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Cyberdeck Users Weekly

Cyberdeck Users Weekly

By Paul Miller

A podcast from Paul Miller about how to own technology.
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Cyberdeck Users WeeklyJun 13, 2020

Linux on mobile with Linmob

Linux on mobile with Linmob

Peter's way to mobile Linux Really old stuff Hardware Software Gone Websites Nokia N900, lineage and offsprings Running a GNU/Linux userland on an Android kernel Ubuntu Touch
Nov 09, 202102:07:45
Jesus and Bitcoin
Dec 30, 202002:39:38
Our excellent dystopia with Matt Odell
Dec 04, 202001:59:59
Local-first and freeform software with James Long
Oct 08, 202001:27:30
Is tech actually good tho
Aug 29, 202055:56
Aug 01, 202044:00
Better won't be easy
Jul 04, 202049:37
A computer from scratch with Jonathan Pallant
Jun 24, 202001:20:16
Topical tech news #1

Topical tech news #1

Something that's been refreshing about doing this new podcast is how little of my time is spent thinking about what "big" companies are doing.

But these big companies keep doing stuff. So let's talk about it!

Skate 4

Skate 4 has been announced!

Vergecast segment about Skate 4 in 2019 (at around the one hour mark)

Will Skate be the "Quake 3: Arena" of skateboarding games?


Skater XL

Burnout Paradise

What I also want is a skateboarding shooter game. Trick combos generate shields.

Hey email app

Vergecast interview with @dhh and Rep. David Cicilline

Starting to think big companies and big government sort of deserve each other. Will whatever antitrust tribunals we end up with this time around catch the subtlety and just ask Apple to allow sideloading? Or are we going to get a "Apple forever" mentality and enshrine it into law somehow?

Also patents = monopoly.

Audio tweets

Twitter audio tweets

I almost tried to care about this but I didn't pull it off. I always wonder if we can make it to a post-literate society tho. Interesting to think about.

PS5 reveal

It looks so dumb I'm sorry.

Also it has approximately 10,000x more "next-gen" games than the Xbox so far so I'm feeling pretty bullish on it. Might have to learn to use those stupid thumbsticks.

Wish there was a duck demo.

Lego robots

These are getting very, very good. Scratch AND Python? Yes, please.

Jun 20, 202036:06
Decentralized messaging with John Cantrell of Juggernaut
Jun 17, 202001:11:48
Books I like

Books I like

These are some books I like!

Fire in the Valley

by Michael Swaine and Paul Freiberger

The Mandibles

by Lionel Shriver

The Soul of a New Machine

by Tracy Kidder


by Neal Stephenson

AI Superpowers

by Dr. Kai-Fu Lee

How the Internet Happened

by Brian McCullough

Life After Google

by George Gilder

The Bitcoin Standard

by Saifedean Ammous

The Order of Time

by Carlo Rovelli

The Master Algorithm

by Pedro Domingus


by Joe Quirk


by Neal Stephenson

Stories of Your Life and Others

by Ted Chiang

Permutation City

by Greg Egan

The Information

by James Gleick

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

by Alex Epstein

Where Wizards Stay Up Late

by Katie Hafner

Rainbows End

by Vernor Vinge

Jun 13, 202001:03:32
The command line and you

The command line and you

Today's episode is a little different. Basically, I want to convince you that you can and should learn to engage with the command line on your computer. There are a lot of tools that are only accessed, or best accessed, through the command line. In a perfect world maybe this wouldn't be the case, but in the world we live in the command line unlocks a lot of the hidden potential for your computer, and I feel like it's almost essential in the "owning" of modern technology.

Here are the basics:

pwd - short for "print working directory"

Type this into the terminal and press enter. You'll see the full path to wherever you "are" right now on your computer.

ls - short for "list"

This will show the files, folders, and executables that are in your current working directory.

cd - short for "change directory"

If you just type cd nothing happens, you need to tell it where you want to go. A few examples:

cd .. go to the parent directory

cd foldername go to foldername

cd ~ go to your home directory

If you get lost in the command line or you want to do something you don't know how to do using the command line, try xdg-open . (note the trailing dot, that means "right here"). This should open the the current directory in your GUI file browser.

Check out this week's newsletter (I'll link it on Twitter) for a more in-depth guide.

Quick recommends

Here's the list of basic tools I start the episode off with.

DuckDuckGo for search.

BitWarden for password management.

Signal for messaging.

Refurbished enterprise SFF PCs for home server.

Fastmail for email. (Even cooler people are using Tutanota these days, but I haven't tried it personally)

Firefox + AdBlocker Ultimate for web browsing.

Jun 06, 202027:31
Better software with William Casarin
Jun 03, 202001:05:26


"You can't stop other people from reading that which you disagree with."

@pierre_rochard on Noded 0.62.0

Speech laws and regulation and platform moderation are always about what "others" should see. Because you have to see it to moderate it. Just something to think about.

The first amendment

The way I'm thinking about "free speech," as a principle, is that I'm not going to use my power proactively to silence your speech. The actual law, of course, is about prohibiting the government from using its power to silence speech. But we're adults, we can talk about right and wrong it's okay.

