Category Archives: Web/Tech

radio dot wil wheaton dot net

I’ve been experimenting with a Shoutcast music stream that Mysterious Kevin helped me set up. I have a bunch of different playlists that I rotate through, including 70s punk, 80s metal, 90s ambient electronica, and 90s grunge. I mix in a bunch of random weird and strange files that I find online, including excerpts from Star Trek Power records, ancient European commercials, audio bloopers from various TV shows, and other things you’d expect to find on a mixtape. If you’ve ever heard my podcast mixtapes, you know what to expect.

You should be able to listen to this in any browser, or you can download the .pls file to stream in VLC or the media thingy of your choice. I also think this little player thingy should work right here. If I configured it the way I want, it should even be playing AUTOMATICALLY LIKE MAGIC (I reconfigured this so it doesn’t autoplay, based on your feedback.):

The current playlist (which I expect to keep live all week) is the 80s metal collection. It features some Sabbath, Maiden, Van Halen, Metallica, Scorpions, and stuff like that.

Unrelated: this new WordPress composer (BLOCKS AND BLOCKS AND OTHER BLOCKS IS HOW WE DO IT NOW) is really weird and makes me feel like a very old man who used to hand-code blog entries in raw HTML. I’m sure it’s very powerful and flexible when you get used to it, but right now I feel like I’m writing with someone else’s hands.

ALSO UNRELATED: The Star Trek cruise was amazing and deserves its own entry, but I’ve been decompressing and catching up on work since we got back, and I haven’t had time to sit down to properly compose my thoughts.

RELATED: Van Hagar sucks.

Oh, and also…

The world is a terrible place right now, and that’s largely because it is what we make it.

Marlowe Wheaton is adorable.
Here’s a picture of Marlowe to make this post suck less.

As most of you know, I deactivated my Twitter account earlier this month. It had been a long time coming, for a whole host of reasons, but Twitter’s decision to be the only social network that gives Alex Jones a platform to spew hate, hurt innocent people, and incite violence was the final straw for me. But I haven’t regretted leaving for even one second. Having that endless stream of hate and anger and negativity in my pocket wasn’t good for me (and I don’t think it’s good for anyone, to be honest).

I was on Twitter from just about the very beginning. I think I’m in the first couple thousand accounts. I remember when it was a smallish group of people who wanted to have fun, make jokes, share information and tips on stuff that was interesting, and oh so many pictures of our pets. It was awesome.

It started to get toxic slowly at first, then all at once, starting with the misogynist dipshits who were behing the gate-which-shall-not-be-named. That was clearly a turning point for Twitter, and it never really recovered from it. I watched, in real time, as the site I loved turned into a right wing talk radio shouting match that made YouTube comments and CSPAN call-ins seem scholarly. We tried for a couple of years to fight back, to encourage Twitter to take a stand against bad actors (HA HA LIKE ME BECAUSE I AM A BAD ACTOR RIGHT YOU GOT ME HA HA HA). Twitter doesn’t care about how its users are affected by themselves, though. Twitter cares about growth and staying on the good side of President Shitler’s tantrums.

I mean, honestly, the most lucid and concise indictment I can give Twitter is: it’s the service that Donald Trump uses to communicate with and incite his cultists.

Anyway, enough about how terrible Twitter is. We all know how terrible it is. That’s never going to change, by the way.I know some very good people who are working on making Twitter better, but I honestly don’t think they can overcome the institutional inertia that has allowed it to get to the point its at now. It may get incrementally better, but the fundamental problem of random, mostly-anonymous people being terrible isn’t going to change, because that’s not a Twitter problem. That’s a humanity — and specifically a social media — problem.

I thought that if I left Twitter, I could find a new social network that would give it some competition (Twitter’s monopoly on the social space is a big reason it can ignore people who are abused and harassed, while punishing people for reporting their attackers), so I fired up this account I made at Mastodon a long time ago.

I thought I’d find something different. I thought I’d find a smaller community that was more like Twitter was way back in 2008 or 2009. Cat pictures! Jokes! Links to interesting things that we found in the backwaters of the internet! Interaction with friends we just haven’t met, yet! What I found was … not that.

Continue reading… →

take two minutes today to tell the FCC to protect network neutrality.

Without the Internet, I’d be just another failed actor struggling to make ends meet. Because I had the same ability to put together a website and reach an audience as anyone else, I was able to put my words on your screens, and eventually into a book that got into many of your hands. If Comcast or Verizon or AT&T or some other big telecom decided that regular guys like me had to pay some sort of protection money to have the same ability to reach you as Google or MSN does, I never would have been able to get WWdN off the ground, much less found Monolith Press, publish Dancing Barefoot, and start an entirely new career as a writer or have a second act in my acting career. There would be no Tabletop. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty happy that Tabletop is in the world.

We successfully fought to keep the Internet open and free just a few years ago, but it’s under attack again, another disastrous consequence of the Trump administration.

Here’s Consumerist on what is at stake (again) and why we are here (again):

Why is it in trouble?

The FCC that passed the Open Internet Rule was led by chairman Tom Wheeler, during the Obama administration. When the Trump administration took office in Jan. 2017, the FCC changed too.

At the end of January, long-time net neutrality foe Ajit Pai was promoted to the big seat and became the Commission’s chairman.

Pai has been gunning for net neutrality since the day it was adopted, if not sooner. So although in 2016 a federal court upheld the rules, Pai wants them reversed — and now, he has the means.

