Scribbles 'n Bits
Hi, I'm John! 🖖

I'm a chronic technical tinkerer, and I scribble a bit about my small technical projects, discoveries, and learnings.

Longer deep-dives at runtimeterror.
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Weekend Car Projects

I spent all of last weekend racing, and I spent all of this weekend working on my daily-driver racecar... in preparation of racing it again next weekend. 🏎 On Saturday, I disassembled the driver-side dashboard so I could then unbolt the steering column and get at the electric power steering motor. I had been hearing a really alarming-sounding rattle coming from behind the dash for the past couple of months, and (through the process of elimination) deduced that it might be coming from the coupler where the motor attaches to a worm gear on the column itself. After removing the...

A Comprehensive Evaluation of Various Search Engines I've Used

Call me old fashioned, but when I want to find out about something my first instinct is not to chat with a computer. I'm not interested in a conversational back-and-forth or a probably-at-least-partially-incorrect summary, I just want to find the authoritative resources that can tell me about a thing. So I use a search engine, and I've used a lot of different search engines over the past ~5 years or so. Given that the world has just been recently reminded that so many of those "alternative" search engines are literally just Bing, I thought it might be time to throw...

Daily Driving GrapheneOS

The one techie thing I accomplished while I was a zombie last week was installing GrapheneOS on my Pixel 8 Pro. “GrapheneOS is a private and secure mobile operating system with great functionality and usability. It starts from the strong baseline of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and takes great care to avoid increasing attack surface or hurting the strong security model. GrapheneOS makes substantial improvements to both privacy and security through many carefully designed features built to function against real adversaries. The project cares a lot about usability and app compatibility so those are taken into account for...

Emerging From the Fog

About two weeks ago, I suddenly developed a fever that knocked me out for a solid 24 hours before going away. I felt better the next day, and then worse the one after that, so I went to a clinic. I tested negative for all the cool trendy stuff, and was prescribed steroids and antibiotics to help me get over my off-brand upper respiratory infection.  I started to feel better pretty quickly, but even as my other symptoms improved my brain felt like it was stuck in a fog. I struggled to focus, had trouble following complex thoughts, and just...

Publishing my Obsidian Vault with Quartz

I've been using Obsidian for managing my thoughts and notes and references for a few years. I've toyed a few times with using Obsidian Publish to share some of those notes publicly, but I wasn't sure I'd get enough benefit from that to justify the $8/mo subscription just for Publish.  Plus I'd rather host on a system I control. Well yesterday I stumbled across Quartz: “Quartz is a fast, batteries-included static-site generator that transforms Markdown content into fully functional websites. ” Hugo, Jekyll, and 11ty are also SSGs which convert Markdown files into functional websites, but Quartz is optimized for the...

Adding MusicThread to My /now Page

It's been a few months since I shared how I had integrated (near) realtime weather station data into my omg.lol profile page. I've since done a little bit more work to start managing that (and the related /now page) with GitOps. Not only has that allowed me to update my pages from my terminal, but it's also made it easier (and safer) for me to tinker with the presentation. So today I knocked out something I'd been intended to do for ages: I set up my /now page to pull the latest album or track from my "Now Playing" thread...

I Just Hopped to Bunny.net

Last night, a wild hare took hold of me, and I decided to leap from Cloudflare to bunny.net for my runtimeterror.dev blog's DNS and CDN. I've been cozy in the burrow of Cloudflare's offering for years, nibbling on their services that go beyond DNS and CDN, like Cloudflare Tunnels for serving internal resources externally and Cloudflare Workers and Crowdsec Bouncers as a sort of distributed fail2ban setup. So while I thought I might burrow into Bunny on a spare domain, I didn't really intend to hop providers for the main blog. Yet bunny.net whiskered its way into my favor surprisingly...

