Category: Tech

Computers and gadgets has been a big part of my life. I grew up with a Commodore 64 nearby, so my interest in technology of all kinds shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who snuck a peak through my bedroom window when I was a kid.

  • Make someone (then do it again)

    Darius Kazemi calls himself an internet artist, and who am I to disagree? Anyone who can make something as wonderful as the Make someone page deserves whatever moniker they’d like.

    So go ahead, make a person. Then make another until the day’s wasted away.

  • Substack adds support for domains – but there’s a catch

    Substack, the hyped and overall pretty excellent newsletter and website service that I use for Switch to iPad, has added support for custom domains. That means that I could, if I wanted to, point my domain to my Substack page, which of course is located at Prettier, no?

    I was going to do just that, but then I saw that Substack has decided to charge a $50 one-time fee to activate this feature on your account. This to me is a greedy money-grab, and I won’t do it. In fact, it makes me wonder if Substack is the place for me at all. I’ll surely rethink my strategy henceforth.

  • Kill the Newsletter

    If you’re fed up with all those newsletters clogging up your inbox, and you don’t want to pony up for Feedbin or Feedly, then Kill the Newsletter is for you. It’s a clever little service that lets you create a unique email address for signing up to a newsletter, and then converts its issues to an Atom feed that you can subscribe to in your favorite feed reader app or service. You could even add it to Feedly in the free tier…

    I love these one thing well apps and services.

  • The weird webring

    Remember webrings? Of course not… It was a web 1.0 phenomenon where sites linked to each other in a ring-like fashion, usually with an ugly graphic somewhere. The blogroll was the natural evolution of webrings.

    There’s a webring, called the Weird Wide Webring, that I love, and would join if it didn’t mean sticking yet another JavaScript on my site. Do check it out though, it’s made by Jack McDade, known for the Statamic CMS and his own wacky website. Fun times.

  • Craigstarter

    Congratulations are in order, because Craig Mod has launched a successful campaign for his new book, Kissa by Kissa. Yes, it’s about walking, as most things seem to be with Craig these days. He created something wonderful, the Craigstarter, for this project. It’s essentially a way to do crowdfunding with Shopify, with proper support for stretch goals and everything. I love the fact that something called Craigstarter exists, and released into the wild for everyone to use too.

    Also, this resonated well with me, because Craig’s projects are funded by his Special Projects membership drive:

    I see all members as voters, but Yearly Members are like mini-investors. As I wrote in Kickstartup: “I want to share with you a story about books, publishing, fundraising and seed capital.” Yearly Memberships are seed capital. I don’t mean that in the way of crude, spreadsheet driven, emotionless capital deployment, but in the freedom-unlocking, the opportunity-giving way. Obviously, members are not only “seed capital,” but the dollar amount of Yearly Memberships, in aggregate, become a kind of Kalman filter or linear quadratic estimation in a way that Monthly amounts aren’t. Yearly members say: Ya got a year, delight me! And if I fail to do so, the onus is on me. So, as a thanks to Yearly Supporters for that pledge of faith, I see the $50 coupon as a kind of financial dividend (beyond all the cultural dividends I hope the program inherently pays).

    Read about the project in Roden 042, which – of course – is a newsletter.

  • The number of contactable alien civilizations: 36

    File this one under how is this news, or maybe arbitrary number that makes headlines because someone said so, but still:

    Under the strictest set of assumptions – where, as on Earth, life forms between 4.5bn and 5.5bn years after star formation – there are likely between four and 211 civilisations in the Milky Way today capable of communicating with others, with 36 the most likely figure. But Conselice noted that this figure is conservative, not least as it is based on how long our own civilisation has been sending out signals into space – a period of just 100 years so far.

    Want to chat with said alien civilizations? Then we’d look at 6,120 years for a reply… Yeah, technology’s not really there yet.

  • You should own your email too

    You should own your email too

    I’ve been on your back in regards to owning your words for quite sometime, advocating quitting social media, and outlining how I aim to tread that not at all uncomplicated road.

    But what about email?


  • Hey, Bye

    Basecamp’s hyped email service Hey, which is invite-only and costs at least $99/year (because shorter messages carry a premium price), has a very manifesto-like website. Check it out.

    Now, if you – like me – are pissed off about not getting an invite yet, there’s always Bye instead. Bye takes a slightly different approach:

    Hey everyone—

    It’s 2020 and we need to talk about email.

    Fuck it.

    Bye is the first email service to automatically respond with an insult, and then delete every email sent to you.

