nowhere


yet another one of my little homes on the internet

A small tilde.town micro-website — links · contact me · ask stuff

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Obligations

I hesitate to write here more, because I think every post has to be one of the big posts that I've made previously. I think that smaller, lighter posts aren't really interesting, or worth putting up, because there's not much there; that this place, the space I have, for me, shouldn't be written to unless I'm writing something interesting for others. It sounds absurd when I write it like that, but it really is how it feels.

But looking across the other sites here, on tilde.town, shows that a lot of the little webpages here aren't updated any more, if they ever were in the first place.

In that way, even just updating to say "I am still here, and I am doing okay" is worthwhile.


On a side note, I have been making a little progress this year. More "adulting"; trying to get things done around the house that ordinarily wait until critical-mass to get done. To more or better managed people, it probably sounds very silly, but getting these small things done early instead of letting them sit forever is a nice accomplishment. (This week has been a small shopping trip, cleaning up some things, and getting some things organized.)

I guess in that way, this post and those things come together, as small, but incremental progress. After all, even the smallest progress is still progress.

Happy New Year, 2017 edition

Happy new year!

My resolutions for this new year are to write more and to make a game.

Raspberry has suggested that we try the one-game-a-month thing, but she's out of town for half this month, so I'm thinking we'll try doing that next month.

Other than that, not much to say! I took two weeks of vacation from December 26th to January 6th. It was relaxing, but not having work to wake up to every day really did a number on my sleep schedule...

Acmlm's Board and Jul's history as an LGBTQ "safe space"

This is a post about something I've been thinking about for a long time. It might just be bias from this being one of my few "permanent" homes, but this community (and the historical ones from years ago) seem to have had a higher-than-normal rate of transgender, genderqueer, and generally atypically-oriented people. I've thought it over a few times trying to figure out what made this place so appealing to people on this spectrum, though I don't have much in the way concrete thoughts, here are a few:

Places for acting "out of gender"

Acmlm's Board, the original, actually had a forum basically dedicated to this [archive.org]. While I would wager that most of us weren't really familiar with the concept of "transgender" at that point, the forum was mostly centered around just being goofy and ... well, feminine. (It's probably worth mentioning that there wasn't any masculine counterpart to this forum just because most users were male.)

This forum actually existed for quite a while, though after a few years it turned more "mature" and less "silly"? It's hard to really put into words.

Encouragement of experimenting with self-presentation

Most forums consist of only a few things:

Acmlm's Board, on the other hand, was far more liberal; usernames were changed frequently, often with themes; usernames had colors based on the account's gender option and administrative level; signatures were in reality full layouts, designed to envelope posts in a design that could be as simple as a typical signature or as elaborate as a fully-designed wrapper with art or characters. Previous designs were also saved with posts, so a historical view of them was possible, compared to most forums where the current signature is appended to all posts.

All of this combined to allow users to change their presentation radically, adopting a new appearance, theme, and name just by making a new design and requesting a name change; in some cases, these would sweep the forums at once, especially around holidays (e.g. Christmas- or Halloween-themed names, avatars, and layouts). Sometimes they would spontaneously appear; one of the more often-occurring spontaneous change was that to "opposite gender" appearances, sometimes accompanied with a little change in posting style to fit a more "feminine" appearance.

(More typically for the time, there was no verification of who you actually were behind the user, so things like "full names" were entirely optional and very rarely seen. Modern systems, especially the likes of social media, trend more towards using legal names, or at least connecting the pseudonym to the person behind it.)

General strictness towards personal attacks

This one is a little shaker because it is relying entirely on my memory, but for the most part the community wasn't tolerant of ... intolerance; disagreeing opinions were seen as okay, but attacking anyone or any group of people was generally verboten. This meant that people had a wider range of being able to be "open" without being attacked for who they were (or weren't) — while this policy didn't always work, it was at least present. The old forum Officer's Club was available as a sort of "serious space" where any sort of personal attacking was met with punishment, allowing people to open up and air their thoughts without risk of being attacked for them.

I don't actually know if this was ever used to vent these sorts of things; it's difficult to search a dead, offline community, but the environment at least existed, which may have led to people sticking around.

In closing

These are just thoughts. While I don't fall entirely into the LGBTQ spectrum*, these are some observations gathered from being around a lot of people from this community over the last 15 years.

We're a quiet place now, but I'd like to think that over that time we've helped people become who they are, safely.


I cross-posted this to Jul again. If you want to discuss it, that might be the best place.

A New Community?

I have an "ask box"; a place people can ask me questions and I answer them. The answers are also posted to my twitter account (usually), but in this case I got a question that I think deserves a bit of a long-form answer:

Anonymous asked:
Would you consider creating a new community?
[probably something you'd best answer in the private account]

Silly anonymous, I already made one. Okay, not quite — that one's a Discord server — but still. I've mentioned thinking about it a few times over the last while, but let's go over things once for everyone's benefit.

