Twenty Three

Yup, I am totally stealing Matt’s format for birthday blogs.

I cannot believe another year has passed by. The past year has had its share of ups and downs, and I am grateful for all the experiences over the months.

I secured my second job with Automattic, in April, and that’s probably the best part from the past year. I always hated co-working spaces. Working from home has changed a lot in my life, and has given me the opportunity to push myself to spend time more productively.

When I first joined Automattic, I had chosen to work from 10.30am IST to 6.30pm IST. And now, I work from 5.30am IST to 1.30pm IST. Yup, we pick our own working hours at Automattic.

Waking up early in the morning isn’t challenging for me, as I used to go to a school that starts at 7am.

I work alongside some of the best talents and everyday is a new learning experience for me – I am thankful for this opportunity. I couldn’t have asked for a better team.

I have made many friends as well, at work, and I cannot wait to see them IRL. Automattic’s Grand Meetup (time when all of the company comes together and meets over a week) is happening the next week in Orlando, Florida, but I will not be traveling as my visa was refused. It is disappointing, yes. But, hopefully my chances are better the next year!

I also cut down my social media usage heavily, and started being more vigilant about online privacy and security. I moved away from Gmail to ProtonMail, and from Twitter to Mastodon. There have been times in the past when I deactivated Facebook but I never was committed to it. This time though, it’s been over 3 months since I deactivated Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram, and I haven’t looked back.

Outside of the work and online life, I also spend more time with my parents as I live with them now.

I don’t remember myself watching TV a lot in my childhood, but things have taken a strange turn this year – I watched Brooklyn Nine Nine, Big Bang Theory, Atypical, Designated Survivor, Riverdale and pretty much other shows in between.

I also started learning new programming languages, learned how to use Git, Github and I am excited about Gutenberg’s launch.

Uber's example of proactive customer support

There are two kinds of customer support.

  • Reactive customer support
  • Proactive customer support

When you help an user fix their problem once they reach out on email, phone, SMS, or any other medium you offer support on, that’s reactive customer support.
On the other hand, when you identify product loopholes and reach out to the customer with a resolution before they notice it, that’s proactive customer support.

“We had wrongly charged Rs.28.35 in your previous trip because of satellite tolls, we have credited back Rs.28.35 to your charged card/account. If you have taken a cash trip please check for credits in your Uber app.”

Uber had sent that over email two days ago, and that’s a classic example of offering proactive customer support. 💯
This infographic by Freshdesk shows how the two stack up against each other.
This also reminds me of this webinar I attended a while ago, again by Freshdesk, with best practices on how to offer proactive customer support.
 
 

I am officially a WordPress contributor today? 😇

I have been involved in contributing to FOSS projects for a while now, mostly in the form of highlighting bugs and suggesting feature requests.
Things go one step further today. One of my issues was squashed today, and the entire world will be experiencing a better WordPress going forward. I guess I can call myself an official WordPress contributor now? 😇
I submitted this issue on Github a while ago, and it was fixed today on this PR.

On WP-CLI 2.0.0

This issue caused the WP-CLI app to throw a false positive result when the theme slug is entered in non-lowercase for activation. Let’s say you use a command like wp theme activate Dara.
You would be shown a Success: Switched to 'Dara' theme. notice.
Eventually, the output of wp theme list shows what’s seen below.

Output of theme list on WP-CLI 2.0.0
Output of theme list on WP-CLI 2.0.0 after activating “Dara” (vs “dara”)

Yes, in theory, this should not be the case.
When one uses the theme slug in capitalized format, one should be shown an error that the theme slug entered is wrong.
All theme slugs are to be entered in lowercase.

Enter WP-CLI 2.0.1

When you use wp theme activate Dara now, you will be shown a Error: The 'Dara' theme could not be found. notice.
This is an indication that theme slugs are to be entered in lowercase, and any other case format will be a false.
I was also featured on this release note and I am super-duper thrilled! 🕺

Making Mastodon my new home

I have a vague memory of coming across the name Mastodon in the past, but I never cared about it until I read this post by my colleague at Automattic.
For those who are not aware of what Mastodon is, it’s a social networking software that anyone can download and install – thus creating a Mastodon instance.
Unlike social networking services like Twitter, Facebook and Reddit, Mastodon is different in who owns your content that you publish.

Understanding Mastodon instances

When you create an account and tweet on Twitter, your tweets are basically stored on Twitter’s service who can decide to purge your data anytime, if it’s against their terms of usage.
Mastodon, on the other hand, will be a Twitter-like service that is installed by you on your own servers. Such a setup is called a Mastodon instance.
If you are not tech savvy, you can always join other popular Mastodon instances like mastodon.social and mastodon.cloud that accept registrations. mastodon.social is the flagship Mastodon instance that was created by the Mastodon developer, Eugen Rochko – Github and Mastodon profile.
mastodon.social is crowded and registrations are closed at the moment. mastodon.cloud is the next close Mastodon instance recommended by the admins of mastodon.social, but depending on your interests, you can always choose any instance/server of your choice here.

