Somebody kill Slashdot and put it out of misery.

Have you been to the venerable Slashdot lately?  I haven’t, and apparently I’ve missed out on a lot.

There was a time that Slashdot was the “go-to” site for somewhat intelligent conversation on geeky topics.  This was back in the early days of the Internet, when men were men and wrote their own device drivers.  I would start my day powering up my serial terminal connected to my Linux machine and use a text-based web browser to read it.  It was great back then.

All I have to say now is.. what. the. actual fuck.

Today this is what it looks like:

I’m not kidding.  This is what it looks like today.  Nothing but ads on the whole screen.

Slashdot used to be “news for nerds, stuff that matters.”  Today it’s “ads for nerds, nothing that matters.”

Sometimes a classic website can do worse than dying.  It can become a worthless platform just because of monitization and owners who stopped giving two fucks about the community they serve.  Goodbye, Slashdot.  May Reddit not stab you too hard.

Foot hurt…

So, yesterday I went to the emergency room again, this time because my foot is killing me. It hurts pretty bad to walk: so bad that I’m avoiding it at all costs right now.

They ran a bunch of tests, did an X-ray, and nothing stood out. They think it might be some kind of infection. Antibiotics were prescribed.

So, if I seem like I’m not too “up” on going places over the next week (or however long this takes to resolve) that’s why..

Live365 (“Adventures of Feedle’s INBOX!”)

In yesterday’s inbox, I find:

Hello Archturiat,

Earlier this year I purchased Live365 with the hopes of growing it into something great, but I’ll need help from stations like yours. The Live365 team has just started bringing stations back on the air and already have over 100 stations, but to realize our vision, we’re going to need many more.

Every day, we’re working on making Live365 a stronger platform for our stations to share their content. We’ve improved the previous streaming infrastructure to make streaming more reliable and allow our stations to use higher quality audio. We’ve built Auto DJ automation to make sure that if you don’t have something scheduled, your station doesn’t have dead air, and we’re always listening to feedback from our broadcasters to improve the Live365 experience. We’re in this together.

Join Us Today

I believe in the future of curated broadcast. Content chosen and scheduled by a real person. We know you have a powerful message to share and we want you to share it through Live365. We’d love to have you join us and if you’re not ready, let us know what we need to do to make that happen.

-Jon at Live365

Now, as I’m sure more than one of you know, I ran a station on Live365 for quite a while, almost from the beginnings of the platform.  I had heard through the grapevine that they had been resurrected from the dead sometime in the last six months, and I was happy to see the “new owner(s)” reaching out to the people that had accounts on the platform and try to get them back involved.

What I wasn’t happy about was the fact that the “new” Live365 has no pricing tier that’s even remotely approachable for someone broadcasting as a hobby, and that the cheapest package was around $60.  Now, it’s worth noting that tier is comparable to the “old” Live365’s $50 tier, and given the increase (and overall bullshit) involving the licensing situation that’s not surprising, really.

But this does mark a completely new direction for Live365, one that does not help the situation for small broadcasters at all.  Live365 used to be littered with small operations, some good some bad, but many were voices and programming you just didn’t hear anywhere else.  For better, or for worse.  Now, the barrier for entry is $60/month, minimum (not to mention the time and energy to create programming, even if all you are doing is uploading music to be spun out of Live365’s servers).

That’s steep for a broadcast operation (like The Voice of Mercury on Live365) that never had more than 5 TLH/day and usually no more than 3 or 4 concurrent listeners… even at its peak 6 years ago.  I could easily justify $20-25 a month, and the occasional music splurge, on that.  But $60 is JUST TOO DAMN HIGH.

Now, I’ve been talking with a few of you about biting the bullet and going ahead and paying for it anyway, and divvying up timeslots to others in exchange for helping out with the bill.  And I still want to do that, and it is on my list of things to do this summer.

But at the same time its hard to imagine that the “new” Live365 platform will even last long at that.  The pricing tier doesn’t seem fair or equitable for small-time broadcasters, many of whom (present company included) have been content to be “underground” and/or “closed-circuit” since Live365’s original demise.  It’s always been simply a “hobby” ever since my teenage days of NEEON-19 and the like.  Yes, it has been fun, but $60 buys admission to a decent amusement park for a day, and I’d rather be on a barf-coaster quite honestly.

But here we are.

So, who wants to (re-)start a radio station?

1 of 2: The Hardest Things to Have Ever Written…

This is the first of two articles that are completely disconnected from each other, but they’ve both been brewing for quite some time over the last month, so here they are…

She’s gone.

I’ve never been so sure of how it feels to lose somebody, and believe me I’ve felt it a lot. That hole inside of you where that person used to fit suddenly has no way of being patched, short of you completely disconnecting from everything that person was and meant to you. And you desperately don’t wan to disconnect, so much as the wound in your soul hurts.

But a very good friend, and somebody I would have liked to have had in my life for an eternity, is gone. I don’t know if she actually died or not, but it feels like she did. Her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages hadn’t been updated in months, and recently was deleted. All channels are quiet. I can only assume the worst.

