In reply to: Colin Walker

Colin Walker brought up yesterday the idea of using your website as a private repository.

This also occurred to me a couple of months ago when I searched a better alternative for Day One. This blog which runs on WordPress looked great for a private journal, but I didn’t find anything that would migrate my entries from Day One, so I created a script for myself. I’ve open sourced it on GitHub so anybody with a little bit a terminal knowledge should be able to use it.


Before you ask: I still use Day One with encryption turned on. When I reasearched the topic of private posts using WordPress I found a couple of security concerns which I’ve also shared on Colin’s blog. But after last week’s Day One security fiasco, maybe it’s something that I should reconsider.

Leaving Facebook is easy, you just have to leave your laziness behind too

Sarah Jeong writing on The Verge:

I tried leaving Facebook. I couldn’t […] Facebook is an emotional labor machine, and if you want to leave it, you’re going to have to start doing a lot of work

When I read a post like this, I get angry and sad at the same time: it’s so easy now to reach people, but we still use our tools wrong. It looks like we have the same old problem that we had with every new technology getting popular. We just have to learn to use them. What makes Facebook different is that it’s also a tool for others to hijack our attention and they try to do everything they can to keep us addicted to it.

I’m not comfortable with that. This’s one of the many reasons why I left Facebook. If you think about it for a second, Facebook is no more than just a bunch of tools made for people to

  1. communicate with each other,
  2. maintain their egos by posting stuff about themselves,
  3. keep up with other egos,
  4. collect behavioral data that fuel tools that tricking others into a financial transaction (ads), political decision or other stuff that benefits them.

Nothing is new on this list, but we haven’t dealt with something like this before at this scale. Facebook tries to make the first three as easy to use and addictive as possible—although the internet has a lot of tools already for communicating and publishing— combining them into one is what makes collecting data and influence people this efficient.

I don’t like the idea of collecting data about my behavior and habits to carefully model a profile of me to sell crap or use it as a tool to get me addicted to something.

Existing tools can replace a lot of Facebook functionality (and they already do). You can easily leave Facebook, you just have to leave your laziness behind too. Replace your posts with a blog. There are email and text/IM services to communicate with people (although I still use Facebook Messenger without a Facebook account, I proactively ask people to switch over to iMessage if they can). You can use IM groups to organize a party or let people know about things.

But following people on a feed means you don’t really pay that much attention. We used to follow topics or news, following people around was called stalking. Now we know everything about each other thanks to addictive stalking. Meanwhile, something seriously fucked up: we have hundreds of “friends”, but according to statistics, we feel alone more than ever. That’s because we got lazy to invest a bit more energy to have more meaningful relationships with our friends. We follow them, but we don’t interact that much anymore. You must have been in a situation where you met somebody again after a while, but you didn’t enjoy it, because you had already know whats up with him/her. You were sitting there staring each other.

That’s happened because of batching. Facebook lets you see your friends prefiltered ideas and life moments in a nicely formatted feed. It makes keeping up with information convenient, but there is a problem: while batching works great when you want to be efficient, deepening relationships and friendships isn’t about convenience and efficiency. It’s about experience and time invested in each other. Facebook removes the intimacy of the moment when you “connect” with somebody. It makes it convenient but also isolating. It’s not surprising that people feel themselves alone on Facebook, it’s because they’re isolated.

Do you want to know what’s up with your friends? Message them, call them, meet them, then ask about their life, have a conversation. Invest time in your friendships. I know it takes way more energy and you can’t keep up with that many people, but who cares when it’s way more satisfying than following a bunch of curated profiles.

Om describing Skype perfectly:

a turd of the highest quality

I’m using Skype for podcasting but I’m in the hurry finding a good alternative for it. Since they dumped a fairly good Mac app with a stupid Electron crap, I just want to avoid it.

And don’t get me started on the iOS version…

Testing Icro:

  • It feels better than the official Micro.blog app.
  • Notifications would be nice.
  • The iPad app needs a lot of work.
  • No Markdown parsing feels weird.

