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Aside: Mastodon post on 02/02/2023

Twitter (Musk I assume) has it backward. Their API isn’t just providing value to apps. The apps provide value to Twitter.

They want to charge for API access, but they're only hurting themselves because they risk losing a lot of third-party functionality that Twitter users enjoy.

Aside: Statuslog 01/31/2023

😣

Ok, time to work on this thing. Oh, let me start some music. Wait, the Spotify version of this album doesn’t have the bonus track. No problem, I’ll use Bandcamp. Wait, then I can’t scrobble to . I bet there’s a way—ah, yes a browser extension. I’ll install that. Ok, now what as I doing again?

Aside: Mastodon post on 01/30/2023

I thought my 1Password install was effed somehow. But turns out there is currently a known bug in 1Password that is preventing it from connecting with the browser extension.

Aside: Statuslog 01/29/2023

🔥

Reading Kill It with Fire: Manage Aging Computer Systems (and Future Proof Modern Ones) by Marianne Bellotti.

Aside: Mastodon post on 01/28/2023

I _______ CSS.

  • loathe writing
  • could take or leave writing
  • enjoy writing
  • fantasize about spending all day everyday writing

Aside: Statuslog 01/25/2023

🥱

The quick blinks became slower, more deliberate. Maybe I’ll just close my eyes for a second, he thought.

Some say he’s still out there at a desk somewhere, sleeping.

Aside: Mastodon post on 01/25/2023

It's funny. I was firmly in the mastodon-looks-cool-but-I'm-too-lazy-to-switch camp before joining omg.lol. Partially because I didn't know what instance to join. Kind of had decision paralyses.

Then I was like, oh it comes with a Mastodon I count if I want one… hmm…

Fast forward to now (a few weeks later) and I'm really enjoying it more than I thought I would.

Aside: Mastodon post on 01/25/2023

I’m a frontend web developer working with a NASA contractor. I have a disability called spinal muscular atrophy. Because of that I’m interested in—and often write about—assistive technology.

I love side projects and run several of them. You can find out about my projects and interests on my website: blakewatson.com

Topics I post about:

Aside: Mastodon post on 01/24/2023

I used to consider the potential longevity of products and services before investing time and money into using them.

I would ask, "Will this be around in a decade?"

When it came to huge corporate names, I felt safer. It never occurred to me to ask, "Will a billionaire purchase this and ruin it?"

I see things differently now. I'll see a small indie project and think, "This'll probably last longer than Twitter did."

Aside: Statuslog 01/24/2023

🤯

I love that one can say “There are robots on Mars,” and not be lying. There are ROBOTS ON MARS, yall.

Aside: Statuslog 01/24/2023

🎩

It has occurred to me that for the past few weeks I have begun frequently using the term “fancy pants.”

Aside: Statuslog 01/24/2023

😖

Working on a little web app when suddenly out of nowhere my brain goes, “What if 1Password goes away and the app no longer works and you can’t get any of your passwords and 1Password somehow lost all of their backups and you really need your passwords like right now? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO THEN, PRAY TELL?”

Aside: Statuslog 01/19/2023

🪐

Love this instrumental album, Voyager 1, by Adam Young. Only recently did I learn the artist is also Owl City.


Aside: Statuslog 01/19/2023

🎨

Changing your VS Code theme is a dangerous move, possibly leading to hours of wasted time. I hate it when I get the urge.

Aside: Statuslog 01/18/2023

🦣

I’m using https://debirdify.pruvisto.org/ to find my Twitter follows on Mastodon.

Aside: 01/18/2023

Attention everyone using Linktree. Imma need yall to switch over to the far superior and much friendlier omg.lol. That is all. Thank you.

Aside: Statuslog 01/17/2023

🦷

In the Tuesday / Thursday meeting. We started abbreviating it to TTH. Then started calling it the “tooth.”

Aside: Statuslog 01/17/2023

😽

I’ve been obsessed with omg.lol since signing up a week ago. Its fun, people-centered, old-web-meets-new-web vibe is lit and I’m 100% here for it.

Aside: Mastodon post on 01/17/2023

I’ve been on Twitter since 2008. I use Tweetbot for Mac because I hate Twitter's web interface.

But it seems like Twitter is no longer allowing third-party clients. So I’m finally getting around to checking out Mastodon.

social.lol/@bw

Aside: Statuslog 01/17/2023

🤓

I did some custom integrations to get my statuslog and my social.lol posts saved on my microblog. https://blakewatson.com/microblog/

Aside: Mastodon post on 01/17/2023

It’s silly but I feel like Mastodon instances are like little countries and when visiting them I’m like, "Oh, I wonder who lives here?

