Pens in Space


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from Udayippu

I turned 33 last week. My journey through 32 was one of discovery, reigniting passions, becoming better at what I do etc.

The first couple of years of the 30s were filled with anger, confusion, worrying about missing out on what the world had to offer. 32 was about realizing that it's alright to be at peace with what I have, and it's alright to cut out toxicity from my life. I quit using traditional social media on a regular basis towards the latter part of the year, which did a whole deal of good for my mental health. I spent more time with my son than I did before. I cooked a lot of delicious meals, went out with family more, understood my partner better etc.

Being away from the toxicity meant that I was getting less angry, the stress at work was manageable, I made more rational decisions, and found time where I'd have found none in the past.

I was more cautious with money too. Spent where needed, saved where I could. That gave me a peace of mind like nothing before.

I documented my mood every day with an app called Year in Pixels. There were quite a few “light green” days which meant the year was overall a happy one with very few extremely sad days.

The plan for 33-34 is to continue on this journey to being a better person than I was. Maybe, I should reach out to friends from the past with whom I haven't been in touch for several years. I think I can also be better in delegating things at work instead of wanting to fix problems myself. That would give me even more time to enjoy what I do and also leave room for growing even more.


from Hello friend.

I have mostly been an iOS user, venturing into android was not new to me as I have done it in the past, but it didn't pan out that well as my first android device was a Redmi Note 3. I ended up selling it in 6 months due to call quality issues and software bugs. My next device was an iPhone SE which I held on to a for a couple of years till I broke the display, so I was on the market for a new phone, seeing the steep price of iPhones made me revisit android, since I didn't want to spend too much I ended up buying a Nokia 6.1 (2018) 4gb+64gb variant for ₹7649 on flipkart.

So what made me review this phone is how good it is for the price.

Look and feel

It feels solid in the hand as it made from unibody aluminium. It doesn't feel like a budget device, although it does have bezels I don't mind them that much. The cobalt blue variant was my favourite among the colours available.

The basics

My requirements from a phone were simple; a good battery life, decent performance, clean software, full hd display and the dying headphone jack. I didn't forget about the camera, it is not a priority for me as I mostly use a stand alone camera, if it is a priority for you, do not buy this phone as it does not have a good camera. Nokia 6.1 delivers on all these fronts with no issues except for the camera. The battery lasts a whole day easily for most use cases, the phone performs day to day tasks without major lags, ram management is something which could have been done better as apps do reload a bit frequently. The phone's full HD display, displays colours accurately though you can't expect AMOLED quality in a LCD panel, in outdoor use the display gets bright enough and can be seen without any problems. The software is clean except for the Evenwell system management apps, which run in the background.

Other features

Though the phone released in 2018 features included like Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, USB-Type C port, add to the value and longevity of the device. Nokia also promised 2 major OS updates and it delivered as promised. My phone is currently running Android 10. It also comes with a fast charger in the box.

Call quality

The call quality of the phone is great, I had no problems hearing people, or being heard on the other end. The phone now has VoWifi support from Airtel and Jio in addition to VoLTE, so you will seldom have call quality issues.


The phone has a single bottom firing speaker which is a downgrade from the previous generation Nokia 6 and it also doesn't have the Dolby Atmos which the Nokia 6 had, not a deal breaker for me as I mostly use headphones. The speaker does the job but it is nothing to write home about. The phone also has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, which I still use.


If you are looking for a gaming device, I would say look elsewhere. I am not saying Nokia 6.1 cannot run games but if you are some one who plays games a lot of the time, I would say this is not the device for you.


Some people have reported issues with the Type-C port but I have not faced any such issues till date. The issue is with the 6.1 plus and not the 6.1. The phone got warm when fast charging but otherwise no heating issues.


