Late last month, I triumphantly announced I was getting rid of stuff. Decluttering sounded easy, until I started. Point is, I’ve made great progress getting rid of things, including certain items I thought I could never bear to part with. So much scanning and photography.

As far as 2017 goes, I’ll continue on this trajectory, so I can live in a smaller place with cheaper rent, or the same sized place with more space to breathe. It’ll be glorious, like a nerdy nirvana where all that remains are small tokens of a life lived the way I wanted.

And then the anime figure gods (headed by Musasabi YU-ko) rear their evil, evil heads and collude with Takashi Takeuchi to release a new 17 rendition of a classic that has me quivering over the pre-order button like a recovering addict tempted at the prospect of another fix.

This could be the greatest fig I’ve seen in a long, long time.

Saber is a legend, in her/his original time (it’s complicated), and now. Her summoning scene from the original Fate/Stay Night anime must surely rank as one of the most iconic moments in modern anime history; so much so that they repeated it in Unlimited Blade Works.

Perhaps more than any character before and since, she’s a tower of stoic calm and ruthless skill, yet also an unfathomable degree of patience and compassion for her otherwise bumbling master. And that’s why this fig works so well!

The first thing Clara and I noticed was her adorable expression. Her beaming smile and wide eyes are such a stark departure from her usually reserved nature, but they still look so natural. I love how her distinctive locks are billowing around her head too, as if she’s turned around excitedly to see us.

I would have been happy with her pose and expression on a fig of her in her original blue dress, but her race queen garb also works surprisingly well as a point of contrast. The little details on her cute jacket to the folds and zipper on her boots, are all done so well.

But this line from her marketing material takes the cake:

You can choose to display her holding the “Excaliparasol”, a parasol that looks similar to Excalibur.

Excaliparasol! Damn, now I actually really want this.

BBS automotive spam

I didn’t get time to do fanmail submissions last Friday, so I thought I’d quote this delightful piece we got at work recently. Everything about this message is wonderful.

This is Mr.Fatmir from Daimler group World top enterprises ,

I’m already considering a blog name change to Rubenerd group World top super enterprises best in Singapore and JB and some say Batam.

From internet ,we know you are interest of our original brand of auto parts .

From INTERNET!? I hear they have that on computers now.

We are top agent (general distributor) of 100 famous auto parts brands such as Mercedes / Bmw / BBS / Toyota / Honda/ bearing FAG /Skf/ Ina Sachs ect..,see the list below.

BBS cars! They’re slower, but they’re retro. Can I get a NOCHANGE BBS car so I can play games while I drive to oblivion?

Our manufacturer base can also produce on your own b.r.a.n.d.

Are you s.u.r.e about that?

If you are a salesperson or customer service, please transfer this E-mails to your company purchaser , because competitive goods in low rate can make your sells easier ,

And you know me, I’m all about the making sells easier. That paraphraph wasn’t truncated, that’s how the email ended.

This e-mail is confidential. It may also be legally privileged. If you are not the addressee you may not copy, forward, disclose or use any part of it. If you have received this message in error, please delete it and all copies from your system and notify the sender immediately by return e-mail.

Whoops, it seems to have somehow made it onto my public blog. I did consider the environment and avoided printing, and it did introduce Phua Chu Kang and Simpsons references together for possibly the first time.

MacVim's search replace

The MacVim maintainers continue to surprise me. If you do a search/replace the Vim way:


Then hit Command+F out of Mac muscle memory, the search field shows your last searched term:

MacVim's search page showing the Search field populated with what I had in Vim's inline search.

Generic Mac search boxes miss much of the Vim’s search power, but in a pinch it can be a real time saver.

Farewell office coffee mug

Today we bid a fond farewell to a dear friend and constant companion, my Keep Calm and Drink Coffee mug.

My office mug saying Keep Calm and Drink Coffee

I found it cracked and leaking in the kitchen, which for safety reasons I’m told is less than ideal when its primary purpose is to contain aqueous beverages of a high temperature nature. The cleaners may have done it, or I did during a bout of absentmindedness. There’s insufficient evidence to swing either way, or to remove all reasonable doubt from a corporate jury.

