Avdi Grimm wrote an interesting post back in June, about using text to create simple diagrams. He highlighted a few different tools, but one stood out: nomnoml. I used UMLet a lot back in college, to create some mediocre user stories, which soured me on UML in general. I gave nomnoml a shot, though, and created this simple network diagram:
At home, I can send a link from any device to a local web server that saves it for later. Then, when I have time to read, I can see all my saved articles, move them into folders, and refer back to them as needed. At work, though, those links go into a text file. When I get home, I find the text file, open it, copy the list, clear the file, close it, and then send the list to the server. pbcopy makes that process just a little easier. Now, cat ingest.txt > pbcophy & echo "" > ingest.txt puts the contents of ingest.txt on my clipboard and then clears the file, so I can add the links through the web interface with just a bit less hassle.
The Economist took an interesting look at how citizens view politicians when they lie, and their conclusion warrants concern:
“You might expect (or hope) that thoughtful people would be more amenable to the force of fact-based evidence than most. Alas, no. According to David Perkins of Harvard University, the brighter people are, the more deftly they can conjure up post-hoc justifications for arguments that back their own side.”
“There is this unshakeable assumption that if they can just present the right fact[, ...] that people will change their minds. ... After spending years and millions of words and hours of video on this, we’ve had almost zero success. Why? Because you can’t reason people out of positions they didn’t reason themselves into. No one responds well to having their identity attacked. No argument made in bad faith — that the person on the other side is a moron or a dupe or a racist or a snowflake — is ever going to be received in good faith.”
Patrick O’Neill did a nice job explaining why Microsoft, as an organization, does threat intelligence so well. Yes, it has piles of money and legions of smart people to throw at this problem, but Microsoft’s biggest leg up over everyone else is the massive data flow its ubiquity enables. This means its Threat Intelligence Center sees things no one else does, and has the context to identify malicious activity that — even given the same raw data — no one else would know to flag. Those looking to step into the cybersecurity realm, even if just to beef up their home network, should take note.
Again in October, like in September, I spent most of my dev time on an Instapaper-like read later service. I use it every day, and plan to release it sometime soon. I did get a couple things done, though; once again, I did not neglect First Crack entirely.
“Michigan-based electric truck startup Bollinger Motors has finally announced the price of its rugged electric trucks, the Jeep-like B1 and the B2 pickup. Both vehicles will start at an eye-popping $125,000 ...”
Ben Thompson, likening Facebook to the printing press:
“... the printing press effectively overthrew the First Estate, leading to the establishment of nation-states and the creation and empowerment of a new nobility[, the Second Estate]. The implication of overthrowing the Second Estate, via the empowerment of commoners[, the Third Estate], is almost too radical to imagine.”
A fascinating perspective. The First Estate did not lose control without a fight — and a great deal of complaining — and it seems the Second Estate will follow suit. Ben made this point back in 2016 in The Voters Decide, but did a much better job in here.
Since this has become a politics-adjacent post, I have found Mathew Stoller’s BIG newsletter quite interesting over the last few weeks, too. As promised, I continue to update Keeping Up with Current Events to reflect the list of websites and newsletters I use to stay well-informed; Mat and Ben have both made the list.
Jude Robinson over at Coderwall posted quick fixes for two long-time annoyances with bash, one for tab completion — case insensitivity and having to double-tap the Tab key to view partial matches — along with what I will call contextual command history: the ability to type cd and then use the arrow keys to work through all previous entries that started with cd. Finally.
Jason and Nikki Wynn wrote a fantastic article that explains how they get Internet access on their sailboat. I spend a lot of time thinking about this, as I prepare to one day build and live in my own RV. I have an article in the works that outlines a few different approaches, as well as my own plan. In brief, though, I plan to use a dedicated LTE modem for my primary connection, with a satellite link as a fallback. This will give me a stronger connection than a cellphone, hotspot, or even the oft-cited WeBoost in most of the Americas. On the off-chance I have no signal but need one, satellite data prices have come down enough to make that a viable way to ensure I always have some sort of connectivity.