Not every phone is right for everyone, you must know what are your requirements and buy accordingly instead of being swayed away by fancy features that you don't really need like a high refresh rate display, 10 cameras, 64gb ram etc. If you are someone who likes to stream content, browse, read, make a lot of calls, the Nokia 6.1 might just be the right phone for you. If you can get a good deal this is a solid phone to buy even in 2020 though be aware that it won't be getting any further OS updates.

P.S : This is not a technical review with deep insights into performance and specs, this is just my experience with the phone having used it for 9 months.


from Udayippu

Recently, my workplace implemented a policy to restrict the number of days an employee can work from home. The excuses they have given for this have ranged from “Employees are abusing this freedom.” to “We have paid a lot of money to set up this office, so it's only reasonable that they utilize these facilities to the maximum.”

For a technology company that is spread across different timezones, and wants its employees to collaborate across these barriers, we have a huge number of meetings that happen in the early mornings or late evenings. In such scenarios, the option of having remote work is great, especially because one can plan their day around those meetings in a good way. I for one, start my day at my usual time, but take a short nap in the afternoon so that I feel fresh for the meetings, and can take my best mindset to them and come out of those discussions with good outcomes. For others, it may be a case of starting their day a little later than they usually do, so that they can use the mornings to take care of personal stuff which they'd otherwise do in the evening.

By taking away the “right” to be remote as many times as needed, the HR is saying that “We are in charge, we decide how and where you'll work, and we expect you to toe the line.” The company aims to be at the top of employee retention, employee empowerment etc. I feel like this policy isn't a step in the right direction to achieve that aspiration. There is also the gradual shift to monitoring the number of hours an employee is inside the office. This is also wrong for several reasons.

Having been involved in a company that grew from 8 members to 100, I feel like I am in some position to talk about what can make a team or company successful. The first and foremost is keeping the employees happy. And happiness isn't just gyms, free hot beverages, gaming rooms, or bean bags. It's putting the power in their hands. The smaller teams should be democratic and have a say in deciding what works for them and how. If they want to go watch movies together during the day and stay up at night to work on something, let them do it. If they feel hyper focused when working from benches in the parks next to their homes, let them do it. If they want to be in the office for 10 hours together, even use their lunch hours to discuss work, let them do it, but for goodness' sake, put that power in their hands and don't make policies about things you don't understand.

There are going to be arguments that managing companies that are so big is difficult, let me break it down step by step.

  • Every team can't be allowed to operate in the way they wish. It'd lead to an unfair system : Read that last paragraph one more time. The teams decide how they want to do things. If they find a system working for another team and feel like they would benefit from that system, let them adopt it.

  • Employees will start doing as they wish and there would be conflicts within the team itself : The role of hiring cultural fits is very important. If you hire for numbers and don't care about the soft skills (which is not just the ability to write great emails and talk fluently), you have pushed yourselves to a corner in that aspect. When you form a new team, identify individuals who gel together and let them decide the type of team members they want. And I beg you, please don't force them into hiring candidates just because you aren't able to meet your recruitment targets for that month. All you are doing with that is adding friction into a system where it isn't needed. While on that, just stop bragging about the number of employees you have. That isn't a hallmark of greatness. How productive and happy those employees are, is.

  • The facilities that we have created for the employees will be wasted : Who said anything about the employees deciding to never show up in the office forever? You are going to put those beanbags and standing desks to attract the “hip” crowd anyway, and the less the employees use these facilities, the longer they'll stay new. Also, stop pretending like you are spending all this money from your pocket. We also see how flexible and accommodating your counterparts at the company headquarters are with these policies, even though they have offices that are state of the art and boasts facilities that you all can't even dream about.

  • We can't keep track of employee productivity if they aren't in the office : There is a concept of delivery, definition of done etc in software. When those criteria are met within the agreed upon timelines, you sure as hell know that the employee or the team has been productive. You shouldn't measure this in terms of how many hours the laptop was idle, how many hours the employee spent walking to the rest room, how many hours the employee played foosball etc. Hours in front of a computer is not equal to productive hours. Period.


from x-blog/left

Sardine, la risposta del centrosinistra al M5S?

