Using Unclutter as macOS Screen Shot Manager

Unclutter Screenshot Manager Macos

Unclutter is a unique take on a drag and drop shelf app that includes a scratch pad, and simple clipboard manager. I have used Unclutter for some time as a shelf for holding transit items. It helps me avoid dumping loads of junk on my desktop. Unclutter a little different to Yoink or Dropshelf in that the shelf pulls down like a curtain from the top of the screen, but the concept is much the same. The notepad and clipboard manager make Unclutter a useful utility for anybody, but I have found a specific use case for it as a macOS screen shot manager.

For a while I used a handy little menu bar app call Shotty to manage screenshots. Unfortunately, Shotty’s user interface is small, so I find it isn’t ideal on the big screen of an iMac. The difference, depending on how you set it up, is Unclutter can stretch the whole way across the top of your screen. The display options can be set so that screen shots will display in an ad hoc gallery, making it easier to work with the images as you write.

macOS Screen Shot Manager
Unclutter can present screenshots in a gallery across the top of your screen

Setting up Unclutter

If you want to set Unclutter up to manage your screenshots, first you need to set the storage location in Unclutter. You can leave it as the default if you prefer, and use that file path for your set up. Otherwise you can set it to a cloud storage location, which is especially handy if you work across more than one Mac, or you want to access your screenshots on iOS.

Managing Screen Shots with Unclutter
Set the storage location for your screen shots in the Unclutter preferences.

Once you know the file path for files in Unclutter, you need to make sure your screenshots are going to end up there automatically. There are a couple of simple ways to do that.

Changing the Default Screen Shot Folder in Terminal

The first option is to change the default location for screenshots via terminal. Open a Terminal window and enter the following, then press enter. Obviously, you will change the file path to match where your Unclutter files are, or you can copy and paste if you have it setup with DropBox.

defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Dropbox/Unclutter/Unlcutter files

Once you have set the location, you have to run the following command to reset the process that manages screen shots in macOS.

killall SystemUIServer

If you want to change back to having screen shots land on your desktop, run the above commands again but change the location back to /Desktop

Managing Screen Shots with Unclutter and Hazel

Unclutter Screen Shot Manager
Using Hazel to move screen shots means more control than changing the global setting in terminal

I prefer to set up a Hazel rule for this for a few different reasons. First, it makes it easier to switch it on and off if necessary, or if I want to change the location. The second reason has a touch of irony given the apps name is Unclutter, it is easy to accumulate a lot of old screenshots. They’re not as readily visible as on the desktop, so having Hazel come in and clean them up is helpful.

There are more tricks here if you need them too. If you want to archive particular shots and delete others you can add conditional tags with hazel, or even go by the name. My workflow for uploading shots to WordPress from my Mac includes using quicklook to rename files with a Text Expander snippet. Once they are renamed, Hazel will grab them again and run an Automator action that prepares them for this site.

Setapp Unclutter App
Using Unclutter to manage screenshots makes it easier to use Quicklook for viewing and renaming files

Unclutter on Setapp or the Mac App Store

MacPaw describes the Setapp platform as the Netflix for Mac apps, the analogy almost works. It’s unlikely you haven’t heard of it yet, but I have written about it a few times. There are numerous useful utilities, like Unclutter, included with a subscription. They add a lot of value to the heavy hitters like Ulysses, 2Do, and Marked. They have well over 100 apps now, and with the education discount a subscription will cost you five bucks a month.

Unclutter is also available on its own from the App Store for US$9.99

Enable Safari Hidden Features with Debug Menu

I found Safari Browser to be a nightmare in its cross platform days. It says a lot for its progress that has become my preferred browser. The modern version is fast, efficient with resources, and proactive about tracking protection. Recent announcements also suggest that protection will continue to improve.  Using 1Blocker for iOS and macOS , I can manage my browsing experience across Mac and iOS without weighing the app down with extensions. Add to that recent additions such as iOS type privacy settings, and the already excellent continuity features like handoff, and reading list. Put simply, using Safari is easy.  It might not be as extensible as Chrome or Firefox, but like those browsers, Safari has a number of hidden features.

