Actual Newsletter Reading

I started using the new NetNewsWire this week. I knew about it being back, but I hadn’t investigated it because… Feedly. Also in the post-Google Reader world, my RSS reading has failed. But I got curious about NNW again. It’s got Feedbin support and I love Feedbin. Feedly I don’t love, but find it useful. Feedbin I love but always found limited.

Probably should’ve tried making folders in Feedbin, but whatever. It took NNW until I discovered them.

While I was playing on Feedbin’s web interface, I discovered you can send your newsletters to your Feedbin. I like newsletters. I even tried doing a special newsletter thing in addition to blogging a few years ago. That didn’t work out.

I was subscribed to a few TinyLetter accounts back when it flashed in the pan, even if they were just blog posts. And thanks to Feedbin, they could even have a blog post UI. At least an RSS-y blog post UI.

I subscribe to a lot of newsletters because Gmail and endless storage. I’m really bad at my personal email inbox maintenance (currently at 577). And going through and changing the mailing address on all the newsletters seems like a pain. Then I realized Gmail and filters so now I’m just marking the email read, archiving it, forwarding it to Feedbin. It’s going to take a while to get all of them over there no doubt, but they’ve started showing up there and not the inbox so it works.

Maybe it’ll lead to more actual newsletter reading, which is behind even the blog reading.

If only snobbery rhymed with quality

I can’t take Apple seriously with movie sales or rentals. I’m having a hard time imagining I’ll take Apple TV+ seriously either. All of Apple’s web material for movies stinks. You’re supposed to go into iTunes to rent it, not look at it on the website. But iTunes is absolutely terrible for browsing. It’s terrible for browsing your content, it’s terrible for browsing their content. If people are out there sitting and spending a couple hours in iTunes looking around, window-shopping, whatever… they’re really, really, really quiet about it. There aren’t “Why You’re Wrong About iTunes” posts out there. At least, not popular ones.

So now Apple’s making Baby Bells out of iTunes but is their approach to their web-based catalog going to change? No. Because no one’s out there attacking the web-based catalog. People—not tech-savvy people but people know they can stream to a device finally—don’t search iTunes or Movies. They Google. And when you Google, you get the web catalog and the web catalog is bad.

Apple does a lot to keep up with the Joneses of Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and, what, Wal-Mart (Vudu)? But they’re decidedly not invested in their position as a digital Best Buy. At least with the music it seemed like Apple cared. Less now, of course. The walled garden approach to music doesn’t work. You see social media links to Apple Music about as often as you see… well, not often.

Apple really needs to do better with the web catalogs. Even if they don’t care about competing in that space, they could at least pretend for their customers’ sake. Why does Apple mean snobbery and quality everywhere but on their website.

Functional Exhaustion

I posted a bunch yesterday—and wrote a bunch of capsules—so I felt rather well-blogged by the end of the day. Better blogged than I’ve felt in a while, at least as far as Visual Reflux’s more relaxed style goes. The capsules are written—or meant to be written—in that relaxed style. But it also means the only VR topic I’ve got in the queue is the exhaustion one.

I realized the other night I’ve only tried to be energized a few times this year. Meaning going to bed at a decent hour, which is about an hour more than I need because there’s no telling if or how the cats are going to wake me up so I need some padding. But I usually just… accept exhaustion. Welcome it. Use coffee to make it tolerable. I mean, I’ve gotten better. Since we cut out added sugars and going out to eat, it’s extremely rare I’ll need to power nap during a lunch break. And it’s not exercise because I’ve dropped that for other reasons—last year when I was power napping almost my entire lunch, I was training for a marathon so I should’ve had enough endorphins kicking around but nope. I feel like I’ve got this under control.

Functioning while exhausted. Doesn’t seem to be a thing I ought to be doing though. Especially since I have so little pressing on me. Or, at least, I don’t deal with anything pressing on me. My anti-depressant, anti-anxiety cocktail seems to be doing just right, letting me compartmentalize stresses with the best of them. But I also know there is going to be some kind of crash. I got hints of it last week, which was a busy week and all, but not so much I should’ve started cracking the way I did. Unfortunately, there’s only so much I can do—I don’t like busting out the mindfulness exercises I find helpful unless I really need them. They’re to be used when they’ll do the most help, not when they’ll take my mind off something. Anxiety is, of course, much like a virus; it gets vaccine immune the more you vaccinate; which is not to be anti-vax, just to point out you need to stay ahead of the viruses as much as you can and having them break you down is no good.

Vaccinate your kids, you idiots. You might deserve trusting Jenny McCarthy’s medical advice to bring about your destruction but other people don’t.

Anyway.

I’m more aware—now—I’m not just running on fumes but doing whatever I can to keep the fumes going. I’m always putting things on my to do list, liking blocking out time for writing, blocking out time for post research; one of these days I’ll put rest on there.