The First

Ah, Acmlm's Board. It was founded by its namesake in the early days of 2001; I joined it July 1 of the same year. The board was very active, home to all sorts of things; ROM hacking, research, general community stuff, gamers, and even role-playing groups. It was a place where one could be open and free, and the rules largely protected against anybody being a jerk to others.

The board itself saw tragedy in the middle of 2004; the database was deleted somehow, and with that hundreds of thousands of posts vanished into the ether. Nobody knows who did it or why it happened. In the end, a small poll was put up to decide what would happen; to either use a several-months-old backup, or start anew. When the poll was finished, a new board was put up on new hosting, and the world restarted for the first time.

The Second

The second "incarnation", as they came to be known, was a little different. The first one was hosted on shared hosting from Overclocked.org the same people who founded OCRemix. Acmlm and his online friend Emuz were one of very few people who had access to the code. The second one was hosted on an entirely new service, run by forums member ErkDog. As he was hosting it, he became an admin on the forums.

I don't have much good to say about these days. Acmlm grew distant from his own community, absorbed in games like Gunbound and private servers for Ragnarok Online; there was an increasingly large rift between normal uses of the forum and the increasingly old-boys'-club style of the staff...

After a yer and a half or so, most of the people who had been working on the forums left. Things had been languishing for a while; the board changed hosting at some point, switching to "||bass", and at that point I asked if I could come on as someone to do code work. ||bass agreed, and I was given access to the server.

I was not a good person back then, to be sure. Even during the first year or two of Acmlm's Board, I was the kind of person you would hear about when talking about the "Endless September" — a script kiddie, running off AOL, thinking I was great. I had become something of a martyr, too, effectively trolling the staff at several points; even using some tricks to give myself 255 "strikes" in the board's diciplinary system.

One day, I decided that I would erase the board and start anew. I set up a timer, that would erase the database, if Acmlm himself did not log in and push a button to stop it; my reasoning was that, if he was not willing to step in, then Acmlm's Board should end, if only to stop the nonsense under its name. However, being young and stupid, I was easily prodded and trolled myself, goaded into making the timer display higher than it was, making the count "speed up"; and in doing so, I introduced a bug that caused the premature obliteration of a community.

The Third

The code was rewound to an earlier version before the "updates" of the Second Incarnation. I was the sole coder; I put in my own staff, keeping Acmlm as the customary first user and admin, giving him a position almost in name only. By this point, he had all but completely distanced himself from the community with his name on it.

As always happens with a restart, the activity and participation dropped even further. In an effort to curb spam and reduce "dumbness", restrictions were added. To post in certain forums — mostly ROM hacking — you now had to be "approved", posting a thread in a special forum to either be allowed or forbidden. Anything that was considered low-quality was verboten, too; it was largely a "no-fun-allowed", which itself drove out even more people.

After a while, I started a second, side-community, available to only a small group of friends. That board was Justus League, as it was for "just us". The only forums on it were private, and it was a quiet place to talk amongst ourselves (and about others). It did not really get anywhere, but it was there.

One day, ||bass gave access to another person without telling me. That person did not entirely understand what they were doing with the code, causing bugs to manifest where none were previously. Before long, this conflict grew until a board-decimating split, wiping out the community again, only months after the last time.

The Fourth

Acmlm's Board II, so it was called, was based off of Acmlm's very-much not-production-ready "board2" project, that had been started a year or two prior. I took the community that was left from the split, Acmlm's code, and forums user "blackhole89"'s hosting, and a new community was formed. The board was patched up to usable levels, and another incarnation was born. ||bass, on the other hand, had been creating his own replacement forum software, and hosted it in the location of the previous incarnation. For a short while, there was some serious fighting between the two boards, but in the end Acmlm's Board II won out.

It was not meant to be, however. History tends to repeat itself for those who do not learn it, and before long blackhole89 grew weary of the forum's administration. He began plotting with a few people to overthrow me and the other administrators I set up. At the same time, I collaborated with my close friend BMF54123, using his hosting for the second version of Justus League. Just as before, it was a private community, meant to be unrelated to the original aside from sharing some members.

The overthrow came in late July of 2007. blackhole89 seized control of the forums, adding his own moderators and staff, removing me and my team. Access was removed. People were banned and unbanned. The fourth instance of the forums effectively died, with even Acmlm himself commentating on matters, calling it "Zombified Board II".

Suddenly, Justus League 2 wasn't just for us any more.

The Fifth

Justus League 2 was opened to the public, keeping the "secret" forums open for a small group of people, but adding a public area for anybody to post. Activity was very great for the first few weeks; many people thought what blackhole89 had done was unjustified, and enough people fled what was now known as just "board2" that Justus League 2 became Jul, a community for everyone.

Well, almost everyone.

