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.

Two hot takes (so to speak):

Auto-updaters shouldn’t run when the system is really busy.

And installers that check to see the whether the same or newer version is “already installed” should either be really thorough about what they’re checking, or offer to do a repair install anyway.

Overheat!

I’d fired up a game of No Man’s Sky, which even after redoing the thermal paste and adding another case fan still pushes the limits of my system’s cooling, especially if I forget to wait for all the background processes to finish loading on Windows startup. I left a space station, landed on a planet, started mucking around with the structure I had found, and hit a waypoint pole to save again—

And the system shut down.

I turned it back on to get the fans running again and help cool off. Which worked. But when I logged in, I had a bunch of errors with Google Drive. Apparently its auto-update launched during my GPU-intensive game and overheated it enough to reach the shutdown threshold.

Fortunately, I’d just saved my game — or so I thought.

I spent about half an hour trying to fix Google Drive before I decided to just go back to the game for now.

No Man’s Sky picked up seamlessly…at the previous save. Maybe the write cache hadn’t been flushed yet or something. I’m glad I only lost about a minute of gameplay, though… I’ve got several hundred hours on this save file, and I’d hate for it to get lost or corrupted!

Anyway, back to Google Drive. I couldn’t reinstall it because I couldn’t uninstall it, and despite my efforts I couldn’t remove enough traces of it for the installer to be willing to run. You can read the whole reinstalling Drive saga on my troubleshooting site, along with the taskbar that lost its icons halfway through.

I eventually fixed it by copying the installed program files from another system and running the uninstaller manually. That resolved both the taskbar icons and the Drive installer being willing to run.

Then I dragged myself into bed.

Yeah, it was a fun Saturday night. 🙄

At first I thought this was related to Windows losing drives on wake. It started happening around the same time, it also involved waking up from sleep, and the CD/DVD drive was disappearing in Windows along with the vanishing hard drive.

But while moving the cables fixed that problem, it didn’t fix this one.

It was only mildly annoying, especially compared to regularly losing access to a large chunk of local storage, so I figured I’d come back to it later.

Other people are seeing this too and it’s a recent bug in the Linux kernel. At least with Fedora’s rapid kernel updates I probably won’t have to wait too long between when the patch lands and when it hits my desktop. It’s been years since I compiled my own kernel, and I don’t feel like starting that up again now!

On Monday, the home laptop mysteriously started lagging on heavily-modded Minecraft worlds that it had been just fine with the day before. Katie tried all kinds of troubleshooting over the next few days: using different launchers, trying local and server-based games, disabling mods, reinstalling Sophos, rebooting the system repeatedly. Nothing helped.

Until she checked the system update panel. Sure, it had a notification dot, but it always has one because it wants us to update to Big Sur, and we’re not quite ready to upgrade the system from Catalina. So it wasn’t obvious that it hadn’t actually installed Monday’s macOS update despite multiple reboots and a checkbox to automatically install updates.

Not that you’d expect a missing update to be the cause of the problem, since the lag only just started happening. But still, worth a shot. Especially since it started around the time the update was released.

(Incidentally, 2.3 GB? It’s only been a few weeks since the previous update. Did Apple just give up on deltas a while back and start shipping the entire OS every time there‚Äôs a bug fix?)

She had to manually tell it to install, and then force-shutdown the machine, because it wouldn’t restart on its own. Then the update installed.

And the Minecraft lag mysteriously disappeared.

Which means one of two things happened. Either:

  • Just knowing that the update existed caused something to chew up or block resources.
  • The OS silently started to install the update and got stuck, leaving the system in a broken state without telling anyone.

Neither of those is what I’d call encouraging.