Posts, page 1 of 21

  • 17th September at 10:45

    I shared yesterday that I’ve been using Front to manage my Twitter replies and DMs and Sara asked me to write about how I have Twitter stuff setup at the moment, so here goes.

    I’ve got documented issues with Twitter. It has a severely bad impact on my overall mental health and I’m addicted to it. I wish I could get rid of it completely, but unfortunately, the industry I work in insists on centering everything on Twitter, so I am in effect, held hostage by Twitter.

    I refuse to use the main site and apps anymore and participate in the algorithm that dismantles communities by driving controversy. I also refuse to participate in the fucking awful takes of Tech Twitter Personalities™.

    The setup

    Let’s dig into the nuts and bolts. Because I still need to engage with Twitter, I want to do it from afar. All I’m interested in is:

    1. Posting
    2. Replying to mentions
    3. Having control of my DMs

    To tackle points 2 and 3 I’m using Front. It’s actually a support tool, but I’ve found it really useful because it lets me run Twitter like an inbox. I fucking love email, so this setup is perfect for me. I can set rules, snooze items, tag items and be super organised, just like I am with email. I now push my Gmail stuff into there too.

    It’s not cheap though: $38 a month because you have to have at least two “seats”, which is daft. But, the way I see it, $38 a month is nothing if it helps my thinker stay healthy.

    For posting, I’m using IFTTT. For this blog and my music blog, I have an RSS recipe that reads my feeds (this feed, music feed), the auto tweets the title, url and content. I can also post directly from Front. Perfect.

    For Piccalilli, I decided to tweak it a bit. I still use an RSS applet, but I created a specific Tweets feed that allows IFTTT to post the title, summary and url. Works a treat.

    IFTTT also make you pay for running multiple applets, but again, it’s worth it. It’s $3.33 for unlimited applets. I fucking love IFTTT as a service and use it for a few handy automations, so again, more than happy to pay that.

    Hopefully this helps someone else have a healthier relationship with the hell site that is Twitter.

    Take it easy 👋

  • 10th September at 17:40

    You’d think the fastest thing is y’know, light, but it’s actually me muting a new channel in a community Discord.

  • 9th September at 09:40

    I got the best sentence in an email today:

    “You were due to start jury service soon but you have now been excused”

    I got a call yesterday and didn’t want to really believe it until I had it in writing. I imagine jury service is fine if you’re in a salaried position—mostly because you have to get paid your salary while you do it. As a freelancer with a very busy schedule at the moment (my fault), it was the cause of a lot of stress.

    Feelin’ much lighter today.

  • 8th September at 08:38

    It’s our kid’s first day at school today. It literally feels like yesterday that I was driving her and her mum home at 20mph from the hospital.

    That was nearly 5 years ago...

  • 7th September at 15:02

    It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this blog. If you’re reading this on Twitter, I’ve gone back to syndicating these articles with IFTTT. It auto-tweets via my RSS feed.

    Anyway, Twitter is the subject of today’s article.

    A week ago, I decided it was time to go on an extended—potentially permanent—break from Twitter. I did this because friends, I am terminally fed up with not just Twitter: but social media as a whole.

    The reason I’m focusing on Twitter today is because I can’t escape it. Let me explain why.

    Last weekend was a bank holiday here and we had a lovely few days where my partner’s family came over. Lots of good food and good LOLs were had. The subject of social media came up and me—being a few wines down—went into a full-throttle attack on Facebook and its devastating impact on society.

    Long story short: after they learned of Facebook’s genocidal history and the penny dropped about how small rewards for engagement is the game—not “keeping up with family”: my partner’s sister and I decided to deactivate Facebook products in solidarity with each other. I only had an Instagram profile because Facebook itself is long dead to me.

    I deactivated Instagram and all that was left…was Twitter. I have two accounts on Twitter: my main—what I call “work” account and a private, mutuals-only account. I opened the latter a few months ago because frankly, I got fed up of fucking reply-guys.

    The problem we have here is that the main “work” account can’t be deactivated because the industry I work in decided that Twitter would be integral and I am freelance. Yep: the platform that limits content to 280 characters and actively rewards hot-takes and negative interactions is the bedrock of the tech industry. Yes, there are blogs and people read blogs, but really, it’s all on Twitter. The problem with my private, mutuals only account is that a lot of mutuals work in tech, so that content (through no fault of theirs) follows them into the no-work zone, so the nice LOLs I have on there are constantly tainted with Jon McWanker’s “well, really, the cascade was a mistake” shit-takes.

    Ideally, I’d nuke both accounts and deal with the consequences later. The problem is that very rarely, Twitter does bring upon good opportunities. A lot of my work is credited to that Twitter account too, so loads of links would just stop working overnight, which is not cool. So in short: I’m fucking trapped.

    What am I going to do then? It’s time to go fully hands-off with Twitter. This is the first step: posting from a third party. Even with Tweetbot muting the living daylights out of almost everything: Twitter is still hell. I just can’t be around it anymore. It’s severely impacting my mental health and as I’ve written before: I’m fucking addicted to it.

    What I hate the most is the fucking asinine takes on everything. Lucky for us, Chad McDickhead has strong opinions on CSS frameworks and painfully naive takes on the impact of US Troop withdrawal on Afghanistan. He also thinks that the COVID vaccine is “experimental” and we should all “get back to normal”. Let me tell you dear reader: after losing a loved one recently to COVID, those latter comments hit different.

