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Odds and Ends - Losing the Wings

Portents of economic malaise, from the bird to the elephant, and the ticking time bomb of the Philippines rural banking system
Author

TJ Palanca

Published

November 6, 2022

Self-hosting Mastodon

Behold, Mastodon!

I got deep into Mastodon today - mainly driven by Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, but also because the idea of a federated social network is quite interesting. The idea of owning my own piece of the network while still retaining connectivity appeals to me, who once tried to move off of Google’s ecosystem and go completely self-hosted.

My Mastodon profile is here, and you can follow me from any public or self-hosted server; Mastodon’s protocols will take care of the communication between our nodes.

The terraform code to deploy onto the main kubernetes environment is in the TJCloud Repo. It requires the Mastodon Docker image, which is available on Docker Hub, a Postgres database, and a redis instance. There’s an option to add ElasticSearch for full-text search capabilities but I didn’t bother.

The main gotchas were ensuring that you had valid redirects for /.well-known/host-meta and /.well-known/webfinger at the root of the domain if you weren’t serving Mastodon at the top level (I served mine out of mastodon.tjpalanca.com). I used nifty Cloudflare redirect rules (in beta) to make that happen.

The user experience is better than I expected, although there are still quite a few rough edges. Some accounts I could not follow presumably due to some server incompatibility, and there’s some sluggishness that is expected because of all the nodes that have to communicate. It is a usable experience though, so the crucial thing is just getting the right communities onto Mastodon so that it can be a viable alternative to Twitter.

Hard economic times

Ever since the pandemic shut down every aspect of production globally for a good few months, I’ve been wondering where the economic devastation would hit. Now it’s clear that those times are upon us, I’ve not worked in a recession, and find myself wondering what I should do differently - do I prioritize job security, or building up savings, or do I just keep doing what I’m doing and hope for the best?

What I’ve been reading

  • November 2022 FOMC Press Conference - Inflation is high, and the Fed continues to raise rates - FOMC meetings are super exciting again. The idea of steering whole economies with just a single policy instrument is so fascinating and brings out the old econ nerd in me.

  • The Philippines’ rural banks are facing an analog-to-digital existential crisis - The Ken (Paywalled) - The Philippine rural banking system is in a period of change due to: (a) increased capital requirements, (b) e-wallets coming for their deposit base, and (c) digitization with staff that are content to stay in less urban areas of the country. Here are my notes Send me a message if you’d like a gift link to the full article.

  • How dbt fails - Benn Stancil (Original) - Benn narrates the evolution of dbt and its company and does a “pre-mortem” on the company:

    • dbt was initially sold without any preconditions - it’s just SQL, but with the new semantic layer stuff introduced in 2022, it is no longer that simple, product development didn’t keep up with demand, and it made dbt opaque.
    • dbt is still a very good product, because it makes thousands of people capable of doing things they otherwise couldn’t, but now it’s an incumbent and it’s going to have to continue to fight to stay relevant.
    • honestly, this was a little depressing, but the fact that we can’t imagine dbt Labs crashing and burning is remarkable.