1. -4

    why do .io websites always look like bullshit

    1. 1

      Looks fine to me, what’s bothering you?

      1. 1

        It was a first impression but now that I look closer, it is the web fonts and gray tones instead of black/white.

      2. 1

        What’s wrong with how it looks?

        1. 1

          It was a first impression but now that I look closer, it is the web fonts and gray tones instead of black/white.

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        For me it’s rather strange that neither the post nor comments even try to name a piece of software that falls into this “stupid light” category. Should, for example, suckless tools be placed under this label?

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          I don’t really want to call out people’s work as “stupid”, especially if they’re hobby projects people work on in their spare time. I can think of a few examples, but does adding them really add any value? I’m not so sure that it does. Arguably “stupid light” isn’t really the best wording here – the original usage in hiking context is mostly a self-deprecating one – and a different one without “stupid” would be better, but I couldn’t really think of anything better 🤷‍♂️ And it does have a nice ring to it.

          More importantly, what might be stupid light for one person might actually be just fine for another. I usually use very lightweight sleeping bags because I don’t get cold easily, so cutting out weight here makes sense for me. Other people get cold easier and it would be a poor choice for them. It also depends on what you’re doing and environment; a 2 day hike though the forest with a 30°C temperature is not the same as a 3 week hike in the mountains.

          For me, dwm, dmenu, and st are exactly right; they cut out features I don’t need or use, and provide the exact feature set I want (I actually stripped some features from dwm). For others, it’ll be different. If you’re not at least superficially familiar with C then the lack of an easier config file would be stupid light. The whole advanced ways to split windows in i3 is just needless bloat and more confusing than anything else, and much prefer dwm’s simpler model. Others would undoubtedly disagree as they use this a lot, and for them dwm would be stupid light.

          This post was inspired by a comment I made when someone asked for opinions on 40% keyboards, and I called them “stupid light”. But clearly these keyboards are useful to some people and aren’t stupid light for them. For me they are, as I often use keys not present on them.

          This isn’t something you can measure and define exactly, just like you can’t measure and exactly define bloat. It depends on a lot of factors. But just as it’s worth thinking about “do we really need this?” to avoid bloat, it’s also worth thinking about “can we really do without this?” to avoid stupid light.

        1. 5

          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.

          1. 2

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

            1. 1

              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.

                1. 2

                  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

                    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.

                    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.

              1. 2

                The font choice is interesting and probably the most controversial of the points made in the article. I’m glad that this is discussed more prominently recently, but there is no satisfactory answer to my taste.

                It appears that if you want a font stack that doesn’t load remote fonts (which I wholeheartedly agree with) the best resource is a blog post from 2010. After that it appears that web fonts took off and hardly any serious effort has been devoted to that. I find that unfortunate.

                In the end it might the most reasonable approach to just leave the font settings untouched, as suggested in the article.

                1. 6

                  I can kinda buy into not recommending remote fonts for bloat and/or privacy reasons, but recommending sans-serif fonts just because they may not look nice on lower resolutions feels like advice from 1999. Remember that the default typeface for Netscape Navigator was freaking Times New Roman.

                  1. 3

                    Remember that the default typeface for Netscape Navigator was freaking Times New Roman.

                    Wait, isn’t that still the default for most browsers (or at least a libre-equivalent of Times)?

                    1. 3

                      I just whipped up a test page[1] and don’t you know it, you’re right.

                      I see TNR as the typeface version of “PLACEHOLDER CHANGE ASAP”. People shit on Comic Sans, but at least choosing that is a deliberate choice. Leaving TNR as the default is just incredibly lazy.

                      [1] http://gerikson.com/t/nostyle.html

                      1. 2

                        What’s so wrong with Times New Roman? I see it used quite a lot, from leaving it default in professional blogs[1] to using it explicitly as a design choice[2]. And to me it looks good.

                        [1] https://stevelosh.com/
                        [2] https://fitzcarraldoeditions.com/

                        1. 3

                          I might have typographical PTSD from overexposure of TMN from the mid-90s. Both sites look tolerable on HiDPI displays, but the kerning of the apostrophe in A Man’s World is a disgrace.

                      2. 1

                        The default serif font is usually Liberation Seirf, Tinos, or Times New Roman. The default sans-serif is usually the font used by the UI toolkit or whatever fontconfig has ailased sans-serif to; in other words, the system or user’s preferred font.

