Nathan Willis

Inaccessible Island

Nathan Willis, Verified

  • 2016-12-03T20:06:25Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    There needs to be a word for when a site, person, project, or company has a blog feed, and they do some random site/framework refactor/rewrite/management-change and stop publishing their news through the feed ... then start publishing news through some OTHER feed URL.

    A four-letter word.

    Timo Kankare , Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) , Douglas Perkins , Charles ☕ Stanhope like this.

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

    Lest you think this is an imaginary problem:

    Out of curiosity, I looked at a bunch of dead feed URLs in my feed reader this afternoon, including a lot of the NPOs I follow that do humanitarian FOSS development or open data stuff, and found 20+ of them that have dead feeds not updated since 2013 or 2014.

    For some, the project seems to be gone. For one, trying to visit the feed URL in a web browser redirects the user to the project's shiny new Medium account. Does that get any news to the feed reader, though? No, of course not.

    But the best has to be the project who's original feed URL is dead, but whose site now boasts a top-level masthead link labeled "Blog" that connects to a feed at (I kid you not) domainname/blog-2/

    Funny how all the people who voluntarily followed your feed two years ago didn't stop randomly one day, your look at your new Fad.js-based site, find your new feed at a different URL, and start following that, too, huh?

    Nathan Willis at 2016-12-03T20:13:40Z

    Stephen Michael Kellat , James Dearing 🐲 , Christopher Allan Webber like this.

    I think FOAAS is called for here.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2016-12-04T01:43:28Z

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

  • Do Nate 2016

    2016-12-03T12:44:37Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Pun retroactively intended.

    Doing my annual last-minute charitable donations dance (I *really* intended to set up monthly recurring donations instead, as I talked about a year ago, but I forgot, and then I became a full-time student and have no income, further confusing matters, but the main point is that I wanted to document which options supported monthly donations as 'regular membership' and which made that more difficult, then I forgot to).

    Random thoughts:

    1 - Adding the Freedom of The Press Foundation to the list; they develop the SecureDrop tool and also support some outside efforts like LEAP and OWS:

    2 - Thinking of phasing out Amnesty International; their fundraising tactics have turned abusive and ugly (e.g., deceptive labeling disguising appeals as personal letters and inaccurately telling you your 'membership' has expired when it's been, say, five months...). I was thinking of switching my support over to Human Rights Watch, but my research indicates that they're funded by a few large donors, so maybe they don't need the assistance.

    3 - It's really nice to have a "student" membership support level; some of us are only students temporarily and (hopefully) will return to gainful employment, but getting cut out because of that doesn't feel good. FTR, I still pledged the normal amount to several FSW organizations that don't offer this option, but not all. Everything is scaled back; it's unavoidable for me.

    4 - I mainly donate for the swag, so please for the love of Emacs have more than a single 50x50 pixel thumbnail image of the t-shirt options I have to choose from. (This is a slight exaggeration only; when we have to choose, however, not being able to see what's printed on the shirt/hat/sticker/mousepad/tattoo is really annoying. People do wear these things in order to help spread your message; let them see what you're going to send.) likes this.

    James Dearing 🐲 , Stephen Michael Kellat , shared this.

    Show all 6 replies
    5.1 - In case it's not clear, monthly donations are better for the non-profit as well, because they stabilize the financial flow. Not knowing until December how much you will have available for staffing, logistics, campaigns, and bill paying is Not Fun.

    Nathan Willis at 2016-12-03T13:36:03Z

    0 - Please feel free to reshare. I know this is a topic few people are interested in, but I'd like to think that we can improve a lot of not-for-profit endeavors by being deliberate about how we do things.

    Nathan Willis at 2016-12-03T13:51:33Z

    I donate through Combined Federal Campaign. Trans World Radio, USCG Foundation, American Radio Relay League, University of Guam research foundation, and Heritage Foundation all get money from me. Nothing free software related in the Combined Federal Campaign book, alas.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2016-12-03T19:50:54Z

    Nathan Willis likes this.

