personal website: joe crawford. code. occasional comics. toy robots. bodysurfing. san diego. california. say hi.
since 1998

August, 2020: 43 posts.

HBO MAX still not on Roku. Bye bye HBO GO.

Man, so frustrating. I really like Roku as a platform. I can of course use an HBO MAX app on an iOS device and stream to my Chromecast but what a pain.


Dear Roku Customer,

As you may know, HBO discontinued the HBO GO service on July 31, 2020. HBO GO had previously enabled cable subscribers to access HBO via the streaming platform of their choosing at no additional cost.

The Roku platform still offers a number of alternative ways for customers to access HBO. Existing HBO users that subscribe through Comcast, Charter or AT&T TV can stream HBO on the Comcast Xfinity Stream, Spectrum TVand AT&T TV channels available on the Roku platform. Additionally, you can access HBO directly on Roku by subscribing to HBO on The Roku Channel.



Peanut Butter Cookie Grief

A few weeks ago I made the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook peanut butter cookie recipe.

Now, this is the same cookbook which was gifted to me when I moved out of my parents’ house.

I gathered the ingredients, and started making the cookies. As I was stirring the mixture I suddenly found tears were rolling down my cheeks. It was quite a interesting feeling.

The tie in was that she taught me to make those cookies when I was 9 or 10 years old.

I think the crying came from not having made the cookies since she died.

Every time I get a chance to feel grief, it’s unexpected. And welcome.

Those precious memories are so very valuable.

Long time since I’ve referenced Thomas PM Barnett

I remain a fan. Good thinker. On 28 July he posted a pithy piece: How badly US performs on COVID compared to rest of G20, here’s a quote:

Now the underperformers ranked by severity (defined as the biggest gap in percentage shares):

  1. EU: 27% COVID – 4% world pop = 23 percentage pt. gap
  2. United States: 23% – 4% = 19 pt. gap
  3. Brazil: 13% – 3% = 10 pt. gap
  4. United Kingdom: 7% – 1% = 6 pt. gap
  5. Mexico: 7% – 2% = 5 pt. gap
  6. Italy: 5% – 1% = 4 pt. gap
  7. France: 5% – 1% = 4 pt. gap.

If you translate that point gap into excess or preventable deaths, then it is expressed as follows:

  1. EU = 156,000 excess deaths
  2. United States = 126,000 excess deaths
  3. Brazil = 69,000 excess deaths
  4. United Kingdom = 39,000 excess deaths
  5. Mexico = 32,000 excess deaths
  6. Italy = 28,000 excess deaths
  7. France = 23,000 excess deaths.

And now it’s a few days later. Those numbers will keep ticking until we get our act together. Presuming we do.


From SDCC:

We sincerely hope you enjoyed Comic-Con@Home this past weekend on the previously scheduled dates of Comic-Con 2020 (July 22-26). And for those of you who took part, thanks for making it such a great success: As of Sunday evening, YouTube, the platform which hosted the majority of our programs, had received over 2.5 million total views worldwide on our over 350 panel presentations. By comparison, our Comic-Con meeting rooms at the San Diego Convention Center range in size from 200 seats to over 6,000 in the famed Hall H. Some of our Comic-Con@Home panels had viewership of over 200,000, making this event truly a Comic-Con for the world.

See all the stuff here


Depthcharge is the first game I would seek out at any arcade. Looking at it now, I can see how slow-moving it is. It’s rather uncomfortably slow in the same way Lunar Lander was. When I was between the ages of 8 and 10 I thought Depthcharge was amazing. I’m delighted to see that the Internet Archive has Depthcharge available to play online. I’ve had dreams about playing this game many times over the years.

It was 1978 when I first encountered it. It was in an arcade in the Philippines. I wish I could remember the other games in that arcade.

When I think about other games that have lingered in my psyche there’s only a few.

  • 1981: Centipede I played at the 7-11 on Carol Sue Avenue in Gretna, Louisiana over and over.
  • 1983: Tempest I played in a different arcade, also in Gretna. I remember the arcade was dark. I bought the single Pac-Man Fever at this same time. It was a heyday of videogames.
  • 1995: Cybersled I played in Fullerton, California at the Brea Mall. That was when I moved back from Virginia to California. I used it to blow off steam when I was looking for work and finding my first place in Koreatown in Los Angeles.
  • 1996: Virtual World Red Planet I played in Pasadena. And I also played a few times at the Virtual World in Las Vegas as well.
  • 2000: Tekken 3 was a machine at Jamison/Gold in Marina Del Rey. The company had built websites for NAMCO and everyone at J/G could play at will. What an amazing time that was for me.

Thanks for reading.

Graph of the Day.

