Let's roll some dice, watch some movies, or generally just geek out. New posts at 6:30 pm ET but only if I have something to say. Menu at the top. email@example.com on Mastodon and @gsllc on Twitter.
For a guy that said he was taking a break from blogging three days ago, I sure have had a lot to say. This is a follow up to yesterday’s threat to have my blog generated by artificial intelligence. A while back, I (and many others) shared through social media an AI rendition of Family Guy. Well, the inevitable has happened. There are tons more of them. You can find them here, but I’ve linked directly to my favorites below.
Why does Leela have two eyes? Was this trailer from the Cyber House Rules? If so, where’s Adlai?
We see too much of Kenny’s face here, and Wendy seems too old for Stan. Also, while AI seems to be learning how to handle hands, it still hasn’t mastered the fine art of tear ducts. Cartman is as confusing as an umber hulk, coincidentally with the same shape to his head.
Yes, these are my favorites because I never grew up.
Homer has too much hair.
They got Butthead’s braces right, and I’m glad to see Daria get a mention.
A lot of characters in the video look like they’re being played by the same actor, and as I said above, tear ducts (among other things) still aren’t handled correctly. Then there’s Nothing, Forever, an AI-generated episode of Seinfeld that’s been running since December. It’s 8-bit graphics, so the real “magic” is in the dialogue, but that often falls apart too.
I don’t think we have to worry about an AI takeover anytime soon.
A few days ago, I complained about how clunky Mastodon was. I stand by that. However, I managed to figure it out. So, let me tell you some things that, for some ridiculous reason, no one else seems willing to tell you.
First, if you go to Mastodon.com, you’re screwed. It won’t work. So, how do you do it? The best way to get on Mastodon is to know what server you want to join. In my case, I went with https://chirp.enworld.org/web/home. Another popular one for nerds is https://dice.camp/explore. I applied for membership 🙄, which was accepted. Mastadon.social appears to be the baseline, as a few celebrities are on there, but it doesn’t allow signups for some reason (maybe it’s just me). However, I learned that you don’t have to be on a server to follow someone on another server. As long as you see them appear in your server through a re-toot (yeah, their “tweets” were called “toots,” but now they’re called “posts”), you can follow them. I’m not sure how that works, but it does, so there you go.
Now, if I wanted to join a server that’s dedicated to sports, I wouldn’t know where to start. Someone had to give me the name of a server for me to find it. Again, going to Mastodon.com doesn’t help. You just have to know the URL of the server to find it, but for all I know, no such server exists. How could I possible find it?
I’m sure it can be done, but Mastodon is horribly clunky, so it’ll be a slow burn to get there. It’ll also take a while to get followers. To do so, I think I need to pepper my followers on other social media outlets to do so. In other words, the only way to even get on Mastodon in the first place, then to make it work for you, is to use other social media sites. Not a good business plan. Note, however, that there’s a setting in your profile that allows you to be found and promoted based on other members’ searches. It’s off by default, so I imagine you’ll want to turn it on.
Many of my contacts are flocking to Mastodon, so I decided I’d give it a try. That was a waste of time, and I’ll waste no more time on it.
First, let’s discuss what it is to the extent of my understanding.
Mastodon is a group of servers each acting as its own Twitter. You can create your own server with your own rules, which can cover content or speech moderation. In other words, you can say, “No naughty language,” or “This server is for discussing race cars and nothing else.”
So, I decided to create a login. The first thing it asked me is what kind of server I wanted to join. This is similar to what Twitter does (i.e., asking your interests), but in the case of Mastodon, it’s non-optional. You have to pick one. The choices I was given were about 10 in number. If I attempted to search for others, it would search from among those 10 options. I sighed and picked the one that was closest to what I was interested in, then hit “Next.”
Here, I tried to create my account. No matter what I chose as a username or how I modified my password, I received a “forbidden” message. I went to Google to see if I could find answers (Mastodon help is useless) and found this tweet and an interesting reply.
