Battle of the DMs

This is the “first IRC server”, according to Wikipedia[1]. Back in my day, a “server” was a physical machine. The picture is from much later, but the machine is probably from 1987 or 1988.

(robla updated this 2020-07-31 1:40am PDT… yes, robla really should go to bed)

Who is going to win the battle of DM’ing: Twitter, Discord, Slack, Google Talk, Facebook Messenger, Matrix/Element, Mastodon, IRC, SMS, or plain old email? I’m probably missing a few contenders.

It seems among my friends that email and SMS are still the champions. I’m going to keep editing this blog post though.

  • 2020-07-29 – 3:48pm PDT – email is the unanimous favorite
  • 2020-07-29 – 4:28pm PDT – it’s a tie! SMS may have pulled in front, though
  • 2020-07-29 – 5:24pm PDT – what’s this; do we have a POSIX talk underdog? Is this over telnet or SSH? I sure hope it’s SSH…
The XMPP logo[2]
  • 2020-07-29 – 6:24pm PDT – Jabber/XMPP gets a vote. Jabber and XMPP make me a little sad. It seemed they had a lot going for them at one point, but XML-base protocols seemed to go out of style
  • 2020-07-29 – 7pm PDT – Instagram, Zoom, Discord, Slack are all getting votes now.
  • 2020-07-29 – 11:03pm PDT – the conversation is getting too much for me to keep up with
  • 2020-07-29 – close to midnight – You may be wondering where all these votes are coming from. They’re coming from friends on a certain social network beginning with “F”. However, I think I want to blast this out to other social networks like Twitter, and make more updates later this week.
  • 2020-07-30 – (robla did other things)
  • 2020-07-31 – 1:44am PDT – many other conversations got more interesting than this one on one of my other social networks. Twitter has been kinda dead., but someone noticed. I forgot to post it on Mastodon, but that’s fixed. Still, the F-word website is still very much the king/queen/czar of “social media”. Some ideas I’ve “heard”: SMS, Teams chat, Talkabout, Blackberry Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, Kakao Talk. It all seems to be dependent on context. Sometimes it’s about co-workers. Sometimes it’s about co-gamers. Sometimes it’s about using mobile phones. It’s all still pretty interesting to me…


Blogging is dead; long live journaling!

I have accounts on Quora, Twitter, Medium, reddit, Mastodon, myndmess, Electorama, Miraheze, GitHub, GitLab, and, among other. Blogging is so aughts. I’m going to cover just a few of the sites that I journal on here:

Those are just a few sites that I’m “blogging” on. I’m going to edit this as I notice things I forgot or mistakes I made.

Thinking about “flyover country”

UPDATE: 2020-04-24 – I posted most of what I was working on a few days ago over at Quora:

I still have some content for Daily Kos as well, but I’m still working out how to present it for the Daily Kos audience.

2020-04-14: I have a blog post that I’m working on over on Daily Kos that I plan to publish the following URL:

I may copy/adapt and replace this placeholder, but I’m reserving the slug on my blog now. I’ll probably link here from Daily Kos.

In the meantime, you should also follow me on Quora:

You might be able to figure out what I’m writing about…

Why donate to a non-profit with a hard-to-pronounce name?

Go to, and find the green “Donate!” button!
…or the purple “Donate Today!” button. Both work.

This could end up being more rambly than normal, so I’ll cut to the chase: there’s a few things I’d like you to do:

  1. Go to
  2. On the top right, you’ll see a green button with a gift icon labeled “Donate!” Click on it.
  3. Follow the instructions, and make a modest donation (e.g. $10 is truly appreciated; $20 will probably be appreciated more)

Since most folks that I know haven’t heard of Miraheze (and probably aren’t sure how to pronounce it), I’m not entirely going to blame you for not racing to donate. I might be quietly judging you, but I won’t be blaming you. 😉 Seriously, though, if you’re willing to trust me and donate to Miraheze, you don’t need to read the rest of this.

