Burningbird Social Media Technology Weblogging

Mastodon and Burningbird

The social media upheaval continues but things are starting to quiet down a bit. Oh you can’t tell this from the media, which is full of stories leading with “Elon Musk says…”, but that’s primarily because the media hasn’t figured out how to wean itself off Twitter, yet.

I quit Twitter the day that Musk reactivated the Project Veritas account. Even a lie would be ashamed to be associated with Project Veritas. Not so Twitter and Musk.

Out with Twitter

I didn’t delete my two Twitter accounts, because bots and trolls can snap up a previously existing username in 30 days once deleted. And I didn’t deactivate them because deactivated accounts are deleted in 30 days. What I did was post a last note where to find me on Mastodon, set both to private, and then walked away. I won’t even look at Twitter now, because doing so triggers ad impressions and that gives Musk money. I don’t plan on ever giving that guy money, and I’m severely curtailing the amount of attention I’ve giving him.

I’ll miss the folks that stubbornly stay on Twitter, but they’ve made their choice, I’ve made mine, and someday maybe they’ll wise up.

On to Mastodon

In the meantime, my move to Mastodon has had ups and downs, but has ended up on an up. My choice of kickoff point on was a good one ( because the creator of Mastodon (Eugen Rochko), who is also the administrator of, is quite welcoming of new Twitter folks. No nonsense about content warnings.

Speaking of content warnings, I was told to use them, and told not to use them. My account on was frozen and I believe it was because I did use content warnings when cross posting from Twitter. But I got into a disagreeable argument with another person about not using them when cross posting. A lose/lose.

Well, to hell with that server and any server administered by hypersensitive admins letting the power go to their heads. And to hell with other people’s CW demands.

Now, I use content warnings sparingly—primarily for larger posts or posts that contain what I deem to be sensitive material. If people don’t like it, they don’t have to follow me.

Mastodon and RSS

I did add some Mastodon stuff to my weblog. You’ll see a “post to Mastodon button” at the end of a story. And you’ll see my latest Mastodon entries in the footer. The latter comes from the RSS feed appended to each account in Mastodon (mine:

The really nice thing about Mastodon having an RSS feed is you can follow a person’s Mastodon entries in the same RSS reader you use for weblogs. Pretty soon, we’ll no longer be able to tell the difference between a weblog and a micro-blog.

Post to Mastodon

The post button is interesting (how-to). Unlike one centralized location for Twitter and Facebook, each person is on a specific Mastodon server, so you have to specify what server you’re on in the ‘toot this’ web page that opens. This is the nature of the federated beast. It’s no different than if you have a weblog or web page and you have to provide its unique URL when asked for it.

I also bookmarked the Toot dialog and use it when I post a link to Mastodon. I found using the dialog helps to trigger the link excerpt, while posting a link directly in Mastodon usually leaves the link as just a link.

The downside to using the Toot dialog is it logs me out of Mastodon, every time. This is a PITA when you’re using two-factor authentication.

Mastodon and Burningbird

My plan is to create my own Mastodon server, but I’m working through how I want to do so. I can spin up another Linode for it, or try putting in on this server. There are Mastodon hosting sites that are attractive, if for no other reason than you have to have SMTP access (for email), and it will be a cold day in hell before I try to run an SMTP service again. But I’m leaning towards spinning up another Linode and then using a 3rd party SMTP server such as Gmail.

The great thing about this federated universe is when I do create my own Mastodon instance, I can move all my follows/followers to it. I don’t believe I can move my posts to it, but really I don’t care about my older Mastodon posts. In fact, I’ve set my account up to delete them automatically after two weeks. Why burden with my old crap? I might be restoring my old weblog posts, but I don’t care about old Twitter/Facebook/Mastodon postings. These are just social media blurbs.

I do care about the people, so I don’t want to lose those connections.

