Welcome to the 65th edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal, and our second issue of 2022. This is the official newsletter of The New Leaf Journal, the perennially virid writing magazine that cannot be constrained by a single category or topic. This newsletter comes to you as always from the waterproof keyboard of the editor of The New Leaf Journal, Nicholas A. Ferrell. After an unusual issue last week replete with two weeks’ worth of article summaries and a rundown of statistics from 2021, we return to normal this week with our normal slate of one week’s article links, articles from around the internet, weekly stats, and news and notes. You will also find a new section wherein I recommend something for newsletter readers to try (Notable Leaf Journal).
Let’s get to it.
We had a busy week at The New Leaf Journal, publishing six articles since I reported to you last week. You will find the articles with links and brief summaries below.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. January 1, 2022.
I called upon The New Leaf Journal’s fictional dialogue duo, Justin and Justina, to recap the 50 most-read New Leaf Journal articles of 2021. You will find the list with a full slate of links and humorous commentary. Newsletter Leaf Journal subscribers who became accustomed to seeing The Mystery of Sōseki and Tsuki ga Kirei secure the top spot in our weekly rankings week in and week out may be surprised to discover that it was only our second most-visited article of 2021.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. January 2, 2022.
I discovered an Amiga OS-themed window design that works for my Linux desktop. This article explains how I found the themes and my choosing one of them to use on my otherwise modern desktop.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. January 3, 2022.
As advertised, a short nineteenth century poem about a cat in a muff. Just remember to call the cat “Vanity Puff.”
Nicholas A. Ferrell. January 4, 2022.
I thought that I ought not let my New Leaf Journal colleague, Victor V. Gurbo, monopolize all of the guitar content at The New Leaf Journal. However, unlike Victor, I have very little to say about guitars. To remedy this deficiency, I turned to a 1922 book which explained the meaning of finding a guitar in tea leaves. Not content to stop with the guitar, I perused the tea leaf-reading book for its commentary on other instruments.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. January 5, 2022.
I was not the last BlackBerry 10 holdout, but I held out all the way through March 2021. I was a bit late to learn that BlackBerry had officially discontinued support for all of its own operating systems on January 4. I wrote a short piece about my thoughts on the significance of the day and my hopes for the return of QWERTY phones in the future.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. January 6, 2022.
I followed up my nostalgic BlackBerry piece with a practical one. How could I relocate about 200 Images from my BlackBerry Classic to my computer? I tried a number of methods, but I ultimately settled on using KDE Connect. Readers may find some useful ideas in this post.
It has been three weeks since I brought you the best non-New Leaf Journal content that the internet has to offer. In the interim, I set up a new RSS reader system that I look forward to sharing with you in the near future. With this system, I now have no excuse for subpar recommendations.
A.A. Milne (author) and Ernest H. Shepard (illustrator). Originally published in 1926.
Added to Project Gutenberg on January 3, 2022.
Project Gutenberg is a repository of free out-of-copyright ebooks that features often in the pages of The New Leaf Journal. If there is such a thing as a triple-A addition to Project Gutenberg’s library, the original Winnie the Pooh with the classic illustrations must qualify. You can enjoy it for free on your computer and download it in many formats to read on your favorite device.
Bill Wilson. January 5, 2022.
This is a very nice take on the end of the BlackBerry phones that makes good reading along with my similar piece published on the same day. Mr. Wilson should be optimistic, however. I think that we will see some interesting new QWERTY phones on the market in the next couple of years.
Paul. February 26, 2021.
I never heard of spritzing coffee beans before. I have to try this to see if it is all the blogger is hyping it up to be.
Casey Baseel. January 5, 2022.
I won’t spoil the punchline of this charming article about a unique snowy delicacy, seasoned with nothing but snow and pure joy.
Ekianjo. September 16, 20201.
