A tip for US book buyers: When buying paperback books from small publishers, order from Barnes & Noble instead of Amazon.

Most small publishers use “Print on Demand” (POD). And BN’s POD books are higher quality than Amazon’s. 📚

I gave into temptation and snipped 3 inches off of my ponytail. ✂️ My hair may not be salon-perfect, but those raggedy ends were sapping my life force!

I’m getting serious now. 🧐 Also, my brain hurts.

A book: C for Microcontrollers

Liked: Living Like It’s 99: No Social Media, No Smartphone

I will share with you my experience leaving social media and my smartphone, the tools I replaced them with, some tips and tricks, people’s reactions to my experiment, as well as some funny anecdotes.

I enjoy Drew Gooden’s Youtube videos. He’s like a millennial Andy Rooney.

Link: The guys who turned minimalism into a religion.

Wandavision is sooo boring, but I thoroughly enjoyed Sonic the Hedgehog.

I shall make my peace with being an outlier. 😂

In the heavy winter gloom, sometimes… the sun breaks through!

Skyscrapers reflect bright sunlight against a bank of dark and impenetrable clouds

Watching: Sonic the Hedgehog 🎥

A guy dressed like Mario, in a go cart, blasting Mario music, just sped down the bike lane waving at pedestrians. He had a stuffed Mario as his copilot.

🤩 Man, I have missed this stuff. Bring back Seattle Weird!

Befriending Linux (3 Weeks Later)

Today’s missive is for the Linux curious!

I’ve been on Linux for three weeks, and I like it enough that I don’t want to use Windows any more. This doesn’t mean it’s easier than Windows. I feel nervous when updating software. Given the sheer variety of Linux distributions and the lack of MegaCorp testing infrastructure, the risk of an update throwing my machine into chaos is always in the back of my mind. But it’s been manageable. I had to “roll back” a Libreoffice upgrade because of a persistent bug only a few other people are seeing, and I survived.

But the UI is much more pleasant and intuitive, and I’m loving the built-in privacy.

My Linux Software

My new “daily driver” programs are:

  • Libreoffice Writer for fiction
  • Libreoffice Calc for spreadsheets
  • Zettlr for all non-fiction writing and research
  • Firefox for browsing (same as Windows)
  • Kmail & KOrganizer for Email & Calendar (it’s a bit clunky, but I didn’t care for Thunderbird)
  • OSS (VS Code) for interfacing with Git for blog/website updates
  • Arduino IDE for my electronics hobby

I’m especially happy with Zettlr. (Thanks for the recommendation, @herself!) It’s basically a nice-looking UI that lays over top of folders and markdown files.

I have no good Linux replacements for:

  • Photoshop (I’ll give GIMP a try once they have CYMK color management)
  • PublisherRocket (A tool I use for generating ebook keywords)
  • Text to Speech for Proofreading (I’ve found a few solutions, but they all stink for listening to longer works)

Nifty Features

And here are a few ways Linux (Manjaro KDE) is making my computing more pleasant:

  • I love the easy-to-use Emoji Picker
  • Screenshots and screenshot editing are super quick and easy.
  • I installed my first piece of software from the command line and I felt like I was getting away with something. Seriously? I can just type a phrase and get new software? So neat.

The Learning Curve Continues

Three weeks in, I’m feeling competent in using Linux in a day-to-day sense. Of course, there’s still a ton I don’t know, but I’m enjoying the process of learning new things, week by week.

Linux software requires a different mindset, I think. Often times it arrives unconfigured, waiting for you to decide what to do with it. For example, when I installed Zettlr, it was just an ugly white box. And I was confused: why would anyone want to use this stupid thing? Even after I opened a few folders and files, I still didn’t get the appeal. But after watching a few videos and seeing a few examples, I tried out some different ways of using it. Before long, it clicked.

Oh, and did I mention Linux can be pretty?

A Space Themed Linux Desktop with dark mode and blue folders.

New: I added a Now Page to my author website.

Link: Man puts his cat Wayne in the Godzilla v Kong trailer 😂

Liked: xkcd: mRNA Vaccine

😆

Listening to: Relaxing Bossa Nova for Studying and editing The Case of the Red Phantom. 🎵

This is what happens when you watch too many Minimalism documentaries.

A large snowball with a carrot nose sticking out. No face, no body, just a snow boulder with a nose.

The city is transformed in the snow. ❄️ Steep hills are closed off and people are skiing, snowboarding, and getting into snowball fights.

A friendly snowman in a downtown parkA woman in an inflatable raft slides down Lenora street towards the waterfront.

Wow! We have about a foot of snow in downtown Seattle. A rare treat. The bike lanes are filled with happy pedestrians and very confused dogs. ❄️❄️❄️

Snow is a foot high atop outdoor furniture  on a downtown rooftop deck.

