Estimated reading time: 16 minute(s)

Welcome to another exciting edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal, the official newsletter of the perennially virid online writing magazine, The New Leaf Journal. This newsletter comes to you as always from the waterproof keyboard of the editor of The New Leaf Journal, Nicholas A. Ferrell (well, one newsletter came from my laptop instead of my waterproof keyboard).

Exactly two years ago to the day, New Leaf Journal writer, professional musician, and luthier Victor V. Gurbo published what was the 100th article on The New Leaf Journal. In what has turned out to be a totally unintended coincidence, today marks the 100th edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal. We would be beyond newsletter 100 but for the fact that I did not send newsletters for several weeks in 2020 and I opted to not send a newsletter on Christmas weekend in 2021. The stars thus aligned to have the 100th newsletter land exactly two years after our 100th article.

100 is a good round three digit number. For that reason, I will try to make our 100th newsletter a special issue worthy of the occasion, mixing our usual newsletter content with some special sections and news and notes. In one special twist, I am publishing this newsletter as an article on The New Leaf Journal (if you are reading it on The New Leaf Journal proper, see our newsletter sign-up options). This is only the third time that I have published a newsletter as an article. On February 5, I published Newsletter 69 as an article on the day that I moved the entire site from Bluehost shared hosting to Hetzner VPS. What was the first newsletter to be published as an article? I explain below…

100th Newsletter Table of Contents

  1. The Newsletter Archive Says That This Is Newsletter 101
  2. Leaves From The Week That Was
  3. Leaves From Around The Web
  4. A Special Old Leaf Journal
  5. Most-Turned Leaves Of The Newsletter Week
  6. Notable Software Leaf Journal
  7. News Leaf Journal
  8. Taking Leaf

1. The Newsletter Archive Says That This Is Newsletter 101

Astute followers of our Newsletter Archive may note that this newsletter is numbered 101 instead of 100. In fact, people who (A) have seen our archive and (B) can read Roman numerals may have noted that our newsletter numbers have been behind the archive number for the newsletter for a long time.

Is this all some sort of terrible mistake?

The Newsletter Leaf Journal is powered by a terrific newsletter service called Buttondown. However, this was not always the case. The first 22 installments of The Newsletter Leaf Journal were powered by a different service (and solid choice for some use-cases) called TinyLetter.

On September 26, 2020 (not too long after we published our 100th article), I tried to mail a newsletter using TinyLetter. This was back before I started drafting content in markdown (which I started doing because of Buttondown), so I both drafted and reviewed my content in LibreOffice Writer (the first four newsletters were drafted in Microsoft Word since those issues predated my move to Linux). I forget the precise details, my LibreOffice was a little bit finicky about the types of format it accepted, so I had to make sure to copy text from LibreOffice without additional formatting. I failed at this endeavor on September 26, so the newsletter that was mailed was a jumbled, unreadable mess.

Instead of re-sending the newsletter, I opted to send a short note (drafted in TinyLetter’s editor) explaining the issue. I ended up publishing the newsletter on The New Leaf Journal, where it remains today. It was a shame that I failed at sending that newsletter because the content from that week was quite good. It recapped Victor’s terrific piece about saving The Bitter End, a famous New York City music venue, and one of my personal favorite articles (which no one read) about an interesting quote from Mr. Wataru Watari, author of the lite novel behind one of my favorite anime series. I made a novel use of the newsletter by expanding upon my article on the quote from Mr. Watari. I suppose that it was just as well that the newsletter ended up being a New Leaf Journal article.

But I digress. What does this have to do with the strange newsletter numbering.

Because I used TinyLetter to send the note about the botched Newsletter Leaf Journal VIII, it counted in TinyNewsletter as a new newsletter issue. However, I understandably did not count the correction as an issue, and I continued counting from Newsletter VIII after I resumed sending issues in late 2020. When I switched to Buttondown, I was given the option of importing our entire newsletter archive from TinyNewsletter. I wanted to keep our archives, so I took Buttondown up on the offer. In Buttondown, I deleted “issue nine” from our archives, but all that accomplished was leaving a hole in the archive where that replacement issue once was. I think it is possible to re-number the archive issues, but I never found the problem pressing enough to investigate.

Long story short, that is why our newsletter archive on Buttondown is always one number ahead of our newsletter issue.

2. Leaves From The Week That Was

While this is a special edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal, it was business as usual at the site to which this humble newsletter is attached, The New Leaf Journal (I write this noting that some of you may be reading this on The New Leaf Journal). However, in the interest of making a good newsletter, I tried to make sure that I had some interesting content to share from the main site this week (not that I would ever mail it in, mind you. For that reason, even our short Leaflet posts swing for the fences this week. Let’s see what was happening at The New Leaf Journal

Full Articles

I was not planning to continue my tradition of publishing posts about the fall of Rome in the West on September 4 (see 2020 and 2021 articles), but things happened to work out this way. In this article, I examined who between Julius Nepos and Romulus Augustulus has the best case for being called “the last Western Roman Emperor.” (Note: Catchy title, no?)

