1. 4

    The six general principles listed at the end seem too wordy and redundant to be useful for remembering the lessons of the four URLs. So I would summarize them with these two principles:

    • make URLs self-contained (let them be useful even if the server is down)
    • make URLs editable (make the format obvious enough for manual editing to work)
    1. 6

      I created a URL scheme for the King James Bible that I felt was simple and elegant (and that was twenty years ago, sigh). I then did a similar approach to my blog URLs but based around dates, not books, chapters and verses.

      1. 1

        Those URL schemes are neat, but I think your comment is misplaced. You should delete and repost your comment as a reply to the top level, not to my comment.

        1. 1

          My intent was to reply to the two principles of the article. My comment would also be relevant to /u/whjms currently just below mine, about making URLs editable.

          I think I’ll just leave it here for now.

      2. 2

        make URLs editable

        I’ve thought about how the web would be different if manually editing URLs was the norm. For example, if web browsers generated a UI based on the query parameters that would let people easily change individual variables. Maybe sites could also add metadata to URL parameters.

      1. 2

        I think affiliate links are actually easier to block than banner ads, it’s just that nobody cares to do so. This a point in favour of what the author is saying here.

        If you did want to block them, you could write a browser plugin that rewrites URLs to remove the affiliate information just before the browser loads them. (Offhand I think this actually has existed at some point on one of chrome or firefox extension marketplaces, but approximately zero people installed it.)

        As a proof of concept, there have been some cases of malware authors using doing this to make a revenue steam. Infecting machines with something that puts the malware author’s affiliate marketing ID into the URL every time the user clicks a link to Amazon or whatever, replacing any existing affiliate marketing ID in the URL.

        1. 2

          But that’s not actually blocking it. It’s just taking the author’s money away for no advantage to the reader. It’s like if your ad blocker somehow stopped the server from counting an impression while still loading the banner.

          You could write an extension that actually removed the a tag entirely, turning what used to be an affiliate turned into plain text. But even then, your still left with an unclickable “click here”. Hardly the pure win of an ad blocker.

          None of this is intended to ignore the fact that I do know of a few contexts where affiliate links are blocked. Affiliate links are against the rules on the Orange site and the Alien site, in an attempt to curb spam.

          1. 2

            I don’t think affiliate links are banned on reddit, but I have seen some moderators ban them, and bots which automatically comment on posts with affiliate links.

        1. 11

          Maybe we can save ActivityPub by extending it to be properly capability-based and eventually dropping support for the ActivityPub of today. But this will require coordination between all the vendors. And with 40+ projects out there, it’s not going to be easy. And do we even care about those 40+ projects anyway?

          This reminds me of a quote from one of Signal’s devs regarding the lack of federation in Signal (found during our last Mastodon-related thread):

          Nothing about any of the protocols we’ve developed requires centralization; it’s entirely possible to build a federated Signal Protocol-based messenger, but I no longer believe that it is possible to build a competitive federated messenger at all…it’s undeniable that once you federate your protocol, it becomes very difficult to make changes. And right now, at the application level, things that stand still don’t fare very well in a world where the ecosystem is moving.

          1. 9

            It’s a cop-out though: Platon’s Philosopher King would be a nice thing to have, but absent that (and the foresight to know whether you really picked the right one), we opted for democracy.

            XMPP found a way to bring everybody up to speed by having a sizable part of the ecosystem agree on certain XEPs (protocol extensions) to be mandatory from a given, future date. That way we get the experimentation, and once things stabilized, the sharks in the pond convened and declared what everybody needs to move to.

            HTTP software simply continues to support old versions. I guess servers and clients in 2030 might drop support for HTTP 1.0, but until then, everything has a fallback.

          1. 1

            Are the search stats in the article true? What are people using these VPNs for? Only time I ever need to use a VPN is to connect to my work’s network from home.

            Am I missing something?

            1. 5

              I have a handful of friends overseas, and they use VPNs to dodge government filters (e.g. Telegram/FB services being blocked by governments).

