1. 13

    Matrix is not decentralised. I suspect that if users jumped onto it like they are right now with Signal, they would head to one instance and we would experience the same issues.

    True decentralisation would be wonderful, but right now it’s not offering what a secure centralised service can, so I have to recommend Signal.

    1. 5

      I don’t see why users joining one server because it’s the default in the most common client makes a protocol centralized.

      1. 4

        I don’t see silo-to-silo communication as fully decentralised, which is why I said “not decentralised” instead of “centralised”. You are still beholden to a server and client model, where you have to trust the server.

        I completely agree with all the trust issues have people have with Signal, I think that for most people they don’t go away with matrix.

        1. 5

          Secure Scuttlebutt is perhaps closer to properly decentralized. There are servers (termed “pubs”), but any client can sync via any pub it has access to.

          Unfortunately, it’s quite hard on the CPU, and hard to write clients for.

          1. 1

            I like ssb but yeah to me it shows that we’re just not quite there yet.

          2. 5

            So what if 80% use the most common 2 servers (like with email)? There’s still the option of going elsewhere without burning all bridges:

            Everybody can (in principle) set up a server and still communicate with the rest. The hard part here is making that process simple enough that everybody does, but at least it’s possible. With Signal (or Whatsapp, Telegram, Threema) you don’t have that option.

            Also there’s work in Matrix-land to distribute the server function (see https://matrix.org/blog/2020/06/02/introducing-p-2-p-matrix/), so the federated system may not be the end of the road.

            There are other systems that provide a p2p experience now (such as SSB) but they’re even less mass-marketable than Matrix, and with communication systems, mass market appeal is, sadly, important.

            1. 5

              How many bridges were burnt in the move from Whatsapp to Signal? The transition is almost completely seamless. If this is the benefit of federated systems, why would people care when moving between two different centralised services was this easy?

              To be clear, I’m not happy with having one person run one server that controls everything. I just haven’t seen anything else that I could give to my non-techie friends and say ‘use this and you won’t notice the difference’. Maybe that’s coming, but for now we have Signal.

              1. 2

                How many bridges were burnt in the move from Whatsapp to Signal? The transition is almost completely seamless.

                Except for those who went for Telegram, Threema or any other platform over Signal. They can either go to Signal too, or they’re cut off.

          3. 4

            It’s the duck test. “A protocol if walks/quacks like a centralised one if there exists some server that affects most of the chat groups yo’re in because at least one member of that group relies on that server.” Disagree if you want, set the threshold where you want, reword the test to be about your correspondents instead of groups, but that’s roughly the argument.

            1.  

              That “test” is not very useful: If your own server goes down, all chat groups you’re in are affected because you’re gone.

              For a true peer to peer system with absolutely no coordinating node (no super nodes, no seed nodes, no query services, no NAT penetrating reflection services) I’d still argue that your own system is your server. And guess what: if that goes down, all your groups are affected because at least one of their members (you) relies on that server.

            2.  

              I’m not exactly fond of Matrix but I agree.

              1. 1

                At the very least it makes us think about what it means for a protocol to be centralized or decentralized.

                Protocols are super interesting, but the reason we discuss (de)centralization is generally due to issues of power and agency that people experience using technology. So I think to a lot of us the more important question is how the system itself - built on the network, implemented by the protocols - is centralized/federated/decentralized and how that impacts the people that interact with it.

                The web is built on a whole stack of decentralized protocols developed in the open, but it’s also more centralized than its ever been.

            1. 35

              e-mail has a lot of legacy cruft. Regardless of the technical merits of e-mail or Telegram or Delta Chat, Signal, matrix.org or whatever, what people need to be hearing today is “WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are unnecessarily invasive. Everyone is moving to X.” If there isn’t a clear message on what X is, then people will just keep on using WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

              It seems clear to me that e-mail is not the frontrunner for X, so by presenting it as a candidate for replacing WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, I think the author is actually decreasing the likelihood that most people will migrate to a better messaging platform.

              My vote is for Signal. It has good clients for Android and iOS and it’s secure. It’s also simple enough that non-technical people can use it comfortably.

              1. 26

                Signal is a silo and I dislike silos. That’s why I post on my blog instead of Twitter. What happens when someone buys Signal, the US government forces Signal to implement backdoors or Signal runs out of donation money?

                1. 10

                  Signal isn’t perfect. My point is that Signal is better than WhatsApp and that presenting many alternatives to WhatsApp is harmful to Signal adoption. If Signal can’t reach critical mass like WhatsApp has it will fizzle out and we will be using WhatsApp again.

                  1. 12

                    If Signal can’t reach critical mass like WhatsApp has it will fizzle out

                    Great! We don’t need more silos.

                    and we will be using WhatsApp again.

                    What about XMPP or Matrix? They can (and should!) be improved so that they are viable alternatives.

                    1. 13

                      (Majority of) People don’t care about technology (how), they care about goal (why).

                      They don’t care if it’s Facebook, Whatsapp, Signal, Email, XMPP, they want to communicate.