Federated network

Given that you are signing up on a specific Mastodon instance/server, you might wonder if your communication is limited to that network.
No.
That’s where Mastodon excels. It’s a federated system that enables members of one instance/server to communicate seamlessly with other members of other instances/servers.

I am @arunsathiya@mastodon.social and this does not mean that my toots (status updates/tweets) are limited to that Mastodon server. Any user from another Mastodon server can follow me and engage with my toots.
Given the nature of this federated communication, Mastodon is highly resistant to governmental interference.
The admins of a specific Mastodon community/server/instance are who govern that community.
If a community ever decides to shut down, or is forced to shut down by authorities, you can always move to another community and continue being a part of Mastodon.
Similarly, if you ever find yourself not comfortable with being an user on a specific community, you can always setup your own Mastodon community on a server of your choice.
Another choice is to allow services like masto.host to setup a Mastodon server for you.
When you choose to own your own server, you are in control of your community – you can disable registrations if you prefer so, limit your Mastodon community to your family/friends and do much more with available administrative features on the Mastodon software.

Impersonation?

You might wonder if you sign up with your name on a specific Mastodon community like mastodon.social, what happens to the same username on other Mastodon communities?
Example: Let’s say you are ben@mastodon.social, but it does not mean that you are ben@mastodon.cloud as well, unless you sign up and secure the same username on that Mastodon community.
You might wonder if this would cause impersonators to rise, but this is pretty much not a Mastodon issue, but an issue in any federated systems. This applies to emails and domains. There is no way you can prevent this, but to sign up on all Mastodon instances with your preferred username on each. This kind of beats the purpose of a federated system though.
It’s up to users to verify the authenticity of the person they are communicating with.

How do I access Mastodon?

Mastodon communities are web apps that you can access on any web browsers. A few networks that I have signed up for:

I can sign in into each of these Mastodon communities on Android, iOS and Mac OS using available apps. I have tested a few Android apps so far, including Tusky, Mastalab and Twidere. Of the lot, Tusky is my favorite ATM.
On the Mac OS front, Whalebird is really good.

Extending Mastodon

Mastodon is not limited to tooting with other users, but there are specific use-cases that are cropping up already and seem impressive. Two such cases:
Mirrored.Social is an instance that will #mirror some popular accounts from other social networks. If you wish to stay updated on MKBHD’s updates from Twitter, on Mastodon, there’s a bot that does just that.
Likewise, hntooter is a Mastodon bot that auto-toots front page news from Hacker News.
What you do with Mastodon and what you build on Mastodon network is limited by your creativity.

Limitations?

There are a few limitations at the moment.
For example, if you choose to sign up on a specific Mastodon community, but soon realize that this community’s rules do not resonate with your thoughts, you might want to move out to another community.
In such a case, there is no way to move your toots (content) to the new Mastodon instance. There is a open Github issue requesting this feature right here. Similarly, Mastodon does not integrate well with other software like WordPress at the moment. There is a open Jetpack request here to integrate Mastodon as a Publicize service.
I also haven’t got the hang of how Mastodon’s content visibility works. I should probably setup a Mastodon community of my own to understand how it works better.

Resonates with WordPress and other FOSS

I recently quit Twitter, Facebook, Google and the likes for available FOSS alternatives. It’s been two to three months since I quit these networks, and I don’t have any regrets. I am particularly glad that I am being more responsible about my content, my work and my personal information.
Mastodon seems to resonate a lot with WordPress as well. WordPress as a free open-source software (FOSS) can be downloaded, installed and extended by anyone. Mastodon feels similar with a difference in how federated communication comes baked in.
I came across a few other media publications and resources about Mastodon as well, which are definitely good reads:

If you do sign up on mastodon.social as well, do holler! I am @arunsathiya@mastodon.social.

Updates

August 27, 2018, 2045 IST: As David mentioned on the toot below, not everyone sees the same timeline as others – even when you compare users in the same instance.
https://divad.xyz/@zyx/100586720631616585
This is because of the privacy settings set on toots. In his words,

Due to each user’s privacy settings on a toot, who each of us are federated with, who is blocked, whis suspended server-side.

Additionally, global reach/virality is a concept that cannot be predicted on Mastodon. Everything is driven around human engagement and could take time.