              Personally, I just use it when I’m connecting to dodgy wifi (e.g. free airport hotspots). Additionally, for some reason youtube doesn’t work on AT&T LTE for me, so I use it for that.

              There’s also the ‘privacy’/‘security’ theme that these VPN services advertise, maybe many people just install the first VPN app they can find because it says it’ll protect their privacy.

              1. 3

                They are helpful for hiding traffic/metadata from ISPs and governments which have influence over those ISPs.

                1. 3

                  A lot of people use VPN’s to stream overseas, pirate software, and of course privacy.

                  1. 2

                    I have a LowEndBox instance running OpenVPN. I use it as an (admittedly feeble) way to reduce the ease with which my ISPs (and hence intelligence agencies) can monitor my internet usage.

                    1. 2

                      Not to pick on you specifically, but a few people have mentioned hiding from their ISP, but that seems specious. Is there reason to believe your ISP wants to monitor your internet usage any more than LowEndBox wants to monitor your usage? Don’t you already trust your ISP with your real life identity, home address, credit card number, and (probably) SSN?

                      And unless you’ve gone through the trouble of doing offline key exchange or something like that, can’t your ISP MITM your connection to the VPN anyway?

                      1. 4

                        ISPs are the easiest entry-point for your government to perform bulk surveillance, so they are quite likely to pass on traffic flows. LowEndBox are likely to pass on traffic flows to their government, but as long as that’s a different one it’s far less of an issue.

                        ISPs are also allowed to sell your traffic flow data for advertising in many parts of the world. LowEndBox could, too, but they would have very few users and much less information about who they are, so it wouldn’t be very profitable.

                        The ISP could also MITM connections, but that’s rather more expensive and much more likely to be discovered (by eg host key verification).

                        1. 2

                          Yes, my ISP has my identity, which is one of the reasons why I’d like them to not know absolutely everything else about me. My ISP is also under the legal influence of my government, whereas my VPS host is not (directly). It’s far from foolproof, but it (should) minimise the amount of data that is passively collected. I have no doubt that if I were actively targeted for monitoring, it’d all come apart without much effort.

                          I’m not sure about MITM. The key was generated on the VPS and transferred via SSH. How would a MITM attack work? (That’s a genuine question - I’m happy to be educated).

                      2. 2

                        It really depends on the country in which you (currently) reside.

                        I lived in many countries around the world and, aside from avoiding being tracked (which is a fair point), several countries block a whole range of websites, for instance:

                        • Vietnam: any wordpress website is not available (due to a ban on it after it was used to ‘attack’ the communist party)
                        • Japan: certain porn
                        • Turkey: pretty much all porn
                        • China: pretty much anything popular non-Chinese
                        • India: teamviewer doesn’t work with most ISP I tried

                        And then you have countries in which they might not advertise that they are blocking certain things but visiting certain websites with certain keywords might make you go on a list.

                        So, there are real reasons to use a VPN. Btw, being a ‘modern’ developer in China is extremely difficult without a VPN (usually just connecting to HK).

                        1. 1

                          In many countries, porn

                        1. 13

                          The counter argument would be Moxie of course:

                          One of the controversial things we did with Signal early on was to build it as an unfederated service. Nothing about any of the protocols we’ve developed requires centralization; it’s entirely possible to build a federated Signal Protocol-based messenger, but I no longer believe that it is possible to build a competitive federated messenger at all.

                          So the big challenge will come when users expect some new feature which ActivityPub currently does not provide.

                          1. 14

                            Mastodon and the ActivityPub community have been iterating and pumping out new features on a rapid basis. On a protocol levle, ActivityPub itself is an iteration on the Activity Streams and ActivityPump protocols; themselves an iteration on OStatus. And there are plenty of ActivityPub instances that weren’t initially envisioned: PeerTube, MediaGoblin, NextCloud, … and chess?

                            I suppose moxie would argue that Mastodon isn’t or won’t be competitive.

                            I argue Signal, just like Twitter, will run out of money.

