Art Kavanagh:

After 15 years on Gmail, I’ve switched to Zoho mail (with my own domain name on top). Just now, I noticed that the fan on the MacBook Air was going like the clappers. So I closed the Zoho mail web page and it stopped. This doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in my choice.

I’ve never used Zoho, and have no real need to try it out, but I’m really wondering what their web app is doing to use so much CPU power.

Cracking open the Inspector palette in Firefox on one of the support webpages shows a lot of JavaScript getting loaded, some of it from multiple Zoho-owned domains. The control panel in uBlock Origin shows a similar picture.

I decided to crack open the webmail interface of my provider (Fastmail), and see what the picture is there. Only three domains shown in uBlock Origin, all of them owned by Fastmail, and only a few JavaScript files loaded according to the Inspector.

I totally understand why many people prefer webmail over fiddling around setting up desktop or mobile email apps. But I’m in the minority that uses IMAP and SMTP protocols for their email. Partly because I like having more than one way to access my email, and partly because I’ve always found the convenience of webmail outweighed by sluggishness and occasional outages. That’s not to say that I love desktop and mobile email clients — they just work, and that’s fine with me.

Mark Hughes:

… is it’s not anything like Twitter.

I was over there checking my notifications, a daily chore but also sometimes there’s something good if I don’t scroll too long. But also just endless shit that makes me mad from randos. Well, that shouldn’t happen, I’ve curated my follows and turned off their retweets… Except Twitter also reposts shit your followees “liked”, even if you have retweets turned off from them, so Jack Shit can continue their mission to make the world a shittier place.

RSS never shoves some third-party garbage in the feed, just because someone “liked” a post!

This echoes my experience from when I last used Twitter, about five years ago. From what I’ve seen since, the signal-to-noise ratio is even lower now, thanks to more assholes plus Twitter’s tweaking of the news feed. 🙁

With my RSS feeds, I can read what I want then Mark All Read and get on with other things. No endless scroll, no unwanted extras, and if need be I can filter the feeds so the signal is even higher. 🙂

iCloud Drive and sharing have not failed me. On the contrary, they have worked better than I expected. I have kept a lot of data on iCloud, and I have not had any show-stopper problems. I am currently working on a new edition of the Paperless Field Guide. I am running the entire editing workflow through a series of shared iCloud folders, and it has worked exactly as expected. Granted, there is still plenty of work to do with iCloud Drive, but it is working well enough to handle sharing when I am in control of sharing.

The trouble is those instances where I am not in control. For example, I have many clients who have never heard of iCloud Drive and do not own Macs. They have, however, all heard of and installed Dropbox. When you work in a service industry, adopting a technology that requires your clients to change their technology never works. Also, I make three separate podcasts that invite guests who also sometimes do not have access to iCloud. In the end, I am keeping Dropbox—not for myself but for others.

David Sparks, I’m Keeping Dropbox

I think that this is one of the main reasons why people need to keep Dropbox in their lives — its sheer ubiquity.

Like David, I’m using iCloud Drive for my documents and photos. But now, instead of having the Dropbox and Google Drive apps hanging around on my computer, I access both of those through the excellent Transmit as required.

I’m also using Transmit to experiment with Backblaze B2 for some projects. More on that another time.

Eamonn Forde, writing at The Quietus:

On 14th July 1995, audio engineers at the Fraunhofer Society in Munich finally settled on what the filename extension for the compressed digital format they had developed should be named. What was previously known as .bit was now to be called .mp3.

The “MP3” eventually became a catch-all term for a downloadable music file. In truth, different services use different file formats such as AAC, WAV, FLAC, ALAC and DSD – all coming with different compression sizes and audio quality levels. But the “MP3” became, like “Hoover” and “Coke” before it, a common noun. We can get bogged down in codecs and nomenclature, but it is what the downloadable audio file represents that is our concern here. The simple truth is that the MP3 is the most influential music format of all time.

It really only had a 12-year window at its peak, but it packed a lot into them. In just over a decade it changed the record business completely. Twice. It also paved the way for streaming – all streaming, not just music streaming – to become the default way to, drawing on the industry’s own terminology, “consume” “content”.

No other music format since the phonograph in 1877 has had anything even approaching the profound impact that the MP3 has had on the music business. All formats before the MP3 were designed specifically to plump up the profitability of the music business; the MP3 ripped it to shreds.

