The California Dream, Revised

    People come to California and fall in love with living in the Hollywood Hills, Topanga Canyon, or Malibu. But if you grow up here you know it means fires, mudslides, or the Pacific Ocean joining you in your living room.

    The smart move is to live where you’re close to the beach or the mountains, but safer. I can be at the beach in ten minutes, or Los Padres National Forest in twenty. But barring a truly cataclysmic disaster, I’m safe.

    www.npr.org/2024/02/1…

    Where to follow me

    I’ve had a question about where people should follow me, since social media is now totally fragmented and I’m in a lot of different places.

    The answer is pretty simple: follow me anywhere you want to! But not everyone wants to see the same thing everywhere, I know. Fair enough.

    If you’re on Mastodon, you should probably follow my Mastodon account (@larand@appdot.net).

    If you’re on Bluesky, you don’t have a choice, because they have their own federation protocol, so follow me on my Bluesky account (@larand.one).

    If you’re on Threads, same deal: they are talking about federating, but haven’t really done it yet, and it looks like you’re going to have to opt in once it goes live, which of course most people won’t. I’m on Threads at @larand_one.

    If you have a Micro.blog account, I’m @larand (or micro.blog/larand). I originate almost everything on Micro.blog, so you won’t miss much if you go that route except for replies to people outside Micro.blog, because I post those from the relevant service. If you prefer, you can follow my Mastodon account above since M.B is Fediverse-friendly.

    Or do whatever you want. I’m not the boss of you. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    Apple, Sideloading, Third-Party App Stores, and Life

    I’m hugely amused by all the kerfuffle over Apple, sideloading, the EU, and third-party app stores.

    You see, although I have an iPhone now, and an iPad, I’ve used Android and Android-based OSes for extended periods of time, and I can testify that nothing horrible necessarily happens when you sideload an app or use a third-party app store. I used a couple of different ones, specifically the Amazon Appstore and F-Droid, and things were fine. Really. No viruses, my phone didn’t explode, and the apps got updates.

    The first thing you need to realize is that many of the folks you see online acting as if you’re taking your life into your hands using an Android phone usually say the same thing about Windows. God knows there are plenty of cheap Android phones with tacky UI skins that I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, but one gets the impression that the last time they used something not made by Apple was in the days of Windows 98 or the Motorola Droid X. People, time marches on. You don’t need to be scared. But preferences don’t have to be logical, and they’re entitled to their opinions.

    Having said that, I am not one of the people clamoring for access to sideloading and third-party app stores, either. I’ve seen them, they’re OK, but they’re nothing to write home about. Amazon’s usually has older versions of apps, and F-Droid is mostly useful for open-source stuff. If you like Linux, you’ll like F-Droid. But 99% of people don’t need it. There’s no huge advantage for them.

    And here is where I think Apple is being stupid. They don’t have to be Dr. Evil demanding 30% of revenue from apps that never touched an Apple server. All they have to do is the following:

    1. Make users find a diabolically hidden checkbox to enable sideloading and third-party app stores. iOS settings are Byzantine enough compared to Android settings that it wouldn’t be hard to hide.
    2. If someone checks the box, pop up a great big warning in giant red capital letters that if you do this, Apple will do nothing if you brick your phone, install a virus, accidentally hit “Buy” on an app that costs $5000, or you wet your pants.
    3. If the user still proceeds, make them confirm again and state that they’re on their own. Wild West. Good luck with that.
    4. Hell, say that installing from external sources voids the AppleCare+ warranty. That should get people’s attention.

    My point is this: it’s not that big a deal. Most people won’t do it, and those who do will do it maybe once to satisfy curiosity and then go back to the official App Store. The hardcore folks who REALLY want it are probably already cracking their phone’s security and doing it anyway. These people also run Linux nightlies and write restroom graffiti in assembly language. They are not like you and me.

    In any case, it doesn’t really affect me. I’ll just sit back and watch the show. Maybe I’ll make popcorn.

    And if someday Apple stops being such a control freak, relax.

