**** Cyborg Central ****

Old Androids Never Die, They Just Have A Few Screws Loose

IPv6 Enabled

November 29, 2022

All of CCs services should now be available via IPv6 (as well as still being available via IPv4). You shouldn't notice any differences, so if anything weird happens, please let me know.

Server Upgrade

November 28, 2022

I've migrated CC to a newer, faster system with a lot more muscle. If anything seems broken, please let me know.

“Mastodon is Boring”

November 17, 2022

The source of Twitter's utility is its advertising algorithm, its ability to put words in front of people who are interested in things - but not interested enough to actively seek those things out, and who might not even know what to search for. It's easy to throw a few search terms into Google, but what if you don't even know you're interested in a topic? How can an advertiser (or a propagandist) find good targets, when those targets might not even know what they want themselves?

Twitter does this by spying on you. It works by reading not just what you post, but which links you click on, what sites you visit, tracking what you buy, interpreting the sentiment of your posts, and feeding it into machine learning that matches you up with messages you'll likely be interested in. Twitter also benefits from massive amounts of advertisement tracking purchased from other websites, and is quite good at correlating supposedly "anonymous" accounts with reality.

The reason Mastodon is "boring" or "less useful" is because the users of centralized sites have become accustomed to being fed information, and don't have the motivation to seek things out on their own, or the knowledge of how to seek these things in the first place. This is how social media becomes excellent propaganda - lull the users into a sense of trust, then start feeding them the ideas you want them to have. The propagandists can even track how well you've assimilated their ideas, using that same algorithm.

I wonder: how do we protect privacy while providing the same sense of convenience and trivialization of discovery? How can distributed services compete with centralized indexes, built off of massive tracking databases?

Perhaps this too is something a tool like stable-diffusion can lend itself to - as a user controlled AI, guiding you to information you didn't know you wanted. An AI for this purpose would need to be trained passively, and the resulting weights for a specific person's interests would be a very valuable target, so this data would need to be very carefully protected. If at some point you stopped trusting it to recommend things, you could reset it and start over - but there is a risk, of course, that as you are attacked with propaganda and misinformation, the AI also would become corrupt and make the situation worse.

Reconfiguration Completed

November 14, 2022

The changes to CC's setup have been completed. IRC should be available as well as the Kiwi IRC page, and we have a new service available: Mastodon!

This is a federated service, allowing it to interact transparently with other Mastodon servers on the distributed network. If you would like an account, please contact me, or any other user, and ask for an invitation.

Joining The Federation?

November 10, 2022

So I've added a plug-in to CC to allow follows and comments from fediverse posters, i.e. Mastodon and the like. The plug-in is still in beta, so it might not work perfectly yet, but you should be able to follow me at @browren.

I might also stand up a Mastodon server, if it appears to be useful to do so; such a server would have privacy promises, and be geared towards CC's usual set of guidelines for content. If anyone's interested, let me know.

Ubuntu 22.10 on the Asus ROG Strix G15

November 6, 2022

Upgrading my laptop to the new Ubuntu release broke the audio, but that isn't really news - the sound system in many ASUS laptops, specifically the ALC294 chip in these machines tends to be a real pain to get working. This guide is mainly for myself, but I figured other people might appreciate it.

These steps worked for me, on an ASUS ROG Strix G15, and I've used them on other ASUS laptops as well. YMMV.

First, you'll need to add a line to the file /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf. You'll need to be root to modify the file, and you only want to add this line to the bottom, do not change anything else:

options snd-hda-intel model=asus-zenbook

You may need to reinstall the pipewire-alsa package - when I upgraded, it had gone missing - which you can do using apt from the command line, or synaptic if you prefer the GUI.

Restart the system and see if the sound is working. Depending on your system, the sound may be "working" but only allow you to mute, or have full volume (a.k.a. the 100 or 0 problem). For this, you'll need to change some pulseaudio settings, but these have moved in 22.10, as the system now uses pipewire instead of pulse.

Edit the file /usr/share/alsa-card-profile/mixer/paths/analog-output.conf.common, and find the section that looks like this:

[Element PCM]
switch = mute
volume = merge
override-map.1 = all
override-map.2 = all-left,all-right

Modify the section to look like this:

[Element Master]
switch = mute
volume = ignore

[Element PCM]
switch = mute
volume = merge
override-map.1 = all
override-map.2 = all-left,all-right

[Element LFE]
switch = mute
volume = ignore

Restart pipewire, or reboot, and your volume sliders should start working correctly again.


October 27, 2022

I don't think I'll be moving to any other social media site if/when Twitter catches fire, and I'm not really all that interested in being "followed" - if you like reading the things I write sometimes, consider installing an RSS reader and subscribing to the CC feed. Feel free to register and leave comments if you like; I only ever delete spam.

My personal recommendation is Liferea, easily available from Ubuntu's Software installer, or you can just click here to install it with apt.

Twitter Quitter?

October 27, 2022

Twitter has been acquired by a billionaire centrist, who many right-wingers think will "clean up" the place. Good for them, I say. The quicker people come to realize that social media run by the wealthy and corporations is by definition going to be a propaganda center, the better.

When Elon Musk first tried to purchase Twitter, there was a migration to distributed social media systems like Mastodon and Diaspora* - but as users, not as nodes, so these admittedly small networks had trouble handling it, which created a lot of bounceback.

I have some hope that the finalization of Musk's acquisition, and the change from liberal to centrist doctrines on Twitter, will finally be the big push that gets people to start thinking "hey, I'm sick of moving my shit around and being beholden to some rich prick's politics, how come I can't just keep it all on my own system?" But it probably won't.

It's hard to be an influencer on a distributed system where you don't get paid by the click.

Why we’re leaving the cloud

October 19, 2022

It strikes me as downright tragic that this decentralized wonder of the world is now largely operating on computers owned by a handful of mega corporations. If one of the primary AWS regions go down, seemingly half the internet is offline along with it. This is not what DARPA designed!

Source: Why we're leaving the cloud

This is a brilliant write-up and I hope many, many other people and companies follow suit.