Category Archives: Software Engineering

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.

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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!

 

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.

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Kotlin Compactness Example from Swift Blog Article

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.

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Completing leaving the user data selling walled gardens

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):

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Progress on leaving the user data selling walled gardens

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).

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Replacing Facebook/Google Et Al With Open Platforms

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.

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iPhone Excitement Isn’t Just For the Fanboys

I almost never wait in huge lines for anything.  I camped out once for football tickets in college.  Once.  I also once waited six hours for an iPhone 4 when it first came out.  It was my first smart phone and I had been putting off getting one way too long.  That was it though.  Yet I know people who have waited in ever decreasing lines for each iteration of the iPhone.  The reduced lines are definitely part of the sizzle wearing off and the iPhone being just another smart phone.  Yet even at 8 pm last night there was a line for iPhones outside our local Apple store.  It didn’t wrap around the mall like in the iPhone 4 days but the end of the first day still having a line for an iPhone 8 was pretty telling to me.

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