Categories
Blogs and blogging Social Web

Reminders why blogs remain relevant despite social media

Here’s another reminder by Chris Maiorana why blogs remain relevant despite social media that arguably makes it easier to share with each other:

Those of us who take the idea of democratic publishing seriously rejoice at how the field has opened to include anyone who has something to say and is willing to write it down. That’s why we should be more alarmed when we see social media companies crowd the spaces once occupied by blogs and do-it-yourself content creators. We see a decline in diverse opinions as the web quickly becomes less free and more autocratic.

Bringing Back Blogs in the Age of Social Media Censorship – WordPress Tavern

I’ve also added Cal Newport’s “‘Expert Twitter’ Only Goes So Far. Bring Back Blogs in WIRED” to Pocket to read a bit later.

These calls to blog more aren’t new, just as assertions that blogs are irrelevant in a time when we can share anything with millions (hypothetically) on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and <insert name of hot new social service here> aren’t new either.

Yes, I’m biased given who I work for, and the fact that I still blog (somewhat irregularly). At the same time, does that detract the assertion that blogs remain relevant despite social media? I think you’d be hard-pressed to say that they aren’t.

In many respects, you just can’t beat blogs’ combination of having your own space to publish to, open platforms to power that publishing (such as WordPress), and the flexibility to communicate your ideas in a way that does justice to what you have to say.

On a related note, I also recommend reading Chris Hardie’s post titled “Multimedia journalism and the WordPress block editor“. The more time I spend with the block editor, the more I believe that it’s truly transformational, even at this early stage of its evolution, and despite the initial learning curve.

Categories
Coding People

How The Hacker Who Saved The Internet Redeemed Himself

I read a fascinating story in Wired about Marcus Hutchins, a hacker who used lessons from years of writing malware to save the Internet from WannaCry, only to come to terms with his past misdeeds at the height of his success. This is how the story begins –

At around 7 am on a quiet Wednesday in August 2017, Marcus Hutchins walked out the front door of the Airbnb mansion in Las Vegas where he had been partying for the past week and a half. A gangly, 6’4″, 23-year-old hacker with an explosion of blond-brown curls, Hutchins had emerged to retrieve his order of a Big Mac and fries from an Uber Eats deliveryman. But as he stood barefoot on the mansion’s driveway wearing only a T-shirt and jeans, Hutchins noticed a black SUV parked on the street—one that looked very much like an FBI stakeout.

The Confessions of Marcus Hutchins, the Hacker Who Saved the Internet | WIRED

The article seems to be well researched, and worth reading.

Categories
Devices Events and Life Wellbeing

Screen time for kids during a pandemic

Back when we were in a “normal” routine, our kids’ screen time was pretty limited during the week. We only permitted them to use their phones and computers for school-related tasks during the week.

On weekends, they could play (there’s a limit on the Nintendo Switch, mostly as an experiment) for as long as their phone batteries lasted (well, that was the idea, it becomes meaningless when their phones last all day 😜).

Our kids would go out to meet their friends at parks, or at their friends’ homes.

Since our kids were basically confined to our home, and couldn’t see their friends in person, we basically lifted the screen time limits. The way I think about it is that they tend to play games with their friends, so this is the new “go out and play with your friends” time.

I noticed that Clint Edwards shared a post about a similar issue recently, and I agree with him, here:

I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier about online gaming, something only a pandemic could make me say. My son’s pretty social, and being away from his friends has been really hard on him. I usually hate gaming and we normally have serious restrictions on screen time. But right now it is keeping him inside and giving him a social outlet, and that’s made this whole ordeal easier on everyone.

Let Them Watch Screens – No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog

The challenge, now, is that I still want our kids to focus on what passes for their distance classes in the mornings. We expect them to stick to “normal” school days, finishing around the time they’d finish if they were at school.

I work from my usual space at our dining room, and they work in their bedrooms, so it’s difficult to keep a close eye on whether they’re actually focused on their studies.

Still, as Clint points out, a little extra screen time creeping in at the edges isn’t a calamity –

Listen y’all, we are going to get through this. I know it. But the last thing I think we should all be worried about is limiting screen time right now.

Let Them Watch Screens – No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Categories
Events and Life People Podcasts

Enjoying Sam and Liam talking about stuff

I noticed a new(ish) video podcast, AWNP Unplugged, with Critical Role’s Sam Riegel, and Liam O’Brien. It’s terrific, I’m enjoying it.

They’re basically just connecting, and chatting about the pandemic, the importance of being connected to each other, and more.

