also developed backlight bleed on the bottom edge of the screen. (I have a charging stand, and use my iPad Pro almost like a desktop computer, so there is a definite “bottom” to it.) I got my first iPad Pro replaced for the same reason after about 11 months. The replacement’s screen has been perfect for about nine months since then, but just started to exhibit the same problem today.…

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I don’t know anybody who objects to Daylight Savings Time, as a thing. Everybody I talk to objects to changing the clocks, which is an entirely different thing.

I’m coding and listening to Guster. I think about the one live Guster show I saw in Boston about ten years ago on a weekly basis. They completely blew me away.

I love Lin-Manuel Miranda, and am excited to see his guest spot on “Brooklyn 99" someday (I have to catch up), but I’d really like more songs like “Breathe” and “In the Heights” come from him in the future.

Friday evening now means homemade chicken soup and (not homemade) challah for dinner at my house!

I had thought that more Americans used LED light bulbs than this New York Times article reports. I’m mostly surprised that 37% of light bulbs installed are halogens.

One of my favorite podcast hosting teams is the Political Gabfest’s combo of Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz. They have great chemistry and are all very, very smart. I am happy that Slate was able to keep them all together after they left the company, years ago.

I made a last-minute decision to go see Captain Marvel tonight. I hope I like it. 🤞

I miss listening to “Marketplace” on my commute home. Now that I work from home, I don’t do that any more. For some reason, listening to the “Marketplace” podcast, which I used to do, kind stresses me out. I don’t understand why; perhaps my relationship to money has changed.

I’m listening to Counting Crows after listening to an episode of the “Underwater Sunshine” podcast, which is hosted by Adam Duritz and James Campion. I’m plugging away at my day job, and thinking about why I can’t get myself to write a little journal entry every day for my blog.

I felt really good about the data analysis work I performed this morning, until I discovered that the data looked good, but was wrong, wrong, wrong. A large part of my job involves testing and then rejecting data. I wonder if it is like that for everybody in my line of work.

I just bought my first app in a long, long time: iA Writer. I hope it will be useful at work, especially, because it seems better suited for plaintext editing and for Files integration.

The more news stories and gadget blog entries about foldable phones trickles in, the more I think that it will be a passing fad, like 3-D television sets were a few years ago. I think thinness and durability will matter more to people than flexibility when it comes to displays.

Yesterday was a rough day. I was ejected from an exclusive online club for no reason, and had a shock while working on my tax filing. Let’s hope today is better.

I have been spending so much time in the past couple weeks working on my new macOS app that I have done little else with my free time. I did take a couple nights off to play “Breath in the Wild” and came back to coding the next days with mental blocks removed and with new ideas.

I moved my work computer and all its peripherals yesterday, and have not been able to put them back in quite the same way. Everything feels just a little bit off today.

But how will we pay for it?

Suggested answers for progressive presidential candidates to the question “but how can we pay for it?” (when “it” is a proposed social program related to healthcare, child care, elder care, education, energy, the environment, etc.): We are already paying for it. Hahahahahahahahahahaha! …

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I think writing the preferences UI for my new Mac App is taking ten times the amount of time that writing the functional part of the app did.

I enjoy listening to Tim Goodman’s TV Talk Machine a lot more than I enjoy actually watching TV.

I am wondering today if anybody else has as many problems as I do getting Microsoft One Drive to work—properly, consistently, or at all—through the Files App, to open files in third party apps on iOS. Using it that way has become increasingly frustrating for me.

Hollow Knight developers announce a full sequel, Silksong

I’m pretty sure I’ll buy Hollow Knight: Silksong as soon as it comes out. Hollow Knight developer Team Cherry surprised fans this morning by announcing a full sequel to 2017’s bug-filled metroidvania game, called Hollow Knight: Silksong. Hollow Knight is a cool, atmospheric, and thoughtfully crafted game. I’m only a couple hours into it, and have just developed my skills enough to feel that it isn’t too hard anymore.…

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Trump Declares A National Emergency

Per the New York Times: In a televised announcement in the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said he was signing the declaration to protect the country from the flow of drugs, criminals and illegal immigrants coming across the southwestern border from Mexico, which he characterized as a profound threat to national security. Does this mean I can stop work for the day? Seriously, though, this is the ultimate abuse of office—the sort of thing that turns a republic into an empire.…

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Yesterday was my son’s second birthday. The family had a great time celebrating him last night. He hates the “Happy Birthday” song, though, and cried right through it. For his birthday party on the weekend, we might need to play his favorite song, “Uptown Funk”, instead.

“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” There is actually a Wikipedia page about this phrase!

School was canceled due to snow, so it is a full house today. It didn’t actually snow until about 11:00 here, so canceling school looked like a mistake to me when I woke up this morning.

VFEmail hacked and all US data destroyed

In 2001 I paid $14.99 for a lifetime account at VFEmail. I used it as my primary email host for a short time, as it was a pretty inexpensive IMAP email host back in the days when getting IMAP support outside of college or corporate email systems was quite rare. I stopped using it because it would go down from time to time, which is frustrating. I now use it only to get status emails sent by my home server (FreeNAS), which are relatively unimportant and anonymous.…

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US iPhone users spent, on average, $79 on apps last year, up 36% from 2017

Per TechCrunch: As is typical, much of that increase can be attributed to mobile gaming, which accounted for more than half of this per-device average. However, more substantial growth took place in the categories outside of gaming — including those categories where subscription-based apps tend to rule the top charts, the firm found. I bet app spending is going to go up each year for the next few years, partly because people will spend less on hardware upgrades, and partly because software is becoming way more important than hardware in mobile now that the market has matured.…

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Amazon Acquires Eero

John Gruber’s take is dead on. For privacy reasons, there is no way I’ll buy an Eero now.…

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I keep thinking that I should use my iCloud email address for “personal” email, and my Gmail address for “junk” email, but I keep realizing that I have almost zero “personal” email to handle these days.

My daughter was moved to a higher math class on Monday and is doing well so far. I am so proud of her!

🎵 While I’ve been working this morning, I have been listening to Apple Music’s “Vibes” playlist on my big Marshall Bluetooth speaker (no headphones for a change). It’s good working music: laid back, but not too slow, varied, and modern.

I miss Katie Floyd’s presence on the “Mac Power Users” podcast, but I really enjoy the interaction between (new co-host) Steven Hackett and David Sparks. They meld very well together.

At every meal now, my almost-two-year-old son cries out “Hey Siri! Play ‘Uptown Funk’” several times before giving up. I am so glad I never bought a HomePod for the kitchen.

Parenting tip: I wholeheartedly recommend putting your baby to sleep at their bedtime, rather than an hour afterwards. Trust me. 😀

I didn't exactly *forget* about the Responder Chain, but...

I had to look up Apple’s documentation on the Responder Chain once again tonight. SplitViewControllers and overall view containment are great features, but are requiring me to move my methods around a little bit. I am feeling good about my SwiftoDo Desktop rewrite, though. I am almost done coding the core functionality. Just a few more big features left to code before I put more work into user preferences and, basically, making everything super nice and customizable.…

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For a few hours today, Overcast’s podcast recommendation engine thought I could speak fluent Spanish. Sadly, I cannot.

I will be very surprised if iOS 13 does not contain a system dark mode, and all the new system colors and colors API that debuted on the Mac last year. I think it may have a huge impact on iOS design, though, which may be a reason why the default system design is going to get an overhaul, too.

Does OneDrive work very poorly with iOS Files integration, or is it just my experience?

FE File Explorer

I hope that iOS 13 brings a Files app update that will add direct access to file shares. Until then, I will use a utility that I found today: FE File Explorer. It is a clean and polished file explorer that connects to Apple and Windows file shares, as well as some cloud services. It is a good image player, audio player, and video player as well. The Pro version integrates with the Files app as a data provider, too.…

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🎵 It’s an “Automatic for the People” day for me. That amazing R.E.M. album has been the soundtrack to deep work for me since 1992. The 25th anniversary edition (man, I’m old!) has live tracks for most of the tracks, which makes it a fun listen.

Stuck in a loop

Sometimes, as a developer, I get stuck. This week, I have been stuck by some kind of endless loop or retain cycle that rears its head when I try to access a lazy-loaded class property within a subclass of NSDocument by two child view controllers. Everything worked flawlessly until I added that second view controller. I am at my wits end, and it’s all my fault. I have tried to access that property only synchronously via a dispatch queue.…

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I both downloaded Night Owl and created an Automator application to toggle Dark Mode on my Mac. I think I prefer the Automator application, because I can call it with Spotlight Search, which is how I open all my apps.

I love WNYC’s American Standards. I put it on every evening when I put my son to bed, and he has started asking for each night.

The Spotify/Gimlet deal portends more of the same to come

Spotify’s reported offer to buy Gimlet Media for an estimated $200 milliion makes me think that the podcasting market is really a lot bigger than I had previously thought. Podcasting is a small industry, with an ad model that generated an estimated $315 million in 2017. Digital video ads, by comparison, generated $11.9 billion in the same year. But it is growing quickly, which makes it attractive to some platforms and publishers (including Vox Media) who are interested in tapping new revenue streams.…

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I want to link blog, it all my thoughts lately about articles I have read have been: “this is so stupid”. Obviously, I have to read less of the news and pick up something else.

I am neck-deep in Access and VBA coding at work, now that I am back from our annual training conference in Chicago.

By some miracle, I was able to fly home from Chicago yesterday, in the middle of the polar vortex. My flight was on time, and half empty, even though most of the other flights on the board were canceled, and half my company got stranded by lack of flights.

I’m looking forward to this (-24°F) soon. 🙄

I am happy to learn that I am not the only person who has to charge their AirPods all the time now. Bring on version two, because I will buy them.

While packing for my business trip tonight, I spent far more time looking for the pill pack I always bring everywhere than on packing everything else.

Where I have been the past week

I have been working very hard on the next version of SwiftoDo Desktop for the past week or so. And when I’m not, I’m playing Breath of the Wild, or, you know, doing my day job or taking care of my family like I’m supposed to. I’m heading to Chicago on Sunday for my company’s Annual Training event, and I have been really anxious about it, due to the government shutdown and the snow and frigid temperatures in Chicago’s weather forecast.…

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Thinking about music and distraction

I think I enjoy music because I can listen to it while doing creative endeavors, such as writing or coding, and during most of my workday as well. I’m not sure I like listening to music without doing something else, though, which is a little weird. The most intensely focused music listening sessions of my life involved trying to learn to sing and/or play a part, which I no longer do, unfortunately.…

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🎵 One of the joys of an “all you can eat” music subscription is that I never miss new albums by my old favorites. Case in point: Guster, who just dropped a new album,”Look Alive”. I’m giving it a listen now with my best setup.

Who picks the colors for municipal gymnasiums? (It looks more drab and greener in real life.)

I have noticed that, since December, Amazon has pretty much completely stopped shipping to my house via UPS or FedEx. Everything goes through their private service now.

