You are reading the 40th edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal. 40 - nice round number. As always, this is Nicholas A. Ferrell, editor of The New Leaf Journal - a perennially virid and growing online writing magazine. It was a bit of a slow week between Independence Day, work, and a few mobile-device installation projects, but I still have four articles to go over with you. Because we were a bit light on New Leaf Journal content this week - I will present two article recommendations from our archive instead of the usual one.
Let’s get to it.
I published four articles during the past week. You will find the links with short descriptions below.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 5, 2021.
I have been interested in trying alternative mobile operating systems. While looking at some options, I discovered that one of the older alternatives - Ubuntu Touch - has an easy installer for supported devices. One such supported device is the 2013 edition Asus’ Google Nexus 7. What is one 2013 tablet when you can have two? I found a cheap one on Ebay, ordered, and installed Ubuntu Touch on it.
The installation went well - you will find my very early impressions in the post. Summary: Ubuntu Touch is an intuitive OS, but the lack of application support is definitely a problem for anyone considering it for a daily driver.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 6, 2021.
I was originally going to write an article about a different short poem. However, my looking into that poem led me to a bigger project, which will be published tomorrow (July 10, 2021). Instead, I wrote a very short post about a charming children’s poem about children in a hammock being looked down upon by residents of a bird’s nest. The summer imagery is vivid.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 8, 2021.
I recommended AlternativeTo as my favorite resource for finding new software and services in an article on alternative software and services. Last week, I joined AlternativeTo so I could submit my own recommendations. As I detail in the article, I achieved a meteoric rise through the contributor rankings.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 10, 2021.
On April 8, I posted an article about a photo of a Dead End sign overlooking the East River that I took in Red Hook, Brooklyn. That photo came from a June 14, 2020 walk. In that article, I wrote the following:
“I have a decent-sized stockpile of interesting photos from Red Hook, Brooklyn, and I look forward to sharing them in the coming weeks and months.”
When I noted my stockpile, I neglected to mention that I was referencing photos from June 14, 2020. This new article covers a photo taken 15 minutes before the End sign. An over-filled red truck raised questions, but presented few answers.
Look forward to more photos from that day in the coming weeks.
I concede that I was not able to provide you with as much reading content as usual this week. Fear not, however. There is a great deal of content on the internet. Some of it is good. See six content recommendations below, and five good content recommendations, below.
Steve Cuozzo. July 3, 2021.
I agree with almost every word of this op-ed, and you can expect to read my own take on the outdoor dining situation in New York City in the near future. I have already said a bit about one issue with the current arrangement.
Casey Baseel. June 29, 2021.
An interesting pay phone:
“[E]ven though the Duet Phone is designed for three-person conversations, it doesn’t allow for three-way calling. You can still dial one number from it, but two people use the phone simultaneously, because it has two receivers!”
Kev Quirk. June 25, 2021.
An interesting post from a popular tech blogger on his decision to drop analytics entirely to resist the temptation to focus on numbers. While we will not be following suit, he provides interesting insights into the problem of focusing on visitor counts at the expense of more important things.
Darius Kazemi. July 8, 2019 (updated August 31, 2019)
A long, but interesting, post on starting a small social network for a group of friends. I do not agree with all of Mr. Kazemi’s ideas, but I do think that the future of social media should be local first - and the protocols and software that Mr. Kazemi discusses fit well into that idea. This will be a subject that I will have more to say about in the future.
Jessica Green. June 23, 2021.
In December, I wrote an article opposing using children to obtain attention on the internet. I thought of it as I read this attempt at a heartwarming story:
Dawn opened up about the heartbreaking moment in a recent TikTok video - which has since racked up more than two million views - saying: ‘So we’re sitting at the park for JJ’s birthday party, we got everything ready, his party started half an hour ago. ‘He had literally zero people show up for his birthday. My poor little man,’ she added.
Regardless of whether the party story is actually true, at least someone received 2,000,000 TikTok views from it. The child who was broadcast to those 2,000,000 people reaps none of the benefits, alas.
Peter Askew. January 2017 (updated June 2020).
Back in 2014, the domain name VidaliaOnions.com expired, and went up for auction. For some reason the original owner abandoned it, and being a GA native, I recognized it ’cause I was familiar with the industry. I’ve been buying expired or abandoned domain names for a while, and enjoy developing them into niche businesses. This one was different though – I backordered the domain as a spectator, but for kicks & giggles, I dropped in a bid around $2,200 ’cause I was confident I’d be outbid.
He wasn’t outbid. What happened next? It is worth reading to find out.
Because I was a bit short on content this week, I will recommend two articles from our archive instead of one.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 16, 2021.
When we first started The New Leaf Journal in April 2020, I set up Google Analytics. By early July, I was looking for a lighter, privacy-friendly alternative. After doing a little research, I settled on Koko Analytics, which I installed on July 11, 2020. Five days after installation, I wrote a short and (very) early review.
Today is exactly one year from the day I set up Koko Analytics. It has served, and still serves, The New Leaf Journal well - providing very basic information about how many visitors each article receives and where they are coming from. It collects no personally identifiable information and transmits no information to third parties.
At some point in the future, we may switch to a more robust, but still privacy-friendly, analytics option. But for the time being, Koko serves us well, and I expect it to do so at least for the duration of 2021. I will note that it handled the surge of traffic we saw in March with no issue.
Victor V. Gurbo. July 21, 2020.
