Awesome Computers

DuckDuckGo on a Billboard!

DuckDuckGo in the LOCAL AREA CODE!


As the tech giants attempt to consolidate control of everything from logins, services and the way we communicate, small pockets of resistance have emerged. Tools like WordPress, Jekyll and other blogging platforms have long been the mainstay of online publishing. Allowing the common man to get a presence online. Now the task before us is to expand this pocket of freedom. Enter: IndieWeb.

IndieWeb is a series of tools and concepts designed to allow for the creative expansion, promotion and even the authentication of user content. These components allow you to build an ever growing spider’s web of content that all links together. This web provides ways for other users to see what you’ve posted, follow you in different locations and generally “authenticate” your work by providing links to and from it back to other content you control.

IndieWeb Authentication

Another method of controlling your stuff is signing in through your own identity provider. IDP is not a new concept. Services and protocols like OpenID, Kerberos, Shibboleth, LDAP, and Oauth have been around for a while. Many of these tools are either defunct, hard to setup and maintain, or are not really suited for web-based Single Sign On (sso). Enter IndieAuth.

IndieAuth allows for you to setup your own Oauth (kind of) setup that authenticates you against your own domain. For instance, if you use the WordPress IndieAuth plugin, you can use the built-in login tools in WordPress to log into other sites. You’ve probably already seen this in action with “Login with Google/Facebook/Github/Twitter/Microsoft/iCloud/etc”. The concept is the same, but now you control it.


In part, all of this functionality works by implementing Microformats. These bits of information, invisibly embedded in the HTML of your site, provide extra information to other tools. Some of these tools will parse out your contact information, if provided. Others will parse out article information on your blog, or parse out connections to where the content has been posted elsewhere, like on LinkedIn or whatnot.

Like IndieAuth, Microformats are from days past. While they’ve evolved into a much more rich framework of properties, I was implementing them in the early 2000’s on Florida Coastal School of Law’s website.

Why I Don’t Use It

Excuse me? I’ve just gone on, gushing about how good the IndieWeb is and how we’re taking back the power from the man. What gives?

Simply put: I don’t need it. Most of my posts on social media are just short thoughts that don’t deserve blog level exposition. I don’t access any services that allow for IndieAuth logins, and honestly tearing apart twentytwenty to implement proper Microformats is enough to make me want to do actual productive work on something else.

I personally endorse the IndieWeb. It needs more people, more eyeballs and more implementations to succeed. The tools it has are well done, but could use some polish. Microformats, Semantic Linkbacks and other features are awesome and, if you’re up to it, not hard to simply add to your site (YMMV). If I were setting up a static site with one of those newfangled generators, I’d totally implement as much as I could. It’s easy. The problem for me is that I’m lazy, old and too pragmatic to break something that isn’t broken.


PnP Games Madness

I’ve been on a kick lately. Printing and playing games, designed by random people on the Internet with just PDF resources and what I have on hand. These games are lower budget than your boxed systems, have less fancy mechanics (generally) and usually aren’t multi-player.

That is often okay for me. I have a really high tollerance to game fatigue, which many of the people I live and visit with do not. Often it’s enough to crack open one semi-complicated game, or two less complicated ones and have a short evening of fun for them. For me, I could play for hours and with some of my friends in town, I often do.

One of the print and play games I like is this social/economics board called “Austerity”

This style of games suits me nicely, because I can pick up a game, start playing it. “Pause” it while I do something else, and come back to it without having missed a beat. No turns to figure out and watch other people play through. Just me, some dice, maybe some meeple, a pen and some time.

Saving on Games Prints

Recently I decided that I wasn’t going to foot the bill for all the ink and paper usage for these things. My little home Brother MFP was not going to cut it. Besides, Kinkos is right down the road and can also laminate, give me a wide variety of paper types (including water proof!). They also save me the hassle of having to print them, and muck with them. Someone else does that. They’ll even call me if there is an issue with the look or the print.

While they may not be cheaper than DIY, it certainly isn’t expensive. I had Austerity (board and cards), Bargan Basement Baythsphere (of Beachside Bay), Utopia Engine, and Under Falling Skies printed, laminated, etc, for less than $20. They were ready the next day and looking great.

Not bad. Though I printed (and laminated) the low ink version of Utopia Engine by mistake…

While I’m not isolated in these times, it’s nice to know that I can do the equivelent of a nice Sunday crossword, but more my speed, when I have a bit of time to myself.

Going Foward

I think once I’ve played these games, I’ll go and get a couple more put together. I already have Supermarché and Four Against Darkness. Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician looks like a great teaser and there have been really good reviews about Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden. These should all be relatively easy to pick up and get going.


.Org is Safe!

I wrote some time ago about ICANN, the organization that oversees top-level-domains, was attempting to sell the .org TLD to a private equity firm with a questionable record. Well, today they were finally defeated.

This was a contentous issue with many users, including users like myself who own .org domains. A private equity firm is not exactly the kind of oversight and governance that a non-profit would likely enjoy. The equity firm could charge any sort of pricing they so desired, even hold it over some “less favorable” organizations as leverage.

Additionally, Ethos Capital seems to have wanted the non-profit entitiy that controls the .org TLD so that it could load it up with debts from other controlled subsidies. What a terrible deal. The org domain registry is an organization that actually makes money off of the fees associated with registration.

The sale threatened to bring censorship and increased operating costs to the nonprofit world. As EFF warned, a private equity-owned registry would have a financial incentive to suspend domain names—causing websites to go dark—at the request of powerful corporate interests and governments. 

EFF – From the article

Powerful entities fought for this verdict, including California’s Attorney General, Members of Congress, the UN, The Girl Scouts of America, Wikimedia and more. This is a powerful win for freedom and open access. While this was well deserved, we need to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future.


Python Games

Yesterday, I posted about being generally uninterested in programming. Burnout is a pretty common case, and add on my preexisting condition, and you’ve got yourself an issue. In order to combat that, I decided to take up learning a very popular language: Python. I’ve always admired Python from afar. It seemed like a well-organized language with some interesting components. There is a module for everything and while performance isn’t quite as fast as C, it’s interpreted, so it’s to be expected.

To that end, I began writing a small game. Just guess a randomly chosen number in a range. You get a couple of attempts. Nothing hard, nothing that I’d have to dig too deep into learning how the whole thing works. A test to see if I enjoyed it.

I did enjoy it. For the most part. Learning (or relearning) the Python grammar after being embedded in C-styled languages for so long was a little bit of a hurdle. Overall, I was able to get things put together pretty well. I think I’m going to continue to extend and learn more about the deeper functions and modules available in core.

I’m not unfamiliar with programming, though, I’m sure Gordon Ramsay is not far off, eying my bread for a little sandwich making.

Idiot Sandwich

If you want to follow along, you can check out the edits and commit history I’ve posted to the repo. I may even enable issues to allow people to chime in where I might have done something wrong.