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. Listening to it the first time felt like two, almost contradictory experiences: (1) reading a Victorian novel with a rollicking, unpredictable plot, and (2) listening to a carefully constructed classical piece, in which every element has purpose, and was purposely placed exactly where it is in the piece, so that it call comes together in the end to take you to new places.

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.

I suspect that sexism is the primary reason that her name was largely forgotten.

Although Ms. Berezin was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in Los Angeles in 2011, Matthew G. Kirschenbaum noted in “Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing” (2016), “she remains a relatively unknown and underappreciated figure, with nowhere near the stature of other women who played significant roles in computer science and the computer industry and have since been recognized by historians.”

It probably did not help that her company’s primary product was called the Data Secretary, which sounds incredibly antiquated now. (When was the last time we used the term secretary in the office to denote an “administrative assistant”?)

If my daughter gets interested in computer science when she is older, I will definitely tell her about Evelyn Berezin in addition to the far more famous Ada Lovelace.

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.

I have one FreeBSD jail on my server with lots of customized software on it (most notably, a custom build of OpenVPN and two standard FreeNAS plugins. It has run rock solid for 2-3 years, but I can’t update it for various technical reasons, the underlying OS software is out of date, and rebuilding it will be a pain in the neck. I should probably wait until I can set aside a few hours, completely uninterrupted, to work on an upgrade—which probably won’t happen until sometime in January. Part of my wants to just let it run, updated, until the server dies—even if the software is very out of date—because it is behind a firewall and is largely shielded from cyberattack. I just never have been able to live like that before.

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.”

I needed to read an article like this today. I wish I had read such an article many years ago when I was in college.

My favorite technique to deal with being overwhelmed when I have overextended myself is to break down all the big tasks into tiny, tiny microtasks, and knock them off one by one. I use todo.txt to help keep track of it all.

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.

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.

🎵 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. I prefer picking through his excellent Greatest Hits collections rather than revisit the albums the songs come from.

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. I tracked lens prices closely for months and bought each lens on a price dip; all in all I saved hundreds of dollars, compared to what it would have cost if I bought everything up front. Still, I spent way too much money this year on the camera; but at least I’m almost done.

To keep everything neat and tidy, rather than lumped together in a little box, I think want some kind of padded, hardshell case for everything (such as a Pelican case). I’m not sure it’s worth the expense, though, because I don’t think I would ever take it out of the house. I would continue to use the little case that came with the camera, which I love for its small size. It easily fits the camera and an extra lens or an external flash unit.

Once I sort the case situation out, I will be done with camera spending…at least for a few years.

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. There certainly is nothing like BBEdit or Sublime Text available on the platform (though Kodex is definitely aiming at Sublime Text, in its functionality).

I can’t even think of any iOS text editor, other than Kodex (which I just discovered), that supports working with documents in multiple tabs. (Apple should really just make a Safari-like tab bar controller a standard component. I know I would use it in my apps.) Even features that are common on the desktop, like find and replace, have only become common on iOS in the past year or so.

The best text editors on the platform (such as Drafts) are made with MarkDown and automation in mind, which is cool. But they are simplistic compared to what is available on the desktop. I would love it if something as fast and versatile as Sublime Text was released on iOS. I would probably pay a lot of money for it, too.

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. There are so many decent Dropbox-enabled text editors on iOS, but very few that integrate well with the Files app.