Da quando sono comparse la prima volta con il flash-mob del 14 novembre 2019 a Bologna, tramite l'evento 600 sardine contro Salvini, pochi di noi sapevano cosa aspettarsi da quello che oggi inizia a profilarsi come un vero e proprio movimento capace di inserirsi nel dibattito pubblico nazionale. Nessuno si sarebbe aspettato che un fenomeno come questo si sarebbe potuto ripetere nel tempo e aquisire una simile notorietà così velocemente, perché poche piazze hanno coinvolto tanta gente e telecamere dai tempi di quello che fu il primo Vaffa-Day dell'8 settembre 2007.

Similmente a quello che poi diventò il Movimento 5 stelle, le Sardine si presentano come un fenomeno spontaneo e civico che si raccoglie attorno ad un sentimento comune, più che ad un'ideologia, superando le categorie politiche e puntando sul vecchio frame della cittadinanza attiva contro un nemico specifico capace di riunire sentimenti e anime politiche potenzialmente diverse.

Il nemico dei grillini erano i parlamentari corrotti e i politici disonesti, quello delle Sardine il fascismo strisciante della Lega e di Borgonzoni che cerca di attecchire in una regione che viene dipinta come l'ultimo avanposto del progresso.

Pur presentandosi come due movimenti antitetici, cioè la culla del populismo italiano (M5S), contro la supposta cura al populismo (le Sardine), le due operazioni presentano inaspettate somiglianze. In primo luogo possiamo dire che sia il movimento cinquestelle che quello delle Sardine, rappresentano una spinta conservatrice coperta da una buona dose di progressismo di facciata, entrambi si presentano come antipolitici, ma sono intelligenti operazioni politiche. Sia i grillini che le sardine, si sono posti obiettivi politici di conservazione, se non di restaurazione: la democrazia originaria contro la disonestà, la salvaguardia della Costituzione e delle istituzioni, contro l'avanzata del populismo. Entrambi i movimenti hanno colto la paura e le speranze di un elettorato addormentato, che si è sentito caricato di una sfida da vincere tramite il proprio diretto e non mediato protagonismo.

“Non c’è niente da cui ci dovete liberare, siamo noi che dobbiamo liberarci della vostra onnipresenza opprimente, a partire dalla rete. E lo stiamo già facendo. Perché grazie ai nostri padri e madri, nonni e nonne, avete il diritto di parola, ma non avete il diritto di avere qualcuno che vi stia ad ascoltare. Siamo già centinaia di migliaia, e siamo pronti a dirvi basta. Lo faremo nelle nostre case, nelle nostre piazze, e sui social network. Condivideremo questo messaggio fino a farvi venire il mal di mare. Perché siamo le persone che si sacrificheranno per convincere i nostri vicini, i parenti, gli amici, i conoscenti che per troppo tempo gli avete mentito. E state certi che li convinceremo”.

In questo estratto dal post del 21 novembre 2019 dalla pagina ufficiale 6000sardine, si possono sentire tanto gli echi del primo M5S, quanto del frame comunicativo del centrosinistra. Le menzogne contro la verità, la rete come cardine della non-organizzazione, come fulcro della partecipazione. La gente normale, contro i mostri professionisti, contro La Bestia, di Salvini! Poco dopo questo post nasceranno numerosi gruppi su Facebook che radunano i simpatizzanti e i curiosi, nonché nuclei locali che sono poi spesso sfociati in altrettanti incontri fisici e cortei in giro per l'Italia. Qualcuno si ricorda dei meet-up?

Un'altra caratteristica delle Sardine che mi ha fatto ricordare la parabola del M5S è che anche questa volta, ad una autoproclamata orizzontalità, si oppone una verticalità accentuata in cui i quattro ragazzi impongono la linea al popolo delle sardine a mezzo stampa.

