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Designing a Well-Lived Life - Twitter Evacuation and my mental health

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 22:40

As part of my "Designing a Well-Lived Life" I've decided that instead of letting my Twitter account just go dark that I'm going to go completely toward deactivating the account. I've already protected my Tweets so only those who are following the account will see this post there and then I'm removing feed2tweet. On 2017-12-31 I'm deactivating the account for good (or earlier, but the definite drop-dead date is 2017-12-31).

I'm putting my social media attention into Mastodon simply because it's been better for my attention. I can't use Twitter without using Tweetdeck and even then I need to have retweets turned off or it's a complete shit-show. And I find that my brief interactions with Twitter make me want to punch something. Watching the tweets about Net Neutrality being repealed made me angry and feel helpless to do anything. Which lead to more browsing on Twitter looking for hope. I can't handle that anymore. I've logged out of Twitter and now I'm wondering if there's anything redeemable at all.

I don't expect everyone to follow me over to Mastodon; frankly the older I get the more I realize that the only people I have complete influence over is the person looking back at me in the mirror. But I can do my part and not give aid, comfort, and content to those who do nothing but abuse that privilege.

I'm here at Follow me there if you wish.

Honestly I wish there was a way to help folks realize there are better alternatives to Twitter, but habits are hard to break. While I can't help everyone's suffering I can sure as heck help the one who I know is suffering the most from his interactions on that site.

Goodbye Twitter. We had fun, but now you're causing me harm and I'm done.

Categories: LugNut Blogs

Designing a Well Lived Lfe

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 23:36

I'm currently enrolled in Leo Babauta's "Designing a Well Lived Life" course, and one of the things that was mentioned during the webinar was about some of our intentions for the upcoming year. These aren't resolutions per se because they're things that I intend to work on throughout the year, but I wanted to share some of the ones that I came up with initially (and will likely be added to in the coming months).

  • Writing more / designing more: I'm finding one of my main sources of stress this past year was in not finishing up my game designs. Part of that was because I felt a dichotomy between my job search and my desire to work on the games that were percolating in my head. So my intention for the year is to put more effort into working on and finishing the game designs that I am working on, starting with the Pepper&Carrot RPG.

  • Programming more: My chosen career path is that of a programmer so what better way to celebrate that than by programming more and getting some of the ideas in my head out into the world. Also learning my craft better is important to me and I desperately want to get back to some of the more theoretical and hairy bits of computer science. Yes, this means more Scheme in the future. ;)

  • Engage more with people, not things: I'm finding myself getting more and more frustrated with social media so I'm turning off Twitter for now (frankly because it's a hot mess) and focusing more on meaningful interactions with people. So I'm focusing more on Mastodon (where I find more positive interactions). This also means not checking social media as much and creating more of what I'm terming "sacred spaces" where I'm allowing myself more time to focus and not be distracted.

  • Blogging more: Part of not being part of social media means I'm going to spend more time blogging about my progress and other topics of interest. This will allow me to engage more with folks with longer-form articles and will also allow me more time to write down my thoughts and be more coherent with them. It'll allow me to go for more of the longer game instead of the short dopamine hits of social media.

  • Getting out of debt: Frankly this last year of unemployment did wonders for our banking account and I want to get us back to where we're paying off our bills as best we can. That means scaling back our financial commitments as well as not buying every new thing that comes out on day of release. This also means finding ways of earning money that aren't susceptible to the whims of the job market and finding multiple means of income (see game design focus above).

  • Supporting creators in sustainable ways: This means helping out the folks that I admire in sustainable ways that don't put us both in jeopardy. Patreon recently did weird things with their fee schedule and then walked that back. I'd like to find better ways to help keep those creators able to support themselves and by extension help them to create the stuff that I enjoy (and can also use in my own creations).

  • Physical health: I need to do more outdoor activities and ensure that my body doesn't decide to crap out (throwing the above intentions into doubt).

  • Kindness: This applies both to others and to myself.

  • Mindfulness: Appreciating the moments as the occur and being fully present in that moment.

