Threads for Visiblink

    1. 4

      I write things on paper. Paper can’t be hacked or run out of battery.

      1. 1

        I used to do everything on paper. I wrote up rough drafts on paper. Hand-edited them on paper. Typed them up on paper. In the end there was a file.

        Now I do work that I completely forget about and stumble across when traversing a directory years later.

        So I just bought a typewriter. I need to slow down and generate a paper copy.

    2. 2

      Like a number of people here, I don’t seem to find community online any more. I was into topically-focused forums more than universal sites like Reddit. Most of the forums I visited are either gone or are shells of their former selves.

      So I don’t know. Lately I’ve been reading books and writing very letter-like emails to family members. Some actually reply once in a while.

      1. 2

        Some actually reply once in a while.

        The family I hope, rather than the books ;-)

    3. 14

      This is probably quite a useful write-up for anyone looking to improve the Gemini spec.

      There are a few criticisms however that I don’t think are valid given the goals of the project:

      • The protocol was designed to be hard to extend and develop on; not versioning the protocol makes sense in this context.
      • The protocol was designed to make user tracking difficult and values simplicity. Closing connections after every response makes sense in this context. A resource pulling in more resources (and therefore benefiting from connection reuse) feels like it would be implicitly against the goals of the project.
      • I don’t know why anyone that was interested in Gemini would be using to throw around HTML, so the criticisms of it being a poor transport for the web feel pointless. That’s kinda the point.
      1. 7

        that’s kinda the point

        Precisely! I think the criticisms in the article are valid… If your goal is to have a Web replacement! Gemini’s trying to be a document only platform, not an OS/application platform. Not saying that the Web’s evolution into an OS/application platform is bad, but Gemini is actively trying to avoid that route.

        1. 23

          I don’t see how things like “have more precise descriptions”, “be more efficient” and “fix your security” are about being a web replacement. I read this criticism more as coming from an expert on protocols and their client-side implementations.

          I find it especially ironic that Gemini enforces using TLS, but then has such weak security guidelines as to make it essentially useless. That’s like all those folks running websites with self-signed TLS certs. The only advantage that gives you over an unsecured connection is when you have a passive attacker who can only eavesdrop but not actively put stuff on the wire. This article goes into detail as to why, with solid reasoning. But this kind of stuff is like arguing against a brick wall.

          Note that even his gripe about not being able to share multiple resources over one connection isn’t web-specific: a Gemini crawler or archiver would also massively benefit from doing this.

          1. 8

            a Gemini crawler or archiver would also massively benefit from doing this

            A significant bunch of Gemini fans are perfectly fine with gemspace being harder to crawl and archive.

            Anyway, Daniel’s critiques are on point, but it won’t sway most of the community. The shortcomings of the spec have been endlessly hashed out. The people losing out are the ones who would prefer Gemini to become a bit more mainstream, with support in curl and other tools (like Lynx). The solution, of course, is to code your own tool, which is what Gemini is explicitly designed to be easy to do.

            1. 9

              Seems like an unambiguous protocol specification would be a critically important part of making it easy to code your own tools, assuming you want them to talk to other peoples’ tools.

              1. 2

                There were plans for that, according to the FAQ (section 1.5):

                Going forward, the main focus of the project now is on growing the community around the protocol, as well as working on translating the existing specification into a more precise and formal version which might be considered for submission to internet standards bodies such as IETF and IANA.

                However, the main driver behind the protocol work (solderpunk) seems to have stepped back, and the mailing list used for discussions has been defunct for more than a year IIRC.

        2. 9

          That’s how I see Gemini too. The original post that inspired it all was titled “Pondering what’s inbetween gopher and the web.” It was a Gopher post to a community of Gopher users.

          So I think of Gemini as Gopher-plus rather than a Web-minus. If the intent was to be anything more than Gopher-plus, the spec would be open.

    4. 2

      I like this too. For some reason though, I always distrust it. I guess I’m so used to pressing CTRL-s.

      Word 6.0 for Windows 3.1 had a nice autosave feature. You could set it to autosave every X minutes. It was kind of annoying when that was removed and replaced with a save autorecover feature. I didn’t want to search for an autorecovery file that might or might not be there.