Jul had always had two "classes" of members. The "Super" group, and the "normal" group. Members could be promoted to "Super" members if enough people in the group wanted it to be so (or I decided so), with the intention being that the "Super" members would be okay with each other and get along, a sort of "safe space" for people who were friendly and kind.

"Super" members have access to three additional forums — a General Chat forum, a Staff Matters forum, and a general-purpose file stash area. The staff matters section was used to discuss rule changes and problems with other members (e.g. diciplinary actions). They also have access to a private IRC channel, apporpriately called "#super-x" (compared to the normal "#x").

However — much like in real life — this sort of class separation fosters all sorts of problems. Elitism is a common one; internal strife is another, as ejecting someone from the group can cause all sorts of unwanted stress. But mostly just that people in the "Super" group see there to be no benefit or reason to interact with the "Normal" group. Before long, activity started dropping once more, and the general death of forums everywhere continued with the eventual slow fading of Jul.

Mind, Jul is still alive. The forum is online and not likely to go down in the near future. It is largely used as a companion forum to The Cutting Room Floor these days, and it suits that purpose well enough. But compared to the glory days of Acmlm's Board, it is a sad sight.

Speaking of TCRF...

TCRF is its own community, too. It is a wiki, started by me and BMF54123, now administrated and moderated by a handful of people, and contributed to by countless others. The only separation in levels is "staff" vs. "non-staff", and the only discussions held behind closed doors usually revolve around server or wiki maintenance. As it is a wiki, there is little "discussion", so the rules are very plain, understandable, and well-enforced. While it is not much of a "community", per se, it functions quite well as one.

Now, about that question...

Would you consider creating a new community?

I have thought about it. On one hand, the reasons not to do so:

I suppose a list of reasons to do so is also appropriate:

I feel like there are places that solve these already, though. To be entirely honest, if I made any large changes, it would likely to be something like "completely gutting the Super system from Jul" than anything. The only reason I have not done so already is that even though the Super member mechanic is classist and offputting towards "normal" members, it provides a safe, protected space for people who need it. Having everything in the open, as we used to do, is likely to attract unwanted attention. I have seen such play out on Twitter many times already, as well; someone is in a bad place, or says something, and a herd of awful people will jump on and attack them relentlessly, often without understanding anything about the sitaution. Or knowing exactly what is going on and using that to target their attacks even more...

Maybe a possible solution is "autopromotion", where barring any issues after X posts and Y days registered you are "automatically" promoted to have access to the "hidden" forum? There would still have to be some way to deal with intentionally disruptive people, but keeping the staff ears close might help.

Tilde.Town seems to be doing a decent job of this, though a lot of the inside is "closed" to the public and only accessible to members inside.

Food for thought, I guess. We'll see where my path leads. Some day I will write about the original Acmlm's Board and its function as a safe-space for people to experiment with themselves, and the large number of people from it whom I've seen come out as trans-gendered, but that will come later. (In short, though, Acmlm's Board at one point had an entire forum dedicated to being feminine and silly, which I think acted as a gateway for some people, and the moderation helped keep things safe for those people. Hmm, maybe I don't have to write that post now...)


You can discuss this post in this thread on Jul, if you want.

Accidents happen

, I was in a car accident.

The driver of the car — Raspberry, my roommate and partner — was momentarily distracted by a pedestrian on the road, looked away, and rear-ended the person in front of us. We were travelling about 35 to 40 miles per hour at the time. The car we rear-ended was turning right into a minimart parking lot, and was pushed forward enough to bump into a car exiting the minimart.

We are both fine. A little bruised, a little shaken, but nobody had any serious injuries.

A little Insight

My car is was a 2011 Honda Insight, the fancy one with built-in navigation. It cost me $16,000 to purchase, and after three years, I finally made the last payment on it in . It was always taken care of, and had less than 50,000 miles. In fact, just days earlier, I had to purchase a new tire as the front-right one went flat.

The car is most likely totaled. Insurance still hasn't quite finished their work, but the damage (and airbag deployment) is enough that it is almost impossible they will see fit to repair it. Either way, I am left without a vehicle. For the time being, I've had to rent a car, but my insurance policy does not cover that — an oversight on my part. The rental is costing me over $250 for one week (and it needs to be returned ), and that's before the basic insurance the rental required. It is not cheap.

At the same time, I have to find new transportation, too. My money situation is not as good as I would like, and with insurance not having finished their work, I am having to go for things out-of-pocket. Adding to the complications, I have not had to purchase a car like this before. Buying the Insight was not a priority — I had a family vehicle I was using, so I could afford to have delays between "find car" and "purchase" and "able to drive". With this, I have no such luck. I am very inexperienced, and in general I am very unsure of how I need to go about this to be able to use it right away. How do I register or insure it in a small time frame? I do not know.

From airbags to meatbags

I had said that Raspberry and I were left relatively unscathed from the accident. This is mostly true, but only physically.