Nearly one year ago, Victor wrote about what he had learned from TikTok. To his surprise, Victor was informed that he was pronouncing the word “capo” in a manner that was not in accord with the linguistic sensibilities of some of his TikTok audience. In the post, he tells the story in great detail before reaching his own conclusion on how to pronounce “capo.”
(Aside - TikTok is terrible.)
Below, you will find our most-read articles from July 3-9, inclusive. This is the 27th such “Newsletter Leaf” ranking of 2021. In parentheses, I will indicate the article’s change in rank from the previous week. Below each post, I will list information about when it was published and its prior ranking history. All statistics come courtesy of Koko Analytics. While they are unlikely exact because of Koko’s self-imposed limitations, they are close enough for all normal purposes.
“Persona 4 Golden Digital Artbook Review (Steam)” (No Change)
Nicholas A. Ferrell. November 15, 2020.
Weeks in Top Five: 23 (6 in first place)
“The Mystery of Sōseki and Tsuki ga Kirei”
Nicholas A. Ferrell. March 14, 2021.
Weeks in Top Five: 11 (7 in first place)
“An Early Review of Pixelfed - Instagram Alternative” (Change +2)
Nicholas A. Ferrell. November 13, 2020.
Weeks in Top Five: 22 (2 in first place)
“A 2021 List of Alternative Search Engines and Search Resources” (No Change)
Nicholas A. Ferrell. June 13, 2021.
Weeks in Top Five: 3
“A Follow-Up Post on the Meaning of ‘Blob Dylan’” (Change +2)
Nicholas A. Ferrell. April 12, 2021.
Weeks in Top Five: 3
I thought that with the Persona 4 Golden sale on Steam winding down on Wednesday, it might relinquish the top spot in the ranking. That was not the case - although with the sale completely finished, I assume it will fall back next week. There were no major surprises in our top five. I tip my hat to my Independence Day article on Calvin Coolidge, which barely lost out the last spot to our second Blob Dylan article. Be on the look out for my post on King Baby graffiti one of these weeks - it seems to be picking up steam for some unknown reason.
Some site news, game recommendations, and stories.
I am testing some new features for The New Leaf Journal - specifically a second attempt at a glossary and an events calendar page. If I like the way both of my solutions work - I will add them to the site.
I noted in our June Month in Review that we removed “estimated reading time” from our articles. That removal was incidental to my decision to remove a plugin. There is still some residual shortcode left in a few articles (i.e., text that was being converted into estimated reading time). I am working on the tedious task of finding and deleting them.
Finally, I installed an improvement to our on-site search.
In this week’s article about my budding stardom on AlternativeTo, I noted that I have submitted a good number of applications and games to the platform. You can see my running list of submissions under “Added Apps.”
I figured that I ought to recommend one of my submissions here. A number of the applications and other things I have submitted are specific to WordPress or Linux, and thus may not be amenable to many readers of this humble Newsletter Leaf Journal. I do, however, have one general-purpose recommendation, Kumquats.
I am not ordinarily a fan of word puzzle games, but I was impressed with the recently-released Kumquats. I would describe it as one-player scrabble, except the goal is to create words to get rid of all of the letters that you are provided with.
Letters can be shifted around, and the only goal is to set a best time. It is currently available for Android from the Google Play Store and F-Droid (links to both are on the GitHub page for the project that you will find above). The developer also has builds for Windows, Mac, Linux, and iOS, but I have only tried it on Android.
My first and longest article of the week was about my installation of Ubuntu Touch on a 2013 Nexus 7 tablet. I like much of what Ubuntu Touch offers - especially its ability to install desktop apps and convert into a proverbial computer when linked to a mouse and keyboard - but as a tablet alone, it is let down by its app selection (note - still very early impressions). I still had an interest in a general-use, but non big tech-dependent, tablet. Having succeeded in installing Ubuntu Touch on Nexus 7, I undertook a more ambitious project - installing LineageOS on a different Nexus 7 (purchased from the same Ebay seller for the same price).
LineageOS is a mostly de-Googled fork of Android. Having used it for two days now (spoiling the happy ending), I can confirm that it is almost indistinguishable from Android - just de-Googled. There are ways around its lack of Google Play Services, but I do not use any apps that rely on Google Play Services in any event.
Installing Ubuntu Touch would have been a long process if not for the handy installer. There is no LineageOS installer for Nexus 7 - I had to do it by connecting the tablet to my computer and running the Android Debug Bridge from my terminal. Don’t worry - I only know what I’m doing insofar as its spelled out to me.
As you can see in the instructions, there are many instructions. I was a bit worried during step 4 of the “Repartition” section, but in the end, everything went as planned, and I successfully replaced Android with LineageOS. I then rooted my tablet with Magisk so I could take care of a couple of things that I needed superuser privileges for.
Now that everything on my LineageOS tablet is in working order, I am installing all the apps I want and setting it up to be my main news-reader and a secondary authenticator.
I will write an article about the LineageOS install process in the near future. I am less inclined to review the operating system in detail than I am Ubuntu Touch since it is almost indistinguishable from Android from the perspective of an ordinary user, but I may write about it in the future.
In 2021, I now have three 2013 tablets - my two Nexus 7s and Kindle Fire HDX. Am I the only non-Ebay seller who can claim this? I was probably the only person to write a Fire HDX-specific game review in 2020.
I hope you enjoyed our lighter-than-usual week of content and this humble newsletter. I look forward to having a busier week of content to report on for the 41st edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal.