Mobile SEGA “Forever” games delisted


Mikhail Madnani wrote for Toucharcade

Back in June 2017, SEGA announced its SEGA Forever initiative to bring its classic games to iOS and Android as free to start games with a no ads IAP. Each game was to be adapted for mobile while remaining faithful to the originals. We saw the service launch with five games with more coming every few weeks. As recently as this week, select SEGA Forever games have been delisted on iOS and Android.

I wonder if this is yet another reason other people are getting into retrocomputing? You might struggle with damaged disks or cartridges, but at least the company can’t revoke support or their activation servers. It’s a bit silly that a machine 40 years older can still run something.

There’s really a sense of permanence we’re losing with modern computing. Everything is subscription based, temporary, and ephemeral. I’m lucky that I have nostalgia for a time in computing when this wasn’t the case; can you imagine ten years from now having nostalgia for games and software you can’t even download and run anymore?

A non-exhaustive list of HPs


Off the top of my head:

  • Hit points
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Houses of Parliament sauce

And some initialisms that aren’t HP:

  • ZFS
  • BSD
  • VLB

Trying the GNOME desktop for a few weeks


Keen-eyed readers among you might have noticed my tribute to Bram Moolenaar was wrapped in GNOME window dressing. I haven’t made the switch, but it was fun experimenting again with what people on the other side of the fence use.

Goodbye, Bram Moolenaar ♡

By way of context, is a phrase with four words. Much of my blog from the early-2000s was spent chronicling my adventures with various desktop environments and window managers on FreeBSD, NetBSD, and a smattering of Linux distros. I ended up sticking with the delightful Xfce for the longest time, before recently switching back to KDE Plasma.

My current Ryzen desktop is dual-booted with FreeBSD and Linux, so I thought I’d try installing Fedora Workstation with GNOME during a system rebuild. This is what you see below, with an open Nautilus file manager, Firefox, GNOME Terminal, and Minecraft.

Screenshot of GNOME showing four open window previews over a desktop picture of Hatsune Miku, a system menubar along the top, and a horizontal dock of icons along the bottom.

GNOME and KDE are the two biggest desktop environments for *nix, and have very different philosophies. GNOME is arguably the more Mac like, with its minimal interface, dock, task switcher, and system bar along the top where it belongs. While I appreciate the customisation KDE offers, I will admit GNOME mostly looked great for me from the start.

2011: Ruben’s review of GNOME 3

I’m actually surprised how little the interface seems to have changed since GNOME 3 controversially entered the scene last decade. The desktops and dock are aligned horizontally, and elements of the UI have been flattened, but otherwise it was very familiar. I suppose KDE 4+ has remained similar as well, albeit with its new Breeze theme.

GNOME Tweaks on GitLab

I found myself changing little about the desktop, though GNOME Tweaks should still be considered mandatory so you can replace that ugly Cantarell font that’s still everywhere in the UI. Swapping to Nimbus Sans (my personal favourite) or Liberation Sans makes a huge difference to legibility, especially in smaller sizes.

Unfortunately, I’m also disappointed to see Nautilus and other GNOME bundled software use the hamburger icon, with no option to enable a menubar like you can on KDE or Xfce. This is where the drive for minimalism crosses the line into being an accessibility issue.

Other than that, there wasn’t much more to report. It mostly got out of the way and worked, which I could appreciate. The UI is simple, and I got into the habit of throwing the cursor into the corner to see all my open windows. The main things I missed were my memorised KDE shortcuts, Dolphin file manager layout, and those aforementioned menus. My daily Qt applications like Kate also integrated well, despite coming from KDE land.

I should do a post about why I love Plasma so much, and why I still lean towards Xfce for a GTK desktop. But in the meantime I’d rate the current version of GNOME (as ships in Fedora 38) three feet out of a possible five, which last time I checked is just shy of a metre.

Why is web search getting worse?


Charlie Warzel notes three reasons, in The Atlantic

There is a creeping sense—among frustrated programmers, searchers, and even journalists—that the site is no longer as useful or intuitive as it once was. One reason for this feeling may be that Google’s algorithms have been successfully gamed by low-quality websites and search-engine-optimization companies that help their clickbaity clients show up in the first page of Google Search results.

I can still find things thesedays, but it’s certainly a slog. And if you’re doing general research for buying something? As my New York friends would say: eh, forget about it.

There are indicators that the product might continue to struggle to deliver high-quality search results on an internet soon to be flooded with AI-generated photos, videos, and text.

Ironic given these companies are betting the farm on AI saving them from the onslaught. It’s turtles all the way down, only they’re generative tools classified by slave labour in Africa!

The former Googler and ex–Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer offered a charitable explanation as to why Google Search feels worse, arguing that the search engine is merely a reflection of the internet as a whole, which has become more complex and laden with fraudsters and garbage.

Grim, but also something I hadn’t considered.

It’s sad to think the web’s best days were behind it, but it’s future isn’t set in stone either. Clearly it’s current commercial custodians can’t continue to… alliterate? Or dictate its future.

It makes me cautiously optimistic, weirdly enough. The bad web is beginning to collapse upon itself. And good riddance, I say.

Congrats to Grady for Practical Construction!


Grady Hillhouse produces Practical Engineering, one of my favourite engineering channels. I love seeing his garage demonstrations of civil engineering concepts, and his enthusiasm for everything he discusses is infectious.

