Kait
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The way to guarantee durability and failure recovery in serverless orchestration and coordination is … a server and database in the middle of your microservices.

I’m sure it’s a great product, but come on.

I have previously mentioned that I love NextDNS, but they do not make certain fundamental things, like managing your block and allow lists, very easy. Quite often I'll hit a URL that's blocked that I'd like to see - rather than use their app, I have to load their (completely desktop-oriented) website, navigate to the right tab, then add the URL in.

That's annoying.

Without writing an iOS app all of its own (which sounds like a lot of work), I wanted an easy to way to push URLs to the block or deny list. So I wrote an iOS Shortcut that works with a PHP script to send the appropriate messages.

You can find the shortcut here.

The PHP script can found at this Gist. You'll need to set the token, API key (API key can be found at the bottom of your NextDNS profile) and profile ID variables in the script. The token is what you'll use to secure your requests from your phone to the server.

I thought about offering a generic PHP server that required you to set everything in Shortcuts, but that's inherently insecure for everyone using it, so I decided against it. I think it would be possible to do this all in Shortcuts, but Shortcuts drives me nuts for anything remotely complex, and this does what I need it to.

It really is annoying how hard it is to manage a basic function. NextDNS also doesn't seem to have set their CORS headers properly for OPTIONS requests, which are required for browser-based interactions because of how they dictated the API token has to be sent.

OpenAI announced Sora, a new model for text-to-video, and it's ... fine? I guess? I mean, I know why they announced it - it's legitimately really cool you can type something in and a video vaguely approximating your description in really high resolution shows up.

I just don't think it's really all that useful in real-world contexts.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate their candor in the "whoopsies" segments, but even in the show-off pieces some of the video is weird to just downright bad.

A screenshot of a video of a woman walking, where her thumb is approximately as long as all her other fingersHands are hard! I get it! But there's also quite literally a "bag lady" (a woman who appears to be carrying at least two gigantic purses), and (especially when the camera moves) the main character floats along the ground without actually walking pretty often.

Are these nitpicky things people aren't going to notice on first glance? Maybe. But remember the outrage around Ugly Sonic? People notice small (or large) discrepancies in their popular entertainment, and the brand suffers for it. To say nothing of advertisers! Imagine trying to market your brand-new (well, "new" in car definitions) car without an accurate model of said car in the ad. Or maybe you really want to buy the latest Danover.

An AI-generated commercial of a generic SUV with the word "Danover" as the brand.It seems like all the current AI output has a limit of "close-ish" for things, from self-driving to video to photos to even text generation. It all requires human editing, often significant for any work of reasonable size, to pull it out of the uncanny valley.

"But look how far they've gotten in such little time!" they cry. "Just wait!"

But nobody's managed to push past that last 10% in any domain. It always requires a human touch to get it "right."

Like the fake Land Rover commercial is interesting, except imagine the difficulty of getting it to match your new product (look and name) exactly. You're almost going to have to CGI it in after, at least parts, at which point you've lost much of the benefit.

Unfortunately, "close enough" is good enough for a lot of people who are lazy, cheap or don't care about quality. The software example I'd give is there probably aren't a lot of companies who'd be willing to pay for software consultant services who are just going to use AI instead, but plenty of those people who message you on LinkedIn willing to pay you $200 for a Facebook clone absolutely are going to pay Copilot $20 a month instead.

And yes, there will be those people (especially levels removed from the actual work) who will think they can replace their employees with chatbots, and it might even work for a little bit. But poorly designed systems always have failure points, and once you hit it you're going to wind up having to scrap the whole thing. A building with a bad foundation can't be fixed through patching.

I have a feeling it's the same in other industries. I do think workers will feel the hit, especially on lower-budget products already or where people see an opportunity to cut corners. I also think our standards as a society will be relaxed a little bit in a lot of areas, simply because the mean will regress

But in good news, I think this'll shake out in a few years where people realize AI isn't replacing everything any more than Web3 did, but AI will have more utility as a tool in the toolkit of professionals. It's just gonna take a bit to get there.

The funny thing is a lot of the uncanny stuff makes it look like the model was trained on CGI videos, which might be a corollary to the prophesied problem of AI training on AI outputs. The dalmatian looks and moves CGI af, and the train looks like a bad photoshop insert where they had a video of a train on flat ground and matted over the background with a picture.

Sacre bleu!

Gird your curds! Say a prayer for Camembert! A collapse in microbe diversity puts these French cheeses at risk.

An interesting unexpected side effect of uniformity in food (which I generally like!).

Pogo (musician) - Wikipedia

Pogo (musician) - Wikipedia

Found out today Pogo sucks as a human.

I hate when I found out art I enjoy was created by assholes. But I have little problem dropping it from my life - there's way too much art out there made by people who aren't awful.

There goes half my glitch-hop playlist

How many Ryan Reynoldses do we as a moviegoing public need? I felt like the original had it more than covered, but with the Chrises three (Pratt, Hemsworth and Evans) and now Ryan Gosling, I feel like my cup overfloweth with meta-acting and fourth-wall-chewing.