Raspberry was devastated, and has sworn off driving forever. For the first few days, she was endlessly apologizing for what happened, even long after I had forgiven her and assured her that things would be okay. She occasionally refused to eat, requiring a lot of prodding and poking from me and the other roommates to take care of herself. The last few days have been a lot better, but now instead she is having the occasional nightmare about the incident. It's very rough, and I'm not sure what I can do to help any more than just being there and trying to reassure her that things are going to be alright.

For me, losing the car has been a huge factor in stress. Without reliable transportation, I was stuck at home for the weekend. I had to rely on my roommate, BMF54123, to take me to and pick me up from work. The rental car has been an okay solution, but the first few days of driving it were very uncomfortable, just from what had happened.

My car was used as transport for our other roommate, Inuyasha, to and from his job. Without my car, and or driver for it, he has had to either walk home (in 105°F temperatures) or just not go to work. This has caused additional tension at his workplace, which has fed back into the apartment as a whole.

One step forward

All of this comes on the heels of getting a raise at work. It isn't much — I'm still below what my coworkers made over a year ago — but it was a welcome surprise, and was going to help me get back on track towards saving money for an eventual move out of this state. But lately, life has seemed very intent on doing everything in its power to make my life, and the lives of those around me, as difficult as possible.

I'm very tired. I came home so exhausted that I slept for two hours. However, even with all of this, the only real option I have is to keep going. Hopefully the light at the end of this tunnel comes soon.

History

I found an old hard drive I had for probably 10 years I bought as an external and rarely used. I wonder what's on it... hmm. An old backup of my second laptop's data, interesting. Let's browse through some files, lots of old stuff here from people, things that probably aren't online any more...

Hmm, after an hour of nostalgia, whenever I open these files it's giving me an error. It's still there and I can still browse the directories, but any time I try to open a file I get some not-found error. Let's try chkdsk E:...

The type of the filesystem is RAW.
CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives.

...ah. The good news is that it appears to be working (at least temporarily) in another computer, so I guess I'll have to hurry and copy the information.

But it's a weird feeling. I've always hated my past; I look upon my previous self largely with disgust and embarassment, so it's quite odd having the history that I so often love to ignore wiped out before my eyes. On one hand, it was all inexperienced garbage, a collection of cruft that doesn't matter to me any more. On the other, it feels like I just lost a part of myself.

I don't really know what to think, or say. I feel like I'm uncomfortable with something, but I can't put it into words.

A Tale of Two Servers

This is a story about an IRC server called "badnikNET".

In the beginning

Long ago — around 2008 — a site called Sonic Retro had an IRC network called BadnikNET. This server was a small one, created just for the community of Sonic Retro, but eventually other sites started to use it as well, such as Super Mario World Central (SMWC), Jul, and The Cutting Room Floor (TCRF). After a while, SMWC left, and other communities joined.

The network was largely run a little chaotically. I was friends with Sonic Retro admins ScarredSun and Tweaker, and eventually got oper-level access to the IRC server. For the most part, we ran it the way we wanted to, and occasionally abused our powers to have fun by e.g. changing someone's hostmask. People who caused trouble were usually banned from channels, or if they ban-evaded or spammed, outright banned from the network ("Z-Lined"). In some cases, mass Z-Lines happened, to clear out people abusing proxies and Tor nodes.

The transfer

Sometime in 2012, ScarredSun transferred the ownership of the SliceHost RackSpace account containing the server to me; she was at the time unable to cover the server's bills, and I, already an administrator (and having shell access) stepped up to do it. For the next few years, I largely managed the server. The abusive use of oper privledges mostly fell to the wayside, though the rules governing #retro — the Sonic Retro channel — stayed fairly strict. ScarredSun participated less and less in network administration, instead focusing more on her life and career.

Aside from being a major part of an IRC server upgrade in early 2016, ScarredSun did very little in the way of network maintenance. During this server upgrade, she downloaded a new version of inspircd (the server software) and Anope (the services), compiled them, and made a few configuration adjustments to boost the security of the network, including changing user passwords from being stored in plain-text to being encrypted. Once this was done, a majority of the resulting fallout of services management had to be done by myself and fellow IRC operator Inuyasha, resetting user's passwords (as they were not converted, and thus unusable).

The invisible administrator

ScarredSun continued her long string of absenteeism until March and April. Her apperance was heralded by the sudden unbanning of several known trolls — at first we assumed it was simple ban evasion, until Inuyasha checked the administrator logs and noticed that they were being unbanned by ScarredSun seconds after being banned. I took to Facebook to ask her what was going on, thinking that perhaps her password had been hijacked.

The answer was that she was intending to do this, and would continue to do so. The trolls would consistently come into #retro, and were on several occasions even given channel operator status; regulars of the channel would come to me to complain, and all I could do was tell them that ScarredSun had decided they were allowed there. Even on the cases in which the problem users went into other channels and caused trouble, all I could do was set a new ban that would be removed soon after. They were well aware of their immunity, and paraded around the fact that ScarredSun would unban them whenever they asked.