Proprio come un novello Grillo, Mattia Santori annuncia le posizioni che loro le Sardine hanno deciso (dove?): il campo è il centrosinistra, bisogna difendere l'Emilia-Romagna, votare Bonaccini anche se non piace a tutti. Si discute nei gruppi delle Sardine come dentro il fu Meet-Up, non tutti apprezzano la scelta, ma i capi han deciso, i bravi ragazzi non sono politici di professione, bisogna dargli fiducia e ascolto perché hanno radunato in piazza tanta gente e gli hanno ridato entusiasmo.

Chiaramente mentre i grillini si presentavano in tutto per tutto come antipolitici, per questo furono attratti e respinti dal giornalismo mainstream, l'evidente collegamento con il centrosinistra ha immediatamente agganciato le Sardine al giornalismo tradizionale, specialmente nel classico alleato mediatico del PD, cioè il gruppo l'Espresso che dalle colonne di Repubblica ha spesso omaggiato e ospitato questo movimento appena nato, senza nemmeno battere ciglio.

Questo fattore ha dato una decisiva spinta alle Sardine che in poco tempo hanno ottenuto una spinta mediatica decisiva, riuscendo a coprire tanto i social media, quanto i media tradizionali, offrendo alla loro narrazione una indubbia posizione di vantaggio.

Una conclusione preliminare

A seguito delle elezioni regionali in Emilia-Romagna due dati sono decisivi per la tesi di questo articolo: l'affluenza, e i flussi elettorali. Il voto del 26 gennaio 2020, ha segnato un'affluenza particolarmente alta del 67 % con un aumento del 30% rispetto al 2014. Segno che il frame comunicativo delle Sardine e la discesa in campo diretta di Salvini, abbiano spinto ad una partecipazione più elevata rispetto ad uno scenario elettorale ordinario e privo di questa polarizzazione esasperata, fomentata anche dalla chiamata ad un generico “antifascismo” da parte di Mattia Santori e compagni. L'altro dato interessante, per quanto non decisivo, è che secondo l'Istituto Cattaneo due elettori su tre del M5S sono andati al PD, con un picco in alcune città (il 71,5% a Forlì, il 62,7% a Parma, il 48,1% a Ferrara).

Ora Mattia Santori ha proclamato che il movimento, che non vuole diventare partito (suona familiare?), non si fermerà dopo le regionali in Emilia-Romagna, ma si riunirà nella prima vera e propria assemblea nazionale a partire dall'8 marzo 2020. Lasciando perdere per un attimo la scelta davvero odiosa di lanciare la propria convention nel giorno dello sciopero mondiale delle donne, la cosa che mi preme sottolineare sono le dichiarazioni programmatiche fatte su questa data nella conferenza stampa del 17 gennaio 2020.

Dichiarazione 1: “Non ci sono vere e proprie correnti, è astratto, il nostro obiettivo è l'8 marzo perché è lì che vogliamo arrivare”. Negazione delle correnti, e affermazione del corpo unico.

Dichiarazione 2: “con la politica, non con il partito”. Proprio come il vecchio M5S, quando ancora era solo un gruppo di Amici di Grillo, anche le Sardine si oppongono al Partito, ma si propongono di influenzare le istituzioni.

Dichiarazione 3: Riferendosi all'8 marzo “un week end di convivenza in cui si parlerà di vari temi a livello nazionale, di struttura, di organizzazione capillare, di quale sarà casa digitale”. Capillarità, digitalità, come il M5S il non-partito punta tutto sul web come strumento potenzialmente decisionale e organizzativo.

