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Welcome to the Decentralizers Forum!

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Larry Sanger
Posts: 51
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Hi everyone!

The purpose of this forum is to discuss decentralization of social media—and other content, such as encyclopedias, videos, and more. "Decentralization" means nobody is in control of the whole thing. It's just a neutral, technical network. You control who you interact with, who you block, etc. You also own your own identity and your own data. This is the libertarian concept that made the Internet take off in the first place.

You're probably here from Twitter. Welcome to you. Feel free to create an account and participate. There might be some problems the first few days as we figure out how to use this forum software.

All the best,
Larry

UPDATE: Please return tomorrow. Problems with account creation and logging in should hopefully be solved by then. Enjoy your Friday evening!

By the way, please feel free to start your own topics.

54 Replies
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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Hi I'm French! I'm in a hurry to see the evolution!

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Larry Sanger
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@robin You and a lot of us, for sure.

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

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@admin Having experienced social networks since a very young age, I had a period of moderation on the largest forum in Europe (Blabla15-18ans site:jeuxvideo.com), in many cases we experienced problems that are just now recognized on the biggest social media platforms.

Concerning the technical management of a large online community or even the Sociology of virtual communities

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Larry Sanger
Posts: 51
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Let me know your thoughts! If you have trouble posting here for any reason, let me know on Twitter!

A good way to begin might be to introduce yourself (or not) and share your thoughts and feelings about recent events.

I also want to talk about nuts and bolts to make this here idea happen.

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3 Replies
 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Posts: 0

@admin Larry,  great to 'see' you here!

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Posts: 0

@admin well i made it! I am @JamesEMorgan07 on Twitter 

I decided to use my computer chess engine name here!

I look forward to being on the ground floor here! Thxs again 

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stretch23
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Joined: 2 years ago

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

An American crisis: a large group of influential people and media do not seem to understand the important foundation of America when it comes to free speech and access to information. Let's find a big solution!

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wascal51
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Joined: 2 years ago

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@sharylattkisson Aptly titled as the concept of free speech is the cornerstone of a free society. We are in crisis now where our traditional avenues of communication are now truncated. I am, however, excited about the prospect of effective decentralization. I never joined Twitter or Facebook as the concept of each is anathema to me and each now have demonstrated their agenda without doubt.

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stretch23
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@sharylattkisson Sharyl, I discovered this site from following you on twitter. I am sickened by big tech's attempts to control the flow of information. I cannot contribute anything other than my participation but I will gladly do that. Thanks to Larry for being a point man for the project.

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Love it Larry, the community has the power to come up with real solutions and decentralize the current transfer of information into something better. Is this the first domino? We've witnessed some crucial moments in history recently, going forward is a group effort that will be beyond our wildest imaginations. 

About me: Music enthusiast who has spent 6+ years in liberal arts institutions, lived in china for a while and made it out alright, and like to have discussions about comparing and contrasting the experiences.  

Looking forward to the discussions here, and meeting those who are as well.

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Larry Sanger
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@magdalene Absolutely. And it's no ordinary community. I have the ear of leaders at Minds, BitChute, MeWe, Parler, Rumbler, and many more. I'm going to try to get us all moving toward a true, robustly decentralized network. It won't be instant.

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Posts: 0

@admin I just had to drop from the TimCastIRL stream on YouTube but it was great to get Bill Ottman's (Minds CEO) perspective on today's purge.  Worth a listen when (if) it hits the podcast RSS

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Larry Sanger
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@chip I'll try to get Bill to join us here.

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Thanks for the invite, Larry.  Happy to find a new commons.

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Larry Sanger
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@chip Welcome!

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Hi Larry.

I had three pleasure of meeting you in Memphis at Lausanne, when I say at your table for lunch. I've been following you for a while on Twitter, but... You know.

I am an educator from Illinois, with my M. Ed. in both Educational Technology and Digital Learning. And I have never been more distrusting of technology than I am this week. It breaks my heart to see the direction we're moving in as a country.

 

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Larry Sanger
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@rknsnr I remember visiting Lausanne. Long time ago now!

Nobody distrusts technology more than technologists, that's for sure.

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Hello,

I’m an expert in peer-to-peer, cryptography, networking, and software. 

I recently founded a nonprofit foundation dedicated to protecting individual rights and freedoms through open technology. We’re still waiting for our IRS 501c3 clearance, and under the circumstances I’m keeping myself and the foundation anonymous for now.

 

Like all of you, I assume, I’ve been horrified by the overt censorship of big tech. Frankly, I thought we had more time. 

We have lost the public forum, and we must act quickly now. In the next few months, we’ll be releasing a platform for distributed, secure, and private communications. 

That’s not fast enough. So, we’re now scrambling on an emergency plan to help individuals create refuges like this one with very little technical skill. 

