boutell: (shave)
Hey folks,

That new social network I was talking about has come to pass. It's still in beta, but it's come along a tremendous way, with oodles of help from [livejournal.com profile] catbear.

If interested, just drop me a line at tommybgoode@gmail.com and I'll shoot you an invite.
boutell: (shave)
One Post Wonder status update: I can invite people. Those people can accept their invitations and become mutual friends and see each other's posts.

Booyeah! So what's left before I can bring in alpha testers?

● 24-hour rule (that's where this started...)
● A way to follow a nifty person you discover through public posts or comments
● Edit friends
● Public/private switch for posts (right now they are all private)
● Profile pictures
● Limit the # of invites you can send
● A way to change your password

That will bring me up to the minimum feature set for folks to enjoy the experience. Then I'll welcome those who are still reading when they get to this sentence. You know who you are.
boutell: (shave)
We revisited Grounds for Sculpture yesterday. A good time was had, but a massive retrospective of every mediocre sculpture by Seward Johnson is not necessary. I don't care that he owns the place.

He sculpts the ordinary, and also recreates famous paintings. In small doses it's cute. In large doses it becomes aggressive propaganda for normalcy. SIT ON A BENCH! KISS YOUR WIFE! BE GLAD WWII IS OVER! 30 FOOT TALL MARILYN MONROE! LOOK AT THIS FAMILIAR PAINTING! OR ELSE!

I wouldn't be so unkind if half of them weren't 30 feet tall.

Even Norman Rockwell engaged with civil rights issues, and he was painting his subjects while they were much closer to the present day. Seward Johnson is just... there, taking credit for restating the obvious, 30 to 100 years later.

One of his statues is accidentally meaningful: a bronze of a businessman with a briefcase sitting in lower Manhattan was buffeted by debris on 9/11. Johnson has, tastefully, refrained from repairing the original. He has also recreated the piece, surrounded by faux debris, at Grounds for Sculpture. I could quibble, but I'm going to give him a point for effort on this one.

Surviving WWII veterans have also adopted his giant sculpture of the famous VJ day kiss in Times Square. Hey, I'm happy to support anything and everything that works for surviving WWII veterans. Sincerely. But this strikes me as another accident. In the artist's window of reference, there's nothing remarkable about it. It gains its significance from the fact that living memory of WWII is slipping away.

Probably his best intentional piece is the Chamber of Internal Dialogue. Externally, it's a small house with sculpted reliefs of Munch's "The Scream" and Odilon Redon's "Silencio." Internally... it's a little bit clever. If he's going to relentlessly present the familiar, I much prefer he juxtapose it like this.

Grounds for Sculpture is still an awesome destination with a lot of fun pieces and an ideal place to chat with friends as you wander. Sandman fans will especially enjoy the muses garden and the triple goddess. But man o day, I'll be going again sometime after the RETURN TO YOUR NORMATIVE ROLES show closes.
boutell: (shave)
"How's the site comin'?" It's comin'. I've started writing code, which is great, and it took a little flailing about to get my priorities straight:

Get Tom logged in
Get Tom writing posts in rich text
Get Tom reading
Get alpha testers invited
Get people commenting
Get photos in there
Get YouTube in there
Let the alpha testers (and Tom) invite more beta testers
Get ??? in there
Sustainability: introduce the option of paying for it or seeing ads
Let it grow until a point where we...
Need a kickstarter to do more scalability engineering
Which brings more attention and more people
FLAWLESS VICTORY
boutell: (shave)
THE THREE LAWS OF BOZOTICS

1. A bozo may not sadden a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to become sad.
2. A bozo must obey the orders given to it by little children, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A bozo must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
boutell: (shave)
Please note: decimals are only approximate as roman numeral fractions are base twelve.

