Nothing is permanent… especially on the Internet

Link rot is a problem that affects everyone using the internet on a daily basis. This is when a link becomes dead and no longer links to where it’s supposed to because of site changes. Either the owner stopped maintaining and paying for the domain/hosting, the structure changed, or it was deleted or inaccessible for another reason. Nothing is permanent online (unless it’s your ad data 😉), regardless of what your parents may have said.

Research from Harvard Law School shows about a quarter of all articles on the New York Times suffer from link rot, meaning resources linked on the page are no longer accessible. Additionally, links are not immutable. I personally have links such as ‘https://l.gmr.dev/tiktok‘ that link to my TikTok blog post and that can be changed so I can always keep it up to date. This can be a disadvantage if the site goes offline or the link is mismanaged however.

The problem can be combated by using web archivers, and linking to primary, trusted sources as much as possible. Additionally, it’s helpful to copy + paste the information that’s relevant from the site you’re sharing/linking in case it dies somehow later on.

Factcheck.org, which launched in 2004 now has almost 6,000 dead links. Roughly one third of all the links on Pagella Politica, the Italian fact-checking website I edited before joining Poynter, are currently broken. At the same time, trying to manually keep tabs on the state of a site’s links is too time-consuming to be feasible.

cjr.org

The advent of ‘online-only’ services have marked a period full of slow, buggy, overly designed applications, such as Creative Cloud or Epic Games, that run at all times on your computer to feed you advertisements or update notifications. Engines like Unity have transitioned more and more of their editor services and features to online services. Or, they’ve deprecated more traditional methods that would eliminate the need to connect to “Unity Teams” and/or login to their accounts & manage organizations.

When Flash was purged from the internet a few years ago, one of the largest issues Flash archivers faced were games that required connections to servers. Because those servers are no longer around, a game’s functionality can be crippled or even completely broken without a solution. This can easily happen to any server in the future. A program’s functioning that exists on something that may not be there in the future… well, it makes relying on that utility poor planning at best. Many modern day software applications ship without any sort of offline mode or planned use case 20-30 years from now, so that will be interesting to see.

Photos, old posts, and media people thought would be around forever are constantly being deleted. Make any playlist on YouTube with a sizeable number of videos and soon enough a fair number of them will be unavailable. My music library exists entirely on my own servers streamed to me because I can’t trust that Spotify or an alternative will be around in 20 years with the same music I listen to or want to stream now.

Jailbreaking iOS is an increasingly difficult task, and I switched to Android away from Apple’s walled garden a few years ago, but even now most companies are locking it down more and more in the name of security and the common user experience. Samsung removes the ability to unlock the bootloader in most US variants of their new models, so rooting Android is out of the question for me as well.

A bit rambly, but I don’t think there’s much to do about this other than being personally careful about what technologies I enable and what I work on. I’m simply commenting on the current direction of the Internet as a whole because I want the best for it. I’ve become more and more aware of how fragile the current state of everything online is, and began saving and archiving everything preemptively.

Voting with your money and just being aware is probably the best move, and I’ve personally been more and more selective about digital media or programs I’m choosing to spend time, data, energy and finances on.


Quick Links to My Stuff
Published 2022-02-15 04:01:27

Random Quote Generation API

I was looking around for a quote API that simply served a lot of normal random quotes and I couldn’t find one that satisfied me for free.

https://gen.software/quote/

Simple documentation: https://gen.software/quote/doc

Here’s a new random quote generator API that serves a random quote from 500k+ famous/known and some unknown ones as well in JSON format built in Node.js. The quote selected is from an ever growing database started with this dataset here and a few other compiled sources.

If you want to submit a suggestion for a quote to add, you can visit this url here: https://gen.software/quote/submit

No guarantees of any kind are made about this project, it could disappear in the future, go down temporarily, or change without notice – but for now everyone who sees this is free to use it!

Don’t be a jerk, I’m using this for a personal project too so if people start DDoSing, spamming, or misusing this in any way I will be forced to implement API keys or lock it off entirely (more likely).

Cheers.


Quick Links to My Stuff
Published 2022-02-05 13:24:00

Small MedTracker project

Many years ago I created a small app to help me remember whether or not I had taken my medications for the day, so I never took them twice and could be reminded at designated times. I slapped a button and a counter on the screen, made it track the last taken date and display a clock, and that was it. It looked terrible, but it worked, and I was planning on making it look better. However, I tested the concept app for a day or two and that test turned into full time usage. I never updated it or uninstalled the dev copy that I was testing with. If it works, don’t fix it, right?

