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2020, in purchases and discoveries

A few tidbits, rather than a think-piece on the year.

Webcam, ethernet switch

I have the fortune of being able to work from home. Like many other people in the same situation this year, I found it worthwhile to make some small improvements to my conference-call setup.

A simple USB webcam to put on top of my monitor, and use instead of the laptop’s embedded camera and microphone.

A little 5-port ethernet switch so I don’t depend on Wi-Fi all the time.

News subscriptions

Exhausted from news over-consumption. I was getting news from many channels. 2020 produced a ceaseless torrent of reading material.

In November, I decided to consolidate on a few news sources, and forget the rest. I purchased subscriptions to one international newspaper and two Spanish papers. I check the sites in the morning, read the headlines, perhaps select a few articles to read in full later in the day. Done.

I’m saying this in the post-US election time, and with some optimism about the Covid vaccines. But I think this newspaper consolidation is going to stick.


This year, for the first time, I had my eyes examined for close range vision, and I had my first glasses made for reading. I had no idea I needed them so much! With them, I am much more comfortable reading and looking at screens, even at my phone. Everything seems new and sharp. I see details I did not see before.

Fonts: monospaced serif

As a consequence of my improved vision, I started to notice that my programming font on my large monitor seemed a bit blurry, especially after the macOS Big Sur update eliminated my previous font rendering settings.

After some experimentation, I realized that the fonts themselves were aggravating this: most monospaced fonts are sans-serif, and quite devoid of texture. In low resolution screens, with anti-aliased rendering making the fonts yet smoother, my eyes had the perception of fuzziness.

The solution was to switch to a monospaced font with serifs. Not many are available. There are two or three good ones for free. However, I settled on a commercial font: Lexia Mono


I stopped going to the gym this year. Since I run regularly, I only used the gym to make sure I got some exercise for my arms and core.

Also, the last couple of years I’ve been trying to improve my posture and my nerd neck. Strengthening my back and arms was part of that plan.

In the summer, I found Tom Merrick’s youtube channel, which has workouts for different purposes and levels. It’s brilliant, I’m regularly using five of his routines, for nerd neck, hamstrings, and at-home strength training.

I also bought gymnastics rings, to be able to perform pulling exercises at home.

Streaming service

In May I finished the exams for my math subjects. I was drained for a few weeks, and needed some passive entertainment. After having been reticent in the past, I decided to sign on to a streaming service.

I picked Filmin because of its collection of classics and non-English language titles, because it’s a Spanish company, and because it feels like sticking it to the man.

Two terrific discoveries in Filmin:

  • Halt and Catch Fire
  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and Céline Sciamma’s other movie with Adèle Haenel, Water Lillies

Ubiquitous writing software

Like many people, I use several computers in different locations, notebooks in different environments, and I would like to coordinate between them. This year I discovered Standard Notes, which works on all platforms, is encrypted, and is done with a taste I find appealing.

I bought a 5-year license, the longest they offer. Probably professional deformation, but I think it’s important that good software be paid for.

I think that it’s important that all good work be paid for.

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