To be fair, Pratt did it more but RR did it most.

Karla pointed out that there's really not that many types of things a person can have in their house in the end.

I think this is a symptom of wealth and age more than anything. Though it’s funny how 2/3 of those things are no longer even available for purchase

A screenshot of a text app from the author. The first message, at 12:33 pm, says

At least I finished it, eventually!

Implementing a share extension with SwiftUI

As part of my plan to spend more time bikeshedding building out my web presence than actually creating content, I wanted to build an iOS app that allowed me to share short snippets of text or photos to my blog. I've also always wanted to understand Swift generally and building an iOS app specifically, so it seemed like a nice little rabbit hole.

Be wary of chasing rabbits down their holes

I later expanded the app's remit to include cross-posting to BlueSky and Mastodon, which is a double-bonus because BlueSky STILL doesn't support sharing an image from another application (possibly because they couldn't find the Medium post???)

A calico cat sleeps curled up against a leg with a computer in the background

Better than any rubber duck I've ever met.

Not wanting to deal with security/passwords and allowing third-party logins has given way to complacency, or outright laziness. Here are some troubling patterns I've noticed trying to de-google my primary domain.

1) Google does not really keep track of where your account has been used. Yes, there's an entry in security, but the titles are entirely self-reported and are often useless (wtf is Atlas API production?). They also allow for things like "auth0" to be set as the responsible entity, so I have no idea what these accounts are even for.

2) This would not be a problem if systems were responsible with the user identity and used your Google account as signifier. However, many apps (thus far, Cloudinary and Figma are my biggest headaches) treat the Google account as the owner of the account, meaning if I lose access to that Google account (like now, when I'm migrating the email off of Google), I"m SOL.

The RESPONSIBLE way to do this is allow me to disconnect the Google sign on and require a password reset. This is just lazy.

The best solution I've found is add a new account with an alt email address to the "team" account with admin ownership, but this is a hacky kludge, not a solution.

Because I use this like three times a year and always have to look it up: When you want to merge folders of the same name on a Mac (e.g., two identically named folders where you want the contents of Folder 1 and Folder 2 to be in Folder 2), hold down the option key and drag Folder 1 into the container directory of Folder 2. You should see the option to merge.

Note that this is a copy merge, not a move merge, so you'll need to delete the source files when you're done. It also appears to handle recursion properly (so if you have nested folders named the same, it'll give you the same option).

Did I almost look up a whole app to do this? Yes, I did. Is it stupid this isn't one of the default options when you click and drag? Yes, it is.

This post brought to you by Google Drive's decision to chunk download archives separately (e.g., it gives me six self-contained zips rather than 6 zip parts). Which is great for failure cases but awful on success.

OK, so it's not exactly "new" anymore, but this is the accessibility talk I gave at Longhorn PHP in Nov. 2023. And let's be honest, it's still new to 99% of you. My favorite piece of feedback I got was, "I know it's about 'updates,' but you could have provided an overview of the most common accessibility practices." Bruh, it's a 45-minute talk, not a 4-hour workshop.

Dislcaimer: I am not receiving any affiliate marketing for this post, either because the services don't offer it or they do and I'm too lazy to sign up. This is just stuff I use daily that I make sure all my new computers get set up with.

My current list of must-have Mac apps, which are free unless otherwise noted. There are other apps I use for various purposes, but these are the ones that absolutely get installed on every machine.

  • 1Password
    Password manager, OTP authenticator, Passkey holder and confidential storage. My preferred pick, though there are plenty of other options. ($36/year)

  • Bear
    Markdown editor. I write all my notes in Bear, and sync 'em across all my devices. It's a pleasant editor with tagging. I am not a zettelkasten person and never will be, but tagging gets me what I need. ($30/year)

  • Contrast
    Simple color picker that also does contrast calculations to make sure you're meeting accessibility minimums (you can pick both foreground and background). My only complaint is it doesn't automatically copy the color to the clipboard when you pick it (or at least the option to toggle same).

  • Dato
    Calendar app that lives in your menubar, using your regular system accounts. Menubar calendar is a big thing for me (RIP Fantastical after their ridiculous price increase), but the low-key star of the show is the "full-screen notification." Basically, I have it set up so that 1 minute before every virtual meeting I get a full-screen takeover that tells me the meeting is Happening. No more "notification 5 minutes before, try to do something else real quick then look up and realize 9 minutes have passed." ESSENTIAL. ($10)

  • iTerm2
    I've always been fond of Quake-style terminals, so much so that unless I'm in an IDE it's all I'll use. iTerm lets a) remove it from the Dock and App Switcher, b) force it to load only via a global hotkey, and c) animate up from whatever side of the screen you choose to show the terminal. A+. I tried WarpAI for a while, and while I liked the autosuggestions, the convenience of an always-available terminal without cluttering the Dock or App Switcher is, apparently, a deal-breaker for me.

  • Karabiner Elements
    Specifically for my laptop when I'm running without my external keyboard. I map caps lock to escape (to mimic my regular keyboards), and then esc is mapped to hyper (for all my global shortcuts for Raycast, 1Password, etc.).

