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writing one sentence per line

My advice to anyone who writes: Try writing one sentence per line. I’ve been doing it for twenty years, and it improved my writing more than anything else. New sentence? Hit [Enter]. New line. Not publishing one sentence per line, no. Write like this for your eyes only. HTML or Markdown combine separate lines into one paragraph. Why...

the joke that changed my life

Growing up in America, I didn’t know much about other cultures. When I was 25, my band got some gigs in Europe — my first time there. It was 1995. The European Union was new. I heard a street performer in Copenhagen tell this joke: “The EU will be a success if … the British are the police the French are the chefs the Italians are...

Find a good available .com domain

If you need a new domain name, you want a .com, and you don’t want to type random ideas into a registrar search, here’s a way to do it. Download the list of all registered .com domains First, apply for access to the zone file, using ICANN’s Centralized Zone Data Service (CZDS) at https://czds.icann.org/. It’s free, but takes a few days to...

Travel is best with young children

“Once you have a baby, you can’t travel.” I’ve heard this so many times, although only from people who haven’t done it. But I took my baby to nine countries before he was one year old. Then another ten countries by the time he was eight. So I can tell you from experience that it’s not only easy but great. We need to share this with new parents....

Short URLs: why and how

If you make your own website, consider making short URLs. This is not about a URL shortener. This is about making your original URLs short in the first place. Instead of: yoursite.com/blog/2022/05/08/short-urls-why-and-how.html … consider just: yoursite.com/short Why? Short URLs matter for a few reasons: You can remember them....

Ancestors, Luck, and Descendants

My Sivers ancestors came from Grantham, Lincolnshire, England on a boat to America in 1849. The boat crashed on rocks in the Irish sea, caught fire in the Atlantic Ocean, got pushed off course repeatedly by storms, and finally landed in New Orleans after two months. New Orleans was overcome with cholera, so they hopped a steam boat up the Mississippi...

Why I left America

I was living on the beach in Santa Monica, California, and life was perfect. I was in paradise, and deeply happy. Friends wanted to travel, but I had no interest. I had already lived a few years each in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Portland, and San Francisco. Santa Monica was perfect. I loved the weather, the people, the lifestyle, the business...

Write plain text files

I write almost everything important in my life: thoughts, plans, notes, diaries, correspondence, code, articles, and entire books. They are my extended memory — my noted self — my organized thoughts. I refer to them often. I search them, update them, and learn from them. I convert them into HTML to make websites, or LaTeX to make books. My...

Generate unique random values directly in the database

You often need to generate random strings, like for login cookies and unique entry codes. These strings always need to be stored in the database. So make your life simpler by generating the random strings directly in the database. Here's a very handy PostgreSQL function to do it: create function gen_random_bytes(int) returns bytea as '$libdir/pgcrypto',...

Database triggers to clean text inputs

Even smart people can accidently put bad data into a database. We copy text from a web page, then paste it into a form, not realizing it also copied a space, tab, or newline character. Then your system thinks someone’s name is not “Jim” but “ Jim\n”. You could use JavaScript to sanitize all form inputs, but what about when you import a CSV file,...

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