My Week Ending February 18, 2018


Readings (You can follow my daily readings as they happen here)

  1. I try not to get involved with US politics because I just don’t know enough.  I had to drop that philosophy when I saw people debating this No, there haven’t been 18 school shootings in 2018. That number is flat wrong.  The argument was whether or not you could have an intelligent discussion when one or both sides use their own statistic.  I’m sorry, but any number greater than 0 is not acceptable.  If you accept anything else, then I would challenge you to look down a school hallway and determine which life is expendable.  Put up or shut up.
  2. Then, there was this.  It started innocently enough by talking about how lawn darts are banned and will probably stay banned because there’s no lawn dart lobby.  The discussion quickly headed south when, out of the blue, a comment was made that the AR in AR-15 was mistakenly thought to be “Automatic Rifle”.  Then, it got really ugly and the bad words started to fly.  Now, I get gun clubs and hunting for “sport”.  Heck, we’re even going to witness Biathlon at the Olympics.  I was going to throw fuel on the fire with this link but the issue might be going away.
  3. March 14 will be a date to watch if this comes true.  Will this get politicians to notice?
  4. I know that I’m dragging my heals on the enthusiasm surrounding digital assistants.  If Google adds it to Chrome OS, it will be another of those moments that might convince me that my keyboard and I are increasingly becoming old school.
  5. Just in time to plan for summer holidays, a list of beautiful places in Canada to visit.  Of the 14, I think I’ve visited 3.  I’m always sceptical of these lists particulary when they’ve left out Niagara Falls, Point Pelee, Ottawa, the Blue Mountains, … well, you get the picture.  I’ll bet you have your own list.
  6. The Google Snow Games are almost as entertaining as watching the television coverage.
  7. Do you ever notice that everyone knows how to fix education except for teachers?  In Britain, there’s going to be a times table test.  If it’s deemed to be important by the rulers in parliament, why does it have to be tested?  It’s a five minute test – we used to call something of this short a duration a quiz.  Except for the ability to make political hay and bushwhack teachers with the results, why not just make it a requirement as part of the learning?  This one I really don’t get.
  8. So, Google Chrome rolled out the ability to block advertising.  Well, at least some of it – reportedly the most annoying of advertising.  Here’s an explanation about how it’s going to work.  It’s a reminder that we really don’t own our browser but we rent it and it’s features at the direction of the developers.  I suspect that it would be relatively easy for Google to render any of the current ad blockers useless if it wanted to.  Now that would really be a story.
  9. I thought that the general rule for RAM on your device was that, no matter how much you have, it’s not enough.  I thought this was an interesting study about how RAM works in a phone.  Now that things are completely locked down inside a box that’s hard to open and probably even harder to get more installed if at all possible, you need to determine your needs when you buy or upgrade.  Can you see what your needs will be two or three years in the future?  I can’t.
  10. This describes my hate relationship with my iPad right now.  I’ve moved all the apps that I use regularly – typically games – to an old Android phone where they don’t crash and run so much better.  The only catch is that the iPad was exactly the right size or, perhaps, I think it’s the right size since I’d become used to it.


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Technology Trouble Shooting

Faster, Faster – OK, I made everything faster around here in Google Chrome OS.  I was starting to get annoyed that it took so long to close and open tabs.  I know that a reasonable person would have just stopped opening so many of them.  I currently have 19 tabs open in 2 windows and one Android app.  However, this experimental feature (chrome://flags) has really increased performance.

Screenshot 2018-02-18 at 11.10.41

Before you think ill of me, I have read and understood the warning when I open the flags.

Weekly Challenge – I haven’t actually had any new challenges that has me banging my head so I’ll leave this one standing.  Any suggestions?  If you read, I know how to fix it manually but I’d like to fix it automatically.  Or, better yet, avoid it completely.

I always thought time was time but it’s not on this computer.  I have it set to dual boot Windows and Linux Mint.  Mint boots just fine.  Windows, however, boots and the clock is five hours ahead.  I used to go in and reset it manually which was a pain.  Now, I go to the change the time setting and toggle automatic time setting off and on and somehow it works.  I’ve read articles that indicate that Windows and Linux read the clock differently.  I just find that bizarre.


Video of the Week – It’s only the greatest Rod Stewart song ever.  I hope that, when I get to be his age, that I look that good, can sing that well, have great looking hair, and that I could make yellow socks work with a pink suit.  And, what a suite of musicians with him!



