Welcome to this week's edition of the Weekly Thing by Jamie Thingelstad! Did you know that 267 is the international dialing code for Botswana, a country renowned for its stunning wildlife and landscapes? — ChatGPT
This week was a blur of activity across many dimensions. So here I am arriving in your mailbox on Sunday. Even though we had an unusually cold Saturday it was great to spend time outside and do a variety of projects.
Have a great day and lets jump right into it! 🍂
As someone that has been blogging since before social networking existed the intersection of blogging and social media is something I've had first-hand experience with and have developed strong opinions about. I ultimately look back at the several years that I primarily engaged with Twitter and didn’t blog as much as a lost period. Blurting out 140 character tweets is nothing like writing real blog posts.
The Indie Web concept of POSSE is an attempt to bridge these worlds. This Verge article is a good introduction.
The answer, I think, lies in a decade-old idea about how to organize the internet. It’s called POSSE: Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Everywhere. The idea is that you, the poster, should post on a website that you own. Not an app that can go away and take all your posts with it, not a platform with ever-shifting rules and algorithms. Your website. But people who want to read or watch or listen to or look at your posts can do that almost anywhere because your content is syndicated to all those platforms.
I've used micro.blog since it launched and used it’s syndication features for a long time.
So for now, the best we have are tools like Micro.blog, a six-year-old platform for cross-posters. When you sign up for Micro.blog, you get your own blog (which the platform offers to connect to your own domain) and a way to automatically cross-post to Mastodon, LinkedIn, Bluesky, Medium, Pixelfed, Nostr, and Flickr.
A while back I turned all of that off and no longer syndicate my posts anywhere.
POSSE is an interesting strategy but you need to be clear what you are trying to do. There are broadly three issues:
I think these kind of stack on top of each other. If the main thing you want is to make sure you content is on your own domain — not your domain, not your words — this sort of works. Note that syndicating your content to a social network does mean that you give them ownership of that copy of it. But most folks aren't really thinking about legal ownership. So, yes POSSE will help here.
If your focused on minimizing distractions of social media POSSE really doesn't help. In fact, I think it can make it worse by reducing the "cost" of sending content into multiple networks. That creates a mirage, because it is a really bad idea to syndicate your content to a social network and then completely ignore it. On one side it seems lame to not engage with people when they engage with you. Even worse, if there is some "issue" that arises from your post you should be aware. You can ultimately look like a robot.
Lastly, if you feel social networking is just bad overall and don't want to support it, you shouldn't syndicate your content into it. This is why I've turned all my syndication off. It is like being a member in a club you don't want to exist.
Overall folks should do what they wish but I think many folks turn on POSSE capabilities without really thinking it through. I would just ask to consider how the syndication is affecting your writing and your attention. For example, I've noticed a trend of writing for the timeline when syndicating.
Dining: I was able to experience two new restaurants this week! First was Porzana, an Argentinian Steakhouse in the North Loop. It is another Daniel Del Prado experience and the food was incredible. Definitely will go back! Then, to have even more meat, the new Butcher & the Boar also in the North Loop. The new dining room is much better than the previous location, and the food was top notch. Now I need to fast for a couple of days. 😊
The Chapel of the Ozarks at sunset with Table Rock lake in the background.
Oct 21, 2023
Top of the Rock, Ozark Mountains
Tech does indeed have its trends and microfrontends are a current one. This is a balanced article that suggests that you should make sure you are ready for this pattern before you dive into it.
Microfrontends are very popular on the conference circuit, so I am probably about to make future job interviews awkward by criticisng them. But I’m seeing enough teams adopt MFEs at the wrong time to feel concerned about the hype. My objections boil down to three core complaints
- A monolith distributed over separate parts is a world of pain
- You need to refactor before you can split, but splitting first looks easier
- MFEs can be a form of rewrite fever
Understanding the prerequisites for technologies is something we often forget about.
This comment from Whittaker responding to the lack of a policy team at Signal and if that is a disadvantage. I so love this response. 🤩
On the infrastructural disadvantage, that’s true, but we also have the advantage of … we don’t have to be full of shit. We’re not actually a surveillance company. I’m not trying to pretend Facebook is good. I don’t have to toe a party line that is divorced from reality. And we aren’t Big Tech.
And it just continues with delightful stuff. I absolutely love the idea of Signal telling government to send their requests to a PO Box! (bolding mine)
My answer to that is actually, I don’t know. It’s actually difficult to authenticate requests, right? You get an email and there’s a little footer and it could be spoofed or not. The big companies have a huge apparatus for authentication. So there’s actually a resource issue around that. If you want to process a request to Signal, there’s a P.O. box to send it to, it’s authorized, and that gets checked periodically.
