Projects and Updates, 2020-01-01

Projects and Updates, 2020-01-01

Dear Amazon-
In fairness, it was sort of fun in the beginning! See you in a few years, once you own all the other companies in the world.

Playlist of music in this post: Spotify

Support your community*
*(but only if you want your community to survive)

I like to think of the United States as a collection of 50 states and little else.[1] There are people who talk about the country being in a not-so-great place and set about doing things to make the country better, healthier, etc.; I find their tactics are, generally, wildly inefficient. This is, in part, because of how I think of the United States: a collection of 50 states and little else.

If those people who want to improve the country improved their own states, by definition the country would be improved. Similarly, if those people who want to improve the country improve their own counties, their states would be improved and the country would be improved. And, just to skip to the end, let's say that counties are giant collections of people: if the people themselves improve, automatically the counties improve, the states improve, the country improves.

All of that is to say this: You are (and everyone around you is) a part of the "people" above who might be improved; if you want the country to be healthy, you also want you to be healthy. There is no bypass for this work.

This (admittedly simplified) idea is true for "country", and it's also true for "society" and "community" and a number of other big, nebulous concepts.

So if look at Amazon and think that "we", as a society, should support healthier ways:

  • to treat employees,
  • for entities to be good corporate citizens,
  • to partner with product makers and sellers,
  • to engage with customers,
  • to consider "convenience"[2]...

...then I need to learn how to support those healthier ways. There is no bypass for that work.

For me, the best part about leaving Amazon is that it frees up resources I can spend at places I actually want to see thrive -- businesses like I Like You and Cooks of Crocus Hill and North Loop Wine & Spirits[3]. I got to know the faces that work there, we chat about life, and I specifically want them to be successful.

Other awesome places!

While I started visiting the above businesses specifically because of my quest to leave Amazon, I'm duty-bound to shout out a few other local businesses I've been shopping for years:

Party Notes

Two quick party notes for you.

I have an idea: homemade hot chocolate in a coffee percolator. I'm not certain this idea will work, but that's okay because I have another idea that I think will work: mulled wine in a coffee percolator.

Better ingredients make better cocktails, and apparently there's such a thing as "cheap" vermouth. Using better vermouth and really nice cherries will make your Manhattans taste better.

Disabling Keyboard Keys in Linux
The laptop I use for writing and coding has Page Up and Page Down keys that are way too close to the left and right keys. Without going too much into it, accidentally shifting a document by 5 to 10 pages, instead of moving a cursor 5 to 10 places, is uniquely infuriating.

As a result, I remapped my Page Up and Page Down keys; they now function as additional left and right keys.

I made the change by adding two lines to this file: /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/pc
(For the record, I'm running Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS.)

    // Neutralizing Page Up and Down
    key <PGDN> {	[  Right			]	};
    key <PGUP> {	[  Left			]	};

Since I don't use Page Up or Page Down too often on this computer, I didn't take the time to re-map the functionality to some other key combination. The full file follows, in case it's helpful for anyone.

default  partial alphanumeric_keys modifier_keys
xkb_symbols "pc105" {

    key <ESC>  {	[ Escape		]	};

    // The extra key on many European keyboards:
    key <LSGT> {	[ less, greater, bar, brokenbar ] };

    // The following keys are common to all layouts.
    key <BKSL> {	[ backslash,	bar	]	};
    key <SPCE> {	[ 	 space		]	};

    include "srvr_ctrl(fkey2vt)"
    include "pc(editing)"
    include "keypad(x11)"

    key <BKSP> {	[ BackSpace, BackSpace	]	};

    key  <TAB> {	[ Tab,	ISO_Left_Tab	]	};
    key <RTRN> {	[ Return		]	};

    key <CAPS> {	[ Caps_Lock		]	};
    key <NMLK> {	[ Num_Lock 		]	};

    key <LFSH> {	[ Shift_L		]	};
    key <LCTL> {	[ Control_L		]	};
    key <LWIN> {	[ Super_L		]	};

    key <RTSH> {	[ Shift_R		]	};
    key <RCTL> {	[ Control_R		]	};
    key <RWIN> {	[ Super_R		]	};
    key <MENU> {	[ Menu			]	};

