Johnathan.org
Johnathan Lyman

Johnathan.org

My name is Johnathan Lyman. I'm an engineer at Papertrail, a huge Apple nerd and semi-regular blogger. I enjoy bubble tea way too much and find Farming Simulator relaxing.

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2014 – 2018 Johnathan Lyman. All 339 posts and 12 pages were made with and in Seattle.

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Category: Blog

Forcing HTTPS is Good… Or is it Bad?

Blog
There’s a bit of a debate in various corners of the Internet about how Google’s adding of Not Secure to HTTP-only sites as an indicator in the address bar is somehow bad for the Internet.

This tweet sums up both sides nicely:

I have mixed feelings. I get where folks are coming from when they say that Google shouldn’t be doing this carte blanche, but it also seems like a petty hill to die on. Google is a shit company but HTTPS is easy, free, and at least does some stuff to ensure the content you’re accessing is the content that was served. The barrier for entry into an HTTPS-enabled Web site is super low and we should be making these migrations independently of what Google is pushing.

Sure, adding that indicator is a scare tactic, and I’d bet it’ll be a good one. We should also be cautious that anywhere between your site and your visitor, there’s the very real possibility someone could very well take over that connection and replace the site or inject code on a whim. ISPs are for the most part shitty companies all around. Does moving to HTTPS only solve that problem? No, but it does provide piece of mind.

If folks are worried about their sites that have 15 years worth of content and haven’t been largely updated since 2004 all of a sudden becoming irrelevant or the “Independent” web being silenced… fine. We need to start somewhere in setting the benchmark for the Internet to be above plaintext HTTP. I don’t see other alternatives that don’t make things more complicated.

There’s really no reason why the Internet can’t be secure everywhere at this point.

When it comes to making sure “old content” is still accessible by all, as someone who jumped on the HTTPS train as soon as they could, it would stand to reason that means for accessing this “old content” should be updated as well. Analog media is digitized to keep it accessible.

New Old

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To say I’m never content with the way my blog looks is an understatement. I resurfaced the old 2-column layout I was using and tweaked it, cleaned it up. I got to thinking that big images isn’t really a part of my brand and I’ve always been partial to simple and clean.

Let’s see how long that lasts…

Goals for 2018

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It’s easy to look back on the last year and realize all the things that never got done… all the habits that were never broken… all the weight that was never lost… the miles never ran… books never read… but what I find truly hard is looking at what the next year should hold and how to keep myself accountable for it all.

Around this time every year I start lofting these wonderful things I want to do high up into the rafters of my brain and telling myself I’ll pull them down when the time is right and it’ll be spectacular. The reality is more along the lines of forgetting half of them and not doing any of them. One of the ways I hope to combat this is paring the list down to known accomplishable goals—things that I’ve probably done in the past that are reusable for this next year.

My list is split up into three categories: writing, personal enrichment, and health. I felt these were the most pertinent for their own reasons and can have the highest overall impact on my wellbeing and course of life in 2018.

(more…)

My 2017 Year in Review

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While working on my goals for 2018, I realized I missed out on a lot of things I didn’t do that didn’t come with good reasons. A lot’s changed over the last year and and I’m glad all of it’s happened, but I definitely neglected certain aspects of my life. Some of these neglects made their way into my 2018 goals list (coming in the next post) and some of them landed here for brief discussion.

(more…)

Status: Available

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Over the holiday weekend, I contemplated this post from Jason Fried, the CEO and Founder of Basecamp. If you’re curious how Basecamp as a company feels about knowing if staff are “online” or not, the opening stanza says it all:

As a general rule, nobody at Basecamp really knows where anyone else is at any given moment. Are they working? Dunno. Are they taking a break? Dunno. Are they at lunch? Dunno. Are they picking up their kid from school? Dunno. Don’t care.

(more…)

Doubling Down on DNS Records

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It might seem like a pretty silly thing to most but doubling up on DNS records (having a domain name point to two complete sets of name servers from two different DNS providers) is a wise and relatively easy way to add a touch of redundancy to your web properties.

(more…)

On Moving to Johnathan.org

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The idea of moving to a first-name.tld-type domain had been on my mind for quite a while. I settled on johnathan.org after much internal deliberation and stomaching with the fact that it wasn’t available for just a handful of dollars a year. I ended up buying the domain from a private party a few weeks ago, and now that the dust is settled, I feel comforatable explaining my reasons behind the change. (more…)

Amateur Colorist

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A couple weeks ago, I snagged an iPad Pro 10.5" on a Black Friday deal. At the time, I had a pretty good idea that I’d end up getting an Apple Pencil to go with it.