    Substack policy

    Because, incredibly, there are people out there justifying why they will continue using a platform that profits from hosting Nazis:

    As a matter of policy, I will not read anything on Substack and will unfollow those who use it. They may not be Nazis themselves, but they’ve decided that sharing space with them isn’t a dealbreaker.

    Another year ends

    So here we are, facing the end of another year and the beginning of another. I was going to let it pass, but found myself wanting to say a couple of things.

    Thank you, my friends

    First and foremost, thanks to everyone who has followed me (or continued to follow me) during the past year. Some of you I’ve known for years; others are newer acquaintances, but I appreciate you all. It’s noteworthy that many of you are people I’ve known since the halcyon days of App.net, the best little social network there ever was, with the most utterly clueless management. Ah, well–it’s water under the bridge at this point. Glad we’re still in touch. Over the years, you’ve been a source of inspiration and support, and I am immensely grateful for both.

    The year in social media

    It’s hard to overstate how much the world of social media was impacted by Elon Musk’s takeover of The Social Network Formerly Known As Twitter. He’s such a genius that he took the world’s pre-eminent text-based social media platform, drove off its top advertisers and most active users, and turned it into a Gab/Truth Social clone. Nice going there, Melon Husk.

    What it all means, of course, is that social media is as fragmented as it’s ever been. Those of us who have been online for the last twenty-five years or so should have known that nothing lasts forever, but the speed of the collapse has been something to behold.

    I finally gave up my Twitter handle in 2023; there was no reason to keep it anymore, and you can’t have an account everywhere. I’m no more concerned about the fact it belongs to someone else now than I am about whether the same handle exists on Truth Social. Either way, I’m not going to be there nor do I want to be associated with those who are.

    What the fragmentation has done is spur me to move towards consolidating my content online on a domain that I own; if there’s a lesson to be learned from everything, it’s that building your presence on someone else’s domain is a roll of the dice.

    At first, I thought I might set up my own personal Mastodon instance, but Micro.blog offered the ability to both host my social posts and my blog posts in the same place under the same domain–an online hub–which proved the stronger attraction. I’m an infrequent blogger, but I do post on social media regularly, and the notion of putting everything under one roof was attractive. So far I’m pleased with how it’s working out.

    As for the other platforms, Bluesky and Threads? By staying invitation-only, Bluesky lost momentum and will likely be relegated to a niche role. Threads has Meta’s backing, with all the good and bad that implies, and will almost certainly be the choice of the masses. It will also almost certainly be the first one I abandon, make of that what you will.

    Oh, and there’s Tumblr, I suppose. I still haven’t figured out what to do with that one; for now I’m just crossposting from Micro.blog.

    The world at large

    What is there to say? The world continues to lose its damn mind. Right-wing extremism on the rise, ethnic cleansing in more than one place (including Gaza), and in the US we’re staring down the barrel of the threat of a second term for The Former Guy. I don’t much like this alternate timeline we’re in.

    Conclusion

    That’s about it. Best wishes to you and yours, I hope you all have a good New Year, and may we all find ourselves in better circumstances this time next year. Cheers!

    Why I'm cross-posting

    I’ve never been a huge fan of cross-posting between services. I’ve always felt that each service was its own thing, and deserved to be treated as such.

    So why am I doing it now?

    Simply put, the ongoing self-immolation of X(itter) has resulted in the fracturing of social media. Instead of just one site, we now have Mastodon, Bluesky, Threads, and all the others. Some of the people I want to follow are only on one of the successor sites. Each has its own culture and personality, but they’re more similar than they are different. All of them are essentially text-oriented microblogging services. Tumblr’s a bit different, but similar enough to be included.

    Using a platform like Micro.blog that allows you to post once and syndicate it out everywhere makes it easy, so that’s what I’m doing (with the exception of Threads, which doesn’t have an API yet). Historically I’ve objected to this kind of broadcasting because it leads to lack of engagement on the various sites, but I have apps for all the services I’m using on my phone, and if I get a reply (or quote or like) I can reply back on the relevant site. I’m still reading everywhere, I’m just posting from a central location. It saves a bit of time.

