Day 6: silhouette

Photo taken by my boss in 2014 while we were in the Cook Islands for work. #mbmay

Day 5: Earth

One of the first photos from Himawari-8, a JMA weather satellite that went online while I was working at the Bureau of Meteorology. The images it produced pushed our visualisation tools to the limit, but boy, they were absolutely stunning. #mbmay


Day 4: thorny

This plant was less thorny than it once would have been, although there’s at least one thorn that those dethroning it missed. #mbmay

A formally thorny rose bush

Day 3: experimental

An experimental Arduino sketch, built using Tinygo, to see if I could get something displayed on the LCD. #mbmay

Have finally got an approach for producing signed and notarised MacOS apps that is invokable from the command line and that consistently produce archives that work. Incidentally, the next version of Feed Journaler has been released and is now available.

Those that say “keep your user documentation up to date, not only for others but for yourself in the future,” are absolutely correct. You will forget, and you will need to go through your old code to remember how your tool works. Might as well update the docs while you’re at it.

The pièce de résistance of media with dynamic ad insertion (podcasts/streaming services/etc.) is being presented with same ad twice in a row. As much as I love being made to hear an annoying pitch once, I really love it when I’m made to hear it again. Great system guys. 😒

Part of me is wondering whether it makes sense giving Mastodon a try, maybe setting up a domain and instance hosted by Masto. The only thing stopping me is wondering what I would post there that would be different from what I post here.

Day 2: photo

The only photo of mine that I have on the wall. #mbmay

Day 1: switch

I usually sit at that table. But today, I decided to switch to the other side. #mbmay

Our council has started using electric garbage trucks for collecting waste from park bins, which I think is a great move. If I had one suggestion, it would be to add some artificial engine noise to these vehicles. Given their size, I think they’re just a little too quiet.

GitLab Search Subscriptions with NetNewsWire

I’m working (with others) on a project that’s using GitLab to host the code, and I’m looking for a better way to be notified of new merge requests that I need to review. I cannot rely on the emails from GitLab as they tend to be sent for every little thing that happens on any of the merge requests I am reviewing. For this reason, any notifications sent by email will probably get missed by me. People do post new merge requests in a shared Slack channel, but a majority of them are for repos that don’t need my review. They’ve also been days where a lot of people are making a lot of changes at the same time, and any new messages for the repos I’m interesting would get pushed away.

Today I learnt that it’s possible to subscribe to searches in GitLab using RSS. So I’m trying something with NetNewsWire where I can subscribe to a search for open merge requests for the repos I’m interested in. I assume the way this works is that any new merge requests would result in a new RSS item on this feed, which will show up as an update in NetNewsWire. In theory, all I have to do is monitor NetNewsWire, and simply keep items unread until they’ve been merged or no longer need my attention.

We’ll see this approach helps. The only down side is that there’s no way to get updates for a single merge request as an RSS feed, which would have been nice.

Woke up at 5 AM this morning for an early coding session today. Really want to fix this process of notarising a Mac app from the command line so that I can get a distribution prepared with a single button press, as it were.

Got to the point where I’ve got a Python script which will build the archive, export the archive as a signed app (I think), and upload it to Apple to be notarised. The app gets notarised successfully after running all this, or at least it’s reported to be notarised successfully.

Now waiting for a Mac to be provision in MacStadium so that I can test it. My previous tests have failed so far, either because Apple claiming that the app is notarised doesn’t actually mean that it’s notarised, or I’m corrupting the notarised archive in some way during my previous tests as I move it around the file system. Hopefully with this new process I find out which of these cases is causing the problem.

Was this activity a good use of my time? Really can’t say. Maybe, maybe not. But I was already awake a 5 AM anyway so it’s arguably better than simply lying in bed.

Arbitrage. That was the word I was trying to remember.

Dealing with identities and notarisation is a huge pain. You make an archive in Xcode, notarise it, Xcode says it’s notarised successfully, you try to launch it, and MacOS throws up that security alert. Honestly, I’m surprised anyone can release anything for MacOS nowadays.

Thinking about Twitter and newsletters during my morning walk, I wonder: did Twitter actually do anything with Revue after they bought it last year, or was it one more acquisition that was left to die on the Vine? (pun intended, sort-of)

Didn’t sleep well last night. Why? Because it was the first night of on call that I’ve had in a while, and I was afraid of being woken up by PagerDuty. Yes, that’s right: the fear of being woken up last night kept me up last night. 😫

I went to the dentist a few weeks ago (for the first time in five years 🙈) and the dentist asked if I was grinding my teeth. I said “no” as I didn’t think I was, but now I’m wondering if I do. It’s certainly something I’ve been noticing I do more often since that visit.