In terms of the history of music ownership – something that has really only existed for just over a century – the MP3 was not a full stop but rather an ellipsis.

It was the last audio format that people could own but, as it was a digital string of zeros and ones, it was inherently intangible. You cannot look at an MP3 but you can see its impact everywhere.

The article charts the history of the humble MP3 file, from audio engineering curiosity to disruptor of the music industry (via Napster in 1999 and the iPod in 2001) to curiosity once more as streaming services (mostly) eliminated its need.

The Fake Nerd Boys of Silicon Valley

Managing Editor Lyta Gold on Star Trek, Silicon Valley’s lack of imagination, and the arrival of an unexpected future.

This is a very long read, but worth it if only to learn just how badly the likes of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Peter Thiel misunderstand the science fiction of their youth. In reality, it’s very much ‘utopia for me, dystopia for thee’.

This Woman Inspired One of the First Hit Video Games by Mapping the World’s Longest Cave

Patricia Crowther’s ex-husband coded her cave maps into one of the first hit adventure games in the 1970s, and she had no idea

A long read, but well worth your time. I’d not known that the text adventure game Colossal Cave (or ADVENTURE as it was more commonly known) has its basis in a real colossal cave, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. I vaguely recall playing it a bit in the dim, distant past — I may need to track down a copy and try it again.

I’ve just installed the Simple Custom Content plugin on this site, and configured it to add a friendly message for those of you who follow my blog via RSS. 🙂

Since that fateful evening fourteen years ago, Twitter had become the public square of the Internet. But in recent months, it resembles the colosseum of the old, where rabid mobs are howling and the gladiators fighting, have been replaced by troll armies and those who command them, fighting each other.

We should have seen this coming. If the early days of Twitter were about tweets (a sound associated with cute birds) and fail whales, the recent years have seen words like “tweetstorms” become part of the Twitter vernacular. We went from using the language of compassion to aggression in our association with Twitter.

If Facebook was a place where we shared stories of our events and experiences, Twitter was where we shared our quirks and occasional randomness. And then came links to articles and news, and then news itself. And it was only a step from news to opinion. And boy, with so much time on our hands and nowhere to go, we have opinions — on everything. And we all want to share those opinions with everyone on the planet.

Humans are now being programmed to crave constant attention. And the algorithms are programmed to intensify engagement —- and as a result, they only reinforce opinions that are on the extremes — for those extremes elicit responses, which feed the algorithms and they, in turn, amplify the extreme views.

Om Malik, It all started with a single tweet

I see a lot of articles about why people don’t like the native Apple Mail app and what app they prefer to use instead. Now of course, apps are totally personal preference. The reason I use Things as my task manager of choice might be the exact same reason you don’t use it. The same goes for mail apps, there are certain apps that offer features that people just fall in love with and no longer want to be without. A few years ago there was a mail app that I loved, I can’t even remember the name of it now but like most good mail apps it died a death and never came back. Since then I’ve stuck with the Apple Mail app and honestly? I really like it.

Charlotte Rose, I Like Apple Mail?

I’m in the same position, Apple’s Mail app does what I need of it, which is to process my email.

It doesn’t integrate with loads of other applications, but I can work around that by — OK, this next part might shock some people — writing down myself what I need to do. Bonus: fewer emails left in my inbox, and less unnecessary cruft brought into other apps.

I do drop emails into DEVONthink for archiving, but only important ones, and I don’t really need an add-on for that.

The only other email app I might consider switching to would be Mozilla Thunderbird, which I’ve used a lot in the past on both Windows and Mac environments.

I miss the days of finite collections with borders. I remember buying records that I hated when I brought them home, but I played them anyway because they were all I had. I’d listen until I understood the album on its terms, rather than mindlessly playing whatever suits my current mood. The endless churn of the digital jukebox brings to mind Adorno and Horkheimer’s prophecy from 1944: “the freedom to choose what is always the same.”

James Reeves, Echo

Like James, I grew up with music on physical media, as well as stuff recorded from radio shows onto cassette tapes. However, I’m not as nostalgic about those times. Perhaps it’s because I tend not to gorge myself on music and let the streaming services keep piling tunes to my ears.

I view Apple Music as a infinite record shop with an infinite number of listening booth, that’s open 24/7. But I also frequent the indie stores supported by Bandcamp, and note down songs I hear and like on SomaFM or other Internet radio stations.