    Maybe someday we’ll see a consolidation of the social media world again. But for now, this is the best solution I’ve come up with.

    Single-issue voting

    People who think that the US can’t become a dictatorship because of the Constitution fail to consider that:

    1. Constitutions only matter when people pay attention to them
    2. The current Supreme Court is willing to overturn decades of precedent
    3. The presumptive Republican candidate fomented insurrection in an attempt to stay in power

    So if you’re tempted to be a single-issue voter, that single issue better be democracy.

    Random observations from trying out Micro.blog

    1. No like function: forces more replies and actual interaction. Still kind of miss it but can live without it.
    2. Not seeing a follower count or who’s following you is probably healthier. Can’t obsess about numbers that aren’t there.
    3. All accounts being public is an interesting choice. Some would not be comfortable with it. As an older white male I have less reason to personally fear anything, but I know people who don’t have the same privilege.
    4. Having your online presence all tied together is nice, especially since you can use your own domain.
    5. This just might work out as a solution to the current fragmentation of social media. Feels promising.

    Stepping away

    This was originally posted at blog.larand.net.

    Not that anyone is probably reading this, but I’m stepping away from this blog for a bit while I try out Micro.blog again.

    The URL for my blog over there is https://larand.one, and you can also follow me at ``` larand@larand.one ``` from the Fediverse.

    Nothing wrong with write.as, they’ve been lovely, but with the current fractured state of social media, I’m looking for a way to unify my various streams and simplify my life. I’ll be cross-posting from there where it makes sense.

    See you around the net.

    My nuclear lab security story

    Whenever a story about one of the nuclear labs and security pops up, I am reminded of the time I was visiting a friend in Los Alamos, NM. His wife worked in the security office, and he was a local police officer. I was doing a ride-along with him and he stopped by his wife’s office to say hello. We parked out back, and let ourselves in via the back door, which was propped open with a chair.

    And that is my story of security at a top-secret nuclear laboratory.

    www.engadget.com/self-proc…

    The exodus continues

    With Apple stopping advertising on X, and another flood of people incoming on Mastodon, Bluesky, and Threads, it’s interesting to me to see where people land.

    Previously, I thought Bluesky would eventually become the new Twitter, but they’re still in closed beta and taking their sweet time ramping up. Mastodon has a major perception problem that is going to limit their reach. Meanwhile, Threads suffers from not being available in the EU.

    All of that said, I’m now of the opinion that, provided they are able to enter Europe, Threads will eventually win out. Being connected to Instagram is a huge advantage that’s hard to beat.

    That doesn’t mean it’s my favorite. That honor goes to Mastodon, but I’ve had plenty of time to acclimate to its cultural and technical quirks, having joined it literally from Day 1 when it was announced on Hacker News in 2016. Newbies often find it confusing, and the general ethos sometimes comes across as lecturing and unhelpful. I like it because most of my people are there, but I’m not blind to its faults. Those of us who are there could do a better job welcoming newcomers.

    Bluesky is probably my second favorite, but it still sometimes feels like I’ve wandered into a party where the cool kids are, and I’m not one of them. It’s pleasant enough, but a lot of that goes back to its invite-only status. Once they open the gates and give up control, it’s going to change. It also has the most annoying character limit.

    Which leads us back to Threads. Backed by Meta, it’s unlikely to fail. It’s the one I like the least — too algorithmic, and you know the ads will show up eventually — but as someone wise once said, a social network should be social, and that requires people. There are folks I know who don’t do Mastodon or Bluesky, but they’re on Threads because they’re also on Instagram.

    That might just be enough.

    Thoughts on the current unpleasantness

    Since I've picked up a few new followers in various places, this seems like a good time to clarify what my thoughts are on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, so there are no surprises and you can unfollow me if you wish before things get ugly.