I am happy that the Exponent podcast is back now. Fortunately for me, its hiatus was short and not a permanent one.

After Her Brexit Deal Is Crushed in Parliament, Theresa May Faces a No-Confidence Vote

The bad Brexit news continues. The whole situation is baffling, like so much else that has happened since 2016. I knew the moment that Brexit passed that Donald Trump would be the next U.S. president, and the pace of insanity in world events has only accelerated.…

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I spent half the morning researching how to evaluate the results of attribute sample testing—once again. It’s hard to remember the parts of statistics that I don’t use very often.

I’m happy that Dialog is out of beta today. It’s great to have a real, out-of-beta Android app for I don’t know when I’m going to fire up my Essential Phone again to try it out, though. It has been in a drawer for over a month.

I helped my daughter with her homework, in which she had to draw a bunch of random things. I tried to demonstrate for her how to draw some things. 😂 (I’m glad I’m not in grade school anymore.)

My 2013 MacBook Pro, which I mostly use in clamshell mode connected to a big display, keeps dying rather than waking up via the keyboard or mouse. I am this close to ditching it for a Mac mini or an iMac, just to resolve this issue—but that would be incredibly foolish, financially speaking.

I have been playing “Breath of the Wild” way too much lately, but mostly late at night when my brain is too tired to do anything more productive.

After many years of avoiding it, my wife and I are seeing “Stomp” tonight. Ot was part of a theatre subscription we signed up for. It is good? I hope so.

My new version of SwiftoDo Desktop is shaping up nicely so far.

🎵 I am a sucker for reverb on a well-produced track. Case in point: “Rill Rill” by Sleigh Bells.

The New York Times identified today a “trend” that I first was a part of 15 years ago, when I got my first work-issued laptop with a VPN connection to the office: The Death of the Sick Day.

I am unreasonably excited to be receiving New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe tomorrow.

Every January 2nd, I spend some time archiving the prior year’s emails and files on my computer. I’m finding things I worked on back in March that I barely remember, which is a little sad, but is also the main reason for moving older stuff aside.

I need to get back into the blogging game. I have been coding in all the “free time” I have had since I decided to rewrite my Mac App. Happy new year, everyone!

I just traded in my 15-year old car, bought a new one, and drive it home. Of course, it is so dark out now that no one can get a good luck at it. I am happy the trade-in and purchase are complete.

I just finished packing the car for our Christmas trip. Now…to find my children! 😀

Tonight’s cookie bake was sugar cookies. My daughter helped roll out and cut them. She chose the heart shape, which makes for oversized cookies. (I forgot to photograph Wednesday night’s brown sugar cookie bake.)

Coding again, after a couple days of uncertainty

I spent the past few nights on hold with my Todo.txt app rewrite because I thought the changes I coded to the filter system were wrong. Well, after thinking and not thinking about it for a couple days, I came back to discover everything is working as intended. Phew! I will revisit the logic once I code the rest of the app.…

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I am thinking about whether I should merge my WordPress blog into my (hosted) I’m posting a lot more to my micro blog, and have not posted to my “big” blog in about four months (😕).

I am not optimistic about Elon Musk's latest boring publicity stunt

If Elon Musk’s Boring Company can somehow bring down the costs of digging tunnels, that would be fantastic. However, I am skeptical (emphasis is mine): On Tuesday, Musk put the total price tag for the finished segment at about $10 million, including the cost of excavation, internal infrastructure, lighting, ventilation, safety systems, communications and a track. By comparison, he said, digging a mile of tunnel by “traditional” engineering methods costs up to $1 billion and takes three to six months to complete.…

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I got a new toy this week: a large, Marshall Bluetooth speaker. I’m evaluating as best I can, between my kids’ naps and bedtimes. It can play much, much louder than I could ever turn it up to.

I do not understand why the repair brush in Apple Photos is available only on the Mac and not on the iPad Pro. It is infuriating sometimes. My iPad Pro is faster and more capable than my old MacBook Pro, and even has an even-more-precise pointing device in the Apple Pencil.

My kids seem not to notice that Mozart is playing in the house. I consider that a win.

I really enjoyed this profile of Donald Knuth, a towering figure in computer science whose name was in, or on the cover, of almost all my programming books in high school and college.

I am already baking cookies for Christmas. Tonight: chocolate chip.

I have been coding, rather than microblogging, furiously over the past few days. I have started to rewrite my Mac app. I’m not coding UI stuff just yet, but have started to think that Marzipan (which of course isn’t even out yet) will not be optimal for Mac UI development.

My daughter has been complimenting my cooking profusely this week, which is as mystifying as it is gratifying.

I upgraded my home server to FreeNAS 11.2. I simply deleted my old, highly customized jail, and created a brand new jail after I performed the upgrade. I did not bother adding my custom build of OpenVPN to the jail. Everything is working fine, and I am pleased with the upgrade.

S-Town Redux

I started listening to “S-Town” again this evening. JOHN DESPISES HIS ALABAMA TOWN AND DECIDES TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. HE ASKS a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life. I listened to it first the day it came out, and actually listened to the entire thing in one stretch.…

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I can’t remember the last time I used BitTorrent. Probably a few years back to download a Linux distro (seriously!) or LibreOffice.

🎵 I’m re-listening to Adrian Legg’s “Guitars and Other Cathedrals” today. It’s a 1990 album that I “borrowed” from a friend in high school and never returned. Legg is an astonishing acoustic guitar player. This album is warm and laid back.

Just once, I want to write release notes that simply state: “all your wildest dreams came true”.

