3/5/2024

I mostly use Signal to talk to people and I…

I mostly use Signal to talk to people and I love it and what it represents, but iMessage is so tightly integrate in Apple ecosystem (plus, its desktop app isn’t an Electron monstrosity). Sometimes I feel guilty for preferring iMessage over Signal 🫣

29/4/2024

How to be less pessimistic?

A reader of my Portuguese-written blog unsubscribed from its newsletter because he was feeling bad about my ‘negative bias’.

I police myself a lot not to focus only on the negative part of consumer technology, even if it (or how I see it) is, in large part, negative.

I’m failing at this, as the reader’s comment shows.

While digesting his message, I remembered my discomfort with a politics podcast that I used to listen to weekly until I realized that, despite enjoying the hosts, the topics they covered were making me feel bad.

It’s often said that to be well-informed is to be selectively ignorant. Maybe that’s the recipe so you don’t get mad too, or a little less so.

I thanked the reader for the care in justifying himself and renewed my promise to try to better balance my blog’s editorial choices.

Do you have any tips not to let yourself be shaken by life as it is? Moving away, in this case, is not an option — my job is to inform myself to inform those who read me.

22/4/2024

Text messages, the universal UI?

I’ve been thinking about how text messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and iMessage, have become the dominant UI/UX to solve problems, organize events, deal with companies and other social interactions.

There are many merits in the messaging paradigm; the biggest of them, I guess, is accessibility. On the other hand, wouldn’t we be better off dealing with more interfaces, each adapted to specific demands?

Phone calls, for example, are a more humane and more efficient way to fix misunderstandings. E-mail, board discussions, well-made e-commerce sites… all this fell into disuse or lost ground for text balloons and groups on WhatsApp (or iMessage if you’re in the US).

19/4/2024

Android features I'm envy of as an iPhone user

Since 2015, my daily driver phone is an iPhone. In this almost a decade, I have been closely following the moves of the only iOS alternative, Google’s Android.

Despite my preference for iOS, there are good ideas on the other side of the turf that I would like to be copied by Apple.

Some of them have begun to be implemented — even if only in the European Union, by law. The Digital Markets Act (DMA) forced Apple to open iOS more, creating holes in the famous walled garden that the company has built around its ecosystem and that leaves on the sidelines what goes against its interests.

In public, Apple argues that the artificial limitations of iOS are for the good and safety of users. It’s a paternalistic statement, petty and, worst of all, largely unfounded.

I classify them unfounded because Apple’s solutions are competitive on their own merits, regardless of the artificial/disloyal advantages they enjoy for “playing at home”.

See, for example, the browser market. Web developers love to hate WebKit, Safari’s rendering engine that, in iOS, is mandatory for all other browsers.

Continue reading »

17/4/2024

The beauty of free and open source software

The beauty of free and open source software (FOSS) is the possibilities that it opens up for better futures to abandoned or spoiled projects.

It happened recently with Simple Mobile Tools for Android. After the apps creator sold them to a shady company, someone forked the code to continue the development oriented to the original intentions.

Two other examples of which I learned from F-Droid’s latest weekly report.

Geometric Weather, a weather forecast app, stopped being developed and was retired from the store in mid-March, already with the promise that a fork was on the way.

It has arrived! It’s called Breezy Weather and has four distinct versions, from the most purist (with also free data sources) to the traditional. In the project repository, there is an instructions page about these versions.

The other app, the Android keyboard OpenBoard, had been abandoned for two years. This is far from ideal, but less bad that a group has adopted the project and now relaunched it with another name and a series of improvements and bug fixes. It’s called HeliBoard.

11/4/2024

Mozilla is testing a Firefox built in text translator

Mozilla is testing the translation of selected text in Firefox. For now, as Omg! Ubuntu shows, it’s only available in experimental versions of the browser.

It’s a fantastic feature, similar to what Apple introduced in macOS 12 Monterey in 2021. By the nature of what I do, I deal with lots of texts in English throughout the day. (My mother tongue is Portuguese.) Having a decent translator just a click from the mouse away, anywhere in the system, is a super power that I didn’t know I needed.

Recently, I tried to use only Linux (and Firefox as the main browser) for a week. I resorted to the DeepL extension, which offers a similar feature, although a little unstable. Having a translation tool built into the browser is probably better.

The Firefox solution is limited to Firefox/browser. It’s a shame, but better than nothing.

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