Aside: Mastodon post on 01/16/2023

I'm not gonna lie. I'm posting this so I can test an IFTTT integration. But I don't come empty handed. Here is a joke for you.

Why did the web designer leave the restaurant?

They didn't like the table layout.

Aside: 1Password

I don’t like 1Password’s reveal button on the lock screen because I miss the thrill of correcting a mistyped password without seeing it.

Aside: Statuslog 01/14/2023

🤥

Microsoft’s Fluent emoji look pretty great. The lying face is weirdly off-putting. Loving them over here on status.lol tho! I’m interested in whether the novelty will wear off and make them too loud. https://medium.com/microsoft-design/emotionality-at-work-398182387adc #noxp

Aside: Statuslog 01/13/2023

👴

I just realized that I think of Jim Carrey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas as a “new movie.”

Aside: Statuslog 01/11/2023

I got so used to the coffee at my last employer that now I drink it at home. Community Dark brewed with a Mr. Coffee machine. Get your fancy pants stuff out of my face.

Aside: 01/10/2023

Dear RSS reader,

I am removing microblog posts from my main RSS feed. If for some weird reason you would like to continue getting them, please subscribe to the following feed:

https://blakewatson.com/journal/category/microblog/feed

What remains are the 3–5 articles I write per year, usually about web development and personal projects.

Aside: Statuslog 01/10/2023

👀

I find myself wanting to post emoji reactions to statuses on status.lol. But all you can do is look. Maybe that’s how it should be.

Aside: Statuslog 01/10/2023

🥰

Feeling grateful for all the free and open source software out there that keeps civilization running.

Aside: Statuslog 01/07/2023

😀

If everything worked correctly, this status should show up at https://blakewatson.com/microblog.

Aside: Holiday Sprint 2022

I started holiday vacation today and I have a plan drawn up to catch up on side projects. I’m calling it Holiday Sprint 2022.

I started with some quick updates to my DIY Pinboard replacement and managed to knock out the whole backlog!

Heading Tasks followed by a list of completed tasks. Run some sort of backup task. Could be a simple `cp` command weekly. Cache the bookmarks locally and load those first (did I already do this?). When clearing search, automatically reset the results. Warn if about to save a duplicate bookmark. Clicking a tag in the suggestion box should collapse the box. Show the tag suggestion box in the search bar. Fix the light mode loader. Support searching for URLs.

Aside: Holding

I don’t mind holding and listening to silly music. I get it. Customer service is swamped. But I hate the recurring message telling me how important I am every 10 seconds.

Aside: iA Writer

I had to switch over to iA Writer for NaNoWriMo. I love Scrivener and Ulysses but if you give me unbridled font choices, I will never get any writing done.

Aside: SMA Simulator

SMA Simulator you can use with no tech required!

First, find a comfortable place to sit down.

Next, reposition yourself so that you’re almost comfortable, but not.

Don’t move for 4-6 hours.

Repeat until you’re ready to exit the simulation.

(I jest, but like low key for real tho 😅)

Aside: To the moon

If I could drive my wheelchair at an optimistic 7 mph directly toward the moon, I would arrive there in about 3.9 years. 🌕👨‍🦼

Aside: RIP Mac app icons

Mac app icons used to be dope before they made everyone use the same shape.

Aside: Blot – turn a folder into a website

So this is a pretty cool app that can take a cloud folder and turn into a website. Publishing a post by dropping a file into a folder is just about as low-friction as it gets. https://blot.im

Aside: Wordle 100

This might be the most consistent thing I’ve ever done.

Aside: Homemade app project

I’m working on a side project where I am trying out some new guiding principles:

  • It’s just for me. Don’t worry about making it scale or work for anyone else.
  • Use the most low-tech approach that is practical.
  • No build step.
  • Use only CSS named colors.

Aside: Character test

In my experience, a good test to gauge someone’s character is whether they’re the kind of person who would “make a scene” in a restaurant. Legitimate complaints? Fine, but those should be rare—and discreet. If it’s a drama for the other patrons to watch… nope.

Just sayin’.

Aside: 12/03/2021

I try not to complain about apps too much because software is hard, etc, but Apple Music, the app, is so bad.

  • It’s clunker than Spotify, which is saying something because Spotify is an Electron app.
  • For years iTunes and then Music has been plagued with the whole randomly-skips-songs bug.
  • The UI is inconsistent to the point where it’s not always clear whether you’re searching your library or the AM catalog.
  • Various UI is horrible—just now the app took focus away from the search input three times whilst I was typing in it (wtf)

Guess it’s back to Spotify for me. It’s a damn shame because iTunes on Windows XP was my favorite app and the reason I eventually became a Mac user in 2006.

