Blaugust 2023, a little Pathfinder, setting up an ActivityPub server, what I’ve been watching, and a little more.

The Coming Blaugust - July 2023

1,522 words.

The Coming Blaugust - July 2023

Blaugust 2023, a little Pathfinder, setting up an ActivityPub server, what I’ve been watching, and a little more.

I’ve mainly been playing Pathfinder: Kingmaker, but only occasionally. I only play four or five hours of games a week these days. I like P:K, but it’s a bit of a chore to play, especially when I’m trying to record videos. Have to get myself psyched up to narrate combat and read a ton of text out loud, and usually I’m just not in the mood, ya know? But I can’t play it without recording, or I’ll have an incomplete game series.

Incidentally, obstacles to Microsoft acquiring Activision-Blizzard seem to be disappearing, for whatever that’s worth.

Blaugust 2023

(I was going to put a Blaugust logo here but it’s entirely too much work and it’s publication day and I need to wrap this up.)

Blaugust 2023 is nigh! If you don’t feel like clicking that link, Blaugust is an annual blogging event where bloggers in this corner of the blogosphere write a lot of posts in August. I think I say this every year, but I don’t really know what to do with it. Last year felt like it ended up as a complete disaster for me, about which I’m deeply embarrassed.

I usually try to go into Blaugust with a plan and a theme, but unless something else occurs to me in the next couple of weeks, my current plan is to wing it and/or not write that much.

My blogging advice is always the same deeply pessimistic diatribe and I’m tired of saying it: The mid-2000s blogging world is long gone, blogging is an obscure, anachronistic hobby in the same vein as glass-blowing or blacksmithing. Don’t get into blogging unless you enjoy writing for writing’s sake (easy), you like writing vitriolic, opinionated rants about today’s controversial topics (somewhat easy, but you need a thick skin and a foundational knowledge of web security, because people are only going to be hate-reading you), or you’ve somehow managed to find someone to pay you a living wage (very very hard). Otherwise, start a podcast or a TikTok to get your brand started.

I like my two-posts-a-month routine and I don’t really want to disrupt that; ain’t nobody got time for a full post every day without writing in advance, like you would for a blogging job, which is not something I particularly want or have time for right now.

But I’m trying to see if I can work out some way to publish some manner of spotaneously-written micro-blog daily. Which dovetails somewhat with…

Personal Development

I think I previously mentioned that I’ve setup an Unraid server on my home network, to replace my old, dead NAS with a new, not-dead NAS (Network Attached Storage).

One of the features of Unraid is that you can setup and run Docker containers on the server with a few mouse clicks, so I’ve been experimenting with a lightweight ActivityPub server called gotosocial running in a container.

After some tinkering (and then a lot more tinkering), I’ve successfully set it up behind an AWS CloudFront distribution. I don’t know if I want to actually use it, though. I don’t fully believe the fediverse is ready for prime time yet, and I still can’t quite understand why it’s sensible to put my conversations in the hands of a thousand different unknown and unregulated sysops and a kid in Germany isstead of putting my conversations in the hands of professional infrastructure engineers subject to laws and regulations.

Anyway, my local ActivityPub server isn’t the ideal I had once envisioned, but it might serve as a rudimentary micro-blogging platform.

It turned out to be fortuitous timing with the looming possibility of Tweetdeck’s demise, the only thing that ever made Twitter usable.

The bad news is that I had to kill off my comment server in the process of setting up Unraid. Nobody left comments anyway, so it’s no great loss. This isn’t really a “community-building” blog. It’s just me writing stuff.

I’m also struggling to work out a problem configuring Cloudfront so that traffic is passed correctly to my ActivityPub server. It works up to a point, then doesn’t work. There’s a deeply mysterious art to HTTP request and response headers and proxies, and ActivityPub and Mastodon’s unauthorized extensions are very fussy when it comes to HTTP signatures.

Anyway I’m holding off on signing up for Blaugust until I’m confident my fediverse links will actually work.

Health and Wellness

My back’s been bugging me more than usually lately, and my hip, and my knees. One of those times when you can’t deny that age is a thing. I think I need to lose a few pounds. I haven’t been eating particularly good food lately. I’m not a person who tries to eat healthy food, but I do acknowledge that diet has a significant effect on mental and physical well-being, so I try to at least avoid eating unhealthy food, and I haven’t really been doing that.

Day Job

It was a short sprint due to the interference of the July 4th holiday. The project I’m working on with this new team is a collection of service containers that run in a Kubernetes cluster–last sprint I worked on one service, this sprint I worked on a different one. The specific task involved extracting pieces of data from input messages and placing them into output messages (taking bits of data from one place and putting them in another place is a very common task in the glamorous world of software development). The biggest challenge was understanding some new data structures that I wasn’t familiar with, and continuing adventures in understanding the nuances of the Java Spring framework.

Incidentally, my company is pushing the return-to-office thing hard, both openly and passive-aggressively with frequent “team building” and “fun” events at the San Francisco office. I fully expect to get laid off sometime this year, because, you know, I’m in Virginia, and going into the San Francisco office at least 3 times a week doesn’t really work for me. (Theoretically I was hired as a 100% remote worker and should be classified as such indefinitely, but it would be foolish to expect that to last forever in the current climate.)

Media Consumption

Critical Role. Loved the guest players lately. (I just heard about the soap opera going on with Brian W. Foster. They apparently removed every video he was in (hundreds I think), which seems a bit petty but I didn’t like Undeadwood anyway.)

Watched the first episodes of The Witcher season 3. It’s a pale shadow of the greatness of the first season. I think they made a big mistake trying to turn it into a world-spanning Game of Thrones where Geralt is just another side character.

Watched the first couple of episodes of Full Circle on Max. A little sluggish in pacing (as is standard operating practice for all streaming series), but it was an intriguing story and filled with an ensemble of atypical characters.

And of course I’m still attempting to watch every true crime show that appears on the front page of Netflix. Way too many to remember them. Some are good, some are bad. I like the ones that demonstrate how much the criminal justice system is crippled by human fallibility. Here’s some of the better ones:

  • Trial 4
  • Making a Murderer
  • The Confession Tapes
  • 137 Shots
  • The Innocence Files
  • Murder Mountain

World Context

  • Twitter mysteriously implemented rate-limiting on the number of tweets that accounts can read per day. As yet I can’t find anything but speculation on why.
  • On July 3rd, I woke up to find that several of my Tweetdeck columns were blank and perpetually “loading.” (Lists and individual accounts.) Later that day, I saw a button to switch to a preview version of a new version Tweetdeck. I clicked it. The new version of Tweetdeck was bad. Very, very bad. Shortly thereafter, I saw that they are rolling out the new version and making it available only to verified users. That will surely end my usage of Twitter.
  • On July 6th, Meta Threads launched, which is supposed to be a Twitter killer, but it’s a phone app, so I didn’t look at it.
  • Suspicious white powder found at the White House turned out to be cocaine. Politics ensued.
  • On July 10th, Twitter stopped forcing me to use the new, horrible version of Tweetdeck, and let me go back to the old, useful version of Tweetdeck. No word on when or if I will be forced to stop using Twitter altogether if Tweetdeck stops working without a verified account.
  • Hollywood SAG-AFTRA actors joined writers in a new strike, citing concerns about AI abuse, among many other things.

I realized, when I played my previous blog posts in the InoReader text-to-speech thingy, that my blog posts just kind of died at the end without any resolution. So I will now end this blog post in a slightly better way.

That’s it for the first half of July. The full heat of the summer is now upon us (me, at least). Take care!

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