What Would Get Me Back to Using Twitter Again

Congratulations, Elon Musk, on your purchase of Twitter. I’m sure you’ve got a bunch of ideas of how you want to move the company forward. I was once a user of Twitter myself — albeit not a massive one — and I’m sure you would just love to know what it would take for me to be a user once more. Well, here’s some advice on how you can improve the platform in ways that would make me consider going back.

First, you gotta work out the business model. This is number one as it touches on all the product decisions made to date. I think it’s clear that when it comes to Twitter, the advertising model is suboptimal. It just don’t have the scale, and the insatiable need for engagement is arguable one of the key reasons behind the product decisions that fuel the anxiety and outrage on the platform. I think the best thing you could do is drop ads completely and move to a different model. I don’t care what that model is. Subscription tiers; maybe a credit base system where you have a prepaid account and it costs you money to send Tweets based on their virality. Heck, you can fund it from your personal wealth for the rest of your life if you want. Just get rid of the ads.

Next, make it easy to know which actions result in a broadcast of intent. The big one I have in mind is unfollowing someone. I use to follow people that I work with simply because I worked with them. But after a while I found that what they were tweeting was anxiety inducing. So I don’t want to follow them any more, but I don’t know what happens if I choose to unfollow them. Do they get a notification? They got one when I started following them — I know that because I got one when they started follow me. So in lieu of any documentation (there might be documentation about this, I haven’t checked), I’d like to be able to stop following them without them being made aware of that fact. Note that this is not the same as muting them or blocking them: they’re not being nasty or breaking any policies of what they post. I just want to stop seeing what they post.

Third, about open sourcing that algorithm. By all means, do so if you think that would help, but I think that’s only half the moderation story. The other half is removing all the attempts to drive up engagement, or at least having a way to turn them off. Examples include making it easier to turn off the algorithmic timeline, getting rid of or hiding the “Trending Topics”, and no longer sticking news items in the notification section (seriously, adding this crap to the notification section has completely removed its utility to me). If I want the results to simply be a reverse chronological timeline of tweets from people I’m following, and notifications only being events of people engaging with what I post, then please make it easy for me to have this. This might means my usage may move from being less about quantity and more about quality, but remember that you no longer need all that engagement. You changed the business model, remember?

Finally, let’s talk about all the features that drum up engagement. If it was up to me, I’d probably remove them completely, but I know that some people might find them useful, and it’s arguably a way for Twitter (now under your control) to, let’s say, “steer the direction of the conversation.” So if you must, keep these discovery features, but isolate them to a specific area of the app, maybe called “Discovery”. Put whatever you want in there — trending topics, promoted tweets, tweets made within a specific location, whatever you want — but keep them in that section, and only that section. My timeline must be completely void of this if I choose it to be.

I’m sure there are others that I can think of, but I think all this is a good first step. I look forward to taking this onboard, and I thank you for your consideration. Honestly, it might not be enough for me to go back. I wasn’t a big user before, and I’ve since moved to greener pastures. But who knows, maybe it will. In any case, I believe, with these changes, that Twitter as a platform would be more valuable, both with you at the helm, and with back there with my 10 or so followers and my posting rate of 25 tweets or so in the last eight years. 😉 1

  1. This wink is doing a lot of work. [return]

Thinking about that last post a little more, maybe it’s just a matter of framing. After all, if others didn’t post about what they’re watching, reading or listening to, there would be a bunch of great stuff I never would have heard of or experienced.

I sometimes wonder, during days where I have very little to say, if it would be better to talk about something “trivial” like a new TV show I’m watching, or if it would be better to say nothing at all.

For want of a new tool, Xcode command line tools needs to be upgraded.

For want of upgraded Xcode command line tools, Xcode needs to be upgraded.

For want of an upgraded Xcode, MacOS needs to be upgraded.

And you can probably guess where I’m going with all this. 😒

Oh, I hope not.

An exceeding long download estimation

A few people I know are isolating due to Covid-19, so I stayed in last night. I rewatched Helvetica by Gary Hustwit. Last time I watched it was at the start of the pandemic, when Hustwit offered viewing it for free. Watching it again actually brought be back to that time.

Started reading: The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi. It was page 2, when I read the name of the mobile app the protaginst was working on, when I got good feelings about this one. 📚