• Response to The Thermal Printer Project: Part I

    A few days ago, I decided to purchase the Adafruit Thermal Printer, which was compatible with the Raspberry Pi. This thermal printer has been on my mind for a while but this week a reason for buying one came to mind (aside from the fun of experimenting with a thermal printer which was obvious to me).
    Really enjoyed this series from James about hooking a thermal printer to a cronjob that'll print his weather, webmentions, and news off in the mornings. Brilliant! I've got some Pi's laying around collecting dust, I should use them for something fun like this.
  • Response to Developer relations – Marco.org

    Modern society has come to rely so heavily on mobile apps that any phone manufacturer must ensure that such a healthy ecosystem exists as table stakes for anyone to buy their phones.
    I wasn't concerned when the iPhone first came out and third party apps could only be installed via the App Store. Unlike Android, having a single place to go to install apps is arguably a much better customer experience. Having the manufacturer manually approve each app that's installable on your phone seemed warranted as data was super expensive and you didn't want an app misbehaving on your 3G connection giving you surprise bills. This approval process provided some assurance this wouldn't happen.

    However in the years since the AppStore's release, mobile phones have become central to modern society. Even in Japan, a country famous for holding on to fax machines and personal stamps, it's becoming harder to exist without one of their devices.

    Because of the cellphone's new role as the interface for interacting with society, a closed AppStore and closed devices that only allow you to interact with society via a benevolent dictator's approved was feels increasing anti-democratic.

    No matter how benevolent of a dictator they may be, they're still a dictator.
  • Response to We’ve all been there: on boolean environment variables.

    Environment values are strings. True becomes "True" and False becomes "False".

    And, well, what does "False" evaluate to? True. True.
    I think the best way to handle settings with Django is to use django-environ.Β  Not only does it handle .env files. It also has a lot of utility methods for converting values to native python types ( bool, list etc..) and using database urls. It's great.

    My airbot settings.py uses it. My airbot settings also lets you specify the path for your .env with the ENV_FILE environment variable, so you can create different files for different environments.
  • Response to Changes at Basecamp

    1. No more societal and political discussions at Basecamp.
    2. No more paternalistic benefits.
    3. No more committees.
    4. No more lingering or dwelling on past decisions.
    5. No more 360 reviews.
    6. No forgetting what we do here.
    I don't work for and don't use Basecamp/Hey, but this was a difficult and disappointing read.Β 

    Not allowing societal and political discussions at work is a tough call, depending on the internal state at Basecamp. With so much injustice in society finallyΒ  coming to a head, people are going to want to talk about it with other members of society (their co-workers). If the company chat (though this is Basecamp, maybe they don't have one?) is a dumpster-fire 9 - 5 with non-stop political discussions, it speaks to a larger issue with the company culture and individual impulse control.

    Blanket disallowing political discussion removes the opportunity to teach employees a valuable life skill on the internet: learning to not argue on the internet and ignoring the trolls because they will always have more time than you. It seems to me that you'd be better served by taking the instigators aside and having a frank conversation about time management. Learning to turn on the blinders and focus on the task at hand is an important skill.

    Removing the "paternalistic benefits" was also disappointing to see. We know without a doubt that exercise is good for us. Getting food from the farmer's market not only gets you quality product, but also strengthens your local community. These are things we should want to encourage.Β 

    Saying that we're giving you a profit share and you can spend your money how you'd like ignores the psychological aspect of these kinds of benefits. Having that little bit of "extra" or "free" makes it mentally much easier for employees to make better choices that benefit everyone.
  • Response to https://twitter.com/simonw/status/1384383772255084546?s=20

    I still think it's rude to return MBs of data if your client device might be an inexpensive mobile phone, but for things like server-to-server API responses I May have been being way too early 2000s in my thinking Turns out returning 10+ MB of JSON works fine these days!
    I used to think similarly until I started thinking about compute in terms of carbon emissions (all data transfer/parsing/sending/storage requires electricity and thus likely carbon emissions for now). Since then I try to minimize all compute wherever possible.
  • Response to Cycling is ten times more important than electric cars for reaching net-zero cities

    We've been using our electric assist "mama-chari" a lot more recently. I've been taking it to a local coffee shop that I'd usually walk (15 minutes) or drive (5 minutes)to and it's been great. My wife has been taking it to her parent's house (5.5km away) where I'd either drive them round trip or we'd take the train. Travel time ends up being about the same regardless of the method of transport we take.

