Rob Dolin's Blog

Thoughts on technology, politics, non-profits, and their intersections; and food

Getting Started with Mastodon

This is a step-by-step guide for people interested in getting started with federated social networking (aka the “fediverse.”) It focuses on Mastodon but provides links at the end to other resources.

Step 1: Find a host and Create a profile:

Mastodon is an open source software program talks to other Mastodon host instances. Thus, you need to choose a host and then you create a profile on that host. For example, my host is and my profile username is @robdolin so my full username + host is The URL to my profile is If you’re not sure which host to choose, consider a general one that accepts new sign-ups like: or

Step 2: Set profile info: https://<your_host>/settings/profile

Navigate to your edit profile page and you can update information like your display name, bio, avatar image (400px x 400px), and header image (1500px x 500px)

Step 3: Find profiles to follow:

There are a few tools for doing this, but the one I’m most impressed with is: This tool helps to find profiles you follow on Twitter that have linked to their Mastodon profile. You can also optionally

Step 4: Download a mobile app: iOS or Android

There are dozens of Mastodon apps available, but for a quick start, try the official app linked above. You can find an index of 3rd party apps at:

Step 5: Post an #Introduction

In addition to the bio on your profile, many new Mastodon users publish a post that includes the #introduction hashtag. Search on your

Step 6: Add pointers to your Mastodon profile

If you’re on Twitter, you can edit your username, bio, or pinned post to link to your Mastodon profile. This will enable your Twitter followers to find you on Mastodon just like you did in Step #3 above.

Additional Resources

Below are additional Fediverse and Mastodon resources.

Video: Mastodon and Fediverse Explained by Simply Explained (6:47)

This is the best explanation of the Fediverse (and Mastodon) I’ve seen so far.

Profile Finders

In addition to Fedifinder (step #3 above), here are more tools for discovery of profiles:

Mastodon Hosts Welcoming Commercial Businesses

Many Mastodon hosts only welcome individual people and not commercial businesses. Kris Nova, the manager of the host, has a Corporate Covenant:

Filed under: Online Communities, Social Networking, Step-by-step, Technology, , ,

Oracle Cloud Go To Market Open Positions

My team at work, the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) Go To Market (GTM) team, at the intersection of engineering, product management, and marketing is hiring for: Business Analyst, Executive Assistant, Product Manager, Product Marketing Manager, Solution Manager, Technical Marketing Engineer, and more.

Product Management / Product Marketing

These positions are based in the USA and report to one of my peers:

  • Product Marketing Director, AI & ML Platform: 121672 (USA)
  • Product Marketing Director, IaaS Services: 125255 (USA)
  • Technical Solution Manager, Data & AI: 126066 (USA)
  • Director of Narrative and Content Strategy: 140804 (USA)
  • Principal Product Manager, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure: 140861 (USA)
  • Technical Solution Manager, Oracle Cloud Developer Services: 140836 (USA)

Technical Marketing Engineers

This team is based in Europe and produces infrastructure as code templates to help customers get started quickly with OCI. If you like Terraform or Helm charts, this is a great opportunity. You would be peers with Luke Martin Feldman (aka Martin Linxfeld) who write the course on how to automate OCI with Terraform.

  • Principal Technical Marketing Engineer: 114662 (Europe)
  • Principal, OCI: 124498 (Europe)

Analytics/Insights, Events, Operations, and more

  • Senior Business Analyst, Go To Market Programs: 140078 (USA)
  • Executive Assistant to VP of OCI GTM: 141694 (USA)

Additional Oracle Jobs

These jobs are with teams that the OCI GTM team collaborates closely with.

  • Senior Director, Industry Marketing (Food & Beverage): 140584 (USA)
  • Director, Product Management – Dedicated Region / Private Cloud: 136988 (USA)
  • Senior Manager, Product Management – Global Government Sector: 138155 (USA)
  • Global Campaign Manager – Security Products for OCI and Database: 138138 (USA)
  • Executive Assistant to OCI VP of User Experience, Developer Services: 136224 (USA)

Filed under: Hiring, Oracle, Technology

Tips for a Virtual Thanksgiving

Below are tips for organizing a virtual Thanksgiving based on my experience setting-up virtual holiday meals (Passover) at the beginning of COVID.  Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving.

