Email is obsolete

When was the last time email was actually useful?

If my students have a question, I’d much rather them text me to make sure I can find their messages – my work inbox is so full of extraneous stuff that I lose so many student emails. Plus, with Canvas, I essentially have two inboxes for work, and sometimes students email me in one and not the other and I miss things.

My personal email? I don’t usually get email from friends, people I know. Who gets personalized emails? I send myself email reminders more than I actually use it for communication. My email inbox is constantly bombarded with chain emails.

How many times have I gone through my inbox, clicking every email I don’t want and manually unsubscribing? How many times have I tried setting up filters? How many times have I gone to websites like Twitter and told it to not send me emails? I can’t win the battle.

Email is broken and obsolete. No email solutions currently over a realistic, usable way to organize your emails and keep things tidy. Email is currently just a dumping ground.

Halloween Costumes

It’s been a long time since I’ve done trick-or-treating, or even to invest time in making a costume for myself. This year I’ve been mentoring some refugee families, and they are like family to me.

For Halloween this year I made costumes for the kids and threw a party for one family (the other couldn’t make it this time). All the girls wanted to be Disney princesses and I volunteered to make their costumes. I’ve never bought Halloween costumes, I’ve always made my own, even roughly. I’m not very good at sewing, but I like experimenting and learning. Even though their dresses ended up pretty rough (it’s also hard to make costumes for other people; at least with myself I can keep testing haha), but they seemed pretty happy with their dresses.

The kids were so excited to go trick-or-treating, running and shouting everywhere, as their mom and I tagged along  behind. Their dad and my husband stayed at home with the hookah and gave candy to other neighborhood kids.

I remember how much I used to like trick-or-treating as a kid, and how exciting it is, and I’m really happy my “nieces” and “nephew” had a great time! 🙂 <3

Exhausted

I am so intensely exhausted.

I hope that there is good news after the election next week, so I can at least have a fraction of weight lifted off me. It’s hard to stay feeling good when it feels like the world is going to shit.

Change the world: Posting messages

Speak to all

We can talk to our friend groups and family all we want to try to change their ways, but our own sphere of people is quite small. We need to loudly exclaim that fascism is not permitted, that transmisia, islamomisia, racism, and sexism is not permitted, that the alt-right and nazis are not permitted, that Trump is not permitted. This should go beyond our own sphere of people and into our local communities.

Where we all go

We all must buy food and clothes. Many of us go to bookstores, the mall, and other places. We need to speak where those unlike us will hear.

I’m not suggesting that we stop random people in the grocery store and talk to them – you can only be present for a short amount of time at any given place.

What I want is for our messages to be ubiquitous, unignorable, visible.

Posting messages

Here’s my proposal: print some signs (or make your own) and post them anywhere you go in your daily life. Don’t ask permission. Carry some messages and some scotch tape with you and post it near a door, in aisles, or wherever.

Of course they will get removed – but we keep posting them discreetly.

We need to speak up and stop being silent. We need to reach more people than just our own friends and family. We need our communities to understand that our country is in danger and that people are dying, being abused, and being traumatized. We need to stop this, and we need to tell our voting peers that this is not allowed.

* Trans people deserve to live banner & this project is inspired by the one flown at the World Series.

 

Media

Museum of Illusions at Union Station

Went to the Museum of Illusion today over at Union Station! Here are some pictures and videos. 🙂

Overwhelmed

It’s hard to shake this feeling of being utterly overwhelmed by life. Whether it’s simple things like keeping my house clean or bigger things like how I can make a difference in the world, it’s too easy to feel lost these days.

I keep thinking about how we grow up learning about super heroes or magical girl squads or whatever else – single people or small groups that protect the rest of us from the evils of the world. But as an adult, it leaves me feeling helpless; wanting to be a super hero, but that not being an actual option. A single person cannot save the world.

I used to stress my brain a lot wondering how I could use my leet computer skillz to help the world, or to protest in some way, or otherwise for activism. Then some children got stuck in a cave and I watched Elon Musk on Twitter fuck around with a stupid unwanted tube he invented and delivered with who knows how much testing. Instead of just using a more useful resource – money – to fund other people to save those kids. The kids got out safe thanks to professional divers, and Musk just left his stupid death-trap tube in a cave in another fucking country and tried to play it off, like “in case somebody needs it later.” That event made me realize that I don’t need to necessarily use my knowledge of programming to do Good if it just isn’t what the problem calls for – don’t try to egotistically shove a square block into a round peg.

And with the singular super hero… a single person isn’t important. A single person is vigilantism. A group of people is a movement. And a group requires individual people to be part of it to go anywhere.

And there are good groups that exist. Sometimes when I’m overwhelmed I think about all the other people here who want to do Good and make the world better for others. I know I’m not alone, even though I look at politics and the alt-right movement and just see pure evil.

