Why The Heck Am I Back on Micro.blog?

Back in May 2020, I mentioned that I was disconnecting my website from the Micro.blog community.

And now I’m back again.

What changed?

Well, I have to admit that I do miss the interactions I had on there.

Plus, the posts of the few Micronauts that I added to Inoreader can’t be replied to from outside of Micro.blog, unless I’m missing something. (Perhaps a WebMention interface of some kind?)

But mostly it was a recent revelation that I’ve had regarding the web versus apps. You see, most of my niggles about Micro.blog revolved around the apps. But lately, I’ve been experimenting with using Inoreader, Pinboard and other services directly within the browser, and it works shockingly well even on the iPad. So much so that I’ve now jettisoned a load of apps from my devices. (I’d already done this for my blogging workflow earlier this year.)

So now, when I want to comment on something on Micro.blog, I can just pop over to the website and do so there.

Sadly, I no longer have my original username, so I’m going by my old moniker of ‘Wears Many Hats’, a pretty apt description of my professional life. 🙂

Okay, cross-posting to Micro.blog is working. I’ve removed the extra RSS-only content that was being appended to the end of short posts like this one — truth be told, no one has used that link, so no loss.

Tracker Shaming

Simon Woods:

Starting to think we need a very public list of every website that has such awful tracking technology embedded into it that you need to go through a cookie manager just to use it.

All of these websites ought to be on a warning list until they renounce invasive ad tech.

I’m pretty sure that this information could be collated from data supplied (via opt-in) from users of ad-blocking and tracker-blocking extensions, as well as by those browsers that support such technology built-in.

Of course, the advertising industry — which, at this point, should really be named the surveillance capitalism industry — will balk at this. But this data would be the expression of the will of the people who are viewing the content that has those trackers stuffed into them. Combine with additional statistics on how much processing power and bandwidth is being taken up, and I think it would be very revealing indeed!

When People Forget That Web < Social Media...

Art Kavanagh:

Somebody goes to the trouble of splitting a post/essay/article into 280-character chunks so as to tweet it and then someone else asks a Thread Reader app to “unroll” the thread. The app then reassembles the tweets into a single post. Does this make any sense?

On the one hand, there are good reasons for using Thread Reader or something similar.

On the other hand… Hello?? Links are still a thing, you know? Even if you don’t have a website of your own to post it to — which you probably should look into because posting your content to social media only is a fool’s errand — there are file-transfer platforms and ad-hoc blogging serves out there.

The Importance of Backups

I had to deal with a computer problem this morning. My mum’s iMac had restarted to install a security update, but wasn’t coming back up to the desktop.

I got it into the Recovery mode and checked the hard disk for errors, but that reported no issues. It partially restarted and got as far as ‘your computer was shut down, do you want to reopen applications?’, but then was stuck at a black screen.

I rebooted back into Recovery mode and restored it from the most recent complete Time Machine backup from last night. That did the trick, and after reauthorizing iCloud and waiting for Apple Mail to import all of Mum’s email, it was back up and running.

At some point, I need to look into getting that iMac running from an external SSD to speed it up — I can’t upgrade the memory on it as it’s the 21-inch model, but I can bypass the internal hard disk, which is the other major bottleneck affecting the speed. I’ll also need to look at cleaning things up a bit, and maybe getting her back onto Safari instead of Chrome.

The moral of this story? External hard disks are cheap, and all modern operating systems come with automated backup systems built-in, so it’s not hard to make sure your computer’s data is regularly backed up. It has saved my bacon many times in the past, and I’m glad I made sure that Mum’s iMac got backed up too.

Really Intelligent Syndication

The other day, Art Kavanagh wrote a piece about RSS (Really Simple Syndication) that raised some interesting questions. And no, I’m not just mentioning this because he mentions my blog. 🙂

I stopped using RSS around the same time that Google closed Google Reader, but not because of that. As far as I remember, I hadn’t really been aware of Google Reader till I read the announcement of its end. I’ve never really liked web-based readers or used them much: I preferred an approach that allowed me to read feeds in the browser (as both Safari and IE11 did) and it was when Safari dropped that feature that I gave up on feeds, a decision reinforced by the fact that I was then relying more on Twitter to let me know when updates had been posted.

Continue reading “Really Intelligent Syndication”

Rogue Ads From Google Syndication? Well, Colour Me Unsurprised

Via John Gruber’s Daring Fireball, I found the following from 9to5Mac:

An increasing number of people are finding a wide range of websites — including ours — are asking permission to allow downloads to your Mac from googlesyndication.com …

The problem is a rogue ad that has made it through to the Google ad network, which is used by a great many websites. If you do allow the download, it’s just a harmless text file, but it’s annoying to have to keep hitting Cancel to block it.

Another good reason to have an ad-blocker installed — my installation of uBlock Origin in Firefox already has the Google Syndication domain blocked.

Incidentally, I’m not linking to the 9to5Mac article because that site is packed with advertising and trackers, and one of those is… Google Syndication.

Scribd Dark Patterns

This morning, I read Ton Zijlstra’s account of the hoops he had to jump through to get his company’s data from Scribd, who recently acquired and merged with Slideshare (formerly owned by LinkedIn). I wrote a lengthy comment, which I’ve decided to reproduce here:

This reminds me of an email I received a while ago from Slideshare, around the time that the merger into Scribd was announced. I was bemused by this because I’d only notionally been a Slideshare user, as I’d also been on LinkedIn when they acquired Slideshare. Because I’m no longer on LinkedIn and nuked my account several years back, I don’t have a Slideshare account to close, so I just told them to stop emailing me. In the event I get any emails from Scribd I’ll know that that instruction wasn’t obeyed.

Thankfully, I never took the bait and signed up to Scribd, so I’m glad that I didn’t have to go through the rigmarole that you endured. I chuckled when you describe their account closure process as ‘Facebook-y’ — I nuked my Facebook profile last year and know exactly what you mean. Oh, and definitely a good idea to double-check that they’ve actually cancelled the subscription.

I should add that I was a member of Lynda.com for a time, before they were acquired by LinkedIn and turned into LinkedIn Learning. That account was long gone by that point, however, so that was one extrication I didn’t have to perform thankfully.

This seems to be a recurring theme that I’ve noticed in all the mergers and acquisitions of online services I’ve witnessed over the years — the benefits to the new owners invariable outweigh those afforded to the users of the old service, while the burden of removing yourself from the clutches of the new owners is entirely on the user’s shoulders.