Seeing all these new people land on Mastodon, I really hope that companies will realize they should host their own Mastodon instance instead of their employees creating accounts on random instances all over the place. I’m thinking of news organizations, for one.

It’s absolutely fantastic that we endeavour to explore space and I’m excited that we’re going back to the Moon. I hope Artemis has a successful launch!

I can’t say I’m not apprehensive though. Because what’s not cool is the debris that every launch leaves orbiting around the Earth. And if we trash the Moon the way we trashed Earth and its orbit, I will be less than pleased.

We have to clean up after ourselves. It should be like camping: leave it the way you found it.

Dealing With Bad People at Work

If I worked at Twitter, I would get fired so fast, but not before letting management know exactly what I thought of the idiot in charge and the policies being put in place.

I’ve been in that position before and I was never shy to say what I had to say. I have zero patience for people who walk into a place with their big shoes and think they know better than everybody. I will also not suffer anyone who is disrespectful or who tries to talk down to me.

My attitude is, you know what, I am where I am because I’ve built my career on being honest, kind, and hardworking. I don’t need you. If you want my skills, then you know where to find me, and you’d better ask nicely.

At my first job out of college, every once in a while they would move the engineering team to the production line. Presumably due to lack of work. But the third time I said no. They fired me and I went home. A couple days later, they called to offer me contract work.

Another time, I stood up to my manager after he had bullied one of my coworkers during a meeting. He tried to spin it around and pin it on me. I stood my ground and told him that was fucking bullshit.

At another place, the CEO kept insulting people using expletives, in the middle of company meetings no less. His underlings were like, “aw that’s just how he is, he’s so funny”. At the end of my contract, my manager, who was right under him, offered to convert me to full time. I declined and told him at length exactly what I thought of the CEO.

Not everyone can afford to lose their job, but for those of us who do, we have to call it the way we see it. When something is a fact, you don’t even have to be mean about it.

SteveRoy.ca and AptApps.ca are now running on a faster server with more resources. My provider HostPapa has been on my case for some time due to the increase in traffic. I tweaked my Cloudflare configuration to cache as much as I could, but I was still hitting the limits of my plan. In the end, HostPapa suggested I switch to a beefier plan for half the price. Who am I to say no?

I don’t think these recent issues have impacted visitors much, but if nothing else the sites should generally be snappier.

With Twitter in crisis since the acquisition by Elon Musk, it’s been great to see the large number of people who decided to give Mastodon a whirl. The influx of new faces has brought a lot of scientists, artists, engineers, and journalists, among other things. I find that it gives my timeline a bit of a different flavour, in a good way.

Initially I was a bit worried that the mob might bring with them some of the bad side of Twitter but, so far at least, it’s been great. Most new people seem to be pleasantly surprised that Mastodon is a more human, more safe variety of social media. It’s made of smaller communities that are well moderated, and there is a much lower tolerance for negative behaviours.

Having left Twitter and other such social media silos in 2018, I’m happy to see more people trying out ethical platforms. Whatever happens I hope it has a permanent impact.

Even though I left Twitter years ago, I do feel sadness regarding what’s happening. It’s tragic and worrisome that anyone with enough ego and money can come in and deface a place that means so much to people.

It’s actual lives that are impacted, through the jobs lost, the follows gutted, and the social fabric eroded.

Here’s to hoping we can all learn the lesson that the Internet was always meant to be made of small interconnected sites—a worldwide web!—not giant siloes.

Curious to address my iCloud dependency, a few months back I set up my own Nextcloud instance via Cloudamo. So far I’ve only experimented with uploading some of my contacts and calendars. With CardDAV and CalDAV, it integrates just fine with all my devices. For $4/month, I own my data and I can easily go back and forth between iOS, Android, macOS, and Linux. I should take the time to go all in soon.

With yet another instalment of the Twitter Shit Show in full swing, I thought I’d look up when I walked away from that. May 21, 2018 is when.

I can also say that this other post from the same period is still holding up very well:

Not that Twitter is the yard stick by which other social sites should be measured, but it’s now been three weeks since I closed that account, and it’s been… just fine. I miss a few people who had interesting takes, but I’m slowly discovering new people on Mastodon and Micro.blog. 🎉

The great failure of the Internet is that the tools to make your personal home on it never evolved.

