I'm trying to figure out what to do with my Band Name Server, now that I've taken it off the birdsite. Or, at least, stopped posting; I haven't deleted its tweets or anything. Perhaps I should, though quite frankly it never did get much engagement (except from Gooley and kodiak, and occasionally my wife) so I don't feel like it's going to be enriching the Muskrat too much.

But anyway, what to do with it. Because the ideas are still coming and I'm still writing them down. So, what to do...

1) I could post them on Mastodon. I don't know the community guidelines about multiple accounts, or bots, since I haven't seen nearly as many of them, but I'm barely scraping the surface right now. The standard app/web interface doesn't seem to support scheduled post but the Tusky app does, so I guess probably it can be done somehow. I could sound out the moderator of the instance I'm on (a fairly small one run by some friends) and see what they think.

2) I could post them on Tumblr. I've been mostly lurking there for a few years. I know having multiple blogs is a thing, and post scheduling. But posting single lines with no explanation seems like something that might confuse people (though if the blog is called "band-name-server" probably people would figure it out). I've heard that tumblr is supposed to linking with the fediverse so maybe it could also be followed by mastodoners, too.

3) I could post them on Facebook.  ...Yeah, no.  Instagram seems like it would make even less sense, and other social media sites are just not on my radar right now.

4) I could post them on my Wordpress blog or some other blog.  I've considered doing that, actually, having my own bandnameserver blog, maybe posting a day's worth at a time and even maybe including where the names came from. This would involve extra work, including me trying to remember/keep track of where the names came from.

5) I could try to resurrect the actual server.  The original one was written in Perl, using Common Gateway Interface and reading from/writing to text files back in like 1995 or something, and hosted on the University of Alberta student web server back when nobody was scared at the idea of having a web service writing to a file on the server. I managed to find a couple of homes for it after that but I suspect that's not going to fly these days. So I'd need some other host for it, and probably have to recode it in something safer like PHP+MySql or something. It wasn't terrible complicated, and having a database with like one table (for reading from) or two or three (if I wanted people to submit their own) probably wouldn't be too demanding. Probably I'd have to pay for it. Would I still post all the new names, or just dispense random ones with periodic updates to the underlying tables?

Tumblr is seeming most attractive to me right now, but I haven't made a decision yet.

11/27 '22 8 Comments
May I ask was the id is for the birdsite? I'd love to check it out. :)

I really should have just tried that before asking. :P
Hindsight is 50-50.
Especially when one IS 50.
I've seen checkboxes for "bot account" on the two instances I've signed up to.
Waider 11/28 '22
Two at the same time, or sequentially?
Signed up for octodon.social years back. Mastodon.ie got popular last month so I put a placeholder account there for people to find me. I really should replace it with a redirect but I’m enjoying the local timeline too much.
Waider 11/30 '22edited

I've been seeing a lot of talk about how many Twitter users are trying out Mastodon (and others on the Fediverse) but that they find it too difficult to use.

While I realize that the crowd here tend to be a bit more tech savvy than the mean, I was wondering if any of you had that experience?

Rest assured, I won't judge - I'm just curious where the tricky parts are and if I could offer any help. I'm guessing that if any of you had challenges with some or all aspects of Mastodon, there's certain to be others.

So far, I'm finding it really tough to find anyone who will say "I had trouble with x, y, and z aspects." There's just a lot of hand waving and 'generally too complex'.

That's hard to help with.

(Image selected because it's the closest to Mastodon of the things I've done.)

11/25 '22 10 Comments
I like it. I don’t find it terribly difficult. That being said, let’s let my inner newbie talk a minute.

First you choose an instance on which to make your account. Some say it doesn’t matter. Others say you should choose one that represents your interests, because of the local timeline. Someone points out the federated timeline includes content from many instances. But oh, the first friend says, only content that someone on your instance is following, so you’ll never get everything. A third friend says “this is all beside the point if you use the official iOS app, it doesn’t even support the local and federated timelines, because they are ridiculous firehoses of information.”