An unwanted conflict

In June, stress began rising by each side. More and more people were voicing their frustration at people being allowed to troll with immunity — and in some cases, even given power and authority over the channel via its access list. It was even seen as hypocritical, as people suggesting otherwise, or voicing their intent to create an alternate channel without the trolls, were threatened with their own bans.

Tensions rose greatly on June 10th, a Friday. ScarredSun loudly proclaimed that IRC operators — i.e. myself and Inuyasha, who had to clean up after the trolling — suddenly had "no authority" over channel bans. (Note that at the time, I had been the "founder" of #retro via services, because SS had abandoned it for long enough.) Inuyasha decided that, frustrated and tired of dealing with this two-sided argument, simply cleared the entire channel's ban list and set a global exception.

ScarredSun returned later to kick him from #retro with a snide message.

Some backstory

First, a little network history. ScarredSun owns the "badnik.net" domain, while I own the server it was pointed to. I had known for a long time that this was an unstable setup; I had mentioned several times wanting to migrate to a new server, as the current one was running Debian 5, an ancient version. Every time I would ask about this, I would get either ignored or turned down; the server therefore languished, as I couldn't move or upgrade it without people losing their ability to reach it. On the 9th, I decided to set up a few alternate domains that pointed to the server, and told people to use those instead of the "main" one.

Everything goes to hell

Around noon on the 11th, conflict broke out. Inuyasha told ScarredSun bluntly that she no longer owned the server, after a small quabble over the bans. A few moments later, the IRC server suddenly went offline.

Knowing that what I had been expecting was finally coming to pass, I logged into the server immediately, and proceeded to kill every SSH session I could find belonging to ScarredSun, as well as changing her password. I restarted the IRC server, and most people were able to reconnect to it. For all intents and purposes, the outage was only a few minutes, and everybody outside of #retro had no idea what just happened.

It did not take long for us to discover that, to none of our surprise, the badnik.net domain no longer pointed to the server — it was now pointing to a parked GoDaddy page. Inuyasha and I had also been banned from the Sonic Retro forums, and I was blocked by her on most social media sites. Discussion about what had happened was impossible.

An unwelcome surprise

That night, I logged into the server again, this time in order to remove ScarredSun's access from some configuration files. I found that I had not managed to remove all of ScarredSun's connections, and she had done one last thing before disconnecting:

All of the IRC server files were deleted.

The server was now running entirely out of memory; updating any configuration, changing any modules, any of that would likely cause the server to crash completely, and from there would be gone. Plans immediately began to move to a new server entirely, hosted on a different network, built with a new, up-to-date version of the servers.

At this time, the "new" BadnikNET had come online. Trying to join most of the non-#retro channels on the network would be met by a sudden kick and ban by Chanserv with a "This channel cannot be used" message. There was no mention anywhere of the new server, and a forum thread on Sonic Retro itself did not explain what happened, only that there was a "migration" and not to connect to the old IP (our server). The thread was closed, and it was assumed no further discussion would be allowed.

The next morning

ScarredSun sent me an e-mail with a backup of the IRC server files and explained that her first instinct was "security breach" and to "protect the users" (by deleting all of their data...), based on Inuyasha saying she did not own it. After verifying that the files weren't tampered with, we used them as a basis to configure our new server. Aside from that, the two networks largely split apart cleanly.

Aside from a few threats against "old" #retro itself — namely Overlord coming in, declaring his intent to ban everyone from the channel and try to force them into the "new" one — the servers have largely been independent, with no large conflicts between them.

The end of an era

Yesterday, I closed the RackSpace account, terminating the server for good. Our new server, hosted at irc.badnik.zone, is running perfectly, with user counts only slightly down from before the conflict. Everything is now under one roof, and the server is as stable as ever. In the end, it was a conflict that didn't need to happen, but perhaps it was for the best.

After all is said and done

(added Jun 29) I woke up this morning to the A record for irc.badnik.net being repointed to my server; users who try to connect to "irc.badnik.net" will now join the server Kradorex and I set up. Needless to say, I wasn't really expecting this.

I'm not sure how to feel, other than hoping that this is the end of this mess.

Another Day

Writing in depth is difficult, and lately I've been too depressed and exhausted to even try. Topics take a lot of thought and effort to write about, and sometimes even figuring out what I want to say is hard.

My friend Sanqui is planning on writing once a week, so maybe in the future I can try that, too.

Other than that, it's simply been a month since the last update, and I wanted to keep it from getting longer than that. I'm still here, I promise. It's just that the 110°F weather here has been making everything more difficult than it should be...

Slow Burn

I haven't been getting a whole lot of sleep the last few days. Going to bed late, sleeping poorly, waking up early (but not managing to get out of bed meaningfully until late)...

