The Only Good Platform

In light of today’s Musk/Twitter news this is a good time to remind you that if you really care about your online identity, then you need to own it. You have no control or ownership of the content you generate for Facebook or Twitter — all of it can be gone in an instant. My Tweets will only ever exist on Twitter. This website though, is mine. I own the domain and I control the content. If necessary, I can move to another web server (even one in another country!) if necessary. I have absolute control and no one can stop me from publishing my trash opinions here.

Musk now has that kind of control over his Tweets, and the freedom to continue shitposting as much as he, or the SEC, wants. I think Musk’s bloviations about “free speech” are nonsense, but I don’t think he’s going to do anything to make the platform necessarily worse. Twitter banned Trump, a move which I supported, but it didn’t really make the platform less toxic. Political reporters still breathlessly re-post his insane and incoherent press releases to their own Twitter accounts, so it’s like he never left. Should Musk un-ban him in the name of “free speech”, it just maintains the status quo and was probably inevitable whether he purchased Twitter or not. Not that this deal was about Trump, but it is the biggest question in the content moderation/free speech debate.

On the business side, it will be much easier for Twitter to figure out how to actually (finally?) make money as a private company and that will be a good thing for their long-term survival. I do think Musk will discover that running Twitter is going to be a lot harder than he has envisioned. Content moderation is hard, even when you are resistant to doing it.

Here at thomasjpr.com, I will continue to do whatever the hell I want. It’s the only good platform.

Volleyball

Sometimes the kid plays volleyball.

Presentation is Everything

Via Evergreen Media:

Sometimes I write stuff.

…there are good presentations and bad presentations. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what separates the former from the latter, but you know it when you sit through it.

The Importance of Mentoring

Via Evergreen Media:

Getting to the important point, and the reason I’m give you a rundown of my boring resume: at nearly every step of the way, I had access to someone more experienced who could mentor me. As I’ll explain, this is both rare and very fortunate.

A rainy evening in Tacoma

It’s crazy how hearing a song can trigger a memory. Earlier today I was listening to a random playlist from my music collection, and a track from Chris Cornell’s Euphoria Morning played.

Instantly, I was back to the time and place I first heard the album. I was a sophomore in college and was running some errands around a rainy Tacoma. My radio (as usual) was tuned to KISW, and they were doing a one-hour interview with Chris as he introduced and played most of the tracks on the new album.

Euphoria Morning wasn’t his most critically acclaimed work, but it has always been one of my favorites. Dark and moody, sort of like that rainy evening in Tacoma in 1999.

I took the long way home so that I could listen to the entire set.

Essential Software

As a long-time nerd, I’ve used a lot of apps and have formed some very strong opinions about them. In 2021, these are my most essential apps for macOS, iOS, and iPadOS.

Craft

I’ve always been a note-taker, and this app has been a revelation. I used to fill up notebooks and yellow pads, and eventually I graduated to taking notes digitally on my laptop and my iPad. I’ve had affairs with most major note apps — Evernote, Apple Notes, Bear, plain text. This year I was turned onto Craft, and I’m not sure what could make me leave it. Craft covers all of my requirements. My notes are portable: I can export them, or store them locally, or keep them in their cloud service for syncing across devices. I can insert virtually any kind of file, and append with notes. It supports iPad Pencil drawings. I can share notes with others. It easily imported my Bear and plain text notes (and even retained creation/modification dates!) This app does it all. Mac/iOS/iPadOS

1Password

Honestly, I only know one password — the password to my 1Password app. I don’t know the password to my email, bank accounts, blog, streaming services, etc. Everything is randomly generated, stored in 1Password, and synced across my devices. If a login is compromised and shows up on the dark web, 1Password alerts me and I can change the password. It supports virtually every login type from web, server, software license, credit card numbers, you name it. I’ve been using it for over a decade and it is irreplacable. Mac/iOS/iPadOS

Things

Things is my other brain. Every reminder, project, or recurring task starts and ends in Things. The interface is beautifully designed and easy to use. Mac/iOS/iPadOS

Soulver

There are many calculator apps, but none like this one. It’s a little bit like a standard calculator had a baby with a spreadsheet and a plain text document. This has probably been the most useful app in my professional life of the past decade. Mac/iOS/iPadOS

Alfred

This is an especially nerdy entry, and maybe not for everyone, but I consider Alfred an essential part of my Mac workflow. Most Mac users are probably familiar with Spotlight search: by default it’s the little magnifying glass button that lives in your menu bar (you can also hit command-spacebar to trigger it). It just brings up a simple search box that you can use to find (and launch) anything on your Mac. Alfred is a super-charged version of that. Alfred (like Spotlight) can be used to launch application by typing their name, or opening documents, but you can also use it to launch various workflows. I use Alfred (I launch it by typing option-space) to start web searches, and to add new tasks to Things. It has an integration with my favorite calculator app, so that I can perform calculations on the fly without opening another app. I can use it to create new calendar appointments, contacts, or even create new notes. It also has built-in support for Snippets, which is a massive time saver. As of this writing, per Alfred’s built-in statistics, since May 19, 2016, Alfred has been used 19,627 times on my Mac. It’s pretty essential. macOS only.

Unified Inbox

Via lolfi.com

Back in like 2004 or 2005 you had a BlackBerry. There was an “app” on there (they weren’t called apps back then) where you would see all your incoming messages. Any type of messages, doesn’t matter what “app”, what service, it was all there. For example:

Incoming email from gmail
Incoming email from Exchange
Incoming and missed phone calls
Text messages
BBMs
Facebook messages
Google Talk
You get the idea. It was all there in one pane of glass.

Now today.

I got my first Blackberry (issued by my employer) in 2004 and was immediately addicted1 to that unified messaging paradigm. Nothing else has come close to copying it. I suspect that for most people the stream from all of their services in one place would be completely overwhelming. Just triaging my email in one app is bad enough. Compounding it with text messages, Slack, phone calls, FB/Twitter/whatever would be unmanagable in 2021.


1When I had to turn my device in at the end of the job, I immediately drove to the nearest Cingular store to replace my personal device with a Blackberry; I could’t be without one.