Author: Carl

It’s a lot to put on a cabin

Work has always been frantic. The pandemic kicked everything into hyper speed. I spent all of 2020 keeping my head above water. Tracking Zoom changes as it grew and changed by the second. Webex plodded along but even they kicked things into gear eventually.

It was a frantic year. Trying to manager web conferencing platform integrations and starting a brand new job all at once. I came out of that year exhausted.

2021 wasn’t much better. The priorities changed. We had sunk into a new march forward. Ever forward. But it felt familiar. There were moments of hope. Like sunlight kissing a branch during golden hour before plunging once against into darkness until the new morning.

That’s a dark stage set for how my brain has been working. It’s full. My RAM is full and I’m having to use swap space. It’s slowing everything down.

Keep it all in memory

I don't really know how to describe this so it makes sense. But here goes…

I look at problems holistically. I look at the problem and not only the way forward. But as many ways forward as I can see that aren’t immediate dead ends. I look at those branching choices and look for threats and road blocks and wolves along my forest path.

I try to think not only of the next problem and how to solve it but the next problem and solution pairing after that. I don’t want to walk into a peaceful mountain pass instead of climbing over if there’s an army waiting for me in the pass. I’d rather pick the harder route at first than deal with an insurmountable problem around the next turn.

Because this is how my brain works, taking on a big project is like loading all of this up into my head. I’m looking at the problem and all the ways it can go wrong and trying to find the best path toward.

There will never be a perfect path. But one that doesn’t lead to immediate failure or insurmountable problems because we leapt before we looked.

This is fine when I’m able to focus on the problem at hand and map out a way forward and what other decisions need to be made. What other people I need to consult and what decisions we need to make now, or at least consider, before racing forward.

But this is not how the world works. Nor is it how work is done. Work is an ever-increasing set of context shifts and priority sliding. Walking the well-lit path becomes shifting sands of uncertainty when there’s a sudden detour thrown in the way.

When instead of working the plan I’ve made, it’s time to put that away and run in a new, unmapped direction. It’s exhausting. I can’t just turn off my brain and run into the unknown hoping for the best.

Before I move forward, I need a path. I’m going to pick the best path but I still want answers for what we find up ahead. During the day, I’m very happy to live in my project and work on the many, many many moving parts and looking ahead at decision points and who needs to be involved.

But that’s rarely how my days go.

Many days it’s Big Project work.
Then fire fighting.
Back to Big Proj—- FIRE!
Meeting.
Meeting.
Reviewing notes from the meetings.
Surprise Meeting!
Email.
Instant Messages AHOY!
invent time travel because it can’t possibly be only 11:30am

At the end of the work day, it’s hard to clear the cache I’ve loaded into my head. I find it challenging to turn my thoughts to other things. To let go of the problems I’ve loaded up and been thinking through.

Relaxing is hard.

Unwinding is hard.

Even when I do eat properly and take breaks away from my desk, by the end of the day I feel exhausted. I don’t know how to be a person outside of work. All I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep for a month.

I know I am burned out. The Pandemic is about to start its junior year. I know I powered through all of 2020 and most of 2021 and I am rightly paying for that now. I know why I feel the way I do. I don’t know how to, not even fix it, because this isn’t fixable with a long weekend. But how do I start to mend? How do I nurse my sore legs and aching feet when I’m still running on the treadmill? How do I find space for self-care? If I’m too exhausted to think about how to take care of myself… how do I start to find ways to feel better?

I fantasize about going to a cabin in the woods with a pile of books for a month. Then emerging as some sort of human being. My wife’s response when I said that stays with me: “that’s a lot of pressure to put on a cabin.”

Twitter Rules of Engagement

Yesterday, I wrote about How I Use Twitter. In writing how I use it, I started thinking about how I don’t use it. Social media encourages you to engage on its terms. I don’t believe in that. So here’s how I engage with Twitter.

I’ve been on Twitter a long time. I created my account on since Nov 15, 2006. This leads into my most important rule for Twitter.

Delete old tweets

I use Forget to automatically delete anything older than my last 100 or so tweets. No one should have 15 years of their own immaturity online. There’s no value in having anything that popped into my head or any reply I’ve made to someone over the last decade and a half online.

I could not agree more with this sentiment.

It’s important to remember, selfishly, it’s my twitter. With some ground rules and discipline to go with, I’m reckoning I can use it in a way that feels less frazzling, and more nourishing. – jasraj

I use Twitter how I want to use it and one of the reasons I’ve stayed as long as I have is because I can use it in through third party apps and Tweetdeck. If I had to use the official client or twitter.com, I would have left years ago after one set of annoyances or another.

How I don’t use Twitter

Don’t use Twitter.com or the Official Twitter Client™
I don’t want Twitter deciding what order I should see tweets or who I should see them from. I’ve already done the work to curate my lists and who I follow. I don’t need a computer guessing at what I would like. I’ve always used Tweetdeck on the computer because Twitter never felt the need to mess with it. On the phone/tablet I use third party apps. On Android I use Flamingo, which due to Twitter’s stupid practices is no longer available to download. I previously used Talon though haven’t in some years so can’t vouch for its current state.