Who knew? A female computer scientist invented the word processor!

I never knew that Evelyn Berezin, who died on Saturday, invented the word processor, but I am certainly in her debt and grateful that she did. In an age when computers were in their infancy and few women were involved in their development, Ms. Berezin (pronounced BEAR-a-zen) not only designed the first true word processor; in 1969, she was also a founder and the president of the Redactron Corporation, a tech start-up on Long Island that was the first company exclusively engaged in manufacturing and selling the revolutionary machines.…

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Mulling over the FreeNAS 11.2 Upgrade

I have been debating updating or not updating my home server to FreeNAS 11.2. It is a big update for me because of this one change: The Plugins and Jails backend has switched from warden to iocage and warden will no longer receive bug fixes. The new UI will automatically use iocage to create and manage Plugins and Jails. Users are encouraged to recreate any existing Plugins and Jails using the new UI to ensure that they are running the latest supported application versions.…

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Why You Start Things You’ll Never Finish

One solution: Start fewer things: There’s a “predisposition of humans to underestimate the time it takes to complete a thing” called the planning fallacy, which leads us to overcommit to opportunities at the expense of actually completing them, said Greg McKeown, author of “Essentialism” (one of my favorite books). “It’s so deep in us,” he said, “you can know about it and even understand the principle, and you’ll still do it.…

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I just did my first ECG on the Apple Watch Series 4. (The update enabling it just came out yesterday.) It worked just like in Apple’s demo—pretty cool! I wonder how useful it is for me, or if I should set a reminder to do one periodically. My guess is that it is merely “for entertainment purposes only” for me at least (I don’t have A-fib), but I will ask my cardiologist to make sure.

🎵 The Grammy Awards are really, really stupid. Still, you should listen to some Brandi Carlile, who was nominated for a bunch of them today.

Siri Shortcuts is suggesting I call our favorite pizza place right now. Things have gone horribly awry with us, diet wise. 😂

My wife and I paid off our newer car today, which feels great after 3 years of monthly payments. Of course, I need to replace our older car (which is 15 years old and on its last legs) later this month, so car payments will continue unabated.

The best news I will hear today came pretty early: “The Good Place” Renewed for Season 4 at NYC. I should go back to bed now (or at least shut off my connection to the Internet) before things get worse.

I envy people whose voicemail boxes are full.

🎵 River of Dreams

I’m not a huge Billy Joel fan, though I do have all his albums and respect him as an artist. I wish he had written another album after River of Dreams, which I am listening to again today. I think that, as a maker of albums, rather than singles, he hit his stride with Storm Front and that, as an album, River of Dreams is his best. His earlier albums have higher highs and lower lows, and don’t hold together as well, in my opinion.…

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My home cooking tip to add a vegetable and a sauce to stovetop chicken breasts

One of my simple kitchen techniques to spruce up skinless, boneless chicken breasts is to throw a can of beans (cannellini or garbanzo) and some chicken broth on them, after searing the first side. I then cover them and simmer the chicken (typically in the oven) until it is done. I usually throw in some flour at the end, after taking the chicken out, to make a thick and creamy sauce.…

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I bought my wife the iPhone XR tonight at the Apple Store. She and I had fun setting it up. If it came out before the X, I think people would not have gone so crazy about the X.

My Micro 4/3 Camera is all kitted out

I have just about every accessory I would imagine I would need for my (still) new Olympus OM-D EM10 Mark III camera, and all of them, except for the little carrying case it came with and my AmazonBasics tripod, fit into this little box. I never expected to buy so many lenses in such a short time (over a 4-month period). I was having so much fun shooting photos and expanding my camera’s versatility.…

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Kodex: An iOS code/text editor I just discovered

I just discovered a versatile code (and text) editor for iOS called Kodex. It is a free app with some pretty cool features: tight integration with the Files app syntax highlighting for numerous languages (including Markdown) multiple tabbed interface a large assortment of hardware keyboard shortcuts, which you can customize the key bindings for multiple cursor support (it’s more rudimentary than Sublime Text’s, which works with “next word” selection and the mouse, but it’s a desktop-only app) find/replace find/replace with regEx document minimap a large assortment of themes and color schemes As nice as iOS is for text editing, especially if you have a hardware keyboard, it is hard to not see just how rudimentary most of its text editors are.…

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I’m fixing minor UI bugs in one of my apps this week. I’m doing necessary work, but the big, bad bug that I rarely see, but know exists, is still out there, somewhere, lurking.

Removing Dropbox, and Finding a Replacement for Editorial on iOS

I’m working on retiring Dropbox from all my systems. For personal files, I am all in on iCloud. For work files, which I want separate, I am going to use OneDrive (which is IT-supported). I am stuck, though, trying to figure out what text (and Markdown) editor I can use on iOS that will be acceptable to me. Pretext crashes on long files, but is otherwise OK. 1Writer is OK, but had trouble opening some of my files, and I don’t like its floating buttons.…

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Am I the only one who thinks that Facebook’s commercials for its video chat gadget, the Portal, are in incredibly poor taste? Putting aside the obvious problem that putting a video camera controlled by Facebook in your home is a terrible idea on numerous levels, the jokey video calls they depict are so mean spirited that it actually makes me sad to see them.

There are actually some good Black Friday deals on Master & Dynamics and Bose QC 35 headphones 🎧, and some KEF speakers 🔉🔉 I had my eye on. Of course, I already spent my “gifts to myself” money this year. Wirecutter has a great list of deals. 💸

Here is my obligatory Thanksgiving turkey photo.

