Stormy potentially messy Friday night – Calmer Sunday – How to use Mastodon

Rain or Wet Snow starting soon

We will have a messy end to the week tonight as a frontal system moves onto Vancouver Island. The expectation is that this will be a high-elevation snow event only. However, beware that heavy rain rates can drag the temperature down and potentially create heavy, if short-lived, snowfall.

The imagery below from this morning’s UWash model shows the system moving onto the Island in the 1-4PM timeframe. (Greens/blues are snow, greys/blacks are rain). We can see the rain starting on the coasts and in Port Alberni with snow focused in on the hills and passes. Expect mixed snow on the Hump and likely parts with full snow on Sutton Pass. You can also expect the wind to pickup.

By the 4-7PM period the system has fully made landfall. Expect the strongest rain, snow and wind in this period, especially later in the evening.

The West Coast should start to see things lighten up after around 8PM with other parts of the Island a little later than that but there will continue to be bands of rain and potential snow right into and through Saturday across the Island.

Clearing Sunday

Things settle down for good on Sunday and we may even see some sunshine. The model picture looks mostly dry Sunday morning 7-10AM.

How to Use Mastodon

Lyn asked in the comments last time to explain a little more about what Mastodon is and how to setup a server so I’ll do that here. If you want to cut right to the chase then you can simply click on the “Mastodon” link in the menu at the top of this page. That will take you to the Alberniweather page on mstdn.ca and you can sign up there. If you want to know a little more, read on.

How to sign up – The Confusing bit – Just pick your Place.

The part that confuses people the most is this: Twitter is one “thing”. Mastodon is a “collection” of things. Think of Twitter as one commercial company (indeed it is!) that produces Food (social media). Mastodon would be a Cooperative of farmers all bringing their different crops to sell together under one (hopefully!) set of rules.

This “Cooperative” or in Mastodon’s words, the “Fediverse” is what sets it apart from other social media. Instead of us all being under one company’s roof, we choose where we want to start, and connect with everyone else. (And if you don’t like where you started you can always change servers/crops without losing your followers/customers!)

Here’s the simple answer:

  1. Go to: Join Mastodon.org there you will find a list of places you can join.
  2. Once you pick a place, use the sign up forms there (I’m on mstdn.ca “Mastodon Canada”)
  3. That’s it! You’re on Mastodon.
  4. To Follow me (or anyone) just search for me (@alberniweather) or click this link to go to one of my toots and you can follow me.

What’s a “server”?

If we continue with the farm cooperative analogy then think of the servers as different crop silos that farmers put their crop into. There are servers dedicated to fun or people sharing jokes (that’d be corn!), there are servers that are more general and regional like Mastodon Canada, there are servers dedicated to journalists, or science, or LGBTQ2, or photography or…. You can pick what interests you.

The main thing is that it doesn’t matter what server you choose. They are all on Mastodon and so you can talk to anyone on any of those servers and benefit from all of that content.

I joined mstdn.ca because it was the main “Canadian” server. It is run by a fellow in Calgary and he has done a great job considering it went from only 60 users in October to over 52,000 now!

There are a few really “big” servers, like mstdn.ca now, that have turned into general catch-alls for people of all interests but the real strength of Mastodon is that anyone can create a server, even just one person. So if you have a specific interest, you can probably find like minded people on a server who have that same interest and you’ll be able to interact with them in a much more direct manner than you would on Twitter (more on this later) but you’ll still be able to see what is happening across the Mastodon Fediverse.

I can also turn this website/blog into an individual Mastodon server so that anything I post here is spread out onto the Mastodon network without needing to be connected to anything else! Cool! And I have in fact done that. People on Mastodon can follow my posts on this blog directly by searching for and following @chrisale

Once you have an account, the fact there are lots of “specialty” servers (“crops”) actually makes following people really fun because you can search for, say everyone on the “journa.host” server and you know you’re probably going to get a whole bunch of news or science type people and content.

Similarities difference from Twitter

As far as how you end up using and interacting with Mastodon, it is very similar to Twitter. Here is what @Alberniweather looks like on Twitter versus @alberniweather on Mastodon.

Can you tell which is which? πŸ™‚ I’ve made Twitter white and Mastodon black just so it is easy to see the difference but you can make it look whatever way you want of course.

Similarities

The main thing you should see is that both Twitter and Mastodon have:

  • A Home Timeline
  • Notifications and Direct Messages
  • A place to Post
  • Likes/Stars and RTs/Boosts
  • Tweets and Toots
  • Hashtags
  • Searching for Followers and being Followed

Differences

There are some key differences:

  • No Algorithm – On Mastodon, there is no algorithm. That means:
    • you see only what your follows post
    • or what the people they follow post
  • “Likes” are mostly personal – Since there is no algorithm to ‘influence’ then the Like/Star button on Mastodon is truly a message to the person whose toot you liked that you like it!
  • Only “Boosts” can go viral – Again, because there is no algorithm to notice and amplifying trends, your toots will only be seen by people who aren’t following you if your own followers “Boost”/RT it.
  • Separated Timelines – Something that is very unique to Mastodon is that you actually have access to three timelines.
    1. “Home” Timeline is toots and boosts and replies from people you follow.
    2. “Local” Timeline is your server timeline. You see everything anyone posts on your server.
    3. “Federated” Timeline or “Public” Timeline is the timeline to see toots from people you don’t follow on other servers but might be followed by other people you follow. This is a very busy timeline but obviously you can see a lot of different stuff!
  • You can Edit your Toots on Mastodon! It’s great!
  • “Toots” are generally longer than you’ll see on Twitter (around 500-1000 words seems to be the maximum). Different servers might have different default lengths of toots, and you can also set your own length.
  • Pictures almost always have descriptions with them.
  • Moderation is done by the server admin team
    • This means Mastodon can be susceptible to people doing moderation poorly.
    • However, there also appears to be a bit of a “Code” amongst server admins. It tends to be a very open and welcoming place. Discrimination and bullying is not tolerated. And if there is a server that is either hosting trolls or just generally not being nice, the entire server can be blocked by all the other servers. (We don’t like your food, you’re out.) This is called being “defederated” and it’s Mastodon’s way of keeping the place sane. So far, it seems to be working pretty well.
  • I’ve noticed *very* little in the way of harassing, bullying or spamming on Mastodon. Likely because since there is no algorithm to artificially

Mastodon on Mobile

If you’re looking for an App on your phone there are a bunch available. However, most Mastodon servers actually have a very good interface if you simply look at your page through your phone’s web browser. Here is mine on mstdn.ca.

I use “Tooot” on iOS as well as the official “Mastodon” app. Both work fine though Tooot has not been updated to support editing yet.

Adding/Following people

Just like Twitter, you can add and follow people by searching for them. If you search for “chrisale” you’ll come up with my personal mastodon account as well as the addresses for my two blogs.

If you search for alberniweather, you’ll only find alberniweather! πŸ™‚

I hope that helps you join Mastodon if you so choose. I think it is a good replacement for Twitter and many other social networks that have sprung up as it’s not at the whim of corporate control or the ravings of a random billionaire. But that’s just my opinion. πŸ™‚

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