Drop #185 (2023-01-24): No Power? No Internet? No Theme!
Long Ago, In A Terminal Far, Far Away; Embedding Observable; Nothin' But A 2-Bit Hacker
We're on Day 2 of yet-another product of Central Maine Power's abject neglect of preventative maintenance work across Maine. This means a bit of scrambling between temporary lodging and physical abode-monitoring, whilst also trying to get some $WORK done. So, you get some quick picks that have no coherent theme, but are good/interesting reads.
Long Ago, In A Terminal Far, Far Away
Old-school preservationists ha[d|ve] it so easy. Humans creat[ed] stuff on/from paper, or film, or rocks/earth/glass, wood, etc. and they just st[iu]ck those items in some material for future generations to behold. Easy. Peasy.
Modern digital archivists, heck-bent on preserving “the internet” have many tools for hoovering up web pages (Ref: archive.org), including Flash-centric sites, but the modern concept of “the web” is not limited to HTML-based web pages/sites. There are ways of interacting with internet-connected resources that use many other [textual] interfaces that also warrant capturing and preserving. Others are still web (HTML)-based, but preserving the experience of some of them can be challenging, especially if they manipulate or view the physical world in some way.
David Calano (@lifefromalaptop) wrote a nice piece over on Old Dominion University's Web Science and Digital Libraries Research Group's blog that goes over the challenges (and some solutions) to these niche archiving quandaries. Here's David's set up:
HTTP and HTML are the reigning champs in terms of delivering content from the Web to your computer, typically though a Web browser. Content and data available over HTTP could generally be categorized to be mostly within the surface web. This, however, only constitutes a small portion of what content is available on the complete Web. Some protocols, such as FTP, are no longer supported by browsers and accessed by way of more specialized programs. Modern formats, such as IPFS, also exist but have limited adoption and often still require external software. While content available over these non-HTTP protocols is still "on the Net", the extent to which it is archived remains murky.
NOTE: Please do not install the
telnet utility to access the “blinkenlights” site (if you are tempted to do so after reading David's post). Grab a copy of netcat and:
nc towel.blinkenlights.nl 23
Let's say you've taken the dip into Observable notebooks after reading some of these Drops over the past year. While Observable notebooks are great, switching over to them to access the contained content shunts readers from your blog/brand/news site to Observable's, which can be jarring to the consumer, and make your SEO wonks cry.
Thankfully, you aren't limited to just shunting 👀 to Observable, and I'll let Observable do all the setup for their recent embedding (i.e., putting a working version of your notebooks inside another website) post:
No notebook is an island; it draws from others’ work, and it exists to say something to someone somewhere else. Sometimes, an image of a chart will not suffice; your notebook may be interactive, or it may pull live data. It’s dynamic, and the version you show elsewhere should be, too. 🔗
Nothin' But A 2-Bit Hacker
Rachel Kroll writes about software, technology, sysadmin war stories, and more, and recently did a fun post on how to “hack” 32-bit systems, even if you've never been a hacker before. (Yes, what Rachel did was 100% “hacking”, and I hope it triggers the curiosity gene in all the readers of this newsletter. Please get permission if you’re going to do this on someone else’s system, though.
Gosh, our generator picked a heck of a time to stop working. ☮
This is 100% not true.