James Koole

Mastodon or Threads? Why Not Both?

Threads took a big step towards interoperability with the Fediverse this week when they enabled federation on three specific Threads accounts belonging to the Head of Instagram and two software engineers. For now, it's a one-way thing. You can follow and see the posts from any of these three Threads users from Mastodon, but that's it.

This led to a great deal of spirited debate, especially on the Mastodon side. Suffice to say, some think Threads should be blocked from federating, while others are welcoming Threads with open arms.

At the same time, Threads opened up access to people in the European Union (EU). Since the launch of threads earlier this year, EU residents had been blocked from signing up and using the service.

Welcoming the EU masses in generated a lot of buzz on Threads, and starting the federation ball rolling generated a lot of buzz on Mastodon.

Post on Mastodon or Threads? Why not both?Zoidberg meme.

As an avid Mastodon user, that left me conflicted. There are a bunch of people on Threads who I would love to follow but that means devoting some time to Threads in addition to Mastodon. I tried Threads a few months back and stopped posting on Mastodon for a bit while I spent more time over there. That turned out badly...I never found the community that I had on Mastodon over on Threads.

Threads and Mastodon are different. They are both micro-blogging services that are very similar to Twitter. But they have a different vibe and different people.

So this time, I'm just going to wade back into Threads in addition to Mastodon. The idea is to develop a list of good people to follow there and to do some limited interaction as well. When federation opens up to everyone, I'll take that list of accounts and follow them from Mastodon instead.

In the meantime, I've got both apps on my phone and both services pinned in my Arc favourites. It's nice to see more and more familiar names and faces using Threads, and it's also nice to be able to continue to post and interact with the many people I follow on Mastodon.

Upgrading My ADS-B Feeder Setup

Back just before the start of the COVID pandemic, on February 23, 2020, I setup an ADS-B receiver using a Raspberry Pi 4. It used an external antenna mounted on the side of the house and fed data to both FlightAware and Flightradar24. In exchange for feeding tracking data, both services provide a free premium account with Flightaware offering an Enterprise account and Flightradar24 offering a Business account.

That Raspberry Pi install was getting a bit long in the tooth and after nearly four years, it was time to start fresh and clean things up a bit. The Raspberry Pi I was using was a Raspberry Pi 4B with 4GB of memory. I was running a pretty old version of Raspbian based on Debian Stretch.

I wanted to do a couple of things to improve my set up.

First, I had a Raspberry Pi 400 that I wasn't using. It's essentially a Raspberry Pi 4B but it's built into a keyboard so it's more of an all-in-one solution compared to the Pi 4B which requires a separate keyboard. I run headless and access the Pi via VNC, but it's nice to have the keyboard form factor instead of the Pi board which I literally had sitting in a cardboard box.

Second, I wanted to do a clean install of the latest version of Raspberry Pi OS (Bookworm) and also the latest versions of the Flightaware and Flightradar24 software packages.

Starting with a hardware swap

I started by first just swapping the SD card from the old Pi 4B to the new Pi 400 and fired that up. It was an easy way to swap out the Pi 4B for the 400. Once I had that up and running again, I did an upgrade to Debian and then upgraded the Flightaware software to version 9.

That solved for the hardware swap, but not the software cleanup. I wasn't satisfied just yet as I wanted to have the Raspberry Pi OS instead of just a Debian install. It was working fine, but there was a lot of cruft around from multiple updates over the years.

Moving on to the software side

So tonight I pulled the SD card out and set it aside as a backip, and replaced it with a cleanly imaged SD card that had Raspberry Pi OS Bookworm (the latest). I got that all configured and running well on the network, then set about installing PiAware, then dump1090-fa and finally the Flightradar24 software.

That all went well and I was feeding data to both services again within about 45 minutes of starting the upgrade. I was able to configure the Flightradar24 side to use the same ID as I had for my old feeder during install, but Flightaware set me up with a new ID. A quick search in the Flightaware forums gave me the solution for that. I just needed to update the identifier on my new install to use the ID from the old install.

It was about an hour total from start to finish and I now have a really clean install of Raspberry Pi OS on the 400 feeding Flightaware and Flightradar24 using the former IDs so my stats on both services are retained.

You can view just my feed on Flightradar24 by filtering on radar T-CYTZ43.