1Password is offering 6 months trial if you haven't signed up yet

I came across a deal today that’s offering 1Password trial for 6 months. I am not quite sure if this has been around since 2017, or even before that, but the good thing is that, 1Password is actively promoting the same and is encouraging new users to use that deal. Link here if you want to sign up without reading any further.
1Password has been my favorite choice of password manager these days. I have tried LastPass in the past, and have been using 1Password since April. I haven’t tried any other password managers so far. I am pretty happy with 1Password’s UI and customer support that I haven’t had a reason to move away.
Some of my most favorite things about 1Password:

The 2FA detector is a bit broken, but one can fix broken items by adding 2fa tag to it. 🔐
I am not a huge fan of the other browser extensions as they are not consistent. 1Password X aims at offering the consistency in UI. I wish 1Password X is available for Brave and Tor soon. 🌏
Related: Compare your 1Password passwords with haveibeenpwned.com list fast
If you haven’t signed up for 1Password yet, you should. The 6 months trial is a steal, and online security matters.

Compare your 1Password passwords with haveibeenpwned.com list fast

I stumbled upon this thread earlier today on the 1Password forums, and I should definitely agree with what Brenty said. It’s an excellent script to quickly check your 1Password passwords list with haveibeenpwned.com‘s compromised passwords database!

internet screen security protection
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you are a 1Password user, you should noticed that with 1Password 7 app on Mac And Windows, there’s a new feature/section called Vulnerable Passwords that ensures that your password on the 1Password list is not one that is compromised in a data breach.
This GUI app is handy, but it’s challenging to check the status each password.
That’s where this script helps.

  • Get 1Password CLI app and set it up.
  • Get JQ. Homebrew command if you are on Mac – brew install jq
  • Download this script .zip file, extract it, enter into that folder using terminal and use ./1passwordpwnedcheck.sh to perform the test. You will be asked to signin into your 1Password account if you are not at that time.

Do note that the 1Password CLI app logs you out every 30 minutes. This is as explained by Session tokens expire after 30 minutes of inactivity, after which you’ll need to sign in again. on the 1Password CLI setup page.
In case you want to copy the script from here.

Oh boy, Incredibles 2 was much fun! 😍

I have no words. Sequels are always exciting, but Incredibles 2 is beyond exciting! ♥

I didn’t see Incredibles when it came out in 2004. I didn’t even know that this movie existed until 2010 or 2012. I don’t even remember the first movie’s storyline, but I did go to the cinemas with my cousins for Incredibles 2, hoping for a good time. I cannot say I’m disappointed even a bit.

The movie 🎦 keeps everyone hooked. It’s a wonderful animation movie for the kids, and it’s an equally wonderful superhero movie for the teenagers and the adults. Overall, it packs a punch and keeps everyone entertained through the two hours.

Jack Jack is an amazing character, and I love how the movie blends the fun element and the superhero concept together, for a roller-coaster 🎢 entertainment.

If you’re free this weekend, you should see the movie! 💯 🤩

My two new favorite WordPress app features: Free photo library, Save for Later 📱

WordPress mobile apps has been improving with every update, and the latest two updates to the Android version (I am an Android user!) have added two features that I have been using a lot lately. The two new features are:

  • Free photo library that was launched on WordPress.com, now integrated on the WordPress Android app.
  • Ability to save posts to read later

Free photo library on WordPress.com mobile apps 📸

The free photo library originally launched on WordPress.com, and is available on the post/page editor screen as shown below.

Free photo library on WordPress.com
The free photo library on WordPress.com allows you to choose from over 40000 CC0 images from Pexels.com, for free.

This feature originally launched in January of this year, and in May of 2018, the same feature was launched on the WordPress.com Android and iOS mobile apps.

It allows you to pick from over 40000 CC0 images from Pexels.com. I recently started a photo blog, and have been republished these photos on Pexels.com as well. I cannot wait to see these my photos from Pexels.com being used by bloggers across the world, using WordPress.com’s free photo library. 💖

Save posts to read later 📝

Quick update: This is not available on iOS as yet. 😬
My other favorite feature that was launched on the latest version of WordPress.com mobile apps is the ability to save posts to read later. There is a shiny new “Save” icon for each post, on the homepage, when you launch your app. When you click on it, it gets added to a new list on your app, called “Saved posts“.
You can access this list anytime to read the posts that you have saved. This works offline as well!
I have a Feedly Pro subscription as well, but since I joined Automattic, I find myself using WordPress.com Reader a lot more to cover all the latest news. The “Save for Later” feature has only improved that experience by one notch. 👌
Both the features are available on the the WordPress.com Android app and the WordPress.com iOS app. The free photo library is available on both the mobile apps, but the “Save for Later” feature is available only on the Android app at this time.
Go, download the app and check these out! Tell me what you think about it in the comments! 😁