I know this is an obvious observation and I know it’s not a new development, but ads and marketing is no longer about telling people about the selling features of a product, it has morphed into a branch of study into the human condition and how people could be tricked into a certain kind of mind-frame (ie. wanting to buy a product, wanting to “engage” in a social media platform).

Advertisement starting changing into something dirty when, instead of pointing to the new engine technology it plastered a sexy girl next to a brand new car to convince you getting the car would help you get the girl. Then, when the internet rolled around, we all got introduced to flashing banners and pop-up videos. Now, with globe-spanning social networks, it has become about algorithmic timelines and features that tap into the addictive nature of the human psyche.

The quirks of the human condition – how our attention can be caught and held, how our emotions can be manipulated – are now considered a type of currency and many are unwittingly being asked to give it away, all in the name of providing you with a “better experience”.

I look at how I now have trouble noticing rectangular boxes positioned on the sides of websites, how my attention-span has gone down the drain, and I wonder how much more of my brain has been rewired, unnoticed, due to this onslaught from advertising conglomerates.
We talk about needing to use our phones less, but is it actually our phones – and some of the legitimately helpful tools – we’re avoiding, or all the apps, social media, and games that have been designed to ensnare our minds and our time?
Should we be putting down our phones, or should we be asking companies to back the hell off, and create legitimately useful apps and services without resorting to cheap tricks to retain their customers?

I can’t say I’m trying to make much point with this article, this was just something niggling at the back of mind and I had the need to vent.

I have friends who uses Facebook Messenger… exclusively.

Sure, I can SMS them if I was having a one-on-one conversation, but if I wanted to initiate a group chat, I’d have to load up the dreaded F app (well, their messenger app, but still dreaded).
Of course, I refuse to do that, I so load up Facebook on Safari, force it to load in desktop mode (because FB won’t let you open FB messenger via a browser on mobile 😠), and open up messenger that way.

It’s not hard to understand that my interactions with these people have dropped to nearly zero.

I want to encourage these friends to move their conversations off the FB platform, but then I realise that there really aren’t many alternatives.
iMessage would be my preference, but I have Android friends…
There’s WhatsApp, but that’s owned by Facebook, so what’s the point? (Unfortunately this is the second preferred platform amongst my friends)
Line seems the best bet (only because I haven’t read any damaging reports), but even that’s a silo.

I didn’t realise it, but by owning my own blog and getting into the Indieweb, I now want to own all my content, including my messages and I’m sad that I can’t.
(I know there’s email, but can you imagine trying to convince a friend – who exclusively uses FB – to use email to organise a group dinner?)

These are the kind of responses I get when I try to convince friends to create their own websites (and my internal reactions to them):

Me: You should post on your own website instead of using Twitter and Facebook.
Friend: I don’t know how, Twitter/FB is much easier.

(Me: But it’s easy, I can even create the website for you… wait a minute… most of you have been the owners of a Diaryland/Geocities/LiveJournal/Tumblr site in the past, you know how to goddamn use a CMS. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻))

Me: But you can have your own domain name.
Friend: I don’t want to pay for it/anything.

(Me: 😒)

Me: But FB/Twitter is evil/terrible/not a good citizen of the internet/etc etc.
Friend: I don’t care. / I know they’re terrible, but everyone’s on it, what can you do? 🤷‍♂️

(Me: I don’t know which answer is worse.)

Me: But you get to own your own content. Don’t you care that everything you post is living on somebody else’s server?
Friend: No.
Me: Don’t you want to keep a record of everything you post?
Friend: No.

(Me: I mean I guess I should have known when I received a wedding invite via FB instead of traditional mail…)

Listening to episode 138 of Analog(ue) made me sad.

Myke said he is continuing to use Twitter because “that’s where his audience is”, “that’s how he gets the word out about his latest project”; essentially it’s how he makes his money.
This way of thinking that makes me sad.

I’m not saying that Myke is wrong in thinking that he would like to continue promoting his content to his audience, but what about the members of his audience who wants to leave Twitter?

Myke said that without Twitter, he wouldn’t be able to find out if his favourite YouTube star or internet celebrity is releasing a new project.
What if said favourite celebrity also had their own website? Then fans would have something to follow other than Twitter.
Personally, as a fan, I would love it if the internet notables I like post project updates and the likes on their own blogs. That way I can follow them without using Twitter.

Perhaps instead of completely killing off their Twitter account, internet notables like Myke should try keeping a blog that they update as much as Twitter (cross-posting is perfectly fine). They might find that if given an alternative, fans would follow them to other channels.

