I’m now three weeks into picking up and using non-walled garden social media systems instead of traditional ones, specifically Diaspora over Facebook and Twitter. It has mostly been a good experience despite some major disagreement on some of their decisions on user experience and other rough edges that I hope to help fix soon as a contributor. But the thing that puts social media apart from blogging or other static production ecosystems is the concept of sharing and interacting with other users. By the nature of the the fact these massive digital halls are still pretty empty I’m just not getting my fill of that.
This pro-Swift article came across my RSS feed recently and while I don’t want to do a direct comparison of Swift versus Kotlin since I haven’t done Swift coding I did think it was interesting to point out similar points of efficiency in their simple example built as a product of the Kotlin language compared to others like Java, the language they picked on too.
Over the weekend I had made a bunch of progress on migrating away from the walled garden systems. I’m happy to report substantially more progress. This will of course be an ongoing process of refinement and testing. However I’m currently getting substantial amounts of my needs met in enough areas that I’m prepared now to start pulling the plugs on Facebook, the Google Ecosystem, Twitter, and so on. When I wrote about this over the weekend I had completed my hypothetical replacement of several systems. I have some updates to those elements as well though. My current replacement portfolio looks as follows (summary at the very end):
As I wrote earlier this week after the Cambridge Analytica event came to light my nagging feeling that I needed to get off these Facebook, Google, etc. platforms crossed a threshold. It was no longer something that I thought I should do but something I was going to actively do. In one week I’ve made progress in pretty much every dimension (scroll down to the bottom if you just want my list of alternatives).
I’ve had my moments in the past where Facebook pissed me off and I tried Google+. That didn’t work out too well so I went back to Facebook after they addressed some of those problems. I had my moments in the past where I was concerned about the amount of tracking Google does in searches so I went to DuckDuckGo. That’s still my main search engine but sometimes I need results that come out better in Google so go there. I also use the Google platform for my e-mail, documents, etc. The concept of them selling my data in exchange for giving me free service has bothered me to varying degrees over the years, but seeing how greedily it was manipulated recently is really amping that up to me. The amount of information available to the highest bidder has always been a known quantity to me but these recent stories are just putting that up to eleven. It’s not just the Cambridge Analytica story. There is also the story about Facebook and other companies forcing users to turn over their keys, so to speak, so they can look at any and all their personal data as a condition for working for them. There is the way they exploited that data in difficult discussions.
For years now I’ve been an amateur bread baker that keeps trying the new and upcoming thing that runs across my computer. In the 90s I started with a focaccia recipe I found on USENET and Julia Child’s baguette recipe scribbled out of my mom’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In recent years I’ve picked up no-knead recipes, sourdough recipes and the like. I’ve also taken to radically changing some recipes with expectations on specific results. I see others doing the same thing in my groups. As we move around and try things the question becomes: “What makes a successful bread experiment?” Obviously if it turns out exactly as you intended that’d be a success but is that really it, or do we sometimes see a success staring right back at us but we don’t know it.
There are lots of write ups and studies which are showing more and more the negative effects on our perpetual stimulation by social media. This is everything from the negative effects of not giving your brain a rest, negative emotions from the perpetual stream of information, all the way to it being potentially an addiction. One simple way to get around this is to just uninstall every app, log out of the sites, and be done with it. That’s not always practical since these ecosystems are often how we tie into events, stay in touch with friends, and are helpful conduits to information we are looking for. The real problem is not having control of what and when information is presented to us once we enter these ecosystems. This is a byproduct of two features: alerts and newsfeeds. Eliminating and/or getting control of these is the key to getting control of and crafting your social media experience into being sane again.
Since I’m no stranger to starting fitness routines over again it’s always the constant reminder of how far I’ve fallen when I start back up a fitness routine again. Of course with each passing year the threshold drops further and further on the fitness levels at the beginning of each phase. On this particular startup phase I started up this week with elliptical cardio. Yes, I’d like to get back to running long distances again, but I’m still very early in the building phase and I know I have lots of body strength symmetry issues I want to work through. It was shocking and disappointing when after ten minutes of a thirty minute “easy” elliptical workout that I could feel the burn in my quads and calves. Because of some stuff around the house I have to get done I couldn’t risk having rigor mortis for the rest of the day so at that point I switched off to do an additional ten minutes of medium-speed walking on the treadmill. My heart rate which was in the high-160s to low-170s during the “easy” elliptical routine was now in the 110-115 range. That’s a perfect sustainable pace.
I’m sure I’ll be able to work up to much greater cardio levels over time. I’ll have a similar problem with my strength training as that kicks in. But it’s better to do the build up as baby steps rather a huge burst and then a crash and burn. It’s easy enough to lose focus with a sustainable pace much less with a crazy fast one.
Anyone who’s been following along knows that I have hardly been a model of fitness and healthy lifestyle here. At the same time I’m (hypothetically) trying to be proactive at avoiding health problems that creep up in later years. It’s not lack of knowledge or following trends but instead a lack of execution. When it comes to watching loved ones around you that are in the midst of having health problems that are caused by or substantially exacerbated by lifestyle choices that everyone knows are bad what can one do?
While I’ve mostly been absent from writing to the blog, and my fitness routine has only been slightly less absent than that, I have been able to maintain one thing completely dialed in over all this time: fitness tracking (as usual). With all of that data together I decided to create my first annual review post. I’d say compared to the average American I had a very normal year. Unfortunately I don’t want to have the fitness level and longevity of the average American, so while I’m not going to say things were bad they weren’t where I want them to be either.