I’ve stopped making consistent eye contact when talking to people in casual social situations. Like at the pub. I’ve only just realised it but now that I have, I can’t stop thinking about it. I used to make eye contact just fine, no problem, I don’t know what happened. And I don’t know how to fix it! I’m so hyper-conscious of it now, I get a Peep Show-esque monologue going when I think about it.
Micheal Butterworth kindly brought a bunch of original copies of New Worlds and Corridor to a recent Corridor8 meeting in Wakefield. It was a pleasure to thumb through them, particularly as Hannah Nussbaum gave us a peek in to her research on Micheal’s body of work and the roots of Corridor8.
The images here are illustrated titles from the October 1967 issue of New Worlds edited by Micheal Moorcock.
Turns out vitamin D is pretty important for your immune system. I knew this in a sort of back-of-the-mind way, but I didn’t realise quite how important until a recent doctor visit and blood test. I seem to be deficient by nearly every standard out there. I’ve battled three separate health issues since moving to the UK from California in 2010, all of them nonexistent before the move. I’m now taking quite a lot of vitamin D3 as advised and am thrilled to see real improvement for the first time. Fingers-crossed that the improvement continues.
If vitamin D deficiency is a potential contributor to a wide range of health issues, as a lot of studies seem to show, why isn’t routine screening a thing? Couldn’t it reduce strain on the healthcare system as a whole?
Basically, I’m pretty salty about not finding out sooner. I’ve had so many tests done over the past nine years to try and figure this out, but vitamin D levels were never one of the components. I suspected vitamin D might be a problem early on (seems like a no-brainer, there’s a big difference in sunlight between CA and LDN). But I asked a doctor about it in 2012 and he dismissed my concern. I didn’t press it until recently when everything took a nosedive and I finally saw a doctor that gets it.
So much stress and discomfort potentially caused by something so simple. Time will tell, should take about 7 weeks to get levels near normal. Onward and upward!
And time to go on some sunny holidays. ☀️
Last night was my third Agorama Server Co-op meet up in Rebecca’s Flat, a delightfully dilapidated space at Raven Row. I think it was actually the fifth though, I missed the last two due to illness which was a real bummer. The weekend jam sounded particularly great.
This particular meetup was more informal and a little smaller than usual. It ended up being a really nice, wandering conversation on the multifaceted possibilities of the distributed web, what it could look like.
The notes below are a sort of a prompt dump, snippets I wrote down at the time because I didn’t want to forget it or wanted to look in to it more. See all Server Co-op write-ups here.
Dark Crystal is now up and running on Patchbay (ssb client). Got Samsung funding, woohoo! Possible to create bot that receives shard? Think they’re trying to avoid that, the human element is kind of critical.
What about physical crypto? Microdots are worth checking out. Microdot tattoos?
Asked what ppl think about potential threat of quantum computing to modern cryptography methods, response was a little not as I expected (this is why I come to these things!). Personally I’ve been feeling a little tin-foil-hat-y, but general consensus from the other voices in the room seemed to be pretty ambivalent since the theory far outstrips the practicalities currently. Which is true, but it also just feels kind of like an arms race (particularly since it involves hardware / infrastructure). Whoever cracks it first wins the golden goose unless we can come up with cryptography that works against it. GP then mentioned the post-quantum crypto contest with NIST due to end pretty soon, looks pretty promising. I didn’t realise there was that much going on with quantum resistant algorithm research, so that makes me feel a bit better. I guess my concern is still there though, to a big degree. Banks, for example, are on notoriously crappy tech that is rarely overhauled. What of them, and the other institutions we rely on? Oh lord, and voting tech…
Got talking about what I’d been up to (not much, see first para…) and mentioned that I ultimately decided not to move my site on to Dat, partly due to scale issues w/ static site generators (read more on this) but more to do with the fact that I think I’d rather use Dat for something new and neato, rather than just repurpose something that already exists and is doing ok in it’s current form. Then we started talking about static site generators more generally and someone mentioned Pelican, which I hadn’t come across before. It’s written in Python and originally released in 2010 (!), so up there with Jekyll as one of the earlier static site generators.
