Migrating & merging Mastodon accounts

It’s not at all unusual to start out on one instance & decide to move to another, or to start out with multiple accounts and want to merge into one. It’s a minor miracle that this is possible at all (really!) so the fact that it takes a few steps is maybe not so bad in context.

Here are those steps. I don’t know what instances you’re on, so I’ll be using <old instance> for the hostname of the one you’re leaving, and <new instance> for the one you’re moving to. First thing to know is that you need to have both accounts already created before you get started. As you go through these instructions, substitute the specific hostname of each instance you’re on, as needed:

  • On the old account (the one you’re moving away from), go to <old instance>/settings/export and export, at minimum, your follows (ppl you follow), as well as any lists or mutes or whatever you might want to take with you
  • On the new account, go to <new instance>/settings/aliases and create an alias by inputting the full username of your old account into the box (i.e. <username>@<old instance>) and click the “create alias” button
  • On the old account, go to <old instance>/settings/migration and input the full username of your new account (i.e. <username>@<new instance>) and the password of the old account into the boxes, and click the “move followers” button
  • On the new account, go to <new instance>/settings/import and import the CSV files that you exported in the first step

Another, less permanent option is to simply set up a redirect from your old account’s profile to your new account. This doesn’t move your followers automagically like the above process does:

  • On the old account, go to <old instance>/settings/migration/redirect/new and input the full username of your new account (i.e. <username>@<new instance>) and the password of the old account into the boxes, and click the “set redirect” button

Migrating & merging Mastodon accounts

From Twitter to Mastodon

I love y’all but also—folks launching into their spiel about how Mastodon works have the same earnest-helpful-but-offputting-to-nearly-everyone energy of someone explaining a German-style board game—“I know it seems complicated but it’s really simple once you start here’s a 3 part video explainer!”

Ryan Cordell on Mastodon

With Ryan’s words as my guide, I’m going to try to net this out in a way that is easy to follow, with the bare minimum TL;DR up top, and gorpy details further down.

Ways Mastodon is like Twitter:

  • Posts are short
  • There are chronological timelines
  • You can follow people, and be followed
  • Hashtags are searchable (and followable!)
  • There are likes & RTs (called “boosts”)

Ways Mastodon is different from Twitter (shortlist here; longer list below)

  • Much like email, usernames are @ a particular server, rather than global — just as my email address is ross@rossgrady.org, my Mastodon username is @rossgrady@triangletoot.party
  • As with email, getting started initially means picking a server/host, just as you had to pick between gmail / outlook / protonmail / whatever for your email address
  • As with email, on Mastodon you can communicate with pretty much anyone, regardless of server address, because it’s designed to work that way, so you don’t really need to stress about it

Signing up: If you’re just starting out, and nobody has preemptively invited you to a Mastodon instance, then your best bet is to pick a general-purpose instance, or one whose about page looks cool to you. EDITED: it does kinda matter where you land — in the sense that you really want to be on a smallish (under 10k users) instance whose admins are committed to health & safety, not “free speech”

I would explicitly avoid the following instances, which have been slow to respond to moderation requests when it comes to cops / TERFs / harassers / Nazis, and which are thus muted by a lot of instances:

  • c.im
  • mas.to
  • mastodon.cloud

I would also explicitly avoid the huge “flagship” instances like mastodon.social, because IMHO the benefits of Mastodon are that you can be on a small instance with responsive admins & there’s no negative side effect in terms of who you can follow.

Here’s a short list of instances that were online, responding relatively quickly, not too big or too small, and taking new users when I wrote this post. Some of them have themes, but for reasons I’ll explain in a minute, that doesn’t really matter in most cases:

Finding people to follow once you’ve signed up:

  • Assuming you’re coming from Twitter, click this link from a browser where you’re logged in to Twitter, authorize it, and it’ll give you a list of ppl you follow on Twitter who have moved to Mastodon & have put their Mastodon profile info in their Twitter bios: https://pruvisto.org/debirdify/
  • Click on the “Local” feed on your instance & if anyone’s posting interesting stuff, follow them!
  • Ditto with the “Federated” feed (more on these in a minute)
  • Check out this topical directory: https://fediverse.info/explore/people
  • Put your Mastodon profile (@<username>@<instance>) in your Twitter bio so that other people can find you!

