Nathan Willis

Inaccessible Island

Nathan Willis, Verified

  • Yadda Yadda Yadda

    2017-12-14T18:22:51Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Two talks accepted for FOSDEM this year!

    I maybe should've stuck with one. We'll see if I survive.

    Either way, happy to start spreading the good news of ... how much is lacking in the FOSS font world.... #pessimismsells
  • Fun with Scribus, part A billion

    2017-11-29T14:55:20Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Gotta love it. Opened up my dissertation (from the first of September) and even though the content has not been touched since it was last exported, all of the page breaks are now in the wrong places, leaving widows and orphans on almost every page.

    This is why people don't update your packages, developer.
  • 2017-11-25T19:58:52Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Podcast idea: "Dungeons And Software" : a panel of hosts meet online to play a fantasy role-playing game while simultaneously discussing the week's news from the free-software world.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Stephen Michael Kellat likes this.

    I figure 75% of all podcasts are D&D-themed already, so why not jump on the bandwagon?

    Nathan Willis at 2017-11-25T19:59:35Z

    I'd consider an alternative title, "Software and Dragons"

    George Standish at 2017-11-26T02:57:22Z


    2017-11-24T10:16:15Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    There is LITERALLY nothing in the world worse than getting a bad Tor entry node.

    Seriously; the network is designed so that you get stuck with the same entry node for weeks at a time, unless you jump through the hoops of using an invisible bridge that you have to set up yourself. So some hapless slob who has bandwidth problems becomes YOUR problem for weeks. And there's no way to contact them.

    "Literally" nothing worse? Your world is weird =)

    JanKusanagi at 2017-11-24T12:47:24Z

    I could care less.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-11-24T13:11:54Z

  • 2017-11-23T22:21:55Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I haven't decided how I feel about the Netflix 'Punisher' series yet, but it's certainly not written by anyone who has ever spent time with newspaper reporters, anyone in the police, or anyone who understands gun control. It's clearly not going for nuance, which is disappointing.
    I don't know anything about private security contractors, but I suppose it's one-dimensional and unrealistic about them, too.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-11-23T22:24:25Z

  • 2017-11-23T13:50:51Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    "This mailing list has a moderated membership policy. Please explain why you would like to join the list."

    This is for an "open standard", people.
    On the plus side, they did approve my "membership", but still.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-11-23T14:33:11Z

    I've seen a similar case where the moderation was just spam prevention and anybody whose explanation passed the turing test was accepted; I believe that the text gave an idea that this was the reason for the moderation, however.

    Otherwise, WTF.

    Elena ``of Valhalla'' at 2017-11-30T21:15:36Z

  • Styles

    2017-11-21T11:06:37Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    No exaggeration: writing an 80-page dissertation with footnotes, images, and cross-references — all in Scribus — was easier than making a single 8x10 table, also in Scribus.
  • Cast

    2017-11-17T19:41:24Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    You know you're behind on a podcast when the outro encourages you to subscribe on your Blackberry and WebOS devices.

    Stephen Michael Kellat likes this.

    Stephen Michael Kellat shared this.

    Waaay behind, or maybe they're a little retro xD

    JanKusanagi at 2017-11-17T20:02:56Z

    If it mentions Gopher and isn't about the Go language...just make sure it isn't me hosting it...

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2017-11-17T20:52:45Z

  • Fitnezz

    2017-11-13T18:38:26Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Does anyone know of a good comparison between the various fitness-tracker device companies that notes what their API policies and own-your-data stances are?

    I don't turn up much. A few complaints about FitBit from 2013; not a lot that's current. I'd like to think that the contemporary competitors in this space have more to offer than pure, grinning-evil vendor lock-in, but so far I don't see a lot of evidence to support that.

    And no, I don't have any desire to cobble together a halfway-functioning Borg addon made from Arduinos, 20-gauge wire, and exposed AA battery holders. I mean real products.
  • RSS-

    2017-11-11T16:40:54Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I decided I'm removing Yubico from my feed reader. If the company ever starts embracing software-freedom principles again, I hope someone will let me know.

    In the meantime, there's too much other news to follow.
  • Metaphor Time!

    2017-11-09T16:08:05Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I need to come up with a term for 'somewho who fights link-rot'....

    for some reason your post reminded me of roto-rooter.  how about link rot-o-rooter? :-)

    Alexandre Oliva at 2017-11-09T18:20:41Z

    The... em... linkotron?

    Link updater person!

    Anti-linkrot task force!

    Linkifreshener? xD

    JanKusanagi at 2017-11-09T19:01:00Z

  • 2017-11-07T22:06:40Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Submitted my first LibrePlanet talk proposal today.

    Ben Sturmfels likes this.

  • 2017-11-02T20:32:07Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Is not working for everyone else right now? It's not connecting for me....
  • 2017-11-02T11:56:53Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I'm not good at making paperclips.
  • 2017-10-23T15:29:51Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I have a new nemesis, and it is Emacs cua-mode.

