All posts by Hank

Blog/site owner, author and otherwise normal guy.

Diaspora API Dev Progress Report 2

Yep, two Diaspora API dev reports on one day.  After taking a break for dinner and just watching some TV I got back to figuring out how to properly interface with the authentication and API from an external client.  I was re-reading the OpenID spec, watching some videos, reading some presentations, et cetera.  If I’m going to be working on the API this is something I definitely need to be deep diving into a lot more.  My initial order of business however was just getting it working.

Continue reading Diaspora API Dev Progress Report 2

Diaspora API Dev Progress Report 1

I’m only a few hours into getting fully going on the Diaspora API development project.  I had been pre-flying that whole experience earlier last week by studying the existing code base, familiarizing myself with the discussion threads et cetera.  Over the last couple of days I’ve been trying to focus more on moving the ball forward as well.  Before really doing that though there is still a little ground work to do.

Continue reading Diaspora API Dev Progress Report 1

Milestone: Higher Responses on Diaspora instead of Facebook

The Cambridge Analytical debacle from earlier this year and the subsquent #deletefacebook storm brought me into the alternative social media platform Diaspora.  At the time, as I wrote here, I had hoped to leave the walled gardens forever.  Initially I did just that but practicalities changed that forced isolation quite a bit.  In some cases, like DDG, I’m still 99% using the open alternative.  In others, like YouTube, I’m mostly using the old system because I just can’t get what I need out of the alternative system yet (although I still try more and more every week).  However for much of it, especially on the social media side, it’s more of a mix.  I’m on Diaspora as much as I’m on Facebook.  I’m on Mastodon more than I’m on Twitter, but that was always a small platform for me versus my usage of Facebook.  The best way to think of this blend for me is that I try to make Diaspora and Mastodon my primary platform and Facebook my secondary one, with Twitter being a distant third.

What that means practically is that I’m pretty much logged into Diaspora, Mastodon, and Facebook continuously throughout the day.  The first places I’m posting to are Diaspora and Mastodon.  The first places I’m checking posts is Diaspora and Mastodon.  Most of the new activity from me is on Diaspora and Mastodon with manual cross posting, thanks again Facebook for screwing up your API permanently to prevent external posting,  when I want to share the same thing on Facebook as well.  Because I have  just over 1000 friends on Facebook and almost all of them are people I’ve interacted with in real life (most mere acquaintances or met once at a social function or something) there is just a larger volume of relevant and more personally resonating posts from others I interact with.  So if one were to look at my activity feeds and notifications on a given morning when I start the day you’d see tons of activity on Facebook and a little activity on Diaspora and Mastodon.  Today was different.

Today the equation was reversed.  Today I had more interactions to wade through on Diaspora.  I had more relevant interactions to wade through at that.  I had more notifications to wade through.  I even got comparable engagement on my cross-posted material from late last night on all three systems.  That’s the first time that’s happened since I went back to having a foot in both worlds!

Is it that I crossed a tipping point in people I’m connected to on these alternative social media systems?  Is it that the influx of Google+ users have caused a spike in engagement across the systems in question?  I don’t know the answer to why, and this will probably stay a noteworthy exception rather than a rule moving forward.  However it can’t be a bad sign, except in one way.  In the span of how long I’ve been writing this article, which is a free association lasting 15 minutes, I’ve already received almost ten notifications on Diaspora.  I know that the notification controls are not as fine grained on Diaspora as they are on Facebook.  It’d be a great problem to have to need to tackle that sort of feature request in the near future :).

Let the Diaspora API Deep Dive Begin!

I can’t express how happy I am that I have the privilege of having a combination of time, ability, desire, and energy to contribute substantially to the Diaspora project right now.  Ever since I started using it in the spring it’s something I’ve wanted to be able to help with.  I certainly got my feet wet back then on some tweaks to the Twitter and Facebook interaction code, the latter of which is permamently broken thanks to Facebook’s new API spec.  With the amount of getting up to speed on Ruby, Rails, and the Diaspora code base I’m looking forward to helping tackle a much larger and persistently requested piece of code: a Diaspora API.  Continue reading Let the Diaspora API Deep Dive Begin!

