Welcome to the 61st edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal, the official newsletter of the perennially virid online writing magazine, The New Leaf Journal. For our first newsletter of December, we have summaries of content from the week that was, article recommendations from around the web, and an expanded section on news for this issue.
Note: The newsletter will be off on Christmas weekend. I will also include this note in the next two editions of the newsletter (December 11 and December 18). After the Christmas break, the newsletter will return on January 1, 2022.
I published six articles since I reported to you last. You will find summaries of the articles below.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. November 28, 2021.
Seldom has one of my headlines better captured the content of an article. This article marked the debut of The Irish Penny Journal, a nineteenth century magazine, at The New Leaf Journal. Because the humorous Sonnet About A Nose did not come with an illustration, I used one of my edited-but-previously-unused photographs for the post.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. November 30, 2021.
I learned about Billy Possum while working on my feature article about Calvin Coolidge’s pet raccoon. Hoover succeeded Coolidge as President, and Billy Possum succeeded Rebecca the Raccoon as a White House pet. The Billy Possum article explains the origin of Billy’s name and the story of when President Hoover loaned his pet opossum to a local high school baseball team.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. November 30, 2021.
The usual month-in review post includes article highlights from November 2021, a review of November 2020, our most-visited articles for the month of November 2021, and my preview of what is to come in December.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. December 2, 2021.
My second article based on photos of a family of geese features a goose watching me.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. December 3, 2021.
The shortest Justin and Justina dialogue to date centers on Justin’s fear that Brooklyn’s heavily-polluted Gowanus Canal may cause nearby seagulls to grow thumbs.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. December 4, 2021.
Last year, I covered the story of an unfortunate saw-whet owl who inadvertently took a trip to New York City with the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Months later, I discovered that the nineteenth century bird magazine, Birds: Illustrated By Color Photography, covered the saw-whet owl in its 1898 issue. Since I wrote 12 articles about the magazine in early 2021, I decided to take on the saw-whet owl project. This article covers the saw-whet owl with both Project Gutenberg resources and contemporary materials.
Let’s see what’s happening outside the confines of The New Leaf Journal…
Chris Lott. November 29, 2021.
Thieves in South Africa robbed a Samsung warehouse, escaping with a large number of Samsung televisions. Samsung used the opportunity to reveal that its smart televisions have an installed feature called “TV Block,” which allows Samsung to remotely brick any one of its televisions when it connects to the internet. While I trust that none of our readers are stealing televisions, this is nevertheless a little bit creepy.
I am not a fan of smart TVs generally, both because smart TV operating systems are bad and because they are data vacuums. For that reason, I disable wi-fi on my smart TV and stream content from my computer, which is connected to it.
Martjin Braam. November 30, 2021.
While this pocket computer looks like it has some ways to go on the development front, any project that strives to bring a built in keyboard to a phone-sized device running a privacy-respecting operating system is worth following.
Emily Crane. November 24, 2021.
“Experts” is in quotation marks because this article provides commentary on a local news article in San Francisco that cited to “experts” who have argued that a series of mass retail robbery incidents should not be referred to as “looting.” Consider this a preview of a future article I will tackle - the case against ever using the word “experts” in article headlines.
Casey Baseel. December 3, 2021.
I often include a SoraNews24 article in my newsletters. The vast majority are humorous posts, but here we have a more serious account of a quick-thinking bus driver. After the bus driver apprehended the perp and flagged a police cruiser, he explained why he took the initiative to pursue the pervert who groped an 18-year old woman:
“The actions of [gropers] are truly unforgivable, and I feel terrible for the victim. For the sake of the local residents, I want to continue working to make our busses ones that they can feel safe riding.”
Well said and, more importantly, well done.
Brodie Robinson. November 30, 2021.
A short video answering the question of whether a piece of software meeting the free software definition means that it is inherently privacy-friendly. I agree with Mr. Robinson entirely that the fact a piece of software may be free software does not necessarily mean that it respects user-privacy.
A thoughtful post on Substack and content-ownership. I generally agree with it, and I touched on similar ideas in my post on Substack RSS feeds (see link in weekly article ranking).
Let us visit our article archive…
Nicholas A. Ferrell. December 16, 2020.
The New Leaf Journal is a strongly pro-walking publication. As temperatures generally drop in much of the United States (and the Northern Hemisphere more broadly) as we approach winter, I recall my article using the classic children’s book,The Secret Garden, to extol the virtues of brisk winter walks.
