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Mastodon Needs More Brand Support

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As much as I want to move over to Mastodon full time, there’s one thing I feel that is massively holding it back. Yes, you can laud the big things about federations and freedom as much as you want. However, one thing I’ve seen hanging out in the fringes of the Fediverse that will ultimately hold Mastodon back is the hostility toward brands.

Welcoming The Crowd

If you’re already up in arms because of that opening, ask yourself why. What is it about a brand that has you upset? Don’t they have the same right to share on the platform as the rest of us? I will admit that not every person on Mastodon has this outward hostility toward companies. However I can also sense this feeling that brands don’t belong.

It reminds me a lot of the thinly veiled distaste for companies that some Linux proponents have. The “get your dirty binary drivers out of my pristine kernel” crowd. The ones that want the brands to bend to their will and only do things the way they want. If you can’t provide us the drivers and software for free with full code support for us to hack as much as we want then we don’t want you around.

Apply that kind of mentality to brands venturing into the Fediverse. Do you want them to share their message? Share links to content or help people join webinars to learn more about the solutions? Or do you only want the interns and social media professionals to be their authentic selves and pretend they aren’t working for a bigger company?

The fact is that in order to get people to come to Mastodon to consume content you’re going to need more than highly motivated people. You’re going to need people that are focused on sharing a message. You’re really going to want those that are focused on outreach instead of just sharing random things. Does that sound a lot like the early days of Twitter to you? Not much broadcast but lots of meaningless status updates.

That’s the biggest part of what’s holding Mastodon back. There’s no content. Yes, there’s a lot of sharing. There’s lots of blog posts or people clipping articles to put them out there for people to read. But it’s scattered and somewhat unsupported. There’s no driving force to get people to click through to sites with deeper information or other things that brands do to support campaigns.

Tom’s Take

You’re going to disagree with me and I don’t blame you one bit. You may not like my idea about getting more brand support on Mastodon but you can’t deny that the platform needs users with experience to grow things. And if you keep up the hostility you’re going to find people choosing to stay on platforms that support them instead of wading into the pool where they feel unwelcome.

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28 days ago
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GM kills more than CarPlay support, it kills choice

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Apple CarPlay screenshot showing Devo's freedom of choice playing

Enlarge / Use your freedom of choice. (credit: Apple)

A long while back, Toyota told me it didn't want to give up interior real estate to Apple’s CarPlay. The automaker felt that losing that space to the tech company would be a huge mistake. Fast forward a few years, and after what I assume were some internal struggles, it caved and now you can get CarPlay and Android Auto on your fancy new Highlander, Prius, Tacoma, or Camry. It seemed like a silly decision had been reversed. Now it’s GM’s turn to go down the same path.

Today, news dropped that GM would be phasing out CarPlay support in future EVs. In its partnership with Google, it hopes that all the features you get from mirroring your iPhone can be replaced with an Android Automotive feature. GM, like Toyota before it, wants to control the digital real estate in its vehicles. It’s a revenue-based and walled-garden (ironically against Apple) decision that will cost them.

Software-driven vehicles should be about choice. Instead, GM is making a short-sighted decision based on a trickle of revenue under the guise of better integration. Owning all the data that a vehicle generates while driving around could be a great source of cash. The problem is potential customers have become accustomed to choosing which device they use to navigate, chat, text, and rock out within their vehicle. They’ve grown weary of being mined for data at the expense of their choice and they’re really not all that keen on in-car subscription services.

For years, automakers have been sharing their vision of a future where cars can drive themselves, and the passengers are kept entertained by a plethora of features that are meant to keep their attention as they roll without worry to their destination. If in this far-off future, a person were to get into their vehicle and be restricted from using their service of choice—CarPlay in this scenario—why would they even buy that vehicle? What’s the point of telling people that, in the future, they can use whatever they want if, as a company, you don't let them.

GM’s move is based on its desire to offer tighter integration with navigation and other in-car systems. Charging along routes isn't really possible within projected versions of Apple or Google Maps in many vehicles. That’s a solid reason for GM to make its mapping solution better. It’s not really a reason to reduce the choices it offers consumers. Yes, GM will offer Spotify, but if you use Apple Music, you’ll have to use Bluetooth, which means now you’re picking up your phone to make choices, and that’s far more dangerous than using the projected version of Apple Music on a vehicle’s touchscreen.

