Since I set up email authentication for the domains I own, using SPF, DKIM and DMARC, the amount of spam I receive has dropped markedly. The only stuff I do get is addressed directly to my FastMail account or an alias, meaning I know where they scraped my info.

Mulling over ideas for a podcast. Micro.blog is definitely an option I’m considering for hosting and publishing.

More details soon… 🙂

Thought on Redecentralisation

The commons we’ve enclosed

Terence Eden:

I don’t claim to be any good at user experience – far from it. But I despair at some of the redecentralised efforts I see springing up. They are technically brilliant, and follow the open-source philosophy of scratching one’s own itch. And they all – without fail – are terrible to use.

Redecentralisation won’t happen because of us nerds. It must happen despite us. Despite our ingenuity and despite our self-infatuation. It must be inclusive, and put user-needs at its very heart.

I think that this cuts to the heart of a lot of different movements that are happening currently: IndieWeb, federated social networks, and static site generators. Props to all the folks out there working on all of this stuff, but it is still very belt-and-braces. And I get the feeling that there’s a lot of wheel reinventing going on.

When ‘Dropping Support for X’ means ‘Stopping Caring About Those Still Using X Just Fine’

How Some Software Designers Don’t Seem to Care About the Elderly

This article by Lauren Weinstein isn’t just applicable to the elderly, but to anyone who doesn’t have the money or expertise to move to a newer OS / browser.

I’ve seen this attitude expressed a lot over the years: sorry, we’re no longer going to support your system that’s still working OK, and we’re not going to do anything to help you, so suck it up losers.

And, more often than not, the reason for software developers dropping those users is due to factors of the developers’ own making. Build-up of bad code, leading to bugs and security issues. A lack of motivation to update their codebase. Or just a cold calculation that there’s not enough users of that system / version to justify worrying about them.

Good web design should degrade gracefully according to the capability of the browser, as well as network conditions. That’s not just good for people with older devices or browsers, but also folks with slower or less reliable Internet access.

There’s a good argument to be made that software design should be the same. In most cases, your application should absolutely be aware of the user’s accessibility challenges or the capability of their device, and adjust accordingly.

Pause

Sitting at the computer upstairs, and just taking a moment to listen to the birds singing outside. I have a nice view from my window down our garden to the houses on the other side. The sun is out, it’s a bit warmer today. I’ll finish my tea, then go for a walk around the neighbourhood.

I’ve started doing daily walks, to get more exercise and help clear my head. It’s also an excuse to go explore parts of my local neighbourhood that I don’t normally pass through.

No photos yet, mainly because it’s too chilly to hold my phone to take them.

The Rise and Fall of The Desktop

This is Not my Beautiful House: Examining the Desktop Metaphor, 1980-1995

This essay by Everest Pipkin examines the rise of the ‘desktop’ as the dominant UI in the 80s and 90s, the various ways it was implemented, as well as attempts to remake it to be more user-friendly, rather than merely business-friendly.

Ultimately, though, it was the World Wide Web that would provide that user-friendly interface, by giving the users the power to make their own environment. And in many ways, the web would subsequently drive the evolution of the user interfaces we have today.

The War on Bezels

Removing bezels from TVs, phones and tablets can cause rather than solve problems in tech

Craig Grannell:

In phones, removing the bezel now appears to be some kind of holy grail, and, frankly, this baffles me. Sure, I don’t want a massive chunky bezel that makes a device seem like it’s rocked up from a 1985 concept video. But most of the time, I want a bezel in a screen-based device. A frame around content provides focus. And with a tablet, it provides somewhere for your thumbs to go, rather than them covering what you’re looking at and interacting with.

It’s also notable that in the Android space, attempts to remove the bezel have resulted in some horribly ugly creations. Companies triumphantly boast about stripping the bezel back, but on devices that retain a ‘chin’, thereby resulting in something that looks visually imbalanced. At that point, the breathless rush to remove the bezel has not only impacted on user experience, but also visual design.

I have an idea. Persuade the designers to make the phone thicker, so that the screen can curve over the edges but there’s still a bezel the user can hold. (Bonus: makes room for larger battery, less need to push rear camera out from body of phone.)

The End of Indie Web Browsers: You Can (Not) Compete

Samuel Maddock:

In 2017, the body responsible for standardizing web browser technologies, W3C, introduced Encrypted Media Extensions (EME)—thus bringing with it the end of competitive indie web browsers.

No longer is it possible to build your own web browser capable of consuming some of the most popular content on the web. Websites like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and others require copyright content protection which is only accessible through browser vendors who have license agreements with large corporations.

As someone who remembers the many different web browsers that were around in the early-to-mid-90s, this makes me very sad. 🙁

The W3C and the main browser makers (with the exception of Mozilla, who did put up a fight against this at the time) all share responsibility for allowing the ‘entertainment’ industry to shackle the open web.

Reminder: Technology Can Empower You

Embrace technology that empowers you

Adrian Vila:

Today’s technology gives us incredibly powerful tools to create and express ourselves, and many options to share that art. I believe this is the golden age of photography: there’s a lot of noise but people are creating amazing images nowadays, much better than they used to be, and they are more accessible than ever.

We tend to romanticise the past and we forget that photographers like Ansel Adams lived on the edge of technology, using the latest cameras and film stocks, trying to perfect the medium, always experimenting with new techniques. He didn’t idealise photographers or technologies from the XIX century, he strived to improve them.