I’m not an active user of Signal, but I do have it on my devices and have an account. iMessage encryption is good enough for me. But I absolutely love that Signal exists, and that it is being led by folks like Whittaker. We need fighters to protect our privacy, and she is absolutely one!
I really liked what Reddit was doing with blockchain Community Points and it is a bummer to see them shutting it down. I also think Reddit has had a huge mess for the last year in a huge fight with their users and moderators. They are passing on a real opportunity here to make the Reddit reputation system publicly available and allow others to build on it. You could gain instant credibility in other services by connecting your wallet.
Interestingly the article makes no reference to their Collectible Avatars that are NFT's and are sold and traded amongst users. That is also integrated with the Reddit Vault.
Tyler has been thinking that he would like his graduation trip destination to be Tokyo. Tammy had listened to this article on the Sunday Read and she played it for us while driving back from Big Cedar Lodge. However, I promptly fell asleep and missed parts of it so I found the article. As a bonus, the article has some photos and a ton of images from different Studio Ghibli movies.
My first impression was not awe or majesty or surrender or consumerist bliss. It was confusion. For a surprisingly long time after I arrived, I could not tell whether or not I had arrived. There was no security checkpoint, no ticket booths, no ambient Ghibli soundtrack, no mountainous Cat Bus statue. Instead, I found myself stepping out of a very ordinary train station into what seemed to be a large municipal park. A sea of pavement. Sports fields. Vending machines. It looked like the kind of place you might go on a lazy weekend to see a pretty good softball tournament.
Ghibli Park sounds pretty incredible. It all made me think that we should see Spirited Away again and to my delight I found it was playing at a local theater as part of Ghibli Festival. We are going on Sunday afternoon to experience it in the theater for the first time.
(Why not publish simple text files on the web. 😎)
Simple, not too wordy checklist of engineering managers. Truly could be used by most managers well beyond engineering too.
The story of SPS Commerce's evolution to platform engineering and how it supports our strategic business priorities to ensure we enable the continued growth of our business and improve our delivery on the organization's strategic priorities. We will also explore how SPS Commerce uses platform engineering strategies to improve operational confidence in resiliency and security while increasing developer productivity.
Great talk highlighting the value they've seen using our platform. Annoying but you have to register to watch the video.
This simple post struck a huge chord with me, it is exactly how I like to think about blogging.
Why is that the end goal of blogging? Of writing? Just to make money and grow our followers? To increase our traffic so we can expose our visitors to 300 repetitive ads that take up their entire phone screen? To "convert" our readers into our customers, because them reading and enjoying what we have to say simply isn't enough? Personally, I want nothing to do with it. I'm sick of everything having to be a hustle now, even something personal like sharing our ramblings with strangers on the internet.
Strong agree. Take your "hustle" somewhere else.
It has been odd that the most valuable tech company in the world really hasn't picked up on the Generative AI tidal wave. Also, Apple is not seen as a leader in this area.
The anxiety inside Apple is that many people inside do not believe Apple’s own AI/ML team can deliver, but that the company — if only for privacy reasons — will only use what comes from its own AI/ML team.
If I were to just make a complete guess I think they are very focused on the Vision Pro. There are a lot of places that Apple has to stay well in the lead on. Apple Silicon, Camera technology, iOS and macOS, and now Spatial Computing.
Is there a limit to the surface area you can be "the best" in? Well, there has to be. Having huge amounts of capital help. But ultimately organizational focus gets stretched.
Good overview from Willison introducing Embeddings and going into some detail on how to use them.
Embeddings are a technology that’s adjacent to the wider field of Large Language Models—the technology behind ChatGPT and Bard and Claude.
Embeddings are based around one trick: take a piece of content—in this case a blog entry—and turn that piece of content into an array of floating point numbers.
He goes through a couple of examples and gives command line information so you can follow along.
This is certainly an interesting idea, and the usability of sending some ETH to
toarbitrum.eth and having it magically bridge over to your wallet there is pretty slick. But it sure requires a level of trust that seems much higher than directly engaging with the bridge. Usability tradeoff for reduced control and transparency?
One of the built-in features of Ethereum and all blockchain apps is the public-key cryptography. This product uses that to create a way to manage legal signing of contracts between multiple parties. Think Docusign but with verifiable identity, and while you're at it, you could send payment directly with the contract. Very well done application.
Oh! My! I so love this! Now I want to figure out something that I can publish only as an RSS feed. No website. The only way you can get it and read it is to use an RSS feed reader. Mind spinning. 🤔🥳
- 1st rule of RSS Club is “Don’t Talk About RSS Club”.
- 2nd rule of RSS Club is “Don’t Share on Social Media”.
- 3rd rule of RSS Club is “Provide Value”.
I also want to get stickers made of the logo — it is brilliant!
