Jason Becker
2024-04-17

I’ve been tracking my sleep since the Apple Watch has supported it and I have to tell you— when I get less than 7 hrs 15 mins a few days in a row my body feels it. And if I’m not getting more than 2hrs of deep sleep, it’s even worse.

2024-04-15

I can hear John Sterling’s voice on the radio calling the Yankees games without even closing my eyes. It was the sound of my childhood, something I listened to as I was falling asleep when games ran late. It’s wild he’ll never call another game.

2024-04-14

Every time I open Threads I’m just bombarded with unhinged media opinions about the MCU and Star Wars. Like I get that Facebook knows I’m a nerdy late 30s white guy but jeez.

I have everything about my new blog design figured out except for my index and menu. Which basically means I’m nowhere, since those are kind of important.

Side-by-side preview of what I’m toying with.

Two visual themes of my about page side by side. Old to the left, new to the right. The primary differences include a fixed-width font and blockier headers.

Ok, I think I have at least part of my idea for the redesign decided– front page, full content of all posts for the last 7 days only, no pagination. Just like now– reverse chronological by day, chronological within day. Now figuring out what it should look like.

A Partial Redesign

Site redesign is at least partially done. I realized right now that my idea of only showing seven days of posts on my home page doesn’t quite work.

  1. I’m not really sure how to filter to the last seven days of content effectively.
  2. I don’t post every day, and the site won’t be rebuilt if I don’t post.

Still, I like the idea of having seven days on my home page, with some days just saying “No posts were written on this day” for any previous days and “No posts have been written yet today.” for the current day.

There’s almost certainly a way to do this with date math in Hugo and triggering regular builds, but I don’t think it’s worth it. This is an idea I’ll keep in mind. Much like my desire to have working URLs for things like /year/ showing all posts in that year, /year/month showing all posts in that year-month, and /year/month/day showing all posts on that day, this is one of those Hugo limitations that makes me consider writing my own CMS.

Notable Changes Around Here

I have been playing with this design locally for a while. I came to like it so much, I swapped to this color scheme on the site like 6 months ago. Today, I decided things were at least “close enough” to move things to the main site.

The primary changes are:

  • I am using a fixed width font now across the whole site for all content. This font is Berkeley Mono, which I paid for and have used as a my main fixed-width font locally for quite a while. Please don’t steal it from my site– you need a license to use it, which you can purchase from US Graphics.
  • I am using background colors on my headers. I like them so much, I hope it’ll encourage me to write posts worthy of having headers down to H4.
  • I’ve added some block drawing/block characters to the dates on the homepage, taking advantage of some of Berkeley Mono’s cool built in stuff. I have also switched from a more human “April 14, 2024” to ISO8601 (2024-04-14) dates to continue with my retro, almost brutalist flair.

Pages that Flex the Design

I think my Archive, which I’m not generally fond of, looks great now. I’m also happy with Uses. One of my favorite posts, Delimited files are hell also looks pretty good. I think it shows off how nicely code blocks blend with and stick out from the rest of the site. This was a major concern of mine going to a fixed-width font everywhere.

Where it falls down

I still don’t love my index page. It feels crowded. I know how much work has gone into it over time, but it’s still not quite right. One idea I’m playing with is removing the site title entirely and possibly moving the navigation to the bottom or to a menu button. Neither seems quite right.

Ideas and criticism welcome

My design skill is the worst– I have enough taste to know things aren’t as polished or “correct” as I’d like, but not enough skill with CSS or design to get that final spit shine. So I’m more than happy to take ideas on how to improve things. I am glad to have moved almost entirely to using a few CSS variables versus all the hand tweaked sizes I had splattered all over the place. It’s not a solid as I’d like, but with a bit of help from some online calculators, this is about the prettiest top-of-the-CSS file I’ve ever written:

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:root {
  --color-primary: #21A179;
  --color-content: #ffffff;
  --color-background: #1E1E24;
  --color-links: #8093f1;
  --color-visited: #ef476f;
  --color-inactive: #81ae9d;
  --size-step-0: clamp(1rem, calc(0.96rem + 0.22vw), 1.13rem);
  --size-step-1: clamp(1.25rem, calc(1.16rem + 0.43vw), 1.5rem);
  --size-step-2: clamp(1.56rem, calc(1.41rem + 0.76vw), 2rem);
  --size-step-3: clamp(1.95rem, calc(1.71rem + 1.24vw), 2.66rem);
  --size-step-4: clamp(2.44rem, calc(2.05rem + 1.93vw), 3.55rem);
}

And yes, this section is partially to have a code block in this post because reasons.

Today I learned about the :has selector. This is helping me keep times aligned on my index page when some posts have titles and some do not. Posts without titles get margin-top: var(--size-step-4) for the time stamps. But using this handy selector, I can set the margin to the next size of H1 elements when there’s a title:

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.date:has(+ .post-title) {
  margin-top: var(--size-step-4);
}

My house in Baltimore is about 3.25× the size of the condo we had in Providence. According to Redfin, it’s only worth about 35% more these days.