Clients / experience tweaking:

  • Set up your profile! This is super important, as many ppl won’t followback or accept a follow request if your bio is empty
  • I like multiple side-by-side columns, so I can do things like pin hashtags to a column, so the first thing I do is go into settings and check the box to “Enable Advanced Web Interface”
  • The best iOS client I have tried — the one I use daily — is Metatext
  • If you come across someone you want to follow elsewhere — say, they’ve posted their username on a website or Twitter — you can just paste their username into the Mastodon search box & voila, a follow link

The gorpy details: You’ll notice that Mastodon has three “feeds” — “Home,” “Local,” and “Federated”

  • Home is most similar to a classic chronological Twitter feed — it’s people you follow, in chronological order, including posts by other people that they “boost.”
  • Local is every post by everyone on the instance that you happen to be on. If you picked a thematic instance, this can be a fun way to dip deeper into the world of ppl who discuss that theme, without following them all. It’s also a great place to find new people to follow!
  • Federated is essentially the merger of the public posts from the Home feeds of everyone on your instance — everything by everyone followed by the people on your instance. It’s where I go when my other feeds are moving too slowly and/or when I’m actively seeking more people to follow.

Federation is just a fancy word for a bunch of servers that communicate with each other using a common protocol. That still describes most of the Internet — email is one obvious example, but so are the basic building blocks of the WWW. I’m writing this blog post in WordPress, but you don’t have to have a “WordPress client” to read it. You just need a web browser.

Thanks to federation, you can have a Mastodon account on pretty much any instance, and follow people on any other instance. This is why picking an instance is really not that big a deal.

That’s enough to get people started, so that’s enough for this post. If I get bored enough, I’ll write followup posts about even more gorpy details.

From Twitter to Mastodon

You should be interviewing

I posted this as a tweet thread, but for once I think it could benefit from being posted here where it’s linkable, etc.

I’ve been thinking lately about this guy I used to work with. He was a manager, and he coached all of his direct reports that they should be doing at least one first-round interview for a new job per quarter.

At the time I thought this was kind of loony, but I have very much come around to his line of thinking. For one thing, interviewing is a skill, and as with many other skills, you improve with practice.

And it is far far easier to practice the skill of interviewing if you’re already gainfully employed, and especially if you’re happy in your current job. The stress factor is lower & you can thus focus on your performance without the fog of excess cortisol to fight through.

It’s also an opportunity to improve your understanding of what other people in your field are doing — any interview should be as much about you learning about the company as the opposite, and it can be eye-opening to hear how other people are tackling problems in your domain.

Along the way, you can also build your network outside of your own company, which can have many positive impacts regardless of whether you leave or stay put.

But what about the employers doing the interviewing? Aren’t you wasting their time if you’re happy in your current job, and unlikely to leave? No!

For one thing, they can probably use the practice too. Some people (like me) conduct interviews for a living, but at a lot of companies, interviewers have other jobs, and only do it when there’s a pressing need.

For another thing, anyone hiring for a position should welcome the chance to talk to anyone qualified for that position — speaking to the widest possible range of candidates is the best way to set a baseline for your own expectations.

And! You may think you’re happy at your current job and aren’t thinking of jumping ship, but how do you know for sure? Giving someone the chance to pitch their opportunity to you isn’t wasting anyone’s time.

Now, the one major caveat I will include here is that first-round interviews are one thing, but going the full distance becomes increasingly expensive for both parties, and you should gauge your interest at each step.

As a hiring manager, the most painful part of my job is the offer process (although my current staffer rocks and makes it a lot easier). If you take me all the way to the offer stage with no real intention of seriously considering the offer, I will definitely be annoyed.

But any well-constructed interview process will have multiple checkpoints, so there are multiple places where you can pause and gauge interest. If you’re genuinely doing that, then you’re not wasting anyone’s time!