STAR TREK I: THE MOTION PICTURE

STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN

STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK

STAR TREK III•: ACTUALLY A TOTALLY NEW MOVIE BUT MARKETING SAID WE COULDN'T GO WITH IV YET

STAR TREK III• NT: THIS MOVIE NEVER SUDDENLY STOPS PLAYING FOR NO REASON BUT IT CONTAINS NO PRETTY SPACESHIPS AT ALL

STAR TREK IIIS NT: NO REALLY, THIS ONE WILL PLAY TO THE END

STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME

STAR TREK IV NT: THE VOYAGE WORK

STAR TREK IV•: THE VOYAGE HOME ONLINE

STAR TREK V: WHAT DOES WORK NEED WITH A GAME PLATFORM

STAR TREK IV:·:: WHAT DOES HOME NEED WITH MULTIPLE USERS

STAR TREK V•: FIVE UNDISCOVERED EDITIONS

STAR TREK VI: THE COPY PROTECTED MOVIE YOU COULDN'T WATCH

STAR TREK VI•: SORRY WE PISSED OFF SEVERAL GENERATIONS

STAR TREK VI••: ACTUALLY AN UNRECOGNIZABLY DIFFERENT MEDIUM THAT ISN'T FILM AT ALL WITH A FILM STAPLED TO IT. PLEASE RUN UP TO THE FRONT OF THE THEATER AND TOUCH THE PROJECTION SCREEN TO CONTINUE

STAR TREK VI•••: PROJECTION SCREEN NO LONGER CATCHES FIRE WHEN YOU RUN UP TO THE FRONT OF THE THEATER AND TOUCH IT TO CONTINUE

STAR TREK VI••••: SORRY WE PISSED OFF ALL THE REMAINING PEOPLE. IF YOU STILL HAVE EYES YOU MIGHT ENJOY THIS MOVIE. HEY WHERE DID EVERYBODY GO?
boutell: (shave)
"Social Enough" kinda appeals to me. And miraculously, socialenough.com is available!

Whatcha think?
boutell: (shave)
A bunch of you already know I'm designing a social network where you can only post once per day.

My latest mockup is here.

New today: comments. The first post in the mockup is displayed with comments expanded.

I think Facebook mostly gets commenting right. LJ's comments are overcomplicated for most people's needs.

I did however go with a "send" button, which frees up the enter key for actual line breaks, without having to be a cleverpants who hits shift-enter. I think it's more in keeping with the "longer deeper thoughts" nature of the site.

The deepest question I haven't resolved: do public posts even exist on this site? I like the idea that it's more focused on friends, but I don't want to chase away folks who enjoy having a mixed public/private presence. Like me.

Along with that: should people have public "usernames"?
boutell: (shave)
I'm thinking about building a social network where you can only post once a day. You'd get a small number of indulgences, of course, in case you elope or your duck graduates. This would encourage less trivial posting and less obsessive reading.

I've been discussing the idea on Facebook, which is a terrible place to have an ongoing discussion, so I thought I'd post here.

I'm thinking there's a buffer where you can work on contributions to today's post, so if you get the urge to say OMG KITTENZ, you can add some KITTENZ to what you'll post later.

I think the special indulgence button needs to be a duck in a mortarboard cap.

The best actual-name suggestion so far is probably Andy Solberg's "broadside," which is currently a squatter domain; I might conceivably be able to buy it.

I whipped up a design sketch tonight which I kinda like (revised version; see also first version). It emphasizes the daily nature of things and tries to be uncluttered and focused on reading. Of course I haven't tried to add an interface for posting and commenting.

