How I identified some corrupted files based on a hopefully good backup
HDD = hard drive doomed
A few months ago, in the midst of a midsemester crunch, I had to replace a failing hard drive on the old Dell desktop that I use as sort of my “master” computer. I do some cloud backups, but a lot of stuff like thousands of FLAC files ripped from a thousand old CDs doesn’t need to really need to sit on a remote server.
The way we pay taxes in the U.S. is a nightmare. Intentionally.
Note that I hate the filing part. I don’t really mind paying taxes. Of course I wish my money was used differently, but I can live with the existence of taxation. One of only two certainties in life, they say. No, it is everything about filing taxes that really irritates me. My family income taxes are pretty basic, but just including a couple of bare-bones 1099-MISC forms for a tiny bit of “business” (ha!) income bumps us up into the most expensive tax-filing categories.
I paid $100 to TurboTax after a couple hours of trying, and failing, to get cheaper online solutions to replicate its results. In some ways this is the market working. Compared to the competition, TurboTax was the easiest way to get the best results. If I wanted to spend a few extra hours dealing with taxes, I could have printed out all the forms and mailed them to the IRS and the state comptroller. I’d have saved a hundred bucks… but the mailed forms would have been less secure and far less convenient for eventually getting a refund. So, is TurboTax worth it?
I’ve been to a lot of protests and a lot of presidential inaugurations. I’m hoping this time their lesson will stick with me.
The day after the November election I was a bit shellshocked. I hadn’t slept much, and rolled into work even more quiet than usual. I could hardly look strangers in the face. I was ashamed and distressed, and worried about people I know, and the millions of Americans I don’t know but who are going to suffer the consequences of this epically bad result.
I slipped away from work for a little while around lunchtime and walked down the National Mall. I’ve been there hundreds of times, but it always reminds me of childhood trips to DC where I would try to make my Dad drag me to every museum in one day (along with the zoo, and maybe a civil war battlefield on the drive to or from the city). I looked at some artwork at the wonderful Hirschorn and wondered who the patrons there voted for. I nodded, subdued, to the security guards and gift-shop cashiers, thinking about how the next administration might affect their livelihoods and families.
I was down, but I didn’t feel hopeless. I was invigorated a bit by the art and the inspiring monuments; beauty and ideals will endure. And it seemed to me that Donald Trump came from so far outside of political norms that he might, in the end, be a mildly successful president. He wasn’t beholden to the Republican party and their terrible, dumb ideologies. He seems mostly to care about popularity and success, which doesn’t sound especially bad.
A statement of intent and principles for my new blog-and-website generator, Spect.
Introducing Spect, Part 3
Spect is a Python-based static website generator and blogging engine. The program is still at a way early alpha development stage, but it is working enough to begin using for this website. In the long run, I hope that it becomes practical for others to use it as well, because, clearly what the world needs most is new ways to make blogs.
As of this writing, Spect can generate blog posts like this from MarkDown files, track categories and tags (including sitewide tags, importing tag dictionaries from non-blog sections), upload new content to a server, and generate certain pages. I have a lot more in mind – there is a roadmap at the GitHub repository where I’ll try to post updates. But progress may be slow now that I have the basic framework in place and can get down to writing.
I’m learning to code but I ain’t got wings. Part 2 of a series.
Introducing Spect, Part 2
In 2015, I began a bit of a career shift from “generalist with solid tech skills” to “brogrammer wizzzard.” Ok, not really. But after a long period of working with library metadata I moved to a new position in my library’s Digital Initiatives department. Around the same time I began a long-delayed MLIS program. My technical knowledge increased rapidly. I had to dive immediately into databases and command-line tools, then quickly pivoted to geniune coding. I began to take an interest in Python on the advice of my supervisor — we’re working on a major project with the Internet Archive and much of their technical infrastructure is built in Python. I took some of an MIT EdX Python class and then, as part of an “information architecture” class, a Codecademy Python course. I learned a fair amount despite hating the way “Codecademy” is spelled.
These courses were the first time I have ever done any formal(ish) programming training. I can trace my primitive coding skillz back a long way though. As a kid I can remember going through examples from a book on BASIC on an old Apple II, and even remember a lot of details like using ? as a shortcut for PRINT:
Introducing Introspect, a new blog for a new, weird era. Because there are reasons to write out your thoughts.
Let’s talk about text
The “t” in HTML stands for text. The Web began as a text-based environment. Early websites were ugly and haphazard, and images were distinctly out of place. They were awkwardly aligned. They failed to download properly and left weird display icons in their place. If an image was a link to click on, it had an unsightly blue border around it by default, to signify that it was a link. In a lot of ways, the history of the Web over the past 20 years has reflected the tension between the technology’s text-centered roots and the shift toward a web full of images and, more recently, audiovisual and interactive content.
Why reinvent the wheel for the hundredth time and build a blogging engine from scratch? A discussion in three parts.
Introducing Spect, Part 1
My history of creating websites, 1997 to 2016
I first started to learn a few HTML tags sometime about 20 years ago. Netscape 3 was the hot browser, and I and some friends picked up web design basics, probably by browsing a Yahoo! directory to find some tutorials. My memory is hazy as I think back to those early days of the Web, but I remember them with a lot of affection. I was definitely using GeoCities before it began including advertising in May of 1997. Sometimes I think the internet has never been as good since. One of my main contributions to this era was a page about hating ska and cigars. These seemed like pressing concerns in 1997 and still pretty important today.