Saturday 18th June, 2022 - Swimming against the current
Hello and welcome to my newsletter!
Another season 2 instalment…
It’s been several weeks since I wrote about the static site generator (ssg) I am building. Progress has been really slow of late. There was a major bug in the code editor that I use, which had the potential to corrupt all my repositories. Kind of a major issue.
I worked with support, who found the bug and were able to create a fix. The whole episode took about a week and a half., during which I was advised not to push any code. So I was completely blocked during that time.
I’ve also been experiencing many internet access issues. It’s really bad, I do most things offline at the minute. I really hope that improves because writing code and putting together a newsletter is very difficult without internet.
Having said that, I made some great progress very early yesterday morning in between heavy rain storms. I finally got the ssg rendering a minimal version of my linkblog!
It doesn’t look like much yet because there is no styling, but the whole thing is rendered using components! I have about 10 components, many are nested, they get passed down props and each have methods todo what they each need to do, and it’s all written using EJS.
In principle there isn’t any reason it couldn’t work using other old-school template engines, though they have to have some type of include functionality.
The only issue I’m having is that debugging is a bit difficult. The code has very good debug logging, but it’s not been optimised for components, it’s difficult at the minute to quickly find the place where something is breaking because it’s too verbose. I’m hoping to find a better way to display logs so related items can be grouped together.
But it’s working!
Next thing is to move the code into a plugin, which will make it trivial to add bits of functionality to a website. So far I’ve only written 1 plugin, and it didn’t have any components, so I don’t know yet how that’s going to pan out.
The other thing I managed to do was extract two utility modules from the main project into separate modules.
When I started out, I just created 3 apps in the main project repo, that was the easiest way to go, less things to worry about, especially since at the time I hadn’t figured out how to install private modules in a Github action. However the repo was starting to look a bit messy. Every time I opened the project, it was starting to irk me.
Large re-organisations are a bit scary, but it turned out to be totally fine. All three projects are happily in their own private module now. I updated all the build and deploy actions and they are doing what they’re supposed to do. The code looks a lot better.
The minimal agile workflow that I’ve been using is working great too. At any time I know exactly what I’m working on. Planning is so much easier. This week has been awesome because I’ve completed nearly all the features for the sprint. After several weeks of missing targets, that’s good to see.
I wrote a blog post, sort of a follow up to a previous piece from a while back:
The occasional listening issues of my head https://blog.markjgsmith.com/2022/06/16/the-occasional-listening-issues-of-my-head.html
You might remember last week’s newsletter issue looked weird because I wasn’t able to add links. The add link button stopped working, so I had to include the full link each time. It looked extra weird because the UI randomly inserts some items replacing the long link with a tweet or creates a card type thing for some audio or website. I couldn’t figure out how to stop it auto inserting items. So you got what was possible.
I wrote to the support team last weekend. They’ve been quite responsive, though a different team member replied each time, which is a bit worrying. They’ve passed the issue to their development team, and they’ll get back to me. They weren’t able to give an estimate as to how long it might take. There also wasn’t any workaround that I could use in the interim. Looks like it’s long links with random insertions for the moment. This week the only link that got auto-inserted is all about the devil. Bear with me, the world is crazy AF at the minute.
There’s an interesting podcast interview with Marc Andreessen this week, he’s an investor in Substack. Funny how the pot of synchronicities bubbles sometimes. Hey Marc, nearly name twin, can you help?
He also sounds a bit like Mark Zuckerberg.
Far out future
Lots of fascinating ideas in Lex Fridman’s interview with Robin Hanson, all about alien civilisations. One they mention which I find mildly terrifying was “Descendant Portfolios”, as if parenting wasn’t already hard enough. Worth checking out.
Space-time is dead. At least that’s the obvious conclusion that Donald Hoffman is convinced of. There’s this lower level consciousness realm that exists outside of space-time, which is just a mental model that evolution tricked us into, and doesn’t fully or accurately represent reality. It’s like the difference between an operating system UI and the lower level command line interface. If we can reverse engineer the consciousness realm cli, using mathematics, then we could do some crazy cool shit, like walk through a door and be in Alpha Centuri. I’ve probably got some of this wrong.
Maybe he’s right. Maybe life isn’t complicated enough, and all the hundreds of millions of people that have spent their entire lives learning about space-time, that are struggling to survive as it is, maybe they will fully embrace his idea to literally just delete everything. It will probably be fine. Now your consciousness literally creates your brain.
Magicians, scammers, and self-help gurus everywhere just got really interested in physics.
It is kind of a cool idea though, but as system administers the world over have discovered, time and time again, when you delete everything, really bad things can happen.
Also why does Hoffman sound so much like John C. McGinley from TV series Scrubs? WTF world. I’m no superman.
Possibly relevant think prompt piece I previously wrote:
Budism vs Christianity - WTF World? https://blog.markjgsmith.com/2022/05/25/wtf-bros.html
One of the best things about the podcast is his honest description of how these reality bending explorations have affected him emotionally and mentally. Sounds kind of difficult, like some sort of re-occurring nightmare. Unfortunately I can relate to that. I hope he’s okay.
I love hearing a lot of these ideas, but can’t help but think that we should be making more of an effort to solve the basics before we risk destroying everything. People are poor, they don’t have enough to eat and drink. Let’s solve that.
Bitcoin & Inflation
Peter McCormack talks about governments, noting that when they go over budget, they get everyone to pay for it. That’s basically what I was saying a few weeks ago: inflation is the backup plan when taxation doesn’t pay for stuff.
I wonder with Bitcoin, surely if you remove inflation they will just find another way to extract money? Maybe it will be worse, at least at the minute the burden is shared relatively evenly.