    5. 9

      How do JavaScript and Python, the 1st and 4th most popular languages in the entire world, have an asterisk next to “ubiquity”? I guess it’s a waste of time to nitpick clearly arbitrary standards in these checkmark feature tables but still, that stood out as being obviously factually incorrect. Perl is way, way down that same list.

      Edit: okay, I see what they mean by ubiquity is “comes pre-installed”. Disregarding that every web browser in the world is a javascript development environment, searching online shows that perl is starting to lose its default install status among newer linux distributions. FreeBSD also intentionally worked to remove it. Seems to still be present on newer versions of macOS, not Windows though.

      1. 12

        Seems to still be present on newer versions of macOS

        It will be a challenge for macOS to stop shipping Perl, since they’ll have to first reimplement their libc’s wordexp which currently uses perl:

        1. 2

          Ah yeah, the line noise style of C programming where every variable name is abbreviated to be illegible.

          No idea what this does without spending serious time going through it.

      2. 3

        Exactly, with Windows being the most popular desktop environment by far the “it is installed by default everywhere” just doesn’t hold up.

        1. 2

          What would be the most default-installed language if one is interested purely in Windows-based platforms? I don’t use Windows myself but I’m genuinely curious if I’ve missed a more ubiquitous alternative.

          1. 6

            PowerShell, in newer versions of Windows.

            1. 4

              Let’s not bring up the batch language because it is bad.

              PowerShell has come with Windows since 7 sp1.

              Windows Scripting Host has shipped with Windows by default since 98 (was available for 95 but not in the default install) and it comes with VBscript and JScript.

              I believe JScript is a faithful implementation of ES3? ES3 sucks, but it’s a version of ES good enough that you can do all the “JavaScript: the Good Parts” things in it. It’s amenable to structuring data at least.

              I have tried using WSH JScript for some one off task just once to see if it was any good (I think mass renaming mp3 files according to a pattern or something) and I can’t remember anything about the experience other than that a) it worked and b) I think the APIs exposed to it for filesystem and stuff are all synchronous, no callbacks. Seemed reasonable for light accepting.

              1. 3

                You’re conveniently leaving out that every version of Windows shipped with a different version of PowerShell, sometimes SPs were adding a new one and the longer you went back the less features it had. To the point of providing a curl alias that did not behave like curl…

                We tried to replace our batch script for Leiningen with PowerShell but just a few days of testing on all Windows machines I could get a hold of were so sobering that we shelved it.

                It’s a nice idea if you’re operating a fleet of systems with a defined feature set, or are even able to roll out a certain version - but to just hand a random user on the internet a PowerShell script and assume it will work? Nope. Even if that should be better now (who knows?) with just Win10 and Win11 supported, you still have to make them silence the warning that they should not run bad code from the internet.

                I was very surprised about the cool features in PS, way back when they showed it for the first time, but I think to every non-Windows-Admin it will be a niche, if I go by the last.. 15 years or so.

                1. 1

                  Ah, I only mentioned a release timeline for PSH because I wanted to point out that WSH is older and more widely deployed. :)

            2. 3

              I think it starts with an older version of powershell, though.

          2. 2

            Batch still works too. It has loops, conditionals and subroutines. I think that must qualify it as a kind of language. A lot of the concepts that I’ve used in Python and C, I first came across in batch scripts.

            It might be primitive, but you can also execute other programs from batch scripts, so you can make some amazing things happen. You can even add a GUI.

          3. 1

            Windows doesn’t really come with anything “good” installed, unless they recently started installing the latest Powershell. Your best bet is to install Python.

            1. 4

              It comes with a web browser where you can run JS ;-)

        2. 1

          I think Android and iOS both have similar installed bases to Windows these days and I don’t believe either comes with Perl installed either.

      3. 2

        I believe Perl is still used in OpenBSD as part of the build process.

        1. 2

          I don’t think anyone will move to change that anytime soon, either.

    6. 11

      Sometimes I think we were too quick to leave xmpp behind. Something like the conversations app provides easy signup, easy e3ee, video calls, read markers etc, plus it’s federated. Using it isn’t all that different from sending an email.