There’s also the loss of apps that GM might never want in its vehicles. Alternative EV route planning apps, navigation apps, messaging apps that read messages and support voice-to-text replies, podcast apps, and anything available now that GM and Google will determine they don’t want being offered to drivers.

Will this decision hurt Apple? Sure. But what it also does is damage GM’s reputation and potentially its bottom line because it gives people who are part of Apple’s ecosystem (for better or worse) pause when they are shopping for a vehicle. The news could be that GM is phasing out CarPlay support for EVs, but the average person sees “GM is killing CarPlay.” As a result, they look elsewhere.

This decision is particularly weird when new players worked hard to make sure their vehicles support CarPlay. Polestar may have taken longer than expected to bring CarPlay to its vehicles (something automotive journalists pointed out repeatedly), but it finally delivered. Lucid just announced that CarPlay is landing in its Air sedan and will be part of future vehicles. Both these automakers saw what the market wanted and delivered.

The software-driven vehicle revolution should be a place of choice. If the hardware can handle it, automakers can deliver it. GM is extremely proud that its Hummer EV has Unreal engine support. I’m not sure if people were clamoring for intense graphics for drive modes, but hey, you can get that now with a GM product. What I do know is that many people use CarPlay. It’s easy to set up and use, and more importantly, it’s familiar.

Nearly every modern vehicle supports CarPlay, making it easier for folks to move from vehicle to vehicle without learning a new UX while behind the wheel. That’s a huge win for safety.

GM sent over a fact sheet about its decision that states:

“This go-forward strategy will help us intensify our focus on designing the best integrated infotainment solution, reduce complexity and feature duplication, continuously innovate by adding more features and apps over time, and manage the overall in-vehicle experience in a more holistic way.”

This sounds like good news. But it doesn't have to come at the expense of what people already use and, in many cases, prefer. GM should create a better infotainment system that’s better integrated into the information coming from the vehicle, but it should offer its customers a choice. Because if GM doesn’t listen to what people want, plenty of other automakers are more than happy to swoop in and offer CarPlay support.

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67 days ago
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Two Quick Links for Monday Late Night

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This song (Dogma by KMFDM) popped into my head just now and whoa, I haven't listened to this in more than 2 decades. [youtube.com]

Totally, totally pathetic. Twitter is no longer allowing promotion of "prohibited 3rd-party social media platforms" like Instagram, Mastodon, Facebook, Post, etc. Free speech! [help.twitter.com]


Note: Quick Links are pushed to this RSS feed twice a day. For more immediate service, check out the front page of kottke.org, the Quick Links archive, or the @kottke Twitter feed.

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170 days ago
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Hi, Hello, I’m Back At It

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*peeks hesitantly around the corner*

Hey everyone. Tomorrow, after almost 7 months of a sabbatical break, I’m resuming regular publication of kottke.org. (Actually, I’ve been posting a bit here and there this week already — underpromise & over-deliver, etc.) I’m going to share more about what I’ve been up to (and what I’ve not been up to) in a massive forthcoming post, but for now, know that I’m happy to be back here in the saddle once again. (And that my fiddle leaf fig is doing well!)

I am, however, still dealing with some chronic pain that sometimes makes it difficult for me to work. I’m doing the things I need to do to get better & stronger, but just be aware that it might affect my output here. It’s a very frustrating situation — in many ways, I’m in the best physical shape of my life and am excited to be back here but this more-or-less constant background pain is a real source of friction as I go about my day. Just wanted to get that out there — thanks for your continued patience.

Ok, here we go!

Tags: Jason Kottke   kottke.org   working
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188 days ago
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Say hello to 1Password 8 for iOS and Android

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Say hello to 1Password 8 for iOS and Android

Sometimes I forget to marvel at what we, as an industry, have built in the past 30 years.

I have this little device in my pocket, and a slightly larger version on my nightstand. With either one, I can video chat with a friend in the UK, access my medical records, or check in for a vet appointment. I can track my workouts or reserve a table at my favorite restaurant.

I can buy movie tickets, concert tickets, and plane tickets. I can watch videos uploaded by creators from around the globe and learn how to do almost anything. Heck, I can even pair up a controller and play some pretty awesome games. All from the device in my pocket.

