Forming A More Perfect Union

In the United States, democracy is less about the form of government and more about an aspiration. The idea of true equality of all people, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation was simply not comprehensible to the U.S. founders or their contemporaries. Interestingly, I think James Madison recognized the imperfections of the United States when he wrote these words in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

To me a “more perfect union” is not a declaration of an end state but rather a recognition that we can continue to become better. In other words, Madison expected the United States in 2022 to be more perfect than the United States in 1780 because the Constitution provides the framework for that improvement. It does this by providing for amendments that improve upon the original work.

Liberty Needs Equality

In my opinion too many U.S. citizens do not have an understanding of the country’s foundational documents, particularly the Declaration of Independence. For most the Declaration and Constitution boil down to one word, liberty. Indeed, the Declaration layed out the case for why the colonies were declaring their freedom (independence) from England. However, to me the most important part of the Declaration is the statement of why we had the right to declare our freedom and create our own government: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”

We can do this, we said, because we are created the same as you, King George. Citizens of the United States consider liberty precious, but true liberty is built upon our equality, and true equality is something not yet fully attained in the United States. The extent of which we fight equality, we put the liberty of one group of citizens over the liberty of other citizens. Liberty does not co-exist within supremacy.

On The Death Of Desmond Tutu

I am only aware of one country in the world that took conscious steps to address the cancer of supremacy, that country is South Africa. It’s path toward the task of overcoming supremacy was long and likely incomplete but would probably not have been taken up at all if not for Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

News of Tutu’s death makes me wonder how he saw the United States. Tutu had the wisdom to know that the antidote to supremacy is oneness, ubuntu. Supremacy cannot be shunned as it will simply continue lurking in the shadows. The only way to eliminate contempt is to see everyone as a part of me I do not yet know.

I feel as though the entire United States needs to be in a 12 step program. We cannot begin to overcome that which we don’t even acknowledge. We hide our addiction with our liberties. The amount of death that we have grown to accept, the amount of senseless loss of life we tolerate are not signs of a great nation or society.

The United States is leading the world into a third year of a pandemic that will continue to take more lives unnecessarily, and United States continues to lead the world in gun violence. All we are doing is managing to get by for just one more day. Apparently we have not yet hit bottom even after children are gun down in schools.

South Africa did not start to overcome the addiction of supremacy known as apartheid until it consciously did something about it. Any expert on addiction will tell you that no person can be made to overcome their addiction, the addict must decide for themselves they want to live. We, the citizens of the United States of America need to decide whether this republic handed down to us is something we want to keep, and that takes all of us to take a long look at ourselves and see us as we are rather than as how we keep telling ourselves.

Micro.blog Bookshelves Issue

Update: The issue below has been resolved.

Today I tried to move a book listed in micro.blog bookshelves that I was currently reading to finished, but when I clicked “Move To Finished” the book was removed from the currently reading list and not added to finished. I do notice that the book title still appears in the rendered version of the reading list on my blog. I then tried to manually add the book to Finished and it doesn’t appear. I also tried re-adding to Current Reading and it is not adding their either. Something appears to fundamentally not be working for the moment. Reported to help@micro.blog.

Live With Or Remove Corruption?

While I am sympathetic to Dave Winer’s critique of journalism in the United States, I am skeptical that his recommended improvements will make a difference. In my opinion the root cause problem of journalism is that it is beholden to the doctrine of capitalism. Everyone, regardless of party affiliation, believes that the prime objective of journalism in the United States is to make money and will bias what they publish towards that goal. Consider why it is that the titles for newspaper articles are usually not created by the person who wrote the article. Until the root cause is addressed I don’t see how there will be improvements.

The sad fact is, everyone is well aware of how money has corrupted every part of our lives. Our skepticism toward industry such as medical and media, and our skepticism of politicians is all rooted in our awareness of this corruption. We are at a danger level now because people have very little trust in anyone not themselves, and yet our society requires the ability to trust.

The Spiritual Experience of Microcenter

I was in an actual computer store yesterday, which was momentous for two reasons. First is that I have not really spent much time in stores other than grocery stories since the pandemic began. Second is that it has been way too long since I had been in a real computer store.

One of my favorite stores of my childhood is Radioshack, which was an electronics store from before personal computers were a thing that you could find in just about any town in the United States.

Radioshack on a larger scale describes Fry’s and CompUSA. In its prime you could probably find a CompUSA in most all metropolitan areas and I spent much time and money in the ones near where I lived. CompUSA is where I went to check out the newest computers and gadgets. It’s where I bought my first Apple computer, a Newton MessagePad.

