Cloudflare Analytics

This should be interesting.

There are alternative means for collecting analytics besides Google's Analytics software but it goes without saying that Google is top dog here. I think that's probably due to being free and tightly integrated with Search which is what most internet properties actually want greater access into. Free and open-source alternatives for web analytics exist, they're decent choices but no one uses them beyond a tiny minority of folks (probably aligning pretty closely with the number of desktop *nix users out there 😘). Any other alternatives are paid. And there's no remedy to that latter reason, unfortunately. Google's search is great; more data is collected to make Search more accurate, which then maintains Search's dominance as the Internet search utility.

Cloudflare I'd bet has an opportunity to destabilize the Google's balance of power here, even if they come in a distant second. Unlike Google, their money comes from owning the infrastructure, not advertising and search. Cloudflare has the pockets for this kind of exercise and no incentive to get creepy.[1] The product can spread because it has most of what people need and the price is right. It also doesn't hurt to have a relatively trusted (among the people who maintain websites anyhow). Any success they gather keeps Google tracking and therefore Google's access to watch your behaviour at arms length.

Here's the thought experiment: What proportion of the Internet needs to use alternative, non-Google data collection, or no tracking at all to build a small wedge into Google's hegemony? If not a "herd immunity" threshold, what's enough of a percentage to destabilize the incumbent power and open up to competition?

This will probably not be interesting, but it could be. Something I think about any way.

  1. I'm not entirely convinced owning a sizeable chunk of the Internet's traffic through their network completely disqualifies them from being in the realm of "creepy," but I do believe that's only a consequence of their success. I don't have reason to fault their intentions. ↩︎

Npm Ruin Dev

The Internet's own Jeremy Keith penned a pretty spicy post on CSS-Tricks about writing a website without a build chain. A feeling that's likely to land at home for any agency drone whose had to update a gulp-based site after the v4 transition (it's me 🙋‍♀️).

Baseline rules, aka rules you follow until you reach an exception are powerful. I think starting as close to vanilla CSS, HTML and JavaScript as possible is a good idea. My only hesitation is that no matter where it lives, the complexity of setting up a build chain is waiting for you. And given the choice of swallowing the pain of configuring we pack up front (a generator probably does this for you), or in the middle of a project by hand, most will opt to follow the status quo.

The Better Packaging Co.

Being shut-in means more deliveries and more packaging, an unfortunate consequence of 2020. What I'm hoping to see more of in the future are companies, like The Better Packaging Co who are using advances in material science, to address a clear need for our planet. Consumer habits aren't going to change over night and perhaps vendors like this one, should it receive wider popularity, could hold us over until we all clue into better alternatives.

Mozilla Punts Servo Web Engine Development to the Linux Foundation

I'm not sure that Servo, Firefox's next generation browser engine, ever got its time to shine. They made big strides with Firefox's speed and developer tooling, but it's hard to know what was due to Servo and what was based on their previous Gecko engine. (I've heard third hand that most engineers were focused on Gecko prior to this split.)

Like their divestment of Rust (which was probably a good thing, many vocal open source advocates were concerned about Mozilla's stewardship of the project), this frees up Mozilla to work on other pieces of their ecosystem... like trying to figure out how to survive on their own, much to the chagrin of those committed to their cross platform, privacy oriented open-source browser. Hopefully the Linux Foundation can help the project find a new audience beyond Mozilla.

Hello: FreeBSD for “Mere Mortals”

Can we make an open source system that is welcoming to switchers from the Mac? Something that “just works” as intended, without the need to fiddle around much to get to a working desktop that does its job and otherwise gets out of your way? Say hello to hello, a desktop system for creators with focus on simplicity, elegance, and usability. Based on FreeBSD. Less, but better!

Though a comforting first thought, "hello"[1] will not be an OS X (RIP 😰) emulator but a new thing altogether. It only vaguely looks like earlier versions of aqua and promises to be more dependable. Certainly there won't be any Mac apps. You'll (I assume) be using native Unix applications, probably ported over from Unix's less license-lenient cousin Linux.

All that said, look at those screenshots and try telling me your not the slightest bit curious.

Here's a link to the project's repository.

  1. Good luck Googling that! ↩︎

Rolex Oyster Perpetual With a Yellow Dial

I do have plenty of opinions about aesthetics across almost all fields of style and fashion so I should probably have a better write up of this watch. Yet the only words that come to my mind when I see this watch is, “Yes please.”

1Password for Linux

Having a native Linux client of 1Password[1] is a big deal (currently in developer preview). Not only because it is an awesome product and provides much needed personal security, but because it's another high-quality piece of commercial software coming to the platform.

