recent blog posts by eli

Tipping Is Weird Now - Saturday, January 14, 2023 at 00:03 UTC

The One Tiny Law That Keeps Amtrak Terrible - Wednesday, January 11, 2023 at 06:10 UTC

open sourcing my Halloween 'costume' - Sunday, January 8, 2023 at 23:19 UTC

In October 2021, I went to a Halloween party. For my ‘costume,’ I decided to be a fully-interactive card dealer. I would deal blackjack by hand, but the largest component of my 'costume' would be an actual video poker machine with a touch screen. I didn't have much time so I spent most of the time I had programming the desktop application, and less time on the actual clothes of the costume or the case of the machine. Well needless to say, my costume was a hit and I was the center of the party. Everyone had a lot of fun and I taught a lot of people about poker and blackjack.

Today, I decided to open-source the code for the application. You can view it at the link below. Enjoy.

consequences of engagement driven design - Saturday, January 7, 2023 at 07:14 UTC

In the 1980s, the 24 hour cable news cycle revolutionized the way we consume media. Suddenly, news was available to us around the clock, and networks were under pressure to constantly provide fresh content to keep viewers tuned in. This led to a focus on sensationalism and controversy in order to grab and hold onto people's attention.

Fast forward to today, and a similar trend can be seen in website design. With the proliferation of the internet, the competition for people's attention online is fierce. As a result, website design has become increasingly centered on engagement.

But what exactly is engagement, and how does it drive website design? Simply put, engagement refers to the amount of time that someone spends on a website or the number of actions they take while on the site. This can include things like clicking on links, scrolling through pages, or leaving comments.

In order to increase engagement, website designers use a variety of tactics. These can include using attention-grabbing headlines and images, creating content that is designed to be shared on social media, and using techniques like infinite scrolling to keep people on the site for longer periods of time.

However, the pursuit of engagement can have negative consequences. In the same way that the 24 hour news cycle led to a focus on sensationalism and controversy, the pursuit of engagement can drive website design in a direction that is more concerned with sensationalism and controversy rather than providing accurate and balanced information.

One example of this is the use of so-called "clickbait" headlines, which use provocative or misleading language to entice people to click on a link. While these tactics may be effective in increasing engagement, they can also contribute to the spread of misinformation and the further polarizing of public discourse.

In addition, the use of algorithms to personalize and tailor content to individual users can further reinforce existing beliefs and biases, leading to what is known as the "echo chamber" effect. This can create a feedback loop where people are only exposed to information that confirms their preexisting beliefs, leading to a further radicalization of their views.

Overall, while engagement-driven website design may be effective at keeping people on a site for longer periods of time, it can also have negative consequences in terms of the spread of misinformation and the further polarizing of public discourse. As a result, it is important for website designers to consider the potential downsides of their tactics and strive to create sites that provide accurate and balanced information.

photos from Korea - Tuesday, January 3, 2023 at 00:03 UTC

Here are some selected photos from my recent trip to Korea. They are all Buddhas, or areas around a Buddhist temple.

You can view the photos at the gallery link below.

new year new me - Monday, January 2, 2023 at 06:53 UTC

After experimenting successfully with rewriting some simple front-end components for, I decided to go ahead and port the same changes over to my main website.

Thus, you will notice that now has the same unified theme. Creating a custom, dependency-less front-end for my websites has been a goal of mine for a long time, and I'm glad to see this goal begin to come into fruition.

yet another blog redesign - Sunday, January 1, 2023 at 00:34 UTC

When I first created ehLabs in 2015, my aim was straightforward: to build a real-time chat application. Initially, I wanted to build this application for my employer, but my proposal was rejected due to prioritization concerns. As a result, I decided to pursue this project on my own. Since then, ehLabs has developed into a comprehensive content management system and social media application, powered by IPFS. However, I have always had one reservation about it-- the front-end technology.

When I started ehLabs, I had no knowledge of front-end engineering, and I still possess only a limited understanding of it. In order to quickly get the application up and running, I opted to use Bootstrap. While Bootstrap is a useful tool, it has its own set of issues and represents another large external dependency that requires regular updates. My dream has always been to do everything myself.

Many of my peers argue that the "correct" way to handle front-end development is to introduce NPM and choose a framework like Angular, React, or Vue. However, to be honest, this approach seems unnecessarily complicated to me. I do not have a need for a lot of real-time data (beyond chat), and all I require are a few basic CSS components such as a navbar, footer, and carousel. Therefore, I would like to avoid using JavaScript as much as possible.

The path I wish to pursue is to create my own set of CSS components for this site. You are probably reading this post on the initial iteration of this endeavor. My goal is to keep the V2 design of ehLabs simple and avoid imposing a specific color scheme. The legacy site's gray-blue color scheme was not universally appreciated.

