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 Half-Baked Ideas


A half-baked idea a day keeps the doctor away. Wouter

These are fleeting, half-baked thoughts, that may or may not get fully baked into fleshed out blog posts. The notes below are also syndicated to other platforms, such as Mastodon. Enjoy reading my ramblings!

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2021

June

I am not happy with the complexity I introduced in my RSS feeds and on the site. The culprit: the addition of /notes, or “fleeting thoughts”. I want to offer just The One RSS feed.

Should I terminate the note experiment and relax my “real” blogging rules that state an article should ideally have > 1000 words?
Should I throw out notes in the feed and keep everything else as-is? What’s the point of streaming those to the site then?

Or should I just not care?

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@rubenerd Do you have a set of scripts on rubenerd.com that converts a typical youtube embed in Hugo to your nice image-with-play-button thingie? I’m tired of iframes and would like to adopt some sort of automation for this. Thanks!

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Is there a decent alternative to Google Scholar? I’ve been franticly (manually) scanning abstracts for a systematic literature review we’re writing, and suddenly I have to “prove that I’m not a robot” and select bridges or boats on crappy pictures! This is not only irritating, but also completely breaks my workflow.

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Remember when I screwed in a custom PCB on the SNES mini controllers to make them wireless? Well, I might have made a mistake: I miss wires. The damn things are constantly empty and I constantly misplace the non-standardized charging cables.

Ah, the love-hate relationship with batteries… Everything has gone downhill since one stopped using 4 AA batteries in handheld consoles!

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“I just consider it to be RPG-loaf: that is just a unremarkable calorie intake of RPG content. It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just there.” — Bob Mackey explaining his feelings about the Breath of Fire series @https://retronauts.com/article/1746/retronauts-episode-380-breath-of-fire-i-ii

The metaphor touched a nerve here, as a sourdough baker trying to get people to love bread again!
But yes Bob, so many better jRPGs out there!

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Episode 462 of the Software Engineering Radio podcast (https://www.se-radio.net/) is quite interesting: it’s about “the programmers brain” — although to be honest, our brain is not unique compared to non-programmers. It just explains cognitive learning processes in function of programming and learning new languages.
It also acquainted me with the Cynefin framework (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynefin_framework), yet another too complicated way to explain complexity in our lives?

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May

Remember Hocus Pocus, Rise of the Triad, Monster Bash, Crystal Caves, Mystic Towers, … ? All these early nineties DOS games have something in common: the publisher, Apogee, and its legendary intro. Well, it seems that “Apogee is back”: https://www.apogeeent.com/devblog/apogeeisback
They released a showcase video — https://www.pcinvasion.com/apogee-scott-miller-indie-game-publishing/ — to whet us retro gamer’s appetite, possibly revealing more remakes are coming! Crystal Caves recently got the treat but I do feel very conflicted about the direction they took.
Should I be excited? Not sure.

On that same note: Hexen II’s spiritual successor, Graven, is available on early access: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ju3VLm1xs20

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How does knowledge transfer in pair programming work? That’s a question that kept Franz Zieris busy for years. Instead of reading his 300+ pages long PhD thesis, you can glance over his findings in the summary at https://www.zieris.net/pubs/Zieris20-phd-summary.pdf — it contains a lot of useful insights that pairs can reflect on!
I applaud the effort some people make to condense or present their academic work for a broader audience. It still happens way too little.

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Resumé-Driven Development: https://rdd.io/
I learned about it today during a social issues talk of the ICSE 2021 conference. While I appreciate the satirical tone of the “values” listed on the site, it seems to me this is a very alarming trend… Recruiters admit they use shiny new tech buzz words to bait applicants, which ultimately ends up increasing job hop rates.
Yet another social issue in software engineering.

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Another strange habit of many contemporary IndieWeb bloggers: the urge to publish simply everything. A result of perhaps chanting “own your data!” a couple of times too much? For example, endless “likes” such as https://collect.readwriterespond.com/abridged-literature-classics/ or “checkins” such as https://diggingthedigital.com/untappd-de-moersleutel-smeerolie-mexicake/ that, in my opinion, ultimately end up polluting my RSS reader instead of enriching it.

The consequence is me simply stopping from reading your site(s). Is liking or bookmarking without producing anything unique yourself really something that entices your readers to come back for more? I understand wanting to keep track of those, but are they really a part of your writings? That’s not blogging anymore, not even micro-blogging.

Thoughts, @ton ? A solution would be to have multiple RSS endpoints, such as you and I have, but these aren’t always configured the way I, as a consumer, want them to be.

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I can relate to the sometimes excessive burden of self-hosting @celia - I wasted the entire afternoon not doing what I was supposed to be doing because certbot refused to renew certificates. Sudden ipv6 failures and forgetting to correctly configure nginx to serve “.well-known/acme-challenge” through port 80 instead of 443 for every certificate turned out to be the culprit.
Then there’s the sudden need to put everything in Ansible playbooks and the pain to continuously verify the correctness. And then I need to think some more about CDN, rsync setups, failover mirroring, etc, etc…

By now, I’m ready to throw in the towel…

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More nineties collecting nostalgia. After I wrote about it at https://brainbaking.com/post/2021/05/nineties-collecting-nostalgia/ my wife dug up a shoebox full of… well… judge for yourself.

From left to right:
Kinder Surprise figurines, Polly Pocket, Trolls??, glass pacifiers she remembers tying to her shoelaces, Simpsons pog variants, absurd amounts of various Panini stickers including my favorite Aladdin series, Beauty and the Beast 10 “Upper Deck” 3D hologram cards in a booster pack, Spice Girls Chupa Chups wraps, mini collectable stickers from random gums, more stickers, and even sealed Suske & Wiske (Belgian comic) sticker packs by Service Line in Moderna from 1995.

What do you still have from that time? I was stupid enough to throw out my SPACIX and Flippos.

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I wonder why many academic textbooks cost as much as they do. The Bakers of Paris and the Bread Question? $88. Origins of Genius? $50-80. Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs? $toomuch. Sure, they’re thick. So? The e-book equivalents are not particularly cheap either.

And we’re criticizing paywalls of paper publications?

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I discovered that a recent Nintendo Switch system update came with the feature to download screenshots and videos to your smartphone. I can finally delete my Twitter account that was needed simply to get those stupid shots onto my gaming blog. So, today, I deleted both my Facebook and Twitter account. What a relief.

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Me, cautiously applying academic etiquette:
Dear Prof. Surname, Regarding your work blah. Best regards, Wouter Groeneveld.
Reply: Wouter, blah. Cheers! Firstname.

Me, in a slight optimistic mood:
Hi Firstname, On your paper x: blah. Cheers, Wouter.
Reply: Dear Mr. Groeneveld, blah. Sincerely, Prof. Dr. Surname, winner of best paper award x, editor-in-chief y, director z, …

🙄

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@https://www.zylstra.org/blog/2021/05/16302/ Very cool, thanks for mentioning it, I did not yet have Peter’s blog in my RSS reader 😊 I ended up ordering a Pilot Capless, will blog about my findings soon.
Off-topic, but a bit troubling: I actually went to a pen shop in my home town, well-aware that I would be paying premium, but wanting to support local shop owners. It turned out that they charged 500EUR while La Couronne du Comte asks 215EUR. Yoink! I know many physical shops complain that they can’t compete with Amazon-like prices, but this is just bullshit: La Couronne is also a physical store, in Tilburg. I’m happy to pay 10-20% more but this is a bit too much…

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Let’s talk about fountain pens 🖋.
I am eager to spend too much money. My current daily writers are a Lamy 2000 F and Pilot Custom Heritage 912 WA. Any suggestions for a little brother/sister?
Aurora’s 88 looks great but my Ipsilon is terrible. A classic Platinum 3776 maybe? Or a European one? Not sure if a good Pelikan can handle the 2000’s competition! Belgium’s own Conid is tempting but the nibs are not that unique.