Groups exist like KC4Refugees – they don’t have to exist, but they do. A volunteer organization where we all work together in different ways to support the refugee community here in Kansas City. Sometimes I think about how I’m helping out only a couple of families with my volunteering, but then I remember that I’m part of a group and each person is helping their own family, or doing organizational volunteering to get families the resources they need. And, the families I mentor are happy I’m there for them. Even if I’m “just” helping the kids with math homework, or “just” tutoring the stay-at-home mothers in English, or “just” helping them move from an old home to a new home, I am helping enrich their lives, and I’m hopefully drowning out any of the Islamomisia they may hear second-hand with my love. I know that if we’re out together and they are targeted first-hand, I will physically be there to protect them.

But, back to feeling overwhelmed.

Unfortunately, I don’t think anything is going to change until the end of this semester. I’m applying for software development jobs again because I’m really craving the routine, and I need to not be bringing so much work home with me every day, every week. We’re reaching the end of October and we still have November and December to go, and it seems like such a long time. I’m so burnt out, and I’m just trying to power through. Until then, I feel like I’ll be a less-than-ideal house keeper, wife, friend, game developer, artist, and so on. Like I have to take all my creative inspiration and drive and just shove it down into a box because if I think about all the things I want to do but can’t, I’ll just dive deeper into depression. But it’s always there. I feel like I’m just a robot getting through this semester, executing the tasks I need to perform, all the while feeling like the world is falling apart around me, and feeling helpless to affect our politics, our policies, or to somehow remove the alt-right threat.

I’m just so drained.

Let’s take a step back

When I think about what I get out of Social Media, and what I wish it looked like…

…I just think of blogs and RSS feeds.

Of course blogs weren’t the best for keeping up with everybody back in the day – everyone had blogs on different services, and they lacked privacy settings except in cases where your friends were using the same blog service. But that’s basically the same thing as what we have now, right? You can set privacy settings on Facebook, but of course the only people who can read your non-public posts must also have Facebook accounts. Now, we have so many networks you have to go to all these separate websites to see your feed.

We’ve gone from TV to cable to streaming to every network having their own streaming service, and we’ve gone from blogs to social networks to TOO MANY SOCIAL NETWORKS.

What did we do back in the day if we had information from a lot of sources we wanted regularly? RSS feeds. Google Reader was one of the most popular ones, but then they decided to do away with theirs. Sites like Twitter and Facebook favor APIs now over any sort of RSS feeds (even for public content).

I feel like I’d be so much more happy with my “social internet experience” (and a LOT less overwhelmed) if I could just check everything in one single place, and only post to one single place. Ideally, I could use a single website in lieu of Linked In, Facebook, and Twitter, and just post to different “channels” with different privacy settings based on that.

But, most social networks we use today are proprietary; it is not in their best interests to let you combine all your services into one with webhooks or RSS feeds or anything else. We’re always the product, and the software no longer serves us.

In the meantime, I’m going to try to post to my blog more, and rely on what webhooks I can to distribute links to the posts on my other pages. At least with an open source blog hosted on my own server I have control over my own data – when I delete it, I ACTUALLY delete it; it isn’t just left on someone else’s server “marked” as deleted but still there.

Do you have a blog?

Give me your blog link! I’ll try to find a decent RSS reader and start keeping up with people that way.

Social Ocean

THERE ARE TOO MANY SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES.

Seriously, I’d love to just post in one place (my “hub”), and then have my hub forward that post to all my social media platforms, or easily select which posts to send to my @Moosader accounts (Twitter/Facebook/Mastodon), and which posts to send to my @rejcx Rachel accounts (Twitter/Facebook/Mastodon/Diaspora), and just aggregate it all in one place.

Also with minimal server setup. Don’t make me change config files.

I guess I can try to attempt this with my WordPress? I was looking at IFTTT but I don’t see a Facebook applet anymore! I used to have it set up so if I posted to Diaspora it’d auto-post to Facebook with a link to the post. Uggh. (Seriously, screw proprietary platforms, for more than one reason.)

I’m going to look at some of the plugins and figure out what I can set up.

First problem: Centralizing your “post” page, which gets distributed out.

Second problem: Centralizing your feeds from all the different sources in one location. (GEE, WOULDN’T SOME RSS FEEDS BE NICE? RIGHT??)

 

Status of Moosader projects

Just to barf onto “paper” somewhere…

  • Undead Debt – active development (Fall/Winter 2018)
  • Ghosts – Intern visual novel – to be finished early 2019
  • Dance Competition – on hold
  • Flipside Fairytales: Sleeping Beauty – to be finished early 2019

The internship program is paused for Q4 because of holidays and school! 😛 We will resume in January. In the meantime, I am personally working on a pet project: Undead Debt.

Kind Software

The struggle

How can we fight the powers-that-be in our normal, daily lives? What can we little people possibly do when even our one power – voting – is ignored. We call senators and tell them how to represent us, and they ignore us for their own gain.

