Unsolicited Writing Advice
Write like your biggest fan needs to translate word for word from your native tongue to their native tongue.
Write like your biggest fan needs to translate word for word from your native tongue to their native tongue.
I've been working as a Software Engineer. I've been building internet things. Things in the realm between the tangible and intangible.
I might look like an engineer, but I am actually a designer.
I like to dream. I like to invent. I like to believe that things that haven't happened yet can still happen. Then I prove they can happen.
I like things in the realm between the intangible and the invisible. Then I like to heighten the tangibility of the invisible further into our reality.
And I like to do this with other people. People that like to imagine.
People that would have worked with the Imagineers.
Like, Imagininers. Imagination Designers.
I skate the airwaves. I surf the screens. I carve the senses.
I don't like all the things that go into draining the data lakes into data silos and wallets though.
I like it when the whole process is collaborative. With a team effort and transparency.
I like discovering neat things and sharing them with others. And experiencing their discoveries in return.
I live at the intersection of human-and-computer interaction.
I just don't like being a human that interacts with the computer in ways that are against my consent.
I like technology that is designed. Created freely by ideas, not negotiated in a black box.
I'm a Software Designer.
The Founding of The 'Verse
We used to call it the metaverse. It was an idea. A lowercase m.
We've since dropped the inside joke to be more inclusive.
We're clique-less. Free of cliques. Free from clicks.
More dramatically, we're free from our clicks being tracked to categorically castrate us into cohorts.
We were forced to make a name change. We are not amused.
I got a raise at work. Concerning growth areas, I could be more proficient in TypeScript, React, and GraphQL. My raise could have been bigger if I wasn't so... whatever I am.
I don't care though. Here's my persona.
The year is 2008. I'm a college student with a heavy Tuesday/Thursday course load to work data entry Monday, Wednesday, Friday and the bowling alley on the nights and weekends.
Through grit, hustle, eccentricity, and luck I was gifted a brand new MacBook Pro by Apple. Came with the Adobe Suite and Final Cut Pro.
I sold it to pay for three months of rent. I was surviving off ramen and instant mashed potatoes.
My logic was simple. If I get addicted to Apple products, I'll have developed an expensive and exclusionary habit. I'd rather help build the web.
Later that year was the first time I tried Linux.
Fast forward to 2018, I got laid off from the data-is-the-new-oil startup I'd been drinking the kool-aid at. In turn, I'd lost my MacBook Pro that I was happy to utilize on the company dime. It had been my main and only personal computer since 2014.
I challenged myself.
I bought the cheapest refurbished laptop available from NewEgg that could run Linux with a desktop environment. This was that computer I'd use to get a new job in Silicon Valley. The Ol' Dell Latitude.
Regretfully, I do wish I accepted the offer from Roblox after seeing their IPO. Hindsight is 50/50. However, I think I did pretty well by landing on my feet at Netflix.
Last night was the first time I booted up The Ol' Dell Latitude in a long while. I wrote some software I wanted to try on it.
My software wouldn't run though, as the dependency I was trying to use is incompatible with 32-bit hardware.
Thankfully, I'm building for the web. I was able to swap out Deno for QuickJS no problem. I lost my bundler in the process.
Thankfully, I'm building for the web. All my client software runs natively in text-only environments and progressively enhances to be fly-as-hell in modern browsers.
Here's the punchline though.
I wasn't able to update my Linux install. I mean, I was, but for the sake of argument, let's say I gave up and went back to Windows as a result.
What went wrong?
Three years ago when I was job searching, I installed VS Code on the Ol' Dell Latitude. As voted the most popular text editor by engineers I personally surveyed, I figured I should be up to speed on the hottest tool in the industry.
To do so, I needed to add a Microsoft domain to my package manager. This is software that downloads and installs updates for all of my software packages.
At some point in the last three years, Microsoft deleted the public key that they sign their packages with that my package manager uses to verify the authenticity and, therefore, the integrity of the software that gets installed onto my machine.
Let's rephrase that into a more human example.
Imagine Microsoft is the King and my computer is a soldier in the King's army. The Soldier and the King agree on a wax seal for dictating commands. Letters addressed to the Soldier with the correct wax seal can be trusted as sent directly from the King.
So, should the Soldier receive a letter with instructions to commit genocide without the seal of the King, they should not commit the genocide. Even with the seal, the Soldier should not commit the genocide and should instead devote their allegience to a realm of higher ideals.
Again, I digress.
When Microsoft deleted their key, my computer couldn't update anymore. Most people switch from Windows to Linux. Many return to Windows after encountering any amount of friction on Linux.
