Don’t dual-boot Linux on your Mac

I have configured my Mac to dual-boot with Linux. When I turn my computer on I can choose to enter the Linux operating system or Mac OS X.

Having gone through this process, I would now suggest against it.

Most folks who run linux on a desktop only run the one operating system on the computer and don’t dual-boot. If you configure a Mac for dual-boot, you are the exceptional use-case in the Linux community.

If you want to learn to ride a bike, would you buy a pennyfarthing? I’d guess not. Most likely you would get the common bike design of today, the safety bicycle. If you ride a pennyfarthing in 2016, you are an exceptional use-case. Your friends don’t ride pennyfarthings so you can’t share riding tips with them and benefit from theirs. Bike shops don’t have the know-how to repair it. Drivers may not understand how to drive safely around your contraption of antiquity.

When you are the exceptional use-case, you don’t benefit from network effect. When you are the common use-case, answers to your problems are quick to find.

Here is what sucks:

I just bought a ThinkPad X200, which is a $150 laptop that can run 100% free software. I’ll install GNU-linux on it. The X200 with Libreboot pre-installed is one of three laptops that are certified by the Free Software Foundation (basically Richard Stallman). More soon!

Pad, an online note-taking app

I like writing and I mainly do it in private. Just in the month of July I’ve created 83 “notes” in my Evernote account, which I use in a lot of different contexts. I note-take in meetings at work, I write Dear Diary-style personal entries, and throw notable educational videos (the note here was “always get the bigger pizza?”). Evernote has basically been my life’s junk drawer.

There’s two main things Evernote does well: It syncs all my content to *~the cloud~* so I can access it at work, home and the in-between, and it works while I’m in the subway, syncing when I have service again.

This has been a lovely relationship with an app until Evernote decided to change their subscription model, limiting users that don’t pay (including yours truly) to use on two devices. 😑

I will leave the Evernote for Pad, an in-browser note editor I made earlier this week. It is a work in progress (you can’t even delete a “note” yet!), but it is marginally usable now. Try it out, but don’t count on it until I release version 1.0.

Pad is free now and will always be free for any use. It’s free as in free software available on Github, as well as free as in you don’t owe me anything.

I’m going to steal two things from Evernote, their best features: syncing to the cloud and offline use.

Currently data is stored in your web browser, indefinitely, unless you clear your “Local Storage.” I will never get access to your data since it is “local.” There’s no remote server that Pad relies on for saving your data. We can try to save data to arbitrary data stores (e.g. Amazon S3 or in your Github Gists). If your data is in a private place in *~the cloud~* then you could use Pad on any of your devices 😎

Pad could work offline too, through the magic of which Progressive Web Apps.

How OJ won

I binge-watched the entirety of ESPN’s new documentary series on O.J. Simpson over Fourth of July weekend. It is eight hours long and it is stunning.

As an 8 year-old during the O.J. murder trial in 1994-95, I had no idea what was going on. My attention was probably on beating Super Metroid. I didn’t know O.J. held the single season rushing yards record, that he was a major black icon of the 70s and 80s, or the details of his trial, so this is a good history lesson.

The central tension in the murder case is that the evidence that proved he was guilty beyond any doubt, yet he is acquitted. They found Nicole Simpson’s blood in O.J.’s white bronco. O.J. owned the shoes that matched bloody footprints at the crime scene, of which there were only 200 pairs made. How could the jury have acquitted him?

Other factors made for an involved case. O.J. assembled a legal “Dream Team” which included Johnny Cochran and Robert Kardashian, costing him $50k a day. During the trial, the D.A. was clever enough to have O.J. to try on the bloody glove found in his backyard. It didn’t fit. The cop who found that bloody glove? He turned out to be a racist bigot, leading the public to suspect a conspiracy with racial motivations were behind the case.

It seems like a poorly executed prosecution on top of sloppy police work. But then you hear one of the juror’s from the predominantly black jury explain her decision: this was her own payback for Rodney King, a victim of police brutality in L.A. a few years earlier. Cops get off all the time for using excessive force against and killing innocent black persons. She wanted to make sure that a black man would win in the trial of the century. As a member of a group endlessly oppressed by this criminal justice system, why would she vote any other way?

Reactions after an Intro to WordPress Workshop

Today I led a workshop to introduce folks to WordPress. Here are some quick reactions I had.

I installed ten fresh WordPresses on a single shared hosting plan for users to going through exercises in the admin interface with me in realtime. Either the server could not deal with 20 concurrent users or the local network couldn’t. Hosting is still hard 😤

We often use “WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org” to describe the difference between running a site on WordPress.com and the limits that imposes vs. running a site with a more liberal web host. I get the spirit of the comparison, but it’s confusing. For example, managed WP hosts may blacklist plugins, so WP.com is not the only one that has a “walled garden.” Some other metaphor like a “spectrum of control” is probably more to the point, with WordPress.com being at one end, owning your own datacenter at the other, and most web hosts in the middle.

I have no clue what the difference is between Categories and Tags. On the version 2.3 page (when Tags were introduced) “Web” is an example category and “web development on windows” is a tag. The distinction I glean from this is categories are to be typed uppercase and tags lowercase. Suffice to say I’ll be removing the Tags feature from my blog.

I found it intensely useful to take off my developer hat for a morning and get into the mindset of a user of software I work on, and see the inventive solutions of users without writing a line code.

Super Emoji Plus+ is now in beta

The other night I installed WordPress. While writing my first blog post I wanted to put an emoji in the content. I opened a new browser tab and googled “100 emoji” just to copy and paste a character, like a schlub. This process has got to end.

I’m pleased announce the release of my new WordPress plugin Super Emoji Plus+, which makes it easy to insert emoji into your WordPress content. 😎

After you install, click the Emoji button in the Editor to bring up a contextual menu to select your emoji. You can type to search for an emoji (it uses Emoji annotations for the search completion), and navigate results with the arrow keys. Click on a character or hit Enter to insert it into the content, and press escape when you’re done.

Or, while you’re writing in the editor, type a colon and a word for an emoji (like “:airplane”). The menu with search results will come up inline.

The plugin is in beta, so if you have any problems let me know on Github! 💁

Obligatory New Blog Statement of Intention

Oh man I just fired up a new web log. That means one thing: a statement of my plans and inspirations for this here digital notebook must be set. Unlike New Years resolutions I will actually keep to these tenets. So here we go:

  1. Keep it 💯
  2. Blog Every Day™
  3. Always be on the lookout for Hot New Widgets to keep my readers interested and engaged