Censorship is not an educational tool, it's a tool of control. You don't know what's being censored because you never see it. That was the whole point. So how do you know whether the right things are being censored? The potential for misapplication and the lack of means of correction are sky-high.

But platforms like Facebook and Twitter are in a dumb no-man's land where their "speech" is primarily the promulgation of other people's speech.

I personally would not want to be forced promulgate information I find abhorrent. But I also don't want to stop other people from accessing information I disagree with. Censorship doesn't restrain conspiracy theories, it validates them. The cure for wrongthink isn't a ban, it's better information. I also believe people who have facts on their side aren't afraid of people hearing "different facts."

And as great as I sound to myself when I say these things, none of it is useful as a prescription for how Twitter or Facebook should act.

Maybe there's like a range of speech-adjacent activities we can define:

  1. Censorship: actively using power to limit what someone can say or hear.
  2. Non-promulgation: "silencing" others through inactivity.
  3. Promulgation: republishing others.
  4. Self-publication: creating your own platform to host your own speech or the speech of others.

Promulgation is really some of the most powerful speech there is. And, of course, there's no promulgation without non-promulgation. Otherwise you're just transmitting static.

Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are self publishers with a truly historic level of promulgation, and now they're trending toward non-promulgation, which seems only reasonable. Meanwhile government is flirting with censorship, because it really has no power other than to destroy and oppose. Meanwhile meanwhile I'm thinking I need to get myself some of that self-publishing apparatus to secure and promote the ideas I think are good.

As a sidenote, I do find it sad sometimes how narrow a view we often have of what is acceptable and useful discourse, but there's really nothing I can do to change that. If it's easy to stay within the appropriate bubble of thought, then times seem good. But it leaves you with no recourse if you start getting extra-bubble ideas. And it might be actively harming the formation of extra-bubble ideas (which was the whole point of non-promulgation, obviously).

So what can I do?

May 30, 202050:34
Mesh networking with Richard Myers
May 28, 202001:37:35
What a Bitcoin future looks like

What a Bitcoin future looks like

I did a pod about Bitcoin, I hope that's okay!

Bitcoin resources I recommend

Tales from the Crypt


Bitcoin Audible

Satoshi Nakamoto Institute

The Bitcoin Standard

A Bitcoin Future

What if everything you bought got cheaper every year, but your salary stayed the same? You'd eventually go to space, right?

Human material needs are in some sense finite, but human wants are infinite. Human time is absolutely finite, but human ingenuity -- the ability to do more with the same amount of time -- is multiplicative and exponential.

In an economy we create value as we transact voluntarily, and in an economy with money we use money as an intermediary to store that value we create. In a Federal Reserve economy, that value creation is skimmed off the top and given to banks so they can give us more credit card debt. In a Bitcoin economy, we all get to benefit from value creation.

Bitcoin wouldn't fix theft, or the desire to steal. It just makes theft no longer our national monetary policy.

May 23, 202053:47
IoT with Internet of Shit
May 20, 202045:06


The next generation of consoles

Faster storage, ray tracing, higher resolutions.

Unreal 5: "nearly a polygon per pixel"

But what about

Simulation? Single shard MMOs? Multiplayer physics?

To me, Dwarf Fortress still feels like the most next-gen game on the planet

Minecraft with RTX is the perfect example of what's going well and what's not improving in games.

Portable assets and avatars

As photogrammetry matures and we approach photorealism, assets might be more shareable. And easier to create.

See: Quixel Megascans

There's probably a rough DIY photogrammetry aesthetic that will differentiate non-pro games from "pro", but it will still look great IMO.

If there's unification of the art pipeline, "remixing" game assets and game modes seems more possible. That would be truly groundbreaking.

What I want is a skateboard game that's also a multiplayer shooter.


What would a game be like where everyone was running the maximum amount of cheats they can get their hands on?

If you think about it, cheating is a form of "AR" for a virtual space. Maybe it doesn't have to be a bad thing for all games, it could be a feature!

What about the holy grail of anti-cheat: peer to peer multiplayer games. It works with chess!

I think it could come down to multiplayer physics simulation. If your character is only capable of producing forces within a certain range... those could be the rules you abide by. just thinking out loud.

Single shard

Eve Online and Dual Universe are "next-gen" in this sense.

Beyond single shard: the "metaverse."

Whatever happend to VRML?

Digital scarcity

Reamde. Hats. Real money poker.

"The dream is, I want a 12 year old camper from thailand to help pay for his family's food by killing me in an online video game and my slow reflexes" - Matt on TFTC

How do you have digital scarcity without centralized control? Bitcoin actually only solved Bitcoin's problem in this regard.

In Minecraft you choose to have scarcity to maximize fun.

What's the point of games?




Path of Exile


May 16, 202055:03
Redox OS with Jeremy Soller

Redox OS with Jeremy Soller

Everybody needs an operating system. But do we need a new kind of operating system?

Right now we basically have three major options: Windows, macOS, and Linux. Windows and macOS aren't open source, but that's not the only thing that's wrong with them. Linux is open source, but oftentimes that feels like its only advantage over the other two.

