Category: Asides

  • It appears, via a report from 9to5Google, that the company is dropping the ability to contact experts at Google 24/7 for support as a perk for subscribing to Google One. The ‘Support’ tab has been removed from the Android app entirely.

    This news comes after Google announced they’d be killing off the Google One VPN (but keeping it around for Pixel 7 and later users, but not Pixel 6 for some reason…) It feels wrong to do this to their paying customers, but unfortunately, it is all too normal for Google.

    RELATED: I’ve written about the company’s reputation & Pixel update promise(s) before, which you can read here.

    Google needs to understand that Google One needs perks to be successful. I’m saying this as a Google One subscriber. My family pays a pretty penny for increased storage and benefits because we’re Google users. We use Pixels, Google TV, Nest Minis, etc. and we’re very deep in the Google ecosystem. And we have been for years.

    Personally, I believe Google “One” should include the best of Google services in one package, similar to Apple One. Google needs to increase One’s worth, in both senses of the term! That’s my take.

  • I have moved a machine from Windows to Pop!_OS, something that has been nearly a year in the making. The last time I used the Pop!_Shop on Pop!_OS, there were a couple tabs for Home – Updates – and a Search button. Now, they’ve replaced those with a search box.

    Where did these go, System76? It took me, an enthusiast user, five minutes to find where you’ve shoved the updates tab. Something I needed almost immediately because ISOs aren’t up-to-date copies of an operating system took me forever to find.

    It’s fine, of course, but it could be so much better if there was a clear place to go for updates again. Just one button to push and get everything.

    In my experience: Pop!_Shop isn’t great about automatically updating packages, or the kernel, when updates are available so manual updates are still necessary. System76, please make improvements to the Pop!_Shop. It’s a great piece of software and it deserves to become even better!

  • My WWDC24 Wishlist

    I usually make one of these every year, so with less than two weeks’ time left to go before Dub-Dub, how about I share what I’m wishing for? Keep in mind, this is all from the perspective of an Android user.

    • A nice design refresh for iOS/iPadOS 18 — bring it more in line with the rest of the OS family! Both have felt more or less the same, or similar, since iOS 7. Shake it up!
    • macOS Big Sur and later icons on iOS, PLEASE. iOS needs to feel less bland and flat.
    • macOS 15 should be improvements focused, don’t cram too much new stuff in. Make battery and other performance improvements. Double down and do some summer cleaning!
    • watchOS 11 could do with some improvements too. Battery improvements on older models, especially…

    If there’s anything else, I’ll update this… but I don’t really care about the other platforms so much. So this what I really, really want! I’m watching the events with a friend on event day, and I couldn’t be more excited! Love WWDC, favourite time of the year!

  • Goodbye Windows, For Real This Time

    Well, I think it’s time to migrate the remainder of my computers running Windows to Linux. I can’t throw my hat behind Microsoft anymore, and frankly, their OS has been awful and bloated for well over a decade now. With the AI features coming to Windows 11 (and even Copilot getting backported to 10), it feels as though Microsoft have decided to borderline infringe on user privacy instead of make quality software people actually feel comfortable using.

    This decision from the company has already resulted in tangible performance hits in my workflow, to the point where my M2 MacBook Pro has become the better option to get things done. I’ve leaned more on a Linux VM inside of macOS than my Windows computer directly, or even the Windows VM I have. Granted, I have a bias due to growing up on Linux (thanks Papa) but it’s still rather depressing, considering I used Windows for years after I moved out of my grandfather’s house.

    Now, I’m no stranger to having wanted this switch before. I linked that blog post there. But I decided to do this “last year” and never actually followed through due to various program compatibility issues. Now, at least according to some threads I’ve found on Reddit along with constant (and massive) improvements to Valve’s Proton compatibility layer, I think I actually have a real shot at making the leap. So I’m going to.

    Today, my only big question mark will be games. But Proton has become so good that I think I can (probably) find a way to make it work for me. I’m really bummed that it has come to this. Uprooting and returning to Linux isn’t something I thought I’d be able to do. Linux and games have never been synonymous.

    To make everything easier, I’ll be adopting Pop!_OS by System76 across the board. I grew up on Ubuntu, so its base is familiar, and the out-of-box support for hybrid graphics is something I need for a couple PCs around here. Plus, it’s made by a company whose mission I firmly believe in, with staff who truly care about the open-source community, AND their users.

    I’ll keep you posted!

  • “Contact sales for pricing”

    There’s that phrase I hate, and I’ve got this really hot take about it: it’s all over the internet these days, and I hate it. “But why, Slade? What’s so wrong with it,” you ask. Well, it’s a barrier to entry for your customers. The more hoops you add between you and your customers, the less likely they are to purchase your product. If you obfuscate your pricing, more would rather walk away than talk to you. In most cases, they have a budget in mind and are just looking for the fastest and most cost-effective solution. They don’t have time, nor want, to talk.

