2600

Round numbers are often treated with more significance than others, and numbers that coincide with memories can evoke a little bit of nostalgia, so it probably comes as no surprise that the 2,600th blog post on this site would be dedicated to the Atari 2600; a console that was great before Nintendo and Sega completely redefined people's expectations of video games at home.

Atari 2600

When I think back to when I used to play games with this machine plugged into the small, black and white TV we owned in the 80s, I'm reminded more of the competition I'd have with my father on a number of games. We'd play the standards like Ms. Pacman, Donkey Kong, and Asteroids, but the game that really stands out in my mind is River Raid. The premise was simple. You're looking down from the sky at your jet which is following — yes — a river, and you need to blow stuff up without running out of fuel or flying over land. My father and I would spend hours taking turns on the game and trying to reach the very end of the river. Neither of us ever did make it to the end, and there might never have been an end to the game, but the competition was real.

Well ... it was real for me.

My father had the luxury of adult muscle control and not having to go to school the next day. I'd often complain that "it wasn't fair" for him to play while I was sleeping, and he'd just laugh and tell me "it's just a game". A line that, to this day, I despise. So when my homework was done, when the chores were finished, and when there wasn't any hockey game or Star Trek to be watched, I'd try to get some gaming in to hone the skills necessary to defeat my father's high scores and see farther than anyone else.

I don't think it ever happened, though. Eventually I wound up going outside with friends or burying myself in books or other toys. The Atari would sit unused next to the VCR. Occasionally I'd hear my father play a game or two of River Raid or Asteroids. I'd sometimes watch or join in. But around the age of 12 I stopped trying to compete with my father. By that time I was taller, faster, and stronger than he was. Though he was smarter, more patient ... and better at River Raid.

A little while later I received an original GameBoy with Tetris, and we'd compete with that game. But it wasn't the same. By that time I had the reflexes and visual acuity to go farther than many, including my Dad. We'd come up with different sets of benchmarks, like how many "full Tetrises" we could get, and who could get closest to the top and then bring the blocks back down to the bottom. It was fun, but not the same.

The Atari 2600 is where I really competed with my father. It may have been one of the few places where we'd actively challenge each other to succeed. And while I did try to out-do him just about everywhere else, like sons have done since the beginning of time, there was rarely any incentive to keep going.

When I remember how frustrated I would get when competing on River Raid, I think about my son and wonder what things he will try to do better. Will he also try to play games better than I can? Probably. Will he try to write software better than I can? Possibly. Will he try to bake bread better than I can? I sure as heck hope so. At some point he will start to do things better, I'll step up my game, and he'll continue to improve until I simply cannot keep up. But what will his Atari 2600 with me be? I'm really curious to find out.

The Barrier

Chris Aldrich recently wrote a post on the mission of the IndieWeb where he said this:

Social media WYSIWYG platforms like SnapChat, Twitter, Facebook/Instagram, et al. have become a problem as they’re not allowing us the control, flexibility, and privacy we would all like to have while they pursue their own agendas.

In these terms, the general mission of the IndieWeb movement is to be the proverbial simple text editor meant to give everyone increasingly easier, direct control over their own identity and communication on the open internet.

Comparing the IndieWeb to "the proverbial simple text editor" is an interesting way to describe the idea, given that there are a plethora of text editors for people to choose from, and a multitude of self-hosted publishing platforms as well. Both of these products, however, tend to target the same market: digitally proficient individuals who have experienced way too much friction with the full-featured, commercially-backed options that are generally accepted by the masses.

Over the coming year, I hope to bridge the gap between "WYSIWYG platforms" and the text-editor self-hosted solutions with 10C v5, which will most likely be renamed "Streams" given it's focus on presenting flows of information. Just like 10Cv4, there will be a hosted version that I will offer the world to anyone interested in using it. Unlike 10Cv4, the new version will be available for people to host themselves. As of this writing, I've managed to get the installation and configuration down to a single line on an Ubuntu Server shell through the use of snap packages1, but this may still be too complicated for most.

