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Featured Learning Technology The Internet

Internet era life skills

I recently encountered somewhat shocking — though not necessarily surprising — data about the average person’s computer skills. The vast majority of people are not able to complete complex tasks on a computer. Only five percent of Americans had high level computer skills that allowed them to do things like troubleshoot or analyze data using multiple tools.

These data are from 2011-2015, so the numbers have certainly changed. I would definitely guess there are fewer people who are unable to use a computer at all. But, I was discussing with a friend that we doubted there’s been a substantial increase in the number of people able to complete complicated, multi-step, multi-program tasks. Over the past ten years, technology and user interfaces have trended towards simplification and single-task software (there’s an app for that!). Reducing friction for common tasks removes challenges people might have needed to troubleshoot in the past — and if you don’t ever face problems accomplishing what you need to, you never get to practice or even develop troubleshooting skills.

And basic computer literacy isn’t enough to get by in the internet age. Someone learning how to use the internet today needs to also learn a broad range of skills to protect themselves, communicate effectively, and obtain trustworthy information. Too many people are credulous and uncritical in what they believe. There are so many dark design patterns (or are we not calling it that anymore?) and bad actors attempting to manipulate you that it requires a bulwark of skills to defend against having your time and money stolen, or even worse, indoctrination.

Many of these skills are personal responses to systemic problems that some regulation might assist with. Not that regulation is easy: GDPR wound up giving us all obnoxious popup cookie banners instead of reducing the cookies websites use or data corporations collect — but at least some websites do now allow you to reject non-essential cookies.

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Weeknotes

Weeknotes: Feb 4-10 2023

At last, our solar system inverter has been replaced and is working again, so I can finally say I’m heating my house with the power of the sun! β˜€οΈ

What I did:

  • Walked with a friend despite light rain πŸ’ͺ And two other walks! Such exercise.
  • Assembled my January listening report 🎢
  • Got a new cat tree — the old one eked out ten years of life and has needed to be retired for a while 🐱
  • Did my state business taxes, got my FEIN, and registered for WEBS πŸ’ͺ I also wrote out a list of all the things I need to do to start getting projects of my own — it’s a lot 😳 But I’ll chip away at it.
  • Accidentally binge-watched the last four episodes of GBBO when we realized our Netflix subscription ended that day πŸ˜‚
  • Baked banana bread 🍌🍌
  • One appointment
  • Not enough writing or consulting work πŸ˜“

Reading:

I signed up for Kindle Unlimited because there are a bunch of things I want to read on it. I’ve been resisting because I’m tired and haven’t been reading much, but maybe having stuff I actually want to read will help me read more 🀞

New feeds I’m trying out:

Words I looked up / concepts I learned:

Stuff I learned:

Changes to website:

  • Changed the drop-down menu to have a pink background instead of black
  • Changed tables to have a pink heading
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Weeknotes

Weeknotes: Jan 28-Feb 3 2023

We swapped our gas furnace and water heater for electric! We reserved our furnace back in August, and our old heater was turning off three or four times a day, so we were ready to make the swap. Now we have a heat pump with one head and electrical furnace, plus a tank electric water heater. (We asked multiple times about tankless and they recommended against it πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ) So we get to cancel our natural gas connection!!! πŸ™Œ

Stuff I did:

  • Got the house ready for contractor work
  • Revisited my outline, using notecards to rearrange scenes by hand, then Excel — spent nine and a quarter hours on writing thinking
  • Did 10 hours of consulting work
  • Published my 2022 in music, which I wrote much earlier in the month and forgot to post
  • Published my 2022 Annual Review, which I simplified and shortened from past years

Reading:

I’m trying to quit books earlier if they’re not grabbing me — I have 800 books on my TBR list so I ain’t got time to fuck around with stuff that’s not for me. But I have a harder time quitting novellas, since they’re a shorter time investment. I should probably work on that because I wound up reading two novellas I didn’t especially like this week.

Between quitting more books and being tired all the time, I finished reading way fewer books in January than usual. We’ll see how I like this approach long-term.