Which is why I’m now firmly on the side of my former colleague. Get out there and interview!

p.s. the guy I’m talking about got a new job & left the company like 6 months after he told me about his philosophy, so . . .

You should be interviewing

My favorite albums of 1st quarter 2017

I just got done tweeting out my list of 14 albums I really enjoyed in the first three months of 2017. Here it is in Storify form, for easy consumption:


My favorite albums of 1st quarter 2017

I also saw some movies in 2016

In compiling this list, I fairly quickly gave up on putting things in any sort of ranked order. Instead, I have three broad sections: Movies I truly enjoyed & would highly recommend, movies that were an excellent way to pass some time, and movies that I saw but wouldn’t necessarily recommend wholeheartedly. Here, then, are those sections, with no concrete ordering within them:

Movies I truly enjoyed & would highly recommend

The Fits
The VVitch
Kate Plays Christine
A Bigger Splash
Midnight Special
10 Cloverfield Lane
Green Room

(I would especially recommend doing a double feature of Jackie and Kate Plays Christine; likewise with Midnight Special and 10 Cloverfield Lane)

Movies that were an excellent way to pass some time

In Order of Disappearance
Rogue One
The Lobster
City of Gold
Deepwater Horizon
Swiss Army Man
Hell or High Water
Don’t Think Twice

Movies that I saw but wouldn’t necessarily recommend wholeheartedly

Author: The JT LeRoy Story
Love and Friendship
Off the Rails
Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land
By Sidney Lumet
Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You
Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru

Note that at least half of the movies in the above category are perfectly fine. They’re just not memorable enough to make me want to urge you to rush out and see them. I guess it’s also worth mentioning that, except for certain extenuating circumstances, we generally don’t go see anything that has below around a 68 metascore on Metacritic.com.

I wish I had the stamina to blurb all of these, or even the top 10. I figure, though, that unlike my favorite albums, you’re probably more likely to have already read, or at least be able to find, ample blurbage about all of these.

There should be a fourth category: Movies that I likely would have loved, had I been given the opportunity to see them. Sigh.

I also saw some movies in 2016

My favorite albums of 2016

Not to be confused with “the best” albums of 2016. I didn’t hear everything that was released in 2016. Heck, over at Bandcamp, they said that something like 11,000 vaporwave albums were released in 2016 alone. Not that I listen to vaporwave. But the same could probably be said of any number of genres.

So the only claim I can make is that I probably listened to all or part of ~300 albums in 2016, and these are the ones that truly stuck with me:

A Giant Dog – Pile

No record had more spins in the car, or the office, or the headphones, than this one. My only theories about why this isn’t topping every list in America are that (a) critics apparently draw conclusions based on band name & album cover art without bothering to listen, or (b) America hates fun.

Horseback – Dead Ringers

What is Horseback, exactly? Occasionally black metal; nearly always a meditative examination of tone, texture, space, drone. Whatever you thought it was before, this album forces yet another expansion. The most beautiful album I heard this year.

Rebar – Rebar

This album was recorded ~20 years ago; I’ve had a CD-R copy of it for most of that time. But it was only in 2016 that the members of this greatest of all Greensboro bands finally got around to mastering & releasing it, in all of its woozy glory. Remarkable “indie-rock” played at all the wrong speeds.


Al Riggs – Breakdowner and the Hungry Months

Al released three full albums and a half-dozen singles in 2016, and they were all excellent. Why did I pick this one to highlight? Probably because the leadoff track, “Hungry Months,” still gives me chills every time I hear it.

Body Games – Damager+

Bandcamp is awash in electronic music, but there are precious few artists with this level of talent at melding beats, melodies, wrenching samples, and the human singing voice. I can’t understand why this isn’t huge. Maybe people are scared of how it makes them feel?

Mannequin Pussy – Romantic

Sophomore outing from this astonishingly great Philly band. Imagine everything good about 90s grunge (& post-grunge Alternative) but with all the tedious boring stuff (boy singers, guitar solos, multiple verses, instrumental bridges) stripped away. 11 songs, 18 minutes.

