Black Friday

Well, it’s Black Friday and I have the day off, and nothing in particular to do, so here I am writing another pointless blog post.

Social Media

It’s been just about a year since I created my Mastodon account, and a few other new social media accounts, in an effort to move off of Twitter. So I thought it might be a good time to check in on that.

I gave up on Twitter quite some time ago, but there were a lot of people still hanging on. Elon’s most recent shenanigans have finally caused a lot of those folks to abandon ship. It seems like Threads has become the de facto replacement for Twitter. The White House set up Threads accounts recently, so that’s a good sign. And it seems like most media companies have moved to Threads. The NY Times, Washington Post, and NPR are all there.

I really wish a better alternative than Threads had “won” the “Twitter replacement” lottery. Threads is owned by Meta, and while they’re not as bad as Elon, they’re not great. Threads currently has no ads, but I’m sure they’ll start running ads there eventually. And they’ve talked a bit about adding an API and/or supporting ActivityPub, I’ll believe that when I see it.

My preferred social network at this point is Mastodon. It’s wonderful, but there aren’t enough “normal” people/organizations on there. It’s great for tech folks, scientists, and random weirdos, but it’s hard to find major media outlets on there, or anyone talking about the NFL, for instance.

Checking in on some of the other alternatives that I tried out over the last year:

  • Counter.Social: I gave up on this one pretty quickly. I checked my account there this morning, and it still exists. I don’t think it ever really got enough traction to be a viable Twitter alternative. I still see some interesting folks on there though.
  • Post.News: I gave up on this one too. But they seem to have made steady progress, and it looks like it could be an interesting way to get my news. I should keep an eye on them, I think.
  • Hive seemed promising when I first set it up, and there were a few interesting people on there, but it seems like everybody has given it up in favor of Mastodon and/or Threads.
  • Bluesky: This one had a lot of buzz as a Twitter replacement earlier in the year, since Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey is involved. But it’s still in beta, and there’s a wait list to get in. I put myself on the wait list in May, and only just got my invite a few days ago. I set up the account, but it’s maybe too late for them. I think that most of the folks that would have wanted to migrate to Bluesky have already migrated to Threads, and are happy enough there. But we’ll see what happens with it.

So, for me, I’m currently browsing both Mastodon and Threads daily. I’m not posting a lot to either. I’m trying to be careful not to “doomscroll” on either, and not to get dragged into the trap of mindlessly scrolling through either one, but I will admit to a bit of that. With Mastodon, I avoid the infinite mindless scrolling thing for two reasons, I think. One is that there just isn’t enough in my timeline to allow for that, and the other is that my preferred Mastodon client, Toot!, will only load a certain number of posts, then it’ll leave a space with a “load more” button. And that’s usually enough to wake me up and realize that I should stop and go do something else. Threads is worse though. There’s a lot of little funny posts on there, and it’s easy to just keep scrolling through them. And the default feed is their algorithmic “For You” feed, which will have posts from folks you’re following and other posts they think you’ll like. So that tends to promote mindless scrolling.

I’m following some of the same people on both Mastodon and Threads currently, and I’m thinking that I should try to sort that out, maybe, and reserve Threads for mainstream media and mainstream people, and use Mastodon for the weirdos. (And I mean “weirdos” in a loving and not judgemental way.) At some point, maybe Threads actually will support ActivityPub and I can just use a Mastodon client to get myself a mixed timeline from both accounts. I’m not holding my breath though.

Black Friday sales

Wow, that was more than I expected to write about social media. My next topic is Black Friday sales. I’m trying not to spend a bunch of money on dumb stuff, but of course I’m going to spend a bit. I try to spend money on stuff from good people, independent creators who I can support and feel good about supporting. Here are a few things I bought today:

  • I bought the full bundle of Wizard Zines from Julia Evans, in PDF format. I’ve always thought her stuff was interesting, but a bit pricey. For 50% off, I decided to just go ahead and get them all today. I’m not sure I have much use for most of them, but I may print out the “Oh Shit, Git!” one and keep it on my desk at work. I probably need to leave it face-down though, in case anyone gets offended due to the salty language in the title.
  • I bought PCalc today, because it was 50% off, and because I’ve often thought about buying it. I don’t really need it, but having a better-than-average calculator app ought to come in handy occasionally.
  • I also bought Play by Marcos Tanaka today. It’s kind of a bookmark app specifically for videos. It looks much like his MusicBox app, which I use to keep track of stuff that I want to listen to in Apple Music. I’ve been getting a lot of use out of that one. I have more than 600 albums in there now. (And, as is typical for me, I’ve got 500 on my “new” list and 100 on my “played” list. So now I have a queue of music I’ll never get through before I die. But that’s a good problem to have, right?) Interestingly, Play has an Apple TV app. I’m not sure how it works, but if there’s any chance that I can bookmark a video on my phone, then watch it later on my Apple TV, that would be great. I’d really like for there to be a good consolidated watch list app for Apple TV, that can open videos across multiple streaming services. The built-in watch list is almost there, but not really. There are a lot of issues with it. It’s fine for Apple TV+ content, but bad at almost everything else.

And, wow, I’ve now wasted quite a bit of time writing up this blog post. And I haven’t even bloviated about the latest OpenAI shenanigans! Oh well. I guess part of the point of taking Black Friday off is to waste time on meaningless pursuits. I should go out for a walk now. It’s a little cold, but it’s actually sunny out right now.

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