My Favourite Photo This Week

Driving down Dalhousie Street, I saw this beautiful piece of art, created by nature and a leaking eavestrough.  There was no parking on that side of the street but I was the only vehicle there so I put on my four way flashers and went out to take a picture.  By the time I got back in the car, another vehicle had pulled up behind us.  As I was getting a lecture from my co-pilot, I took off.  The other vehicle pulled ahead a bit, stopped, and the driver got out to take his own picture.

I guess we both thought it was worth it!



Thanks for reading.


Whatever happened to …

… mono-spaced fonts?

Peter McAsh posted this image recently….


That took me back.  Well, to the early years of ECOO for sure, but look at that type.

Those of us who took typing in high school will recognize the mono-spaced font.

It was the perfect font for typewriters.  It made everything academic and mathematical.  There were 10 characters in an inch and it didn’t matter what character.  A space or an I or a W took exactly the same size.  When I think about it, it made marking so easy for the typing teacher.  Since we were all typing the same text, you could, in theory, hold the work against a master, hold it to the light, and see all the mistakes.  I still remember that typing wasn’t about success in typing, it was about minimizing errors while typing as quickly as you could.  And, putting two spaces after at the end of a sentence – something I still do today.  Before you poo-poo that, think of your modern touch enabled device.  How do you enter a period?  Double-tap.  I rest my case.

Kids today will never know the instruction “Set up for a 60 stroke line”.  Picture them all pulling out their phones to do the calculation.  Why?  We’ve moved away from mono-spaced fonts to proportional fonts where a character is only as wide as it needs to be.  So, a W does indeed take up more room than an I.  Or especially a space.  With proportional fonts, it hard to tell if I put two spaces at the end of a sentence.  Also, with proportional fonts, you had better learn how tabs work!  In a mono-spaced world, since every space was the same width, you could do nice tables with alignment created by entering spaces.  Not when they’re proportional.

I think now about how regimented everything was.  The only way that you could change the font on your Underwood typewriter was to take the Office Practice course where they got to work on IBM Selectric Typewriters and the interchangeable type ball.

In the electronic world where we prize innovation, we might be aghast to think that the move to a typewriter to a electronic printer was just a matter of replicating what a typewriter already did well.  There were daisy wheel printers, or ball printers, or this new fangled dot-matrix printer thing but the tie that bound them together was the mono-spaced font!  Sure, there were versions of the fonts but that boiled down to size and weight; the character set remained the same.  So, in Peter’s picture above, it really doesn’t matter what device generated that text.

Even the type on our early computer screens was mono-spaced although computer companies labeled it with a company name twist on the standard.  I still prefer the mono-spaced appearance when I’m programming.

Now, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who uses mono-spaced fonts – well except maybe lawyers and the courts and book publishers.  Standard implementation of software comes with a variety of fonts and you can always get more, if you want.  There’s even a big list of mono-spaced fonts, if they turn your crank.

Personally, I’ve tried a lot of fonts looking for one that I could call my own.  I had a superintendent who made a habit of changing the font on everything that he did to Verdana.  It was, as he called it, his signature font.  I let him know that there were fonts of handwriting that could really do a signature but it was a no sell.

I’ve tried but I keep bouncing around.  Yet, my tendency seems to be some version of Arial.  My current favourite is the Ubuntu font.

As you’re reading this post, you’re reading it in Ubuntu font.

I think it’s nice, crisp, and easy to read with no serifs.  I’m not a fan of fonts with serifs – they remind me of text books.  So, no Times New Roman for me.

Speaking of serifs, I’ll open a can of worms here and nominate Comic Sans as my least favourite font.

I mean, how can you take anyone seriously when they use that font.  Somebody at Microsoft must have been having a bad Clippy day.

For a Sunday, what are your thoughts about mono-spaced fonts?

  • Did you learn to keyboard on a manual typewriter?
  • Is there a place in your world for a mono-spaced font today?
  • Do you have a signature font?
  • Everything comes at a price, including an over abundance of fonts.  Do you ever delete fonts from your computer if you don’t use them

I’m sure that everyone would love to read your thoughts about fonts.

Please add them in the comments below.

This post is part of a regular Sunday series “Whatever happened to …”.  You can find them all here.

Go ahead, have an opinion.  We all do!  And, add your thoughts to the Padlet if you have a topic that you’d like to see addressed here.

OTR Links 02/18/2018

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.