You’re nervous now. This isn’t as simple as signing up for twitter.

Then friend one says, “oh of course you shouldn’t pick an instance with bad moderation policies.” You nod. That sounds bad for sure. “Or an instance where people don’t use content warnings for everything. Or an instance that allows cops to join.” Wait. What? You know why people have issues with the police and you share those concerns, but your cousin is a cop and you can’t quite picture banning her from the local Twitter-equivalent outright. Maybe they don’t mean banning private accounts for cops? How would they even know? This sounds complicated and you need to examine your feelings.

“The guy who made the official app is a jerk for taking away those timelines.” “Nah, they were impractical.” “The local timeline is great on a small instance about your interests.” “Just search for hashtags. That always works.” “Yes, but (vague gesture) it only knows about stuff other instance users are following, because something something something federation.”

Finally friend four says “geez guys, you’re scaring friend zero.” He turns to you and says, “Go to joinmastodon.org and there’s a little quiz to help you pick an instance. Them just use it like it’s twitter. You’ll have a pretty good time.” You nod and swallow and give it a go. A month later you’re contributing to a Patreon for the upkeep of your chosen instance, and you’re vaguely aware you should consider volunteering as a moderator. A friend asks about Mastodon. You try to be friend four, but you have thoughts you’re bursting to share.

Finally you say: “look, I know it sounds like a lot, but Twitter has all these problems too. They just hid them under a pile of money until the money ran out and a crazy billionaire took over and made it a hellscape. Mastodon is run by the people for the people. That’s good, right? Just give it a go. You can change instances later if you want to.”

Your friend takes the plunge, or doesn’t. You go back to looking at cat pictures. Mastodon has an excellent Caturday participation rate.
Thomas Boutell 11/26 '22
>>> "Finally you say: “look, I know it sounds like a lot, but Twitter has all these problems too. They just hid them under a pile of money until the money ran out and a crazy billionaire took over and made it a hellscape. Mastodon is run by the people for the people. That’s good, right? Just give it a go. You can change instances later if you want to.”"

Sounds like you and I are thinking the same way about it.

I think I have a kind of flexibility that most folks don't. A decade of bouncing from 'home' to 'home' in anywhere from a single day to a month at a shot has left me with a "nothing is permanent, so stay agile" mindset.

That's just not reasonable for most everyone, and I think it's skewing my view of this.

I also think it (Mastodon / Fediverse) requires continued effort from people in a way that any service with an algorithm feeding you content doesn't. You have to find all of your people. They won't be presented to you.

That might sound condescending, but I sincerely don't mean it that way. Social media already asks a lot of us. Working to find out tribe is a not insubstantial addition to that.

Still, I kinda want to do a stripped down slide deck / video explainer with Friend Four's perspective. Something simple to help folks who are struggling, but curious.
I've not looked at any alternatives yet; I'm happy to see this clown show through to its inevitably hilarious end, and I'm really not using Twitter for anything meaningful, so there's nothing to replace. But I'm watching this post for its wealth of insight and info. Mostly I just wanted to chime in to say I want that beastie in every game I'm ever in from now on. What's its taxonomy?
Rob 11/26 '22
Yeah, I'm still on Twitter too. I haven't seen any issues directly and personally. Politics, sure. And Musk's willingness to give a the Cheetoh his account back (regardless of the fact that apparently he didn't want it?) is a pretty big red flag, but...

I just saw enough chatter about Mastodon that I thought it warranted a look, and I'm really glad I did.

As to the beastie: it's just my version of a 'hollyphant' ( https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Hollyphant ). That entry actually mentions one based on a Mastodon, but I hadn't seen that before. So when I saw 'winged elephant', I thought "I can do better!"

