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Dustin Boston is a developer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and lives in Pasadena, CA. Web developer, internet defender, writer, and open source advocate.
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Going gray(scale)

I recently switched my phone into grayscale mode in an effort to reduce the compulsive desire to check it throughout the day. So far, it's working.

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Within the first 10 minutes of the first class of the first semester of tech school, my professor said something to my class that I will never forget:

Unchecked technology is ultimately dehumanizing.

Boy is that ever true now. From political hacking1, to doxxing2, humans have found a way to make technology do the worst things possible.

One particularly insidious form of this grew up within the context of our present day “attention economy”—our phones. Now, it’s not that our phones are bad, it’s just that they are designed to keep our attention.

According to Dr. Thomas Ramsoy3, an expert in Neuroscience and a critic of “Neuromarketing” practices common today, one trick used to keep us glued to our phones is color. It can be used to induce “subconcious decisions.” Ever wonder why the notification badges on your phone are red? It’s because they draw your attention.

Tristan Harris, who used to work at Google as their Design Ethicist equates this phone douchbaggery to a slot machine.4 When you pick up your phone you’re pulling the handle. If you get a text message you win, if you get nothing you lose, but the dopamine hit is enough to keep you coming back.

And that’s how the entire world got a legitimate phone addiction.

The Center for Human Technology (Harris’ new gig) has a list of tips for combatting phone addiction. One novel idea is to put your phone in grayscale mode. This basically disables mind-control.

For the last week I have “gone gray”, disabled all notifications except for text-messages, and removed all social media from my phone5, and I can tell you that it reduced my compulsive behavior by at least 80%.

So I don’t know if I’m cured, or even if I want to be cured but I definitely feel more in control of my phone than I have in some time. And that’s the point isn’t it? To put tech in check. Hey I like the sound of that.

Rsync Deployment with GitLab CI/CD

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I had a thought about blogging while cruising Adactio: if it takes more than 30 seconds to make a finished post live, it’s probably not going to get published. I have this problem.

After I write something, I build my site with Hugo, and then rsync it up to the server. But there’s no reason for me to do that manually anymore since it can be automated with GitLab. Using SSH keys with GitLab CI/CD and CI rsync Deployment had everything I needed to get it done.

How to Meditate

This is a simple ten minute mediation that I learned from Headspace. It focuses on breathing and mindfulness. There are other types of meditation exercises that you can do too, but this is the one I use every day.

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  1. With eyes open, take deep, audible breaths. In from the nose out through the mouth. 30 seconds.
  2. Gently closing the eyes, listen to the sounds around you, feel your feet on the floor, hands on your lap.
  3. Quickly scan your body from head to feet and back up. Note how the body feels but don’t dwell on it.
  4. Briefly remind yourself of why you are doing this.
  5. Locate your diaphragm. Feel it rise and fall for a few moments, without changing your breathing patterns. Just observe.
  6. Continuing to observe, begin to count your breaths. Inhale 1, exhale 2, inhale 3, etc. Up to a count of 10, then start again.
  7. After several minutes, allow your mind to be free and do whatever it wants. 30 seconds.
  8. Reconnect with your surroundings, sounds and sensations. Gently open your eyes.
  9. Reflect on how it feels to have taken time to yourself
  10. Consider what you will do next, and smoothly transition into that. Bringing your sense of calm with you.

Embracing Diversity

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My boss, an immigrant from Iran, and founder of Axosoft and Pure Chat, shared an email with the company yesterday that I wanted to share here.

Most of you, have undoubtedly seen or heard about the Muslim ban over the weekend. Some of you may think the huge opposition you are seeing to this ban is hysteria or over-reaction to what President Trump is referring to as (paraphrased) “the things that need to be done to keep us safe.” But for those of us who have seen or lived in countries with religious persecution, this type of racism and religious division is awfully familiar. Not only does it exacerbate the very problems it claims to be solving, but it fundamentally clashes with the very ideas of what it is to be an American.