Don’t recommend me anything. Ever.
I am not interested in recommendations. Whether it be people to follow or Lists I may enjoy. I ignore all of them. The metrics they’re using to offer things to me are poorly tuned and will often include topics or people I not only have no interest in, but are actively opposed to. I am here to curate my Twitter experience for me.

Turn off Retweets
I’m sure you have good things to share, but when I scroll my feed and it’s full of things other people I’m not following have said, it defeats the purpose for me. If you add a comment, then I see that along with your retweet. But if you press the button, I don’t see it.

I mute people/apps/hashtags
I mute what annoys me. Wordle has escaped the mute because they’re pleasant and not overwhelming. But through the years when popular “tweet this” buttons were in popular games, those were quickly muted. The same goes for conference attendees or large (usually tech) events. I mute the hashtag because I prefer to get my news through sentences, not tweets. If there’s an option to mute something for a set time (a day, week, month) I will do that versus obliterating it from my life forever. But if it’s all or nothing, then I vote nothing.

When I follow, it’s on a trial basis
I test follow a lot of people. I try them out for a bit. But many times I don’t stay. They’re too noisy and take over my entire feed. Or I followed them for one thing and it turns out it was an outlier from what they normally talk about. Sometimes their whole timeline is retweets so I don’t see anything from them for weeks and wonder why I followed them at all.

I don’t follow back
I owe you nothing. You owe me nothing. If you’re interesting I’ll follow you. If not, then I won’t. More often, I will check my new followers for two things. Are they a bot? Do they have a blog? If you have a blog, I’ll check it out and if it’s interesting, I’ll add it to my RSS readers. I like following people’s longer form thoughts far more than their 280 character hot takes.

Bots get blocked & reported
That’s the other thing I check for. If the account looks suspicious. I look at their follower/following numbers. I see what they post, if anything. And if they look like a bot, I block and report.

Lists are vital
I use Twitter mainly through lists. As a fan of Destiny 2 and the Washington Capitals, I prefer to see all of my news about them in one place. Not mixed with everyone else I follow. It’s also a great way to keep up with your A-List Can’t Miss people on Twitter. It’s easy to get lost in the torrent.

These are my rules for engaging with Twitter and keeping it enjoyable for me. How do you use Twitter? Do you use Twitter? What are your rules of engagement for social media to keep it on your terms?

How I Use Twitter

Over on a Micro.blog I saw jasraj talk about How I’m planning to use twitter (this time around).

– I’ll be linking my Twitter and micro blog accounts
– Once a week, I’ll login and gently respond / interact
How do you currently use Twitter?

jasraj on his blog

Back in 2014 I wrote about my love for muting on Twitter. Talking about how to use something is interesting because social media encourages you to engage with it in a certain way. But it’s up to you if you choose to play by its rules.

I used Twitter mostly as a fancy RSS reader. I’ve long used Tweetdeck on the computer. Twitter forgot about it for the better part of its life after that bought it. This was perfect for my use since they never brought any of the algorithmic timeline nonsense or test features to it.

Tweetdeck.twitter.com has stayed largely unchanged in the past… decade? And I like it that way. It has remained a reliable place of information gathering and limited sharing that I want it to be.

As of this post, I’ve been on Twitter for 15 years, 3 months, 9 days
(since 15 Nov 2006).

My use pattern has changed a ton since I joined in the dark ages of the platform when you could still text 40404 to tweet. This is how I use the service today.

How I Use Twitter

I use lists. Twitter’s lists are mainly how I use the service and have it suit my needs. This is where Tweetdeck excels. I love it’s multi-column view that I can customize for my needs. Lists are wonderful because you can create public lists that others can follow. Or private lists just for yourself.

When creating public lists, those you add get notified. I’m not sure if that’s the case for private lists. So be mindful if you add your secret crush to a list. It might tip them off.

Tweetdeck, blurred

As it stands today I have columns for:

  • Vital List
  • Home
  • Notifications
  • Destiny List
  • Caps List
  • Notifications – Podcast account

Vital List is my list of people I can’t miss. They have their retweets turned on. They’re people I know in real life and a hand full of people who I really enjoy. There are 17 accounts on this list.

Home is the home timeline. Sorted by time because I use Tweetdeck on computers and Flamingo on Android. Both of which allow for tweets to be shown in the order they were tweeted. I follow 62 people.

There is some overlap between followed and people on the Vital list. Some are on the list but not followed. Some are on both. When I last checked, you can’t turn off retweets for people you put on lists but don’t follow.

Notifications are what they sound like. I like to know about replies or the rare retweet of something I’ve posted. It’s nice to know there’s some people in the void.

