Edge

I have a tendency to want to change things up once in a while, with everything from doing small tweaks to design, regularly changing transmog ingame, and with software for some reason it seems to mostly manifest with me trying out new browsers or giving Linux yet another shot as my main operating system.

One of these recent changeups was trying out the new Edge that has been floating around for a bit since I kept hearing quite a lot of good things about it though to be fair mainly in r/sysadmin so the criteria there are quite different to the ones I have when picking a browser for myself as opposed to a organisation choosing one for their own use.

Edge Chromium is really, and my god if you search my history you’ll laugh, but it’s really damn good. Maybe the best thing Microsoft has done since whatever the last good thing I can’t think of.

/u/Just_Curious_Dude

Still, it made me curious enough to give it a try and I it did end up being a rather positive experience overall. I enjoy the look and feel of the browser, more so than Chrome, and it does have some interesting features standard like the collections. It finally being available on more platforms than only Windows meant that I could actually give it an honest try since my browsing tends to be a mix of desktop, both Windows and Mac as well as mobile and I like keeping things synced between those so that I can pick up wherever I left on regardless of device.

That, however is where I started running into some problems. The browser is still in a somewhat early state, and while core functionality is definitely there—it’s based on Chromium after all—some features like syncing are not there making things somewhat difficult for me and overall the browser a bit hard to recommend. It did however help me identify a problem with a website I was developing because it was lacking an API that was available in Firefox so that was nice.

The lack of syncing cut my testing somewhat shorter than I had planned so I’m seriously reconsidering revisiting the browser sometime in the future when things are a bit more stable, and for the moment I’m also using it as kind of a “distraction free writing browser” for the blog since I have a tendency of having a lot of tabs open and it allows me to focus on just the writing. Opening a new Firefox-window in a new desktop would go just as easily but hey. To be fair, there was also the matter of the privacy concerns as well as the overall health of the web.

“Microsoft Edge has more privacy-invading telemetry than other browsers”
Impressive given that the competition is Google.

/u/Hero_of_Shadows

Regarding the former, while I think it is an important consideration I am at the same time for now stuck using Windows as my primary operating system so a lot of that telemetry is probably already available to Microsoft meaning I’m not overly concerned about increased exposure there but it was still a consideration in ending the experiment and does mean I’m a bit more hesitant to recommend the browser in general. It does also mean that if I were to succeed in changing over to Linux at some point in the future, I would still end up bringing that baggage with me (though I believe there is as of yet no Linux-version of the browser available, so that would be a pain-point as well).

As for the latter, I’ve been poking at web development for a long time and still remember having to do special-case things for Internet Explorer which makes me somewhat worried about the current trend of Chromium-based browsers gaining such dominance since a monoculture is bad for the overall health of the web since it gives too much control over the future of it essentially to a singe entity—Google—and the only real competition, with history repeating itself, is Firefox. This means that I am very reluctant to change browsers permanently even if I do get curious about what’s out there at times.

Misc

Longing

I have been feeling a bit of a nostalgia hit recently, having seen some gameplay from Shadowlands where a holy priest was played and really wanting to give the spec a shot again. So far I’ve ended up deciding against it, since I’m still somewhat familiar with the state the spec is in and there isn’t really any content that I do where changing specs would make sense along with my last impression of the spec in this expansion being somewhat negative with it just feeling so powerless in comparison to Legion.

It feels a bit strange how something so innocuous has managed to trigger so much desire in me for something I know I won’t actually enjoy all that much in the end, and perhaps consequently the most sensible approach would be to give it a short shot so that I have it over with so to speak and then not have to think about it again. The problem there becomes, the recent thinking about wanting to play my old spec has also rekindled feelings of wanting to play my old race, night elf, which of course isn’t something quite as easily manageable.

I still find the connection I feel there to be somewhat remarkable, especially now that I have over two years of quite active—probably more active than at any point prior to Legion—play on Horde. To be fair, at the same time it still somehow feels that I’m finding my feet a bit here, not when it comes to the community or the guild I am in as I quite like those but my character. Her latest iteration is, as mentioned here before, vulpera and while the race does feel quite nice to play and having the roll back is really cool, I still find myself somehow missing both being a blood elf but even more being a night elf. Now the former is of course still an option though I think toys or consumables for swapping appearance are the more sensible alternative there rather than a race change again, the latter is sadly still quite definitely off the table unless we get to start raiding cross-faction.

In the end these will probably be feelings I end up not acting upon since while they are valid they conflict with other desires I have that take priority, and I do also really quite enjoy both playing vulpera and discipline as well. Though to be fair, as far as specs go, I do have a bit more freedom to experiment so maybe a raid here or there as holy isn’t such a terrible idea, especially one of the boostraids since the spec might even be slightly better suited for that environment; more easily allowing for healing such large groups. In addition, I was also considering trying shadow again for at least an instance or two which does mean I need to look into the gear needed for that as well. I guess I have more things to consider than I thought…

World of Warcraft

Design

Looking back at my recent thinking about fonts as well as my general desire to poke and prod at the design of this site is making me realise that design overall something that I’m rather interested in. I mean, this is something that I’ve known to some degree before and I do already lurk on places like r/web_design so it feels somewhat obvious, but it is interesting to note how interested I actually am in making this experience and that of other projects as good as I personally can.

At the same time, I don’t really think I could do work as a designer, the idea of taking someone else’s wants and vision and turning that into a ready and useable product seems a foreign concept to me and not really something I would like to spend my days doing.

This desire to constantly iterate on the design of my personal projects was actually something of an early stumbling block when starting to test out WordPress, since I was quite used to the quick iteration cycle afforded by static site generators: since you have all the source locally and can consequently edit and then re-generate the site locally it was really easy to iterate on the design. With a CMS like WordPress in contrast, if I wanted to experiment with the design I had to set up a staging version of the site in order to do that; this problem is solved now though there is still some funkiness going on with how my staging and live environment are linked occasionally causing problems when testing things out.