Davidians – City Trends

Three former members of the greatest NC hardcore band of all time (Double Negative) join forces with midwestern transplant Colin Swanson-White, whose mindblowing guitar playing is simultaneously not hardcore & yet totally hardcore. Big hollowbody guitar, judicious application of weird flanging & chorus effects, shitloads of whammy bar.

SubRosa – For This We Fought the Battle of Ages

This Salt Lake City doom band finally perfected their sound — centered around two stereo-panned violins & three majestic women’s voices — on this, their third album. It’s “metal,” unapologetically, but if you’re a casual music fan, it’s probably utterly unlike what you think “metal” sounds like.

Zeal and Ardor – Devil is Fine

A thought experiment — ersatz field recordings of [satanic-seeming] faux black spirituals & chain-gang songs, melded with black metal instrumentation — turns out to work so well that it becomes one of the great albums of 2016. Which has subsequently been mostly removed from Bandcamp, leaving just a couple of songs behind.

Flock of Dimes – If You See Me, Say Yes

Flock of Dimes is Jenn (Wye Oak) Wasner’s solo side-project; this is their debut album. Though Jenn’s rep is as a great guitarist, the instrumentation here is dominated by synths. But the featured sound throughout is Jenn’s glorious voice. Lyrically & metrically the vocal lines are pretty complex, even as they’re backed by synth tracks that are by turns lush-n-simple, blippy, and/or occasionally K-pop or Afropop influenced. It’s rare for the backing music to simply support her voice & mimic the vocal melody, which makes this a far more interesting & repeat-worthy album than it might initially appear to be. It’s pretty clear that Jenn has spent a lot of time with Joni Mitchell’s 70s and 80s catalog, in the best possible sense.

Bubbling under, as the chart ppl used to say:

Angel Olsen – My Woman
Radiant Beings of Light – Carnatio
Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows
Liquid Asset – Colony Denied
Holder’s Scar – Public Acid
Goat – Requiem
Howls of Ebb – Cursus Impasse
Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä
Ian William Craig – Zugzwang for Fostex
Sarah Louise – Solo Acoustic Vol. 12
Krallice – Prelapsarian
Year of the Cobra – In the Shadows Below
Chateau – Moons Over the Slaughter

This year I tried something new, compiling lists quarterly, and tweeting them out. I managed to remember to storify the first two quarters, but failed to do so for the third, so I’ll just post those lists here in one place. I don’t have easy answers as to why some things made a quarterly list but didn’t stick with me — taste is a fickle thing, and so is longevity. Looking back, I do think my final list skews towards the 2nd half of the year — an artifact of my always seeking out something new, I suppose.

First Quarter:

Savages – Adore Life
Al Riggs – Breakdowner & the Hungry Months
Professor Toon – Take Notes
Blursome – Age
The Astounds – The Astounds
Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä
Ian William Craig – Zugzwang for Fostex
Body Games – Damager
Naked Naps – The Middle

Second Quarter:

Jenks Miller & Rose Cross NC – Blues from WHAT
Colin Stetson – SORROW: a reimagining of Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony
Dogs Eyes – Measure the Earth
Konvoi – S/T
A Giant Dog – Pile
Zeal and Ardor – Devil is Fine
Phatlynx – Loosen Yer Belt!
Rebar – Rebar
Gorguts – Pleiades’ Dust
Liquid Asset – Colony Denied
Howls of Ebb – Cursus Impasse
Al Riggs – Blue Mornings

Third Quarter:

Al Riggs – Night Freedom
Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows
Horseback – Dead Ringers
Ryley Walker – Golden Sings That Have Been Sung
See Gulls – Curtain Call
SubRosa – For This We Fought The Battle of Ages
Magpie Feast – To Keep It All Spinning
Dex Romweber – Carrboro
Sylvan Esso – “Radio”
Angel Olsen – My Woman
Flock of Dimes – If You See Me, Say Yes

I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to extrapolate what my fourth-quarter list would look like.

Finally, if you really like lists, I just posted the WXDU Top 101 NC Releases of 2016 over at that website. That list is compiled by adding up plays by all WXDU DJs, so it’s far more than just a reflection of my personal tastes, although I did review + add over 70% of the albums listed.

My favorite albums of 2016