Ideapad

Blogging since 1998. By David Wertheimer

Great blog posts

The Story of Etak, on Map Happenings.

Now that is a great blog post. Unexpected subject matter, in-depth research, surprising twists, a deep yearning to share it. Cross-posting it on my own blog is the right thing to do.

In this post-peak social media era, it’s gratifying to see the gradual re-emergence of blogs, and of newsletters, which I’ve taken to importing into Feedly and treating the same way. (Because really, a newsletter like Links I Would Gchat You If We Were Friends is really just blogging with a different delivery mechanism. In an RSS reader, they all feel the same.)

I’ve been trying to add new blogs to my circuit in recent months, while also rediscovering some old-timers who do it well. Caitlin Dewey, as mentioned above, obviously. Ironic Sans is even better now than it was in its earlier incarnation. Halfman has been a wry delight. I declared RSS Zero this morning, but I’ll try to revisit this topic with more suggestions… perhaps even a blogroll.

Puzzles

Word puzzles are a big thing for me. Not in an obsessive way, but in a constant-presence, continual-joy sense. I look forward to getting the New York Times in print each weekend, mostly for the puzzles, and like many, I enjoy the various games on their website, and on Puzzmo, too.

Friends got me back into the weekday crossword a few months ago after many years away. Once I got the hang of completing them online, I was hooked; I don’t think I’ve missed a weekday in two or three months. No complaints.

I do the crossword because my awesome high school English teacher, Ms. Kastner, used to give me a photocopy each morning in senior English, from the stack the teachers made for each other. I got so into it that one day she called on me, I had no idea what was going on, she challenged me why not and I said “because I was doing the crossword!” and that was good enough for her.

Ms. Kastner was my teacher three times in four years and stands out as a favorite; she was warm, funny, hip (she called me Werty! in class!) and loved to teach. Her influence on me is significant, from the crosswords to a college degree in English to an appreciation of Shakespeare, debate and solid grammar. My kids’ love of word puzzles traces through me right back to her.

All of which is background to last week, when I logged onto Facebook to check my birthday messages and found this from Ms. Kastner.

40 years of the Mac

Macintosh computers and Mac OS turn 40 this year, and the media tributes are starting already. The Upgrade podcast linked here asked a few Mac-media luminaries for their picks in a personal Mac retrospective. I did something like this when Steve Jobs died, but that was more than a decade ago, so I figure I’ll play along with their topics:

First Mac owned: the Mac LC, when I went to college, seduced by the color monitor. In retrospect I should have gone with the Classic. I got an Apple //c in sixth grade, so it was logical and comfortable to move into a Mac.

Favorite/best Mac: without a doubt, the Mac SE/30 that I used in the college newspaper office. Quoting my 2011 blog post: “I had on it Eudora, Microsoft Word 5.1a, and a Klondike solitaire app, and it was just about perfect.” Many machines have done many more impressive things in the decades since, but no other computer I’ve used achieved the purity of purpose and sheer enjoyment of use. The classic iPods reached a similar level of perfection.

It’s a bit unfair and crotchety to miss a 30-year-old computer from when I was on a college campus, so I will note that my PowerBook G3 and M-chip MacBooks have also been delightful devices.

Favorite/best Mac software ever: I began using Eudora way back in 1991, and I’ve been chasing the Eudora email experience ever since it went end of life. Even now I have my Outlook UI on my work computer set up to resemble it. Other software I’ve used and loved: BBEdit, Fetch, Netscape Navigator, Photoshop, Napster, Talking Moose (you scuzzball! IYKYK).

Favorite/best Mac accessory or hardware: eh, I’ve never been a peripherals guy, despite having my share of keyboards and mice and external hard drives. I do enjoy and appreciate a good ergonomic keyboard; Microsoft’s have served me well for years. And I once had a super cool desk that fit a computer tower and all its peripherals in an 18″ square footprint by putting a printer stand 5′ high, above the desktop.

Hall of Shame: worst accessory, Mac, or moment: that Mac LC, because, again quoting past me: “I installed AutoDoubler to find hard drive space and my processor slowed to a crawl.” That was probably as bad as it got. I learned some lessons about compacting hard drive storage that spring. And, sadly, I’ve been short on HD space ever since.

Bimodal neuromodulation

I want to believe! A tinnitus treatment called bimodal neuromodulation is getting major media coverage now that two different products are in the market.

As a longtime tinnitus sufferer, I’m curious to learn more about Lenire; I wonder how the team figured out that the mouth was a good conduit for the technique. My own experience suggests a connection to the jaw, although they chose different.

Sadly, I tried Neosensory’s Duo in 2022, and experienced no improvement after two months of training. Literally zero. I know people for whom it worked, though, so perhaps variations will be effective.

Instead, I’ve been trying AudioCardio for the past six weeks. My tinnitus is not good, but I do think it’s marginally better, in that the intensity I’d been noticing in 2023 has toned down a little. Small victories are victories, so I’ve maintained my subscription, and will see how it goes for a while longer.

MindEar may also be worth exploring, as CBT can positively impact a wide range of tendencies and phobias. Why not tinnitus?

Ring ring ring, ha ha hey and all that, but I’m glad there are new paths being forged.

 The Year in Cities 2023

Nineteenth year. I almost forgot to do this—I did, actually; it’s May 20 as I type. But through the magic of back-dating this is living in its rightful place and chronicling the march of time, and my travels, such as they were last year. Repeat visits starred as always.