Here are my notes:

* No more than one post per day
* Unless you use one of your indulgences, which recharge slowly
* This is the WHOLE POINT so it should be featured right in the name. I was thinking "ourdiem" but that, and most reasonable plays on "day," are taken. "quotidious" is ridiculous... right?
* Just one comment per day per person on any given post
* Comments are always moderated, but make this wildly easy and automatically whitelist people you follow
* No "reblogging", but make it easy to share links in your daily post. Maybe even "pin" other people's posts to remark upon in your post later
* It's OK to edit a past post or past comment. If people are jerks with this feature don't follow them
* Yes to rich text, with one post per day you might want to embroider a bit
* One site-wide visual style. Facebook got that right
* Free, becoming free-plus-ads, with the option of paying to have no ads (if we ever get there)
* Responsive site (iPhone and Android friendly right off the bat), apps later
* Comment on a post without losing your place as you read your feed (LJ still gets this wrong)
* Writing prompts to help you get going
* Social contract: quotidious will be run by a "B corporation" as soon as possible ( http://www.bcorporation.net/ ), or perhaps a nonprofit
* Want to log in with Facebook? Fine. Want to log in with Twitter? Fine. I don't care that I don't own you
* Privacy levels and circles (aka "custom friend groups"). We are not Tumblr
* NO aggressive invite feature, it doesn't work anyway, too many people don't know their friends' email addresses now because of Facebook. If you like it, tell somebody about it
boutell: (shave)
My wife is convinced I want to move to Mars. She has expressly forbidden me to do so. She has nothing to worry about.

Not just because nobody's moving to Mars any time soon, not even Elon Musk.

Not just because I'd be a terrible astronaut. I'd calculate the coordinates correctly, then open the airlock in an absent-minded quest for wheat thins.

No... because life on Mars is a godawful small affair. A long-term Mars colonist who spent his time knocking about in a suit on the surface would hit his lifetime radiation limit within a few hundred days.

A permanent resident would have to spend almost all of their time deep underground, protected by a shield of rock.

If you told me I had to do that on Earth, I'd probably say "as long as there are salsa clubs and I can play Starcraft."

Mars would have a tiny population of dancers and around 13 minutes of Internet lag. Gee, no thanks.

If we're lucky and smart, someone may get to go. And I hope they go to stay, because creating a second fully independent biology is the best way to understand what we must do to preserve life on Earth. But I'm happy to participate via awesome sky-crane-propelled robot.
boutell: (shave)
Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] tongodeon at The Virginia Declaration of Rights
I learned something interesting today. The Bill of Rights (1789) was based heavily on the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776). The Second Amendment was derived from this section:


Section 13. That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.


This is an angle that I haven't heard before, probably because it's not convenient to either side of the gun debate. The primary purpose of Section 13 (and possibly the Second Amendment) was not to facilitate the overthrow of a tyrannical government, it was to avoid the rise of that government in the first place by preventing standing armies. This also gives the phrase "well-regulated militia" a bit of a clearer meaning. In order to make sure that standing armies are unnecessary you don't simply ensure that every civilian had access to guns, they also had to be capable of fighting together as a well-regulated militia.

boutell: (shave)
Tonight I attended a party on a pirate ship. Actually, it was a rowhouse. But it was much better than a proper pirate ship, because it had both a jolly roger and a stunning view of Center City.

I met a time traveler. She is seeking her father, who precedes her in her journey through time. She deserved to win the costume contest, for her steam-powered watch if nothing else, and she did. But I couldn't resist asking how many times she replayed the evening before the prize was hers. Only twice, she insisted.

The conversation turned to physics, as it so often does among time travelers, and she asked if I were enjoying the new Cosmos, having also grown up on Carl Sagan's original in the seventies. Not yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

How many times will Saturn return in my lifetime? How many retro-retro-retro arcades, how many dance crazes, how many 25-year-olds singing Black Sabbath at the Adobe Cafe will I enjoy?

Tough to say. But I sail the narrow strait between the rocks, and go jogging every morning, and wear my earplugs at the club. Because I love this long moment.

We wish we could be teenagers again, knowing what we know now. But we are.
boutell: (shave)
Dear LJ,

Congrats on the new design. Sincerely, it's a significant improvement.

