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Links #106

Garry Ing on a view source web, an essay in the The HTML Review. The hover effect on desktop is interesting albeit a tad distracting. I like the idea of surfacing page source more, though ideally not in an obscuring way.

Deborah Copaken on a new study that shows drinking even a little bit of alcohol drastically increases risk of cardiovascular disease for women of all ages.

Alastair Johnston on hello pages, a way to list your preferred contact methods. Cool idea. I’ve added my own hello page.

Monkey gang violence in Lopburi, Thailand. Whew.

Manu Moreale offering to be a first reader for anyone who starts a blog. Also a cool idea.

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Links #105

The Wall Street Journal’s front page a week ago. Some powerful white space, that.

Colin Fraser on generative AI being a hammer and nobody really knows yet what is and isn’t a nail. Good essay, worth the read. Seems to me like there are lots of tasks where what you want is determinative logic rather than probabilistic guessing. (Which I think is at least partly why I don’t have much interest in doing AI engineering — I like building determinative things where I can understand how it works. And yes, state machines are totally my jam.)

Ohm, a JavaScript library for building parsers. Looks interesting.

Invisibility shields are kind of real now. Cool. And unsettling. More the latter, I think, given all the malicious ways this could be used.

Jacek Krywko on new developments in active shielding against space radiation. A good-sized chunk of this went over my head (har har), but fascinating nonetheless.

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Links #104

Lincoln Michel on productivity. Which reminded me of Austin Kleon’s post about the quantity vs. quality parable. I feel like I’ve been doing okay at this with art, but not so great at it with writing.

Joan Westenberg on why building on someone else’s platform is a dead end. Hear, hear. After reading this, I decided to stop posting my individual art pieces to Instagram and instead post batches (four or more), with the caption just linking to my art page.

Twelve hymns from the new hymnbook are coming in May, including “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Sweet. I especially love that the new hymnbook will include hymns from all over the world and not just Western hymns.

Amit Merchant on text-emphasis in CSS. I had no idea. I don’t know when I’d use it (is there a typographic tradition where emphasis is done this way?), but it’s interesting.

Manu Moreale on growth being a mind cancer. “We celebrate when Apple becomes the first trillion-dollar company but we don’t celebrate when someone says ‘You know what? I think I have enough.’” Very much agreed. Not a huge fan of growth capitalism.

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Links #103

Taylor Troesh on scrounging for between time. Several useful ideas here. “Work on X for 5 minutes” is one that has worked well for me over the years.

Cal Newport’s workingmemory.txt idea. I like this. When I’m working at my day job, I keep a todo.md file on my laptop that I dump tasks into (basically a workingmemory.txt), and a log.md file where I journal my way through things I’m working on. Together, those files make it relatively easy for me to offload state and pick things up again after interruptions. (Along with other benefits like rubberducking.)

Vicky Osterweil on Dune 2 and image without metaphor. “We are living through an era of thudding cultural literalism. In our narrative products (movies, TV and to a lesser but noticeable extent, novels) that has meant that instead of story we get plot, premise and lore, dialogue is replaced by exposition, emotion evoked only by music cue and cliche. The characters are structural objects of the plot, pure reflections of their social and narrative positioning, stripped of messy contradiction or conflictual desires. Whenever an artist even introduces any kind of metaphor they make sure to explain it tidily and neatly by the end, like a kid elbowing you in the ribs going ‘did you get it did you get it?’, meaning the best we can hope for is parable or fable.” I haven’t seen the film yet but plan to, literal though it may be.

Hugo Barra on the Apple Vision Pro being an overengineered devkit. Barra was Head of Oculus at Meta, so he’s going to be biased, but still an interesting take.

Will Richardson wrote a compiler to show that tmux is Turing-complete and can execute real code by switching between windows. Ha. This makes me happy.

Denise Hill on NASA engineers debugging a Voyager 1 issue. One advantage to the long request/response cycle, I suppose, is you have plenty of time to think about it. Plenty.

P. L. Stuart’s top 50 indie sf&f books to read. Going off the (relatively few) authors in here whose books I’ve read, this seems like a good list.

Michael Pohoreski’s nanofont3x4. Fun to see innovation like this, even if it’s not always fully pragmatic. And this is a bit more readable than I expected, given the tiny size.

Eric Portis explains color spaces, with nice visuals.

Gerard Gallant on the state of WebAssembly, including tail calls, garbage collection, and WASI.

Jeffrey M. Perkel in Nature on WebAssembly and scientific computing. Fun to see how it’s being used.

Jim Nielsen on how making websites is analogous to making films, with particular emphasis on the role of the screenplay. Some interesting ideas here.

Michael Austin on how “line upon line” was originally used by Isaiah.

Wikipedia article on Antarctic English. “Antarctic English also has over 200 words for different types of ice.”

Jason Kottke on Kevin Kelly’s advice to be the only. “What you offer to others is just different enough that you become your own category of one: nothing but you will do. Not better, different.”

