Arboreal Labyrinth

I loved the idea and execution of this artwork, Corupira, an installation centred on the idea of enchanted forests.

See more photos, and a video on how it was constructed at Henrique Oliveira’s Arboreal Labyrinth Ruptures the Entrance to an Enchanting Exhibition. The installation is part of an exhibition at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art, Fairy Tales: Remixed & Remade.

The rise of the internet’s middle class

I participated in the chaos of MySpace, and remember the disappointment in seeing much online activity move to the hermetically-sealed, sterile environment of Facebook, Twitter and so on.

the “proud extroversion” of the early Web soon gave way to a much more homogenized experience: hundred-and-forty-character text boxes, uniformly sized photos accompanied by short captions, Like buttons, retweet counts, and, ultimately, a shift away from chronological time lines and profile pages and toward statistically optimized feeds. The user-generated Web became an infinite stream of disembodied images and quips, curated by algorithms, optimized to distract.

Back in 2008, 1,000 true fans posited that with just a thousand or so people willing to regularly pay for creations, a reasonable living could be made from creating things on the web. This was, however, before Facebook, Twitter and the rest stole away the monetisation of our content and kept the proceeds for themselves.

With the decline in trust in these platforms, and the realisation that there was money to be made, but only if one left the walled garden, an opportunity has opened up for creators to start to connect directly again with their audience. The notion that “if you are not the customer, you are the product” has also sunk in, leaving us more willing to pay for online content.

The Rise of the Internet’s Creative Middle Class considers this idea, and whether it’s here for good, or is more a brief moment of sunshine before new content platforms reappear to steal away the proceeds yet again.

Tweaking the NetNewsWire article theme

Sometimes the smallest changes can have a large effect. And so it was with some tweaks I made to how NetNewsWire displays articles on my phone and Mac. All the time I’ve been using NetNewsWire, nearly five years, I’ve been slightly bothered by the use of the standard system font to render articles. It’s just not quite my thing.

So yesterday I decided to work out how to tweak the fonts. I altered the article font to my favourite on-screen reading fonts, IBM Plex Sans on macOS and Saverek on iOS (where you can’t install your own fonts). I also altered the preferred code font to JetBrains Mono, still one of my favourites.

Here’s what I came up with:

Yes: it’s almost identical to the default theme! But, previously, I disliked the font so much that, while I use NetNewsWire all the time on my phone, I didn’t really use it at all on my Mac. But after changing the font to one I like, I find myself coming back to it. We’ll see how long that sticks!

Even with so few differences, changing the font still involves creating a new theme for NetNewsWire. Read on for a short how-to on how to create your own tweaked theme.

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In defense of defensiveness

In defense of defensiveness gently reminds us that even with all our efforts to create psychological safety within teams, work environments are still stalked with other fears which we have little control over at the team level:

Our workplaces are, for the most part, not teeming with the undead. But they are also not entirely safe, either. We can, given enough attention and care, create some relative safety together—and I know a great many people out there doing everything they can to that end. But the reality is that we are always subject to potential harm, whether from each other (through malice or ignorance or both), or whether from those who pull the strings of stock prices and venture capital and hype cycles, heedless of the bodies they leave strewn behind. There is no perfect safety for the living, I’m afraid.

And, on top of that, it also gave me a suggestion for my to-read list, The Steerswoman.

Nice 👌.

I ported my toy database index to Rust and I liked it

I like Go a lot, and have been writing production Go for about seven years now. It runs some critical bits of Cloudant.

But I thoroughly enjoyed rewriting my Go toy document database into a Rust toy document database. So I can say now that I also like Rust a lot.

(My view on Go, Rust, Zig, Swift and other recent compiled-but-nice languages is that we have an embarrassment of riches available to us these last few years compared to what went before. For so long systems programming was “C/C++ or go home”. In my Rust book there’s a quote, “Rust: systems programmers can have nice things too”. I think that’s correct.)

(But back to what we were talking about.)

At this point, I have just finished getting the Rust code to feature equivalence with the Go code. It’s slightly better, even: the Rust code can handle arrays, which I never got to for the Go code. The Rust codebase is 1,076 lines of code while the Go codebase is 1,210 lines of code — pretty comparable. While a thousand lines of code isn’t very much, I feel that I’ve learned a lot of Rust along the way. I’d feel comfortable writing Rust in a production environment, albeit hopefully with some other people who were able to correct my still-a-novice screw-ups.

There were several places I found Rust outshone Go for this project. So instead of talking about what I’ve learned — which would be confusing for people who don’t know Rust and boring for those who do know it — I’ll talk about the parts of Rust that made this rewrite so enjoyable.

Those were:

  • Strictness
  • Representing JSON
  • Result and Option
  • Expressions all return things

It’s all a bit honeymoon period, I think; Rust and me right now. I’m sure there are frustrating things with Rust, but this project hasn’t exposed them (yet). So be generous. Spare me a moment to enjoy the honeymoon 🌇, and let’s suspend our inner cynics and talk about these things I liked.

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