Clara bought this mug for me on my first day at my current and first full time job back in Australia, and didn’t quite make it to three years here.

It survived the old office’s shared bathrooms as it was washed, my first attempt at making plunger coffee, then Aeropress coffee, and plenty of cups of hot chocolate, tea, and likely some soups.

Its sister mug, the deligtful Ministry of Silly Walks vessel, will have to step up now.

Norfolk Island, I can't handle your birds

Norfolk Island is famous for its beautiful pines, but I didn’t realise it has such adorable fauna. Below we have the Gannet and the White Tern, photographed by Steve Daggar and uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.

The Boeing 727 prototype

I was going through my old Pinboard (previously links, and remembered Robert A. Bogash’s incredible photo archive of the original 727! Among images of blueprints, building the fuselange and test flights, this was my favourite:

From Robert’s description:

An historic picture - the 707 Prototype (Dash 80) in the foreground, then E1, and, in the rear E2, in the Boeing Flight Center hangar at Boeing Field, 1963.

There’s something cool about the continuity of Boeing’s original nose design. 737s manufactured today share parts of the nose design as the original 707, and the 727s shown there. That colour scheme was also something else.

I’ve never flown in a 727, or a 707 for that matter. It’s likely stuff you and I have bought has arrived on a cargo version of those planes though.

UK's EU ambassador quits

Jessica Elgot, Patrick Wintour and Peter Walker reported this incredible news in The Guardian:

The sudden resignation of Britain’s ambassador to the EU has prompted angry accusations from remain supporters that officials who express caution about the Brexit process risk being pressured out of their jobs.

No kidding, though the leave crowd would likely use fluffier language:

John Redwood, a longtime Eurosceptic Tory MP, said: “Sir Ivan’s heart was not in the negotiations. The talks do not need to be that complicated. If you leave, you leave.

See! Nothing to see here, move on people.

You take control of your borders, your laws and your money and that is not something that needs to be negotiated with Mrs Merkel.”

As they say here: yeah, nah

Let’s quickly unpack these for fun.

  • Borders. Europe is the UK’s biggest trading partner. Most of their immigration comes from outside the EU. And England voting to leave may be the final push for Scottish independence. The first two render the borders argument moot, and the latter is not what they wanted.

  • Laws. UK exporters will still be bound to EU regulations on their products if they want to sell, and now they won’t have a say in them any more. Mr Redwood is right about “Mrs Merkel” not negotiating, just not in the way he thinks.

  • Money. You mean, the money the leave crowd promised would go to the NHS, then turns out it didn’t? And what about all the money pouring into the City of London as the former financial capital of the EU, or foreign businesses that chose to have their European headquarters in the UK?

I’ve been saying moot a lot recently

Having said all that, the real epiphany I had last year is that using logic and reason against emotional arguments is fruitless (moot, you could say). Those who dislike the principle or idea of the EU are free to do so, but they shouldn’t obfuscate by selling it as some big win for the above points, when they’re not.

I’d also point out I have a genetic foot in the game. My mothers side of the family were from Scotland, and my father is from Germany, so I fear a Brexit with Scotland still in the UK will tear my genes apart. My enemies would like this, but I rather like existing at the moment.

Two-tone beige keyboards in 2017

Unicomp Ultrra Classic keyboard

I’m building a nostalgic DOS tower as a long-term project, but finding a small, two-tone beige keyboard for it is painful. Every keyboard manufaturer uses horrible black parts now, and customisable ones still use a black bezel.

So far, the only ones I can find are:

  1. Topre Realforce, which are expensive, only recently ended production, and aren’t compatible with PS/2 adaptors.

  2. Unicomp Ultra Classic. I love the buckling springs, but my desk space is too limited for the extra numeric keypad.

If anyone out there knows of a small, two-tone mechanical beige keyboard, let me know!

But even in their dressing

New year celebrations aren’t my cup of tea. But at least I’m a caucasian gent who doesn’t have to put up with this crap, as reported by Michael Safi at The Guardian:

Thousands of people gathered on two central streets in Bangalore on Saturday night to celebrate the new year. Local newspaper reports and witnesses said the crowd became unruly and began to subject women to sexual assault and harassment.

