Updated “Social” contacts

Given the announcement of Google+ shutdown (for consumer accounts, which mine actually was not), I decided to take some time to clean up my own house and thought it would be good to provide an update of where and why you would find me somewhere.

First of all, you won’t find me on Google+ even during the next few months of transition: I fully deleted the account after using the Takeout interface that Google provides. I have not been using it except for a random rant here and there, or to reach some of my colleagues from the Dublin office.

If you want to follow my daily rants and figure out what I actually complain the most loudly about, you’re welcome to follow me on Twitter. Be warned that a good chunk of it might just be first-world London problems.

The Twitter feed also gets the auto-share of whatever I share on NewsBlur, which is, by the way, what I point everyone to when they keep complaining about Google Reader. Everybody: stop complaining and just feel how much better polished Samuel’s work is.

I have a Facebook account, but I have (particularly in the past couple of years), restricted it to the people I actually interact with heavily, so unless we know each other (online or in person) well enough, it’s unlikely I would accept a friend request. It’s not a matter of privacy, given that I have written about my “privacy policy”, it’s more about wanting to have a safe space I can talk with my family and friends without discussions veering towards nerd-rage.

Also, a few years ago I decided that most of my colleagues, awesome as they are, should rather stay at arms’ length. So with the exception of a handful of people who I do go out with outside the office, I do not add colleagues to Facebook. Former colleagues are more likely.

If you like receiving your news through Facebook (a negative idea for most of tech people I know, but something that the non-tech folks still widely prefer it seems), you can “like” my page, which is just a way for WordPress to be able to share the posts to Facebook (it can share to pages, but not to personal accounts, following what I already complained before about photos). The page also gets the same NewsBlur shared links as Twitter.

Talking about photos, when Facebook removed the APIs, I started focusing on posting only on Flickr. This turned out to be a bit annoying for a few of my friends, so I also set up a page for it. You’re welcome to follow it if you want to have random pictures from my trips, or squirrels, or bees.

One place where you won’t see me is Mastodon or other “distributed social networks” — the main reason for it is that I got already burnt by Identi.ca back in the days, and I’m not looking forward to have a repeat of the absolute filter bubble there, or the fact that, a few years later, all those “dents” got lost. As much as people complain how Twitter is ephemeral, I can still find my first tweet, while identi.ca just disappeared, as I see it, in the middle of nowhere.

And please stop even considering following me on Keybase please.

My time in the USA: Intro


You probably noticed that compared to my usual average, I haven’t written much lately. One of the simplest reason why this happened is that I don’t have that much time, but add to that the fact that I’m spending all my day on this computer in this office, and you can guess I don’t want to spend more to write. As I think I said before, I’m planning on getting a new ultrabook so I can write from one of the parks or from the Starbucks downstairs, that should make it easier.

In the mean time, in what little spare time I have, I’ll be writing a bit about what my experience in the USA has been this year. I have, after all, spent most of my year here, even though I went back to Italy for a while, and spent some time in Brussels (FOSDEM), Paris (VDD, FOMS and post) and London (just sheer pleasure). But is it that important for me to write about this? That’s what I was asking myself for a while, and why I haven’t done this before.

Well, I asked that on Twitter last night and a few people seemed interested in hearing from me what it’s like to be here, so I guess I might as well start writing. There are so many topics on this that it’ll actually be a series of posts, thus why I start with this short introduction. The posts will appear under my Personal category, which is set to syndicate over Gentoo Universe only. If you’re reading my blog not from any Planet, but with a direct feed subscription, and you’d prefer not reading about this at all, you can change your subscription to the technical feed and you won’t be bothered.

Now, even though I’m not having the most outgoing lifestyle, so I can’t say I’m enjoying everything that Hermosa Beach has to offer, I have to say that there are many things, big and small, that are markedly different from living in the suburbs around Venice, Italy… so there should be plenty for me to write about in the next weeks.

The importance of little things

Foreword of warning: this post might sound totally unrelated to Gentoo; it really can be meant as a metaphor for Gentoo, so if you don’t get it, please don’t say this shouldn’t be on Planet Gentoo right away. Thanks.