Sadly, CompUSA and Fry’s are extinct, victims of the one-two punch of the big box stores and the Internet. In my area of metropolitan Detroit one lone Microcenter remains as a sanctuary of geekdom, which is where I found myself yesterday evening to pick up the new Macbook Air that I reserved online.

I nearly shed a tear when I walked through the doors to the sight of the picture below. I walked slowly up and down each aisle, thankful for the mask covering my face that hid what I am sure was the goofy look of geek joy. Every computer component you can think of sat on shelves in rows you must pass through to get to the manufactured computers in the back of the store.

I confess that I have contributed to the demise of the very stores that I miss, buying all of my newest tech online and having it delivered to my front door. I had forgotten the pleasure of seeing all of this technology in front of me. Walking out the door I vowed to not wait so long before returning.

Blog Posts and Stories

While thinking about how I use micro.blog and how I am using Drummer it occurs to me that both blogging platforms have the same problem with handling what I call long form writing. The root cause is the publishing of the full content of every blog post, regardless of whether the post has a title, on the home page.

To my eyes it makes no sense embedding a titled post that has multiple paragraphs on the home page because it just makes the home page too long. The reader ends up scrolling further and further down a page. Another problem is the reader sees these entries as just another blog post whereas I want such titled posts to be seen as a story or essay.

My ideal scenario would be a publishing platform that is smart enough to handle a couple of scenarios. One scenario would be to enable the writer to create what I will call an introduction post that has a title, a specific introduction that I wrote, and a link to the page with the full article. The idea is that a story, or essay, stands alone on its own page and one is simply writing a blog post to link to that page. Micro.blog even has a pages option that could support this, but it’s not integrated in the manner that I am suggesting.

The other scenario, or approach, would be for the blogging platform to just automatically limit a titled post on the man page to the title and three sentences, with a cut and a read more link. I emphasize I don’t want a publishing platform that requires titled posts, I want it to smartly handled untitled and titled posts and not necessarily treat them the same.

I’ve always held that a blog post is only one, maybe two paragraphs long and something longer is different, what I call stories but others may call essays. This very item you are reading right now is an essay, not a blog post, it just happens to be published on blogging platform. In fact, perhaps what I am advocating is for a web publishing platform that is more than a blog publishing platform.

I can manually implement this approach by only writing blog posts here and publishing stories on another site, but that forces me to maintain two sites and use two different writing flows that I have find fatiguing. My desire is to use one writing and publishing flow for both forms of writing.

Learning Computing

Back when there were several book store chains and plenty of stores I spent a fair amount of time in them and in particular looking through the computer magazine section. Magazines were a big part of my formative computing years, and I looked forward to each month’s issue of Byte. The magazines were not only a source of news about the latest hardware and software, they were also a means of software distribution containing pages of source code available to manually enter on a variety of computer platforms.

Physical book stores are nearly extinct and computer magazines shrank in to oblivion, replaced by the Internet, but I have found one corner of the Internet where computer magazines still live. You may have heard of the Raspberry Pi, which is an inexpensive “computer on a chip” popular amongst makers. What you might not know is that raspberrypi.org is more than just the computer hardware, it’s a foundation dedicated towards computer education. The foundation publishes tutorials and lesson plans for teachers and it has a publishing arm for books and magazines.

Four different magazines are published: HackSpace, Custom PC, Wireframe, and The MagPi, which you can subscribe to and purchase online and in stores in the United Kingdom. Better yet, the magazines and books are free to download in PDF format.

If you own a Raspberry Pi and have the full desktop version of the operating system installed you will find a Bookshelf app in the Help menu of the desktop’s application launcher. Bookshelf has tabs for each magazine and books that you can download and read on the Pi. If you don’t have a Pi you can browse through and download the PDFS using the web browser on your computer.

If you are not familiar with Raspberry Pi you will find everything you need to know about it on their web site, raspberrypi.org. Another great source for information is the Official Raspberry Pi Handbook, and the 2022 version has been just released and available to download.

If you are looking for an inexpensive starter computer for yourself or a child, I recommend the Raspberry Pi 400, which is an “all-in-one” computer you can buy for $70. I also think anyone considering a future in computing, or just interested to learn more, should buy a Raspberry Pi 4 kit, which you can assemble and use to learn more about computer hardware and software.

2021 Microsoft Surface Event

I am contemplating purchasing a new laptop computer so that I can access and learn the latest operating systems. I am most interested in Window 11 because Windows is the primary operating system that I use every work day, but the integrations between iPadOS and MacOS also have me interested in a Mac. If I buy a Mac I can also run Windows 11 in a VM, so that will provide me the best of both worlds.