Sega’s last video game console, the Sega Dreamcast, was released on September 9, 1999. It is no secret that I have some Dreamcast nostalgia (as well as Sega nostalgia), so I had in the back of my mind the the thought to publish some Dreamcast content. A search on a niche search engine led me to an original 1998 article about an interesting series of Dreamcast commercials that aired in Japan. Down the rabbit hole I went, and what originally looked to be a short, borderline Leaflet-length article, transmogrified into an unexpectedly big research project.

A post on my efforts to make sound in old games with MIDI files work on a fresh install of EndeavourOS.

The appearance of Qwant Lite in our search engine referrer logs inspired me to write a comparison of DuckDuckGo Lite and Qwant Lite. For those who are not familiar with these tools, DuckDuckGo and Qwant are both privacy-focused search engines that use Bing’s search index to deliver results. Both search engines have “lite,” script-free versions. Qwant’s has more features, but it has a catch…

Join me for my second September 9, 1999 history piece of the week. I learned about a feared 1999 computer bug which I either had forgotten about or never heard of in the first place.

Now let us see what was happening in the world of Leaflet posts…

Leaflets

A reader who came across my December 2021 research project on “Uncle Susan is a Wolf” graffiti brought to my attention a new Uncle Susan sighting in Montana. The reader email was substantive, so I turned it into one of our longer Leaflet posts.

Mr. Gus Van Horn referenced my /e/ OS review on his personal website. You can read his post here. In this Leaflet, I published my thoughts about his impressions of /e/ OS from my review and discussed additional research.

A promising Japanese project for helping people know when it may be time to see the opthamologist.8

On my surprise at finding a PeerTube video in the results for a Brave Search query. What is PeerTube? I explain briefly in the Leaflet. (This Leaflet is notable for being one of the few with an image.)

This is ostensibly an article about Google Drive sometimes flagging hidden files created automatically on MacOS devices as copyright violations. It is really about is my learning what those .DS_Store files are that I sometimes see on my work Dropbox.

An incredible 1987 quote on bad architecture from now-King, then-Prince Charles.

Now for our next section…

3. Leaves From Around The Web

I published a solid amount of content to fill your reading hours, but New Leaf Journal readers are surely heavy readers. Below, I post ten exciting articles from around the world-wide-web (note that a few articles that I would have included here were featured in Leaflet posts linked to in the previous sub-section).

A text of the late Queen Elizabeth’s June 1953 coronation ceremony.

An interesting report on Pope Francis’ decision “to approve the new constitution of the Order of Malta, abolish positions, appoint a transitional government, and convene a general chapter to support the reform…”

“City taxpayers subsidize ferry trips at as much as $14.75 per ride…” Suffice it to say, I do not anticipate that I will cease being “soaked” for the foreseeable future.

This Hacker News thread inspired me to ensure that the entire New Leaf Journal is archived on the Internet Archive.

I have not taken the Subway in a couple of years and was thus unaware of the ongoing transition from MetroCard machines. MetroCard machines work well. Why are we getting rid of them? Why not spend some of this energy applying the resources necessary to make sure that commuters actually pay the fare? In any event, this article goes through the history of the iconic machines.

“Once inside, you’ll sit or kneel on a pair of tatami reed flooring panels. …[E]ach Chashitsu ZerO does include a kakejiku hanging scroll made of washi paper from craftsmen in Japan’s Echizen (Fukui) region.” (Sized for even small apartments, you can take your tea time very seriously for approximately $1,340 USD, shipping included.)

I concede that an imaginary numbered newsletter would be more novel than a 100th issue.

A short post on why the Sega Dreamcast ultimately failed.

An interview with Arnold Palmer to mark what would have been his 91st birthday.

A very interesting proposal for “a kind of decentralized GoodReads powered by indie sites and an underlying easy to parse format.”

4. The Old Leaf Journal

Let’s dig into our archive…

I went through some of the highlights of The New Leaf Journal’s early library in our 100th article celebration post two years ago.

Enjoy last year’s New York City carrier pigeon history piece.

An 1829 article on the world being a stage led me to think of the purported last words of the first Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus.

Victor V. Gurbo’s detailed guide to abusing gold roses in Animal Crossing to make large amounts of Animal Crossing money.

