QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded

Rewriting History


I didn't use this blog between 2008 and February 2020. But now there are "posts" for movie reviews, tv reviews, book reviews, and short-film reviews for late 2014 to early 2020.

I've taken old Usenet posts of mine and applied a bit of my new markup and made them into posts, timestamped to match when I posted them. I've excised the quoted text from other people that appeared in some of them, but it's mostly legacy writing of mine. I'll probably add more from before 2014 at some point.

This is to get double use out of my own writing and to provide some historical content that might be worth exploring as I start to add new reviews.

Covid-19, Day 85


Today, finally, the IOC caved to reality. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are now going to be the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. Cancelling was too much, no way were they going to have events without spectators, so that was the option left.

Things in New York are getting dire. Today's news has 25k+ cases in that state, which is more than half of all US cases (about 43k). Projected needs for hospital beds there is 140k; currently available beds are 53k.

The markets are happy with an "expected" $2 trillion rescue package from the Feds. Trump is eager to make Wall Street happy because he thinks that will mean his a good president or something. I don't think Trump is really looking at, say, the New York numbers. Also in today's news: the WHO is warning the US will become the next "epicenter" of the disease.

This https://twitter.com/harikunzru/status/1239396964392935425 has an image that reflects what I'm seeing now in San Francisco.

Edward Hopper's 'Nighthawks' updated

From @harikunzru on twitter.

It used to be lively at night. Now everything is shut down early and there's almost no one at the streets, even as early as 10pm. Last night on the dog walk, at around 10pm, it was quieter than the streets on the usual slow days of Thanksgiving and Christmas. I saw only two businesses open: Walgreens and Hot Cookie. All the other places still in business under "restaurants can do take-out" have reduced their hours, most closing 8pm or 9pm now. The bars are all closed, most boarded up. The theatre remains closed. The bookstore that used to stay open until ten is closed. Knobs, self-proclaimed "gayest store in the city," a clothing shop which used to be open until midnight, has joined the boarding-up crowd. Like the dog wash place, they have the curious choice of "boarded-up, but left the lights on".

Knobs with well-lit front plywood

I didn't get close enough to see the decorations on the wood.

Mud Puppies doesn't have an exposed store name anymore

So bright inside...

There were a couple of other dog walkers out, a few people hurriedly moving along, and a fraction of the usual homeless population. It's starting to resemble a sleepy suburb now.

Dead links


A lot of the old posts are about sites that do not work anymore. Some changed URLs and some are just gone. It bothered me.

So I wrote a quick tool to check the links in posts, add a "deadlink" tag, and if it is the old standard link blog post, edit the post to not have the bad link an actual <a href>, but just show it.

I use the "spider" mode of wget at the heart of the check, with a command line nearly out of the manpage. In a small inital run, I found that the default retries for unresponsive sites were excessive. I adjusted that down.

linkchecker

On entries that I find a new link for, I'll have those tagged fixedlink to highlight that it's an old post which has had edits.

Also after yesterday's logo post, I fixed two bugs in the post filter. One was serious, dealing with a lack of an anchor on the .code operations, one was minor, putting punctuation outside of anchor tags. At the same time I added an <pre> handler which also accepts ``` style markdown fences. I updated the tests to match.

New logos, in bulk


After my last post, I got to thinking logo making was far too manual, so I decided figure out how to get Imagemagick to generate the images for me. Imagemagick is a powerful set of tools, but it has super shitty documentation. What you can find, however, is example usage which is sometimes enough to get you going. Testing with on-hand TTF files I was able to convince myself this would work.

Then I started looking for fonts. I found Font Space. There are more fonts than I'd want to shake a stick at, but it suffers from some odd organization. The list of tags associated with, say, "Vegan Style", means it comes up in tons of searches. It's a tattoo font, and a summer font, and a vintage font, and a modern font, and a tropical font, and a sexy font, and a resume font, and a fun font, and a recipe font, and a Christmas font, and I could go on. Anyway, I found a lot of fonts and started downloading.

Fonts from there are all zip files. Some of which have subdirectories, many of which have multiple font files within the zip, and all of which seem to have bad Unix file permissions. I wrote my script to accomodate all that. Hand it a zip, and it pulls the fonts out, constructs an image with that font, and then deletes all the temp files.

The logo-tool works relatively fast. On my slow, cheap, computer I made 1944 images from 846 font zip files in about 12 minutes. It took me a lot longer to find the files at Font Space, and a lot longer to sort the output into "use" and "do-not-use". Because I don't want all of the bold and the italic and the outline and the bold-italic and bold-outline ... versions of a font. I kept one or two from most fonts, but discarded all from some because, eg, the font lacked a glyph for "Z" or ended up being totally unreadable.

How I did the sorting is worth sharing. I love the Linux image viewer feh, it is fast, flexible, and powerful. In this case I updated an old tool of mine called fehcopy to have a "move" mode, then created a new "theme" for feh:

$ echo "fontsort --cycle-once -A 'fehcopy -m -d ../do-not-use %f'" >> \
  $HOME/.config/feh/themes
$

The --cycle-once bit means feh will not restart from the beginning upon reaching the end. The -A action argument is the powerful one. When I hit "0" (zero key) on an image, it will run that command with %f being expanded to the current filename. Then it's just a matter of going through hitting space (for keep / next), zero for do-not-use, and sometimes "p" for previous when I want to compare a pair of files. feh supports up to ten different actions, using 0 to 9 to trigger them. I wrote fehcopy years ago to help with that sorting stuff between a bunch of directories. I can't recall why I preferred copy to move now.

Themes in feh can be invoked in two ways. I used the simpler way for this feh -T fontsort, the more complicated (but good for frequent use) is create a symlink to feh with the name of the theme, then run the theme as a program. I use that with my fehonce theme now, and I've had others in the past:

$ grep fehonce $HOME/.config/feh/themes
fehonce --scale-down --cycle-once
$ cd ~/bin/
lrwxrwxrwx 1 elijah elijah 12 Nov  3  2013 fehonce -> /usr/bin/feh
$ 

Anyway, that's how I have 891 new logos today.