I'm sure there will be others but these are the biggies for now.

With that said I'm logging out of Twitter and Tweetdeck and revoking my access to Twitter via Rainbowstream. I'll be engaging more on Mastodon (( so you'll find me there. Note that I don't expect anyone who is currently on Twitter or other social media to follow me on Mastodon. I understand that Twitter is a habit and if that works for you then that's fine. I'm more doing this for my own sanity and well-being. If you want to follow then please do it because you want to, not because of me. Maybe I'll be back someday but for now I need to break the habit of checking Twitter and this seems as good a time as any to make the break.

I hope you'll join me in looking at ow to create better habits for the upcoming year and invite you to share your progress, whether in the comments here or on your own blogging platform.

Here's to a designing a well-lived life together.

Categories: LugNut Blogs

Pale Blue Dot

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 10:10

Last night JoDee and I watched a documentary about the Voyager Space Program called "The Farthest: Voyager in Space". It walked through the history of the program to present day: the discoveries, the photos, the science, and the troubles with the program. It's a great watch if you're even remotely interested in the Voyager Spacecraft.

One of the interesting pieces was the (now famous) photograph that Voyager took of Earth as seen from just past Neptune. The mission didn't have that part in mind and Carl Sagan and others thought it would be an interesting perspective for folks to see where Voyager really was in relation to our Earth. Sagan even escalated the issue to the administration of NASA to get the photos. The counter-argument was that the photos had no scientific purpose but eventually Voyager was re-programmed to take the shot.

And in those brief photographs we saw for the first time how tiny our planet is compared to the rest of the solar system. How unremarkable our planet is.

It became one of the quotes Carl Sagan was best known for, and the basis of one of his books: "A Pale Blue Dot".

It's interesting to see how something that had no scientific purpose, that had active opposition up to the highest levels of NASA, became one of the elements that cemented how important the Voyager Space Program was (and is). One last look back at our solar system before we permeated outside of it and pupped our bubble to see what lies beyond.

I think Carl Sagan's greatest achievement was in humanizing science; in keeping that sense of perspective about where our accomplishments are taking us. In turning around Voyager's cameras we got a glimpse of our own world from a place we never dreamed we would be, and the humbling sense that we are truly a pale blue dot, a mote of dust in the cosmos.

Categories: LugNut Blogs

NFS Strangeness - Duplicate inodes / file names

Sat, 11/25/2017 - 10:18

I just noticed some strangeness in a NFS mounted device on my Ubuntu machine.

I have duplicity running on my machines to back up to a few Synology Diskstation RAID devices. Recently I noticed that Duplicity was complaining about an assertion error. I now realize that it was complaining about having two files with the same name on the drive.

I did some digging this morning and noticed that two files were sharing the same name / inode. I did a ls -i and got the inode of the files (they were the same):

root@lister:/mnt/backup_music/backup_files/music# find . -inum 9306120 ./duplicity-full.20171011T090009Z.vol4554.difftar.gz ./duplicity-full.20171011T090009Z.vol4554.difftar.gz

Huh. What's going on here?

I immediately thought "well, I'll need to fsck the disk" but then I rmembered that you can't fsck an NFS mount. So I logged into the Synology Diskstation to see if it was showing two files. To my surprise the Synology didn't show anything was awry.

After a little poking and prodding online I wondered what would happen if I renamed the file:

mv duplicity-full.20171011T090009Z.vol4554.difftar.gz duplicity-full.20171011T090009Z.vol4554.difftar.gz.old

and then rename it back:

mv duplicity-full.20171011T090009Z.vol4554.difftar.gz.old duplicity-full.20171011T090009Z.vol4554.difftar.gz

That seemed to work. ls -i shows one file.

But here's the strange part: That find command? Still shows two files pointing at the same file.

I'm wondering if it'll survive a re-mount / reboot.

[Time passes]

Yep. Looks like there's still something in NFS that thinks there's still two files with the same inode, but only one file in ls.

I'm a little stumped on how to ultimately fix this (save for a complete "nuke it from orbit" reformatting. And that's no guarantee that it won't come back.