I had never heard of Boiling Steam, a website about gaming on Linux, until this week. This post, however, has nothing to do with gaming on Linux. Instead, it describes how the team at Boiling Steam manages their website and collaborates on content. I like their system.
Gareth Corfield. January 5, 2022.
I remember reading a few months ago that Norton, the company behind a popular commercial antivirus product, decided to bundle a cryptominer with its antivirus. Let’s check in on how that is going…
“The cryptominer is signposted during installation of Norton 360, though given the well-documented phenomenon of folks speedily clicking away EULAs, it’s entirely likely non-technical users are unknowingly enabling it and then complaining about suddenly slow-running PCs due to a cryptominer technically running with their permission.”
You almost definitely don’t need a commercial antivirus. But if you insist, I recommend choosing one that does not want to use your computer to mine crypto.
(Bonus article: Who knew that the ongoing unpleasantness in Kazakhstan had a serious effect on global crypto markets?)
Juan A. Lozano. January 7, 2022.
“A Houston mother was charged after authorities allege she placed her 13-year-old son in the trunk of her car in an attempt to isolate him after he had tested positive for COVID-19 and then took him to a drive-thru testing site.”
Of course. This makes sense. I wonder what she does for a living.
“The woman is a teacher with the district, which said in a statement that the child was not harmed.”
I am sure that her classroom has been a normal place conducive to the education and well-being of all of the students. This is not something that should be investigated by the proper law enforcement authorities ASAP. Move along.
I read an article this week that reminded me that if my old posts go too long without being shared, those icky Google algorithms assume that they’re out of date. Thanks to that, you will now receive two recommendations from our archive each week instead of one.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. October 30, 2020.
Snow in New York City makes me think of garbage. It may be white for an hour or two, but soon it turns black. Then garbage piles up in the snow. Scary stuff. But on one autumn day in 2020, I did my small part to clean New York City. Naturally, I photographed what I did and then made sure to humbly tell everyone about my good deed.
Victor V. Gurbo. July 15, 2020.
I have been thinking about Victor’s delivery near-horror story as I wait for my new computer monitor that was originally supposed to arrive three days ago. It is in Oklahoma now. I am not in Oklahoma. Victor’s story is more interesting though. I promise.
Starting last May, I published a list of our five most-visited articles between newsletters in each newsletters. These “newsletter weeks” run from Saturday to Friday. The statistics come from our local privacy-friendly analytics solution, Koko Analytics. In 2021, I included statistics with each article about its overall performance for the year. Because this is a new year, I will re-start our statistics, including only those for 2022 with the exception of the “last week” section for the articles in our inaugural 2022 ranking.
However, while the year is new, our top-five from the last two weeks of 2021 returns for the first newsletter week of 2022.
The Mystery of Sōseki and Tsuki ga Kirei.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. March 14, 2021.
Last Week: #1.
Reviewing the HALOmask and är Mask.
Victor V. Gurbo. December 2, 2020.
Last Week: #3.
Recommended F-Droid FOSS Apps For Android-Based Devices (2021).
Nicholas A. Ferrell. November 27, 2021.
Last Week: #2.
Installing Ubuntu Touch on an Asus Nexus 7 (2013).
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 5, 2021.
Last Week: #4.
How to Find Substack RSS Feeds and Other Notes.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. June 19, 2021.
Last Week: #5.
The year changed, but the top five did not. For the second consecutive week, an article pushed by Tsuki ga Kirei posted in the top spot for the first half of the week. Last week it was my F-Droid app review. This week it was Victor’s 2020 mask review. But for the second straight week, my Tsuki ga Kirei post pulled away in the last three days of the week, topping the ranking for the 16th week in a row and 26th time overall. The top five was rounded out by two ranking mainstays from summer 2021, my posts on installing Ubuntu Touch and Substack RSS feeds. Both of those article topics will see new content this month.
