Write: where handwriting and digital editing meet

Write is a curious product. The goal is to take your handwritten notes, and make them editable in a digital format. You have to watch the demo video to really see how this works:

I’m not sure what to think about it. I take handwritten notes quite a bit these days, so the idea of making my handwritten notes more useful to me than a static PDF or image (at the moment, I capture many of my handwritten notes into Evernote where they’re OCR’d – hypothetically).

At the same time, being able to edit my notes almost like I’d edit typed notes seems a little weird. One of the reasons that handwritten notes are helpful is because writing apparently helps improve retention, and because I don’t need to open an app on a device to take notes. I can just open my notebook and start writing.

Bringing those notes into a digital editor seems to remove some of the benefit of writing in the first place. Or perhaps a better way to think about this is to see it as a sort of post-processing stage where you take your raw notes, and finish them off in some way.

A feed reader that lets me comment and like?

I use Feedly to subscribe to sites that I follow. I was just reading through some of the feeds, and I realised that I don’t seem to have a way to give feedback on posts, from Feedly.

For example, if I read something that I like, I’d like to, well, “Like” the post, or leave a comment from my feed reader.

The only feed reader that has this capability is the WordPress.com Reader, and that’s pretty much focused on WordPress sites.

Do other feed readers do this too? 🤔

Screenshots from my browser console? Oh Firefox, you spoil me!

This is awesome, particularly the ability to screenshot specific elements using element-specific flags:

Firefox DevTools has now added a screenshot command, so you can take screenshots directly from the Console

An alternative to Israel’s expensive Microsoft licensing dilemma

Interesting article on OnMSFT: Israel, scared off by Microsoft subscription deals, won’t renew Office licensing agreements:

Under the current deal with Microsoft, Israel pays about $27 million a year for Office on the desktop, Windows, and server software being used across the government. The ministry issued a bold statement, saying “This will also encourage government ministries to re-examine their needs of using Microsoft technology or switch to other technology alternatives.”

Open source solutions are worth exploring. I’d love to see Israel adopt something like
LibreOffice, especially for schools where PowerPoint slides have become the default choice for notices.

I think Linux also makes a lot of sense for most people who just default to Windows because their computers come with it (albeit at a cost).

Schools, in particular, shouldn’t be sitting with PCs running Windows 2000. They can probably revitalise their old PCs with a lightweight Linux distro, and give kids an opportunity to use them for more than just gaming.

Certainly a switch like this is only possible with an investment, but the longer term benefits must outweigh the initial costs.

Elephants all the way down

I’ve been trying to follow discussions about a return to blogs as a preferred, personal publishing tool, and how they could integrate with Mastodon. One technology that comes up as a possible way to connect blogs to Mastodon is WebSub (formerly PubSubHubbub).

I read a bit about using Bridgy Fed to do this a while ago.

The Mastodon in the room

I’m curious if there are easier ways to connect a blog to something like Mastodon, and have status updates flow between the two.

One of the people who I try to keep up with (albeit superficially), is Kevin Marks. It’s worth reading his thoughts about Mastodon and Twitter that he published last year: “Mastodon, Twitter and publics 2017-04-24“.

One of the challenges is that the “fediverse” model is somewhat more complex and nuanced than the model we see in Twitter and, to a large degree, in Facebook. On Facebook and Twitter, we tend to have a binary choice: follow or don’t follow.

In a fediverse model, there are more layers, potentially:

The structure of Mastodon and GnuSocial instances provides multiple visible publics by default, and Mastodon’s columnar layout (on wider screens) emphasises this. You have your own public of those you follow, and the notifications sent back in response, as with Twitter. But you also have two more timeline choices – the Local and the Federated. These make the substructure manifest. Local is everyone else posting on your instance. The people who share a server with you are now a default peer group. The Federated public is even more confusing to those with a silo viewpoint. It shows all the posts that this instance has seen – GnuSocial calls it “the whole known network” – all those followed by you and others on your instance. This is not the whole fediverse, it’s still a window on part of it.

This sort of model may be a little more effort than most people would be comfortable with.

Oh Firefox, You Little Resource Hog

I love using Firefox as my primary browser. I prefer using it for a variety of reasons. Lately, though, I’ve noticed that it’s become a bit of a resource hog, and I can’t work out why? I’ve disabled add-ons that I don’t need, and it still uses about 1.4GB of RAM at a minimum for pages that Chrome uses a quarter of RAM for.

Has something changed in Firefox’s architecture? One thought I had is that maybe this has to do with something like page pre-fetching (I think Firefox does that), or something along those lines. I want to sort this out. Chrome seems to be so much better at resource management at the moment.

Update (2018-03-18): Mozilla shared this page to help troubleshoot Firefox memory issues: Firefox uses too much memory (RAM) – How to fix | Firefox Help

Photo by ideadad on Unsplash

Remove Facebook from your phone at your peril

Is the iPad Pro, the "everything" device?

I recently decided to remove Facebook from my phone. I made the decision after finding myself opening the app and frequently being pretty underwhelmed by the updates Facebook insisted on notifying me about.

Although I was tempted to delete the app altogether, I decided to remove the app from my home screen instead. This means I’d need to find it in my app drawer to open it.

The immediate benefit was that I didn’t find myself opening the app because I was bored and then wondered why I bothered. The downside had been that the main utility Facebook has for me has been buried: I’ve started missing birthdays!

Yup, probably the most valuable part of Facebook to me is the birthday calendar and not checking the app obsessively means I have started missing birthdays. I can’t seem to work out how to sync birthday calendars with my phone yet (I think I know how to do it) so I’ve been reliant on the app to remind me.

Aside from that, my decision to remove Facebook from my phone has been worthwhile so far. I don’t open the app out of mindless habit. I don’t have that regret when I do and I have replaced Facebook’s spot on my home screen with Feedly instead.

Much better use of that attention-grabbing spot.

If you’ve been dissatisfied with your Facebook experience lately and you’re tempted to remove it from your mobile device, just consider the loss of the features like the birthday calendar and decide if it’s worth it.

Blogging software and good shoes

Dave Winer commenting on his new blogging software:

It was the right thing to do. Often software only feels that way before you use it. The really good stuff feels that way even after you’ve settled in.

I like my software like I like good, new shoes: it feels good when I start using it and just feels more comfortable and natural the more I do.