This will be a long journey, but I believe it is the best course of action. I am starting with the design of the blog views. I will not set a deadline for myself, as this site is a personal project that I am undertaking for fun.

Dining Out In San Francisco This Holiday Season - Thursday, December 29, 2022 at 23:23 UTC

I recently had the opportunity to dine out at a few different restaurants in San Francisco over the holidays with my grandma and wife. Overall, the experiences varied quite a bit and I found myself using different tipping percentages at each place based on the level of service I received. In the past, I would have been guilted into a standardized tip suggestion of 18-20% or more, but I am no longer conforming to this standard.

At the first restaurant, a very famous and notable seafood place, the wait staff was very slow and the food we had was mediocre. The clam chowder, in particular, was watery and lacking in flavor. To make matters worse, the staff didn't tell us that they were cash only and didn't have an ATM, causing further delays and inconvenience. To wait for a table, we had to stand in line for over one hour, and the line was so long that they refused to serve many people behind us. Given the slow and mismanaged service and subpar food, I felt justified in leaving a one dollar tip. It was clear that this restaurant was more focused on its reputation and attracting a high volume of customers, rather than providing a high-quality dining experience. It was a disappointing visit and one that I would not recommend to others.

At the second restaurant, another famous and highly rated place, we had to wait in a long line and when we tried to sit at the bar, the bartender wouldn't let us order food and the hostess was crabby when we asked to put our name on a list. Despite the fact that my grandma is unable to stand in line for hours, the hostess refused to accommodate us and instead snapped at me when I asked if we could put our name on a list while we waited at the bar. Given the poor service and the hostess' unprofessional behavior, I left a one dollar tip for the two drinks we had. It was clear that the staff at this restaurant were more concerned with turning over tables and getting people in and out as quickly as possible, rather than providing good customer service. It was a regretful experience and one that I would not want to repeat.

The third restaurant was a local chain place that I had often overlooked due to my assumption that it would be touristy and overpriced. However, we were pleasantly surprised. While the restaurant wasn't cheap, it was priced well for the neighborhood we were in and the staff handled the crowds with ease. We were able to sit at the bar while we waited for a table, and the bartender was extremely kind. Given the exceptional service, we decided to leave a 20% tip – higher than the standard tip but justified given the great experience.

At the last restaurant, we had to wait in line for a table and the waitstaff seemed busy, avoiding eye contact with the customers as they rushed around trying to appear busy. Despite the wait, we eventually got a table and the waitress took our order without any mistakes. However, the service was only standard and the food was not great. Given the overall experience, I left a 15% tip before tax – the standard tip for standard service, despite their suggestion starting at 18% after tax. While the service wasn't necessarily poor, it also wasn't exceptional and therefore warranted a standard tip.

In conclusion, it's important to base your tip on the level of service you received. While the standard tip in the USA is 15% before tax, it's important to deviate from this if the service was exceptionally good or poor. In the cases of the first and second restaurants, the service was not up to par and I left virtually no tips accordingly. In the case of the third restaurant, the service was exceptional and I left a higher tip to reflect this. And in the case of the final restaurant, the service was standard and I left the standard tip. Do not be swayed by tip suggestions on your check and tip according to the service and overall experience you receive. Even during the holiday season, no one is entitled to a tip for a bad experience.

Anthony Bourdain gives his opinon on tipping - Sunday, December 25, 2022 at 06:10 UTC

Look, I know I'm gonna catch some flak for saying this, but fuck tipping. I'm tired of being told that I have to fork over an extra 20% just because I ordered a fucking burger and fries. And don't even get me started on those mandatory charges that get added to the bill - "service fees," "gratuities," call them whatever you want, they're just a way for restaurants to pad their profits.

And let's be real here - has anyone ever actually noticed a difference in the quality of service they received based on whether they tipped or not? I sure as hell haven't. In my experience, the service has always been mediocre at best, no matter how much I left on the table. And now, with all these restaurants making customers bus their own tables, it's like we're expected to do the job of the staff ourselves. What the fuck is that all about?

But here's the thing - it's not just about the poor service and the inflated prices. It's about fairness. In California, there's no separate tipped minimum wage, which means that all workers must be paid at least the minimum wage, regardless of whether they receive tips or not. So why the hell should we feel obligated to tip? It's not like we're doing these workers any favors by leaving a few extra dollars on the table.

So let's just put an end to this bullshit, shall we? Let's all just stop tipping. Maybe then, restaurants and other businesses will start treating their employees better and paying them a fair wage. I've been tipping less this holiday season, and you know what? It's been great. No more feeling guilty for not leaving enough, no more overpriced bills. It's time to stand up for what's right and say enough is enough.