So, I watched the Microsoft Event today to see whether Microsoft might announce something that will influence my purchase decision. My conclusion is none of the products announced today fit in the budget that I have in mind because of the add-ons one has to purchase to gain full functionality.

Microsoft did announce nice looking products today, but for me they have a real pricing problem. Take, for example, the new Surface Go 3. The lowest price version costs $399, which comes with 4 GB of RAM and only 64 GB of storage, which I really do not think is enough storage for any productivity device in 2021. Consequently, the lowest model I would consider is the mid-tier 8 GB RAM, 128 GB model at $549, but that only gets you the tablet. You will want to add a type cover that costs at least $100 and most likely a Surface Pen for another $70, for a grand total of $719, and that combo is with an Intel Pentium processor rather than the more powerful Intel Core i5 in the Surface Laptop Go. In my opinion Microsoft should include the type keyboard with the Surface Pro and Surface Go at their current price.

My research prior to the event tells me that the Microsoft product that most makes sense for a reasonable PC running Windows 11 is the Surface Laptop Go. While it won’t run MacOS, you can buy a well equipped model (8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD) for $800.

Thing is, I can also buy a Mac Mini with the same memory, storage, and price and for less than $200 also have the ability to run Windows 11. Of course, the Mini is a desktop and my bias is toward the portability of a laptop, so that has me looking at a Macbook Air for $200 more, which is pushing the price a bit higher than I would like.

Of course, I don’t intend to make a decision until after the expected Apple Mac event that should happen in October. Rumors are a new Mac Mini and Macbook Pros will be announced, but not an Air. A new Macbook Pro might influence pricing of the current Airs. My ideal would be a new entry level Pro with 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB SSD starting at the current $1299 “base” price, which I think would mean Apple could drop the price of the current Airs by $100 to $200. The logic being it would not make sense to have the high end Air and the Low end Pro with the same specs and same price because nobody would by the high end Air. (The only reason to buy the high end Air over the Pro right now is the 512 GB storage at $50 less price!)

The other question is, what will be the specs for the new Mac Minis? In this case I expect the specs will remain the same, the prices will remain the same, and there will be a processor upgrade. However, the consequence there might be availability of the current Mac Minis at lower prices. An 8 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD model at nearly $600 is appealing.

One might think the reasoning I’ve described above is an “apples to oranges” comparison. I see it as a “get what I need” versus an “investment” comparison. I bought my last Macbook Air 15 years ago, and it still functions! It’s really slow compared to most devices today, but what that experience tells me is that buying an Apple laptop or desktop realistically gets me 5 to 7 years of use. I can buy a cheaper laptop to just run Windows 11 but it probably gets me 4 years of real use.

So, now we wait for the next Apple event. Traditionally Apple has held two events in the fall, one in September to announce new iPhones, which they did, and one in October featuring Macs and iPads, thus one more event to gather information for making my purchase decision.

Happy Operating System Season

And here you thought pumpkin spice was for fall, no it’s operating system season! Yesterday Apple released iOS and iPadOS Version 15, and coming up October is Android Version 12, Windows 11, and MacOS Monterey. Three companies (Apple, Google, Microsoft) and three platforms (smartphone, tablets, desktop/laptop).

I installed iPadOS Version 15 on my iPad Mini yesterday and I haven’t spent a significant enough time with it yet. So far it’s a mixed bag. For example, being able to place widgets on the home screen makes them a bunch more useful, but the tradeoff is a decrease in the number of icons per line that display. My old iPad Mini has a quarter inch bezel followed by a half inch of empty space on the left and right side of the screen. I fear this is going to look worse on the iPad Air.

Of course, iPhone owners have had widgets and App Library since last year, so this is not new to them. I don’t own an iPhone, but so far I wonder whether they see much new in this version of iOS.

For some reason I like how the App Library flys up from the lower right of the screen. I do think App Library is a better way to manage applications than has existed prior, just wish I could edit what Apple does automatically to tailor the result. I suspect the larger icons in each group were determined to be the most frequently used app of that group, do they change over time?

The changes of widgets and App Library create questions of what icons to place on the home screen if any, given the dock. Tapping the widgets launches the associated app, so they serve that purpose in addition to providing information. I probably don’t need any icons but so far I have kept six: Mail, Safari, Streaks, Notes, NetNewsWire and Pocket. Another decision is, what to do with the “old page” that displays when you swipe right from the left edge? The widgets on the home screen don’t need to also be there, so there is some changes to be made.

What else? I know the changes to how multitasking works is significant, but I won’t fully experience that until I upgrade the iPad Air. This is the fun of operating system season, discovering new “gifts” and hoping they aren’t lumps of coal.