We’ll be in touch here and those other places. 

 

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Welp, I'm just a weeb who likes anime and video games and who's trying to learn how to write, but after what happened today, I refuse to be a part of the problem that is Twitter any longer. I'm looking into web hosting if anyone has any recommendations for a newbie on the best places to purchase a domain name or host a very small blog. I'm already on Gab and will be attempting to use that to replace Twitter where possible, but though I think it's the best current social media option, I also recognize that Gab is only one step in the right direction as it's still a centralized platform. I'm also looking forward to anything that will be happening in the future to replace Wikipedia.

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

I love the free exchange of ideas including the ones I don't like so this day has decidedly shaken my belief that such a thing is possible. I hope I am wrong and this could be the lifeboat for that freedom.

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Glad to find this forum. Came back from living in Beijing for the past 9 years and I barely recognize what’s happened here. I left China for a lot of things that are bubbling up now. Disheartening for sure.  

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Larry Sanger
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@cannonw1 Our fearless leaders want to remake Western society in the image of China...

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Posts: 0

@admin in a lot of ways it is. I worked for a Chinese propaganda company owned by the CCP’s CRI that masqueraded as a foreign media company for years. When I found out I was done and became an entrepreneur there before returning to the states. I don’t think a lot of people understand how badly we are losing and I am not talking about jobs and IP theft.

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Posts: 0

@cannonw1

Glad to see another who has spent time in China and realizes the true fight that we have before us, I have only spent a fraction of a time there that you have, but it is indeed dire.  I was located in Guangzhou province doing some entertainment work (returned '17).

I don't have the resources that some will have here, but I am very invested in Intellectual Property law, the mechanics of terms and agreement transparency - and the precedents created behind fair use. Good luck to all of us and thanks for being here.

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Very happy to see you trying to take on this task. I've been mulling this problem over myself too for a while. My idea has been to bundle these technologies into one platform:

  • IPFS for decentralized/uncensorable file hosting
  • TOR for anonymity
  • PGP keys for general identification
  • Orbit DB for decentralized databases

But it's too big of a task for myself to take on alone. I'm a programmer but one working full time already.

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Larry Sanger
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@alpinepatriot I need to get you in touch with my friend Chris.

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Posts: 0

@admin Not sure if I know but I'd welcome any chance to brainstorm/collab/help out in some way. 👍🏻

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Hi Larry, thanks for doing this. I’m happy to be here.

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

@LarrySanger 

I was wondering why your initiative is not more relayed to the public?

Are people ready to migrate to distributed, secure and private communications platforms? Especially with the blockchain and the different tokens that reward users in different ways unlike today's social networks.

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Thanks for setting this up, Larry. I've followed you on twitter for a while now, and frankly have no desire to move to Parler (just kicking the can down the centralized road).

I'm excited to see what kind of distributed and decentralized communication platforms and protocols that people here are working on and using.

 

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

I'd previously established accounts on Gab, Parler, and MeWe.  I hope to be leaving fb soon.  I guess I'm a refugee from the increasingly totalitarian Big Tech social media giants.

It's getting dark.  I think it could be a long time before it gets light again.

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Awhile back I heard about an idea for a browser extension that would serve as an uncensored comment section for any webpage.

--Did something like that ever come to fruition? There is a lot of potential and utility for something like that. 

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Posts: 0

@basic-gestalt Yes, you are talking about Gab's dissenter Plugin: https://dissenter.com

Unfortunately, people only see those comments if they also have the plugin. Meaning you're largely talking in a void.

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Here are my thoughts:

Are We Still America?

http://www.mikesmithenterprisesblog.com/2021/01/required-reading-reaction-to-storming.html  

Please make sure you read Jason's piece at the purple link in its entirety. I'm with him. I am genuinely concerned we are headed:

  • Best case: for a breakup of red-blue states into different nations.
  • Worst case: a civil war

Conclusion: The September 11 terrorists have won. 

If you think I am wrong, please tell me, specifically, how. 

 

 

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Hello, I am Dr. Ajay Kumar PHD.

I am a mathematician, with a lot of interest in technology. One of my projects is to set up a system to produce interesting mathematics and computer science research outside of the universities. The current name for my project is "QAnal", which stands for "rational analysis". I could (and should) write up a whole 1000-page manifesto on why mathematics has become so difficult to understand and inaccessible to most people. Centralization of knowledge into universities is one of the many boogeymen. Even mathematics articles on Wikipedia are completely incomprehensible. They shouldn't be, given the astounding simplicity of the ideas.

I haven't set up a website yet, but I've begun incrementally publishing some of my work on GitLab: https://gitlab.com/DoctorAjayKumar

Real reason I'm here:

I am good friends with a distributed systems engineer named Craig Everett ( http://zxq9.com/ , @zxq9 on Twitter). Craig is having some issue making an account, so I'm introducing him.