Unless I was tethered to my desk, I couldn’t do any of that when our founders – Dave, Sara, Roustem, and Natalia –  built the first version of 1Password in 2006. The smartphone and tablet as we know them didn’t yet exist.

But today, when I pull out my phone or grab my iPad, a world of possibilities opens to me.

That’s the world for which we built 1Password 8. The one in which most internet traffic goes through our phones and tablets. The one in which most people are juggling dozens, if not hundreds, of logins to access everything they need for work and life.

The world where you use your phone for everything.

This is 1Password 8 for iOS and Android. It’s a brand-new experience designed to bring a little order to a hyper-connected world. Where did I save my medical records? What’s my bank account number? Do I need to worry about that data breach I heard about yesterday?

And, of course, what the heck is my password?

Built for speed

iPhone and Android phone side-by-side, displaying the new 1Password 8 home screen and customization options with various sections toggled.

When we began work on 1Password 8 for iOS and Android, we went straight to customers to find out what they were trying to accomplish in 1Password. Armed with that knowledge, we then dove into making it as fast and easy as possible to achieve those tasks. Speed is everything on mobile, and 1Password 8 delivers.

It starts with your new home screen. And I mean it when I say it’s your home screen. When you open 1Password, you can hide, unhide, or reorder what you see here. You can even pin specific fields from your items to this screen for instantaneous access.

I have my kids' Screen Time passcode pinned to my home screen so I can show it in Large Type with a tap. No two people are alike – and now, no two 1Passwords are alike.

The new design also incorporates an updated, always-available navigation bar so you can:

  • Quickly access your home screen. Here you’ll find your favorites, recent items, or anything else you want fast access to.
  • Access all items across all your accounts. All your vaults, all your tags. It’s all here.
  • Search everything. When you tap the search button, the search field is immediately focused. Just start typing to find what you’re looking for.
  • Boost your security. Get one-tap access to the all-new Watchtower experience for mobile.

Of course, 1Password is more than just an app. If we’re doing things right, it feels like an extension of iOS and Android, putting the things you’ve stored in 1Password right at your fingertips, right when you need them.

Maybe you’re autofilling the one-time code when you log into your banking app, or your payment card info on Amazon.

Everywhere you need it, the autofill experience is now faster and more precise. Payment cards, addresses, identities – autofill whatever you need, when you need it, on both iOS (with the Safari extension) and Android.

Built for peace of mind

iPhone and Android phone side-by-side displaying the Watchtower dashboard with shareable security score and list of items with weak passwords.

There’s nothing like knowing – not guessing, but knowing – that you’re protected. With the all-new Watchtower experience for mobile, that peace of mind is just a tap away.

Watchtower is your security sentinel, letting you know when you need to take action and making it easier to do so. If your credentials are involved in a data breach, you’ll see an alert in Watchtower and in the item itself. Tap it to take steps to protect yourself (like changing your password).

Those actionable alerts now extend to your security score, which gives you a bird’s-eye view of your overall security. Watchtower continually evaluates key security data points (locally, on your device) to calculate your score, and shows you where you can take action to improve your security. Your score incorporates things like weak passwords, inactive two-factor authentication, compromised passwords, and others.

You can also share your score directly from Watchtower by copying it or tweeting it. Watch out, though – this can get addictive fast. I’ve been known to spend idle minutes knocking down security issues in my own vaults to get my score just a little bit higher.

We also made security questions easier. Questions like “What’s your mother’s maiden name?” or “What was the name of your childhood pet?” are designed to enhance security, but they can also be a pain. If the question is too obscure, it’s hard to remember the answer. Too common and it’s easy to find that info if an attacker looks hard enough.

Now you can generate random answers to security questions as easily as you generate a password. Just add a security question field to any item, and let 1Password generate an answer for you. Better security, no more guesswork.

Of course, you still get all the other security-boosting features you’ve come to expect from 1Password. That includes the ability to securely share items – yep, files and documents too – with anyone, even if they don’t use 1Password.

Built for you

iPhone and Android phone side-by-side displaying the 1Password 8 home screen with pinned fields and customizable sections in various configurations.

Nothing is as personal as these little rectangles in our pockets, so with 1Password 8 we wanted to create something that you could shape to your needs.

