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Telegram for Social Networking

Telegram is a great chat app, but there is more, and less to it, than say Twitter and Facebook. The first thing is that a lot of this gamification of likes/thumbsup is gone. Want to know if someone read your post? That has to be done either via direct message, or in a group (and the person has to respond). Recently there are new apis that help enable discussions on posts, as well as connecting channel posts as annoucements in groups.

Types of Accounts in Telegram

There is a single namespace in telegram for all entities: users, channels, groups, and bots. Users are individual accounts tied to a phone number (I think that is mandatory). Telegram Channels are one-way broadcast accounts, which can have multiple admins (but messages are signed by the channel. Membership in channels is unlimited. Telegram Groups can include up to 200,000 users, and everyone can post.

Using Bots for Commenting and Discussion

Note that for feedback on channel posts one can add a like bot or other such simple feedback, or add a discussion group and put that information in the channel description. A third new option is to have a comment system using an app which would also be available on the web as a preview (without logging into Telegram). The preview bot that does this works nicely and shows off what kind of api/developer support Telegram.

No Manipulation or Advertising

Instead of the constant intrusion of 99% annoyance in terms of timeline distortion and advertising as found in Facebook and Instagram (and to some extent Twitter, which is going down that same path).

Essentially, the use of channels with comments can replace any given social network (other limitations apply), such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. While those platforms still have the lion's share of engagement and users, moving over to the Telegram way of things makes sense.

Telegra.ph for Longform

Telegra.ph is a longform microblog platform which is very simple and also has zero advertising. There is a nice Telegraph App in the Google Play store.

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Syncthing – Dropbox & GDrive Alternative

Syncthing

Google Drive (GDrive) and other cloud storage alternatives such as Dropbox and Microsoft Ondrive all have the serious drawback of keeping one's information in a third party cloud repository. Privacy and security are generally compromised this way, even when paying for storage (as opposed to having an advertising model, which is worse in many ways).

The challenge is to have an equally robust service that can effectively, and efficiently (regarding resource requirements) sychronize files across multiple devices. Remain on our own devices. And remain open source. In our case we have three different operating systems on four devices to support:

  • Android 7.1.2 (Nougat)
  • ChromeOS Dev distribution (using Chrome, Android, or Linux apps)
  • Debian Linux 9 (stretch) (server and desktop)

Options such as OwnCloud don't work because of the high overhead needed to get the services to work, in terms of memory and processing on a server.

Syncthing for File Synchronization

File synchronization is not backup, though with versioning there is a sort of backup-lite going on.

Syncthing is available from repositories and directly from Github. There are ports and other configuration issues to enable for routing. There is also an Android app, so that is what will be used on Android and ChromeOS.

Install Syncthing on Debian

See: https://apt.syncthing.net/

Add PGP key

curl -s https://syncthing.net/release-key.txt | sudo apt-key add -

Add the "stable" channel to your APT sources:

echo "deb https://apt.syncthing.net/ syncthing stable" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/syncthing.list

Update repositories

sudo apt update

Install syncthing

sudo apt install syncthing

Edit the .xml file

sudo nano ~/.config/syncthing/config.xml

Change the 127.0.0.1 address to 0.0.0.0 to enable access from anywhere

Allow Ports on Debian

Had to punch holes through lightsail networking and also add rules for UFW

  • https://11.22.33.44:8384/ (server)
  • http://127.0.0.1:8384/ (workstation)

Install Syncthing on Android

For Android and ChromeOS devices, install Syncthing for Android from the Play Store.

Configure Syncthing to Turn on Automatically

Need to get synchthing to turn on automatically try this:

Note that this includes Debian and Android apps for auto-on functionality needed.

Some Issues with Synchronizing

The main thing is to think out one's synchronization policies and plans. One-way synchronization, two-way sinchronization, master and slave device replication, etc. There are many options. Some files one will want to keep everywhere, with version control. Other files one will want only in one or two locations (large files/repositories).

The best approach is to partition into folders so that different folders contain different content that will be sychronized differently. Some examples:

  • Images/Photos folder on a mobile device
    • Should be synchronized but also allow for repository of more images on a backup location.
    • Workflow: sync mobile folder to desktop. On desktop, move images to a second folder (removing them from mobile via synchronization), and then have the second folder synchronized to a server. That server folder can have SFTP for remote access and also provide two-way synchronization back to the desktop for things such as editing images that are on a web server.