Sure enough, just last Friday, I waltzed into an Apple Store at 9PM and bought one.

The first thing I found myself doing with it is scribbling in Notes.app. Ten minutes later, I downloaded Pigment and the rest is history.

Really, it’s not history, but I’m having a blast and am considering opening a section on my site for some of the work I’ve done. Pigment lets users export in glorious detail (up to 4096px in either direction) so long as they’ve paid. At $10/month (or $5/month paid yearly), it’s not an inexpensive app, but the flow of designs is strong and the current collection is pretty large.

I’ve found myself spending several hours at a time just plugging (tapping and stroking?) away at the app and already have a couple pretty cool pieces to show for it.

Flower 2

New York

Fower 1

Red Sunset

John.ly Version 2

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Last week I hacked together a new version of my blog (this site) in hopes that I could actually create what I had envisioned in my head all along. So far, I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. I look forward to hacking on it some more, but this is a great start.

john.ly v2 screenshot

There were a few things I had to have in this version.

Easier to read type. I spent a few hours poking around the various font circles on the Interwebs and came across ITC Charter. I really like the way it renders on a page and from what I can tell, Medium.com also uses Charter. I guess I’m in good company?

Wider single-column layout. It didn’t have to be large, but something larger than before in order to accommodate flexibly-sized images. The CSS allows for image URLs to contain #med and #big and the content will eventually accommodate that [1].

A touch of color. The minimal design in the previous version was nice, but it felt bland. The light-blue links weren’t cutting it.

Navigation that’s always available. Scrolling to the top is no longer a thing.

Be small-ish. I wanted to keep the theme zip under a meg. The uncompressed them folder is around 760KB on my machine. The largest assets are the font files for each format (woff, woff2, eot, otf) at around 200-ish KB. The homepage, when loaded, sans tracking scripts [2] is roughly 250KB with jQuery. A blog post will vary depending on images.

I’ve also shared the code on GitHub for those interested. I can’t say the repo will always be updated but I’ll do the best I can to remember.


  1. I still have to figure out how to style <p> differently when they only contain an <img>. I’m thinking jQuery might be my only way out of this and applying a specific class to override the max-width ↩︎

  2. Yes, there are a couple. I use Full Story from time to time to see how folks interact with my site and Pingdom tracks page load performance ↩︎

The Mac Mini: A Versatile Hub Forgotten By Its Maker

Blog

As we start this story–or is it a technical post–we’re already facing the grim realities of the situation. Apple has updated most of its computer-based product line fairly regularly [1].

It’s an unfortunate state of things, though. I’ve always found the Mac Mini to be sitting in a great spot that not many other manufacturers have cared to address: a small, powerful[2], near-silent workhorse that can sit just about anywhere and fill an anasuming role.

That statement used to be blanketly approved of by those in exist in any kind of Apple circle. Nowadays, the Mini is only talked about in passing[3].

I’ve heard stories about folks who use their Mac Minis for tasks that can be relegated to closets: Time Machine backups, Plex, etc. What once was a staple on the desks of those who couldn’t or didn’t want to buy a Mac Pro[4] now sits in a home equivalent of the basement with its red stapler[5]

Sometimes, not even that.


  1. The Mac Pro and Mac Mini being the obvious childen left in the cold to freeze. ↩︎

  2. well, use to be ↩︎

  3. usually in the context of how long it’s been since a meaningful update has occured. Hint: 2012 ↩︎

  4. which makes sense, until 2013 it was literally 20x the size by volume, probably more ↩︎

  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vd4fj9Efl4s ↩︎

Strange Things Around These Parts

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You’re looking at what I can do in an evening (plus some tweaks after). I’ve been wanting to move to some sort of WordPress alternative for a while, now, and with the semi-maturity of Ghost, I feel like now’s a good time to switch. While I’m not a huge JavaScript/Node.js fan, I did find Handlebars to be extremely easy to grasp.

Please excuse the mess while I clean up. Migrating from WordPress isn’t straightforward in any sense.

New Workspace: a story

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The culmination of several months of tinkering and not being completely satisfied with my work area has come to a head. Here’s a bit of back story on how this came to be, why I did it, some of the stuff I tried (and failed), and all the relevant links to what you see here are included at the end.