Use Zoom – There are a number of apps that provide video chat, but Zoom seems to be the gold standard for multi-person video conferencing.  Zoom has apps for PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android and in my experience, it is both easier to get working and has higher audio+video quality than Microsoft Teams which I also use extensively since it is required by Seattle Public Schools.  Apple Facetime is also a consideration, but I don’t recommend it for a group because it only works on Apple products and it’s not well optimized for more than two people.  Download Zoom from:

Choose a Memorable Meeting ID – Pick a meeting ID that will be memorable for your loved ones who may not be active Zoom users.  We chose the home land line number of my parents which they and all of their children (now adults) know by heart. 

No Password, but Admin Approved – To make joining easy on my parents who are in their 70’s and another family member who lives alone and is not very tech-savvy, we set-up the meeting without a password.  I strongly recommend this as it’s easy to tell or TXT a 10-digit meeting ID to people but harder to ask them to dig-up a hyperlink with a longer password.  To protect against potentially unwanted guests, you as the meeting Host can set-up your Zoom meeting so the Host admits people.  (This is the default setting.)  You’ll get pop-up notifications in your meeting and can go to the Participants tab to see if anyone is waiting to be admitted. 

Laptop or iPad for the group screen – I recommend a laptop or iPad with the ability to set-up “gallery” view and setting this in a place of honor at your table with a good view of most of the table.  We have a round table and piled some books on a chair so the laptop was at an appropriate height.  This was also like having all of the virtual guests at the table.  If you only have a mobile device, I recommend a simple holder or tripod.

Additional Screens for Kids – If you have younger kids who will want to see grandma and grandpa, consider providing them with a mobile phone or laptop (with audio NOT connected.)  All three of our kids love to talk to Bubbie, Zayde, Nana, or Papa and giving them each their own screen lets them see the action and lets grandparents see the grandkids.  To prevent echo, only one device in the room is connected to audio. 

Pick a Date that Works for You: Normally the festive Passover Seder is held on the 1st and 2nd nights of Passover.  We did a Seder on the 3rd night with some of our close friends we normally get together with as it was the time that worked well for everyone.  Being together (virtually) is what matters, not the specific date. 

Plan a Test / Dry Run – Connect 1:1 with loved ones who may not be active Zoom users and talk them through setting-up.  We did a Facetime call with my in-laws to coach them through installing the Zoom app and joining a meeting.

Thank you again for reading and I wish you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving—


Filed under: Personal, Step-by-step, Technology

Chicago Eats: The Trifecta (and more)

I spent Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago and got to see family, friends, and enjoy some great food.  My friends and I joke about a trip to Chicago including the Chicago food trifecta of: deep-dish pizza, a hot dog, and an Italian beef.  Here are my favorite places to enjoy these Chicago delicacies:

  • Deep-dish pizza: Lou Malnati’s is my favorite with their thick chunks of tomato and butter crust.  Original Uno’s and Due’s (both downtown) are great too.  Some of my friends favor Gino’s East and one friend recommends Pequod’s.
  • Hot dogs: Irving’s for Red Hot Lovers is my long-time favorite but I also got to enjoy Poochie’s and Portillo’s this trip and they both do good work.  There’s lots to be said for a town where you say you want a hot dog with “everything on it” and they know not to include ketchup.  😉
  • Italian beef: Al’s Italian Beef downtown (River North or Taylor Street) is my favorite but Portillo’s makes a good sandwich as well.

Chicago Hot Dog

Two other great dining experiences I got to enjoy this trip were:

  • Walker Bros. Pancakes: Walker Bros. has grown to a half-dozen locations in the Chicago area and this awesome “Original House of Pancakes” (OHOP) should not be confused with the mediocre “International of House of Pancakes” (IHOP.)  Their German or Dutch baby pancakes are amazing and their apple cinnamon pancake is also stellar.  There was always a line out the door when I was growing-up and I’m so glad they now take orders by phone.
  • Brownie Pie: Baker’s Square, an upper Midwest chain of casual restaurants specializing in pie offers “Brownie Pie.”  My spouse and I picked-up one for after dinner dessert but about half got eaten as snack before dinner.


