In the past days both Heinz and Ric alerted me that my RSS feeds wasn’t reachable for them. My log files quickly showed what was happening, Netnewswire, FeedBin and TinyTinyRSS were blocked by my hoster as ‘bad bots’ whenever they tried to reach my RSS feed:

[Thu Mar 26 03:43:49.372015 2020] [:error] [pid 501480] [client 95.143.172.147:48116] [client 95.143.172.147] ModSecurity: Access denied with code 403 (phase 2). Matched phrase "tt-rss.org" at REQUEST_HEADERS:User-Agent. [file "/etc/httpd/modsecurity.d/modsecurity_localrules.conf"] [line "2"] [id "350001"] [msg "Bad Bot Rule: Black Bot detected. "] [hostname "www.zylstra.org"] [uri "/blog/feed/"] [unique_id "XnwW5ZujCwgIM-xP-57OfAAAAAE"], referer: http://www.zylstra.org/blog/feed/
[Thu Mar 26 04:06:25.506843 2020] [:error] [pid 452702] [client 157.230.163.157:51478] [client 157.230.163.157] ModSecurity: Access denied with code 403 (phase 2). Matched phrase "Feedbin" at REQUEST_HEADERS:User-Agent. [file "/etc/httpd/modsecurity.d/modsecurity_localrules.conf"] [line "2"] [id "350001"] [msg "Bad Bot Rule: Black Bot detected. "] [hostname "www.zylstra.org"] [uri "/blog/feed/"] [unique_id "XnwcMZhpXdX8450kb5sLbgAAABI"]
[Thu Mar 26 05:45:54.289670 2020] [:error] [pid 681301] [client 69.172.186.78:39628] [client 69.172.186.78] ModSecurity: Access denied with code 403 (phase 2). Matched phrase "NetNewsWire" at REQUEST_HEADERS:user-agent. [file "/etc/httpd/modsecurity.d/modsecurity_localrules.conf"] [line "2"] [id "350001"] [msg "Bad Bot Rule: Black Bot detected. "] [hostname "www.zylstra.org"] [uri "/blog/comments/feed/"] [unique_id "XnwzggS4@-ngUalhqeVluAAAAA4"]

I submitted a ticket with my hoster Thursday but they have been unusually unresponsive this time. So for the time being I created a Feedburner RSS feed http://feeds.feedburner.com/InterdependentThoughts, so at least those that have this issue can resolve it. However Feedburner has been part of Google since 2007, which means the service hasn’t evolved apart from that it tracks your reading habits. So I’m on the lookout for a replacement service that does the same as Feedburner, except that it isn’t Feedburner, so sans the tracking.

[UPDATE 2020-03-30: the blocked feedreaders are now unblocked again. I’ll keep the Feedburner feed alive for now. Will likely rename it to something under my own domain [no longer possible], and my try to replace it with something like granary.io]

A few weeks ago Kicks Condor released a major update of his Fraidycat feed reader. Like Kick Consor’s blog itself, Fraidycat has a distinct personality.

Key with Fraidycat is that it aims to break the ‘never ending timeline’ type of reading content that the silos so favour to keep you scrolling, and that most feed readers also basically do. Fraidycat presents all the feeds you follow (and it is able to work with a variety of sources, not just regular RSS feeds from blogs) in the same way: the name of the feed, and one line of titles of recent postings.
The pleasant effect of this is that it shows the latest postings of all your subscriptions, not just the latest postings. This means that regular posters, oversharing posters and more silent voices get allocated much the same space, and no single voice can dominate your feed reader.

For each blog you can toggle a list of recent postings.

It’s not just that Fraidycat doesn’t present a timeline, it actually only presents some metadata from each feed and does not fetch the actual content of a feed at all. So as soon as you click a link in a list of links, it will send you to your browser and open it there. This runs counter to my habit of reading feeds offline, which requires being able to automatically download content to my laptop. It does make for a clean experience though.

A neat addition is also that it shows sparkline graphs next to the name of a blog, so there’s a visual cue as to the frequency of posting. This is something I’d like to see in other readers too. It’s a functionality that might be extended with an alert of changes in the normal posting rhythm. E.g. someone falling silent, or suddenly blogging up a storm, or covering a live event could perhaps stand out with a visual cue (such as changing the color of the sparkline graph). The sparkline is the only cue concerning the number of postings, there’s no indication of how many ‘unreads’ there are because Fraidycat doesn’t know that (as it doesn’t fetch content). This is a good way of preventing any type of FOMO cropping up.

In the current times it is I think worthwile to follow blogs more, and social media timelines less, attenuating both the noise and the way stuff reaches you.

This is something I might add to my RSS feed too. Because, just like in this posting, I always post my own remarks above the thing I am bookmarking, liking or replying to, it is sometimes confusing to readers what I am referring to in those first sentences of a post.

I do wonder how it looks in my case though, as I usually don’t add titles to bookmarks, likes and replies, and this little snippet of code adds the post type to that non-existent title. Main question is would it indeed help to reduce confusement? Added to the list of site-tweaks to do.

Bookmarked Identifying Post Kinds in WordPress RSS Feeds

….But for people who subscribe (either directly or indirectly) to everything I post, I imagine it must be a little frustrating to sometimes be unable to identify the type of a post before clicking-through. So I’ve added the following code….

