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covid birthdays

Earlier this year, my wife had her birthday. We celebrated as best we could — made a homemade cake, from scratch, with the kids. None of us had ever done that before! And presents were left on our porch by kind family members, which always helps.

Later in the year my youngest son had his birthday, and we video chatted with family and ordered him presents and decorated the house and made cupcakes this time. He said he wanted to go see people but we explained that we couldn’t and he’s young enough for that to be Good Enough.

My oldest son’s birthday is in a few weeks. Doing a grown woman’s birthday is pretty easy — it isn’t like we go wild for her birthday parties anymore. Same with a little kid, they’re excited about whatever you do special. But my oldest is old enough to remember having parties and celebrations with family and friends and also is probably a little ADHD and has a strong sense of “fairness” (despite his feelings having little relationship to the actual concept of fairness) and so yeah.

I’m expecting that day’s gonna be a little tough. But we’re gonna do our best with it and show him he’s loved and celebrate what an amazing person he is and will be. And it’ll be enough.

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flavortown.tech

This morning I launched flavortown.tech, a discussion forum for Columbus OH tech folks. Or Central Ohio tech folks. Or Ohio tech folks.

I’m tired of every single user group only having a Slack. Realtime chat is not the best way to build a community. Some of the Slack teams I’m on I can’t even follow anymore, they’re so busy. If I turn on mobile notifications my phone’s blowing up all day. If I turn them off and miss a day, I have no idea who’s talking about what.

Screw that.

Forums are persistent. You can put a thread up, come back to it a few days later. You can follow threads or categories you care about, and ignore the ones you don’t. Turn on email notifications and try to pretend its a listserv if you want.

This isn’t a Columbus Ruby Brigade thing, because it isn’t Ruby-specific. This isn’t a “sponsored tech hangout” kind of place. This isn’t supposed to replace Techlife Columbus, or your user group, or your conference. It’s supposed to be the conference hallway, or the bar after the user group. It’s run by my company Third Star Technology LLC, which promises to not narc on you.

Come bitch about the office, promote a side project you’re doing, tell us you need work urgently or tell us you’re looking to hire folks yesterday. Or just chill out and vibe. It’s at flavortown.tech.

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why do i still listen

NPR has someone on Morning Edition, I didn’t hear who, who has a “wonderful plan” for dealing with Confederate statues in the United States: leave them up, just with placards that tell us “the cause this person fought for was wrong.”

Why the hell I turn NPR on still is beyond me.

The interviewer, to her credit, did tell the guy that she goes to museums and never reads plaques or placards. His response was to “make them and place them so they cannot be ignored” which makes me believe he has never gone on a school field trip, dicked around, and only gleaned the most surface-level information from everything.

Look, there’s an easy question that can be used to resolve this: would you erect a statue of Hitler or Goebbels in the middle of a Jewish community, and claim it was educational because you put it in front of a giant STATE THE OBVIOUS plaque?

[Editors note: if your answer differs from the “no” we’re clearly alluding to here, you may proceed to the station exit marked AIRLOCK.]

The Confederacy turned on their country and waged a horrible civil war so that they may continue to enslave other humans. They lost.

Statues erected many years later by sympathizers deserve to be toppled, crushed, safely blown up, dissolved in acid, or just plain ol’ thrown out.

If you demand that there be publicly available information about the Confederacy, congratulations you have finally discovered museums and history books. I’m truly sorry it took you this long to learn about them, they’re amazing.

If you want a reminder of how awful slavery was, please consult your basic fucking morality.

(Photo credit: Alexa Welch Edlund/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

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fif. teen.

My eldest son is playing ChaseCraft on his iPad. It’s an infinite runner by the Unspeakable folks. My kid’s really into their stuff — mostly Minecraft streaming — and they seem to keep it clean enough that I don’t have a problem with them.

But wow, this game is up there with the trashiest mobile games ever. My kid asked me to “turn on ads” (our PiHole successfully blocks most of the ads on most of his games) so he could do stuff in-game. One thing he wanted to do was unlock a new skin which was 15 ads.

FIFTEEN.

Fif. Teen.

I don’t have a problem with games subsidizing development with ads. But I do have a problem with games targeted towards kids that ask them to waste ridiculous amounts of time watching ads.

Especially those games (and I don’t know if this is one of them) that don’t care about their ad network and so my 4yo starts seeing “snipe people on a corner” ads which is…no. Just no. Your game gets uninstalled immediately.

(Kid and I had a good talk though, so at least something good came out of it.)

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black lives matter

I posted this to an awful social media site earlier, because it’s the kind of place where people who need to read it will read it.


I don’t log onto Facebook very often anymore, because I don’t like contributing to platforms run by amoral manchild billionaires. I’ve seen posts from folks I respect — family, friends — and I want to make sure we’re clear here.

Police murdered George Floyd. Police continue to assault our friends, our neighbors, my fellow Ohioans, and our fellow Americans. You don’t have to look far to find videos of uniformed, armed, and armored police shooting CS canisters into peaceful crowds, or spraying people in the eyes with pepper spray when they obviously pose no threat, or firing rubber bullets at credentialed journalists.