Why am I doing asking you to donate to Miraheze? Well, it’s a lo-o-o-n-n-ng story, full of tangents. That story goes back to 1994…

Continue reading “Why donate to a non-profit with a hard-to-pronounce name?”

End of a chapter…

I didn’t get a chance to publicly pontificate about Internet Archive while I was employed there. From March 2019 until very recently, I managed the Core Infrastructure team at Internet Archive.

I suppose I did take one notable opportunity to blog about it. I wrote a blog post for titled “Two Thin Strands of Glass“, which was about the long outage we had due to a fiber cut. It happened the day before the manager of our operations team (and lead network engineer) Jonah Edwards and his spouse were planning to leave San Francisco for their new home address in Portland, Oregon. My role during the outage was to briefly be the remote hands at the colocation facility for our upstream connection the Internet the evening the site went out, and to reinforce the message Jonah was telling us: there is no situation so bad that a panicked response won’t make it worse. Thankfully, the team was really great at biding their time until the fiber repair was complete, and quickly restored service once the fiber connection was repaired.

I loved working with Internet Archive, and I wish the organization well. As a longtime Wikipedian, I’m looking forward to having better access to the books that show up in Wikipedia citations. The team that I managed (Internet Archive’s “Petabox” team) is an amazingly intelligent and capable group of people, and facilitated a lot of fantastic services (both directly, and indirectly though the larger staff). I learned a ton about how this scrappy non-profit provides such an important service to the world (over 50 Petabytes of storage!) with such a small budget.

As for what’s happening with me next: I’m not sure. There’s software I’ve been working on for the past few years that I’d like to make suitable for wider adoption. I’ll probably also return to working on electoral reform (e.g. re-engage in work on and helping to ensure that what happened in 2016 doesn’t happen again.

Replacing the jungle primary, December edition

 photo via Wikimedia Commons by Rich Niewiroski Jr.

A few weeks ago, I posted “Replacing the jungle primary“, where I outlined a couple of proposals that seemed like plausible replacements for California’s current “top-two” primary system. I assigned both proposals jargon-y names, but I only want to highlight one of them: “Majority Approval Filter (MAF)”.  MAF is my preferred option, and has generated the most discussion.  I’ve been refining this option over the past few weeks, and I want to discuss the new version with a wider audience.

Continue reading “Replacing the jungle primary, December edition”

Replacing the jungle primary

(originally published November 20, edited November 25; see footnote)

I’m thrilled with the huge win for approval voting in Fargo, North Dakota, where voters overwhelmingly chose approval voting as their voting system for mayoral elections.

I’ve been jealous of Fargo since I learned of that effort. In our primaries here in California, we use a jungle primary to narrow down the field of candidates to the top two in our primary election in June (or rather, our primary in March), and then choose between them in November.

I’ve been mulling over an idea for replacing California’s jungle primary with an approval-based primary.  I think with the system I describe below, we can also replace our two-candidate general election with a approval-based system that occasionally offers a third choice, but I also offer an alternative that only replaces the jungle primary.

Continue reading “Replacing the jungle primary”

Voting Methods in The Perl Journal

tpj-vol1-3-coverBack in 1996, I wrote an article for The Perl Journal, which they published in the Volume 1, Issue 3 in Autumn 1996. There are several alternatives available for the article:

For years, I’ve wanted to have stable redistribution of this article, and a stable URL that I could refer to.  There have been many URLs over the years to refer to this, but nothing too stable.  Well, as of right now, there is a stable URL:

….which, as of this writing, just redirects right back to this blog post.  That’s probably the URL I’ll redistribute from now on.

Debating Oprah

I managed to get into some wordy discussions with MikeMC over on Medium.  Here’s how it played out from my perspective:

I don’t think either of us has convinced one another of anything, but still, that’s where we left things.  I still think Oprah would be a perfectly acceptable choice by Democrats in 2020.  Not my favorite choice, but still, a powerful strategic move.  MikeMC still thinks its a terrible idea.

I’m offering this summary only because I have something vaguely related that I’d like to share, and I’d like to refer back to this discussion.  I hope you enjoyed this summary.