Sir Sinclair and I

British inventor Sir Clive Sinclair died yesterday, September 16. I, of course, never met this man who had an impact on the direction of my life.

My chosen field of study in college, computer science, led to the career that caused me to move to metropolitan Detroit, ultimately meet and marry my wife, and have the life I now live. How I came to chose to study computer science was influenced by three events during my high school years: the arrival of the Apple II in my high school, taking an after school BASIC programming class, and being gifted the Timex Sinclair 1000. Sir Sinclair invented the ZX80, the predecessor to the ZX8, in Britian, and that same computer was later sold as the Timex Sinclair 1000 in the United States.

I was raised by my grandmother and we lived off social security along with some savings. The personal computers sold at the time cost well beyond our means, but the Timex Sinclair only cost $100, though you needed the nearly $40 additional cost of the 16 KB storage for it to be useful. The nearly $150 total cost made it the most expensive gift my grandmother ever bought me, and I don’t doubt she made sacrifices to buy it, but she felt it important for my future. Turns out my grandmother was right.

Even by the standards of the time, the Timex Sinclair was a bit of a joke for a computer. Frogger was one of the games available for the Timex Sinclair that my friend called “woodtick” because of how the large block pixel graphics of the frog took over the entire TV screen when it got run over by a car.

Back then the common display for personal computers were TV screens. Programs were stored on cassete tapes. As I said, the Timex Sinclair only had 16 kilobytes of RAM. It had a membrane keyboard rather than a real keyboard that had most of the BASIC functions assigned. When writing a program you “typed” PRINT by pressing a combination of a function key and they key that had the command printed on it. I don’t recall whether I ever connected the Timex Sinclair to a printer or did anything like word processing.

Despite the limits Sinclair’s invention made a brand new world of personal computing accessible to me in the comfort of my bedroom floor. Hours of typing in pre-printed programs from magazines and hours of experimenting with little BASIC programs sparked the interest that as I said led to the life I now have.

Reading tributes and stories of Sinclair, I know that I am just one of hundreds of thousands of people around the world that share the same story. What a wonderful legacy. Thank you Sir Sinclair, rest in peace.

Wishing It Was So

In my feeds this morning are some statements recalling how united they thought we were on 9/12/2001 and wishing that was the same today. A deeper, perhaps more meaningful question might be, why is it that the United States can only unite around hatred for an external enemy?

Some thought, many hoped, back then that the event would be a catalyst for change. Of course change is always happening, transformation is what is really desired. The difference is between what naturally happens and intent. Transformation requires true understanding of from what to what, which in turn requires a desire to look within.

Take for example the pandemic. Much of the struggle amongst ourselves is superficial. Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask. Get the vaccine, I’ll never get the vaccine. Our attention is on these arguments with little thought about why the arguments are even happening.

For me what the pandemic exposes, and what has existed from well before 9/11, is a majority of people stuck within the basic animal instinct to view everything and everyone by comparison. Either you’re or with me or you’re against me is one of our most basic survival instincts. While this instinct keeps us alive in a moment of crisis, living constantly in this mode prevents one from growing and usually makes us vulnerable to being manipulated in to decisions not in our long term best interests.

The transformation some of us desired after 9/11 that would have resulted in more unity did not happen because there was no intention for it to happen. Change, yes, that has happened, we have evolved to a more fractured not united state than before, and will apparently continue to do so unless we intentionally chose a different path.

The United States of America is only 245 years old. In comparison to the world, the U.S. is a toddler, to the universe, an infant. Our growth (transformation) relies in embracing the seemingly conflicting values of liberty and unity, by transformation from an either/or worldview to a both/and worldview. The transformation will not be easy because everything we know and see around us is built on and reinforces either/or. Either/or keeps power in power. Take the red pill

After Using Android 12 For One Week

A little over a week ago I installed beta 4 of Android 12 on my Google Pixel 4a. I have not experienced any significant issues with running this version of Android, even though it is still a true beta and not a release candidate.

Like most men, I imagine, I carry my phone in my front pants pocket. In the past I occasionally discovered that the flashlight feature of the phone turned on while the phone is in my pocket, causing an odd, if not humorous, appearance. After installing Android 12 I found this occurring much too frequently.

Two lock screen settings appear to be the culprits: Tap to check phone and lift to check phone. Movement while walking is being interpreted by Android as either a tap or a lift, so I have disabled both features. I notice that Android seems to be smart enough to know the phone is in my pocket because it turns off the ambient display, so it should also disable the tap and lift to check functions, and I have provided feedback on this to Google.