Étienne Fortier-Dubois asks how expensive architectural ornamentation is. Enjoyed this exploration.

Caleb Hearon’s Dropflow, “a CSS layout engine created to explore the reaches of the foundational CSS standards (that is: inlines, blocks, floats, positioning and eventually tables, but not flexbox or grid).” Looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Robin Rendle on how the medium you use the most influences the way you think. Food for thought.

Canva is acquiring Affinity. Noooooooooooo.

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Links #102

Diana Kimball Berlin on no more forever projects. This. The forever projects I’ve done (thinking primarily of Mormon Artist and Mormon Texts Project) were fun, but I don’t think I’m made for that type of work. The closure from one-offs feels better to my brain.

Jason Rodriguez on how tech will never love you back. I’ve felt similarly, and that’s why I don’t spend a ton of time writing software outside of work these days.

Emily Miller on free indirect speech in Jane Austen’s works. Fascinating.

Sean O’Neill on Melly Shum Hates Her Job. Ha.

Jim Nielsen on AI being like a lossy JPEG. “It follows that, as Paul notes, you end up with not only a tool whose output is akin to the lossy, visual artifacts of a JPEG, but a tool whose output introduces into the world the cognitive and social equivalent of those big blocky compression artifacts of a JPEG.”

Tom Holt interviews K. J. Parker about writing. Enjoyed this. (And note that while it’s on a Chinese site, the interview is in English.)

Jason Kottke on Bill Braun’s trompe l’oeil papercraft paintings. These are awesome.

Jennifer Ludden on places in the U.S. that are piloting basic income programs. Yes! Delighted to see this. I realize this is America so it probably won’t catch on everywhere, but having it here and there is better than not at all.

John-Clark Levin’s Gen Z translation of Beowulf. Amazing.

Roger Pimentel on grace. This is good. “These explanations also invite another interpretation of this verse, which does speak to the undeserved, unmerited definition of grace that we find in other faiths. If we are, in fact, saved despite all we can do, that means all we can do, good or bad. This is a little bit counterintuitive, because we think of grace being a reward for those who do good works. But in addition to being saved despite our good works, it also means we are saved despite our constant mistakes, our frequent failing to love God and our neighbor, and our seeming inability to change for the better. Despite all we can do to stop it, grace still flows to us.”

Josh Collinsworth on the quiet, pervasive devaluation of frontend dev. I think there’s something to this.

Rejected Icelandic female names and male names. I had no idea only approved names can be used. Wow.

JSON Canvas, an open file format for infinite canvas data. Cool.

Dead Simple Sites, a catalog of minimalist websites.

Jim Nielsen on following links on the web. “Discovering things via links is way more fun than most algorithmically-driven discovery — in my humble opinion.” Yep!

Rebecca Toh on reading people’s blogs. “I feel connected by our common humanity. We’ll never meet, but I can picture them sitting on their sofa writing on their laptop or using the computer in their kitchen, writing when the kids are asleep, writing in the morning, writing when the first snowfall arrives, writing about their new job, about losing their job, about moving to a new city, about this film they just watched, about their husband who died a few years ago. A blog is a small and beautiful thing and I am grateful it exists.” Love this.

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Links #101

David Epstein’s interview with Cal Newport about slow productivity. This was good and has been in my thoughts the past few days. For me, the part that stuck out most was the idea of obsessing over quality. I often default to more of a utilitarian “get it out the door, it’s good enough” mode, which is often fine, but I like the idea of slowing down and spending time obsessing over quality.

Elie Mystal on how the Supreme Court is antidemocratic. “The Supreme Court must be made to pay a price—a political, institutional, professional price—for its ongoing political thuggery lightly disguised as jurisprudence. Its members will never stop acting like the only nine Americans who matter until we stop them from doing that. And the only way to stop them is to limit their power, their budgets, and their unearned belief in their own supremacy.” I’m no SCOTUS expert, but I agree. The current state is not ideal.

James on how blogging, as a format, encourages incomplete stories. I like this idea. Messy, WIP, thinking in public, iteration. To me, that’s more interesting than only publishing pristine, polished perfection. (Apologies for the alliteration.) (Oh snap, I did it again. In spite of the foregoing sentences, I usually try to avoid using consonance and alliteration.)

Chris Haynes on streaming HTML out of order without JavaScript, using Declarative Shadow DOM. Intriguing, especially now that both Safari and Firefox have added support for Declarative Shadow DOM.

The opening paragraphs to Goodstein’s States of Matter textbook. Ha. More dark humor in textbooks, please.

Infographic on who lived when. Found this interesting, especially across different areas.

@Hugo_Book_Club on dystopian fiction. There’s…a lot of truth to this.

Per Brinch Hansen’s memoirs of programming. Haven’t read this yet but it looks interesting.

