Excuuuuse me, Princess

  • January 15, 2023

Polygon has a wonderful (and relatively short) oral history of the short-lived Legend of Zelda cartoon that was embedded inside of the The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!

There were elements of the games, like sound effects and visuals, but the show mostly has Zelda and Link posted up in Hyrule castle defending the Triforce of Wisdom from Ganon while trying to acquire the Triforce of Power from the evil wizard himself. (The Triforces talk, by the way.)

Naturally, they address the origin of the famous Link catch phrase…from a character that famously never speaks.

Robby London came up with the idea of the line, “Excuuuuse me, Princess,” which is inspired by the Moonlighting relationship and a snarky line from a Steve Martin routine.

I also love this little bit from Eve Forward:

I’ve no idea what the reception to the show was. This was in the days before internet; you couldn’t just log in and see your work torn apart in real time. My own feeling is that the Super Mario Bros. show wasn’t very good, especially the live-action bits, and that Zelda was the best part of it[…]

She nailed it. I love the Super Mario Bros. Super Show for the nostalgia, but I never loved the show. What I loved was when, seemingly randomly, I would catch one with an embedded Zelda episode.


Twitter Says That Stolen Data From Them Isn’t From Them

  • January 12, 2023

If you have given up on following news about Twitter, I don’t blame you, but there as been a batch of ~400 million user records being sold online and marketed as coming from breaching Twitter’s systems.

Today Twitter is saying that there was “no evidence” of that data coming from Twitter’s systems.

After a comprehensive investigation, our Incident Response and Privacy and Data Protection teams concluded that:

  • 5.4 million user accounts reported in November were found to be the same as those exposed in August 2022.
  • 400 million instances of user data in the second alleged breach could not be correlated with the previously reported incident, nor with any new incident.
  • 200 million dataset could not be correlated with the previously reported incident or any data originating from an exploitation of Twitter systems.
  • Both datasets were the same, though the second one had the duplicated entries removed.
  • None of the datasets analyzed contained passwords or information that could lead to passwords being compromised.

Therefore, based on information and intel analyzed to investigate the issue, there is no evidence that the data being sold online was obtained by exploiting a vulnerability of Twitter systems.

There are two problems with this kind of statement:

  1. “No evidence” doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
  2. How can anyone reasonably trust Twitter with this evaluation?

Whether you like Elon Musk or not, he’s all over the place, going down rabbit holes of conspiracy theories, and has gutted Twitter of talent, either directly or indirectly, especially in areas such as security. Even the rapidly shrinking group of people who still think Elon is a genius would have to take a deep breath and a LONG pause before believing a report like this because of the repetitional damage he has caused to Twitter and his own brand.

Trust matters a lot with these kinds of reports, and Twitter has none.


Shopify Cancels All Recurring Meetings with Over Two People

  • January 9, 2023

If you were wondering what the latest thing that a CEO thought up in his shower the size of a studio apartment that has one of those terrible “rain” shower heads and is now shoving it down his employee’s throats is…

As employees return from holiday break, the Canadian e-commerce firm said it’s conducting a “calendar purge,” removing all recurring meetings with more than two people “in perpetuity,” while reupping a rule that no meetings at all can be held on Wednesdays. Big meetings of more than 50 people will get shoehorned into a six-hour window on Thursdays, with a limit of one a week. The company’s leaders will also encourage workers to decline other meetings, and remove themselves from large internal chat groups.

I won’t pretend that I like meetings, and I do make sure that my team doesn’t fall in to the trap of meeting bloat. Big meetings, outside of “All Hands” announcement-type meetings, are usually a recipe for a long meeting where nothing gets done…but to mass remove all meetings with more than 2 people?! That sounds incredibly stupid. Yes, there are lots of meetings that shouldn’t exist at all, but I can easily think of a number of small and extremely important meetings that included, for example, one person from the key groups/departments that was 5-7 people.

Mass deleting meetings because of executive “thought leadership” will certainly cause your team to spend more time cleaning up the mess you made than you could possibly save with these rules.

Oh, look! That’s exactly what happened the last time this happened at Shopify!:

Former Shopify dev. For what it’s worth, this isn’t the first time they’ve purged all recurring group meetings. It happened several years ago as well. Surprised the article doesn’t make mention of that; maybe their source hasn’t been at the company long enough to know.

