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    Really nice story! Good luck in the future 😄

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      I wrote a reply to this on my blog (https://jlelse.blog/links/2020/11/stupid-light-software):

      With software I most often go from “heavy” to “light”. First, I try to realize the features I need and then I try to optimize where possible. First, I will use many libraries and after I got everything working, I will see if I really need all those libraries and may replace a whole library with a custom more simple implementation that still fits the needs.

      A case for “stupid light” software is probably trying to use a static website when an optimized dynamic site is much more appropriate. You start to over-engineer a complex build workflow, when all that’s really needed to speed up a site is better caching.

      I have some experiences especially related to the database point. When I developed Android apps, I tried to use flat text files too. But recently I discovered how awesome SQLite is. In some cases flat files are great, but especially when you need to parse those files or retrieve specific information from them, SQLite might be better than flat files. But in many cases SQLite could replace complex PostgreSQL or MariaDB databases, especially when concurrent writing isn’t needed.

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        I get the impression that a lot of the “stupid light” software is designed in the opposite way from that which you describe: that they attempt a minimalist design for every use case rather than building a heavier system and then stripping down the minimum needed to provide the capabilities you want. Perhaps I’m incorrect there, but it seems like much of the “stupid light” cruft out there has to do with programmers who think that their mental model of the world is more real than the world itself and act accordingly.

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          I am interested in what people in line with this sort of thinking would do when confronted with software like Fusion 360 for 3d modelling.

          For word processing, I could argue that Wordperfect 5.1 was probably one of the most useful word processors I had ever used - even though I might miss a few things from Word today.

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          I’m pretty prejudiced against Javascript, but even I think this is going a little far. I want to make sure that my websites all work without Javascript, and I test with Javascript disabled in my browser, but I don’t think it’s wrong to add some features with progressive enhancement. Minimal and optional Javascript is great, Javascript abolition is unnecessary.

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            Unless the site’s text changed, there’s nothing there about abolishing Javascript.

            But I think I can make a case for it. If I enable JavaScript, I’m giving you the ability to do almost anything with the computing power of my laptop. You can mine bitcoin, track my cursor, and try to exploit whatever security holes Doubleclick has left (or built) in my browser.

            Maybe you won’t, but I have to trust that you won’t. And I can’t, because we’re strangers. If you were truly trustworthy, would you ask for this kind of access? Especially if your site does nothing that requires it?

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                Well, it was only a matter of time before Scott McNealy’s dream emerges, fully formed, from Javascript’s brow. Although I’ve seen far more articulate arguments in other places.

              2. 1

                You must have a very difficult time of it in life because interaction with any person or company implies (some degree of) trust. This doesn’t mean you don’t verify occasionally, but you should probably not visit any site you don’t trust. And if you worry about some dev counting mouse move events in your browser, I don’t see how you get anything done…

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                  You do realize this very site (lobste.rs) is dedicated to linking to random - or at least unknown - websites, right? We visit sites we don’t trust all the time. What you do trust is the execution environment of the web browser (brought to you by Doubleclick) to protect you from the worst abuses.

                  The history of web standards is filled with examples of innocuous features that, unexpectedly, turned out to allow people to steal your credentials, harvest your browser history, or track you across many different sites. Browsers consist of hasty patches upon hasty patches to deal with these issues.

                  Javascript (and its associated API) increase that attack surface a thousandfold.

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                Yes! I for example use JS on my site to offer a feature that reads out loud the text.

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                  There are good use cases for JavaScript like maps.

                  There are cases where we could extend HTML but right now JavaScript is fine. I’m thinking about upvote buttons on lobsters for example. We did for videos but they still all use JavaScript on top.

                  Still, for reading articles, news, or blogs I don’t see the necessity for JavaScript. Some have nice flourishing like theme changes but that should degrade gracefully.

                  I use the NoScript plugin too have Javascript mostly disabled.

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                  Regarding fonts - there is also system-ui now supported by most browsers. And maybe ui-monospace, ui-serif, and ui-sans-serif are coming (seems to be supported only by Safari now).

                  I use system-ui on my site. However, recently I often come across websites that don’t set any font settings (not even serif/sans-serif) and look clean. here is one example. I am now tempted going that direction as well.

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                    That’s indeed an interesting idea to not set any fonts at all.

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                      Another well known technical writer that does this is danluu. I think it has a nice transcendence element to it - being at a place where you simply don’t care about fonts in your content.

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                        Compare and contrast with another nerd hero, Gwern. Also almost all text but uses typographical flourishes all over the place.

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                          Hmmm I would say Gwen has nice style, but poor readability: we have footnotes, pop-up boxes, citations, bold elements, tags, ~5% of words have links to Wikipedia. I feel like when everything is emphasised - nothing is. danluu website is a lot more structured and clear. So, strictly on the readability scale, I would rate danluu typography higher.