I just got up. Time to start cooking!

The NY style crumb cake I baked this evening looks so amateurish that I dubbed it “baby’s first cake”. 😅

I think I need Apple’s “Screen Time” feature only for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (which of course runs on the Nintendo Switch).

Most of my cooking and cleaning plans today were derailed when my kitchen sink detached from the granite countertop. I was soaking oven racks in scalding hot water, which I do every year around this time, but this time the weight and the heat were too much. The sink’s seaI failed, and the sink dropped about an inch on one side. I had to bail gallons of hot water out with a bowl. Luckily, I was able to get it repaired about an hour later, but I can’t use the sink again until sometime tomorrow. At least this didn’t happen to me on Thanksgiving!

🎵 I have enjoyed Regina Spektor’s Remember Us To Life for the past two years. Her evocative lyrics, expressive voice, and theatrical arrangements make this collection of songs loom large in my imagination.

I am working only one day this week. I wish every week was like this one!

After a nice lunch with my family, I will say that I am thankful for the little Italian market and deli nearby that sells yummy foods.

I don’t really like how Mastodon posts are now in the auto-generated Discover sections for things like music and specific sports. I just want to see posts in Discover.

I am happy that I was able to cook homemade chicken soup for my family this evening.

I can’t believe we got a couple inches of snow on the ground today.

I am disappointed in the current slate of Broadway musicals. I thought last year was particularly weak, but this year is worse. I am only an infrequent Broadway theater goer, do to the ticket prices, but I listen to a lot of cast recordings. Nothing is grabbing my attention now.

Do any Micro.bloggers have any suggestions for a good iOS guided meditation app for beginners? There are so many to choose from.

I’m happy that the Accidental Tech Podcast hosts got invited to the Apple Mac and iPad event, and that @marco got a couple of review units, too. I have enjoyed ATP’s last two episodes all the more because of it.

🎵 I’m listening to a bunch of different versions of what is probably the greatest Bossa nova song ever: “Aguas de Marco"/"Waters of March”. It’s lovely and hypnotic.

Chrome (on Windows 10) does not take that long to load, but it takes long enough for me to forget why I launched it by the time it opens.

I voted!

My favorite line from @gruber’s 2018 MacBook Air review:

The Esc key works perfectly.

I am so relieved.

🎵 I thought to myself this morning: “Why don’t I just play all my songs on shuffle?”

My employer is changing its email retention policy to discourage employees from keeping email forever, and focusing on its use as a communication tool rather than an historical archive. I have been waiting for 20 years for such a thing to occur.

I am excited to go vote today. My wife and I made a voting plan and everything. Thankfully it is not that hard for us to vote where we live.

🎮 I have been playing a lot of Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey the past couple weeks. I am very glad I bought them. It’s good to have escapist fun for a change.

I bought a “fast” lens for my micro 4/3 camera to take pictures of my kids indoors, where the light is not good. I have gotten some great shots, but I have concluded, after about a month of shooting, that what I really need is a TTL flash that I can bounce off the ceiling.

No one told my kids that Daylight Saving Time has ended. 😴

VoteSaveAmerica’s voting guide is very well done. I was able to quickly learn about the candidates and the ballot measures that will be on my actual ballot on November 6.

I have not been looking at polls, because I don’t want to drive myself crazy, but I am really nervous about voter turnout for next week’s midterm election. I have a vague dread that Democrats will, once again, not vote in large enough numbers to help un-f*** this country.

Halloween with the wife and kids was fun. It was unusually warm and we didn’t have many trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood this year.

This article, about an actor’s family finding an apartment as they move to NYC, is kind of depressing. It’s unreasonably expensive to live in the city. If I were in his position, I would probably try to live outside the city a little ways.

Oh, now Lana Del Ray and Jack Antonoff are on stage. This is the best Apple event in many years.

Is anyone else hearing the distorted Halloween echo whenever Tim Cook is speaking at the Apple iPad Pro event?

🎵 How have I never listened to “The Last Waltz” before? I guess because I thought it would be sad to listen to the last concert by a band (The Band) I loved. It isn’t sad at all.

Both my kids fell in love with the book, song, and music video (!) for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom this month. It’s cute, but a little weird.


🎵 I do not listen to nearly enough Neko Case. For the first time in forever, I just spun up her 2002 album, Blacklisted, with its electric lead track: “Things that Scare Me”.

🎵 I’m trying to listen to the Original Broadway Cast recording of “Pretty Woman: the Musical” and it is hard to get through. So boring, so trite. The cast is good, though. Andy Karl, in particular, needs to find a role in a show not based on a movie for a change.

Now that the World Series is over, maybe I can watch less TV and do more exercise again in the evenings.

⚾️ What a Series! I’m really going to miss baseball this winter.

I really enjoyed reading John Gruber’s iPhone XR review this morning. I am thinking of waiting for the initial buying rush to wear off, and taking my wife to the store to buy her one.

A new Chromebook

I just ordered a new Chromebook for my daughter, based on Wirecutter’s recommendation. It was a lot more expensive than I thought Chromebooks sold for, but I bought a decently-speced one for the battery life, screen, and RAM. I’m not sure what to expect when I have to set it up. I am not even sure what a Chromebook is anymore, now that ChromeOS runs Android apps. I was an owner/user of the original Cr-48 (the prototype Chromebook from Google).…

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🎵 Norah Jones has a new single out, which she wrote with Jeff Tweedy (who plays guitar on the track): A Song with No Name. It is bare, stark, and simple, like an old, sad country ballad.