I won’t comment on the merits of this at large, but it was annoying for me at the time because I had several recurring calls with external partners, which were all summarily axed. The bot didn’t discriminate between meetings with 3+ Shopify employees, or 1 Shopify employee and 2+ external contacts. Hopefully they fixed that this time, because it was embarrassing having to explain to partners why all of our recurring meetings had gotten deleted.

As always, there’s a happy medium here. Maybe a bot that flags larger meetings to the department head to talk to the employees and ensure the meeting is optimized?


What’s New in Shortcuts - Issue 55

  • January 1, 2023

Thank you to Matthew Cassinelli for giving my Post to Mastodon shortcut a nod in the New Year’s Eve edition of his “What’s New in Shortcuts” newsletter.

If you’re interested in Shortcuts or macOS/iPadOS/iOS automation, this is a newsletter worth checking out.


My Top 5 Gadgets of 2022

  • January 1, 2023

In the last hours of 2022, I wanted to take a quick moment and celebrate the gadgets that had the most impact on me this year. Steam Deck The Steam Deck is PC gaming rig that you can take anywhere. If there’s a better device for 40 year old fathers who like to play some games, I can’t imagine what it would be.

Read More

How to Befriend Crows

  • December 28, 2022

Befriending crows is a wonderful thing.

I have many crow friends at home and at work. They bring joy at unexpected moments and can rescue a miserable day even without shaking down the dust of snow that Robert Frost described.

This thread is an updated version of one I posted at the bird site in July 2019.

I am extremely tempted to do this with my neighborhood crows, but I’m not entirely certain how my wife will feel about me bringing crows to the house all the time.

(By “not entirely certain” I mean, that I’m 100% certain that she won’t like it. I think that’s why they call it a murder of crows.)


Post to Mastodon v2.2 - Bug Fixes and Setup Questions

  • December 26, 2022

Another update regarding my Post to Mastodon Apple Shortcut automation, which is now at version 2.2!

Specifically, I’ve learned two things about Apple Shortcuts today:

  1. Their logic for input type sucks and is very buggy.
  2. You can set setup questions so people don’t have to edit the shortcut after they download it!

Both of these issues are now fixed in the latest version of the shortcut, which you can download directly right here.

The original post explaining the shortcut has been updated as well, and can be found here.


Post to Mastodon v2 Shortcut - Image Support

  • December 24, 2022

Yesterday I released an Apple Shortcut (macOS, iOS, and iPadOS) that will allow you to quickly post to your Mastodon instance. As you might imagine, it received a little traction on Mastodon including the following feedback:

A feature request already? Over the holidays?! I don’t have time to figure out…it’s done!

I present to you: Post to Mastodon Shortcut v2 - Now with Image Support

Note that is just supports a single image, with an optional message, or text alone as of today. I didn’t want to make it too easy to blast our Mastodon hosts with lots of high res images from Photos!

You will also need to do the same configuration as before:

Once you install the Shortcut you will need to edit it to add two things:

  1. The domain of your Mastodon server.
  2. The access token for the app you will need to setup in your Mastodon preferences

You can find the full instructions on the previous post, linked above.

Enjoy the shortcut and Merry Christmas!


Posting to Mastodon via Shortcuts

  • December 23, 2022

The best thing to come out of Elon Musk’s Twitter purchase (and then backing out of the purchase, and then purchase, and then massive layoffs, and allowing crazies back on Twitter, and whatever happened today) is that Mastodon has been so much fun! One extremely minor annoyance has been the lack of good Mastodon clients, and while TapBots is hard at work on that right now, it makes posting on Mastodon a little bit harder than it was on Twitter.

Read More

Mike Masnick: Why Would Anyone Use Another Centralized Social Media Service After This?

  • December 22, 2022

If you haven’t been reading Tech Dirt, and specifically Mike Masnick’s post tracking the Twitter saga and what it shows about social media and content moderation in general, you have been missing out on some fantastic and thought provoking writing.

Recently, Masnick is coming to the same conclusion that I am: I think federated social media (Mastodon, etc) might actually stick with the general public and if it does that would make things a lot better for everyone.

