Oh no, it's a blog! (Archive)
Here is a partial archive of my old blog that I had on this site in the first half of 2021. I got rid of the posts that I thought weren't relevant or quality enough. Gonna start a new blog on a different page.
# (2021-04-20) Four Projects That I Wish Would Exist, But May Try to Make Myself if No One Else Tries
I have a lot of random project ideas bouncing around in my head, and I really want to work on some of them eventually. I wanted to share the ideas below for two reasons. First reason being that I'm a lazy master procrastinator, and the second reason being that I have at least two other project ideas that I think are more fun or more important, and they could take a long time to all be finished. Thus, it would likely take me a while to get around to these, so I wouldn't mind if someone tried to do these in the meantime. Hopefully this little post inspires someone to work on these, I think they would be pretty useful and/or fun things to exist. And also hopefully I'm not describing something that already exists. Here goes:

A plain & simple schedule sharer app - This might come as a huge shock to many readers, but before the pandemic happened, I actually went outside and socialized with other human beings in real life. And a small issue I noticed is that people's schedules never really lined up properly so things had to either be planned far in advance, we had to get together at odd times, or someone just ended up not being able to show up. So I think that making some sort of little app where people can share their day-to-day & hour-by-hour availability and you can see what times the largest amount of people have off so you can get together at a good time would be an ok solution to this problem. This could, and probably would be used by online friends to maybe schedule chats or games, who would often be in different time zones. This of course would result in a little bit of extra complexity because you would have to take into account really weird time zones, and also daylight savings time being different or not happening in different locations.
This schedule sharing thing isn't really a unique idea, but the all the apps I've seen that can do something like this are heavy-duty calendar-style apps that are more suited for businesses, rather than everyday people who just want to see when everyone else might be available or not. So I think having a plain and simple schedule sharer app would be a useful tool for a lot of people.

A polished self-hostable blogging platform + RSS reader combo app as an alternative/competitor to the fediverse - No offense to all the cool people that contribute to the fediverse, but I don't really like the design of the current mainstream activitypub-based system. But instead of trying to fix it, I think that it might be better to return to geocitie and apply some shock paddles to a dying system for following random internet people that predates the modern social media platforms: RSS, and its younger siblings like JSON-feed & PubSubHubbub. I find it kind of weird that, currently, for most RSS-based things, you need to go to seperate places to consume and create content. Feed-readers and blogging platforms are usually two seperate things. Why not try making a single self-hostable combo blogger & feed reader? You could even make it have a plain reverse-chronological feed with a quick compose window at the top of the feed like a vanilla social media platform. And there's already a way someone can import their existing RSS feed collection from their feed readers into such platform: OPML files. If someone wants to leave one server for another, or self-host their own, they can also export from their old home and import into their new home using OPML files. There's more that could be talked about this idea, but overall I think this would be a nice thing to exist.

A VRchat + Zoom hybrid video game thing - Okay, hear me out, what if we made a 3D video game like thing where everyone in it is a telepresence robot thing? It wouldn't need to look like exactly like those creepy things. You could have human body characters with CRT monitors as their head that displayed the person's webcam feed on its screen. And it wouldn't need to be a realistic human body with a boxy head, you could have the body be chibi-like, and have a round head with an oval-shaped screen. It doesn't even need to be a regular humanoid, you could have it be like the amogus characters, or maybe something more like QT from Space Dandy. It's possible to have a 2D texture in a virtual 3D environment be a live video feed. And you could do things like positional audio, with people being quieter the futher away they are from you, or quieter if they are facing away from you. You could really take this idea really far, with like virtual conferences or conventions or something. Kind of a pie-in-the-sky idea, but I think this would be really fun, even on a small scale.

Chat-styled microblogging platform that can plug into open chat protocols - A reverse chronological social media feed is just a weird upside-down way of chatting with many people if you really think about it. Why not make a microblogging platform that's character-limited like twitter, and have it be styled like a regular chat app with the posts in chronological order, and have the new post composer at the bottom of the feed? This wouldn't be anything fancy, BUT, what if you made it so that you could read your feed and make posts via IRC, XMPP, or Matrix? You could have text commands like "/follow [username]" or something for people who use those. Perhaps such a service could also host servers for the above-mentioned protocols as a way to DM users on the platform. A platform like this could be super popular with the cool weirdos that still cling to their IRC setup.