  1. The need for a dedicated client has largely been sidestepped by the excellent browser extension... which works better than iOS client these days. The number of passwords that never sync is maddening: I simply can't trust 1Password on my iPhone 😓 ↩︎

July 06, 2020

Old Phone? New Webcam

I, like many of you, have been working remotely from home. This has without a doubt been the best thing that’s happened to me (career wise) in a long time. While I remain resolute that I want to work from home forever, the transition hasn’t been without its difficulties. The biggest source of friction, you ask? Video conferencing.

As part of my alternative lifestyle, I run a “non-standard” OS. In the past that meant that popular commercial software wouldn’t have been available, but the times have changed and Zoom (along with its many alternatives) have been available across pretty much every OS. Where I get myself into trouble is riding the bleeding edge: my display protocol and window manager setup do not always play nicely with video conferencing software. Share my current tab in a web browser? Dicey. Share my entire screen? Forget about it.

I’m still working out the kinks in the OS department; I could make things easier by using better supported software, say the excellent Ubuntu (or its derivatives) and call it a day. Instead, I enjoy the suffering.

Second and arguably bigger problem, is that I don’t have a webcam. Buying one is also out of the question until prices return to relative normal (stock in my area through Amazon or local retailers is still non-existent).

I shuffled through a few junk drawers until I found my solution: an old iPhone 6! Vindication that I’m not a hoarder and of course all these “collectables” are going to be worth something someday. Now, to connect the video feed to my computer. There’s a beta for Camo an exciting bit of MacOS software to connect your phone to your Mac. Unfortunately, that’s not helpful to me on Linux. It did get the wheels spinning though...

Enter: Iriun Webcam.

It has client’s for both iPhone and Android, as well as software for Windows, Mac and Linux! If you run Ubuntu (remember I mentioned earlier I should be running that as my OS...) it’s a deb package away. For users of less well tested software, your milage will vary.

Once you have it setup, it works exactly how you’d expect. Make sure your computer and phone are on the same network, run the respective client software on each device and marvel as you’re able to use a phone which only moments ago was living in a dusty old drawer as a better webcam than any you could buy (even if prices weren’t exorbinate)!

Highly recommended. Now, if only I could solve the first set of video conferencing issues... I suppose that I better look in the mirror if I plan on actually getting any work done.

N.b.: This is an aside for anyone running an Arch-based distribution. First, Iriun Webcam is available via the AUR. It bundles a DKMS module called v4l2loopback which creates a video loopback device (effectively a pretend camera) that Iriun Webcam uses to trick the OS into accepting the video feed from. From time to time, you may see an error that says there was a problem with the module not being initialized and a recommendation for you to do the following (please look up what these commands do before blindly pasting them into your terminal!!!):

modprobe v4l2loopback exclusive_caps=1

If after doing this, you’re still getting the error from Iriun Webcam, here’s the fix (at least for my Arch-based system, again, buyer beware, ymmv, etc.):

modprobe v4l2loopback exclusive_caps=1 card_label="Iriun Webcam"

It turns out that according to the author behind v4l2loopback, that Iriun Webcam expecting a loopback device with the exact label “Iriun Webcam”. Updating your software may remove this label, so adding it back should fix everything.


I'm not much of a redditor, but holy heck, I can't believe I haven't seen this community before. Quick, someone get me a 3D printer!

June 30, 2020

Unbelievers by Vampire Weekend

Add another entry into songs I listen to over, and over, and over again to.[1]

  1. A habit I suggest you try for working. One song, on loop endlessly until you forget it has words, or anything other than a positive feeling. A good way to separate your work-from-home setup and music you enjoy listening to elsewhere 😘 ↩︎

The True Value of Link Posts

There’s no right or wrong way to do this, and I’m not suggesting that people who share links without commentary are committing some sort of crime against the indie web. However, if you’re going to share new ideas and experiences with someone, it seems courteous to do so with the same care and attention you’d grant them if you were making the recommendation in person.

If I'm following you (yes, you there!) it's because you bring value to my feed in a way that Google, or Facebook, or Pocket, and etc., do not. Just clipping titles and the link, or just a pithy, “This,” doesn't provide enough context for me to do anything other than skip over it. Which bums me out, because there's something about that link that got you thinking. You spent time reading or watching, then you took the time to save it and shared it with others. Why not add a little more so we can expand that conversation or note your frame of mind should we choose to view it as well.

I'm a bit ashamed to realize that the above, reads like I'm a “choosy beggar” but I chose to follow you because there's something special about you. Can you blame me for wanting just a bit more?

What is this Place?

This is the weblog of the strangely disembodied TRST. Here it attempts to write somewhat intelligibly on, well, anything really. Overall, it may be less than enticing.