Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The joy of Micro.blog

Long-time developer Manton Reece created Micro.blog last year, a network of independent microblogs based on the foundations of the open Internet. I’ll let the front page of the site explain itself:

Today’s social networks are broken. Ads are everywhere. Hate and harassment are too common. Fake news spreads unchecked.

There’s a better way: a network of independent microblogs. Short posts like tweets but on your own web site that you control.

Micro.blog is a safe community for microblogs. A timeline to follow friends and discover new posts. Hosting built on open standards.

I joined a few weeks back and am really attracted to the simplicity of it. There are no frivolous practices, unnecessary gimmicks, or anything like that. The content is yours and yours alone. What you see is what you get. It reminds me of the earlier days of the Internet, where everything was more whimsical and less threatening than the current status quo. When it comes to free services, we have sadly come to expect a gimmick, trade-off, or worse in exchange for our data. Micro.blog’s opposition to this idea simply makes it a joy to use.

Upon signing up, you can either have them host a blog for you for only $5 a month or you can publish to your own site, while content is mirrored to your Micro.blog profile via RSS. Taking it one step further, Micro.blog can also cross-post individual RSS feeds to Twitter and Facebook, eliminating the need for third-party services to do so. 1

Since I already have my own blog, I opted to publish everything solely here. It took quite a bit of adjustments with WordPress, but I have my Micro.blog posts displayed here on the site exactly how I want them. You’ll always find my latest status posted in the sidebar, right under the One-Tech Mind logo. Go ahead and click on the ‘Microblog’ header for my full stream of status updates. I am @Starman on Micro.blog, so you can follow me there, or you can subscribe to the RSS feed of my status updates directly. These status updates are not present on the main site feeds, since I know not everyone will want to see these in their RSS reader.

Manton’s team hasn’t stopped there, either. They recently introduced microcast support, a straightforward and open way to create and publish a bite-sized podcast.

There are also quite a few apps in which to use Micro.blog with. The main ones are Micro.blog for posts, Wavelength for microcasts, and Sunlit for photos. There are even quite a few third-party apps that work with Micro.blog. In fact, a new one came out today called Icro, and it shows a ton of promise.

While Twitter threatens to remove critical features third-party developers have used to build their apps, Micro.blog’s attitude on the matter is the complete opposite. Because of this and the reasons I mentioned above, I am really looking forward to what Micro.blog and the community creates moving forward.

More info on Micro.blog.


  1. This is free with a $5 hosted micro blog. Otherwise, it’s a $2 per month add-on. 

Monday, April 30, 2018

Intel delays Cannon Lake processors →

Malcolm Owen for AppleInsider:

Revealed during Intel’s quarterly earnings report, the chip giant revealed it would continue to focus on shipping chips that use the established 14-nanometer process this year, reports PC Gamer. While next-generation chips using a 10nm production process will ship this year, Intel is instead shifting high volume manufacturing into 2019.


Intel CEO Brian Krzanich advised the change in pace was caused through issues achieving suitably high yields of 10nm chips. Rather than try to achieve high volume production this year, and potentially waste considerable portions of wafers used in manufacturing, the company is instead taking time to fix issues before attempting mass production.

Bad news for all PC makers, and another perfect example of the entire industry’s reliance on Intel. Apple’s rumored switch to ARM may be worth the headache.

Privacy Policy updates are trendy

There’s a silver lining in the aftermath of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica fiasco: everyone and their mother are updating privacy policies right now. Go ahead, check your inbox; I bet you have quite a few. Maybe it’s a bit marketing fluff, but the optimist in me hopes there is good intention.

Just in the past few weeks, I’ve received emails in regards to privacy policy updates from Twitter, Periscope, Roku, Plex, Airbnb, and Etsy. In fact, the following exchange I had with Matt Birchler from Birchtree in relation to a privacy policy update from BookBub prompted me to write this post.

Privacy is becoming increasingly more of a common thread amongst the general public, and is therefore a trendy thing to support. But that’s how things really get done on the Internet though, isn’t it? Hopefully the trend will help enable real change across Internet services and companies, like the encryption of traffic end-to-end. Hell, even the thought of insecure traffic should be a distant memory in the next few years.

One thing is for sure: companies can no longer cry innocence or näiveté for failing to protect the data of their users. Let’s hold them to it.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Amazon will soon increase Prime fee to $119 →

Jason Del Rey for Recode:

Amazon is increasing the price of its Prime membership in the U.S. for the first time in four years, the company’s chief financial officer announced on a call with analysts on Thursday.

Effective May 11, new subscribers will pay $119 a year for the shipping and entertainment membership program, up from $99 today. The new annual fee will apply to current Prime members starting with renewals on June 16. Amazon last raised Prime’s fee in 2014, when it cost customers $79 a year.