When I do setup a Mastodon instance, I’ll spin you a tale of my trials and tribulations setting up a Ruby on Rails project. The one downside to Mastodon is it’s Ruby on Rails, an environment I have no experience with. I may also install something like PixelFed, which at least is good, honest PHP and Node.




Lessons learned from the Wayback Machine

I’ve learned many lessons from recovering weblog posts from the Wayback Machine.

If you feel the need to freshen your site, you really don’t need a new domain or subdomain, and most of the time you don’t need a new site redesign. All you need, is a break.

It’s OK to mix content types. So what if your techie stuff is side by side with your poetry? People can skip what they don’t like.

Don’t ever embed a dependency on a third-party web site for anything. So many of my recovered posts referenced photos in an account on Flickr that I no longer have. I recovered most images, but not all.

If you’re going to embed a tweet, embed a screenshot of the tweet and then provide a direct link to it. That way if the account is gone, you don’t end up with gibberish in your page.

For your own media, be wary of using the weblogging software add media functionality. In the process of recovering my writings, I decided to go from a WordPress multisite to a single site installation. It wasn’t a complicated task—export site’s content, install a fresh WordPress installation, and import the site—but the export/import munged the media I had added using the WP Add Media functionality.

(Thankfully, there’s a plugin, Broken Link Checker, that helped me find the broken image links and get them fixed.)

Don’t use excerpts on the front page, or the category page, or archive. I lost some writing because the Wayback Machine had a post in the main page, but hadn’t captured the actual post page, itself. When I displayed the full contents on the main page, I was able to recover the writing. When I didn’t…well, that writing was lost.

Lastly, even when recovering old posts I still left internal links to the Wayback Machine. So much of the older stuff is gone but still preserved in the Wayback Machine.

And if the post had comments, I included a link to the Wayback Machine entry at the top of my posts so that folks can see it, and the discussion, in its original form.


Burningbird Just Shelley

Weblog Penance

How many times have I written about this change or that to my site? Not enough, it seems.

I’m in the process of using that wonderful, magnificent site The Wayback Machine to recover posts from all my various incarnations of weblogs and whatnot sites. Yes, I do have backups from recent sites, but not the ones from 1998, or 2003, or 2015, and so on. And certainly not all the posts for all variations of weblogs I’ve had.

I estimate now that I’ve had a weblog, split or singular, on 83 domains and subdomains. Does anyone remember Thank the NRA? Bad Kitty? Missouri Green? Practical RDF? BB Gun? Script Teaser?

I split my weblog and combined it dozens of times, utilizing 23 different domains, and probably twice that many subdomains.

Even my main site, my weblog, this thing here…it’s been accessed as,, and, in addition to the location.

To make things even more interesting, sometimes the article URIs would be listed as ‘fires’, other times as ‘nodes’, sometimes as the full date, and finally, just the post title.

I was on Blogger, and on Graymatter, on Movable Type and Drupal, on Radio, and now on WordPress. I began with manually coded static web pages, back before weblogs and weblogging software were things. I even tried my hand at creating my own weblogging software: Wordform, a  fork of the early WordPress software.

And not since the very earliest days have I had all of my writings in one single site.

So, I’m recovering each writing/post/article, one at a time, either from my own backups, or mostly from the Wayback Machine. I’ve already recovered over 1300 posts, but I estimate I have about 4000 or so to go.

I think it was Tim Bray who spoke out, decades ago, about the wrongness of missing webpages—the 404s we have come to know and dislike. That’s the beauty of The Wayback Machine: web pages aren’t gone for good, they’re just finding a comfortable niche to settle into for a good sleep.

Thanks to Internet Archive for providing The Wayback Machine, I’ll be able to restore most of my writing. However, I shouldn’t use the word ‘restore’ to describe what I’m doing. After all, ‘restoring’ sounds somewhat noble—as if I’m taking a fine old web site and returning it to its glory.

I’m really not restoring my web sites: I’m doing penance for not being able to sit still for 26 years.