changes to the blog

I’m approaching my 65th birthday, and the possibility of either full-on retirement or else a four-day work week (32 hours a week instead of 40) in 2019. If I retire at 65, even though I had to register for Medicare Part A, I won’t get 100% of my Social Security unless I work until I’m 66. At age 65 I get between 93% and 94%. And considering I’ve been paying into the system since I was 16, I think I want it all. 2019 gives me an opportunity to try and ease away instead of going into cold turkey retirement.

As I come up to 65th I’ve been cutting back expenses. One of those expenses has been the WordPress subscription I have for the blog. When I started the Arcane Science Lab, it was free. And that was OK, until I realized that free wasn’t really free. I might not be paying any money, but the blog was being monetized by Automattic, the “management” of WordPress.com, with advertising scattered across my blog. Personally I hate ads, so I decided to sign up for the personal subscription. At $4/month, or $48/year, I felt it was easily affordable. And it was for a while until I grew tired of the quality of the design templates at that level. I wasn’t happy with the way my blog looked after applying and then tweaking the selection. I wanted something that was very minimal. So I went up to the next grade, Premium, which doubled my yearly cost to $96/year. That too was OK for a while, until I finally found a theme being used by another web site that was only available at the Business tier, which was reduced to $200 around June of this year. So I signed up for that and paid the remaining difference I still owed on Premium. I got my theme, tweaked it to my liking, and all was good.

Then I got to thinking about living on a fixed income, and started looking at my yearly charges for various services. The prospect of going on a fixed income that only shows up the first of the month helps you to really focus on what’s actually needed and what’s not. A WordPress $300 business plan is not needed, even if you run a business, unless it’s a fairly major small business, at which point you’d actually hire someone to manage it all for you and not subscribe just to a blog hosting plan. In any event I closed it down on Thanksgiving day. I’ll have it until June of next year, at which point I’ll make the decision whether to go back to a personal plan in order to keep the ads off. As far as the look of the site, I’ll live with what they have to offer.

Which leads me to looking at other expenses that need to be trimmed, yearly and monthly. My biggest monthly expense right now is my iPhone 8 Plus. I traded up from a 7 Plus back in March. I’m on Apple’s trade-up plan, which I’m going to allow to finish itself and not renew. My wife, who still has her 7 Plus and sees no reason to trade up, has finished paying on her plan. That just leaves mine, I’ll probably leave mine alone until it’s done. After all, in spite of what you read, it’s an interest free two year loan on the phone. After that, if I need a new phone for whatever reason, such as Apple’s refusal to update iOS because it’s become “legacy”, then I might think about going down-market for a mid-level smart phone. Over the last 12 months I’ve worked with $100-$200 smart phones that rival what you would have considered upper-tier smart phones from two or three years ago.

The list for these kinds of expenses (“professional” expenses) seem to go on and on. Major trimming has commenced.

Yes, big changes are coming to my life. Very big changes. Better adjust as much as possible before I have no real choice, and he process becomes very painful.

getting started with flutter on macos mojave, part 4 final

I’ve reached the end of the Flutter introduction, having produced an “app” that will supposedly work equally well on Android and iOS. Nothing out of the way to report, as part two of the exercise was clear and correct. I even went back and removed the code that produced the “Welcome to Flutter” header. Now the app is cleaner looking with only one header.

The good news is how so many different parts worked together to accomplish this: XCode (the Apple iPhone simulator), VS Code (Microsoft’s powerful open-source editor with plugins), and Flutter (Google’s development tools with additional support via Brew). If you dig a little deeper into how VS Code is built, you’ll see that it’s built on the Electron framework which is itself based on Node.js and Angular. So there’s a lot of integration of disparate languages and supporting tools into a non-trivial cohesive working whole. I’m suitably impressed.

Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t test how this looks on an Android device. I couldn’t get the Android emulator to work from the command line, even though I powered up Android Studio and used it to install SDK support for Android 9/Pie. Using Android Studio I also started the Android Virtual Device manager to create a Pixel 2 XL Android device to simulate, but unfortunately not the current top end, the Pixel 3 XL. This apparent lack of latest device support, along with the inability to launch the emulator from the command line (required if using VS Code to develop), almost makes the use of Flutter a pointless exercise, at least for me.

Yes, I was able to “develop” the app (or act as a code copying monkey from web page into the source code with the larger blocks of code). And it was interesting to see it run flawlessly on the iPhone XS Max emulator with the latest iOS version (12.1 as of 30 October). So there was that. I was also exposed to an alternative method for writing apps, which involved Javascript/Dart, so that was also a good thing. It really is good to try alternatives.

But being able to easily, seamlessly, develop for both Android and iOS on the same computer (running macOS in this case), that was a failure for me. And in order to do that kind of development you need to work on macOS, because you won’t run the Apple iPhone simulator on Windows 10. Or not that I’m aware of. And possibly solving the problem by developing within Android Studio instead of VS Code is a non-starter with me, unless I were being paid to do this, and then I would (might) begrudgingly switch. But on my own nickel, nope.

Prior Posts

getting started with flutter on macos mojave
getting started with flutter on macos mojave, part 2
getting started with flutter on macos mojave, part 3