Aside: Publishing personal notes

This might not be useful to anyone else but my SSH key on my web host, NearlyFreeSpeech.NET, recently quit working. I first noticed it when my deployments on DeployHQ were failing. Long story short, it seems that OpenSSH recently invalidated certain (weaker) RSA keys. I made a personal note about how to create a custom keypair and upload it to DeployHQ.

I wanted to share the note with someone so I published it. I haven’t shared this yet but I recently created a system for publishing my plain text notes to an 11ty site. I wrote the code in a very this-is-just-for-me manner (home-cooked you might say). Maybe eventually I will cleanup the code and release it. Plenty of apps have this note-publishing functionality but I like the idea of my notes being on my own website that I control.

 

Aside: 07/08/2021

I’m thinking of doing GitHub Game Off again this year. Web game idea—an idle game where you control a money printer and the goal is to print more money in order to buy upgrades for your money printer.

Come to think of it, this game probably already exists (I mean other than the IRL “game”).

Aside: Bloomberg’s UI dumpster fire

This UI is a hot mess:

Got hit with an annoying yellow alert screaming at me as well as an obnoxious subscription modal that has a lot of weird shit happening within.

For starters it’s extremely disruptive. The design is chaotic (evil). And what kind of pricing choice is this? I can choose $1.99 a month or, inexplicably, $290 a year. You have to click around and read the gray print to realize it’s a 3-month offer.

No way I’m paying for Bloomberg though because, among other reasons, The Big Hack.

Aside: 06/14/2021

I started using Craft toward the end of last week when a coworker shared it with me. After playing with it over the weekend I am very quickly becoming a superfan.

  • As a designer I’m impressed with the beautiful, snappy UI.
  • As a developer I’m impressed with the control over data and ability to export to many formats.
  • As a user with a pretty severe mobility impairment, I appreciate the first-class support for working in a mouse-oriented manner or keyboard-oriented manner, depending on which is easier in the moment (referring to the Mac version).

Aside: 06/12/2021

Two ideas I live by:

  • People are weird.
  • Everything is complicated.

Aside: 06/09/2021

I have been writing CSS for 15+ years but I only recently started using user styles via the Stylus browser extension. I don’t know why I haven’t done this sooner. It’s really an amazing perk of the web. Don’t like something about the way a website looks? Change it!

Aside: 06/06/2021

Playing Universe Sandbox inevitably ends with dropping Sagittarius A in the solar system just to see what happens. Spoiler: everything gets eaten.

Aside: The Top 10 Games You Can Play in Your Head, By Yourself: Second Edition

I’m fascinated by this book, The Top 10 Games You Can Play in Your Head, By Yourself: Second Edition. Yes, this is a real book that you can actually purchase.

The original was 14 volumes published in the late 1980s and early 1990s by an author writing under the name J. Theophrastus Bartholomew. I don’t know how widely it was distributed originally, but at some point it went out of print. It was discovered at a yard sale in 2014 in Minnesota by Sam Gorski and D.F. Lovett. They were able to contact the original publisher to get a list of Bartholomew’s ten favorite games and the rights to an unpublished volume.

As far as I can tell, we don’t know the identity of the original author. But after reading this1, I’m salivating for more content from him. I heard that another book may be coming out. We’ll see.

The games themselves aren’t really games like you would imagine. They are more like creative prompts for you to imagine your own story. It’s an intriguing concept. I’ve struggled with it in the few attempts that I tried it (I’ve only tried Space), but I’m planning to try again because the concept is so fascinating to me.

If you know anyone who likes role-playing games, storytelling games, or who are just particularly imaginative, you might consider recommending this book to them.


  1. Because I have SMA, I am unable to handle a physical book. Unfortunately, the publishers decided not to offer an e-book version. There is an audiobook version available, however, so that’s what I used. 

Aside: 04/30/2021

Sometimes I think to myself, “I wish Simplenote had [feature].” Then when I play around with a note app with lots of features I think, “Why can’t it be nice and simple like Simplenote?” Ugh… why am I like this?

Aside: 04/25/2021

I bought a computer that connects one computer to another computer. https://tinypilotkvm.com/

I’m essentially using this as an accessibility tool. It will let me operate other computers without having to install all of the software and hardware I need for accessibility.