While I do not include view count statistics, I am pleased with the increase in the number of New Leaf Journal viewers over the last two weeks. We posted our busiest week since August when a large number of Bob Dylan fans flooded our site to read Victor’s self-described Dylan “clickbait.” January 2021 marked a sharp increase in the number of visitors to The New Leaf Journal from 2020. We surpassed the entire January 2021 total in the first five days of January 2022.
Special mention goes to the ninth place article of the week, my Amiga OS theme review, which posted one of our better first-week showings.
I am re-introducing a section to our newsletter. In the Notable Leaf Journal section, I will recommend something that I use for readers of the newsletter to consider and try. This will often be something having to do with tech, but I may segue into other areas as the newsletters go on. Each newsletter will include one such recommendation. In some cases, these recommendations may serve as previews of future New Leaf Journal content.
ClearURLs is one of my favorite web extensions. Its GitHub code repository describes what it does:
“This extension will automatically remove tracking elements from URLs to help protect your privacy when browsing the internet…”
You may notice when you copy and paste a URL that it looks messy. This is because many websites add a number of tracking parameters to their URLs. The GitHub repo shows a before-and-after example using Amazon.
The extension adds a field to your right click context menu when you click on a link. You can select “Copy Clean Link Location” to copy the clean version of the link without any extra unpleasantness. (This not only protects you from being tracked, but you will also become more popular with friends and family because you send such clean links.) It also comes pre-configured to remove tracking URLs automatically, prevent ETag tracking, and more. The settings can be changed, but I think it comes ready to use on install.
ClearURLs is free and open source and makes a great addition to any web browser. However, it is worth noting that my favorite ablocking extension, uBlock Origin, has a filter for handling tracking parameters in URLs (albeit less full-featured than ClearURLs). It does not come enabled out of the box, however, but the “AdGuard URL Tracking Protection” filter can be turned on in “Filter Lists.” The AdGuard extension itself is another good option.
If there are any users of the Pale Moon browser reading, there is a similar (albeit less robust) extension for that browser called Pure URL.
I discussed one new option for Android devices (scroll to “Léon – The URL Cleaner (Beta)”) in a recent article. However, ClearURLs may work on Android browsers that support extensions (I have not tried it).
Since I have no experience with Macs or iOS, I do not have any solutions for Safari that I can personally attest to. However, a quick search on AlternativeTo, which I wrote about at The New Leaf Journal, turned up a free and open source Safari extension called Clean Links.
For the first time in some time, I made a couple of changes to The New Leaf Journal. Firstly, I slightly changed the items in our header menu. Secondly, I expanded the list of related articles that show beneath each post from six to nine. I will likely change the header and the header menu a bit more in the future. For the site itself, I will publish a page listing every New Leaf Journal article this week as part of my effort to ensure that every article is within one step of our homepage.
As for content, I am working on publishing a few projects I had slated for December. There is a new version of Ubuntu Touch out and Nextcloud on my home server is working (for now…), so there is no excuse for me to put off my Ubuntu Touch alternative mobile operating system review off any longer. My PocketBook Color e-reader review should soon follow. I will also extend my al|together visual novel review project with at least one seasonal entry. Finally, my best anime of 2021 list should be done in January 2022. Will it still be semi-timely?
I have added a few additional projects to my plate. I am currently in the process of writing an individual review of the Swisscows search engine, which I covered in brief as part of my alternative search engine survey, based on my temporarily using Swisscows as my primary search engine. I will also be publishing an in-depth look at how Pokémon stats changed from generation 1 to generation 2, some new RSS content, and some more literary and creative essay pieces to keep this from turning into a tech site (never go full tech).
For the music fans out there, I’ll check in on Victor to see if we have some new music content in the cards.
This concludes my first “normal” newsletter of 2022. I hope you enjoyed The New Leaf Journal content and the new newsletter sections. If you have not done so already, you can subscribe to this newsletter by email or add it to your favorite feed reader. Feel free to send any thoughts or comments using The New Leaf Journal contact form.
Until next week,
Cura ut valeas.