blog.NOVALISTIC

Talk.CSS #46

Well, I haven’t blogged about Talk.CSS since my first two times there. That’s not good. I had a few more but I never got around to them due to chronic illness, executive dysfunction and whatnot. But today, the only thing I’m down with (and have been since Tuesday) is a throat infection that hasn’t gotten worse yet, so I’m making the most of tonight by pushing this one out.

So I went to Talk.CSS today, the first of the year. This time it’s at Microsoft Singapore’s new office at Frasers Tower. It would be my first time there after my last visit to the old office for last year’s Insider Dev Tour, so I was pumped.

But this being a new environment, I had to take precautions to ensure things went as smoothly as possible. To that end I pinged Hui Jing and Wei Gao on Twitter:

And then I had the brilliant idea of going through Sarah, my Microsoft MVP contact from Microsoft Singapore, as well. It would be my first time meeting her in person. She said she’d pick me up after finishing her meeting; I couldn’t go inside so I waited at the lobby for her.

Turns out, when I first got to the lobby, I was so calm that I could confidently decide to tweet this to the former two:

That’s right: even before I’d set foot in the new office, my selective mutism was already a no-show. This could have partly been because I made it a point to be early so I had time to collect myself, but I’m serious, it’s all Microsoft. My 11 years of guaranteed speech at the old office appear to have carried over seamlessly.

Anyway, Sarah came to pick me up first; it would be another 10 minutes before Hui Jing got there. Naturally, she was the first person I spoke to.

And here I was, at Microsoft Singapore’s new office at Frasers Tower:

The Microsoft logo at the new Singapore office.
The Microsoft logo at the new Singapore office.

Read on for Hui Jing’s reaction to hearing my voice for the first time and, of course, the talks themselves! I know the talks are probably what you came here for but this experience was particularly important to me so I just had to share. Let a disabled person have their limelight, won’t you?

It’s my 28th birthday!

Happy birthday to me, I’m officially 28! This afternoon I got to see Spies in Disguise with some folks from church I’m comfortable with, breaking a 16-year curse of never having a proper even-numbered birthday celebration with anyone. And while I was really scared sitting in the pitch-black cinema for several minutes, when the screen finally came on it did so with no sudden sound effects and I was never startled. I’m pretty glad.

Spies in Disguise poster.
Spies in Disguise poster.

Anyway, elephant in the room — I never got around to making my announcement regarding Stack Overflow, and I’m still not ready to say a word about my life situation in general. I will say that my current break from the site

  1. is intermittent,
  2. is unplanned, and
  3. has very little to do with anything on part of Stack management.

Oh and I still have no plans to step down as moderator, so don’t worry. Things aren’t terrible on my end. In the short term (i.e. sometime this month) I plan to update my battlestation with my biggest incremental update to Radiance yet. Beyond that I will continue to work on the updates to the LEGO Room that I mentioned last year, as well as miscellaneous housekeeping elsewhere on my site.

But in general, I will be taking things slow. I wish I didn’t have to, but right now I have to if I want to keep it together for a little longer, and to be clear it’s still a nice thing to be able to do, not something I’m reluctantly settling for. Talk to you later.

Protected: Mozilla Developer Roadshow 2019: a postmortem

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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: