Dallin Crump

100daystooffload

A principle is “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.”

We all have deeply-held principles by which we live our lives. Some of those principles may be innate – a part of us as long as we can remember. Some principles were taught to us by our parents or families. Other principles we adopt throughout our lives as we learn and grow.

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I enjoy reading biographies, especially of people who have overcome tremendous challenges and done something good and meaningful with their lives.

Most recently, I have read a couple of memoirs by Duane “Dog” Chapman, famously known as Dog the Bounty Hunter.

As I was reading these books, for some reason I kept pondering the idiom:

Can't see the forest for the trees.

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I tend to go through phases where I get obsessed with certain things, getting really into them and wanting to learn all I can about them. For my latest obsession of the past couple weeks, I blame Pluto TV.

Pluto TV is a free online video streaming service that works like traditional over-the-air TV in that it has channels and each channel is just a continuous broadcast of content with commercial breaks. You just “tune in” to a Pluto TV channel and watch whatever is on at the time.

When my favorite Star Trek series (TNG, DS9, and VOY) disappeared from Amazon Prime and Hulu, my brother told me there was a Star Trek channel on Pluto TV. I started checking out their other channels and bookmarking a few.

Then I found their Dog the Bounty Hunter channel. I remembered watching and enjoying that show back in the day. So I watched a few episodes and I was hooked (again). It's entertaining. But I also find it uplifting.

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The device I currently keep on or near my person, both at home and on the go, is a first gen iPhone SE smartphone. First released in March 2016, it's a nearly 6-year-old phone. At the time of this writing, it runs the latest version of iOS and still receives updates from Apple. It does everything I need a smartphone to do, and almost everything I want one to do. While I have tinkered with different smartphones here and there, I keep coming back to my little iPhone. I know it's not going to be usable forever, so I've been thinking for a long while about what will take its place.

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This post is being written entirely on an iPhone SE 2016. Why? Because it’s possible.

Possible? Yes. Ideal? No. Ideal would be a full-size computer keyboard with good key travel and tactile feedback. In the absence of that, my thumbs have always preferred the distinctive and satisfying experience of typing on a BlackBerry physical keyboard. In particular, the four-row keyboard found on the Q10 and Classic models, or even the Android-powered KEY2. If I wanted to, I could type for hours on those phones for the sheer joy of it.

But, alas, those phones are long gone, and I have reluctantly and begrudgingly joined the ranks of the glass-typing masses.

To be fair, my thumbs have adapted quite well to the iPhone keyboard, considering my personal preferences. I insist on typing each word in its entirety without the aid of auto-correct or auto-complete. I don’t use swipe-to-type and only really use word suggestions for emojis. I don’t want some computer algorithm completing my thoughts for me. More often than not, I waste too much time correcting inaccurate auto-corrected and auto-completed words. Best to leave them off and trust my brain and thumbs to do the writing.

Despite my dislike for typing on glass, it certainly is a much more pleasant experience today than it was 10 years ago. And I’m using a 6-year-old phone (that still gets software updates from Apple)! My first smartphone was an LG Optimus V. It ran Android 2.2 and had a 3.2” screen. That was pretty rough!

Just having the ability to write anything of decent quality as well as publish it wirelessly to the web from a pocket-sized device is still a pretty amazing thing.

Amazing. But still not ideal!


#100DaysToOffload (No. 9) #tech

I've been using Mastodon – a free and open source, decentralized social media platform and a compelling alternative to corporate-controlled platforms like Facebook and Twitter – regularly since June of 2019. Mastodon is part of the Fediverse – a collection of inter-connected apps developed around ActivityPub, an open, decentralized social networking protocol.

In 2019 a company I have been following called Purism launched their own Mastodon instance – called Librem Social – as a part of their Librem One suite of ethical web-based software services. I signed up for a subscription because I wanted to show my support for any company trying to offer viable, non-exploitative alternatives to popular services.

Purism hasn't done much with Librem One since they launched it. I expect it didn't catch on as much as they had hoped it would. Since then, they've focused on their hardware and haven't mentioned hardly anything about Librem One. But I appreciate them maintaining Librem One as long as they have.

Admittedly, I didn't renew my Librem One subscription after the first year. I tried their email, chat, and VPN services, but didn't find them compelling enough to keep using them. Librem Social, however, has become my main personal social media account.

On more than one occasion, I have considered moving to a different Mastodon instance. But there are several reasons I keep using Librem Social.

Librem Social-Specific

Here are two reasons specific to Librem Social.

Disabled Local and Federated Timelines

Most instances of Mastodon allow you to see Local and Federated timelines. The Local timeline is a feed of all of the posts from all of the accounts within your same instance. The Federated timeline is a feed that shows all of the posts across all instances – at least the ones that support posting to the Federated timeline. Not all of them do.

Librem Social has disabled both Local and Federated timeline support on its instance of Mastodon. I see this as its biggest strength and it has been a good thing for me. It means I am not at risk of being blindsided by a deluge of random, unsolicited content that I never wanted to see. From day one, I have had to intentionally seek out content by searching for it. I search for hashtags, keywords, and phrases related to my interests. I have been able to find and follow people across many different Mastodon instances that I find interesting in some way or another.