Ramping Up Open Source Development Time

I’ve mostly been “microblogging” updates on Diaspora recently.  That’s a fancy way of saying I haven’t been doing any in-depth writing but instead just making quick ad hoc posts on social media.  As I am now ramping up my development on open source projects, primarily Diaspora by the looks of it, I’m hoping to start posting here more frequently capturing new lessons learned, observations from  my exploration of these newer languages and code bases, and just getting more writing in.

Over the summer I actually spent a good deal of time exploring different cross platform development frameworks of the .NET and C++ variety.  That was intended to be to work on a very niche open source project idea that I had conjured up around my classic computing hobby.  By the time I made enough progress on that to the point where I could potentially be productive, although I still want to explore wxWidgets a bit more, the bug to help on alternative social media platforms bit again.

So while I’ve been pining away for the opportunity to really start getting into Kotlin, JavaFX, and other technologies, my current path is taking my down the jewel crusted path of Ruby, Ruby on Rails, and JavaScript.  These are the technologies that Diaspora is built upon.  In fact, as I’ve written before elsewhere, I’m really enjoying the language a lot.  RubyMine could use a bit of polish compared to how well it works for Java and Kotlin but it’s at least on par with the CLion C++ and Rider .NET IDEs.  Yes, I’ve fully converted over to being a JetBrains user nowadays, even paying for a full license to the entire suite.  To people who know me the fact I converted over is probably going to be a bit of a shock.  To the casual reader coming here from my non-software interests they have no idea what we are talking about, but IDEs are very personal decisions and we get wedded to them pretty hard.

Sorry for the absence.  I hope to be a regular poster again for the half dozen of you that actually read this!

 

Physics Says You Can’t Have Cake and Eat It Too With Laptops

I’m a bit baffled by this Motherboard article on “screwing ourselves” with the pursuit of thinness in laptops.  This is of course coming out of an Apple controversy where some bad software and a lot of tipping the scales in favor of form over function has lead to a haus looking laptop spec turning out some pretty bad real world performance numbers.  As has often been the case, once the initial outrage of some Apple stumble starts growing old people start looking around at other vendors and then the quiet problems of the industry are shown the light of day.  Apple’s MacBook Pro thermal problem is more egregious than others but turns out they all are essentially hobbling performance on their UltraBooks and compact laptop chassis making the list specs nothing real world.  Why are we surprised by this though?

Continue reading Physics Says You Can’t Have Cake and Eat It Too With Laptops

Food Is Life, A Segue Thought on Vampire Immortality

While I was recently re-watching Interview With the Vampire for the first time in awhile I was thinking about what it would be like to live for hundreds of years or more. Then I flashed back to a line from the beginning where Lestat says to to Louis, “I’ve come to answer your prayers. Life has no meaning any more does it? The wine has no taste. The food sickens you. It seems no reason for any of it…” and then goes on to convince Louis to become a vampire. However we then find out in this vampire mythology that vampires can’t eat. For me the majority of the joy of life is one way or another connected with food. I’m a foodie because I love all kinds of food, simple and cheap to complex and expensive. Living hundreds of years without being able to enjoy the exploration and enjoyment of food seems horrible to me, before we get to any of the other complications that substantially increased longevity brings (as Armand gets into later). Food is life.  Whether it’s following the teachings of Buddhist monks and learning how to thoroughly enjoy each sip of a cup of tea or each bite of a piece of fruit, baking cookies from scratch with your family at the holidays, scarfing down a delicious soft pretzel as you drive down the road, taking in a pint or two with friends at a bar, or getting to experience a luxurious meal at a Michelin Star restaurant, food is so integrated into my experience system I don’t see the point of living even a normal lifespan without it much less living for hundreds of years.  The bigger lesson for me is also to remember to enjoy the simpler things that I experience every day and not always be looking for something new, unique, or exotic to try next.