                      1. 14

                        Yeah, I think the point of the previous poster was that these systems should be improved to a point where they’re just really good alternatives, which includes branding and the like. Element (formerly riot.im) has the right idea on this IMHO, instead of talking about all sorts of tech details and presenting 500 clients like xmpp.org, it just says “here are the features element has, here’s how you can use it”.

                        Of course, die-hard decentralisation advocates don’t like this. But this is pretty much the only way you will get any serious mainstream adoption as far as I can see. Certainly none of the other approaches that have been tried over the last ~15 years worked.

                        1. 7

                          …instead of talking about all sorts of tech details and presenting 500 clients like xmpp.org, it just says “here are the features element has, here’s how you can use it”.

                          Same problem with all the decentralized social networks and microblogging services. I was on Mastodon for a bit. I didn’t log in very often because I only followed a handful of privacy advocate types since none of my friends or other random people I followed on Twitter were on it. It was fine, though. But then they shut down the server I was on and apparently I missed whatever notification was sent out.

                          People always say crap like “What will you do if Twitter shuts down?”. Well, so far 100% of the federated / distributed social networks I’ve tried (I also tried that Facebook clone from way back when and then Identi.ca at some point) have shut down in one way or another and none of the conventional ones I’ve used have done so. I realize it’s a potential problem, but in my experience it just doesn’t matter.

                          1. 4

                            The main feature that cannot be listed in good faith and which is the one that everybody cares about is: “It has all my friend and family on it”.

                            I know it’s just a matter of critical mass and if nobody switches this will never happen.

                          2. 1

                            Sure, but we’re not the majority of people.. and we shouldn’t be choosing yet another silo to promote.

                          3. 5

                            XMPP and (to a lesser extent) Matrix do need to be improved before they are viable alternatives, though. Signal is already there. You may feel that ideological advantages make up for the UI shortcomings, but very few nontechnical users feel the same way.

                            1. 1

                              Have you tried joining a busy Matrix channel from a federated homeserver? It can take an hour. I think it needs some improvement too.

                              1. 1

                                Oh, definitely. At least in the case of Matrix it’s clear that (1) the developers regard usability as an actual goal, (2) they know their usability could be improved, and (3) they’re working on improving it. I admit I don’t follow the XMPP ecosystem as closely, so the same could be the same there, but… XMPP has been around for 20 years, so what’s going to change now to make it more approachable?

                            2. 4

                              […] it will fizzle out

                              Great! We don’t need more silos.

                              Do you realize you’re cheering for keeping the WhatsApp silo?

                              Chat platforms have a strong network effect. We’re going to be stuck with Facebook’s network for as long as other networks are fragmented due to people disagreeing which one is the perfect one to end all other ones, and keep waiting for a pie in the sky, while all of them keep failing to reach the critical mass.

                              1. 1

                                Do you realize you’re cheering for keeping the WhatsApp silo?

                                Uh, not sure how you pulled that out of what I said, but I’m actually cheering for the downfall of all silos.

                                1. 2

                                  I mean that by opposing the shift to the less-bad silo you’re not actually advancing the no-silo case, but keeping the status quo of the worst-silo.

                                  There is currently no decentralized option that is secure, practical, and popular enough to be adopted by mainstream consumers in numbers that could beat WhatsApp.

                                  If the choice is between WhatsApp and “just wait until we make one that is”, it means keeping WhatsApp.

                              2. 3

                                They can be improved so that they are viable alternatives.

                                Debatable.

                                Great! We don’t need more silos.

                                Domain-name federation is a half-assed solution to data portability. Domain names basically need to be backed by always-on servers, not everybody can have one, and not everybody should. Either make it really P2P (Scuttlebutt?) or don’t bother.

                                1. 2

                                  I sadly agree, which is why logically I always end up recommend signal as ‘the best of a bad bunch’.

                                  I like XMPP, but for true silo-avoidance you need you run your own server (or at least have someone run it under your domain, so you can move away). This sucks. It’s sort of the same with matrix.

                                  The only way around this is real p2p as you say. So far I haven’t seen anything that I could recommend to former whatsapp users on this front however. I love scuttlebutt but I can’t see it as a good mobile solution.

                              3. 8

                                Signal really needs a “web.signal.com”; typing on phones suck, and the destop app is ugh. I can’t write my own app either so I’m stuck with two bad options.

                                This is actually a big reason I like Telegram: the web client is pretty good.

                                1. 3

                                  I can’t write my own app either so I’m stuck with two bad options.

                                  FWIW I’m involved with Whisperfish, the Signal client for Sailfish OS. There has been a constant worry about 3rd party clients, but it does seem like OWS has loosened its policy.

                                  The current Whisperfish is written in Rust, with separate libraries for the protocol and service. OWS is also putting work into their own Rust library, which we may switch to.

                                  Technically you can, and the risk should be quite minimal. At the end of the, as OWS doesn’t support these efforts, and if you don’t make a fool of them, availability and use increases their brand value.

                                  Don’t want to know what happens if someone writes a horrible client and steps on their brand, so let’s be careful out there.