Recently I decided I was tired of it looking terrible and since I’d been wanting an excuse to use React Native again I decided to remake it.

Here’s the original:

😳 but in my defense this was the first and only ever build

Here’s the updated copy with a UI I spent slightly more than 30 seconds on.

has random quotes that change from a few different APIs
pretty simple but much needed attention!

The app isn’t distributed, just something I updated personally for myself, as the app helps me a lot and has become a part of my routine.

🙂


Quick Links to My Stuff
Published 2022-01-27 09:31:14

The Stack Overflow Macro Keypad is Cute

Stack Overflow decided to release their April Fools joke as a real product on Drop, as a Macro Keypad. I thought it looked cool and might be a good place to display a few artisans or something. They allow to reconfigure the keys using something akin to QMK’s software, and there is some custom work going into bringing the full QMK configurator to the device, but for now you can do simple remappings.

Unfortunately it’s not Bluetooth enabled but at least it comes with a USB C connector. Even still, it’s a bit much to hook up an entirely separate 3 key setup all the time as a joke. It works better on a machine that won’t be moving frequently such as a video editing workstation or desktop setup.

😊


Quick Links to My Stuff
Published 2022-01-04 21:45:00

The worst possible time to build a computer…

…is hopefully almost over. The past few years have seen GPU prices skyrocket, and most GPUs are unobtainable even today because of a chip shortage.

This has led to it being a hostile environment to build a desktop computer in and pushes newcomers away from the PC building scene.

In fact, it’s actually made the age old advice of building your own computer over buying a prebuilt almost obsolete, as many prebuilt PC prices are now as competitive if not a better option for those looking to acquire new hardware.

More than ever, it makes sense to choose a laptop or similarly priced alternatives rather than a desktop PC.

Continue reading The worst possible time to build a computer…
Quick Links to My Stuff
Published 2021-12-21 17:07:36

Better dark theme for Firefox

If you wanted a more cohesive dark theme on Firefox (or never noticed but now it won’t stop bothering you):

I made an updated dark theme a while ago, published it in case anyone else wants it 🙂

Without updated dark theme:

Settings tab is hovered with mouse

With updated dark theme:

Settings tab is hovered with mouse

cheers


Quick Links to My Stuff
Published 2021-12-08 11:52:15

The Windows 11 problems continue

Now I don’t hate Windows by any means, and I use it as a daily driver myself, and that being said, I want what’s best for its development and future. It can only get better through criticism imo.

I keep seeing articles about Windows 11, so I collected some thoughts here for consideration.

In my last post about Windows 11, I pointed out that Windows 10 should have been iterated upon instead of Windows 11 being released. That post includes a few reasons I won’t mention again here including the taskbar button being moved to the center and destroying a key UX design feature that Windows themselves must have forgotten they implemented so long ago.

Let’s talk instead about more bad things about the OS that have come to light.

Duh

As usual, the new release of Microsoft’s major operating system has lots of bugs.

warning issued for millions of Microsoft windows 11 users
Did anyone not expect this?

This is why I still recommend waiting for a while after release to upgrade, even if you like the new look of Windows 11.

When asked about the performance issues of the OS, Microsoft had this to say:

tl;dr: we know it’s slow – we’re working on it

While they are aware Windows 11 is slow – this is a key reason I’m choosing to stay on Windows 10 for now. It took a long time for Windows 10 to get to a reasonably stable version, and I’m expecting the same for Windows 11. Give it a year or two and then see where it is.


Default apps settings

Surprise again, Microsoft is making it harder to change your web browser away from Edge. In Windows 11, you must change every file protocol related to html documents, links, and other web related entries as opposed to having a simple “Web Browser” option like in Windows 10. This is anti-consumer and doesn’t make using the OS easier at all.

Context menus

Context menu options that before were one click away are now hidden for “ease of use”. This may or may not be preferred by some though, I can see users who don’t typically need the extra context menu options being more encouraged to right click and use the simplified menu.

You can restore the full context menus with a registry hack though, so this isn’t as big of an issue. Still annoying that this is the direction they’re heading though.