                            1. 5

                              Signal will become what WhatsApp was meant to become. WhatsApp could have been a secure messaging layer for businesses and consumers but Facebook made them an offer they couldn’t refuse so that dream wasn’t realized.

                              Signal now has a foundation and they have one of the original founders of WhatsApp bankrolling the operation. I don’t think they will run out of money and might even realize the original WhatsApp dream.

                            2. 10

                              That quote is not really a good counter argument, it basically reads like “federation is bad because I said so.” You have to read the rest of his post to tease out his arguments:

                              • federation makes it difficult to make changes
                              • federation still favors a service single provider (e.g. gmail and email)

                              (Note: I don’t agree with moxie, just posting his counter argument for others to read)

                              1. 8

                                The counter argument would be Moxie of course

                                I’d have a lot easier time taking his arguments seriously if he hadn’t threatened legal action against a free software project simply for trying to build an interoperable client.

                                1. 4

                                  Mastodon seems to cope quite well with this, possibly because there are few implementations and upgrading the server application isn’t too hard.

                                  But I think the counter argument is entirely correct - it’s not possible (or at least very hard) to build a competitive federated messenger - and that’s completely fine. Competition is one of the parts of the centralised model that leads to de-prioritising users needs so that platforms can be monetise to keep it alive and “competitive”.

                                  1. 5

                                    Wait, what about matrix though?

                                    1. 2

                                      To clarify my opinion a bit - I’m suggesting that federated networks won’t succeed by the metrics used to measure if something is “competitive”, not that federated networks don’t work. I think Mastodon and Matrix are both really good projects that will be much better than the alternatives long term, since there won’t be many incentives not to prioritise the needs of their users.

                                      1. 2

                                        Matrix from what I heard has scaling issues; we’re talking “three people on a single server massively increases load” bad. I think it’s due to protocol flaws?

                                        1. 5

                                          Any of matrix’s scaling issues come from federation (trying to sync room state across many different homeserver instances) and the poor state resolution algorithm they were using up until this past summer. Three (or thousands) of users on a single server participating in a room is not a concern, as that is a centralized instance.

                                          Highly recommend following the matrix blog and TWIM for project updates, especially for anything about synapse (their reference homeserver implementation). It was recently updated to python 3 and the memory footprint has drastically reduced. Keep a lookout for the “next generation” homeserver implementation, Dendrite, sometime after the Matrix 1.0 spec releases.

                                          1. 2

                                            I remember reading that this was because the current reference server implementation is simply not optimized. They’re rewriting it in Go (IIRC the new server is called Dendrite), but we’ll have to wait and see how performance changes.

                                    1. 1

                                      Between this and the recent issue with Android devices not being able to place 911 calls, I’m really starting to become cynical about the quality of software in these devices.

                                      1. 1

                                        Fastmail web UI for personal email, on Linux, OSX, and iOS.

                                        GMail web UI for work email on Linux.

                                        I’ve tried Claws a couple times, but webmail’s too convenient when using multiple devices.

                                        1. 1

                                          Are you concerned about Fastmail’s security given the recent developments in Australia?

                                          1. 3

                                            I assume anything hosted can get my data. If it’s secret, I use E2E crypto on top.

                                            Biggest concerns for email for most people are integrity and availability, not confidentiality. Cant miss or loose emails. Gmail is best there. FastMail folks say theyre just as good. I dont trust various small players, even E2E, to be as reliable.

                                            So, Im on Gmail now considering FastMail at the moment for business and government stuff. FastMail should consider setting up independent organization in Switzerland that reuses their stack and expertise but resists Australia’s bullshit.

                                            1. 3

                                              Personally I don’t think anything has changed; they already had the capability to hand over my emails if served with a warrant.

                                              The new law means they can be compelled to develop such a capability, but since they already have it…

                                              More relevant to anyone offering e2e crypto out of Australia.

                                              1. 2

                                                No. By virtue of hosting a web interface, they already have full access to all your data, and it’s always been just a subpoena away from law enforcement. Here’s their blog post about it.