Hamid Shojaee — Embracing Diversity

Early Warning Signs of Fascism

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Here are the Early Warning Signs of Fascism, from a poster in the US Holocaust Museum which has now been liked and retweeted hundreds of thousands of times across the internet:

  • Powerful and continuing nationalism
  • Disdain for human rights
  • Identification of enemies as a unifying cause
  • Supremacy of the military
  • Rampant sexism
  • Controlled mass media
  • Obsession with national security
  • Religion and government intertwined
  • Corporate power protected
  • Labor power suppressed
  • Disdain for intellectuals & the arts
  • Obsession with crime & punishment
  • Rampant cronyism & corruption
  • Fraudulent elections

Via RaRaVibes

Do Work

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It’s time to do work.

I believe very strongly that people on the left are too prone to do things that are emotionally satisfying and not politically useful. I have a rule, and it’s true of Occupy, it’s true of the gay-rights movement: If you care deeply about a cause, and you are engaged in an activity on behalf of that cause that is great fun and makes you feel good and warm and enthusiastic, you’re probably not helping, because you’re out there with your friends, and political work is much tougher and harder. And I think it’s now clear that it is the disciplined political work that we’ve been able to do that’s won us victories.

Libertas Shrugs


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I don’t like cycling.

  • I like the health benefits.
  • I like how the exercise makes me feel.
  • I like how quiet and peaceful it is.
  • I like feeling accomplished when I reach my destination.
  • I like the extra time to listen to music or an audiobook.
  • I like that I am not polluting the environment.
  • I like being outside.

I like cycling.

Why Creating is Important

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The act of creating something is vital to our lives in so many ways. It can make us better individually; it can help those around us; it can even spark whole political movements. And it’s not just about the arts: cooking a simple meal or designing a more efficient car can be just as transformative as a book or a song.

In The Power of Your Writing, Winnie Lim declares that writing and sharing—or creating in general, for our purposes—is “honoring yourself and your experiences” and that “at the same time, you honor the world around you, and your place in it.” Creating something is an act of self-expression which gives us such incredible power that even Mahatma Gandhi once wrote, “I want freedom for the full expression of my personality.”1 And it makes sense as it effects so many aspects of our lives.

Let’s just cut right to it—creating is hard. It’s so much easier to consume, to be passive: grab some fast food instead of thinking about what you really want and making it from scratch; quit writing the essay before you even finish the second paragraph; watch a TV show instead of building a blanket fort for your kids. But it’s exactly that difficulty that makes the act of creating so incredible. And it’s exactly why you should persevere through the difficulty. Because what’s on the other side is so special that it almost has to be shrouded—only those that persevere get the reward that awaits on the other side.

When you push through and create something, the first thing you feel is accomplishment and maybe even a tinge of pride in your work. It may be imperfect—maybe it’s even awful—but you did it. With your hands and mind and heart, you willed something into existence with nothing more than raw materials. There’s a deep satisfaction that comes with it. That satisfaction will blossom into happiness, and that happiness into empowerment.

Jason Fried, co-founder of Basecamp, in a 2014 Reddit AMA said, “something is a success if you want to do it again. And even more so if you look forward to doing it again.” You did this, creating something, and you might even do it again. That’s success.

It’s quite possible that you hated the whole damn thing, but if you kept trying, congratulations! That’s self-reliance—you used your abilities, judgment, and resources to make something happen, and that, my friend, is worth every minute you invested into your creative act of self-expression. You have hopefully increased your confidence and independence, both of which are vital skills to have.

At the very least, you’ve learned something, in fact, you’ve probably learned a lot. And because of that, you now have the ability to help others: you can share your experiences with others and inspire them to create; you can collaborate with like minded people, combining ideas and innovating; or you can teach others how to do the things that you have learned.

Even the simplest act of creating has all of these benefits: self-expression, happiness, empowerment, self-reliance, learning, innovating, and inspiring. Why let another day go passively by when we can have all that?

  1. The Essential Gandhi [return]
A cricket chorus,
crackling campfire—
and a toddler tantrum