App suggestions, which many people do not like and probably disable, are not working. Google added this feature in Android 11 that changes which app icons appear in the dock at the bottom of the home screen and at the top of the app drawer with the ones most commonly used at a particular time of day. Right now the icons displaying are the ones that were present in the dock at the time I installed the upgrade and have never been changed by Android. I might be the only person who likes this feature enough to report it not working.

I like the changes to the UI that Google has made, particularly increasing the font size in settings. The changes to the notifications are nice, although I am not sure whether I am a fan of the increased size of the Quick Settings icons, I think I wish they were the same as in Android 11.

Of course, the big change in Android 12 is the new design language called Material You with includes automatically changing the overall color appearance to the wallpaper on the phone. I have the Landscapes wallpaper changing daily to see changes with the appearance of the phone, and I am pretty pleased with what I am seeing.

I have not noticed any significant difference with over all performance or battery life, which is good. Ideally we would get better battery life in each release, but at the least we don’t want to lose battery life. Beta 4 marks Android 12 reaching the platform stability phase, which marks it as feature and API complete so that developers can test against a reliable version. One more release, release candidate one, will be made available before the final release of Android 12.

Android 11 was released on September 8, 2020, if Google is to meet that same early September release date we should see the release candidate late next week, which might coincide with the launch of the Pixel 5a.

Google Wear Is A Hot Mess

Google Wear OS is a hot mess. During Google I/O earlier this year I got the impression that due to the partnership between Google and Samsung the pending Galaxy Watch 4 would be more in line with standard Wear OS watches. Given that it appears the Samsung watches will be the only ones to get Wear OS 3 this year, I was considering buying one.

However, as I read more reviews about the Galaxy watches I am becoming less likely to buy one. First I read that Google Assistant is not preinstalled. Next I read that the watches don’t easily pair with non-Samsung phones, nor work the the Android Wear OS app.

Amazingly, it looks like there will not be a serious Wear OS watch to buy in 2021, and there wasn’t one last year. It feels like Google has or should just give up. As the Fossil Sport I have been wearing is getting more finicky, I am contemplating my next step. Buy a Mobvoi that is expected to be the first to get Wear OS 3 next year, or dump Wear OS altogether and buy a Fitbit?

What’s worse are suggestions that Wear OS 3 may not work best on the Qualcomm 4100 chip in the Mobvoi, the chip that is the next generation smart watch chip from Qualcomm. What the heck?

Hot mess indeed

First Impressions Of Android 12

Yesterday Google released the final user beta for Android 12, and as I did since version 10, I have installed it on my Pixel 4a. First thing I looked for is how the new UI colors and fonts look and I found that to really see that you need to be in light mode rather than dark mode. I’ve been using dark mode full time with Android 11.

I did the update late last night so one of the new features I experienced first is the update to the ambient display, the larger clock display is handy at night when I wake up and want to see the time.

I think I like the changes to the notification shade but the larger quick setting buttons look off. Everything in the UI seems larger, which I appreciate.

One other change I looked forward to is the use of the power button to activate Google Assistant, which you have to specifically configure in settings. I disable “Hey Google” mostly to save battery life, but also because I find I don’t use it very much. Wish Google would add a gesture to the fingerprint scanner in which if I press and hold the phone would unlock and activate Assistant. If I just tap the scanner the unlock the phone, if I keep my finger in the scanner then unlock and activate assistant.

Something Was Going On In Japan

The summer Olympic are nearly done and I really didn’t watch it much. I think a big part of the problem was the time difference and the Internet providing the results. What I will remember from these Olympics, however, is how dangerous is gymnastics. Too much was written about Simone Biles’ “mental health” in a way suggesting what she was experiencing was “just” emotions. The problem was much more dire, the alignment of brain and body so that she lands on her feet and not her head.

Humans are not cats. Search for why cats land on their feet. If you ever had vertigo or just got dizzy, imagine that disorientation while spinning upside down ten feet in the air.

IoT Is An Oxymoron

What made local area and wireless networks happen are industry standards that enable different vendor products to work with each other. The Internet Of Things is nearly the exact opposite, in my home is a case in point. I have Hue lights that require a Hue hub for management and I have a number of sensors and smart switches that use Zigbee that I manage with Samsung’s SmartThings hub.

The SmartThings hub can control the Hue lights, but the Hue hub only knows Hue products. I started first with the Hue lights and the hub, but if I had could have seen in the future I might have just bought the SmartThings hub. On the other hand, one big thing I get with the Hue hub is the use of a catalog of scenes that combine different colors to make for some pretty nice lighting in our basement.