But until you do something about this absurd 1999-esque business of leaving the current page to comment, hitting the back button and not picking up where you left off in reading your feed I'm still going to feel like a dino for using you.

Sincerely,

Dino Q. Dino.
boutell: (shave)
macbook

My daughter's black Macbook has died. Sort of.

Normally I don't get sentimental about computers, but it had a long life with three owners, all of whom were thrilled when they initially received it and for a long time thereafter.

This thing is most likely the 2006 model, purchased for Rick, the lead designer at P'unk Avenue at the time. It was a robust Photoshop machine then.

When I first came to work at P'unk Avenue I was still rocking the flaming, half-charred remains of a Dell Latitude D520, the model that always ran hot once they decided to push out a firmware "update" that overclocked it at all times. Basically as if Honda said, "every time somebody gets an oil change we chuck in a nitrous oxide injection system. No ifs ands or buts." I ran Linux on it, figuring if you've got to drive an alcohol-fueled funnycar you may as well drive stick.

After less than a year of this the team decided it was time for Rick to get a new Mac, because Photoshop (a very good reason), and for me to get a nearly-new one.

I was resistant to the idea, for about 30 seconds. And then I was a Mac person. Yes, you too can have things that aren't broken and feel good to use! And you'll only pay a $500 premium for the privilege. Sometimes it's worth it.

In 2010 I got a 15" Macbook Pro. I was resistant, again, because I had the best man-bag ever, and I didn't want to switch. Yes, this is the same bag that led me to resist upgrading from a crappy Nokia to an iPhone for a year and a half. Wouldn't fit in the phone compartment, y'know. I got over it.

I was kindly permitted to take the by-now-seemingly-ancient black macbook home for to my daughter, who until then was on a Dell cheapo desktop special of the year. The macbook was a major upgrade.

Come the end of 2012, performance was really getting to be a problem. The machine had "only" 2 gigabytes of RAM and a small, spinning hard drive and operating system and browser upgrades had brought us to a place where just browsing the tumblrwebs was a hassle.

Fortunately 2012 was also the year SSDs (Solid State Drives) came down to a reasonable price. The upgrade to a solid state drive is a night-and-day difference for old laptops; they actually run faster than new laptops that don't have one. We upgraded all of our machines at work, then I popped a 256GB Crucial SSD in the black Macbook, along with 3GB of RAM, the absolute theoretical maximum.

My daughter got another solid year out of the machine, apart from some issues with lazy-ass game vendors who can't be bothered to support more than one Mac. The keyboard's wearing out, the trackpad's wearing out, but it works y'know.

But then the serious complaint arrived: dad, the screen goes black at random when I power it up.

OK, OK, it's time.

So I bought her a Dell Inspiron 15z, reckoning it'll keep her at least until freshman year of college and maybe beyond. (The Ultrabook spec has made it a lot easier to buy a non-Mac laptop that isn't garbage.) And then I sat down to try to repair the Black Macbook.

As it turns out, a number of people have experienced this "flash at power up, then black screen" thing. And I went through all of their suggestions. None of them work. There is no faint picture. Resetting the PRAM does no good. Resetting the SMC does no good. Removing the battery does no good. Counting to ten with my underwear on backwards does no good.

But the machine seems to be working, there in the dark. And I bet you, when I hook it up to an external monitor, I'm gonna see a picture.

And that means I can wipe the hard drive, reinstall MacOS, and put this sucker up on eBay for the highest bidder as the cheapest media server ever.

Here we are in year eight, paging happy owner number four!
boutell: (shave)
I posted a lovely technical rant today. I'm pleased with it. Folks are appearing to explain how very wrong I am.

I don't actually think there's only one right answer, but since I intentionally invited strong reactions by invoking the phrase considered harmful, I must take these responses in stride and respond with cheerful bonhomie and rocket grenade fire.

