Blaise Alleyne

Toronto, Canada

Technologist, musician, writer, theology student, free culture/software advocate.

  • 2018-01-10T05:17:08Z via AndStatus To: Public

    I have done a thing: I'm taking the Canadian government to court, asking in judicial review that a policy to compel speech attesting support for a variety of social beliefs in order to qualify for unrelated funding be declared unconstitutional. It's not illegal to disagree with the government, and the government of the day should not be able to compel speech or discriminate on the basis of beliefs.
    It's been getting attention in the Canadian media:

    McClane likes this.

  • Christmas carols

    2017-12-19T04:51:00Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I'd play these public domain Christmas carols all year long if people wouldn't look at me funny.

    These are old recordings from 2008. Each year, I wish I'd carved out the time to continue on this CC0 project. I have at least three other arrangements to record: We Three Kings (Tool-esque), O Come All Ye Faithful (ringy acoustic guitar), and Angels We Have Heard On High (modern folk finger-picky guitar). One of these years...

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  • Backdrop > Drupal

    2017-09-05T19:00:33Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Okay, so far I'm super happy with Backdrop CMS over Drupal. Over Drupal 7, and especially over Drupal 8. It's like this fork is focused on fixing everything that was wrong with Drupal and preserving everything that was great about it. My only fear is that the fork has enough support to survive in the long-run, that it has a big enough userbase / developer base....

    » Blaise Alleyne:

    “[...] fork is focused on fixing everything that was right with Drupal [...]”

    Fixing everything that was wrong? =)

    JanKusanagi at 2017-09-05T19:09:54Z

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  • Backdrop CMS?

    2017-09-02T04:05:36Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Anyone have any experience with Backdrop CMS? Working with CiviCRM, WordPress has its limitations for more complex sites, and the Drupal 6/7/8 upgrade path is a thing of nightmares. Backdrop CMS (a fork of Drupal 7) seems to be taking all the things I liked from Drupal, but forking it to avoid all the things that are awful. I'm two days into Backdrop and kind of excited so far... the only downside being the level of documentation you'd expect from a newer project. Anyone have any experience working with Backdrop CMS or following it for longer than a week?

  • 2017-08-30T16:28:05Z via Web CC: Public

    Stephen Sekula likes this.

  • 2017-08-15T22:23:26Z via AndStatus To: Public

    Just switched from Tiny Tiny RSS to Nextcloud News. Should have done that ages ago. Next up, switching from Snowy to Nextcloud's Grauphel for Tomboy Notes sync. One self-hosted cloud to rule them all...

    Stephen Sekula likes this.

    I'd be interested in hearing more about why you prefer the new one. Installing Nextcloud seems like wrestling 100 pound of infrastructure for 5 pounds of feature (on the RSS reader front). If you're using a lot of Nextcloud's other apps, I'm sure that changes the calculus ... but what about the newsreader in particular is an improvement?

    Nathan Willis at 2017-08-16T08:39:26Z

  • 2017-08-14T15:08:02Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I was worried it'd take a while to adjust to a new T470 keyboard after using an X60/T61 for the past 10 years. While it still feels a bit new, I was shocked at how unfamiliar the X60 felt when I returned to it just a week after switching. The familiarity fades fast...

    I feel sorry for your family now xD

    JanKusanagi at 2017-08-14T16:15:19Z

    Ben Sturmfels likes this.

  • From 3GB RAM to 32GB RAM

    2017-08-04T21:04:48Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    My ThinkPad T470 has arrived. 1TB SSD, 32GB RAM, ~17h battery life, i7 processor... from using a X60 (160GB SSD, 3GB RAM, 1.5-2h battery) and T61 (240GB SSD, 4GB RAM)... fresh install of Debian Stretch is up and running. I'm still keeping the X60 and T61 in rotation from now, but getting used to a decade difference in laptop computing! (And searching for webcam blockers and such...)

    Stephen Sekula likes this.

    Show all 5 replies

    Wow, big step up xD

    JanKusanagi @i at 2017-08-05T12:31:05Z

    Whoa. Writing down that model number for my next work laptop replacement choice. (scribbles) ThinkPad T470... 17h battery life... YES PLEASE.

    Stephen Sekula at 2017-08-05T13:43:04Z

    Still to confirm and measure myself, but that was from a review, not Lenovo marketing stuff. (I went with the non-touch screen based on that recommendation, for better battery life.)

    Blaise Alleyne at 2017-08-05T14:54:36Z

    >> Blaise Alleyne:

    “Still to confirm and measure myself, but that was from a review, not Lenovo marketing stuff. (I went with the non-touch screen based on that recommendation, for better battery life.)”