We've been talking for some while on how to write some software to solve the cancellation problem. I have at best a vague grasp on what the software looks like. Craig seems to have a super clear image of what the software needs are. I'm trying to learn enough about distributed systems so that I can help.

Craig sent me this, to introduce himself:

My name is Craig Everett. I work as a distributed systems engineer and am very familiar with technical solutions to decentralized data distribution, peering and meshed network systems, robust architecture, and finding optimal tradeoffs for problems inherent in dealing with distributed data. I very much want to write a system and have been discussing one with Dr. Kumar for quite a while, but don't see any realistic way to get development funded, particularly because the first phase of development is quite difficult to monetize (software-as-infrastructure always is). Anyway, I'll explain in very rough terms how such a thing can work without getting too in the weeds.

First off: Separation of concerns.
1. Distributed data is about infrastructure: retrieving the correct bits, verifying they are the expected bits, and hopefully doing that in a timely manner.
2. Social media features are an application issue and an orthogonal concern.

You could certainly write a distributed social media app that conflates everything together, but that would be a massive waste of effort as the same infrastructure that could support the creation of a Twitter-like alternative could also support the creation of a YouTube type alternative, leaving the difference between the two up to an application author that need not know or understand the details of the infrastructure component he's writing his application on top of. Any data schema that works by referenced-retrieval (that is to say, non-ACID, linked or navigational data) could be based on the same infrastructure. (Contrast this with relational data that requires ACID compliant features -- a much stronger model for representation of data, but much harder to do in a distributed way. It is doable, but would take longer to implement.)

There are necessary tradeoffs between complete anonymity and latency, and in the context of social media latency is really the more valuable feature to favor. This does not mean real names are necessarily known (that is an application-level issue) but rather that canonical network origin is known (basically the IP address of a node providing data) just as in any other peer-to-peer system. Pure peer systems suffer from resource contention in the case of a very popular resource being located somewhere in a bandwidth-constrained network (residential networks, for example). Systems such as bittorrent get around this by chunking data and distributing them broadly. A robust data infrastructure must combine approaches to achieve both of robust, distributed data provision in addition to having very high responsiveness on the level required by streaming, chat, and similar services.

The way this manifests in software will feel familiar to anyone who has used a P2P application before:
- The users' systems are the physical infrastructure the system runs on
- The nodes inform each other of other available connections to form a data distribution mesh
- A canonical name registry origin is defined, with the contents of that registry being write-only to enable distribution and caching of it (so that outages do not damage the network -- this is as close to an SPOF the system can have)
- Resource retrieval involves something like a web request and a torrent/freenode resource request and advertisement combined:
1. Dereference the name to a network address and key or certificate
2. Send the request for the resource to both the canonical origin
3. If the origin is reachable then retrieve the data, if not, broadcast the request to the peer network to source the constituent chunks from cache (basically go into torrent mode -- this will incur latency, of course)
4. Any responding nodes (including the origin if it was reachable in the previous step) will forward a list of other nodes that have recently accessed the same data resource
5. As the data arrives it is cached as "fresh" and is available to forward to any other node that requests it.
6. The receiving node will decide to make a broad torrent request from the list of nodes known to have recently accessed the data (combine torrenting with data transfer from the origin in the case of large or streaming data resources)
7. Registry, public key, and certificate data is cached in a similar way.

Of course there are a million little details to tweak on the way to making that a highly responsive system, but that's the basics of it. There is also the detail of variable network transmission (direct TCP for those who know how to forward ports, UDP hole punching for those that don't, UPnP where it is available, proxying schemes for passing data around blocked intermediate routes and so on -- every approach must be employed at once), and this is where a lot of the actual work needs to be put in.

The bottom line is there is no off-the-shelf system that can provide this and there is no getting around that getting the infrastructure *right* and properly implemented is critical to allowing application developers the freedom to write apps on top of that in whatever way they might choose.

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Larry Sanger
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@doctorajaykumar exciting stuff—I’ll write more in the morning.

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Psxploring
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@admin @doctorajaykumar This is very interesting. I would like to contribute as much as possible per my capabilities !

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Posts: 0

@doctorajaykumar Hello Kumar & Craig. I share this belief, that rather than one platform we should first ensure a stable technology base upon which platforms can be built. Luckily many technologies for that already exist and imo all we have to do is bundle them together into an easy-to-use stack for developers. For example, the lbry protocol already does distributed video hosting, ipfs can be used for distributed file hosting, orbit db can be used for distributed databases, etc.

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zxq9
 zxq9
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Joined: 2 years ago

Eminent Member
Posts: 23

Hello! I'm Craig. I was finally able to register. I've been talking with Kumar about this sort of thing for about a year but we never thought it would be possible to fund development so it has just been one of those things that pops up every so often in the context of current events.