    // Neutralizing Page Up and Down
    key <PGDN> {	[  Right			]	};
    key <PGUP> {	[  Left			]	};

    // Beginning of modifier mappings.
    modifier_map Shift  { Shift_L, Shift_R };
    modifier_map Lock   { Caps_Lock };
    modifier_map Control{ Control_L, Control_R };
    modifier_map Mod2   { Num_Lock };
    modifier_map Mod4   { Super_L, Super_R };

    // Fake keys for virtual<->real modifiers mapping:
    key <LVL3> {	[ ISO_Level3_Shift	]	};
    key <MDSW> {	[ Mode_switch 		]	};
    modifier_map Mod5   { <LVL3>, <MDSW> };

    key <ALT>  {	[ NoSymbol, Alt_L	]	};
    include "altwin(meta_alt)"

    key <META> {	[ NoSymbol, Meta_L	]	};
    modifier_map Mod1   { <META> };

    key <SUPR> {	[ NoSymbol, Super_L	]	};
    modifier_map Mod4   { <SUPR> };

    key <HYPR> {	[ NoSymbol, Hyper_L	]	};
    modifier_map Mod4   { <HYPR> };
    // End of modifier mappings.

    key <OUTP> { [ XF86Display ] };
    key <KITG> { [ XF86KbdLightOnOff ] };
    key <KIDN> { [ XF86KbdBrightnessDown ] };
    key <KIUP> { [ XF86KbdBrightnessUp ] };

hidden partial alphanumeric_keys
xkb_symbols "editing" {
    key <PRSC> {
	type= "PC_ALT_LEVEL2",
	symbols[Group1]= [ Print, Sys_Req ]
    key <SCLK> {	[  Scroll_Lock		]	};
    key <PAUS> {
	symbols[Group1]= [ Pause, Break ]
    key  <INS> {	[  Insert		]	};
    key <HOME> {	[  Home			]	};
    key <PGUP> {	[  Prior		]	};
    key <DELE> {	[  Delete		]	};
    key  <END> {	[  End			]	};
    key <PGDN> {	[  Next			]	};

    key   <UP> {	[  Up			]	};
    key <LEFT> {	[  Left			]	};
    key <DOWN> {	[  Down			]	};
    key <RGHT> {	[  Right		]	};

20 Songs
Here are 20 songs I've recently played very loudly.
(in alphabetical order (not case sensitive))

  • "Again", John Legend
  • "All My Favorite People", Maren Morris
  • "bad guy", Billie Eilish
  • "break up with your girlfriend, i'm bored", Ariana Grande
  • "Die From A Broken Heart", Maddie & Tae
  • "Downpour", Brandi Carlile
  • "Glad He's Gone", Tove Lo
  • "God is a woman", Ariana Grande
  • "If You Get Lost", Will Gray
  • "Judas", Lady Gaga
  • "Let Him Fly", Patty Griffin
  • "Love Song", Sara Bareilles
  • "Mother's Daughter", Miley Cyrus
  • "MY POWER", Beyoncé
  • "Never Too Much", Luther Vandross
  • "Shallow", Lady Gaga
  • "Sorry Not Sorry", Demi Lovato
  • "Sugar", Maren Morris
  • "Tempo", Lizzo
  • "We Belong Together", Mariah Carey

Spotify playlist

  1. I have not forgotten about D.C., areas set aside for America's native people, or America's 5, 7, or 16 territories, depending on how one counts. While my point does scale well enough to incorporate them, I'm ignoring them for simplicity's sake. ↩︎

  2. There's this lingering notion that "Amazon is convenient"... For me, Amazon had become very unpredictable in both product quality and delivery timing, which made Amazon rather inconvenient. ↩︎

  3. While I didn't buy alcohol at Amazon, the mindset of looking for local alternatives led me to consider other areas as well ↩︎