Mixed nuts • May, 2020

Updates, uptakes, follow-ups, and foul-ups — not necessarily in that order.


The last time I put you through — ahem, I mean, provided for you — the periodical mixed-bag-of-observations I call “Mixed Nuts,” it was February. We here in the United States were in a totally different state of existence.

The usual term is normality.1

I was still commuting a one-way trip of about twenty miles to an office building four out of every five workdays, eating breakfast each morning while reading and hearing about the record-high U. S. stock market, and looking forward to a soon-coming first grandchild.

Then, in mid-March, came The Virus. Or, to be more accurate, it was our realization of The Virus: that it wasn’t just something that was going to bedevil people we’d never see; that it was going to shut down all kinds of things; that it really was going to make millions of Americans sick, and kill tens of thousands of them.

Anyway: as Memorial Day of 2020 nears, I thought it a good time for another bowl of Mixed Nuts. Some of them are just ordinary, while some are nerdy (which is ordinary for me, of course).

Submitted for your approval . . .

I gave up trying to get a high rating on the Eleventy Performance Leaderboard — and, by “a high rating,” I mean a 100-out-of-100 score on the LightHouse CLI tool used to compile that Leaderboard’s standings every few days. Oh, I did try. I spent hours cutting down CSS, going back to system fonts, losing every image (even the footer icons!), cutting back on JavaScript that actually makes the site work more smoothly and quickly for human beings as opposed to automated performance-rating tools, etc. But it was all for naught. The LightHouse CLI tool would give me the occasional 100 but, the vast majority of the time, wouldn’t budge past 99. Ah, well . . .

Speaking of system fonts: while going through that little exercise, I ran into a bug in Chromium-based browsers running in macOS Catalina — including, of course, Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge — that causes them not to show bold-weight system fonts text that’s twenty pixels high or larger. This is supposed to be resolved in the “M83” release Any Day Now. In the meantime, the many sites that use system fonts to enhance performance are going to look a bit strange to those browsers’ users in Catalina. And, if one can believe developers’ YouTube videos as a source of some truth, that constitutes a lot of web devs who, one can guess, are not happy about this.

Here’s a follow-up on my post about SiriusXM. The three-month freebie expired on May 8; I didn’t subscribe.2 The funny thing about it was that I’d heard SiriusXM, because of all the COVID-19 troubles, was enabling everyone to enjoy free streaming services through the month of May (originally just May 15 but later extended to May 31), so I figured I had a few extra days to mull it over. But, in the early hours of May 8, that sucker stopped working, on both the iPhone app and the web-browser interface. Bang. As of the last time I was in my vehicle, it still works on the radio there, but I’m guessing that’s just because, no more time than I’ve spent in the vehicle recently, it hasn’t had a chance to receive the “kill” signal from SiriusXM. Since I drive it around (solitarily) once a week to keep the battery charged, that “kill,” too, is probably just a matter of time.

The Mac and iOS versions of the app I use to write these posts, iA Writer, just got a really cool Version 5.5 upgrade. With it came a long-wanted PDF preview mode (smoother and more convenient than that of Ulysses3) and better writing statistics, among other major and minor goodies. If you need a superb Markdown editor and haven’t given iA Writer a serious look before, now’s the time.

While dark mode is a good idea on a smartphone with an OLED display because it conserves battery power, it may not be such a great idea on a laptop or desktop display. Turns out there are studies which lean pretty heavily against it. I found this information sufficiently compelling as to go back to light mode on the Mac, anyway.

After ho-humming it a few months ago, I recently started using Tailwind CSS again on this site. I think I have a much better grasp of its good points this time and plan to stick with this popular CSS framework, especially given some of its recent improvements. If you’re interested in using Tailwind in your web dev efforts, also, I highly recommend bookmarking Jay Elaraj’s Tailwind CSS Cheat Sheet. It’ll save you a ton of time and trouble while you’re getting the hang of the Tailwind naming and numbering schemes, and it’s frequently revised to stay current with Tailwind’s own updates.

My recent review of the AltaMail and Preside email client apps allowed me the pleasure of working with two apps whose developers truly respect the privacy of their customers’ emails. However, today, the folks behind Edison Mail got caught failing on that critical concern. Since this isn’t Edison’s first such SNAFU, you have to wonder if the company will survive it — and whether you should care.

To my fellow Americans: enjoy the upcoming Memorial Day weekend with family and other loved ones as best you can under the current COVID-19 weirdness. And, to everyone everywhere, stay safe.

  1. No, not normalcy. You don’t want to get me started on that oaf, Warren Harding, who warped that word’s meaning in his presidential campaign a hundred years ago. ↩︎

  2. I still haven’t decided whether/when I want to spend perhaps an hour or two hassling with people at SiriusXM to get a decent rate on the service tier I’d want, as I explained in that earlier post. If I ever decide to take a shot at it, I can still reactivate at any time, of course; it’s not as if the app or the vehicle radio’s SiriusXM tuner are dead forever. (And, no surprise, SiriusXM is still sending me “Please come back” emails and snail mail — one piece of which arrived even as I was writing this. Ah, if only it were that easy.) Update, 2020-05-22: The “kill” signal did, indeed, hit my radio the next day. But, a few days later, I noticed the SiriusXM site was featuring a new-subscribers-only deal of $99 of the All-Access tier for a year, precisely the arrangement I’d wanted; so I did go get it. ↩︎

  3. To be fair, though, Ulysses’ PDF preview capability works quite well and has been around for much longer. iA Writer has been dinged in the past for not having this feature; so, while the iA folks have nailed it, they’re late to the party. ↩︎

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