September 22, 2020

Spanner Hugo Site Builder for Mac

Carlos Melegrito’s spanner-app.com is brilliant:

Drag a folder, start a server. Build, then export. Spanner makes using Hugo easier than ever. Less set-up, more mark-up.

This is the push/tool I needed to move some old websites from Persona.co to Hugo.

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September 22, 2020

Arq 7 with Native UI is Coming

Stefan Reitshamer on arqbackup.com:

So, we decided to implement the entire UI as a native” UI. It’s got better keyboard navigation, it’s more intuitive, has a smaller disk footprint, and supports drag-and-drop to easily restore files to your desktop or a Finder window. It just feels better.

Happy with the news. Arq 5 with BlackBlaze B2 Is my cloud backup solution — I use Backblaze Unlimited for Ana’s MacBook because it’s simpler. I didn’t initially upgrade to Arq 6 because of the noise around the UI, not that it affected me much, but with backups boring is mostly good.

When Arq 7 is out I’ll do some napkin calculations and consider the move to Arq Premium and streamline my workflow a bit.

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September 22, 2020

Tidbits for 2020 Week 38

  • Roam-highlighter: Chrome extension to highlight text on page to copy to Roam/Obsidian. Best one I’ve found, hope it comes to Safari 14.
  • Nudget: budgeting iOS app with quick entry and multi-currency support.
  • Vill Q: macOs software to draw on screen and making screen annotation. Useful for screen-sharing calls.
  • Tageslicht: share your iOS camera view on an external display.
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September 17, 2020

Lectures on Digital Photography by Marc Levoy

Amazing Digital Photography course by Marc Levoy:

An introduction to the scientific, artistic, and computing aspects of digital photography. Topics include lenses and optics, light and sensors, optical effects in nature, perspective and depth of field, sampling and noise, the camera as a computing platform, image processing and editing, and computational photography. We will also survey the history of photography, look at the work of famous photographers, and talk about composing strong photographs.

Just getting started on the YouTube videos, but this is amazing.

These 18 videos represent a sequence of lectures on digital photography, from a version of my Stanford course CS 178 that was recorded at Google in Spring 2016.

Marc Levoy is a Standford Professor, the person behind the Google Pixel camera, and is now at Adobe building a camera app. So, he knows photography.

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September 14, 2020

Tidbits for 2020 Week 37

  • Shareful: Provides any app with a Share button with a Copy, Save, and Open action.
  • Watercooler: Lightweight, High-Res Video Calls for Mac
  • Lunar: macOS utility to set brightness and volume on external monitors.
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September 9, 2020

SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch and Landing Video with Sound

Sped up footage from an onboard camera during Falcon 9’s launch of the SAOCOM 1B mission — SpaceX’s first launch to a polar orbit from the East Coast.

The angle and sound of this video makes it amazing.

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September 7, 2020

SuperDuper on Big Sur

Dave Nania, on shirtpocket.com:

In the meantime, my advice for macOS Betas remains as valid as ever: do not install a macOS Beta unless you have a critical business need to do so. These Betas, even when public, are not for general use, and certainly not for anyone who wants a reliable system for day-to-day work.

They don’t even have an alpha yet. I’m excitedly waiting by the fence on macOS 11.0 while things settle down. Catalina has enough personality kinks as it is.

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September 1, 2020

Tidbits for 2020 Week 35

  • Nessie: extremely simple web browser for Windows, based on the Trident engine.
  • Screenotate: screenshot manager for Mac and Windows with OCR.
  • BlackHole: virtual audio driver for macOS that allows applications to pass audio to other applications.
  • Longplay: iOS music player for those who enjoy listening to entire albums start-to-finish.
  • Keysmith: create shortcuts for any string of actions you can do with your mouse and keyboard on macOS.
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August 25, 2020

Kindle Collects Large Amount of Data

Charlie Belmer on nullsweep.com:

The Kindle is far from the most invasive privacy app I have seen, but it records a lot of behavioral reading information I don’t like. I’ve been trying to get away from the the Kindle ecosystem for the past year or so, and now use Marvin for reading on my iPhone. I no longer use the Kindle device, though I dearly miss e-Ink.

Good reminder. I don’t think this data is used for nefarious reasons, but it does exist.

It makes me a bit uncomfortable also because I like to remove DRM from my books and convert them to ePUB — which I convert back to AWZ. Since sync works across devices on these files, it’s a safe bet that all the data is also stored.

I’ve been eyeing the Kobo e-Ink devices, but until there’s a good ePUB sync solution with iOS.