    I'm in academician mode this morning as my first thought was "Catholic University of America?" but then I found

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2017-10-23T16:35:48Z

  • Bug Zorro

    2017-10-19T14:03:51Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Searching for a desktop to-do list manager that integrates reasonably well with bug trackers.... None of the ones I was familiar with already (GettingThingsGNOME, Tasque, etc) seem to still be in active development. Anybody got recommendations?

    McClane, McClane, McClane, McClane shared this.

    Clarification: GTG does integrate with Launchpad and "Bugzilla" via plugins (although I'm not clear which Bugzilla instances are supported...). Not with GtiHub, however, which is a necessity. Nor with the Debian BTS, which is also a big deal.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-10-19T14:05:19Z

    Update: Bug Zorro would be an awesome project name, now that I think about it.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-10-20T08:50:59Z

    Stephen Michael Kellat likes this.

  • Diversify

    2017-10-16T11:50:37Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    A friend of mine from the typography world recently posed a question to me. And now I'm posing it to you.

    He's wanting to organize a small conference on a very, very narrow subject, and he's concerned about having an all-male panel of speakers (partly, perhaps, he worries that it would get criticized, more importantly he wants to attract new blood to the topic, because it's the topic he loves). So he wanted advice on what he could do about it as a conference planner.

    The thing is, he legitimately knows all of the potential speakers for this subject, and it's less than ten, and they're all men. It's a combination of the subject matter and how small the field is and the part of the world that it relates to (I won't go into detail on that, but it's regionally an issue). Starting out, he'll be lucky to fill a day with talks; his hope is that over time they can attract a lot more attention to the topic and that the second+ year, there will be more potential speakers from a broader pool. But what does he do for year one; that's the question.

    Now, I know it's obvious to take the knee-jerk reaction and tell him he doesn't know what he's talking about and obviously he's overlooking lots and lots of great speakers who are just being kept out by unfair barriers to entry. Well, I know him and the details well enough to tell you that's not the problem, but I don't expect that will quell the "you just need to invite different people" suggestions.

    That's also something that he's already looked into, in depth, many many times, so it doesn't do any good to repeat it again. Therefore, for the purposes of this question, I'd like to hear _other_ suggestions. Either [a] you can take my (or his) word for it; that he knows the topic inside and out, it's understudied, and this is a genuinely tiny speaker pool ... or [b] just ignore that for now, and make the question "what *else* can he do to diversify his event"?

    Because he legitimately wants to attract a diverse crowd and he would like to interest female scholars and students in getting involved with it. His concern is that the speaker pool won't look good to them and to many will stay away.

    The best idea I came up with was to get one (or several) female co-organizers to help plan and MC the event with him. There are talented female scholars in neighboring fields; he knows them; having their names and voices on the web sites, materials, PR, and at the podium (podia? what's the plural of podium anyway?) over the course of the day might make a high-profile impact on what the audience thinks and who tunes it to hear the talks ... not to mention who ultimately gets drawn into the topic and has something interesting to present in year two.

    What other ideas do you have?
    I think your idea is a good one. Is there a possibility for a workshop or tutorial for this conference? Something where the persons leading aren't necessarily as important as the opportunity to learn something. Could that help?

    (I assume the topic of having a clear code of conduct has already been discussed.)

    Charles Stanhope at 2017-10-16T17:25:22Z

    Well, it's not really a workshop-oriented subject; it's a historical one. There might be opportunities for exhibits of one kind or another, though; that's a good suggestion.

    About COC, every typographic conference I've been to has had pretty clear expectations, but I have to break the news to you that communities outside of the software-development field are not nearly as "Code-of-X" obsessed. Perhaps because they don't think code magically fixes things....

    Nathan Willis at 2017-10-16T18:23:37Z

    >> Nathan Willis:

    “Well, it's not really a workshop-oriented subject; it's a historical one. There might be opportunities for exhibits of one kind or another, though; that's a good suggestion.

    About COC, every typographic conference I've been to has had pretty clear expectations, but I have to break the news to you that communities outside of the software-development field are not nearly as "Code-of-X" obsessed. Perhaps because they don't think code magically fixes things....”

    I think you're only missing that most communities outside the software-development field and those trying hard to emulate them (librarianship lately comes to mind) are the only ones fixated on applying codes of conduct. Then again, librarian conferences are historically hotbeds of alcoholism and inappropriate liaisons that may or may not have their mechanics documented in the Kama Sutra. All of that as well as several closeted members of the Communist Party of the USA who come out for a brief time each year can be seen at the big national events.

    I think your conference structure idea sounds fine. Without knowing the specific topic, I cannot offer any specific suggestions or embellishments.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2017-10-16T18:57:51Z

    Can you try re-explaining that to me? I'm not following: "most communities _ are the only ones fixated"

    Nathan Willis at 2017-10-17T08:58:56Z

  • We have 'Federation' ... we have 'Planets' ... where's the 'United'

    2017-10-15T14:59:40Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Following up on an earlier thought about Mastodon/identica/pumpio/pubhubsuburb/etc...

    I suppose that I am less convinced than are others about the notion that 'federatable services' ought to be identical with 'everyone run your own server'. In truth, what I want from a communication platform is the ability to _choose_ plus the existence of some service provider that I can align with.