I'm Tired

So very tired.  Our 10-year-old Boston Terrier, Pippin, developed a nasty honking cough back in October, and that turned out to be caused by a tumor growing at the base of his heart. He got radiation treatment in December and hasn't been coughing since. He had a follow-up CT two weeks ago and that confirmed that the tumor has stopped growing and has been slightly reduced in size (apparently it's a type of slow-growing tumor which means it's also slow to die), but the docs determined that he had some lung inflammation from the radiation. He was prescribed a round...

Trying Tabby Terminal

A recent toot from Jack Baty introduced me to the lovely Berkeley Mono font. One thing led to another and, well, I purchased the first font I've ever paid for (seriously, it's that good). Installing the font for use in VS Code didn't take too much effort; I just dropped the relevant TTF files into `/usr/fonts/share/truetype/` and then updated my VS Code config. Being able to use the new font in my terminal emulator posed a more difficult problem. You see, my primary computer is a Framework Chromebook, where I do most of my work in the "Crostini" Linux development...

From Scribbles to Gemini, with EchoFeed

I posted almost a month ago that I was pausing my Scribblesing while I focused on further adventures in Geminispace. But then Robb Knight went and released the much-anticipated EchoFeed, and I thought it might be fun to see if I could feed my Gemini capsule from Scribbles. After tinkering with it quite a bit today, I think I've got a working (if not particularly elegant) solution. Now, when EchoFeed sees a new post on my Scribbles feed, it copies the post to a Markdown file in the GitHub repo I use for deploying content to my capsule. A GitHub Actions...

Dear Driver

“There are some things I'd like you to know before you get back on the road (with me).” I've seen a lot of dumb, dangerous stuff on the road around me, yet I haven't been involved in so much as a parking lot fender bender in over 20 years. That may come down to luck, but I think some of my driving habits have also helped keep me safe. In any case, I'd like to keep that streak going. Here's how you can help me (and help yourself in the process). • When you're driving, you're driving. That's it. Period....

On Using GenAI Responses to Explain Things to Others...

“Just don't.” Nobody benefits from an AI-generated explanation of $topic copy-and-pasted into a chat, email, discussion forum, blog post, or other communication. Such explanations are often incomplete or inaccurate, and sharing them in that way comes across as a low-effort attempt to show everyone how smart you are(n't). It doesn't help anyone, and probably annoys everyone. If you want to explain something to someone, do it in your own words! Not only does that allow you to tailor the explanation to the audience and context, but it will usually help you develop a better understanding of the topic as well....

Unnecessary GitHub Profile Eye Candy

While futzing around a bit yesterday, I came across a GitHub profile which showed a purple "snake" eating its way through the user's contributions grid. I laughed at how unnecessary this was, and then promptly set about adding it to my own profile page. It turned out to be really easy to do, thanks to the snk action from Platane: • Platane/snk on GitHub Here's the workflow I worked up to implement it on my page: name: mek snek on: schedule: - cron: "0 */12 * * *" workflow_dispatch: push: branches: - main jobs: snek: permissions: contents: write runs-on: ubuntu-latest...

Discord Is Not A Forum

“And get off my lawn.” Over the past several years, there's been this trend for new companies to stand up a Discord server instead of hosting a discussion forum where users can exchange ideas, offer feedback, and provide support to each other. And I hate it. For decades, if I had a problem with a software product I could search the internet for the symptoms/errors and could generally find someone else who had encountered the same issue. Often, the results would lead me to a thread on a company's community forum, and that thread would include helpful troubleshooting tips, workarounds,...

Habits of Bad Domain Registrars

I have a small-but-growing collection of domains. Some are used for public projects like this capsule, some find purpose for internal personal projects, some are used primarily for email addresses, and several more just sit idle waiting for a use. Assembling this collection has taken me through many different domain registrars, with varying levels of user-unfriendliness. If you, as a registrar, do any of (let alone *all* of) the following, know that your business model is hot+wet garbage: • Parking 1000 CNAMEs on newly-registered domains, which then have to be manually removed because you don't offer a user-facing API.* •...