There are many little things in the world that count, when the numbers pile up; for instance the energy and water problem is such that little things like not keeping the water running while brushing your teeth or shaving are very common suggestions by Greens, together with turning off the lights when leaving a room, even for a few minutes.

Little things that count

But these already look big enough to be logical, in my opinion there are even smaller things, less obvious, less “logical” than should be considered to save energy, and water. The photo above pictures one of these: it’s a shower gel bottle, an used shower gel bottle (actually I finished it up yesterday). I think it’s pretty emblematic of the problem since it is left squeezed.

This kind of container seems quite nice: it’s usually recyclable, it’s plenty of gel so that you don’t have to buy lots in smaller containers and so on. On the other hand it has one huge defect in my opinion, when you’re almost done, you have a hard time to get out the last part of the gel. How is that a problem? When you’re under the shower you’re not likely to turn the water down while you squeeze out the gel, this is a waste of (hot) water.

Sure, it’s possible to just turn the bottle upside down and keep it that way when the gel is running low, but this can be quite tricky especially with bottle like that one that have larger bottoms: the center of gravity in that bottle, once turned upside down, is quite high and it tends to fall quite more easily.

For this reason I prefer other two types of bottles: the ones that have the opening at the bottom, and in particular the ones that are soft and squeezy. Both types reduce the amount of work, and time, needed to get the final part of the shower gel out. Unfortunately these seem to be quite less common form factors for shower gel, I don’t know why, maybe it’s a storage problem. On the other hand, using these types of bottles don’t require any extra time to squeeze the last part of the gel and does not require you to turn down the water any more than the start of it.

But of course, taking a look at the problem just from this side is not correct: there are more variables in play, for instance I don’t know what the reason for not using more down-opening bottles is (as I said, it might be a storage problem I can guess, but how does that impact the great scheme?), nor I know whether the softer material has different emergent properties. Indeed, it might be that upside-down bottles get wasted more often in storage, to an amount that makes the amount of water wasted look puny, or the production line for the softer material might waste much more energy. These are the non-obvious things that, most likely, somebody is weighting behind the scenes.

So why do I call this a metaphor? Well, it can be a metaphor for quite a few things: the small and big gains that need to be weighted about the efforts required along the software production line or the linear versus proportional time problem, and so on. In general, I think it’s just one of the little annoyances of life, and that it can make you think about lots of other issues when thinking of it more seriously than you’d normally do.


Lily of the valley

Today I’m tired even if I just woke up at a 3.30pm; tonight I dreamt of work and other stuff, it’s really not the best dream in the world, and I was even using my artificial sleep helper . I guess the problem is that I overstretched myself once again and worked for about 16 hours a day for the past month. So for today, I’m hopefully off to play, watch tv, play with friends and stuff like that.

If you were expecting anything from me today, it’s going to be postponed, sorry. But the tinderbox is hopefully running (minus possible infinite loops), and thus I’ll work on those logs tomorrow almost for sure.

I was hoping to go out to make a few more photos (yesterday I did a few good shots ), but the weather is cloudy and menacing rain, so it’s not the best idea I could have. Too bad.


Following Joshua and Christian here comes the photo of what was my development setup :)

Joshua you were very evil to start this while I’m in the middle of restructuring my office :) As for what I’m using right now, it is very similar to what I posted already although there is a stair in the middle of the room, and raw cables all around.

This was my setup, although I’m in the middle of changing it.

There actually was another very messy desk on the right, which is the one I’m using now. The external hard disk I use mostly for the laptop although it’s a nice way to backup stuff for the workstation too if I need to.

I’m a huge fan of the new aluminum keyboards from Apple, they are one of the best kind of keyboards I tried in the past few years. I’m now using two of them, one for the laptop and one for workstation (although the photo only shows one).

On the hidden desk there were a scanner (Espon Perfection 2580) and an Onkyo A/V Receiver which is the central part of my sudio subsystem :) I really should find a way to put the speakers on the ceiling when I’m done with the new furniture, though, as I’m not sure if I’ll have enough space (I’m going to try keeping just one desk). I’m afraid they aren’t standard though :/