If you have some ideas on what's going on (I'm pretty sure it's a buggy NFS issue as this has shown up before) I'd love to know. Better yet: if you know how to fix this that wold be awesome as well.

Update: Found a work-around for this:

  • Copy the file to another location (I used rsync to copy it to /tmp, which removed it from the device completely)
  • Run rm on the file to remove it.
  • Copy it back using rsync
  • Unmount / remount the drive.

Seems things are back to normal. Will report back if something changes. Thanks to daddo in the #linuxjournal channel for the idea on how to work-around this.

Update: No, it didn't work: it created a new file / new inode and then exhibited the same issue with duplicate inodes for that file.

What the @#$%#%^#!

Categories: LugNut Blogs

Scared of Search

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 08:37

I'd like to thank Google for making me afraid to do a search on something that I'm mildly curious about.




Categories: LugNut Blogs

Fair Trade Magic

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 16:36

Just realized I've been bamboozled into thinking that Fair Trade is somehow a magic weapon against taking advantage of people.

So I looked up whether or not some of the Hawaiian coffee I like is fair-trade certified.

And then it hit me. It doesn't need to be Fair Trade certified. It's in the USA. Fair Trade doesn't mean anything in this context.

Sometimes we need to check our brand-loyalties, even if they're brands we like.

Categories: LugNut Blogs

Halloween Demo

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 12:03

I made a quick Halloween demo on the TIC-80 computer. I started development on my Android phone and then moved it to the computer.

You can view it here: Halloween Pumpkin Demo (alternate link)

Hope you enjoy!

Categories: LugNut Blogs

Social Media Dieting

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 17:01

I'm finding myself in more of a spiral about social media these days. I'm finding that I'm getting more and more wrapped around the spokes of social media and I need to cut back a bit so I can focus more on the things that are important.

I'm going to list the networks that I'm currently on and what I'm hoping to do in order to unwind myself:

  • Twitter: I feel like Twitter really doesn't care what sort of shit-show they have over there as long as it makes money. I'm also seeing that Twitter is making me go to the site for notifications that used to be emailed. (Yes, you can get a digest of this). So I'm looking to limit the number of times I'm on Twitter to perhaps once or twice a day (instead of spending more time than I care to on Twitter).
  • Mastodon: Most of my engagement is on Mastodon, but I'm also finding that I'm spending a lot of time in there. So I'm going to work on cutting back a bit. I'm looking into using RSS more for folks that I don't want to miss posts (until Mastodon gets lists implemented). Mastodon feels a lot more organic for me and I really enjoy using it, but I need to spend my time doing other things.
  • I don't think I engage at all on Maybe once a month at best?
  • Google Plus: Sigh. I think I'm one of the last holdouts on Google Plus in my circle of friends (save for a few folks). I still engage there but not nearly as much as I used to. Checking in once or twice a day is not a problem like it used to be.
  • IRC: IRC is still my social network for real-time conversations. But I should also allow myself more downtime between check-ins.

So now that we know what I've been doing let's see how I'll try to proceed:

  • Twitter: Check once or twice a day. Use email for notifications. Follow people, not things. Use text-based clients and lists in order to see what folks are up to. Reply to posts only and use scripts like feed2tweet to post new content.
  • Mastodon: Check in less times per day. Use text-based clients like tootstream to check in. Use feed2toot to post new content. Use RSS in lieu of lists for following some folks that I want to know what they're posting at all times.
  • Keep using spigot for posting new content.
  • Google Plus: Check in once or twice a day. Keep doing what I'm doing now.
  • IRC: Disconnect more times throughout the day.

I think this is reasonable. What do you think?

Categories: LugNut Blogs

When the public domain works: Naxos Historic Recordings

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 10:36

I have an unreasonable affection for Naxos recordings.

One of the series they have is a historical collection. They take 78RPM records that have fallen into the public domain (in the UK, where they're based) and remaster them on CD. They're doing the same thing that the Internet Archive does with their 78 RPM collection.