HL demoed his mother-of-all-apps for us, it looks *so great*! Absolutely something I would use. Really excited to see where he takes it. I need to look in to Hypercore and Expo a bit more. The first I’d heard of, the second not so much. Apparently Expo is a cross platform app framework built around React Native. Ppl could not say enough good things about it and honestly, it does look fantastic. Particularly as a tool to dip your toe in to app waters, so to speak.
Towards the end of the demo, the conversation wound through lots of different topics. Blockchain, platforms vs aggregators, a bunch of CS history (need to read more about that…), the sustainability of open source, etc. The rest of this note details snippets from this part of the conversation that I need to look in to more.
Services / apps / platforms I’d like to look in to a bit:
- Mapeo, an “open source, offline-first map editor”
- Manyverse, kind of Scuttlebutt for your phone but better (shouldn’t suck the life out of your phone trying to sync)
- Node.js for mobile apps
- Webrecorder, like a personal Wayback Machine; also, did you know you can sometimes find YouTube vids that have been taken down archived on the Wayback Machine?
A reading list. (Some of these links are painful to open, some orgs really need to cool their jets on the pop-ups and trackers):
- The Bill Gates Line, an article on platforms vs aggregators
- The Internet Was Built on the Free Labor of Open Source Developers. Is That Sustainable?; does free mean questionable accountability? “Beggars can’t be choosers”
- Unleashing Colombia’s Full Potential Using Blockchain Technology, an editorial from the Center for Strategic and International Studies
- Why There Will Never Be Another Red Hat: The Economics of Open Source, published in 2014
- The Curse of Xanadu, published by Wired in ‘95
- Whatever happened to the Semantic Web? from Two-bit History
- 50 Years Later, We Still Don’t Grasp the Mother of All Demos
- The Father of Mobile Computing is Not Impressed, an interview with Alan Kay on Fast Company
Some soundbites. These are paraphrased points made by others that I found super-relevant. Bits in square brackets are added by me for clarity:
- “Ordering is the toughest thing to sort out” [when it comes to ledgers / append-only logs]
- “Biggest problem with blockchain is the definition of consensus, and how to establish consensus”
- “Article 13 [aka the “upload filter” provision] is forcing people’s hand, we’re going to see a lot more of this.”
- “So much of this bullshit has come from chasing the technology and not the needs.” Related: “But seriously… does it need to be an app?”
- “The future of the web will be much more about interoperability than a black-and-white, decentralised vs centralised approach.”
- “Porn is a canary in the coal mine for whether a piece of tech is ready for primetime.” [Is someone using it for porn? Ok, it’s going to gain traction.]
- “Could we ever have another Xerox PARC?” “Probably not, research now is just too results-driven. A report every week, and sometimes the funder has already indicated what they’d prefer your results to be.”
So many distributed / decentralised web conversations get quasi-evangelical about how this or that tech will save the world. Why does it have to be winner takes it all? Different needs require different technologies.
We recognise biodiversity as a fundamental requirement of a healthy, thriving biosphere. Why don’t we champion technodiversity in the same way? Embrace the chaos.
I loved making friendship bracelets as a kid. Time for a revival.
There’s something wonderfully sincere about them. Receiving one is a delight, who doesn’t want a small physical thing that ties you to another actual person in this world, that has taken time and care. It’s a little talisman of someone’s consideration for you. And it’s a joy to make the bracelet. They take almost no time, can be as complicated as simple as you feel you’re up for in that moment. The knotting is rhythmic, takes the mind somewhere else.
The most recent one I made was a thin black braid with a tiny shell from a holiday. That stayed on my wrist for a few months – sure I can make myself friendship bracelets, self care is the bees knees. I smashed the shell in to a thousand million pieces when I tried to kill a bug on the kitchen table (that’s what you get for mindless violence).