Location, location, location.

2024-04-13

I shouldn’t be surprised, but my sleep quality at home is fantastically higher than anywhere else.

It is really hard to redesign software. Very often, no matter how much you have a new understanding of the problem, you tend yourself seeing the same problems facing the same choices and understanding making the same compromises over and over again.

I still covet the Levittown Loews pristine Revenge of the Jedi poster. Hell, all the posters they had at that theater were incredible. I suspect they’ve taken them all down, but it had the best collection.

2024-04-11
2024-04-10

It’s ok for some infrastructure to be old and boring and changed infrequently. But if I were an SF resident, I’d be afraid they’re going to make a choice like the SF school system did with payroll and spend $100M trying to custom build software instead of buying commercial off the shelf stuff.

A decaf coffee is so important after a big, rich, delicious meal.

2024-04-09

Great essay on the advantage of “inside/outside” strategies to affect change.

it is a choice on our part to esteem those who provide real solutions and grapple with the difficulties of reality rather than those who stroke our egos, our fantasies of righteousness and power, fantasies in which there are but a few villains oppressing the righteous many, and if we could but identify and punish those villains, utopia would ensue.

Pretty excited for a restaurant whose tagline is “Cheese 🧀, swine 🐷, and wine🍷“.

2024-04-08

Am I the only one who, when people say “My god!” or similar exclamation, immediately thinks, “Yes, that’s just what the Hebrews thought.”

“The reason I love sci-fi is because sci-fi has always permitted big ideas into it. It’s not embarrassed of big ideas…”

Alex Garland gets it.

2024-04-07

Is anyone experiencing a bunch of bugs related to mouse clicks on macOS? Here’s what I’m seeing– dragging an area for CleanShotX often doesn’t work (you click and hold but it registers as a single click). Similarly, dragging a window to a new space often just “let’s go” of the window. Trying to figure out of this is OS or maybe my mouse is going bad?

I’ve been holding on to a response to Greg Morris’s post about how some things are just too easy now. I have a pretty large set of ideas around how rapidly removing friction and transaction costs in an increasingly digital world has had a host of negative consequences. I don’t think these consequences largely outweigh the benefits, but I do think many of us are scrambling with uneasiness or unhappiness with our destination post-internet connectedness. It’s important that we think about how the things have played out and come up with new culture and structure to refine the world back toward a better compromise.

I just haven’t had the brain space to sit, write, edit, and really explain my thinking. It’s an easy conversation over a beer, but a hard one to put out in writing.

Sure enough, Greg comes back today with a post about embracing complexity. Of course, because this one goes meta about blogging and the internet, it feels way easier to respond to.

Now, let’s consider responding to a social media post. As previously mentioned, this task is overly simple, allowing users to quickly tap a button and share their thoughts with minimal effort. I believe adding complexity to this process, such as requiring a more thoughtful response posted on one’s blog, could balance the effort with the desire to engage. While it might not eliminate all frivolous responses, it could significantly reduce them.

He continues later:

This complexity reduces my posting frequency since I now require significant motivation to write and publish, leading to many potential posts remaining in Apple Notes.

I am confident that this is a complexity I do not want to embrace. If I make it hard to post to my own website, I don’t. That may not be so bad– the world is not worse off for my lack of posting. But what’s crumby is that I still often want to write or say something. I still often want to share a photo or a thought. And for me, if that complexity exists on my blog, eventually, I will decide to still post but somewhere else. And I think posting somewhere else is much, much worse most of the time.

So for me, posting somewhere I control and on my own site has to be easy. Ideas that want to be expressed that are simple are simply posted. Thoughtful responses are complex enough. Being thoughtful is not easy. Making the mechanics of sharing a thoughtful post complex doesn’t enforce being thoughtful, it ensures being thoughtful feels like a waste of time and effort. It’s one more thing I have to do after the hard work of writing. If I make blogging hard, I won’t blog, quality be damned.

I do think a whole host of things have been made easy to ill effect. I don’t think it’s great that work can contact me all of the time. I think it’s worse that this is a pervasive ability, so that customers/clients are always connected and this can impose a sense of needing to “keep up” with that pace as well. I think about systems and processes we build to do things a thousand times that I wish we’d just do once, with higher quality– the world is filled with this. Most of the things I view as problematic have been areas where we’ve managed to massively increase the pace of our world.

And yet, when it comes to socializing, and I do view blogging as a form of socializing, I can’t help but to think how much lonelier a friction-filled world would feel.

The new standards album, Fruit Galaxy is so much fun. Just great, energetic and happy feeling instrumental rock.

2024-04-06

Unfortunately, I have now learned that my IKEA counter top desk does have a sag, as was predicted. I need to decide if I care and want a new top.