When our daily lives are monetized for the rich. We use software that costs nothing to us, but we give our data. We are profitable. But these networks are so heavily ingrained in our lives.

I, personally, have used Google Calendar for over a decade to keep my life in order. I use gmail because its spam detection is the best. I sell my apps on the Google Play store because it’s easy and cheap. I use Facebook to keep up with political organizations, family, and friends. LinkedIn. Twitter. And so on.

And I know my daily life is being sucked of value because it brings profit to others. And it makes me sick. But how much of my productivity am I willing to sacrifice for becoming an individual again?

Well…

The sacrifice

We live in a capitalist society, and the main thing that influences our representatives (if you can call them that) is capital. I’m sure that I’m not alone in feeling like our government works for the lobbyists and not for me. As individuals, we can’t make our own lobbying group, and we can’t bribe politicians into caring about our lives; we try to tell them the consequences of going against our wishes (“we won’t vote for you”), but that all seems to land on deaf ears.

But, we have some power: We are a product. And we can stop being a product.

We can shift our lives onto non-proprietary platforms that don’t monetize us. We may need to spend a little money to donate to keep a server up-and-running somewhere in a distributed system, or we may need to give up some polish and perhaps some features, and even a chunk of our social network.

Now, I know as a small business owner, and someone who has volunteered for a political campaign, that we can’t just upend this entire aspect of our lives. Social Media can be integral to making a living. But, I’d implore people to begin using alternative systems, and use them as the primary form of communication in our personal lives.

Of all the things you can currently do to fight against a corrupt system, isn’t being slightly inconvenienced by your software one of the easiest things to do?

And it can only get better…

Building and using ethical software

The more energy and time we put into platforms that are ethical – and maybe a bit rough around the edges because of the lack of a paid, dedicated UX team – the better these get. The more people know about it, the more quality of content exists on them, and the more programmers will invest in these technologies. It doesn’t have to be “inconvenient” forever.

If we understand what we’re doing by moving away from these “free-but-you’re-the-product” services, if we make that intentional move and encourage others to do the same, we can make the world a little better. Together, we can send a message that we’re more than just something to extract value from – we can send this message to companies as well as our own government.

These systems in place aren’t helping us, and they’re not taking care of us, so what is the point of these systems?

Let’s construct our own…

Ethical software vs. Open Source vs. Free software

I love FOSS (Free/Open Source Software) from the outside. When I am teaching people how to program, I prefer exposing them to FOSS tools available – anyone can program or make games, and you don’t need much money.

However, FOSS isn’t perfect. If you lift up the surface, you will find a lot of problems. Namely, the communities built around developing the software are known to be toxic.

Our software can’t be ethical if we’re making the developers suffer, or keeping willing participants out.

Just recently, Linux has replaced its “Code of Conflict” for a “Code of Conduct”, and there has been massive backlash – people are threatening to leave development of the system, trying to defend their “right” to be toxic and disrespectful.

Even the father of Free software posted:

“I disapprove of strict codes of conduct. They feel rigid and repressive to me.”

(Pulled from this Reddit thread)

It seems odd to me that a group can be ideological about how software should be Open and/or Free (as in liberty) and yet be against making software Good (as in Kind) as well.

And we can’t just flip these systems from the inside – we are outnumbered. We have to start at the ground floor and build our own movement for what we want to see in the world…

A movement?

And there are groups working towards this – groups like Compassionate Coding with April Wensel, who advocate for caring and kind software development. I would like to go further than this and create a license and a resource website around ethical, kind, compassionate software development. That by, creating a project within this framework, you are committing to having Codes of Conducts, to treating people with respect, to building good software for a good purpose.

And we can start small. We can identify good, ethical, kind software that we can use, and identify what is problematic – even if it is under the umbrella of FOSS. We can build some small utility projects under the new license and release it to the world.

We will need to pull in all sorts of programmers as well. I cannot be “the boss”; I am a queer white nonbinary person, but I cannot offer (nor will I pretend to offer) insight for every view. An ethical coding movement must contain people from many different backgrounds, and it must honor and respect many perspectives. It cannot be centered around just white men/people building software for their own politics, but violently keeping out other people.

I’m going to be thinking about this project, and ask some friends to jump in with me. I hope that there will be interest and buy-in from others as well.

And if there’s already something like this that I’m not aware of (specifically making a “Kind Software” brand instead of just “Open Source” or “Free”), I will signal boost it.

Thanks for reading.


Kind Software homepage (edit)

I went ahead and created this page as a kind of landing page for “Kind Software”. Other people can also make suggestions and edit the page (+ issue a pull request) to add their own ideas. My main idea is that classifying your software as Kind brings along a certain set of expectations; a certain message you’re saying about your work.

https://kindsoftware.bitbucket.io/