    Disclaimer: I’m an educated, middle-class, left-of-center American male. You can filter everything I say through that lens if you want and if it matters to you.

    First things first: if you’re looking for someone who is overtly pro- or anti- either side, you’re in the wrong place. I was trained as a historian and I’m familiar enough with the history that I recognize there are both innocent people and bad actors on both sides. If you believe your side (assuming you have one) is pristine and without guilt, you’re wrong. There is more than enough blame to go around. This is not a slam at either Israelis or Palestinians, just a recognition of the reality of all humanity through the ages. And yes, you can add the British to that.

    Beyond that, I have friends on all sides—Jewish, Muslim, Israeli, Palestinian, non-Palestinian Arab, Iranian, etc. They’re all people, and people are complicated. Not all Jews are Israelis, not all Israelis support the current government, not all Palestinians support Hamas, and certainly not all Muslims support Hamas. And for that matter, not all Palestinians are Muslim—there’s a Christian minority—and not all Israelis are Jewish. There are also Druze and Arab Muslim citizens of Israel. And while we’re discussing how complicated it is, there’s even a fringe Jewish sect that doesn’t believe Israel is legitimate. If you think there’s anything simple in that part of the world, you have been deceived.

    My side, if I have one, is peace. I’m with the unfortunate innocent victims on both sides. I believe strongly that war is a waste of human life, and that if you’re going to have one, you have a responsibility to minimize the deaths of civilians. This means that you don’t take hostages to use as human shields. This means that you don’t bomb hospitals and ambulances. This means that you don’t use hospitals and schools to hide weapons of war. This means that you follow the rules of the Geneva Convention.

    But what about America, you ask? Well, what about it? If you think I’m going to defend every decision America has ever made, you’re wrong. Yes, we obliterated Dresden. Yes, we used nuclear bombs against Japan. Yes, we dropped Agent Orange on Vietnam. We dropped one million tons of bombs on Vietnam, for that matter, and we killed a lot of civilians. We’ve killed civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan and Yemen with drones. These actions were also horrific and wrong.

    In the current conflict, I’d like to see a ceasefire. I’d like to see the resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinian leadership, leading to an independent State of Palestine. I’m also enough of a realist to know this is very unlikely right now. The last time an Israeli leader made a bold choice for peace, he got assassinated for it. But there will never be peace until both sides are willing to let historical injustices be just that, historical, and move forward in recognition of the current reality on the ground and with a sincere desire for their children and grandchildren to live in peace.

    The Palestinians will never succeed in wiping out every Israeli. The Israelis will never succeed in wiping out every Palestinian. Even if they wipe out Hamas, the indiscriminate killing of civilians while blaming them for being in the wrong place merely ensures they will lay the groundwork for something even more terrible to arise, and the cycle will continue. And every rocket attack on Israel from Hamas-controlled territory guarantees the continued existence of Israeli hardliners who want to wipe out the Palestinians, or at least continue to deny them basic rights.

    I don’t have answers. I’m not sure there are answers. But for now, just know that I am appalled at just about everyone in the conflict right now, and if you have any sacred cows, you should not expect me to respect them.

    And if you’ve read this far, thank you. I really appreciate it.

    So Dianne Feinstein has died.

    So Dianne Feinstein has died.

    I voted for her Democratic opponent the last time she ran (California has a top-two primary system). She accomplished a lot, but as sometimes happens with politicians, she didn’t know when to say goodbye.

    This will be her legacy. It could have been different had she not clung to power until her last breath.

    RIP.

    A month of iPhone

    As of today, it's been a month since I got my iPhone 14 Pro Max, my first iPhone since the iPhone 6 I had years ago. In the interim, I've used Windows Phone and Android, my last three phones being a Pixel 2 XL, a Pixel 3 XL, and a Pixel 5. Here are some of my observations thus far.

    First, it's great having a larger phone again. I mean, it's really great having a larger phone again. My 57-year-old eyes are grateful.

    Second, it's nice having the battery life that comes with a newer and larger phone. No more constant charging.

    Third, Apple has fixed some of the things that used to drive me nuts about iOS. I can finally set my own default apps, for one thing, which was a dealbreaker before. And the keyboard will accept swipe-style entry. FINALLY.

    I'm less thrilled that iOS still makes app icons snap to a grid automatically and you can't place them where you want. That's an Android feature I miss. Also, I'll say this and you can disagree but you will be wrong: Android handles notifications better. I'm adapting, but the iPhone just isn't as good with them. Siri isn't as good as Google Assistant, and I've given up some of the integration with Google apps that you get on a Pixel. I also prefer the organization of settings in Android to the dog's breakfast you get on iOS. If you're an iPhone user who's never used an Android device, you don't know what you're missing.

    The price was astonishing, more so since I upgraded the storage, and it cost more than my laptop. That being said, it really is my primary computer these days, so it was justifiable in my eyes.

    And finally, this thing is heavy. Not so heavy that it's really a problem, but heavy enough that it's noticeable. Stainless steel is nice, but I kind of wish it was titanium.

    Overall, though, I'm pretty happy. I switched for a couple of reasons. The first and biggest was support. Don't underestimate the value of being able to walk into an Apple Store if you have a problem. Google offers coverage, yes, but it's third-party and simply not as good. I speak here from experience.

    The second reason is that I'm now the sole surviving son of my mother, who just moved to be closer to us and who has an iPhone and an iPad. It's important that she be able to contact me if need be, and she never really understood why she couldn't use iMessage on her iPad to send a text to my Android phone. She's in her eighties, and just getting her used to the technology was huge. We need to make the rest of it as easy as possible.

    And that's about it. Can a longtime Android and Windows Phone user find long-term happiness with an iPhone? We'll find out. So far it's promising.

    A Farewell to Twitter

    I done laid around and played around this old town too long, Summer's almost gone, yes, winter's comin' on, I done laid around and played around this old town too long, And I feel like I gotta travel on...

    I know what Billy Grammer meant.

    It hasn't taken long for the new owner to embrace the worst in Twitter, and I'm not going to stick around to see what happens. It's clear who he is, and what he is, and who his friends are, and none of it looks good to me.

    I first signed on in the early days, when Twitter was tech geeks posting by sending texts to 40404. Then the general public found it, and then the celebrities and corporations piled on, and then the Nazis came, and here we are.

    Everything has a life cycle. MySpace, Friendfeed, Jaiku, ICQ, App.net, and the list goes on. We're reaching the end of Twitter's, at least the Twitter we once knew. If there's a lesson to be learned, it's that you shouldn't let your social media be ruled by any one person or corporation or private equity group. Silos are bad, and will eventually change hands or shut down.

    If you came here from the link in my Twitter profile, know that it is the last time I'll post there. My tweets auto-delete after a set period, so eventually that tweet will also disappear. I'm leaving my account in place to ensure my username can't be taken by someone else, but it will be a zombie account.

    If you came here from the autopost to Mastodon, you know where I'll be from now on. I've decided to throw in my lot with the Fediverse. I'm done with corporate social media. I should have left already, but I'm fixing that now.

    Full disclosure: I will keep a separate account that I have on Twitter to follow emergency services in my local area. It's a valuable resource for times of crisis. That account, however, does not and will not post, and I'll be reevaluating it periodically.

    We all have to decide what we want to support. I've made my choice. I'm not saying it is the only choice, nor that it's right for you, but it's right for me.

    To those who say I can just mute and block: yes, I can. My previous Twitter account had a block list running into the tens of thousands. It gets tiring after a while.

    Also, it's hard to feel smug about keeping the Nazis out of your living room when they're beating up your Jewish neighbors outside your house, and the local authorities are doing nothing to stop them. Better that you should get the hell out and try to take your neighbors with you.

    Twitter, I'll miss what you used to be and what you could have been. But enough is enough.

    See you in elephant land.

    Five reasons not to move from Twitter to Mastodon

    Now that the Twitter acquisition has been completed, I have a few thoughts on reasons why a person might not want to leave Twitter and move to Mastodon.

