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Simple Computer Daydreams

Sometimes I just want my computing to be simpler. I daydream of Mac OS 9, of getting my Grape iMac G3 out of storage and running an old version of BBEdit. I want a few files sorted into a few folders accessed through an elegant Finder. I want a computer disconnected from all of my digital baggage.

I’ve replicated some of that with my “Second Sam” account on my MacBook Pro. It’s separated from most of my other things. It’s got less than 10 active documents in my Home directory. It’s got an iTunes library disconnected from any service.

It can only exist because I have my “real” account, but I continue to enjoy this peaceful nook I’ve carved out.

Probably Very Little

I asked my friend Jeff today, “what would happen if I turned off the Internet to my computer for an hour?”

“Probably very little,” he said.

In thinking about what stops me from feeling like I’m passing my time in a deliberate fashion, I noticed just how much twitchiness there is in my habits. Sometimes, my brain hits command-L and types “daringfireball.net” when I’m already at daringfireball.net. Sometimes I play Battleships for an hour.

So I’m looking for more ways I can treat internet access like a faucet that I can adjust the flow of, rather than a faulty sprinkler system that constantly sprays water everywhere.

An example: I wrote this little post with the wifi off, then turned it back on when it was time to hit “Publish”. It’s a little thing, but these are the things I’m trying. I’ll let you know as I think of more.

Playing with my Mac again

A few days ago I created a new user account on my MacBook Pro, called “Second Sam”. I wanted to see what it was like to start fresh, with no historical data or baggage. I wouldn’t attach my AppleID; I wouldn’t log in to iCloud Drive or Dropbox; I wouldn’t install 1Password or sync an OmniFocus database anywhere. This would be a single-device experiment.

It’s so cleansing—it’s like taking a long bath after camping for a week. All the grime and cruft is gone and you’re left with a manageable set of opporunties.

I forgot how much I like the Macintosh. A clean Finder is a pretty darn good organizational tool. The Keychain isn’t too shabby either for storing passwords. The plain-language event parsing by Calendar is nice, and an iTunes library that doesn’t sync or stream anywhere is very pleasant.

I’m not quite sure how I’ll incorporate this into my “real“ computing, but I’m enjoying this vacation.

Letter to Councilperson Hilbert regarding my strong opposition to ORD. 2018-194, regarding Brook Road Bike Lanes

Councilperson Hilbert,

I’m extremely disappointed to see that you introduced ORD. 2018-194, prohibiting bike lanes on Brook Road. This goes against the city’s Bicycle Master Plan and the Complete Streets and Vision Zero ordinances. I’m a multi-modal Richmonder. I walk, drive a car, bicycle, and ride the bus. The Brook Road bike lanes are a vital part of the plan to help me (and Northside constituents like me) access the city with less chance of being killed by a car. I would tell you this in person at your meeting tonight, but I’ll be participating in a city-wide bicycling event with my children.

I assume you’re acting in good faith in what you think is the best interest of all your constituents, so you must have incorrect data influencing your decision. The idea that Brook Road is overwhelmed with automobile traffic is absurd to anyone who has used it. I encourage you to walk or bicycle this area and see for yourself.

I recall a similar resolution of yours 10 years ago that ran counter to the facts at hand and contradicted the previously agreed to plans of the city—when you prohibited construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Hermitage and Laburnum. At the time, you said that _something_ needed to be done with the intersection, but the roundabout wasn’t the answer. You promised to do that _something_. It’s been ten years, the intersection is unchanged, and I’ve heard of you taking no effort to keep your promise.

I sincerely hope you have a change of heart regarding ORD. 2018-194 and withdraw your support. With the utmost respect, if you move forward with this you will have lost any remaining faith I had in you to do the right thing for _all_ your constituents. Not only will you lose any future vote from me, but I will feel obliged to spend considerable time, money, and effort so that you not win the office you presently hold again.

Ten years ago, you proudly stated that you were from the “show me” state and that you needed someone to “show you” the benefit of a roundabout before you would allow its construction. Today, I need you to “show me” that you’ve learned how to better listen to your constituents over a decade of service.