There you go, these are the ideas at the bottom of my random ideas pile. What do you think of them?
# (2021-04-11) Why My Interweb Name Is "LiterallyHifumi"
TL;DR image

Before I used this specific handle I had a username that I used on sites as far back as 2006 or 2007. I used it in many many places, and I've even had people who I knew irl who called me that name sometimes. But over time I kind of started resenting it cause I have so many cringy memories associated with it. So I decided I wouldn't make any new accounts with that name. Problem is, I couldn't come up with any name that I really liked and really stuck with me. From 2012 to 2016 I created a few accounts on different sites that had various usernames I don't remember anymore.

Fast forward to October 2016, I was making a twitter account (for the third time lol) and I was again stuck trying to come up with some name that I kind of liked. And also, a few of the names I did kind of like exceeded twitter's 15-character username limit. Around that time I finished watching the first season of the anime New Game! and I really thought that one of the main characters in the show, Takimoto Hifumi, was cute and hashtag-relatable. Her canonical age also happened to be around my age at the time, and she also had blue eyes like me. So I decided to pick the name LiterallyHifumi (a play on the phrase "literally me"), which happened be 15 characters long, exactly at twitter's character limit, perfect. I probably spent no more than 2 minutes thinking of and considering this name haha.

Now, this silly username that I picked could have become another one of the random names that I picked and then abandoned later like I had in previous years, but a few things were different this time. Previously, I didn't really interact too much with other people under my random accounts and just lurked and liked/upvoted/bookmarked things. But under LiterallyHifumi I actually managed to get a few youtube videos that I made to get a tiny bit of traction. I never got beyond a few thousand views, but still, that probably was more interaction with my content by strangers in a month than I ever had total internet interaction with me the previous decade. I also decided to just stop being wishy-washy and just stick to a name, even if it's a weird name to have and I'm also a little bored with New Game! stuff.

In case the fancy "LH" logo at the top of this page wasn't clear, I've kind of gone all-in with this silly name. My general plan right now is that if I really need to rebrand for some reason in the future, I'll go with my real life name, which is something that a lot of famous internet people do anyways, so no biggie. Otherwise, I will probably die with this being my username on all my preferred platforms.

Why did you pick the internet name that you are currently using? Do you like it or want to change it?
# (2021-03-24) Revival of the Traditional Mongolian Script in Mongolia and the Unusual Software Design for This Writing System
(If you want to, you can read this post while listening to mongolian throat singing)

Right now in Mongolia the most common writing system is Mongolian Cyrillic, which is basically the Russian alphabet with two letters added for sounds that exist in mongolian speech, but don't exist in Russian. But, last year the mongolian government has announced a push to have more media and education done using traditional mongolian script, which is an older writing system that was specifically made for the mongolian language.

This youtube video goes into way more depth about the history of mongolian writing systems, but basically, before the rise of the soviet union, mongols in what is now mongolia and inner mongolia (a PRC autonomous region) primarily used mongolian script for writing. In the early-1900s mongolia effectively became a satellite state of the soviet union, and since they were so economically dependent on the soviet union, they adopted cyrillic as their main writing system. Meanwhile, inner mongolia kept on using mongolian script for mongolian writing. After the collapse of the soviet union, there were some attempts at reviving mongolian script in mongolia, but they didn't really work because cyrillic was so widespread. But, recently, the current chinese government has been trying to completely replace mongolian with mandarin in schools within inner mongolia. Basically in response, the mongolian government and many of its people have decided that they will seriously try to revive traditional mongolian script, and it will be mandatory for all official documents in mongolia to use both mongolian cyrillic and mongolian script by 2025. And people will try to make sure that software in the country supports this new old writing system. Software is where things get interesting.

If you only speak english or other languages that read left-to-right, all of the software and websites that you've used usually has the most important information closer to the top and closer to the left, and less important info on the bottom-right, because that's how our brains "read" things. This is why website logos and the three-bar menus (a.k.a. hamburger menu) are most often at the top-left. For people who write in languages that read right-to-left like arabic, hebrew, and urdu, their brains "read" things from the top-right and software made for or translated into those languages is usually mirrored. Here is a screenshot of the youtube homepage in arabic as an example. Chinese and Japanese were traditionally written vertically right-to-left and still have modern media published in that orientation, but in modern times have software and websites written horizontally left-to-right, just like english. As far as I know, people who read those languages don't have a huge issue with them being written horizontally left-to-right and use software oriented that way.

