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Musings

    Lead Paint Is Amazing

    On “Usefulness” and “Harmfulness”

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    Why are people so down on putting lead in paint? I mean, as Wikipedia puts it:

    Lead is added to paint to accelerate drying, increase durability, maintain a fresh appearance, and resist moisture that causes corrosion. (…)

    (…) very popular with artists because of its density and opacity; a small amount could cover a large surface.

    And about the alternatives:

    Titanium white has far greater opacity and tinting strength than lead white, and it can easily overpower most other pigments if not mixed carefully. Titanium white has been criticised for leading to “chalkiness” in mixtures.

    Zinc white dries slowly and creates a relatively inflexible paint film. Critics of the pigment argue that its use leads to excessive cracking and delimitation, even when used sparingly.

    Why the hate for the great technology that is lead paint!?

    Well, the answer is pretty simple: “Usefulness” and “harmfulness” are completely independent spectres.

    I see this conflated a lot in discussions surrounding AI: People who are wary of the harm transformer models can cause, often also call them “useless hallucination machines”. And others, will respond to the claims of harm by pointing to the usefulness.

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    Yes, the iPad Pros Needed to Be Thinner

    I won’t be buying the new iPads, as I’ll keep rocking my 11-inch 2018 (with Magic Keyboard). But one thing has been bugging me about the early coverage of the new models, that I wanted to address. 1

    Because, when I watched the Keynote and saw that the new iPad Pro models were thinner and lighter, I immediately went “Nice!”. But I kept seeing (and hearing) comments like this, here exemplified by David Pierce (whom I really like!) on The Verge: 2

    Basically, the point is, “Who asked for this? Why not make it thicker and increase the battery life?” Nilay (Patel) agrees with this — but then, six(!) minutes later, answers the question: 3

    So yeah, not a long time between them not understanding why they made it thinner and lighter, and complaining about it being too thick and heavy…

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    Anyone Else Feel Like They Should Use Firefox

    … but Still Struggle With It?

    This post was originally (and still is) a forum post on the MPU forums. I have two concrete question blocks I’d love feedback on, which I will present during the post. I would love to hear from you, either over at MPU, as a comment to this post on Micro.blog, via Mastodon, or email. 🙂


    I’d like to talk about browsers! And people are of course welcome to comment whatever they want — but some notes on what my intentions for this discussion are:

    1. For reasons, I’ll touch on later, this is mostly about desktop browsers.
    2. In terms of privacy and security, I’m approaching this from a reality where 65% of people use Chrome. So in this context, vastly improving the privacy from that, is more interesting than saying someone is a gullible idiot if they don’t use a Tor browser. 😛 So while I’m not saying those things shouldn’t be part of the discussion at all, I’d like to talk more about user experience and features than hardening if you catch my drift. 1

    OK, let’s go!

    Ethics are always difficult to discuss. Because while I think everyone should be mindful of the small things we should do to improve things, people have different priorities and possibilities. And where should we draw the line while consumers in a problematic system? Like, I should probably use a Fairphone over an iPhone even though it’s worse, right? How much worse should I accept? How hard should I pull away from things like Facebook or X?

    Screenshot from the Fairphone website: “Your phone can do better: We make fair(er) phones - To change the industry from the inside. One step at a time, all over the world. Together with our community, we’re changing the way products are made. Here’s how we’re disrupting the tech space. About us button. What it means to be fair:"

    Still, I’m at least trying to try — and as the browser is perhaps the most used app, the choice of it is among the things I’m thinking about.

    And here’s why I feel like I should use Firefox:

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    Advice for How To Make Sure You Never Create Anything

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    Are you sometimes at risk of creating? Personally I, from time to time, come very close to writing something, so my advice here is geared towards that. However, it can hopefully be extrapolated to help you if you’re tempted by other creative endeavours as well.

    • If you get an idea while writing a post, you should always finish this new idea before finishing the original one. This, of course, cascades to new ideas you get while working on the second one, etc.
    • This also applies to expansions within an idea. You can always increase the scope of a project!
    • Let every piece of work be your Magnum Opus.
    • However, if as much as a single piece of your idea doesn’t materialise quite like how you wanted it to, scrap the entire thing. No matter how much work you’ve put into it, and no matter how much value there’s still left.
    • Don’t post anything, unless you’ve covered every nuance, use case and possible objection. Don’t post ideas or thoughts — post rigorous conclusions.
    • You can’t mention a concept/item without also explaining everything about it, in case someone isn’t familiar.

