Online anonymity is a right, not a privilege

Here’s a great TechDirt article on the importance of online anonymity. As it points out, the only people claiming that real-name policies will fix online abuse are those with power in society. Not only is it not true (apparently users are more likely to post abuse when using their real names, not less), but requiring the use of real names can act as a gag order on many people โ€“ and cynically, I think this is the real motivation behind the call.

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Improving load times by fixing my images

As I mentioned in my post about Gemini, mine is a lightweight website for the most part; it’s built with a static site generator, I don’t use any heavy Javascript includes, and there are certainly no ads or trackers. The main exception I mentioned then was images: these were, by far, the major thing blowing out the filesizes (and loading times) of my pages and I knew there were improvements I could make to how I dealt with them.

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Owning my content

One of the reasons I started this blog is that I’d come across the concept of the IndieWeb and really liked it. I went into some detail about that in my first post here. The principle of the IndieWeb that appealed to me most of all was the one about owning your content, instead of “sharecropping” it across half a dozen more narrowly focused sites and giving them control over the sole copy of all my data.

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Tracking my reading

One of my major hobbies is reading. I was a fanatical reader as a kid, and while I’ve definitely gone through periods where I haven’t read for pleasure so much (generally times when I was having to do a lot of reading for school or uni), it’s something I’ve come back to doing time and time again. I read sixty books in each of 2019 and 2020, which is a satisfying pace for me.

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Experimenting with Gemini

Gemini is a relatively new internet protocol, aiming to offer a much lighter-weight, text-oriented experience than the modern web. Gemini pages can make use of only very limited formatting: three levels of headings, lists, blockquotes, links (one per line only), and raw/unformatted text. On the bright side, this makes Gemtext formatting straightforward and intuitive. You also can’t browse “Gemini space” with a normal web browser (except via proxy); for that, you need a Gemini client.

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๐Ÿ“š Found out that The StoryGraph has undergone a revamp (and officially launched) and got a lot of new useful features! I like posting my reviews on my own site, but I still use Goodreads a lot, and this is now such a viable, non-Amazon-owned, alternative.

For the next week, I’ll be giving the free trial of Inkl a go. It’s a news aggregator; the idea is they pay news outlets for their articles, and you pay Inkl for the clean ad-free interface and the warm fuzzies of helping to keep journalism limping along.

An eight-year-old blog post on many points of internationalisation developers screw up, including date formats, timezones, and the 20+ currencies all called dollars. Why are so many sites so ambiguous? Most of the post is still relevant today.

Today I’ve been metaphorically running around, changing the listed email address on my online accounts to one of the new ProtonMail ones I made. I still have many yet to change, but it’s interesting the wildly different experiences I’ve had. Some scattered thoughts:

  • Most sites want me to verify the new address, but some just take my word for it. (More disconcerting is when sites don’t send any kind of confirmation email to the new address at all โ€“ I’m pretty sure I didn’t type it wrong, but until I get an email, how can I be certain?! I end up doing something random to trigger an email so I can breathe easy.)
  • A few sites have wanted me to enter my password or do a 2FA challenge before or after reaching the “change e-mail address” form. Most haven’t. (But then again, I haven’t set up 2FA on many sites โ€“ I know I know, that’s next on my list! ๐Ÿ˜œ)
  • One site wanted me to confirm from my original email address that I was initiating the change, which seems like a good way to thwart account hackers, but would be annoying if you’d lost access to that original account.

As for why I’ve finally bothered to make this change, I found this blog post a very relatable read. I, too, first got a Gmail account when you needed an invitation and the amount of storage they offered seemed revolutionary. These days, I realise that the cost of me having my email there is Google mining my data, and I’d prefer the cost of a small sum of money to maintain more privacy. (Acknowledging that this is not a choice open to everyone โ€“ although ProtonMail does offer 500MB storage with a free plan, which would do for some things.) If anyone else is thinking of making the switch, this is not a bad how-to with some points to consider.

Truncating only posts with titles on Micro.blog

When I first got started on Micro.blog, one thing I wasn’t satisfied with was that my long posts appeared in full on my blog’s homepage. Really, I wanted to give people a way to quickly check out what I’d recently posted, and having to scroll the whole way through long entries that may not have interested them (considering I blog about an eclectic mix of things) wasn’t exactly ideal. Micro.blog Help has a guide to showing truncated posts on your front page, but for me this option was even worse: the truncated text shown is stripped of HTML, so my front page was left with link posts with no links in them, and photo posts with no photos in them. There had to be a better way!

And of course, there is! At least for my set-up, where all the long posts that I want truncated have titles, and all my posts without titles are things I don’t mind appearing in full. Your mileage may vary if this description doesn’t apply to you. The solution is to use an if-statement to display posts one way if they have a title, and a different way if they don’t have one. This change will apply to the homepage as well as your category pages. For this quick guide, I’ll provide examples from Micro.blog’s Default theme, but of course the principles can be applied to any other theme as well.

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photo of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society. See her homepage here.