KTamas' Blog

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In Memoriam of Sharewood — My Own Little Content Sharing Community

· 617 words · 3 min read

This post was inspired by the Motherboard article, The Rise and Demise of RSS.


It was early 2012 and Google Reader’s sharing function was taken from us, replaced with a useless, shitty “Share to Google+” button (Fuck you, Google). I’ve been using Reader since late 2006 and the sharing feature since it’s introduction; the notion that if I see something interesting on the internet I must share it with others was ingrained in me, forever.

It started with conversations with friends, and we discovered that Posterous (RIP) had a decent bookmarklet one could use to grab content for sharing. So a few of us started content-sharing blogs (or linkblogs, if you will). Not long after, a friend suggested an idea: why don’t we make our own content-sharing community? So we could use that for a back-end, all we need is a place where we aggregate all these blogs full of content.

The name of software that is used to aggregate RSS feeds is Planet. There were and still are many Planet sites, so I went looking for a suitable engine, but none of them were right until I stumbled upon the code behind planetrubyonrails.com (RIP), written in, wait for it, Rails. I was already familiar with Rails, so I forked it, upgraded it to the latest version of Ruby on Rails, made a couple of changes and a basic design and by then I already had ten people interested, mostly from the old community at Reader.

A cronjob crawled the people’s feeds, pulled the content into the database, stripped most of the formatting and then displayed it on the site, which itself had an RSS feed of course. And so, in early 2012, Sharewood (RIP) was born.


Over the next year or so our community has grown a bit. At the height of it, we had about 16 people. That may not sound like a lot, but a community is a community. People were sharing all kinds of interesting things, and I felt like I got back at least part of what we lost when Google neutered Reader.

The project was an opportunity for me as well to play with Rails; I ended up rewriting almost the entire codebase. I wrote a new RSS/Atom parser; tried to implement PuSH (PubSubHubBub); added support for user accounts, so people would be able to follow others and get a custom RSS feed. I added a few tweaks to the front-end as well, like j/k navigation.

In early 2013 Google announced that they’d shut down Reader and a flurry of new alternatives appeared. One of the most promising ones was Hivemined, one that would never be finished; the one I ended up switching to was NewsBlur which I still use to this day. It’s customizable, fast, has good support and UX. It also has built-in sharing and commenting support although it’s not used widely. I tried switching to it, but never really got hooked on it, and I never had a community around it.


I shut down Sharewood in 2014, having done only basic maintenance on it for a year by then, and I felt like it has run its course.

My itch to share things is still very much present; I maintain a Tumblr blog where I share things irregularly, mostly webcomics I like. I also retweet interesting and funny things a lot on Twitter. But I still don’t have a central place with a community like in the good old days, if you will.

I have no illusions; RSS will not make a comeback. Retweeting things and commenting on them or sharing things in private Slacks are as good as it gets right now.

The itch is still there.

On Blogging, Journaling, Evernote, Todos and Thinking in Weeks

· 571 words · 3 min read

Well, it’s day 5 of my streak, and I have no idea what to write about. But they say you just have to start and eventually something will come out of it, so that’s what I am doing now.

Thing is, I have a blog, although I have not blogged regularly for years now. The only time I did that was in early 2013 when I moved to Sweden from Hungary. For a while I did post daily because things were new and exciting, but eventually it just became regular life stuff, and I slowly stopped; other things became priority. Nevertheless, it was an important period in my life, and I’m glad I have written memories of it.

Around 2013 I got myself a pocket-sized Moleskine, and I started writing down whatever came to my mind, journaling, more or less. I had that notebook with me religiously, in my right pocket, next to my wallet and in the next year and a half, I filled several of them. My favorite was the Evernote edition, which is not sold anymore. It gave you three months of Evernote premium but more importantly, it had nice, light, dot-grid pages which quickly became my favorite.

I kept writing in my notebooks until the start of 2015 when I went digital and started writing all the things down in Evernote. Now, Evernote is by no means a perfect app: it’s bloated, slow and clumsy in many ways. And yet to this day, I have found no suitable replacement for it. It’s one of those softwares that my brain got hardwired to (like OSX, or Lightroom). Plus it’s available for every platform ever.

I usually make a note a day with the title being the current date. I make a lot of ad-hoc todo lists which is as close as I get to being organized with my todos, being tried at least a half dozen apps by now and never being able to stick to one.

(I still carry a paper notebook with me everywhere, an A5 dotted Leuchtturm1917 Bullet Journal that I use for regular notebook purposes because BuJoing turned out to be Not My Thing™, but they make good notebooks. I mostly use it to take notes when I’m at my therapist.)

In the last few weeks, I’m trying a new experiment with the todos, which is moving to a weekly format, so I have one Note with the todos for Week 51, one for Week 52 and so on. In each note, I have each day and a “Later” section, and I try to add as many things as possible because it gives me a sense of achievement and it’s nice to look back on days when I thought I got nothing done.