                      3. 3

                        sans-serif fonts are generally easier for people with dyslexia or dyspraxia, too.

                        1. 1

                          That’s a very valid point. I’m personally for people being able to override styling to fit their needs. I’m not prepared to design my own site just for this circumstance, but if someone who faced accessibility issues raised concerns I’d be very happy to accomodate them.

                          Related - does dark mode help with these issues?

                          1. 2

                            Related - does dark mode help with these issues?

                            I don’t personally know. The British Dyslexia Association says that dark type on an off-white background is best, but they do not cite sources for this. https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/advice/employers/creating-a-dyslexia-friendly-workplace/dyslexia-friendly-style-guide

                            Edit: This paper finds that reading is faster with a warm coloured background than a cool colour. Bizarrely, they didn’t compare with white or off-white backgrounds, but it’s some empirical evidence.

                            1. 1

                              Users can set system/browser preferences to request alternate color schemes or use different default colors. I addressed both in the article.

                        2. 2

                          the default typeface for Netscape Navigator was freaking Times New Roman.

                          This is a flaw, IMO. TNR isn’t optimized for displays. Most serif aren’t as readable as sans-serif fonts on low-res displays; not everyone’s using a high-res 96dpi+ screen.

                        3. 1

                          Thanks, article updated.

                          Diff.

                        1. 36

                          Taking my sleep seriously, and pursuing a sleep apnea diagnosis.

                          I went from being so constantly fatigued to to the point where I could fall asleep while driving, to feeling… well, normal I guess.

                          Sleep has such a drastic effect on one’s executive function that almost every other aspect of my life has improved because of it.

                          1. 9

                            In that regard, being more careful with caffeine. Cutting my coffee with decaf in the afternoon or foregoing it entirely. On the days where I only have coffee once I am a little shocked at how tired I get by the afternoon.

                            1. 7

                              Yup, similar experience here! My dentist told me I have sleep apnea 3 years ago, which resulted in a deep journey into the topic of breathing, and a big improvement in my life. Even though I wasn’t sleepy! Most people don’t realize that tooth grinding and damage is often a sign of bad breathing at night. Also, many people are mouth breathers and unaware of it, and it is a sign of poor breathing and sleep apnea.

                              A funny thing is that all these sleep, breathing, and teeth issues have been popping up on Hacker News over the last year or so. I’m not sure if there is a correlation between them and programming, or just general awareness, because a bunch of popular books have come out about sleep lately. Could be that the readership is aging :)

                              Here’s a comment I wrote in response to one of these stories:

                              https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25016745

                              Here’s a surprising claim that has scientific concensus: Basically ALL humans have problems breathing. That is, apes and other mammals don’t have these problems.

                              The two main reasons are the anatomical changes due to the evolution of speech, and the advent of agriculture, which completely changed our diets and thus the structure of our jaw.

                              The agriculture bit hit us twice: ~10,000 years ago when we stopped being hunter-gatherers, and 50 years ago with the rise of industrial cooking. Remember that the average body weight for a man in the US increased from ~166 in the 1960’s to ~196 today [1]. This can push your bad breathing over the edge, although in my case I found that going back to a medically normal weight (which is 20-30th percentile now!) actually doesn’t fix the problem.

                              I think that “sleep apnea” needs to be divided into several different afflictions, because the general tendency towards bad breathing manifests in different ways for different people. It sounds like a specific thing that certain people have, but it’s not really the case. It’s also common in young, thin women.

                              Basically everyone’s airway is a little bit obstructed. But it’s not something a doctor will tell you about, because it may not cause an emergency. It’s more of a thing that unfolds over 20, 30, or 40 years. Doctors tend to give you point fixes for the SYMPTOMS, not the causes. For example, poor breathing causes high blood pressure, and lots of people are on blood pressure meds. And you will also find lots of dentists who will drill your teeth without telling you what the underlying cause of the damage is.

                              Another way to think of sleep apnea is like cancer. 100 years ago, fewer people died of cancer, because they would die of something else first. Breathing it the same way… If you don’t die of something else, the accumulated wear of bad breathing may do you in (heart issues, dementia, etc.). Breathing naturally gets worse over time. Obviously, some people have this problem more than others, but if you’re educated and talk to 10 people you know, you’ll almost certainly see signs of it.