    1. You're a celebrity. Mastodon doesn't care. You won't get a blue check, because blue checks don't exist there. You won't get your ego constantly stroked. You're just a person, here with the rest of us plebes. Deal with it.

    2. You're on social media to advertise. You'll find that Mastodon is not the most commerce-friendly platform around. If you're there to spam people, you'll get yourself (and possibly the server you're on) blocked.

    3. You have extreme right-wing views. There are a few right-wing instances, but some don't federate with others, and a lot of other instances don't want to federate with them, because why would you want to federate with people who think you don't have a right to exist? Also, many instances are conscious of EU law since they're located there. Take that crap somewhere else.

    4. You're a tech pundit. You'll find that Mastodon attracts a higher-than-average percentage of users who are technologically literate. Lots of Linux folks here. As with non-tech celebrities, you won't get your ego constantly stroked. Most of us have moved beyond hanging on every word from people like you. You will be challenged on your bullshit.

    5. You have trouble with email. By which I mean you have difficulty with the concept of communicating with people who use a different provider than you do. As with email, on Mastodon people have accounts with different providers (“instances”) and they can talk to each other. Talking to or following someone on mastodon.social when your account is with, say, aus.social is no more difficult than sending an email from Gmail to Outlook.com. Remarkably, I've seen people complain about it. It's their call, but if that's your barrier to entry I can't help you.

    And there you have it. Five reasons you might not find happiness on Mastodon. The rest of you, however—the rest of you will be fine.

    Come on over. The water's fine. See you there.

    The pending Muskageddon

    With everyone's favorite unstable South African billionaire poised to acquire Twitter tomorrow, I'm seeing a lot of speculation about what users are going to do. Here's my two cents:

    As I've said before, I didn't join Twitter because of Elon Musk and I'm not going to leave because of him, but there are a couple of important qualifications. One, not leaving is not the same thing as being an active user, and two, whether I'm an active user will depend on what happens in the days to come.

    To my first point, I'll keep my account alive but dormant if I don't like what I see from the new management in the coming days. I don't want my username to go to anyone else, so at most it will become an empty and locked account.

    To my second point, while I don't hold out much hope, given that Musk has proven himself to be a bit fascist-adjacent, at least, there's always the possibility that the worst won't happen. It's a tiny possibility that you need an electron microscope to clearly see, but it's there. If he confounds expectations, I'll be the first to give him credit.

    But I don't think he will, and for that reason I encourage everyone to migrate to Mastodon. That's where I'll be. Links to my profile are in the footer below and in my About and Contact pages. Hope to see you there.

    Roe v. Wade, 1973-2022

    Well, it finally happened. The Supreme Court issued a decision today that overturned Roe v. Wade.

    We knew this was coming. We've had warnings for some time. There's a reason that the Senate under Mitch McConnell refused, in an unprecedented move, to allow hearings on the nomination of Merrick Garland by President Obama. This has been the goal of the (pseudo)religious Right for decades.

    We also had a warning a couple of months ago when the draft decision was leaked. And yet, no action was taken by Democratic leadership to protect a woman's bodily autonomy.

    And make no mistake, this is about controlling women's bodies, and women will die because of this decision. Most people are too young or too ill-informed to know what it was like prior to Roe v. Wade when illegal abortions were the only way for a woman to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Every woman that dies because of this decision, because she has no access to abortion, will have died because of six justices. Blood will be on their hands.

    In a separate concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas called for a reconsideration of the decisions commonly known as Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell, which protect the rights to contraception, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage.

    And once he's gone, it would not surprise me if this far-Right court also goes after Loving v. Virginia—the decision that protects interracial relationships.

    And it is a far-Right court. They are turning the clock back decades—in the last week alone, we've had decisions overturning New York's concealed weapons ban, allowing the use of public money to fund religious education, and disallowing lawsuits against police officers who fail to provide the well-known Miranda warning against self-incrimination. And all of this after they eviscerated the Voting Rights Act.

