We ended up not watching Star Trek: Discovery when it launched because we didn’t want to add another streaming service at the time. Same with Picard. Sometime during the last two years we ended up adding Paramount+ (or whatever it was called at the time) for some reason, and earlier this year we decided to start watching some of the newer shows.

Warning: If you plan on doing the same, stop reading Memory Alpha until you’re caught up! Katie and I each got spoiled for different twists in Discovery from headlines on things like the list of popular articles of the day.

We started with Discovery season one, then interleaved season two with the first season of Picard.

We grown-ups liked the first season of Discovery, liked, well, parts of the second season, and had mixed feelings about Picard.

J. really enjoyed watching Discovery but had no interest whatsoever in Picard once he’d seen the first episode. Fair enough — people like different things, and Picard is a different type of show, a bit less action, a bit more thoughtful at times, and it works best if you know the returning characters (and their relationships to Data) already. And while he’s seen a handful of Next Gen episodes, he’s never connected with it.

Interleaving Discovery S2 and Picard S2 was kind of weird when we saw them hitting a lot of the same beats with the plot.

sorta spoilery
Not just the overall powerful AI wants to wipe out all sentient life arcs, but sometimes specific beats. The weirdest was when we watched two episodes where a compromised character sacrificed themselves at the end of the episode to save their crewmates from the entity they’d been compromised by.
Also, the emphasis on “sentient” life in both, while I was reading the classic novel Little Fuzzy which uses the more accurate term “sapient” (as in Homo sapiens) to refer to thinking lifeforms.

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!