    Bye is our erotic letter to email, and we’re sending it to you on the Web, Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, McDonald’s kiosks and Android.

    I love things like this. Hat-tip to my buddy Alexander for sharing this gem with me.

  • Another reason not to use Zoom

    If you needed yet another reason not use hyped videoconferencing service Zoom, then this is it. They’re launching end-to-end encryption for calls (yay!), but only for paying users, whom are all criminals it seems.

    From the Wired story:

    “Free users for sure we don’t want to give that,” Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said in a company earnings call on Tuesday referring to end-to-end encryption, “because we also want to work together with FBI, with local law enforcement in case some people use Zoom for a bad purpose.”

    This is stupid in so many ways. Good riddance, Zoom.

    Alternatives for your online conversation needs: Jitsi (open source and free videoconferencing tool), Telegram and Signal works too. The latter has a nice blur feature, if you need that.

  • Twitter vs. Facebook

    There’s a real difference between Twitter and Facebook, and I don’t mean in features, but in morals. Twitter, the smaller by far of the two, has (finally) applied its fact checking and terms-abiding features to the likes of US President Donald Trump, making him throw both a tantrum and an executive order (here dissected by The Verge). Facebook on the other hand doesn’t want to censor anything, which sounds nice but feels shady, especially since Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg says:

    We believe that if a post incites violence, it should be removed regardless of whether it is newsworthy, even if it comes from a politician.

    That sort of clashes with Trump’s way of saying and doing things, and how his loyal fans have a tendency to harass and threaten. Facebook is in the wrong here, but Twitter is dangerously close to falling off their high horse. While it’s good to fact check and enforce policies on the US President, that now has to go for the whole platform. It’s unlikely any of this will end well.

    ⚡️ See also: My Socia Needia essay, and Services I’m Quitting.

  • Services I’m Quitting

    Services I’m Quitting

    Social networks gobble up your time like a hungry duck, while also taking all your thoughts, your photos, your insights, and your personal information, and selling it. That’s disgusting, isn’t it? It’s not just what you and I write either, it’s people, places and companies we mention, which means you get targeted by association too.


  • Hi, HEY

    Basecamp is doing something with email, called HEY. They have a glorious domain name for it too, I’m intrigued, because although I’m not an active Basecamp user at the moment, I have been, and they’re doing a lot of things right.

    So I sent them an email, as requested.


  • So I sold a company

    So I sold a company

    I started the Odd Alice web agency in 2010, as a spin-off to another company. The idea was to not say no to so many gigs, because it turns out that writing books about WordPress is a great way to get work. Malin joined as a founder, and we ran and owned the company up until August 1st this year, when the deal reached the point of merging offices.

    Odd Alice has joined 24HR, and a new chapter begins.

    Personally, I’ve stepped in as interim boss person at the Stockholm office. There you’ll also find most of the team, alongside the fine folks already at the 24HR Stockholm office. I’m also involved in the overarching scheme of things, which means that I’m looking forward to figure out what we can do with 24HR and its two offices (Malmö and Stockholm). I’m sure it’ll be an interesting ride. There are plenty of things to do.

    I’d like to thank my fellow co-workers at Odd Alice for getting us this far. This was never a solo show, it’s been a team effort all along.

    Alexander, David, Mikael, Rickard, Jesper, and Maria, you’re all bloody great, it’s been awesome having you on this trip for a little while.

    Mark, Mattias, Anders, and Marco, I’m delighted to get to keep working and hanging out with you guys. Together we’ll make it even further, climb even higher, and drink even better whisky.

    And finally, Malin. This wouldn’t have happened without you. The odd little Alice-being has grown up to something new. That’s a good thing we did, isn’t it?

    It’s been a hell of a ride, and it’s not over yet. Onwards!

  • On the app subscription model

    On the app subscription model

    1Password, Day One, and now Ulysses, turn to the subscription model. I don’t think this is a good thing.

    1Password started to push for their server sync feature, with personal and family accounts. Subscribe ($36 for personal, $60 for family), get your passwords in the cloud, that sort of thing. It works well enough, we use it at my agency, but I don’t particularly like it. The main reason is that it is a potentially faulty chain in my security. 1Password is well know, hell, I’ve praised it so many times anyone looking for my stuff illicitly would start there! So now my passwords are as safe as 1Password can make them on their servers, with the added layer of complexity of their very own service. If they screw up something in their server architecture, I’m at risk. If they happen to be caught up in the next Heartbleed, if there’s a government backdoor in their server OS, my passwords are at risk. Encrypted, but still at risk.