And what caused it?

G Parmeshwara, the home minister for Karnataka state, appeared to brush aside the incident on Monday in comments to the news agency ANI.

“They tried to copy the westerners, not only in their mindset but even in their dressing,” he said. “So some disturbance, some girls are harassed, these kinds of things do happen.”

The charitable interpretation of the home minister’s words is that he’s merely corrolating dress styles with crime.

The other, sadly more likely explanation (based on the treatment of Indian women in general, and other political comments) is women bring it upon themselves by dressing a certain way, which is bollocks. Are these men also so weak as to devolve into animals at the mere sight of a women in a miniskirt?

To remove all ambiguity, the only reasonable thing to say is attire is never an excuse for assult.

Acela Express, then and now

Welcome to 2017! Here’s hoping it’s a better one for the world… though, selfishly, mine was pretty good.

I thought I’d start this year with a fun comparison. A few posts ago I shared a photo of the Acela Express Clara and I took from Philadelphia to Penn Station, New York. For those with short memories, or better things to remember, here it was:

Here’s the same consist in the Northeast Corridor route in the original Microsoft Train Simulator from 2001:

And the same consist again in the new Northeast Corridor route in Train Simulator 2017, taken this morning:

I love how realistic the Philly skyline looks in this, right down to the Comcast Centre! Friggen awesome.

Unfortunately, this just makes Clara and I want to go back.

2016 and masculinity

2016 has been a rough year. Train and plane crashes seemingly every other week. Brexit, Trump and Pauline Hanson pushed back on the idea the world was trending towards a kinder, more inclusive place.

We’ve also lost so many people who had an impact on our lives, including Richard Adams, one of my favourite authors from my childhood. Watership Down will be getting another reading over the next few weeks.

These were all tragic, but it took the death of George Michael to make me finally realise something. I couldn’t say it any better than @Guard_guy24 on Twitter:

Thank you to Bowie, Prince and George Michael for showing me masculinity comes in many beautiful forms.

I’ve struggled with masculinity most of my life. If anything, I only made peace with it very recently, now that the threat and social pressure of high school are long gone, and I’ve stopped giving a shit about online trolls.

It’s hard to talk about and describe, so I haven’t tried before! But basically, I couldn’t ever really identify with the male attributes I was supposed to like or have. Effeminate (in a Western sense) K-Pop stars, women and certain gay culture seemed far more welcoming.

(That’s not a judgement against traditional male interests and roles, it just wasn’t a fit for me).

I don’t know if there’s a term for it. Regardless, the likes of Michael, Prince and Bowie were a comforting reminder that while probably unusual, I wasn’t alone with these feelings.

#TrainsRubenTaketh: Acela Express

Between 2010 and 2012, I documented trains I rode on in the unsurprisingly-titled Trains Ruben Taketh blog. Like so many pointless things, it was delightfully fun and a waste of mobile data. Take that, Snapchat.

To celebrate importing these old posts into the Rubénerd Museum, I’m creating a few more posts for it.

This shows the Acela Express I took from my favourite North American city of Philly back to Penn Station in New York back in October.

I’d driven and been a passanger in this train for over a decade in Train Simulator, so to experience it for real was a railfan dream come true. It even had WiFi, which when you logged in would show you a live map of where you were up to.

Australian ISPs to block torrent sites

Speaking of news that’s hardly surprising, Australian ISPs now have 15 days to implement site blocks for a range of torrent sites. So bemused was I on the train, I had to smash out this post.

(It’s unclear how these will be implemented, given the fact I haven't been bothered to check. It’ll be trivial to circumvent with proxies, VPNs or a DNS change. So trivial, I’m not going to spend more time on it. More interesting to me are the legal and technical justifications).

Lost revenue™

Colin Packham of CRN Australia filed this report:

Foxtel and cinema owner Village Roadshow Ltd won the case, which requires internet service providers such as Telstra, Optus and TPG to block access to more than 60 file-sharing websites [..]

Despite its relatively small population, Australia is the world’s second-highest perpetrator of illegal downloads, a 2015 report by global accounting firm EY found, costing content providers millions of dollars in lost revenue.

“Lost revenue” numbers are always cited, and rarely challenged. They assume everyone who pirates content would have paid, which is false. Of all the arguments, I’d say this is demonstrably the weakest, even to those of us without a legal background!

For those who would otherwise pay, Australia’s geographic isolation, third rate telecommunications infrastructure that hobbles streaming, and lack of legal avenues for downloading much of this content all make it a moot point.

It’s theft™

And speaking of unchallenged claims, Colin continues his report:

This judgment is a major step in both directly combating piracy and educating the public that accessing content through these sites is not OK, in fact it is theft,” said Foxtel chief executive Peter Tonagh.

Gameshow buzzer! This is willful obfuscation, and needs to be stamped out. Even if we concede copyright infringement is theft, not all the content on these sites was illegal. This should also be obvious.

It’s also a bit rich for the head of a company that pays little to no tax claiming other people are thieves.

“The content will not be blocked, it just won’t be available on these pirate websites,” said Michael Fraser, a professor of law at the University of Technology Sydney and chairman of the Australian Copyright Council.

This is an important distinction. Torrent sites don’t, and have never, hosted copyrighted material. They host the files that software use to download the content. Some even use magnet links that are just UUIDs. We tread in weird territory when we start banning the use of numbers.

Adding to the list

Elle Hunt of The Guardian Australia added:

Foxtel or Village Roadshow will have to apply to have any new websites added to the judgement.

In other words, the hydra of torrent sites will render this decision moot.

Though Village Roadshow and Foxtel had proposed that the ISPs pay their own costs of compliance, the respondents uniformly opposed it.

I love how shameless they are. Sure, as an ISP you’re not legally liable for the copyright infringement of your users. But damn it, you’re going to check for us, and you’re going to foot the bill.

Haven’t we been down this path before?

If all this sounds familiar, it’s what film studios have wanted in Australia (and Singapore) for years. I wrote about this in 2009:

IT News Australia is reporting that film studios are issuing an ultimatum to Aussie ISPs to “get out of the business” if they can’t stop copyright infringement. Yes, you read that right!

Quoting the studio’s barrister Tony Bannon SC:

“They provide a facility that is able to be used for copyright infringement purposes. If they don’t like having to deal with copyright notices then they should get out of the business.”

Cute. I pointed out at the time that if “facilitating” infringement was their primary claim, we should also ban VCRs, cameras, stationary manufacturers and human memory. Wait, don’t give them ideas.

The implications

But let’s step back for a second. If the argument is limiting copyright infringement, it means only large companies with the resources to sue ISPs can have sites banned. I know independent musicians who have material online they want removed, why don’t they have just as much a legal right to add to an impartial list? Anything less is kleptocracy.

Regardless though, now these media companies have published these block lists, they’re the arbiters of what’s legal online. You can’t assert control over blocked content, then claim other material is also unacceptable. You must think it’s fine, it’s not on your list!

Can I now sue Foxtel when they fail to block illegal or infringing content? What if I had a child, and I got into legal trouble because their block lists didn’t include the site she downloaded from? Foxtel clearly failed in their duty to block it!

It’s akin to being a forum moderator, or a newspaper editor. As soon as you start asserting control over what’s published, you’re responsible for it. Do these media companies realise this?

If they do, I’ll bet they (and the courts) don’t care.

Firefox and Vivaldi are smaller

For some reason I had Chrome installed. I wouldn’t have done it on purpose; maybe I accidently added it instead of Chromium while in a fugue state. I almost wrote that as fudge, which not only would have been deliciously hilarious, but would also explain how I could have confused Chrome with Chromium.

If you’re done interrupting me, I was struck at the size difference.

$ du -sh /Applications/
==> 184M    /Applications/

$ du -sh /Applications/
==> 189M    /Applications/

$ du -sh /Applications/Google\
==> 366M    /Applications/Google

Firefox has been my primary browser since the Phoenix days, but Vivaldi is the loyal sidekick and my preferred Webkit/Blink/etc browser for testing. It’s better than Chrome in every way, including size now!