Widgets

Here are the list of widgets currently available:

  • Calendar shows you the current date and lists any upcoming events you’ve added.
  • Entertainment lists films and TV shows that have recently released on the Microsoft Store.
  • Esports displays recent Esports matches and results.
  • Photos cycles through photos and images saved to your Microsoft account.
  • Sports displays current sports scores and recent results. You can adjust which leagues and teams are shown.
  • Tips provides brief advice for using various Microsoft software, including Windows 11 and Edge.
  • To Do lets you create a list of tasks and displays it in the widgets menu. You can mark individual tasks as completed.
  • Traffic displays a small map and describes the traffic conditions in your area.
  • Watchlist shows stock values. Similarly to the Sports widget, you can choose which stocks appear.
  • Weather shows current weather conditions in your area, as well as the forecast for the following three days.

info from (https://www.tomsguide.com/news/windows-11-widgets-everything-you-need-to-know)

Personally I don’t find the widgets they have interesting or useful in the slightest, and the widget pull out goes halfway across the screen, so it’s almost useless for multitasking. There are no community or custom widgets, so you are stuck with what Microsoft decides to develop. If I know them, they may release one or two more before forgetting about the feature entirely or disbanding the division of developers that work on it.

Removed Features

Courtesy to a reddit post,

As always Windows team takes a good step forward (New Design, store, settings, etc) with Windows 11 and then takes two steps back. Here are some of the lost features from Windows 10

harshag11

Start Menu

  1. Live tiles replaced with boring grid of icons
  2. No option to choose different App Icon sizes and end less customization options available in tiles grid
  3. No App Folders
  4. No option for Named Groups
  5. No way to resize start menu
  6. No option for full screen start menu
  7. No show more apps option (Current view displays only 18 apps without scrolling)
  8. Ability to remove pinned apps and show all apps view only
  9. Usability – Not mouse friendly, lot of mouse travel for every action. No way to remove recommended section, app and all apps buttons are far away from reach. Also you need additional click to reach All Apps. Even for touch users it is very difficult to reach new start menu or apps in two handed mode.
  10. No badges in start menu
  11. No option to pin settings to start menu

Task Bar

  1. Drag and drop files to running apps
  2. Cannot drag and drop app icons to pin to task bar
  3. No option to choose task bar location
  4. No option to choose task bar size
  5. Never Combine Labels options missing
  6. No option to turn system icons on/off in tray
  7. No clock on secondary monitor
  8. System time doesn’t show seconds
  9. Task bar context menu only settings option. No option to launch task manager, etc
  10. No toolbars in taskbar. Cannot add Address, Links, Desktop and Custom folders to Task Bar
  11. No screen snip in quick actions menu
  12. Shift + Click – No longer open new instance of an app
  13. No option to quickly change Power Mode (Best Battery Life, Best Performance, etc) from task bar
  14. Apps can no longer customize areas of the Taskbar
  15. Cannot view or add Calendar events from Taskbar
  16. People bar has been removed

Windows Explorer

  1. No refresh option in context menu, there are many instance where explorer fails to auto refresh.
  2. Context menu is missing many options like shortcut, send to, share with, restore previous version and 3rd party customizations (Windows has poor history of developers embracing new platform features, so not sure when Devs will add these to new menu)
  3. Quick access toolbar has been removed. So no option to pin my favorite commands like copy path
  4. Missing thumbnail previews for folders

General/Settings

  1. Extremely difficult to change default apps
  2. Cannot setup Windows 11 Home with local account
  3. Cannot setup Windows 11 Home without internet connection
  4. Desktop wallpaper cannot be roamed to or from device when signed in with a Microsoft account.
  5. Timeline has been removed
  6. No show windows stacked option
  7. No option to disable all background apps
  8. Win + K no longer works for Bluetooth devices (Even new quick settings also missing Bluetooth connection options similar to WiFi)
  9. New touch gestures doesn’t work well when holding tablet with two hands. Swipe from left edge has been replaced with widgets, switching apps now requires 3 finger gestures.
  10. When “Turn off the store application” and “Disable all apps from Microsoft store” group policies are configured, basic windows apps like notepad, mspaint, etc will not work. This also blocks users from launching cmd or powershell from Windows + X menu

To sum things up, Windows 11 is having some issues, as is expected of a needless full OS upgrade for feature removing UX and UI changes. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Remember, you can still customize your Windows 10 tiles without Windows 11 and get centered taskbar here.

And, if you aren’t afraid to install some tweaks onto your system, this ExplorerPatcher project aims to bring back a Windows 10 experience to Windows 11. Might be worth checking it out if you want to be on the bleeding edge updates, but also have a productive working environment.


Quick Links to My Stuff
Published 2021-11-21 19:09:40