Historically, humanity doesn’t exactly have the best track record with such things, it’s generally the already worse off that get clobbered. How will Bitcoin avoid that in the transition?
There are a lot of benefits to Bitcoin, but also lots of downsides.
For example, venture capitalists (VCs) are clearly using initial coin offerings (ICOs) as a way to issue shares and make a fast exit, when things go wrong, the people foot the bill when the coin looses all its value. If they were to invest the old way, it can take 10-15 years to see returns, and they are incentivised very differently.
Companies are now being structured in an analogue way to government + fed, with their own monetary policy, inflation, ability to make loans to themselves etc. Companies become nations.
The general population has enough of a hard time understanding how money works, me included, how’s it going to work if every single company has its own money system?
Sounds to me like regulation will be on the horizon at some point.
Apple as Bank
Lots of interesting services possible, and lately Apple has been positioning itself to offer such services. But how wise is it to have your computing device & software company also doing your finances?
They have a lot of products that are / will be embedded in our lives:
AR glasses etc
Won’t they have too much cancel power?
Even if you don’t use their banking services, they will be very aware of all the data that banks would want. I sort of feel that we need a separation between tech and finance, there is just too much room for horrid conflicts of interest to emerge.
Brian and Chris cover this topic in the latest Techmeme Ride Home Experience.
Robin Hanson: Alien civilisations, UFOs and the future of humanity Ep #292 (Lex Fridman Podcast) https://lexfridman.com/robin-hanson
WWDC 2022 Apple’s iOS 16, new M2 processor, macOS Ventura and more… (Vergecast Podcast) https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5tZWdhcGhvbmUuZm0vdmVyZ2VjYXN0/episode/MDIxMzU1ODItNTIxZS0xMWVjLTliZWMtOGI5YTMwOTBjMWM1?sa=X&ved=0CAcQuIEEahcKEwjIn6Kt_rX4AhUAAAAAHQAAAAAQAQ
The Culture Wars with Michael Moynihan (What Bitcoin Did Podcast) https://www.whatbitcoindid.com/podcast/the-culture-wars
WWDC 2022 Wrap Up (Techmeme Ride Home Experience) - Includes among other topics, Apple’s move towards becoming a bank https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9yc3MuYXJ0MTkuY29tL3RlY2htZW1lLXJpZGVob21l/episode/Z2lkOi8vYXJ0MTktZXBpc29kZS1sb2NhdG9yL1YwL2pCbEowY2ZRWmE5TjhuMkU0WUxncU1hVXlUNnZNN1Q0X2tFdV9VYV92WEk?sa=X&ved=0CAUQkfYCahcKEwjIn6Kt_rX4AhUAAAAAHQAAAAAQCA
The reality of web3 with Lane Retig (What Bitcoin Did Podcast) - Covers among other topics VCs using ICOs as equity/shares,quite a bit of off topic banter, but it’s still a good convo, sometimes you have to go off piste for a while to reach interesting places https://www.whatbitcoindid.com/podcast/the-reality-of-web3
Donald Hoffman - Reality is an illusion - How evolution hid the truth Ep #293 (Lex Fridman Podcast) https://lexfridman.com/donald-hoffman
Marc Andreessen on learning to love the humanities Ep #152 (Conversations with Tyler Podcast) - I’ve been hearing a lot about MA recently so it was good to get a bit of a window into who he is, very much enjoyed this interesting conversation https://cowenconvos.libsyn.com/marc-andreessen
Building Interoperable Web Components That Even Work With React https://css-tricks.com/building-interoperable-web-components-react
The Object.entries() method in vanilla JS https://gomakethings.com/the-object.entries-method-in-vanilla-js
Internetting is hard (but it doesn’t have to be)
The web design museum https://www.webdesignmuseum.org
Apple: “Sideloading is the DEVIL!”
Human Attention has become a Marxist commodity https://mebassett.info/human-attention-commodity
What’s going on with Sriracha? https://www.grid.news/story/economy/2022/06/13/whats-going-on-with-sriracha/
Mobile ecosystems market study (Competition and Markets Authority - CMA, UK) - Interesting section on their evaluation of browser rendering engines on iOS https://www.gov.uk/cma-cases/mobile-ecosystems-market-study
Mobile browsers and cloud gaming (Competition and Markets Authority - CMA, UK) - Still to be completed https://www.gov.uk/cma-cases/mobile-browsers-and-cloud-gaming
Cryptocurrencies Have Broken Almost All Of Their Major Promises https://ruky.me/2022/06/14/cryptocurrencies-have-broken-almost-all-of-their-major-promises
Gaia sees strange stars in most detailed Milky Way survey to date https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/Gaia/Gaia_sees_strange_stars_in_most_detailed_Milky_Way_survey_to_date
Everything Is Broken: Shipping rust-minidump at Mozilla (Part 1) - Honest and candid writeup of some work done on old C++ and newer Rust debugging tools, funny in places, scary in other places, and I also feel like there’s a 20% chance this is an advanced troll parody of my life https://hacks.mozilla.org/2022/06/everything-is-broken-shipping-rust-minidump-at-mozilla/
Firefox Rolls Out Total Cookie Protection By Default To All Users https://blog.mozilla.org/en/products/firefox/firefox-rolls-out-total-cookie-protection-by-default-to-all-users-worldwide
Why most design systems implode https://storybook.js.org/blog/why-most-design-systems-implode
The Folly of Design System “Foundations” https://superfriendly.com/design-systems/articles/folly-of-design-system-foundations
The Component Encyclopedia https://storybook.js.org/blog/component-encyclopedia
Single Element Loaders: The Spinner https://css-tricks.com/single-element-loaders-the-spinner
That’s all from me…
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Have a great weekend and a fantastic next week!