P.S. Thinking in weeks is a very Swedish thing to do. In Sweden, everyone knows what week it is, and they frequently refer to them as in “I’m doing this on week X” or “I’ll be on vacation between week Y and Z.” If my memory serves me right, one of the most popular apps in the Swedish App Store for a long time was called “Week Calendar” until Apple added the option to display week numbers in Calendar. It drove me crazy for a long time, but I have to admit that it makes sense because it’s a good unit of time. I’ve been told the Germans do the same.

My Favorite Newsletters

· 370 words · 2 min read

Newsletters are the new blogs, they say, and I hope not because I hate getting email. And yet there is ~content~ in newsletters, good content, so here’s a few that I subscribe to and like.

What are yours?

A Year in Smartphones

· 675 words · 4 min read

I started 2018 with wanting to try Android after not using it for like five years; I had a Nexus S with Android 4 point something back in 2013 before jumping on to the iPhone bandwagon. So I got myself a cheap Moto G5 Plus just to play around with it, and to my surprise, I promptly fell in love with the whole thing.

Android has come a long way, and in many ways, it’s a better fit for me than iOS. I like the (relative) openness of it, the way it handles notifications, the ability to turn off animations (I hate UI animations with a passion), the customizability in general, better integration with Google and so on. The G5 Plus shipped with 7.0 Nougat, with the promise of an Oreo upgrade coming in late 2017, which arrived at the end of 2018 and made an otherwise fast phone somewhat slow. It ships with a vanilla version of Android, with a few enhancements from Motorola that are actually useful: a few gestures (for example, shake twice for flashlight) and a really good implementation of an active display (you can preview and even dismiss notifications from it very quickly). Oh and it had a great battery life.

The phone did have one major flaw: the camera sucks. It’s… passable at best, but even with the best daylight conditions, pictures simple look off at best, because of Motorola applying some extremely aggressive sharpening. Low-light performance? What low-light performance?

So I replaced it with a Pixel 2 which, at the time had the best camera on the market (it still is one of the best ones) and it was pretty great, except the GPS in it was pretty shitty, and I was used to using my phones for running. After it spending literally months in repair – which is hard in a country where you can only buy grey market imports; mine is from Canada –, going back and forth and getting nowhere, I just got fed up with the whole thing and sold it. Only later I learned that many of the high-end phones lately come with shitty GPSes and if you wanna go running, you better buy yourself a running watch.

In any case, I decided to jump back to iOS and got myself an iPhone X, about two months before the fall keynote. I figured I’d replace it with the new model when it comes out but the XS is a ridiculously incremental upgrade and I have no desire whatsoever to spend money upgrading. Maybe next fall.

The X also has a good camera, and the optical 2x zoom should be mandatory on phones; its portrait mode is, in my experience, ever-so-slightly better than the Pixel 2’s (its low light performance, on the other hand, is miles behind). I shot a series of portraits with it on XOXO 2018, and I was pretty satisfied with the results.

I do miss Android, but I came to appreciate the big screen in a relatively small package – I can still more or less use the X with one hand – as well as the build quality. iOS 12 was a very welcome update as well with a few small things (faster animations! less waiting!).

And there are certain things that, even in 2018 are just better in my experience on an iPhone; small things, like the smoothness of the touchscreen and the handle of touch in general, or having a working implementation of auto-brightness that not even the Pixel 2 can get right.

Overall I am pretty happy with the X, and I will stick with it for the foreseeable future, even though I recently got myself a Pixel 2 again because I needed an ARCore-capable phone for AR game development.

The moral of the story is that I have disposable income and I was bored. I am tempted to say that none of this stuff really matters but I spend a fair amount of time on my phone every day so… it kinda does for me.

My Recent Media Diet in the Last Days of 2018

· 312 words · 2 min read

I was planning to possibly dive into the YearCompass, I even put it on my todo list to print it out and take it with me to my favorite coffee shop, but I forgot to look at my todo list. Ah, the joys of ADHD. They do have a PDF that you can do electronically, but it’s not a great user experience.

I binged on the first season Condor yesterday, and I have to say it was a pretty fun spy thriller. I’m looking forward to Season 2.

Before that, I watched the first season of Impulse, which is, uh, I guess inspired by one of my favorite Sci-fi books, but they only took the fundamental concept of the book and made into a pretty good teen drama, with this season focusing primarily on sexual assault and its effects.

I got a kick out of the first season of Succession which is cut from the “despicable rich people prestige TV” genre (see also: Billions). Pretty much everyone in it terrible in their own different entertaining ways, with no real heroes and yet you find yourself rooting for people.