Unfortunately there are a few kinks with this. The biggest is that these recordings are still under some form of nebulous copyright in the USA, so they are harder to find over here (though not impossible). But Naxos won't sell them to you in the USA.

The other is that they put their standard "All Rights Reserved" on the recording. I find that disingenuous.

What's interesting too is seeing the labels that recorded these recordings do the same thing. It's interesting to see how Naxos' engineers do things differently from RCA's engineers. Same 78RPM recording but slightly different results.

But this is one instance where I find the public domain is working the way it was intended. And I applaud efforts like the Internet Archive 78RPM project for compiling recordings that have long since been out of print or are in versions that are different from the ones we have today.

Categories: LugNut Blogs

Tech Interviews and Hazing: What's the difference?

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 13:57

While discussing technical interviews with folks on different social networks I've come to the realization that tech interviews are a lot like my experience with pledging to a fraternity and it's hazing rituals.

While I was at college my friends decided to pledge to a fraternity. Being a smaller school it had its own fraternities so the college had control over all of the fraternities. So pledging to a fraternity at this college wasn't going to involve anything really scary or life-threatening (as some horror-stories of pledging to other fraternities have uncovered). And so I pledged to one of the on-campus fraternities and went through most of the rituals involved. It wasn't too stressful, but as the week of pledging wore on I was looking forward to it being done. I was also taking Calculus II and some other difficult courses and the split attention was starting to get to me.

Then pledge night happened.

Pledge night in this case involved a few rituals and what-not that I won't get into, save for one that ended my pledging to this fraternity.

Picture if you will a line-up of pledges who are in somewhat uncomfortable seating arrangements. They are told to sit stony-faced under penalty of something bad happening to them. All of the current fraternity brothers sit watching the pledges for the slightest infraction, where they can meter out the punishment as swiftly as the infraction took place. No-one is spared, and there is little hope of clemency.

With the pledges all sitting stony-faced and awaiting their fate they proceed with the ordeal.

They proceed to tell jokes.

Now, on the surface this seems somewhat surreal. Here are pledges charged with not showing any emotion being told jokes. On the surface this is not that big of a deal. Why would this be the incident that got me to quit pledging to this fraternity?

If you know me you'll likely know that I have a horrible time hiding emotions with my face. Worse, I have a very long and expressive face so even the slightest twitch shows up rather quickly. Add to that many different folks who are looking for that specific infraction of emotion and upturned lips and you have my downfall.

The sentence? Push ups.

Another thing I should point out is I'm not terribly physical. Sure, I played drums a lot in college but that sort of endurance and exercise is better for the forearms and wrists than it is for the upper-body strength. Add to that my seeming inability to ever do a push-up correctly (much to the dismay and delight of most of my classmates) and you have a task for which I am doomed to fail.

And fail I did. Repeatedly. Often.

One of the underlying pieces of this ordeal was that we were supposed to rely on the rest of the fraternity to pull each other up. We're brothers. We help each other.

I'm an only child. I've never had siblings. The only folks I've had are parents, cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. So I've never had to steel myself for sibling rivalry, or had to ask a sibling for help. I've always had to either rely on myself or ask folks who are in positions of authority to help me. Sure, I get along with others, but when tasked with something that is personally uncomfortable I tend to want to solve it by myself. I got myself into this mess, I'll get myself out of it.

Which is the sort of strategy that is incompatible with a situation where your body is untrained and incapable of handling the task at hand, especially under pressure.

I'm sure it also goes without saying that I wasn't the popular kid at school. So the sorts of mocking and jeering that went on was not fun; it tore into my soul.

This was not a place where I could trust people anymore; this was the playground and every recess. This was the kids at gym wondering why I was struggling. This was the "I tried" and "most improved" trophy at school. This was another instance of everyone seeming to have the advantage and me not measuring up over something silly.

The next day I quit my pledge to the fraternity.

I made up some lame excuse about how it was getting in the way, but later on I also dropped out of Calculus II.

