Monthly Highlights: November 2019

Highlights ·

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Yet another month had passed and it was busy as usual. I was mostly focused on a portfolio tracking app which I’ve started with an old friend of mine. We’ve created a few PC games in the past so I’m pretty sure we can work together and release this project in 2020. I’ve also got a bunch of new Paspberry Pi boards and I’m planning to use them to create a homegrown Kubernetes cluster.

Calendar (post illustration)

Picking a Suitable File System for Backups

Backups are crucial, especially for someone who prefers to store his data without the “help” of third parties. Having a fast SSD helps to speed things up a notch so I’ve bought one from SanDisk and it works great, compared to my old HDD. Was it the best option? Not sure, I guess it would be cheaper to buy a M2 SSD storage enclosure and the storage itself separately. That way, I would have more choice and better price, all things being equal. I’ll try that option too because I need another external storage device anyway.

It’s not enough to pick a decent storage: picking a suitable file system might be a bit of a headache too. I like ext4 and it serves me well on my Linux laptop but my backups should be also readable on Windows and macOS, which means that ext4 is not an option. So, what other file system can be used? There are two obvious candidates:

  • exFAT
  • NTFS

exFAT wins in terms of compatibility but NTFS is much more modern and it has a bunch of nice-to-have features such as journaling. Actually, NTFS is not that bad in terms of adoption too. You can obviously use it on Windows but it works great with Linux too, thanks to NTFS-3G. The only problem is macOS: it doesn’t allow to write data on NTFS volumes by default but it can read any data from them. I’m not planning to write any data from macOS so I’ve decided to go with NTFS for my backups.

Dark Mode Rises

Dark mode is all the rage now and I’ve been using dark themes, since at least 2010, when I became aware that such a thing exists. I remember how joyful I was when IntelliJ IDEA created their own dark theme (darcula). I spent most of my time in that IDE and getting rid of that nasty white color was a great relief. I’m pretty excided that the number of apps and websites supporting dark mode grows at such a fast pace now and I’ve decided to support dark mode for my websites and the Android app I’m working on now. Doing that can be a bit tricky but dev tools are getting better and it actually turned out to be simpler than I expected.

Dark Mode for Web

There are many ways to skin a cat but I’m lazy and here is how I did it with Bootstrap:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="/css/main-light-e3d44f0b.css">
<link rel="stylesheet" href="/css/main-dark-5de66a3d.css" media="(prefers-color-scheme: dark)">

Essentially, I just generated two different CSS files with different Bootstrap color definitions. That way, it’s easy to implement dark mode without changing the existing styles. Those styles are not aware that comething has changed, which is quite good. Maybe dark mode will be supported natively in newer versions of Bootstrap and, when it happens, it will be really easy to undo this “hack” and implement dark mode support without generating two different CSS files. We have to be aware that prefers-color-scheme: dark does not stop browsers from loading the “light” CSS variants (although they won’t use them) which is obviously not optimal.

Dark Mode for Android

It’s really easy to add dark mode support on Android, especially if you’re using Material Design UI components. The only thing that needs to be done is to create a values-night resource folder and override all of the main colors. You may also need to override a few styles but the overall amount of changes is small and it’s a laughable price to pay for the satisfaction many dark mode lovers would get if you implement it.

The Issue With A2 SD Cards

Keep in mind that A2 SD card manufacturers are not fully honest when in comes to their product marketing. They can promise you super fast speeds but it’s far from guaranteed. The thing is, A2 is not as “self-contained” as A1 and it can have different performance on different devices. For instance, there are no benefits in using A2 SD cards on Raspberry Pi 4, although this board and its operating system are really new, just a few month old. Many hardware and software components are not ready to utilize A2 standard so you may end up overpaying quite a bit for an SD card you won’t be able to use at full speed. Here is more information on that issue.

Fallout: New Vegas

I’ve been a fan of Fallout series for a while but Fallout 3 was released in the wrong time: in 2008, I was busy studying computer science and looking for a job in this field. I did play Fallout 4 when it came out in the end of 2015 and I’m also a big fan of Fallout 1 & 2 so there is no way I can ignore the third game in this series. The vanilla Fallout 3 was made by Bethesda and it wasn’t particularly well recieved so I’ve decided to play a little spin-off that was developed by Obsidian Entertainment. The game is great, I didn’t finish it yet but I would definately recommend it to anyone who likes open world post apocalyptic RPGs.

Europa Universalis IV

WARNING: this game is extremely addictive!

It seems like I keep coming back to this game in the end of every year. It’s probably the best grand strategy ever and I often have to set up alarms just not to forget to go to bed before 2AM. I learned this thick the hard way: this game broke my sleep schedule a couple of times. Europa Universalis usually starts in 1444 and goes about 4 centuries further. It’s an open ended game and you have no specific goal, apart from survival, I guess. Although, the game offers a nice mission “tree” based mostly on a history of a nation that you’re playing for so you can keep busy with that.

Europa Universalis IV is not only about Europe. The game allows you to play for Asian countries and even for native American tribes. I wouldn’t advise you to play for American tribes of course, because it’s not that easy to deal with those nasty colonists. Last time I played for Spain and currently I’m playing for England and it has been interesting so far, especially if you have an English-centric DLC called Rule Brittania.

personal  ·  highlights  ·  File Systems  ·  Backups  ·  Dark Mode  ·  SD Cards  ·  Games  ·  Fallout  ·  Europa Universalis

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