From Professor Galloway‘s newsletter: No Mercy / No Malice.

On misgendering

I was wearing my red sweater and was misgendered this morning (November 4, 2019) at the drive-through. Writing here in 2020, I can’t remember whether it was “ma’am” instead of “sir” or whether I merely overheard someone refer to me as “she” rather than “he.” But it’s immaterial.

I am fascinated by the change in me. I understand sex and gender far better now. I had thought that by growing up in the “modern” age of the 80s and 90s, where homosexuality came to be better understood, that I was enlightened. The future is now!

Looking back at how media and journalism has treated gay, trans, and queer people of all kinds–no. It seems it’s always been regressive. It’s always treated gay or queer people with disgust. I remember the “It’s Pat” skits of Saturday Night Live and I thought how terrible it would be to be misidentified, or possibly worse, to be thought of in that same ambiguous light.

Decades later, I understand better my own identity. I’m a man, and my pronouns are “he/him.” When I went to XOXO in Portland last year I wore a pin with those words. Others wore different pins. People who are genderfluid might accept far more pronouns than me. One example is my ex-spouse Leah (by all means read more about Leah!), whose process of self-discovery went through many twists and turns and whose pronouns have likewise evolved.

So back to that drive-through. The culture told me that men are not a combination of overweight, wearing bright red sweaters, and clean shaven. The woman who did the misgendering was super-apologetic “oh sorry, sir.” then, later — “it’s Monday.” I smiled in reply. “It’s all good,” I told her.

That’s a change from 1999. I was 29. My first ex-wife Jenny and I were sitting together in a diner booth. She with her long hair. Me with my to-my-mid-back long hair. From behind comes a booming waitress’ voice: “What can I get for you ladies?” Once our faces were visible to her she apologized profusely. I remember how embarrassed I was. I can feel a bit of the sting of that, even now, even though it feels like I was an entirely different person than I am now. If it happened now–presuming I would have the patience to grow my hair long again–I’d laugh it off. “It’s all good.”

Open Graph Protocol Tools updated to version 1.91

It’s been 10 years since I first wrote the Open Graph Protocol Tools WordPress plugin. It was first published to the WordPress Plugin repository on April 28, 2010.

It’s a tool that embeds metadata into your WordPress blog so posts and pages that can be parsed by social media. It’s not a particular popular plugin, but it works, and I’m proud to keep it going.

I have seen a number of useful plugins get abandoned, which is a pity. I have mused on doing the labor to “adopt” some of these but never taken any concrete steps to do so. It’s a big commitment to do that kind of work.

Looking back, I was working on it when I was living in Roanoke with my parents. That was also the last year of my mother’s life. It was nice to have meaningful work to do.

I also now maintain the same code in GitHub (which uses git, obviously), though being an “official” WordPress plugin allows it to be automatically updated for people when I make changes, which I did today. WordPress 5.5 will be released this week and I tested the compatibility of the plugin with the beta.

Software is still kind of fun.

“The Problem”

I used to be a party to walking through software engineering candidates through answering this question.

I answered it myself, as part of my own hiring process, with several other programmers there. Part of the prompt from them was to “think of us as your team, feel free to ask questions or get clarifications.”

That aspect is why I felt this particular “exercise” was legitimate. It was a good measure of how a person would work with the team.

Interviewing for software is a gigantic topic, and this only glances at the surface of it. But I’ve been fortunate to be part of workplaces that have valued me.

San Diego Weather

I originally drafted this on June 10, 2019.

My earliest memories of San Diego weather are this weather. Driving from Los Angeles in the back of my parents VW late at night. CBS Mystery Theater on the radio. I wake up on the couch at my grandparents THIS is that weather. Dew on the lawn in the morning. Sunny. Not warm, not cool. The promise of time at the beach. Sometimes it gets hotter, sometimes a bit cloudier. But it’s perfect.

I like where I live a lot. I am extraordinarily lucky.

“Archival Magic” seminar.

This morning I attended a presentation Dustin Renwick about “Archival Magic” via the FieldTrips effort by Creative Mornings.

I like the idea of using archival public domain resources as part of creative endeavors. I appreciate that he’s turned a good deal of research into a handy list to find treasures of the past that can be remixed in new ways. As Dustin says in his Medium article: “there’s magic in the archives!”

Rebecca Sugar: Steven Universe

I had to thank my friend Brianna for introducing me to Steven Universe several years ago. And here’s a great interview/conversation with Rebecca Sugar about the difficulty of producing shows which strive to tell stories we’ve not heard in new ways. Steven Universe is an amazing show that manages to produce a unique science-fictional fantasy for kids that can also be read in much deeper ways about family, forgiveness, relationships, redemption, change, sacrifice and a pile of other things. I’ve not seen the She-Ra reboot but Nimona by Noelle Stevenson is brilliant and thoughtful — fun to have her in conversation with Sugar.