It's hard to focus and I feel like falling asleep all the time.

Would not recommend.

Drowning

I don't have much to say today. I've still been meaning to write more, but I recently purchased a fairly expensive Tetris DS prototype and I've been busy dealing with that.

All I want to say today is that, lately, I've felt like I've been unable to handle things. Even something as basic as cleaning my inbox.

Right now, my Gmail inbox is sitting at ✉ 100. A few are easily dispatched as social media hooery (about 7); some are bills that need taken care of; still others are meaningless messages that aren't spam but don't mean anything to me.

The other 50+ of those are work; random inane demands, support requests, alerts that demand my attention.

It feels like no matter how much purging of my inbox I do, I can never get it to stay low any more. Work emails appear and I feel too anxious to reply, so they sit in my inbox waiting for me to pay attention. As they pile up, I want to avoid it even more, because now I have to answer to why it took so long, too.

Even vacation doesn't stop things from flooding in. I took two days off work, for a four day weekend. I was still getting mail, even on Sunday, even at 9 PM.

I just feel less and less like I can get anything done, and more and more like I'm drowning in tasks and responsibilities that I can't handle.

For that matter, I have ✉ 3 on tilde.town as well, and I feel like I've waited so long that I might as well just ignore those messages forever.

Tired of Feeling Tired

I have been meaning to do a lot of writing here lately. Not just here here, but in general — there's a lot that's been on my mind that I haven't had a chance to offload yet. The biggest problem is just finding the time and energy to do it.

For example, after a long week of work — combined with poor sleep quality and surprise work problems, as I am considered on-call 24/7 — what do I do with the weekend?

Well...

When you have very limited time, it becomes hard to make a decision, because any decision you make is to the exclusion of every other choice. If you play games, then who is to say that you didn't waste your weekend, when you should have been doing chores, or sleeping, or...

In some ways, the stress from having to make decisions can make even basic decisions more complicated, increasing self-doubt while decreasing the ability to confidently enjoy the choices you make.

Hopefully in the future I will be able to put more here...

The Community Post Office

I haven't gotten to use system mail before. That is, the kind of mail you get when you log into a Linux server and get greeted with You have mail in /var/mail/xkeeper. It's largely obsolete; most people just know it as "the place cron dumps output", and few people have a reason to use it over more modern methods of communication, like... normal email.

tilde.town has changed that, if only because it is its own "micro-community". It has a local IRC server you can only access from the server itself, and it also has a full email system for everyone, accessible with normal tools (though it comes with alpine ready to use). It's a strong analogue to the days of private messages on forum software, where the messages were generally closed-loop and only accessible on the forum itself.

Probably the biggest discouragement to using it is the only notification you get for new mail is literally just the "You have mail" message. It only appears once on login and once if you receive a new message; it's easy to forget if you are in the middle of a task and have to delay responding to it until later.

I fixed this particular issue by writing a small Lua script that checks the output of mail and outputs the number of unread mails it finds. It isn't much, but integrating it into the shell prompt I use has certainly made it easier to notice; when you have a red "✉ ️1", you know you have something to read later.

If you're on tilde.town, you can email me at xkeeper@tilde.town. I'm trying to be a little more active, but I might not be able to respond for a while.

The death of "social" media

Oh no! People aren't sharing things on Facebook! Twitter isn't meeting growth objectives! We're doomed!

If I can make a suggestion, perhaps we should take a step back. It seems to me that most of these places have forgotten what "social" media was, and for that we need to take a trip in the metaphorical wayback machine.

Back in the younger days of the internet — the early 2000s — the main methods of communication between people generally fell to two things. The first one, and largest, was generally e-mail. Much like normal paper mail, it was used to communicate all manner of text-based messages, both between individuals, in groups, and broadcasts in the form of newsletters or mailing lists. There wasn't much in the way of threading, and the main method of keeping track of prior conversations was to simply quote them again in each subsequent message.

(Addendum: Sofi informs me that I forgot another major segment of the communications world: instant messengers, chatrooms, and IRC. It's worth noting that a few social media platforms mentioned later have added their own IM or chat services, as well.)

The other common method of communication was discussion forums. The earliest iterations were simply lists of threaded posts, with each post on its own page (and links up- and down-thread). Later iterations simply displayed a list of threads, with each thread page displaying posts in that thread, generally in chronological order. As each topic was gropued into its own thread, discussions could continue for a long time, and due to the nature of a forum simply being a list of threads, users had to specifically opt in to view messages in a topic. (Compare to e-mail, where you can only opt to read certain messages, but generally can't opt-out of receiving them.)

Forums, and to a small point, e-mail, generally required that the users bring their topics to discuss; for example, if one wanted to talk about a recent news event, they would have to create a new thread on the topic. (As a side note, this generally meant that the number of people who created threads versus simply posting in them tended to be lopsided; creating a new thread meant that you were the starter of a discussion. Like in real life, being a conversation starter is not easy for a lot of people.)

