blog.NOVALISTIC

My pronouns are they/them and he/him

Yesterday was International Pronouns Day. This post is intended to be a precursor to a longer and much more serious post about where I am in a few specific aspects of life and what my plans are moving forward. Not that this post isn’t serious — it very much is — just that one will be even more so. And the reason this post is serving as a precursor is because the topic of third-person pronouns will be of extreme relevance to that one.

Anyway, I’ll begin this by reiterating the headline: My pronouns are they/them and he/him. To expand:

  1. They/them is very much preferred, especially online, where my gender identity is almost entirely irrelevant to what I say and do, except in situations where gender biases actually matter (which is outside the scope of this post as those are too complicated and convoluted).

  2. However, I consider he/him acceptable and do not consider it to be misgendering me because I have always lived as, and continue to identify as, a cisgender boy — just one who was fortunate enough to have been immune to most forms of gender binning growing up.

Although I consider myself cis, I have very strong solidarity with the transgender and especially the non-binary communities, admittedly in part because I share a lot of the contentions trans and non-binary people have about various gender issues, such as gender roles and stereotypes, and conformity thereto. I’ve been told that this is usually a good sign that I’m non-binary myself, but this is not a coming-out post. I do not claim to fully understand trans or non-binary issues, and cisgender privilege and biases are a very real aspect of who I am today, which is why I continue to identify as cis.

But I will say that I consider the singular they/them pronoun very validating and it would delight me if you were to use it to refer to me, even if you know that I’m a guy. This serves a dual purpose:

  1. Gender neutrality, as mentioned above. Beyond a name my parents and God gave me that I love very much and simply happens to be masculine, I don’t go out of my way to present as male online, so except in gender-sensitive matters, my gender should otherwise be irrelevant to what I say and do.

  2. The other big reason is that I’ve had a decade-long history of being bullied exclusively by other boys, and protected by girls and a small handful of the better boys, so this is also kind of my way of distancing myself from my gender group. I don’t want anyone to focus so much on my gender that they start associating me with the very same ilk who have threatened and harmed me growing up. That’s the most offensive thing you could do to me in this context because it minimizes the harm I also experienced. I have a relevant Twitter thread that goes into more detail on this.

All told, if you call me he/him, either because you’re used to it or for other reasons, don’t worry about it. I’m a guy and I own it.

In fact, I may be one of the few people for whom the phrase “preferred pronoun” actually applies. I prefer they/them, but don’t object to he/him. However, pronouns are not merely “preferred” for the vast majority of trans and non-binary people. If someone tells you their pronoun is so-and-so, that’s it. In much the same way calling anyone by the wrong name is misnaming them, or calling a trans person by a name they no longer use (or anyone with a new name really) is deadnaming them, referring to someone by an incorrect or obsolete pronoun is misgendering. To that end I’ve found “preferred pronoun” to be quite the misnomer, and I’m honestly not sure how it came to be.

Calling me she/her on the other hand is considered misgendering, but not only does it not make me uncomfortable (so, again, don’t worry!), but, hilariously, the only people who have called me she/her over the years have been cis women and girls in person because I’ve always hung out with them a lot. Heck, it happened again just last Sunday, and we all laughed about it. Meanwhile I only remember one less recent instance of a stranger doing that online, and even then I shrugged it off very easily. I think that counts as a cis male privilege — I assure you, misgendering anyone else, including cis women and girls, hurts them far more than it hurts cis men and boys. You gotta be careful and respectful no matter what.

Anyway, I will go into more depth on some of the aforementioned gender issues… when my follow-up post is ready. It may be a while, though. I’ve been through a lot lately. You can tell because I haven’t caught up on Inktober for almost 2 weeks now, never mind the LEGO Room.

Emergency Chat for Windows 2.2.1 released, and a point on writing release notes

Hours after Emergency Chat 2.2 for Windows 10 was released on Monday, I found a bug it had created that I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have been possible to suss out via unit testing. I fixed it right away, since it only took adding one line of XAML to fix, tested the app thoroughly over a few more days, then published an update today after finding no other issues.

Get it from Microsoft

Here are the update notes as non-technical customers will see them on the Microsoft Store app:

And, in case you’re a developer who’s interested, here’s the commit message of the single Git commit containing the fix:

Fix caption buttons drawing the wrong backgrounds on window deactivation when a light/dark mode other than the system default is used

Now, shipping a point release shortly after a major release to a digital distribution platform that only displays update notes for the most recent release, such as the Microsoft Store, presents a unique (and, IMO, completely unnecessary) conundrum:

If the notes contain the changelog for just the point release, customers who haven’t seen the notes for the major release will never see them after the point release becomes available, unless those notes are made available elsewhere such as on the app’s website (as is the case with Emergency Chat for Windows), or in the app’s README file or About section.