De Weblogmeeting komt terug, roept Frank Meeuwsen. Weblogmeetings waren ‘een ding’ in de ’00s. Met mijn blog in het Engels, en het wonen op 2 uur van de randstad, zat ik niet zo in de algemene NL blogscene (ik kom volgens mij ook niet in Frank’s boek Bloghelden voor), maar ik ben wel een paar keer op zo’n soort meeting geweest. Zowel meet-ups van Edubloggers (met bloggers uit de onderwijswereld, waar ik als kennismanagement blogger mee verwant was), Blognomics, als ook de Weblogmeetings waar Frank aan refereert (in Amsterdam of Utrecht was het als ik me goed herinner). Ik ben ooit ook nog eens voor het online bloggerzine About:blank geïnterviewd.

Met mijn en andermans verstevigde terugkeer (in mijn geval eind 2017) naar het eigen blog, en weg van de silo’s, is de blik niet alleen naar voren gericht (hoe geeft het internet ons weer meer handelingsvermogen in plaats van dat het onze autonomie ondermijnt?), maar ook onderheving aan enige nostalgie. Dat zal ook wel de leeftijd zijn inmiddels. Kortom, de Datumprikker voor de Weblogmeeting 2020 ingevuld, in de hoop dat er een datum uitrolt die inderdaad schikt. Zin in.

(via Peter Rukavina and Roland Tanglao)

I really like this metaphor by Robin Sloan. I would never call myself a ‘real’ programmer, or a programmer at all really. Yet, I’ve been programming stuff since I was 12. In BASIC during my school years, in assembly, Pascal, C++ at university, and in Perl, VisualBasic in my early days at work (which included programming the first intranet applications for my then employer), and currently in PHP and Applescript (to get my websites/tools and my laptop to do the things I want). Except for some university assignments all of that programming was and is because I want to, and done in spare time.

I too am the programming equivalent of a home cook (which coincidentally I also am).

Robin Sloan also hits on what irks me about the ‘everyone needs to learn to code’ call to action. “The exhortation “learn to code!” has its foundations in market value. “Learn to code” is suggested as a way up, a way out… offers economic leverage … [it] goes on your resume.”

People don’t only learn to cook so they can become chefs. Some do! But far more people learn to cook so they can eat better, or more affordably, or in a specific way…..

The above is I think an essential observation. Eating better, more affordably or in a specific way, translates to programming with the purpose to hone the laptop as your tool of trade and adapt it to your own personal workflows, making it support and work with your very own quirks. This is precisely what I don’t get from some that I quizz about their tool use, the way they accept the software on their laptop as is, and don’t see it as something you can mould to your own wishes at all.

“And, when you free programming from the requirement to be general and professional and scalable, it becomes a different activity altogether, just as cooking at home is really nothing like cooking in a commercial kitchen.”

Removing the aura of ‘real programming’ from all and any programming except paid for programming, might just break this ‘I’m not a programmer so I better accept the way software works as the vendor delivered it’ effect.

Me and Boris cookingMe and Boris Mann cooking in his kitchen in Vancouver in 2008. Coincidentally we connected through our desire to shape tools to our personal wishes. Programming as a home cook, brought us together to well, home cook. His blog still is a mix of cooking and programming well over a decade on.

Liked An app can be a home-cooked meal (Robin Sloan)

For a long time, I have struggled to articulate what kind of programmer I am. I’ve been writing code for most of my life, never with any real discipline, but/and I can, at this point, make the things happen on computers that I want to make happen. At the same time, I would not last a day as a professional software engineer……
I am the programming equivalent of a home cook.

Two blogging connections of old have recently restarted their blogs. First, all of a sudden a feed that had been long dormant in my reader showed (1), meaning a new unread post was available. It turned out to be the return to blogging of Luis Suarez after a 3 year hiatus, who has been in my feed reader since I began working in knowledge management.

Today I came across a posting by Lee Lefever on LinkedIn where he says

I recently decided to resurrect my personal website, leelefever.com, which had languished for years as a static site. The site started as a blog in 2003 and I blogged there until 2007. The good old days!
This time around, I built the site on WordPress … And of course, the new site has a blog and I am dedicated to being a blogger at leelefever.com once again.

Lee is also a longtime blogging friend, back to the BlogWalk days (2004/2005). I followed his blog, his global travel blog with his wife Sachi, and then their company’s blog. Looking forward to reading new postings from him.

Both run their sites on WordPress. So that’s an opportunity to tell them about IndieWeb for WordPress and hopefully convince them to add functionality to their sites like Webmentions.

The last 2 years have seen a small but noticable movement back to blogging. I picked up my own blogging pace late 2017, first motivated by a desire to escape the bottomless pit of Facebook. It’s good to see the ongoing trickle of the return to blogging. And of new blogging voices emerging.

I find there’s a completely new need to explain things to new groups that we’ve thought explained and broadly known. Things like the value of having your own domain and site, but also things like unconference formats, Creative Commons licenses, and how much you can do yourself outside of the silos. Having more of the earlier voices back in the chorus to help do that, and do it in our current context, is great.