This was long before I knew that Mastodon existed. 😅
Why didn't Saruman just take the flying mastodon to Caradhras and finish off the fellowship in person?
Brian Rapp 11/26 '22edited
Right?! Would have made those movies so. much. faster.
I very, very much enjoyed my self-curated Twitter echo chamber of news, information, Canadian #lawtwitter, and oddball stuff that would be peculiarly to my sole interests. By the end, I was able to use it essentially like Google reader from back in the day to find content and keep track of people I wanted to stay in touch with. Twitter was also a huge timesink of workday distraction for me.

Mastodon looks like it would not measure up to my Twitter experience (in particular, the multiple server concept doesn't sound like the one-stop shopping experience I had with Twitter), while at the same time it would also be hitting me up for money and even more time, whether going to different servers to find content/people, or as a volunteer to improve the experience. Not for me, I'm afraid.
Michele Grant 11/26 '22
>>>"I very, very much enjoyed my self-curated Twitter echo chamber of..."

Me too. I've encountered a LOT of venom from folks when I mentioned that Twitter was my social media of choice. "Isn't that just a cess pool of crappy politics and bullying?!"

But I wasn't seeing that. Like yourself, I just spent some time and effort being careful with what and how often I interacted, and I was finding it quite fruitful. Still am, if I'm honest.

As I see it, Twitter has one thing that is both better and worse than Mastodon: the algorithm fountain of content.

It's better because once we've done the work of cultivating the who and what of our interactions to a point where it 'understands' us, we don't have to keep working at finding new and interesting stuff. The algorithm takes over and we can (for the most part) kick our feet up and just enjoy.

The down side is that doing so hands over control of what we see. It's always frustrated me that even after I say "I want to see posts that opadit makes." I might very well NOT see a certain post.

I know some sites are better about this than others. I can do notifications. (I loathe notifications.) And it might be no better on Mastodon once I have a large enough collection of folks I'm following. But for now, I kinda love that everything friends post, I will see.

It's also possible that the rough edges on the Fediverse are actually a big part of why I like it this far. There's something Web 1.0 - feeling about it. I get that sense of stumbling on something cool that I found by looking.

Arguably, that's a rabbit hole that I shouldn't go down if I want to stay productive, but I can't deny that it's pleasurable.


I'm sincerely not trying to sway people into something that they don't want to do, and I REALLY appreciate that you gave me specific elements that aren't for you. It helps me understand what (at least some) folks are not loving about it.
I didn't have any issues, but I created an account a couple years ago and saw it as exploratory and an addition to my other accounts rather than "the ship is sinking the ship is sinking how do life boats work?"
Chris Herdt 11/26 '22
Yeah. I'm (mostly) feeling that way myself - but now. I mean, I have a definite sense that the ship is sinking and I even feel that loss pretty intensely since it's my social media platform of choice. Enough so that I made a meme. But (and I'm guessing here) maybe I just appreciate that these are systems that we're not paying for - at least in the traditional sense - and we just accept that they MUST be part of our lives.

I kinda like the exploring. Finding cool new stuff is what the net is all about to me. Guess I'm showing my age there.

Although several of his brethren met their ends in the Dungeons of Doom, this particular Ferret the Wizard had the most enviable of starts.  He found a wand of wishing in the very first room!  That provided very fine armor, an artifact weapon, and some much-appreciated safety from accidental death or dismemberment.  His next bit of luck was a pair of +3 gauntlets of power for sale in Asidonhopo's general store.  Sadly, his cat Bippy was killed by an ettin mummy at the bottom of the Gnomish Mines.  Rest in peace, Bippy.  Apart from some slight brain damage, everything went pretty smoothly after that.  He learned lots of cool spells, which made many aspects of dungeon life more convenient.  He found the correct high altar on the first try, and wished for some extra dilithium crystals before leaving this plane of existence.  A new favorite funny message:  "The xan nuzzles against your right leg!"  Aw!

Goodbye Ferret the Demigod...