    I assumed this was either your own independent research or personal experience, but thanks! I look forward to your verdict, especially w/ GNU/Linux installed.

    Stephen Sekula at 2017-08-06T13:24:08Z

  • First new laptop in 10 years: ThinkPad T470

    2017-07-18T05:19:00Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I just ordered my first new laptop in 10 years...

    In 2007, when I was 20, I got a ThinkPad T61, and my mom got a ThinkPad X60 (which became mine too a few years later). These two machines have lasted me 10 years, with RAM maxed out and in recent years SSD upgrades.

    I've been looking at new machines for the past 4 years, but kept settling on upgrades or deciding to stick it out. But I just pulled the trigger and ordered a brand new fully-loaded ThinkPad T470.

    Here's to hoping it lasts until 2027...

    ps I'm keeping the T61 and X60 around

    Stephen Sekula likes this.

  • Huge Geek Fatigue

    2017-04-24T03:54:27Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I have such a massive amount of geek fatigue these days. I've just had so many problems and so little time, over the past year specifically. Debilitating problems that have caused so much downtime for my mobile device, and my living room server and a bunch of self-hosted services. I'm still nowhere near 100% (e.g. my living room xserver/gdm isn't starting properly as of last week, and my mobile contacts sync has been broken for months). In 10 years of self-hosting and running OSes, I've never had this level of problems... It's just so exhausting.

    No point here. Just venting. And I suppose explaining some of my absence from social media here.

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    der.hans, Clacke moved to and shared this.

    Sorry to hear! I know how exhausting it can be when a few things start going wrong at once and you don't have time to investigate fully.

    Ben Sturmfels at 2017-04-24T04:33:10Z

    Blaise Alleyne likes this.

    I can feel your pain, I had somewhat a cathastrophic week (some weeks ago) in which al my computers/devices seemed to have a problem (except my PC at work).

    I hope your stuff get better soon, and yourself too #sendingGoodVibrations

    Laura Arjona at 2017-04-24T05:43:02Z

    der.hans, Blaise Alleyne likes this.

  • Let's Encrypt rocks

    2017-01-03T21:17:44Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Just used Let's Encrypt for the first time (since experimenting with the beta but never using it). certbot is awesome. Here's to never paying for an SSL certificate again!, EVAnaRkISTO, Charles Stanhope likes this.

    Good to know... It's on my todo list for this year.

    hope it can handle Multi domain name certs because I host on a Dynamic IP and so my main domain "" is C named to my Dynamic host name. So would be good to get a cert that handles both. (like my current Self signed one does)

    Freemor at 2017-01-03T21:27:35Z

    >> Freemor:

    “[...]hope it can handle Multi domain name certs [...]”

    I believe it does.

    James Dearing 🐲 at 2017-01-04T02:19:10Z

  • 2016-12-29T06:44:00Z via AndStatus To: Public

    Argh. I spent 2016 back and forth between Maemo and CyanogenMod, making a slow transition from my N900 to an S5. Now CM is dead (and reborn)? I can't keep up...

  • Restore Android App Data

    2016-11-28T00:10:20Z via Impeller To: Public CC: Followers

    What do you all use for Android backup? I have an rsync script, but just borked my S5 trying to encrypt it and I have no idea what to restore to restore app data... web searches are useless because all the result advocate proprietary Play Store backup/restore options...

    Christopher Allan Webber likes this.

    TWRP Open recovery for nandriod images of the phone (encryptable)

    oandbackup for backing up apks + data (encryptable). helpful to enable the option to save the oandbackup apk in the root of the backup directory.

    (No sense having an encrypted phone if the backups are in the clear.)

    rsync to back the data on the phone and said backup to our nas

    Freemor at 2016-11-28T01:19:19Z before a known operation like that, I just do a full adb backup to a laptop. Continual backups are done using syncthing to several computers on my network, but that's mainly for photo, video, notes, etc. It could sync more but I try to keep minimal state on device. oandbackup is useful, but it's too manual a process for me to remember to do on a regular basis.

    Kevin Everets at 2016-11-28T02:09:58Z

  • Why Software Freedom? Recommendations?

    2016-10-31T02:29:52Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    It's been almost 10 years since I was introduced to the concept of free software. I've been out of practice and struggling lately to explain it to friends and acquaintances though, when it comes up. I find great for more technically-minded or philosophically-minded folks, but don't always feel confident sending that to other folks.

