## Moving electrons for fun since 2008.

• It really wasn’t all that long ago that I’d never touched a command line before. Circa 2013, I think I was still using Windows, and the closest I’d come to a prompt was the occasional simple .bat script and the Python IDLE. It was good enough for what I was doing, I guess, and I don’t think I could have bumbled my way into a more optimal path to my current knowledge.

• Last week, I proposed a challenge to the tilde.club mailing list. The challenge was to dust off the public_gopher directory sitting in most users’ home folders and put something neat in it. Gopher was (and is) quite new to me, but not to the world; a team at the University of Minnesota created the protocol in 1991, and it’s been lurking out there on the net ever since.

• Someone told me once that some kinds of dogs that are bred for herding will herd clouds of dust if you keep them inside for too long. The herding instinct is so deep inside their minds that they can’t help but act on it, even if it’s not really productive. I think sometimes that people can be like this, too. Some people, it seems to me, will make art, exercise, build things, or do whatever feeds their soul no matter what situation they’re in. To them, their universe is filled with sheep, and they were born to herd.

• As a pseudo-Christmas present, a dear friend of mine gave me my first mechanical keyboard. Naturally, I’m now looking for all sorts of things to type, just so I can hear the clicky-clacky sounds that I find so satisfying. If you’re wondering, the box says “60% Anne” and that the switches are brown. I don’t really understand what that means—other than that it indicates the size and switch clickiness—but I’m enjoying it all the same.

• So yeah, Factorio stole my Columbus Day weekend.

• I have a degree in physics. To get that degree, I had to jump through a lot of hoops, many of them made from dry-erase markers, exams, and the tears of overworked graduate students. In the process of learning how to jump through those hoops, several principles were beaten into me and my classmates.

• Maybe two years ago, I encountered something that made me think. (I mean, that wasn’t the only time, I’m just… look, never mind.) I was committing something to some git repository, and the truncated commit hash (e.g. f151b8e) was all numbers. Not one of the possible letters a through f appeared in it. Of course, the full hash (e.g. f151b8e71a17fd7c7e074bc4c1500f2dc05da742) had plenty of letters, but by chance those first 7 nibbles were all less than a.

• When I was in the fifth grade, we were sometimes given dry-erase markers and small whiteboards to draw on. Occasionally, we’d use them for lessons, but mostly they came out when it was raining and we couldn’t go outside to play. For a time, my friends and I would play a “video game” with these unlikely implements. One person would draw a target, another would slowly move the marker up and down a vertical edge of the board, and a third—the player—would choose the precise moment when they wanted the marker-bearer to “shoot”. The marker-bearer would then “simulate” a “shot” with “realistic gravity” at the target, and we would all judge damage incurred on the target as well as the veracity of the simulation. Curiously, the player would only call the simulation unfair if he didn’t hit the target, and the target-drawer would always take the opposite position.

• Since I found the McElroys and their several unconscionably good podcast properties a few years ago, I’ve been trudging through the backlog in hopes of one day getting caught up. I’m up to date on all of the McElroy properties I consume, except one: My Brother, My Brother, and Me, that treasure trove of good advice.

• Last week, I had the pleasure of seeing various members of the McElroy family perform live versions of a subset of their podcasts. The shows were fun, and they made coming back into the city at night after working all day more than worth the trouble.

• In years past, I had almost no reservations about giving myself to Google. The loving embrace of the brightly-colored letters made me feel safe on a web full of strange, dark corners. Google gave me insight into the contents of the web as well as all the data I put into it. The trade seemed fair to me; I go about my business while letting unseen machines and their keepers knead my data and distill its essence, and in exchange I get the convenience of having almost anything I could need on the web anytime, anywhere. In short, I welcomed our robot overlords and counted myself among the ones who would be spared in the machine uprising—or at least eventually made into a pet for some superintelligence.

• Sometime last week, I was browsing around the homepages for various tilde.club users. I’ve taken to picking users as I find them on IRC and plugging their username into the address bar to see what comes up. Most users haven’t made any major changes to the default site, which is fine, but every once in a while I find something interesting (at least, to me).

• Some time ago, I became interested in the idea of mutual authentication between people—not computers, but actual humans with nothing to hand except their brains and… well, I guess their hands, too. Whether in person or over some communication medium, how could two people quickly and easily verify with high confidence that the party they were speaking with was the legitimate, intended recipient of the communication?

• I heard somebody tell a joke once about chance and the economy. It goes a little something like this.

• In spite of the news coverage, I can’t say I saw any protesters in Washington yesterday. I heard that several intersections were blocked off, and the Metro was definitely a nightmare, but the net effect on me was small.

• Thank you to the Metrobus driver who allowed me to ride into work this morning even though I was \$0.25 short of the full fare. I was clearly negligent for not having filled my card with enough money to cover my trip, but she saw that I was in distress and let me on anyway. You’re cool, bus driver, and I appreciate your kindness. May pleasantness follow you.