Any development effort that intends to actually accomplish anything is to recognize that the applications side of the equation is entirely orthogonal to the infrastructure side of the problem.

That's worth repeating because many of the ideas here I see making the same mistake:

The applications side of this problem is orthogonal to the infrastructure side of it.

Unfortunately the kind of people I've met with silicon valley money are the sort of people interested in plugging pre-made X to a pre-made Y, slapping a snazzy name on it and going for an IPO -- but that will not work here. Without an infrastructure component that provides the features required for developing actual applications (not just storing and retrieving data in a distributed store) nothing meaningful is going to happen. Metaphorically, the first work needed isn't about developing browser plugins, it is about developing TCP itself first (before you can even create HTTP on top of it and browsers to talk using that).

It would be possible to "write a distributed Twitter" where every participant's device is their own node, but nothing further could be developed on top of that because details like the data model that enables conversation threading and "infinite scrolling" would be conflated with the network communication bits. That's no good.

It is also not sufficient to simply develop a distributed file system. Data distribution is the only way for a large-scale system that can act as a replacement for YouTube to function outside of a data center, of course, but merely achieving data distribution also breaks every feature necessary for writing useful applications: access control, verification, limiting visibility, etc. There are a number of distributed data infrastructure projects that more or less behave like file systems in existence, actually (IPFS and Freenode come to mind), but in every case it is not possible to write an application on them because any situation where having a resource's address equates to having access to that resource is a non-starter from an applications development point of view.

It is necessary to develop a data provision layer that can distribute data based on the category of that data (some data should not be distributed), and provide an indication of which node is the origin of data (even if the data itself is received from somewhere else). This means a hybrid approach of canonical origins and distributed data is required, and on top of that applications can actually be written.

It is also necessary for the network itself to be robust to interruption, partition, address changes, etc. as well as being a system that the average Twitter refugee could set up and use themselves without needing to know anything about networking. This is both a productization and robustness issue that must be addressed for the system to be adopted.

I'm not really sure where might be the best place to leave a technical or executive summary of the project I have in mind, but the type of system I am proposing is well enough formed in my mind that I could write a project summary.

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 Anonymous
Joined: 53 years ago

Hi All,

  This is an interesting idea Larry and thank you for taking the time to put up the forum. I am a 25 year (hands on) IT executive, retired very young, and I have too much time on my hands. If any assistance is needed add me to your list.

Cheers, 

J DeClue

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RickiTreleaven
Posts: 1
(@rickitreleaven)
New Member
Joined: 2 years ago

Thanks, Larry, for this forum.  I was suspended from Twitter a while back, and they never gave me a reason why.  I enjoyed your thoughtful posts while I was there, especially the light you shone on the scourge of pedophilia.  

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deebee
Posts: 1
(@deebee)
New Member
Joined: 2 years ago

Hello Mr. Sanger,

 

I am here because I like your idea. I have no identifiable skills like the other esteemed members out here. But you bet it, will wing along, if I think I can contribute my bit. Thanks.

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Elros
Posts: 2
(@elros)
New Member
Joined: 2 years ago

Larry,

Allow me to start by saying I am a big fan, and I love the idea and effort you're putting in to find this solution. Thankfully, we don't quite need to build from the ground up. Some friends of mine and myself are working on a startup that provides a protocol with censorship-resistance and anonymity built into the code. We need to acquire institutional level funding of capital to complete this project and upkeep it. That's the main thing blocking us. If we could crowdsource, or VCs got in touch, this could be finished in a month or two-- the alpha (the whole skeleton) is already done. Read yesterday's public debut announcement thread here to find out how and why it works, and of course, let me know any questions you have regarding anything related to the project. https://twitter.com/puffbarguy/status/1347752200437690369

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ehbomb
Posts: 1
(@ehbomb)
New Member
Joined: 2 years ago

I am currently unemployed and have been since last March when my employer experienced a downturn in work due to the virus. I want to get into computer programming. White hat hacking is what interests me the most. What is the best route to take? Larry, do you know of a good course, or a good place to start? I would pay for the right course, I don't have a lot of money saved. I do program CNC machines for manufacturing, but it is probably a bit different. Any advice or getting pointed in the right direction would be appreciated. Sick of feeling helpless in these times. I don't prescribe to any political ideology or party, as I feel they limit the individual and the group. I am in Canada also. Thanks, and I appreciate your logical approach to subjects, while still maintaining a basic empathy for your fellow human. It's becoming really rare these days. Peace.

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bradley
Posts: 1
(@bradley)
New Member
Joined: 2 years ago

I am completely on board but am busy running a sign business.  If you get to the point of needing signage I can help out. www.jigsign.com

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