RSS: I Never Left

Ton muses about an RSS Revival:

RSS is the most important piece of internet plumbing for following new content from a wide range of sources. It allows you to download new updates from your favourite sites automatically and read them at your leisure. Dave Winer, forever dedicated to the open web, created it.

I used to be a very heavy RSS user. I tracked hundreds of sources on a daily basis. Not as news but as a way to stay informed about the activities and thoughts of people I was interested in. At some point, that stopped working. Popular RSS readers were discontinued, most notably Google’s RSS reader, many people migrated to the Facebook timeline, platforms like Twitter stopped providing RSS feeds to make you visit their platform, and many people stopped blogging. But with FB in the spotlight, there is some interest in refocusing on the open web, and with it on RSS.

I’ve been an emitter and consumer of RSS feeds since the very beginning, and so, for me, there’s no need for a revival, as I never left. I currently have 86 RSS feeds in my RSS reader, ranging from Ton’s blog itself to security alerts to CBC news headlines to the blogs of several Prince Edward Island MLAs:

Screen shot of detail of the admin settings of Tiny Tiny RSS, my RSS reader

For the longest time, like many others, I consumed RSS feeds in Google Reader; when it was shut down by Google, I replaced this with a self-hosted instance of Tiny Tiny RSS, a serviceable replacement.

When I’m using my laptop, I read my RSS feeds in Tiny Tiny RSS’s web interface in a browser:

Screen shot of feedreading in Tiny Tiny RSS in a browser

When I’m on my Android phone, I use the Tiny Tiny RSS app, which syncs itself with the server so that what I’ve read and what I haven’t is always current:

Screen shot of the Tiny Tiny RSS app

I self-host Tiny Tiny RSS, rather than using a third-party service like Feedly, because, well, once-bitten-twice-shy: I don’t want my RSS consumption to be dependent on the corporate whims of an RSS reader company. Besides, what’s the point of taking a collection of independent, decentralized feeds and centralizing them?

That said, I recognize that running a personal Tiny Tiny RSS server is outside the realm of possibility for most people. I also recognize that a lot of RSS nomenclature, including the name RSS itself, stands as a barrier to a lot of people. So there’s work to be done here to catalyze the revival that Ton writes about, a revival that, despite my own perseverance, I fully support and see the benefits of.

A Lifetime’s Worth of Envelopes?

The ink is dry and I’m left with a pile of 75 freshly-printed envelopes, ready for use. I send more mail that the average person, so these won’t really last a lifetime. But they should take me through the year. Watch your mailboxes.

Photo of a stack of C1A 4R4 envelopes

Download My Instagram Content

Spotted recently: Instagram now supports downloading all of the data you’ve contributed to it since you opened your account. To use this tool, login to Instagram and navigate to the “Privacy and Security” setting and scroll down to “Data Download”:

Instagram Data Takeout

It takes a few minutes (at least in my case) to build the archive, and when it’s ready you get a only-works-for-four-days download link to grab a ZIP archive of all the images and videos you’ve uploaded, along with JSON representations of likes, messages and other metadata.

C1A 4R4 Envelopes Completed

Once the black dried on the C1A 4R4 envelopes, I added a red layer, with my name:

C1A 4R4 envelopes with red printing

I love the “taking the smallest element and making it the biggest” aspect of this design: the postal code is often a throwaway item added (or not added) to a return address; this flips that, and makes it unavoidable.

My contacts within Canada Post suggest that if you mail a letter addressed simply to “Rukavina C1A 4R4” there’s a good chance it will get delivered; this puts that to the test, at least on the return side.

Printing Envelopes on a Letterpress

When I bought the Golding Jobber № 8 letterpress from Bill and Gertie Campbell, Bill generously spent a couple of hours with me showing me some of the trickier bits of using it.

One of the things he taught me is how to print envelopes. Because of the way they’re constructed, printing on envelopes often means printing on different thicknesses of paper at the same time. If you just print as you normally would, the impression will be uneven because the pressure will be uneven on different areas.

You can see the result in this first print of a C1A 4R4 envelope I printed today:

Type set for C1A 4R4 envelope

Photo showing uneven printing of envelope

What Bill showed me is how to construct a sort of paper “shim” under the envelopes so that everything ends up being the same thickness when printing. To make the shim, I took the envelope I test-printed, and chopped it up with a knife, using the print as a template for the areas that needed buttressing. The result looked like this:

Photo of the shim I created on the press

I covered the shim with a layer of paper to avoid it getting caught up in the envelopes while printing, ending up with this:

Letterpress setup for envelope printing

With the shim in place, the envelopes printed cleanly across the entire surface:

Photo of C1A 4R4 envelopes

I’ve got one more run to take at these envelopes, printing a line, in red, between the C1A and the 4R4; I’ll do that once the black has dried.

Three Years Ago

With temperatures in the mid-teens and wearing Spring jackets and sneakers for our after-supper walk, it’s hard to believe that 3 years ago this week there was still a lot of snow and ice on the ground, the result of 2015’s endless winter.

Here’s 2015 in our backyard vs. tonight.

Comparing Ton’s Electricity Usage to Ours

In an exchange that reflects blogging the way it’s supposed to happen, Ton left a comment about energy usage data in the Netherlands on my post about my postal code. And then, when I asked him a question about this, he responded with a detailed and very helpful blog post of his own.

One of the things he revealed there is that his house in the Netherlands consumes 3700 kWh per year of electricity.

Because we’ve been doing detailed logging of our own electricity consumption, this gives me an opportunity to compare.

Our Maritime Electric electricity meter read 1702925 on April 24, 2017 and reads 2246469 as of one minute ago, a difference of 543544, or 5435.44 kWh.

This means that we consume 1735 kWh–46% more–per year for our detached single family home of three than Ton’s detached single family home of three.

Our friends Bill and Michelle, who are also participating in my electricity and water monitoring project, and also have a detached single family home of three, started out at 3125321 and are now at 3615162, a difference of 489841, or 4898.41 kWh, which is about 10% less than us, and 32% higher than Ton.

I’d be interested in drilling down into the primary reasons why our electricity consumption is so much higher.


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