Aside: 04/21/2021

There are two types of people:

  • People who acknowledge that Nacho Cheese is the best Doritos flavor
  • People who are wrong

Aside: 04/17/2021

I created a dummy async function (JS) to use when testing out ideas. I love to pop open CodeRunner and mess around with different patterns and syntax and having a ready-to-go async function available is really handy.

function doingStuff(stuff = 'stuff', ms = 2000) {
  return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
    setTimeout(() => resolve(stuff), ms);
  });
}

Aside: 04/09/2021

I set up my site’s WordPress theme to automatically strip all CSS styles on April 9th in celebration of CSS Naked Day.

The point of the silly exercise is to celebrate semantic HTML and web standards. The idea is that if your website’s HTML is well-written then your website should still be generally usable—even without CSS styling. I’m sure my site isn’t perfect, so let me know if you find anything completely broken.

Aside: 03/17/2021

I really dislike this trend of web services that are only available via mobile app (ie, don’t offer a web version). I’m not really able to access my phone easily so I’m all-in on desktop and web apps. I’m not saying companies shouldn’t go mobile app only. I’m just personally annoyed by it.

Aside: 02/04/2021

Whenever I want dark mode on a website that doesn’t have it, I use the Stylus extension to add this CSS, which works surprisingly well:

html {
    filter: invert(0.85) hue-rotate(180deg);
}

Aside: 01/27/2021

Nova by Panic is so buttery smooth. Been using it for work (and play) for a few days. Fast as lightning. I hit a rough edge or two but no showstoppers.

Aside: 01/25/2021

I always misspell the word “habit” by putting 2 Bs. But I just thought of a mnemonic device to help me remember: You can put a B in habit, but don’t make it a habbit.

Aside: 01/02/2021

I didn’t think I was going to like macOS Big Sur but I’m kind of into it.

Aside: 01/01/2021

I’ll be releasing d20 v3 very soon. Here’s a sneak peak. Big new features: 1) you can group your presets, 2) you can roll attacks and damage at the same time. 🗡 🏹 🔥

Aside: 12/23/2020

PSA: If you are trying to capture a website or social media post for proof, don’t screenshot it. Images can be altered so no one can really trust that it’s accurate. If it is public, grab the URL and archive it with @waybackmachine.

Aside: 12/13/2020

Web app developers: make dark mode in your app a device-specific setting rather than an account-specific one. Your users might use different devices in different contexts (a light or dark room for example).

Adding an option for defaulting to system preferece is one way to do that.

Aside: 12/01/2020

A site dedicated to coding fonts: https://coding-fonts.css-tricks.com/fonts/operator-mono

I’ve used Operator Mono for several years now. Previously, I used Anonymous Pro. There’s something industrious and nostalgic about monospaced fonts that I just love.

I also enjoy using monospaced fonts for writing. I fell in love with Nitti when I first discovered it in iA Writer. I now use iA Writer Duo often when writing. The iA Writer fonts and the IBM Plex Mono fonts they are based off of are freely available.

Aside: 10/26/2020

I added a pop-out player on synthwave.live so you can have quick access to playback controls and info about the current track.

Aside: 09/02/2020

I gave Zoom permission to access my Downloads folder. I’m pretty sure that was a bad idea. Fortunately my Downloads folder is 90% boring screenshots.

Aside: 08/11/2020

That moment when you have to search the web because you can’t remember if the person you’re thinking of is still alive.

Spoiler: Steve Wozniak is definitely still alive. Phew. 😅

Aside: 08/09/2020

Sometimes I have an irrational fear of new code concepts or problems.

Example: I put off learning about JS’ requestAnimationFrame for years just because it looked scary. When I took an afternoon to make a little canvas game, I realized it wasn’t scary at all.

Getting over this irrational fear of new things is one of my tips in Finishing side projects.

Aside: 08/05/2020

I hope that one side effect of the pandemic is a lot of new songwriting by all of our favorite artists.

Aside: 07/22/2020

I’ve been using Operator Mono as my code editor font for years, but today I grabbed Operator Mono ScreenSmart and it’s great. It especially improves legibility of light themes in my experience.

Aside: 06/16/2020

Adobe is discontinuing Flash after 2020. No more updates and it won’t even play Flash content after that date. I hate Flash as much as the next person but there are so many great old Flash games that will be made unplayable; which is kind of sad.

Aside: 05/11/2020

Pro tip: if you feel like your DuckDuckGo search isn’t getting the results you’re after and you are thinking of checking Google, add “!sp” to your DDG search. That will search Startpage, which is privacy-friendly Google results.

Aside: 04/06/2020

“I wanted to walk through the empty streets. And feel something constant under my feet. But all the news reports recommended that I stay indoors.”