I’m sitting on one of our couches, blogging random stuff, and enjoying the conversation. I really enjoy these two people (and their friends) in Critical Role (we’re on Campaign One, episode 33, and going strong).

This is a very different, more personal context, and I like them even more as people dealing with this situation. Like the rest of us.

Categories
Books Games

Tempted by an older Monster Manual edition

I popped on to the Book Depository site to check out the availability of the D&D Monster Manual, and spotted a 12 year old edition:

I don’t think I ever used that older edition, it’s not available, but I still felt a little tempted! 

Even though I prefer digital formats when it comes to most of the things I do, I like the idea of playing Dungeons and Dragons on paper.

It feels like the sort of game that could be better with physical books, paper character sheets, physical dice … that sort of thing.

Of course not everyone has the opportunity to play in person these days, and I do like many of the digital tools we have. Still, doing it all on paper appeals to me.

Categories
Applications Games

Playing Dungeons and Dragons with Discord

I really enjoyed this Sly Flourish video about how to play Dungeons and Dragons with Discord:

I play DnD with my wife and daughter at home, so I don’t have an immediate need for this. At the same time, there are loads of people who find themselves playing remotely, so this is a compelling option.

Other tools

Even though we play in person, I’ve been using a number of digital tools to help manage our games.

DnD Beyond

I’ve been using DnD Beyond quite a bit lately. I’m trying out the paid, Master Tier subscription to manage our campaign. The subscription enables me to create encounters based on the characters’ levels (that translates into somewhat more accurate difficulty estimates).

I also like that I can share the digital books that I’ve purchased.

The Combat Tracker is terrific, and helps managing initiative, and monster damage a lot easier. This works hand-in-hand with the Encounter Builder. I’ve realised that creating encounters from within the campaign manager/page allows me to create campaign-specific encounters.

The DnD Beyond character sheets are also terrific. I only use the online version for my character, and my wife has switched over to that version for the most part, too.

The new digital dice are really nice too. I’m looking forward to trying those out too (although I think I prefer physical dice on the whole).

Notion

Notion has been really useful for my campaign notes, and tracking the party’s progress through a campaign. I add maps, tables to track overall encounters, XP awards, and even individual encounters (there’s some overlap here with the DnD Beyond Combat Tracker).

Adventure notes in Notion

Options like inline tables, internal links, and other Notion blocks are proving to be really helpful, although I’d like to build page templates that I can start a new adventure with.

There are a number of terrific digital tools available to us. They add to in-person games too, and can really enhance online game play if you can’t meet up to play your games.


Image credit: Jack B on Unsplash

Categories
Events and Life Mindsets Travel and places

“Those flags gave me hope”

My wife recently wrote a post about our city’s annual tradition of putting up flags ahead of Israel’s Independence Day. Apparently someone raised concerns on Facebook about how this extra cost was wasted in light of the need for more resources to combat COVID-19.

These flags aren’t an annual exercise in vanity and frivolity, they mean much more than that –

Seeing those flags made me smile. Seeing those flags made my heart feel lighter. It made me feel connected to people, my fellow citizens, when I had spent almost an entire month in my home with no personal contact with anyone outside of my immediate family.

Those flags gave me hope.

It was an affirmation. We are Israel!  We are Israelis –  and we can overcome anything that is thrown our way.

So, random Facebook man, I vehemently disagree!

Those flags are not a waste of money. Not at all. They are – JoyLove and Hope. And they are a promise.

We WILL make it through this.

We WILL survive.

It’s what we do.

Flags of Hope – A Bit of This A Bit of That

You can read the rest of Gina’s post on her blog, or on Lay of the Land where it appeared first.

Categories
Events and Life Mindsets Music

Comforting familiarity

Jamie Rubin wrote about waning motivation, and comforting familiarity yesterday –

Maybe it is familiarity during a time of uncertainty that I find comforting. The unknowns pull the levers of anxiety. Because of this, I have to limit myself to thinking about today and not worrying too much about what may happen tomorrow. When I start to think about tomorrow, or the next week, I find that my motivation is sapped just a little bit more.

No Motivation | Jamie Todd Rubin

We do find familiarity comforting. I’ve had a 80s playlist on Spotify on heavy rotation lately, and I realised earlier that it’s probably because this is my comforting familiarity.

Whatever works, and helps make each day a little lighter, and more productive, right?

At the same time, we’re in a challenging time. The pandemic challenges our ideas about how we live, how we relate to each other, and what “normal” is.

Perhaps this is also about tempering this unnerving change with familiarity to help us adapt better?