Masnick writes…

For years, whenever people talked to me about the protocols, not platforms approach to things, and asked about ActivityPub, I frequently downplayed it and brushed it off as less serious. My vision wasn’t about federation (where you basically have a large number of “mini” centralized players who can all talk to each other), but something that was truly decentralized, where you controlled your own data, and could choose who can connect to it.

However, with millions of new active users rushing into Mastodon, I’m forced to reevaluate that. I think I may have become too focused on what I saw of as the limits of a federated setup (putting yourself into someone else’s fiefdom), without recognizing that if it started to take off (as it has), it would become easier and easier for people to set up their own instances, allowing those who are concerned about setting up in someone else’s garden the freedom to set up their own plot of land.

Mastodon has been a lot of fun and it’s clear that despite a lot of the technology crowd hot taking that the average person won’t understand federation, it’s growing like crazy. I never bought in to the take that people can’t understand federation. Why? Because it’s how email works. When I was explaining Mastodon to my wife not long ago said:

“It’s like email. You can sign up for Hotmail, I can sign up for Yahoo mail, and we can both talk. If Hotmail dies, you can go sign up for a Gmail account and after a brief bit of annoyance moving things over you’re all set.”

“Ah. Ok.”

That was it.

And then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was likely bigger players would enter the market as well. I’ve started wondering about when Mastodon/ActivityPub might have its “Gmail moment.” Some people may not remember, but Google entering the webmail space on on April 1, 2004 completely upended the concept of email. It was so different and so much more useful, that many people legitimately thought it was a classic April Fool’s joke. Prior to that, you either had clunky email from your ISP or you used a slow and complicated webmail provider that would charge you if you used more than 10Mb of storage. And then Gmail showed up with a clean interface, that focused on tags (rather than folders) and drag and drop and (gasp) 1 gig of storage. And the entire email space changed overnight.

Yes, I think it’s a given at this point that if this growth continues someone will come long and be the Gmail for Mastodon. It’s natural, but as long as the federated protocol remains, the choice and the freedom (both in “speech” for the creators and the hosts) stays intact. I’m also very excited to see what other apps and platforms adopt the Activity Pub protocol.

Long link post short: Mastodon has been a lot of fun. You should check it out, if you haven’t already, and you should come say hi: @[email protected]


Tesla Stock Suffers Worst Week Since 2020

  • December 16, 2022

Tesla Inc. shares Friday wrapped up their worst week since 2020, as Chief Executive Elon Musk sold billions in stock and faced a call from a prominent investor to step down from the helm of the electric-vehicle maker.

The recent sales have seemed tied to Musk’s acquisition of the social-media platform Twitter, which he bought for roughly $44 billion this year. It is the second time he has sold stock since closing that deal in October.

@specificmikeflynn #stitch with @klwtts …maybe you need to click all four buttons at once? #elonmusk #twitter #tesla ♬ Aesthetic - Tollan Kim

The Elon Twitter Train Wreck Continues

  • December 16, 2022

No one can keep up with the train wreck that is Twitter, and frankly I don’t want to. I did want to briefly comment on this item though:

Twitter suspended the accounts of more than half a dozen journalists from CNN, the New York Times, The Washington Post and other outlets Thursday evening, as company owner Elon Musk accused the reporters of posting “basically assassination coordinates” for him and his family.

The Post has seen no evidence that any of the reporters did so.

There’s more coverage of this from basically anywhere you can possibly think of, but I think it’s important to remember the first rule of Elon Musk:

Don’t take anything he says seriously.

He doesn’t actually care about free speech. He doesn’t care about bots (remember when we used to talk about bots on Twitter?). He doesn’t have the solution to full autonomous driving. He doesn’t want to dig tunnels under Los Angeles. He doesn’t want to build a competitor to The Onion.

He didn’t event want to buy Twitter.

He bought Twitter when he was forced to (laws are such a drag), and now it’s his. Things don’t seem to be going well, so when people start talking about how he wasn’t paying his bills, he kicked off a bunch of journalists so now no one is talking about how he’s late with the rent.

He bought it, and he can ruin it if he wants to. Don’t fall for his static generator. Come join me on Mastodon!