    Now, all cloud services screw up from time to time. Nothing is ever 100% safe. Dropbox has had security breaches, why wouldn’t 1Password? I’ll go one step further: With Dropbox, you don’t know what you’ll find should you get in. With 1Password, you know you’ll find passwords.

    I don’t like it.

    Which brings me to journaling app and service Day One. They forced their own sync service on their users, keeping their Classic version available for legacy users. Who wants an abandoned version that won’t get proper updates? No one, that’s who – Classic is more of a PR move than anything else. So they forced us to move our journals to their own sync engine. It works well enough, but to begin with traffic wasn’t encrypted. That’s scary, your words are traveling from your device to their servers in plain fucking text. Better not write something too personal in your journal, eh?

    It got worse when they moved to the premium subscription model ($35/year as an introductory price, $25/year for current users), with chaos around current customers (that all get some sort of account) and paying ones. It’s still somewhat unclear what it’ll mean for those of us who’ve bought the apps (plural) over the years, and got our accounts upgraded. We’ll get a basic experience, but obviously premium subscribers will get a better one, right? The verdict is out on this one, and Day One support has been stellar trying to solve weird things that especially seems to happen to Apple family accounts. Still, it’s a journaling app that wants me to subscribe to a service that, let’s face it, is less secure than iCloud. That’s a weak pitch to a faulty business model in my opinion.

    Then there’s Ulysses. I’m supposed to subscribe to this writing app ($40/year) now. Current users get 50% off, which is applauded all over the Apple-centric blogosphere.

    Why should I subscribe to a text editor again?

    “It’s because the developers need to make money, stupid!”

    I don’t begrudge anyone making money, especially not when it’s quality software like Ulysses (or Day One, or 1Password – they’re all in my setup as I’m writing this). But why should I pay to be able to edit files I authored, in an app I paid for? That’s what happens if I decide not to subscribe, my app turns read only. I’ll have to export my content and move elsewhere.

    Am I going to subscribe to my web browser next? To my email client? Is everything turning into a subscription because the marketplace has dumped its prices on itself? Will anything that isn’t open source just plain implode?

    That’s not going to work. Three apps all want me to pay money, a total of $111 per year (assuming only personal accounts, discounts will bring that down a bit). They all get daily use from me, no brainer to pay up, right?

    Well, no. Again, I don’t begrudge the developers making money, and I sure won’t say that any of these apps aren’t worth their asking price. I will say that they’re not acting in the best interest of the customer, however.

    • 1Password pushes a service that will make my passwords more vulnerable to attack, and add very little if anything to my experience as a user.
    • Day One pushes a service that offer no immediate benefit to the user over the original iCloud sync, unless you want to publish your journal entries on their thing which they could charge for (but nobody’d pay).
    • Ulysses locks all my documents and charges me to use their app with no benefit over the current version whatsoever.

    Yeah, that’s all about the user experience and satisfaction, isn’t it?

    I get it though. People buy an app and then they use it for years. If that app was $3 then that’s not a lot of money per user, especially if you decided to build and host an infrastructure. That costs money. I get it. Ulysses developer Max Seelemann explains why they decided on going down the subscription route. Subscription income brings stability and room to grow, no doubt about it. But how many apps and services can we afford to subscribe to? The three mentioned here – 1Password, Day One, and Ulysses – are all popular choices. You could argue that Ulysses is a ”pro” app, and thus it can (and maybe should) cost more, but the same can be said about the other two. Add a subscription to a todo app, a project management app, and maybe an office app, and you’ll be well over $200/year. God forbid you have further needs than that…

    I don’t think forcing people to sign up for a subscription is the solution. 1Password is great, and still usable through Dropbox sync, but it won’t be in the long run, no matter what they say. At least not if you want all the bells and whistles. Day One still works for current customers, but sooner or later you’ll have to pay to not get a lesser experience (and I’m still not sure if my data is encrypted or not). Ulysses just makes your content read only, which clearly is the biggest dick move of them all. I love their app, but they’re trying to bully me into paying a monthly fee.

    Why are you applauding this? What is the upside?

    Is it that app developers get paid? Short term, sure. Long term, hundreds of competing developers will see an opening and burst in with apps, clones perhaps, but without subscriptions. These apps might not be as good, but if they’re good enough then that’s it. We’ll get worse apps for no reason other than that we’ve enabled broken business models.