I love this quote by Rebecca Sugar:

Back when I was working on comics, I started thinking of making art as a conversation. I had this blind date theory of storytelling: you don’t necessarily know who your audience is, but you’d want to speak to them like you’d speak to someone in real life, across the table from you. You don’t want to just say what you think they want to hear, you don’t want to just say something only you care about, you want to speak to someone.

From In Conversation: Rebecca Sugar and Noelle Stevenson.

Service change email of the day

Another day, another change in service:

Slideshare - Scribd

Hi artlung,

Thank you for being a LinkedIn and SlideShare member. We’re excited to announce that SlideShare is joining Scribd.

Like SlideShare, Scribd offers an endless supply of content gems to feed your curiosity and advance your career. We look forward to SlideShare and Scribd coming together as the destination for some of the world’s favorite content.

Scribd will begin operating the SlideShare business on September 24, 2020. Your presentations and activity will remain on and on the SlideShare mobile app, so there is no action needed from you to keep your content online. As of that date, Scribd will manage your SlideShare account and any content you may have on SlideShare, and Scribd’s General Terms of Use and Privacy Policy will apply. If you wish to opt out, please close your SlideShare account.

Since the LinkedIn and SlideShare experiences were brought together in May 2012, we’ve seen millions of people, with similar interests, sharing what they know through engaging presentations, documents, and infographics. SlideShare has been a buzzing community of professionals going deep on subjects and helping each other to learn.

After 8 years and millions of memorable presentations, we’re grateful for the journey and excited for this next chapter for SlideShare as part of the Scribd family.

If you have questions, please see our FAQ for more information and access to our Support team.

The LinkedIn Team

The Scribd team is thrilled to welcome you by offering an opportunity to try their subscription for free today. The subscription gives you access to millions of the best books, audiobooks, magazines, and more.

Instalooter to WordPress

I’ve been importing my Instagram posts for my @artlung account using IFTTT for 7 years with good results. But there was a set of several hundred posts from 2011 and 2012 that I never bothered with. To be honest looking back at the posts, and thinking of that time, those were the two years after my Mom died and blogging was not something I was emphasizing. Instagram was a nice bit of frippery I could do on the road.

Well, time has passed, Instagram was purchased by Facebook for a billion bucks, and I have a renewed interest on making sure my own content is controlled by me. That’s all about the #indieweb. And the end of 2019 and at the beginning of 2020 before all this Covid nonsense I participated with Gregor Love in some local San Diego #indiewebcamp get togethers which were really wonderful. It was a terrific reminder of how important it is to me to manage my own photos and drawings and writings.

Anyway, in my paltry seeking for a good solution for importing old Instagram posts into WordPress I didn’t find anything that fit the bill super well. I’ve been using Instalooter for ad hoc grabbing of photos and I like how well it has worked.

And so was born a bit of code I worked on this past weekend: InstalooterToWordPress, which is a PHP tool to turn instalooter dumps of images and JSON into WordPress XML importable files. It’s working great for me and for my usage. I hope to improve it and adapt it.

Also posted on IndieNews

No love for San Diego in AFAR’s favorite California independent bookstores.

AFAR’s Our Favorite Independent Bookstores in California contains no love for San Diego despite us having some great bookstores. I would easily put Verbatim Books on this list and give Mysterious Galaxy strong consideration. But I’m nitpicking, it’s a fine list overall.

The list brings to mind my favorite bookstores of the 1990s in Los Angeles: Midnight Special in Santa Monica and Opamp Books, a tremendous technical bookstore that was in Hollywood.

Here’s their list:

  1. City Lights – San Francisco
  2. Moe’s Books – Berkeley
  3. Skylight Books – Los Angeles
  4. Green Apple Books – San Francisco
  5. Omnivore Books – San Francisco
  6. Kepler’s Books & Magazines – Menlo Park
  7. Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary & Garden Arts Bookstore – Berkeley
  8. The Last Bookstore – Los Angeles
  9. Black Bird Bookstore – San Francisco
  10. Dark Carnival – Berkeley
  11. Pages: A Bookstore – Manhattan Beach, California

I’ve only been to a third of these bookstores. When travel is safe, I’ll be hitting these. In the meantime, support your local bookstore!

And hey, San Diego Bookstore Crawl may yet happen August 29, 2020 for Indie Bookstore Day:

Set permissions for all WordPress wp-config.php files to 600 on shared hosting

A solid security recommendation from the company I host with that I have turned into a cron job:

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