Links and Notes - April 26th 2021

A bonkers story on online slander

This is an absolutely crazy story on how an entire industry built around killing people's reputations works. In it, authors Aaron Krolick and Kashmir Hill go deep into this world of sites that don't seem to belong to anyone in particular yet seem to all have a relationship with each other. A world where the same people propagating the words to destroy a person's image are the people you talk to to restore said image. It's a wild tale full of moments that should serve as cautionary tales for anyone. The free internet is a great place and at the same time the underbelly is the abyss that one does not simply look into.

My only takeaway from this though is to follow @kashhill on Twitter. Here's the twitter update that shared the story in the first place:

Sri Lanka's health education is shameful

I wish I could say I had words for the below post. I don't. Just anger. I can't believe this material made it through to print let alone proposal.

Actually. I do have words now that I think about it. Nearly everything about this education system makes me feel disgusted. The sex education here is incredibly disappointing. It's also indicative of a problem of how we even think about the material we want to put down in text books. If you were to pick up any text book for children under the age of 10, and analysed it, you'd find yourself wondering what the hell we are actually trying to teach children.

Nowhere in this education material do I feel like there's someone who's been thoughtful about what material is truly useful to children. What material will actually help develop people. It just feels like books put together by people who want others to suffer so that they can feel better about their intellectual superiority. It's material designed by committees to tick some boxes of items covered.

And in a way, I think that's how we get to this kind of disgusting writing which blames victims of sexual assault. Small minded souls riddled with complexes who only care about tick boxes rather than true education. I don't see how this group of people will ever challenge and push our educational material forward. To them, maintaining the status quo, their power, their feeling of superiority, their enjoyment of making others suffer is probably more important.

Gah. Disgust everywhere.

What football taught me about hacking

A 2 part story by Terence Eden. Part 1 and Part 2

You don’t have to play the same game as other people on the pitch. Even if you’re bound by the same rules of play, you can alter your success criteria to be something that you want to achieve.

We ended the game triumphant. For the first time in living memory, we were happy after PE. Our rivals, despite their 37 goals, looked miserable and dejected.

They didn’t want to win. They didn’t even want to play. They wanted to humiliate their rivals. Once we were no longer able to be humiliated, they found the entire experience as demoralising as we usually did.

Some beautiful moments in there. It reminds me of a lesson I sometimes try to remind my son of: The best out come is if you can get what you want without costing someone else what they want. Of course I don't put it that way to him, but the topic comes up every now and then when he wants something and he gets upset if it doesn't match his expectations entirely. Not that the behaviour is surprising; children learn limits only by pushing to extremes. When the behaviour does crop up though, I try to remind him about what he wants and whether he is still going to get it even if it isn't in the perfect form that he'd hope it to be.

That's a little tangential to the post. But I believe the attitude is the same. As long as you are focusing on getting everything, you are going to be missing opportunities to find previously hidden niches that optimize for your own happiness.

There's a kanban board plugin for Obsidian. Wut?

Plugins are one of the best things about software. I won't lie though, I think vetting plugins is also important. They present a huge security risk as most software allows plugins to access everything that the software has access to as well. Especially in the early days, the concept of permissions and sandboxes are rarely implemented. But, leaving aside the issue of security, I believe that plugins are the ultimate expression of freedom of usage when it comes to software.

Obsidian seems to be proving that point so well right now. I was shocked when I came across this plugin for Obsidian that allows people to create Kanban boards within the Obsidian interface. The Kanban boards are backed by standard Markdown documents. Nothing fancy. The plugin developer simply put in a lot of thought to make this plugin look and feel delightful.

And when you dig into the plugins, you realise just how fast the community is building features for Obsidian. I mean you can even render chessboards for analysis now. You know who could do with community contributions like this but who still doesn't have an open API to do so? Notion. And Roam.

Power of plugins I tell you. If you had to place bets on any knowledge management tool, place it on Obsidian. Their tiny two person software house knows what its doing better than the VC funded giants.

In other news

  • Took a moment today to reflect on the fact that I've worked for Buffer for over 5 years. It's incredible to realise that I went job hopping through 3 jobs over 1.5 years trying to find my place in the software industry and my 4th try landed me at my most stable placement.
  • I'm about to embark on my project following my "pitches to myself" experiment. The first project is to be a plugin for publishing to ghost from Obsidian.
  • I also just finished my first 12 working day cycle at Buffer and it was amazing! Scope had to be cut, but I delivered far more in 3 weeks than I did over a couple of months of waiting for the right time to get started. I'll need a few extra hours to polish it up tomorrow but that's alright. We definitely had some fires the past week so I don't feel bad.

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Previous links and notes (April 25th)

Next links and notes (April 27th)

Posted on April 26 2021 by Adnan Issadeen