I can’t find anything backing up the reply’s claim, but I did find several other complaints posted over the past week (among other issues), so it’s not just me. No matter how idiotically I’m behaving, if your system isn’t idiot proof, it’s not going to be popular.
But I’m no idiot, which is why I’ve stopped trying.
EDIT: It turns out that I am an idiot. I kept trying and succeeded.
As a follow up to my posts on how MeWeexposes out our hypocrisy, my first and secondFacebook suspensions, and most recently my announcement that I’m not giving up on it, I demonstrate that MeWe isn’t immune to at least on of the more annoying aspects of social media. Meet my new friend, Doriane.
Four days later, it continued.
I almost called ” Doriane ” out right then and there, but I wanted to have some fun. I’m going to keep playing with “Doriane” as long as I can. If necessary, I’ll be proactive and reengage myself with one of my own selfies. In the mean time, I’ll have fun with one of her friends.
I’ve written a few times about MeWe. I pointed out that our instinctive dislike of MeWe‘s exposed our hypocrisy with respect to privacy concerns. I talked about how my first and second Facebook suspensions were driving me towards MeWe despite my instinctive dislike. I then took a thinly veiled stab at Facebook. So here I am trying to find a replacement for Facebook, but it’s been tough. Last weekend, I posted the following to Facebook:
I’m really trying with #MeWe, but it’s just not going anywhere.
After navigating my way through some commentary that were mere diversions, I reached a conclusion as to why I’m having so much trouble with MeWe. Sure, the privacy protections make MeWe unwieldy, but that’s because it isn’t meant to be used the way we use Facebook. With Facebook, it’s all about “friendships.” I hate that they use that term. We’re not necessarily friends. “Connections” would be more accurate, but less marketable. Obviously, the latter is Facebook‘s concern, but I digress. To use Facebook as intended, you should have as many connections as possible. MeWe‘s technology isn’t conducive to that, but I get the impression it isn’t meant to be.
I think the idea behind MeWe isn’t about making numerous direct connections. Instead, the idea is for you to join groups that cater to your interests, and interact with people within those groups. That is, you’re not supposed to just post a random thought on your timeline and expect to receive reactive comments from your connections list, nor are you supposed to see the random thoughts of your connections hitting your timeline and giving you an impulse to rant. Instead, you’re expected to do these things within the groups you’ve joined, thus reducing the noise on the site, and avoiding the need to connect directly with other accounts in a way that could compromise your privacy.
And MeWe is great with groups. I’m a member of many music-oriented groups, and despite song lyrics often addressing sociopolitical issues, I’ve never once seen a sociopolitical debate in those groups. We can discuss the lyrics of, for example, Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones, which are about the civil unrest of the 60s, in particular the Vietnam War, race riots, and Charles Manson. As long as we discuss the Stones’ opinions and don’t inject (or at least don’t emphasize) our own opinions on analogous modern subjects, there’s no true mixing of politics and music in a way that spoils the group. If you want to share your opinions on modern issues, there are plenty of political groups available that are designed specifically for that. Go there. You may even see many of the same people there. Problem solved. Everyone’s happy.
In contrast, I’m a member of a Far Side group on Facebook. I’ve never once seen a post that didn’t devolve into a sociopolitical debate. I’m not exaggerating. Every single Far Side post is a debate between Republicans and Democrats, vegetarians and meat-eaters, etc. It’s maddening and typical of Facebook. Perhaps when MeWe gets more popular, it’ll devolve into that as well, but for now, these groups really work well.