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August 21, 2020

Tidbits for 2020 Week 33

  • Isoflow: easy isometric diagrams on the web.
  • yFi: get notified, automatically reconnect, or ignore a drop in WiFi TX rate.
  • Bluesnooze: Turn BT off when your Mac sleeps, and switched on when your Mac wakes.
  • MonitorControl: Control external monitor brightness, contrast or volume on macOS.
  • macintosh.js: virtual Apple Macintosh with System 8, running in Electron.
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August 21, 2020

Hotel in Tokyo Installs Flight Simulator in Room

Seher Asaf, on businesstraveller.com:

They can choose to book the room for the night for an additional 25,300 Yen ($233); however, guests staying for a night in the twin bed room can’t sit in the pilot’s seat or touch the instruments”, according to the hotel. A transparent acrylic board” will separate the cockpit from the room.

No kinky sim stuff then.

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August 1, 2020
Underground Airlines
★★★★★

Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

This was a powerful read. Racism is both a straight forward and complex subject. A lot of it involves a reality I cannot comprehend because it’s alien to my everyday life. This novel uses the magic of alternate history to peer into that reality.

Story wise it’s a slow burner that eases you into an alternate United States where slavery was never abolished in the south. By the time you’re painted the full picture, shock gives way to sad acceptance how this could have been:

Under the Fugitive Persons Act, those who escape from service are to be captured and returned, anywhere they are found in the United States, slave state or free.

This is an excellent book on its own. But I’ve gone back to that alternate reality a few times over the past month to be a better listener to the recent protests.

July 30, 2020

On Easy Implementations

After a few weeks of pandemic eating, I’m back in intermittent fasting mode. While there are medical benefits for it, the reason IF works for me is the ease of implementation:

  • At 6 PM I stop eating until 12 PM the next day. (Minus a coffee with a shot of milk foam for breakfast).

Side benefits are that it curbs my sugar and late night carbs anxiety eating. But when I try to do it the other way around — no chocolate after a healthy dinner — I fail.

The simple implementation can generate other desirable behaviors that would require more complex rules — if you wanted to define the same outcome in the requirements.

Something similar happens with working with a standing desks. It is not that standing is better than seating. For me, it is harder to stand incorrectly for long periods of time, than to slouch in my chair for much longer.

I get tired standing up, which makes me move, then I sit, then I get bored and stand up again. This is a better behavior based on designing my workplace around standing.

These has been a couple of successful cases, I have a lot more failures (doing push-ups before brushing teeth comes to mind). There’s no right one-size-fits-all with lifehacks, because our life’s are different. We are left to experiment, observe results, and try again.

July 27, 2020

On Lack of Control

Mornings are my most difficult time to be a parent. I’ve always been a late sleeper, which makes the 5-6am Daddy, Daddy call challenging. On top of that, I fall into a bad mood as a result for the rest of the ante meridiem activities.

My cheap psychology theory is that even when the kids wake me up at the time I was expected to - the lack of control over it sets me off.

This might me a similar feeling my own team experiences when I call them with a fire at any point throughout the day. It says a lot of their attitude that they haven’t replied with a expletive yet, because there been days I’m ready to throw one of my little treasures out the window at 6am.

July 26, 2020
Dust (Silo #3)
★★★★☆

Dust (Silo #3) by Hugh Howey

The lack of expectations of the second book and how much I ended up liking it, did a disservice to the final one. A fun but less surprising book. It was a fulfilling end to the trilogy, without all the pieces falling into place — in a way that added realism to the story.

I did miss someone lamenting over the grand plan falling apart in the end. One of the things I enjoyed from the series was the fact there were no evil people, only misguided powerful ones. On this final chapter, the winners and the losers aligned neatly to the good and bad ones.

I’ll look for more books from Hugh Howey, and revisit the world created in my head — because like all good sci-fi, it created an useful parallel universe to be reminded of every so often.

July 24, 2020

Respect and Distrust Your Future Self

Talk to yourself with kindness when writing tasks. Remember you’re passing notes to an older and forgetful person. Be sure to not only define the task clearly, but remind yourself why it exists. Your next week self might be wiser, but it is more distracted about this particular task than your present self.

Next Monday you’ll need the freedom to decide if the task is as important as it sounds on Friday. Mistakes might have been made, but jot down the keywords that’ll help you remember why.

An useful note is the least you can do to someone you’re making do your work.

July 23, 2020

The Sky Is a Big Place

The bombardment of email, chat, video calls, tasks and issues, can feel like the sky is falling during every hour of every day in the work week.

A few years back I watched a TV show about Air Traffic Controllers. When asked about how he dealt with the anxiety of planes full of people flying close to each other the ATC replied:

The sky is a pretty big place.