L'impressione preliminare è che il movimento delle Sardine, che entri o meno nella competizione elettorale direttamente, sembra essere la risposta del centrosinistra al progetto del M5S di cui recupera alcuni degli elementi cardine per riattrarre verso di sé gli elettori che hanno sposato il partito di Grillo in questi anni, con l'obiettivo di riempire uno spazio a sinistra per bloccare qualsiasi alternativa anti-sistema, come i jillet jaune in Francia, e riportare il sistema elettorale verso un comodo e innocuo bipolarismo.


from heist

I'd just like to remind everyone to say thank you to your God of choice, or otherwise to the universe. Say thank you for everything you have, as somewhere in the world there are people who don't. It's not difficult to say thank you (except for some people), yet it makes one reflect and adds some humility to one's life. Again, it doesn't matter who you say thank you to. I personally thank the universe when I wake up, go to sleep and a few more times each day. It's free.

Remember to say thank you. Really, write it down.


from kindly

The Rocketbook is a lineup of erasable notebooks made to be reusable for years and then some. I bought one a few days ago and now use it for most note-taking, so here's a short introduction.

The story goes as follows: co-founder of Rocketbook Joe Lemay forgets to pack the correct notebook for an important sales meeting at Salesforce. Looking for a solution to this problem he tried out electronic pens and smart notebooks, but it doesn't feel quite right. So he creates something that does feel right. A few products and crowdfundings later, we now have the Rocketbook Everlast:

Rocketbook Everlast

It is really a notebook of this day and age: made of synthetic paper, the pages can be erased. Coupled with the Rocketbook app, I can save a scan of my notes on my phone before erasing a page. The fact that it doesn't force you to send your pages to the cloud is a plus, but you don't really have to use their app. I personally use an app called Notebook to scan my pages, then send them to Nextcloud so I can correctly categorize the files on my computer later.

Writing on the Rocketbook feels very different from writing on paper. The pages don't have any granularity and my pen just slides over them. It takes a bit of time to get used to, but otherwise writes just as well. It's also worth noting that erasing using the FriXion eraser doesn't seem to work well. You have to erase using a damp cloth. While we're at the disadvantages, the front and back cover seem to scratch very easily. After handling the notebook for a few minutes the covers already had deep scratches in them. Although annoying, I wouldn't call this a deal breaker.

The Rocketbook Everlast is just one of the available notebook formats: it also exists in a smaller size, as well as with different page style combinations. Something to please everybody :)

All-in-all, after using it for a few hours, I'm already a customer for life.


from Udayippu

You can’t propose that something be a universal space and at the same time keep control of it. - Tim Berners Lee, Inventor of WWW

Over the last few years, we've seen the rise of mega corporations that have had a significant impact on our lives. They've made our lives easy, they've given us platforms to use that help us connect with the rest of the world with a few taps on our devices, they've provided you with means to watch cat videos for free. Are all these really free? To use a cliché, “If something on the internet is free, you are the product.”

The Problem

If you are someone who has wondered how texting our friend on Zucky's phone number based messaging app has resulted in ads being served to us about it on the blue F platform, chances are that we have also figured out that it's no coincidence. They are tracking everything we say, type, browse, listen etc. And with so much data about us, they can predict who we are just by matching some parts of our real life signature which depends on these tastes.

The algorithms at these corporations also amplify content that are eye catching, controversial, rage inducing etc so as to have all of us going back for more, and engaging with them so that they can tell their investors that they are generating traffic and get more cash inflow. They also decide what we are thinking about at every moment in time we spend time on their platforms.

Then there's the issue of censorship, and partiality from these corporations that results in folks making legitimate cases being banned, yet inflammatory personnel and trolls who incite the masses with immoral speech are allowed to roam freely in the name of “free speech”.

All this means is that we aren't in control of what we want to see, we don't get to decide what's done with our data, we are left at the whims of these corporations who decide how the internet should be.

The Solution

Can you imagine a world where you are in control of what you share online? The answer to that lies in a decentralized internet where there are computers or servers talking to each other in the way they were meant to. There is a parallel universe called the Fediverse (read up about it, it's simple, trust me on this) that can solve some of the problems we have currently with an internet controlled by the corporations. The other problems can be solved with the use of open source software that provides alternatives for the services we use. Of course, the learning curve can be a little steep, and the experience not as smooth because they aren't tailored for us. But we'll sleep well knowing that you own your data. At a time when governments are trying to censor content which doesn't suit their propaganda, the existence of a decentralized internet also means that our space is universal and not controlled.