“How is The Good Place so Good?" This is relevant to my interests.

Wondering if the AnyList Apple Watch app is any good now

I’m debating whether I should pay for AnyList Pro again, just to use the Apple Watch app. I paid for a year a while back, and the Apple Watch app did not work very well. It kept crashing or getting killed, and would not stay in sync with my iPhone. None of the other paid features are interesting to me. I like the rest of the app’s features, though, and I’m getting the new Apple Watch in about a month, so maybe it will work this time.…

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⚾️ 106 wins for the Red Sox! That’s a franchise record. I can’t believe it, at least compared to how they ended last season.

⚾️ The last two Red Sox/Indians games felt like playoff baseball: close games, extra innings, nail-biting situations at the mound, etc. As a Red Sox fan, I hope my team can win a series against a team as good as the Indians (or, more importantly, the Yankees). Over the past week, I have been reminded of their actual playoff appearances the past two years, in which they lost in the divisional series.

SwiftoDo Development Notes, September 2018

Files integrationIn late August I released a version of SwiftoDo that added sync support for any cloud data provider, via integration with the Files app. I think that this integration can be improved in the future. For example, right now, you cannot create a todo.txt file in the Files app using SwiftoDo, and you cannot open an existing todo.txt from the Files app. If I add those features, I may as well rewrite the app’s UI, so that you have to create or open a file upon SwiftoDo’s launch.…

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📺 I think I need to re-watch “The Good Place”. (It’s available on Netflix.) And, hey, there’s a behind-the-scenes podcast for the show, too!

🎵 Today’s listen: Fine Young Cannibals' The Raw and the Cooked on my V-Moda Crossfade 2 🎧.

🎵 I don’t always listen to “Josie and the Pussycats” but when I do, it’s Kay Hanley singing.

A sunflower in the backyard. My daughter loves these, but we don’t admire them often enough.

🎮 Transistor

I finished the game Transistor last night. I played it on my iPad Pro with a MFi controller. It was a fun game with a great atmosphere (setting, sound design, visual design, etc.) but the story was a bit too opaque for my taste. You had to dig into the user interface and read a bunch of optional stuff to get a better idea of what is going on ints its disintegrating cyberpunk world.…

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🎵 Vocal Jazz with the V-Moda Crossfade Wireless 2

Today felt like a good day to listen to a long vocal jazz playlist through my V Moda Crossfade Wireless 2. Their warm, somewhat bass-y sound signature works surprisingly well for that genre. I mostly think of them as great for rock and pop music, but they handled sparse arrangements of vocals (male and female), piano, bass, and drums (mostly brushwork) surprisingly well. I had to use wired mode because the Bluetooth connection is too loud for me, even at the lowest volume setting, on my iOS devices.…

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Alas, no SwiftoDo update submission to the App Store today

Today I was planning to submit to the App Store the current build of SwiftoDo, which I have been testing without incident for about three weeks. Unfortunately, out of nowhere, it started crashing on launch late this morning. Fortunately, I never finished submitting this build to the App Store for review, so it will never reach users. It does mean, however, that I have to debug a tricky treading-related crash before I can release the cool new feature I have been working on.…

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Altec Lansing M650 iPod Speaker Dock

After enjoying the Philips Revolution speaker dock for a while, I started to look for a better sounding iPod dock. I found that in the Altec Lansing M650, which is a 2.1 channel system (yes, stereo speakers plus a tiny, down-firing subwoofer!) in a compact, triangular case, with a 30-pin iPod/iPhone dock on a ledge in front. I thought, and still think, that it sounds great. Its sound is warm, rich, and natural.…

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Philips Revolution Motorized Portable Speaker Dock for iPhone/iPod

The iPod had a monumental impact on how people listened to music. Not only did it turn people onto digital music downloads, rather than CDs, better than any preceding product; it also made listening to playlists and to shuffled music simple and extremely popular. The iPod’s 30-pin connector had a huge impact on home speaker systems as well. Suddenly, it became the default connection option for a bevy of home speakers.…

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Harman Kardon Soundsticks II Speaker System

In my mid 20s, I decided to move from boring (but nice) suburban Connecticut back to the Boston area where I went to college. It was a chance to reinvent myself, which is something I really needed to do at the time. In the process, I replaced a lot of my belongings—cheap things or hand-me-downs that I had since my college days—with newer, better versions. I replaced nearly everything I cooked with and ate with: dishes, pots and pans, and small appliances.…

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Altec Lansing Computer Speakers

Over winter break, during my sophomore year in college, I bought my first new computer: a beige Dell tower with an Intel 486 processor. When pricing out systems—and this was done over the phone back then, rather than over the internet, because my parents did not have internet access in 1997—I configured nearly identical systems from Gateway and Dell at the same price. The only difference between them was in the peripherals: the Gateway came with a 19-inch monitor, rather than a 17-inch monitor, and the Dell came with a USB-connected, 2.…

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My first computer speakers

I got my first computer when I was in seventh grade. It was an IBM AT/XT that we upgraded several times over the years. By the time I was in high school, my dad bought me a SoundBlaster sound card and some 6-inch computer speakers. I actually do not remember who made them: it was either JBL, Creative, or Altec Lansing. What I do remember is that they were the generic beige color of all PC hardware of the era, the right speaker had knobs for balance and volume, and, as a pair, they could go very, very loud.…

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Sony CFD-510 Boombox

A week before I left for college I bought a Sony boombox to use as a bookshelf stereo. It had detachable speakers, so you could actually achieve stereo separation, and, of course, “mega bass”, which was pretty much mandatory for good sound in such small speakers. I chose this particular model because it had an analog 3-band equalizer, as opposed to several genre-specific settings; I relied on the EQ to pick out guitar and bass parts I would transcribe.…