Aside: 2020-04-01

Just getting rid of some malware with CleanMyMac X.

Screenshot of CleanMyMac X uninstalling Zoom from my computer.

Aside: 03/27/2020

TIL VS Code can enable/disable extensions on a per-workspace basis.

Aside: 03/20/2020

Here are @zeldman‘s tools for slow design in an anxious world. 🐢

  • Big type
  • Hierarchy
  • Minimalism
  • Art direction
  • Whitespace
  • Branded
  • Authoritative

- Big type - Hierarchy - Minimalism - Art direction - Whitespace - Branded - Authoritative

Aside: 03/24/2020

If your app is gonna support Markdown syntax, then at least support the basic typographical elements. I can’t stand this behavior I see in some apps where bold and italics work but links, lists, and blockquotes don’t.

Aside: 03/04/2020

When I see a well-written error message that not only tells me what’s wrong, but also how to fix it, I’m like… FIX IT YOURSELF if you’re so smart then… sheesh.

Aside: 02/25/2020

Annoying (to me) UI patterns:

  • Hidden scrollbars
  • Menus requiring sustained mouseover
  • Text on top of busy images
  • Newsletter signup modals
  • DIY form controls
  • Infinite scroll
  • Autoplaying media
  • Cookie disclaimers
  • Alerts when leaving a site

Aside: 02/24/2020

I’m still rocking macOS Mojave. At this point I wonder if I can make it to the next major release.

Aside: 02/19/2020

I have this fear that governments will ruin the web and in the future we’ll have to tell stories to our grandchildren about how awesome it was.

Scratchpad

Need a quick place to jot something down? I made a little scratchpad. Stores whatever you write there directly in your browser so you can reference it later. That’s it. That’s all it does.

Aside: 02/05/2020

I just realized that in Firefox and Chrome you can select multiple tabs by holding shift or cmd/ctrl and perform actions on multiple tabs at once. #TheMoreYouKnow

Aside: 02/01/2020

One way definitely not to get me to signup for your [WHATEVER] is to pop up a large, garishly animated sign-up box right in the middle of the page while I’m trying to use your website.

Aside: 01/31/2020

I see a lot of “jQuery sucks” or “don’t use jQuery in 2020” to which I say: use whatever works for you. If jQuery helps you make a better website or app, use it. It’s hardly a terrible choice. If anything, it’s battle-tested and reliable.

Aside: 01/17/2020

I can’t stop watching this video by @cassidoo. Cracks me up every time. https://twitter.com/cassidoo/status/1216871876192088065

Aside: 01/16/2020

I’m scared to upgrade to Catalina. I’ve heard a lot of people complain about bugs. Anyone have anything good to say about it?

dg/twitter-php

I wasn’t satisfied with the IFTTT applet that was posting my microblog posts to Twitter for me, so I made my own custom integration using this handy library.

Aside: 01/14/2020

I just created an IFTTT service to automatically tweet microblog posts from my WordPress site. Let’s see if it works! #testing

Aside: 11/10/2019

I can’t stand reading Twitter threads. Such a disruptive, distracting reading experience.

Aside: 10/14/2019

Figures out a couple of complicated components; gets stuck naming them. #hardproblems

Aside: 10/13/2019

Following up on my search for typographically minimal WordPress themes, I found two fantastic ones by Anders Norén: Davis and McLuhan

Aside: 10/11/2019

I really like the (past) work of http://plaintxt.org/. I would really love to see a modern version of it. If anyone is working on quality typographic minimalism in WordPress themes, I would love to know about it.

Aside: Ad-block shaming

I’m so sick of ad-block shaming. “We noticed you are using an ad-blocker…” Here’s my response: “I noticed you have been tracking me all over the Internet and exploiting my personal data for commercial gain.” I get that not every website has the same level of tracking. But I don’t see how a user has any choice but to just block everything. I can’t vet everyone’s advertising practices. Instead of shaming me into turning off my ad-blocker, I think websites should pitch why they deserve an exception. You want me to turn off my ad-blocker? Tell me what you are doing to protect my privacy. A great example of this is Daring Fireball:

For readers, these are ads that, again, are visually unobjectionable, and which offer the most privacy you could hope for. Not only is there no tracking involved, there is no JavaScript involved. They’re just images, text, and HTML links.

New on Daring Fireball: Display Ads

Able Dev

I started a website for people with disabilities interested in learning to code. The field of employment can be somewhat limited for people with disabilities. I have found success in web development and I have made it a sort of personal mission to get more people with disabilities to code. I’m figuring out this new site as I go, so it’s a work in progress.