So why am I still having trouble with it? Simple: I’m not used to it, and Facebook keeps my brain from adjusting. On Twitter, I have over 40 accounts. No shit. Over 40. I do that to reduce the noise. GSLLC is for gaming, music, and other assorted nerdity, MMADork is for sports, PropertyAtty is for law, and RobertEBodine (seldom used) is for politics. (The other accounts are anonymous satire accounts or related to a gaming project I’m working on.) I’ll never cross those streams on purpose because I’m doing my part to keep the noise down. Nevertheless, even Twitter has the same effect on my brain because none of you follow the same practice. My GSLLC stream is loaded with politics I don’t want to discuss (or even read) there, and filters are only so good at keeping those topics out. As a result, Twitter also keeps my brain from adjusting. Transitioning to MeWe successfully is going to take a lot of work. For me, that’s worth it — I’m very concerned with the antitrust implications of the Facebook/Twitter oligopoly — but I don’t know that it’ll ever be worth it for you (until you’re severely censored).
Plus, there are the small things. For example, I’ve turned off automatic notifications of chat messages, but I still get the audible ding whenever someone posts a group chat message. I can’t turn it off. More importantly, MeWe is missing distribution lists. Google+ introduced me to them because they had them from the start. Facebook eventually followed suit, but not before I had well over 1,000 Facebook connections. It took a lot of work to place all of you onto list. One of these days, MeWe will wise up and introduce them, and that’s going to create a lot of work for me. Finally, I’ll mention that MeWe avoids ads. Hooray! Right? Well, not really. In order to maintain the site and make a profit, some features require payment. We hate ads, but we’re used to not having to pay directly for social media, so most of us won’t pay for those features. Again, it’s our hypocrisy. We’re not bad people, but we’re continually making our own bed with this, and I hope enough people are paying for MeWe Premium ($5/month) that the site stays afloat.
I’m not giving up. I’m going to make this work eventually.
Don’t worry. This isn’t as heavy-handed a moral lecture as the title makes it sound.
MeWe keeps coming up in my social media feeds. Everyone is asking whether it’s a good platform. Here’s my take on it. MeWe is an attempt to remove the privacy concerns of Facebook, and they absolutely succeed as far as I can tell. However, that’s actually the problem with MeWe. This is a tough pill to swallow, but the truth is that I, and probably many of you, don’t actually want the level of privacy that we demand from Facebook, at least not initially.
One of Facebook’s strengths was allowing us to reconnect with former friends and acquaintances. The privacy protections of MeWe prevent me from doing that. The last I checked, I couldn’t find my friends unless I already had their email addresses. That’s quite an impediment to connecting with lost friends, in which case, what’s the point of MeWe?
But that brings us back to the our own issues. We criticize Facebook’s lack of privacy, but the level of privacy we demand from Facebook would have prevented Facebook from generating its current value to us. I think we are again missing the big picture. The only reason we’re in a position to make such demands from Facebook is because we’ve already used their lack of protections for years to accomplish what we’ve wanted. That is, because we already have found our old friends on Facebook, now we want them to secure the platform. Though there are far greater sins, that’s a bit hypocritical, but the point is this: For new competitors without those existing connections, it’s nearly impossible form them to enter the market, so we’re stuck with Facebook unless we change.
As a result, I have a MeWe account but have no idea what to do with it.
I’ve whined about how most of my followers and likers on my blog are spammers, but a couple of days ago there was an explosion (relatively speaking) of those numbers. A bunch of spammers trying to sell me pet food are now liking and following my blog. Why? Because my Sunday ridiculousness mentioned cats and dogs in the title of that post. I’m a cat person but don’t have any pets (other than those damn house centipedes), and I personally prefer hamburgers and pizza, so I have no desire to purchase pet food.
This reminds me of how often I receive emails offering me interviews for Oracle and SQL Server DBA positions. I haven’t done that kind of work in about 20 years. I understand the notion of hitting the widest possible audience, such that even a tenth of a percent return is still a very large number, but maybe some focus might bring them better success, especially the recruiters. After all, if I answered one of their emails and they hired me, I’d screw it all up. If my Monster.com resume hasn’t been updated in 20 years, maybe I’m not the most qualified person for the job.