                          1. 1

                            Three issues:

                            1. I’m not sure how I’d categorize Gwern’s site; it seems to be in a grey area between textual web documents and more complex sites, since its typesetting is arguably a significant part of the content.
                            2. I’m not sure if I agree with Gwern’s font choices. Italic serifs don’t render super well on low-res screens.
                            3. Here’s how the site looks with my preferred darkmode addon: screenshot. My article states that websites should look good with most “dark mode” addons. Websites that follow my article’s advice should automatically support most dark mode addons out of the box without any additional effort.
                            1. 1
                              1. It looks like it will fit in 250k.club, so I’ve submitted an issue to add it
                              2. The entire site is obviously emulating classic printed matter (just look at the drop caps!) but with modern affordances, like large Wikipedia previews, logos as subscripts to indicate the source of a link, &c. Using a serif font is part of that. (The main font is Source Serif Pro, which is an open-source font from Adobe).
                              3. The site has a dedicated dark mode setting (top right corner).
                              1. 2

                                The entire site is obviously emulating classic printed matter

                                Yes, that is very nice, but it looks more like an art project than just a blog. That’s not a bad thing; art projects are awesome!

                                I would prefer that most blogs focus on textual content, though. There’s a reason why the best practices for textual websites and printed materials are different. Most serif fonts aren’t as readable as sans-serif fonts on low-res screens.

                                The site has a dedicated dark mode setting (top right corner)

                                This isn’t visible without enabling scripts.

                                It’s better to use a User Query to enable dark mode, since that way the website will default to dark colors when the user prefers it. I addressed this in a dedicated section. Users can use the same browser/system controls to toggle dark/light mode on all compliant websites without JS.

                                I also updated the article with links to MDN docs on providing an alternate color scheme. Diff.

                            2. 1

                              I find Gwern’s website aesthetically pleasing. There was a similar website I came across related to essays about philosophical debates which I regret not bookmarking.

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                        I’m with you regarding fonts, I just use sans-serif too: https://jlelse.blog/dev/sans-serif-only

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                          It befuddles me to speak about IndieWeb as a single technology, as it is a more of a movement that builds several technologies: micro formats, Webmention, Micropub, IndieAuth, PuSH, et cetera. I always thought about it as an a la carte: you can take the building blocks you want and forget about the rest. In this light, it’s obvious how one can arrive at tens of plugins needed to do the ‘IndieWeb thing’, but do you actually want the whole shebang?

                          Edit: and the main point of the IndieWeb movement is to own your content, i.e. post on the website that you control. So posting on a standalone WordPress instance (or whatever) is still doing IndieWeb in my eyes.

                          1. 2

                            Yes, using your own domain is already IndieWeb, so you can’t remove IndieWeb support from your site as long as it’s still on your own domain, just remove support for a few building blocks. 😊

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                            I increasingly wonder about the feedback problem. I’ve developed an interest in domestic energy efficiency, and I’ve noticed that the bloggers still active in this space will write detailed, well-considered stories, usually backed up by months of measurements from their domotics system, but get next to no feedback.

                            Unlike programmers, there don’t seem to be well-known online “watercoolers” where news is shared and discussed for this sector. Some people seem to use twitter, but it’s an extremely poor medium for in-depth, rational discussion. I suspect, since I don’t use it myself, that most discussion and publication takes place on Facebook.

                            A lot of programmers and web authors seem to be in favor of decentralization. And commenting/feedback isn’t that hard, technically. Yet somehow there don’t seem to be good solutions in this space.

                            1. 2

                              People go to forums where other people are to discuss things of mutual interest.

                              Most people who espouse IndieWeb tech are interested in IndieWeb. The advantage Facebook, Twitter etc l have is that they’re meta-platforms that can discuss anything, not just the technology used to implement them.

                              1. 3

                                Yes, what bothers me isn’t really “Gee, I wonder where people discuss these things?”, it’s more “Why, given the big disadvantages and widely-shared dislike of the commercial discussion platforms (Twitter, Facebook), and the seeming absence of insurmountable programming challenges, is there no good interoperable and accessible alternative to them? And why do people even keep blogging, when it must feel like shouting into the void?”

                                The Fediverse is the closest thing to a working solution in this space, but, like Twitter, it is based on personal feeds, not mutual interests.

                                1. 3

                                  Thanks for clarifying. You and I are in agreement, I think.

                                  I’m just going to list some points that show where my opinion differs.

                                  • Most users of FB/Twitter etc are perfectly happy with the way things are.
                                  • Dislike of these social networks is generally a shibboleth of some self-selected subcultures, like this one
                                  • The technical challenges are non-trivial, but they are dwarfed by the marketing challenges, which people who design social networks excel at.
                                  • Blogging is dead but instead we have Substack ;) The dirty secret is that blogging was popular because SEO and affiliate marketing made bloggers money, and once that migrated to other platforms blogging withered and died.