But not any time soon.

But some day.

Apple Wish Lists

When I was a kid I made wish lists when the Sears catalog came. I grew up in the Star Wars Kenner action figure era (the first one) and my wish lists were basically just lists of Star Wars toys. Not the ones I wanted, all of them. Because you wanted all of them. For the first time in a few years, I once again have an Apple wish list. There are multiple times a year you can make an Apple wish list (you can theoretically do it at any time but if they’re actually going to announce new things, you have to wait until an event). Today was WWDC, which—outside the Mac Pro (not on my wish list because I’d rather have buy a boat or whatever you can get for eleven grand cash)—is all software. Except this new software only runs on the certain devices. It’s not the latest greatest. Despite my general feeling Tim Cook is way too greedy to be Apple’s CEO, their new software tends to bring new features and functionality to older devices.

For example, I’ll be able to update my broken screen iPhone 6s to iOS 13; guess Apple’s not worried about bad luck. But my iPad Air (1)? It’s done. My MacBook Air I can update. The iMac I’m hacking to run Mojave… well, I’m not sure it’ll take Catalina. And even if it did take Catalina with a hack, it wouldn’t be able to run certain apps. For example, it can’t run any modern photo or video apps because it doesn’t have a Metal-ready chip.

But the laptop should be able to handle any of that processing. I just need to remember to have it nearby when I need to AI-enlarge an image or, at least after today, run Waterlogue for Mac.

The MacBook Air’s got some problems too—low memory because I never intended it to be do a lot, just be a word processor. It’s got 4 GB of RAM. It’s a (very thin, very light) mule.

I don’t have a laptop on my new wish list though. In fact, my wish list hasn’t really changed. I mean, I’m thinking if Catalina is awesome (meaning the iOS to MacOS apps change things), I’ll want a new desktop sooner but still calendar year 2020. The iPhones are still fingers crossed for a good fall update. The iPad… well, 2021, maybe.

Some podcast I heard floated the idea of an Apple subscription service where you paid X a month for services and hardware. I like that idea. Because the latest and greatest is, at least this year, seemingly pretty great. Of course, since the Apple news community had the idea, it means at least ten for Apple to adopt it.

Olden Times

I can’t remember the first time I discovered The Stop Button made it on Wayback Machine. It was a long time ago, maybe when I was trying to pad out content moving over to Sandvox. Somewhere–at least back then–a bunch of the first Stop Button (hosted on jablog) exists.

I’m currently doing yet another site-wide overhaul of existing material on Stop Button. I finished up the internal linking project last year (or the year before?) and haven’t really had any projects going with the site, leading to a lot of failed starts on other projects. Zines, e-Zines, e-Books, e-Zines as e-Books, on and on. Leading up to a capsule project (which would have been a capsule e-Zine then e-Zine as e-Book). But one thing I’ve always had a problem with on Stop Button is the search result excerpts.

For example, if–until today, you searched for “Frankenstein Unbound,” you got:

I don’t like the auto-excerpt because I don’t write with ledes. In the olden days, I had a custom excerpt along the lines of “A review of Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound, starring John Hurt, Raul Julia, and Nick Brimble,” which I also don’t like but at least it wasn’t the auto-excerpt.

But then I got thinking about those capsules I was writing and I wondered how they’d look. So now you get:

Maltin-esque capsule, a nice “Continue reading->” link, not wild about the star rating being separated but whatever. It’s a “good enough” amid an “I like it.” I’ve got a bunch of capsules done, but it’s a multi-year project. Two years I think.

I’ve been posting them on micro.blog, but I’m going to start doing them on Visual Reflux too. I think I meant to post them on VR but then didn’t. Not getting any engagement on micro.blog so… who knows, maybe VR will be better.

Maybe not.

I’m also changing up the footer links on each post.

For 99%-ish percent of the site, the links look like this:

The update, which has <div> tags to make me feel accomplished, looks like this:

Post-specific links were something I’ve wanted since Sandvox–they might have been one of the deciding factors in going to Sandvox–and there’s a lot you could do with them, as widgets, in WordPress. But self-hosted WordPress, not WordPress.com. Back in the olden days, when I ran a local WordPress install on my Mac mirroring the web, but with some related posts plugins going to generate the list for me, post links looked like this:

At some point in 2013, I started adding “also directed by” links. Not just links to the “By Director” index, but links to actual posts.

i.e.:

While we’re doing this trip down blog memory lane… here’s the old header.

Peanuts-inspired.

I manually updated all those links every time a related post “touched” them. So when Alien listed Frankenstein Unbound in its related posts, I went and updated Unbound’s related posts again.

So much fun.

Here’s the 2014 header.

One thing I don’t know about these old posts links is whether they had styling; Wayback doesn’t preserve the CSS.

At least not for Stop Button. Maybe they do with better sites.