    I’ve run into this a few times in my short time doing freelancing since I graduated high school. Back when I was first doing email for my domain, I shopped around for more “enterprise-y” solutions for email–including hosting on my own servers–because I didn’t want to “just get Gmail.” I ended up doing just that because of all this “contact sales for pricing” bullshit scattered across the internet.

    There are times where, of course, it makes sense to put a human on the other end of the line. More recently, when I was shopping around for an organization to work with in the D.C. area to move my servers from Albany, NY, to Washington, D.C., I had a strict set of requirements that “required” me to talk to someone. I went back and forth for months. The funny thing is that I didn’t even have to negotiate pricing–that was a flat rate that I thought was fair–but I had to give them all this really detailed information over email before even having the OPPORTUNITY to utilize their services.

    They needed to know what I needed, how I needed it done, and frankly all of those things could have just been done in a sign-up flow. I wasted hours of people’s time (including my own) giving them this information that they could have gotten quicker if there was just a quick questionnaire to fill out. (Even funnier: the day I signed the contract, I was in D.C. I could’ve just stopped by their office and did everything there, it was that tedious. )

    Why was any of that grunt work and back-and-forth even necessary, anyway?

    Companies that insist on doing all this grunt work to hinder customers from buying their products will always baffle me. 37signals semi-recently launched Campfire, a service you buy one time and host yourself. They don’t require this song and dance with an “Account Manager” or “Representative” or some other god damn person to buy any products or services from them–you just fill out your information and you’re done. If a company their size can do this in the tech industry efficiently with next to no one babysitting sign-ups, anyone can.

    The fact of the matter is, your “Accounts” staff are better off spending their limited time dealing with new and existing customers, not “potential” customers that you have to screen in. Until Congress or other legislative bodies step in and end this really awful practice of hiding products behind this “Contact sales for pricing” bullshit, it will continue. I think that’s stupid. Be transparent, offer a public-facing form to fill out that generates a quote and/or put your pricing on the internet.

    Or just be content with losing customers. You do you, I guess. But my advice is to stop wasting everyone’s time.

  • It should come as no surprise that I don’t like Microsoft. I grew up on Ubuntu Linux, but was forced to use Windows when my parents got married. We had XP on the family computer, and then I eventually got my own computer that had Windows 8.1 (later downgraded to 7 literally for Aero Glass) on it.

    In 2016, I switched to Mac and haven’t returned to using Windows as my primary OS ever since. macOS and I have become very well acquainted over the years. That said, I have always kept a Windows computer around, mainly just for games. The two Windows computers I have now still run Windows 10. There are good things about 11 (the design is actually really pretty) but I think the performance is a significant downgrade from 10 and 7. I have fast computers so that they go fast. 11 is not a “fast” version of Windows.

    I also hate how they shove Edge down your throat, disrespect your defaults, collect your data and advertise to you (despite the fact that the OS is literally paid), among other things. I worry about the implications of that fact…

    Until 2022, I used a 2014 Mac mini and 2011 MacBook Pro (the latter with patches to get it relatively up to date) in combination with each other for a while. Both had SSDs, and I kept everything synced over iCloud so it was easy to drop a project on one computer and pick it up on another. AirDrop was indispensable to me in high school, and having my Mac be able to interact (without setup!) with my iPad and other devices was super helpful.

    In 2022, I switched to Apple silicon — M2, specifically. My tiny 13-inch MacBook Pro absolutely obliterates both of my other x86_64 based computers running Windows 10. Combined. And the Windows 11 VM I have in Parallels also leaves those computers in the dust, too. ARM certainly isn’t a new thing — Linux enthusiasts like me have enjoyed the benefits of it for years now — but Apple has absolutely found their way here.

    Apple isn’t free from criticism. No one is. But they have an advantage here, and they deserve to be applauded for making decent software. (Even if the new System Settings app introduced in macOS 13 is a joke.)

  • In Loving Memory of my Great Aunt Rose

    For those who don’t know (find my first Tweet here and my follow-up here), my Great Aunt Rose unfortunately passed away last week. She was a beautiful and kind-hearted woman who truly loved her family, despite rarely getting to see everyone in-person. The first (and last) time I had saw her since I was a baby was July 2019. We had a wonderful time, and made so many memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

    Love you, Great Aunt Rose! We’re all going to miss you!

    1955 – 2024

  • In case you were curious how I had my computer set up in this month in 2017, I found a screenshot laying around of a client’s website, but for some reason, it was my entire desktop. I don’t work with these folks anymore — so it’s blurred out here — but I believe the computer this was running on was a Mid 2010 Mac Mini running macOS Sierra!

    At some point down the line, I switched to an Early 2011 MacBook Pro, and then eventually upgraded to a 2014 Mac Mini and the 2022 M2 MacBook Pro that I currently use. macOS returned to a more skeuomorphic-inspired look. I believe they call it “neumorphic” or something like that.