You went to your reward with 3321912 points,
Magicbane (worth 3500 zorkmids and 8750 points)
The Candelabrum of Invocation (worth 5000 zorkmids and 12500 points)
The Book of the Dead (worth 10000 zorkmids and 25000 points)
Ogresmasher (worth 200 zorkmids and 500 points)
Trollsbane (worth 200 zorkmids and 500 points)
Orcrist (worth 2000 zorkmids and 5000 points)
Sting (worth 800 zorkmids and 2000 points)
Werebane (worth 1500 zorkmids and 3750 points)
The Eye of the Aethiopica (worth 4000 zorkmids and 10000 points)
The Bell of Opening (worth 5000 zorkmids and 12500 points)
      14 jasper stones (worth 7000 zorkmids),
      10 garnet stones (worth 7000 zorkmids),
       9 dilithium crystals (worth 40500 zorkmids),
       8 topaz stones (worth 7200 zorkmids),
       8 amethyst stones (worth 4800 zorkmids),
       7 jade stones (worth 2100 zorkmids),
       6 rubies (worth 21000 zorkmids),
       6 jacinth stones (worth 19500 zorkmids),
       6 sapphires (worth 18000 zorkmids),
       6 emeralds (worth 15000 zorkmids),
       6 jet stones (worth 5100 zorkmids),
       5 amber stones (worth 5000 zorkmids),
       4 turquoise stones (worth 8000 zorkmids),
       4 aquamarine stones (worth 6000 zorkmids),
       4 agate stones (worth 800 zorkmids),
       3 opals (worth 2400 zorkmids),
       2 diamonds (worth 8000 zorkmids),
       1 black opal (worth 2500 zorkmids),
       1 citrine stone (worth 1500 zorkmids),
       1 chrysoberyl stone (worth 700 zorkmids),
       7 amulets of life saving (worth 1050 zorkmids),
       1 amulet of magical breathing (worth 150 zorkmids),
and 0 pieces of gold, after 68101 moves.
You were level 30 with a maximum of 470 hit points when you ascended.

11/22 '22 2 Comments
500 years in the future, the grave of Ferret seas exhumed by archaeologists from the Penn Museum. They collected his mummy and grave goods for further study. To this day, they are still fighting over his gender, status and position in the High Court Brothel of Eric the Xenophobe.
Huzzah! I haven't dug into 3.6 yet because I have become consumed by the challenges of ascending a Vampire Wizard in Slash'EM. They are very hard to begin with but once you find or wish for a ring of Slow Digestion to stave off the inevitable hunger, they are super fun to play and have more than a few unique funny messages...
Paul Lord 11/22 '22

July of 2020, in what seeked then like the middle of the pandemic (though now it seems like early days) we traded in our old Grand Am for a minivan, a GMC Acadia (which model name I include here in the hopes that I will remember it--I keep getting it wrong). Still used, and we got it at one of those dealerships that gets a lot of used car trade-ins, not a GM dealer.

This may have been the first time in a while that we were trading in a still-drivable vehicle; more often it would have broken down or gotten written off after an accident or something. With two fully-grown children (and one still growing) the back of the sedan had been getting way too cramped on the still-periodic long highway trips.

At the time I'd been working from home for months, and wasn't anticipating going back to work anytime soon.  It got a weekly drive to the grocery store, and my wife would drive to look after/visit her dad during his decline from Parkinson's. (He passed away a few months ago.)

Not too long after we got it, it started giving us a message indicating the ABS system (and "Stabilitrak", whatever that was) wasn't working.  It didn't seem like a big deal; although we do live in a place that gets periodic Real Winter, we'd never had ABS before and made up for it by just driving more cautiously. (I also don't switch to winter tires, which makes me some kind of a kook in these parts. Yeah, well, I don't drive over the speed limit either.)

I got lured back into the office a month or so ago, and so of course I've been driving a lot more (it's still only a 15-20 minute commute, at least).  When it got cold a few weeks ago, our tire pressure sensors started going off, and so I took it in to the dealership where we bought it to have them checked.  They seemed to think that the pressure had just gotten a bit low and the temperature drop had exacerbated it.  They topped up the pressure, no problem.  But while I was in there, I decided to make an appointment to get them to look at the ABS thing.  That was today.

