Robbie's Blog

About this blog

This blog consists of exactly one file. All internal links point to the relevant section in index.html, and css takes care of showing the content of only that section. There is no javascript and no external content is called. This blog isn't intentioned to have any specific theme. I will be writing about stuff which interests me as and when I feel like it.

If you would like to comment on a post, you can do so by mailing me: deightonrobbie @ nubo . coop (remove spaces) or contacting me on Mastodon

About me

I've never been good about talking about myself (or making me sound like an interesting person), so I'm leaving this section blank for now.

What is the purpose of an email newsletter?

99 percent of the time I read an email, it will be on my phone. In order to save mobile data bandwidth and to stop privacy invading techniques like tracking pixels I've configured my email client to prevent loading images by default. Recently, whenever I open an email newsletter, more often than not I get greeted by a title followed by a blank screen where an image has been blocked. In order to read the first sentence of the mail I need to scroll down past the blanked out image before any interesting content appears.

What is the main reason email newsletters exist? Is it to convey information or is it to bedazzle the recipient with amazing layout skills? Who do you want to be able to read your newsletter? I would assume as many people as possible. That includes people that may need screenreader software which doesn't work well when half of the info is in the form of images. It also includes people that may only be able to afford a low cost mobile data subscription and who may choose to cancel any bloated newsletter subscriptions which eat up their data limit at a fast pace.

My tip to anyone that is responsible for creating newsletter: Think about what you are trying to achieve! Maybe it is time to go back to basics and create something that works for everyone, not just for people who are in the graphic or communication sector. At least give people the choice to sign up for a plain version instead of only providing a full blow version with all the bells and whistles.

Older: Internet: the blind spot in the eyes of climate action NGO's

Internet: the blind spot in the eyes of climate action NGO's

I'm a voracious consumer of information and articles about climate action. That means I often visit the websites of NGO's that deal with the topic. They all do a fantastic job of increasing awareness about what's going on with climate change and many ways of mitigating it. However they all seem to have websites with all the bells and whistles, all the video clips and all the javascript. It seems that they either aren't aware of the amount of resources and electricity that are needed to power the internet, or that they choose to ignore the problem because they think that's what they need to do to get their message across.

Here is a good article about the resources that are needed. It is estimated that by 2025 the IT industry could use up to 20% of all electricity and be responsible for up to 5.5% of carbon emitted. While admittedly the internet is only a part of the whole IT industry, it is a very large part. The average size of a webpage has more than quadrupled since 2010 while the average size of an article in some cases comprises only 3% of the total size of the page.

When looking at some of the more well-known websites about climate change we can see that they all seem to use modern webdesign techniques without trying to optimise them for efficiency:

On the other side of the spectrum:

The frustrating thing is that in most cases it would only take two simple alterations to slash the size of those webpages (and therefore also their carbon footprint) in half, with minimal to no visible change in look-and-feel. All that would be needed is to pay some attention to the size of images and to stop using bloated javascript libraries where 99% of functionality isn't used.

Update 22 apr 2022

Grootouders voor het klimaat have just announced the screenreader-friendly version of their site, which is not only screenreader-friendly, but also extremely light and environmentally friendly :) :) I have added it to my list.


Older: World backup day --- Newer: What is the purpose of an email newsletter?

World backup day

Today is World Backup day. Most people I know either don't take a backup of their important data, or at most they synchronize (some of) their data to the cloud, not realising that realtime synchronization is fairly useless as a backup. If you accidentally delete something, it is immediately deleted on the other side. If your files are encrypted by a virus, the encrypted files are also replicated to the cloud. real time synchronization to the cloud meant to make it easy to access your files from multiple locations and to share those files with others. Even though it can mitigate some reasons for data loss, real time synchronisation is not a good backup solution unless you can combine it with a versioning system.

types of data loss mitigation:

(not all of these qualify as "backup")

Most common reasons for data loss:

(possible best solution in Italic)

Further reading

Older: Earth overshoot day 2022 --- Newer: Internet: the blind spot in the eyes of climate action NGO's

Earth overshoot day 2022

March 26th was Earth overshoot day for Belgium. That makes Belgium the 14th largest user (per capita) of earth's natural resources. That means that if everyone on earth lived the same way as an average Belgian, all the resources produced by nature on earth in a whole year would have been used up by that day.

Learn more: Wikipedia

Nice article in Dutch: De Transformisten

Older: I've quit Facebook --- Newer: World Backup day

I've quit Facebook

Two months ago I got rid of my facebook profile. I've been meaning to do this for a couple of years, but just like a lot of my friends I was too hooked on the features it provides to just take the step and delete it. I've finally decided that Facebook is just too evil to continue using it.

Facebook is so easy to use. Just about every person, company and charity seems to have a presence on it, and all the news you want is available in one location. Unfortunately that also makes it really hard to quit the habit.

This isn't enough for facebook. They want you to scroll through their content as much and as often as possible because that way they are able to serve you more "sponsored" content. In order to achieve that, they use A.I. algorithms. The result is not pretty...

This unethical behavior has finally made me decide to take the jump. It took me a while, because I was managing several groups and pages. Some of them had to be handed over to others, but in most of them I just posted a message that they were going to be deleted and the reason why I was deleting them. No use in making it easier for facebook to keep attracting users.

I wish I had taken a couple more steps before actually deleting my account though. I miss some of the contacts I had gathered through the years, and I hadn't noted down any alternate contact details for them. I wish I had also noted down more details about some of the pages I followed. Some of them didn't have a website, but others did. Other than that, I've noticed that I suddenly have more time to do other things than passively scroll through facebook and watching people giving people they don't know verbal abuse....

Older: Up and running --- Newer: Earth overshoot day 2022

Up and running

I’m sick of websites bloated with megabytes of javascript, tracking technologies and useless screen-filling background images. In my quest to avoid these I’ve discovered the ‘small web’, or should I say I’ve rediscovered the web as it was in the mid-nineties, but with more mature technologies which make things more enjoyable than was possible then.

Discovering Mastodon opened up a whole new world of possibilities. Suddenly a world with people who all seem to think the same way I do sprang to life. People who’ve swapped monopolist social media multinationals for the fediverse. People who have turned their backs to bloated advert-filled websites and blogs, and who are making an art out of crafting small efficient founts of information.

One thing that keeps popping up in posts on Fosstodon, the Mastodon instance that I frequent, is static blogs. I love the idea of these, and had already started using the Jekyll static site generator, but I was thinking... If complete blogs can be made smaller than an average single webpage made by some developer who wants "all the frameworks" and "all the bells and whistles", then it will probably be possible to make that whole blog fit inside a single file and still load quicker than an average webpage.

This is my attempt at a blog consisting of a single file. All internal links point to the relevant section in index.html, and css takes care of showing the content of only that section. No external files or javascript are needed. Right now this seems to be extremely fast. Only time will tell what happens when more and more posts are added.

Newer: I've quit Facebook



Blog entries

June 2022

April 2022

March 2022