      I like matrix but I haven’t had many positive experiences using the apps.

      1. 4

        Your argument doesn’t make sense because most of us early adopters left XMPP behind before conversations was good or even available.

        It’s been 10 years, but from the top of my head: Android was in it’s infancy, apps were bad in general, XMPP clients sucked your battery dry, no/bad push notifications. I don’t 100% remember if you could easily post images or attachments, I think not - it was mostly text chat. Forget about video/audio.

        And that is leaving out the XEP and presence issues other people mentioned.

        Because I hate being vague when I make such accusations, but the conversations website says “Copyright 2014–2021” and the earliest release I can find on Github is from 2017.

        For my personal usage, I happen to have a few sentences I wrote in my end of year blog posts.

        2014 - Jabber - moderately often 2015 - Jabber - very seldom, everyone seems to have moved on and I can’t blame them 2016 - Jabber - practically dead this year

        and apparently I shutdown my server only in 2019, I would’ve guessed it was sooner.

        So that means me and my peer group (and also one ex-company) used XMPP as the messenger protocol of choice ca 2010-2014. Before that even the desktop clients were terrible (looking at you Psi) or lacking features (was that Trillian?). I think I got my first Android phone in 2009 or ‘10, so that’s probably a good 2-4 years of giving it a try. So yeah, maybe we gave up too soon but I don’t even remember prosody being a thing back then (wikipedia says 2008) but I don’t think most people switched until 2011-13.

      2. 6

        XMPP lived in a world of XEP hell - apps likely didn’t have a mutual set of extensions to use. Conversations is pretty much the only client that hasn’t calcified and people would want to use. And that doesn’t do me much good as an iOS user.

        1. 3

          Yeah but conversations is a good app, and is developed mostly by one person. How hard would it have been to do something comparable on ios, compared to the resources that have gone into developing matrix?

          I like matrix and what it does, but sometimes when my laptop fans are spinning up to open element I wonder if it was all worth it

          1. 1

            There are non-electron native apps for e.g. Linux as well.

        2. 2

          The issue here is looking at a protocol as though it is an implemetation. The reason “every client named signal” has the same features is that there is only one ter platform and made by the same people. If you want the same experience “on XMPP” you pick an app and all use that. Other people can use other apps, but if they don’t work as well that’s their own fault same as using a 3rd party signal client or bridge might sometimes do funky stuff.

        3. 1

          I run an XMPP server that has about a dozen users. The major issue with XEPs is that people create them and then don’t document them well. Configuration can definitely be difficult to figure out.

          But that’s a server-side issue. Users don’t have to figure that stuff out.

          That being said, I can’t get my wife to use it because the iOS apps just aren’t very good. Conversations and Yaxim on Android are both better than any iOS alternative.

          1. 4

            That being said, I can’t get my wife to use it because the iOS apps just aren’t very good.

   is being actively developed and has been my go-to recommendation for iOS users, with reasonably good feedback from my server’s users (I don’t use Apple stuff, so I can’t say myself).

    7. 4

      I don’t care about the old UI. I do care that they can’t manage to render fonts at the same size consistently across emails. This has been an issue for years and it makes Thunderbird really annoying to use. A lot of users have raised this issue, but it’s never been addressed. I use Claws-Mail instead (because of this one issue). The Claws-Mail UI is even more ancient but the consistency of the font rendering is perfect.

      It also seems to me that they should depart from or fork Firefox so that they don’t have to deal with repeated breaking changes.

      1. 3

        I don’t want fonts in my email at all. I want plain text, everywhere, all the time. I’d like my client to strip all formatting from incoming email, by default, every time, and never ever send formatting to anyone ever.

        And this is part of the problem, I think: It’s not possible to be all things to all men.

        1. 2

          By font-rendering in Claws-Mail, I just meant size. I should have been more precise. My incoming email is all displayed in plain text and my sent mail goes out in plain text.

          My employer uses Office365. It’s non-negotiable and not worth fighting over given how much I love the work and the people (they do know my opinions, but I don’t press them). Anyways, I use the latest version of the Outlook client, which does render all emails in plain text if you set that up (and it does it at a consistent font size too). It also sends in plain text. Whether it passes through formatting that I never see (in the original message content to which I’m replying), I’m not sure.