Replied to

Can I just say how much I appreciate this app’s pricing model?

One of the things I hate the most about “subscription” models is that no matter how many years I’ve supported an app, the moment I stop paying the subscription, I lose access to the entire app – even features I’ve paid for years ago.
It doesn’t matter if I don’t want any future updates, it doesn’t matter if I don’t care about new features; if I want to continue using an old app on an old device, I have to continue paying for the subscription.

Agenda’s developers have come up with a new model – the base app is free, but you can unlock premium features for a one-off cost. This one-off cost would also give you any new features that they bring out in the next 12 months.

After the 12 months have elapsed you have two choices:

  1. pay for another 12 months of new features, or
  2. don’t pay, don’t receive any new features, but keep all the features you’ve already unlocked, and still continue recieving updates to the app (so it’ll continue to work on new devices and receive bug fixes).

This model is more than I could have hoped for; I don’t expect basic updates or bug fixes after I’ve stopped paying, but Agenda’s development team are making this and the base app free for all users.

It doesn’t have to be said, but I’ll definitely be supporting this app.

Drew McCormack also included a small write up on how they implemented this pricing model and I can only hope other app developers start considering alteranatives to the subscription model.

If you self-host your microblog, I know there’s an automated way of linking @mentions to the person’s micro.blog profile.

However since I also @mention Twitter and Instagram people, I use the following TextExpander snippets instead:

For micro.blog @mentions

Trigger: m:@


For Twitter @mentions

Trigger: t:@


For Instagram @mentions

Trigger: i:@



These snippets, when activated, are supposed to ask you for input on what username you’re trying to link to. There’s an issue if you’re using these snippets on the TextExpander iOS keyboard (as opposed to TextExpander enabled apps like Ulysses or Drafts).

The TextExpander iOS keyboard doesn’t support popups, so you don’t get a chance to input the username you want.

Instead, you’d get an output like this:

This means you need to manually change the “User” to whomever you wanted to link to, but the brackets get in the way of quickly double tapping “User” and just replacing it with a name.

I’m afraid that until TextExpander changes the keyboard behaviour (which I’m assuming is being controlled by Apple), there are only two work-arounds:

  1. Use TextExpander enabled apps like Drafts or Ulysses to draft out your post.
  2. Create snippets that doesn’t have the brackets, so you can replace “User” quickly on iOS devices, like the following:

Let me know how you go with this, or if you have other ways of doing this. I would love to find other workarounds for this issue.

I’m still trying to figure when to use “read”, “bookmark”, or “like”. If I read a physical book that I liked, which post type would I use? What about an article that I read, what to keep record of, but can’t say I liked?

Same goes for things like “watch” and “listen”. If I want to track everything I watch, and mark everything as “watch”, how do I then mark some as stuff I like as opposed to stuff that’s just “meh”?

I’d like to hear how others use post kind.

I’m wondering if any techy people out there can help me with my Micropub plugin.

I’ve installed it on WordPress without any problems, but when I try to use Quill or OwnYourGram, I keep getting the same error message. I tried using micropub.rocks to test out the connection, and the same error message shows up:

I don’t understand what any of it means but in the Micropub FAQ section, they mention this:

If your Micropub client includes an Authorization HTTP request header but you still get an HTTP 401 response with body missing access token, your server may be stripping the Authorization header. If you’re on Apache, try adding this line to your .htaccess file:

SetEnvIf Authorization "(.*)" HTTP_AUTHORIZATION=$1

If that doesn’t work, try this line:

RewriteRule .* - [E=HTTP_AUTHORIZATION:%{HTTP:Authorization}]

I did that, and my error message from Quill turned into this:

HTTP/1.1 100 Continue

HTTP/1.1 500 Internal Server Error Server: nginx/1.12.2 Date: Sat, 28 Apr 2018 06:32:25 GMT Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 Transfer-Encoding: chunked Connection: keep-alive

Since that didn’t work, I reversed the changes I made and followed the next instruction on the Micropub FAQ:

If that doesn’t work either, you may need to ask your hosting provider to whitelist the Authorization header for your account.

This took a week of back and forth with my hosting provider (Bluehost) as most of their first level customer service agents have no idea what I’m asking them. Finally a technician gets back to me to tell me that they can’t whitelist the authorisation header for my account.

So the final piece of advice on the Micropub FAQ:

If they refuse, you can pass it through Apache with an alternate name, but you’ll need to edit this plugin’s code to read from that alternate name.