In later years — around 2006, 2007 — another trend began to grow. Websites themselves included comments: sections below their own news pages where users could comment on the above post. These comments were generally not threaded, and simply dislayed in chronological order, sometimes reversed. The comments sections had a lasting impact on other forms of discussion; as they were attached to the news, there was no need to take the news back to a forum or start a conversation. One simply needed to add a comment and then post it, often without even registering an account.

Comments sections are generally known for being completely and utterly toxic; with little to no moderation, low-quality or abusive comments are largely ignored. The lack of threading means that comments are directly tied to an aging post, meaning that fewer and fewer people will see them as time goes on. There are often few or no tools for discussion, with no way to format or emphasize text or quotes. Due to the fleeting nature of these sections, users would rarely stick around to continue a discussion, participating in a sort of drive-by comment before vanishing into the aether.

As the internet continued to grow, a phenomenon known as "aggregation sites" began to spread. Rather than posting original content, these websites, as their name implies, simply aggregated content from other websites. Instead of viewing three different websites for different subjects of news, for example, the aggregation site would simply copy the posts to their own site and present them in full, often with minor mention of the original source. This contributed to fragmenting discussions even more, as now not only were the discussions spread between forums and the original site's comment section, it was now spread between those and any aggregating site that happened to also have the topic. (To say nothing of increasing levels of aggregation leading to a game of telephone between sites, with corrections and updates getting left behind in the process...)

All of this was simply a precursor to the rise of "social media".

Social media's main draw was that it was everywhere. Everyone you knew was on it, and you could access it from everywhere. There was pressure to join, as more and more of your contacts signed up, it quickly became the easiest (or sometimes, only) way to keep in contact with them. Twitter was much the same way, in that it offered its users a way to broadcast thoughts and status updates without the clumsiness of a full forum post, and allowed people to do this from anywhere with nothing but a mobile phone.

This is probably a good opportunity to bring up one of the larger differences between forums and social media. Forums were generally run by individuals — that is, one person, or a small group of people. Even forums-hosting websites generally were just a method for individual people to create their own forums. Social media services, on the other hand, are largely dominated by corporations.

Of course, being a corporation, social media services need to make money. How do they do that? Largely by advertising. The price charged for advertising increases with the targeting, as advertisers are more likely to have their ads seen by people who are more interested in what is being advertised. This targeting is built by tracking. Every action you take on the service — likes, shares, posts — is compiled into a profile, sold to advertisers. The advertisements can also be shown as if they were posts from people you are actually following, and often work the same way, leading to them possibly being shared or liked.

The need to bring in revenue as a corporation has also led to the locking down of platforms. Twitter, originally active in promoting alternative clients, has since locked down the platform more and more, restricting features to the official clients. As the situation is much like that of Facebook, with a large amount of people migrating only to that service, there is little one can do. Either continue to use an increasingly-crippled third-party tool, migrate to the official client, or simply abandon the service altogether, abandoning any contacts that remain.

Users congregating on one service has the side effect of giving that service increasingly dangerous power; all users must play by the network's rules, but there is rarely anywhere to go if those rules are detrimental. Their power allows them to dictate what people do; as an example, TwitPic, a Twitter image host, wanted to trademark their name. While this was entirely legal for them to do, Twitter declared that in doing so, they would effectively forbid TwitPic links from working on Twitter. This was enough to cause TwitPic to effectively fold. In this way, the networks can strong-arm others into submission. Even in the case of Facebook, others are forced to develop on their platforms, and when Facebook decides to change the rules, there is little in the way of recourse.

But perhaps most damning of social networks is that users are no longer simply participants. They are not users who are choosing to discuss topics, or share statuses. They are seen as little but metrics; literally, the product. How many "interactions" do you drive? What is your click-through rate? How lucrative is your profile to advertisers? In this way, the actual health of the users does not matter, but their output. The actual, underlying health of the network does not matter, as long as the people using it continue to produce.

For this, "features" are driven that increase "engagement", but may not actually improve the quality of life for users. Ads appear inline. New nags and interactions appear. The focus on other genuine user content is reduced. Abuse and spam is often allowed to run rampant. Abuse especially, as people being abusive is still producing the nebulous "content" to sell advertisers on.

Unfortunately, the migration to these social networks has simply meant that the well-being of users is no longer considered to be important. Developments are tailored to the most active segments of the network; complaints or requests from smaller, possibly marginalized segments are ignored, especially if they would impact the majority. Quality drops with a lack of moderation and curating. The flood of sponsored content drowns out actual user discussion. Genuine discussion is drowned out by noise.

...

This kind of turned into a bit of a word salad, but the end result is that spaces for deep, thoughtful discussion have largely been replaced by noisy, abusive spaces, with room only for shallow discussion, and the nature of abuse ends up further marginalizing minority groups.