It didn’t help that you were sick and nobody believed you. I had my doubts at times, but I listened to you cry and took you at your word, I felt your pain, and I tried to be there for you as best I could. I knew when I visited Oregon late last year and spent the long hours driving to-and-from Eugene and Portland that this may be there last time I will see you in this incarnation.

And this is one time in my life I actually wish that someone had lied to me, had lead me down a rabbit hole without the benefit of a basket full of chocolate.

But all her direct lines of communication are gone, and given she was on full-time oxygen and obviously unwell I’m left to conclude that… she’s gone.


I met her as an Asatru Priestess.. excuse the expression, but as an Assaholu.  But she was the first member of that particular path of paganism that I felt really understood completely what she was following, why she was following it, and genuinely “believed” in the letter of her path.  If my situation had been better I would have followed her as a student and learned that path under your teachings.

Later, she starte following a Christian path, and while I don’t totally understand the spiritual shift that took place I can certainly understand if the “reception” she got from the local pagan community (and especially certain members of Eugene CUUPS) would have kept her from considering joining Eugene Unitarian as a JesUUs or even as a non-parochial pagan or freethinker.

I miss our long talks about spiritual things.  I miss our explorations of Eugene on random drives.  I miss the Ingress stuff we used to do.  But mostly I miss you.

So, whether or not she is actually alive, the person I knew is gone.  And I mourn for her passing, whether she’s in Heaven, Valhalla, or even still on this planet walking around.

Godspeed, Vyronika.

Today’s pet peeve…

Goddammit.

So I’m playing with a lot of .. well, what can best be described as “Web 3.0” technologies: things like Chef, Docker, etc., and they all have one annoying thing in common.

See, the “old UNIX way” traditionally dictates that programs “succeed quietly, fail noisily”. That is, they print nothing on success, and an error message with a description of the error (preferably machine parsable, if you don’t set the error level to a specific number for a specific error, ie: the famous 404 error).

Now, in comes these new kids on the block. They consistently write programs that fail silently. WTF? When I type a “command do something” and I typo it, what good does it do to fail quietly? What good is systemd scripts that insist on telling me “ok, pid 591” rather than just quietly writing the pid to a file in /tmp or something?

Quiet succeed, noisy fail is still important. Most of the basic startup routines (even today, under systemd) are bash scripts. And the user doesn’t need a screenful of [OK} STARTING PROCESS.. just print the ones that fail so we can SEE THE DAMN THING rather than having to (hopefully) catch the error message on startup.

Stop it, kids. We designed UNIX for a reason. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature, and I’ll keep pounding the pulpit with this. Read about the UNIX Philosophy before you change things. Understand that UNIX’s strength was its simplicity: it was created with tools that did exactly one thing, and did it well.

“Emergency” travel..

Just in case there’s a person out there that doesn’t read my Facebook and/or my Toob channel I’m making a quasi-emergency trip to Portland. At the moment I’m in this diner in the middle of Idaho eating the kind of biscuits, gravy, and egg blue plate you’d expect from a truck stop diner in the middle of nowhere.

I’m kind-of reflective on this trip. It’s been a good trip so far (I’m only about 24 hours into it) .. and I feel actually pretty good. When I drove the other way coming to Denver I felt like absolute shit, and while there were moments on that journey that were … well, we’ll just say “fun” in polite company … I made it, tired and exhausted.

This time, I’ve made it a little over half way, driving straight from Denver to Twin Falls, ID. I was tired when I arrived in Twin Falls, I was exhausted, but not unreasonably so. I was coherent long enough to check in to the hotel, do my medication provisions for the week, and even play a little Yahtzee!

I did get to use my new Verizon Hum for the first time. A check engine light has come on, and there’s a “mechanics assistance” button you can push and they use the CAN data to give you an idea of what might be wrong (and dispatch a tow truck if necessary). Apparently I’ve got some random flywheel timing problem. I’m going to stop at a Chevy dealership in Portland and have them give me a quick diagnosis. The car is still covered under a warranty, so hopefully this can be a quick fix and I can be on the road back home once Silvia’s ready to go in the van.

So, looking forward to Portland. Two hours and I’ll be back in the Beaver State.

Can’t sleep snowflakes will eat me.

Complete side note.

I’m beginning to understand a lot about myself lately (probably the result of the meditation demands of my new group). As much as I try not to show it, I have a lot of anxiety and pent-up fears. I suspect that this is what living a life “on the spectrum” can do to you, my apparent high-functioning notwithstanding.

Part of my ability to function with “farmers” is my exact ability to hide hunter instincts when they don’t suit, although they are there. And the downside to being a hunter is you are always afraid there’s something bigger than you out there with you in mind as dinner. I’ve been observing a lot in housecats their awkward position as predator AND prey (given the small size of felis silvestris) and how many of the behaviors we find rather adorable about cats are actually ways of them dealing with that conflicting instinct. The love of high places. The sleeping in boxes. Raven’s fear of the Grabby Ape.

