More quotes

First, from The Dragonbone Chair:

“Ko muhuhok na mik aqa nop, we say in Yiqanuc: ‘When it falls on your head, then you are knowing it is a rock.’”

“‘Mikmok hanno so gijiq,’ we say in Yiqanuc!” Binabik called. “‘If you wish to carry a hungry weasel in your pocket, it is your choice!”

A ponderous one from The Banished of Muirwood:

Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.

One that made me cry from Artemis:

“What’s up, Dad? You’re slow as snot today.”

“Just being thorough.”

“Are you kidding? I’ve seen you fire up a torch with one hand and set mixture levels with the other at the same time. Why are you—”

Oh. I stopped talking. This wasn’t a normal job. Tomorrow, his daughter’s life would rely on the quality of these welds. It slowly dawned on me that, to him, this was the most critical project he’d ever done. He would accept nothing short of his absolute best. And if that meant taking all day, so be it. I stood back and let him work. After more fastidious double checks, he got started. I assisted and did what I was told. We may have our friction, but when it came to welding he was the master and I was the apprentice. Very few people get a chance to quantify how much their father loves them. But I did. The job should have taken forty-five minutes, but Dad spent three and a half hours on it. My father loves me 366 percent more than he loves anything else. Good to know.

One that makes me ponder from City of Miracles:

What a tremendous sin impatience is, he thinks. It blinds us to the moment before us, and it is only when that moment has passed that we look back and see it was full of treasures.

One that made me laugh from Gardens of the Moon:

“It will be a fine day for a walk, pronounces Kruppe, who is wise in all things.”

Kruppe (of course)

And finally one that reminds me enough of San Francisco that I couldn’t help but stop and think from The City Stained Red:

This city is sick, his father had once told him. It eats people and craps out gold and people pick the filth up off the city streets and shove it in their faces and smear it on their lips.

I created iosfontsizes.com, a quick way to glance at the dynamic type sizes Apple predefines. It’s an evolution of a Gist I created which I’ve been referring to for years, but now with the added benefit of an extremely memorable URL.

Robert Jackson Bennett, author of City of Stairs, wrote author notes for the book:

Every once in a while – mostly due to reader comments – I find myself wondering if the present tense is worth writing in. But the opening sequence to this chapter dispels any such thoughts from my mind.

Seriously, I forgot how fucking creepy Jukov is.

Standard Notes gains file attachments

Standard Notes is an end-to-end encrypted notes syncing application built for longevity:

Our revolutionary, paradigm-shifting 21st-century business plan is to keep your information ready for the 22nd century. The notes you write now should be there for you in a 100 years. That’s our killer app.

It’s one of the rare times when I value function over form. It’s an ugly application, feeling wholly unnative and lacking in important things like keyboard shortcuts. Why keep using it? There’s no other service that can sync my notes with zero knowledge across devices.

One of the bigger holes–not being able to attach and sync files–is partially filled today with the release of FileSafe:

When you use FileSafe, you attach files[…]to your individual notes. These files are then encrypted by Standard Notes offline (client-side) first, then uploaded in their encrypted form to your Dropbox, Google Drive, or WebDAV compliant server (Nextcloud, ownCloud, Seafile, Synology, and others).

It’s barebones. You can upload to a note and download from a note. There’s no previews, no inlining. It doesn’t work on mobile yet. It’s not what you would expect out of attaching a file to a note.

Privacy is such a strong differentiator.

AT&T’s ’70s video on Unix

This documentary/ad from AT&T in the 1970s has Bell Labs employees introduce and describe how Unix differs from other operating systems, as well as about the ethos of Unix. Related is the Computerphile interviews with Brian Kernighan who participated in this era of Bell Labs (and this video quite excellently).

It’s impressive how they managed to build so much fundamental concepts and designs in such a short period of time. Much of the computing world is still based on how those original Unix programs were written and the decisions of those working in Bell Labs.

Tinier webpages

The Style Guide for Google’s open-source projects includes some interesting recommendations that I hadn’t seen before, including:

For file size optimization and scannability purposes, consider omitting optional tags. The HTML5 specification defines what tags can be omitted.