5. Most-Turned Leaves Of The Newsletter Week

I list our most-visited articles of the previous week in each newsletter. In keeping with our newsletter schedule, these “Newsletter Weeks” begin with Saturday and end on Friday. The statistics come courtesy of our local and privacy-friendly analytics solution, Koko Analytics – which I reviewed. The week of September 3 to September 9 was the 36th Newsletter Week of 2022.

#TitleAuthPub22Top5
1Abraham Lincoln’s 1851 Letters on Work to John D. JohnstonNAF11.4.212 (1)
2The Mystery of Sōseki and Tsuki ga KireiNAF3.14.2136 (22)
3Review of /e/ – An Android Alternative For Mobile PhonesNAF11.21.215 (3)
4Recommended F-Droid FOSS Apps For Android-Based Devices (2021)NAF11.27.2135 (7)
5A Look at ProxiTok, a TikTok FrontendNAF5.14.223

I have kept track of newsletter ranking statistics going back to the beginning of 2021. Our 100th newsletter features what is, without question, the most peculiar weekly number one on record. My November 2021 piece on an 1851 letter from Abraham Lincoln to his half-brother had performed decently in some months but never threatened to make a weekly top five until last week (Newsletter Week 35). It then proceeded to start the current week with a string of three outstanding days culminating with what I believe was the best-ever single-day article performance that was not aided by either Hacker News or Expecting Rain (a Bob Dylan fan-site). Its views trailed off after Monday, but it had a big enough cushion to take the top spot on the weekly ranking by a narrow but respectable margin over my tsuki ga kirei post. My best guess to explain the Lincoln post’s success is that it showed up as a Google Search instant answer, but I have not undertaken an investigation as of yet.

The rest of the top five saw no major surprises, although I will note that my tsuki ga kirei began performing closer to the levels it saw in late 2021 and early 2022 after having a somewhat weak (by its standards) June-August. We saw a similar trend in 2021 where that article performed weakly in the summer before picking up steam in September. I suppose we will see this fall whether there is something to people not searching for tsuki ga kirei topics in the summer.

6. Notable Leaf Journal

I usually use the Notable Leaf Journal to recommend one thing or another. Because this is our 100th newsletter, I decided to credit some of the various software and services that contribute to my drafting and publishing the instant newsletter (note that this list is far from exhaustive).

  • Buttondown: An ethical newsletter service with a robust free plan and a number of great features. I highly recommend it (as evinced by my using it for The Newsletter Leaf Journal). We used TinyLetter from our launch in July 2020 through early 2021.
  • Ghostwriter: I not only use Ghostwriter for drafting our newsletters, I also use it to draft all of the content that appears on The New Leaf Journal. I reviewed Ghostwriter on The New Leaf Journal in October 2021.
  • Pandoc: Pandoc is an amazing tool for converting files from one markup format to another. When needed, I use it to convert my markdown files into other formats such as .docx, .odt, and html. While I love markdown for drafting (and in this newsletter’s case, the final drafts are markdown), other formats are necessary for my day job and good for editing purposes.
  • Libre Office Writer: While I do not draft documents in a Word Processer, LibreOffice Writer is my preferred tool for collaborative editing and my markdown documents travel through LibreOffice before making it to The New Leaf Journal. Speaking of which…
  • WordPress: The New Leaf Journal is powered by WordPress. I run WordPress on a Hetzner VPS instance. Because there would be no Newsletter Leaf Journal without The New Leaf Journal (hello to everyone reading this newsletter on The New Leaf Journal), I figured that WordPress was more than worth mentioning. Listing all of the tools I use with WordPress is a separate project unto itself, but one bears special mentioning here…
  • Koko Analytics: All of the page visit statistics that power our “most-turned leaves” section come from the free, open source, and entirely local Koko Analytics. I reviewed our analytics solution on The New Leaf Journal.
  • Bearblog.dev: Speaking of bears (note “bears special mention” in the WordPress section), I host a small blog on bearblog.dev where I typically syndicate New Leaf Journal content. I syndicate all of our newsletters to Bearblog.dev (hello if you are reading this on The New Leaf Annex. It is a terrific blog platform powered by open source software with some lite Medium-esque functionality. It works well for syndication purposes and reaching the Bearblog community because it supports canonical URLs for posts (meaning you can make sure that search engine crawlers know which version of the same content is the original). You can run a blog on Bearblog for free or pay $29 (like I did) for some additional features and support. I occasionally include Bearblog articles in the recommended content section of this newsletter.
  • Syncthing: Syncthing is one of my favorite pieces of software and absolutely indispensable to a number of my workflows. It is a peer-to-peer directory syncing solution that works on just about everything except iOS (which is not a problem for me… because I do not use iOS devices). I use it to sync important directories across my devices and with others for editing purposes. Syncthing is fully free and open source. Look into it if you are not already using it.
  • FeedReader-DecSync and Flym-DecSync: I have often noted that I keep track of websites and channels that I follow regularly with RSS and ATOM feeds. I use an unusual solution for keeping my feeds (including favorites and read states) in sync across devices. There is an amazing free and open source tool called DecSync which supports synchronizing RSS, contacts, calendars, and tasks across devices without a central server. Instead of storing things with a server, DecSync allows for syncing a single directory across devices with Syncthing or with a centralized solution. I will review DecSync in much more detail in the near future, but it should suffice to say for the moment that I use Syncthing to sync my DecSync directory containing my RSS feeds between my computers and mobile devices. I use FeedReader-DecSync as my feed reader on computers and Flym-DecSync on my Android-based phone and tablet. I recommend looking into DecSync if you use Linux and Android on more than one device.
  • Wallabag: Wallabag is free and open source software for saving articles to read later (similar idea to Pocket). When I find articles in my feeds or elsewhere, I save them to Wallabag for easy reading with a pleasant UI. Wallabag can be self-hosted (I have hosted it before), but I currently use the very affordable service run by the developers (see link for more information).
  • uBlock Origin: How could anyone browse the web without it?
  • EndeavourOS: My primary desktop and laptop run EndeavourOS, a terrific Linux distribution based on Arch Linux. I am very happy with EndeavourOS, but I must also give credit to Manjaro Linux, my previous Linux distribution on which I wrote the vast majority of the newsletters in our archive. Although I am a Linux man now, I will also credit Windows 10 for powering my work on the first few editions of The Newsletter Leaf Journal. I would not recommend either EndeavourOS or Manjaro to newcomers to Linux (notwithstanding the fact that I went with Manjaro as a newcomer), but one does not need to be an expert (especially in Manjaro’s case) to use them effectively (see the reason I opted for EndeavourOS instead of vanilla Arch).
  • SoraNews24: There are many websites and writers that have featured often in my recommended articles from around the web section. I cannot credit them all here, so I will note SoraNews24, which I venture (without having checked) has been the most prolific contributor to our around the web section (and has inspired multiple articles on The New Leaf Journal proper).