Liked: Business Musings: Tough Topics – Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Fiction should make the reader feel all kinds of things. The reader can decide what’s right for them or not right for them. Writers should simply write.

Watching: Godzilla vs Megalon 🎥

With the Seatopian capital badly affected by the most recent nuclear test, the Seatopians plan to unleash their civilization’s beetle-styled god, Megalon, to destroy the surface world out of vengeance.

I’m down 6 pounds since Christmas and my blood sugar hasn’t looked this good in years.

I’m quite happy with intermittent fasting (16:8). Easiest dietary improvement ever!

Now that my pandemic chub is gone, let’s see what I can do about the rest. ☺️

Last night’s sunset was something else! ☀️ 🌃

The Seattle Skyline lit with bright yellow-gold light.

A photo from today’s walk to the International District.

A winter sky peeps above the dramatic arched windows in an old-style brick building.

All La Croix is a lie, but Peach-Pear is the most convincing deception. 😜

When only the best will do.

Comparison meme: Winnie the Pooh: Book Title vs Winnie the Pooh in a tuxedo: Book Title: A NOVEL

Linux: First Impressions

I’ve been running Linux for a couple days now, and I think it’s spiffy! Here are my first impressions:

Challenges

Missing Software

Not all software is available on Linux. So you need to check out the programs you use and look for their Linux equivalents.

An Intimidating Install

I won’t lie: Installing Linux was a bitch and a half. Granted, Patrick did my install while I watched and asked questions, so I had plenty of help. And he was doing complicated things. He shrunk my Windows install, and he added a partition to my machine (plus a special boot partition to make Windows play nicer with Linux), and then he used something called Architect to install Manjaro with lots of custom settings.

If I didn’t have help, would I have been able to install Linux? Yes, but I think the dual boot thing may have been beyond my ability. If I were installing Linux on its own machine, and if I used the normal installer, I probably could have gotten it done without help.

Tweaking Things to Make Them Work & Accepting Limitations

Linux requires some tweaking and troubleshooting. Not all hardware is equally supported. For example, my touch screen kept glitching. This is horrible when you’re trying to fill out a web form and the screen keeps “touching” the wrong buttons. We were able to figure out how to turn my touch screen OFF, which ended up being our intermediate solution.

On Linux, some hardware simply won’t work at all. Manjaro doesn’t seem to be compatible with my built-in webcam. The next time we have a video call, I’ll either need to plug in an external webcam or boot back into Windows.

Why it’s Worth It

Making My Computer My Own

Pretty much everything in Linux is customizable. I chose Manjaro KDE in part because it’s what Patrick uses (and therefore I have an in-house expert) but also because it’s downright pretty. Do you want fatter menu bars? You can have fatter menu bars. Do you want windows to lock together a certain way? Have at it. Do you want a special symbol connected to a keyboard stroke? Just add it.

I’ve only scratched the surface, but I already like it.

Privacy is Baked In

Windows sends a crap-ton of data back to Microsoft without my explicit permission. If your computer is off, it will simply package that data up and wait for the next opportunity. I never quite know what it’s sending or why. Some people don’t care about this. I do.

I love-love-love that I can run Linux without an open internet channel between me and who-the-fuck-knows on some corporate server. And I love-love-love that the software I use is open source. Even as a non-programmer, the knowledge that Linux OSes and Linux software are being poured over by salty, privacy-obsessed nerds is a great comfort to me.

Better Software

For lack of a better word, I find Linux to be a very considerate operating system. I’m constantly running into small design decisions that are better than what I’m used to. Here are a few examples:

When logging into Windows, I usually need to bang my keyboard a few times to bring up the login menu, and then I can enter my password.

When logging into Linux, I just type my password. By the time the computer wakes up, those key strokes have been entered into the login box.

When using the app selector in Windows, it can take a while to find the right app, select it, and open it. I use the mouse, and the menu always pulls up crap I don’t need.

When using the app selector in Linux, I can just type the first four letters of the app and hit enter. I hardly even need to look at the menu. I can trust the application is there, opening up.

I’m not a huge “keyboard command” person but Linux makes keyboard navigation so fast and easy to use that I’m spending less time mousing around. I have a feeling that once I find my groove, Linux is going to be super-fast and far more convenient. Using Linux, I feel like I’m constantly bumping into easier and faster ways to move through my machine and get things done.

Linux and I are still getting acquainted so there’s plenty to learn. But so far, so good! I’ll also note that I keep all my data on a household server, not on my local machine, so if Linux decides to explode one afternoon I’m not going to lose my data. Given that Linux has a reputation of being touchy, I think it’s wise to avoid putting your data-eggs into a Linux basket.

That’s all for now! Happy computing.