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Bob's Blog

What's Up With My Social Media Postings?

I had created a Twitter account several years ago, and then in 2018 I wrote a Python program to automate posting messages there. In November 2022 I expanded that to including posting toots to Mastodon.

I actually have three Mastodon identities. It's the @BobTheTraveler one that draws questions from the confused and complaints from the offended.

Let me try to explain matters to the unfortunately confused. If your only question is what I mean by "OTD", I thought that was commonly understood to mean "on this day". Maybe that's all you need, and if so, carry on.

As for the people offended by hearing that Donald Trump is a white supremacist, or that the U.S. Civil War actually was the South's fight to preserve slavery, I'm delighted to hear that I have offended them.

But first, we'll see a Google AdSense ad, the presence of which startles and confuses some people. Hang on tight! While Google imposes strict rules about what I can put on my pages, they feel free to insert some rather lurid advertising content.

The Ideal Automated Post

My Bob the Traveler identity posts about Linux, cybersecurity, networking, travel, and history, with links to my site, and it posts about travel and history with links to my site. The mere existence of that second site is probably the source of some of the confusion. My Conan the Sysadmin identity also posts automatically, but that identity seems to cause far less confusion.

Let's say that it's January 31st. That's the birthday of the inventor of the Python programming language! And so, my bot will post things like this:

Guido van Rossum, born OTD in 1956, created the #Python programming language #FreeBSD #Linux #OpenSource

Or maybe it's July 25th. That's the day of the Erfurt Latrine Disaster of 1184, in which sixty members of German nobility died when the room in which they were meeting with Ludwig III, the Landgrave of Thuringia, Archbishop Konrad, and King Heinrich VI collapsed into a latrine, the suddenly overloaded floor of which also collapsed and dropped everyone into the cesspit below.

Sixty members of German nobility died OTD in 1184 in the #ErfurtLatrineDisaster #travel #disaster #history

But Not All Are Obvious

The German ruler King Heinrich VI, styled "King of the Romans", was seated alongside Archibishop Konrad in alcoves along the wall. They were left in their suspended seats watching as most of the meeting collapsed into the latrine, and then into the cesspit below it.

Heinrich was the second son of Frederick Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor. So, rulers of German states as well as Holy Roman Emperors of the late 12th and following centuries had at least some connection to this event.

Is it fair to post notices of events related to people who weren't at the Erfurt Latrine Disaster but were related to people or connected to offices or events that were? Or events that happened somewhere in Thuringia? Or even 12th century Germany in general? I think so.

As I explain on my page about my Python auto-tooting program, I had some spare time on my hands, along with a need or at least desire for distraction. I had finished the program itself and was creating its database. And adding to it. And then adding some more. I used Wikipedia's pages for the events of each day of the year and also of the Eastern Orthodox liturgical commemorations because I have traveled through eastern Europe, Turkey, Syria, and Egypt, and have pages related enough (as I see it) to auto-toot about them. I kept adding events, with the result that my toots can't all be the Erfurt Latrine Disaster. Many events are little connected to the page beyond having happened in the same city, or even the same country.

The Netherlands have a very impressive history, with so many significant inventions and and art and other developments happening within a rather small country. I have been there, but not very much. I'm sorry to report that the only Netherlands-specific on either web site is limited to an examination of its plumbing. And, of course, not all of its plumbing, but just what I have had the pleasure to personally experience during my limited visits.

I mean no disrespect to the Dutch, who impress me, I simply have limited material with which to work.

Similarly, associating the Southern Hemisphere with drain flow direction is meant as a comment on the cluelessness of Americans, and not any criticism of people living south of the Equator.

Early 1900s Christmas card saying 'The Compliments of the Season' and 'Study of the Mammoth and Dinotherium', showing those two creatures dancing and an elf drawing them.

Mastodon Isn't Twitter

Twitter had The Algorithm. If you simply logged in to, you were fed a stream of content that was largely what Twitter wanted you to see rather than just what you wanted to see. Every third item would be an advertisement. If you follow my posts, and you've read this page, now you really know what you're in for and a little bit of the reason why it's as odd as it is.

If you decide that you want to follow the #Japan hashtag and see everything posted across the Fediverse about Japan, well, on the known days of births, coronations, and deaths of Japanese Emperors you're going to see about a dozen posts about kofun, the (mostly) prehistoric megalithic tombs believed to contain various Emperors, plus my befuddled explanation of my attempt to figure out what Shintō is about, plus some toilets I have encountered at Shintō shrines. That's several posts, all with nearly identical text but different preview thumbnail and snippet. No more than one, and probably none, will be about that specific Emperor. Sorry about that. But if you're actually following every single thing tagged as #Japan then my toots should be buried in a blizzard of other content. And besides:

A true connoisseur of fine tooting.

Also be aware that the Mastodon environment has easy and effective blocking and muting mechanisms. Speaking of which:

Another major difference between Twitter and Mastodon, or really the Fediverse in general, is the much lower incidence of Nazis and their supporters and apologists, white supremacists, and human garbage in general.

And so...

You can treat it as a game, searching for the possibly tenous connection between that day's event and the referenced page. Or, drink from the firehose of some broad hashtag and block just me.


Books I've Read: "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind"
According to the author, humans only became truly conscious in the second millennium BCE, and schizophrenia may be a holdover or return to the pre-conscious state.


Why I Abandoned OpenBSD
OpenBSD is technically OK but I won't be involved with, or appear to support, such a toxic environment.

What Does "FIPS" Mean?
People often casually speak of "FIPS compliance", but that could mean multiple things. If it matters — and why else speak of it — we must be careful.

Quantum Computing and Quantum-Safe Cryptography
Quantum computing poses a real threat to all the asymmetric cryptography we used today. What's the threat, and what is being done?

How Does Asymmetric Cryptography Work?
Asymmetric cryptography is a vital tool, but how does it work? We have two major solutions now, with more on the way. Learn how asymmetric ciphers protect information.