Filed under: Food and Drink

Recommendations for Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza in Seattle

Growing-up in Chicago, I developed a test for Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.  Now that I live in Seattle, here are my two recommendations for getting it without getting on a plane:

  • Delfino’s Pizza – This restaurant tucked into a corner of University Village serves the closest local version.  I recommend ordering what they call the “stuffed” instead of what they call “Chicago-style” since their “stuffed” actually has the sauce on top and a thick layer of cheese while their “Chicago-style.”  If you don’t want to make the pilgrimage to the U-District (and see pictures of Chicago adorning their walls), you can get delivery via BiteSquad.
  • – Chicago’s Lou Malnatti’s Pizza was my favorite growing-up.  They actually ship overnight in dry ice and if watch for special deals, their prices are comparable to local delivery like Pagliacci’s.

Filed under: Food and Drink

What is the width of a Diono Radian rXT car seat

For people looking to do three car seats across, this is very useful information; and rather hard to find.

From what I can tell, 15″ at the base and 17″ at the child’s seat and shoulder.

Here are the product dimensions from Diono:

If this link doesn’t work, please leave a comment and I can share a picture / PDF.

Filed under: Uncategorized

GOTV Opportunities and Election Night Parties

As I write this, we have less than four days before ballots in WA state are due.

Here area bunch of dates, times, and locations you can help to get-out-the-vote (GOTV):

Updated Sat, 11/5, 5:00pm: Removed 11/5 GOTV activities, added Island County and The Stranger Election Night parties


Sunday, 11/6:

·       7am: Sign-waving (Bellevue)

·       10am: Voters for Tina Countdown to the Election Brunch (Seattle)

·       10:30am: 46th LD Dems GOTV Canvassing (Seattle)

·       10:30am: Doorbelling for Lisa Wellman (41st LD) (Meet at Ballard H.S.)

·       11am: Phone-a-thon for SoundTransit Prop 1 (Seattle)

·       11:30am: GOTV (Spokane)

·       4pm: Voters for Tina Reception (Seattle)

·       4pm: GOTV with Sen. Patty Murray and Gov. Jay Inslee (Wenatchee)

·       4:30pm: Suquamish Standing with Standing Rock (Suquamish)


Monday, 11/7:

·       7am: Sign-waving (Bellevue)

·       7am: Sign Wave / Picket for SoundTransit Prop 1 (Seattle)

·       10:30am: GOTV with Sen. Patty Murray, Gov. Jay Inslee, and Tina Podlodowski (Tacoma)

·       11am: Phone-a-thon for SoundTransit Prop 1 (Seattle)

·       12:30pm: GOTV with Sen. Patty Murray, Gov. Jay Inslee, and Tina Podlodowski (Fircrest)

·       2:30pm: GOTV Doorbelling with Sen. Patty Murray (Everett)

·       2:30pm: GOTV with Gov. Jay Inslee and Tina Podlodowski (Puyallup)


Tuesday, 11/8 (ELECTION DAY):

·       7am: Sign-waving (Bellevue)

·       7am: Sign Waving for SoundTransit Prop 1 (Seattle)

·       9:30am: GOTV (Federal Way)

·       9:30am: GOTV with Sen. Patty Murray (Bothell)

·       10am: Phone-a-thon for SoundTransit Prop 1 (Seattle)

·       11:30am: GOTV with Sen. Patty Murray, Gov. Jay Inslee, and Tina Podlodowski (Seattle)


Tuesday, 11/8 (ELECTION NIGHT)

·       Election Night Party at Grethe Cammermeyer’s house (Langley)

·       Election Night Watch Party at Skagit County Headquarters (Mount Vernon)

·       Election Night Watch Party at Nile Temple Country Club (Mountlake Terrace)

·       Election Night Party at the Coachman Inn & Suites (Oak Harbor)

·       Election Night Watch Party at The Berliner Pub (Renton)

·       Election Night Pre-Func at the Warwick (Seattle)

·       Election Night Party! at the Westin (Seattle)

·       Election Night Party at Lincoln Center (Spokane)

·       Election Night Party at the 10th LD Dems office (Stanwood)

·       Election Night Celebration! at Hotel Murano (Tacoma)

·       Election Night Party at Warehouse ’23 (Vancouver)


Candidates and Initiatives (ELECTION NIGHT):

·       (CD7) Brady Walkinshaw at Canterbury Ale House (Seattle)

·       (CD7) Pramila Jayapal at Optimism Brewing Company (Seattle)

·       (LD43) Nicole Macri at Rachel’s Ginger Beer (Seattle)

·       Yes on I-735 (U.S. Constitutional Amendment for Campaign Finance Reform) at the Triple Door (Seattle)

·       Yes on I-1433 (Raise the Minimum Wage) at the Westin (Seattle)