Matt Webb’s Galactic Compass app. I finally installed this and have used it a couple times, which has been fun. I love how it takes something ordinarily invisible (at least during the day and in the city) and makes it accessible. For example, I hadn’t ever thought about how it changes over the course of the day. Obvious in hindsight, sure, but now I have a better, more grounded sense of the earth’s rotation than I did before.

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Links #100

The Vesuvius Challenge 2023 grand prize has been awarded. It’s mind-blowing that we can read scrolls in that condition — lumps of rolled-up carbonized ash, as they put it. Bravo, fellow humans.

Andrés Aguilera’s drone footage of an Icelandic volcano eruption. Wow. It’s fascinating to see the new possibilities drones unlock. (And somewhat less fun to think through the dark side of what drones enable. I know that’s true of almost any technology, but still.) (I might not be a full optimist, guys.)

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.)

Simon MacDonald on issues with React. Yep. I’ve worked with React for a few years now (at work) and I wouldn’t say it’s a blissful experience. Reactive UI is nice. Bloat is not.

Heydon Pickering on utility-first CSS. If you can take the snark, this captures some of the reasons I’m not so much a fan of Tailwind. (Plus, I just really like CSS itself.)

Tero Piirainen on Tailwind. Okay, after this, no more dunking on Tailwind, I promise.

Andy Bell on MDN and the need for a new global documentation platform.

Chartwell, a font using OpenType discretionary ligatures to make several different kinds of charts. Impressive.

Jon Porter on Lenovo’s transparent laptop concept. Hmm. No.

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.)

Ross Wintle’s manifesto for small, static web apps. Yes! I would even go a step further and amend this to “don’t use a JS library” and “don’t use a build step,” but what can I say, I’m a minimalist.

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Links #99

Rosemary Meszaros and Katherine Pennavaria on the myth that Ellis Island immigration officials anglicized people’s surnames.

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.

Ink & Switch’s lab notebook for Patchwork, “a research project about version control software for writers, developers, and other creatives.” Interested to see where this goes.

Antoine Mayerowitz’s journey into shaders. A nice introduction.

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.

Dave Karpf on the myth of technological inevitability. Yes.

Stewart Brand’s book in progress on maintenance. Looking forward to reading this. Relevant in most parts of life, I think.

Jason Kottke on a massive ancient network of cities found in the Ecuadorean Amazon, built around 2,500 years ago. Cool.

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Links #98

Margaret Olsen Hemming’s interview with Jennifer Champoux about the Book of Mormon Art Catalog.

Nolen’s Talk Paper Scissors game, where you play rock paper scissors over the phone with strangers. Ha. (I have not actually played this.)

Maggie Appleton on ambient co-presence on the web. Yep. The introvert in me is, uh, 100% fine with the current lack of co-presence, but it would be nice to be able to toggle this kind of thing on from time to time.

John Gruber on ebooks vs. web pages, particularly the quote from Sebastiaan de With: “There are no good ebooks. The ePub file lacks all the delight of the beautiful website.” Good point. Food for thought… (This is relevant to an upcoming post.)

Eli’s December Adventure. Ah, I love dev logs like these. I used to write similar logs in text files when I was a young programmer. This makes me want to a) build some kind of larger software project and b) write a public dev log for it.

Alexander Obenauer’s lab notes. Love these. Lots of thinking about the future of the computing. When I’m in my research mode, these types of notes (well organized, detailed, etc.) are the kind of thing I wish I were producing. Note to future self: do this.

Sapling, “a highly experimental code editor where you edit code, not text.” Interesting idea!

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Links #97

Frederic Edwin Church’s painting Our Banner in the Sky. This type of art is a bit gimmicky, I know, but it’s still fun.

Mandy Brown on risks and benefits, with two angles that aren’t brought up as often. Great points.

Adam Newbold’s printable full-year calendar. I like that this fits on any size paper. This seems like perhaps a better way to distribute charts. (Though I do love the static solidness of PDFs.)

Patrick O’Keefe on some of the production design for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Fun. As I’ve said before, I kind of wish all comic book movies were done in this style.

Jenny Li on how to paint various textures.

Peter Gainsford on the camel, the rope, and the eye of the needle, making the case that the word wasn’t rope after all.

Spencer Ackerman on Henry Kissinger as war criminal.

Asun Álvarez’s interview with Victoria Goddard. Lots of interesting things here for those who’ve read Goddard’s books (or are curious about reading them).

Freight Text, the tasty font that Reactor (formerly Tor.com) is using for body copy.

Mitxela’s tiny spinny volumetric display. Cool.

Lipi’s Ikat Devanagari pixel font. Love this. And chonky pixels in general. (A byproduct of when I grew up, no doubt.)

Lea Verou on eigensolutions “Rather than designing a solution to address only our driving use cases, step back and ask yourself: can we design a solution as a composition of smaller, more general features, that could be used together to address a broader set of use cases?” Yes, this.

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