There were some points I wanted to make, but I think I've written enough about this. Maybe I'll add more later.

Hidden Content test

This post has some hidden stuff in it.

This is a way to prevent people from being surprised by content they are not expecting or comfortable with viewing. In the future, this will be used to contain anything that I think may potentially trigger readers, though I do not exactly expect to write a lot of content that falls into this category...

The text under the content warning should be invisible until you have clicked (acknowledged) the above warning. This doesn't require any javascript, but does require a browser that is capable of handling CSS3 selectors. If the browser used to view this is not capable, the content may not be hidden, or may not be able to be revealed at all. However, most modern graphical browsers should display this fine.

The underlying technology uses a hidden <input type="checkbox"> for toggling the display, using CSS3 :checked selector. The warning itself is a styled <label> field with :before and :after styles to display the ⚠ symbol and "Click to show/hide" message. No JavaScript was used in the making of this notice.

There is a block of content above this message that may be hidden (depending on if you have shown it or not). This text isn't part of the above warning and should always be visible.

Oh, right

It occurs to me that the new age of social media often includes features for updates, like "announcing to twitter (or facebook, or god knows what else) whenever you post something new". And, of course, being ... not any particular platform, there's nothing of the sort here.

Remember when you actually had to visit a website to check if there were updates? Before the age of social media, there was always RSS. RSS never really got anywhere, either because it wasn't "in-browser", or the 20 different standards (ATOM??), or the inconsistent display of "news", or even the places that did use it not actually supplying it with real content (you know, to force people to click through and see ads).

I guess on that front, the number of people likely to come back and see the new updates is pretty small.


I wanted to talk about this post from ~datagrok (sorry the website sucks) — it's the one about "anti-blogs". I haven't managed to figure out exactly what I want to say, or how to say it, but... I don't agree that there was a huge change.

They talk a lot about how the move to blogging in general "threw away organization", turned websites into a disjointed mush of thoughts. I don't really agree. A lot of websites are exactly that -- even a changelog takes a similar form. Even if you do follow a blog format — and there are plenty of places that do — you can still have great organization. Posts have URLs that generally don't change. Posts can be sorted into categories, tags, or turned into full pages and linked elsewhere. The same happens with normal websites.

Then, websites became no longer art installations, archives, or gardens to be tended. They became periodicals, insisting to their authors that if a steady stream of fresh content were not supplied, they would rapidly decrease in value. They would be an embarrassment. One must keep talking, no matter how inane, no matter how disorganized, no matter how repetitive. I wrote about this before, I think? No matter, I can’t find it now.

This reads an awful lot like it is trying to put words in the mouths of "bloggers". "Your website is no longer art, because you think you must always add to it." What if that is what a person wants? Maybe their website is supposed to just be an extension of their thoughts, a log of what they are thinking about and their opinions. Maybe their thoughts or works are their art.

For some, websites are a place to put polished works. Pages for in-depth remarks, research, discoveries, essays. For others, they are almost like an online diary. To immediately throw out the mere concept of blogging as some sort of worthless endavor just seems wrong.

However...

I wrote about this before, I think? No matter, I can’t find it now.

There certainly is some irony in complaining about disorganization while being so disorganized oneself.

Typical "first post"

Well, hi.

It feels weird to have one of these again. The last website that I manually edited the HTML for like this was probably a long time ago. Somewhere on the verge of... well, 8 years. It's pretty crazy.

I don't know how often (or if) I'll update this little thing, but right now it's another "home away from home". I've had more than a few of these little sites, and I usually end up giving up before they get anywhere.

To that end, someone mentioned that the design of this webpage reminded them of another one I've made — specifically, a long list of failed projects I've started or worked on. The list got an update, but since then there hasn't been much in the way of news... Depression really set in, even moreso than it already had, and once I landed a full-time job, the time for hobbies like this pretty much vanished.

In a way, this page lets me reach back to those times and just experiment and play with my presence online, in a way that more modern social media doesn't allow. Maybe some day I'll manage to really finish a project... or at least make another summary page.

My only real worry is that, being hosted somewhere I have no real control, my presence here could vanish at any moment, leaving nothing behind. Normally, I'm one to run and hide from my past; but even the old things, as embarrassing as they were, show how I've grown and changed over the years. Even if it wasn't always for the better...

contact

if you're on tilde.town yourself, you can reach me at xkeeper@tilde.town, but you can only use this if you're actually on the server. if you're not on the town, then you can reach me at xkeeper@gmail.com i guess. no mail bombs please. i don't know why you would contact me since i'm pretty boring most of the time. at least over email.

i might be a little better on @xkeepah (twitter) or something.

alternatively @xkeeper (telegram) for messages, or badnik.zone #x for irc.

アナザア

If you've read this far, then you might be interested in knowing that there is an alternate version of this page that goes a little deeper into my psyche. I can't recommend reading it, but I won't stop you.