thingelstad

Jamie Thingelstad's personal website

Category: Techie (page 1 of 36)

It’s great to see the human side of the technology community shine.

How Facebook “Improves”

20140614-225148-82308205.jpg

Improving ads, wow, how excited should I be? Just to be clear what this message really means is that Facebook is now actively collating all of the data that it collects about you from every website that you visit that has those cute little Facebook Like buttons and is using that to target ads at you in a better way.

“improving” and “giving you control”. Bullshit.

Why WikiApiary uses pages and not articles

A while back @Waldyrious posed this question about WikiApiary.

The full answer is actually found in my talk page on WikiApiary. Articles are a construct that each wiki can manage. MediaWiki tries to create these two classes of content: Pages and Articles. The intent being that pages are in some way less like “content” than articles. The metrics for determining this are configurable, but I’m guessing nearly everyone leaves it at the defaults. I felt that the page concept, just looking at content and not judging if it was better or worse was a simpler way to look at thousands of different wikis.

Wanted: Dash Docset for MediaWiki

I really wish there were a Dash Docset for MediaWiki. The directions for creating docsets are pretty straightforward. It also strikes me that using pandoc to do wikitext to html you could convert existing help pages into HTML and make the Docset.

Maybe someone else will read this and think it is a great idea and do it.

Keybase and MediaWiki

I’m really intrigued by what Keybase.io is doing with identity. The ability to cryptographically prove your identity on the web without a centralized party like Twitter or Facebook owning the approval process is a needed function. I setup my profile and you can now prove on your own that I am who I say I am on Twitter, Github and five of my domains.

I’m trying to figure out how this could be extended to MediaWiki. I would love to be able to prove that my user account is me at:

This seems really hard. The method used on Github is to public a Gist, and you could certainly have a wiki user publish something on their user page, but that can also be edited by anybody.

But if we could do this, it would be a great way to allow Wikipedia editors to claim ownership with proof of their identities (if they wish) and would benefit thousands of self-hosted MediaWiki websites.

I think something more like the Twitter proof could work. How?

  1. Have the user in question edit their User page. The contents of the edit don’t matter, the Summary field is what will be looked at. (Limited to 255 characters)
  2. MediaWiki websites have a permanent revision history attached to each page. (This would be like a Tweet, see my change on May 11 2014)
  3. This information is accessible via the MediaWiki API, and there is a revid attached to each revision.
  4. This revision ID can be used to pull the proof forward for keybase.io.

Here are the last 5 revisions for my User page on WikiApiary (API call).

{
  "query": {
    "pages": {
      "43": {
        "ns": 2,
        "pageid": 43,
        "revisions": [
          {
            "comment": "This is my message for keybase.io to prove I am who I am!",
            "parentid": 884728,
            "revid": 904406,
            "timestamp": "2014-05-11T13:10:17Z",
            "user": "Thingles"
          },
          {
            "comment": "remove gittip button",
            "parentid": 569866,
            "revid": 884728,
            "timestamp": "2014-04-30T02:55:26Z",
            "user": "Thingles"
          },
          {
            "comment": "",
            "parentid": 569864,
            "revid": 569866,
            "timestamp": "2014-02-21T01:56:28Z",
            "user": "Thingles"
          },
          {
            "comment": "added badge",
            "parentid": 552628,
            "revid": 569864,
            "timestamp": "2014-02-21T01:54:59Z",
            "user": "Thingles"
          },
          {
            "comment": "add babel box (needs templates and styles)",
            "parentid": 528928,
            "revid": 552628,
            "timestamp": "2014-02-15T19:36:51Z",
            "user": "Thingles"
          }
        ],
        "title": "User:Thingles"
      }
    }
  },
  "query-continue": {
    "revisions": {
      "rvcontinue": 528928
    }
  }
}

Now that we have the revid we can find the information for this revision to continue to claim proof (API call). The key is that the title of the page “User:Thingles” matches with the user that made the change “Thingles”.

{
  "query": {
    "pages": {
      "43": {
        "ns": 2,
        "pageid": 43,
        "revisions": [
          {
            "comment": "This is my message for keybase.io to prove I am who I am!",
            "parentid": 884728,
            "revid": 904406,
            "timestamp": "2014-05-11T13:10:17Z",
            "user": "Thingles"
          }
        ],
        "title": "User:Thingles"
      }
    }
  },
  "query-continue": {
    "revisions": {
      "rvcontinue": 884728
    }
  }
}

And now I’ve proven my identity. The only trick is that the comment must contain all the data, and that should be easy since keybase already does something similar for Twitter.

And here is another example of me making a proven comment on my user page on Wikipedia (en) (API call).

{
  "query": {
    "pages": {
      "14604697": {
        "ns": 2,
        "pageid": 14604697,
        "revisions": [
          {
            "comment": "Here is my message for Keybase from Wikipedia.",
            "parentid": 551074105,
            "revid": 608054849,
            "timestamp": "2014-05-11T13:56:25Z",
            "user": "Thingles"
          }
        ],
        "title": "User:Thingles"
      }
    }
  },
  "query-continue": {
    "revisions": {
      "rvcontinue": 551074105
    }
  }
}

The Worst “Mark all as read” Button Ever

If you login to Twitter and go to your Direct Messages you press a button to mark all as read, and then you have to confirm. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a “Mark all as read” button that looks so foreboding.

dont dare mark all as read

That looks like a “Watch out what you push because everything will be deleted” red button that you need to be very, very careful with.  Terrible for this function.

I’ve become quiet the fan of my Dropcam. I decided to go ahead and pre-order two of the new Dropcam Tabs. Excited to play with them. Wish they were shipping sooner!

Huge Impact of Linode Cloud Updates

I host all of my personal projects on two servers at Linode. Last week Linode announced new “cloud servers” with SSD’s, double RAM and a new chip architecture. I migrated both of my hosts over to the new servers that evening and the performance impact was immediately noticeable. WikiApiary is the most taxing project I run, and it was clearly much faster. This graph though of the WikiApiary API response time is the most telling. So much better!

response-time

“Walk into a room of people just like you.”

Over recent years I’ve been growing increasingly concerned about the lack of women in technology careers. Perhaps it’s being a dad, or just getting older. Either way, I think this is bad for our industry. I believe we would have healthier cultures, better teams and make better software and products if we had more diversity.

I recently got an email invite to an event in town for tech entrepreneurs. The headline of the email exclaimed in large type…

Walk into a room of people just like you.

In the email were three photos to highlight the people just like you. All set in the gorgeous CoCo Minneapolis space.

Notably a room of people just like you, if you are a young, white man.

I’m not highlighting it because I think there was anything intentional with these images. But instead just to highlight something that I don’t think many in tech even see. We rarely notice the absence of any women in these scenes. We need to work harder to create an inclusive environment that draws the great women technologists into our events too.

On a related note, many know I’m on the board of minne✱ which hosts minnedemo and minnebar. We are continuing to work hard to make sure we get all technologists to our events. We have a lot of work to do, but making sure that our imagery displays an open and accepting event is an important start.

If you missed the news that Dropbox is now automatically putting all users into an arbitration agreement you should take a moment to opt-out of this change. You can go to

https://www.dropbox.com/arbitration_optout

And easily opt out.

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