Ethan Dalool’s notes about paper. I love this kind of web page. The 1-bit dithered look for scans is appealing, and there are several other interesting ideas, including printing your own graph paper. (Reading this made me realize I need to simplify my note paper PDF page. I’ve also been thinking about making a web app to let people generate their own custom lined/graph/etc. paper PDFs.)
AboutIdeasNow, a catalog of personal sites with /about, /now, or /ideas pages. After seeing this, I fleshed out my own now page so it isn’t quite so threadbare and also submitted it to nownownow.com. If you have a now page, by the way, email me a link — I’d love to see it.
/uses, a catalog of personal sites with /uses pages. I don’t have one. (Yet, anyway. I don’t know if I’ll add one. Maybe.)
Becoming, by Michelle Obama (2018). So good. Loved it. Very human and down to earth, and an enjoyable read throughout. Easily one of my favorites this year.
No Ordinary Assignment, by Jane Ferguson (2023). Also really good, though more harrowing in places (the Yazidi genocide, etc.). A strong reminder of why journalism is important — and of how awful war is.
And Put Away Childish Things, by Adrian Tchaikovsky (2023, fantasy). Grown-up Narnia of sorts, set during Covid. Really liked the first half, less sure about the second half. Read it in a single day.
Lone Women, by Victor LaValle (2023, horror). I don’t know — I wanted it to be something different. (I don’t want to spoil anything.) Still interesting, though.
The Cunning Man, by D. J. Butler and Aaron Michael Ritchey (2019, fantasy/horror). Folk fantasy is something I don’t come across as often. Liked that part of it, though I think I would have liked it more if it hadn’t had any Mormon connection at all.
Hiawatha Bray on the future of silk. Loads of fascinating things in this. For example: “Vaxess is testing a skin patch covered in dozens of microneedles made of silk protein and infused with influenza vaccine. Each needle is barely visible to the naked eye and just long enough to pierce the outer layer of skin. A user sticks the patch on his arm, waits five minutes, then throws it away. Left behind are the silk microneedles, which painlessly dissolve over the next two weeks, releasing the vaccine all the while. The silk protein acts as a preservative, so there’s no need to keep it on ice at a doctor’s office. […] In testing, Vaxess found that flu vaccines stored in a silk patch at room temperature remained viable three years later.”
Emily Pontecorvo on the Impulse Labs induction stove. The stove is expensive, but this part was compelling: “And then you learn that the stove has a battery in it, which means that unlike most other induction stoves, it can plug into a standard 120-volt outlet. You don’t have to get a pricy circuit upgrade, or an even pricier electrical panel upgrade, to install it.” I hope this is the future of stoves.
John Hoare on the indie web. “If we want the indie web to flourish, the very first thing people need to get used to is actually browsing the web again.” More specifically, clicking around on people’s personal sites. I still do this and it’s delightful.
I realized recently that I never use Siri anymore. Voice input isn’t my thing, apparently.
The importance of saving mental state when working on something. (Usually via keeping a journal/log or a to-do list.) Makes it much easier to pick the project up again months or years later.
Another thing I noticed recently: my dreams are never in a secondary world. A pity. I have no idea why this is.
I’ve set myself a rule where I need to spend at least ten minutes blogging each day before I’m allowed to read books. It’s working, as you may have noticed with the increase in posting this past week or two.
I was today years old when I learned how to do jumping jacks. I’ve apparently been doing them wrong my whole life. (Not that I’ve done them a ton. But still.)
Our local theater charges around twice as much per ticket as it used to. I have no idea when it changed.
On my phone I much prefer reading with fonts that are slightly heavier. Digital type is often too anemic, too wispy. No substance.
With Marvin’s recent disappearance from the iOS app store, I’ve started feeling an itch to get my own ebook reading system set up sooner than later — ideally before the sad day comes when I can’t get Marvin to work on my phone anymore.
I’ve tried other iOS ereader apps and they don’t yet meet my needs (and let’s be clear, by “needs” I mean high-maintenance wishes), such as custom fonts, good design, configurable typography, and nice page numbers (ideally the 1,024 characters per page rule that Adobe Digital Editions and Marvin use).
Also, I want to use my phone since I have it with me all the time and can read more often, thus I’m not considering a dedicated ereader like a Kobo or a Kindle. And I have a large collection of ebooks I want to read, so print books don’t meet the need.
The default for me here would be a web app (PWA), with a backend built in Django or FastAPI or Go. That’s probably where I’ll land, but from a research angle I see this as a good time to explore possibilities I wouldn’t normally consider. Some ideas along those lines:
PDF — convert EPUBs to phone-sized PDFs automatically and then use a PDF reader like Documents instead of a dedicated EPUB app, possibly with the analog filters I recently posted about
Images — convert EPUBs to images (one page per image) and then read via an album in the system photos viewer, deleting each page as I read it (half joking here)
HTML — splat the ebooks out into all their HTML files and then put those up on a server behind authentication, reading them in a browser like normal web pages
Retro ebook reader — web-based app that feels like a Game Boy or one of those tiny consoles, with a chonky pixel font, possibly using game mechanics for page navigation (I’m intrigued by this idea but in reality it would probably feel super gimmicky)
3D app — deboss the type, procedurally generated paper texture, etc. (also feels gimmicky)
Email — export each chapter of the EPUB and then email it to myself (fully joking here) (it would work, sure, but I don’t want to read books in my email)
The PDF and HTML options hold some promise, so I plan to continue exploring them for a bit before I cave and write a PWA.