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@https://boffosocko.com/2021/04/27/55790631/ thanks! You should get a sourdough started soon. This will get you into fermenting stuff. Next, try to ripen ideas in a journal. It’ll work wonders!
Interesting “Twitter of our own” talk. Are you aware that you webmention stuff twice since you syndicate out your posts to twitter, which get fed back into brid.gy, which fire off another mention?

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April

Interesting video in which YouTuber Modern Vintage Gamer explains how he ended up building a GBC emulator to port Shantae to the Switch: https://youtu.be/eZRzaGFWoz8

A bit weird that this happened separate from Nintendo’s Virtual Console games. So every dev wanting to port old stuff has to build their own emulator?
Even weirder that those Limited Run prints - which are all sold out now https://www.limitedrungames.com/search?type=product,page&q=shantae - command for ridiculous prices on the second hand market. I detest these “exclusivity” practices…

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@https://seblog.nl/2017/02/13/3/how-i-hacked-my-own-site that totally makes up for the amount of time I put into validating incoming pictures based on the first eight bytes, instead of looking at the mime types! But now I realise that my storage idea, based on domain only, does not work, since mentions from brid.gy are from multiple authors…

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I’m looking into getting rid of Facebook for my Dutch bread baking community, and replacing it with something simple as mailing lists. Does anyone have experience with phpList or Mailman 3? The latter seems cool but a bit of a hassle to install.

I’ve also seen something like public email boxes to host comments on blogs. It should be simple, without requiring users to login and whatnot, just email as an interface - many bakers aren’t technologists.

Or could something federated work? Can I setup something masto-like without requiring users to create accounts?

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I just built a few Go projects on my Windows XP retro machine using Go 1.10. I love how easy that was - besides fixing missing 1.10+ library funcs… And yes, I know, nobody cares, but after watching Rob Pike’s new Go Assembler talk, it’s just a matter of mapping pseudo machine code to the win/386 architecture.

It’s a shame that support has dropped. Can’t we get back to getting stuff compiled on Win9x the same way? A few weeks ago, I compiled a hello world C program on my 486 with gcc under DOS 6.22. It took three minutes - but it worked.

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Jeremy Clarke wrote a set of Nim tools that allows you to program Game Boy Advance games in Nim instead of in C. It makes smart use of Nim’s built-in importc capabilities to wrap Libtonc. Watch Jeremy’s talk at NimConf 2020 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZUM7MhWr88

I did the same in C++ with gba-sprite-engine but my intention was to hide low-level complexity instead of expose a GBA programmer to it.
Makes me wonder if it would be possible to leverage cgo to write GBA stuff in Go…

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I spent the day pretending to attend a virtual GopherCon thanks to the plethora of YouTube recordings. I promptly ordered two Go programming books after the first talk. Professionally, I was a Java/C#/JS dev, and I dabbled in C/C++/Python. This looks like a (relieving) breath of fresh air - and luckily, I’m very familiar with pass-by-value and pointers.

Things still bewilder me, of course. The books haven’t arrived yet 😅 The presence of many Makefiles in GitHub Go projects - even though Go is explicitly designed to do without them - freaks me out. Devs saying “just place the _test.go files next to your implementation” freaks me out. (src/main/java, src/test/java…) The magic of “go build” without any verbosity freaks me out. The absence of “–save-dev” in “go get” freaks me out. I’m used to so many mundane complexity in development environments that encountering something touting simplicity is immediately marked as suspicious by my subconsciousness!

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This is so frustrating. Suddenly, my local banking app started complaining while attempting to transfer amounts: “This can not be executed without Google Play services, which is not supported on your device.” It worked fine a week ago. If we want something like #LineageOS to be more widely accepted, then it’ll also need to be officially supported by companies.

Even the ProtonMail app says it can’t do alerts without Play services. Which is rubbish, as Signal - or even WhatsApp - all manage without. And since Proton is very much privacy-focused, you’d expect a company like that to at least support Lineage. No?

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