                                  1. 2

                                    Oh right; that’s good to know. I just searched for “Signal API” a while ago and nothing really obvious turned up so I assumed it’s either impossible or hard/hackish. To be honest I didn’t look very deeply at it, since I don’t really care all that much about Signal that much 😅 It’s just a single not-very-active chatgroup.

                                    1. 1

                                      Fair enough, sure. An API might sound too much like some raw web thing - it is based on HTTPS after all - but I don’t think all of it would be that simple ;)

                                      The work gone into the libraries has not been trivial, so if you do ever find yourself caring, I hope it’ll be a happy surprise!

                                  2. 2

                                    The Telegram desktop client is even better than the web client.

                                    1. 3

                                      I don’t like desktop clients.

                                      1. 4

                                        Is there a specific reason why? The desktop version of Telegram is butter smooth and has the same capabilities as the phone version (I’m pretty sure they’re built from the same source as well).

                                        1. 3

                                          Security is the biggest reason for me. Every other week, you hear about a fiasco where a desktop client for some communication service had some sort of remote code execution vulnerability. But there can be other reasons as well, like them being sloppy with their .deb packages and messing up with my update manager etc. As a potential user, I see no benefit in installing a desktop client over a web client.

                                          1. 4

                                            Security is the reason that you can’t easily have a web-based Signal client. Signal is end-to-end encrypted. In a web app, it’s impossible to isolate the keying material from whoever provides the service so it would be trivial for Signal to intercept all of your messages (even if they did the decryption client-side, they could push an update that uploads the plaintext after decryption).

                                            It also makes targeted attacks trivial: with the mobile and desktop apps, it’s possible to publish the hash that you get for the download and compare it against the versions other people run, so that you can see if you’re running a malicious version (I hope a future version of Signal will integrate that and use it to validate updates before it installs them by checking that other users in your network see the same series of updates). With a web app, you have no way of verifying that you’re running the same code that you were one page refresh ago, let alone the same code as someone else.

                                            1. 1

                                              A web based client has no advantages with regards to security. They are discrete topics. As a web developer, I would argue that a web based client has a significantly larger surface area for attacks.

                                              1. 1

                                                When I say security, I don’t mean the security of my communications over that particular application. That’s important too, but it’s nothing compared to my personal computer getting hacked, which means my entire digital life getting compromised. Now you could say a web site could also hijack my entire computer by exploiting weaknesses in the browser, which is definitely a possibility, but that’s not what we hear every other week. We hear stupid zoom or slack desktop client containing a critical remote code execution vulnerability that allows a completely unrelated third party complete access to your computer.

                                            2. 1

                                              I just don’t like opening a new window/application. Almost all of my work is done with one terminal window (in tmux, on workspace 1) and a browser (workspace 2). This works very well for me as I hate dealing with window management. Obviously I do open other applications for specific purposes (GIMP, Geeqie, etc) but I find having an extra window just to chat occasionally is annoying. Much easier to open a tab in my browser, send my message, and close it again.

                                    2. 3

                                      The same thing that’s happening now with whatsapp - users move.

                                      1. 2

                                        A fraction of users is moving, the technically literate ones. Everyone else stays where their contacts are, or which is often the case, installs another messenger and then uses n+1.

                                        1. 2

                                          A fraction of users is moving, the technically literate ones

                                          I don’t think that’s what’s happening now. There have been a lot of mainstream press articles about WhatsApp. The technical users moved to Signal when Facebook bought WhatsApp, I’m now hearing non-technical folks ask what they should migrate to from WhatsApp. For example, one of our administrators recently asked about Signal because some of her family want to move their family chat there from WhatsApp.

                                          1. 1

                                            Yeah these last two days I have been asked a few times about chat apps. I have also noticed my signal contacts list expand by quite a few contacts, and there are lots of friends/family who I would not have expected to make the switch in there. I asked one family member, a doctor, what brought her in and she said that her group of doctors on whatsapp became concerned after the recent announcements.

                                            I wish I could recommend xmpp/OMEMO, but it’s just not as easy to set up. You can use conversations.im, and it’s a great service, but if you are worried about silos you are back to square one if you use their domain. They make using a custom domain as friction-free as possible but it still involves DNS settings.

                                            I feel the same way about matrix etc. Most people won’t run their own instance, so you end up in a silo again.

                                            For the closest thing to whatsapp, I have to recommend Signal. It’s not perfect, but it’s good. I wish you didn’t have to use a phone number…

                                      2. 2

                                        What happens when someone buys Signal, the US government forces Signal to implement backdoors or Signal runs out of donation money?

                                        Not supporting signal in any way, but how would your preferred solution actually mitigate those risks?

                                        1. 1

                                          Many different email providers all over the world and multiple clients based on the same standards.

                                          1. 6

                                            Anyone who has written email software used at scale by the general public can tell you that you will spend a lot of time working around servers and clients which do all sorts of weird things. Sometimes with good reasons, often times with … not so good reasons. This sucks but there’s nothing I can change about that, so I’ll need to deal with it.