It takes me back to my beginnings, not as a programmer but as a writer. I was meant to be on the Internet, but there wasn't one yet for normal mortals. So I built a BBS out of chewing gum and baling wire, set up political forums and learned the arts of consensus and rhetoric, Peter Wiggin style.
boutell: (shave)
OK, so, the Brendan Eich thing. You could be forgiven for thinking it's a slippery slope to ask an employee to leave because of their personal beliefs about a social issue. Because it is.

But a CEO is not a regular employee. A CEO is a very public cheerleader for your company. It's a PR position as much as anything. The phrase "appearance of impropriety" is relevant here. You can't claim your CEO's views are not those of the company. If not theirs, then whose?

OK, so maybe you wouldn't buy that either if we were talking about Domino's Pizza, or even Microsoft, because they are for-profit companies and it's their job to maximize the stock price, not change the world. But Mozilla is not a for-profit company. It's a nonprofit organization dedicated to "openness." And that "public cheerleader" thing goes double for the CEO of a nonprofit organization.

But let's go back to the for-profits for a moment, because there's another relevant factor: companies need to retain employees. Developers are social libertarians. People who want to get married will always care more about the issue than people who want to stop them from getting married. And all of Mozilla's major competitors are rock solid on same-sex marriage, even though, as for-profit companies, they could choose to ignore it.

So at the end of the day, making him CEO was bad business. It should never have happened. He should have stayed in the CIO role, which acknowledged his considerable professional worth, and not moved into the vastly more political role of CEO.
boutell: (shave)
I pick up my wife tomorrow. 4pm and 10pm at the Stardust Ballroom.

I am preparing with a strict regimen of eating ginger candy and blowing up n00bz.
boutell: (shave)
Vaccines are not 100% effective. But if everyone gets them then the odds of the disease propagating go down. Eventually to the point where a case of measles can't replace itself, on average, with more than one case of measles and the disease is no longer epidemic.

Stick to your guns long enough, as we did with smallpox, and the disease may become extinct - no more dead children from that cause, ever again ever. This is good.

But if enough people become overconfident and stop immunizing their kids, that ratio of new cases to old cases creeps above 1.0 again, and the disease starts to spread and may become epidemic once more. This is bad.

The good news is that the measles vaccine is highly effective after the second dose. The bad news is that the second dose is given at age four. The dose at age one is only 95% effective.

So even kids whose parents are doing their best to protect them are needlessly at risk of something that could lead to deafness, or even death (roughly 3 out of every 1000 cases). And decisions not to vaccinate, made by other parents, are directly responsible for this.

I would have to think twice about taking a baby on a New York City bus this month. And people who live there don't get a choice.
boutell: (shave)
OK, on a macro scale I'm not surprised at all, but on a micro scale I'm curious about the mechanics of this theft.

If I read this right, flexcoin's "hot wallet" just consisted of a big ol' pile of bitcoin that belonged, cryptographically speaking, to flexcoin itself. And a pile of user accounts, in a very conventional "this is a site with some accounts in a database" system, with balances. None of those people actually *had any bitcoins* in the sense that can be mathematically verified by a party outside flexcoin.

That enabled a pretty simple attack that worked because they were tracking their accounts with chewing gum and string - excuse me - using a database that wasn't transactional and couldn't guarantee that it wouldn't finish adding over here unless it also finished subtracting over here.

Am I right about that?

And why would anyone who thought bitcoin was worthwhile want to *not actually own* the bitcoins they "own", in the most cryptographically sound manner possible?

Could it be that *most people using bitcoin have zero comprehension of how it really works*? OK, yes, of course it's that.

But also, how crappy is my own crappy understanding of "owning bitcoins"? There is some sense in which the original miner signs them and stuff, right? And some sense in which if ownership is transferred, the new owner gets to sign them in that crazy "blockchain" thing? Except that doesn't happen in these "hot wallet" systems? Because... why???

Will bitcoin "exchanges" be replaced by a system in which the math of this craziness, however unproven, is at least applied to every transaction?

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