·       Mass Transit Now (Yes on SoundTransit Prop. 1) at the Crocodile (Seattle)



·       Election Night Viewing Party at the Barrel Thief (Seattle)

·       Election Night Party at the Red Door (Seattle)

·       The Stranger’s Election Night Party with Dan Savage at the Showbox (Seattle)

Filed under: News and Politics

Endorsements for 2016

Many friends know I’m an active volunteer in local politics and I’m often asked about “down-ballot” races.  Below are my recommendations as well as some footnotes explaining some of these.  I’m not including a bunch of the Democrat vs. Republican races since I suspect most people reading this already have a party preference.  Thanks for reading–

  • Initiatives
    • I-1433 (State Minimum Wage): Yes
    • I-1464 (Campaign Finance): No (1)
    • I-1491 (Extreme Risk Protection Orders): Yes
    • I-1501 (Privacy protections): Yes
    • I-732 (Pollution tax): Yes (2)
    • I-735 (Corporations are not people): Yes
    • A.V. 14 and A.V. 15: Maintained (3)
  • Amendments
    • SJR #8210 (Faster redistricting): Approved
    • King County Charter #1 (Nonpartisan Prosecuting Attorney): No (4)
    • King County Charter #2 (Gender-Neutral Language): Yes
  • Federal and Washington State
    • In D vs. R., vote your partisan preference
    • Secretary of State: Tina Podlodowski (5)
    • Congressional District 7 U.S. Representative: Brady Pinero Walkinshaw (6)
    • Legislative District 43 Representative Position 1: Nicole Macri
  • State Supreme Court (7)
    • #1: Mary Yu
    • #5: Barbara Madsen
    • #6: Charles (Charlie) Wiggins
  • King County Superior Court
    • #14: Nicole Gaines Phelps
    • #26: David Keenan
    • #31: Helen Halpert
    • #44: Cathy Moore
    • #52: Anthony Gipe
    • #53: Mariane Spearman
  • City of Seattle
    • I-124 (Protect hotel workers): Yes
  • SoundTransit
    • Prop. #1 (Expand Transit): Approved (8)


  • (1) Public finance of campaigns seems like a good idea, but this is only funded for 6% of WA voters to participate and after that, it could cut into the state’s general fund.
  • (2) This is not perfect, but we need to take action against pollution
  • (3) These are on the ballot thanks to Tim Eyman.  Let the state legislature do its job.  #15 is a tax break for electric cars.
  • (4) Partisan labels provide more information to voters in down-ballot races
  • (5) The incumbent has taken actions to suppress the vote; challenger Tina Podlodowski is encouraging of voter participation
  • (5) Two diverse, progressive Democratic state legislators are running for this open seat.  Brady has a track record as the more effective legislator and is endorsed by 3x as many legislative colleagues as the other candidate.
  • (6) The three independent incumbent Justices face under-qualified challengers backed by Tim Eyman and some wealthy billionaires.  Vote for the independent, more qualified incumbents.
  • (7) Our region is choking and we need more transportation choices.  This proposition would help expand light rail (helps with I-90 and SR-520 traffic), commuter rail (helps with I-5 traffic), and buses (helps with a ton of arterial traffic.)  Even if you NEVER ride a train or bus, you will benefit from less congested highways and streets and less air pollution from cars.

Also: if you’re looking for a list of election night parties, visit:

Filed under: News and Politics

Live Writer is now Open Source (Cross-Post)

I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working as a part of the awesome team of volunteers who worked to release Open Live Writer v0.5 earlier today.  You can read my guest post on the .NET Foundation’s blog from earlier today.  Thanks–

(Cross-posted from:

Live Writer is now Open Source

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Windows Live Writer has been turning blogging up to 11 since 2007, but since 2012 things have been a bit quiet with the application itself. However over the past few months I have had the pleasure working with a very pasionate group of engineers volunteering their time to ensure that Live Writer has a sustainable future. I’m pleased to announce that today the .NET Foundation welcomes a new project – Open Live Writer. One of the great things about Live Writer has always been the passionate community behind it and I can’t wait to see what that community does now everying is open source and on GitHub.

In this guest post from Rob Dolin, he explains more about the new project and how to get started with the new, Open Live Writer which is available to download now.