                                                However, I am (and everyone should be) extremely concerned about the law in general.

                                            1. 2

                                              I ditched Android about a year or two ago. I haven’t owned a phone since, AMA

                                              1. 2

                                                No texting at all? it seems like that would make meeting up/coordinating with people a pain.

                                                1. 1

                                                  I use google voice on my laptop if SMS is necessary. But I only take time to look at it while I’m settled down.

                                              1. 4

                                                For people in the SF Bay Area: the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley is hosting a symposium on the 9th (tomorrow) celebrating this demo: https://thedemoat50.org/

                                                1. 1

                                                  I’m going! Anyone else?

                                                1. 1

                                                  I’d love to read a comparison between RN and Flutter in terms of accessibility, since the latter seems to be gaining traction among the mobile dev community.

                                                  1. 4

                                                    I don’t have a horse in this race, but I suspect the degree to which Flutter is actually gaining traction is pretty overstated. I think there’s a little bit of hoopla around the 1.0 release (and their PR team managed to get some media coverage for it, even from outlets that wouldn’t normally cover dev tools) and a few people are playing with it and taking some baby steps. The rest is probably hype-train developers who’ll blog about anything new to try and build their personal brand.

                                                    It’s an interesting project, but I think we need 6 - 12 months to see if it’s really going anywhere.

                                                    I suspect one of the main outcomes from Flutter will be quicker and less-opaque progress in React Native. Just the other day there was a nice bit of new community engagement from the FB devs, asking people to identify their biggest pain points. So RN devs should probably be cheering for Flutter.

                                                    1. 1

                                                      I have the same suspicions. I’ve worked on a couple of RN apps and for me literally the whole point is to be able to deliver both Android & iOS apps with as little platform-specific code as possible. I’ve kept an eye on Flutter and tried it out at milestone releases and - while it seems overall a lot nicer, the data model and a lot of the framework seems neater from an API perspective, the precompiled approach/live-reload mix is great, and Dart seems generally just better too - the minute I see stuff where I have to choose and code the UI differently between “Cupertino” and Material Design, I just think, no, not doing that. It’s just doubling the work I’d have to do in a bunch of places. Maybe when you’ve worked with it for a while and you know it really well the benefits will outweigh all that, but while it’s trying to compete with a huge base of RN users’ existing knowledge by saying “just learn this new language and toolchain so you can write extra UI code”, I can’t see it winning out. I’m not saying it shouldn’t, or that it’s not nicer and more stable-feeling in a lot of ways, but I just can’t see people going for it wholesale as long as it means more learning and more work. (Which obviously is why JS is eating the world, but there it is.)

                                                  1. 3

                                                    That second footnote is funny.

                                                      1. 7

                                                        Off-topic: is it just me or do all of the game screenshots look like they have a greyscale canvas filters applied?

                                                        1. 1

                                                          Yes. That’s the ‘style’ of my blog. ;)

                                                          1. 8

                                                            Might confuse people when you talk about video games working on a specific OS. To me, it didn’t look like they were working correctly…

                                                            1. 1

                                                              If you’d like to dissuade people from gaming on FreeBSD I would leave it as-is.

                                                            1. 8

                                                              One aspect of OSM that kind of disappoints me is the lack of global standardization for tags. OSM seems to be more meant for local maps, as mappers within a region will agree on methods for tagging features.

                                                              1. 9

                                                                I agree, I think Wikidata has handled this much better. But to be fair, coming up with an universal ontology is a hard problem.

                                                                1. 2

                                                                  Yeah absolutely, I doubt we’d have as many different types of things mapped out if everyone had to agree to a universal standard.

                                                              1. 2

                                                                I must be out of the loop. Ted, what happened to your self-signed certificate?

                                                                1. 3

                                                                  I believe he’s switched to using https.www.google.com.tedunangst.com instead now

                                                                  1. 2

                                                                    yeah what’s up with this?