I recently bought two cheaper Sylvania color smartlights when recent heavy rains suggested it might be nice to have a color smartlight in our living room, right now we have a non-color Hue light in the living room. We have a moisture sensor in the sump pump pit that works with the SmartThings hub and an automation in SmartThings that turns on all of the lights when moisture is detected. The automation sets the color lights to purple (homage to Prince) but obviously cannot do that with non-color lights. It happened the automation was recently triggered during the evening when the living room light might normally come on so I realize it just turning on might not be enough notification. Thus the idea to buy a color light, thus the purpose of the Sylvania light because the Hue light costs $50.

Before putting the new Sylvania light in the living room I decided to test it in the basement, where I have the color Hue lights, and here exposes the problem. The Hue lights are controlled by the Hue hub that knows nothing about the Sylvania light, this the Sylvania light cannot be part of the any of the Hue scenes. Perhaps I can find a “third party” app that works with SmartThings to replace Hue scenes, but I have not yet done the research.

Better, yet, would be an industry standard for controlling these color lights that would enable me to fully control them, with scenes, from one hub or “smart device.” Of course, this is a known problem and industy leaders appear to be working together to address it by developing a protocol called Matter. Hopefully, there will be a day when all I need is one controlling device, technically right now I have three: Hue hub, SmartThings hub, Amazon Echo, and Google Home.

P.S. I really hope the Matter protocol addresses how smartlights handle resumption of power after a power outage. Hue added the ability to enforce the last known state, if a light was off when the power went off then it is supposed to stay off when power is restored. However, I’ve found that doesn’t work well with multiple successive short power loses. Worse, is the fact that the Sylvania light appears to not have such a setting. When power is restored the light turns on, regardless of its prior state.

Fun With Servers

I borked the server that has been hosting my instance of nodestorage, which in turn provided the editing for my old 1999.io blog. This blog was the direct predecessor to this site and I was publishing to it from May 2016 to February 2018. Before that, from 2014 to April 2016 I was publishign to this site using Fargo.

Right now I cannot SSH in to the server but I do know that it is running and serving up an old Bitnomi default page. I decided to build a new server to replace it, but won’t be able to move any of the data on the old server if I cannot get in to it.

I had nodestorage configured to publish the content to a S3 bucket, which is serving it directly, so I was not expecting the outage to affect the published site, but it does. When you first access the top navigation bar is delayed in loading. Looking at the page source I see variables that contain URLS back to that old site, one which appears to be defining a chat log socket. Unfortunately, this means to not have this affect on the old blog content I need to keep nodestorage running at the URL provided.

The Garden And Stream Metaphors

Dave, in the context of the Internet, the garden and the stream are metaphors for two different approaches to content on the Internet. A stream is ephemeral, it continues to move over time and one mostly adds to it and watches it flow away. On the Internet a stream is content for only right now, and usually isn’t edited nor looked at years later. Streams are date and time driven. Stream platforms are optimized for quick and easy entry of new content.

Twitter, Facebook, and blogs are examples of platforms used for publishing streams of content. Note that this is not absolute, for example one can and might edit a blog post they wrote a year ago in which case that blog might well be a garden.

The garden metaphor, in contrast, is more permanent. The content in a garden is continually edited to reflect new ideas or new learning over a period of time. A garden is organized around a topic. Platforms for creating and maintaining gardens are optimized for editing and linking together of content. Connecting the dots (linking) between content can generate new ideas or thoughts. Wiki is an example of a garden platform, as is the web itself as originally intended, as are other tools optimized for linking together and organizing content.

A couple of other interesting differences exist between the two from a user and platform provider perspective. Almost all streams are public, their very point is public sharing, and the platform providers freely provide their platforms and make their money my manipulating the presentation of what one puts in to the stream to others. Users have little to no control over who sees what they put in to the stream.

Gardens are either public or private, thus users tend to have more control over who and how one sees their content. Platform providers either freely provide their platform as open source for users to install in their own computers or they make money by hosting their platforms and charging uses for renting space on their hosting. The key point being the garden platform providers do not make money on the content. In my opinion, a site that has the purpose of making money from content is something other than a garden, so for example, I do not think of Medium as a garden, nor are other sites like The Verge or Engadget that may publish using a blogging or content management system.

Seeking USB-C Dock For 4K Monitor

TL;DR USB-C Docks that include USB 3 data ports most likely do not support DisplayPort 4K at 60 Hz unless they support DisplayPort 1.4. A dock with a DisplayPort port and USB 2.1 probably can do 4K@60Hz.

I recently bought a BenQ 4K monitor and when I connected it to the USB-C dock that I had I found out that the dock could only support 4K at 30HZ, which is noticeably slow just when moving the mouse on the screen. Just about all the computer monitors we use support 60 Hz refresh rates.