Words I looked up / concepts I learned:

Neat stuff I learned:

  • Swords were made from bog iron back in the day (via)
  • Back in the day, people let their fried food drip excess oil onto bread (via)

New feeds I’m trying out:

I’m still exploring what makes sense / is interesting to collect in these weeknotes. Added a couple new sections this week.Β 

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Featured Music

2022 in Music

collage of 16 top played albums from 2022, including albums by Islands, Tame Impala, Ladytron, Fleet Foxes, Dent May, and Nine Inch Nails
Top played albums of 2022 per Tapmusic (Artists top row l-to-r: Tame Impala, OK Go, Islands, Nine Inch Nails; second row l-to-r: Islands, Abney Park, CRX, Fleet Foxes; third row l-to-r: Islands, The Bird and The Bee, Brave Shores, Dent May; bottom row l-to-r: Goldfrapp, So Below, Gaspard Auge, Ladytron)

What I Listened To

  • 4508 unique tracks
  • 1800 artists
  • 2905 albums
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Weeknotes

Weeknotes: Jan 21-27 2023

Stuff I Did:

I have been tired this week! I’m not working that many hours, but it sure feels like I am.

  • Wrote 4.25 hours and did 8 hours consulting work
  • Wrote up my backyard garden installation 🏑
  • Watched a super interesting presentation about politicized design
  • Started cleaning out a room we’ve used for storage and gave away a bunch of stuff on Buy Nothing πŸ’ͺ
  • Sewed buttons onto two coats that have been waiting for five years πŸ˜… Also neither fits so I’m donating them πŸ˜‚
  • Realized that my backup harddrive had my only copies of some old photos, so I copied those over to OneDrive
  • Subscribed to Bitwarden Premium and ran some password reports, and my work is cut out for me — I’ve been using strong generated passwords for years, but apparently have a lot of old accounts from when I did not 😬
  • Drew a birthday card for a friend — first time breaking out the oil pastels in years!
  • In-person doctor’s appointment πŸ˜‘
  • One walk with a friend
  • Baked banana bread and made oatmeal bars
  • Made a bunch of dinners and lunches so we could eat out less — mujadara from leftover rice and lentils was a success

Reading:

  • Read Saga Volume 10Β and Convergence and For the Throne
  • Started reading Stolen Focus and This is What It Sounds Like
  • Continued reading How to Calm Your Mind
  • DNF’d Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow and The High Commander’s Mate

Words I looked up:

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Weeknotes

Weeknotes: Jan 14-20, 2023

Stuff I Did:

  • Took Monday off work for MLK Jr Day
  • 7.5 hours of consulting work (goal of 8)
  • 6.5 hours of fiction writing (goal of 8) — finished writing the new scene and revised a second
  • Blogged about understanding blogs as a media format
  • Walked with a friend and biked once
  • One appointment
  • Went to Homebrew Website Club
  • Baked blondies
  • Been doing the Raptitude Field Trip

It doesn’t look like I should feel so tired πŸ˜‚ Figuring out a new schedule with a lot of intense brain work is challenging. I’m trying to do some of each writing and consulting work each day, though sometimes my schedule transpires that I only have time for one or the other.

Reading:

  • Finished reading Wintering by Katherine May
  • Started reading Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
  • Bought Saga Volume 10, Design Justice, and a friend’s holiday story
  • DNF’d The Mountain in the Sea
  • Added two books to my TBR

Website changes:

  • added photos to my recipes page and populated the recipes to try page with items I’d saved on Pinterest (fewer than I realized)

Words I looked up:

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Featured Meta The Internet Websites

Understanding blogs

As we in the IndieWeb promote personal websites and encourage more people to write and publish online, and nostalgia for blogs and RSS is high, it’s useful to hone in on what exactly we’re talking about when we say blog.* Because, despite being a form of writing for more than 20 years, blogging is surprisingly hard to pin down.**

There are just a few truly defining characteristics of a blog:

  • Content is published in the form of posts, typically presented in reverse chronological order
  • Content is posted on a website, online, with hypertextual capabilities
  • Blogs are “self-published,” regardless ofΒ hosting platform, in that there is no gatekeeper authorizing publication

And yet, I think what makes a blog a blog is more than these technicalities; what makes a book a book is not merely “prose text, more than 50,000 words in length, on a single thesis or theme, collected in a single volume.” Printing off a long blog and binding it together does not necessarily a book make; for one, books are weighted towards linear reading — start to finish — while blog posts do not have to be read in the order they were originally published.

