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A little known fact about me: half a lifetime ago, as a teenager, I studied and practiced illusionism and mentalism for a period of a couple years. I learned a great deal and got quite good at it so that I could help defend others against certain cases that I considered to be unethical deception. I could expose how it was done.

A recent conversation with someone reminded me of cold reading and the Forer (Barnum) effect, which people ought to be aware of:

By the time DRM-enabled monopolies are investigated as monopolies, years of freedom & positive innovation have already been lost. Eliminate the state-sponsored subsidy of DRM locking users to one App Store and stop this from happening in the first place.

The toxic, polarizing politics in the USA has forced me to reflect a great deal on my own terminology in recent years as an activist; it can be challenging to both get one's point across while at the same time not being divisive / polarizing.

I have much to write on this topic, but in the meantime: please consider how you may contribute constructive discourse, rather than hatred and negativity. Where you see problems, present suggestions or solutions, not overt negativity.

It's easy to forget, amidst all the threats to our software freedom, that ours is an inherently positive story, celebrating creativity and skill. Check out this beautiful comic by Sacha Chua @sachac, read more, and share with #userfreedom:

Police use face recognition, drones, automated license plate readers, and an arsenal of other invasive tech. Atlas of Surveillance is a searchable map containing thousands of datapoints that allows you to see what is deployed in your area.

Check out this interview with Perttu Ahola, the developer of free software sandbox game Minetest: You can find Minetest in the Free Software Directory:

Writing As a Means to Another End:

On writing, exploration, and some personal experience with Imposter Syndrome.

(I feel like an imposter just claiming that I may have Imposter Syndrome; I don't want to offend anyone who may have it worse than me.)

When I'm bored and need to unwind, I apparently enjoy working with regular expressions. Here are some well-documented examples using sed (together with a script to animate them), including things like base 10 multiplication; a dynamic environment with assignment and retrieval; string comparison; and game-like animation resembling cellular automata:

Lifesaving technology should belong to everyone, but the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) is working day and night to restrict access, even during a global pandemic:

Some train of thought reminded me of an article I read many years ago about exploiting properties of ELF to create really tiny executables:

I remember printing out the resulting hex dump and marking every single byte and its purpose. That article was the first time I took the time to really explore ELF and understand at the lowest level what it is and how it works, and I enjoyed every moment of it.

To anyone who sees me posting on Mastodon and not doing the thing you're waiting for / expecting me to do: my very fussy newborn has made it nearly impossible to get into any sort of flow, and my productivity is at a near stand-still. So I fill much of my little free time with things that don't require much focus.

I hope that changes soon.

I thought 2020 would be something I'd be desperate to forget, and instead it's become a landmark year for common sense civil rights and human decency in the United States. And two of those things happened despite a conservative-leaning Supreme Court. And they're happening under (despite) a Trump presidency.

My thoughts go out to all of the people whose lives are so positively impacted by these changes, and to those who have suffered and still suffer so much from their absence.

A writeup on some of the obfuscation techniques used by Snapchat:

I just shake my head at how wasteful this all is. I'm a free software activist. I think of ways to make code more accessible to less technical users. I type this on a system that's full free/libre from the BIOS upward. And this article is about _one program_ that is more opaque than the entirety of my daily computing.

Just closed this 4-year old bug:

Yup, that means #Guix now authenticates commits.

Such a relief to close that bug!

History of Programming Languages, Volume 4. Freely available without a subscription.

I had a debilitating migraine most of the day that was bad enough to give me suicidal thoughts, despite strong medication. I have semi-frequent migraines, but not this bad.

While I was in pain, I thought of the people who have to deal with this, or worse, multiple times a week.

If you don't experience severe migraines, you can't appreciate the suffering people go though. If you're one of them, I'm sorry. You have strength that I don't.

Have legal needs as a result of your participation in protests? Send us an email at and we may be able to help find you pro bono representation.

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Mike Gerwitz's Mastodon Instance

Mike Gerwitz's personal Mastodon instance