Circles of influence

Mcnalu recently mused on the state of his eyebrows and the fact trimming may now be appropriate. My first thought was how lucky he is to have been asked. My own eyebrows are clearly enough of a mess that my barber doesn’t feel need to ask before trimming – this can be quite unnerving when I realise that his attention is mainly on the televised cycling.

As fascinating as my eyebrows are though, the part of Mcnalu’s post that really interested me was this:

Perhaps I’m having a mid-life crisis, but I prefer to think of it as an experience in mid-life neuroplasticity? I feel a stronger urge to express myself and make some impact, however small (though preferably large), on society around me. Being passive isn’t an option. I want to do something for others, and give them the chance to do better, and be better than me. Making myself heard is important now – it wasn’t before.

It’s interesting because, for me, the opposite is true. In my younger days it was hugely important to me that my voice was heard, that I was making a difference and leaving my mark. Now, not so much.

While I can still be quite idealistic at times, I should probably admit that this has been tempered over time by changing priorities. But I think the more significant factor in this is a greater acceptance of the limits of my influence.

To change the world you first need to join a movement and I’m not a joiner. I can’t bring myself to toe a party line, slogans annoy me and the tribalism upon which many movements depend tends to strike me as being both lazy and destructive. And if my need to remain intellectually honest with myself outweighs my desire to sign up to a consensus then I have to accept that any difference I can make is equally constrained.

Ultimately, the only person on who I can guarantee an effect is on myself. Hopefully, by living honestly and by making time for the people that matter most to me I can have a positive effect on the lives of those people. Realistically, after a couple of generations I will be forgotten.

And I am completely comfortable with this.

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If People Were Like Social Networking Sites

Tangential to yesterday’s post

From The Joy of Tech via Re/Code.

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Ello, it’s another silo

Another week, another proprietary social network. This time it’s Ello which is trying to position itself as an ad-free answer to Facebook. The Register took it for a spin and made the following point in conclusion:

But is Ello quite as pure as it makes out? And will its lofty goals stand up against the test of time? I have my doubts.

Ello already has venture capital funding and VCs aren’t charities – they expect a return on investment. The site promises that its pay-for-features model will involve “very small” amounts of money but it’s going to take a serious amount of cash to run the servers needed to power the site properly if it gets a serious amount of users.

And this is why I won’t be signing up to Ello. For all its talk, Ello is yet another proprietary silo of a social network. The people behind Ello will, inevitably, come under pressure to provide a return to the venture capitalists that are funding it. It will either collapse or have to start breaking promises – quite possibly both.

And when Ello fails, all of its users will find themselves stuck in a silo again. Either they leave and lose contact with their connections, or they stay and put up with corporate behaviour with which they are increasingly uncomfortable (Hello, Facebook).

It’s for this reason that I think federated services are a much better proposition for all.

My preference is for GNU Social (also referred to as StatusNet) although other federated networks do exist (Friendica, and Diaspora all spring to mind). The advantage that all of these offer is that you are not tied to a single provider. If I decide that I am not happy with my current instance, I can easily move to an alternative (or even install my own instance) and continue talking to exactly the same people over exactly the same interface.

We don’t accept proprietary limitations on which websites we visit. We don’t accept proprietary limitations on who we can exchange emails with. Why should we treat social networks any differently?

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Searching multiple files in PowerShell

Today I needed to check several scripts to see which ones used (the same) global field (don’t ask). I was doing this at work and Powershell proved to be surprisingly adept at doing this. All I needed was:

Get-ChildItem "Scripts_Folder" -recurse | Select-String -pattern "Field_Name" | group path | select name

… where Scripts_Folder is the folder containg the scripts and Field_Name is the field I was searching for.

Powershell returned a simple list of all of the files containing the field. I can see me needing to use this again, which is why I’m making a note of it here.

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Ninja Goats vs Pirate Chickens

Pirate Chicken

Pirate Chicken

Inspired by a conversation on Quitter, I found myself thinking about what a game involving ninja goats and pirate chickens would actually look like. The conclusion I eventually arrived at was pretty simple: Fox and Hounds, but with the addition of a treasure chest. The ninja goat wins by stealing the pirate chickens’ treasure and the pirate chickens win by capturing the ninja goat.

I quickly typed up some rules and started having far too much fun Gimping together images from to make some game pieces. Of course, the real test of any game is when you start playing it, and for this I had to wait until Saturday.

It proved to be surprisingly playable. The simplicity of the game is such that a seven-year-old is able to think through various strategies with no prompting on my part. And the addition of a treasure chest added interesting quirk in that I could see Macsen actively thinking about how to defend it with the fewest possible resources. This also mitigated, somewhat, the fact that the chickens should always win.

Ninja Goat

Ninja Goat

What really surprised me, though, was the extent to which the twins were able to get involved. The simplicity of the rules was such that they could easily understand the game and the shortness of the game meant that boredom didn’t have a chance to set in.

All in all, a surprisingly successful afternoon was enjoyed by all, a conclusion that was confirmed this morning when Macsen asked me where I’d put the game.

And finally

If you want to play around with this, here are a couple of links to the counters and instructions. If you can come up with better graphics, please do let me know.

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The Duffercast is like a bus… You wait for ages and then three turn up at once

I mentioned, earlier this month, that the Duffercast Christmas Special had finally been released, but that was just a start. Ten days ago Duffercast 5 – My Pyjamas Are Calling Me hit the feeds and yesterday your intrepid duffers published Duffercast 6 – I am talking absolute shite tonight.

Duffercast 5 – My Pyjamas Are Calling Me

StationFour of the duffers gathered to discuss old tech, childhoods, toys, the Cold War and some other stuff. There was music played, too, all under free culture licenses, as usual.

Duffercast 6 – I am talking absolute shite tonight

Boris Johnson We can’t count, but we know this is the August Easter special, which will be out by Christmas.

We emit sounds, discuss Scottish independence, Boris Johnson, Belgium, whiskey, and the rarity of Scottish Creative Commons music.

Download, listen and enjoy. You won’t see a frenzy of dufferdom like this until the next one.

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