                                            Getting something basic working is pretty easy. Getting all emails handled correctly is much harder. Actually displaying all emails well even harder still. There’s tons of edge cases.

                                            The entire system is incredibly messy, and we’re actually a few steps up from 20 years ago when it was even worse.

                                            And we still haven’t solved the damn line wrapping problem 30 years after we identified it…

                                            Email both proves Postel’s law correct and wrong: it’s correct in the sense that it does work, it’s wrong because it takes far more time and effort than it really needs to.

                                            1. 2

                                              I hear you (spent a few years at an ESP). It’s still better than some siloed walled garden proprietary thing that looks pretty but could disappear for any reason in a moment. The worst of all worlds except all others.

                                              1. 2

                                                could disappear for any reason in a moment

                                                I’m not so worried about this; all of these services have been around for ages and I’m not seeing them disappear from one day to the next in the foreseeable future. And even if it does happen: okay, just move somewhere else. It’s not even that big of a deal.

                                                1. 1

                                                  Especially with chat services. There’s not that much to lose. Your contacts are almost always backed up elsewhere. I guess people value their chat history more than I do, however.

                                      3. 11

                                        My vote is for Signal. It has good clients for Android and iOS and it’s secure. It’s also simple enough that non-technical people can use it comfortably.

                                        I’ve recently started using it, and while it’s fine, I’m no fan. As @jlelse, it is another closed-off platform that you have to use, making me depend on someone else.

                                        They seem to (as of writing) prioritize “security” over “user freedom”, which I don’t agree with. There’s the famous thread, where they reject the notion of distributing Signal over F-Droid (instead having their own special updater, in their Google-less APK). What also annoys me is that their desktop client is based on Electron, which would have been very hard for me to use before upgrading my desktop last year.

                                        1. 6

                                          My vote is for Signal. It has good clients for Android and iOS and it’s secure. It’s also simple enough that non-technical people can use it comfortably.

                                          What I hate about signal is that it requires a mobile phone and an associated phone number. That makes it essentially useless - I loathe mobile phones - and very suspect to me. Why can’t the desktop client actually work?

                                          1. 2

                                            I completely agree. At the beginning of 2020 I gave up my smartphone and haven’t looked back. I’ve got a great dumb phone for voice and SMS, and the occasional photo. But now I can’t use Signal as I don’t have a mobile device to sign in to. In a word where Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android, and iOS all exist as widely used operating systems, Signal is untenable as it only as full featured clients for two of these operating systems.

                                            Signal isn’t perfect.

                                            This isn’t about being perfect, this is about being accessible to everyone. It doesn’t matter how popular it becomes, I can’t use it.

                                            1. 1

                                              What I hate about signal is that it requires a mobile phone and an associated phone number.

                                              On the bright side, Signal’s started to use UUIDs as well, so this may change. Some people may think it’s gonna be too late whenever it happens, if it does, but at least the protocols aren’t stagnant!

                                              1. 1

                                                They’ve been planning on fixing that for a while, I don’t know what the status is. The advantage of using mobile phone numbers is bootstrapping. My address book is already full of phone numbers for my contacts. When I installed Signal, it told me which of them are already using it. When other folks joined, I got a notification. While I agree that it’s not a great long-term strategy, it worked very well for both WhatsApp and Signal to quickly bootstrap a large connected userbase.

                                                In contrast, most folks XMPP addresses were not the same as their email addresses and I don’t have a lot of email addresses in my address book anyway because my mail clients are all good at autocompleting them from people who have sent me mail before, so I don’t bother adding them. As a result, my Signal contact list was instantly as big as my Jabber Roster became after about six months of trying to get folks to use Jabber. The only reason Jabber was useable at all for me initially was that it was easy to run an ICQ bridge so I could bring my ICQ contacts across.

                                                1. 1

                                                  Support for using it without a phone number remains a work in progress. The introduction of PINs was a stepping stone towards that.

                                            1. 3

                                              quiterss

                                              1. 1

                                                I just switched to quiterss from newsboat, it’s great. Really impressed with how quickly it manages to reload feeds.

                                              1. 10

                                                Until March this year I was using an x200, partly because I’m a nerd and wanted to use libreboot and partly because it just kept working and working.

                                                Most old laptops are fine for day to day use if you stick an SSD in there and maybe upgrade the RAM, get a not-too-bloated linux distro.

                                                Now I have a T495, it’s fine. I miss the keyboard off the old one and it feels far less well built. I also miss the 4:3 screen.

                                                The biggest thing that keeps the x200 in the cupboard now is the screen brightness. It’s a small detail, but it’s so so dim compared to anything you get on later models. In the light it’s hard to use, and I have a bright living room. I even replaced the panel which improved things, but not enough.

                                                When I compare the two, the x200 at 100% brightness is about the same as the T495 at 10%.

                                                1. 2

                                                  I don’t think the x200 has a 4:3 screen. The last 4:3 was the x61s.

                                                  1. 1

                                                    A lot of those laptops have a screen brightness setting buried in the BIOS, just in case you haven’t already seen it.

                                                  1. 7

                                                    I love your pricing page - those ‘our choice’ tags are such bullshit.