The traffic controller screen is a concentration of critical data: a flat black and white representation at scale of 3D space. You have to pay attention to it. But don’t confuse it for the real world.

July 22, 2020
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter, #1)
★★★★☆

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter, #1) by J.K. Rowling

It’s been 20 years since I read this book and it shows. I did not remember most of it, and what I did was actually from the movie. I’d also forgotten how much of a children book it was, in language and length. The book is surprisingly short! Again, I seem to remember it longer than it was actually was.

Still, it’s a great book. It’s fun to go back to the start of the characters and their world. Reading it as a parent, I really hope Robie and Bettina can discover it on their own terms — unlike Star Wars, which like it or not are influenced by me.

July 21, 2020

On the Contents Page and Pages of Content

Receiving a Wired Magazine in the late 90’s provided me with hours of restrained entertainment. The ritual began by inspecting every page of the issue from start to finish — regardless of the cover.

Physical magazines have an index, but its UX doesn’t require you to choose an article to get started. The experience invites browsing.

This mindset is missing from the a la carte on-demand infinite availability nowadays.

I try to make the effort to mentally switch view modes from an streaming river to something closer to a bookshelf — where the content is not going away, and is available to pick back up. This helps me reduce the anxiety of the paradox of choice, and even adding enjoyment to wasting time.

July 20, 2020

Tidbits for 2020 Week 29

  • Camo: Use your iPhone or iPad as a pro webcam.
  • Cascable Pro: Use your DSLR or mirrorless camera as a webcam using just USB or WiFi.
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July 20, 2020
Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America
★★★☆☆

Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America by Scott Adams

I did not enjoy reading this book, but it was a good mental exercise. It kept reminding me of light Jordan Peterson — which is not a bad thing, but not what I expected.

The book has useful pockets of knowledge and anecdotes. But every few pages it can’t seem to avoid reminding that he know better than you , which while probably true, becomes annoying.

Why read it then? because now is an important time to read things that challenge you and makes you uncomfortable. In this sense, it’s worth a read.

However, if you haven’t read How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, read that one first. This one suffers from too many as I said on my other book, which doesn’t allow it to stand on its own.

July 19, 2020

Rain or Shine

Weather means different things in different cultures. In Norway they say there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing — which I learned the first time I cancelled a morning run because it was raining.

Back in Venezuela, cancelling would have been normal, because if it wasn’t sunny you’d wait half an hour, and the weather will be fine again.

In Scandinavia you can’t do this because then you might never be able to exercise. They take weather out of the equation because it affects the outcome so much. In the tropics we leave it because it doesn’t.

Makes me wonder if there’s a major element of my everyday life that I should ignore, and get better clothing for.

July 19, 2020

Alternative to Note-Taking Apps

Akkshaya Varkhedi on akkshaya.blog:

After battling with so many apps only to feel guilty for not having the discipline to consistently use them, I’ve finally resorted to the most personal and easy alternative ⁠— writing things down.

Well, that’s a crazy idea. Totally valid points in the post though. I just think that throwing everything into a bucket and let the computer figure it out is going to win in the end.

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July 18, 2020

On Crashing Waves

When swimming on a beach with big waves, you fall into cadence in response to each. Whatever works for one wave can be repeated for a whole set, but always one will come that’s different enough that it requires you change your strategy.

You can dip under, swim towards, or maybe even swim back to the beach to catch it. It depends on the wave, your position, your level of energy, etc. With a major force like the ocean, you must adapt — there’s no negotiation.

Sometimes you miscalculate, and you’re literally sweep off your feet. Remember, you can’t fight the wave — you must remain calm a let it carry you. And always keep in the back your mind that once you get out this… there’s another wave behind the current one.

July 17, 2020

Planning and Deadlines

Planning is wishful thinking, which is why optimist make terrible delivery estimates. Pessimists are always able to hit the target from afar better.

But fixing an optimist estimate by multiplying by two, is too simplistic. A better fix is something IT departments do all the time: not give estimates. Brilliant buzzwords like agile and sprints mostly allow us to get away with it.

The actual solution is simple: deadlines. You can get philosophical about planning, waterfall, sprints, etc. But if a products has to be live on a certain day, all BS goes out the window, and a minimum viable product plan will appear.

Deadlines are the reality check most plans need. And just like a meeting without an agenda, you should never one without the other.

July 16, 2020

Corner Cases Are How They Get You

Twitter’s hack yesterday was a serious issue, and signs point to an internal support tool as the vector to the attack. These non-technical attacks are usually attributed to a security lapse with a dose human error. But the core cause always relates to complex processes and systems abstraction to deal with them.

