Category Archives: Computers/Internet

Possibly Out-There Federation Idea

Now that Pixelfed federation and Pterotype are taking shape, I can hook up my photos and blogging directly into Mastodon and the Fediverse, but you know what would be even cooler?

Connecting them to each other.

A lot of my blog ideas grow out of photos or statuses that I’ve posted previously, as I find more to say or a better way to say it. And while it’s always possible to just post a comment or reply with a link, imagine posting them into the same federated thread.

Here’s a scenario we can do today:

  1. Photo of something interesting on Pixelfed, boosted to Mastodon. I believe we’re one update away from Mastodon replies and Pixelfed comments appearing together.
  2. Blog post on Plume or WordPress with Pterotype going into more detail about the photo. Comments and Mastodon/Pleroma replies can interleave right now. (Try it, if you want!)
  3. Another photo on Pixelfed as a follow-up. Again, comments and replies can interleave.

This is already pretty cool, but it still creates three separate discussions. The best I can do is add a “Hey, I wrote more on my blog over here: <link>” to the first discussion.

What if there were a way to publish the blog entry as a reply to the PixelFed photo? Or to publish the second photo as a reply to the blog?

And that opens up other possibilities where people can reply to other people’s photos and blog entries with their own. (Webmentions sort of do this, but they’re not going to create a single federated discussion.)

I’m not sure what form this interleaved discussion would take, or what the pitfalls might be. (Visibility might suffer, for instance.) Blogging and photo posting tend to be platforms for an original post that can have comments, rather than platforms where a top-level post can be an OP or a reply, and this would change that model.

Delicious Irony

While looking up importers that I could use to move various third-party archives into something self-hosted, I found an add-on to pull Facebook posts into Keyring Social Importers, an extensible WordPress plugin. At the top of the list of built-in services: Delicious.

“Hey, I used to have a ton of stuff on Del.icio.us! I don’t know what percent of the links still work, but I should at least export it!”

delicious.com is gone, but I remembered they moved back to del.icio.us at some point, so I went there, and found…

The delicious site is temporarily offline while we move servers. We'll be back!  Your bookmarks are safe and sound. The site should be available again on Monday, July 24.

Yeah, so I guess that’s not gonna happen. It turns out I exported my bookmarks in 2016 (into one big HTML file), which is probably as current as it needs to be.

The maintenance page mentioned Pinboard, so I looked up some articles. Apparently Pinboard bought Delicious in June 2017 and put it into read-only mode. I know I was able to look up bookmarks on Del.icio.us as recently as January, so it’s at least this July they’re talking about, but I’m guessing the server migration probably failed and it never came back.

The Fanfic Connection

In an interesting twist, I discovered that there’s a fanfic-related history in the past rivalry between Del.icio.us and Pinboard.

TL;DR: Delicious was once extensively used to categorize fic on LiveJournal, but an overhaul left it unsuitable. (Among other things, “/” became an unsearchable character, making it impossible to search for pairings.) There was a mass exodus of fanfic writers and readers, many of whom ended up at Pinboard…and Pinboard’s owner put in extra effort to address their needs.

Forgotten Smart Watch

Two years ago I bought a Pebble smart watch. For the first week or two I wore it constantly, to get the sleep tracking data. That was cool, but not cool enough to keep it up, and it was uncomfortable to sleep with, so I started taking it off at night.

I kept putting it on every morning for maybe eight months, using it for step and heart rate tracking, alerts, music control, and of course time. Plus the kid loved using the app to change the appearance of the watch face. People had come up with some really whimsical designs!

The watch kept working after the company went under. Fitbit bought what was left and agreed to keep the cloud services up for a year or so, and they updated the firmware and phone app to reduce the watch’s dependency on those services when they finally shut them down.

After a while, though, I got out of the habit of putting the watch on in the morning. I misplaced the Pebble, found it again, wore it for a few days, and forgot it again. Repeat.

What Do I Miss?

I do miss having the time available at a glance, but I can dig out a plain watch for that. The calendar reminders were helpful too. But I don’t miss having other alerts on my wrist, even after paring them down to the essentials, and the fitness tracking was really only a curiosity for me. Then outside of its core functionality, it was too clunky to use for, say, to-do lists or games.

Only a narrow range of the watch’s capabilities really appealed to me, and it turns out they weren’t enough to keep me using it.