Let’s get this train moving.

Why?

About a year and two months ago from when I write this, I left my job in an alright office to take up a position at Papertrail. There were two primary lures hanging from this position that drew me in: the kind of people I’d be working with and the allowance of working remotely 100% of the time.

I had toyed with the idea for several months prior, wanting the flexibility to travel more often and even relocate from where I was living at the time (silicon valley) without having to look for yet another job.

This meant needing a high quality work area in which I can sit for 6-10 hours per day and get all my most important work done. For some, that can literally be anywhere–a coffee shop, the couch–I’m not quite like that. In order for me to mentally be in the right place while I work. Distractions are my arch nemesis.

With this concept in mind, I had to figure out what I’d need in order to be successful, or at least feel like I was being successful (have to check that bias box, you know).

Unfortunately, the realization didn’t come until about two months ago (see section five of this post) when I decided I needed to start taking this more seriously.

The (Super) Early Incarnation

When I lived in California, my first workspace was an IKEA desk that fit just perfectly in the little den in my overpriced silicon valley apartment. At six feet (183cm) wide, it was good enough for the time. Realistically, I couldn’t make it any bigger, anyway. The room was six and a half feet (198cm) wide. Snug.

This desk housed my monitor, keyboard, mouse, and laptop. A few other miscellaneous things here and there like my XLR microphone and interface eventually made their way onto my desk, but that was it. I can’t stand desk clutter and am of the idea that if it’s not useful to you at the moment, it shouldn’t be there save for minor aesthetic complements.

When I moved, I voted to get rid of everything. It saved on moving costs and gave me a great excuse to start fresh… which lead to…

The Second(!?) Early Incarnation

My first attempt at a clean, functional workspace post-move involved a huge L-shaped corner desk build out from IKEA. I took two 47″ x 29″ (119cm x 74cm) rectangle tables and plopped a 47″ x 47″ (119cm x 119cm) L-piece with a curved cutout in the middle, giving me a massive 98″ (248cm) long-in-each direction L-shaped desk thing. The idea was wonderful in my head, but in reality, it didn’t turn out quite like I had planned.

The first hurdle was the curve. Because of how deep it was, any chair I found that could support long sitting sessions didn’t scoot up far enough thanks to the chair’s arms bumping against the desk edge. This meant I had to lean forward in order to even just barely reach my keyboard without it hanging over the lip. Not good.

This setup started after I moved from California to Washington in October 2016. This lasted almost five months before I had to call it quits and start from scratch (again).

Inspiration and Another Go

I started browsing the Internet and combing Instagram for ideas on how I can create a super clean, more minimal workspace without breaking the bank. The minimal desk design style is super hot right now and I wanted a piece of that hotness.

I came across a few others on Instagram who had used wood kitchen counter tops for their desks for a few reasons: they’re

  • cheap,
  • strong, and
  • big

One of the concepts behind this clean/minimal workspace movement is large swaths of the desk going unused in the traditional sense. It also allows for a decent number of items on the desk without drawing too many parallel lines with the cluttered feeling.

With countertop in hand, I opted to reuse the legs from my previous botched desk setup as a means for holding it up. At roughly 60 lbs (27 kg), it’s not incredibly heavy but remember, this is a solid slab of wood. If it’s not heavy, it’s at least awkward.

This is where having power tools came in handy. Sinking the screws into the wood required some torque and body weight to lean into my 18 volt cordless drill. With some effort, they screwed in and weren’t going anywhere. Handy tip, the screws that come with the IKEA desk legs–the ones you can buy individually—are short enough to sink into a wood counter top without punching through. Go team.

I was able to muster along with this and a set of drawers (also from, you guessed it, IKEA) as the support on the other side. The drawers are exactly the same height as the legs, making this an easy build.

Good, But it Could be Better

This configuration only lasted a couple months as we approach present day. I had seen the IKEA trestles being used in other setups like this one:

ikea-example
(credit: https://www.instagram.com/p/BQ3Tw80l9SF/)

and I knew that’s what I had to do. Further, I was completely confident the birch with white trestle legs would look super clean.

So that’s what I did.

Fixing the top to the legs required a bit of elbow grease this time, too. Since the trestles will be level, I don’t need a ton of security; enough to keep the legs and top lined up is enough. I marked out where the legs need to go and where I needed to drill. I created a pilot hole then sunk the screws that act like pegs that came with the legs. That’s it! Not rocket science by any means.

