This is Nicholas A. Ferrell, editor of The New Leaf Journal, reporting to you for a rare Monday newsletter. When I promised to report back in a week in our 25th newsletter on March 28, I forgot that the next Sunday would be Easter. Since yesterday was Easter, I decided to delay our newsletter for one day. The next newsletter, however, will come on Sunday, April 11, as we return to our normal schedule.
Below, I will review a week’s worth of content and preview the week to come, with a brief story at the end. Kindle Fire and Android users will find some interesting app recommendations at the end of the newsletter.
I published six articles last week. One of the articles, my March month-in review post, needs no introduction: its subject-matter should be obvious. I will briefly summarize my other posts from the week below.
Oscar De La Hoya, one of the best fighters of the 1990s and 2000s, last fought in 2008. In his final fight, he admitted that he could no longer “pull the trigger” after being on the receiving end of an eight-round beating administered by the great Manny Pacquiao.
Why then is Mr. De La Hoya planning to return this summer at age 48?
In my post, I articulate a general rule for sportsmen considering comebacks. Before coming back, remind yourself why you retired in the first place.
Video game magazines of old loved April Fools pranks. I distinctly remembered one prank from April 1999 when Nintendo Power cashed in on its reputation for delivering credible tips for Nintendo games to readers by falsely informing young Pokémon fans that they could obtain Yoshi in Pokémon Red and Blue.
Well, I distinctly remembered it but for one point - I thought the prank had been in Electronic Gaming Monthly instead of Nintendo Power. I can neither confirm nor deny that I had to re-write part of my article.
I have nothing much to add, honestly.
In March, I went to Lowe’s to buy plants. There, inside Lowe’s, I saw a sparrow. I took a blurry picture of said sparrow. For a bit, I thought about writing a brief article about the sparrow. I then thought better of the idea, and wrote a short Justin & Justina dialogue, giving them the honor of considering the sparrow.
In the end, perhaps Justina and the sparrow are none too different?
In November 2020, I came across an excellent article extolling the virtues of the small web of old and arguing for the continuing value of its concept today. I folded that article and two other posts into an Around the Web post that concluded with my thoughts on artisanal online content and humane web design. What do I mean by “humane”? I mean websites and content that are written by humans for consumption by humans. Websites should treat visitors and users as human beings rather than data.
While I am not posting a full article today, I am working on an ambitious article that you can expect to this week.
In 2005, 2006, and 2008, translators of doujin (think indie) Japanese visual novel video games held festivals wherein they submitted their translations and made them publicly available. Thanks to their skill and hard work, a large number of Japanese stories that would have never otherwise been read outside of Japan made their way to the west.
With the exception of one of the 2005 translations - Narcissu, most of the translations have been largely forgotten, and the websites on which they are hosted have not been touched for many years. It is interesting to look back at those translations, which came at a time when official translations of Japanese visual novels were quite a bit more scarce than they are today.
In the first post I am working on, I will list all of the games that were part of the festivals with relevant links and synopses. Therein, I will announce that I will be reviewing nearly all of the games over the course of the next few months and posting the reviews here at The New Leaf Journal. Through this project, I hope to bring attention to a very interesting project from years ago and perhaps point readers to some interesting free games that are worth their time.
In addition to my visual novel project, I plan to make next week’s Around the Web post about an interesting issue involving sumo and citizenship. I have not decided all the other posts I will write yet, so prepare to be surprised along with me.
I will conclude this letter with several brief anecdotes and musings.
All of the visual novels I referenced in the previous section are technically available for download. The problem is that some of them are only available to download as torrents. The amenability of torrent to being being downloaded depends in part on how many people have downloaded it. Because some of those torrents have been long-neglected, it took me several months to obtain a few of the games.
I felt a bit conflicted when I discovered that a few of the 2006 festival game files which I thought were only available as torrents were actually still up as direct downloads in a location that I missed.
If this all sounded Greek to you, fear not - much of it was mostly Greek to me.
I spent some time setting up a Kindle Fire HD 10. It was an interesting experience. While I use a Kindle Fire for some purposes, I have an old HDX from 2013 - which oddly has a better screen and less cluttered launcher than the modern Kindle Fires. For those who don’t know, Kindle Fire has its own operating system, but that operating system is a modified version of Android. I have gained some experience with Android’s open source F-Droid repository, so I installed some of my favorite applications from there.
There was good news and bad news.
For the good, almost all F-Droid apps work perfectly on the Kindle Fire HD 10, as they do on the 7 and 8.
For the bad, FIre OS makes it much more difficult to customize a device than does Android.
Amazon very much wants you to use all of its apps. For that reason, unlike Google, it does not let users disable its system apps, unless one has the time and inclination to root their Fire. Furthermore, while one can change the default browser and keyboard, it is impossible (as far as I can tell, feel free to reply if I’m wrong) to change the default launcher. The default launcher on Kindle is a cluttered mess that exists to tempt people who bought the budget tablet into using the money they saved to buy more stuff. Thus, to use a better open source launcher, one has to actually launch it from the default launcher.
While I understand Amazon’s interests and equities, they could stand to make the newer Kindle Fires more humane - in the spirit of my Sunday article. This would be especially nice since Kindles are some of the best performing tablets at their price range (my 2013 HDX is easily faster than my much newer Vankyo MatrixPad S7).
But enough whining. How about a few recommendations for Kindle Fire owners?
I conclude with a series of tips for improving your Kindle Fires.
Bromite is worth a look for any modern Android device. It is a browser built atop ungoogled Chromium with solid adblocking baked in. A very smooth and privacy-respecting browser. DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser is a nice alternative for those who will only use their browsers sparingly. The Midori web browser is a good F-Droid option as well.
There are plenty of other terrific options on F-Droid, depending on what one is using his or her Kindle for. One to consider - you can turn your Kindle into a mobile authenticator with Aegis Authenticator. Wallabag is a must-add for anyone who uses the service.