BiteofanApple Archive About Code Twitter
by Brian Schrader
Archive About Code Twitter

The Open Microblog Standard

Posted on Mon, 29 Sep 2014

A few weeks ago I began drafting a new standard for open, platform independent communication service. You can think of it as Twitter meets RSS. Today I'm making it public (the GitHub repo has been public for almost a week now, but I haven't told anyone).

Twitter, in my eyes and in the eyes of others is not a social network, its a communications service (like the phone company). With Twitter announcing that it will soon become like Facebook, in that it shows you what it wants rather than what you want, I thought the time was perfect to begin looking for alternatives. So far few exist, and those few that do are just lined up to be another Twitter or Facebook. This led me to try coming up with my own solution.

The Open Microblog standard is an outline for a potential service(s) that provide features similar to Twitter, but in a way that is not controlled by a central entity. Its based on RSS and, excluding some additional information, should work with most RSS readers already. It adds the ability to reply to, message, and converse with people using a simple format. A user's data is 100% public, and users can migrate to any open microblog service provider if their current choice no longer fits their needs or goals all without losing followers, their block list, or the ability to talk with their friends.

Here's an excerpt from the Open Microblog Spec:

In recent years our internet communication has been increasingly controlled by single private companies. Facebook and Twitter account for an enormous percentage of online communication...

The Open Microblog is a proposed standard for an open and easy to implement internet communication mechanism. It is based on the success of RSS and is platform independent. It allows for most of the features that services like Twitter and Facebook provide but in an open way.

I encourage any developers reading this to please check out the spec, read through it, submit pull requests, etc. The spec is still technically in development and I'd love your feedback.

The first Open Microblog provider is in development, and any developers looking to implement a provider themselves, please get in contact with me. You don't have to since I don't control anything, but I'd love to hear your plans so that we can work together to create a better, more open web for everyone.

The Open Microblog Spec →

-Thanks for reading,
      Brian Schrader

Thoughts on the iPhone 6

Posted on Sun, 28 Sep 2014

I got my iPhone 6 on launch day. After a week with it, I have a few thoughts on Apple's new device. For context, I purchased a Space Gray, 64GB iPhone 6.

  • The screen is awesome, the black levels have been greatly improved over the iPhone 5. It would have been nice to have increased pixel density, but I'll take the screen improvements over more pixels hands down.
  • Apps that have not been optimized for the bigger displays look really silly. Developers, please update your apps.
  • The curved glass around the edges feels great to hold in your hand, and swipe gestures feel much smoother now that there isn't a hard corner that you drag your thumb over.
  • The storage increase is awesome (this isn't an iPhone 6 thing, but getting an iPhone with 64GB of storage as opposed to 16 is a decision I should have made a long time ago).
  • The screen size... Im getting used to it. Soon I doubt I'll be able to consider a time when I didn't have a screen this size, but that time is not yet upon me. I like the extra real-estate, but one-handed has taken a huge hit in terms of usability.

-Thanks for reading,
      Brian Schrader

The Trouble With Harvard

Posted on Sun, 14 Sep 2014

To me, these are the things a university education should instill in you. Universities aren't for job training, they're for educating.

I think we can be more specific. It seems to me that educated people should know something about the 13-billion-year prehistory of our species and the basic laws governing the physical and living world, including our bodies and brains. They should grasp the timeline of human history from the dawn of agriculture to the present. They should be exposed to the diversity of human cultures, and the major systems of belief and value with which they have made sense of their lives. They should know about the formative events in human history, including the blunders we can hope not to repeat. They should understand the principles behind democratic governance and the rule of law. They should know how to appreciate works of fiction and art as sources of aesthetic pleasure and as impetuses to reflect on the human condition.

On top of this knowledge, a liberal education should make certain habits of rationality second nature. Educated people should be able to express complex ideas in clear writing and speech. They should appreciate that objective knowledge is a precious commodity, and know how to distinguish vetted fact from superstition, rumor, and unexamined conventional wisdom. They should know how to reason logically and statistically, avoiding the fallacies and biases to which the untutored human mind is vulnerable. They should think causally rather than magically, and know what it takes to distinguish causation from correlation and coincidence. They should be acutely aware of human fallibility, most notably their own, and appreciate that people who disagree with them are not stupid or evil. Accordingly, they should appreciate the value of trying to change minds by persuasion rather than intimidation or demagoguery.

The Trouble With Harvard →

-Thanks for reading,
      Brian Schrader

Space Junk

Posted on Sun, 14 Sep 2014

In a break from our regularly scheduled developer-oriented topics, we're taking a break to talk about orbital space debris...

Insert canned space junk image here

The amount of debris in Earth orbit is growing every year. Every launch we dump more things into orbit to float around aimlessly crowding an already crowded area. That junk hits other junk and breaks apart, good right?. No. Smaller pieces, often moving faster, are harder to track. Some of these pieces are fractions of inches big and are impossible to track. Combine this small size with the fact that the pieces move at a speed of around 7km/s (per second) and that pebble-sized debris becomes really dangerous.

Because of a lot of regulation and Cold War era crap cleaning up this space junk is a legal nightmare. Nations can only clean up the stuff they own, cleaning up another nation's junk immediately makes that nation in violation of a whole myriad of laws, and any private vendor who touches this debris immediately becomes a "space pirate" (awesome name, not-so-awesome ramifications).

The amount of space debris is growing every year, and although there is a lot of collaboration to prevent the growth of such debris, the amount currently in orbit is already worrisome. It doesn't go away either.

The problem is still unsolved and remains a huge economic and political challenge. The most harrowing fact about this debris is that if unchecked it may soon be very dangerous if not impossible to launch craft into orbit.

I'm not trying to be a sandwich-board-wearing, doomsday-heralding, rambling, crazy-person here. I'm just bringing it up. We do need to find a solution. Its a serious problem.

NASA's Space Debris FAQ

How Can We Clean Up That Space Junk?

-Thanks for reading,
      Brian Schrader

Chris Radcliff on Twitter's Timeline Changes

Posted on Sun, 07 Sep 2014

I feel the same way.

on the difference between communication, news, and entertainment →

-Thanks for reading,
      Brian Schrader


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