Your constituent,

Sam Davies

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Tweet Less. Write More.

Several related pieces have been going around my Internet over the past day or so about blogging and it made me want to write more. It also made me want to encourage my friends to write more, or at least make more stuff!

Return of the blogs

From Jeffery Zeldman’s announcement on changes as A List Apart celebrates it’s 20th anniversary:

We’re getting rid of advertisers and digging back to our roots: community-based, community-built, and determinedly non-commercial.

We have no beef with networks like Twitter or Facebook, or with companies like Apple and Google that currently dominate our communal digital space. We just think diversity is about expanding and speaking up—not consolidating and homogenizing.

which prompted Manton Reese’s “Decline and return of indie blogs”:

To everyone reading Zeldman’s post about A List Apart and nodding your head, retweeting the link, clicking the like button… Dust off your blog and actually post about it. A better web is built one page at a time.

So here’s me having decided to write today.

The giant bird in the room

In the past, I’ve described my Twitter feed as “digitized grease” and I stand by that. I don’t really like looking at my Twitter feed. When I do check in occasionally I mostly see:

  • One-word (or emoji) commentaries on quoted tweets that link to essays

  • Political partisans condemning each other, changing no minds

  • Links to posts on Instagram

It feels like people are individually punching at the ocean when they really should be working together to build a levy. It feels like there’s so much wasted energy going into Twitter that could be harnessed for so much more. I’m not the one to harness it, nor would I presume to know how to, but if I feel so drained after catching up on my twitter timeline that I have to imagine it tires out other people as well.

If Twitter brings you joy, if you use it for good, if you use it to find voices that you wouldn’t ever hear elsewhere, don’t take my words as anything other than a call for reflection, as I personally try to be more deliberate and mindful about how I use my time.

If you find yourself, like me, exhausted by Twitter, try taking a break to make something. Write a three paragraph email to a friend you haven’t talked to in forever. Schedule lunch with a friend. Text that same link you were about to reflexively retweet to a friend and talk about it with them privately. You might feel better.

Some blogs and not blogs

Here are some things people make that I like:

  • My friend Seth Clifford sometimes writes about things he likes at Greetings from the Grid

  • My friend Tim Nahumck also sometimes writes about things he likes at his webzone

  • My friend John Sarvay used to write a personal blog, but now writes most of his words for the Floricane Newsletter which is great and you should sign up for it.

  • My friend Ross Catrow used to run RVANews, but now delivers great words to your email inbox every weekday with Good Morning RVA.

  • My friend Hayley DeRoche writes a Tiny Letter called Wee Morning Tea. It’s great.

This list is not exhaustive of all the internet things that I like, just a few of them. If you have the slightest inkling that you’d like to make a thing and put it on the Internet, you should. You won’t get fame or fortune, but if you make a thing and tell me about it, I’ll probably like it!

In conclusion, friends, if Twitter makes you unhappy, please spend less time on it; spend that time making things that do bring you joy and share them with me.



RVA Bike Share Terms & Conditions

Because I’m that type of person, I read through the Terms & Conditions you’re required to agree to to sign up for the new RVA Bike Share program.

Tidbits from the Terms & Conditions (any emphasis is mine):

  • No wearing a backpack while riding. (Section 10.a)
  • Maximum weight for a human to use RVA Bike Share is 260 lbs. (Section 10.g)
  • If you don’t return a bike to the Bike Dock within 10 hours you’ll be charged a $2,000 fee (Section 12)
  • You waive your right to a jury trial if you want to sue RVA Bike Share. (Section 16)
  • You agree that Maryland courts will have jurisdiction over RVA Bike Share. (Section 16)
  • If you get hurt and can’t communicate, RVA Bike Share can tell local authorities who you are. (Section 28.i)
  • RVA Bike Share can share location data about you (including the latitude and longitude your home address) with the City of Richmond, but only if they aggregate the data first to remove anything that could identify you as an individual. (Section 28.ii)

And from the Privacy Policy:

“RVA Bike Share will not sell, rent or lease your personally identifiable information to others.”