Microsoft's gotta Microsoft

A long time ago, back in the dark days of the Browser Wars, Microsoft hated Free Software, especially Linux and the GNU General Public License. We knew this was factually true when one of their employees leaked the Halloween documents and confirmed all our worst suspicions. The world has changed since then, with Linux systems powering most Internet services and Unix-powered phones dwarfing the number of traditional Windows computers. Microsoft seemed to learn humility in their new role as underdog, going to surprising lengths to win a reputation as a kinder, gentler giant.

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Dealing with Princeton's flawed privacy research

This has been an odd week. Last Friday I got an email from someone asking about my hobby website's CCPA compliance, ending with I look forward to your reply without undue delay and at most within 45 days of this email, as required by Section 1798.130 of the California Civil Code. The message sounded more legitimate than the usual spam I get, as it was asking about a real law in the jurisdiction where I live, and because it referred to a real website that I operate.

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…And Back to OmniFocus

I recently wrote about switching from OmniFocus to Reminders and gave a lot of reasons why I thought that was a good plan. I was wrong and I've since moved back. Apple has made Reminders into a solid app with a lot of nice features, but I realized I've been taking OmniFocus for granted. First, I sorely missed its "defer dates". That is, I don't need to be reminded to buy Halloween candy when it's nearly Christmas time.

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About the Manifesto for Ubiquitous Linking

I've written before about Hook, a nifty way of linking things you're working on together so you can seamlessly bounce between them. I've thoroughly integrated it into my workflow now and adore how quickly I can jump from one document to another — in a different app, even — without ever looking away from my work. It helps me reach and maintain a state of flow. Hook depends on an app's ability to support deep linking to its contents.

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Better incentives for showing web ads

I use ad blockers on all my devices. Still, I understand that the sites I enjoy depend on ad revenue. When a site I visit a lot asks me to add them to my blocker's "allow list", I will (unless they've plastered a dozen ads across each page). Individual websites are the wrong entities to be asking for that permission, though. Few websites directly sell the ads they display. Instead, they'll contract that process out to giant ad networks like Google AdSense, Amazon Publisher Services, or dozens of other companies specializing in embedding relevant ads in the appropriate sites.

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AirTag lost its way

Apple released their new AirTag product six months ago, and as competent as it is for finding lost gear, Apple's done everything possible to hamstring the little device to make it frustrating to use. The product idea is simple: you buy one and attach it to something you don't want to misplace, like your car keys. Then you can use your iPhone to locate that thing when you inevitably misplace it.

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From OmniFocus to Reminders

My wife's been a Mac user much longer than I have. Years after she'd been happily using an iMac G4, a family friend asked if I'd like a bargain deal on their unused eMac. I was hooked. I'd recently learned about Getting Things Done (aka GTD) and wanted to try that on my new computer. At the time, on that OS, for Serious Users, that meant adopting either Things or OmniFocus.

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Notability's subscription model is an insult

Ginger Labs's Notability is a popular note-taking app for Apple computers. It's a nice way for taking and organizing handwritten notes and syncing them to all your devices. This week its authors ruined it by switching from a pay-once model to a subscription rental in the most despicable way I've seen. First, their only concession to existing paid users is that people who've bought a previous version get a year's free subscription to the new version.

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Jira is a code smell

Good Project Managers are important. As an Application Programmer, they're your Interface to the rest of the organization. They're your API. Believe me, you want that interface between you and their managers, unless you like giving status updates and making projection reports to pass around. In fairness to PMs, we engineers don't make it easy for them to do their jobs. Does this sound familiar? PM: How long do you think that'll take?

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Introducing Glass Knife

I've been using Obsidian lately for taking notes and I'm certain I'll be saying more about that later. I'm a convert. It's what I've wanted for ages: a pretty UI that sits above a folder full of Markdown files. This makes it trivially easy to share data between programs, and to manipulate Obsidian's "vault" by directly tweaking those files with external programs. In that spirit, I've released the scripts I use to automate my own workflows as the Glass Knife project.

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