Now, I was using my Pixelbook with the dock and I found that when I connect it to the monitor using a USB-C cable it can do 4K@60Hz, so I figured the dock was the limiting factor, which I confirmed on the manufacture’s web site. I then started to search for docks that say they can do 4K@60Hz and decided on the Anker PowerExpander.

As you probably imagine by now, I got the new dock yesterday and found it also is only doing 4K@30Hz, on the HDMI and DisplayPorts. Sigh. I tested the dock with another computer and it does 4K@60Hz, so I am back looking at the Pixelbook.

I have since learned from this article that the problem is that USB-C docks need to support data transfer as well as display and that decreases the number of lanes that are available for display at high refresh rates to two, whereas 4K@60Hz needs all four lanes. When you connect the Pixelbook to a monitor with a USB-C cable it can use all four of the cable’s communication lanes to enable it to handle 4K@60Hz.

Anker’s site says 4K on DisplayPort requires DisplayPort 1.4 and I have found that the Pixelbook only supports DisplayPort 1.2. As the article I found explains, DisplayPort 1.4 only needs two lanes for 4K@60Hz because it has an additional high bit rate mode and compression, which is why the Anker hub I have can do 4K@60Hz while also providing USB 3.1 data transfers. The problem is that the computer, hub, and monitor all need to support DisplayPort 1.4 for this all to work, and the Pixelbook does not.

The lesson from this experience is that connecting to high resolution monitors at high refresh rates via a hub is more complicated than simply using a cable because it requires understanding the technical capabilities of the computer, hub, and monitor. You may have to dig to find out whether a computer, and a Chromebook in particular, supports DisplayPort 1.4. Thunderbolt 3 also supports 4K@60Hz and fast data transfers but is not yet available in Chromebooks and Thunderbolt 3 docks are more expensive than USB-C docks.

I think my experience that I’ve written about here explains why Google recently announced the addition of docks to their “Works With Chromebook” program. If Google were to announced a new Pixelbook this summer that had DisplayPort 1.4 support (or Thunderbolt 3) it would be helpful to know exactly which Docks can do 4K@60Hz.

As for my current situation, even though this new Anker dock cannot provide 4K@60Hz with my Pixelbook, it has more display ports to drive multiple monitors and has more data ports than the hub it replaced, so I still have an upgrade over the dock I was using previously. However, had I known what I now know prior to purchasing this Anker dock, I probably would have bought this Cable Matters dock instead as I could live with USB 2.1. For now I using the slightly lower 2560 x 1600 resolution at 60Hz rather than 4K, but if I really want 4K I can connect directly to the monitor via one USB-C port and use the dock on the other for power and the additional ports.

A Wiki User's Expectation Of Double Square Brackets

I am following Dave’s writing about the integration of Little Outliner with apps like Obsidian and Logseq. I think it’s important to note that neither Obsidian nor Logseq are outliners, they are markdown editors with outlining and wiki features. I would characterize Little Oultiner as an outline editor that could have other features like wiki and markdown.

How Obsidian handles text between doulbe brackets is an example of a feature it incorporates from wikis. There is an existing standard for using double brackets, it is an internal wiki link and the expected action is that it automatically links to a page that exists within the app hosting and editing the content. Usually what is between the double square brackets is the name of the page. If the page already exists, clicking the link loads that page in the app. If the page does not already exist, clicking the link creates a new page with that title in which one can then edit.

The key is that an internal link is generated and managed by the editing app not the user, where as an external link is provided and managed by the user of the app. As an example, I edit my now page in Little Outliner that I think is currently served by an instance of PagePark. (Click here to see the outline in Little Outliner) On that page the fourth note has a link to tech.frankm.info that is another outline I edit in Little Outliner. I created the link between the two using the linking tool in Little Outliner, but what if I had put double brackets around the words Technology That I Use in that sentence?

Based on my experience with wiki, Obsidian, and Roam, I expect that when a double bracket is put around those words Little Outliner creates a link to an outline (a page if you will in Little Outliner) with the name “Technology That I Use.” If I click that link in Little Outliner it opens the page in Little Outliner (could be a tab) and displays the contents of the page, or a blank page if it is new.

To complete the thought, from a publishing perspective, PagePark could follow the internal link to the OPML file and render it as it does today, with the net result of more easily writing and publishing a multi-page site edited by Little Outliner and served by PagePark.

Long time users of Little Outliner may recall the glossary function that automatically substitutes text between double quotes to corresponding text in a separate file. One way you can think of it is like a text expander where you can put a commonly used abbreviation in quotes and when the outline is rendered the associated text in the glossary file is subsituted.

