Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, March 26, 2021

Four Things From My Watch list

One of my Pinboard bookmark tags is watch, for things I might want to keep in mind as possibly useful or keeping tabs on (sorry!) or worth revisiting for some reason. Here are four.

1. Ever since I had to spend time finding a web browser to suit my needs, I've kept an antenna up for replacements in the event something even better turns up or development on mine stops or takes a stupid turn.

One browser in the former category is the Nyxt browser. Its FAQ explains:

Nyxt is a keyboard-oriented, infinitely extensible web browser designed for power users. Conceptually inspired by Emacs and Vim, it has familiar key-bindings (Emacs, vi, CUA), and is fully configurable in Lisp.
Emacs is my main writing software, so that sounds good to me, but even if it weren't, this browser has an interesting feature set, with the following demoed here:
  • Jump to Heading -- jump around document headings.
  • Map Commands -- map commands against multiple objects.
  • Fuzzy Tabs -- switch tabs by keyword, URL, name, and more.
  • Link Hinting -- mouseless navigation.
  • Smart Bookmarks -- search bookmark tags using AND and OR.
  • Tree History -- lossless history.
I haven't had a chance to play around with this, and probably won't for some time. But I will have a great place to look immediately, if I need to.

2. Since it is a sponsor, I keep hearing about Blinkist on Cal Newport's Deep Questions podcast. I like the use he suggests, of being able to quickly figure out which books on an unfamiliar topic might be worth reading.

The Wikipedia entry for the service gives the following decent, in-a-nutshell description:
Image by freestocks, via Unsplash, license.
Blinks Labs GmbH, commonly known as Blinkist, is a German book-summarizing subscription service based in Berlin, Germany. It was founded in 2012.


The service provides summaries of over 3,000 bestselling non-fiction books, 15-minute reads, otherwise known as Blinks or book-in-blinks.

Blinkist is available as a web-app and a mobile application. The summaries are available in English and German. [format edits, links and footnotes omitted]
The entry goes on to list some alternatives, as well. Blinkist offers a free trial, which is probably a must for anyone who might want to use something like this.

3. I also keep possible writing topics on the watch list. For example, I recently saw an article posted at Hacker News asserting that "'new car smell' is the scent of carcinogens."

Could this be the next big, dumb cancer scare?

I am considering focusing some writing on chemophobia, and this is just the kind of thing that sounds like it will deserve a debunking or at least framing into a proper perspective. And, if not, it might be a good foil to any number of things that do or did. (Can you tell I haven't read this yet?)

4. I tried this some time ago and had mixed results, but plenty of other people seem to like it. Fraidycat is, according to its site:
... a desktop app or browser extension for Firefox or Chrome. I use it to follow people (hundreds) on whatever platform they choose -- Twitter, a blog, YouTube, even on a public TiddlyWiki.


There is no news feed. Rather than showing you a massive inbox of new posts to sort through, you see a list of recently active individuals. No one can noisily take over this page, since every follow has a summary that takes up a mere two lines.

You can certainly expand this 'line' to see a list of recent titles (or excerpts) from the individual - or click the name of the follow to read the individual on their network.
So it's a little like a feed reader, but it can also help keep up with sites that lack RSS feeds. I love the idea and it's newish/under active development. I think it could be quite useful once it works more reliably in my computing setup.

But I'm a Linux guy: If you're on Mac or Windows, it's quite possible your mileage will be better than mine, since the larger number of users would presumably incentivize or goad the developer on to working out the kinks faster there.

-- CAV


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, going back to Inspirabot yesterday, I finally pinned down what it reminded me of. In case I didn't send you the link a decade and a half ago, meet Nietzsche Family Circus, which randomly pairs Family Circus cartoons and quotes from Nietzsche. It's good for a laugh when you're feeling sardonic. (Another such site that appeals to me slightly in a sardonic mood is Garfield Minus Garfield, which omits everything but Jon from Garfield cartoons. Garfield I find to be slightly more readable under those circumstances.)

And almost completely different, one YouTuber I like to watch is Karolina Żebrowska, who posts videos from time to time on the history of women's fashion--interestingly. In this entertaining one, I think she had watched one too many period dramas with her critic eyeglasses on.

Finally, some excellent Brazilian jazz by one of the finest Brazilian jazz pianists, Eliane Elias, with her husband on bass and a fine pair of Brazilian musicians joining in, in one of the foundational bossa nova songs, "Chega de Saudade" ("Enough with the Blues," roughly).

Gus Van Horn said...

Hah! "Nietsche Family Circus" is a gem. If you told me about it, I'd forgotten it.

Snedcat said...

Also, Gus, I just remembered something I had forgotten twice already to bring to your attention: Two weeks ago, it was the 100th birthday of Al Jaffee, illustrator at Mad Magazine and still going strong. I enjoyed this article, and this is a fine tribute Mad Magazine put up on their FB page.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks for the links. I heard the news of Jaffee's 100th at Hacker News but neglected to mark the occasion.