  • Changes I didn't think about

    2016-12-03T08:02:00Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Now that I'm not a reporter, I get way, way less of my news directly from primary sources. Because I don't have the time to.

    On the other hand, I do still think I have the ability to recognize real journalism, so I'm not talking about the Facebook "news" problem. I just mean it's weird to have a secondary connection — particularly w.r.t. the FOSS world. Of course even that's rather different; I could still dig down into mailing lists and blogs and talk to people if I carved out the time to do it. And, naturally, so could almost anybody else: that's the beauty of working-in-the-open.
  • In case you were wondering

    2016-11-30T08:08:35Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    ...what Mozilla chooses to spend money on rather than Persona, FirefoxOS, Lightning, Prism, Raindrop, …Thunderbird….

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

    A real teaser for those of us who have that spy-site blocked =)

    JanKusanagi at 2016-11-30T09:52:54Z

    Digital privacy is a bigger issue than any single Mozilla project.  This is probably the most important thing that Mozilla can be working on right now.  You'd certainly never see Google partnering with the Tactical Technology Collective on an exhibition like this!

    Benjamin Cook at 2016-11-30T13:01:37Z

  • 2016-11-26T14:40:34Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    TIL that if I want to automatically insert the current date in a @scribus document, I have to install 1.1GB of TeXLive and write some scripts.


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

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

    Will Scribus export LaTeX?

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2016-11-27T01:52:19Z

    For our wedding 7 years ago, I designed the placement cards in Scribus, modified the XML with awk to insert the names of the guests, and then printed them.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) at 2016-11-27T14:16:32Z

    bthall likes this.

  • To-do list

    2016-11-23T09:40:31Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I mentioned having a lengthy & growing technical to-do list a while back; for fun when I was consolidating it from various notes & bookmarks into one place, I thought I would just post it here.

    I realize a lot of the items on the list are not going to appeal to some people. Trust me, they're not negotiable. One or two things may be quasi-entertainment related, but even then they're equally used for general information consumption. And yes, I know several of these set-up-a-new-machine issues (particularly all the things needed to get the single-core NUC into a workable state) are things I in theory could have done before shipping out to my present location, but trust me, I was super busy before then, too.

    On the plus side, I did complete the first of the four major projects for the year yesterday, so now I feel like I have some time back.

    the list:
    compile panel weather indicator
    figure out why wacom tablet is not recognized on NUC
    get touchpad to disable when wacom is plugged in, laptop
    change lock screen image on NUC
    reinstall OS on old laptop
    get pharos working on new laptop & old laptop
    get bluetooth headset to default to A2DP and disable headphone profile

    Install Broadcom CrystalHD card on NUC.
    Patch & build crystalHD kernel driver
    Get various media libraries to use crystalHD vaapi
    install bluetooth-smartbulb library on NUC
    script wake-up sequence for smartbulb; cronjob

    build OpenWrt bootstrapping auto-extroot firmware for pocket router
    configure pocket router
    set up openVPN on pocket router
    configure university VPN for ethernet-connected machines

    combine GPG keys into subkeys of offline master key
    add photo to GPG key

    Set up git-dropbox-remote, all machines
    Install Trufont in venv
    Install fontmake / glyphs2ufo / fdk
    Install greg & restore podcast subscriptions on NUC; cronjob
    Configure 3 minidlna instances on NUC
    Get USBOTG card reader working on phone + tablet
    Install ncurses client software on NUC:
    • timg
    • rainbowstream
    • cmus
    • gcalcli / calcurse sync
    • some pumpio client
    • slack irc gateway to irssi
    Install RTL-SDR on NUC
    Let's Encrypt
    Holy crap does Pumpa mangle a post whenever you try and edit it.... It's like two planes full of markdown and HTML -br- elements collided at an airshow....

