While I’m griping about Instagram, why the heck are the detailed notification preferences split between the app and the system notification UI?

That’s terrible design.

Well, if it’s intended for usability, anyway.

If your goal is to make people see more notifications, though… 🙄

Yeah.

IMO there are two sensible ways to handle granular push notification preferences:

  1. Use the system’s per-app settings for all of it. (Tusky does this, even putting your per-account preferences in the system UI.)
  2. Use the app’s settings for all of it, and let the system just be an on/off toggle for what you’ve chosen in the app (like it was before Android even had UI for it).

Either way, everything’s in the same spot so you know you haven’t missed anything you want to turn off. Or anything you want to turn on, for that matter.

Also on Mastodon.

One of the things I like about Mastodon and Pixelfed and the rest of the Fediverse vs commercial social networks is that they don’t TRY TO GET MY ATTENTION every time I open the page or app and offer ALL THESE THINGS I SHOULD BE LOOKING AT that might be relevant to what it thinks my interests are, to make sure I stay online and don’t stay away again for sooooo long! (Even if it’s only been a few days.)

Seriously:

  • I opened Instagram for the first time in at least a month and I was bombarded with more ads and recommendations than photos from people I was actually following.
  • I opened an alt profile in Twitter yesterday to post something off the cuff, and all the trending topics, pushing new features, etc. were like walking onto the Las Vegas Strip when all you want is a sandwich.

Never mind the normal “You haven’t logged onto Twitter in a few hours, here’s all the stuff you missed, and look, people are posting new stuff while you’re catching up, you’d better keep scrolling! What, you switched to another app for five seconds? Here, I’ll scroll it for you!”

Compared to Mastodon just showing you the latest that you’re actually following. And if you want to fill in what you missed, that’s up to you.

(There’s also the posting culture. On Twitter, people are used to discussing DOOOOOM all the time, so even curating your timeline isn’t always enough if you want to follow people talking, I don’t know, astronomy or whatever, because they’re also talking doom. And the algorithm reinforces it at both ends in a vicious circle, encouraging doom-posting and encouraging doom-scrolling.)

Choice Complaints

None of these complaints is inherent to the structure or functionality of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc. They’re deliberate UI design choices to optimize for the company’s targets. A third party client could bypass it all (which of course is why they basically don’t allow those anymore).

Similarly, Mastodon and Pixelfed and so on could implement UI like this, but they don’t. The project goals aren’t engagement at all costs. And each instance can have its own goals.

Or someone could add an ATTENTION-GRABBING EXPERIENCE on top of the code and launch their own service. And those of us on other instances, running different software, wouldn’t be affected. Unless the site injected ads into the ActivityPub streams going out to people following its users, in which case I imagine a lot of instances would block them really quickly.

Or they could write an app that adds extra popups and keep-scrolling incentives to the phone experience!

I’m not sure many people would consider that an improvement.

Then again, people do use Yahoo mail. 🤷‍♂️

Expanded from Mastodon.

This looks cool: Mozilla has released a translation tool as an add-on for Firefox that can do web page translation locally instead of sending data to the cloud! It’s based on Project Bergamot and implemented in WebAssembly.

IMO translation is one of those things like speech recognition that ideally should have always have been local (for obvious privacy reasons), but the processing and data just wasn’t there yet when Google Translate and similar services launched.

Also posted on Mastodon.

For the second day in a row we’ve gotten a notice of a Covid exposure in the kid’s classroom. One more case and it’s technically an outbreak.

Mask-optional was one thing when cases were low and flat, but the numbers have been climbing for weeks. And that’s not including however many at-home tests don’t get reported. The classroom is now mask-required for the next 10 days, which means the rest of the school year.

Fortunately the kid’s been wearing N95s since before the first exposure!

I looked up the county regs for what to do after a third case. They’re wonderfully vague: “If a DPH outbreak investigation is activated, a public health investigator will contact the school to coordinate the outbreak investigation.”

Well, it’s going to put a damper on end-of year parties, even if it stops here.

Update June 10: They managed to get through the rest of the school year without another Covid case!

WP Tavern summarizes the conversation around WordPress losing CMS marketshare for the first time in ages, and what various people have cited as likely causes.

Personally, I’m finding its increasing complexity to be a major frustration.

  • Writing on WordPress has gotten somewhat more complicated.
  • Maintaining a WordPress site has gotten more complicated.
  • Developing for WordPress has gotten more complicated.
  • The resulting page code (including CSS and Javascript) has gotten a lot more complicated. As I’ve noted before, there’s no good reason to require 450K of data to display a 500-word post. Or a single link with a one-sentence comment.

The move towards Gutenberg blocks and full-site editing complicates things on several levels, and feels like an attempt at lock-in as well.

Ironically, I’ve been moving toward Eleventy, which has also been very frustrating…but only in building the layout I want.

On one hand…

  • I have to develop a lot of the components I want from scratch. More than would have thought. Though I suspect there are enough pre-built layouts out there for most people’s use cases.
  • The documentation is sorely lacking. (Eventually I’ll get around to helping with that.)
  • Dynamic features like comments need to be handled by another program.

But on the other…

  • I can fine tune things a lot more easily than fine tuning a WordPress theme.
  • Once I’m done building the layout, adding a new post is almost as easy as it is on WordPress.
  • My actual post content is portable.
  • There’s essentially no attack surface, so if I have a site that’s “done” I can just build it one last time and leave it as-is — and not worry about spam, maintenance or security (beyond general webserver security).
  • I don’t have to send extra JavaScript libraries along with every page, so it can use a tenth of the bandwidth and load faster on slow connections.

With Eleventy, setting up the layout and features has been super complicated…but once it’s set up, it’s smooth, easy to deal with, and does the job well. It’s kind of like running Linux back in the 1990s.

But with WordPress, there’s complexity in every layer.

Sometimes it’s worth it.

Sometimes it’s not.