Each week, I list our most-visited New Leaf Journal articles since the previous newsletter. The statistics come from our privacy-friendly local analytics solution, Koko Analytics. The rankings cover the period beginning with Saturday and ending with the next Friday. The previous week was the 48th Newsletter Week of 2021. Below you will find our most-visited articles of the week along with additional information about each article.
“The Mystery of Sōseki and Tsuki ga Kirei“
Nicholas A. Ferrell. March 14, 2021.
Last Week: 1. Weeks in Top Five: 32 (21 in first).
“Sending SMS Messages From My Computer With XMPP Through JMP“
Nicholas A. Ferrell. September 8, 2021.
Last Week: 25+. Weeks in Top Five: NEW.
“Recommended F-Droid FOSS Apps For Android-Based Devices (2021)“
Nicholas A. Ferrell. November 27, 2021.
Last Week: N/A. Weeks in Top Five: NEW.
“How to Find Substack RSS Feeds and Other Notes“
Nicholas A. Ferrell. June 19, 2021.
Last Week: 4. Weeks in Top Five: 16.
“Installing Ubuntu Touch on an Asus Nexus 7 (2013)“
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 5, 2021.
Last Week: 2. Weeks in Top Five: 16.
Those who read my November month in review article had a preview of what was an eventful week on our newsletter ranking. My September article on the JMP SMS-to-XMPP service was shared on Hacker News, and about doubled its total view count in a single week. Coming in third was my review of free and open source Android apps, which was the first article to make the top five in its debut week since early August.
Despite the strength of the JMP article, which included being the most-viewed article on three of the seven days of the week, it did not seriously threaten the top spot of my Tsuki ga Kirei post, which led the ranking for the 13th consecutive week in its 32nd consecutive top-five appearance. The top five was rounded out by my articles on Substack RSS feeds and installing Ubuntu Touch on a Nexus 7, both of which had strong weeks.
Going forward, I find it unlikely that my review of JMP will be a top-five mainstay, although it showed enough strength at times in October that we may see it again. I think that my article on open source Android apps may see more top fives in the future, but it is too early to tell whether its first week was a one-off or a sign of things to come.
I put most of my December news in the November month in review post, so I recommend reading that for a look at what I have planned this month.
In one site-related point, I will work on redirecting some links that no longer go to their original destinations. My plan is to redirect old Guestbook links to our Contact Page, redirect links to the old Justin and Justina series archive to the new Category page for the series, and a few other odds and ends as I think of them.
Now for a special feature…
A New Leaf Journal reader sent me an interesting email in response to my JMP article. The reader, Martin, is the co-author of a program called sms4you, which was described to me as a DIY alternative to JMP.
(Before continuing, do note that I am writing about sms4you on my own initiative because I think that it looks like an interesting free and open source project.)
How does sms4you work? Let us visit the project’s website for the answer:
“sms4you forwards messages from and to SMS and connects either with sms4you-xmpp or sms4you-email…”
Interesting. Thus, like JMP, sms4you forwards SMS messages to an XMPP account. Unlike JMP, it can also forward messages to an email account, although I was informed that email is currently not as well-integrated as XMPP. (For whatever it is worth - I could imagine why email may be preferable to XMPP for some use-cases.)
sms4you requires a bit of set-up. There are detailed instructions on its website and its source code repository. Moreover, I get the impression that the developers would be helpful and invite questions and contributions.
Why would one consider sms4you over JMP, which I discussed here at The New Leaf Journal? To begin, it is not a competition - the co-author noted that JMP is a terrific project with a friendly team behind it. But sms4you has several features that may be useful depending on why one is looking for an SMS-forwarding solution. The co-author explained that sms4you numbers can work for SMS verification, while JMP numbers often do not. With respect to JMP, I have also found that its numbers do not always work for SMS verification purposes. Secondly, the co-author noted that sms4you can forward SMS messages to multiple Jabber/XMPP accounts/IDs, whereas JMP cannot.
While I have not tried sms4you myself - it looks like a neat project that deserves more attention. As the proud owner of a cheap home server, I am all for more self-hosting options.
Although I will stick with JMP for the time-being because it serves my purposes and it does not require maintenance on my end (the co-author agreed that JMP is better for my very simple use-case), perhaps someone who stumbles upon this newsletter will be interested in giving sms4you a go. If you decide to try it, feel free to tell us about your experience. If you happen to be a developer (something I am very much not), the sms4you website notes that “[a]ll contributions are welcome and appreciated.”
This wraps up the 61st edition of The New Leaf Journal, marked by our typical content and a special newsletter-exclusive report on an interesting free and open source project. I look forward to reporting to you next week with exciting new New Leaf Journal content and perhaps some concrete dates for some of the articles I am planning for this month.