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One word, two word, which one will do? Login, setup, and other puzzlers

January 15, 2020 — Joe Brockmeier

When editing technical writing about things like Linux, you'll start to notice a pattern of errors. One that I've noticed over and over again is the use of "login" and "setup" as verbs rather than the correct forms "log in" and "set up." Of course these are not usually flagged by grammar or spell checkers because they're valid words, just not in this context. Here's how to know when to use which.

If you're describing a thing (using as a noun), like saying "my login is user1" then it's one word. You can log in to your setup with a login and password. But if you're going to set something up, then it's two words. But if's "hey, look at my nifty setup," then it's one word.

A good test to see which is which would be to see if it works to insert a word in the middle. For example, "can you log me in?" Or "I need to set my blog up" then it's two words. But if you're describing a thing then you wouldn't slam a word in the middle.

Tags: fedora, grammar, tech-writing, editing.

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Remote work and the manager's schedule

November 17, 2019 — Joe Brockmeier

A post that went popular on Hacker News this week argues that "the manager's schedule is holding back remote work" (which turns out to be at least in part a ploy to get attention for an app...). I'm not really convinced by the author's arguement that it's the dichotomy between manager and "maker" schedules rather than culture.

In the past 20-some years I've worked remote more than I've worked in an office. One of the biggest problems is that our workplaces are shaped by the idea of people all gathering in one place and remote work is treated as a divergence rather than a native part of the workplace. It's not just that people are biased towards local employees by preference, it's that one form of working is considered "normal" and the other form is not considered much if at all when designing a workplace and way of working.

At Red Hat I see a lot less of this, particularly with the departments that produce software, than in other companies. Many of the developers who work for Red Hat started out in open source, which inverts this. It would be weird to have an early open source project where the developers were all in once place. So projects developed systems to cope with the fact that the contributors would be dispersed and working asynchronously.

The author's idea that tools are important is... sort of a very late realization. Slack is just a proprietary re-implementation of IRC with a few bonus features and openness removed.

All of this to say companies that want to be successful with remote workers need to approach things very intentionally. Set up systems to be successful for people who don't all congregate in one place. Fewer meetings is always a good start, to a point. Fewer standing meetings with 50 people doing read-outs would be good. But more check-ins and opportunities for people to actually talk in smaller groups and feel connected would be a good thing. My current situation is basically being a team of one, and I work with lots of people in the company, but nobody regularly. It's easy to feel disconnected and isolated this way. (I do have some excellent cat co-workers, though, so that's a good thing...)

Tags: work, ramblings

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A new social network: WikiTribune Social

November 14, 2019 — Joe Brockmeier

This morning I caught wind of WikiTribune Social (WT:Social), "a social network for people like you who still have faith in the truth. We are here to create better connections and develop productive discussions around everything that is happening in the world and is important to us."

I think there's a real need for a social network that doesn't use a predatory "users are the product" model. Sure, you can live without Facebook, but despite all its flaws it actually is a valuable tool for many people. I still think social networks can be a postitive, despite the state of Facebook and Twitter, but the motive and profit model can't be about explosive growth, eternal engagement, and exploiting user data. And WikiTribune says it's not going to sell data, and there's an opportunity to pay a yearly or monthly fee or donation for the site.

While some people can't afford $13 a month or $100 a year to be part of a social network, I can. So I plunked down my cash and signed up. I hope that others will give it a chance too, and maybe it will help put a stake in Facebook so that it goes the way of MySpace and other failed social networks.

Interested in joinng? Check it out here.

Tags: wikitribune, social, die-facebook-die

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Links for Wednesday, 13 November 2019

November 13, 2019 — Joe Brockmeier

Have been out of the habit of blogging for way too long. Going to try to post something here every day for 100 days to see if I can make it a habit, even if it's just links to things I find interesting.

"Ban these words" — Columbia Journalism Review

We all have our pet peeves, and I agree with some of these, disagree with nondescript. In many cases it does the job.

My list, which keeps growing every year, includes "believe/believes," "vow," almost all uses of a variant of "alleged," any modifier of "unique," and "swirl/swirled/swirling." (As in "rumors have been swirling.") I would strike any use of "so-and-so believes XYZ," particularly in political reporting, because there's no earthly way to know what someone believes. You can say so-and-so says they believe something, but you can't really know it. So when a pol claims to believe something, you're lending credence they don't deserve to the statement by accepting it as fact.

"Mister Rogers' Enduring Wisdom" — The Atlantic

I am often asked what Fred would have made of our time—what he would have made of Donald Trump, what he would have made of Twitter, what he would have made of what is generally called our “polarization” but is in fact the discovery that we don’t like our neighbors very much once we encounter them proclaiming their political opinions on social media. I often hear people say that they wish Fred were still around to offer his guidance and also that they are thankful he is gone, because at least he has been spared from seeing what we have become. In all of this, there is something plaintive and a little desperate, an unspoken lament that he has left us when we need him most, as though instead of dying of stomach cancer he was assumed by rapture, abandoning us to our own devices and the judgment implicit in his absence.

Really good read. Take the time to read it in full, it's worth it.

Tags: link-o-rama, grammar, writing, journalism

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Moving to bashblog

August 10, 2019 — Joe Brockmeier

After much poking and prodding at various static generator CMSes, I finally settled on bashblog. It lacks a lot of bells and whistles but it seems like a good choice for just writing posts in Vim and getting text out into the Web.

One of the things that I've been thinking about a lot lately is how unusable and complex the Web has gotten lately. Every popular site wants to force you into using an app to read their content, and publishing systems and platforms are just stupidly complex and fragile. I tried a half-dozen different static CMS tools that were recommended more widely, but almost every one had one or two things break immediately when trying to use them on Fedora 29 or 30.

It seems to me that bashblog would also make a decent note-taking system. It's easy to punch out a new entry just typing bb.sh post and going from there. Since it's all text, it's easy to slap into git and version control things.

Tags: blogging, bash, bashblog

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