Repurposed

Every once in a while, the kiddo would ask about the Pebble. I finally found it again and charged it, and decided to pair it with an old phone and give it to him instead of wearing it myself. He’s been wearing it 24/7 for a week now.

It’s basically a watch and fitness tracker only right now. Fitbit shut down the Pebble services over the summer, and I haven’t been able to get it working with Rebble (the volunteer group that’s put together a replacement server), so the marketplace with apps and watch faces aren’t available. And I only put limited apps on that phone, so there’s not much in the way of alerts. But he likes the step/heartrate tracking, and having a buzzing alarm that he can set.

Though he’s somehow learned to sleep through the tactile version of “Reveille” already! 🤦‍♂️

How I Use(d) Google+

With yesterday’s news that Google+ is shutting down next August, I found myself looking again at my exported archive from the network. This time I was less interested in the format (which has changed since January – you can export as JSON instead of HTML if you choose, and it includes media now), and more interested in what I had posted there over the years.

Early on I used Google+ a lot like Twitter: short statuses and link sharing, most of them short enough they could have been cross-posts.

After that early period I still mostly posted short items, but not as short. More like Facebook, really. I checked a few and found some tailored cross-posts, where I’d cram something into 140 characters for Twitter, then restore the missing words and abbreviations for Google+.

I tried using it as a blog. I did a few longer text posts and some photos, and a handful of galleries: A partial solar eclipse, Endeavour’s stop on the way to the museum. I contributed to a shared photo gallery from SDCC, and I’d share the occasional post from someone I followed.

Somewhere in there I’d figured out what felt like Google+ instead of what felt like Twitter or Facebook.

But most of my friends went back to Facebook, and the few people and sites I was still following on Google+ were also available elsewhere. So I stopped visiting, and I stopped posting.

From around 2015 on, it’s mostly auto-posts from my blog and the occasional picture that Google Photos’ auto-stylize feature actually made look interesting.

Ironically, I got my first +1 in ages on yesterday’s here’s-where-you-can-find-me post!

Cross-Posting and the Fediverse

Over the last few months I’ve been cross-posting a lot less between Mastodon and Twitter.

When I first started on Mastodon last fall, I’d sometimes post to both networks. I’d reformat things slightly if I needed to fit a pair of 280-character tweets and a single 500-character toot. (I’ve long thought that if something takes more than two posts to say on a platform, that’s not the right platform for it.) I’d often linkblog to Twitter, Mastodon and Facebook all at once.

But as I’ve shifted more toward Mastodon being my main social network, and Twitter being where I go in a private window to see what people are saying about politics, retweet a few items, and then leave, I’ve been posting completely different things to each site. These days, cross-posts between the two are almost non-existent.

So What am I Still Cross-Posting?

  • Photos across Instagram, Pixelfed and Mastodon, depending on the type of photo.
  • Occasional photos or text posts to my blog, if I decide they’re significant enough to keep findable or if they fit with a recurring topic.

Plus I’m automatically pushing links to Twitter (and sometimes Tumblr) from:

  • Flickr albums.
  • Blog posts.
  • Instagram photos.
  • Randomly-chosen “flashbacks” from my blog a couple of times a week.

I realized: When I’m not using it actively, Twitter has basically become a dumping ground for me to link to what I do elsewhere on the net.

I don’t think that would fly in the Fediverse. At least not on Mastodon. Maybe if the auto-posts were all unlisted, or on a secondary account.

ActivityPub: Boosting Instead

As the Fediverse grows to encompass more types of networks, we’ll be able to boost instead of cross-posting. Right now I can post this article on a Plume instance and boost it to Mastodon, bringing it into the world of short status updates. In the very near future, I’ll be able to do the same with a photo on Pixelfed. (I sort of can now, but replies and follows don’t work yet.)

Both networks can interact directly with the original post. It’s not an isolated duplicate. And while it’ll display as a link on Mastodon, the network will funnel actions back to Plume. Someone who sees it on Mastodon can reply there, and the conversation will appear both on their Mastodon timeline and the comment thread on the originalpost. And I think that’s awesome.

Originally posted on Fediverse.Blog., and cross-posted the old-fashioned way. You can follow my main Mastodon account,@KelsonV@Wandering.Shop.