November 2, 2023

They say that your servers should be cattle, not pets, but I've never truly subscribed to that theory. Sure, nameless autoscaling behemoths are a great technical achievement. Probably safer and more resilient, too. But it would be tremendous overkill for my hobby projects.

One such project has a database server that's been chugging along happily for many years.

Tonight, on a whim, I tried SSHing to it to check something (I forget what - probably the uptime), and was surprised to have my connection rejected.

Permission Denied.

What could cause that, I wondered? And of course, I quietly panicked. Had it been compromised? Could it have been corrupted in some way?

October 1, 2023

You've seen it all over the web. It has exploded in popularity over the past five years. What is it?

It's that little box that websites show at the end of articles. You know the one. It thanks you for reading the article, and then goes on to ask you to subscribe or donate money. Sometimes it pleads, extolling how virtuous the website is for not pursuing advertising revenue or succumbing to corporate ownership.

It's the "please like and subscribe"/"smash that notification button" of the Blogosphere.

I don't know if it has a name already. But that's not going to stop me from giving it one right now.

I'm going to call it: the Busker Box.

That's what it comes down to, when you think about it. A small performance for passersby, followed by an extended hat or tin cup.

The best buskers parlay that growing crowd of donors into larger performances and larger venues. In this increasingly tortured metaphor, that would translate to speaking engagements. Or book deals.

Everyone needs to start somewhere. Only a select few people have the luxury of doing things for free. However, even those people can benefit from the direct remunerative feedback they might get from their patrons.

So if you happen to see a busker box, do not recoil in revulsion. Consider that your contribution is a direct action in support of another person's passions. You're letting them know that you care, and what you care about.

And always remember: the alternative to the busker box is an Internet completely inundated by obnoxious ads.

Nobody wants that.

September 9, 2023

I've managed to go a number of years in the software industry without having any repetitive strain issues. That all seems to have changed this month, so I've been looking for ways to ease the burden on my wrists and arms.

Enter: macOS voice control

This built in accessibility tool is free to use and runs locally* on–Device without sending my audio to a remote server. (* requires Apple silicon)

When I first noticed this feature, many years ago, I completely ignored it. At that time, it required remote server voice analysis in order to operate. So if you're wondering what the Secret Killer Feature actually is here, it's the fact that this is now on-device functionality, at least for Apple Silicon devices.

It's not perfect, but I'm getting used to its quirks and foibles.

How it works

To begin with, it's important to note that voice control is completely separate from Siri. You don't have to say something like "Hey Siri" to activate it; when enabled, it is always listening.

August 30, 2023

I always have a hard time explaining things. I don't tune the explanation correctly for the audience. I go into too much detail about stuff that doesn't matter. So I'm going to try and practice a better approach, and to do that, I'm going to try and explain Mastodon.

Explanation 1: The Good Parts

If you want a chronological timeline that is free from ads, doesn't use algorithms to hide your friends' posts from you, and isn't beholden to the whims of the billionaire techbro class, you want Mastodon.

Hmm, no, I can do better. That's a bit too wordy.

Explanation 2: Sales Pitch

Mastodon: Follow your friends. Fight the algorithms. Fuck the billionaires.

Erm, maybe that's too edgy and uninformative. Let me try again.