Kirk Israel's commonplace and blog. Quotes and links daily since 2001.
2024.07.17
Enbies and gentlefolk of the class of '24:

Write websites.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, coding would be it. The long term benefits of coding websites remains unproved by scientists, however the rest of my advice has a basis in the joy of the indie web community's experiences. I will dispense this advice now:

Enjoy the power and beauty of PHP; or never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of PHP until your stack is completely jammed. But trust me, in 20 years you'll look back at your old sites and recall in a way you can't grasp now, how much possibility lay before you and how simple and fast they were. JS is not as blazingly fast as you imagine.

Don't worry about the scaling; or worry, but know that premature scalability is as useful as chewing bubble gum if your project starts cosy and small. The real troubles on the web are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; if your project grows, scale it up on some idle Tuesday.

Code one thing every day that amuses you.

Style.

Don't be reckless with other people's data; don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.

POSSE.

Don't waste time on shiny new frameworks; sometimes they're helpful, sometimes they're a trap. The web platform doesn't need gigs of node_modules.

Remember the guestbook entries you receive; forget the spam. If you succeed in doing this well, tell me how.

Keep your old site designs. Throw away your old nested
s.

Flex.

Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your site. The most interesting websites don't even have an introduction, never mind any blog posts. Some of the most interesting web sites I enjoy just are.

Add plenty of semantic HTML.

Be kind to your eyes, your visitors will appreciate a nice theme.

Maybe you'll blog, maybe you won't.
Maybe you'll have users, maybe you won't.
Maybe you'll give up that cool domain.
Maybe you'll sell that little project and hate what the buyers do with it.

Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your code is half spaghetti; so is everybody else's.

Enjoy your . Style it every way you can. Don't be afraid of CSS, or what other people think of it. It's the greatest design tool you'll ever learn.

Animate, even if you only try it out in your local IDE or CodePen.

Read the documentation, even if you don't follow it.

Do not read React dev rel articles; they will only make you feel confused.

Get to know the web platform; HTML, CSS and JS are there for good.

Be nice to your community; they are your hyperlinks that keep the web interconnected and the people who will give the web a future.

Understand that frameworks come and go, but for a precious few you should donate to the maintainers.

Work hard to bridge the gaps in accessibility and responsiveness, because the older you get, the more you need the accommodations you didn't need when you were young.

Host on Netlify once, but leave before it makes you static.

Host on √úberspace once, but leave before it makes you dynamic.

Contribute.

Accept certain inalienable truths: connection speeds will rise, techbros will grift, you too will get old-- and when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young websites were light-weight, tech founders were noble and fonts used to be bigger.

Respect the W3C.

Ask for help and people will support you.

Maybe you have a patreon, maybe you have venture capital funding; but you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your tabbing order, or by the time you've got arthritis, using a keyboard will be useless.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it.

The old web is a form of nostalgia. Rebuilding it needs to be more than fishing the past from the disposal, painting over the inaccessible parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the websites.
2024.07.16
If Trump can say he likes people who weren't captured when talking about POWs, can I say I like presidential candidates who weren't shot at?

(And great, now the hollow Republican chant has shifted from USA! USA! to FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! like folks are throwing hands in a high school cafeteria. And frankly that's the one of the gentler metaphors for what a giant hall full of white dudes screaming in unison for their leader looks like.)
Chris Fleming on the Power and the Glory of the song Chameleon - too much power in the hands of a middle school jazz band near you.
2024.07.15
"That was special. I'll never forget this night... until I walk through the door and dissolve into the universe."
"Can I ask you something, buddy? How did you... know?"
"Look, it wasn't like a heard a bell ring or anything. I just suddenly had this calm feeling, like the air inside my lungs was the same as the air outside my body."
Jason and Chidi

"For spiritual stuff, you gotta turn to the East. [...] Picture a wave... in the ocean. You can see it, measure it, its height, the way the sunlight refracts when it pass through and it's there, and you can see it, and you know what it is, it's a wave. And then it crashes on the shore... and it's gone. But the water is still there. The wave was just a different way for the water to be, for a little while. That's one conception of death, for a Buddhist. The wave returns to the ocean... where it came from. And where it's supposed to be."
"Not bad Buddhists."
"Not bad. None of this is bad."
Chidi and Eleanor, "The Good Place"

I really didn't realize until looking up my favorite mechanic's ("Zone Kar") that West Somerville really juts up between Arlington and Meford. (Reminds me of how New Hampshire reaches out between Mass and Maine to grab a piece of the shore, except instead of the ocean it's that piece of the Mystic River.)


"The other thing David--that's my brother--says about [author Howard Bell] is that he has the absolute perfect bestseller's name."
"Really?" said Dirk. "In what way?"
"David says it's the first thing any publisher looks for in a new author. Not, 'Is his stuff any good?' or, 'Is his stuff any good once you get rid of all the adjectives?' but, 'Is his last name nice and short and his first name just a bit longer?' You see? The 'Bell' is done in huge silver letters, and the 'Howard' fits neatly across the top in slightly narrower ones. Instant trademark. It's publishing magic. Once you've got a name like that, then whether you can actually write or not is a minor matter."
Douglas Adams, "Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul".
Donald Trump is that kind of name ala Howard Bell / Steven King (and "Trump" is phonetically and metaphorically strong; I don't think we ever would have had a President Drumpf.)

And Trump's new running mate's name, "JD Vance", has that same energy. "JD", while it doesn't fill a book cover that well, is better than "James" would have been.

Trump knows from branding, as you can tell by his first reaction after seeing he survived being shot at is "let's make a WWE photo-op"
2024.07.14
OK, coming closer to my bar for "too geeky to post" (which is, like, a VERY high bar for me) - I just expanded my personal system for managing all the wires and plugs that any device-owning adult will probably have to deal with.

So, the idea is, yes a single box for all these damn wires, but then each type of wire in its own labeled baggy. Previously I had these baggies: Now I have those plus: So it's dorky, yeah, but it kinda works?
2024.07.13
I didn't realize it at the time but this was low-key me from 1996-2013

I liked this list of old timey baseball nicknames
"but one doctor called it dsd" yea some doctors also used to call bipolar women hysterical. and many doctors still think black people cant feel as much pain as white people. and being gay was a mental illness for a long time. bigotry makes its way into medicine
I never understood why the current version of DSM was considered holy writ when earlier versions had such horseshit in it.
Dr Ruth, Richard Simmons, and Trump getting winged. Like the 80s are throwing up.
2024.07.12

Steam Boat Races. Wowza.. what a bad idea! I feel like I can hear some 19th Century version of Scotty from Star Trek saying "I canne give her any more cap'n, she's gonna blow!" but it being... for real, with a lot of death.
wow. seriously moved by this:
2024.07.11
I bought myself a new-job celebration gift of a new Freitag bag - upcycled from the kind of Truck tarps they use in Europe. Large enough to handle a laptop and hoodie, but still one strap - I still have that old '80s bias against wearing backpacks properly (plus they can heat up your back.)
I'd feel more sheepish about spending so much, but I really like the material more than regular nylon or canvas. Also, when I look around about "why is it so important to have a one-strap bag", I see that now... it's apparently stylistically ok for a guy to have a fanny pack so long as its worn like a bandolier? I think I'm not the only one with issues on this.
Dr. J, via Oliver Fox saying why every NBA championship should have an asterisk