There are elements of bookness that make us say, this is a book. So what is blogness? From one of the many ‘yay let’s blog again’ posts everyone’s blogging about right now (which I enjoy), I wound up on a 2003 post trying to define what a blog is — but it addresses mainly the technical elements and the structure of the content. Blogging as a medium evolved out of the combination of technology and tools used; here, I’m interested in digging into how the writing and format are different from other mediums.

I’m a fan of graphic novels, and consider them a different medium than prose books; it pisses me off that graphic novels and graphic non-fiction are shelved with the comic strips at my library under 741.5. So I wonder: are blogs a distinct enough format to be their own top-level medium, or are they simply a hypertextual version of essay collections or newspapers?*** Where would you shelve blogs in the library: do they get mixed in with the books by topic, do they get their own call number as graphic novels do, are they thrown in with the periodicals, or do they go in their own section? @DavidShanske I’m sure you have an opinion here πŸ˜‰

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Weeknotes

Weeknotes: Jan 7-13 2023

We had an electrician out to swap our failed inverter for a warranty replacement — I’ve been trying to schedule it since Thanksgiving — and that one also failed so we have to get a new one sent out and schedule the electrician again. πŸ˜‘

Stuff I did

  • Worked on my consulting project for 10 hours
  • Worked on my book for 3.5 hours — far less than I need πŸ˜•
  • Rode my bike, took a walk, and did a weight workout πŸ‹οΈβ€β™€οΈ except I think I strained a neck muscle doing crunches πŸ˜‚
  • Two (virtual) appointments
  • Worked on my 2022 annual review but I’m having second thoughts about whether I still like my usual format, so I didn’t publish it
  • Started my 2022 best of playlist

Reading

  • Started reading Dead Collections by Isaac Fellman and restarted Wintering, which I’d temporarily DNF’d last year
  • Continued reading How to Calm Your Mind by Chris Bailey
  • Finished reading The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes by Cat Sebastian
  • DNF’d The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal and Sisters of the Vast Black by Linda Rather
  • Removed like 150+ books from my TBR, and added 4 πŸ’ͺ

Website updates

  • Corresponded with my webhost about webmentions more — I received one but still haven’t been able to ping the post I’m testing directly
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Weeknotes

Weeknotes: Dec. 31-Jan. 6, 2023

Stuff I did

  • Edited several new (self-)portraits of myself for my consulting business
  • SpentΒ 9.25 hours working on my book — I revised my outline, edited and merged several scenes, and prepped to write a new scene — I made more progress than planned, especially considering I took Monday off work and didn’t have time to write on Friday
  • Walked with my friend over the weekend, during the week, and on our regular weekday πŸ™Œ and rode my bike
  • Baked pumpkin streusel muffins and another key lime pie because I still had limes sitting in the bottom of the fridge
  • Blogged about what makes a good day
  • Completed my Q4 2022 review
  • Worked on my 2022 listening report
  • Started a new freelance project

Reading

Website changes

  • I’m having issues receiving external webmentions, and got on support with my web host twice, was escalated to senior tech support, and am waiting on resolution 🀞
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Featured Meta Reflection

2022 Year-End Reading Review

What I Read in 2022

I read 212 books in 2022, compared with 175 in 2021.

2022 Reads by Type

  • 122 novels
  • 32 novellas
  • 39 non-fiction books
  • 7 graphic non-fiction books
  • 12 graphic novels and art books

2022 Fiction by Genre

Of the 154 novels and novellas I read, here’s the breakdown by genre:

  • 141 romance
    • 27 contemporary romance
    • 53 sci-fi romance
    • 23 fantasy + paranormal romance
    • 38 historical romance
    • 5 I missed when I counted and I’m not doing it again
  • 2 sci-fi
  • 6 fantasy