It is important to have a manual workflow as well (or semi-automated) so that things are easier to manage.

Synchronization vs. SFTP

Synchronization is useful, but is not a replacement for SFTP which should be seen as on-demand push/pull. For example, a large repository can be synchronized between two larger-capacity devices (e.g, Debian server and Debian workstation), but also allow access via SFTP for smaller-capacity devices (ChromeOS/Android).

Syncthing Autostart

For a desktop, add to Startup Applications

/usr/bin/syncthing  -no-browser -home="/home/user/.config/syncthing"

For a server, create a service, or something like that.

Value of Syncthing for the Enduser

Ultimately, Syncthing lets the enduser take full control over their data on their devices in terms of files that are synchronized with other devices. Along with SFTP on a server, and possibly something like AWS S3 and Glacier, it appears to provide a useful protocol, gui admin console, and applications that can do everything that GDrive/Dropbox/OneDrive offer in terms of synchronization. Since disk space is already something that can be managed at the level of S3/Glacier and local devices, it provide a key element in a resource-efficient, open source package.

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APT – Advanced Package Tool

APT -- Advanced Package Tool -- is all that is needed for most application installations when there are repositories which are regularly updated for packages of interest.

Update Repositories

sudo apt update -y 
sudo apt update -y -t stretch-backports

Upgrade Applications

sudo apt upgrade -y --fix-missing
sudo apt upgrade -y -t stretch-backports --fix-missing

Upgrade Distributon (e.g, Debian Stable)

sudo apt dist-upgrade -y --fix-missing

Clean, Autoclean, Check, Autoremove

All these commands can be run from apt. In particular, autoremove is a good option to keep things tidy.

Purge and Remove

To seriously remove things, do:

sudo apt-get --purge remove package-name
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Delete Site Cache from Chrome

Chrome, why are you such crap at simple things? I need to delete the cache/cookies from a single website. It appears impossible these days. There is an odd work around, as follows:

> Three Dots 
    > Advanced 
        > Content Settings 
            > Cookies 
                > See All Cookie and Site Data 
                     > {Search for site} 
                          > Remove All Shown

For good measure, also go do:

> Three Dots 
    > Advanced 
        > Clear Browsing Data 
            > Cached Images and Files (only)

Yeah, what a joke. I sure wish there was an extension/plugin that would allow for a single click, but not that I can find.

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Tidying Up Digitally

Originally published as Tidying Up Digitally at www.jeffmcneill.com.

Marie Kondo is an expert on tidying a house. Her Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and two books (both of which are worth reading, best in chronological order) are best-sellers: - The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up) - Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up) She suggests that her principles can apply to organizations and work life as well. However in both respects the digital aspect is not tackled at all. Even the humble inbox is not discussed, though of course Inbox Zero is an obvious fit to her approach toward paper-based information (which is essentially, to have none of it, or only the bare minimum of contracts and warranties). While other industries have looked to a bit of click-bait around Marie Kondo, such as the Financial Times woefully inadequate How to Marie Kondo your investment portfolio, the idea of using intuitive judgment is certainly something that can apply to other aspects of our lives. Because financial investing is something only experts in financial investing have intuitive expertise in, this application does not work out very well. Gary Klein's Sources of Power is still the best account of how intuition works for experts in time-limited, high-risk situations. For Klein, the subject of research was experts with 15 or more years of experience in high risk decision-making. For everyone who has lived through adolesence, intuition regarding ones household possessions have crossed into that line where there is functioning intuition which can be drawn upon.

Digital Tidying

Applying tidying principles of the Kon-Marie method makes perfect sense in terms of the digital landscape: - Applications and Apps - Email, Documents, and Media (Ebooks, Audio, Video)

Two-Stage Tidying

The two stages of tidying are: - Discarding - Organizing

Digital Discarding

Discarding fairly straightforward: does this application, data, or media provide any spark of joy. One can't hold it in one's hand, but one can nevertheless reach a conclusion. In the case of mobile apps and desktop applications it is fairly straightforward. In some cases, necessity may posit the need to keep something around that is less-than-joyful but also might as well inspire a search for a more joyful replacement.