    For giggles, here’s what my desktop looks like today! A lot has changed. I actually store files on the Desktop now, and I don’t keep my RAM monitor in my Menu Bar anymore. I went for a tidy yet functional set up.

    My Dock is hidden off to the right-hand side of my screen–with a Terminal tweak to make it instantly appear and reappear. For folder management on the Desktop (where I store in-progress projects), I use Stacks and I move the labels to the right. I use SoundSource to manage my audio interface, CleanShot X for screenshot management, and an app called Tiles to bring window snapping from Windows 7 and later to the Mac. Oh, and I keep Downloads in the Dock now, and don’t remove the shortcut anymore–it’s handy.

    I suppose the only things hardware-wise besides the machine that has changed was my keyboard–I’m using a model of the Logi Pop Keys line that’s red/pink/off-white. Reason being is that it supports macOS keyboard shortcuts. On my other computers, I use a SteelSeries Apex 5.

    Was kind of interesting to see this. Chrome certainly changed a lot, and macOS looks like a completely different piece of software. That screenshot I found was taken only about three months into my switch from Windows to Mac, too. Incredibly nostalgic! Wonder if I have any more old screenshots laying around somewhere…

  • Previously, I announced following Slade’s Corner‘s leave from Substack that this site runs on Beauregard, a content management system (and alternative to the Substack platform) that I’ve been building from scratch since the whole, er, situation blew up over there. Since then, I’ve built so many features into the site: native Cloudflare integration, linklog support, autoposting to Mastodon (and derivatives), and even native Cloudinary support for super fast image hosting!

    Beauregard is the successor to BeauCMS, which itself was based on WordPress 6.0 and 6.1. It was born out of wanting something less clunky, more fluid. Thus, it’s a more mature content management system, one that is modern, written from the ground-up in native PHP, JavaScript, and HTML, but still fluidly compatible with WordPress’s fancy Gutenberg editor, along with its blocks, plugins, and themes. Beauregard isn’t WordPress. It’s literally brand-new code underneath!

    There’s a lot on the roadmap for Beauregard. Paid subscription support (to have the ability migrate my friends still on Substack off at some point), native email support, among other things. But a question I’ve been getting a lot is “Will you be opening this up to the public?” Honestly, thinking long and hard about it, the answer’s no. There are a few reasons:

    • Running something like that for more than a few people I trust is expensive. Server hardware is expensive and while my point of presence being in DC now helps, it’s still costly. Beauregard is lightweight enough that I won’t kill a server or two with it, but it’s still a big piece of software.
    • Beauregard just wouldn’t be cost-effective or make sense for most people. I’m really looking for people who love writing to the same degree that I do–I’m talking essays, articles, that sort of thing–and want to make some money off of it. For some of my friends, the platform makes sense, and that’s why they have access.
    • Setting up Beauregard is a very manual and time-consuming process. I still have to go in and install each new instance fresh manually. It got to the point where I had to write a script to automate most of the setup for testing on my Mac because it was so time-consuming. To go public, I’d have to streamline that process significantly, potentially even figure out how to make that bodged-but-somehow-working script work at-scale, and I just can’t be arsed. (I learned the word “bodge” from Tom Scott. Because of course I did.)
    • Even if I could somehow resolve all those concerns, I’d need to make a lot money off Beauregard, too, when scaling the platform up to potentially hundreds of accounts for any of this to make sense. I’d need to make more than enough to cover development costs, hosting costs, equipment costs, contractual obligations, and more. I couldn’t afford to run at a loss. I’m a self-taught developer who learned through many thousands of hours of Google-fu and StackOverflow. I just don’t think it’d be good if I was the only one building this for so many people.

    To be clear, I wish I could make it make sense and build a side business out of it–but I’d be way out of my comfort zone and burning myself out in the process. I just don’t know how to make it work. That said, I plan to onboard friends onto the platform. I can do a few people that I know–that’s manageable. That’s what will happen.

    I’m sorry if that’s not the answer some were looking for. I wish I could offer Beauregard to everyone. It’s a huge passion project of mine and it’s absolutely brilliant! I love what I’ve done with it! This post is being composed and displayed to you by it, for God’s sake! But again it’s a niche piece of internet software, and I just don’t see any way I could make it profitable at that scale. I also just don’t want to deal with licensing crap. So we’re just not doing that either.

    Thanks for understanding, though. If it changes, I’ll let you know–but I think this is the final decision: Beauregard shall remain a friends-only accessible and usable project from now until the end of time!

  • Chayse Came to Visit [A Week Ago Today]

    A little late posting this, but my good friend Chayse came to visit me last Monday and spend some time here in good old Vermont.

    Chayse really is the best! <3

    We rode around the area, all the way to Williamstown, Mass. and back, and just chatted. We certainly broke the ice and are already planning our next hurrah! This was the first time we met in-person and I miss him already. Truly such a blast!