    I believe this Court to be illegitimate. The seat occupied by Neil Gorsuch is the one that was held open by McConnell's refusal to grant a hearing to Garland. Amy Coney Barrett is there because they rushed through the hearing and confirmation a month before the election (which is ironic considering that they kept Gorsuch's seat open for a year allegedly because the next President should have a chance to nominate, something you'll find nowhere in the Constitution).

    But what's done is done. One way around this would be to expand the court, something that there is precedent for in US history. But for some reason, the Democratic leadership hesitates.

    They hesitate a lot. They are a fearful bunch. They are fearful of alienating people who already don't like them and who will use any means at their disposal to defeat them. They are pathetic. If you are counting on them to save the country, you are sadly mistaken. They can't even abolish the filibuster.

    There's really no choice now. Either we expand the Supreme Court, or we subject ourselves to decades of reactionary and far-Right decisions that return us to the 1950s and before. It's already happening.

    And once they achieve their goals on a national level, mark my words—they'll go after the rights of states to legalize abortion, same-sex marriage, and so forth. The states' rights argument has always been a ruse, a mask for religious fanaticism, hatred, bigotry, and intolerance.

    When they tell you who they are, listen to them.

    If you're from outside the US, don't visit here. We can no longer guarantee your safety, something that should already have been abundantly clear.

    If you're thinking of emigrating to the US, choose somewhere else that is less insane. Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Germany—take your pick. You'll be better off in any of those places than here right now. You'll certainly be safer.

    In the meantime, if you are an American who is a member of a group that is now in danger where you live, move if you are lucky enough to have the ability to do so. Get out and go to a blue state where the odds are better. Unfortunately, most can't, so the rest of us have an obligation to protect them. Just because you're an old white straight guy like me doesn't mean you should sit back and congratulate yourself on being safe.

    Because in a country controlled by a right-wing, white nationalist authoritarian theocracy, no one is safe.

    And that's what we are rapidly becoming.

    Permanence and the Internet

    Following up on my last post, it's worth noting that the people who have content on 10C (including me) were and are all people who have a certain level of belief and confidence in the person who created the platform, and yet are attempting to ensure their content survives a possible end to it.

    That being the case, there's an interesting dichotomy between using a small independent platform such as 10C or Write.as, and the desire to make sure your content is preserved and survives. A one-man shop will never be able to guarantee the same level of permanence as the Bloggers or Wordpresses of the world.

    Or can they?

    Ultimately, nothing on the Internet is permanent. Websites and social media platforms are inherently evanescent. There's an argument to be made that no matter how large the company or how popular the platform, it can all disappear in the blink of an eye.

    MySpace. Google+. Jaiku. Posterous. The history of the Web is replete with examples of large and seemingly successful platforms that all disappeared, taking many people's content with them. Size alone is no guarantee of continuance.

    And even if you download your stuff, it can still disappear. Hard drives can crash. Cloud providers can have an outage or go out of business. Thumb drives and CDs can become corrupted. And of course, file formats can become obsolete and unreadable.

    You can try to print it all out, but then there's fire, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes...you really can't win.

    In the meantime, small creators can often provide a level of service a cut above what the big boys give you, but you do have to be comfortable with a certain level of Buddhist acceptance of the impermanence of all things.

    And in the end, you can't take any of it with you anyway.

    Om.

    Uncertainty, Part II

    Checked in this morning over at the 10Centuries site. People are starting to download their archives and in a couple of cases even manually copying over their content to a backup file. There are only a few really active users over there, all of whom have been around a long time, so this is significant.

    As for me, I've downloaded my archive, though it's in JSON format and not all that usable, but at least I can manually extract text the hard way if I have to (although I probably won't bother). Obviously anything new is going here instead.

    We all hope that Jason is OK and reappears soon, but this is an object lesson in what happens when you have a product and suddenly walk away from it without notice or explanation. People get nervous. It's understandable.

    And there are always other platforms. If you're a creator, take that to heart.