Thoughts on Twitter, Musk, and Alternatives…

I have really really tried to mostly avoid discussing Twitter and Musk and everything that has happened over the past, year and a half to two years there. I do occasionally share news in the link blog posts, but even there, I mostly just avoid it. I am pretty outspoken about my dislike of Musk and Twitter on other forums but not on my own forums.

Watching this death spiral is really entertaining though.

And it is a death spiral. It may not actually result in the death of Twitter, god knows we won’t get that lucky, but it’s just increasingly looking shittier and shittier over there. I stopped using Twitter completely the day Musk took over. I deleted a bunch of random secondary meme accounts I had after that, and I did log in a few times to pull all my Tweet archive data. I want to, someday, maybe, write a Python Script that will parse through it all and compile it into a bunch of daily digests I can dump into a WordPress blog, for posterity. I also started running some Python scripts before the API was cut off to delete all my old Tweets from the site. As far as I know, I still have my @ handles, mostly kept to prevent them from getting scooped up by spammers and bots.

I am not sure though. I blocked Twitter shortly after I started using NextDNS (Referral Link) everywhere. I can’t even check on my own accounts without a bunch of extra steps anymore. At this point, I really don’t care. I am not going back ever so long as Musk is even remotely connected to the service and I doubt he ever gives it up. I do keep watch from the sidelines. I see mentions of large businesses or politicians or news outlets moving permanently to Threads. I see people talking about how blue-checked bots are topping all the replies. I see complaints about all the crypto scams and weed gummies being advertised. I see it, and I quietly laugh to myself. Because all of this happening was clearly going to be the outcome of a big winey racist narcissist forcibly taking things over.

I’m not entirely convinced this wasn’t the intended outcome honestly. People like Musk, with their “free speech advocacy”, generally dislike actual open discussion and speech. They dislike when people can talk openly to each other and let ideas swell and become reality while smashing down stupid racist bull shit and conspiracy lies.

Fun fact, you can post a tweet with phrases like “Transwomen aren’t women” but if you post about “CIS people” you get flagged for using a slur.

Probably the first and biggest stupidity was the new pay-to-play blue check system that was implemented pretty early on. Blue Checks were originally issued as a way to verify people and companies were actually who they were. Someone at Twitter would do due diligence to make sure @McDonalds was actually run by the popular restaurant chain. This also meant not allowing blue checks for “@MacDonalds” or “”@McD0nalds” or various other typo-style fake accounts. It meant something. Early on, this was changed so Blue Checks just meant you had a paid subscription. Anyone could get a blue check. It also showed that you were supporting the racist jackass and his company, so a lot of previously verified celebrity types, refused to pay. Some were given checks anyway, which also upset these companies and people since it of course, implies support. It’s essentially a false endorsement.

As more advertisers fled the platform as it became increasingly filled with assholes and bots and scams, the Blue Check system has just been pushed more and more in a desperate attempt to make up for lost ad revenue. The irony being that even if EVERYONE signed up, it’s not where neat what advertisers were paying. The latest stupidity is that they now require new users to pay in to start posting. It’s pushed as a way to “deter bots”. Twitter doesn’t seem to understand just how cheap $8/month/account is for priority visibility for scams. One might wonder if it’s still worthwhile if so many are jumping ship, but it’s like those scam emails full of spelling errors. The scammers do this to weed out the intelligent users so only the choices of marks remain. Twitter is doing a GREAT job of weeding out the intelligence from its system leaving nothing but easy marks for these scammers.

I almost would feel bad for these people if they weren’t mostly the same people pushing all the hate-filled stupidity on the world in politics during the past decade. But that’s probably left to another discussion, if ever.

The really funny part is how this isn’t even the first time this has happened to a microblog service centered around “Free speech”. Gab, Truth, Parlor, and others I am sure I’ve forgotten are all basically complete failures after they failed to take off and get any real traction after being filled with right-wing extremists which at best just drives away any legitimate advertisers. Truth recently pushed a scam IPO as a way to grift money for Trump’s lawsuits which is failing pretty spectacularly.

Because of course it is. It was a grift to funnel money in a “legitimate” manner, and now it’s just a bunch of bag holders getting fucked over.


I have not really quite settled on a good alternative to Twitter yet. I’m not entirely sure I really NEED one. I wasn’t using Twitter a lot before the fall, though I had used it since 2006 when it was very very new. The alternatives all have their own sort of pitfalls.