But, wait! Look at late 2014.

No links. And why? Because I went through every post and took them off. There had been an OS X (pronounced aa·es·eks) update and it broke whatever I was using to run a local Stop Button mirror. So I couldn’t make the related posts “automatically” anymore.

And then I went in and added the links again on all the posts. So much fun. Fiddling with a fifteen year-old blog is like line-editing a novel draft. It gets really old really fast, yet you can’t stop yourself.

The moral of the story? I should’ve done the Maltin-esque capsules in the first place.

When you’re starting a blog or website, know what you’re going to want it to be doing in ten or fifteen years and know how the web technologies are going to change. Otherwise you’re in for a lot of fiddling.

But don’t it look so much better now?

Poor substitutions

My birthday isn’t until August and I’ve basically gotten myself all the birthday presents I’m going to get myself. Not in the last few months or the last few weeks, but the last few days. Some of them are time-sensitive—Bastille tickets, some limited stock sketchbooks, the new Tardi (someday I’m going to read all my Tardi; someday)—some of them aren’t. I can’t remember the not-time-sensitive ones. A wee bit of retail therapy. I was pretty done until I found out about the Bastille show. It’s not until October. Anticipating something four months away kind of sums it all up right now. I’m in a holding pattern.

So’s my stress, anxiety, and anxiety and stress-fueled depression. It’s a slight depressive state, I’m fully aware of it, yada yada yada, but it’s here and it’s constant and kind of exhausting. It’s all anxiety or stress-fueled (I’m quietly freaking out about one of the cats right now), which is cool. It’s nice not to have other depressive things going on. Except the state of the world and many of the people in it. Though I suppose they’re stressers.

I’ve been playing this game, NeoDefense, for the last couple weeks. It’s a 64-bit rehash of this older game, GeoDefense, but not from the same company. I was going to do a big comparison post of NeoDefense and ColorDefense but wanted to hear back from the developers and didn’t. ColorDefense is the same(ish) engine as GeoDefense but very different sprites(?). NeoDefense is basically just a 64-bit upgrade with a different take on how to do levels. It’s also harder than GeoDefense (I think). I’m not very good at it. It was until I heard how far people were getting in Alto’s Adventure I realized how bad I am at casual iOS games.

I’m not sure the game is helping with the stress or anxiety. It’s a very stress-inducing game. You constantly feel like you’re running out of time, you constantly feel like you make a little mistake and it snowballs into utter destruction. It also feels really good when you beat a level.

Little victories. Because I’m not eating processed sugar. Otherwise I’d be eating Milk Duds by the carton right now. Not sure how I feel about the substitution.

Younger selves

One thing I do now when blog writing is spend however long I want on it. The whole reason for Stop Button’s old 250 word count constraint and Comics Fondle’s 150 one was so I wasn’t spending too much time writing blog posts. I wanted to be quick at it. Not so much anymore. Now I just go. I don’t edit either, which would seem very strange to my twenty-one or twenty-five year-old self. I don’t draft and revise blog writing. I just write it and post it. There are fourteen year old blog posts I’ve been revising this year finally. Things I’ve collected in print, things with hundreds and maybe thousands of readers, but no one caught the misused word and cared enough to comment. I’ve got a couple of my core readers who’ll let me know if there’s any grammatical or spelling error too egregious but otherwise… I just let it fly.

I would have had zero respect for me. At twenty-one or twenty-five. Zero respect. Though I would’ve also had zero respect for any Internet publishing. I had no respect for any kind of ad-supported writing. I was an elitist about being elitist. Not an elitist’s elitist because… elitists were icky bad, but sort of anti-snobbery snobbery. Contradictions are great ways to get in personality and, for some reason, it really clicks with readers who have mild contradictions. Or at least have observed them. It’s probably also why (middle class White) people are so obtuse about people who vote Republican.

I’ve got my big writing day tomorrow. The most fun I’m going to have with it is probably the header image, though I’m thinking about some quote things. I’ve learned a bunch of fake CSS for WordPress.com lately. I’ve started a long-term Stop Button project involving it. Long term meaning at least a couple years. Last time I did a long term Stop Button project (on the same area of the post, actually) it took so long I forgot when I’d started it or even had it as a goal. This time I’m… just as disorganized. It’s supposed to be a fun project. Quick mental gymnastics. Some standard coding, some inventiveness, pretty columns.

Pretty columns also work for images and quotes, so maybe I’ll incorporate those tomorrow.

I actually have two blogathons starting tomorrow (and running concurrently). Not sure if I’ll just do both posts tomorrow and leave it or stagger them. Guess it depends on how writing goes, which I should be a little more worried about than I am.

It’s one of those posts I should definitely proofread and revise but I might not have time.

Again, this lack of good creative scheduling would rather disappoint my younger selves. Though, frankly, I’m constantly disappointed in them too.