— Martin

Windows Live Writer Released as the open source Open Live Writer

It’s a great day for bloggers who have a favorite tool for creating content. Today Microsoft announced that Open Live Writer was released and has been contributed to the .NET Foundation. Open Live Writer is an open source application enabling users to author, edit, and publish blog posts. It is based on a fork of the wellloved but not actively developed Windows Live Writer code. Scott Hanselman helped carry the torch at Microsoft on this project, and I’ve been proud to be part of the all-volunteer team to make it happen.

History of Windows Live Writer

The product that became Live Writer was originally created by a small, super-talented team of engineers including Jeremy Allaire, JJ Allaire, Joe Cheng, Charles Teague, and Spike Washburn. The team joined Microsoft through an acquisition in 2006 and organized with the Spaces team where I was working. Becky Pezely joined the team and over time, the team grew and shipped many popular releases of Windows Live Writer.

As Microsoft was planning for the version of Windows Live that would coincide with the Windows 8 operating system release, the teams that built the Windows Live client apps for Windows were encouraged to focus on building a smaller set of Windows 8 apps designed to work well with both traditional PC input mechanisms and touch. The original team concluded their work on Windows Live Writer with Windows Live Writer 2012.

Reviving Live Writer

Even though there was no active development, Windows Live Writer continued to be a favorite tool of a passionate community of Windows PC users for authoring, editing, and publishing blog posts. Data from at the time suggested that Windows Live Writer (even two years after active development ended) was the #1 app for authoring a blog post to on a Windows PC. In fact, some of our technical evangelists were actively using Windows Live Writer for publishing on WordPress-powered blogs. A few team members from my former MS Open Tech team took an early interest in joining Scott Hanselman to revive Live Writer as an open source project.

By January 2015, a group of about a half-dozen engineers interested in spending some of their volunteer time to help release an updated version of Live Writer had found each other. Jon Gallant sent an email to a few large group email lists at Microsoft soliciting volunteers and we collected about 50 people interested in helping. Anne Legato, Ed Essey, and the team at The Garage were most helpful in sharing advice on launching external projects. Scott Guthrie also agreed to be Open Live Writer’s sponsor.

Why v0.5

You might wonder why we’re releasing a version 0.5 now instead of waiting to get to a v0.9 or a v1.0. A few considerations went into this. First, we wanted to get this out as an open source project as quickly as possible so people outside of Microsoft could start participating. Second, we suspect many people may be taking some vacation around the end of December and we wanted to make sure the project was available. Third, Eddie Kessler and the folks on Google’s Blogger team asked us to ship no later than early December 2015 so they could turn-off an old API that Windows Live Writer was dependent on. Eddie and team originally had planned to turn-off the API earlier and we are thankful for their collaboration and partnership in extending its life until we could release Open Live Writer.

Why .NET Foundation

The volunteer team considered a few options for releasing Open Live Writer. Ultimately, we found a great partnership in the .NET Foundation to support our goals around growing community participation for the project. Martin Woodward, Robin Ginn, and the team has been super-helpful in many matters including open source governance and administrative support, to marketing and communications.

And Open Live Writer is many thousands of lines of C# code, so the .NET Foundation is a good technical match too. J

Enough Background, SHOW ME THE BITS!

To download the latest version of Open Live Writer, visit our website: Open Live Writer is designed to sit side-by-side with Windows Live Writer so installing Open Live Writer won’t impact your existing version of Windows Live Writer.

For the latest news and updates about Open Live Writer, you can follow us on Twitter as @OpenLiveWriter and find other ways to connect on:

Help Wanted

Open Live Writer is brought to you by a volunteer team and continued improvements are dependent on volunteers. The code is available on GitHub: and we welcome pull requests and open issues.

However, we’re not just looking for developers. Anyone who wants to test early bits, help with visual design, interactive design, technical writing, partnership negotiation, product management, marketing, digital media, and more would be welcomed. You can find ways to plug-in to the community at:

Thank You

Thanks very much for your interest in Open Live Writer and many happy blog posts—

Rob Dolin (@RobDolin)
Senior Program Manager, Microsoft Cross-Platform and Open Tools team
(On behalf of the Open Live Writer committers)

Filed under: Technology

Thanks for visiting

I publish here occasionally; often previously using Windows Live Writer and now this post was created with Open Live Writer

You can also find me on Facebook (work, personal), GitHub (work, perosnal), LinkedIn, and Twitter.

‘All the best–

headshot 2012 (600x600px)

Filed under: Technology

Rob Dolin on Twitter

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