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My first speaker system

My parents bought me my first CD player at the JC Penney Outlet. It was a damaged, open-box, no-name system that resembled a single, tall unit. It contained, from top to bottom, a turntable (though the clear cover was broken off and missing), an AM/FM radio, a five band equalizer, a dual deck cassette, and a single cd player at the bottom. The only reason I asked for it, and thought my family could afford it, was because it was damaged and was being sold at a steep discount.…

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Speakers over the years

I love music, and I love headphones, but, oddly enough, I have no special love for speakers. The reason, I suppose, is that, since I was a broke teenager living with my parents, I have never had the opportunity to listen to loud, room-filling music at my home. Roommates, sleeping children, and close neighbors have always prevented it. That said, my love of music has always depended on speakers, and, as I got older, they got a little better over the years.…

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SwiftoDo Development Notes, July 2018

I took a break from SwiftoDo development to build a new app, Simple Call Blocker, which I posted about earlier this week. Building it was a fun diversion, and I learned a lot in the process, too. If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering what’s up with SwiftoDo, however. I have been working on it this summer, too. Since this spring, I have been promising everyone that I’m working on iOS 11+ Files app integration.…

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Introducing: Simple Call Blocker

Recently I released a new iOS app: Simple Call Blocker. It is a free utility that lets you block unwanted calls to your iPhone. Unlike most of the call blockers on iOS, it allows you to block whole ranges of numbers, such as your phone number’s extension, for free. You may also whitelist numbers, ranges of numbers, or all your contacts’ phone numbers, so that they will not be blocked by this app, even if they are in the blacklist.…

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🎵 Tonight I’m working overtime and listening to The Hold Steady, which almost makes it all right.

On Internet Trolls

“DON’T FEED THE TROLLS, AND OTHER HIDEOUS LIES” is a great article by “Film Crit Hulk” on our collective failure to respond properly to internet trolling culture. A Twitter follower reminded me of a line in the famous parable from Bion of Borysthenes: “Boys throw stones at frogs in fun, but the frogs do not die in fun, but in earnest.” Defenders of trolling insist it’s all just a joke, but if trolling is inherently designed to get a rise out of someone, then that’s what it really is.…

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🎵 I’m back to my wired OPPO PM-3 & HA-2 SE headphones stack today, listening to Foreverland, by The Divine Comedy. It’s an album that slipped by me in 2016. I used to love The Divine Comedy in the late 1990s, and still take Casanova for a spin every six months or so.

Re-committing to Pinboard, after many months away

I’m re-committing to Pinboard, after a year or more away from it. I’m happy with what I am doing now, and thought I would document it in case anyone else wanted help understanding how to use the Pinboard effectively, especially if their usage lapsed, as mine did. What is Pinboard? Pinboard is an “antisocial” cloud bookmarking service. You can keep all your bookmarks there and use its barebones website or third party apps and browser extensions, all using an open API, to access them.…

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A git commit somehow disappeared, eradicating all my app code and obliterating at least one evening’s worth of work. I cracked open a Guinness, restored a backup from Arq, recovered about 80% of my work, and re-did the rest. I’m happy I didn’t lose my cool.

Thomas Finch’s iOS 7+ Icon Generator is a nice, little utility. It takes a square app icon and masks it to match the rounded corner shape of modern iOS icons.

I have been wrestling all day with an Access query with a ton of parameters that causes a crash when run via VBA, but works fine when run manually, which no one would ever do.

A Hardware Keyboard Shortcuts Tip for Drafts 5

Drafts 5 is a great app for capturing thoughts, drafting notes, and capturing tasks, and quickly sending them, via Actions, to other apps or services for further processing. The typical workflow is: Launch Drafts Type a draft Launch an Action to process the draft On iPhone, swiping left from anywhere to pick an Action is right at your fingertips, since you are typing on screen. On iPad, if you type with an external keyboard (which I highly recommend), launching an Action is a little more cumbersome.…

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What would make me upgrade my Series 1 Apple Watch

I love the Apple Watch. I didn’t always, though. When I first tried on a Series 0, a couple weeks before it was released, I quickly made the decision not to buy one. I thought it was too expensive and that it was not immersive enough. I had been expecting an iPhone for the wrist; what it was instead was a wristwatch with some extras. Six months later, however, I relented and bought one, mostly because Target was offering the Space Gray Sport model at a deep discount, and I wanted to pick a holiday gift for myself that my family members could chip in for.…

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Here is a wrapper class to hide implementation details in Microsoft Access VBA projects: DAOQueryRunner.cls. DAOTemporaryTableController.cls relies on this.

This VBA class helps you work with temporary tables in Access VBA projects: DAOTemporaryTableController.cls. You may need to do so if you want to join using a subquery as criteria, which Access does not allow.

I decided to make use of GitHub Gists again. My first gist in several years is LoggedInUserName.bas: a VBA module to get logged in user name from the Windows API.

🎙 I am a sucker for an Upgrade draft episode: The WWDC keynote Draft 2018

All weekends should be 3 days long…if not 5! 😀

📺 I’m enjoying the “remix” version of “Arrested Development” season 4 a lot better than the original version. I’m sure time passing and my expectations being lowered helped, but I prefer to see all (most) of the characters in the same episodes.