I was still friends with the folks that I knew at the fraternity, but there was this unspoken gap between us. They were able to make it through the ordeal and I couldn't. I had fraternity brothers come up to me and say they were sorry and that I was almost there, but frankly I was done. For the longest time I wondered if it was just my inner weakness or something wrong with me. Maybe. But I also think the whole process was designed to allow a certain person through and I wasn't it.

So, how does this relate to technical interviews?

First, technical interviews don't tend to have candidates sit stony-faced while they tell jokes and then dole out pushups for infractions. But they do tend to be stressful, and they favor a certain candidate. The ones that propose a candidate figure out a number of math problems make the assumption that the candidate is proficient at math. The ones use word problems assume that the candidate is familiar with the terminology and can translate that terminology into a solution. The ones that require a candidate to write some simple code up on a whiteboard assume the candidate is comfortable enough in whatever language to forego such modern conveniences as syntax highlighting, syntax checking, and other IDE aids (not to mention being able to forego keyboard memory and use a dry-erase marker).

In many ways technical interviews are nothing more than ways to put a candidate out of their comfort zone and see how they perform under pressure. Which is great if your job demands it. However I would argue that timed tests, whiteboard challenges, and logic problems don't actually test for how good a programmer is; they only test for how well a programmer has practiced those sorts of challenges.

I once went to a store-front dojo to look at some Karate classes. I was given a tour of the facility by one of the upper-level students and we ended up in the sparring area where folks were hitting bags and each other. During the demonstration of the various pieces of equipment he decided to test my reflexes (or something) by throwing a punch toward my face to see if I would flinch.

I didn't budge.

To be fair I'm not sure if I was just done with this experience or if I just hadn't noticed. But what I mustered was a withering look at him. Seriously? You're going to try to intimidate me and watch me jump. Fuck off! (I think this guy was trying to impress me, but as one of my old friends pointed out "you're stronger than you look", which I took as a compliment.) Also I juggle so having things whiz by my face is not uncommon, so perhaps that was another one of those "it's not going to hit me, so why bother moving for it?" situations.

I'm sure they were trying to impress me with their fast fists and how hard they could hit a bag, but in the end I realized it was all for show. That and my schedule wouldn't have accommodated it.

I came looking for discipline and a good time, and wound up being disillusioned with the whole ordeal.

So does this mean I'm a quitter? Does this mean that I'm just a big baby and need to toughen up a bit?


What I'd rather a technical interview do is show what the company does. Give examples that are close to real work. Rather than displaying a "you must be this clever to enter here" bar why not instead show me the part of your organization that I'm going to work with. Why not show me your hoariest bugs and let me see if I can have a go at them? Why not engage me in technical discussion and see what I am instead of seeing how I'm not like the next person?

I understand there's a sort of algorithmic cleanliness to using online testing to see if folks can make the grade. I understand hiring is difficult and these rubrics have worked for your other employees. But I also think you're making mono-cultures with this sort of testing, and when the real problems hit you'll be less likely to have different opinions.

Sure, shared hiring experiences can be fun to bond over, but wouldn't you rather bond over the difficult problems you've solved instead of that hoary ordeal you all went through to get hired? I know which ones I'd rather have.

Categories: LugNut Blogs

Have a blog? Use it

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 12:25

I just noticed some behavior on Twitter that I find rather revolting.

An author decided to post an entire blog-post's worth of material (as replies) to their Twitter stream.

Which under normal circumstances I can appreciate and relate. I've had ideas that were started on Twitter and because a series of @replies to myself. But that was because I was in the heat of the moment and was formulating these replies "in-the-moment". There was a pause in between each @reply.

Not this author. They literally had it set up where the entire posting was scheduled in such a way where my entire timeline was nothing but their post. Worse, it was still coming.


Why would you do this to your ostensible readers?

I'm assuming you, dear author, have a blog or some place where you can post these ideas. And if you, dear author, have such a platform then why the fuck didn't you use it and then use Twitter / other social medium to direct readers to that instead of using Twitter as your diuretic for pushing it out one tweetstorm at a time?

Seriously, Twitter is a shitty blog. Stop using it as such.

(Insert separate rant about not using RSS for your blog either).

Categories: LugNut Blogs