                                  The Fediverse is a faint glow of hope, but it’s emulating Twitter, not pointing to a better alternative.

                                  A general trend is that people who try to design alternatives to the big social networks are skating towards where the puck was 10 or even 20 years ago (with Gemini). They will always be blindsided and out-developed by people who are chasing new ways to make money off social interactions.

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                                    I don’t think blogging is dead. There are still a lot of bloggers, it’s just harder to discover blogs nowadays. See my blogroll for a list of blogs I follow.

                                    1. 1

                                      I caught myself thinking “We need something like Reddit, but integrated with RSS”, until I remembered that someone was involved in the creation of both of these, with radically different results.

                                      I’d actually be happy if there were a working solution in non-commercial space. While I am sympathetic to people who want to make a living from their writing, this has never been easy, and merely making a technical platform that facilitates this won’t make things more fair. On the other side, humans are social animals, and there’s plenty of reason to assume they’ll continue blathering on, even if there’s no financial incentive.

                                      If the marketing bloggers prefer Facetube, let them. GPT-3 is snapping at their heels as it is.

                                      It’s easy to fall into the VC-style trap by defining success as being dependent on exponential growth. Blogging isn’t “dead”, it’s merely been overtaken by other things.

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                                I just re-launched my blog using a self-developed custom CMS: https://jlelse.blog/posts/new-blog-goblog

                                So, next to work, I will probably spend time fixing bugs.

                                1. 2

                                  I’m currently in the progress of developing my own custom CMS, because I’m, not 100% satisfied with Hugo and the tools I build around of it (for things like ActivityPub, MicroPub, Webmentions etc. – all the IndieWeb stuff). Hugo is great and static site generators in general are great, but once you have too specific needs, building your own software may be the last solution. I still post stuff though, I’m not just wasting time on developing and then post nothing. 😅

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                                    I wonder how this compares to more traditional advertising. Specifically, the practice of stuffing your mailbox full of crap that often goes directly to the recycle bin.

                                    One of the arguments from the crypto community is that sure, it uses a lot of electricity, but not more so than the traditional banking and exchanges it’s supposed to replace. I don’t know if this argument is true exactly (I never bothered to find out), but I do think it highlights an important point: it’s important to not just look at the electricity usage of these things, but compare them to what they’re replacing.

                                    At any rate, I don’t really see how any concrete steps are going to be taken here; is government going to regulate this? Are companies going to significantly change their business models? Are consumers going to make vastly different choices en masse? All of those strike me as unlikely, and I don’t see any other option than those three. So I suppose the best bet is to use better energy sources ASAP, but I’m not seeing that happen either. I’m pretty pessimistic about all of this.

                                    1. 1

                                      Does online advertising really replace offline advertising? I have the feeling that it’s just another form of advertising in addition to offline advertising. I still get a lot of paper in my mailbox that goes directly to the cycle bin.

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                                        For one datapoint, USA newspaper advertising spend dropped from 8 billion in 2004 to 4 billion in 2011.

                                        During the same period, online advertising spend grew by a comparable amount.

                                        1. 1

                                          So advertising that benefited a societal good has moved to something that benefits Google’s tax evasion accounts instead.

                                          Advertising income has dropped for newspapers both in print and online.

                                        2. 2

                                          I used to have more physical junk mail in the past, so some of it seems to have moved online

                                      1. 2

                                        Similar to this: https://hacdias.com/ by @hacdias

                                        1. 1

                                          Absolutely right, Henrique gets a mention on my license page.

                                        1. 1

                                          For what it’s’ worth, you can get even better option at 4€ (~$5.35) at contabo.de - their base VPS is on unmetered connection, and they give you 300GB of space on their cheapest VPS. I do have a server there, but I don’t know about reliability, I’m only using it for play projects, just like my hetzner servers.

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                                            Their site looks like it’s from a past decade.

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                                              And that look and feel makes me think that’s a scammer/fishing site. Also, notice the unmetered connection is limited to 100Mbps, which is reasonable, but a little bit too slow for me.

                                            2. 2

                                              Contabo seems to overprovision. The servers are often slow as hell. And they don’t seem to have much automation, which is why server creation can take a while. But for the price it might be worth it.

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                                              Hetzner is awesome. I first used Digital Ocean too, but after getting more familiar with VPSs, I found Hetzner and used them since then. I think I started using Hetzner Cloud soon after they left beta status, which was already some years since ago. Have been very happy with them since then! :smile:

                                              1. 3

                                                I wish hetzner has other locations, including US and Asia. Digital oceans allows more locations. I guess the direct competitor here is scaleway, they both have limited selection of locations, and seems hetnzer having lower price now.