                              I list a bunch of books in the HN comment if people are interested, and feel free to contact me about it, as I have an ongoing interest here.

                              [1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/06/12/look-at-how-much-weight-weve-gained-since-the-1960s/

                              1. 1

                                I am interested in this.

                                I have a diagnosis of “Vasomotor Rhinitis” which to me sounds like “we don’t know why but your nose canals are a little smaller”. During your research did you come by any tips for that kind of problem?

                                1. 2

                                  Hm that’s interesting. I don’t recall seeing that term.

                                  But if you have a mild chronic and/or congenital problem related to breathing, I would check out Nestor’s “Breath”. It is not a conclusive book, but it goes through many different traditions that have uncovered overlapping knowledge.

                                  He says he has a narrow head, and he had a history of a lot of orthodontic work. And those 2 things are correlated with bad breathing.

                                  What really stands out as a big lesson is that every thing in your head is related! Doctors tend to treat things in isolation, so they will often give you bad or conflicting advice on these topics.

                                  Who knew that breathing can affect your teeth? And your diet also affects your breathing, etc.

                                  Unfortunately I don’t have a specific answer, but I will say that doing research into this topic paid off for me. And if you ask your friends, you will start to notice that everyone has these chronic problems that they tend to ignore, but that reduce their quality of life. Sometimes they can’t travel as well because of the issue, so they avoid this or that, etc.

                                  The analogy I’ve been using is that you can imagine hitting 100 pumpkins with a hammer. All of them will have some problem, but it won’t be the same problem!

                                  That’s like humans and breathing. As a species, we’re predisposed to bad breathing. But everyone has a unique problem, and so unfortunately there is a lot of trial and error involved in finding solutions. I have had partial solutions for 3 years, like sleeping on my side and an oral appliance. But am looking at even more solutions, now that I FEEL the great improvements!


                                  PS. I did hear of something called “Muller’s Maneuver” in a book to diagnose obstructions in the nose, but I don’t know more than that. The book “8 hour sleep paradox” by Burhenne recommends that you ask your doctor for this.

                                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%BCller%27s_maneuver

                                  I may start a blog … at the very least I should make a dump of all the books I’ve read. If you find anything interesting let me know!

                                2. 1

                                  Very interesting morning read thanks ! :) Did you try some Wim Hoff techniques for your breath ?

                                  1. 2

                                    I’ve heard about it, I think through Nestor’s book “Breath”, but haven’t tried it. Yup I just checked Amazon and there are many references to Wim Hof:

                                    https://www.amazon.com/Breath-New-Science-Lost-Art/dp/0735213615

                                    Nestor goes through many different traditions of breath work in his book. “Tummo” from Tibet is another one that stood out in my mind.

                                    What lends this a lot of credibility is that many people over the years, from different cultures, have rediscovered the same things, or at least overlapping things. I’m confident our understanding will grow in the near future!

                                3. 3

                                  Can’t vote this up enough. If you snore or share a sleeping space with someone who snores, get a sleep test. Get a CPAP. Wow. An amazing change. It’s weird to get used to for a week or two then it’s nothing.

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                                  Giving up social media and HN.

                                  1. 16

                                    It was Twitter for me.

                                    1. 10

                                      lobste.rs except ~once a week for me, sadly. But having a reading diet, especially an online one, is in any event a good thing.

                                      1. 5

                                        When I stopped binging lobsters I started reading reddits r/all, so that didn’t improve anything for me - only made it worse ?

                                        1. 3

                                          Oof, yeah – r/all is a timesuck cesspool. I’m still working on getting off that.

                                          1. 8

                                            How can someone get stuck on r/all ? It’s full of nothing but pictures and memes. The current state of r/all was what cured my reddit addiction!

                                            1. 2

                                              endless scrolling + sometimes something interesting to read - mostly like watching bad TV stuff (except I haven’t watched TV since 8 years)

                                    2. 3

                                      HN

                                      I still go back to HN, for the wide variety of content under the “intellectual curiosity” umbrella that gets posted. It’s something I miss if I don’t go on HN and I wish there were lobste.rs-like communities for this type of thing.

