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.

Thanks, Sasha. ^_^


June 7, 2014 — Leave a comment

Susan: Where does the jellyfish live?
Clover: At home.

Saw X-Men: Days of Future Past. I liked it! And for a variety of reasons. There is a lot in there, for Marvel historians, and for folks just looking for powers.

The best part, however, is the emotional performances and the core story that surrounds a series of relationships. First Class had a really poor treatment of women, and while this movie doesn’t expunge that record, it at least tells a compelling story as a reaction to that story. Very interesting!

This was posted on, because I don’t have spigot set up, and sometimes ramble on in other places, rather than where I should (this here site).

Since we’re just chatting, and I apparently sleep like a zen monk (without any of the advantages), the thing that has been keeping me awake: I am going to build a crowd-funding platform specifically for stuff going into the commons, such as free cultural artifacts (CC-0 stuff) and FOSS projects, as well as supporting the personal lives of folks that participate in such things (replacing broken laptops, making airfare to LibrePlanet/Wikimania/wherever).

That is exciting, sure. But it is a lot of work, and I need to get org stuff in place, yadda yadda. The part that is making my brain crank is how I am going to fund ongoing web services via the clever use of perks.

Basically, I want to make services that are accessible to lots of folks, regardless of ability to pay, while also being transparent about the cost. A lot of the stuff I host isn’t open registration, in part because dealing with spammy accounts and volume is difficult to do when one isn’t offsetting the cost by being creepy (ie tracking, serving ads, selling user info, etc.). So, each web service will have an annual fund-raiser, explaining how much it is used, and aiming to to support itself for the next year. The tiered awards will include a “perk”, which is one from a list.

What are the perks? Essentially an account on some service, and different extras on subsequent choices (the latter are shown after the forward slashes).

  • A jabber account for you/for a friend
  • ownCloud account for you/for a friend, more storage
  • WordPress hosting
  • Federated social net account for you/for a friend

The idea is that those accounts are lifetime affairs, and this also makes it so once a year we can have an intake of new users for our services, making it more manageable (the other ways to get accounts will be local, in-person mentoring, special programs, stuff like that).

This way of funding and increasing usage free web services corresponds to my ideas on human scale (hey, I wrote that a almost exactly a year ago!). And the possibilities are astounding. Right now is a golden time to point out how big companies treat customers as products, and to cater to a growing number of folks that care about how theirs services are configured. It also means that I can support the free and open web by mentoring others and supporting individuals behind projects (whom I’d much prefer run updates and configure these services than myself!).

So yeah, that is why I only sleep 4 hours a night, which itself contributes to the delirious smile I wear these days. ^_^

I am having a moment of clarity, and suddenly I know what I want to do.

Some folks are disruptive and say crazy-sounding or stupid things. They shouldn’t be discounted. In my experience, there is a lot of truth in their words, it just lacks a filter to which I am accustomed. In time, it makes sense, and I am often at an advantage for listening.

I only have a handful of miniature characters, and I more often than not play without them, so it never occurred to me how awesome 3D printing them would be!

The recent Ryuutama update shows characters from its book, created by Makoto Kanetsuki. They are adorable (the samples above taken from the update), and make me want to get into minis more, especially since Clover loves playing with them, too!

Move full throttle into Live Word Oakland development, but first I’ve go to break apart my repos into blocks for easier maintenance. This should be fun! ^_^

Better UX

May 5, 2014 — Leave a comment

When all a person has used is Facebook, Facebook might seem like a good idea. It has a bunch of useful things that a person being introduced to the web may take for granted once their are no longer in awe. Sharing stories and other cultural artifacts across time and space, wrapped in gamified dopamine hits, that’s some good stuff.

Of course it obfuscates the indignity of the user experience: illusion of privacy, constant tracking, personal investment in a corporate product, and no protections from harmful events such as harassment. Doesn’t sound so great, now.

For a long time I thought that we could replace Facebook with something that worked just like it, but was built on the principals of freedom and openness that I’ve seen power my favorite parts of the web. But in the process I’ve seen truth spoken to power, and that power is by and large a behemoth of a capitalist machine that feeds itself by slurping up the most vulnerable members on the web, folks that haven’t developed their technical skills yet.

I am going to try something different, something that makes sense to me, something that I can do well, and something I think folks around just may use. Something that will respect folks, educate them, and show them an alternative to corporate-sponsored social networks and tools. Maybe it will work. ^_^