Excursions by Amit Gawande

I have been quite busy recently both at my day job and at home. Too many things to look after, planning for many eminent changes in life. Thankfully, the reading hasn’t been affected — actually it is the reading that’s kept me sane. Unfortunately, writing and responding is.

Wed, Feb 13, 2019 update

Dave Pell on Amazon buying Eero

So now Amazon can run your router, your home security camera (Blink), your doorbell (Ring), your TV (Fire), and listen to your every word via Alexa as you enjoy a nice dinner from Whole Foods. We recently learned that Jeff Bezos is good at protecting his own private parts. Who’s going to protect ours from him?

Wed, Feb 13, 2019 thoughts

Amazon acquiring Eero is a nice reminder of the risk of the technology players getting too big. It becomes extremely difficult for any small players to survive — the limited set of 5 companies compete in every space. It’s bad for innovation, everyone works towards acquisition.

Also, we should look out for the repeating sponsors on podcasts — that looks to be the sure shot way to acquisition now. Many of the recent acquisitions have been a sponsors of some technology podcasts. I think advertising is no longer for the end customers.

Tue, Feb 12, 2019 thoughts

It was discomforting to read Owen William’s account of his failed attempt to add his site to Google News. Not just because how aloof Google acted, but because of the patience Owen was showing towards their policies. I understand his desire to receive the crazy traffic Google might send to his site. But it is better to understand that Google’s interests and plans for the product just won’t match those of a smallish individual website.

These losing battles are always better to be avoided — it has been true since the early SEO days. Dave Winer words it really well in his response.

In Williams’ tale of woe, the Godfather is the open web, other news orgs, his readers, and the legal system is Google. We have to work together Owen. The web made all you do possible, you can’t go over its head to Google to get what you think you need.

Sun, Feb 10, 2019 thoughts

Dear Internet, stop throwing more links to Eleventy at me now. It strains my resolve to not try another engine out there to build site with. I am satisfied with what I have got running — or so I have convinced myself. Don’t make it more difficult than it already is.

Sun, Feb 10, 2019 thoughts

I tend to agree with John Gruber’s thoughts on On Covering Webcams

The problem isn’t your camera, it’s malware. Don’t install any software from unknown or sketchy sources, keep your OS up to date1, and you should be fine. And if you do have malware on your Mac, the webcam is likely the least of your problems.

Sure, you should be careful while you access the Internet. Or else some can indeed take control of your machine. But the words I highlighted matter — you should be careful while accessing any machine. Else, you will break the machine and it will eventually harm you.

Sat, Feb 9, 2019 thoughts

I wonder how many people with iOS devices use any browser other than Safari. I can never convince myself to switch to any other browser — to be frank I never felt a need earlier when I was all in on Apple ecosystem. With recent switch to Windows, I have to reconsider.

Sat, Feb 9, 2019 thoughts

A fascinating story of The First Lady of the Internet

A passing glance at this peculiar genealogy reveals how deeply these women’s faces and voices are integrated into technology, even as their names and thoughts and lives are so often ignored

Sat, Feb 9, 2019 thoughts

In an article on how Instagram travel influencers” are affecting homeownership around the world is hidden a very unfortunate truth.

Today everything exists to end in a photograph (…) the most influential factor in determining where to vacation is how Instagrammable” the destination is.

This sad fact holds even for non-influencer, normal tourists. Every time I tour, I see loads and loads of people fighting for a spot, the same, crowded space that everyone around is taking pictures at. I have seen people put their backs to the most wonderful of the valleys and mountains and beaches just so that they would catch themselves and the serenity in the same picture. Doesn’t matter then if it looks equally serene just few feet away from the instagrammable” spot.

Influencers who come into a community to get something, and who refuse to acknowledge or be curious about the people who make it up—or, worse, who consider those people obstacles—are refusing to participate in the best part of travel: Appreciating what, or who, makes a place different from any other.

I could not say it better. All tourists need to respect the location and the people that dwell there. That picture-worthy spot you are on look out for is a home for many.

Fri, Feb 8, 2019 opinion tourism

Recently David documented the steps to expose a JSON feed on a @Blot site. I’ve been running a JSON feed for my blog for some time now, which also drives the On This Day page on my blog. I shared my approach so that others with a site running on Blot can create such a page.

Fri, Feb 8, 2019 blot dev

Every now and then I am reminded of the fact that Opera browser still exists — why and how? There was a time when I enjoyed using Opera, especially on mobile — it looked the slickest in the flock. Ah, there was Flock too. These days, it’s a battle between just 3 players.

Fri, Feb 8, 2019 thoughts

Adding On This Day feature to Blot

Recently David Merfield, the developer behind Blot, documented the steps to expose a JSON feed on a Blot site. I have been running a JSON feed for my blog for quite some time now, with some valuable help from David of course. It is this feed that drives the On This Day page on this blog. I thought I will share my approach so that others with a blog running on Blot can create such a page.

To begin with, follow the guide to get a working JSON feed for your blog. Validate you have a properly formed and accessible feed being served using the JSON feed validator.

One key thing to understand here is how to create a view in Blot. It would be important to be aware of this step to proceed further. A view can be created in Blot by accessing the editing template section (Settings > Template) in Blot dashboard. Click on Edit against your currently installed theme and search for an option Create new view.

Once the JSON feed is available, create a view in Blot for a javascript file. Copy the complete content of the javascript available as a gist* and add them to this new view. Modify the json_feed_url and tz variables appropriately to reflect the URL for the JSON feed and the timezone for your blog, you can refer to the formats in TZ database time zones. This script does the following.

  1. Fetches all the posts as JSON objects from the JSON feed
  2. Identifies the posts that share the same date and month as the current date (but not the year to avoid loading today’s posts)
  3. Renders the posts (or no posts message) in the predefined section detailed below. This also includes some styling via the .className definition, you can remove/modify that as per your liking in fuction renderPost.

Make sure the above created view is accessible at a URL. If not, define a route in the Settings section of the view.

Next, create another view for a page to display these posts; a reference html page is available as a gist. Modify the src in <script src="/flashback.js"></script> to reflects the URL for the javascript created above. The script adds and renders the posts made on this day in earlier years in the div element with id on-this-day.

Do give this a try, it is fascinating to see your thoughts change, or at times stay exactly the same, over the year. Reach out to me if you face any issues or find any step missing.

TL;DR: Expose a JSON feed on your site. Create two views in Blot using the gist flashback.js and on-this-day.html. You should have two additional pages, you can use the same file names. If you do, you can access your On This Day page at /on-this-day.

* This javascript is inspired by and based on the wonderful project Micro Memories by Jonathan LaCour for the micro.blog hosted blogs. I have customized and simplified it as per my needs.

Thu, Feb 7, 2019 blot dev