Think about it. When you create an account on something like Facebook, you automatically get your own space where you can post and follow people. There is no reason for personal web sites not to have played that central role instead.

But the tools to set up a web site never got easy enough for regular people to use. And we invented RSS to follow other web sites, but that never evolved to be bidirectional and interactive.

I’m reading yet another article that tries to argue that multithreading is too hard and too heavy so we need fancy concurrency frameworks to rescue us from that complexity. Yawn.

My question is, when did you last write an app that was doing such intensive concurrent work? If you work at SpaceX on rocket guidance systems, maybe. But for the rest of us mere mobile app developers, we make simple requests to populate a list with some text and images. Hardly rocket science, so can we stop pretending that we’re all struggling with multithreading please?

I’ve kept this tab open in my browser since my cat passed away a few weeks ago. I was web searching for anything related to coping with grief, and this woman’s lovely words led me to the wave analogy of grief that someone posted on Reddit. It resonates with a lot of people, including me.

Keeping this tab open forever doesn’t make sense, but I do want to remember the path that led me to it and to that Reddit piece. So this is my bookmark.

So, the NHL now displays virtual ads on the boards of game broadcasts. In principle, that means they can show ads specific to your market, which I could understand. In practice though, that means the ads are constantly changing and they are animated. This happens during the play. It is incredibly distracting and takes away from the game. It falls in the category of it’s not because we can do it that we should. I purchased a $200 subscription for this shit?

My daughter suggested we start a company that makes TVs that automatically replace commercials with cat videos.

I think she’s on to something.

How are we to have faith in politics when Tories take three months to pick Liz Truss but she turns out to be so incompetent that, weeks into the job, the country is falling apart and everyone is ready to give her the boot?

How do we believe in politics when Conservatives elect Danielle Smith, whose lack of belief in science and understanding of social privilege promptly lands her the nomination for the most offensive thing a politician to have ever said?

How can we ignore politics when it produces the Putins, Trumps, and Bolsonaros of this world, who would rather kill, lie, and profit at the expense of the very life we all hold dear?

Orange Fire

On August 22nd I wrote that my cat might live another week or another year. Crushingly, it turned out to be one month.

Even though her last month was filled with worry and tears and ER visits and more medication than I thought possible for a small cat, there was also so much care, so much love, and so many purrs. I will forever cherish those last few weeks I got to spend with her.

She was the smallest in the household but arguably had the biggest personality. She was orange, brave, curious, loving, and a true friend. She lived life on her terms. We always saw her as very independent, yet going over the thousands of photos, it struck me that she was always there, whether we were working, cooking, renovating the house, or watching a movie.

I’ve been reading about grief and this bit seems like a good lifeline for me right now:

The process of healthy grieving is not to “get over” the death of a loved one, but to integrate the experience of loss into present life.

We put her down a few days ago but it’s still a shock to talk about her in the past. She’s still everywhere in the house, everywhere I go, everywhere I look. So it will take time. No life is too small to touch you in profound ways.

She will be with me forever in my heart and memories, and I will miss her orange fire forever.

I’m sad that the Green Party of Canada has been self-disintegrating since Elizabeth May stepped down. I care much more about issues than political parties and I’ve been using The Green Party for years as a way to vote symbolically for action on climate and social issues. If they fall apart, I worry who I will vote for.

What makes some workplaces fond of acronyms? I regularly see or hear phrases at work that are so full of jargon as to be incomprehensible if you’re not “in the know”. It makes me feel like it’s a private club, and new hires have to pay the price by constantly asking what they mean or risk not being in the loop. Why not optimize for clarity and call things what they are?

The redesigned remote that comes with the Apple TV 6th generation is such a large improvement over the previous version. Every aspect that was bad has been made pretty much perfect: the weight, the size, the interaction, the buttons. And they managed to keep and improve what was good about it: the touch pad. I love to see industrial design done well.

A Million Purrs

On Friday night, our 8 year-old cat was struggling to breathe and wouldn’t eat or drink. We called all the veterinary ERs and none could take her. At our wits end, I was resigned that she might die. It was a tough night but somehow she made it to the morning.

