Here you can learn a bit about me. I’m imagining we’re at a meeting and it’s my turn to introduce myself but rather than keep it to 5 seconds, there’s no time limit. I start with a timeline, then share about my current philosophy, thematic views and practices.

Timeline for Context

1977: Born in California

1999: Earned bachelors degree in Materials Science and Mineral Engineering from UC Berkeley.

2000: Worked as machinist and production manager for laser crystal manufacturer, then as a test software engineer working with electric motor controllers

2002: Learned Perl and Python to broaden software skills

2004: Started a computer consulting business on the back of a computer virus epidemic

2008: Created TweetScan, one of the first Twitter search engines serving 20,000 requests in one day

2011: Discovered Bitcoin and created some services around it

2015: Joined Uber as a software engineer where I worked on corporate systems automation

2019: Left to work on personal projects around combating fake news and US government reform

2021: Discovered federated social networking (i.e the Fediverse) and forked Mastodon to create Ecko a community-driven attempt at better social networking

General thoughts, my philosophy

I’ve always been curious. There’s something about the unknown that attracts me until my questions are answered, typically this ends when further surprises seem unlikely. Sometimes I satisfy my curiosity with books, documentaries and podcasts but often choose to explore interactively.

Attention is paramount. I believe we should focus on what we can control and accept what we cannot. In the past few years I’ve discovered that meditation is a powerful tool for understanding attention and the mind.

I believe the universe works mechanically but with uncertainty as demonstrated by quantum mechanics. From this view it follows from this that free will is an illusion, a story we tell ourselves. This is supported by studies that have shown we only become conscious of our actions after the fact. This has serious implications for the legal system and the idea of justice in general. Overall, I believe the US justice system is too punitive. Though it’s easier said than done, forgiveness seems more logical for reducing the balance of pain in the world.

Though we hear mostly of outliers, I believe most people want to be comfortable, to spend time with friends and family and to work toward what gives them meaning. I hope to be kind and supportive to the people around me and communities with which I interact.

I support your freedom

Freedom is a broad term but I generally think of it in terms of stability and fairness. Free software, privacy, and money are areas where freedom is most important.

Technology is so interwoven in modern life that freedom depends on the details of how it works. If you cannot study what your technology is doing, you can’t be sure it’s operating in your interests. When you buy a device running software that you cannot study or change, it is still controlled by the manufacturer even though you may technically own it.

Much of the software we use today is hosted “in the cloud”, which is just another way of saying “on someone else’s computer.” In addition to how the software works, the cloud brings with it the issue of personal data. You should be able to control how your personal data is used including its sharing and deletion, and be able to export it for use on another cloud or self-hosted service. Support of services that utilize free software (AGPL-licensed) goes hand-in-hand control of your data. Social networking has grown to encompass a large part of online activity and therefore it is important to support social networks that are operated by free software.

Money is essential to life today however most of our payments and savings are managed by platforms that are monitored by someone else. Barter, gold, cash, and Bitcoin/Lightning provide ways to transact with freedom. I support their private unencumbered use.

I believe in personal bests

It’s natural to compare our performance with others. We are constantly bombarded by stories of excellence that cannot capture the hard work and training that took place behind the scenes. Rather than delve into that comparison it’s much better to focus on personal bests. Measure performance then work to improve. Almost everything in life can be measured. Improvement is fulfilling.

I journal daily

I don’t publish often, but I believe in journaling on a daily basis. It helps me think more clearly. Periodically I review what I’ve written, editing along the way, to see what’s changed and what what deserves more attention.

I have to fight distraction

We live in a world engineered toward business ends. Apps foster habituation, devices become indispensable, games with random rewards play on dopaminergic brain chemistry. For this reason, I try to limit activities that are repetitive and of low value long-term. I’m not absolutist about this but it’s good to gently push toward activities like coding, writing, reading, exercise, and spending time with people on the phone or in a video chat.


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