    Nathan Willis at 2016-11-23T20:40:23Z

  • 2016-11-21T08:17:37Z via AndStatus To: Public

    AndStatus bites, and the developer closes bug reports without examining them. I need a better Android client option.... I haven't watched the AndStatus Github, but the dev seems attentive whenever I ping him on GNUsocial. 
    More clients would be nice. at 2016-11-21T12:20:07Z

    Curious: what don't you like?

    Stephen Sekula at 2016-11-21T13:23:24Z

    Mainly two things. It doesn't thread conversations in any discernible manner (and if there's some magic combination of the micro-settings that does result in a readable, ordered conversation view, I don't have the time to try all the permutations possible to try and stumble into it; it's not helped by having indecipherable labels for those options. Sensible defaults are 10000x better) and it hangs on refreshing the timeline — bad enough that the Android frozen-app-executioner pops up volunteering to kill it.

    And there's a lot of little UI inconsistencies, strings that need fixing, etc. But the functional stuff takes priority.

    Nathan Willis at 2016-11-23T09:48:38Z He closed mine with a "works for me". Apparently because I didn't spend two workdays testing and reporting back to him. I might could find more time to give attention to debugging the problem for him this coming weekend, but I couldn't take time off to do that when it was convenient for him, so my issue is just invalid. That's not right.

    Nathan Willis at 2016-11-23T09:51:16Z

  • 2016-11-18T17:24:31Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Encrypted file synchronization: go.
  • 2016-11-17T23:20:06Z via AndStatus To: Public

    Currently reading an article about the importance of open data formats for fonts. Written in 1989.

    Elena ``of Valhalla'' , Jason Self , Stephen Sekula like this.

  • 2016-11-13T09:53:52Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I guess I'm a little more ranty this week. Maybe it will pass.

    No problem on the "ranty" thing. It can be healthy for all. :-)

    Stephen Sekula at 2016-11-13T12:39:52Z

  • Random thought

    2016-11-13T09:51:50Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Since I'm no longer enmeshed 100% in the software development world and am instead occupied with a different task set that takes 100% of my available hours and concentration, I have had to drastically recalibrate my notion of what "easy to install" / "easy to configure" / "suitable for end users" means.

    My technical to-do list is longer than I have the free time to give to it, and it only gets longer every week. And I'm somebody who knows what needs doing. So whenever a free-software project says "it's a little more work to set up" and "if you have questions just join the IRC channel" and the docs have the words "TODO" in them, I can tell you from personal experience that that is equivalent to the project not existing at all. Make installation & support & junk like that a priority, otherwise you're limiting your reach to the developer echo chamber.

    Charles ☕ Stanhope , Ben Sturmfels like this.

  • The details

    2016-11-12T12:15:42Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    A follow-up on electioneering. I posted this to Facebook as well, to solicit input from local friends in the area (I actually know a guy on the city council; he's good). But because I'm lazy I'm just going to cut-and-paste it here, not edit it for clarity:

    So Taylor County closed 12 of its 34 polling locations over the past couple of years. There's a report on the overall statistics here:…/2…/poll-closure-report-web.pdf that mentions Taylor among the counties for which there is data.

    But it's pretty hard to find actual information about what the closure process was, much less any explanation of it.

    I have found this state report that details the results of the "pilot program" that was, evidently, how the closures were done:…/laws/report-84th-ec43007j.shtml — it notes that turnout dropped from 16% to 14% after the closures. But I haven't yet found the county documents that correspond to the closures (For instance, there *is* mention of the polling places for the May 7 city council election:…/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx… ).

    You can find some election-related agendas and meeting minutes on the city web site (…/city-sec…/council-agendas-and-minutes ), but they only go back to August 2016 (the city seems to wipe & rebuild its web site fairly frequently). Mining the novusagenda domain name finds a few more, but none with relevant search-term hits. County Commission meeting minutes are online ( ), but none from 2016, at least, mention election-related agenda items at all. Because elections seem to "joint administrative affairs" so to speak, it's pretty unclear where any of the specifics are decided.