The solution is to remove the Microsoft repository from my package manager. An easy change, but it is not obvious to a beginner. And it only affects anyone trying to bring their comfort zone with them into new and unfamiliar territory.
I was angry for a long time.
I was scared for even longer.
I pushed people away. While I was hurting, I hurt others.
I wrote about my fears here. I lashed out, as honestly as I could.
I'm not sorry for anything I wrote. I'm not sorry for how I felt.
In presenting more myself and feeling more myself, I found people didn't care.
They didn't care from a place of hate. They didn't care from a place of ignorance.
People didn't care because I never told them how I felt. I never let myself open up to be vulnerable.
I mean, there are a lot of people that think I'm going to hell for one reason or another. And there are a lot of people that think I'm the most spiritually grounded person they've ever met.
I'm a spectrum.
We all deserve the right to be ourselves. That's why I'm supporting the walk out today.
If you're mad about something, don't stay mad.
You'll hurt yourself, then others.
Just be honest with who you really are.
Let's make no mistake about this: The American Dream starts with the neighborhoods. If we wish to rebuild our cities, we must first rebuild our neighborhoods. And to do that, we must understand that the quality of life is more important than the standard of living. To sit on the front steps—whether it's a veranda in a small town or a concrete stoop in a big city—and to talk to our neighborhoods is infinitely more important than to huddle on the living-room lounger and watch a make-believe world in not-quite living color.
And I hardly need to tell you that in the 19- or 24-inch [10-foot] view of the world, cleanliness has long since eclipsed godliness. Soon we'll all smell, look, and actually be laboratory clean, as sterile on the inside as on the out. The perfect consumer, surrounded by the latest appliances. The perfect audience, with a ringside seat to almost any event in the world, without smell, without taste, without feel—alone and unhappy in the vast wasteland of our living rooms. I think that what we actually need, of course, is a little more dirt on the seat of our pants as we sit on the front stoop and talk to our neighbors once again, enjoying the type of summer day where the smell of garlic travels slightly faster than the speed of sound.
— Harvey Milk
When you first meet your new friend, get their name. Pronounce it correctly. Laugh together on how many times it takes.
Ask them 3 questions that are infused with their name.
Maybe. So what?
Well, you're wasting your time.
They need me. If they don't... that's on them, not on me.
It reflects poorly on your judgement.
My judgement? Okay, say they are and say I don't. That's fine. Though, if they need me and I don't. Egg on me.
I was twelve years old. Seventh grade.
Maybe the teacher's phone rang. Maybe the principal knocked on the door.
Whatever it was, the teacher turned on the television.
Parental Guidance Advised. Teachers can substitute for parental figures.
Whatever was happening was summarized.
Broken down so even us, children, could understand.
In the following days and weeks, we were taught how to process and grow.
We wrote poems. We read books.
We learned how not to be afraid. We learned how to stand together.
All these years later, it's a damn shame to watch everyone fall apart.
And deliberated. It has been years since I've brought my Bible anywhere.
It used to just be me, a bag, and that book.
I spent a summer sleeping in an Eno (parachute material hammock) in Puerto Rico.
I feel like I'm packing pretty lean for tomorrow. Figured hell, might as well.
Never know when I might run into someone just as curious as I am. Like, as curious about Christianity as I am about Islam.
I can just picture a serious discussion slowly unraveling into a casual,
“What the fuck has been going on with the people who worship our God dude?!”
My importantly though, I'll be bringing my copy of Exploding the Phone (ISBN 978-0-8021-2061-8).
Also, my Banana Phone since Egypt has the proper cell bands for it. And the right charger. I bought that last December. Had no international trips planned, but super pumped to use it for real for real, if only for a week.
Also also, everything I've packed is what I'd be cool living with, should I just like, not come back.
I'm about to head to Egypt in a couple days.
Didn't really tell my mom until last week. Mentioned it to my dad when I performed his wedding ceremony last month. Didn't tell friends until today after discovering they were in Switzerland and then finding out they're now in Botswana.
I told my best friend though right when it happened. When I realized I was going. When I had to come to terms with my desire to escape the bubble I'm in with the fear of traveling during the pandemic that is still very much not over.
That was before Delta. But I have something most people don't have.
I maintain the internal web application that Netflix uses to make logistical decisions globally surrounding COVID-19. I checked. The virus is way less prevalent where we're going in Egypt than it is anywhere in America.
There's always risk, so make informed decisions.
If you are not vaccinated and you have access to the shot, please, please take it.
Anyway. I wanted to share something my best friend wrote. My journey into detoxing from the internet and regaining a semblance of my mental health began with side-stepping mainstream technology.
Truly, more humane technology exists. You do not need to be subjected to digital human rights violations or EULAs, for the laywers in the room.