After all that...no, their technician can't actually diagnose it because this is a Chrysler dealership and apparently the system on this GM vehicle is not cooperating with their sensors. Sigh. Oh, well. Maybe sometime in the next few years we'll see about taking it to a GM place. (There aren't any on the way to work, of course.)

At least I got the oil changed. Normally I'd go to one of those drive-through places, but the nearest one has leaned into the "putting on winter tires" service, and when the "Change Oil" light came on was just after the first snow so the lineups were ridiculous. I grumbled that what I really wanted was somebody to come pick up the car while I was at work, do the oil change, and bring it back before the end of my day. It wasn't quite that convenient (I got home an hour later than usual and still have some time to work off) but I guess it wasn't too bad.

Car ownership can be kinda stupid, but it's part of the culture up here. Which of course means our bus system is pretty crappy. And I feel like Alberta will be the last place in the world to abandon gasoline-powered vehicles. So I'll cope with what we've got. Maybe one day we'll go to EV or hybrid or whatever. But this is not that day.

11/22 '22 1 Comment
> I feel like Alberta will be the last place in the world to abandon gasoline-powered vehicles

I think Newfoundland and Labrador will be happy to give Alberta a run for their money in that race. :) While we have a determined corps of early-adopters of EVs here (mostly Teslas, a few Chevy Volts), the monster-truck mindset is way more pervasive. Our next vehicle *should* be an EV, but it wasn't something we could justify when we got our current one in early 2020, unfortunately. That said, I'm sure it'll be easier to keep an EV here in St. John's rather than elsewhere on the island.
Michele Grant 11/22 '22

GORAN is governed by a military junta that has promulgated a thoroughly depressing ideology.  There is no Gorannic science whatsoever, because any search for truth would be superfluous.  The truth is whatever the Army of Goran says it is.  Outsiders might remark that the planet is heavily polluted, but that would conflict with the official definition of those "pollutants" as
beneficial nutrients essential to a healthy life.  What is "health", anyway?  It's most evident when one is covered with weeping sores that keep the body's fluids exposed to the fine fresh air of Goran's superlative atmosphere.  Surely people from across the galaxy are clamoring to immigrate, but impenetrable border defenses serve to keep Goran Gorannish.

11/20 '22

UJJAIN is comprised of fertile high mesas surrounded by even more lush jungles in the valleys below.  Populations are well-established in the uplands, but the jungles are unfortunately dominated by thorny vegetation called "dardbelen".  This plant secretes an oily substance that is intensely painful to touch, and potentially lethal if enough is absorbed into the bloodstream.  There are no heavy industries on Ujjain, and efforts to clear away the dardbelen with tools or fire have proven counterproductive.  Dardbelen is always the first thing that grows back, usually in thicker concentrations without other competition.  Ujjani have unanimously agreed not to attempt poisoning the land, for fear of causing an even worse catastrophe.  So they live in their safe high settlements where the dardbelen does not reach, and communication between mesas is uncommon.  Once in a great while someone will make the arduous journey, though.  They are invariably treated as brave heroes by their new homelands, for none ever choose to return to their place of origin.

11/19 '22 1 Comment
“Dardbelen” is my new socially acceptable curse word.

HENSEKISHIKI is a world that has completely specialized in advertising.  Very little is actually manufactured there, but Hensekishikians travel throughout the galaxy to sell the products and services of other planets.   They take advantage of the rarity of inter-ship communication to make unexpected contact whenever possible.  None would stoop so low as to broadcast a false distress beacon, but it violates no spacer's code to transmit greetings on open channels.  A typical conversation might start with "Hello?  Can anyone hear me?" and proceed to "Thank the Star Maker!  It's been so long since I've spoken to anyone!  The only thing that's kept me sane throughout this long voyage is this great new game called Meditations on Orla.  It starts out with simple pattern matching, but as you level up..."  The heavily-indentured Hensekishikians are mostly pitied rather than disliked, and their efforts
are profitable enough to keep the home planet's enterprise a going concern.