Enter the customizable new home screen.

You might want fast access to your favorites and pinned fields, whereas I might prefer to see a list of frequently used and recently created items. It’s your 1Password, so it’s your call.

What are pinned fields? The easiest way to make 1Password truly yours. You can pin any field in a 1Password item directly to your home screen, so you always have instant access to, say, your bank’s routing number or the one-time code for your Twitter login.

To customize your home screen, scroll to the bottom of the screen and select “Customize” then select or deselect sections to show or hide them (respectively). Drag-and-drop sections to choose the order in which they appear.

iPhone and Android phone side-by-side displaying work and travel collections

Collections have come to iOS and Android, too. Collections are an easy way to create a custom group of vaults for easier context switching. Maybe you want to create a collection of personal, work, and travel vaults, or create collections that separate shared vaults with private ones.

Again, it’s up to you. Just tap the vault icon at the top of the screen and select “Manage Collections” to set it up.

1Password also respects your device’s appearance settings, so if you dwell on the dark side all day long with Dark Mode, 1Password will embrace the darkness right along with you. 😎

Download 1Password 8 for iOS and Android

I can’t emphasize the new part of “all-new” enough. 1Password 8 is more than an upgrade: It’s a brand new experience, and you can download it now from the App Store and Google Play Store. 1Password 7 will not automatically upgrade to 1Password 8.

Migrating from 1Password 7 to 1Password 8

If you're using 1Password without a subscription and would like some guidance [migrating to 1Password 8](https://support.1password.com/migrate-1password-account/), 1Password Support is standing by to lend a hand.

Contact 1Password Support

Once you download the app and start exploring, you’ll also find little flourishes throughout: new icons and typography, detailed item views, and new indicators next to shared items so you can see what’s shared and what’s private at a glance.

Regardless of how you set up your 1Password, you’ll be getting the most advanced version of 1Password we’ve ever built, completely recreated for a mobile-first world.

PS: I want to give a huge shout-out to the 1Password community. The feedback from Early Access testers and other contributors has been invaluable. Thank you.

But we’re not done yet. We’re still listening, so if you’d like to share your thoughts, stop by the community and say hi.

Download 1Password 8 for iOS

Get the all-new 1Password 8 for iPhone and iPad. It's everything you need for a worry-free digital life on the go.

Download on the App Store

Download 1Password 8 for Android

Protection has evolved. Get the all-new 1Password 8 for Android phones and tablets.

Download on the Play Store
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302 days ago
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Vin Scully Passes Away

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Broadcasting legend Vin Scully passed away today at age 94, according to a Dodgers news release.  “He was the voice of the Dodgers, and so much more. He was their conscience, their poet laureate, capturing their beauty and chronicling their glory from Jackie Robinson to Sandy Koufax, Kirk Gibson to Clayton Kershaw.  Vin Scully was the heartbeat of the Dodgers – and in so many ways, the heartbeat of all of Los Angeles,” the release stated.

For all of the legendary voices who have called baseball games over the decades, there is little debate that Scully was the best of them all, both for the incredible length of his tenure in the booth, and his unmatched quality over those 66 years of broadcasting Dodgers games.  Amazingly, Scully was already a Hall-of-Fame level broadcaster even aside from his work with the Dodgers, as he covered the NFL, pro golf, tennis, and (naturally) postseason and All-Star baseball games for such outlets as CBS, NBC, ABC, and TBS.

From start to finish in his iconic career, Scully was a master storyteller, finding endless inventive and poetic ways to call the action, yet never overwhelmed the play on the field.  Scully was on the mic for many of the greatest moments in baseball history, adding to those moments with both wonderful calls and (just as important) poignant silences.

Scully was something of a prodigy, as quite early in his career he began calling Dodgers games in Brooklyn in 1950 on both TV and radio broadcasts.  He was then in the booth until the end of the 2016 season, following the Dodgers to Los Angeles.  As noted in the press release, “it was Vin as much as anyone who bonded the franchise with its new city.  Fans – not only around the city, but at the games themselves in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – would listen on their new transistor radios to Vin and colleague Jerry Doggett.”

On behalf of all of us at MLBTR, we send our condolences to Vin Scully’s family and legions of friends and fans.

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308 days ago
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