Despite passively learning about the myriad of technologies and methodologies employed by the IndieWeb, I still feel there is far too much friction for the average person to actively participate. If we can offer the tools to allow people to more easily enjoy what they get from WYSIWYG platforms while also enjoying digital sovereignty, we may begin to see the larger organisations held to a higher standard.

That said, there is still a lot of work to be done.


  1. by going with a Snap, people do not need to install or configure Apache, MySQL, or any of the additional packages that make the software work. It's all done in advance and, because it's a snap, updates are instantly rolled out without the need for people to manage the software themselves. Yes, updates can be disabled.

The First Month

It's been a month since the family and I moved into our new home and, like so many time-related milestones as of late, it feels both longer and shorter than the actual time that's passed. Short, because 30 days can pass in the blink of an eye as a person with all the responsibilities and expectations that come with adulthood. Long because a year of house design, construction, and planning can mess up a person's perception of being at a place. Everything is far from perfect but, all in all, this has been a very positive move for the family.

The Park

One of the biggest perks of the new home is proximity to a very well-maintained public park. The places that Nozomi and I used to frequent these past seven years would see a landscaping crew come by three to four times per year, meaning that the grass would often be tall for most of the year with collections of garbage under many of the bushes thanks to litterers and weather patterns. Here, though, it seems there are neighbourhood groups that take turns cleaning the public space every Sunday. More than this, the vast majority of dog-walkers here actually pick up after their pets! Nozomi is certainly enjoying this new place to explore.

Nozomi's Smile

The boy also likes going out to the park, walking along the paths, and touching anything he can get his hands on. With my new role at the day job — if it can be called such anymore — I'll be working with people in different time zones a lot more often. This means that I'll have the opportunity to work from home a great deal more than in the past, making it possible to bring my son out to this park to learn more about the world around him. It's interesting to watch him explore everything for the first time, as I've come to take things like leaves, sand, and discarded stones as they are. For him, though, all of these things are unfamiliar and interesting.

Which raises a couple of questions. While the boy is exploring the park, I'm often watching his reactions as he tries to piece language and objects together. He's just 15 months old and already walking up and down stairs, hills, picking up sticks that are long and awkward, and all the other things that kids will do while learning about their own boundaries and quickly surpassing them. I will not over-protect him while he's discovering some of what this world has, as I fully expect he'll fall or injure himself from time to time. These are important lessons to learn. But I do wonder whether I'm too relaxed about him doing stuff from time to time. I see other parents worry and fret over just about everything ... but that can't be good for either party.

I will watch to make sure the boy does not do anything that'll break bones or leave a mark, but I want him to understand that the world is here to explore, enjoy, and share with others, be they human or something else entirely.

Hopefully the next 300 months are as enjoyable as this first one has been, though I know there will be trials ahead.

Eight

Today Nozomi marks the completion of eight orbits around the Sun and I find it absolutely astounding how fast the time passes. She's been a part of the family for almost 20% of my life and somewhere north of 99% of hers. When she first came home in 2010 she was an incredibly energetic ball of untamed energy with teeth sharp enough to cut through kitchen chairs. While her energy levels have certainly come down with maturity, her wonderful personality has remained incredibly consistent.

Here she is at 90 days:

Nozomi Age 90 Days

And then on her first birthday:

Nozomi Age 1

Two years later, at the age of three:

Nozomi Age 3

Last year:

Nozomi Age 7

Just a few days ago:

Nozomi Age 8

While the boy has had several thousand pictures captured in the 15 months he's been here, Nozomi's picture catalog eclipses his by a wide margin. It's often hard to choose which photos to share, but these five are some of my favourites.

A Decade

Ten years ago today Reiko and I were officially married. I say "officially" because we were actually married on paper the year before. As is custom, the wedding ceremony attended by friends and family made it "official". A lot has happened in the intervening time. Some of it great. Some of it scary. Some of it amazing. Some of it better left offline. Yet here we are, in a newly-built house with an incredibly energetic boy and a lovely puppy.

Taking It Easy with a Picnic

Maybe good things do come to those who wait. Maybe karma is more than people awarding arbitrary points to each other online. Looking back at all the highs and lows in life, where the family and I are today is lightyears ahead of any other time since my move to Japan.

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