Medications are wonderful things. One happy accident of some of my recent problems is I got put on a sleep medication that has anti-anxiety properties. Well, that, and maybe the aforementioned meditation is helping as well. I can start to see how anxiety plays into my reactions and interactions, and that I’ve spent a lot of my life in a state of fear.

Maybe that’s what L. has been trying to tell me all these years. I have nothing to be afraid of, after all. I live in a time in history where war is rarely at my doorstep, crime is going down all the time, and (for the moment) I live in a place with freedoms and employment opportunities so that I’m well fed, well medicated, and more or less warm. Day to day, hour to hour, I really have nothing to worry about.

But I still can’t sleep. Snowflakes will eat me.

The Real Reason I’m For $15/hour

It’s no secret to anybody who hangs around me that I’m for the $15/hour minimum wage. But you may not understand all the reasons I’m for it. It may not be why you think.

I truly believe in the concept of The Singularity. We are approaching a society whereby people don’t actually “need” to work to get by. We grow enough food to feed the entire planet (so much so that we can write 40% off of all the food we make as “spoilage” in transport) and we do it with about 2% of the population involved in agriculture.  Automation has turned the family farm into a machine, growing uniform crops that are picked, packaged, and trucked to market with ruthless efficiency, ever in mind of the commodity status of most of the foods we eat.

And the amount of automation that can still be performed is staggering, and increasing.  Because, let’s face it, farm work sucks.  It’s a lot of drudgery and back-breaking work.  Fuck it, let a machine do it.

Increasing the minimum wage to $15 has the effect of making human labor too expensive to waste.  It forces the issues of “how do we support a society where there isn’t enough work for everybody” to the forefront.  Because regardless of what you might think, there isn’t.  I strongly disagree with those who say “well, automation took jobs before, and look what happened: better jobs came along”, and while that might be true for some that’s rapidly changing.

I call this the “third wave” of automation going on now.  There’s a big difference between the automation of the first two.  The First Wave of Automation was the “leverage” phase.  That phase was dominated by using machines as “leverage” of human labor.  The human operator was still highly involved in the process… think of a farmer using a tractor pulling a hay bailer.  You still needed the human to drive the tractor, and typically humans still needed to handle the hay to load it.

Second wave automation went beyond leverage.  Second wave automation was when we started to make machines “think”, at least at a primitive level.  Telephone exchanges went from a human operator to a meshed network of machines that not only handled calls based upon numbers dialed but actually made decisions about how to route around damage and congestion.  Computers started talking to each other over this network, and started automating deliveries.  As products were sold at stores, the computer could order more all on its own.  “JIT” (Just In Time) manufacturing and delivery techniques are the pinnacle of Second Wave Automation, and is the herald of the Next Wave.

Third Wave Automation combines the two: the muscle leverage of the First Wave and the thinking leverage of the Second Wave.  We are now building machines that do.. well, anything.  You want to build a machine to make burgers?  Totally doable (and you can bet McDonald’s already has one in their labs).  3D printing technologies have created that Third Wave: if you can draw it, you can “build” it.  Machines to self-drive?  Here they come.  Machines that program themselves?  Yes, what do you think Watson is, anyway?

Third Wave Automation is coming for your job.  It’s coming for mine, it’s only a matter of time.  What jobs will exist in the near future?  How many people do you think need to fix these robots, and how long until they simply fix themselves?

Here’s an example that should scare you if you think “you have to work to eat” is how the future economics are going to work out.  How long until you can live in San Francisco, hail a self-driving cab, it breaks down on the way.  No problem, self-driving car is aware enough to know it’s not moving, it hails you a replacement car, and you ride away in the second car.  What happens to the first?

A self-driving tow truck picks it up, drives it to the recycling yard where it is dismantled (automatically, of course) for parts, and the factory JIT delivers a new “disposable” self-driving cab to town.  They maybe even predicted this failure based upon a MTBF model and have the replacement already there.

Before you get home from your little jaunt to the Embarcadero the car that broke down has already been dismantled and the replacement is the one that takes you home.

This is possible TODAY with the technology we have.  The only thing stopping it is that at the moment it costs less in human labor to deal with the broken cab, the tow truck, and in some cases even the driver.

Guess what the $15/hour minimum wage does.  It makes human labor less competitive with robotic labor.  And it should be: humans can be injured, suffer long-term disabilities and repetitive stress, and overall a lower quality of life when forced to do drudge work.   As a human being, I (and you, and even the Hispanic farm worker) are worth more than $15/hour, period, and we’re worth having a quality of life free of such drudgery.

Is your life worth $15/hour?  Mine isn’t, it’s worth a lot more than that.  So I’m willing to let the machine do the work for me, and I will rejoice on the day I can order a cheap burger and have a robot gleefully fling out that hockey puck that has never been touched by human hands.  That’s one less person subjected to the indignity of wage-slave labor.

What does this mean for jobs is an exercise left for the reader.  But I feel it is going to escalate the arrival of the robotic Singularity, and it’s a future I welcome.