Twenty Pounds On My Back

I was getting ready to head to the airport and noticed my backpack was feeling really heavy.  It has two computers, all my clothes, an iPad, all the charges, etc.  I decided to weigh it and sure enough it was just a hair under twenty pounds in total. I thought to myself, “That’s a lot of weight to be hauling around an airport for a couple hours in each direction!”  Yet just a few months ago I was carrying an extra fifteen extra pounds of fat on my body each and every day.  Hopefully as I carry forward having my fitness routine dialed I’ll be carrying around twenty five pounds less weight than I was at the beginning of the year.  There’s obviously a toll for carrying around all that extra weight.  Plopping twenty pounds on your back to experience that briefly is an interesting exercise in reminding ourselves of that.

Ubuntu MATE 16.04 to 18.04 Upgrade Hiccup on VirtualBox Guest Additions

Since the release of Ubuntu 18.04 I’ve been using it a bunch in various VMs.  I do love the new minimal install feature.  Even though it doesn’t save that much hard disk space it does make things a lot less  cluttered, which I absolutely love.  Because I work in VMs I’ve been experimenting with migrating OS’s up to 18.04 rather than crushing old VMs, building from scratch, and porting data over.  This process has worked almost seamlessly the dozen or so times I’ve done it across many VMs from various different baselines: Mainline 16.04, Mainline 17.10, Ubuntu MATE 16.04.  The actual core software itself seems to work perfectly fine out of the box, but as I said it is almost seamless not seamless.  There seems to be a bit of a wrinkle with the Ubuntu MATE update with respect to the VirtualBox Guest Additions, specifically with respect to shared folder drives.

I first ran across this in one of my main VMs when I tried the update.  Everything went great, I re-applied the guest additions and voilà my shared folder drives mounted and I was in business.  The next day when I fired up the VM they were missing.  It was a hectic day, so I thought perhaps I had remembered it working so I applied the guest additions again.  The drives reappeared.  This time I rebooted to confirm it stuck but sadly they did not.  I’ve continued to do some experimenting and have come to discover that while they are there the systemd process doesn’t seem to want to start on reboot even though it is set to. So to fix it I just need to do the following command to get them to show up:

sudo systemctl restart vboxadd-service.service

I wasn’t having this problem on Ubuntu 18.04 or Ubuntu MATE 18.04 virgin machines so this was either a problem with the general Ubuntu 16.04 to 18.04 upgrade process or specific to Ubuntu MATE 16.04 to 18.04 upgrade.  I therefore went about creating two brand new VMs, one each for mainline Ubuntu 16.04 and one for Ubuntu MATE 16.04 and then went through the upgrade process directly.  Those steps are:

  1. Fresh install OS with 3rd party and upgrades turned on
  2. Follow https://virtualboxes.org/doc/installing-guest-additions-on-ubuntu/ for installing guest additions
  3. Shutdown/Power on
  4. Add user to the vboxsf group (sudo usermod -a -G vboxsf <username>)
  5. Restart
  6. Confirm RW shared folder
  7. Bring up graphical updater, do any additional updates
  8. Invoke Upgrade to 18.04 through graphical system:
    sudo apt update && sudo apt dist-upgrade
    update-manager -d
  9. See if shared folder drive there
  10. After Update re-apply kernel extensions
  11. Restart
  12. Confirm shared drive

I can repeatably show that mainline Ubuntu 16.04 goes through these updates without this artifact but the MATE version does not.  Again, a fresh Ubuntu MATE 18.04 install doesn’t have this behavior at all.  I wonder if this write up can shed some light on this problem for the Ubuntu MATE team.

Adjusting to not-as-social social media alternatives

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.

Continue reading Adjusting to not-as-social social media alternatives