Destiny List is people who play the game Destiny 2 which I have a podcast about and is nearly all I play (besides Stardew Valley). This like is primarily Bungies Community Managers, Destiny content creators, other Destiny podcasters I know or other Guardians who play and tweet. This is mainly where I get my Destiny news and consists of 77 accounts.

Caps List is my Washington Capitals news. There are 5 people on this list, including the excellent blog RMNB | Russian Machine Never Breaks. You’d be so lucky to have a fan-run news site about your favorite hockey team.

Notifications for @2titans_hunter are notifications for the podcast account. I share information there about the game and our show and it’s nice to see who follows us or leaves a comment or question to talk about on the show.

I have a few other lists that I refer too more rarely and aren’t immediately visible on the computer or phone app.

I keep a list of official Bungie accounts as I find them. They’re the developers of Destiny 2 (and originally Halo). I keep a DC Metro News list for all of the accounts and people who cover the ongoing mess that DC’s Metro system usually finds itself in.

When I commuted to work in DC, this was a must-have to know if the trains were running and how late I might be to work or getting home. The collection of tweets from other riders was a far more reliable source of information than anything the official system announced, even over their own Twitter account.

I have a list of local accounts for my county. This is my list I use when I’m trying to answer the question “what were all those sirens I just heard go by?” or “why are there suddenly a lot of helicopters in the air?” Being a suburb of Washington DC, you never know what random thing may be occurring.

In writing how I used Twitter, I thought about how I didn’t use Twitter and how I engage with it on my own terms. Tomorrow, I’ll post my rules for engaging with Twitter. How do you use Twitter, or your social medium of choice? What rules do you have in place to keep it enjoyable?

Zoom tips to stay in control

Zoom has become the operating system for life in the last two years. It’s how we worked and visited and saw other humans. It’s how children learned and government worked. It’s where happy hours met and families visited.

I spent a lot of time on Zoom everyday for work. We don’t call, we Zoom. If it needs more than text, we Zoom. If there’s any chance we’ll need to share a screen to troubleshoot or discuss a new feature, we Zoom. Even if we’re just using the audio, we Zoom.

Zoom has become our main channel for communication. It’s computer audio is rock solid, it works on every platform (somewhere Webex stumbles for our Linux users). It’s reliable and it’s ready to roll.

I was thinking about some tips I have for using Zoom. They’re not the typical questions you see everyone online covering. How do I sound better? Get yourself a good headset and use it. How do I look better on camera? Lighting and camera positioning.

I have two tips I’ve not seen mentioned elsewhere that I have used since I became a Zoom native.

First, don’t let Zoom open until you’re ready. I’ve clicked your link. I’m ready to join. I make sure Zoom waits for permission to open.

Zoom asking permission to open

I do this because I want control over when Zoom opens and I am available to others. I also want to have control over Zoom opening in the application or in the browser window. Sometimes I need to have multiple sessions open at once. Most of the time I want to connect to Zoom as an intentional act.

Second, Zoom doesn’t get my audio until I’m absolutely ready.

Zoom asking for audio.

I have never allowed Zoom to automatically connect to audio. Once I open Zoom and it’s connecting me, I take the extra step to join the audio. This allows me to prepare myself and run through my mental checklist.

Headset on. ✓

Am I muted? ✓

Is my video off? ✓

I don’t like surprises and I want to be in control instead of hoping the software does the right thing. These are two things I’ve done to allow me to stay in control of my Zoom life for the past two years.

MoviePass wants you to watch ads for movie credits

“I love product placement in movies,” Spikes said. “I love the cars, I love the watches, I love the clothes. I’m that person that sometimes has a notepad and I’m writing down, is that Hugo Boss?”

Stacy SPikes

From MoviePass is back — and it wants to track your eyeballs

Sir, we have a very different appreciation of movies.

The only time I notice a product in a movie is when it disrupts the film. When computer hardware is obviously Apple but they remove the branding. Or when the UI on what a screen is hilariously unlike any real UI ever shipped with a product.

You can watch ads to earn credits for movies. And they’ll track your eyes to make sure you’re watching.

Using a feature called “pre-show,” MoviePass customers will get credits in exchange for watching ads on their phones. To make sure they’re actually watching, the app will track users’ eyeballs, Spikes said.  

But don’t worry about that data. They wouldn’t possibly ever use it for anything to make money.

“Your phone, your device uses your own facial detection,” Spikes added. “It doesn’t go to the cloud, nobody goes through anything other than you and your information in yours. And you opt in to do it on your own.”

“And you opt in to do it on your own.”

And the moment you do, we’ll sell it to the highest bidder, the lowest bidder and every bidder in between. It’s nice to see MoviePass come back in its final form, as the worst version of itself. I’m shocked the credits you earn aren’t cryptocurrency on a blockchain somewhere.

Moviepass first hinted at its plans for … testing a “new proposed business model with a sample group of 1,000 customers… The filings did not provide details of the new business model…

It’s absolutely going to be a crypto currency plan with NFTs of your favorite movie stars, posters, trinkets from the films. Anything and everything because hyperlinks are free!