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    Why I Don’t Love Web Apps

    And a call for help

    I absolutely get why companies make web apps instead of native apps. Why juggle tons of platforms and languages if you don’t have to? Furthermore, being on the web makes you free from platform gatekeepers!

    It can also benefit users, by giving the same experience everywhere, making more software cross-platform and accessible on more niche platforms, and more.

    And if a developer has 100 hours to develop a client for their service, the user experience very well might be better if they spent all of it on a web app, instead of spending 25 hours on four different native clients.

    There’s also a bunch of terrible native (or “native”) apps. One example is phone apps that simply are terrible web wrappers that just want to be able to track and notify you more than they can in a web browser. 1

    A bar chart that compares software quality of ‘Web apps’ and ‘Native apps’. There are bad and great apps of both kinds, but the ceiling of the latter is higher.

    When I say that I prefer native apps, I don’t mean that there are no great web apps (like Figma) or bad native apps. My point is that the ceiling of the latter is higher, and that all the best apps I’ve tried are native.

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    ✉️ To SigmaOS’ CEO: This Is What I Don’t Like About Arc’s Direction

    I really, really like the Arc browser. But as I alluded to in this post, I have some reservations regarding it, and don’t feel like it’s going in a direction that I like. In the post, I said that I might try SigmaOS again — and I am. 1

    I mentioned this in their community Slack, and their CEO, Mahyad, asked me what about Arc’s direction I don’t like. I must say, the dev team seems very active, nice, and open to input! So this post is my reply to his question.

    (And here’s a link straight to the TL;DR at the bottom.)


    Hi, Mahyad — and thanks for asking! I wrote a blog post called «I Just Want A Nice Browser!», which might give you a hint, heh.

    And let me also say that I’m a bit worried about your direction as well — but I’ll come back to that. 😉

    Two fundamentals I don’t love, but that I don’t need to go too much into

    1. I don’t love that Arc is built on Chromium — as I think Google has more than enough power over the web as it is.
    2. I’m not against supporting any VC funded company — but in combination with an unclear business model, I become more skeptical and worried if our incentives align. 2

    My main issue, though, is regarding AI

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    I Just Want a Nice Browser!

    Two sad browser stories

    I’ve followed the Spicy Takes™️ surrounding the Arc Browser recently, that started in the Ruminate podcast and went on to the MacStories Weekly Issue 408.

    And I agree with most of what John Voorhees is saying, and also Matt Birchler, who said: «The Browser Company feels gross to me right now».

    Much of it is about ethics and AI. In general I agree with them, but this subject won’t be the focus of this post. (I’ve written more about AI here and here.)

    Instead I’ll tell my browser story, and explain why both Arc and Firefox makes me sad.

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    AI Is Just Different

    The discussion around the ethics and legality surrounding AI has been a constant the last year — and it’s culminating in some important trials that’s coming up.

    I won’t go into the entire thing here — I just want to focus on a specific argument that I often hear when it comes to the way these large models are trained. It oftes goes something like: «But how is this different from how humans have always been learning and iterating on previous knowledge?» or «The information was available on the open web, so it can be used for anything!».

    I think these are terrible arguments.

    Humans are allowed into shopping malls.

    However, that’s simply not an argument for that cars should be allowed there as well — whether they’re driven by a human or autonomous.

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    I’ve been thinking way too much about music streaming the past month - so now I’ve gathered my thoughts in a blog post!

    I have an idea and dream, that I’m sadly woefully unequipped to actually build. 🙃

    It’s a cross between podcasts, Mastodon, PeerTube and the MusicKit API!

    An Idea For Better Music Streaming

    I sadly don’t have the abilities to live out this idea — at least not alone. So everyone who finds this, is welcome to steal it or riff with me!