At the same time, I do have experience of refining the designs of others, the current design of this website being a prime example. It’s based off of an old fansite kit provided by Blizzard, just updated a bit and brought up to a bit more modern standards with responsive elements added so that it works decently on mobile devices as well. There are some parts of it that I’m not quite sure about still, like the seemingly somewhat low contrast on the article pages themselves as well as some of the link colours, but overall it has served me well in the past year or so. So maybe working with design wouldn’t be that hopeless of a proposition after all, especially since it wouldn’t necessarily be implementing someone else’s vision but creating my own of how to use something.

Design is also overall a very interesting field, especially since it does not just compass how things look but how they work and how they are to use, these two last elements getting a lot more attention recently than they have in the past at least as far as the web is concerned. Simultaneously, there is also a lot of pretty designs going on that have poor usability and it always makes me want to improve those things and make them nicer to use; it’s also one of the main problems I tend to have when dabbling in other MMOs outside of World of Warcraft, the UI gets in the way. Honestly, one of the things I like the most about WoW, is being able to customise the UI so freely and bring the information that is important to me to the fore while blending the rest out. This also always makes it so difficult for me to understand when people hate on addons in WoW and think they are somehow cheating, all they are doing is displaying the information provided by the game in a more sensible manner—well, most of the time, and when that isn’t the case steps are generally taken to remedy that. It just seems silly to hate on a feature that is there to make the game better for the players.

Circling back to my initial point, I think I need to start poking a bit more on the site again to fix those small annoyances I have with it—hopefully with the side-effect of making it more readable in the process.

Misc

Grunt work

Looking back at my activities in recent times I find myself reaffirming my conclusion that I’m very bad at grunt work, the menial things that belong to jobs and tasks that are simply doing something, usually repetitive, that simply need to get done. The most recent example of this being when I was poking around with fonts, once I had concluded that I probably couldn’t achieve what I want and needed to start looking at potential alternatives that while still modern would at least provided the correct feel I kind of just stopped or at least progressed in fits and starts, letting myself get distracted by the smallest things so that I didn’t need to just keep doing the somewhat boring and manual task of merely scrolling through different font samples and looking for something that caught my eye.

It’s also something that features somewhat heavily in my writing about World of Warcraft I notice, any time I need to do the ancillary tasks related to getting my character ready for the primary content I want to do I tend to get frustrated and not remain overly motivated to continue to do so. I feel this approach in something that is primarily there for entertainment makes more sense than with other pursuits, but it could still be a useful skill to take with from there as it could prove quite important elsewhere.

I currently have a few of programming projects I have been meaning to start on for a while, and while I have quite a clear idea on where to go with them and almost exactly what to do I just can’t seem to get started. It feels like it’s the same problem in this case, I like the challenge of thinking something through but once it comes to the “easier” part of actually implementing it my will to do so starts to falter. I’m not sure what exactly can be done about this, and I tend to have bursts of motivation where these things go easier, but it feels like it’s something I’m currently struggling with more than perhaps is usual for me.

The amusing thing is, since I tend to like reading and learning things, I think I already am aware of the tools that could be useful in combating something like this yet for some reason I don’t seem to be implementing them. It’s a strange feeling, knowing exactly what and how to get something done yet at the same time being unable to do so.

Misc

Fonts

I stumbled upon a discussion about “90s fonts” on HN recently and since this blog has a bit of a retro theme going on as well I was quite interested and decided to do some further digging. In order to test this on my site I disabled ClearType—the brand name if you will of Microsofts font antialiasing—and set the font used to Arial and wow, that felt like pretty much the perfect combination. It had the same blocky look seen in the screenshots of the article and it just kind of felt like it fit perfectly in here.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no sane way of achieving this. If it were available, font-smooth feels like the only reasonable way to get the correct look but not only is it very much non-standard, the Firefox variant of it is only enabled on OS X making it not really fit for purpose.

Now the approach the original article ended up with was creating a new font which mimicked the rendering of that font on older versions of Windows, and while this looked quite good to me there were some problems identified in the discussion which made me feel that wouldn’t be an appropriate approach for this site. Also, from what I could tell, they didn’t make their font-files available, so that also put a bit of a damper on that thought—to be fair, I didn’t look at the source, maybe there was a simple note there with a license.

Someone mentions bitmap fonts being usable, but I didn’t really find anything to support this statement and rather more comments stating the opposite as well as the original article.

Idea #2: Importing bitmap font files
We couldn’t make vector fonts look pixelated, but could we get around this by importing authentic 90s bitmap font files instead? We had a Windows 98 disk image with all of the system fonts including MS Serif: a riff on Times New Roman in the bitmap .FON format dating back to Windows 1.x. Unfortunately, we quickly found out that CSS @font-face doesn’t work with .FON files, and none of the web-based font conversion tools that we could find would convert them to the vector formats that are usable with @font-face.

Convincing-looking 90s fonts in modern browsers

And even if they were useable there would be problems with scaling since bitmap fonts have one “native” size and anything else will not look all that good.

With all of this at hand, I concluded that there was no way for me to achieve this look in a way that would also be technically satisfying to myself so I then ended up spending some time hunting for other fonts which might satisfy my itch for a more retro look without necessarily being as authentic as this. I did find a style I find quite satisfying but in the end decided it’s probably better to leave well enough alone for now (there was also the slight matter of it being Mozilla’s core typeface, which made it feel somewhat wrong to use it). As far as I can tell the current fonts provide quite decent legibility and while they might not be retro still have a quite pleasant air about them making them nice to read.

Misc