General Purpose Theme

Some instances of Mastodon are narrow in their theme and focus. Others, like Librem One, don't have a specific theme or topic – they are just general purpose. My interests are pretty eclectic, so I don't want to feel like I'm pigeonholed into posting about specific stuff all the time.

For example, I interact with a lot of good folks from from the fosstodon.org instance. Sure, they can and do post about all kinds of things aside from FOSS (free and open-source software), but the name of the instance still has that implication and that is their main interest and focus.

I like that Librem Social is a bit more generic in scope.

Mastodon In General

The rest of my reasons are likely true of most Mastodon instances, not just Librem Social.

Chronological Timeline

The main feed is in chronological order. No annoying algorithms causing different posts to show up at the top of your feed every time you reload. I never miss a post if I don't want to, and they are always in the same order.

No Tracking, No Ads

It's certainly possible that some Mastodon instances track their users in some fashion or serve ads, but I would bet that most don't.

And what a refreshing experience it is to not be accosted with endless ads in a social media timeline.

Community

I have met some genuinely good, caring, thoughtful, intelligent people on Mastodon. Some of them share my interests. Some of them don't, but are quite good at expressing themselves in a way that I find interesting or make me want to learn new things.

This has been possible because Mastodon is about allowing people to interact and share their thoughts. It's about building communities, not about exploiting and monetizing people.

Conclusion

I have deleted all of my other social media accounts except for Facebook and LinkedIn.

I keep Facebook because I use it to participate in a few important groups, including Church and family groups. And I keep LinkedIn because it is the best way to keep in touch with professional contacts, network with others in my same area of expertise, and find good employment in my field. But I rarely post to my own timeline in either of them.

Librem Social is now my preferred social media platform, and I hope Mastodon continues to grow and evolve. So far, it's the closest thing to my ideal of what social media should be. I think it has tremendous potential.


#100DaysToOffload (No. 8) #socialmedia #tech #intentionism

I enjoy reading books. Real, physical books with paper pages that you keep on a shelf when you're not reading them.

Reading on a phone, tablet, or even a dedicated eBook reader just isn't the same.

You don't have to charge a real book. There's no risk of being distracted by notifications or being tempted to check your social media. You don't need an account or a subscription to access it, and there's no risk it might randomly disappear due to arbitrary licensing agreements or the whims of a big tech company. And those big tech companies can't track your reading habits so that they can try to extract even more money from you and try to sell you things, or let other companies pay them for that information so they can try to sell you things, too.

There's no substitute for holding a real book in your hands – feeling the weight of it, reading the dust jacket (if it has one), thumbing through the pages.

Real books have a smell. A magical combination of glue, paper, ink, and – if it's an older book – age. As soon as this distinctive aroma hits your nostrils, you can't help but get excited at the prospect of learning something new or being taken on a grand adventure.

Books are more than just words on a page. They are a catalyst for thought and imagination. And for me, they are best experienced and enjoyed in their physical form.


#100DaysToOffload (No. 7) #books #intentionism

Taco Bell recently announced a new taco subscription service.

This evening my family had delicious homemade tacos for dinner, so naturally the topic of the taco subscription came up. I remembered seeing a headline about it somewhere, but none of us had looked into the details. So we started speculating what the taco subscription might be like based on what we know about streaming subscription services. Here are the results:

  • If you are willing to pay more, you can get a fast food subscription bundle that also includes KFC, Pizza Hut, and The Habit Burger Grill.
  • You can set up taco profiles for each member of your family.
  • You can set up parental controls in case you don't want your kids eating tacos that are too spicy.
  • If you pay for the cheaper plan, you get tacos with ads printed on the shells.
  • As you eat more tacos, your taco eating habits are tracked and analyzed. This is so they can suggest the best possible tacos according to your tastes and serve targeted taco shell ads to you.
  • You can only eat your tacos in approved locations.
  • The kind of taco you have been eating every day might disappear from the menu with or without warning. It will then appear on the menu of TacoTime or Del Taco.
  • Some tacos are not available all at once. You can only get a piece of the taco during one visit, then you have to return another day to get the next piece.
  • Some tacos may be incomplete. They can be cancelled before they are finished.
  • You can take your tacos with you to eat later, but you must keep them in a special container that you have to purchase separately. If you don't eat your tacos within 24 hours of picking them up, they disappear.
  • There is an older subscription option where you can receive tacos in the mail. You can only have 1 or 2 at a time, then you must send the containers back to receive the next tacos in your queue.

#100DaysToOffload (No. 6) #tech #humor

We are bombarded – assaulted – with imagery and noise all day.

Every day.

Everything is picture. Everything is sound.

Carefully designed to entice, provoke, enrage, influence, addict, stimulate, manipulate, subdue.

The purpose? Lucre. Extracted directly from us or collected from others who are willing to pay for our most precious resource:

Time.

Time is more than money. It's power.

Tomorrow is shaped by what is done today.

If you give them your time today, you let them shape your tomorrow.

Captivation leads to captivity.

Protect your time. Don't squander it.


#100DaysToOffload (No. 5) #intentionism #media

As of today, BlackBerry has shut down services for their phones running the BBOS and BB10 operating systems, which means they lose most of the core functionality that has allowed them to be usable phones long past their prime.

There are lots of news articles, blog posts, and social media posts about it, so I will try not to get too wordy here. Suffice it to say that I am and always will be a BlackBerry fan, and I dearly miss my beloved physical phone keyboards.

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