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                                                  I have two cloud servers at Hetzner. To be very very honest, a cloud provider with no presence in the US at all is really attractive for me. It’s not that I would outright cancel if they did create presence in the US, but I would become more wary of public response and opinion on the company.

                                                  It’s a small matter of principle, I guess. I care about Europe, and feel like it’s threatened sometimes.

                                                  At the same time, if you want to run a company with worldwide presence, I totally understand Hetzner is less attractive.

                                                  1. 3

                                                    Yes, absolutely. Hetzner even has a data center in Finland, which is kinda rare.

                                                    1. 1

                                                      Another problem with a potential DC is that the US government can ask them to give over your data. That may not be an issue by itself, in theory, the government is working for the good of its citizens. But some governments, US included, are particularly bad at abusing this data to target groups of people to perform semi-legal or outright illegal operations. Additionally, once I have that data in a US datacenter, I can no longer guarantee my users that their data is fully private, as is the EU citizens’ right.

                                                    2. 4

                                                      vultr is probably a more direct competitor to DO in the vps space.

                                                      1. 2

                                                        Yep, with even lower price.

                                                        1. 1

                                                          Depends what you mean by lower price, Vultr definitely has lower priced options but seems to be more expensive for the same specs on Hetzner

                                                      2. 2

                                                        Seen as it was mentioned here, Scaleway seems to be the only cloud provider I’ve been able to find with ARM hosts available at a reasonable price. Yes, AWS has ARM, but they’re for literally 2.5x the price.

                                                        I’ve been pretty happy with them overall, despite being on the other side of the ocean.

                                                        1. 1

                                                          I have a single VM currently in DO because I use it to run a couple of services for my family (in the Caribbean) and also for when I am traveling home myself. Hetzner is great but the latency of going to Europe and back for something like a VPN adds up very quickly.

                                                          1. 1

                                                            Contabo (also in Germany, in fact right here in Munich) has even better pricing, depending on what server you want.

                                                            1. 2

                                                              Thanks, they seems offering bigger instances at similar pricing with hetzner. But their website looks really outdated, and makes feels like it’s a scam site :(

                                                              1. 1

                                                                I agree, looks like crap :) I even had to wait for them to “activate” my account or something, but I did get the VPS access date l data a few hours later. But it’s legit and it works so far at least.

                                                                As for the scam, they’re in Germany so that would make it pretty hard for them if they actually cheated, I think. So I don’t actually know what their game is. Maybe they oversell or something, which I don’t notice because I’m not using much of the resources.

                                                              2. 1

                                                                To bad they don’t offer any API that I can see. Love using Terraform for IaC.

                                                                1. 2

                                                                  It seems like they haven’t even automated setup. There are probably manual steps involved in setup. But an api is an often requested feature. Let’s see how quick they can deliver it.

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                                                            This seems like a nice alternative to Postman (when selfhosted), but I can’t really agree with this:

                                                            Lightweight: Crafted with minimalistic UI design.

                                                            It’s not really a minimalistic UI in my opinion. Why do you need to swipe away the ad that pops up on https://hoppscotch.io/ instead of clicking an “x” or something like that?

                                                            1. 1

                                                              My personal blog is https://jlelse.blog - I try to keep things minimal and currently develop my custom CMS to make things like posting more simple for myself. But I plan to keep most of the theme with the new CMS too.

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                                                                There are already a couple of resources to discover personal sites (like this, this or this)

                                                                I think it is much better to use a descriptive link label. Please consider the same sentence, without using this.

                                                                There are already a couple of resources to discover personal sites (like personalsit.es, awesome personal blogs or iwebthings.com)

                                                                Originally I was reading your post on tablet and figuring out what URL this points to was not easy.

                                                                Please have a look at this https://www.w3.org/QA/Tips/noClickHere

                                                                1. 3

                                                                  Mozillas anchor documentation and Google docs on links say that your suggestion is better for screen readers that list links out of context.

                                                                  While I don’t have documentation, I have heard it is useful for SEO optimization too because you’ve now strongly associated a description with a page.

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                                                                    I’ve always felt that way, but I never had a source. Thanks for the link.

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                                                                      You’re right, I will keep this in mind in the future!

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                                                                      I’ve recently been looking at this.

                                                                      My setup for close to 5 years now has been using a remote VPS with everything on it and running emacs/tmux over mosh. I just connect from my Mac Air (or Thinkpad) and everything is just running and all setup. I did it at first as an experiment but I don’t think I could return.

                                                                      Switch machines with easy, reboot, restart X, upgrade system, battery dies, lose laptop, etc. Its all just running somewhere else so it doesn’t matter.

                                                                      I love it. I do work via terminal only which might be an issue for some people though.

                                                                      1. 1

                                                                        Working this way definitely has a lot of advantages :D