In addition, I swapped out a lamp I had since I moved in for the standing version of my desk lamp, and it made all the difference. During the day, I have enough light from the window to not need to worry about filling the room with light. At night, these two lamps flood my desk with enough light to be able to work with ease.

It’s Finished

When I got to a point where I’d be comfortable sharing it with the world, I posted a picture (the same one you see in the header of this post) on Instagram. Turns out Instagram loves this stuff and ate it up. If I ever seriously wanted to increase my Brand, this would be how I’d do it. (lol)

IMG_3632_jofipc

The Pieces

Here’s what you see in the photo–with relevant links:

Furniture

Lighting

Decoration

Electronics

Miscellaneous

  • WordPress-branded coffee cup
  • Pens

Or is it?

At the time of this writing, I still have a couple tweaks to make. I need to create a more permanent home for my work Macbook Pro in the form of a vertical stand (probably from Twelve South) and a desk mat. One of the downsides to this butcher-block wood slab is it’s not a super smooth texture. Butcher-block requires treatment if it’s going to get wet, something I haven’t done, and probably won’t do for some time.

In a few months, who knows what I’ll end up doing. I’m moving again next October into hopefully a more permanent home so this build might need some tweaking. Who knows, really…

Restore the Anywhere Option to Run Apps from Unidentified Developers in macOS Sierra

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I hadn’t realized until today that this setting was hidden in macOS Sierra. After a colleague pointed it out, I decided this needed fixing. Here’s how to bring back the third “Anywhere” option in macOS Sierra.

From the Terminal, run:

sudo spctl --master-disable

It’ll ask for your password. Plug it in and hit enter.

Head back to System Preferences > Security and Privacy and you should see the “Anywhere” option once more. If it used to be ticked before your upgrade to Sierra, it should be ticked again, now.

This workaround disables Gatekeeper altogether, though if you’re choosing the “Anywhere” route, having it on isn’t all the helpful, anyway.

Do You Know Why You’re Suffering?

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That’s a fun question, right? You’re upset so while you’re upset, think about why. That’s usually not high on the list of Things to Do.

It probably should be.

It sounds crazy, but knowing why something is bothersome I think is paramount to understanding it fully. I’ve found myself employing this tactic a lot over the last year.

Why am I angry? Why do I think this person will do that thing? Why do I hate mushrooms?

That last one I already know–they’re disgusting, flavorless, spongey, sprouting dirt turds… but hey, I didn’t always have such a wonderful answer. 🙂

Mark Manson covers this in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. He tells the story of Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier that spent almost 30 years in the Philipenes, fighting a war that had ended. He led a pretty terrible life in the jungle but had a clear purpose for it. It was his mission. He was suffering for what he believed was a good cause.

When we think about why we’re feeling a way about something or why we’re choosing to live in a poor moment, it’s not necessarily a bad thing for it to be a less-than-ieal situation. The key is being alright with it. Onoda accepted the situation he was in so you, too, can accept that Christmas with your in-laws is garbage but you love your wife and she really enjoys spending time with your family. That’s actually two reasons!

Two Years With Harry’s

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I don’t usually talk about my razor. I’m thinking today’s a good day to change that.

A little over two years ago, I wrote about Harry’s. They touted shaving products that don’t break the bank. Since then, I’ve used their products almost exclusively and am still a happy customer. I thought I’d share a bit of their story and how Harry’s came to be.

And ladies: you can use Harry’s too. 😉

I’m still such a fan, that even two years later I’m creating my own product shots (just like I did in 2015; the header image).

100,000 Words

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This is a statistic I never though I’d reach.

Yesterday I crossed the 100,000 word mark for all the posts I’ve written on this blog. From the very first on September 9th, 2014, to yesterday, 100,337 words have been written and published. I’m sure I crossed that mark earlier, but since I removed a few posts a couple months ago, the real count didn’t touch this level until yesterday’s post.

I’m quite excited to have come this far and look forward to what I come up with for the next 100,000 words. I’d also like to give a quick thank you to John Saddington for his inspiration to blog regularly. He’s been at it for over fifteen years and while I don’t quite have the regularity he does, I still feel I’ve accomplished something great.