                                      1. 1

                                        I even would pay for such thing. Going through all low quality stuff posted on hn takes time and time is the money. I had some hopes with amazon’s “Singles Classic”, they have published “Secrets of the Little Blue Box” but it seems to be dead now.

                                      2. 3

                                        The social media resistance intensifies. I believe the early adopters will be some of the first to exit the platforms.

                                        That is, if they’re willing to torch their follower count to be free. My two cents: it’s worth it; and the influence you believe you have via those mechanisms is not quite what you think it is.

                                      1. 6

                                        A keto-like diet consisting mainly of green vegetables and fish.

                                        1. 1

                                          Scroll to the very bottom and press on the white-background circle. Is that some hidden easter egg?

                                          1. 1

                                            Here we go, https://f5n.org/ - and 2020 was a bad year for blogging technical topics for me.

                                            1. 1

                                              Really nice, I like smaller font size. Style-wise I think line-height might be decreased a bit.

                                            1. 1

                                              My website is here: https://mort.coffee

                                              I don’t think it’s too bad, but always up for constructive criticism.

                                              1. 1

                                                Don’t like one thing - darker background for inline code elements. I think having them orange would be enough.

                                              1. 2

                                                Here’s mine. As the years went by I kept making it more and more simpler, and faster. I think I can get it a little bit faster by getting rid of the web font, but system fonts are a bit too inconsistent for my liking.

                                                1. 1

                                                  Enjoy everything minimal, so I like the design. But style-wise - not sure I like the decision to make inline code elements bold.

                                                  1. 1

                                                    It’s something I’m still on the fence about as well, so I might change it to something a little less present.

                                                  1. 1

                                                    That plane game reminds me of “Triplane Turmoil” a lot. Wish it was multiplayer….

                                                  1. 1

                                                    I’m at https://rjp.is/ (got some CSP tweaks to sort out later.)

                                                    1. 1

                                                      Love the style fo blog articles. But I cannot understand the difference between “tags” and “categories” there.

                                                      1. 1

                                                        I treat them both the same for the moment - I’m not entirely sure what Hugo considers the difference. I might just drop one of them, to be honest.

                                                    1. 3

                                                      Appreciate any suggestions or criticism: http://karolis.koncevicius.lt/

                                                      1. 2

                                                        I said it the last time I came across your website, but I really like it! Perhaps another line with the date posted/updated below the title could work for your layout, as others have mentioned that it is missing from the blog posts.

                                                        Also, I have actually used redo for something quite similar to you, as preparing graphics for a paper/thesis recently, what an interesting coincidence!

                                                        1. 2

                                                          Nice! My critique would be that there’s too much padding on all sides of a code block. I would cut these paddings in half or more - try viewing a code block heavy post mobile, where a larger share of the line ends up as padding than as text.

                                                          1. 1

                                                            Thanks for the comments. Padding on the code blocks are intentional - there is as much space between text and border as there is between border and code. But you are second person saying that there is too much space vertically. Will see if I can do something about it.

                                                          2. 2

                                                            I really like the look of it. Very nice and clean blog post headings, though it wasn’t immediately obvious to me that the title was a link back to the index. Nicely done.

                                                            My main criticism is a big too much vertical whitespace, especially before headings. I initially thought one of the articles ended a bit abruptly, but when scrolling down it was just a large vertial whitespace before the rest of the content.

                                                            1. 1

                                                              though it wasn’t immediately obvious to me that the title was a link back to the index.

                                                              Yup that’s the main thing I cannot decide on - find a nice and minimal way to link back to the index, without having a separate “nav bar”. I considered a lot of options, from the current one, to the “X” on the corner, to the back arrow at the bottom of the page. Any suggestions are very welcome!

                                                              My main criticism is a big too much vertical whitespace, especially before headings.

                                                              That’s a good point. But when I tried to reduce the vertical space for new headers they seem to stand out less. Maybe I can reduce them just a little bit….

                                                            2. 1

                                                              I think it can help readers to at least know when a page was last updated - that way they can know instantly whether it is likely to be current information or not which matters for technical articles.

                                                              Other than that a simple “about me” page might help give some context on who you are and what you’re about.

                                                              1. 1

                                                                Yup good comments - dates can be useful. They are included in the HTML meta tags actually (both the date of creation and the date of last update). I will probably add them somewhere one day. Currently trying to be as minimalist as possible, so no tags, no dates, no RSS, and no “About me”… Want to wait and see which of these things I cannot live without.

