This is a personal blog, please observe Think Hour for ad hoc quasi-diary writings and Big Ideas for my ratified longform items. I will see you there.


2020-08-04


Com Pewter

After writing my last post I was reminded of the importance of using a custom domain name for my blog. Instead of putting it off I just went ahead and followed this short Medium blog post, creating a blog sub-domain on a domain I bought recently, via DNS records. While everything worked as intended, the post is actually only fully accurate for directing your base domain to a blog, rather than a sub-domain. I didn’t realize this at first, and so wanted to take a further look.

DNS & Domain

As penance for disregarding official documentation and reading on the topic of DNS management, I’m going to refer to the wealthy supply of knowledge offered at thesitewizard, some more condensed information at dnsimple and the GitHub Pages documentation to round out my passing abstract knowledge of what I did to utilize a custom (sub-)domain, and regurgitate.

The master term, referred to most in all of this, is “DNS”, or Domain Name System, which is an overarching term for the a range of systems and operations involved in managing domain names and the IP addresses associated with them, including making that association and adherence to protocols that allow other computers across the net to process this correctly. My usage of this was a couple common tasks: creation of A-records and CNAME records.

The “A-record” stands for “Address Record”. When a computer/browser makes a request (at behest of user) to some domain name, the A-record informs the location that will be passed on. Manually directing my browser to the IP addresses I used in my A-records gives a general 404 page served up by GitHub Pages, which confirms this. The “CNAME” record stands for Canonical Name, which can allow you to alias the base domain. For instance a CNAME record for a www subdomain can be pointed to domain.com, which in turn via A-records will point to the desired IP address.

The sub-domain CNAME record I made results in intended function, but it is directed to my GitHub user domain, rather than my A-record aligned base domain. In the GitHub Pages documentation the instruction to make A-records appears only under the set of instructions for configuring apex (top-level/base) domain (coupled with recommendation for a “www” sub-domain, due to history as a standard for segregating web content and other content of a server/domain). The distinction between A-record utilization for apex domain and lack of that for a custom sub-domain is absent in the Medium post I followed.

Since I wasn’t using the apex domain for anything, following the direction to create A-records in the Medium guide didn’t pose any real issue, and so I went along thinking this was necessary. Pointing my browser to the unused apex domain for the first time, of course, does in fact lead to the GitHub 404 page. This wasn’t something I intended. The need for A-records pointing to IP addresses in the case of apex domain use, rather than a CNAME record simply referring to the host domain is explained here. In short, you cannot or rather should not define CNAME records at the apex domain and thus A-records are instead used to offer direction via IP addresses that will resolve to the host domain, where the usage of CNAME to simply refer to a host domain is unavailable.

Steganography // z3roTrust

I checked out an article from z3roTrust that I had bookmarked. There’s some brief discussion on privacy buoyed by points from the idea-sphere represented popularly in a mainstream sense by good old Ron Paul. Agree or connect with these ideas or not, there’s some good resources and links here concerning private communication, namely hiding messages within otherwise plain looking files - a modern application of steganography. Steganography being the sister of cryptography, the practice of concealing the fact that there is any message at all rather than obfuscating its contents. In the post there’s a small guide on how to try it out yourself using the QuickStego program.

Audio Cats

The above image is audio from Venetian Snares’ album “Songs about my Cats” viewed through a spectrogram. I haven’t really ever encountered this kind of thing outside of ARGs or music. I’m left wondering how effective this could be in real application, and if there are famous modern instances in a non-art context. While I appreciate that an image of a train might seem innocuous in some contexts, sending it purely as an e-mail attachment to preserve extra data might not fly under the radar, unless transmitted by a boomer who doesn’t know what an instagram is, especially if its filesize was noticeably discrepant.

Just a train.

Criticism Study // RoryPrice

Just a quick few notes on a couple interesting articles I came upon when clicking around one of the many Fediverse platforms a couple of days ago. I found these articles enjoyable on a meta level, for how candid and sincere they were written out. The thoughts themselves I’m unsure of, and I am going to critique them.

An example of useful feedback form.

There’s a lot of talk of subjectivity, and how one must bear in mind the intent of something before criticizing it or airing a view of it from your own vision. Personally I’m on the complete opposite side of this view, I believe that the responsibility for filtration of criticism by its usefulness or sincerity and potential application rests on the criticized. I can’t help but feel that there’s a certain toxic altruism in the sentiment of being extra-considerate and that it could lead to a counter-productive censorship of potentially valuable thoughts and gleanings that the critiqued may find useful or informative.

It’s also perfectly fine to let them know that their intention isn’t something you understand. It’s okay to decline if you feel like you can’t offer feedback that’s in line with the intent.

Though not perhaps not immediately useful, if it isn’t you who vocalizes your distaste for the very purpose of someone’s creation, then who will? Aren’t they owed the knowledge that your perspective exists, so they can reconcile it and choose on their part to lobby it or toss it? Not to say you should rip into them with full disregard of course, but hopefully they’d have developed their own filters enough to tell that’s just what you were doing.

I personally have a zero tolerance policy with my proofreaders when it comes to cynicism. If I feel like someone can’t help themselves but attack my story or characters, then I just don’t work with them. Just be aware that you can ask your proofreaders to be nice in how they voice their dislikes, but critics are a different story.

Rory (the writer) touches on the various forms of feedback and criticism in his post, and I think it’s probably the most important to begin filtering at that inlet. Public internet comments from unknown actors should be treated with caution and pragmatism, whereas if you reach out to someone for feedback or get it from someone you know well, you treat their criticism much differently and hopefully take it more seriously.

When I give feedback to another writer, I try to be as aware as I can of my own subjective preferences, but it’s still my view of the story.

I think a lot of the consideration and smarts implored in the post could however be really effective for collaborator and close advisor feedback-givers. Of course if you’re really trying to help someone and guide them it’s necessary and beneficial to take the opportunity to tune in and work your consultant faculty, right? Maybe that’s who the article was targeting all along, but I took the initiation of discussion being a non-specific fan-fiction comment left by writer to heart.

Another thing I like to try is to find the root cause of the issue. Very often, I find that the issue isn’t as much what was pointed out, but rather a failure on my part to communicate the intent of the scene. Maybe a proofreader pointing out that a character is unnecessarily rude really means that said rudeness wasn’t properly established in earlier chapters.

I like that.