I support protest against these violent institutions, and I support my fellow Americans who are brave enough to put themselves in harms way.

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we must be brave

Look if you haven’t watched SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER on Netflix, just go do that. It’s five seasons long, the last of which was only recently released, and it’s now done. I sincerely wish it weren’t. What else are you doing with your time? You can skip a sourdough loaf just once.

Need more reasons?

The first episode, it was obvious that one of the main supporting female characters was thicker than the others, but it’s literally never mentioned once, and she’s presented just as competently as anyone else on the show.

In later seasons, they introduce a non-binary character. Every single character on the show uses they/them pronouns to refer to them, and it’s never spotlit or lampshaded, it just is. That character, Double Trouble, is voiced by a non-binary person and friends they’re perfect.

The entire show pivots on the obvious love between two women: the protagonist who grew up in harsh conditions and realized she could do better, and one of the main antagonists who rejected leaving and feels abandoned. I mean, c’mon.

Also the showrunner recently had a bunch of stuff to say about a fan theory that the only male main character was a trans man:

“It’s a fan theory that I’m very, very fond of. I think that if anyone – especially trans people – can see themselves in Bow, it’s incredible,” she said. “And I’m very, very happy to be able to bring a masculine character who redefines masculinity in just a very positive, aspirational way.”

However her love for the theory doesn’t mean that we’re about to see Bow confirmed as a trans character on the show, with Stevenson explaining that she would have approached things differently initially if that had always been her intention.

“I will say, it is something I’m a little hesitant to canonise, because, honestly, I would have cast a trans actor if that was something I wanted to [do]. If I wanted that character to be very canonically trans, I think that would have been a really cool thing to do,” she said. “It’s just something I want to be a little cautious around, because I don’t want to be adding to things after the fact – you know, pulling a JK Rowling, essentially.”

So yeah just go watch it. If you have kids, watch it with them.

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dungeons & dungeons & more dungeons

My eldest, nearly 8, is expressing a very minor interest in tabletop roleplaying games, and apparently I never owned a D&D Players Handbook, so clearly this is permission to buy some books!

I started by picking up Pathfinder, pictured here. I thought Pathfinder would be a reminder of how fun Dungeons & Dragons 3E was from back when I played most actively, a reminder of fun times for me and something I could introduce my son to.

HAHA NOT A CHANCE, I now have a five pound monstrosity that repels my son because it looks and reads like a college textbook. I can imagine, with the right context and a group of folks who are all into it, that this could be fun. I recall this kind of gaming being fun.

But I can’t imagine sitting my 8yo down to roll up characters, a process that looks like it takes a solid twenty minutes.

Ah well, here’s a good excuse to order up Savage Worlds, which might be more accessible.

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technology is awful #3177.1

Yesterday updating a VM ruined being able to connect to it reasonably from Windows Hyper-V.

VirtualBox was refusing to install Arch, because it couldn’t verify PGP signatures that seemed valid when checked by other machines. It was also refusing to install Ubuntu due to “damaged CD/DVD media.”

I got the smart idea to get the free VMWare Player, because VMWare is obviously the best company in this space. VMWare absolutely required me to disable Hyper-V before I could start a VM, but then the networking wouldn’t connect.

Don’t be shocked, but after disabling Hyper-V I was able to get an Arch and an Ubuntu VM working without issue under VirtualBox.

So I mean, I’m not surprised, but the solution ended up being push Microsoft’s nonsense out of the way.

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technology is awful #3177

I had planned to do two streams today, but mine completely bombed out when windows Hyper-V decided that “dist-upgrade” meant “stop being able to connect to this VM in any reasonable way.”

Hyper-V’s “magically create an Ubuntu 20.04” button generates a VM in that same state: I can boot it and connect at a worse resolution than I had twenty years ago, and good luck changing that.

VirtualBox has some kind of strange bug where whenever Arch tries to install it can’t verify any PGP signatures and bails hard.

VirtualBox also has some issue where attempting to install Ubuntu complains of a damaged CD/DVD two seconds into actual installation which is amazing since this md5sum-verified ISO file seems to have no scratches on it at all.

So apparently virtualization works super for servers and stuff but damned if I just want to work on a Linux VM on my Windows 10 machine.

EDIT, the next morning: Problems have been solved in the manner in which anyone involved in computing during the 90s could have guessed.

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10mphclub

I’m not quite #1000mphclub, since I’m not actively pursuing contracts, but today seems busy anyway.

At 3pm ET I’ll be streaming some more Phoenix and LiveView game development. We’re trying for a mobile-controlled version of Jeopardy, kinda the way Jackbox games work. It’s very much me stumbling around and trying not to write Ruby in Elixir. Check it out.

At 7pm ET I’ll be joining Guy Royse, pairing on development of a MUD powered by Redis Graph. It sounds amazing, so I’m reviewing code and trying to remember how Redis works so I don’t completely embarrass myself. Catch it on Guy’s stream, or it should also be playing on mine.

Also I’m trying to smoke a rack of ribs, which I haven’t done in at least a year.

And I still have normal kid and house stuff I gotta do.

So yeah. I’m not busy, objectively, but it sure feels like it today.