                                                    1. 4

                                                      What, like somehow $999,999.98 isn’t the best value for you?

                                                      1. 2

                                                        What happens if someone seriously wants the $999k plan?

                                                        1. 16

                                                          I write an “amazing journey” post detailing how the service is seriously definitely never getting shut down for at least three days and retire on a beach while you deal with the rotting service.

                                                          1. 1

                                                            What startup is the phrase “amazing journey” in reference to?

                                                            1. 14

                                                              Many.

                                                              1. 3

                                                                Many! I think I’ve seen “incredible journey” used with that one email program you had to wait in line to get, one of the post-Flickr photo sites, Vine maybe?

                                                            2. 1

                                                              He throws a party… I mean… hires a lawyer and makes a Series-A announcement?

                                                        1. 19

                                                          I remember that I started using it for traveling as a student. Trains weren’t providing a wifi connection and 3G in trains isn’t working well. With this tool, I could download conference talks and watch them in the train without problems. So many hours with interesting content!

                                                          1. 8

                                                            For a good while I had very poor internet, but I liked watching YouTube. Instead of hogging up the bandwidth, I wrote a script to download latest videos via RSS and youtube-dl overnight.

                                                            Every morning I’d have a load of videos sitting waiting for me!

                                                            I probably still use this program 3-4 times a week (in conjunction with mpv to ‘stream’ the video), it’s brilliant.

                                                          1. 5

                                                            This is a fun one, but I never remember to use it.

                                                            1. 1

                                                              Same, and then I found out it was noticeably slowing down my shell startup time so I dropped it…

                                                            1. 3

                                                              I’ve had a similar set up for a couple of years now and love it! You can also throw Syncthing on a personal server for a way to sync your database when one device is offline for whatever reason.

                                                              1. 2

                                                                Yeah I also run a syncthing ‘server’. It just makes everything go smoothly. I guess I might as well use nextcloud, but I don’t like the bottomless pit of features it seems to be turning into.

                                                                1. 2

                                                                  I stopped running Nextcloud long ago for exactly that reason. It feels like it does a bad job at everything.

                                                              1. 2

                                                                On Linux you can get around this by using middle-click copy/paste. Still doesn’t make it a good idea…

                                                                1. 1

                                                                  Well, i use the primary selection buffer as my main clipboard, utilizing the clibboard only for long term storage. And to my knowledge, browsers cannot have an effect on that buffer (doesn’t work on the page above)

                                                                  I don’t think there’s something wrong with pasting code from a website, as you have to always read carefully the code before copying/typing/… it into a shell

                                                                1. 1

                                                                  I don’t often hit the save link here on lobsters but this is one I am saving to re-read again.

                                                                  1. 2

                                                                    I am already way down the rabbit hole today, thanks to this link. I think I always knew I was going to like messing about with radios, but I did not know you could log into other people’s devices. I live in an apartment in the city so this is great (or terrible if you ask my wife).

                                                                    1. 1

                                                                      On the plus side your signal to noise ratio will be way higher, but be careful how you explain it to her.

                                                                  1. 2

                                                                    As of today, Linux Journal is back, and operating under the ownership of That Green Website Media.

                                                                    That doesn’t bode well.

                                                                    Many years back I subscribed (after their digital-only change). Initially I found a lot of the articles interesting, but after about a year I wasn’t interested any more.

                                                                    To make an interesting magazine you need to (1) find interesting topics and (2) write something interesting about them. I found that most of their content became (1) find any software and (2) write anything about it.

                                                                    1. 2

                                                                      I use linux on most devices I own. I read loads of paper magazines. Even I can’t really see why I’d want to read a linux magazine…

                                                                    1. 12

                                                                      One of the smaller pain points on the Mac is that there’s no built in paint tool. I want to use it just often enough that I miss it, but not enough that I want to learn what’s out there and/or pay money for a sophisticated tool.

                                                                      I realize there’s some subjectivity to this, but I think a simple paint tool ought to be part of what’s comes included with every “normal” machine.

                                                                      1. 5

                                                                        I’m using Acorn for MacOS, after seeing a recommendation or two. It’s light, fast and easy (for me) to understand. It was also cheap. I don’t do much - just cropping, copying, pasting, drawing an arrow, etc.

                                                                        1. 3

                                                                          I also endorse Acorn, it’s a great tool. One under appreciated aspect of it- you can open an image, modify it, command + s and it saves it over the original file. No “export as” or “save for web” nonsense.

                                                                          1. 1

                                                                            I second Acorn recommendation, although it’s not really a Paint clone. It’s more like a “subset of Photoshop that a Paint user would recognize”.

                                                                            1. 1

                                                                              Boxy SVG is really nice and free.

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                This one? https://boxy-svg.com/

                                                                                Looks great, but not free to use (15-day free trial is available though). Restricted version is available for free on Linux, but only snap (which I don’t want to use)

                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                  That’s the one. I guess I’ve just been so used to using it that I completely forgot it wasn’t free.