There are several ways an app publisher can approach this:

Emergency Chat for Windows 1.3 and 2.2 released

I’ve just released an (admittedly technically overdue) update to Emergency Chat for Windows.

Get it from Microsoft

This update adds a new feature to both the Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 versions, but more importantly it will be the last update to the Windows Phone 8.1 version, as on July 1, 2019, Microsoft will no longer be distributing app updates to Windows Phone 8.1 devices.

Yes… that’s today. If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you can probably guess that I really haven’t had the energy to do pretty much anything, be it updating the main site, updating the LEGO Room, updating Emergency Chat, or blogging about Talk.CSS, UWP development (that post I mentioned previously? Yeah) or last Saturday’s Insider Dev Tour that I made it to this time around (praise God!).

To be clear, that date had been on my mind all week and I just could not get around to it. But thanks to this tweet by Rudy Huyn I finally got the kick I so desperately needed to put together the update for both apps, from nothing, and ship it — all in less than 10 hours (and even though I’m not sure Windows Phone 8.1 users would actually be able to obtain the update now that it’s the last day, I went ahead with it if for nothing else than my own closure):

If you’ve been using my app on Windows Phone 8.1 over the years, thank you for supporting it, and be sure to check out the Windows 10 version (which will continue to receive updates) on your PC, tablet or phone!

Here is the changelog for both versions:

As always, if Emergency Chat has helped you during a time of need, or if there’s something that you think can be improved, we’d love to hear from you! Please rate and review our app (you can do this from within the app by going to Settings > About, or if you’re reading this on Windows 10 you can use this handy direct link!).

I’ve entered my 3rd year as a Microsoft MVP!

GG, I logged on to the Microsoft MVP Award site only to immediately have digital paperwork thrust at me — to finalize my renewal for a 3rd year as a Microsoft MVP!

Microsoft® Most Valuable Professional

This comes on the same day as a new update to Emergency Chat for Windows, the last one for Windows Phone 8.1 devices. So both an exciting and poignant day, but also funny because Emergency Chat is a native C#/XAML app for WinRT/UWP, not a web app, while at the same time I’m a Front End Web Dev/Microsoft Edge MVP and not a Windows Development/Windows Phone MVP.

But I digress. I don’t have much else to say, other than that I’m really going to have to make this 3rd year count if I’m gunning for that 4th year. You see, thanks to my chaotic physical and mental health I really haven’t been as active as I would have liked.1 I haven’t even been able to get stuff done with the LEGO Room, whose reopening it will very soon be a year since, much less web stuff.

In any case, I will continue to take each day as it comes, and hopefully I’ll be back on track with some new content after the next couple of months. Hopefully enough to keep filling my MVP profile — at no point do I intend for it to lie dormant.


  1. I’m not even sure anyone has noticed my mysterious disappearance from Stack Overflow. Let’s keep it that way. 

Observing World Backup Day 2019, featuring the WD My Passport portable hard drive

My two new WD My Passport drives, an orange 2 TB drive and a black 1 TB drive; as well as complimentary carrying cases in black and blue.
My two new WD My Passport drives, an orange 2 TB drive and a black 1 TB drive; as well as complimentary carrying cases in black and blue.

Today, March 31, is the annual World Backup Day. I’ve never written about it before, but my newest (and thus most current) backup drive kicked the bucket in January this year, leaving me out of a current backup solution for both my Mac and PC as well as resulting in a significant but non-critical loss of data. So I decided for the occasion that I’d use the opportunity to write about my experience with a new, upgraded backup solution, as well as measures I’ll be taking to prevent or at least mitigate another data loss like the last.

Earlier this month, my dad picked up some brand new hardware for me: not one, but two WD My Passport USB 3.0 portable hard drives, an orange 2 TB drive and a black 1 TB drive. The smaller capacity of the latter is due to budget constraints, but the idea is that the orange one will be my primary backup drive and the black one will be used for redundancy. The black and blue carrying cases you see were gifts with purchase!

In this entry I’ll describe my newest backup strategy and how it improves on the last, as well as provide some unboxing and in-action photos of my new WD My Passport drives.