11/18 '22 1 Comment
Hustlers of Catan
Thomas Boutell 11/18 '22

He's the hack from Mar-a-Lago
(Little Donald, Little Donald)
told his workers, "No te pago"
(Little Donald, Little Donald)
He thought big, he was optimistic
(Little Donald, Little Donald)
They didn't know he was narcissistic
Little Donald rants on the big stage
(Little Donald, Little Donald)
What he says doesn't make no sense

Sometimes people can be oh so dense
He didn't want it but he won it anyway
(Little Donald, Little Donald)
Little Donald stands in the White House
(Little Donald, Little Donald)
What he says don't make sense
What he says doesn't make no sense
(Little Donald, Little Donald)
Little Donald stands at a rally

Oh Donald John Trump I see you behind
The barred door of federal prison

11/18 '22 6 Comments
We can dream
Thomas Boutell 11/18 '22
Hi! I have nothing to add to this delightful post other than that, really. I like it a lot when you post here and don't take your effort for granted.

Oh--did you get through all of The Expanse books? Will you be sending them on, sending them back, or keeping?
Anne Mollo 11/18 '22
I finished! Kim is reading them now, i will send back when we're done. Also, your strawberry jam came with us to on my birthday trip to Napa with my parents.
rone 11/18 '22
Oh yay for the jam!

Hope Kim enjoys the books. I thought they were just so much damned fun to dive headfirst into and not come up for air until I was done. Like a really great novel, only the story kept going and going and going. Might be the first time I felt SATED at the end of a story, not left wanting more.
Anne Mollo 11/18 '22
You don't know me so this might be weird, but this post was really fun to read/sing.

Also, one can only hope that "the Donald" gets a jumpsuit to match his hair.
Not weird at all, that's why it's there!
rone 11/30 '22

ARTEMISIA is a wealthy outer rim democracy with contractual ties to the Takatsuki sector.  Under its constitution, all citizens are entitled to vote and to share in the profits of the planet's nationalized industries.  The definition of a citizen expansively includes any native-born organic lifeform capable of completing the registration forms, and assistive technology is permitted.  It was understood that young children and even some intelligent non-humans would hence be eligible, but this was forseen as admirable.  What was not forseen was the scheme by a certain genetic engineer to uplift local bacteria and equip them with robotic bodies.  By working in secret and then sending his creations to multiple government centers, he was able to get many of them recognized as citizens by clerks both credulous and skeptical.  An emergency constitutional convention was convened before these bacteria-robots actually outnumbered the rest of the Artemisians, but by law it was not permitted to remove their citizenship ex post facto.  So the government was preserved, but this world will likely be plagued for a long time by effectively-immortal bacteria colonies that wander around taunting people with disgusting jokes and obnoxious braggadocio.  The scientist himself fled Artemisia and his prior honors were all expunged as a damnatio memoriae.

11/17 '22 1 Comment
At least they didn't put the cats in charge.
Thomas Boutell 11/17 '22

Taking an early upgrade slot rather than waiting for Linode to do scheduled maintenance at 5am.

11/17 '22 1 Comment
Aaaand we're back.

My experience is that everything is zoomier after you take a "free upgrade" (aka "please for the love of god let us put you on a non-ancient host server") from Linode, not that we were experiencing any real slowness before.

Linode's been a pretty great host all along. I moved my smaller projects at work to AWS Amazon Lightsail because of Linode's very occasional outages; Lightsail is Amazon's Linode / Digital Ocean clone, so moving to Lightsail allowed us to say to customers "you're hosted with AWS" while doing a more Linode-like amount of work. They also took care to set the pricing to be competitive. But I do like Linode and now that they are nestled within Akamai I see no reason not to expect them to continue to be a reliable choice for many years.
Thomas Boutell 11/17 '22