                                                                                  I’m using the Mac version. I guess since I got it from the MAS and didn’t have to go through the license activation rigamarole, it was easy to forget.

                                                                                  Sorry about that.

                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                    sure no problem, the suggestion is still a good one :)

                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                      No worries. I’ll definitely be more careful about double checking things from a while back or qualifying them.

                                                                            2. 4

                                                                              there’s definitely money in it! after trying a bunch of paint alternatives I settled on (not even joking ) renting a $5/mo Windows compute server from Azure for the sole purpose of using MS Paint…

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                You can run MS Paint using Wine. Super easy to install with WineBottler too.

                                                                              2. 3

                                                                                If your goal is to draw over a screenshot or an existing picture, you can use Preview for this. It’s not exactly a “dumb” image editor like MS Paint but it has a couple of additional features like recognizing the shapes you draw by hand. It’s very convenient for annotating screenshots if you use “File > New from Clipboard”. Otherwise you can use Pages or Keynote as a vector graphics editor.

                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                  I’ve used Preview for existing screenshots, but I’d also like to be able to start from scratch and scribble.

                                                                                  I didn’t realize that Pages and Keynote were free until just now, but they’re not built-in, so they still fail one test. I’d also suggest that using a document editor to do scribbling/painting is a little surprising and not the thing that comes to mind so easily.

                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                    Mmm, I don’t think they have a mac flavor, but the best thing for screenshots is flameshot.

                                                                                2. 2

                                                                                  I’m with you on this. Both macOS and Linux need a good Paint clone. The other way I battled for hours with Inkscape to do a basic image manipulation with cutting and pasting, something that would take seconds on Paint. Not because Inkscape is a bad application, but rather because I haven’t learned it and don’t have the need to do it for my daily tasks.

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                                                                                      kolourpaint.

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                                                                                        I wouldn’t use inkscape, it’s more of a vector thing, I use GIMP for images. It doesn’t matter though because I think your point still stands, the learning curve is steep.

                                                                                        The closest I have come to something simpler out of the box is Krita.

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                                                                                        I had the same complaint, and apparently I installed this: https://paintbrush.sourceforge.io/. Although I can’t remember when I last used it.

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                                                                                        $18/year is probably cheap enough that you don’t care, but FWIW, Backblaze B2 is about 3x cheaper and works well with tools that don’t need to run on the server, like restic, but borg won’t work because it needs a server-side client. I don’t know how restic and borg compare for ease of use.

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                                                                                          I switched to restic for a few years after using borg, because of the cost savings. It’s pretty good and works with any old S3 host, I use wasabi.

                                                                                          I have gone back to borg because it is so much quicker when it comes to indexing and pruning old snapshots. Last I heard restic had a fix for this in the pipeline, so perhaps this has changed.

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                                                                                            I don’t know how restic and borg compare for ease of use.

                                                                                            Me neither, but one thing I really like about restic is that it lets you FUSE-mount backups as a filesystem, which is really nice for restoring specific files from a particular date. (Edit: just saw that Borg supports mounting too.)

                                                                                            I am also a happy user of restic + B2 (have been using it for several years).

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                                                                                            I can also vouch for borgbase if you need borg-supported cloud storage.

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                                                                                              Super classy comment (in my opinion) from the original author of htop, regarding the fork: https://github.com/hishamhm/htop/issues/992#issuecomment-683286672

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                                                                                                I expected your comment to be sarcastic but hishamhm’s reply really is supportive!

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                                                                                                  Wonderful reply. I can’t imagine what it must be like to write a small utility then have it grow so popular it shapes your whole life.

                                                                                                  That’s the double edged-FOSS sword I guess. I’m amazed and grateful that there are people out there like Hisham.

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                                                                                                    It is an entirely valid choice to not let it shape your whole life. Which is what happened here, I guess :-) And I can totally relate.

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                                                                                                    Hisham is a great person. Like many I have come to know him through the Lua community, and then learned the h in htop meant “Hisham”.

                                                                                                    He is maintaining a lot of important packages in Lua land, and also has a few other personal projects such as tl and dit. I can understand why he was overwhelmed. :)

                                                                                                    If you are interested in htop and its “recent” evolutions this talk is worth watching.

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                                                                                                    youtube-dl is amaze. Having the file local makes seeking much less of a pain.

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                                                                                                      I am amazed at just how much non-youtube stuff I’ve managed to download with it.

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                                                                                                        It works on p-hub.

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                                                                                                      I like LaTeX! At one point during my bachelor’s degree I could take calculus notes in realtime with LaTeX, I kinda miss using LaTeX for all my documentation needs.

                                                                                                      Whenever I need to write a paper with “real” citations I go back to LaTeX so I don’t have to manually format everything.

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                                                                                                        Same here, though I’ve been using Jekyll Scholar for online things. The Liquid syntax is pretty clunky, but it can parse BibTeX files and generate nice output. I use it for my University home page, with both the most-recent publications list on the main page and the complete publications page being generated from the same .bib file. The BibTeX rendering that it does is sanitised BibTeX, generated from its own data structures, not just a text copy of the source, so it’s a lot cleaner than the cruft I end up pasting in there!