Importantly, we can urge those in our circles to give these alternatives a try to build a better, more democratic internet which respects voices instead of throttling those which one entity doesn't like. At time when machines are taking over all aspects of our life, let's bring back humanity to the internet.

I'll leave you with this talk by Aral Balkan.

And if you like something, please consider donating something to the creators (even the smallest contribution counts) to create an internet that's yours.


from kindly

Dynamic websites on a fully peer-to-peer network is a combination most people would find hard to believe, yet that's exactly what ZeroNet has achieved. This piece of software allows anyone to create and view peer-to-peer websites that are impossible to take down, based entirely on static files. Unlike other peer-to-peer website networks, ZeroNet can power websites with user-generated content like forums and wikis. This article will teach you the basics of how it works.

What's a zite?

All ZeroNet sites — also called zites — start with an address. These are, like onion addresses, cryptographic keys. More specifically, they are bitcoin addresses. When creating a new zite, you are actually creating a key pair, where the private key allows the owner to sign new content and the public key allows anyone to verify the validity of the zite's files, even if they originate from an untrusted peer.

Once you have a key pair, you can start adding files to your zite. Zites act like any regular static website: you can add HTML, CSS and JavaScript as needed. In order for other peers to download the new files, you have to sign them with your private key. The hash of each file is stored in a special file called content.json, which conveniently contains a signature of itself. The new content.json file will propagate through the network and peers will automatically request files they need to keep their local copy up-to-date.

Now, what actually goes on when someone tries to access a zite? The first step is to get a list of peers that have the zite's content.json file. Once our client gets hold of the file, it can start to request all other files from the peers it has a connection with. This process typically takes about a second, which makes it faster than a lot of websites out there.

The process is actually a bit more involved than this, as ZeroNet supports optional files (only downloaded when needed), big files (files above 10MB are split up into pieces) and databases, which I will talk about next.

From static to dynamic

The content.json file contains file hashes, but not exclusively. It has a few more options that help in making a website dynamic. One of these options is named user_contents. It describes a set of rules surrounding user-generated content, like who can add files and how much custom data a user can have. When this option is used, users will be able to publish files themselves in a sub-directory named after their public key.

To illustrate how this can be used, let's take the example of the forum zite ZeroTalk. When a user creates a new post, ZeroNet will transparently create a new JSON file inside their custom files directory. This file will house the contents of the user's post as well as some metadata. To ensure the file's authenticity, each user has a content.json file that, like the one for the zite, contains file hashes. We now have a system where anyone can publish content to a zite, on a peer-to-peer network.

To make accessing these files more efficient, ZeroNet creates an SQL database for every zite that needs it. It is up to the zite owner to configure the mapping between custom user JSON files and the SQL database. We end up with a system where files go in, database comes out. The database itself is local: every client modifies it based on the files it has access to, and will do its best to keep it updated as new files come in.

This system has made fully decentralized websites possible: forums, wikis, mailboxes, torrent trackers, IRC-like message boards and more.

Domain names with NameCoin

ZeroNet relies on NameCoin .bit domains to make human-readable addresses. Anyone can create their own domains and subdomains as long as they have some NameCoin in a wallet and that the domain isn't already taken. The price of a single domain name is only a few cents, which makes custom addresses quite affordable.

Wrapping it up

I hope I've been able to shed some light on how ZeroNet works and what makes it great. There is a lot more to be said though, like how ZeroNet handles identities and peer discovery, how the protocol works or how it integrates with the Tor network.

I suggest anyone to try out the software for themselves, to create a small zite, then to publish it and watch it still be online years later. More information about the inner workings of ZeroNet can be found in the documentation.