Created with ChatGPT.

Here is a tip for this Holiday Season - Saturday, December 24, 2022 at 22:33 UTC

Tipping has long been a controversial topic in the service industry, with many people feeling obligated to leave a gratuity regardless of the quality of service they receive. While it may seem like a small gesture, the truth is that not tipping can have a much bigger impact on the industry as a whole.

One reason I choose not to tip is due to the consistently poor quality of service I have received at many restaurants. Whether it's slow service, inattentive staff, or just a general lack of effort, I feel that if I am paying for a meal, I should not have to also pay for good service. In many cases, I feel that I am being taken advantage of as a customer, and that the staff are simply going through the motions in order to get a tip.

Another issue I have with tipping is the mandatory charges that are added to the bill at many restaurants. These charges, which are often disguised as "service fees" or "gratuities," can add a significant amount to the overall cost of the meal. While these charges are meant to be distributed among the staff, I feel that they are often used to pad the profits of the restaurant instead. In these cases, I feel that I am being asked to pay twice for the same service, and that my money is being misused.

In addition to these issues, many restaurants now require customers to bus their own tables after their meals. While this may seem like a small task, it is one that is traditionally done by the staff in order to keep the restaurant clean and presentable. By having to bus my own table, I feel that I am being asked to do the job of the staff, and that the restaurant is saving money by not hiring enough staff to do the job properly.

Another issue that I have with tipping is the fact that the suggested tips on checks seem to be constantly inflating. In most cases, the default suggestion for a tip now starts at 18%, and it only gets larger from there. This can add a significant amount to the overall cost of a meal.

While it may be argued that these suggested tips are meant to reflect the cost of living and other factors, I feel that they are simply a way for restaurants to increase their profits. In a time when many people are struggling financially, I feel that these inflated tip suggestions are unreasonable and unfair.

Furthermore, I believe that these suggested tips can create an unhealthy dynamic between customers and staff. In some cases, customers may feel pressured to leave a large tip in order to receive good service, while in other cases, staff may feel entitled to a large tip regardless of their performance. This can lead to a cycle of dissatisfaction on both sides, and can ultimately harm the dining experience for everyone involved.

One final reason I do not tip is that there is no separate tipped minimum wage in California. This means that all workers in the state, regardless of whether they receive tips or not, must be paid at least the minimum wage. This is in contrast to other states, where tipped workers are paid a lower minimum wage and are expected to make up the difference through tips. In California, there is no need to tip in order to ensure that workers are being paid fairly, so I feel that it is unnecessary to do so.

This holiday season, I have been having a good experience tipping less. While I have always felt a certain level of discomfort when it comes to tipping, I have found that not leaving a gratuity has actually been a liberating experience. I no longer feel the pressure to conform to societal norms, and I am able to be more selective about where I choose to eat.

One thing I have noticed during this time is that there has been no discernible difference in the quality of service I have received. In fact, the service has been just as mediocre to bad as it has always been, with mediocre food to match. This has only reinforced my belief that tipping does not necessarily lead to better service, and that other factors, such as proper training and good management, are much more important.

As a result, I have decided to make it my New Year's resolution to tip less in 2023. While I know that this may not be a popular decision, I feel that it is the right thing to do for myself and for the industry as a whole. By standing up for what we believe in and refusing to accept poor quality service, we can help to create a better dining experience for everyone.

Ultimately, I believe that the best way to bring about change in the service industry is for everyone to stop tipping. By refusing to leave gratuities, we can send a message to restaurants and other businesses that we expect better quality service and fair wages for all workers. This holiday season, I hope that others will join me in standing up for what is right.

I want to try Mastodon, but… - Thursday, December 22, 2022 at 18:20 UTC

I really want to try Mastodon, but I only want to do it if it’s 100% self hosted on hardware I own. I looked into doing this recently and I got started but it was a bit too complicated. For now, I’ll stick with good old ehLabs.

My Recent Trip To Korea - Wednesday, December 21, 2022 at 02:46 UTC

It was November when I found myself in the bustling city of Seoul. My trip started off with a visit to Gyeongbokgung palace, a stunningly beautiful and historic landmark. The palace was surrounded by lush gardens, and the architecture was truly breathtaking.

Next, I made my way to Jogyesa, the headquarters of the Jogye order and a temple known for its peaceful atmosphere. As I walked around the grounds, I couldn't help but notice the white pine tree, a symbol of longevity and eternal youth. I also marveled at the three large buddhas located within the temple, each one representing a different aspect of the Buddha's teachings. It was a truly serene and calming experience to spend some time at Jogyesa, taking in the sights and sounds of the temple.