To give you an idea of the scale using book types:

  • Children’s chapter book: 16,000
  • Typical mystery novel: 60-80,000
  • Typical “thriller”: 100,000+

Quite amazing.

Special Snowflakes

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This is a topic I never thought I’d actually touch. We hear about how people think they’re so special, typically using the words special snowflake and typically from the older generations (read: 50+). Typically these low slung insults have the right idea, though the angle at which these statements are being lobbed is all wrong.

I’m talking about Chapter 3 in Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck. In particular, there’s a couple passages that I want to highlight before I take the anti-special-snowflake generation to task.

…beginning in…the 1970s, self-esteem practices began to be taught to parents, emphasized by therapists, politicians, and teachers… Kids were given inanne homework assignments, like writing down all the reasons why they thought they were special…seminars [told us everyone] can be exceptional and massively successful.

That sounds oddly familiar, doesn’t it?

Today, we have a group of individuals, thought not technically wrong, chanting about how kids are being taught participation trophy this and safe space that. No one seems to have stopped and thought where all this came from…

It came from the generation of people complaining about it right now, and the generation before them. When the shoe is on the other foot, it’s amazing how much the narrative changes.

On the flipside:

…a generation later and the data is in: we’re not all exceptional. It turns out that merely feeling good about yourself doesn’t really mean anything unless you have a good reason to feel good about yourself.

Hmm. Mark’s taking the side of the grumps, as the millenials would probably call those of us trying to spoil the fun (I suppose, I have no idea; saying things in jest is what makes the Internet great, right?).

The difference here is how this information is shared. Right now we’re faced with old people telling young people you’re wrong and you should feel bad which as history clearly shows, works absolutely zero percent of the time. You’d think the old people in the scenario would know better, given they were young once. Oh well.

In order for this information to sink it, it needs to be discovered by those needing it the most… once they’re adults. The huge caveat to all this is: trying to teach a child that life sucks and to grow a pair always turns out wonderfully (not). Having grandpa tell your six-year-old about how his life was such shit that said six-year-old should nut up and stop feeling bad about not winning something somewhere is a fantastic idea (not).

There’s a threshold after which an individual can understand this concept. As a child, said individual is not at or past such a point.

So what do we do? We raise our kids to be kids and as they get older, enstill them with the tools they need to discover life on their own and at their own pace. If we raise our children to be entitled, then we’ll have entitled adults. If we raise our childen to be walking satirical assholes and finding the doom and gloom and life is hard, suck it up comes out of their depressive face holes every moment of the day (cough, nihilism), then we’ll have a new generation of nihilistic sad sacks that end up bitter in their old age.

There’s a balance in the middle, but I don’t believe it’s found to be valuable by any other means but through experience. The short version of all this is: life is hard but don’t be an ass in teaching children that. Let them figure it out and guide them.

Perhaps one day we’ll no longer have a generation of sad sacks complaining about snowflakes.

Where’d the Wine Go?

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The most astute in the crowd will have noticed Weekly Wine hasn’t been updated since issue five. I have a semi-decent reason for that and a peak at what I’m working on in its place.

When I started Weekly Wine, I didn’t quite have the right idea for how much work it was going to require. Picking wine isn’t in and of itself hard. Picking good wine can be a bit daunting. Unless you’re already a seasoned wine vet, chances are your list of goto bottles isn’t super long.

Mine surely wasn’t. Through this excersize though, I’ve discovered a lot of great bottles and rekindled some love for existing ones.

Here’s what I have planned for v2 of Weekly Wine.

It’ll be moving to a more traditional blog format which features an email subscription component. The blog will serve as an archive for past recommendations. The goal with Weekly Wine isn’t to necessarily have a new bottle to share with readers every week, but have enough bottles to pick from so readers have something fun to try each week.

I found myself a couple times getting the weekly wine recs in just under the deadline and that wasn’t great pressure. I don’t cope well with that kind of self-imposed pressure so I tend to punt stuff like that. This is why one issue dropped on a Friday.

If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that maintaining a weekly scheduled thing takes a lot more work than it sounds, and I don’t envy those who do daily mailers.

I’m hoping to get this new incarnation of Weekly Wine up sometime in April. In the meantime, the original five issues will remain at weekly.wine.

Until next time!


“Wine at Saltus” by Ken Hawkins is licensed under CC BY 2.0



Johnathan Lyman
Kenmore, WA,
United States
 
blogging, design, technology, software, development, gaming, photography