I’m afraid this is way above my tech level. Can someone help walk me through it?

This was originally posted on the YNAB forum

A while back, I wrote about my move to a finance app called YNAB and how much I loved it. I’ve been using it for nearly two years now and there’s an update.

Unfortunately it’s not good.

I recently updated my iPhone YNAB app and discover the app icon now have an unattractive banner with the word “classic” over it.
This was how I found out about the new YNAB.

I can summarise, in one word, the feeling I felt after finding out about the new subscription model: disappointed. And here’s why.

Firstly, let me say that I’ve created an account for the new YNAB to have a look at the new features and I am impressed by some of them. Just not all of them, and definitely not the new pricing model.
Let me explain.

Dividing the Features

For me (emphasis on the “me”, I know not everyone will agree), the new features in the new YNAB can be divided into two groups:

Group 1:
– new credit card handling
– ability to set goals
– new Age of Money
– ability to fund future months
– move money in the mobile app
– updated design
– full screen
– font size
– emojis (really?)

Some are less useful than others but still belong to group one.

Group 2:
– syncing through YNAB’s own server
– browser access/web-app
– direct/automatic transaction import from your bank account

The two groups reflect two things, and they’re related; whether I want the feature, and whether they are worth paying subscription for.

Are They Worth It?

Group 1 are features that I find very appealing; after using YNAB for a couple of years now I don’t mind having some new functionality to play with and an updated design to look at. (Perhaps I shouldn’t say “play with”, some of the features, like setting goals, are very useful).

However, this is also the group of features that I feel are only worth a “one off” payment. I don’t mind paying $60 for a new piece of software, as long as I get the keep the software.

Group 2 are features that I find less than useful. I do not want to give YNAB my bank’s login details, I do not want a web-app experience (where at any time features and functionality can change on me without me having any say – more on that later) and syncing through YNAB’s server means that if YNAB server crashes for any reason, or if I have no internet, I can’t access my budget.

And these, coincidentally, are also the type of features I can see a company asking subscription for; maintaining a server, providing a service. But again, not something I actually want.

Let me stress that I am not completely against subscription models; I pay for Apple Music, I pay for Adobe Creative Suite, but subscribing to a budgeting app seems oxymoronic. Especially when I don’t want the “service”, I want the software.

You can argue that Adobe Creative Suite is a piece of software, and that may be true, but they also offer constant updates. I don’t remember YNAB being updated often, nor the updates that useful in the past.
You may say that YNAB would be updated more constantly with the funds from the subscription, but I would say this, “how many updates or feature upgrades can there be for a budgeting app?” Enough to be worth $45 a year? Currently YNAB4 – a $60 app – has lasted me two years (more if I keep using it). Is YNAB going to be releasing a new update to the level of the YNAB4-to-YNAB5 jump every year?

The Problem with Web-Apps

This actually leads me to one of the fundamental problem I have with web-apps, constant uncontrollable upgrades. It seems a direct contradiction to my previous point, but one of the problems I see with web-apps over a free-standing piece of software is that a user has no power over their experience of the software.

If YNAB decides it no longer loves the blue and green theme but decides to change to a neon pink and yellow, we’d find the garish colour scheme forced down our throats when we login.

If YNAB wanted to change the fundamental way of tracking transactions, or adding transactions, it would be there when we login.

An individual, free-standing piece of software asks us if we want to upgrade, with a full list of all the changes that are to be made. If we don’t like what we see, we can reject the update, send in some feedback, and hope that there would be a fix in the following update.

With a web-app, we can send feedback, but we’d also have to deal with the vomit-enducing colour theme while we’re waiting for the fix.

Keep Using YNAB4

I have seen some people saying that I can stick with YNAB4, that it would still be supported for years to come, and that’s true. But I’m also an iPhone user and I rely on the iOS app to keep my transactions up to date.
If official support for the iOS app goes away after this year, it’s essentially useless to me after iOS 10. And truthfully, how many people want to use an out-dated piece of software with no new features on the horizon?

So What’s the Solution?

One possible solution is for the new YNAB to be separated into a one-off payment package for a free-standing app (Group 1 features) with a subscription add-on pack (Group 2 features), then people who would like to pay for the privilege of on-going support can do so, and those who are happy with just the software can do without.

Is That Likely?

I would hope so. Which is the point of this post; I feel that feedback is always useful and I think people really need to let YNAB know how they feel about the new direction the company is moving in. Some people love it, and they have said as much and I don’t judge that. But I don’t love it, and so I’m explaining why and what I hope would happen instead.