    How many email providers are there? Statistics are a bit hard to come by, but this bundle of stats: suggests that there are eleventeen or a dozen that, collectively, account for the majority of the email sent every day.

    That's fine; that's enough to ensure that they are interoperable, and for the majority of people who cannot and should not spend their time worrying about adminning their own MTA, they have choices. The choice threshold also means that there are niche players, such as the lavabit-like options for those with specific technical requirements.

    I would greatly prefer it if the next iteration of federated microblogging would focus on standing up a good service and allowing their competitor to do the same. No significant advantage comes from there being 700 Mastodon services to choose from, and my gut feeling is that the initial "sign up for and get shuttled to for the rest of your life" deployment strategy hurt more than it helped.

    It would have been better, in my estimation, to find a sustainable home for as a high-quality hub, and to allow other hubs to grow up on their own if their communities warranted them.

    Now we have Mastodon, repeating that same initial-barrier-to-entry mistake: "want to use the service? First sit through a boring lecture about network protocols, then go look at a list of third-party services that we claim no responsibility for. Good luck, sucker".

    And what's the gain from forcing new users through that cheese grater? DO they get a better service or experience at the other end of it? No, certainly not. Do they end up rolling the dice and choosing a service that they then are unhappy with hundreds of messages later, either because it goes down or changes its T&C? Maybe. And that's a minus.

    Bottom line: If we had eleventeen good, interoperable microblogging services available on the web today, that'd be plenty. It's a shame that we don't have any large, freedom-centered organizations willing to run one — instead we have the debilitating 'choose-your-mom-and-pop-adventure' problem and a new protocol suite / software stack every five years.

    But maybe that's just me.

    Carol Chen, Mike Linksvayer, Charles Stanhope, Scott Sweeny and 1 others likes this.

    Scott Sweeny, Stephen Michael Kellat shared this.

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    Email is  a little different from social media since it is default private. You can all sorts of incompatible people with different values and interests using the same email provider, and none of them care because they are largely unaware of each other.

    Social media is default public, and it seems we're struggling with how to best negotiate this space. It seems clear having a single, venture capital backed, host of a social network doesn't work. Heaps of abuse and other anti-social behavior abound, and users don't appear to have much influence beyond being the subjects of experiments. But it's not clear to me that only a dozen federated networks is the sweet spot. However, if it is, perhaps a larger set of federated networks is the appropriate starting point. They will get winnowed down from there? After all, isn't that how email progressed?

    Charles Stanhope at 2017-10-16T00:29:11Z

    Nathan Willis, George Standish likes this.

    By default private, I meant my use of an email service is mostly invisible to others unless specifically addressed, and the contents of my email conversations are not visible even if you happen to know my email address. If you don't know my email address, you may not even be able to discover it unless I happen to leave it someplace public. You can use email in a public manner, but that's not the default, and generally requires deliberately addressing or using external services (unless communicating with a small group).

    I didn't mean to quibble about the numbers too much. I'm just reflecting on what I've seen on social networks, and reflecting on past social networks like forums, chat rooms, and other things. It seems like there has always been a large number of them regardless of the technology used. Facebook and Twitter seem like anomalies.

    Having said all that, I also don't mean to argue against the idea that the large number of places to join of dubious quality is an obstacle to adoption. I think it is, and you bring up important issues. These issues were certainly on my mind before I created another account.

    Charles Stanhope at 2017-10-16T17:04:27Z

    for services in which you don't want to run your own server, I'd rather it be serverless (P2P, like twister, or maybe like secure scuttlebutt) than having to depend on someone else's infrastructure.  if you're not going to keep your data to yourself, it's a lot better to have your account and data in a resilient distributed network than in a single node that's prone to fail and leave you out of service, more so if it's hard to migrate out of it once you started using the service

    Alexandre Oliva at 2017-10-16T18:55:18Z

    Nathan Willis, Charles Stanhope likes this.

    Alexandre: very true. The back-end network plumbing is every bit as important as the front connection point.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-10-17T11:02:15Z

  • What? Where?

    2017-10-15T13:25:27Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Fedora peeps: where can I find the default installation-time package lists for releases (current, at the very least; historical would be icing)?

    For other distros, this info is trivial to locate, e.g. ... hitting a wall with the blue hat crowd, though....

    nukem, nukem, nukem shared this.

  • 2017-10-14T16:32:24Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Real talk: I'm pretty pessimistic about the chances that Mastodon will be any more successful at being a stable, meaningful platform than has been over the past couple of years, after the initial hype-cycle winds down.

    But I did set up an account there:

    In case vanishes without warning again. I may start using it.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Stephen Michael Kellat shared this.

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    Just to be clear, the network is not just, just as the Mastodon network is not just =)

    JanKusanagi at 2017-10-14T16:45:04Z

    Jason Self likes this.

    For sure, Jan. For sure.

    Jason Self at 2017-10-14T18:22:48Z

    I don't think anyone here is unclear on that.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-10-14T18:30:53Z

    I'm not sure about ringing the doorbell there. There might be namespace collisions galore.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2017-10-14T19:47:12Z