To me, the most shocking thing about this was the year Amazon last increased Prime fees (2014). I can’t believe it has been that long. Feels like only two years ago. Anyway, $119 is still a hell of a deal. Unlike the ire drawn whenever Netflix prices increase, I think the sheer breadth of Prime benefits outshines these inevitable announcements. It is the Subscription Age, after all.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Michael Rockwell’s Workflow Toolkit →

I discovered Michael Rockwell’s blog last week, Initial Charge (he’s also the creator of #OpenWeb). Upon perusing his site, I discovered ‘The Toolkit’, which is his list of publishing workflows for the … well … Workflow app.

I’m particularly fond of the ‘Push To Ulysses’ flow, which I even used to write this post. So meta. Here’s Michael’s description of it:

Push To Ulysses: When viewing a webpage in Safari, initiate Push to Ulysses from Workflow’s action extension. A new sheet will be opened in Ulysses with my template for publishing Linked List items. If activated with text selected on the webpage, that text will be placed in a blockquote within the body of the template.

There are quite a few more, so if you’re a web publisher, head on over and check them out.

Net Neutrality did not die today →

Katharine Trendacosta for the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

[…] Net neutrality protections didn’t end today, and you can help make sure they never do. Congress can still stop the repeal from going into effect by using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn the FCC’s action. All it takes is a simple majority vote held within 60 legislative working days of the rule being published. The Senate is only one vote short of the 51 votes necessary to stop the rule change, but there is a lot more work to be done in the House of Representatives. See where your members of Congress stand and voice your support for the CRA here.

Keep fighting the good fight, people. As I have said before: we may be losing the battle, but we will win the war.

The Subscription Age

If history has taught us anything, it’s that quite a number of folks don’t like to pay outright for digital content and services. Ever since the dawn of widespread Internet adoption in the 90s, people have always figured out ways to get content for free. From early peer-to-peer file sharing services such as Napster and Kazaa, to the more modern BitTorrent, and questionable streaming services such as Kodi. But now there’s a new age upon us. It’s an age so convenient that we’re willing to forego alternative means and pony up! Yes indeed, it’s The Subscription Age.

Read on

Thursday, April 19, 2018

#OpenWeb site aggregates independent Apple publishers

Last week, Michael Rockwell from Initial Charge introduced a fantastic idea called #OpenWeb. It’s an aggregate of independent technology publishers who primarily focus on Apple (including yours truly).

Michael’s words from his introductory post:

[…] But discovery is still a major problem. Why would you put the effort into buying a domain, setting up a site, and writing if no one is going to read it? And if you do manage to jump through all the hoops to start publishing, how do you find others in the community that have done so as well?

#OpenWeb let’s you find out what everyone’s talking about without having to wade through dozens of knee-jerk political reactions on Twitter or inspirational memes on Facebook. Those things have their place, but I think we need somewhere to go for more thoughtful commentary […].

I think this is a great idea. I started blogging about a year ago, and as Michael says, discovery is a hard problem for an independent writer. Head over to #OpenWeb and discover other great writers and opinions, as I have already.

Thanks, Michael!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Nikola Tesla predicted the smartphone in 1926 →

I saw this through Daring Fireball and just had to share. Here’s the relevant bit of a Tesla interview with Collier’s magazine in 1926:

When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.

We shall be able to witness and hear events — the inauguration of a President, the playing of a world series game, the havoc of an earthquake or the terror of a battle — just as though we were present.

When the wireless transmission of power is made commercial, transport and transmission will be revolutionized. Already motion pictures have been transmitted by wireless over a short distance. Later the distance will be illimitable, and by later I mean only a few years hence. Pictures are transmitted over wires — they were telegraphed successfully through the point system thirty years ago. When wireless transmission of power becomes general, these methods will be as crude as is the steam locomotive compared with the electric train.

The way in which visionaries like Tesla saw the future is just remarkable. Really makes you wonder which predictions made today will be accurate fifty or more years from now.

Amazon warehouse workers pee in bottles, are punished for being sick →

Shona Ghosh for Business Insider:

Rushed fulfilment workers, who run around Amazon’s warehouses “picking” products for delivery, have a “toilet bottle” system in place because the toilet is too far away, according to author James Bloodworth, who went undercover at a warehouse in Staffordshire, UK, for a book on low wages in Britain.

 Bloodworth told The Sun: “For those of us who worked on the top floor, the closest toilets were down four flights of stairs. People just peed in bottles because they lived in fear of being ­disciplined over ‘idle time’ and ­losing their jobs just because they needed the loo.”

And:

A survey of Amazon workers, released on Monday, found almost three-quarters of fulfilment centre staff are afraid of using the toilet in case they miss their targets.

On how workers are punished for being sick:

Another employee said she was ill while pregnant, and was still handed warning points.

And yet another said: “I turned up for my shift even though I felt like shit, managed 2 hours then I just could not do anymore. Told my supervisor and was signed off sick, I had a gastric bug (sickness and diarrhoea, very bad) saw my doc. Got a sick note with an explanation, but still got a strike.”

This is just despicable and unsanitary. How does Amazon attract talent with their increasingly bad working conditions?