                                                                  1. 4

                                                                    What’s the ‘Stories with similar links’ widget at the bottom of this page?

                                                                    1. 5
                                                                      1. 3

                                                                        There was a previously submitted story with a similar URL that was matched with this function.

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        I’m looking forward to see functional feature phones in the market that aren’t overpriced hipster toys.

                                                                        1. 3

                                                                          I can’t wait for this either! The industry is desperate for a middle-ground. Give me a feature phone that has a touchscreen QWERTY keyboard, where I can check my emails and have Whatsapp. I’ll ditch my smartphone tomorrow.

                                                                          1. 3

                                                                            If you don’t mind the lack of a touchscreen (it’s not a smartphone, after all), Nokia 8810 4G is what you’re looking for.

                                                                            1. 1

                                                                              I don’t believe it has a QWERTY keyboard?

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                Ah, yes, I interpreted “touchscreen QWERTY keyboard” as one item.

                                                                          2. 1

                                                                            Why wait when feature phones like these are still on the market. Hell, if you check out your nearest electronics shop I’m sure you can still find feature phones for sale. Or did you mean something special when you said ‘functional’?

                                                                            1. 2

                                                                              Modern feature phones with LTE run Android.

                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                Almost every non-hipster feature phone is just an old phone still in production. Most of them don’t even support 3G even though 2G is going to be phased out in less than a decade. I’m looking for a modern phone that isn’t a smartphone, rather than just an old phone.

                                                                                The actually innovative looking ones (eg Alcatel 2008G) are usually intended for non-tech savvy people, especially old people with vision impairments, and even those are grossly overpriced for what they do.

                                                                                Nokia’s 8810 remake is the closest thing to what I’m looking for. It’s durable with a long battery life and runs KaiOS (Firefox OS fork). It is rumoured that WhatsApp will be ported to KaiOS this year, which is (quite unfortunately) an app I cannot do without.

                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                  Ah right, network support is going to be a killer. good point

                                                                            1. 21

                                                                              Well, one of my pet hates about phones these days is the sheer size of them – they’re basically a tablet in your pocket. I want a phone.

                                                                              And I thought I was the only one on the planet going nuts about this. I also bought an iPhone SE 2 years ago for exactly the same reason. I don’t get what the fascination with large sized screens is. You can’t even operate the phone with one hand.

                                                                              Anyway, I switched to iOS for similar reasons. Personally for me, the final straw was the Android permission system. Once an app has all the permissions, it has them all the time. Not sure if things have changed in the meanwhile, but I’m super happy that I switched.

                                                                              1. 10

                                                                                Once an app has all the permissions, it has them all the time. Not sure if things have changed in the meanwhile, but I’m super happy that I switched.

                                                                                It has

                                                                                1. 8

                                                                                  The size of phones is just killing me, and they seem to be getting bigger. Hopefully the fashion will change soon.

                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                    Yeah, I cannot understand why smartphones are getting bigger and bigger. It’s like sane phone sizes ended with end of 2014-2015, especially if you want some good specs.

                                                                                    In 2014 you could buy Z1 Compact (dimensions: 127 x 64.9 x 9.5 mm (5.0 x 2.56 x 0.37 in); screen: 4.3 inches, 51.0 cm2 (~61.8% screen-to-body ratio)), now it’s practically impossible to buy similarly sized high-end smartphone.

                                                                                    ~4.5” screen seems to be what is the limit of being able to somewhat comfortably operate smartphone in one hand using your thumb (unless you have some big hands, of course, but I don’t). With Redmi 2 (dimensions: 134 x 67 x 9 mm (5.28 x 2.64 x 0.35 in); screen: 4.7 inches, 60.9 cm2 (~67.8% screen-to-body ratio)) I’m actually already unable to reach top of the screen and 3 buttons below the screen with my thumb without slightly readjusting hand position.