For example, if you look at the second bullet under Notes in my status outline you see that “my blog” and “my Twitter feed” are in quotes and on the published page you see them as hyperlinks because I have the HTML for the hyperlinks in my glossary file, which is specified by the urGlossary value in the OPML head of the file. When I was publishing my blog using Fargo.io, (and prior iterations of Dave’s blogging platforms) the glossary was one of my favorite time saving features.

Using A 32-inch Monitor

I recently started using a 32-inch monitor, and I am figuring out its best ergonomic setup. I’ve searched for information, and this article is one of the few that I’ve found that make a specific recommendation for large monitors. When I ordered the monitor, which is a BenQ 32-inch, I was concerned by the fact that the height was not adjustable and it would be too low, but that has proven to not be an issue. If anything the monitor might be a tad too high.

According to the ergonomic recommendations, the top of the monitor should be at eye level. In my case the top bevel of the monitor is a couple of inches above my eye level. I could raise my chair to move my eye level up, but then my feet don’t comfortably touch the floor and I felt it in my legs.

On the other hand with the larger screen I am now viewing content in separate windows rather than full screen. Consequently I can move the windows in which content is displayed to where it is most comfortable, and so there is a gap in the display at the top that I will never really look at.

I’ve installed the Windows 10 PowerToys so that I can use the FancyZones windows manager to create layouts for placing windows on the screen. My current configuration has one large window occupying about 65% of the left side where I display the primary 1580 x 1356 window I am viewing. The remaining screen space on the right is split in half, with a top 792 x 661 and bottom 792 x 653 windows for MS Teams and Outlook. The smaller windows are for glancing at information, either chats, calendar, or my inbox. When I process my inbox in Outlook I move Outlook to the larger window on the left of the screen.

To complete the picture, I also us two virtual desktops, the primary one I described above, the secondary one I have OneNote in the large window, Microsoft Todo, and File Manager in the two smaller windows.

Home Computer Repairs

Given the number of Raspberry Pis I have, you might get the impression that I am a maker, but I am not. I’ve just been enamored by these small, inexpensive single board computers. The closest I’ve come so far to a real project is what I call my desk clock, which is a Pi installed behind a five inch monitor that displays Chromium kiosk mode with a screen I configure using Dakboard.

I originally built the desk clock using a Raspberry Pi 2 that stopped working a few weeks ago. This past weekend tried to troubleshoot the problem. First I built a new SD card and it seemed to boot fine, but after a few more tests I found that the USB WiFi dongle was not reliably connecting to the home network, so I decided to re-purpose a Pi 3 that was on my desk for the desk clock.

To retain the backup and archive functions that Pi 3 was performing, I moved it’s SD card to a Pi 3b+ and then built a new SD card for the desk clock, except this time I cheated by using a pre-built image that dakboard provides.

The net result is that I now have one less Raspberry Pi sitting on my desk. Last night as I was putting things away I found another Pi 3 I already had been storing, which if I had known about would have simplified things, but not resulted in one less Pi on my desk.

For a summary of my Raspberry Pis, expand the Every Day Tech branch of my Technology outline.

Be Careful What You Ask For

What’s ironic is that every person arrested for the insurrection on the U.S. Capital on January 6, 2021 will expect, and demand, that everyone provide, the presumption of innocence, which requires the accuser to prove by providing evidence in court that the accused commited a crime. Yet, these people wanted state legislatures, the Supreme Court, or Congress to nullify the election results based on their accusuation of voter fraud.

The point being, the people storming the Capital really weren’t defending the Constitution nor do they really want to live in the world they think they are fighting for. Presumption of innocence means they have the possibility of not being put in jail by a force greater than themselves and that same presumption of innocence might be the only thing that saved the Republic, this time.

We Found Where Is The Republican Line

It’s amusing and sad to finally see so many Republicans jump off the sinking ship after it hit the iceberg. All through the last four years my question to Republicans has been, what is your line that Trump could not cross? We found the line was literaly no less than an attempt to overthrow the government of the United States. And these are people who call themselves patriots? If they really want to do the right thing they should resign.

The thing is, it doesn’t really matter now. What’s going to matter is when in four years and the Republican Presidential primaries start does the party push back against Trump and any who follow his playbook, or do they do all the same things again? It already started when Congress finally reviewed and accpeted the Electoral College results.

At this point I think the lust for supremacy is what Republicans are all about. They could not take a principaled stand until literally forced to by an attempted coup. I for one right now cannot imagine how I can ever trust anyone who is Republican and desires the power of federal office. We cannot let Republicans re-frame the story in a way that does not make them culpable in what happened on January 6, 2021, for they built the platform upon which Trump and his followers spoke and acted, starting with birtherism.