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Space geckos

July 28, 2014 — Leave a comment

You can ask Russia to do the right thing at http://eng.letters.kremlin.ru/.

mayday-superpac-banner

I’ve been getting messages from Lessig and team at Mayday PAC. Where most campaigns would be sending me spam, they are dropping transparency in my inbox, and I dig it. The latest one was about them finding a way to speed up the process by which they can release donor information of contributors over $200. To help speed one a tiny faction of that, I’d like to publicize that I gave Mayday PAC $500. I did not set a preference for Democrat or Replubican candidates.

I waited until the last moment to contribute, and I was worried they might not hit their goal, which I thought was a good idea, so I gave the most I felt I could afford. Any progress towards Mayday’s goals is better for us. I didn’t give a party preference for a couple of reasons. First, I am registered in the Green Party. Secondly, I am represented by Barbara Lee, who more or less has a great record that aligns with my beliefs. She is a Democrat, and I have a substantial preference towards that party (I am convinced that the Republican party has a systemic issue with the information age, and will slowly bleed out their power, hence why their crazy is so pronounced) but the issue that Mayday is trying to fix isn’t limited to just one party. If everyone in Congress is entrenched in a culture of finance focus, then they all need to go, regardless of record. That may sound radical, but so does the policies that same Congress produces, which negatively affects the entire planet.

I am glad the Mayday folks are working so hard, and I hope they provide a model for other orgs in various industries. I’m always fairly busy, but I am going to put in the effort and document for my own reference the work Mayday PAC is doing.

When you look at the digital commerce options for bitcoin, players such as Coinbase and Bitpay stick out. They have tens of thousands of merchants signed up, including some poster-companies like Newegg and Overstock.

That’s all fine and good, but where is the self-hosted merchant tools? What if I don’t want to deal with a corporation, which will eventually hit the lowest common denominator that is PayPal?

I had been encouraged by an early site that sold music tracks by creating a special URL that unlocked the download link when payment had reached a particular address (I can’t recall the site, but a sketchier version is at coinDL). The software wasn’t free, but I figured it would only be a matter of time. But I’ve yet to see any software promoted for this purpose.

How cool will it be to purchase goods with the ease of physical cash, through a website, without any other entity participating in the transaction? What options do we have right now?

Guild

June 30, 2014 — Leave a comment

This is the first in a series of posts explaining some decisions I am making. I hope they will serve as reference and discussion starters. It is kinda scary doing this stuff on my own, so advice is appreciated.

The big headliner is: I am starting a non-profit project called the Webcraft Guild.

To ease into the documentation, I will explain why I chose the term “guild” (future posts will have info about the why, when and how).

The reason I want to start this way is because historically guilds have been pretty sucky. While there was sharing inside a given trade or craft, guilds were known to horde their secrets, and had their governments enact ludicrous laws to ensure they stayed relevant. My favorite story, because it is so outlandish, is about protectionist practices against cloth buttons:

Shortly after the matter of cloth weaving has been disposed of, the button makers guild raises a cry of outrage; the tailors are beginning to make buttons out of cloth, an unheard-of thing. The government, indignant that an innovation should threaten a settled industry, imposes a fine on the cloth-button makers. But the wardens of the button guild are not yet satisfied. They demand the right to search people’s homes and wardrobes and fine and even arrest them on the streets if they are seen wearing these subversive goods.

In the case it is not obvious, I do not wish to create a totalitarian web. Quite the opposite, I wish to discover, document and encourage the best practices or a free and open web. And I play video games.

Video game guilds are super-cool! They get guild halls, and shared storage, and badges for achievements. They are like real-life guilds in name only, but I like the appropriation of the term to mean a group of folks with a shared interest.

And despite their shortcomings, guilds were useful for their particular trades and crafts. The idea of a journeyer, one that spreads the memes of their craft, resonates with me. I am self-taught, in that I didn’t receive a formal education in webcraft, but without the countless resources, tutorials, frameworks and general openness of the web, I wouldn’t know anything.

I chose to create a guild because I wanted to make something that I would want to be part of, something safe and inviting to folks, so they can be supported and encouraged in their own webcraft path. And that is the Webcraft Guild.

I generally enjoy Five Useful Articles, but this week had a particular quote concerning Lisa Kirby v. Marvel Characters:

In any case, Supreme Court hearing Kirby seems like a natural fit, at least for the fans: SCOTUS geeks and comic book nerds both like waiting overnight in lines for a chance to watch two hours worth of dark, brooding figures making corny jokes and bad decisions.

Phabricator

June 13, 2014 — Leave a comment

I heard about Phabricator from Greg, in reference to the WMF collapsing a bunch of other tools into this one omni-developer app. I’ve been struggling to figure out what I am doing with my repo hosting, so it was neat to hear a large org moving to something that is free software and self-hosted.

I’ve spent about a week with it, and I’ve been up and down, most so than with any other software I’ve ever used. I didn’t quite understand why I was hung on this software so much, but for the last few days it has been all I can think about. I am starting to break it down, now.

First thing: I wish I had found Phabricator when I was first starting out, maybe back in the cog motive days. It does a lot of stuff really great, and outside of an org that does shared development, it has some great features for single freelancers, like the simple interface for creating and signing contracts.

It bums me out that it doesn’t hit all my needs, but it did make me reassess what my needs were. The git hosting doesn’t come close to Gitorious or GitLab, but those are specialized apps, and they only have light issue-tracking on top of it. I am actually quite fond of the tasks in Phabricator, but tracking issues around code outside the repo is not what I’m looking for.

Basically, I want Phabricator to scale! I want big, huge, public instances of it, but that isn’t the tool they made, though it can organize large groups of folks. I think it is the perfect tool for WMF, which will have a relatively narrow focus. I want a single todo list, and I won’t be able to get it from Phabricator.

However, my own personal work is taking me in interesting directions lately, where I am focusing on fewer clients, but larger projects. I can already think of 2.5 new instances that I should be running, and they do not overlap. And for other projects, I think I have some WordPress plugins that make more sense, since they are less technical in detail, and allow for a conversation to develop with folks that may not want an account to a complete organization system.

Worlds in Peril

April 12, 2014 — Leave a comment
Taken from the campaign page. This fight is very busy...

Taken from the campaign page. This fight is very busy…

I’ve been in touch with the creators behind the Worlds in Peril Kickstarter campaign.

A few messages back and forth, and then:

Talked to the team, and yes the text will be CC-BY. I hope that is something you can get behind. :D

I’ve let them know they should list it on the Creative Commons Kickstarter listing, and also make an update/note on the main page that the text will be CC-BY.

Also, to assist in showing the support that us free gamers can muster, I suggest using the the “commons” as a reference for their analytics. So share the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/63676387/worlds-in-peril?ref=commons ^_^

Oh, and the project is a supers game, based on Apocalypse World (the same base for Dungeon World)! Fun!

This is the message I got from LG to repair a busted screen on Susan‘s Nexus 5.

First, in mutt.

LG message in mutt

That wasn’t working, so I switched to K-9 Mail on my tablet.

LG message in K9

Two things I’ve learned:

  1. LG hasn’t really figured out email.
  2. I only use dog-themed email clients.

I had a similar experience to this recently.

Oakland Police Beat

Oakland Police Beat has launched. Susan Mernit explains what the site is about. You should go poke around, see what it is all about. ^_^

It is a WordPress site, and the data is stored in custom post types and taxonomies. All the software that composes the site is free and open source (and I will be providing a writeup of all the great projects we used soon). Bernard is interesting.

Susan Magnolia created the logo, visually showing OPB as an extension of the Oakland Local family.