However her respiratory rate was alarmingly high. We finally found an ER that had room, only to learn that she was in congestive heart failure and the prognosis wasn’t good. We were devastated, considering whether to put her down. But the veterinary doctor got on the phone and convinced another hospital with an ICU to take her.

After a nail-biting drive where I thought she would die in the car, they put her in a box with oxygen and a load of medication. They told us we had to wait and see. I was emotionally exhausted. We went home Saturday dreading the phone would ring with bad news.

We did get a call Sunday morning: finally she was improving. By the afternoon, her respiratory rate was normal and she had started eating. We went to see her. She was drowsy and weak but purred loudly when I took her in my arms.

She continued improving through Monday, and with much relief we took her home by end of day. After everything that happened since Friday, I’m amazed she’s home.

At the same time, I must come to grips with her new condition. A few days ago, we still had several years ahead of us with her in our lives. Now, she could die next week, or next year. The doctor did not dare say any longer. It’s now about medication, managing her stress level, and luck.

Still, I will enjoy whatever she has left. Any other time is a million times better than last Friday.

I’m not proud of how long it’s taken me to finally do this, but today I scheduled my first blood donation. I have no excuse but I’m looking forward to it. I created an account with Canadian Blood Services and installed their app in the hope that this will remind me to do it regularly.

What spurred me to finally do it is the frequent radio ads they run. There is currently a real urgency for blood across Canada. Combined with the alarming hospital staff shortages, and how helpless I feel, donating blood really seems like the very least I can do.

Here’s a take that is not going to be popular in my circles: I don’t understand computing anymore. A windowing system in 2022 that cannot run on anything less powerful than an M1 is over-engineered, pure and simple. Come on, it’s overlapping windows. We’re not sending rockets to Mars here.

I had to request an M1 at work because Xcode was threatening liftoff every time I built our app on Intel. That is not progress. We get all this power, and instead our software becomes ever more bloated, because look all the CPU we can use now! When Java IDEs launch and build faster than Xcode, you know we missed a turn somewhere.

What a waste.

Intriguing:

[T]he most intractable problems of the modern world, from climate change to political polarization, result in large part from an imbalance between the left and right brains.

Surveys are the new spam.

“How did we do?”

Every. Single. Time. You. Buy. Something. Online.

Guess what, everything was fine until you sent me that freakin’ survey.

The people developing and maintaining Mastodon have my gratitude for creating this sensible and people-centric alternative to the ongoing big-business Internet shit show, aka Twitter et al. So I joined Mastodon’s Patreon. It’s about time that I start putting my money where my mouth is.

I started using the beta of the DuckDuckGo browser for Mac a couple days ago. So far I love the speed. I’m actually impressed how snappy it feels compared to other browsers. I already have all manner of tracker and ad blockers with other browsers so it’s not that.

Aside that it’s low on features but it hasn’t been an issue so far. Back to basics, in a good way.

Airlines don’t worry about viruses, but boy don’t they worry about so many other things:

Two hundred strangers in a small tube in the sky, and any of them could be carrying a new variant of a deadly virus we still don’t fully understand? Who cares! A bottle of shampoo larger than 3.4 ounces? Put your hands in the air and don’t fucking move. That bottle could be carrying anthrax, or worse: expired shampoo.

I love McSweeney’s. 😄

It’s been over 3 years since I cut down my meat consumption in favour of mostly vegetarian and vegan foods. The most surprising thing to me is how normal it all is. We make the same food as before, just with different ingredients. It’s not complicated or weird and it tastes just fine.

War crimes is an odd concept. What the fuck are you talking about?

If two guys decide to settle an argument outside the pub, they get arrested for disturbing the peace, but if guys in suits decide to send young people bomb each other it’s fine?

Give me a fucking break. And don’t get me started on “crimes against humanity”. As if what we’re doing to the climate wasn’t one.

I don’t talk about it much, but the lack of critical sense in journalism is something that I think is really damaging to society:

[P]rominent national journalists relentlessly conflate things that annoy me […] with things that threaten democracy […]. While I understand the conflation on a human level, on a journalistic level your literal job is knowing the difference.