          Edit: actually, Outlook does set a font type, even in plain-text, so it can’t be truly “plain text.”

          1. 1

            Edit: actually, Outlook does set a font type, even in plain-text, so it can’t be truly “plain text.”

            Exactly so. Which means that the earlier paras are – well, just wrong, AFAICS.

            Probably a good job I didn’t reply to the version I got in my inbox. ;-)

    8. 2

      Free Pascal, or finish doing so rather.

      Also, more meta-programming and the art of dating.

      1. 1

        Free Pascal is my objective too. I know enough Python and C to get things done (personal projects). So far, Free Pascal seems incredibly clear and intuitive. I like the way the blocks are laid out and the concepts seem very familiar. I’m really enjoying it.

        Given that it is available for several major platforms, creates small binaries, and allows for quick GUI creation if you need that, I’m really enthusiastic about shifting to it for most projects. I’m sure that when I start actually making use of it, I’ll find the odd stumbling block, but so far, when I have researched the objectives that I want to accomplish, there’s a way…

        I hope your year goes well!

        1. 1

          Don’t take this a criticism, I really ask out of genuine curiosity, but: I learned free pascal in 2008/2009, in introduction to programming classes in college, and everyone thought it was pre- historical then. Why do you two want to learn it now, in the year of our lord of two thousand and twenty three?

          Is there a niche that uses pascal a lot? There has been a renascence I’m unaware of? Y’all just into vintage vibes?

          1. 2

            Oh. So I’ve been creating Windows desktop utilities for my work (to automate processes). It’s the kind of thing that you can usually do with batch scripts (or PowerShell) and I’ve even thrown together a few with a GUI (using The Wizard’s Apprentice,

            Using the Lazarus IDE, you can create more customized GUI’s with more features very quickly and easily. As far as the capabilities of the language go, it can make system calls and manipulate text files, which covers the bases for me. It’s also a lot faster than a batch script.

            There’s actually some nice work that is being done in Pascal. I use this app a lot:

            1. 4

              Goes to show that any claims of “language X is dead” must be taken with a lot of grains of salt.

              I actually liked Pascal, back when I learned it. It was certainly better than C as a teaching language.

    9. 6

      Python! I’ve been programming only in C++ and C and it would be a pretty good addition to my toolset especially regarding the many great libraries.

      1. 2

        I’m also planning to learn Python. Did you find any good resources besides the official documentation? I mainly learn it by translating an existing project into Python3.

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          Other than building projects with the libraries you’re interested in those two books seem to get recommended quite often online for people who have got the basics down and want to go deeper:

          • Effective Python by B. Slatkin
          • Fluent Python by L. Ramalho

          I’m reading Effective Python right now, can’t say much about it yet though. I don’t like watching videos very much, but if you’re more of a visual learner the YouTuber Sentdex has quite a bit of Python content. If you’re a total novice to Python you might also appreciate Automate the Boring Stuff with Python. The official documentation is amazing though, but I totally get the appeal of a book as reading documentation can often be pretty dry.

          1. 2

            Thank you very much for the quick reply! I’m going to check out the two books you recommended, since I actually have a tiny bit of Python experience. Watching videos is also not my favourite way to learn, but this YouTube channel really has some great Python tutorials.

        2. 1

          A Byte of Python seems to cover the basics. You can find it on Github. The PDF and EPUB are in the releases:

          I really like learn-by-example approaches. I first saw this method at The python version ( doesn’t look as comprehensive, but it’s nice to have as a quick intro if you already understand the basics of programming.

          There’s also a friendly group of mentors on reddit at

    10. 10

      Billy Bragg is in town and I’m overdue for some unapologetic socialist folk-rock.

      1. 2

        I am SO jealous. He has to play Between the Wars.

    11. 4

      Its Thanksigivng weekend (the real one) and I will be spending time with my wife and baby and hopefully able to get some of my personal site worked on in the downtime.

      1. 2

        It is too!

        Happy Thanksgiving, eh!

    12. 1

      Putting some new windows in the house. Other than that, I plan to relax. One of the seasonal big pushes at work comes in the next few weeks.