2023 Wrapped

I can’t even remember the last time I did bullets…

  • Reader, I apologize. I haven’t really been keeping you up to date.
  • I’m not going to really get into a lot of detail today, tho.
  • But maybe some broad strokes.
  • 2023 was basically a continuation of 2020.
  • 2020 Wrapped:
    • Bought a house
    • Decided (with Ellen, of course) to (at least stop trying not) to have a kid
    • Other stuff you’ve probably heard of. It’s not over.
  • About the house…
    • It turned out 2021 was a terrible year to get anyone to help you fix up a house.
    • 2022 wasn’t much better, but we were able to engage a buider and, by the end of the year, gut the place, cleaning up the mould (most of which we knew about when we bought) and the mouse droppings (which we didn’t).
    • So 2023 was spent getting a design to the point where we could submit a building permit and finding people and materials to do the job of giving us a place we can actually live.
    • 2024 will, with any luck at all, be the year my wife and son and I will live together in our own house.
    • We are, of course, blessed to have a place to live. And especially to own a house. And to be able to even attempt all of this. It’s not been easy.
    • But, you know, I sold my house in 2016. (That’s a blog post I wrote for friends and family at the time. I decided to unprotect it for context-related linking). It’ll have been an eight year journey to moving into this house.
  • About the kid…
    • He’s an absolute, goddamn delight. And exhausting. But utterly delightful.
  • Not sure what more to say.
  • Work’s fine.
  • Doctor Who is back.
  • I played a lot of Picross. And Spider Solitaire. And Sudoku apps.
  • And Pokemon Go.
  • You should really listen to my Christmas mixtape. It’s good, I promise.
  • Happy New Year.

Christmas Mixtape 2023

Here we are, in the bleak midwinter. What better time than now to put on some fun music while we crank up the IR heater to take the chill off.

Cover image by DaPuglet (Tina) Santas Secret Weapon used under it’s Creative Commons license. CC-BY-SA.

The Christmas Mixtape is back for its seventh incarnation. It’s up on Youtube Music and on Mixcloud. And Mixcloud gives me a handy little widget so you don’t even have to leave the page to listen:

I’m also going to dump Youtube music videos of the songs where I can find them. They’re not necessarily the same version, but given that I’ve listened to these dozens of times already, it’s kinda cool to see visual interpretations…

Continue reading Christmas Mixtape 2023

Thoughts on Social Media 5/?: X-it

When I started this series, I had a rough outline in my head about what the posts would be, but that was weeks ago and Elon just re-christened Twitter as X and who even knows anything anymore?

I’ve pretty much resolved that the Fediverse, in some form, will be my main hang. I’m on mastodon (mastodon.social, even! The main one!) but I’m not necessarily wedded to it. I fee like, right now, the software comes closest to what I want out of a social media site. Actually, that’s not true. Based on my limited experience to date, I think my preference lies with Hometown, which is a mastodon form with a couple features I really want. Like exclusive lists.

Exclusive lists were a 100% requirement for me on Twitter, because I feel like my main Twitter feed is about what I want it to be, but I also want to kinda follow discourse in things that make me happy. Like Doctor Who or Star Trek. So I have Doctor lists. I don’t necessarily want the people on those lists in my feed, tho. With vanilla mastodon, you need to have someone in your feed to put them in a list.

You can make hashtag columns, tho. That’s what I’m using right now to make up that functionality. And my timeline isn’t really busy enough yet that just following anyone who seems interesting is a problem.

It’s not my intention to stay on mastodon.social. The plan is to run my own server with Ellen, but that’s not making a lot of progress, despite the fact that we’re paying for the server hosting. I should figure that out sometime.

I see a lot of people complaining about this or that thing they don’t like about some social media site and I can’t help but think that, ultimately, the solution to whatever that is far likelier to actually happen in the Fediverse than any walled garden, VC-funded social startup. Not least because, if you have the time and skill, you can just make it yourself.

Granted, this is an argument only a software developer is going to love, but, you know, guilty as charged. While I’m not personally going to be forking mastodon any time soon, it just seems to me that if you’re going to move to a social platform, nothing else seems worth the energy.

This is doubly true of media entities and institutions that actually stand to benefit by owning their media platform. JFC, why go to Threads? I know why, it’s because you already have an Instagram account. But you know how that story is going to end.