                                                                                    BTW It’s equally ridiculous for me to put 3K screens in such a small size factor like smartphones (well, they’re reaching 6” screens already, but even including that). Going over FullHD seems quite wasteful and brings only more battery drain. I doubt there are people using their phones with magnifying glass…

                                                                                    1. 10

                                                                                      My guess: more and more people are using phones as their only computer, so sizes will continue to increase in order to accommodate them.

                                                                                      1. 8

                                                                                        Exactly this – me and my partner are basically polar opposites on this front. When I need to do anything beyond simple, brief content generation (text messages, and only short ones) – I reach for my laptop. The time to take it out of my bag, tether it to my phone, get online and do the work then put everything away is less than my slow speed on a phone.
                                                                                        Work wise – the phone is an accessory to my computer(s)… and mostly I use it as a well, phone, click, alarm and message receiving device.

                                                                                        My partner legitimately runs two businesses from their phone. The phone is the primary content generation device, email, texts, taking photos, editing images, scheduling, planning, online resources, looking at sales data, ordering new products for the workplace, etc, etc – everything is done on the phone first, and begrudgingly done on a laptop if a product just won’t work from their phone. That product is likely to have a short shelf life because having a great phone experience is probably the most important feature to them.

                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                          And I know people who use 17” laptops for impromptu presentations. Harder to find those these days.

                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                            For small table presentations (impromptu or otherwise), I love mirror mode to a 15.6” USB powered monitor, so I can sit behind my computer when presenting. Specifically great for like live coding / pair coding.

                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                              Do any of those monitors have Linux support?

                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                Yep. I think almost all of them use the generic DisplayLink USB 3 stuff – which works (might need to install a Displaylink generic driver).

                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                  The DisplayLink story wasn’t so good as of 4.1, have you noticed it getting better?

                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                    I am not sure if I got lucky or what, but I haven’t had a major issue with it and been using them for a few years now on Ubuntu 16.04 and now 18.04 (various spins of it). I don’t use too many of the DisplayLink features (rotation, sound support, etc – so maybe that is where stuff gets hung up?).

                                                                                      2. 1

                                                                                        ~4.5” screen seems to be what is the limit of being able to somewhat comfortably operate smartphone in one hand using your thumb (unless you have some big hands, of course, but I don’t).

                                                                                        I agree. I switched from an iPhone SE to an iPhone 6s with its 4.7” screen, which is just a bit too large. Luckily, iOS has this handy feature where if you double tab (not press) the home button, it will move the image 50% down, making it easier to reach top buttons. I’d still love a 4.3 or 4.5” iPhone though. But it’s not where things are moving, so unlikely to ever happen (they even abandoned 4.7” on new models, yes I know, newer models have smaller bezels).

                                                                                      3. 1

                                                                                        Americans like phones they way they like their cars – the bigger the better.

                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                          Funny enough the giant phone trend is being driven by Asians, specifically Chinese and Korean customers. They all want massive screens for some reason. Americans don’t really help the trend much but for once were not actually driving the bus.

                                                                                      4. 1

                                                                                        That part was music to my ears as well :-) https://mastodon.social/@isagalaev/100981223084458245

                                                                                        We should start a consumer group or something (oh well, who am I kidding?)

                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                        Internet, computers and programming are pretty much my life. If I’m to go on a “technology fast” I’d be sure to get mad at worst or bored at best.

                                                                                        How would I change this, if I no longer believe in the societal norms around happiness (family, kids, friends, etc.)?

                                                                                        1. 4

                                                                                          I thought so until my laptop died on a summer holiday. That very day I realized I could have fun just going to the library. I got a notebook and wrote some strange stuff, practiced my handwriting. Sooner or later I was climbing trees in the park. You don’t know how it would turn out!

                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                            Non-computer hobbies, for one. Exercise, try learning a musical instrument, drawing, writing etc

                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                              I read programming and math books when I’m taking a break from the machine. shrugs

                                                                                            1. 4

                                                                                              desktop

                                                                                              I switched to stock kubuntu because I don’t have the energy to deal with broken or missing stuff. mind you, I still get issues with resuming from suspend, but there’s nothing I can do about it because Windows also refuses to install on machine.