Mongolian script, however, is written vertically left-to-right, and cannot just be written horizontally like chinese or japanese. This means that software that uses this writing system has to be turned 90 degrees. Text input is vertical, buttons are vertical, tab menus are on the left side, often scrolling long pages aren't vertical, but horizontal. Here are a few examples of websites that are written with mongolian script: example 1, example 2, example 3, example 4. Notice how some of these websites scroll horizontally, and have their copyright notice on the rightmost end?

Today, software support for this writing system isn't really complete. Despite being part of the unicode standard since 1999, the first computer operating system that properly supported this writing system out of the box was windows vista in 2007, and there are still tons of little glitches with how various software displays this language. Also, as of writing, if you paste mongolian script into google translate it doesn't even translate. Shame you can't easily post the navy seal copypasta in mongolian script... ЁЯШТ

If your OS supports mongolian script, and your web browser supports the CSS writing-mode property, which allows text to be written vertically, you should be reading this text the way mongolian script is read. Of course, mongolians don't tilt their head sideways when reading haha. Here is some random mongolian script that I copy-pasted: саосагсайсансагсап сажсансабтАпса╢савсаи сабсансабса░савсансаМ сансабсавсансажсапсажсанса┤савтАпса╢савсаи са│сабса░ са│сааса╖саасансаасапсаасаптАпсавса╢сабса╖ самсааса╖саасансаасапса╡саасанса░саасаи са│сааса╖садсансадсаптАпсав са│сааса╖садса╡садсаВ са│сааса╖саасансаОсаа саисав са░садсайсансадсанса│саасамсадсаитАпсад са│сагса▓садса╖саОсаатАпсабса┤саб са╡сажсак са│сажса╖са░сажтАпса╢сав са░садсайсансадсаисаОсаасаГ са░саасапсадсайсамсавса▓саа саксавса┤савсанса│сабсамсаж са│саасансаасаксадса╖савтАпса╢сав саксавса┤савсамсажтАпса│саЛсадсаМсаВ сажсансабтАпса╢савсаи сабсамсавсаитАпсад саисавсансаб сажса░сажсансаМтАпсав са│сааса╖садса╡садсаВ са│сааса╖саасансаОсаа саисав са░садсайсансадсанса│саасамсадсаитАпсабса┤саб са╡сажсак са│сажса╖са░сажтАпса╢сав са░садсайсансадсаисаОсаасаГ саосагсайсансагсап сажса░сажсансаМтАпсадсаи самсааса╖саасансаасапса╡саасанса░саасаи са│сааса╖садсансадсап саисав са│сагсагса╖саасамсав са╡савса╖садсан саосабса▓сажсаГ са╡савсансабсапсабсапсансаб сажса░сажсансаМтАпсадсаи са│сааса╖садсакса┤савтАпса╢савсаи саксаасавса╖сав саисав самсааса╖саасансаасапса╡саасанса░саасаи саосагсайсансагсап сажса░сажсансаМтАпсадсаи са│сааса╖садсакса┤савтАпса▓саасав сааса│саасапсав саксаасавса╖савсаитАпса│саЛсад саксаасавсаисаОсаа

So yeah, if you're developing software and want it to be translated into every language including relatively obscure ones, not only do you have to think of right-to-left languages, but you also have to think of at least one language that is written top-to-bottom.

Hope you enjoyed this post. What are your thoughts on mongolian script and vertical software?
# (2021-01-15) Google Plus & Windows 8 Did Not Need to Exist
Hi everyone this is my debut into the blogosphere! Please follow my RSS or Atom feeds and add me to your blogroll! PeNgU1N oF d00m! :D

Ok, so today I want to talk about two products that did not need to exist: Google+ and Windows 8. Lets start with Google plus. Google+ was created in 2011 as yet another attempt by google to get into social networking as the meteoric rise of Facebook in the early 2010s kinda freaked everyone out cause they could have become a tech giant that creates apps, services, and even operating systems that compete with the already established tech giants of that day. Microsoft also tried to make their own social networks but they also failed back then (remember so.cl?). At first Google+ was its own thing in its own little world that didn't interfere with other google services much, but then word got around that facebook would start beefing up its search feature. Tech bloggers and the tech press started speculating that facebook could and would create its own search engine that's better than google because it not only could crawl public websites, but can also augment that website data with the private social graph (facebook's friend relationship data) to create super relevant results. Google, either in response to that, or coincidentally, started shoving google+ into literally every single google service, with its awful mandatory real name policy. To leave an app review on the play store, you had to have a google+ account, to leave a youtube comment, you had to have a google+ account. Google search results showed articles with the article's author's google+ profile picture next to them. Those "sign in with google" buttons became "sign in with google+" buttons. So much other annoying crap happened, but the worst was google shutting down google reader imo. Back in facebookland, they did improve their search feature, and they really wanted you to do searches as they redesigned the site to have the search bar take up a ton of space in the navbar, but the speculated search engine never materialized, and they actually removed some of their search improvements because no one really used them. Google+ never became a noteworthy social network either. It had a small dedicated community, but it was known more as the annoying thing google forced on everyone rather than a place to hang out and chat with the cool kids at your school the same way facebook was in the early 2010s. Google created so much grief for a failed social network, and they didn't need to. I'm still a little pissed at the death of google reader.

