You seem to have a real conflict about being crazy or smart, but you don't realize that most of the time it's both.
— Tatsu 님, Nov. 2020
Table of Topics
Let me know which topic you'd like me to post next!
For some eight years, 2014-2022, I had been using a Galaxy S4 as my main phone. Here are its specs:
I always knew on some visceral level that sooner or later I would need a new phone. In fact, even as early as 2014, I saw one of my friends bring a more "advanced" phone to school, which evidently impressed a group of his other friends. I knew I didn't care much about the specs of my phone, but I didn't really think very hard about what type of phone I did want.
In 2017, I started using GNU/Linux as a primary operating system, and it changed the way I viewed all of my machines. The sheer amount of fine-grained control and power that GNU/Linux provided was liberating, and it continues to impress me to this day.
It slowly became more and more obvious that I needed a new phone; I experienced a couple of hardware failures, and in the extreme example, my S4 started failing to place calls by May 2022! So, I started looking for a new phone. For reference, here are the specs for the Galaxy S22, which was released in February 2022.
Galaxy S22 specs:
But now, I have finally received a phone called the Librem 5, and I intend to make maximum use of it. Here are its specs:
Sounds comparatively worse, eh? Well it's not. Allow me to explain...
Stack Overflow is an overrated, overused, piece-of-trash website.
Depending on your personal experiences, you'll read this thesis and think one of two things. You'll think:
There appears to be no shortage of videos criticizing the culture on StackOverflow (shout-out to zyapguy). The difference is, they are often cartoonish and hyperbolic; thus, they do not serve as serious or persuasive analysis. I wanted to keep track of a list of real posts on Stack Overflow, in order to consolidate them in one place and have them prepared whenever someone challenges me on this opinion. This is a case where you don't need to exaggerate the truth; the absurdity lies in the reality as it is.
The scandal isn't what's illegal; the scandal is what's legal.
— Michael Kinsley
Back in 2018 (the brief era during which developers would still Speak To Me), the prevailing attitude among developers was that Stack Overflow was a good resource to rely on. Here is my evidence, anecdotal though it may be: during one of my job interviews (one of the few that led me on the path to getting an offer, no less!), I was asked what resources I use when solving practical problems, and they seemed to show approval when I reluctantly named Stack Overflow. Even at the job in 2018, I heard one of my louder, more extroverted co-workers express extraordinary gratitude for the website, and he questioned how any programmer ever did their job without having that resource available to them! And even at the time, I found myself very displeased with the popularity it had attained. So, once and for all, allow me to explain the reasons why.
If you're short on time, here's the synopsis: The most fundamental problem with the forum is that it does not lend itself to deep, thorough investigations of truth. More often than not, they'll tell you just enough information to answer your question and nothing more. They'll include very few, if any, sources and citations; they'll often focus on revealing code rather than explaining underlying concepts in detail; neither the chosen answer nor the most-up-voted answer will have the most completeness or accuracy; and in some cases, the answers submitted outright contradict one another.
Let me walk through a case study exposing the problems with reliance on this site...
Does it spark joy?
— Marie Kondo
Consider Discord (the chatting / social media platform).
In the days when I used to check Discord, I had regular access to people who had shared interests with me — interests such as computer programming, science, politics, philosophy, Korean culture, music, and so forth.
It became typical for me to log into Discord and have a nearly-constant smile on my face as I reviewed the notifications that I had missed over the previous day (or week, or month, etc.). I would scroll through these, catching up on messages and replying to the people who were often wondering where I'd been, and the topics would often be about narrow, shared interests and inside jokes.
And somewhere he was laughing, in a black-painted loft, distant fingers caressing the deck, tears of release streaking his face.
— William Gibson, Neuromancer
By contrast, consider Facebook.