    Is there another website/resource you'd recommend as a great summary case for software freedom from first principles for a wide audience? What's your favourite intro/defence of software freedom? drawing on the free beer, free speech distinction I normally present my interest in it as "I came for the free beer, liked it, and now I stay for the freedom"

    Efraim Flashner at 2016-10-31T06:18:34Z, Blaise Alleyne likes this.

    @Blaise Alleyne I don't necessarily feel like I have the magical answer for you, but people do seem to be a more conscious of privacy and security lately, and that their devices may be selling them out to the world's largest advertising companies. How about the "there's no privacy without free software" angle?

    Ben Sturmfels at 2016-10-31T10:50:27Z

    Blaise Alleyne likes this.

    I do often start with privacy these days. Sometimes I feel like it works well. Other times I get the, "aren't you being a bit paranoid?" response. That's probably still the best starting point though...

    Blaise Alleyne at 2016-10-31T21:48:08Z I start with "Your devices should obey you, not some company." And then head into privacy versus surveillance, focusing mainly on companies collecting data to help them sell unwanted ads (and directly selling the info for payment.
    So far, my IRL contacts all think I'm a crackpot, but once they know about the relevant issues, it is entirely their choice how to respond. at 2016-10-31T23:06:19Z

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  • Bringing my Toddler to the Toronto School of Communication Conference

    2016-10-15T22:36:38Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Even though I've never had an issue, I still wonder what the reaction will be like sometimes bringing a young toddler with me to a conference. It's wonderful when you realize the woman staring at your kid from across the way is just looking for an opportunity to make some silly faces, and when you leave the lecture hall a bit early during Q&A, Eric McLuhan (Marshall McLuhan's son) smiles and applauds as another panelist says "thank you for coming" and compliments your kid for being so well-behaved. Reminds me of the time the Mesh Conference folks made Noah an honourary conference pass. Now, if only Victoria College had change tables...

    sazius likes this.

  • Internet Filtering/Accountability Software?

    2016-10-07T04:13:47Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I have such an intense knee-jerk reaction against internet filtering that I got into a bit of a debate with a friend about local network filtering, like, parental filters in the home as kids get older. I'm still pretty skeptical, but started looking into free software options, like DansGuardian/e2guardian or net responsibility something. Still feels really odd to think about (and really ineffective, but maybe for young kids)...

    Anyone have any experience with content filtering or accountability software? (Or parenting...)

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Douglas Perkins, Douglas Perkins, Douglas Perkins shared this.

    Show all 5 replies
    Once kids start actively looking for [blocked material], they're gonna find a way to circumvent the filter, at which point the matter becomes entirely counter-productive. That alone is a decent argument against filtering in the first place. And even supposing you could secure the internet at your house, what about your kids' friends houses? They're gonna find whatever they want to find somewhere.

    In other words, if we're talking about filtering or reducing exposure, we should be talking about reducing accidentally stumbling upon [bad stuff], as opposed to perfectly blocking it out. How much time is worth spending on that, as opposed to how to teaching kids how to deal with such situations when they do occur? I dunno.

    Douglas Perkins at 2016-10-07T06:36:34Z

    For now, I care about: blocking ads, having https everywhere, and not creating accounts in whatever site... aka same strategy for all the family, nothing special for the kid.

    For the kid (7 y.o. now) I'm following the "teaching" approach in a similar way as we do for the non-computing life: when possible, we go together to everyplace; if he is alone (school, soccer class, browsing videos in the tablet, etc) he has to be careful, don't trust everybody/everyplace, keep in mind that the internet (as the streets) is a "wild place" and some people use it for the bad, and post ugly things, or for adults only. Better stick to the places/sites/contents that we all know they are safe. Feel comfortable to talk to me about any doubt or idea or anything that arises: I'm not going to judge or ban directly, I will try to understand his point of view and explain and give advice, with love.

    About having his own devices or use them autonomous from me, for now I say "no until you know well how they work and know how to fix them when they are broken".

    We'll see what happens when he grows a bit more.

    Laura Arjona at 2016-10-07T11:45:49Z

    Blaise Alleyne, Charles Stanhope, Benjamin Cook, Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) and 1 others likes this.

    If I have children someday, they won't be able to use a computer until they can build their own machine and get the operating system installed.  Once they've done that, they'll have full access to the internet once they are able to figure out how to get online.  By that point, I hope I've taught them enough to handle anything they might come across.

    Benjamin Cook at 2016-10-07T19:43:10Z

    Blaise Alleyne likes this.