    What I like the most about cycling is how you can travel quickly and you're not disconnected from your environment like you are with a car. It feels more human.

  • Response to inessential: New in NetNewsWire 6: Twitter Search Feeds

    What’s cool about this: you can watch for mentions of whatever you want, and those come to you in the same app where your other feeds live.
    Following Twitter searches in NetNewsWire looks super handy. Will have to add the #IndieWeb hashtag once this is released.Β 
  • Response to Colin Walker - Mar 17, 2021

    It's a little bittersweet β€” on the one hand it feels good as I know that I have a new solution but, on the other, it feels a little sad that the fruits of so much time and effort are now redundant.
    I feel this when I improve implementations all the time. Code reflects our best understanding of a given problem to a given solution at a given time. Requirements changing naturally means that the problem has also changed.

    When writing code I try to remind myself that all is temporary and will be deleted or rewritten at some point, so I best not grow too fond of it.
  • Response to jlelse's Blog

    I just took a quick look at my server logs. And I see that there are some bots that are constantly crawling my site. If that would be search engines, feed readers etc. that wouldn’t be a problem. But this are crawlers by companies whose websites try to se
    I wonder if there isn't a list of these cralwers out there that you could then automatically block at the nginx/apache level. Even handling it at the app server level would discourage them from crawling your site too much.
  • 10 Years Since 3/11

    Today marks 10 years since 3/11, the great earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku that resulted in tens of thousands dead or missing and even more displaced from the nuclear accident in Fukushima. 3/11 was one of those days that I'll never forget and I still vividly remember.

    A few months prior to 3/11 I had gotten married my wife in Japan and my parents were coming to meet her family for the first time. They had a direct flight from Houston, Texas, which is about 13 hours and were scheduled to land around 4pm on March 11th, 2011. I was riding the Narita Express to meet them at the airport and chatting with my old Japanese teacher in US on Messenger about horrible the earthquake was in New Zealand a couple weeks prior.

    Initially when the train started shaking I had thought it was the usual movement of the train, people move around to get disembark quicker or driver's coming in a bit hot and has to brake a harder than usual. When it felt like the train had a very real possibility of tipping (it wasn't close, in retrospect) is when I realized this was something different.

    The trains immediately shutdown and Shinagawa station was a madhouse. The engineers (I'm guessing) on a business trip on the train had the right idea, they immediately went to the nearest hotel and booked room. I wish I had done that.

    My parents were still in the air, so I had no way to contact them. Apparently they circled Tokyo for a few, before re-fueling at Yokota airbase, before continuing on to Osaka – landing in the wrong part of the country.

    After the earthquake you couldn't make a telephone call in Japan. All the circuits were busy all the time. But the internet and Twitter worked great. I had my laptop and a 3G modem with me. Using my US number on Skype, I could use US telephone circuits, which weren't overloaded, and contact other family in the US to let them know what was happening and that I was fine.

    We found a hotel that'd let us stay in their lobby. We eventually left to go find food, but everything was sold out everywhere. The only place we found with food was a Yoshinoya with a long and slow moving line. After waiting for what felt like 30 minutes and making little progress we noticed that, despite this line not moving, people seemed to be coming and going. We were in the line for take-out. Eating in we could get service almost immediately. Due to the high volume of customers they were rationing beef – which they made sure we'd be ok with before we ordered.

    After eating we returned to the hotel to stay the night on hard marble floors with a bunch of other stranded people. The morning it felt almost oddly normal. A couple of backpackers asked if we knew where the nearest hostel was, but we were of no use. We found a different hotel that was serving nice warm breakfast with the type of service that makes you feel like everything's gonna be all right.

    My parents managed to find their way to the Shinkansen and made it to Shinyokohama. We attempted to ride the Tokaido-line to Yokohama but it was after seeing 3 trains come bursting at the seams packed with people, we looked for alternative routes to meet my parents. Funny enough, we also rode the Shinkansen to Shinyokohama. It was still standing room only, but at least you could breath. And the journey was only 7 or 8 minutes.

    What I experienced on 3/11 pales in comparison to those that lost their lives and saw their homes and loved ones vanish before their eyes. 10 years later and while things look like they've rebuilt, they'll never be the same.

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