                                                            1. 3

                                                              Well… here’s mine: https://hacdias.com/ Pretty sure it will trigger some people, some negatively, some positively 😅

                                                              1. 1

                                                                It’s really good and fun to browse. Very personalised. Cannot find anything bad to say about it.

                                                                1. 1

                                                                  That’s really nice of you! Thank you so much :D I’m really into personalization. I think it’s a great way to show personality!

                                                              1. 13

                                                                My sites at https://www.offtopica.uk/ - not sure if it’s had any human visitors yet :)

                                                                1. 3

                                                                  That’s really nice.. I like the typographic alignment. On mobile, the scrolling gets a little wild from left to right.. Very clean. .

                                                                  1. 2

                                                                    Yeah. At least it happens on this page on a narrow display on iOS/Safari, but maybe one website out of three is affected by this kind of minor annoyance.

                                                                  2. 2

                                                                    This seems very readable. I’m not sure why some of your code blocks look different than others, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

                                                                    1. 2

                                                                      I assumed it’s hard to get .uk domain, why else would .co.uk be so popular? How does it work really? The website is clean and minimalistic, I like it.

                                                                      1. 3

                                                                        If I remember right, it only became possible to get .uk quite recently (that is, within the last decade). Before that, .co.uk was the go-to and it’s still pretty ingrained.

                                                                        1. 2

                                                                          I assumed it’s hard to get .uk domain, why else would .co.uk be so popular? How does it work really?

                                                                          Before some time in 2014, you couldn’t register a .uk domain at all. Between 2014 and 2019, you could register a .uk domain that matched the .co.uk/.org.uk/… you already owned. After that it’s a free for all :)

                                                                          1. 2

                                                                            Didn’t know that, thanks.

                                                                        2. 2

                                                                          Maybe that is intentional, but to me inline code font is about 2x smaller compared to normal text font.

                                                                          Also seems like you justify text without hyphenation.

                                                                          One more - in “SSH Hidden Service” - some code blocks have grey background, while others don’t have any.

                                                                          1. 1

                                                                            The code font being tiny is not intentional, I would like for people to be able to read what I’ve written :) - Which web browser are you using?

                                                                            One more - in “SSH Hidden Service” - some code blocks have grey background, while others don’t have any.

                                                                            Not sure what I did to break it like that, hopefully fixing it also fixes the weird horizontal scrolling on mobile too.

                                                                            1. 2

                                                                              I am using Brave on macOS. Seems like by default “monospace” is quite tiny. I’ve seen some people declare: font-family: monospace, monospace; and that improves things with the font size for some reason …

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                That’s very weird! It also increased the size on Firefox for Linux too.

                                                                          2. 2

                                                                            A c++ article on the frontpage, an about link and a feed. Nice clean style, good content, thumbs up from me. Subscribed to the feed so you’ll get at least one visitor if you publish something new.

                                                                            1. 1

                                                                              Thank you very much. I’m not a very confident writer so this means a lot to me :)

                                                                            2. 2

                                                                              This is fantastic! I love the simplicity of it.

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                I can’t find anything wrong with this site. It looks great!

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                my website’s https://superbaud.org/ and i’m curious what people have to say and/or offer as suggestions since i’m new to doing this sort of thing

                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                  Nice simple and clean. Maybe “Home” is a bit empty. I would make either “About” or “Blog” the landing page instead.

                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                  https://www.dalanmiller.com/

                                                                                  Pretty chill 🧘🏻‍♂️

                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                    It’s quite professional. Articles themselves resemble Medium style, but since it has no annoying popup things it feels cleaner than Medium. Well done.

                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                      You can feel the surf dude smiling at you.

                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                      I currently have three different designs for my site; the domain level, my personal webpage and my blog. The designs haven’t changed at all from when they were first put online (over twenty years ago).

                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                        I like how light and subtle the colors and text are. And the full width works very nicely on the site.

                                                                                        One thing I am missing is maybe a page that lists all the blog entries. The archive makes me search them by date.

                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                          I have over 5,000 entries in my blog, so it would be one long page …

                                                                                          And speaking of long pages, you can specify just the year (say, http://boston.conman.org/1999) and read all the entries for that year. I never did figure out a good way to list an overview of my blog.