Not The Whole Truth

Not The Whole Truth

Wednesday, Feb 3, 2021

Listening To: Sofia Portanet - Freier Geist (“Planet Mars” is perhaps my best find of 2021 so far).

Filed my first complaint against a major media organisation today. I won’t name them as the practice seems common and to their credit, they have now changed the article’s text to better reflect the present pandemic rules.

A number of published articles recently have included blanket statements such as:

British Columbia restrictions include a ban on gathering with anyone outside one’s household”.

This is not accurate.

If you read British Columbia’s Official Province-wide Restrictions document it states that this restriction applies to multi-person households. Single-person households have a limited exemption in that they are allowed to have up to two outside contacts (expand the “Core bubble” portion of the document linked above). There are also some exceptions for other cases.

Somewhere around four million Canadians over the age of 15 live alone and many either don’t work, or work from home these days. Expecting them all to completely isolate themselves 24/7 isn’t reasonable:

  • extended isolation has been shown to cause both physical and mental illness. (1) (2)
  • one may need to move for some reason. From escaping a abusive partner to being evicted or renovicted. (1) (2)
  • nobody knows when this will end. (1) (2)

The risk from a single person household who is obeying the pandemic rules can be very low. For instance: I generally work and live alone and only frequent businesses respecting the rules (grocery shopping off-peak, only buying take-out, wearing a mask outdoors when near others etc.).

Note that going for a “safe walk” is also within the current rules.

If you can, please get outside! Stanley could always use another sunny day walking buddy. Get in touch (top left site button) if you’re in need. Reach out to somebody if you’re struggling.

I have.

2 minutes read
Matrix My Way

Matrix My Way

Monday, Feb 1, 2021

Photo: Otto Von Bismark and Audrey Hepburn (aka “the buns of destruction”) - rescue rabbits from VRRA
Listening to: Joe Jackson - Awkward Age (it should come as no surprise that this one resonates with me):

“You look at me like I know what’s going on
I’m looking back and I wonder what went wrong
I really thought by now a few things might just clarify
I got a mind that goes out to lunch for days
And a body that sometimes disobeys
I get into the parties but I hate them ‘cause I’m shy
Oh my
I’m still at an awkward age”

One of the few disadvantages of using external services for communication is that on occasion, they don’t last, whether they be commercial or community supported. Alas, I just received a message telling me my Matrix server of choice is being taken off-line before the end of the month.

In an effort to turn adversity into advantage, an effort is underway to set up my own server (the software is called Synapse). That way this never has to happen again as the entire system is under my own control. I may even host it from home as texting takes next to no bandwidth.

Presently I’m experimenting in a non-destructive environment with a server on Linode. The advantage is that you can create snapshots, screw up, create and destroy servers at a whim. And it only costs about $0.007/hour. Seven cents. Ha.

Failure is part of the learning process (or so I keep telling myself).

2 minutes read
Making Pins

Making Pins

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

Listening to: Broken Baby - Broken Baby LP (I so wanna dance to this)

Well, this is fun.

I have a bag of old pins that somehow got all rusty. Water damage? Humidity? I’ve always wanted to make my own but the proper machine costs $$ and making real metal-backed enamel pins looks complicated. Perhaps with a vice and hacksaw? Maybe later…

So I tried to DIY it last night. Stripped and sanded an old pin then sprayed it down with black “rust paint” gloss enamel. All the tiny bottles of “craft store” enamel paint cost far too much for what they were, so I got a pot of gloss white rust paint from a hardware store. At least it will be useful later. The spraying has to be done outdoors but the painting isn’t too stinky for indoors.

It’s thick and advertised as “paint and primer in one” which had both ups and downs. With the soft “dollar store” brush, it’s rather hard to control. I’ll look for a smaller, stiffer brush for the next one, and perhaps some sort of small flat tipped stick-thing to push it around a bit (I obviously know SFA about painting right?). Given a few more colours it may be possible to paint some tiny things on the pins. Total lack of talent is never a barrier. Palette schmallete, just rolling with what I can find/scrounge will be a fun way to spend some evenings.

Constantly fighting the damned cat off just makes it more… interesting.

2 minutes read
Firefox Addons

Firefox Addons

Thursday, Jan 21, 2021

Listening to: Dream Nails - Dream Nails
Photo: pic taken with my first digital camera, the Olympus D-360L (bought 1999 in New Orleans). Still works!

I use Firefox. One of only a small percentage of people who do these days. The market is dominated by Chrome and it’s derivatives. I could go on about how a mono-culture on web access is dangerous, or how that it would be headed by what is effectively an ad firm/data broker with little sense of ethics, but I’d be digressing.

This is about add-ons. Mostly so I don’t forget what I’m using. You’ll probably want to go back to doing something more relevant to your life at this point (videos of goats cavorting is my go-to).

uBlock Origin - blocks lots of ads* and crap. Makes the web faster to browse.

Privacy Possum - reduces and/or falsifies data gathered by tracking companies.

Privacy Badger - learns to block invisible trackers.

Firefox Multi-Account Containers - lets you run each website in isolation.

Facebook Container - wraps Facebook automatically and generally screws with their tracking elsewhere on the web.

Decentraleyes - Messes with CDN (Content Delivery Network) delivery. Third parties that host web content and may monetise your data.

ClearURL’s - Removes tracking elements built into links and URL’s themselves.

HTTPS Everywhere - Just removed this one as the feature is now built into Firefox. Warns you when you load insecure websites (any password would be transmitted as plain text).

*I have no problems with seeing ads. I ran a site for a decade that depended on them for revenue. But those were topical, self-hosted and did not contain any trackers. Alas, many modern ad services are kinda shitty about that stuff.

2 minutes read
C-11

C-11

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021

Listening to: Tom Tom Club - Genius of Live   Photo: Home on a Sunny Day (built around 1913)

The CBC has an opinion piece posted “Digital privacy law is being updated for the first time in decades, and it’s imperative we get it right” about the upcoming digital privacy bill C-11. It’s important.

People’s lives are their own and they should have control on who has access to the details of it. Let’s not let the corporate mono/duopolyies decide.

1 minutes read
Goodbye (and good riddance)

Goodbye (and good riddance)

Thursday, Jan 7, 2021

Listening to: Lisa Mitchell - Coin Laundry (Video).

One week until Facebook (finally) deletes my account. It’s only been used once or twice during the last year so there is no need to keep a big database of personal information online. Instagram has been deleted for awhile as have many other commercial services. Google is mostly detached, I just need to transfer some final online account contacts to my personal e-mail first (which is hosted by Protonmail).

Instead, a few of us are talking about starting our own local social network, probably something based on Mastodon. The intent is to provide a private place for marginalised local communities to communicate safely. DIY bands could promote without the platform artificially restricting their audience (because $$). Conversations about what kind of privacy model to use are ongoing but the tech groundwork has started. I posted before about Fosstodon’s Code of Conduct being a good model, and perhaps it’s one to adopt. There’s also talk of our own video streaming server. That’d be fun. Anything to do with encoders and codecs makes makes me wiggly (hey, judge not lest ye be…).

First up on my personal list is a Matrix instance to use for messaging. Given the recent news that WhatsApp is forcing users to quit or have their data sent to parent Facebook, I suspect most won’t care some local folks may want a privacy-respecting alternative. Especially those in marginalised communities. It’s super easy to use with apps for every platform.

There is an argument to be made that some of this comes off a little paranoid. Perhaps. But it also means I get to do a lot of learning while regaining control over aspects of my life. In a increasingly globalised world that seems to be spiralling out of control, one could argue it’s may even be good for one’s mental health.

Naw, it’s about the dorking.

2 minutes read
News Alligators (Or How RSS Makes Browsing Easier)

News Alligators (Or How RSS Makes Browsing Easier)

Sunday, Jan 3, 2021

Listening to: Kate Bush - Live at Hammersmith Odeon (video)

RSS readers. I just spoke to somebody who didn’t know what one was and said I’d write it up (hi there!).

What

An app which pulls in an overview of articles recent posted from any number of sites. Saves a bucketload of time as you can just click open the full text of interesting items to read and skip the chaff. Podcast apps use a similar structure.

How

RSS ICON Many sites, especially personal blogs like this, will have a square icon with three curves in it (mine is over on the navigation box). Clicking will open up a page of dork code or what looks like garbage text (it’s really called XML). Entering that page URL into a RSS Reader will give you content and update it every time you open your app, looking for new posts. That’s the manual method, each platform and app will have it’s own style. Some organisations even have a nice index page of all feeds by subject https://www.cbc.ca/rss/ and clicking on one will automatically add it to some readers.

Where

It’s common software for any platform and I’m sure a quick search will turn up a few for whatever you’re running. There are also sites which act as portals for your feed (read the fine print). I’ve never found a need to pay for one, but use open-source software. Your call. If you do go free or open source, perhaps kick beer money to the developer if you’re flush. They like that.

WTF?

Sometimes a site will “lose” the link to the feed, taking the icon off the site. It doesn’t mean the feed isn’t being generated, but that somebody thought it didn’t make enough money screwed up the coding. If you look in “common places” you’ll often find it there anyway. /index.xml, /rss/, /feed/ etc. Some search engines will pull the direct URL up as well.

Many big sites have eliminated them despite almost every CMS (content management system) supporting the feed structure. Reasons vary, but many want you to surf the site so they can monetise your visit with ads or by selling the personal data you generate.

More info: Wikipedia RSS Entry

2 minutes read
Terms of Service Didn't Read

Terms of Service Didn't Read

Tuesday, Dec 29, 2020

Listening to: Slum of Legs - The Baader Meinhof Always Look So Good In Photos

Who reads those massive license agreements you click “OK” to when signing up for a site? The documents which end with “reserve the right to change terms at any time without notice”, making the entire previous ten pages moot. Not me either, and I’m a bit of a masochist when it comes to that kind of thing, life’s just too short.

tosdr.org aims to change that for you. It rates the various agreements with standard A-E grading and provides some details as to what each demands of you and your personal information. Spoiler: It’s all rather horrifying.

ps. That’s an old photo I took of real Canadian mud (as in “clear as”). If you watch Stargate you’ll see Teal’c lying in it at one point. You’re welcome.

1 minutes read
TV makes you a pasty mushroom

TV makes you a pasty mushroom

Friday, Dec 25, 2020

Listening to: Petrol Girls

What to do (on Christmas day) during a worldwide pandemic? Omnipresent rainfall. There are only so many movies, books and video games one can consume. The cat is gently snoring. Not a care.

TV turns you into a pasty mushroom (fight me).

The oven is clean. The cat is brushed. Dog got his Christmas morning walk. Finished my “box a day” unpacking from a recent move. Bathroom clean.

Let’s make a website.

Do it the hard way so as to use as much time as possible. Linux, Nginx, SSL certs, SSH keys, Hugo, Typora and markdown. It’s been a couple of decades since the last site.

NEED another cookie. The upstairs neighbour has been baking shortbread. Must politely beg for additional confections.

1 minutes read

About Me

A dorky artist living in Vancouver, BC.

email: flay@pm.me

Matrix: @bunnyhuffer:matrix.org

Mastodon: https://fosstodon.org/@flay

text/Telegram/Signal:

2 x 3 =

6 x 0 =

2 x 2 =

2 x 3 + 1 =

1 x 2 =

1 + 2 =

2 + 2 + 1 =

1 + 1 + 1 =

5 - 2 =

12 - 8 =

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(Yes, I know. I have a problem.)