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                                                                                                          When I need to write letters I do them in LaTeX, it’s really good for consistent output.

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                                                                                                          One of my favorite Vim books is still Drew Neil’s Practical Vim. That book is a great read and it changed how I use Vim. I’ve bought it for a lot of my co workers.

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                                                                                                            Author of screencast here. Cannot agree more about Practical Vim being the best resource out there. I’m such a fan that when he was in town I booked a day of Vim training with him.

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                                                                                                              I need to go back to it I think. I am not very smart and forget stuff that I don’t use, but that book was jam packed with handy hints.

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                                                                                                                (Author here) The key factor, for me, in improving my Vim ability was to create a dotfiles README where I documented everything I learned and referred back to it again and again until the commands were seared into my fingers.

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                                                                                                                  I think this applies to almost everyone; there’s actually a bunch of things in Vim that I know exist, but don’t really use much anyway.

                                                                                                                  For example to select an entire { .. } block you can use va{V, but generally I’ll just manually go to one of the brackets (e.g. with [[, [{, {, or just moving the cursor) and use V%. This is rarely faster, but I got in the habit of doing it like that years ago before I really knew about text objects and such, and now I’m kinda stuck with it 😅

                                                                                                                  I’m mostly okay with this, since I try to optimize for cognitive load rather than absolute speed, and manually moving the cursor tends to be a bit better for that since I don’t need to think so much about what it’s going to select.

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                                                                                                                    I believe one of the greatest aspects of the design of Vim is that you can choose your own tools and level of usage of more ‘advanced’ techniques.

                                                                                                                    Over the years I have slowly added more and more tools to my belt - progressively enhancing, but never needing to, only choosing to when it suited me.

                                                                                                                    For example, it was about ten years before I started using macros. Perhaps another ten before I started moving by searching. Maybe in another ten I’ll use buffers rather than opening an editor for one file, closing it - and opening another later. I use the shell to drive, but I know I can get more of an IDE experience if I ever want to.

                                                                                                                    I don’t think I’d seen the ‘args’ feature before today. When I’ve done multi file edits in the past I’ve passed the names on the command line and done a ‘:n’ to move to the next file at the end of my macro (apologies if that’s wrong - I don’t do it often enough to remember).

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                                                                                                                Is it more appropriate/desirable from your experience to have entire articles available in an RSS feed? I just show title, date, description. Not even image…

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                                                                                                                  Given that I use newsboat as my feed reader, I do appreciate when the whole article is included in the feed - it saves time more than anything. I’ll open it in a GUI web browser if there are images related to the content, though.

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                                                                                                                    I have too many feeds, and when I’m thinning them down the first ones to go are ones without full articles, or at least a few paragraphs.

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                                                                                                                    I don’t know if it is appropriate/desirable in general to include all content in the feed. I personally prefer feeds that include the full text. It seems that I am not the only one because there are commercial products that generate full text feeds from partial ones.

                                                                                                                    My impression is that partial feeds became more popular with publishers as a way to prevent people to bypass their paywalls and/or to monetize page views on their main website. If you monetize your website, I would keep partial articles in your feed. If you don’t monetize it, I would suggest to include a full feed just to accommodate your readers that might prefer it.

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                                                                                                                      I make everything available in RSS feeds.

                                                                                                                      I read RSS heavily on my phone and love it when full feeds are available. I understand many news sites can’t do that, so in that case I am happy to subscribe for full feed (for eg Ars Technica) or just click through to open in browser.

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                                                                                                                        Yes, I prefer to read the entire article straight from my feed reader. I find it much less distracting than having to open a web browser, copy the link (I use newsbeuter, so links aren’t clickable) and visit the web site. Of course it doesn’t help that many websites aren’t exactly designed to be pleasant to read, just to look good (or to make money with distracting banners).

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                                                                                                                          Yes, I prefer to read the entire article straight from my feed reader.

                                                                                                                          You and me both! :^)

                                                                                                                          I use newsbeuter […]

                                                                                                                          Ouch! From the very top of the README:

                                                                                                                          ABANDONED! An actively maintained fork is available in newsboat repo

                                                                                                                          […] so links aren’t clickable

                                                                                                                          This is a feature of your $TERM, not feed reader.

                                                                                                                          Of course it doesn’t help that many websites aren’t exactly designed to be pleasant to read, just to look good (or to make money with distracting banners).

                                                                                                                          You can say that again! Unless there’s a really good article, linked from multiple sources, I never visit anything Medium-like.

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                                                                                                                            Yikes, I didn’t know newsbeuter was abandoned. I just installed newsboat and was happy to see that it converted my newsbeuter config automatically. It’s truly a drop-in replacement! Thanks for the tip!

                                                                                                                            This is a feature of your $TERM, not feed reader.

                                                                                                                            Yeah, true. But if I was using a non-terminal based feed reader, it’d likely have clickable links.

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                                                                                                                              But if I was using a non-terminal based feed reader, it’d likely have clickable links.