    We all need to pay rent and mortgages, buy food and all that goes with life. Developers and users alike, we’re all entitled to a good life, or at least I like to think so. That means that we’ll have to pay for what we use. If a developer charges $3 or $5 for an app once, then never again, then that’s a bad deal as soon as support, maintenance, and new features overtake the steady flow of new customers. No doubt about it. $15 once? $30? When does it become a good deal? That’ll depend. As Max Seelemann points out in his aforelinked post, the spikes of releases makes it tricky to make ends meet. The app stores are skewed.

    If you charge $40 per year to use your app, you better have a damn good argument. Because you’re just a place I store my passwords, a collection of journal entries, or a bunch of organized text files. I can replace any of you right now, for a nominal cost, and if I can then so can everyone else. Because $40/year is a lot for an app, and it’s a huge step away from our idea of what an app should cost and how it should be paid for. You better damn well bring something new to the table, not limit what I already bought.

    None of these much loved apps succeed at this. They’re forcing their new business models onto their users. It might be necessary for them to survive, but it is disrespectful. I don’t think the users will stand for it in the long run, and we’ll be short some amazing apps.

  • Twitter DMs are dead

    Twitter DMs are dead

    It’s no secret that I prefer Twitter (say hi to @tdh if you like) out of the social media offerings available. The short form format is something special, in my opinion. I don’t belong to the crowd that thinks adding more characters per tweet is necessarily a good idea. 140 characters might be a bit arbitrary, a relic from texting days, but there are other issues with the platform that are more pressing.

    Like direct messages, or DMs. From being all but ignored by the product leads, to trying to take on proper messaging apps, DMs are the forgotten stepchild of whatever sort of dysfunctional family this is supposed to be. Don’t get me wrong, I actually preferred Twitter DMs to other messaging options for a long time, and while the character limit can be a good thing for public tweets, lifting said limit for private talk made DMs brilliant to use.

    Side note: Twitter is much like Facebook in their DM strategy. From keeping everything public and making it hard to do anything in private, to trying to enable private conversation on the platform with group DMs and the lifted character limit. This is the same as Facebook moving from “post everything public” to “start private groups” to build your local communities. It all boils down to us, the users, not wanting to be entirely as open as these social media behemoths initially thought, or perhaps hoped. Privacy is a thing, so they need to lure you into feeling that you are indeed in control of your content and persona on social media.

    Back to DMs and how they’re dead. It wasn’t Twitter’s changes that killed them for me, it’s all those bloody auto-DMs. For some reason, social media professionals and the services they want you to use all recommend you to set up an auto DM when someone follows you. And you know what, why not do follow-ups on that to make sure that your new follower absolutely retweets your pinned tweet or buys your book.


    Thanks for following me. I know your time is precious so let me just get right to the point and tell you about myself. I’m an author from somewhere who’s got a brand new book out, called XYZ OR WHATEVER. I worked so hard on it! You can read more about it and buy it on Amazon.

    Amazon link: YEP THAT GOES HERE

    Please visit my homepage for more about myself.


    Oh and could you do me a favor? Please retweet my pinned tweet. I’d love to return the favor if you do that. Just let me know.

    Have a great day! Looking forward to the convesation.

    Sent with UnfollowspyCrowdfireWhatever. (Want this? Sign up for UnfollowspyCrowdfireWhatever for free!)

    Yeah, I’m not going to do any of that. While the above is an adapted version of several auto DMs, because I’m not going to point any fingers here, they’re all about the same. It looks like a parody of social media marketing, doesn’t it?

    There are so many things wrong with these auto DMs.

    1. Why are you introducing yourself with something that’s probably already on your Twitter bio?
    2. Speaking of the bio, I bet your URL is there. I don’t need that in my DMs.
    3. I just followed you and you want me to retweet your pinned tweet, just like that? And you’ll return the favor, will you? What if I believe in space monkeys hiding in plain sight as the rulers of the world? Oh and they’re nazi clowns and hungry hippos too. Wait, that sort of makes sense, but you get my drift. I bet you won’t retweet that just because I pinned it.
    4. So you wrote a book or created a product, and you want me to buy it? I get that, but maybe not just throw a clumsy ad my way first thing.

    There was a time when I just plain unfollowed anyone who sent me an auto DM, but that just doesn’t work anymore. It’s too common, and it didn’t really change anything in terms of the DM inbox.

    The big problem with auto DMs is that they bury the real DMs. I’ve missed a ton of those the past year, people who actually want to converse, not bots and scripts trying to trick me into doing things.

    So yeah, good job social media professionals. Way to go killing DMs for the rest of us.