This was a solid start to the Year of Focus. I’ve been working hard on two things this month: optimizations to the site and cleaning up my feeds (podcast and RSS). The latter is relatively straightforward; I already had a task list with various items. The former was a bit harder at first, but PiHole ultimately made most of the decisions for me. Let me explain.
PiHole monitors and filters any trackers and ads at the DNS level. I use a few blacklists maintained by the community, but recently started to manage one of my own for domains containing dynamic ad insertion on podcasts. This is becoming a bit of a common practice, unfortunately. And I was surprised at the amount of smaller1 podcasts that practice DAI. Many of which I really enjoy and considered making an exception for. But I simply don’t feel comfortable with this practice and would rather find similar content elsewhere. So that’s what I’ve done and my feed is looking leaner while improving quality.
For RSS, I didn’t have to unsubscribe from much. I’ve been working on this feed for years now and feel like I’m in a great spot with the amount and quality of the content. I recently switched from Feedbin to Feed Wrangler as well, though mostly to save a little on the annual subscription. Spending more time reading long-form content has helped me reduced my social media consumption; I find the content less appealing and therefore get off the platforms quicker, which is a nice side effect.
As for the site, I wanted to work on backend optimizations and fixes before starting on a redesign. I like the current aesthetic and want to improve upon it. But before that, I need to make sure everything is running smoothly. Here are some nice lists of what I’ve done:
- Redirects for broken links.
- Missing preloads links for subset font files.
- Missing props validation on certain components.
- Goober for style components (smaller footprint).
- Filtering Twitter archive from the sitemap.
- Grouping posts by year in the archive.
- Appearances section and links.
- Uses page.
- Contact page.
These changes mean a leaner codebase and faster site. And the few additions are to improve the UX as well.
I’m trying to watch some older movies that have high praise but came out way before my time. I’m keeping track of my ratings over at Letterboxd. With podcasts, I’m enjoying some of these newer one-off series that cover a specific topic. And I’m also looking to wrap up the Remembrance of Earth’s Past book series I left hanging last year.
- Vertigo: I wasn’t a fan of the ending. But most of all, I really dislike the overall sexist vibe from back in the day.
- Doctor Sleep: Not the best horror film I’ve seen —hard horror at all— but I was still entertained throughout the 3 hours. Which is more than I can say of most of the trash that comes out in the genre.
- Foreign Correspondent: I liked this one far more than Vertigo, but had the same vibe which killed it for me. Also, I thought The Star-Spangled Banner in the end credits was a bit too on the nose.
- 13 Minutes to the Moon: What a great show. Just the right amount of detail and add grandeur.
- Sidedoor: This came as a recommendation from 99% Invisible and I’ve been loving every episode.
- Up First: I had to unsubscribe from Today, Explained because the Quip and KiwiCo ads were driving me insane. So this filled the daily news spot perfectly, with better quality content.
- The Dark Forest: I thought this was better than the first book. If the series ended right here I wouldn’t be mad. But I can’t wait to start the last book.
I think these 3 comics describe what goes through my head a lot of the time in magnificent detail. In this order:
And my small I mean not part of a large network. There are a large amount of “indie” podcasts with a massive following.^