    If you have any ideas about tracking that class of document down, please let me know. I'd like to know when those decisions were made, at the very least.

    Stephen Michael Kellat , Stephen Michael Kellat , Stephen Michael Kellat shared this.

    Correlation doesn't necessarily prove causation. As a temporarily retired poll judge, that low turnout bothers me. The reduction of 2 percentage points doesn't bother me as much as that can be accounted for in terms of swings within a 4 year cycle. Presidential general elections are usually your peaks for turnout with valleys between them and occasional bumps if there is a controversial local issue on the ballot (city charter amendment, trash hauler contract referendum, elected official recall). A reduction in polling places is a one time event but I would be far more interested in seeing it within the focus of that quadrennial cycle.

    The other bit of data you'd really want to look at would be the voter registration file. Is there a lot of churn in that file with people coming and going? That can help account for the low turnout. Other demographic details could be in play, too. Not every jurisdiction is as easy-going as Ashtabula County in making their entire voter registration file available as a CSV download:

    Again, probe a little deeper.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2016-11-12T19:00:14Z

    On the percentages — oh, I know. I wasn't taking any conclusion at all from those numbers, just citing them for the record. They actually seemed rather small. I'm aware that the county has made other changes to the voting process (such as allowing any registered voter to vote at any location, rather than requiring them to vote in a precinct-specific place) that can make voting easier. So it's possible that fewer, better-distributed polling places could serve the electorate more efficiently. But we don't (or I don't) know that, currently. Nor have I really found any discussion of the issue, much less been asked for input on it as a citizen. Still, not drawing conclusions.

    Voter ID laws, on the other hand; those I'm pretty clear on.... But that's a distinct issue.

    Nathan Willis at 2016-11-13T08:49:06Z

  • 2016-11-12T11:07:35Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Social media is so bad. Any time your political rhetoric uses the term "white people" as a codeword for "the bad guys", you're causing a loss of ground.

    See also "old white men" as code for "millionaires and billionaires." My dad is an old white man, and he was a civil rights activist and protested the Vietnam war (in Texas and Tennessee, for the record). And not remotely rich. So I know that the term is inaccurate; whatever percentage of actual old white guys hear that and think just a little bit that you're labeling them as 'the enemy' might not be huge, but for that portion, it is turning people who should be allies into people who are not sympathetic.

    Be precise in your terms; if millionaires and entitled corporate interests are gaming the system, then say that. Please.

    Charles ☕ Stanhope likes this.

    Stephen Michael Kellat shared this.

    Millionaires and entitled corporate interest are gaming the system!

    Charles ☕ Stanhope at 2016-11-12T19:13:56Z

    Nathan Willis likes this.

    When it comes to elections, though, the rules are known in advance and are well-established at least in the United States. They're certainly not harmonized across the various jurisdictions that conduct elections, though. Playing by the rule is just part of The Grand Game that is an election.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2016-11-13T04:30:58Z

    I don't think I heard it much if at all in the discussion of election procedures; there's no connection to my post on polling locations. I hear it more in issue-driven rhetoric.

    (Yes, there has been some more usage of that sort of code/shorthand after the election, but hey: that's social media discussion for you. 'Never miss an opportunity to start an unnecessary fight.')

    Nathan Willis at 2016-11-13T08:52:43Z

  • The Thing is

    2016-11-11T16:37:32Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Had a conversation with a friend about those election-process issues I brought up and how vulnerable they are and how progressives have historically resisted the temptation to try and "game" them for their own advantage while the Republicans have done it with glee.

    The obvious conclusion is "we, yes literally we (and yes literally literally)" ought to start running for local office to try and shift the playing field.

    The thing about that plan is, though, that to get involved with the political system means you'll have to spend lots of time with people who enjoy politics and want to talk about politics and think about politics and want to be politicians. And holy cow is that an unappealing prospect of the first order.