Digital Organizing

The basics of organizing are putting related things (category, size) in one location. Since digital things are not generally put away, it is the original location that is key (and finding things later). Since files are sometimes best kept by file time (that is, so that programs editing those files can go to a single location, for a certain class of file). Example: Which of the following is preferred: - /brands/brand-x/images/... - /brands/images/brand-x/... In some cases where a given file may deal with more than one brand, then clearly the second is more effective, but in the case of a larger set of files for a specific brand, then the first is definitely a better organization. Obviously both are possible, but it is important not to get too imprecise and flexible, as that generally yields only confusion and file disorganization.

Digital Space

Even given very large storage space, data and applications can clutter a device. Marie Kondo suggests that not the place of use but the place of return is most important (that is, give things a home that it is easy to return it to, rather than trying to optimize for where it is easy to pick up). As mentioned above, storing things in easy-to-remember locations will be key, as putting things back into those locations (a digital file structure) will be very important. Visual clutter is still present when viewing directory trees, and is a significant failing in terms of Linux distributions and their file structures in terms of where applications and related data lives in logical drives.

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Toddler Constipation – Not Pooping!

Our three-year-old wasn't pooping regularly, which caused a lot of concern. Eventually we were going to go to the hospital for a thorough set of tests and what not, after about 4 months of once-per-week pooping. There are many potential causes and this behavior is not uncommon in 2-6 year olds. Possible things to try: diet (dairy, wheet, rice, banana alergies or food sensitivities), magnesium, probiotics (symboflora), warm apple juice, prune juice, dried apricots/prunes, kiwi fruit, dark karo syrup/brown sugar/dextrose, omega-3, getting him to sit on the toilet for up to 30 minutes at the same time every day, etc., etc. We tried some of these (many of these), and at one point did try a glycerine rectal enema, though really it was for me a last resort sort of thing. Eventually it really came down to a psychological issue: he didn't like pooping, didn't want to poop, and therefore tried not to (with some definite success). The change only came through talking about pooping, that it is normal, that it hurts sometimes, but that it is normal and everyone does it, and he has to, otherwise it can hurt him (more than actually pooping does). That was it. All the trial and error, drama, and constant worry (on his mother's part) and having to put up with the worry, the constant tension, etc. Now pooping is normal, 1-2x/day, quite regularly after breakfast (when the whole family generally does this: mom, dad, and baby brother (1-year old).

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Top 10 Basic Video/Photo Mistakes

  • Set to 24p
  • Set ISO
  • Set Exposure (no over expose)
  • Do color grading (with LUTS)
    • Note: Shotcut only accepts 3D LUTS (?) so have to convert from other format, perhaps...
  • Set Fstop
  • Use lights/lighting
  • Good audio
    • 12 db
  • Steady (not shaky)
  • Music (edit to music, rather than just dropping music in)
  • Story (not random or just shots/pans) Number 11: Not using Shotcut
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Construction Innovation

The saddest part of the discussion of construction innovation as defined by making buildings more efficiently, is just that. Missing are: - Making housing more sustainable (see Earthships) - Making housing more affordable (see tiny homes in Kristen Dirksen's channel)

Mainstream Media Housing Innovation Coverate

Emergent Thoughts

  • If Earthships could be built in a factory...
  • If Tiny Homes could use less land (become multi-story without losing their soul)...
  • If vertical gardens and other greenery were an embedded part of the discussion...
  • If a living wage were integrated into housing and permaculture...
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Podcast Platforms

Podcasting is growing (slowly) and offers a great opportunity for brand engagement. Generally free, the idea is to be where the audience already is, and have a reliable host for content and the rss feed.

Media and RSS Hosting

Google Podcasts and Google Play Music Podcasts

Note, these are two different things: First Thing - Google Podcast (part of Google Search) - Google Podcast Publisher Tools - Google Podcasts App Second Thing - Google Play Music Podcasts

Pocket Casts (#4 platform

Stitcher (#3 platform)

Spotify (#2 platform)

iTunes/Apple Music (#1 platform)

WordPress Plugins

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Generic Roadmap

This is meant to be a reminder of important issues/decisions that already have some thought put in them (usually by others). - Automatic categorization of text is a core tool now - Instead of offering advice, rank priorities - Build a website first (before an app), some forgotten article but the point is: faster, and desktop users expect applications to work (and to pay for them). Plus if done correctly, this can work on all platforms (and then build the app for the appstore). Stick with what we know in the marketing channels we know. Expand products, and channels for those products.