    @Douglas Perkins that's really been my feeling too. The filtering would be such a minor speedbump. I'd rather inoculate than shield. But I do wonder if a low effort minor speedbump would be worth it, just for those, as you say, those accidental kinds of cases. Way too easy to circumvent anything though, and I would worry about the trust issues in setting up surveillance or filtering.

    Blaise Alleyne at 2016-10-09T02:55:19Z

  • Back to Drupal

    2016-10-05T08:13:29Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Just when I thought I'd left Drupal behind, I've got a big CiviCRM / website project, and Drupal seems like the tool for the job again.

    Of course, I go back to Drupal excited to try out Drupal 8 now! And sure enough, super popular modules like webform are still not Drupal 8 ready. And CiviCRM doesn't even support Drupal 8 yet. And then I remember one of the reasons I had planned to leave Drupal (the huge headache between major version migrations). Back to Drupal 7 it is I guess...

    I'm not sure if I should be excited or terrified. Probably both, which I am.

    You can use CivICRM under WordPress as well. We're using it for our local UNIX users group ( and it works well enough. I think it started under Drupal though so it might work better under there? Not sure. But there's options. :)

    Craig Maloney at 2016-10-05T11:24:11Z

    Yeah, I've been using CiviCRM under WordPress much more often in the past couple years. The integration isn't as complete, there are some more advanced functions that are Drupal only, but all the basics are there. This project just seems to cal for some of the power of Drupal, like the more advanced CMS and CiviCRM features will be important over the long run.

    I suppose I just feel stuck between the simplicity of WordPress and the power of Drupal. You hit ceilings with WordPress more quickly, but Drupal takes so much work to get it where you need it to be. Here goes another try on another website though...

    Blaise Alleyne at 2016-10-07T04:05:52Z

    Ah, wasn't sure if you'd explored those options. Do you know what the options are better implemented under Drupal for CiviCRM rather than Wordpress? (Off the top of your head. Was more curious than anything).

    Good luck!

    Craig Maloney at 2016-10-07T10:57:54Z

    CiviEngage is Drupal-only (not something I'm looking at using though). Drupal integration also includes integration with views, a CiviGroups Roles Sync, or an Organic Groups sync too I think. So, just a whole bunch of ways to integrate CiviGroups with Drupal roles/access, and then to pull information from Civi for custom display in Drupal. I think there's even a webform integration module.

    WordPress can do all the basic stuff, like display profiles or CiviCRM pages or whatever, but you don't have the same potential to integrate content/permissions in both directions like you can in Drupal.

    Blaise Alleyne at 2016-10-09T02:58:34Z

  • Bits from Debian: DebConf17 organization started

    Debian Project at 2016-09-07T01:16:54Z via AndStatus To: Public

    Link to original post: DebConf17 organization started

    DebConf17 will take place in Montreal, Canada from August 6 to August 12, 2017. It will be preceded by DebCamp, July 31 to August 4, and Debian Day, August 5.

    We invite everyone to join us in organizing DebConf17. There are different areas where your help could be very valuable, and we are always looking forward to your ideas.

    The DebConf content team is open to suggestions for invited speakers. If you'd like to propose somebody who is not a regular DebConf attendee follow the details in the call for speaker proposals blog post.

    We are also beginning to contact potential sponsors from all around the globe. If you know any organization that could be interested, please consider handing them the sponsorship brochure or contact the fundraising team with any leads.

    The DebConf team is holding IRC meetings every two weeks. Have a look at the DebConf17 website and wiki page, and engage in the IRC channels and the mailing list.

    Let’s work together, as every year, on making the best DebConf ever!

    Paulo Henrique de Lima Santana, Alberto Moshpirit, Face, der.hans likes this.

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  • 2016-08-18T13:48:19Z via AndStatus To: Public

    Squirrel steals G Pro and films tour of the trees -- queue multi-year baseless copyright battle and PETA lawsuit:, Ben Sturmfels likes this.

  • Way to digital, U of T

    2016-08-16T18:01:44Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    From a book I was trying to access online through the University of Toronto library: "Borrow this ebook! Available on a 3 day loan. Returning it makes it available to someone else sooner."

    Reminds me of the Penny Arcade take on Playstation Home:

    There are things about Home that are simply beyond my understanding. Chief among these bizarre maneuvers is the idea that, when manufacturing their flimsy dystopia, they actually ported the pernicious notion of scarcity from our world into their digital one. This is like having the ability to shape being from non-being at the subatomic level, and the first thing you decide to make is AIDS., Jason Self, jrobertson, ostfriesenmärz likes this.