The “pound for pound” metric does a fine job of comparing two peoples’ relative strength. It accounts for the difference between someone weighing in at 175 who deadlifts 585, and me weighing in at 220 who deadlifts the same. I have a lot of respect for that other guy. This metric does not trump absolute numbers, though. Argue all you want, but the pound for pound “stronger” person, who maxes out with weights someone else uses to warm up, is far weaker; that other guy’s max would break him. You may convince yourself that an arbitrary ratio makes them comparable, but the iron will crush that argument, too.
“The other day, I came across a website I’d written over two decades ago. I double-clicked the file, and it opened and ran perfectly. Then I tried to run a website I’d written 18 months ago and found I couldn’t run it without firing up a web server, and when I ran NPM install, one or two of those 65,000 files had issues that meant node failed to install them and the website didn’t run. When I did get it working, it needed a database. And then it relied on some third-party APIs and there was an issue with CORS because I hadn’t whitelisted localhost. My website made of files carried on, chugging along. This isn’t me saying that things were better in the old days. I’m just saying that years ago websites were made of files; now they are made of dependencies.”
The first time I read through Steph Smith’s Writing is Thinking: Learning to Write with Confidence, I thought it was fine. Then I read it again. The second time, I thought it was great — an interesting breakdown of a much more mature writing process than my own, that gave me some good ideas for writing more and writing better. I have not done much writing about writing since I started again, but I hope to; maybe something like this, about how Steph’s piece changes my process, will be my first.
I like to plan ahead, and so I think about long-term financial security even now, in my early twenties. As the old saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” When I decide to retire, I will get to say I chose the first.
The folks over at Seeking Alpha, one of my new favorite websites, posted an interest writeup on a portfolio that has outperformed the market since October, 2014. Check out the original article here. As I work to eliminate debt and build a nest egg, so that I can then invest and prepare for retirement early, this subject has become ever-more interesting to me. Seeking Alpha — clearly — has some great advice, from some smart people.
I have read a lot of Aaron and Jen’s work, but it took this video to make me realize how nice they had it. Their Airstream-Silverado combo makes for a great setup, which made me re-think my plan to build an LMTV-based RV. With $40,000 for a used Airstream, though, plus another $30,000 for a used truck to pull it, I would spend more going this route and get a less capable setup. The M1083 will give me more living space atop a chassis that can go almost anywhere — and a trailer, no matter how slick, just can’t compete with that.
As I rolled into the last week of September, I started thinking about this post and how I have done almost nothing for it. I put a lot of work into some major performance wins last month, but lost almost all that momentum when I decided to write my own Instapaper-like read later service in September. It needs some more work before I release it, but I will. I did get a couple things done, though, even if I did forget to post this until the first week of October had already passed; I did not neglect First Crack entirely.
As most projects do, this one started small. I already had a way to preview Markdown files. Proofer also counts words, sentences, and paragraphs, then averages those values and estimates reading time. The script finds complex or overused phrases, and highlights repeated words, be verbs, and adverbs that make for weak writing, too. It also calculates the Gunning Fog Index, and scores for the Flesch-Kincaid reading ease and grade level tests. I built this script to give me a few more features than Marked, which I had used to proof my writing for years. It worked well, but runtime shot up if it had to process posts with more than a few hundred words. I set out to fix this, and ended up building an entire syllable dictionary in Python. Proofer has still not gotten any faster.
I like these drawers from Land Shark Outfitters. With big names in the space pricing their systems at well over $1,000, I love the idea of a polished product at half the price. My sleeping platform came out to about $600, with two sets of $215 36“ lock open/close slides and a $145 pair of 28” base mount slides. Having gone through that build process, though, and after seeing this system from Land Shark Outfitters, I think I could cut it in half. My 4Runner may have a Jeep parked beside it within the next year or two, so we will find out soon.
I spent a lot of time over the last few weeks thinkingaboutmy rig, redesigning the Tacoma I want to build, and dreaming of adventuring. In one of these recurring dreams, I travel to far-flung places in a decked out LandCruiser 78. You may know it as the Troopy or the J78. I fear this will never become a reality, though, for a few reasons I touch on later. But that feeling did get me thinking. Why did I want a Troopy so bad? What would it take to get one? Would something else serve my needs better? Today, let’s talk about LandCruisers.