Goodbye junk

(This post was originally written earlier this month, but was published by accident before I added photos, etc. Reading it now, I think it’s fine the way it is).

Compared to past years, my aim for 2016 was pretty simple: get rid of stuff. Turns out, that objective is pretty loaded, and the challenges weren’t where I expected.

Anxiety about stuff

My family has a long and colourful history with stuff. Growing up, my parents’ solution to full apartments was getting larger apartments, self storage warehouses, building elaborate shelving structures, and repeating the process. We’d move, and most of the stuff would never leave boxes. I pass no judgement, I was a willing participant in this self-perpetuating spiral.

This blog is littered with photographic examples of this, like this garage post from 2011, or even our last Singapore move in 2007. And both of those were reasonable, even positive by our standards!

But I digress. Even early on, it struck me whenever we went travelling and stayed in hotels and airport lounges… those rooms were always so much nicer. I felt calmer, better in these places. It made no sense, why should a place we have no control over be nicer than a place where we do?

Earlier this year, the lightbulb finally lit up. If I want to live in a nice, clean, bright place, I can’t have tons of stuff.

Anxiety had also eclipsed the enjoyment I got from having lots of stuff. To this day, most of my nightmares revolve around travelling without enough luggage space, or being evicted and not having time or money to pack and move. Whether I realised my stuff wasn’t being a positive influence on my life or not, my subconscious mind long ago figured out it wasn’t.

So for health, mental and physical clutter, being able to live in smaller places, and other reasons probably too boring to mention, I decided to start paring down.

Steps to declutter

  • Anything flat (photos, cards, papers) can be scanned and thrown away. I now think scans are superior to originals: they can be backed up, they won’t degrade, and they can be put into albums alongside digital photos to make a complete timeline of my life. It’s pretty cool.

  • Any trinkets, models, anime figs or books that don’t fit on a Billy bookcase should go. The result is I have a single case of stuff I think is fucking awesome, rather than several that are so-so. And I’m already re-evaluating the remaining stuff as well.

  • Anything bulky has to either make me happy, or serve a practical purpose. Holding onto things out of a sense of obligation, guilt, or misplaced financial fear makes no logical sense.

  • Ebooks, online music stores, digital photography and online scrapbooks work just as well as analogue, and in a pinch can be printed/etc if really needed.

  • Once the infrastructure to keep stuff has been emptied, get rid of it too. Aside from no longer being necessary and taking up space, empty shelves are a stuff magnet!


I’ve been doing this for half a year now, and it feels really, really good. Each time I go to OfficeWorks to hand over dead electronics, or see a pile of paper coming off the scanner, there’s a physical and emotion sense of relief.

Funnily enough, the apartment feels almost no different. Stuff is a gas not a liquid, so there’s just more space for stuff to spread out when you take things away. It’s a bit demoralising, but it just means you’ve got to keep pushing forward!

And then there are the rewards I really wasn’t expecting that perhaps speak to a bigger change.

When I go to buy stuff now, I weigh up the long term cost of owning it, rather than just the initial price. Do I want to keep this thing around? Can I recycle it when done? How hard would it be to sell? And honestly, after the initial pang of disappointment subsides, I don’t feel I’ve lost anything (proving how hollow retail therapy is). My budget show this change in habit has saved me hundreds a month, which has already paid for a holiday to New York. It’s like I’ve had a pay rise.

I’ve also started feeling a slight detachment to things. An epiphany was realising experiences and memories are independent of objects; throwing things away doesn’t change the fact you did something, or spent time with someone. If I need a reminder, a photograph is almost always more personal, unique and beautiful than an object. I don’t subscribe to all their views, but I love how the Minimalists put it as “love people and use things, the reverse never works”.


Sadly, it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows. Perhaps I should have expected it, but I’ve been surprised at the angry, almost visceral reactions I’ve had from people who’ve seen me start doing this. It comes from a good place, but the result is still the same.

It usually devolves into a discussion like this:

  • But wasn’t that stuff expensive? Yes, and holding onto it doesn’t save me money. If anything the reverse is true; it costs more to move, I need to pay rent in a bigger place or for an extra self-storage locker.