Because gaining a majority at the FCC is, on many key issues, basically a matter of partisan math, Pai will absolutely succeed if he wants to, regardless of literally tens of millions of people arguing against it.

Today is a day of action. Today, we are asking all Americans to take two minutes and contact the FCC, to make your voice heard, and make sure the FCC knows that you want network neutrality to be protected. Ars has a good collection of essential reading about network neutrality, but if you only have time to read one of them, here’s a concise guide to writing a comment to the FCC.

Two minutes, you guys. That’s all we need from you today. Please, take action.


I need help formatting a micro sd card

I almost posted this on Facebook and G+, but then I remembered that the point of Daily December is to post whatever I want. Maybe there will be answers to this question that are helpful for others, and I’d prefer that those answers live here, instead of a social network I don’t control.

So. My question:

I have a 128gb micro SD card that I am trying desperately to partition and format so I can load NOOBS onto it.I can’t use the full card as a single, formatted partition because the hardware isn’t able to read exFAT. I understand that I need to format a primary partition to 32GB, filetype FAT32, and make it bootable. I can then extract NOOBS onto that partition, and install as usual.
I can format this card to one huge partition using SD Formatter, but then I get stuck. The problem is, I can’t figure out fdisk and parted (the documentation on that is a little tough for me to follow), and gparted isn’t letting me resize the one massive partition. I’ve tried to resize and create partitions in Apple’s Disk Utility and in whatever the utility is in Windows, without success.
Does anyone have a link to, like, “fdisk and/or parted for idiots” or something like that, that I can use? I’m so frustrated and I feel so dumb right now.
Okay, so I tried all the command line tools I could, I tried Disk Utility on my Mac, and even though I understood what I was doing, and followed my steps exactly, even using cfdisk (which is amazing and will be in my toolbox forever, now), I could write the partition changes to the disk, but still couldn’t get any system (OS X, Linux, or Windows) to recognize the device. But then I used Partition Wizard, as recommended, and it just worked. I made an 8GB bootable primary FAT32 partition, and then made two more 32GB primary partitions for good measure, even though I probably didn’t have to do that. The rest of the space on the card is currently unallocated.
On the one hand, YAY! It’s working! I can use this SD card and I’ve saved myself a walk to the store! On the other hand, Damn. I wish I knew what Partition Wizard was doing that none of my other tools were doing, so that I learned something from this whole experience, and that I can share that knowledge with anyone else who finds themselves wondering how to fix a similar problem.I don’t feel frustrated, but I still feel dumb. At the moment, I’ll take it.
Thanks for your help, everyone!

rediscovering the joy of general purpose computing

A few years ago, I got to narrate the audiobook of Cory Doctorow’s Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free. It’s primarily about how creators can make a living online, and contains a ton of useful advice on doing that successfully. It’s also about the power and significance of General Purpose Computing.

I’ll try to paraphrase Cory in a way that makes sense: Until recently, a computer was a dumb collection of circuits and storage that did whatever its owner wanted it to do. You want your computer to play games? Done. You want your computer to be a word processor? Done. Want to change the operating system? Go nuts. Want to get into the guts of it and hack the hardware to do something nifty? You got it! You owned that computer, in every way that mattered, because it was General Purpose, and was able to do whatever you wanted it to do.

In the last decade or so, we’ve seen the rise of computers that are locked down, specialized machines which only do what their manufacturers want them to do. They do this not only by restricting your access to the operating system and the hardware, but by passing laws that made it a crime to take apart the thing you bought! Companies like Apple and Microsoft lobbied for and got laws that made it illegal for you to buy an iPad or a smartphone, and then modify the device that you paid for to do a thing that you wanted it to do.

There’s more to it, but that’s the basic gist of where we are right now. If this subject interests you at all, you will likely enjoy Cory’s book, whether you get it in print or ebook or via my delightful voice.

I say all this to contextualize why I am so magnificently in love with my Raspberry Pi, and why I have gone from a single Pi acting as a server under my desk, to having three Pis in my home, including one that’s being turned into a Picade, and one that’s about to become this smart lamp, because what I need in my life is another gadget that blinks.

No, seriously. It’s something I need in my life, because I can make it myself, using a general purpose computer to do a simple task, and I can use Tinkercad and my 3D printer to make the lamp case that will go around the LEDs.

The two computers I remember best from when I was a kid are the Atari 400 and the Ti99/4a. When you turned those computers on, you BASICally (that’s funny, kids, trust me and go ask an Old if you don’t) got a screen with a single prompt that usually told you the computer was >>READY while it waited for you to tell it what to do. If you wanted to run a game, you told it to >>RUN LODERUNNER or whatever. If you wanted to call a BBS, you typed in a string of commands that were like sanskrit to a 10 year-old, and hoped your mom didn’t pick up the phone in the kitchen while you were waiting for the second hour of the sexiest GIF you would ever find to finish downloading. Those computers did what I told them to do, and that usually meant that I had to learn how to make them do it. It made me curious about what was inside them, to understand how they worked, to push the limits of what they could do. It encouraged me to learn some simple programming, and it (usually) rewarded my curiosity and commitment to learning.

The thing those computers didn’t do was tell me that I couldn’t do something because a marketing department or executive or shareholder wanted to prevent me from doing it, so they could sell me something else that would do that thing. Once we bought the computer, we owned it, and as much as I enjoy my tablets and smartphones and iMacs and whatever, getting back to my Linux command line and learning Python and talking to other enthusiasts online about what they’re doing with their little Raspberry Pis is reawakening this passion and joy that has been dormant inside of me for a long, long time.