Johnathan.org

October 16, 2018

The Paper Prop Master

Incredible. Absolutely Amazing to watch.

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The latest

from each category.

Facebook Could Use Data Collected from Portal Device to Target You with Ads

Kurt Wagner over at Recode:

Last Monday, we wrote: “No data collected through Portal — even call log data or app usage data, like the fact that you listened to Spotify — will be used to target users with ads on Facebook.”

We wrote that because that’s what we were told by Facebook executives.

But Facebook has since reached out to change its answer: Portal doesn’t have ads, but data about who you call and data about which apps you use on Portal can be used to target you with ads on other Facebook-owned properties.

Anyone who thought this would turn out differently is either living under a rock or has no idea what Facebook Portal even is. They make money by advertising stuff and to do that well, they need to know things about you. There’s absolutely no chance Facebook will turn down an opportunity to be always on in your home and always sampling your life. No Facebook.com or Facebook app access required. 

Granted, they didn’t outright say they’ll target you, but it’s only a matter of time before “we could” turns into “we do.”

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October 12, 2018

Busting Cloudflare Cache when Posting to WordPress via XML-RPC

I love Cloudflare. I’ll come right out and say that now. It’s a great service and makes for incredibly performant sites if used right (aggressively). I don’t feel like I’m getting the most out of it until it’s caching just about everything possible. Most of my content is static and never changes (save for the home page and each paginated set of posts thereafter). Even then, the homepage changes maybe a couple times a day. It makes a lot of sense for Cloudflare to cache them all. I use pretty aggressive Page Rule-based caching to accomplish that.

Part of my regular blogging workflow involves posting using MarsEdit. It’s a great tool and uses XML-RPC to post content. One of the problems with this workflow is that most caching-management plugins for WordPress don’t consider any kind of content changes via XML-RPC, only via the WordPress Admin UI. This means that there’s virtually no support for engaging all the cache-cleaning activities when XML-RPC events take place and thus Cloudflare is never notified for purging.

Luckily, there’s a solution to this problem. It involves a bit of duct-tape-like hooking into core WordPress, but in my testing, it’s been pretty painless, and posting doesn’t seem to be noticeably slower (XML-RPC posting takes a few seconds, anyway, adding another second isn’t a big deal, in my opinion). All we need to do is add a filter to xmlrpc_publish_post.

Sounds easy, you say? It is!

function clear_cache() {
$curl = curl_init();
curl_setopt ($curl, CURLOPT_URL, CACHE_PURGE_URL);
curl_exec ($curl); curl_close ($curl);
}

add_filter( 'xmlrpc_publish_post', 'clear_cache');

I set CACHE_PURGE_URL in wp-config.php to be a local path that when triggered with a GET request, makes a POST request that looks like the equivalent of this CURL request:

curl -X POST "https://api.cloudflare.com/client/v4/zones/YOUR_ZONE_ID/purge_cache" \
-H "X-Auth-Email: YOUR_EMAIL_ADDRESS" \
-H "X-Auth-Key: YOUR_API_KEY" \
-H "Content-Type: application/json" \
--data '{"purge_everything":true}'

Replace YOUR_ZONE_ID, YOUR_EMAIL_ADDRESS, and YOUR_API_KEY and you’re set.

By making this request after xmlrpc_publish_post using add_filter(), we’ve already established our updated content so the trigger will have Cloudflare pull the freshest and not accidentally re-pull stale bits.

Right now, it’s an entry in my theme’s functions.php. If I was to do this truly right, I’d make this a plugin. Someday!

DuckDuckGo climbs to 30 million daily searches, up 50% in a year

I came across this tweet via TechCrunch:

This is fantastic news! I love that a true alternative to the mammoth that is Google (and distant second mammoth Bing). Before the end of the year, I’d like to seriously consider converting to DuckDuckGo and Proton Mail for email. We’ll see.

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Sometimes Dead is Better

Looking forward to this one.

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Stratechery: The Battle for the Home

Ben Thompson:

If the first stage of competition in consumer technology was the race to be the computer users went to (won by Microsoft and the PC), and the second was to be the computer users carried with them (won by Apple in terms of profits, and Google in terms of marketshare), the outlines of the current battle came sharply into focus over the last month: what company will win the race to be the computer within which users live?

This is a great read that everyone should comb over. Ben takes a look at each of the four (Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook) and their strengths, weaknesses, their go-to-market status,  business models, and their overall strengths and weaknesses. In general, Ben creates great content and if you agree, consider a Stratechery membership.

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Kanye West pitches Trump on ‘iPlane’ built by Apple, delivers table-top Apple store ‘keynote’

From 9to5Mac:

Kanye West was in Washington D.C today to meet with President Trump in the Oval Office. As you might expect from such a combination of two people, the day wielded some interesting tidbits: an “iPlane” replacement for Air Force One designed by Apple, West’s uber-secure iPhone passcode, and a table-top keynote at the Georgetown Apple store.

That’s the only paragraph you really need from this story because he said this, in all seriousness:

A piece of work, for sure. 

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October 10, 2018

Empathy Sebatical

Gabe, the Mac Drifter on Empathy:

Empathy requires us to inhabit the emotions of another person. That can only be done through building our own life experiences as stand-ins for the emotions of a foreign experience. Then we project ourselves into the life of the other. It’s often an unconscious response managed by our mirror neurons.

Since the 2016 election I have lost a lot of my empathy. Perhaps I’ve focused too much attention on my differences with people that cheer for racism or clap for sexism and violence against the dis-empowered. Whatever it is, I can no longer empathize with a large number of people in the world. Empathy can give us joy as easily as it can give us sorrow. I now find it difficult to mirror the joy in other people and this makes me sad. Empathy is one of the characteristics that make us special in the animal kingdom and I feel lesser for it’s frequent absence.

He brings up a good point, especially in the context of, as this New Yorker article puts it, the benevolent dictator Linus Torvalds steeping down as the head cheese over Linux. 

I’m not convinced Linus will ever change. Maybe I’ve also lost a lot of my empathy.

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October 9, 2018

Bovet’s $460,000 Watch

It might be $460,000, but it’s an utterly amazing $460,000.

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Wi-Fi Switches from Obscure Protocol Names to Simple Generation Numbers

Glenn Fleishman is great at explaining Wi-Fi things, especially why we’re moving away from 802.11-prefixed indications:

The reason for switching to numbers stems from a desire for an easier way to talk about Wi-Fi across versions. I’ve been writing about Wi-Fi since 2000, and it has always been a pain to explain what the letters and numbers mean because most people don’t really need—or want—to know anything but “this works with that at the highest speed of X Mbps.”

This explanatory nightmare worsened in the early 2000s, as the Wi-Fi trademark began to incorporate many different technical standards. Meanwhile, the Wi-Fi logo gained add-ons that referred almost exclusively to standards governing spectrum usage and bandwidth rates.

Simplifying device compatibility through better naming seems like a clever idea that’s long overdue, and one that should help people who have no interest in technical standards arcana. The next time someone asks me what Wi-Fi router they should buy, I look forward to saying, “Wi-Fi 6. Look for it on the box.”

Before you know it, we’ll be having conversations starting with “what’s better about Wi-Fi 7?”

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Johnathan Lyman
Kenmore, WA,
United States
 
blogging, design, technology, software, development, gaming, photography