  • Aren’t you being cold? I’m putting my own emotional well being ahead of objects.

  • Won’t you miss it? Sure, but there are lots of people and things in my life that are missing and gone now, and that has no bearing on how real they were to me. As I said above, experiences are independent of things.

  • Won’t you regret it? Maybe, which is why I’m photographing, scanning, and backing up the hell out of all of it, despite the fact declutetring would be much faster if I didn’t.

  • Won’t you need to rebuy it? So far, I haven’t felt the need to. But even if I had to, I’m still ahead financially.

  • Won’t it ascend in value? How much of your stuff has? It could, but I could also win the lottery or get hit by a car. I’d rather enjoy my surroundings now, and put extra money in investment accounts and savings that will have a much better chance of growing.

  • So you’re getting rid of everything? Of course not. The truly precious stuff, like my late mum’s calligraphy, or my first computer are sticking around. Better still, they’re easier to enjoy because they’re not buried under mountains of other crap.

  • I don’t agree. That’s cool, you don’t need to do it.

But here’s the thing

Honestly though, all of those above points are moot. I go back to the beginning: this stuff isn’t making me happy. Getting rid of stuff is cathartic, and puts me one step closer to the life I want to live.

It reminds me of what I read ages ago about vegetarianism. You can explain all the ethical, environmental and financial impacts meat eaters are having on the world, but the best way is to live by example. Show people what a positive force it can be, without getting in their face or prothletising. Because whether you mean it or not, people interpret these kind of things as a judgement on them.

So I’m going to keep this up, and be thankful that my partner is doing the same. I’m a lucky guy!

Prescription drugs are far worse

Christopher Knaus of The Guardian reported on findings that are less than surprising:

Prescription drug abuse kills far more Australians than illicit drugs. The number of deaths surpasses the road toll in some states, yet it receives a fraction of the attention.

No kidding. It’s tragic that nasty, Opioid drugs are legal, but cannabis is not.

Dr David Caldicott, an emergency consultant at Calvary hospital in Canberra, was part of a team that studied the acute poisoning deaths of 90 children in the decade to 2013. The study, due to be published in the journal Addiction, found prescription opioids were the most common cause of the deaths: 24% of the 90 cases.

The rest of the article discusses limiting the access to certain prescription drugs which are causing these tragic deaths. I agree we need to monitor these, but I think that only tells half the story. We need to replace them with more effective, less harmful drugs: like THC.

Those against legalising cannabis have clearly never lived with a cancer patient, or otherwise lack the moral centre to empathise. It doesn’t just restore appetite, it relieves the symptoms of chemotherapy to the point where you can live again. And I mean that in every sense of the word.

The scientific and medical literature are clear. Legalise.

More sold and closed OpenStack clouds

I could have gone with “precipitating clouds” or “trouble in the sky” or something equally cringeworthy, but I thought I’d spare you.

Cisco has joined the companies ditching their clouds, as reported by Jordan Novet at VentureBeat:

Cisco first introduced Intercloud in 2014, emphasizing partnerships with cloud providers and the ability to move workloads from cloud to cloud. In October, Cisco announced a timeline for the end of life for its Intercloud software, which organizations could use to move workloads from private clouds to public clouds.

This follows from Nebula shutting down their OpenStack hardware business, and the then-HP closing their Helion Public Cloud in 2015. Last month, HPE sold their OpenStack cloud, as reported by Frederic Lardinois at TechCrunch:

Today, SUSE announced that it is acquiring OpenStack and Cloud Foundry (the Platform-as-a-Service to OpenStack’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service) assets and talent from the troubled HPE. This follows HPE’s decision to sell off (or “spin-merge” in HPE’s own language) its software business (including Autonomy, which HP bought for $11 billion, followed by a $9 billion write-off) to Micro Focus. And to bring this full circle: Micro Focus also owns SUSE, and SUSE is now picking up HPE’s OpenStack and Cloud Foundry assets.

