Links - December 2019

The Man Who Reads 1,000 Articles a Day - How Robert Cottrell finds the absolute best writing on the web

The modern web is becoming unusable (

Craigslist releases new mobile app for iOS and Android (

Have yet to use the mobile apps, but kudos to the Craigslist team for making their website one of the best mobile experiences out there. Loads quickly, easy to navigate, and isn't missing features compared to desktop. Certainly doesn't have the look we expect from a modern website but there's a level of usability we can all aspire to.

Big Pile of Vim-Like (

Sham news sites make big bucks from fake views (

Search engines


What is Functional Programming? (first of 24 articles on FP this Christmas)

Gnu net

I Ditched Google for DuckDuckGo (

I switched to DDG over a week ago when I began using my new laptop full-time at home. I do not have Chrome installed either. I'm using Firefox.

The Plain Text Project (

History of Fidonet (1993) (

A Personal API (

Fight back against Google AMP (2018) (

Amazon Ring went from a smart doorbell company to a surveillance network (

dredging an up a saved link from july 2018

How the Blog Broke the Web (

What became of the blogosphere?

'The Best Thing You Can Do Is Not Buy More Stuff,' Says 'Secondhand' Expert

Digital journalists at respectable news outlets play a role in amplifying false videos and other social media junk; they should thoroughly report before posting

The Junk Cycle

Show HN: Space Invaders in C (

Ask HN: What are some examples of well-designed personal sites?

How to fight back against Google AMP as a web user and a web developer (

W3C recommends WebAssembly (

Top HN comment:

Whatever you think about javascript, I love the historic separation between content and interactivity. I dislike that so many static pages won't load without JS and that we're moving further in that direction. I hope the evolution towards "browser as OS" doesn't hurt the content vs interactivity separation. Could we ever lose the HTML centered model?

I say yes. But maybe the HTML-based document web will exist via limited web browsers, such as NetSurf, Lynx, elinks, etc. This web will exist between the Tor-based Dark Web and the hideously bloated modern web that can only be accessed by one or two web browser rendering engines.

More from that commenter:

That could mean we lose hackability and the ability to write extensions or even scrape the web without a BigCo webcrawler's level of infra investment. Is everything going to turn into an opaque single page app? Technically, webassembly is really cool, but I worry about where the browser is headed.

Another comment:

Even if we don't lose the HTML-centered model, we are probably going to lose control of our browsers. Eventually somebody is going to ship a product that's nothing more than a browser implemented in WASM that runs inside your browser. The "inner browser" won't have content filtering, privacy controls, DOM inspector, or a Javascript debugger (for the Javascript engine running on the "inner browser") that you can interact with. You'll have to agree to let them run arbitrary code on your machine to even view the "website". There will be no "browse w/o Javascript" option in that future.

The kind of jerks who liked adding Javascript to block right-clicking, blocking "Paste" into password fields, etc, are going to absolutely love using the browser-in-a-browser product to deliver their "website".

For the inevitable replies: Yes-- you can already do this with minified Javascript. WASM, being targeted for performance, is just going to make this kind of asshattery faster.


It makes no sense to me. You are saying, that instead a 5 kB webpage, you would load 50 MB code, which emulates a browser, just to show you the same webpage?

YES. That occurs now in a much small but still unnecessary manner, especially among media websites, which is the reason why Google created AMP. Media orgs force unsuspecting web readers to download 3 to 10 megabytes of crapware to read a 500-word article that is all text.

The commenter continued with:

Every webpage pays for the traffic in some way, and everybody tries to save web traffic as much as possible (optimizing images, videos, minifying JS, CSS ...). It makes no sense to expect, that websites would turn the opposite way just for fun.

Clearly, that person has paid zero attention to the bloated media website trash piles.

For web apps, especially ones that run inside corporations on their "intranet," I can understand the need to create JavaScript SPAs or something similar where the company can keep its employees up to date on one web browser. The web environment is controlled. Some companies may have limited programming capabilities, and if JavaScript or Electron desktop apps (more JavaScript) leads to easier development and maintenance and staffing, then it all makes sense. And Web Assembly may make more sense in the future for such applications.

On the public web, I can reluctantly accept that the web apps/sites that require users to login to perform private functions will use a lot of client-side JavaScript to produce a native app like feel. Fastmail is one such web app that I believe is well done.

But for document type websites, such as local newspaper websites like the Toledo Blade, then it's unacceptable, in my opinion, for such sites to require JavaScript to display text and images. This type of modern web design is making the web worse to use.

HN comment:

Meanwhile here I am running around with js off by default. Most of the internet still works. More sites work better with js off than work worse. I hope webassembly doesn't change that into a world where the "js off" analogy is "running my OS without the ability to execute programs."