Threads seems to be the most active. It’s run by Facebook and is technically a spin-off of Instagram. I kind of like Threads, because it’s full of people posting Toy photos. Basically, everything I used to like about Instagram, before it became TikTok but with ads every 3 posts, is Threads. I don’t super like that it’s a Facebook property. I also hate how the timeline feels really really algorithm-driven.

BlueSky feels the most like “old Twitter”. and I don’t mean “2021/2022 Twitter”, I mean like, “2007-2008 Twitter”. OLD old Twitter. But it’s also kind of dead as fuck. Even now that it’s open to anyone without the need for invites, it feels a bit deserted.

Mastodon is probably my favorite. People claim it’s “hard to use” but it really isn’t. The real technical hurdles on Mastodon kind of stem from servers and admins who tend to be a little… eccentric, for lack of a better thing to call them. There are admins who will ban entire other instances because ONE user on that other instance says something that is kind of maybe offensive to … somebody. Or heck, even blatantly offensive to everyone. But the whole server gets banned over one person. Which feels a bit shitty, especially since there also feels like a lot of mindset that “once banned, it’s banned forever.”

The federation also had some weirdness. Sometimes I get a new follower, so I go and check them out to see if I want to follow back, but in the app, they LOOK like they have a blank profile. But if I open their profile in a web browser, it’s complete and they have posts. So there is clearly some weird syncing issue there. I’m not familiar enough with how the federation works to know the details, but from what I have gleaned from other discussions, it’s something like that. Or maybe that server is banned for some reason.

It’s also kind of clunky to re-toot something, from that something. If I link to a Toot, and you want to re-toot it, from what I can tell, you need to cut and paste the URL and do a search to find it from your own server. Or do a weird login jaunt from the local server. And it’s all very doable, but it’s cludgy as fuck.

Anyway, I kind of post to all three, sometimes I post the same thing to all three, sometimes I kind of segment it out depending on “audience”. Not that I really have an audience. My pseudo plan is to mostly use Threads for Toy stuff, and BlueSky or Mastodon for everything else. I’m not entirely sure yet. There also aren’t really easy tools to post things like, blog posts, automatically to Threads or BlueSky. This was a factor that always felt like part of why Google Plus failed.

On Artifact App Shutting Down​

We have built something that a core group of users love, but we have concluded that the market opportunity isn’t big enough to warrant continued investment in this way.

After the whole mess with Reddit closing down it’s app for stupid reasons, I was kind fo on the search for a “new social news app”. I’ve sort of just, expanded out into using a few different apps more, also fueled by Twitter ending becoming a shithole.

One of those ended up being Artifact News. It seemed to have a few bugs, for the longest time I couldn’t upload a profile pic, for example, but it worked alright. The news feed was a little more AI-focused than I really would have liked, but it was something. For the most part, RSS has just been my defacto news source anyway.

The closing though, which I learned about in Artifact, felt a little sudden. I mean, I’m not out anything aside from a reading streak, but it’s kind of disappointing because I did like the app. I have been sort of trying to use as a replacement, but Post has this weird points system. Honestly, my irritation is more with the likely reason it is closing.

It wasn’t profitable, ENOUGH.

Heck, I don’t know the financials, maybe it was hemorrhaging money. A good model they might have gone for is charging a (reasonable) subscription, to remove ads from the articles. I don’t mind paying for news, I like the idea actually, especially if it means removing advertising cancer. I dislike paying for, 20 news sites, at $10+/month. Give me a way to bundle that for $10/month. I don’t read that much news that I need to spend a ton for unlimited whatever.

But I’m getting off track, my issue, and worry is that so many businesses are OBSESSED with endless, constant growth. This company was probably created by some investment group hoping to have 200% growth every month and it was only like, 10% growth every month, so it just, wasn’t good enough.

That shit’s annoying.

What I kind of want is basically, “Tumblr but News Articles”. A feed of news, that I can repost and comment on or like. Artifact didn’t seem to have the repost/reshare aspect, but it had likes and comments.

