2021 Week 2

Well, week 1 of 2021 was tacked onto the end of week 53 of 2020.

⚙️ Work

  • onboarding a new team member, and looking forward to helping him get settled into the role and working with the rest of the team
  • I tried setting up a MacGuyver Standup Desk in my home officespare bedroom, using the box from a bread maker with a laptop on top. It kinda sorta works, but doesn’t have enough room to take notes etc. (I’ve used the DIY Standup Desk exactly… once… while testing it to see if it worked…). I gave up on using my office 27" 5K iMac at home. It’s getting creaky and slow enough that it’s frustrating. So, I’m trying to work exclusively on my 15" MacBook Pro, with an iPad beside it using Sidecar to act as a second display. The change in screen size is pretty significant…
  • zoom pushed out an update over the break, with a panic button to stop Bad Things™ during a zoombombing or other incident. Maybe they read my blog?

zoom panic button

zoom panic button, part 2

🤔 PhD

  • working on submitting 2 articles for publication. If successful, I may adjust my dissertation plans to use a manuscript approach…
  • still working on the COVID chapter. still.
  • reformatting my thesis proposal (which was already submitted and approved, but I’m not happy with the format and if I’m going to share it with other students as an example, I want to make sure it doesn’t make me cringe). I’d written the proposal as a website, as an experiment in integrating various forms of media. The committee loved it, and it worked great for our purposes, but I also had to generate a static PDF version of it for submission to the university’s archives. That PDF kind of sucks, because it’s just a save-as-pdf version of the website (where I combined all of the pages’ markdown files into a single monster file and used that to export it. So, all of the websitey goodness was lost and it just kind of looks like crap…)

📚 Reading

  • Finished ‘Vortex’ by Robert Charles Wilson
  • Tyson Kendon: Teaching online in fall 2020 - Tyson’s our newest team member in the Taylor Institute, and these are great reflections on his experience teaching computer science last semester.
  • A bunch of stuff in News+. I have the full Apple One subscription because I need the largest tier of iCloud storage, and the rest of Apple One is kind of gravy. I’ve surprised myself to be reading magazines again. Who knew?

The photographs and video footage are important and newsworthy, of course. But constant exposure to images that generate fear, anxiety and distress can exact a heavy toll on people’s minds and bodies. Here’s what you need to know about the mental and physical impacts of seeing distressing content and why experts often advise taking a break from the news and social media.

- Allyson Chiu, at The Washington Post: You’ve seen enough images from the Capitol riot. Here’s why it’s time to take a break

That’s 2020 in a nutshell.

🔌 Internet and hosting

I deactivated my twitter account on new year’s eve. I don’t know if I’ll let it delete after the 30 day waiting period, but I feel better not having it there, so maybe. Who knows. This would become the third twitter account I’ve deleted. I firmly believe that twitter is bad for my mental health, and that it’s a horrible, horrible thing for anything other than group DM chats. Baby and bathwater, etc.

And then a sitting president used twitter to incite an armed insurrection. I mean. What the hell is happening. (and I couldn’t have picked a better time to not be on twitter…)

Coincidentally, something happened on the Reclaim Hosting server where all of my stuff runs, and my years-old online bookmarking application blew up. I needed to figure out what’s going on there. There was a PHP upgrade on the server, and Things Broke™. I’ve upgraded the bookmarks software, SemanticScuttle, to a version that should work with PHP 7.3. Thanks to the fantastic support team at Reclaim Hosting for helping to figure out what was going on, and for helping to fix it. It should coast along for a few more years, but I know it will eventually fall over and may not get back up again.

This just adds to how happy I am to have been a Reclaim Hosting customer since basically day 1 (the absolute best service in the business), and that I publish my main website (this one) as static HTML via Hugo. A PHP update sometime down the line won’t break my site, and I won’t get to spend hours trying to figure out what’s going on. This site is much less prone to technical failures. If the webserver is online, this site is up. It doesn’t care about PHP, or versions of PHP, or MySQL, or versions of MySQL, or other libraries available on the server, and it takes very little for a webserver to host the site. I write stuff in simple text files on my own computer, in simple markdown syntax. I run a command, and the entire site is regenerated by Hugo in maybe 20 seconds and published via rsync to my server in under a minute. Once it’s published, it’s published. Yes, Hugo might break at some point, but that would only mean I couldn’t publish new content until I figured out how to fix it. There’s very little risk of having the sum total of my online presence crumble because something happened on a server. Less-fragile publishing…

In the end times, there will be:

  1. cockroaches
  2. webservers capable of serving static files (perhaps only viewed by sentient cockroaches…)

And, finally, maybe, I think it’s time to transition from using my @darcynorman.net email address, as it seems to be caught more often by spam filters (especially Microsoft’s Hotmail and Outlook server blacklists - it doesn’t seem to like doa.reclaimhosting.com for some reason). I could probably work with Microsoft etc. to remove it from their lists, but that’s a losing battle with no real upside anyway. So, I’ll start the switch to my shortest email address @me.com and let someone else worry about keeping it working reliably.

🗓️ Focus for next week

Some TI project work, and some design work for helping to set up a sustainable governance model for campus learning technologies.

And, make some more progress on the COVID chapter…

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