Rackspace famously demoted their OpenStack deployment and became an Amazon partner, which must put them in an awkward position now that this was announced:

Today we are launching an operations management service called AWS Managed Services, as announced in Jeff Barr’s AWS Blog. Designed and built based on requests and feedback from some of our largest Enterprises, AWS Managed Services (AWS MS) provides customers with an alternative to in-house and outsource data center operations management.

A large part of this is inevitable industry consolidation, but it’s also due to OpenStack really not being that simple. It’s not a coincidence that the largest remaining clouds don’t use it.

The best interview of all time

That was the [uploder’s title], not mine. But I’ve yet to see one better. The world is a less beautiful place without Robin Williams.

Getting into blogging

A colleague of mine talked about how he’d tried to get into blogging, but every time he wrote a few posts he’d end up deleting the whole site out of frustration of what he wrote. Clara has said the same thing.

I can empathise. I’ve tried blogging in other places as well, and they’ve always either puttered out, or I’ve deleted them and imported them into here.

I’m not really sure what made Rubénerd different; it’s probably inertia mixed with nostalgia at this stage. Unlike other blogs I’ve ever started, this one also doesn’t have a fixed topic, so I’m free to talk about anything I’m interested in.

If there’s advise somewhere in here, it’s just to slog it out, and know that you’ll never be satisfied with the first stuff you write. I wouldn’t say most of the stuff I write here is good, but those first couple of years were particularly bad!

I think it’s more important now more than ever that people have an independent place for their thoughts. Facebook, or Twitter, or Medium are not entitled to your ideas, and they don’t own them.

Okay, where do I start?

There are two questions here: what to use, and how to write. The former is way simpler to answer.

If you’re more technically proficient, I’d give Jekyll a try. Static site generation is wonderful. I use Hugo for its unique ability to crunch thousands of posts without blinking, but the liquid templating engine in Jekyll is the nicest I’ve ever used.

If you want a hosted CMS, give Anchor a try. It’s very clean and simple, though I wish it supported Postgres instead.

If you’re smarter and just want a blog without messing with templating engines and maintaining a web stack, Tumblr works shockingly well with its text post type, and you can point your own domain at it. comes in a close second, but I’ve moved off its self-hosted option precisely because I didn’t use half the features.

As for how to write, blog about what you’re interested in. It sounds reductive to the point of d’uh, but it’s true. As soon as you start writing about things you feel you should write about, or you’re too embarrassed to, you’ll never get that spark.

For example, I avoided talking about anime here for years because I was afraid of being tarred a weeaboo, and that some of the screenshots or character designs may be considered a little risqué. Now, I literally don’t care, and it’s awesome.

(I still find it amazing that people whinge about modesty, in the same breath as they talk about how their violent new first person shooter is awesome. Skin is okay as long as its covered in gore).

If you struggle for topics, keep a notebook or text file of things you see or think of over the course of a day. Almost everything I blog or podcast about comes from these lists.

And finally, don’t worry about what so-called blog experts say, including me. Blog on your own terms and schedule. Just don’t use lightbox popups :).

No more public Dropbox folders

If you use Dropbox, you would have got this email today.

Hi Ruben,

We’re always looking to improve the Dropbox sharing experience.

Uh oh.

The Public folder was the first sharing method we introduced, and since then, we’ve built even better ways for you to share securely and work together with your team.

Yeah, that Public folder idea was great. You could futz around with the newer share links they introduced, but the Public folder just made it so easy.

As a result, we’ll soon be ending support for the Public folder. Dropbox Basic users will be able to use the Public folder until March 15, 2017. After that date the files in your Public folder will become private, and links to these files will be deactivated.

And there it is.

There was a brief period when Rubénerd was hosted on Github Pages, with Dropbox as a poor-man’s CDN for media assets. It worked really well, before I decided I was probably abusing the system a bit, and went back to a cloud instance.

And therein lies the rub. Chances are there were people using the Public folder for hosting stuff, or bulk sharing. Someone internally in Dropbox must have realised generating individual links would make these activities much harder, if not stomping out the practice altogether. Is it altogether, or all together?

Unfortunately, it also renders Dropbox much less useful.

(It’s also worth repeating that if you don't control your own encryption keys, you should consider all of Dropbox a Public folder).