7. News Leaf Journal

While this is a special newsletter with more bells and whistles than most newsletters will have, regular readers may have noticed that I have been trying different formatting styles in 2022. I think I have settled on something good here in issue 100, so you can expect the format to carry over in future (shorter) issues.

Regarding The New Leaf Journal, I will take advantage of (I hope) having more time in the coming weeks to publish some big projects that have been percolating since August. One plan I have going forward is to convert more of what I read, watch, and play into New Leaf Journal articles. I am also planning to re-format some of my early visual novel reviews from the al|together/Insani project as I work to complete the entire endeavor in the first quarter of 2023.

8. Taking Leaf

Thank you for joining me for this special 100th issue of The Newsletter Leaf Journal. If you are a regular reader or subscriber, I thank you for following this newsletter project (and The New Leaf Journal) and I hope that you will continue to be a regular reader. If this is your first time seeing The Newsletter Leaf Journal, I hope you consider following future installments of this Saturday newsletter. You can subscribe via email or RSS and also read issues at The New Leaf Annex (which also has a feed). Finally, since I went all out for this 100th issue, if you know anyone who may enjoy the content, Mr. Envelope would be grateful if you would spread The Newsletter Leaf Journal message.

Mr. Envelope, the official smiling envelope mascot of The Newsletter Leaf Journal. Created in Microsoft Paint with love by Nicholas A. Ferrell.
Imagine how sad Mr. Envelope will be if you do not subscribe to The Newsletter Leaf Journal.

How could we have a 100th issue special without our own mascot. Our less-seen feed mascot, Mr. Flame, would also be grateful if you shared The Newsletter Leaf Journal:

Mr. Flame, the former official mascot of The New Leaf Journal's FeedBurner feed and now the official mascot of The New Leaf Journal's feeds. Created in Microsoft Paint with love (and copyrighted) by Nicholas A. Ferrell.
I created Mr. Flame to advertise our FeedBurner feed (it probably still exists but I haven’t checked in a while). Because I never really pitched the FeedBurner feed, Mr. Flame was lost in the New Leaf Journal mascot shuffle. However, we do love RSS and ATOM, so let us re-purpose Mr. Flame as a general-purpose New Leaf Journal feeds mascot.

Having squeezed my art in, it is time to take leave in this excessively long newsletter. Future issues will not approach the 4,000 words of this special issue, I look forward to working to bring high-level content to your inboxes, feeds, and web browsers at both The Newsletter Leaf Journal and The New Leaf Journal.

Until newsletter 101,

Cura ut valeas.