  • NextDNS
    Secure private DNS resolution. I use it on all my devices to manage my homelab DNS, as well as set up DNS-based ad-blocking. The DNS can have issues sometimes, especially in conjunction with VPNs (though I suspect it's more an Apple problem, as all the options I've tried get flaky at points for no discernible reason), but overall it's rock-solid. ($20/year)

  • NoTunes
    Prevents iTunes or Apple Music from launching. Like, when your AirPods switch to the wrong computer and you just thought the music stopped so you tapped them to start and all of a sudden Apple Music pops up? No more! You can also set a preferred default music app instead.

  • OMZ (oh-my-zsh)
    It just makes the command line a little easier and more pleasing to use. Yes, you can absolutely script all this manually, but the point is I don't want to.

  • Pearcleaner
    The Mac app uninstaller you never knew you needed. I used to swear by AppCleaner, but I'm not sure it's been updated in years.

  • Raycast
    Launcher with some automation and scripting capabilities. Much better than spotlight, but not worth the pro features unless you're wayyyy into AI. Free version is perfectly cromulent. Alfred is a worthy competitor, but they haven't updated the UI in years and it just feels old/slower. Plus the extensions are harder to use.

  • Vivaldi
    I've gone back to Safari as my daily driver, but Vivaldi is my browser of choice when I'm testing in Chromium (and doing web dev in general. I love Safari, but the inspector sucks out loud). I want to like Orion (it has side tabs!). It keeps almost pulling me back in but there are so many crashes and incompatible sites I always have to give up within a week. So Safari for browsing, Vivaldi for development.

Still waiting for that SQL UI app that doesn't cost a ridiculous subscription per month. RIP Sequel Pro (and don't talk me to about Sequel Ace, I lost too much data with that app).

Canadian Boyfriend

by Jenny Holiday

The joke drew me in, but the clarity and earnestness of the writing kept me through the end. I had not actually heard about the Canadian girlfriend until the musical Avenue Q, but it's a well-trod trope: Oh, you see, I do have a significant other, they just live far away (in Canada, usually). It's a way of saving face in front of others without ever needing to produce said person, and it rarely works as well as those who deploy it might hope.

I don't even want to get into the specifics all that much, because I feel like the reveals and the plot advancements really go hand-in-hand. Suffice it to say, one of Rory's three jobs involves teaching at a local ballet school, and she has a minor crisis when her own Canadian Boyfriend unexpectedly shows up after an intervening decade-plus, mourning his deceased wife. Hilarity ensues.

There's a meet-cute, and some adorable stumbling and mixups, but the overwhelming feeling I took away from this novel is contentment. Which is odd, given the context and the fairly in-depth discussions of and visits to therapy we get from both the mains! But these characters are so lovingly and realistically presented, with flaws and hope and charm, that I couldn't help but be swept up. Even when issues and problems are confronted, the book doesn't shy away or seem to take the easy route. There's conflict and difficulty, but there's also an underlying layer of care (from both the author and the characters) holds the surges before they overwhelm.

A wonderful book you'll want to sit with and luxuriate in. I'm only upset the follow-up is still a year-plus away!

There's a particularly spirited dispute over the definition of "hosers" that I think gets close to the truth but doesn't quite nail it. Though, as someone who grew up in a state that only touched Canada, my opinion probably doesn't get me very far.

Find it streaming

Alina Gingertail's name sounds like a D&D character, but her music sounds like every Gaelic-ish song I hear in movies where, when I look it up, find out the artist has released exactly one song in that style ever.

Also, HOW does YouTube Music still not have embeds???

Despite Universal's false narrative and rhetoric, the fact is they have chosen to walk away from the powerful support of a platform with well over a billion users that serves as a free promotional and discovery vehicle for their talent.

TikTok, on Universal Music Group’s decision to pull its music from the service

LMAO, TikTok really said UMG shouldn't get mad because they're getting paid in exposure. In my younger years I might have written a pithy parody of "First they came...", but now I’m just hopeful people will hear the clarion call of even large corporations demanding to get paid what they're worth as a sign they should do the same.

Apple Vision Pro review: magic, until it’s not - The Verge

Apple Vision Pro review: magic, until it’s not - The Verge

It is incredible that all of this works with just a single button click, but all that scaling complication also explains the bad news: you can only have a single Mac display in visionOS. You can’t have multiple Mac monitors floating in space. Maybe next time.

How Will The Golden Age Of

How Will The Golden Age Of "Making It Worse" End? | Defector

management's quest to see how much more cheaply an increasingly poor product can be sold at the same price and under the same name as what came before is, at bottom, the story of basically every industry or institution currently in decline or collapse.

The race to the bottom is a problem because nobody knows where to go once you've won

See almost all current commercial applications of AI, for example.

At some point companies and orgs are going to learn that when you attune so sharply to the feedback loop, you only hear the loudest voices, who are usually a small minority. If you only cater to them, you’re dooming yourself to irrelevance.

This post was brought to you by my formerly beloved TV series Below Deck