I’m actually considering posting a few more “commentary on news stories” style posts on the blog, as a sort of, substitute. I already have the little (sort of) daily news digest posts of interesting stories, but sometimes I like to add some context to the links. I actually put in a suggestion on the FreshRSS website that a “notes” box on articles could be useful, especially if your personal notes appear in the shared RSS feed. There is still no liking posts there though. In theory, the Indieweb could solve that issue, but I doubt there is enough demand. That said, sometimes I read a story in my RSS aggregator, and then hit the little “Star Icon” and then have this sort of sad moment of, “Oh yeah, that’s not a like, no one sees that but me.” I could comment more but it seems kind of lame to just leave a spammy-looking comment like “Great content”. WordPress has a like feature, and a follow feature, but the internet isn’t WordPress alone.

I’ll figure something out eventually.

Weekly Wrap Up (01.14.2024 to 01.20.2024)

Hey yo, not dead, just busy mostly. I forget if I mentioned it at all before, but starting right off at the beginning of the year I started doing some night classes through a work deal, so that has been eating up a lot of time. They run 3 nights a week for like 5 hours. The last one is on Tuesday though, so that will be over, until the next one I’ve signed up for at the end of February.

The class currently is a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Administrator) prep class. I am pretty sure it also includes taking the exam at least once. It’s a Zoom class with an actual instructor, none of this self-paced online class stuff, like I normally do. It’s kind of weird being in a class like this, it’s been a while since I had an actual in-person class of any kind. My training for work was kind of that, I think I had a very brief Cloud Computing one a few years ago, and other than that was in college, back 20+ years ago.

It’s interesting, I already know some of it or know the general idea of some of it. My overall Achilles heel on this sort of thing is I am very very bad at “Industry jargon”. I can tell you the dookicky connects to the whoosits and I understand the what and the why of it doing it’s thing, but when it comes to actual terminology, I tend to lose it a bit. This is on a bit of a sliding scale though for how actually relevant it is. If the jargon is relevant and meaningful, I can usually remember it, when you get off into things like, corporate inspiring double speak jargon, I completely glaze over and don’t even hear it.

The future class and a third that I am on a waitlist for because it may already be full, will be much more interesting I think. And much more in line with any sort of potential “career pivot” in the future (look at me, using jargon like a pro!). The one I’m signed up for is Pen Testing for Cybersecurity, and the one I’m on the waitlist for is prep for some cybersecurity exam.

Notice I can’t remember the names of these certs, because, for the most part, certs fall into that “out there abstract jargon” area. It’s like this weird, pay-to-win gray area between self-paced learning and an actual university-level diploma or some sort of official license. I actually have the latter two, FWIW, a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and I am (I think) a licensed Engineering Intern (I think it doesn’t expire). If I ever got a job working under a Professional Engineer, after 5 years I could take another test and become a licensed Professional Engineer.

Anyway, aside from class stuff, the most exciting recent developments has been with my car. Two things, one, for at least a year now, the heating/cooling has been out of whack. I mostly just sort of dealt with it. I tried a few things, like changing some fuses and relays, adding coolant, etc. I finally scheduled with a mechanic to get it checked, and I suspected a leak in the coolant line, which it was. But, a week ago, a week before the mechanic was scheduled, we got this horrible winter storm and the battery died died. I’m actually not sure I’ve ever changed the battery in this car, I probably have though. It’s 9 years old now, give or take, and just under 100,000 miles.

This battery thing wouldn’t have been a huge issue except that one, it’s been freezing ass cold out, which makes it hard to get outside and pull the old one out. And two, I’ve been taking the above-mentioned night classes, which eats up the daylight time I had. I think Tuesday, after work, I pulled the old battery out, Wednesday I took it over to AutoZone on my lunch break to get checked. It was dead dead as expected. The AutoZone tech, looked up the new battery, and then suggested I could “pay quite a bit less elsewhere” and suggested a few other places in town. Which was nice of him, though I don’t think he quite understood his job.

Anyway, Thursday, the day before my car appointment, I went to a local battery shop around the corner from work, the first suggested place to go. Online reviews said it was the best place in town and they sell Exide batteries for very affordable prices. Irritatingly, they were closed, they were supposed to be open, according to the signage, but the door was locked and no one was around. So I rushed over to the second option, at the farm store a bit farther away. Got the new battery, stuck it in, and sure enough, car started just fine.

Then Friday I got the heating fixed, and it’s quite nice to have heat again in my car. There was a leak in the temperature sensor housing area. Cost a couple hundred for the part and then another couple hundred for labor, but it was overall about what I had hoped to pay. The place seemed decent as well, so I’ll have to go there if possible in the future when I need a mechanic. My old mechanic is down in Pana where I used to live, and my wife’s father, who was also a mechanic and did some work on our vehicles, passed away a few years ago.