    Anyway, I just thought I’d share what’s going on. You’ll be happy to know that since last week, I feel endlessly happier and also, weirdly burned out. I think I knew a big burnout was coming and luckily, I know the signs to deal with it now. Getting away from Twitter will only help that.

    I’ll auto-post from here and my new music recommendation blog and hopefully, that’s all you’ll see from me on Twitter—for a few months, at least. The sad thing is that I like to use my following to give people a leg-up by signal boosting them. If anyone has ideas how I can still do that, let me know.

    As always, email is the best way to contact me (hi@piccalil.li), but if you really have to: I will periodically check Twitter DMs using Twizzle.

    In closing, I managed to quit smoking—after 15 years—and have a sensible relationship with cigarettes, so I can damn-well do the same with Twitter.

    Take it easy.

  • 14th April at 11:21

    I’ve been working way too hard recently so I’m treating myself to starting a fun, personal project I’ve been meaning to start for a long time.

    I’m creating an index of my music collection and will be rebuilding what I lost. I’ll be buying a combo of physical copies of albums and downloading high quality digital versions. I’ll record vinyls to digital, too.

    It’s going to take fucking years but so be it. It’s going to be wholesome.

    A database schema design

  • 2nd April at 07:49

    I just got that glorious feeling of opening a physical record—a vinyl. It was Led Zeppelin’s first album.

    I was a fanatical music collector, once upon a time. I had a CD collection of over 350 albums! Because it got so hard to find an album I wanted to listen to, I bought one of those massive CD wallets DJs use and put every CD in order.

    Proud of this system, I took it to a mate’s so we could listen to some albums. It got late, so I got a taxi home. I left the CD wallet in the taxi. I never saw it again 😭

    I’m ashamed to say this is the day I decided I’m going to download Kazaa and pirate music.

    I’ve realised recently, I miss having a physical copy of albums, a lot. I like streaming services—currently Apple Music because my collection is too big for Spotify’s arbitrary limits—they’re great for discovery, but artists get paid fuck all. I’m going to either buy a vinyl, cassette or at least go to their bandcamp and download a FLAC of their album instead.

    I’m looking forward to getting back into this stuff. I’m not bloody losing it all this time though.

    Update: I am cataloging this ever-developing collection. It’s very modest right now, but it’ll get there.

  • 28th March at 20:03

    I’ve decided that the @piccalilli_ Twitter account is work-only now and I’ll only use and interact with it during work hours. I took a little step away last week because I could feel the burnout apathy twinging again, so took swift action to nip it in the bud.

    I’ve realised that the lack of separation between work and myself, a human, is killing me. Obviously, being independent, there’s an intrinsic link between personal and my work, which is sorta unavoidable.

    This pandemic has taken everything away from us and left only work and trying to battle endless burnout waves during “all of this” is like fighting off an angry bull with a red rag. I’m yearning for some separation of personal and boring internet money, because the lack of it is clearly not helping me.

    Coding is cool and I like it, but I’m not like, “passionate” about it. Music is where that passion really lies. Heck, if I hadn’t had to do an important audition at Leeds College of Music while I was still recovering from chronic flu, which had me bed-bound for a month, when I was 17, I wouldn’t even be writing this post lol.

    I only got into the web because I could make cool stuff in flash or build out a MySpace profile and get paid for it—what a dream. All this happened after I dropped out of a music production degree which I found really boring. The web then was weird, still pretty new and fun as hell. It resonated with me, a weird, extremely chaotic (at the time) creative.

    The web now has gotten extremely corporate and the community: hostile. That hostility has gotten so much worse over the last 12 months and the hostility is related to stuff that really doesn’t matter like opinions on frameworks and whether or not HTML is a programming language (it is you fucking melts). I really enjoy teaching folks how to make websites: I just find myself veering further away from “the industry”.

    Anyway, I can’t fucking tweet about anything other than code stuff on @piccalilli_ without some arsehole in my replies, a lot of the time. If I’m really lucky, I get arseholes in my replies about tech too. Frankly, I can’t really be arsed with that shit anymore.

    I set up a new Twitter: @notpiccalilli. I’m gonna spend more time on there and tweet all the real life stuff. I will now tweet only tech stuff on @piccalilli_, like posts on the Piccalilli site and stuff that I like in tech world. Don’t worry, I’ll still shitpost because tech takes itself way too seriously and I like making fun of it.

    So yeh, come and hang on @notpiccalilli. It’s not private anymore. This blog won’t auto-syndicate to the work account after this post either: it’ll auto-syndicate to my personal account instead.

    In an attempt to get some of myself back, I’m now going to obsessively collect vinyl, learn woodworking and cook a lot of pizza. I might even download FL studio and make some below-average electronica again.

  • 26th March at 13:28

    Imagine if someone said:

    “You have to be passionate about clearing sewerage drains. You can’t just do it for the money.”

    Sounds pretty ridiculous, right? So why is tech any different and what makes it so special? It isn’t special and it’s more than acceptable to get your salary and live your life how you want.

  • 26th March at 11:17

    I’ve just seen someone refer to their job as “boring money internet”.

    The endless tech “debates” like whether one programming language is actually a programming language or not feel very rooted in “boring money internet” to me.

    More fun creative internet, please.