After visiting Jogyesa, I headed to Gwangjang market, a bustling and lively place filled with stalls selling all kinds of food and goods. Just like Anthony Bourdain, I couldn't resist trying some of the local street food, including live octopus. Despite being a bit nervous at first, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it tasted fresh and not at all fishy. It was definitely an interesting and memorable experience. Just be sure to chew it thoroughly! In addition to the octopus, there were so many other delicious treats to try at the market. It was a fun and tasty way to spend an afternoon.

From there, I made my way to Bongeunsa, a temple located in the bustling Gangnam district of Seoul. As I walked around the grounds, I was struck by the intricate carvings and impressive architecture of the temple. One of the most notable features of Bongeunsa was the giant statue of Maitreya, the future Buddha, which stood tall and proud within the temple. It was a peaceful place to rest and reflect for a while, surrounded by the beauty of the temple and the hustle and bustle of the city just outside its gates.

Finally, I ended my trip with a visit to Doseonsa, a stunningly beautiful temple set on the side of a mountain. The views from there were absolutely breathtaking, and I spent some time taking in the beauty of the surrounding landscape. One of the highlights of my visit was seeing the giant stone buddha carved into the side of the mountain. It was truly an impressive sight to behold. I also had the opportunity to have lunch with the monks at the temple, which was a truly memorable experience. It was a peaceful and serene way to end my trip to Seoul.

All in all, my trip to Seoul was an incredible experience. I was able to visit so many beautiful and historic landmarks, and I will always remember the sights and sounds of the city.

Twitter, Mastodon, and ChatGPT, oh my! - Tuesday, December 20, 2022 at 00:46 UTC

The following post was written by ChatGPT:

In today's digital age, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. From connecting with friends and family, to staying up to date on the latest news and trends, social media platforms have become a central hub for online communication and information sharing.

However, with the increasing dominance of a few large social media companies, the centralization of these platforms has become a cause for concern. The reliance on a single company to host and manage our online conversations and relationships has led to a number of issues, including the censorship of certain viewpoints, the collection and misuse of user data, and the manipulation of information.

This is where microblogs come in. A microblog is a type of online platform that allows users to share short-form content, such as thoughts, ideas, and updates, in a more decentralized manner. Unlike traditional social media platforms, which are owned and controlled by a single company, microblogs are often decentralized and run on open-source software.

This decentralization has a number of benefits for users. For one, it allows for greater control over the content that is shared and the conversations that take place. Without the need to adhere to the policies and regulations of a single company, users are free to express themselves and engage with others in a more open and authentic manner.

Additionally, decentralization also helps to protect user privacy. Without a central authority collecting and managing user data, the risk of data breaches and misuse is greatly reduced. This is especially important in light of recent data scandals involving large social media companies.

Furthermore, decentralization also helps to promote a more diverse and inclusive online community. Without the influence of a single company dictating what content is allowed and promoted, a wider range of voices and perspectives can be heard and represented.

In short, running your own microblog is a way to take control of your online presence and communication, and to participate in a more decentralized and open online community. It is a way to protect your privacy and to have a greater say in the content and conversations that take place on the platform. In an increasingly connected world, it is more important than ever to have a platform that promotes decentralization and inclusivity.

Fucking Vegetables - Monday, December 7, 2020 at 05:31 UTC

Freemasons Dwindle - Friday, December 4, 2020 at 20:49 UTC

ehlabs-web is awesome - Friday, December 4, 2020 at 07:53 UTC

great work zach

test ehlabs-web - Friday, December 4, 2020 at 07:52 UTC

seems to be running fine

test blog api - Tuesday, November 24, 2020 at 05:51 UTC


ipfs server has been updated - Friday, November 20, 2020 at 06:19 UTC

the development continues!

ipfs client has been updated - Friday, November 20, 2020 at 06:07 UTC

it's a good thing

The Mediterranean Diet Only Works for Rich People, Study Says - Thursday, August 13, 2020 at 01:45 UTC

major redesign of my blog -- import from 2012 - Saturday, July 18, 2020 at 01:58 UTC

After randomly stumbling upon my good ol' blog, I realized.... it sucked. So, I erased everything and now I plan to start anew. The Eggman philosophy still exists, I just figured out that it had no universality and was not being adopted by anyone other than myself anytime soon. So, now, this blog will not be based off of that philosophy, instead, it will merely be a place to record my thoughts publicly.

In place of my old blog, you will find a completely redesigned, modern and clean interface which focuses more on the content, rather than the design. Paradoxically, I find these types of designs to be the best.

test post - Saturday, July 18, 2020 at 00:32 UTC

this is a test