We had a fun round of mini golf this morning at Big Cedar. Great course and the large bass was a nice signature hole! 🕳️
Afternoon shuffleboard and pickleball!
Oct 21, 2023 at 8:30 AM
As you drive on I-94 East toward the Twin Cities there is a wonderful road sign that always made me smile. I saw it regularly when I would return from visiting family in North Dakota. The sign had this wonderful mathematical significance to it. 3 times 33 equals 99.
After seeing this sign for a while I kept wondering how many other mathematically significant road signs are there? And just like that the idea for Road Sign Math was born.
Thanks to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine I can see the history. I launched the website in February 2005 with a simple post. Initially it was a blog that I posted my signs on, but people were also welcome to send photos of their own mathematically significant signs as well. Since multiple people were playing, there needed to be some rules on how to play.
I believe we got signs from all 50 states. We had a sign from the Serengeti. We had signs from most continents. In 2011 I moved the site from a blog to a wiki with the idea that folks could submit and maintain their own signs. This was all before the rise of mobile phones. When the iPhone arrived I thought it would be amazing to make an iOS app to capture road signs, but that never happened.
In 2016, after 11 years of running this site and several others, I made the decision to do some technical downsizing and turned off a number of hobby projects I had been running.
Road Sign Math was one of the sites shut down. I let the domain name expire and squatters have had the domain ever since, and still do. But the idea of Road Sign Math has never left completely…
In 2021 I registered the domain roadsignmath.xyz. That is an even better domain name for Road Sign Math!
I’ve had multiple sessions looking through various backups thinking about relaunching Road Sign Math in all its wonder, but I’ve got gaps in my archives. Also, the transition from blog to wiki made the archive hard to track.
On some recent road trips we’ve been grabbing some signs. And earlier this year I captured anew the Genesis (2023) sign.
I decided it was time to reboot it, not relaunch it. Start back as a simple blog with the awesome MathJax library. Just my signs. No scoring system or leaderboards. Just a fun place to share mathematically significant road signs.
Consider it my little contribution to keeping the Web weird. 😎
Also see list of escape rooms.
Big Cedar Lodge Signature Old Fashioned (Russell's Reserve 10 yr). Osage Restaurant at Top of the Rock. 🥃
View from our table at Osage Restaurant at Top of the Rock, Big Cedar Lodge.
Dogwood Canyon Pasture Raised Premier 32 oz Bison Tomahawk at Osage Restaurant. 🦬
We went to The Haygood's in Branson tonight.
Had a great time at Big Cedar Lodge and driving home today. Departed at 6:40 am after being the first customers at Truman's cafe for coffee. 9 hours of driving with a couple stops on the way. Final total of 1,338 miles in four days!
Rainy dusk in Downtown Minneapolis.
Took a pre-order for the Things 4 Good Candle Fundraiser and the purchase was made with Bitcoin Lightning! ⚡️ That is the first sale for our annual fundraiser done using crypto! No fees, instantaneous settlement. Magic. 🙌
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Love the geeky math of this. Plus, you can have a custom shirt made! I suspect I'll be wearing one of these on March 14, 2024! π → Find Your Pi Day
I can’t tell if this is poorly described, just super complicated, or I’m not getting it. The "Live Editor" was most helpful to me, and it sort of looks like GraphViz and DOT notation. → Mermaid | Diagramming and charting tool
My password manager of choice is 1Password and they just recently released Passkey support. I’m setting them up on any sites that support it. The usability is fabulous. Plus anything we can do to get people beyond passwords is a huge step for security. → Amazon enables passwordless passkeys on the web and in mobile apps - The Verge
Very powerful tool for manipulating piped text. Probably easier than
grep which could do similar things. → pypipe: Python pipe command line tool
I’m a fan of Mullenweg and think he's done so much good for the web. I’m a little surprised they are getting into messaging, but not much. Wish them the best with this acquisition. → Texts Joins Automattic | Matt Mullenweg
Just the idea of doing a firmware update to a satellite 12 billion miles away is so incredibly cool. I'd love to just hang out and watch while they did it. → NASA just sent a software update to a spacecraft 12 billion miles away
It would drive me bonkers if my front pockets were this small. → Women's Pockets are Inferior.
Here is your fortune…
Stay away from flying saucers today. 🛸
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I’ve been an active blogger since 2004. I’ve been microblogging via Twitter and my websites since 2006. My link blog goes back to 2005. I think about the Internet and our use of it over decades and am focused on preserving the personal and non-commercial parts of the Internet as well as the corporate and governmental parts. I’m a long-time supporter of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons and Internet Archive as well as other organizations that work on this.
My opinions are my own and not those of any affiliates. The content is non-malicious and ad-free, posted at my discretion. Source attribution is omitted due to potential errors. Your privacy is respected; no tracking is in place.