New York (home base) *
Palm Beach Gardens, FL *
New City, NY *
Peru, VT
Lenox, MA *
Edgewater, MD
Gloucester, MA *
Edgartown, MA *
Buffalo Grove, IL

Still true

I revisited my 25th-anniversary blog post today and discovered that the Eatonweb Portal clickthroughs are functional in the Wayback Machine.

Back then, according to the portal, I described the Ideapad as, “Views, opinions, emotions, essays, proper grammar.”

That’s still pretty much the case. Nice job staying on topic, Wertheimer.

A year later, I wrote up the sidebar description that also still rings true:

3 parts observation
2 parts introspection
1 part links
1 part creativity
1 part stinging wit
dash of sarcasm

Part of longevity is just sticking to it.

Blew it

I worked on and off for six months on a 25th anniversary Ideapad post, and then I went and missed the deadline. Tonight I finished the post, backdated it to November 1, and belatedly got it live. Take a look. And thanks for being here.

My default apps

A blog meme! I recently discovered that early blogger Chris O’Donnell is still at it, and now we’re reading each other again, and he pulled together this list (which I’m guessing started on yet another blog) so I thought I’d join in the fun.

My phone, remember, is an iPhone 13 mini.

  • Mail Service: whatever Pair is using, and Gmail
  • Mail Client: Mail app (iPhone), Gmail in the browser (desktop)
  • Notes: Notes app and/or BBEdit, depending on circumstance
  • To-Do: Due
  • Calendar: Calendar app (iPhone), Google Calendar in the browser (desktop)
  • Contacts: Contacts app (iPhone)
  • RSS Service: n/a
  • RSS Client: Feedly
  • Launcher: N/A
  • Cloud storage: both Dropbox and iCloud
  • Photo library: all local, baby, 33,000 images and videos clogging my laptop hard drive
  • Web Browser: both Chrome and Safari
  • Chat: Messages and WhatsApp
  • Bookmarks: Chrome
  • Reading: Magazines, the New York Times and the internet
  • Word Processing: Word, usually
  • Spreadsheets: Excel and Google Sheets, depending
  • Presentations: PowerPoint, mostly
  • Shopping Lists: Pen and paper
  • Personal Finance: a mishmosh
  • Music: iTunes, streaming subscription + local files
  • Podcasts: Podcasts app
  • Password Management: Chrome, despite buying a 1Password subscription
  • Social Media: Bluesky, Mastodon, Threads and Slack
  • Weather: Weather app (iPhone) and NOAA Weather (desktop)
  • Search: DuckDuckGo (iPhone) and Google (desktop)
  • Code Editor: BBEdit

“One of the world’s oldest continually publishing blogs”

I have had this self-congratulatory fact in the Ideapad sidebar for some time now. On November 1, 1998, I started the Ideapad. So this marks a full quarter-century of posting my thoughts online.

When I began blogging, the community was small enough that Brigitte Eaton was able to hand-compile a list of all of them. I remember there being 500 or so when I first came across it; the farthest we can see in the Wayback machine shows 1285 weblogs, including this one. The web has come a long, long way since then, and while innumerable blogs have come and gone, the Ideapad endures.

I’m not a real milestone guy, and I covered this lightly when the blog turned twenty, but I do want to acknowledge the moment.

When I reflect on what twenty-five years of blogging means, mostly it’s the persistence: my blog is still here, still publishing new content, at the same URL as when it was launched, and with almost all of the archives intact and readable. It’s not hard to do, but few do it, and when I’m blogging I’m continuing my commitment to digital longevity.

I revisited the bookmarks file referenced in 2018 to see who is still blogging, and oh, the linkrot. Let’s pause to appreciate those who keep at it. Jason Kottke, who inspired me to put up my own weblog, blogs for a living, of course. Peter Merholz, coiner of “blog,” is, blessedly, still maintaining his. Journal-bloggers like Jessamyn and Cat are still journaling away. A tip of the cap also goes to those who stopped blogging but keep their sites live, so their contributions to the formative era of the internet aren’t forgotten. I hope some of these folks see this, and I hope they realize the value of their efforts.

And to you, dear reader: I’ve long stopped looking at my site metrics, and for all I know, my only regulars are me and my mom. (Hi, Mom.) But I’m glad you stopped by, even this once, and I hope you enjoy exploring everything I’ve shared with the world these past 25 years.

Leaving Twitter

Benedict Evans, on his decision to stop using (f/k/a) Twitter:

Until recently, though, the bullshit was mostly about cars or tunnels. It wasn’t repeating obvious anti-semitic dog-whistles. It wasn’t telling us that George Soros is plotting to destroy western civilisation. It wasn’t engaging with and promoting white suprematists. It wasn’t, as this week, telling us all to read a very obvious misinformation account, with a record of anti-semitism, as the best source on Israel.

And Dan Sinker, on his same conclusion:

That Twitter still exists, hollowed and hateful, feels like an insult. It’s just a flimsy facsimile of itself now too.

I largely stopped engaging with Twitter back in May; I haven’t created, replied, retweeted or faved in months. And I don’t plan on doing so again; as Evans notes, any business that endorses anti-Semitism is not a business worth patronizing (and certainly not worth creating content for). But I am also faced with the same problem Sinker clarifies—nothing has replaced it, and nothing really will.

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