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Serving Up Some Yo La Tengo

This has been quite a semester for shared hosting servers. We spun up D.O.A., Sebadoh, and Wire in January alone, but the hits just keep on coming at Reclaim Hosting. While I was back in Fredericksburg two weeks ago I was binge listening to Yo La Tengo. I could not get enough, and given they’ve been making music since the mid 80s there was plenty to choose from. When we decided we needed a fourth shared hosting server this semester*—there was no question this one would be dedicated to the indie-rock royalty from Hoboken, New Jersey.

Yo La Tengo

My introduction to Yo La Tengo started fairly late with their 1995 album Electr-O-Pura and then their 1997 masterpiece I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. The latter is one of my favorite albums of all-time, and songs like “Sugar Cube,” “Autumn Sweater,” and “Little Honda” (a Beach Boys cover) offer a brilliant insight to this bands metaphorical agility, emo inclinations, and exhilarating joyrides that characterize so much of their music.  

I also love their long, hypnotic instrumentals like “Heard You Looking” off their 1993 album Painful, or “Blue Line Swinger” off Electr-O-Pura:

Or their love ballad “You Can Have it All” (another cover) off And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out.

I could go on like this for a while. But I’m sure you get the point. And unlike most of the bands we name servers after, Yo La Tengo is still going strong after 30 years as a band, with an album due out in March and a tour that will bring them to Italy in May. So with that, I leave you with another ear worm from their album Fade, “Ohm:”

It’s hard not to respect the range, lasting power, and sense of joy this band brings to their work, and that might be one of the reasons they’re quickly becoming an all-time favorite.

*The fact we retired the Minutemen, Hüsker Dü, and Butthole Surfers servers last month and migrated all existing accounts to Wire, D.O.A., and Sebadoh respectively drove a significant amount of the server setup mania the last two months.

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Reclaiming Europe with Kraftwerk Server

Concert in Zürich, 1976. The photo comes from the collection of Kraftwerk photos made by Ueli Frey.

Last week our newest server went live in Frankfurt, Germany. This is our first shared hosting server in Europe, and we were able to do it thanks to the fact that Digital Ocean has block storage available in their Frankfurt datacenter. We named the server after Germany’s electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk. And if you are new to this band, the song “Computer Love” off their 1981 album Computer World could double as the soundtrack to the story of how computers have re-defined our society over the last 3 decades since its release.

The Kraftwerk server was spun up on the heels of the Devo server  last month given how quickly the spudboy server was filling up. What’s more, we have been pushing to move our older shared hosting infrastructure to Digital Ocean, which means we needed to spread the now retired Hotrods server across both Devo and Kraftwerk. The Hotrods migration was finished up last week, and Kraftwerk is fully operational with over 300 accounts.

We figured this might also be a good time to offer anyone living in Europe (or elsewhere outside the U.S.) the option to be transferred to this server. If this is something that interests you just fill out the migration form and be sure to specify you want to move your existing account on Reclaim to the Kraftwerk server.

And for more Kraftwerk goodness, check on this BBC interview with the robots themselves:

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Domains 2017 will be Intergalactic

One of the joys of being on the East Coast of the U.S. right now is waking up to gems like the above video from Bryan Mathers. I already blogged about Bryan’s poster for the Domains 2017 conference, so seeing this 15 second spot Bryan created was heavenly. Between the Beastie Boys “Intergalactic” background music, the roving, pulsating bubble and the rising mechanical hand (reminiscent of the monster on the Queen’s News of the World album cover) I was in heaven. I’ve been criticized for my focus on marketing and promotion, but it’s hard to argue with when it looks this good! Domains 2017 is going to be intergalactic, indeed.

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It’s OK, We’re Only Human

Last week I worked on migrating a number of sites from the Digital Media Lab at the Bard Graduate Center over to Reclaim Hosting.  One of the things I enjoy about doing migrations for folks is a get to see what they are working on. I fell down the rabbit hole of the history of computer user interface design with the brilliant Interface Experience exhibit that was produced for the 2015 exhibit The Interface Experience: 40 Years of Personal Computing. The exhibit was curated by Kimon Keramidas, then Assistant Professor and Director of the Digital Media Lab—now a professor at NYU.
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Re-ordering Pizza in 2015

Back in early June of this year I had the good fortune of listening to Phil Windley talking about digital identity, sovereign source identity, block chain, and much more at BYU’s The University API event. I deeply respect the caliber of thinking around these questions the BYU IT team bring to their approach to APIs and Domain of One’s Own, and I am getting ready to head out to Provo at the end of the month to talk about just this. One of the things Phil showed off during one of the sessions that stuck with me was the 2004 video created by the American Civil Liberties Union titled “Ordering a Pizza in 2015.”

The video provides a view of what the unregulated collection of our personal data by corporations could mean in 2015. It’s an brilliantly executed quotidian dystopia story. It all starts off very normal: man orders pizza. But quickly spirals into ab absurd, Kafkaesque world of surveillance and control. A satirical play that highlights how quickly the unchecked harvesting of our personal data erodes some basic tenets of a free society. I love the way this video walks the fine line between the everyday and the fantastic. And what’s even crazier 11 years later through this piece is that the chilling future possible of 2004 has become status quo in 2015.

So, yesterday I borrowed this page from Phil Windley’s book during a presentation Martha Burtis and I did at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón about Domain of One’s Own and digital identity (more on that in a forthcoming post). The video was well received, and it is a testament to the fact that the worst kind of clean, well-lighted dystopias can come true. The clip provided a simultaneously comic and horrific view of our current moment.

After this video I went on to discuss the above clip featuring Edward Snowden, a bit frightening how well the two worked together. The protection of our personal data online is first and foremost a civil liberties issue!