🎵 First listen: Mean Girls (Original Broadway Cast)

Mean Girls (Original Broadway Cast) is up for the Tony for best musical this year, and I think it has a legitimate shot. While this is a weak year for the American musical, the music of “Mean Girls” is fun and catchy, and the lyrics are funny and full of wordplay. The singing and production of the cast album are top notch, too. I like it. The high school setting and girl-centric plot, though not the music, remind me a lot of “Bring It On”, which is another musical that has a fantastic cast album and works a lot better than you would think.…

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🎧 Headphones review: Sony MDR-1AM2/B.

“Recess” and “Good Bones”, or selling the world to my children

There’s more beauty in this world than you can guess Recently, with the help of someone on and Apple Music, I have turned my family on to the music of Justin Roberts. His band plays children’s music in a power pop style. His music is really catchy, and his lyrics are wry, funny, very kid-friendly (my daughter sings them all the time), and sometimes also play to the parents on emotional level as well.…

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I’m still testing and fixing things in my dev build of SwiftoDo 2.12.0. It feels weird to have gone so long without issuing a release. I hope to get everything done next week. I have a very full weekend of family activities ahead of me, though, so I can’t do much till Monday.

🎵 Carry On

On this bad and sad news day, remember: If you’re lost and alone Or you’re sinking like a stone Carry on May your past be the sound Of your feed upon the ground and Carry on ‘Cause we are, we are shining stars We are invincible We are who we are On our darkest day When we’re miles away So we’ll come, we will find our way home Fun.…

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🎵 Frozen: The Broadway Musical

Listening to the cast recording of “Frozen: The Broadway Musical” for the first time is a bit surreal for me. Compared to the movie, there are new songs, lyrics changes in existing songs, and, of course, different singers. I don’t think any of the changes are for the better. It’s hard to say for sure, though, because, as a parent of a little girl, I’ve heard the movie and the movie soundtrack about 1,000 times already, and it’s burned into my brain.…

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While I think I want a Nintendo Switch, I’m trying to make due for now with what I already have—an iPad Pro and a SteelSeries Nimbus controller. I’m not sure I even want to commit the time to gaming, but I am curious about the latest Mario and Zelda games.

The calm before the WWDC storm

WWDC is in a little more than two weeks. As a hobbyist developer, I don’t go to big, expensive conferences 3,000 miles from my home. But I do eagerly await it each year. Last year I was so excited about it that I went as far as calling it “nerd Christmas”. This year, though, I’m not looking forward to the keynote, the new APIs, the betas, and so on. There have been no substantive leaks about what will be announced, and no one’s predictions so far have been that compelling.…

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The cast of Solo certainly is appealing, even if the movie itself may be largely inconsequential. To think, I used to care more about the director than the cast. 🎬

🎵 Frightened Rabbit singer commits suicide 😥

(My original title was just an expletive.) Body confirmed as missing Frightened Rabbit singer - BBC News: “Depression is a horrendous illness that does not give you any alert or indication as to when it will take hold of you”, it added. “Scott battled bravely with his own issues for many years and we are immensely proud of him for being so open with his struggles. “His willingness to discuss these matters in the public domain undoubtedly raised awareness of mental health issues and gave others confidence and belief to discuss their own issues.…

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🎵 Okkervil River's back catalog

Listening to Okkervil River’s new album, In the Rainbow Rain, today gave me an excuse to dive, once again, into their back catalog. I am a huge fan of the band’s 2005-2008 work, a trifecta of literate rock albums: Black Sheep Boy, The Stand Ins, and The Stage Names. Each of these albums is a staggering artistic achievement; each song on them is an evocative short story with enough weight, depth, and maturity to reward repeated listenings.…

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🎵 Groundhog Day the Musical

Groundhog Day is my second favorite Broadway musical of last year (closely behind “Dear Evan Hansen”, which has more plot-related problems but really terrific music), and the only one I saw. I revisit the cast album from time to time, because it is terrific, and multiple listens reveal hidden depth in the earthy lyrics. Broadway World’s review of the cast album is remarkably spot on. On first listen, Minchin’s melodies are captivating.…

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📚 Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

Earlier this year, I completed reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It was the first novel that I had read in a while, as I have been reading mostly nonfiction in recent years. I discovered the book from an episode of the “Triangulation” podcast in which Leo Laporte interviewed author Andy Weir, who enthusiastically recommended the book. Overall, I enjoyed the book. The prose is efficient and the pacing is swift.…

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Premature Optimization

In programming, there has long been a warning in computer science to avoid premature optimization. Donald Knuth called it “the root of all evil”. I find myself thinking about this all the time—not so much while programming, but when I’m thinking of spending money on myself, or telling people how to spend their money on me, as for birthday or Father’s Day gifts. I’m at an age now where I have everything I would ever want.…

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My slide into audiophile territory, Part 3

This is the third in a series of posts about my realization that I have become an audiophile. The prior post examined what it means to me to be an audiophile. It’s about spending money, right? Calling yourself an audiophile is a little like calling yourself a rube and not realizing it. That’s because being an audiophile is a hobby marked far more by spending large amounts of money on speakers (I include headphones here, of course)—speakers that sound only a tiny bit better than much less expensive speakers, than on anything else.…

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SwiftoDo Development Notes, April 2018

Weekly updates to SwiftoDo came to an end in early April, but work on SwiftoDo has continued apace. What’s next? I am working on an update, version 2.12.0, that includes a couple minor, but long-requested features: (1) a setting to preserve priority on completed tasks and (2) a default priority setting for new tasks. Implementing these features required lots of behind-the-scenes effort. Consequently, neither could be completed in less than a week.…

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