Most document type websites that still display content with JavaScript disabled load significantly faster with JavaScript disabled. Some document type websites however, such as Politico,, and the, display blank pages with JavaScript disabled.

Reply comment:

Just wait 5 more years that 80% of the web switch to React / Vue / TheNewHypeSPAFramework and with or without WASM, you will be unable to browse "js off".

The blame here is not on WASM but on the abuse of client side rendering and "everything as an App" when most page are just barely interactive documents.

But a lot of amateurs will probably continue to produce websites that rely mainly on HTML, and that will be enough to keep me busy for a long time.

Web Assembly is yet another example of how complex the web has become. This is why we only have two or three web browser rendering engines that support this modern web nonsense. It's obviously complex when Microsoft throws in the towel on web rendering development and decides to rely on Google's web browser engine.

And Firefox's web usage is only around 4 to 6 percent, and that browser contains tens of millions of lines of code. Eventually, we may have only one web rendering engine that supports the complex, bloated web.

Limited web browsers, however, will continue to exist that will support the document web that requires only HTML and some CSS.

Cool website theme. Looks similar to how webpages display within the Lynx web browser.

Lets state the obvious, this is an imperfect and evolving measure and the goal is to foster discussion and rivalry in making our pages better, faster, and lighter.

Developers, designers, and product need to talk more on how to achieve this. A 1,700 word article might weigh 10KB but by the time you load HTML, JS, CSS, images, 3rd-parties, and ads, it can range between 2MB to 8MB depending on the web site. Bear in mind, the first Harry Potter ebook is 1.1MB and that includes cover art.

This uses to measure web page load speed on articles from a variety of news organizations and publishers and highlight the top ten.

"Please, Enough with the Dead Butterflies (2017) ("

"Calm Technology ("

Othernet: A multi-media broadcast to small, portable receivers (

Federation is the Worst of all Worlds (2018) (

Challenging projects every programmer should try (

This page contains links that are new to me this month, but the posts might have been created years ago.

"Your blog probably doesn’t need a static site generator ("

The modern web is becoming unusable (

This Page is Designed to Last (

High Performance Browser Networking

Randy Suess, computer bulletin board inventor, has died (

You should make a blog! (

For podcasting to remain open and vibrant, there needs to be an emphasis on making content accessible, more democratization of tools to build podcasts, and more

I'm guessing that the author is too young to remember blogosphere of 15 to 20 years ago. It's even easier to publish text on the web than record a podcast.

From the article:

Podcasting unsilences the silent

2020 will undoubtedly be a big podcast year for movie stars, presidential candidates, and the like. But we can’t let this commercialized, hyper-celebrity noise drown out the diverse voices, perspectives, and stories that can and should call podcasting home.

15 to 20 years ago, that could have said:

Blogging unsilences the silent

And if "blogging" is a lame term, then substitute "personal web publishing."

For the second paragraph above about podcasting, it could have said years ago:

2004 will undoubtedly be a big blogging year for movie stars, presidential candidates, and the like. But we can’t let this commercialized, hyper-celebrity noise drown out the diverse voices, perspectives, and stories that can and should call blogging home

Over the past 15 years, most of the personal web publishing sphere has been gobbled up by the giant social networking/media silos that got rolling in the mid-aughts. Even MySpace in the early and mid aughts did not impact the blogosphere as much as Facebook in the late aughts.

It's reasonable for the author to be concerned about the future of amateur podcasting, considering what happened to the popularity of personal web publishing.

Still Why No HTTPS? (

23andMe to share customer gene data with GlaxoSmithKline for $300M (

Best Single Board Computers of 2019 (

Over 100 PBS local stations start streaming on YouTube TV (

I don’t use Semantic Web technologies anymore, though they still influence me (

Building a new Windows 3.1 app in 2019: A Slack Client (

top hn comment:

Notice the binary size of the app is only 64KiB.

In the demoscene this would be a disqualification as it's 676 bytes over the limit, but in this case I'll overlook it because of the sheer awesomeness of what you've done (and I'm sure trimming off 676 bytes wouldn't be too difficult ;-)

More seriously, this is an excellent proof-of-concept that a Slack client does not need to use hundreds of MB of RAM and consume most of a modern CPU core to provide its basic functionality. I'm a long-time Win32 programmer who started in the tail-end of the Win16 days and one of the things I've wanted to write if I had the time and need was a Win32 native Slack client, to show that it can be done with far less resources, but you've gone even further with Win16. Win32 has native TLS support (via SChannel library, not well-documented but examples exist) and you'd be able to even use it practically (32-bit applications will run on all current versions of Windows, both 32 and 64-bit.)

Ohio gas well blowout leaked more than many countries do in a year (

I grew up in Noble County, Ohio (next to Belmont County) and still get the weekly newspaper delivered to me via mail.

There were exactly zero write-ups of this in the local papers.