I get that it’s a little complicated to get started, because the first thing you need to do is pick a server. If you’re reading this, you could probably join my server when it’s up and running, but it’s not, so that’s no help. I’m happy enough with mastodon.social for now, but I’m not 100% convinced it is the best place to start. So maybe here are a few suggestions:

  • If you’re in Ottawa, ottawa.place. It’s run by cool, smart people.
  • If you’re elsewhere in Canada, mstdn.ca. I don’t know the admins personally, but they seem cool. And it’s got some level of backing from CIRA, which is not nothing.
  • If you’re Canadian and don’t mind paying a bit of money and being party of something, cosocial.ca. A member-run co-op social media site is a fascinating experiment, and again, it’s run by cool people.

If you’re not Canadian, I guess I don’t have an answer for you right now. There probably is one, but I don’t have it. Check the moderation policies. Check the home feed. See if you like the vibe. Moving servers isn’t that hard. So maybe just sign up for mastodon.social and get a feel for things.

One last note, as this has gotten over-long, I’ve gone to the trouble of talking about the Fediverse, but only actually talked about Mastodon. That’s most of my experience, although I will say I really, really like Pixelfed, if you’re into an Instagram sort of thing that isn’t being bled to death by Meta. I’m @flyingsquirrel@pixelfed.social, if you want to follow me there (or on Mastodon. Or RSS…)

Featured image is X by Janet McKnight. CC-BY.

Thoughts on Social Media 4/?: What I Want, What I Really Really Want

Oh right, sorry, I was in the middle of a blog series, wasn’t I? It’s just that Tweetdeck came back and I get a bit distracted. Posting is busted, tho. So I’ll maybe come back here for a minute…

All this nonsense has got me re-evaluating what I actually want out of social media. Like why am I spending all this time on these websites.

First is probably a low-friction, low-commitment way to stay in touch with friends. Not many friends on Twitter, mind you. And even fewer the last few months. But it’s still something I value. Even if I don’t often reach out, I still like catching little glimpses of what people are up to. That’s nice. It’s why I’m still on Facebook, gods help me. And if Twitter really does finally go away, I’ll probably lose touch with some people.

Twitter’s also a fantastic way to keep up with—and play a role in—the local community. For whatever reason, every elected official and member of the press decided they had to be on there. Ever institution has a presence there. It’s actually kind of remarkable. I can’t help but think that’s why certain billionaires decided it had to go.

So I want that, but it’s mostly not up to me. I don’t know if we’ll get that back. The only place I think we have a chance of getting anything like that back is the Fediverse. But that “every elected official/institition decided they had to be there” bit hasn’t happened yet, if it ever does. The EU is there. So’s the German government. And just today, The Netherlands.

Note that all three of those are running their own instances. Which makes for way better “verification” than any checkmark silliness.

Institutions move slowly. And frankly, it’s a bit of a miracle they all ended up on Twitter in the first place. I think there’s a definite opportunity for some company to white label some sort of fediverse presence for them and maybe make some money off it.

I have thoughts about features I look for in social media websites, but I think I’ll leave those for part 5.

Featured image is DSC00002 by cw. CC-BY

Thoughts on Social Media 3/?: Did You Know RSS Was Still a Thing?

It’s true. I mean, you somehow found this blog post, which means you might already know this. But if you didn’t, I think it’s important to remind people.

It used to be easier, but it’s still around. RIP, Google Reader. I use and like Newsblur, but your choice of reader is kind of personal. Also, I think I got grandfathered into an account where I paid once and can use it for free. I don’t think that exists anymore. You may need to pay money to get a good reader.

People seem to be gravitating more towards mailing lists. I really dislike mailing lists. One thing I didn’t realize was that Substack and other mailing list blogging platforms offer RSS feeds. I didn’t know! You don’t get subscriber-only (subscribing as in money), but I’m not paying for mailing lists, so that’s okay.

I’ve been leaning a bit more heavily on my RSS reader since I’ve been drifting away from Twitter. And with the enshittification of search engines along with centralized social media, putting in a little work to curate my own river of news seems only prudent. I’ll keep on cleaning up my old feed list and finding new feeds.

And hey, maybe you’ll consider adding me to your reader so you won’t ever miss a post! I’ve posted more this week than I did all last year! Things are looking up!

featured image is ojingogo by webfee. CC-BY-NC.