Oh, and I got a new phone at the start of the year, I don’t think I mentioned the phone yet. I went with a 2023 Motorola Edge+. I’ll post more on that later, maybe, probably.

Journaling in Public and Journaling in Private

Over the years, I’ve used a lot of different methods for writing. Pen and paper way in the past. Microsoft Word for a while, because, that’s what Word is for right? Windows Live Writer was a good one for a while, though it’s been discontinued, there is an open-source iteration called Open Live Writer. Sometimes I’ll just write right in the WordPress editor. I was writing into OneNote for a while.

These days I’m much more into controlling my data, well, I’ve kind of always been into that, but lately, it’s about formats. I am constantly trying to reorganize my files into the best format for the long term, and more recently, I compiled all my writing together into one blob in a folder called “Journal”. Well, some of it is just under “Writing”, but things like, well, this post, off-the-cuff, free flow of thought random writing about nothing, are in the Journal folder. A lot of it came from some old blog archives and WordPress exports. I wrote a little Python Script that would spit out a series of Markdown files with appropriate file names from a WordPress XML file a while back.

It’s not perfect, it converts some of the most obvious syntax changes, but others are just, left as HTML code. The spirit of the writing is there, and that’s what matters. Plus, I don’t use a ton of fancy formatting, so those leftovers are not that common. During this time I also comb through and collected and sorted all my reviews and other writings from over the years. These are the things that don’t go in “Journal”. A lot of them I reposted to in a cleaned-up format, which took a while, especially when gathering up the images again. Some stuff like my shitty lame fan-fics from the early 2000s and other little stories aren’t currently posted anywhere.

After getting it all organized, I reworked my flow around the new system. Which is probably the best one yet. Everything is sorted by year, the files have my usual, YYYY.MM.DD – Description format I use all over for file naming. I have an additional folder called WIP, for “Work In Progress” writing. Vague ideas that have not been fleshed out, sometimes they are just empty files with a description to remind myself “I wanted to write about that.”

Step one is to come into this WIP folder, and create a new Markdown file with a name, sometimes a date, or a vague date like YYYY.MM.

Markdown is the format of choice here. It allows for some formatting, which makes it more useful than a text file. But it also it’s just raw data, like a text file. No proprietary formatting, no funny characters, no extra hidden returns and paragraphs and line breaks or code. The most formatting I do is bolding headings and italicizing titles when appropriate.

Once written, I can easily copy and paste it into WordPress and throw in a few images if needed.

I also have started using Joplin for notes, and more secure private writing. It’s something I started last year, I think. Joplin is just a note-taking app that uses Markdown as its base. I keep a lot of what I used to use One Note for, though I still also use One Note. It’s nice because it syncs through One Drive, so I can access it across devices, but it’s all encrypted. Joplin contains ideas, lists, and journals made on the go, or sometimes just, on the toilet, where a phone is more handy.

The lists are pretty basic. I have lists of log-ins for various games, especially games where I have more than one account. There are lists of media to look into, sorted by type, music, books, movies, tv shows, video games, etc.

The journal part is just like any other journaling, but a bit more… we’ll say personal. Dumb dream notes, venting of frustrations, and some WIP blogs here and there. I keep anything I don’t really care about anyone else ever reading in the Journal folder, I keep things I might care about people reading in Joplin. Occasionally I clean out some of the regular Journal writing into my folder system, just to keep the Joplin list cleaner.

The real key to all of this is two things. It’s all in a simple clear format, Markdown. It’s also all backed up, in this case, through the NAS, through One Drive. Since it’s all small text files now, it also means I don’t care about just syncing this One Drive folder to everything. I converted quite a few .doc files and the space savings were pretty substantial, especially since it’s all just basic text that doesn’t need everything that Word has. The backup is the most important part though.

2023 Daylio and A Year of Moods

I mentioned my huge 5-year streak on Duolingo, but it’s not the biggest streak I have going in an app. The other app I use daily has it beat by an entire year, at 2190 Days, or 6 years. That app is the mood-tracking app Daylio. I may have actually gotten a code from the developer for this app off of Reddit when it first launched, I don’t remember. I know I heard about it on Reddit when someone posted about developing it. It’s changed over the years, but not as annoyingly as Duolingo has.