Do yourself a simple favor and check out A Simple Favor (sorry) if you haven’t seen it in the theaters: it was one of the most fun movies I saw in 2018. I hesitate to say anything about it as it is one of those movies that is best enjoyed going in knowing nothing about it; even stating its genre is a possible spoiler in my book, so you’re just gonna have to trust me on that one.

Oh, and the Big Fat Quiz of The Year 2018 is out, which is an annual TV event of mostly British comedians being funny while pretending to play a quiz. It has two-thirds of The IT Crowd and also Michelle Wolf, among others.

Onwards to 2019!

A Recap of 2018 and What's to Come in 2019

· 325 words · 2 min read

2018 was a strange year for me. I started it out sort of aimless, not knowing what to do professionally. Then, stealing a friend’s idea I simply put out a “Hey, I’m looking for a cool team to work with” message to social media and got a ton of different offers and I ended up with… a cool team to work with.

Since February I have essentially a very well-paid half-time job at a small but important hosting company as a sysadmin. I’m a generalist at heart but out of all the things I do, working with servers is probably my favorite bit and I feel privileged to do that once again.

I also continued to work with a few other clients on some ongoing projects, and I ended this year sending out a huge quote – one, if and if it works out, would keep me very busy in 2019, and that’d be great, so crossing fingers on that.

On a more personal note, I tried University this year and while I had some small victories, I pretty much dropped out already – It’s really not for me. And I knew that but I thought the prospect of having a degree and therefore better chances at immigration to the US would be motivating enough, but it really isn’t.

This year I also started drawing and it’s been fun! And I’ve also been to XOXO 2018, which was probably even better than 2016 and Portland already feels like a second home for me.

I didn’t plan to travel a lot this year and yet I count 10 (wow) different trips abroad, and most of these were for fun. I’ve been to Linz, Berlin, Gothenburg, Vienna, Amsterdam, San Francisco, Portland, Geneva, London.

I don’t really know yet what 2019 will bring. If the quote/job I mentioned above works out, I’ll be very busy, and that’s something I miss. If not… we’ll see.

Hey look, 300 words!

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· 54 words · 1 min read

60000

· 260 words · 2 min read

60000

A rituálék fontosak az ember életében, így például az is, hogy évfordulót tartok minden 5000. tweetnél, plusz jó alkalom visszatekinteni az évekre. 40000-nél még Budapesten éltem, szenvedtem a munkámban. A 45000-et már Svédországban ünnepeltem, alig másfél héttel azután, hogy odaköltöztem, élveztem az új munkát, és naponta énblogoltam. 50000-nél már új munkahelyem volt, és talán ekkor volt a legjobb Svédországban minden, ekkor írtam meg az én twittersztorimat, és azt, hogyan szereztem ott a barátaimat. 55000-nél már több, mint 10 hónapja freelancelek, átvészelve a kezdeti nehézségeket.

Most meg itt a 60000, kevesebb, mint egy évvel később, és minden más, és minden változik, 2016 egyharmadát utazva töltöttem, nemrég jöttem Amerikából, ahol egy hónapot voltam, New Yorkban, Minnesotában és Portlandben, ez utóbbiban volt az XOXO fesztivál ami külön posztot érdemel, ha egyszer befejezem az írását.

Ezt pedig Nagymaroson ülve írom, ahol ilyen a kilátás mellett dolgozok:Nagymaros

Csütörtökön vissza Svédországba, szombaton van egy nagyon remek Electroswing buli, azután meg nem tudom, mi lesz, mert minden változik éppen. Utazás lesz még idén, ha másért nem, munkaügyben, konferenciákra, munka szerencsére van, jön, ez legalább fix, máramennyire az lehet valakinek, aki freelancel.

Pár hónapja tartottam egy follow-amnesztiát mert túl sok volt a zaj, visszakövetem csak a barátaimat meg még 1-2 érdekes embert. Azóta újra emelkedett a követettek száma, főleg az XOXO miatt. Hogy miért követ engem 870 ember, azt soha nem értettem, de jó nekik, sziasztok.

A Twitter pedig már több, mint 8 éve az életem része, sokat változott, én is sokat változtam, de itt vagyunk.

Lesz 65000-es poszt, ebben biztos vagyok.

(55000. 50000. 45000. 40000. 35000. 30000. 25000.)

Linkblog: 2016-06-23

· 79 words · 1 min read

Magic out of mould: inside the world’s wildest restaurant

A vilag egyik legjobb sefje, valahol a semmi kozepen Svedorszagban, en eloszor a Netflix Chef’s Table sorozataban talalkoztam vele, ha valaki nem akarja vegigolvasni (en se olvastam el teljes egeszeben), nezze meg az idevago reszt belole inkabb. Akik ismernek, tudjak milyen lesujto velemenyem van az eszaki konyharol, de nagyon erdekes, amit csinal.

The Things That Are Worth Fighting For

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