It’s okay for 1.0, but I’m keeping the official one installed since I don’t keep up with my timeline but (silent) notifications are nice to have.

dumber phone – nomasters:

This setup will cause you to be less responsive on chats and email, but that’s sort of the point. Your phone shouldn’t dictate to you what you focus your attention on, and the behavior it cultivates in keeping you “always ready” is unhealthy and spills over into parts of our lives that aren’t serving us well.

Although I don’t agree with everything, this the sanest article that gives you tips about phone addiction, without going into extremes. I’m already doing a lot of these tips, I just need to revise my notification settings.

Things already got a great URL scheme which can be used for automation. On the Mac, we can take automation to the next level with things.sh which is a Terminal interface for reading (and writing) Things’ database. Really awesome for somebody like me, who spends his day in vim and tmux.

Cal Newport writes about owning your content on the social web:

Buy a domain. Setup a web hosting account […]. Install WordPress or hand-code a website for this account. Let people follow you directly by checking your site, or subscribing to an RSS feed or email newsletter.

It was like that couple of years ago, then social media made really really easy for everyone to tell their story. The problem is that your story is now tied to some company that controls basically everything outside a textarea which you use to tell your story. That’s way more limiting than having your own website or blog which you control as a whole. Sure, it takes a bit more work to set up a website and you may have to hire a professional to help you, but it’s way more satisfying at the end than creating a Twitter account or a Facebook page.

One more thought for Twitter users: if you want to tell something which needs a thread of multiple tweets then write a blog post instead. That’s how we used to do it.

RSS changes

I separated my shorter statuses and longer posts into two new categories, which means you can subscribe to them individually now. Here’s each new category and RSS feed:

If you’re into social timelines, then you can also follow me on Twitter or Micro.blog. They are mirroring the blog’s content.

Fixing Safari syncing issues in iOS 11.3

I had syncing problems with Safari since the first version of iOS 11.3 beta. Apparently, I’m not the only one. It’s started getting so bad, that I had to abandon Reading List in Safari because it’s randomly deleted saved articles. Sometimes there were random bookmarks showing up in the sidebar. Sites that looked like were added there by Frequently Visited Sites.

I got suspicious about this: maybe Frequently Visited Sites does something weird with syncing. I went ahead and turned it off on every device I own, also on each device that my girlfriend uses since she has a really big collection of bookmarks in Safari. After using Safari for weeks without Frequently Visited Sites turned on, I can safely say it fixed syncing problems. I haven’t seen lost bookmarks and deleted articles in Reading List since then.

If you have bugs like this, turn off Frequently Visited Sites in settings on every device that syncs with your iCloud account.

On iOS:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Find Safari.
  3. Turn off Frequently Visited Sites.

On macOS:

  1. Open a new tab or window in Safari.
  2. Control-click somewhere on the empty space.
  3. Turn off Show Frequently Visited Sites.

Wired has a nice collection of repeated apologies from Mark Zuckerberg over the last decade.

Last month, Facebook once again garnered widespread attention with a privacy related backlash when it became widely known that, between 2008 and 2015, it had allowed hundreds, maybe thousands, of apps to scrape voluminous data from Facebook users—not just from the users who had downloaded the apps, but detailed information from all their friends as well.

I’m getting tired of all Facebook’s crap so I have to get rid of it completely. I’m sure there is a shadow profile of me on Facebook servers even I deleted my account about a year ago.

I have Messenger on my phone with no access to photos, my location nor my contacts. My next goal is to get rid of that junk and move my communication of Android people over to Telegram. Luckily a lot of my friends and family use iOS devices.

Maybe I’m a bit masochist but I’ve always found SQL a really useful skill to have for filtering and aggregating a lot of data. I found this site which can help me master this a bit more with PostgreSQL, although the logic can be reused in any SQL based database backend.