Side note: I went looking into when this app launched, and while I didn’t find it (I didn’t look super hard), it seems it has gotten a bit pricey with a subscription or a $60+ “Lifetime membership”. I like the app, but that seems like a bit much. However, it is part of the Google Play Subscription thing, which is much more affordable and pretty nice, I’ll probably blog about it at some point. I have a paid lifetime (for maybe $5) on my old Google account but I recently got a new phone and I’m trying to shift everything to my other Google Account and I’m not sure I would rebuy this at $60. Especially since everything is local, it’s not server-based as far as I can tell, I think it uses your own Google Drive as the backend and I had to export/import to transfer my data.


Year in review. I like this app, though I admit, I’m not sure what the data is really telling me or what to really do with the data. I’ve been trying to use some of the newer features like photos and actual notes. With my previously mentioned new phone, I am trying the whole “Selfie every day” thing, though I don’t post them anywhere. This app may be a good place, along with maybe a quick bullet list of what I accomplished for the day.

I also have a whole slew of sorted custom activities and moods going in this app.

Generally speaking, my moods were mostly “Meh” to “Ok”. I try to keep things fairly honest, I think I’ve had maybe like, 2 of the absolutely terrible days since I started using the app, and probably fewer than 5 “Perfect Days”. I can say that my “Perfect Days” are almost always, exclusively, days when I went to concerts. On this chart here, on August 13th I went to see Alanis Morrissette, and on September 23rd, I saw Lauren Mayberry. Both the two max level mood days.

Basically, if I’m having a normal “good day” I pick 4/5, usually with “Mostly Ok”, other days, more often, I pick 3/5, with “Meh”. Maybe “meh” is bad I suppose, because it’s basically indifference. “Meh” feels like the most common, and this year it is, but “Mostly OK” is surprisingly up there. Most of the 2/5 days are “kind of shitty days” with a custom mood of “Meh but worse”. 2/5 also has a custom mood for “sick” when is usually used when I’m not feeling well. There are a lot of other custom moods I’ve set up, but these are the most common ones used.

For activities, I definitely use “Family” the most, but this is basically just, “Was I at home, and interacted with my family at all.” Which is basically every day, but sometimes not because someone went out of town. I also put “Gaming” pretty frequently, because it’s a bit of a catch-all. If I just check my dailies in Sky, I’ll put “gaming”. I have other more specific additions for games I play, or in some cases, used to play, more frequently. In contrast to this, I have one for “Learn Language” but if I make minimal effort in Duolingo, I don’t enter this. This is for “Extra effort” days.

Another frequently used entry is “Computer Stuff”, which is a catch-all, usually if I use the computer at all, but often if it’s kind of aimless like sorting files or something. The other, related, is “coding” which is any time I do any sort of programming. Another common one is “shopping” which can be anything from “I went to Target at lunch to look for toys” to “I went shopping for Groceries after work”. I don’t count online shopping though.

A pair I often use, especially on weekends or vacations are “Lazy” and “Relax”. These are mostly the same thing, but the difference is essentially, how well I feel about doing it. Relax usually means more “I did some productive things, but also things I enjoy,” and Lazy means “I did some things, but feel like I kind of wasted the day”. Lazy is more likely to be accompanied by a lower mood score.

I have a lot of others, but I often forget to enter them, which I should try to get better about. There are also some residual ones in there from when I was trying to track habits better. For a while, I would do a morning entry and an evening entry, and the morning entry including habits like remembering to take my morning medication and vitamins. Partly this was to help push the habit since I hadn’t had any regular meds at the time. PS, it’s nothing super critical, an allergy pill, and an omeprazole for acid reflux.

I also tend to miss adding activities I do later at night or more often before bed. These are things like reading, sometimes watching movies, etc. The reminder goes off at 8PM, and I’m more likely to do some of these missed activities later than that.

While my “Mood stability” here seems pretty good, I will say that it’s down from the previous year. I won’t lie, I can tell. The main issue I can kind of see rising out of this sort of tracking is that over time, as the indifference rises, the scores will converge on “Meh.” This kind of touches on what I mentioned before about maybe “meh” is worse. The good days are less, but also the bad days are less, because more days are simply “nothing days”.

I guess I am using this data a bit after all.