I don’t think I’ve got the public / private balance quite right… I’ve started using private notes a little more heavily, which feels right for certain types of things (personal photos, health, sensitive memories).
Next step will be to add a login for friends / family.
When I couldn’t sleep last night and was a little hungry, I watched a video of Samin Nosrat making a confit tuna sandwich. Terrible idea, it took forever to get to sleep after that, but the sandwich looked really excellent. It’s kind of a Niçoise salad on great bread. I made a “poor woman’s” version of that sandwich today for lunch, and it was fantastic.
Fancy-ish tuna sandwich
Based on Samin Nosrat’s confit tuna sandwich. Serves 2.
Thinly slice 1 red onion. Place the onion in a small bowl with a good pinch of sugar and a good pinch of salt. Cover about two-thirds of the way with white wine vinegar, then add a bit of cold water so that they’re just barely submerged. Stir and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine 1 small garlic clove, finely minced, and about 2 T mayonnaise. Set aside.
Drain 1 can of skipjack tuna chunks in olive oil in to a medium bowl, reserving the olive oil in another bowl. Whisk a small amount of salt in to the olive oil and set aside.
Finely chop a small handful of pitted green olives and a small handful of brined capers. Place in the bowl with the tuna.
Slice about ¼ cucumber in roughly 3mm rounds (you want about 4-5 cucumber pieces per sandwich; feel free to peel it a bit before slicing) and place in the bowl with the tuna.
Add about 2 T mayonnaise to the tuna mixture and combine by hand. Add some of the onion vinegar or more mayo if needed.
Slice a crusty baguette in to appropriate sandwich-sized portions and then slice the portions in half. Coat the bottom bread half with the garlicky mayo and lightly coat the top half with the seasoned olive oil. Top with the tuna mixture, then a decent amount of pickled onions.
I have *no doubt* that the proper confit tuna version is better and totally worthwhile, but it’s not something that I can really make based on my local resources and the timing of my day-to-day life. This version is pretty heavily simplified, but it gets the most critical flavours and textures in there. There were leftovers of a few of the ingredients, particularly the onion, so I’ll probably make more of these sandwiches again later this week.
“It is said that one gets the Evil Eye by way of another person’s glare, praises, or compliments, whether ill-intentioned or not.”
That soulsick feeling you get from endlessly scrolling through Instagram, or when you’re lying awake at 2am on a Monday morning.
“Moreish” is a word that doesn’t exist in American English, but it should.
We were discussing moreish-ness in relation to oatmeal cookies the other day. What makes a food moreish, something that hits the spot but also leaves a void, leaves you wanting a little more?
At the time, I felt that it requires multi-dimensionality, just enough contrast. When something is too on-the-nose, it isn’t moreish. Cookies without a pinch of salt, tomato sauce without a little sweetness.
Since then I’ve been thinking about moreish-ness a lot outside of the context of food, and the contrast idea stands up.
Outfits, websites, books, relationships. Requires more exploration.
I’ve been ill on and off for three months now. It’s not so bad, I’m not completely out of commission, haven’t had to go to A&E. But it’s bad enough.
It has a weird effect. The symptoms aren’t always there, thank goodness. And I’m getting better at handling it when things go south, I’ve learned how to alleviate pain quickly.
The more difficult element to cope with is the psychological brittleness. The feeling that I cannot rely on myself. I’m reluctant to make plans because I’d rather not make them than break them again. That can get pretty isolating.
It’s particularly weird when it comes to work. If I were working as part of a larger team I’d talk to my manager, or HR. But the only people I answer to are my collaborators and clients. They’re very understanding (it helps a *lot* that I don’t work totally solo), but still. It’s a bit of a weird conversation, one I’ve avoided for the most part.
It will probably be another month until things are “settled”. The powers that be are sorting it out, I think. And I’m staying busy. Practically, I don’t want to fall behind. Emotionally, I need the distraction. Distraction from the larger distraction.