Coffee

I'm heading into the world of coffee. That's not new...I've dipped my toes into the coffee scene a few times here and there over the last decade. But over the last little bit, I've been drinking far less crappy coffee and far more really good coffee.

I still make a Nespresso here and there, but if I want a nice cup of coffee, I pull out the AeroPress, a cheap scale, a crappy Amazon grinder and some good coffee (from Detour, these days).

There's a bunch of factors that combine to create a really good cup of coffee.

I've got good coffee. Something like Detour Coffee's Colombia Guarapo Decaf is high quality and nicely roasted. I've got a good brewer. My go-to is an AeroPress with the flow control cap and it makes wonderful coffee. I've got a good ratio of water to coffee of about 20:1 and a two minute brew time has been working well.

What I don't have is a good grinder, but a Cyber Monday sale will solve for that. I've negotiated with Santa to get a Fellow Ode Gen 2 delivered here which I have agreed to leave unopened and unused until Christmas morning. It's going to be a long few weeks using the crappy grinder, but I'll survive.

On Christmas morning, I'll be able to weigh up 11 grams of a nice coffee, pour it into the grinder and get a really nice grind. From there, it'll go into the AeroPress with 220 grams of water (just off the boil). It'll sit for two long minutes before I plunge it into a mug.

Will it be that much better than the coffee from a $35 cheap Chinese-made grinder bought on Amazon? I'll let you know.

There are a few other things I still covet but nothing quite as pricey or important as the grinder. I'm using a standard kettle and a pretty junky scale. Alexa handles timekeeping. Over time I'll add a better scale with a timer built in, and maybe a precision gooseneck kettle. I've also got my eye on a Hario Switch V60 brewer and carafe for those days where I might want to brew two cups instead of one.

Mastodon vs. Threads

I really like Mastodon, but I'm also coming around to Threads.

Mastodon was where I went after Elon took over Twitter (now X). I don't like the man, his ideas nor his plans for X and I found a nice place over at Mastodon where a lot of the people I tended to follow went.

When Threads launched, I was there from the first moments. My "ticket" shows that I made my account literally at 7:00 P.M. EDT -- the moment it launched. Initially it was a bit of a mess. The posts were all about Threads and the people all about self-promotion.

I walked away from Threads for a few months but recently re-engaged with it to see what the current state of mind was. I found a vibrant community and a pretty decent algorithm that fills the "For You" feed.

I'll be posting more to Threads for a while to see what the community is like. They are still adding new features, but what is there so far (mutes, filters, polls, gifs, etc.) is enough to make it useful for me. The mobile app and web experiences are solid.

I've followed 45 people and have 17 followers so far. That's about what I started with on Mastodon too, but the crowd is a bit different on Threads. I'm looking forward to a few more features being added, and hopefully an API that will attract a few more people to the service. I don't think I want to see all the news and brands there, but those accounts will play a role in attracting the kind of people I'd like to see. Specifically, that's people I know.

I don't know if Threads can beat X and I don't think it matters. Mastodon didn't have to beat X to be successful, and it seems X is going to be more than capable of destroying itself. If Threads is there as a viable alternative that people are attracted too? Great.

Bonjour Montréal!

Writing a quick blog post while travelling solo is a bit of a tradition for me. I'm sitting on VIA Rail train #62 just west of Coteau station waiting for the westbound #35 to pass before we proceed. I guess it should be Gare de Coteau since I'm in Quebec now.

The train should arrive in Montréal by about 2:00 P.M. which is about 20 minutes late, but in the grand scheme of things, that's pretty decent. Once I get off the train, I plan to hope on the new Réseau express métropolitain (REM) train and ride out to Brossard and back. I really thought that I would have ridden the Crosstown LRT in Toronto before the REM, but here we are.

The point of this little trip is to getaway from work and just to relax a bit. The train ride is a great way to start for me. I enjoy the ride on VIA and Montréal is a nice distance away from home. It's a different enough city to make it feel like I've escaped Toronto, but close enough that it's a decent enough trip to do with just one night in the hotel between the two train rides.

Later this year, I might do a same-day run out to Ottawa (on VIA Rail) to ride the O-Train. That assumes they can keep the thing running over the winter. They didn't exactly hit a home run with that transit system.

More later...