When I used to log into Facebook, I would be presented with one large post at the top of my feed that would immediately incite rage, jealousy, or shock, within a fraction of a second. It would be a post of somebody boasting about getting a new job, or sharing an academic achievement, or starting a serious relationship, or getting married, or something equally life-changing. Most of the time, I found myself experiencing an immediate wave of envy, simply because the thing that they had achieved was something that I had wished I could have achieved, and in some cases, it was something that I had worked hard for. But over time, I made another discovery: even when the thing being boasted was an accomplishment that I had also achieved, I still had a (albeit somewhat dulled) negative feeling arise within me. I could not help but think, quite consciously, that this kind of achievement — say, a graduation celebration, or a job offer — should not be something that one publicly boasts about.
Eventually, my only reason for checking Facebook became communicating with a select few people, who used Facebook Messenger as a primary chat application (I refuse to download such an app, and the reasons behind that could fill a whole separate article; I will add them later). Then, there was a period of time when I would attempt to use a custom program to check my Facebook messages without logging in to Facebook, but this had its own deficiencies.
Therefore, I decided to stop checking Facebook altogether, and I found myself infinitely more happy because of it. (Mind you, I do not consider myself a happy person, but based on the consistency of my experience, I do rest assured that I'd be even more unhappy had I continued to check Facebook.)
The moral of the story being, I would encourage everybody to reflect critically on the emotions that your software is making you feel. Does it inspire amusement, pleasure, and meaning? Or alternatively: is it inciting envy, rage, and pain?
I happen to know I am not the only one who experiences these feelings when checking Facebook. As a matter of fact, it's been shown that Facebook has a history of manipulating its users and rewarding posts that incite outrage. For more on this, I recommend the film The Social Dilemma and Tristan Harris' other work.
But in the last three months, I have also stopped checking Discord — but this is for a different set of reasons that perhaps deserve their own separate post.
So what do I do with my time?
Well, I have since taken up book-reading as an activity to replace checking social media. Instead of short, punchy, sentence-long posts, you get the benefit of more lengthy, poetic, carefully-crafted passages — the world of slow-paced, thought-provoking storylines that I had largely left behind in 2016.
I recommend you try experiments like "not checking my favorite social media site for 30 days" and so forth. These experiments can be enlightening and bring more variety and depth of insight into one's life. Just ask yourself, does it spark joy?
And in the meantime, feel free to follow the RSS feed for this site — no ads, no manipulation, no outrage bait, just periodical updates. Maybe we would all benefit if everyone started using RSS and other decentralized communications.
Check out this good video on the geological history of the Earth:
Having heard many half-truths and misinformation about climate change, I decided to compile a table of claims along with the wider truth about the issue. Maybe it will come in handy for anyone visiting my website!
|Denialist Claim||Bigger Picture (+ Citation)|
|"Water is the most potent greenhouse gas!"||"The only way the climate can hold more water is if the temperature rises" (Veritasium)|
|"The U.S. was cooler in the 1930s!"||This is a perfect example of cherry-picking temperature data (The Climate Brink)|
|"The Sun is responsible for global warming!"||The Sun is the source of heat, but the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the factor that gradually traps heat and radiates it back toward the surface. Since the Sun hasn't been getting consistently brighter over the last century, it is the other half — greenhouse gas — that is causing the rise in average temperatures.|
Even in a world where the climate was stable (i.e., a world radically different from the one we live in), we might still have a potential problem with resource consumption. This pattern is increasingly concerning to me.
The Odd Couple
Director Gene Saks, Writer Neil Simon
A classic comedy from the 1960s. Well-written and superbly acted. Rest in peace Jack Lemmon.
Director 이응복 (Lee Eung-bok), Writer 김은숙 (Kim Eun-sook)
Hwa and Dam Pictures
A tragic historical drama about Korea at the turn of the 1900s. Interesting characters and a compelling storyline. Watch it!
If you're interested in reading about my political debates, answer the following riddle:
What are the last five alpanumeric digits of the unlisted Python video?
Run this string through the algorithm SHA1 to get the checksum. This will be the extension you use for the URL, i.e.: