Bypassing Bloat

Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

I am sooo sick of Web bloat. 🙁 Google’s search results now with an AI summation of the topic, for example, then scroll past a full screen of sponsored entries, before finally reaching any actual search results. I’m less annoyed by Facebook’s endless ads, given they’re easily identified and scrolled past, but still, unpleasant.

Yes, dot com means “commerce,” and the commercial Web is what made the Internet public, but yeesh. It’s like more billboards than scenery nowadays.

This recent dive into Linux has revealed some OS-agnostic options to reduce it. The Chromium Project browser is less intrusive (and leaner software than Chrome, Edge, or FireFox), and is a much, much less troublesome search engine.

And software bloat and adware:

Unable to bear Adobe PDF Reader‘s unwelcome influx of offers to add features, or to find its screen capture tool I used for printing shipping labels, I’ve switched to SumatraPDF on Windows and Okular on Linux.

Similarly, I wanted a word proccessor and a spreadsheet reader that didn’t mean installing an entire office suite (I’m looking at you, Microsoft, OpenOffice, and LibreOffice). AbiWord and Gnumeric fill those needs nicely. The first has a Word-like menu bar; the second maintains the F9 function I needed to repopulate Cut Up Solo GM-less oracles.

Some of these may suit your needs as well!

Jonesing for Journey

A few years ago, I bought a PS4 (to play Rock Band 4, a disappointment), and picked up a few other titles, including a couple of walking sims: Dear Esther & Journey.

Dear Esther is gorgeous and emotionally moving. It’s definitely worth playing through a couple of times.

Journey is Zen-like. The graphical design is truly lovely; the musical score is nothing short of remarkable. Playing the game on the PS4 was a wonderful experience, but I didn’t perceive any depth of play that would make it worth playing again.

Until the family got me a Steam Deck, and I tried out the PC version. Not only are there nuances and hidden secrets I had missed, but being connected to Steam online (something I’d used only for backups), I stumbled across another lone traveler making the same journey, and the experience bloomed into something deeper.

Journey is about struggle to reach a mountaintop, and the experience of sometimes coming across a companion to accompany in the struggle is heartwarming. That you’ve no idea who that person is in real life, where they’re located on the globe, what language they speak, makes it even more so. Communication is a simple chirrup, with no more meaning than “Hey!” It’s amazing just how much you can say with one simple sound.

As to my jonesing, at present I’ve achieved 13 of the 14 trophies. The 14th is “Don’t play the game for a week.” With every passing day, I find that more difficult to avoid. In part, it’s that in Journey I can fly much like in my real-world dreams. But mainly it’s how much I miss meeting newcomers, sojourning with them, and guiding them to hidden empowerments.

I miss the simple, nonjudgmental commonality of that online space, in a shared struggle with a stranger to reach a mountaintop. As one online commenter wrote, “To whomever it was who joined me in Journey last night making heart shapes in the sand, I love you!”


So it’s gonna be forever

Today’s episode of “Why’d I wake up with this in my head?”

Maybe it’s that Swift has been so much in the news lately, and the more I learn about her, the more I admire her. Maybe it’s that there are more than one poetically perfect turns of phrase.

I’d honestly forgotten I’d ever even heard this song, but apparently my heart hadn’t. Here’s hoping that’ll last forever.

I love you . . .

Photo by Edward Howell on Unsplash

Often, when I’ve heard a celebrity say, “I love you all,” I’d think, “How is that possible? You’ve never even met me.”

But their saying so always gave me a warm feeling, a little boost. So I’ve often written the same, “I love you all,” in my mailings or blog posts.

Today I read a little message that makes me even more confident about telling you, whether we’ve met or not, I love you.

It’s this: If someone who never met you can hate you for your race, or sexuality, or politics, or whatever reason, if they can hate you sight unseen, then surely you and I can love each other sight unseen.

We’re all in this together. And if doing what we can to make one another’s lives better, if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.