                                                                                                                              However, you chose a terminal feed reader! If clickable links were a priority, you’d most likely go for a GUI option, no? ;^)

                                                                                                                              Either way, it’s an easy fix :^)

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                                                                                                                                haha, true that. But the point was about how it’s more convenient to read it in the reader anyway. That’s not an easy fix for me, but it is for the site’s author!

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                                                                                                                        Coincidently I’ve recently read about mailto links not being ideal and I think RSS feeds suffer from a similar problem: links to them are kind of useless beyond signaling their existence. I am much more inclined to plop the website’s URL in the RSS reader than copy the feed URL directly. There used to be the idea of a “feed://” scheme floating around, but I’m not sure if it has caught on.

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                                                                                                                          Coincidently I’ve recently read about mailto links not being ideal and I think RSS feeds suffer from a similar problem: links to them are kind of useless beyond signaling their existence.

                                                                                                                          In my experience, it’s the opposite - if the the feed icon/URL is not featured on the page I have to copy the site address, open the feed reader, paste it, pick the appropriate feed (RSS, Atom, comments, etc.) and finally add. With a direct link, all I need is to click on it and my reader opens automatically.

                                                                                                                          I am much more incline to plop the website’s URL in the RSS reader than copy the feed URL directly.

                                                                                                                          This is what I’m forced to do because most pages don’t feature direct feed URLs.

                                                                                                                          The problem is even worse when it comes to podcasts - one can find links to all sorts of iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, etc. but don’t have any desire to use any of it and frequently have to ask for a direct feed URL.

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                                                                                                                            if the the feed icon/URL is not featured on the page I have to copy the site address, open the feed reader, paste it, pick the appropriate feed (RSS, Atom, comments, etc.) and finally add

                                                                                                                            This bugs me every time I have to do it. Plus, there’s a ~20% chance that the site doesn’t expose any type of feed, so I have to go to a workaround like politepol to follow the site :(

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                                                                                                                              This bugs me every time I have to do it. Plus, there’s a ~20% chance that the site doesn’t expose any type of feed, so I have to go to a workaround like politepol to follow the site :(

                                                                                                                              Don’t get me started about sites** without any type of feed.

                                                                                                                              So, you post stuff every so often and would, presumably, like some else to read it.

                                                                                                                              Sure.

                                                                                                                              Are you expecting me to visit every n days/weeks/months or script it?

                                                                                                                              Yeah, why not?

                                                                                                                              Thanks, but no thanks.

                                                                                                                              ** like with everything in life, there are, of course, exceptions :^)

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                                                                                                                              With a direct link, all I need is to click on it and my reader opens automatically.

                                                                                                                              Ah, that’s cool! Does it work with any old https:// link to a feed?

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                                                                                                                                Does it work with any old https:// link to a feed?

                                                                                                                                Sure, as long as it is being served with the correct media type.

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                                                                                                                                  Huh, on macOS I get three different behaviors in three different browsers for a MIME type of application/rss+xml:

                                                                                                                                  • Firefox offers to download the file, or open it with… Sublime Text
                                                                                                                                  • Safari invokes the RSS reader (NetNewsWire)
                                                                                                                                  • Chrome loads the feed as plain text

                                                                                                                                  Since I use FF day to day, this behavior might have colored my impression of RSS feed URLs.

                                                                                                                                  It would be interesting to see how https:// vs. feed://, text/xml vs application/rss+xml behave in the year 2020, and which version (or combination) offers the broadest convenience.

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                                                                                                                                    You can change the file type’s associated program in FF’s Preferences.

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                                                                                                                                My experience chimes with this. I always copy and paste the feed URL. I even use this extension to show me feed links like Firefox used to.

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                                                                                                                                Coincidently I’ve recently read about mailto links not being ideal

                                                                                                                                That was a fascinating insight into the average user. In every desktop browser I’ve used, right-clicking on a mailto link gives an option of copying the address (often it includes the mailto: prefix, but that’s easy to trim after you paste). I’d never have thought about trying to copy the text because that requires accurately hitting the start and end, whereas right-clicking requires me to hit somewhere in the link. A copy button is potentially a good idea, but I am quite reluctant to encourage untrusted web sites to be able to write things to my clipboard. As far as I know, there are Chrome and Firefox plugins that will allow you to forward mailto links to a webmail client and it surprises me that people who use webmail wouldn’t set these up - I remember this being a problem 20 years ago but largely a solved issue 15 years ago. Does Chrome really not integrate with Gmail?

                                                                                                                                The article asks why browsers removed the RSS button. I know why this happened in Safari because Apple talked about it publicly. The user experience for RSS depends on being able to see new things easily. That doesn’t work well when you read feeds on multiple devices unless you have some mechanism for syncing the ‘read’ state across devices. Apple didn’t have that and didn’t want a core feature of the browser to depend on iCloud. The popular RSS readers were all server-side things that kept track of what you’d read centrally. These could ship a browser plugin that detected the RSS feeds and let you add it to your list, so this didn’t need to be core browser functionality. A quick look in the Chrome store implies that only feeder.co actually does this.