Let's move on to Windows 8. I guess I should clarify that windows 8 should have existed, but it should not have been made the way it was made. Microsoft should have made it what windows 10 is today, not the pile of garbage it was then. In 2010, Apple surprised the world with their iPad (cue menstrual pad jokes & laugh tracks). Blognosticators dismissed it, and thought it would fail because it was just a big iphone, but it ended up being a huge success, completely absorbing the tablet market. Microsoft had tried to make tablets a thing for a decade at that point, and Apple just swooped in and made an extremely successful tablet that sold orders of magnitute more than whatever windows tablets existed at that time. And then Steve Jobs started talking about "cars and trucks" as a metaphor to say that tablets would eventually outnumber PCs the same way cars outnumber trucks in the real world, because the average person doesn't need the power that PCs have just like they don't need a truck, a car/tablet is enough. Microsoft in response decided to go all in with this tablet thing, and make windows 8 a tablet OS basically. They essentially outright said that the normal computer desktop paradigm with its archaic windows is something that people would still use for their old apps, but it would just go away as tablet apps and the tablet experience is just so much better than desktop apps and the desktop experience, and people would eventually end up only opening the desktop as often as they open command prompt to run their MS-DOS programs or whatever. But then windows 8 actually came out and it was a terrible user experience, no one gave a heck about the tablet stuff, they just wanted to use their old desktop apps. The "start menu" took up the whole screen, it looked very dumb on large screens when you clicked it, and it was very jarring to have your entire screen change after a decade or more of being used to the usual start menu in the bottom-left corner. Also if you wanted to use tablet apps, you had to go through the microsoft store, you couldn't just download them and install them unless you were a developer. Microsoft also started to push signing in to windows with your microsoft account, also very annoying. When I used windows 8 I did sign in with my microsoft account only so I could use my skydrive *cough* onedrive with its 25 gigs of free space, but whenever I logged off or just put my computer to sleep I had to sign in with my ms account password, not fun. There was some obscure menu that let you turn it off, and I did turn it off, but occasionally after a windows update, it would mysteriously turn back on, why? So anyway, the regular desktop experience was crap on windows 8, but was the tablet stuff worth it for microsoft, did windows tablets blow up in popularity? Well, some people did really enjoy their Surface Pros, but they basically just used them as weird windows laptops with their usual desktop apps, the tablet stuff was mostly untouched by the average surface user as far as I can tell. And what about the great ipad threat? Did tablets take over PCs? The ipad is a great source of income for apple definitely, and some android tablets have a decent amount of success, but they never really replaced the "trucks" that steve jobs described PCs as. In fact they seemed to have been slightly cannibalized by larger phones ("phablets") that didn't exist back when the ipad was first launched. And apple seems to be treating the ipad as its own unique type of computing device that is different from both phones and desktop PCs. But since they recently added mouse support to the brand new "iPadOS," and have a keyboard plus trackpad accessory, it's basically a mini-truck at this point. Just like google did with google+, microsoft responded to a non-existent threat by ruining their own great product with an experience that the users did not want, and would have done just fine if they focused on polishing their established market-leader products instead of treating the rise of new niches like an "innovator's dilemma"-level threat. I'm glad at least windows 10 is good, it has the same windows experience that I've been used to since the first PC I used (windows 2000), but just modern.

Not sure what the moral of the story is here. These big tech companies do really have a lot of power over their users, enough that people keep using them even with terrible UX blunders, but at the end of the day, they can't force users to do exactly what they want. People's habits are really really entrenched, and they're not just gonna jump ship to your "better" product if the crappy incumbent is good enough, even if you have unlimited money.

Thanks for reading my first post, I hope my writing isn't too terrible.
I've written some other stuff on my personal anecdotes page, but they're not really blogposts.