    I’m currently trying to transfer from Spotify to Tidal. The main reason is that I want to use a service that pays artists better — and it’s a nice bonus that the sound quality is better. However, I prefer Spotify’s app and features. 1 And this inspired me to write out an idea I’ve been thinking about for a while.

    Inspired by Mastodon, Apple’s MusicKit API, Podcasts and PeerTube

    Third-party first

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    Why I Think Apple’s Fine is Fine

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    Today, Apple got hit with a €1.84 billion fine — for anticompetitive behaviour in the music streaming market.

    I’ve seen people saying this doesn’t make sense, as Spotify has a larger market share than Apple Music — but that’s not what the complaint is about. The thing is, that Apple has used their size, ecosystem and general market position to give Apple Music a larger market share than they would’ve gotten if they had to compete fairly. Apple is about 80 times the size of Spotify. To put that into perspective, that’s about the same ratio as a rhino compared to a golden retriever. 1

    The dog might have the Rhino beat on «amount of fur», but that doesn’t make it «more powerful».

    Here are some of the smaller things Apple are doing:

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    🌱 The Ethics and Principles Behind My Blog

    These are my goals: Be a pleasent place for people visiting, that respects their privacy. Be a good citizen of (a lose definition of) the indie/small web. Even though my impact is small, I can still try to make it positive. This page (and the actions taken based on it), is under constant evaluation. It’s meant as a living post. 🌱 So feel free to contact me with feedback on this - especially if I fail to meet my goals.

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    My Ergonomics Voyage: Part 1

    Prologue, and the first steps

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    I’ve been a nerd my entire 34-year-long life. So naturally, much of it has been spent in front of computers using keyboards, and I’ve never experienced any discomfort related to this.1

    I don’t know if it’s due to my age, or just the fact that I’ve worked even more than usual on keyboards, but lately, I’ve started to notice discomfort. Especially in my left hand, but a bit in my right as well. Luckily, there’s nothing anywhere else, and it’s not that bad. But I want to take action to try to stay ahead of it.

    A bit about my current situation

    The last couple of years, I’ve been working mostly in my small home office, which was OK, but not great. Just a couple of weeks ago, I finally got my own (external) office, so the situation has improved. However, I’ve been stupid, and also worked quite a bit on my laptop on our kitchen table lately.

    Here’s my current office setup:

    Apple Studio Display with height adjustable stand. iPad next to the screen. Electric standing desk. Trackpad, keyboard and numpad, with wrist rest ahead of it.

    Not visible in the photo, is my Herman Miller Aeron chair, foot rest, and standing pad.

    Good things about my setup

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    Machines, AI, and the Most Important Question in the World

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    Message from 2024: I wrote this post in the spring of 2023, as AI tools were pretty new. I’ve since landed on the principle of not using AI generated images on my blog. This post has two images like this, but as it’s critical of the models (and explains a bit of why I currently don’t want to use them), I’ve let them be.

    First, a very simplified history lesson:

    For a large portion of the human existence, technology (often in the shape of machines or tools) has replaced manual labour, and led to increased productivity. The printing press replaced monks writing books by hand, looms evolved to include less and less manual laber per unit of fabric, the telegraph reduced the need for mail carriers, and photography really hurt Big Portrait Painting. Usually, the technology doesn’t completely replace the professions it affects. For instance, you can still get a tailored suit – but it’s a minor part of the clothing industry, and mostly reserved for the wealthy. The old turns into niches, hobbies, crafts and/or art.

    An industral looking machine printing impressionistic paintings.

    Image generated by Dall-E.

    Here are some of the positives from this:

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    The problem with teachers being tired of change

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    I’m going to try something that I know is impossible – talking about a profession as one entity. In Norway, there are 77,000 teachers, and of course, all of us are individuals. Still, there are some things I’m pretty sure many teachers agree on: We are tired of people with little expertise telling us how to do our jobs. The pendulum swings from one side to another, so what was in vogue 30 years ago is now considered the newest hotness. Be it politicians, parents, or others – many teachers want to be left alone, and be free to do a job they’ve many years of education and experience in.

    But many have written about this before.

    I would like to point at a problem this has led to. It has, in my view, created a sort of hardness in the profession that’s made us impervious to change.

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