Something Strange Across the River

I remember the heady days of the mid 1990s to mid 2000s where fiddling around with your desktop and posting awesome screenshots of WindowMaker, FVWM2, BlackBox, XFCE, Enlightment, etc. was all the rage. Lord knows I did my share of it.

After a while it seems like you really got the guts of your window manager down and got the menu and mouse stuff the way you liked it and then started migrating away from all the animations and window decorations and other stuff. Maybe a desktop wallpaper here or there because they are neat and you stare at them all day, but you finally let the mechanism get out of your way so you can use the tool it controls. Efficiently navigating a stack of terminal windows, browsers, IDEs, and other programs becomes where it's at rather than hacking on the box that holds them.

Hell, I'd still be happy using the vanilla Sun CDE setup because the colors were so easy on the eyes and it worked so well for me for so long. At one point I had XFCE and FVVM2 themes set up to mimic it just because I was so used to it.

These days I use a Mac day in and day out at work and mostly at home. All of that broad choice of window managers is gone but they certainly do a good job of letting the OS get out of your way so you can use your stuff. All that time we used to use tweaking the configuration of the window manager can now be turned to making iTerm2 and VSCode (or your editor of choice) look and behave exactly like you want. I've always said that a GUI is nothing more than a way to get more than one terminal open on the screen and that is really staring to (re?)become the way it is used.

The vast majority of my interaction with computers, no matter the OS, is coming back to code and command line. Sure the GUI is still there and important for email and web and such, but if I'm honest I'm probably writing as much or more code now than I was in 2000, whether it be bash/powershell to do things on my box or HCL/Ruby/Ansible/whatever to enforce my will on things out in the world. Recently I even find myself using a PowerShell module to manipulate Excel files which is, in its own way, totally ass-backwards to history. They spent all the time and money integrating Visual Basic into applications now they just slam the data into an XML format and let PS have its way with it.

Seems a little strange to choose the title of a book by Nagai Kafu as the name of a blog, but I think (hope?) it will be fitting. Something Strange Across the River is a book of cities and times and people changing and with the way things have gone over the last few years change has definitely come.

I want to avoid setting any kind of fixed theme or direction for this site, I'd like to see if having a more organic approach works better than my previous attempts. Common topics will be Japanese and other literature, technical stuff from a devops/systems engineering perspective, travel, history, and probably even a little about tools, outdoor stuff, and who knows what else.