This includes tags like <html>, <head>, and <body> as well as closing tags for elements like </li> and </p>. The difference can be rather stark. An extremely basic page may look like:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<title>A page about nothing</title>
<h1>Introduction</h1>
<p>Also the conclusion.

ICANN created a history project documenting its formation nineteen years ago. I’m captivated by the interviews: corralling support and preventing disputes between so many interests seems like an impossible task. I couldn’t imagine the current political climate would come close to breaking something away from the US government with such bipartisan support. Their policies are downright ridiculous at times, but their history is certainly rich.

Is using a generic top-level domain a good idea?

I’ve been thinking about switching over my website and email to one of the new top-level domains. This has lead me to investigating what the switch would feel like, and how stable the move would be.

Will it survive?

I am looking at the .engineer gTLD now owned by Donuts. At the time of writing this, there are a total of 2706 registered domains since late 2014. That’s nothing.

That got me thinking: what exactly happens when a gTLD fails?

The answers aren’t clear. When applying, ICANN requires registrars put up cash in the form of a bond to cover operational costs for 3 years. If a registrar were to fail, another can propose to take over. Their database is stored off-site, and data can be migrated.

But what if nobody does? What happens to a gTLD if there’s not enough domains to stay in business? The answer, it seems, is that the domain ends. There’s no provisions at ICANN to maintain domains beyond the transfer procedure.

Donuts, for what it’s worth, has stated they would not shut any down:

We think of all the TLDs as one big registry. It[‘]s profitable, so all our TLDs are profitable, but that is beside the point. We’d no more shut down one of our TLDs than you would shut down 100 “unprofitable” second-level names in .link.

There’s definitely risk, and that’s not what the internet needs. It should be that, regardless of the fate of any registrar, a domain you purchase today will be valid as long as you renew it.

As an email

Generic top-level domains have been available for registration since 2013, but there’s a number of services that can’t handle them. I’m surprised how many times I enter one into an email field and see “invalid address” as the result.

The responses I’ve received are generally the “doing it wrong” variety and not the “I’ve filed an issue and we’ll look into it.” I’m not sure what I expected to be honest; I hoped that it would be passed up the food chain, but it always dies in the first round of support.

This means, to use a gTLD, I need to keep a backup domain for services like AT&T, CBS, Virgin Airlines, and Crunchyroll. I expected that in 2017 it wouldn’t be a problem, and for the most part it isn’t an issue. It’s frustrating though.

Premium domains

New.net tried replacing ICANN’s authority in the past, long before gTLDs existed. They offered some snazzy options, and I grabbed zac.tech to play around. It didn’t work on most ISPs, but it did work on mine.

That’s a valid gTLD now! I could register it again! For the low, low cost of $2800. Per year.

This notion of a premium domain name is a money-grab by registrars. What constitutes a “premium” domain is arbitrary: length, dictionary words, prettiness, etc. If you try to register one of these domains at NearlyFreeSpeech you get a perfectly correct error:

This means the registry of this gTLD plans to extort extra money from anyone who wants this domain.

It is, and they do. These premium prices may come down. Perhaps they’ll stop charging extra to renew them entirely. But when your registry has a few thousand total domains are premium bottlenecks the right way to go about this?

The future?

I’m worried that entire namespaces are being taken by companies for their internal use, like Google seems to be doing with .dev. If you’ve got the cash, you can take complete, even dictatorial, ownership. That’s not how existing domains worked, but it’s the rules we’re living under with ICANN’s leadership.

But we can’t continue to have one namespace. We’ve been in a world where everything but .com was wrong, and Verisign’s control over it has been harsh. These new top-level domains are nicer looking and there’s significantly more availability.

So I’m thinking about switching. There’s a lot to choose from, and more opening up every day. I’m on a ccTLD right now, and there’s a real risk that it could go away at any time through local laws or disputes. Remember when every startup was using Libya’s .ly domain?

Generic top-level domains feel like an improvement for the internet as a whole. The cruft at the end doesn’t have to be cruft; it can be descriptive, it can be helpful, and above all it can be nice.