    Christopher Allan Webber likes this.

    Or maybe not local office, but even election commissions and so on.

    Nathan Willis at 2016-11-11T16:39:13Z

    The county boards of election are fun in Ohio. They're staffed by members of the two parties that took the top two slots in the last gubernatorial race. That's normally the Republicans and the Democrats although the Greens almost bounced out the Democrats due to Ed Fitzgerald being such a horrible Democrat candidate in the 2014 gubernatorial.

    Typically you have to be recommended by the county party's central committee to the Ohio Secretary of State to fill any vacancy on the board. That means that you have to be involved in the local party itself and generally be a member of the local central committee. Those only get re-staffed every 2-4 years depending upon the party and generally people run for them unopposed. I cannot run for those slots for so long as I remain a federal civil servant due to Hatch Act prohibitions especially considering the nasty yet horrible agency I work for.

    Structure in other states will differ. I am a former poll judge. That had to go on hold, too, for so long as I remain a federal civil servant. Once I am not a civil servant I can be reappointed relatively quickly as a poll judge.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2016-11-11T20:20:44Z

  • 2016-11-11T08:22:46Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Whether you're 100% joking about this 'Calexit' thing or momentarily pondering what the actual constitutional possibilities are, after you've done that for a few minutes and reach a natural pause, stop and think about how purely offensive it was when you heard other people talking about Texas succession a few years ago.

    Christopher Allan Webber likes this.

    Only then are you allowed to proceed with your jokes or your intellectual exercise in public.

    Nathan Willis at 2016-11-11T08:23:36Z

    Unlike California, Texas has its own electrical grid all to itself. Texas doesn't have the water source problems California does. Texas could realistically go independent again whereas California would not.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2016-11-11T16:32:51Z

  • 2016-11-10T22:34:31Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Too much reflection & waxing introspection. Why aren't people more upset about:

    - superdelagates
    - House district gerrymandering
    - winner-take-all electoral votes
    - voter ID laws
    - polling place hours
    - local election commissions
    - the primary process
    - superPACs
    - statehood for DC and Puerto Rico

    These are issues in need of fixing that should be driven on all cylinders, no waiting, no letting up. When do we make _that_ a priority?

    Stephen Michael Kellat , Christopher Allan Webber , Charles ☕ Stanhope like this.

    Stephen Michael Kellat shared this.

    You're expecting an extremely high level of civic comprehension that truly doesn't exist in the US population anymore. That's part of what really freaks me out at times working with the public at my employing agency. Citizens should not be coming to me as groveling supplicants but yet they do far too frequently.

    We have a populace that is disarmed intellectually in too many ways. Until we can overcome that you're essentially engaging in the discussion of minutia and esoterica. That's not a hopeful situation.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2016-11-11T00:00:19Z

    I don't mean the population in general; I mean the people writing articles and such (and to a large extent, the techno-nerds that I hang with, who on the whole analyze everything in detail). And also party officials, I guess.

    Nathan Willis at 2016-11-11T08:05:13Z

  • 2016-11-10T08:10:08Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Thinking about how to explain Git to up-and-coming type designers (most of whom are graphic designers by trade, currently, and all of whom use OS X, at least currently. In the post-escape-key world, who knows).

    Not about how to explain VC in general, but Git specifics and workflow. Anyone have any ideas or experience with OSX-specific information?

    Jason Self at 2016-11-11T02:57:18Z

  • 2016-11-09T07:49:09Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    So, I leave town for a couple of weeks, and yall let the whole operation go down the tubes?

    Stephen Michael Kellat , Christopher Allan Webber like this.

    Stephen Michael Kellat shared this.

  • ProTip

    2016-11-07T21:14:47Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Basically any headline you read on the internet that has the word "finally" in it is garbage writing.

    Also, Markdown still sucks.

    Nathan Willis at 2016-11-07T21:15:03Z

    Charles ☕ Stanhope likes this.