For years now I've dreamed of an alternative desktop OS with a fresh new foundation. Something we can build the future on with more speed and confidence because it got the fundamental abstractions correct. An operating system shouldn't feel bloated or fragile or like a monumental hack on top of 70s-era technology. It should be the minimal layer of software that can effectively and safely abstract hardware and allow multiple user programs to run together in harmony.

For the past five years, my guest Jeremy Soller has been actually building an alternative operating system: Redox OS. I think it might be our best hope.


This conversation is extremely technical. In a sense, this is the sort of technical stuff that most users never have to think about. But I find it interesting because someone has to care about these technical details or nothing would get done. I'm interested in the low-level details because I think getting those right can enable more capabilities and excellence at the user level.

If you absolutely hate operating system talk, you can fast forward to around the hour mark where we talk about the Linux computer company Jeremy works at: System76.

Setting the stage

Redox OS




Window 3.1

Assembly language

A Taxonomy of Kernels

Monolithic kernel



How drivers work

PS/2 port

LPC bus

L4 microkernel

Trying Redox in a virtual machine


The problem with phones



Librem 5

Making Linux computers

Thelio desktops

Lemur Pro laptop




How to pitch in

Follow @jeremy_soller on twitter

Follow @redox_os

Redox OS website

Donate to Redox OS

Redox Summer of Code


Meltdown and Spectre


May 13, 202001:37:32
Hmm are we using computers correctly?

Hmm are we using computers correctly?

A skateboard for our minds

The computer is "a bicycle for our minds," as Steve Jobs once said.

Do you ever watch those velodrome events in the Olympics? They either have a rolling start, or they have to have someone holding them up for a standing start. The bikers look silly and helpless until they get moving. And then they go in a loop, round and round, very, very fast. If you turn a little too hard your wheels slide out from under you and you eat it. When bikers crash in the velodrome the road rash is horriffic and their paper-thin costumes are torn the shreds.

What if we thought of the computer as a "skateboard for the mind?" What would a "skateboard" computer be like? How do we get there?

The Cuckoo's Egg

“The future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed." - William Gibson

I brought this up on the last episode, but I'm reading a book called "The Cuckoo's Egg," and it's making me very jealous of how much agency this guy has over his machines. In 1989!

The Unix Philosophy Smalltalk Wearables

I don't want to brag but I've been thinking about how we use computers, and how I'm disappointed by how we use computers, for a while. Here's a piece I wrote about the history of wearable computers in 2012, and how I was pretty sure Google Glass was the wrong direction.

Dyson sphere

Along the lines of affective computing, another piece I wrote even longer ago attempted to explain how much our computers are dropping on the floor when they interact with us.

My comparison was to a Dyson sphere. Here's the Wikipedia definition:

A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical megastructure that completely encompasses a star and captures a large percentage of its power output.


There are some really cool people in the computer industry who are challenging the assumptions of inherent complexity. Jonathan Blow, Casey Muratori, Raph Levien. Sometimes they might come across and curmudgeons on Twitter. But I think they're fighting the good fight.

There's also a really good talk about what's gone wrong in computing called called "The Mess We're In" by Joe Armstrong, RIP.

Finally, I recommend the On The Metal podcast for a dive into this from fairly technical perspective. There's a whole battle raging just to make it simpler and more secure to boot a computer. I know not everyone can dip into this particular battle usefully, but it's at least cool to know it's happening.

I love riding my bike. And I'm actually really bad at skateboarding. But I want to get better.

May 09, 202047:52
Bitcoin with Matt Odell
May 06, 202002:19:40
The Optimistic Case for Decentralization

The Optimistic Case for Decentralization


In this episode of Cyberdeck Users Weekly we'll review a bunch of tech giants and what their potential weaknesses are:


Amazon can't track counterfiets (scale fail) and it uses its vendors for market research (evil).

Solution Why can't I just order from local stores and self-run warehouses? Why can't I buy masks from the guy who stockpiled masks?

See also:


Google simultaneously knows too much about me and yet can't know enough to give me truly amazing and deep results (scale fail), and it attempts to control what I see (evil).

Solution Run searches locally before hitting the network. Most search just me trying to find that one CSS Tricks guide to Flexbox.

See also:


Seamless takes a gigantic cut. What are they reallllyy actually offering? So much less than even something like Uber.

Solution A protocol you can adhere to for listing things.

See also:


Like Seamless, Facebook starts out by letting you build an audience, and then at some point it pivots and starts to charge you for access to your own audience.

Solution Matrix? Mastadon? Jitsi?

See also:


Alternatives to Apple: Pi / Pine / Librem / Redox OS / Oxide Computer / System76

I didn't bring this up on the pod but my dream for phones is that when you "retire" one you remove the battery and plug it into your home server setup and it becomes part of the borg that hosts all your local services.



Identity (unsolved)

Payments (Bitcoin)

Decentralization of messaging (Lightning?)

Polish and ease of use

BIG systems like operating systems and UI frameworks are rare or bad and possibly unwanted in the first place?

  1. Is it actively harming me?
  2. Can it be taken away, and how easily?
May 02, 202043:05