ȘȈǤƝȘ 90: Kings of the Realm

William S. Burroughs

Welcome to Signs of Life, a periodic roundup letter from Other Life, the coolest newsletter in the world. If someone sent you this, subscribe for yourself here. 

In this issue:

  • Some precepts for 2023

  • Paper Belt on Fire <> Other Life

  • How to get your Urbit ship up to date

  • Upcoming reading groups, salons, and conferences

Some Precepts for 2023

Some loose notes to myself and, possibly, you.

As much as possible read only books, most of them paper and more than 25 years old. That’s where all the alpha is, including and especially for internet writers.

Leverage computers, automation, and AI as much as possible, but do not become standing reserve for the computers, automation, and AI of others.

Every person you know, respect, and enjoy is—ceteris paribus—worth a million times more than any internet follower, including famous and/or wealthy followers. This is not just true ethically; it is increasingly true economically, as well.

Focus on originality and excellence within a small group you know, respect, and enjoy. Completely forget about algorithmic performance in the public sphere, until you and your associates are producing something original and excellent, at which point you may start sending it to the algorithms.

Focus on living correctly and having a good character. Let everything else be decided accordingly. In short, obey God. Forget as much as possible all relative social comparisons. Make enough money, but then do not covet money. Forget power and status, which are contingent; care only for what is eternally good, true, and beautiful.

Seek and express the truth at all costs. Don’t calculate in this regard; let the chips fall where they may, for wherever the chips fall after speaking the truth is where the chips are supposed to be—and where they will always return. The truth is what sets you free.

Paper Belt on Fire

Other Life threw a party at Distribution Hall in Austin for the publication of Michael Gibson's new book Paper Belt on Fire.

I've known Michael for a few years now—through this newsletter, in fact—and the book is extremely on brand for readers of Other Life. I also know that book publishers don't do that much for authors anymore, at least when it comes to the whole book tour thing, so this just felt like something I wanted to do!

Thanks to everyone who could make it.

You can order Paper Belt on Fire here. Be extra sure to leave a review.

Kings of the Realm

Other Life has partnered with the Holium company on their much-anticipated desktop client for Urbit communities.

So I spent the past week hanging out with the Holium crew at their hacker house in Austin, culminating in their successful release of the Realm private alpha on Monday 12/12.

It's been a lot of fun deep in the trenches of a software startup. It's a unique and intense experience I've never really had before. I made a couple videos.

Tlon also released their new Groups app, so it's an exciting time for Urbit.

The Realm alpha in the wild. From left to right: Groups in a Realm window, Lexicon, voice calling in a Realm Room.

As expected there are definitely some bugs, but Realm works and I have a small group stress-testing it right now.

It's a complete re-imagining of what Urbit should mean for everyday users, so it will take a lot of time to perfect. But I'm very inspired by it and I'm proud to be playing a small role.

Paying members of the community were emailed an invite to the alpha (check your spam, the weird Urbit words always trigger the spam filter!). Any new paying members will also be sent invites straightaway.

The Imperceptible Country

Highlights from our private community of more than 500 writers, creators, software developers, and investors.

The Butlerian

Adam Jesionowski and some associates started The Butlerian with three initial essays. Check them out.

Volcano Summit

If you're a developer working on Urbit, you are invited to the first Urbit developer summit on March 6-10.

The hotel is situated on the Santa Ana Volcano facing the iconic Izalco Volcano with views of the ocean and surrounding mountains. The day time program will occur at the Crater Restaurant overlooking the Coatepeque volcanic lake. Lodging, all meals, and airport shuttles included for the ticket price of $600.

Reading Group for Deleuze's Cinema

Starts on December 15 from 6:45pm to 7:45pm EST.

Thanks to Mike Sauve and Graeme McKinnon for organizing.

Casual Holiday Salon

There's a Doodle poll open right now to select the best time, but it'll be sometime in the next few days.

Thanks to Nicolás Forero for suggesting and hosting. He says:

Fields and activities I'm interested in: psychology, evolutionary theory, biology, anthropology, humanism, design, marketing, salsa, and writing. Why you should join: meet new people, practice pitching an idea, product, or newsletter, discuss any of the above subjects, listen to live feedback on your publication, or talk to someone during a lunch or coffee break.

How to Get Your Urbit Ship Up to Date

Urbit recently released an Over The Air (OTA) update and Tlon shipped a major overhaul of Landscape, Groups, and Messages (now called Talk).

The good news is that Urbit groups now look and work better, with some long-awaited improvements like conversation threading.

The bad news is you might be struggling with complications linked to the new updates...

If your Groups interface looks like the old Groups, and not like the image from a few sections above—you need to take action to nudge your update along.

Below I'm collecting all the advice currently strewn across a few places.

1) First try to update from the prompt in Landscape's Notifications

This is the easiest solution (if it works). So try this first. Here's a little video showing you where and how to do this.

Once you initiate the process, you should get a little orange bar at the top saying that your ship is updating. You should have to wait a few minutes. And then your interface should suddenly look a little different and you should see the new Groups icon.

If you obtained a hosted planet from Other Life via imperceptible.country, this should work and that's all you need to do! If it doesn't, email [email protected].

This did not work on any of my self-hosted ships.

2) Update your Urbit binary

This note from Tlon gives you the basics, so try these directions first. Basically: <your-pier>/.run next

Those directions did not work for me, so I found a slightly different way to do it from here. Basically: urbit next <your-pier>

Once I got this working, I still had a problem where my ship was still using the old binary (even though I installed the new one).

If you formerly ran your ship with ./urbit <your-pier> then you might need to start running your ship with ./<your-pier>/run

3) Manually suspend apps and run the OTA

In dojo, try running |ota ~talwet and it will probably fail.

But it will tell you which apps are blocking the update. Note the names of those apps.

Then run |suspend %bitcoin and |suspend %webterm and suspend everything that was blocking the OTA.

When the dojo stops giving feedback and returns to saying "~ripwet is OK" and such, then run |ota ~talwet and this time it should work.

You can confirm by running +vat %base and it should show Zuse 417 (rather than 418).

Then run |revive %bitcoin and so on, for all the apps you suspended. And if you return to the web interface you should see the new Landscape and new Groups, etc.

Thanks to ~mastyr-bottec, ~rabsef-bicrym, and ~bacwyl-samweg for help.

Painting by Mark Edwards

"He who does not enjoy solitude will not love freedom." —Schopenhauer