This is not a defense. The attack was luckily used for financial gain, but a similar attack targeting an election day or a tense international situation wouldn’t be a joke. I don’t envy being support at Twitter. You are a global target and especially when WFM, the attacks surfaces are even larger.

I’m very curious to read the post-mortem, hopefully with some related investigative piece. For sure it’ll read like a heist movie script.

July 15, 2020

On Mind Time Travel

I decided not to post today. To break the streak because I was tired/busy/uninspired — and I felt sad. Then I edited a mess of a draft to uncover something postable, and felt immediately better.

The challenge is to time travel the mind to the near future to remember this. To remember the near future when this too shall pass, and I’ll feel better after getting through the day.

But it but it’s hard to remember the future.

July 14, 2020

On Job Descriptions

Q: What do you do?
A: What needs to be done.

This answer sounds like an end of world movie title, but it can also be a typical job description — which few mention on LinkedIn. It also is a sign of a troubled organization.

Doing whatever needs doing implies that either: 1) you have enough clarity and perspective in your organization to correctly assess the needs, or 2) another person has these qualities and does it for you.

In most cases neither scenario is real. The needs of many agendas fill your inbox, and it’s only when you are at capacity, and one of the actual priorities gets delayed that a clear signal breaks through the noise to set it straight. Which still describes a working organization.

Yet, how many non-priority, misunderstood and plain wrong tasks consume time and effort before you reach capacity? How can these corrections of priorities happen more fluently?

Somewhere in the middle of what needs to be done and I just work here, lies the answer.

July 13, 2020

On the Speed of Consumption

Looking at a painting to remember it, to analyze it, or hoping that it awakens something in you1 — are very different activities.

I’m able to listen at up to 2x to podcasts with information I want to skim  . But on other podcasts want to savor the discussion. To be part of the conversation in my head, requiring the pause to assemble my ideas.

Same with books — on many, I want to enjoy each line, but others make want to tell the writer to hurry along, to get to the point. Which thanks to the marvel of reading doesn’t require changing the text in front of you — just how you engage with it.

The amazing variety of content nowadays makes it impossible to define the correct way of consuming any of it. The question then becomes: do you want to expose yourself to as much as possible — risking misunderstanding it, or invest in acquiring fewer content, but of the best quality.

I’ve answered this very differently over the last 20 years, but the overall trend is to use each of these methods as tools — and not be a purist about either corner.


  1. Community reference.↩︎

July 13, 2020

Tidbits for 2020 Week 28

  • Nudget: clean looking budgeting app for iOS.
  • Mimestream: fast native Gmail client for macOS. Impressive.
  • Mumu: better macOS emoji picker.
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July 12, 2020

Big Sur Disk Size Use

Howard Oakley, on eclecticlight.co:

Even for a beta, Big Sur has a voracious appetite for disks: as one leading developer, Jeff Johnson of @lapcatsoftware, discovered, when updating from the first to the second beta, macOS swelled to 27 GB in size. This is the result of its use of snapshots.

I did iOS 14 and iPad 14 Public Beta over the weekend. Will likely hold on Big Sur for a while longer.

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July 12, 2020

iA Writer Style Check

From ia.net:

Style Check is like a having a personal editor-in-chief on your device, carefully reviewing your text for redundancies, clichés and filler words as you type.

A local Grammarly. Going back to IA Writer for my non-existing longer posts.

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July 12, 2020
Shift (Silo #2)
★★★★★

Shift (Silo #2) by Hugh Howey

Amazing sequel. Didn’t know what to expect, which made the surprise even more enjoyable. It’s a continuation of the original story is coherent way — without being a rehash. Managing to give more than simple clues about the origin of the universe created, without ruining the mystery.

Being the second book in a trilogy is always hard because it can sometimes fell like any weak plot point is there as a filler. While this book doesn’t stand on its own (no one said it should) it’s a strong bridge to the last one.

July 2, 2020

How Big Sur Version Number Could Break Code

Howard Oakley, on eclecticlight.co:

[…] Big Sur is either 10.16.0 or 11.0.0, depending on where you look. If your conditional code has only been checking for minor version numbers, then it would see Catalina as 15, but Big Sur could be either 16 or 0 depending on how Apple numbers it. If the major version has indeed incremented for the first time in the last 20 years or so, and Big Sur turns out to be 11.0.0, then anything which assumes that this minor version number will be greater than 15 will break.

Something to consider if your hacks start actions weird on the new macOS.

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June 29, 2020

Tidbits for 2020 Week 26

  • HighTop: quick file access from MenuBar of local folders, Google Drive, or Dropbox.
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June 26, 2020

Jason Snell Thoughts on WWDC 2020 Keynote

Jason Snell, on sixcolors.com:

The truth is probably that the future of the Mac is as a pro” version of iOS and iPadOS. It’ll run more or less every app that’s available on the iPhone and iPad, but it’ll also run traditional Mac software. Over time, the distinction between iPad apps and Mac apps will begin to fade away entirely, and the Mac will just become a keyboard-and-trackpad mode of the iPad.

Busy week, so I was only able to consume on the news. But Jason’s take is the one the better looks at the future.

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June 22, 2020

Tidbits for 2020 Week 25

  • Spotlight: quickly switch tabs, search history, bookmarks, downloads in Chrome. $19 but looks sweet.
  • Iceberg: markdown writing editor for the WordPress block editor. $49.
  • Grayscale: menu bar app to easily toggle the grayscale display filter.
  • Codye: present code in 180 languages with themes on iOS and macOS.
  • Excalidraw: whiteboard tool to sketch diagrams with a hand-drawn feel to them.
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June 18, 2020

Om Malik on Dropbox

Om Malik on om.co:

I don’t blame Dropbox going the way they have — they are less about the individual customers and more focused on teams and corporations. That’s where the money is — and when you go public, you are all about the quarterly goals.” You don’t go public without knowing that Wall Street owns you.

I literally couldn’t said it best yesterday. But Om closes with an intriguing question:

I wonder why Backblaze doesn’t offer a simple syncing service?

I use Backblaze Backup for Ana’s Mac, and their B2C hosting for my Arq-based solution. I’d totally be into a Backblaze macOS/iOS/API sync thingy.

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June 18, 2020

Steve Blank on the Coming Chip Wars

Steve Blank’s excellent write up on the geopolitics of processors on the 21st century — steveblank.com:

Controlling advanced chip manufacturing in the 21st century may well prove to be like controlling the oil supply in the 20th. The country that controls this manufacturing can throttle the military and economic power of others.

​This is a fight that has already started, and we’re already living the tectonic shifts it caused. ​The outcome is far from certain, and if it doesn’t seem it might affect you… just look around for any electronic device.

The chips that TSMC makes are found in almost everything: smartphones (i.e. Apple iPhones), high-performance computing platforms, PCs, tablets, servers, base stations and game consoles, Internet-connected devices like smart wearables, digital consumer electronics, cars, and almost every weapon system built in the 21st century. Around 60% of the chips TSMC makes are for American companies.

[…]

In May 2020 TSMC announced it was going to build a $12 billion foundry in Arizona to make some of its most advanced chips. Foundries take at least three years to build and the most expensive factories on earth. Construction on TSMCs facility is planned to start in 2021, but actual chip production will not start until 2024.

The USA-centric geek in me will now cringe at not realizing how Intel’s fall from grace plays into all of this:

China is spending over a hundred billion dollars to become a world leader in developing their semiconductor industry.

​Much more details in the post, worth a read.

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June 17, 2020

This Morning Walk

Libby Delana on youtube.com:

I started walking, every morning over 8 years ago and haven’t stopped. Walking, for me, has been my way back to myself, a practice that brings me home.

This I must.

She wrote about it on Fast Company a few days ago also.

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June 16, 2020

Dropbox Password Manager, File Vault and Family Plan Announced

New products and features announced on blog.dropbox.com:

Dropbox Passwords:

The Passwords app saves your passwords in one safe place and autofills them so you can instantly sign in to websites and apps.

Dropbox Vault:

Using a PIN for secure access, Vault provides an extra layer of security for all your important personal files like insurance cards, passports, and housing documents. Files are organized in the cloud and accessible from any device.

Dropbox Family:

Dropbox Family lets up to six members share 2 TB of storage and have their own individual account views—under one plan with one bill. Members can create shared spaces to make content easily accessible to the whole family and each member has their own private space for personal content.

I’m mostly happy with my move to iCloud. Feature-wise, I miss the simplicity of Dropbox. But it’s a simplicity of a bygone era. Overall, all these seem like good features, but too little too late for me.

I still think Dropbox missed the boat discontinuing its Mail and Photos services a few years back. Going corporate might have been the right Wall Street option — still not sure, but it was the wrong one for geek users like me.

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June 15, 2020

HEY Email Service from Basecamp Launched

hey.com:

HEY is our love letter to email, and we’re sending it to you on the Web, Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android.

As usual with 37signal’s DNA, it’s very opinionated. No POP/IMAP, or external clients, or import from Gmail… and $99 a year.

The walkthrough is very detailed.

Still invite only, but very likely they’ll be opening soon for everyone.

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