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a blog from Eli the Bearded
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Note to Self

In the communication tool Slack (app and web versions of a modern IRC type system), one can send direct messages to people or bot accounts, and also send direct messages to oneself.

Slack bills the direct messages to self as "Jot something down" and it has a little bit of use as a notepad for remembering something. Originally I mostly used it for testing formatting of messages, after which I could cut and paste a proof-read and correctly formatted message to another place.

But recently I have found that the most useful thing I get out of direct messages to myself is very fast transmission of short messages to other devices. In particular it is a great way to send a link privately from one computer to another when both sit on the same desk but on different VPNs. It's faster than email by a long shot, and faster (but perhaps because I am already logged in on both systems) than many other web storage methods, like Github Gist or similar.

For space reasons, I've found that some links are best "code" quoted using backticks like one would for inline preformatted text in markdown. Those links are clickable but do not expand with a preview pane.

Speaking of "clickable links", there's a new Unicode Toy now, the Interleave Whitespace tool. My initial use case was "easily adding zero width spaces (zws) to things to break automatic linkage. After some thought, I decided to generalize it to adding and removing whitespace. Stripping zero width characters from text is hard to do manually, and normalizing whitespace that can include non-breaking spaces, zero width spaces, special sized spaces like hair space or em quad, is marginally difficult and very tricky if you are working with just a few words for a Slack message or Tweet.

Tiny Media, revisited

A few weeks ago I posted about getting a tiny cassette tape and commented that I needed a microdrive to complete the collection.

Four pieces of tiny media with a dime and Lego brick for scale

Clockwise from top: a 36 exposure film cartridge for a Minox camera (takes 8 × 11 mm pictures on 9.2mm wide film); a US dime and green a Lego brick of the most generic type (3001, 31.8 × 15.8 × 11.4 mm); a Seagate 4GB microdrive in Compact Flash package (43 × 36 × 5 mm; platter is 26mm Ø); a 120 minute Sony NTC-120 cassette tape (30 × 21.5 × 5 mm; 2.5 mm magnetic tape) and a Samsung micro SD card (15 × mm × 1 mm).

I checked ebay, and microdrives are easy and cheap to find these days, so now I have one. Upon getting I found out I had to buy a new Y000 size tri-lobed screw driver (well, bit for my modular driver) to take it apart. My set of bits, the complete range from Ifixit when I got the set, only went down to Y0. Ifixit now has them. I got a Y00 at the same time to not have a gap.

Somewhere I have a few UMD disks, the DVD-esque media for the Sony Playstation Portable (PSP). At 64mm in diameter, it was smaller than the Minidisk (68mm) format, but it is still much larger than any of these.

Tiny Media

Three pieces of tiny media and a Lego brick for scale

Clockwise: a Lego brick of the most generic size; a 120 minute NTC-120 cassette tape, a micro SD card, and a 36 exposure film cartridge for a Minox camera.

Extremely tiny things amuse me, so when I recently learned about the NT tape format from Sony, I looked on ebay to see if I could find one. About twelve bucks later and I have one. Now I need to get a microdrive to complete the collection.

Update: with microdrive

Deja Google News Groups

Those of us who still read Usenet proper have probably all seen instances of 10+ year old threads getting a new post by someone who found it on Deja News or it's Google successor. Eg, last month I saw this reply to a twenty five year-old post.

Newgroups: comp.editors
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 2021 19:21:33 -0800 (PST)
Injection-Info: google-groups.googlegroups.com; [...]
Message-ID: <42d18ee7-712f-41f4-b4af-dba9988b192an@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: Maximum line length in Vi
From: Tejasvi S Tomar <tstomar@outlook...>

On Monday, April 17, 1995 at 12:30:00 PM UTC+5:30, Paul Fox wrote:
> G. Ioannou (gi...@cus.cam.ac.uk) wrote:
> : ed
> : Vim
> : Vile
> : They all worked fine with lines over 2000 characters in length, but I
> : don't know the exact limit.
> lines on vile, at least, are limited by the size of an int.
> anyone know what it is in vim?
> paul
> ---------------------------------
> paul fox, p...@foxharp.boston.ma.us (arlington, ma)

It seems there isn't any limit. https://www.oreilly.com/library/view/learning-the-vi/9780596529833/ch15s10.html

Anyway today I encountered a new twist on this. Instead of replying to decade(s) old post through Deja Google, someone instead hunted down my Wikipedia user page and answered a question of mine about Usenet II (dead for at least ten years) on the User Talk page. Really, I had no pressing care about why 4gh was used for the "Distribution" header. I knew it was a reference to some sci-fi book, but didn't really care more than that. And if I did care, the Usenet II page at Wikipedia has had the answer for a while: Usenet II, diff=prev, oldid=181389883

(The same person who added the reference in 2008 is the person who who answered me today on User Talk.)

It makes me wonder if people used to (or maybe still do) get the problem of people writing letters about long ago published stuff after finding it in a library.

C. R. Boffo
123 Main St
Small Town
14 January 1958
Mark Twain
345 Taylor St
San Francisco
Dear Sir,

I am writing to you in regards your piece about the jumping frog trainer that lived in Calaveras County. I don't know if Jim Smiley is training frogs for use in jumping contests, but he should be aware that California law now has mandates about frogs kept for jumping contests. I would also like to say that feeding lead to frogs as that stranger did to Dan'l is just cruel.

Yours sincerely,
C. R. Boffo

Any relation of "C. R. Boffo" to the .a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_River_toad "bufo "lick for high" toads" is surely coincidental.