Practical Engineering website
Nebula channel
YouTube channel

Recently Grady started a spin-off called Practical Construction, which he inaugurated with a series of videos showing the construction of a sewer pump station. The production values are gorgeous.

Play HEAVY CONSTRUCTION of a Sewage Pump Station - Ep 1
Play HEAVY CONSTRUCTION of a Sewage Pump Station - Ep 2

If you’re a fan of those old school long-form videos that explain how something was built, do check these out.

If in doubt, be polite


It would surprise precisely none of you to discover I have social anxiety! I have all my life.

Being in a customer-facing engineering role for a decade has helped a lot, in much the same way any cognitive behavioral therapy does. If you’re forced to confront small, regular doses of what you’re scared of, you develop a tolerance you’d otherwise lack.

I know that for a lot of people though, especially in IT, social awkwardness rears its head for a whole host of other reasons, many of which are outside peoples’ control. I wouldn’t pretend to understand everyone’s personal situation or mental health. Here comes the proverbial posterior prognostication: but…, there’s one piece of social advice that used to help me a lot.

If you’re not sure how to conduct yourself, or what’s expected in a specific social situation, be polite. At the risk of sounding cliché, it’s a superpower.

Being polite, in the absence of other social information, gives you the best possible chance for success. It’s nice, paints you in the best possible light, keeps you on the high road, and can save you from saying or doing something inappropriate. Politeness also gives you allies in a large social circle if someone is being confrontational or inappropriate.

I’ve witnessed so many interactions that would have gone better had the unwitting instigator of a bad situation had been polite, whether it’s at a tech conference, in a client meeting, or waiting for a train.

Marc Durst, Jet Set Swing



Play Jet Set Swing

View past Music Mondays

Irreducible complexity


Those confused or uneducated about evolution often dismiss it for not explaining irreducible complexity. This is the idea that something complicated can’t possibly be simplified while maintaining function. I feel as though my brain is operating under a similar misapprehension, only instead of evolution, it’s about… everything!

I tell myself I should break tasks up into smaller steps. Doing so makes the overall endeavour easier, because the objectives and requirements for smaller things are easier to conceptualise and track. It reduces the barrier to entry, by making a massive task seem less intimidating. You also get the satisfaction of ticking off a few things off a list, rather than having one glaring item judging you for not finishing it off after weeks of work.

I’m not shifting a boulder, I’m carrying a dozen rocks. I got this.

But what if you can’t see the rocks in the boulder? What if there aren’t any cracks you can cleave with your trusty #TODO chizel? What if this task is some massive, seamless block?

I don’t think I need help with the concept of breaking down tasks, but rather the practical way one actually does it. And I fear the more I overthink it, the harder it’s becoming!

Goodbye to some Sydney coffee shops


We’ve lost a few recently in my suburb, probably due to the soaring cost of rent and other pressures. It’s a shame.

View of the Locomotion Cafe boarded up

In memorium, we have:

  • Q5. This was the best coffee shop in the Westfield, and did great salads too. During my once-a-week venture outside during COVID lockdowns for groceries, I’d swing by and buy beans from them and have a quick chat. They were lovely, but alas weren’t in the best of locations for foot traffic.

  • Locomotion Cafe. This one surprised me, because they were always so packed. Their location opposite station meant I’d often swing by for a takeaway on my way to catch the train, or sit there and prepare for my next client meeting.

  • Pattisons. If you grew up as an Australian kid, it kinda felt like a school tuckshop with its faire. Some days when working remote I’d go there just for a spinach roll.

Chatswood is a mixed-use walkable neighbourhood in Sydney, so there are plenty of other coffee shops and similar places to choose from. But given how much of my life I spend in these places, it does feel weird suddenly not being able to go to these ones. When you spend more of your time there than at home sometimes, its like you’ve lost a friend and a room at the same time.

Not stopping the escalator


I was watching an escalator recently, like a gentleman. Weirdly, escalators always scared me far more than lifts as a kid; maybe it was all those spikes at the top, or the potential to trip and fall down. There was one escalator in Shaw House in Singapore that bridged across multiple floors which felt extremely precarious as a little guy. But I digress!

This particular escalator was fitted with one of those variable-speed sensors. Approaching passengers were detected by the aforementioned stair-based elevation device, and the speed of the steps rapidly increased from its leisurely roll back up to regular operation. Upon its passengers exiting the device at the other end, the escalator would continue at this speed for a few more seconds before slowing again.

These sorts of escalators (and travelators) seem to be more popular at airports, where there might be long gaps of time between arriving flights and hoards of passengers. I was surprised to see this particular unit in a shopping centre where you’d expect a more regular flow of passengers, but perhaps its location in a lesser-frequented area still gave it plenty of idle time to slow down.

Idle time to slow down… sounds nice.

Anyway, I always assumed this speed reduction was to reduce power and noise, though I’ve since been told it’s as much to do with saving wear and tear on the escalator’s mechanical components, even accounting for the additional complexity from speeding up and slowing down. It makes sense when you think about it. Everything from light bulbs to hard drives tend to fail the most when they’re first powered on, owing to electrical and/or mechanical stress.

But here’s where that aforementioned lightbulb was lit. He also reminded that a slow escalator is easier to spool up than one starting from idle.

Like us!

I can’t tell you how many times I start something, then stop out of a seeming lack of progress. As soon as I stop, the mental barrier to start again is so much higher than had I just plodded on. It’s like there’s friction in my head I need to overcome to resume what I need to do.

Progress, no matter how small, is letting the escalator keep moving.