Enabling Safari Hidden Features

Finding Safari hidden features requires enabling a couple of menus that are disable by default. The easiest one to enable is the Develop menu. To do that, open preferences, advanced, and simply tick the box: ‘Show Develop menu in menu bar'. Restart Safari and it will appear, giving you new options to do things like disable Javascript, clear caches, or change the user agent among other things.

Safari Browser Hidden Features
Enable the Develop menu in the advanced preferences

The other hidden menu is the lessor known Debug menu, which requires some basic terminal foo to reveal. The intrepid and curious will have a range of new preferences to tweak

  • Open Terminal: If you’re a mouse jockey click on the Go menu in Finder, and select Utilities. If you’re a keyboard warrior hit ⌘ + Space and start typing Terminal.
  • Once you have the Terminal open either type, or copy and past the following command:

defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeInternalDebugMenu 1

  • Press return, then restart Safari. Presto, you have a new menu.

Safari Hidden Features to Enable

Macos Safari Browser Hidden Features
From the debug menu users can disable inline video altogether

Until recently, this was the only way you could disable autoplay video on annoying sites. Thankfully, Safari will now allow you to set site specific preferences , content blocking, and so on. It doesn’t always work the way it should in my experience, but setting a global flag in the debug menu takes care of it. Under Media Flags, enable ‘Video Needs User Action’, or ‘Audio Needs User Action’, depending on your needs. You can also disable inline video altogether.

Other handy features include the ability to disable some of Safari’s energy management. If you have attention madness like I do, you might find your open tabs getting out of control. Rather than creating epic memory leaks, Safari will suspend background tabs that aren’t being used. The browser is smart about how it does this, but it doesn’t suit everybody. For some users, having to reload a suspended tab can be a real nuisance. For instance, if you do a lot of research you might want to keep all your tabs live. If this is you, the option to disable background tab suspension is under miscellaneous flags.

There are a lot more flags, some more useful than others. To state the obvious, you can break stuff by playing with them, but that’s half the fun.

Creating Smart Reading Lists on iOS with Notebooks

Ios Workflow Notebooks Tasklist Reading

If Notebooks isn’t best note taking app for iPad, it is definitely the most underrated.  If you're looking for a markdown notes app, a writing app, or a document storage container with a few unique tricks, you won’t find many better. Part notebook, part storage locker, and part GTD task management system. That might sound like a janky combination, but not only does it work well, it looks pretty too. It has been around for a while, so in lieu of a comprehensive review, I want to highlight a particular feature I haven’t seen anywhere else. The ability to turn notes into tasks.

If you have a lot of reading to keep up with from a variety of sources, this is very handy. For planning and tracking big reading projects I still use TaskPaper on macOS, with its counterpart TaskMator on iOS. That system works well, with the outliner style lists making it easy to break up books, journals and so on with due dates. Using Notebooks has a distant advantage over that system, as it can collect the reading material itself. Web pages, notes, PDF documents, Word files, you can read them all directly in Notebooks. It will even let you index epub files to open in a third-party reader, like Marvin. Remember, at its core this is note taking app, while reading you can highlight text, make annotations, take clippings, and more. You can also take notes.

Notebooks Reading List Workflow

Ios Workflow Notebooks Reading List
The Notebooks URL scheme is simple to use, and does a great job of importing multiple data types

This is a simple idea that in practice will help keep track of reading lists, note revisions, or really anything text based. It’s true you can fashion a similar system by chaining apps like DEVONthink and Things 3 together. To my mind this is more elegant, or at least less confusing.

It works like this. As I collect reading material, I drop it into a Notebook that has been setup as a task list. When I’m on the clock I can setup due dates, reminders and so on. More importantly, I can tick items off as I go, meaning a quick visual guide is available to measure progress. It’s easy enough to use Notebooks’ share extension for this — or bookmarklets on the Mac — but there are two alternative methods I prefer. First, Notebooks has a very hand URL scheme which is clever about capturing all kinds of data, which makes setting up a custom action extension for Workflow trivial.

You can download the workflow here

Notebooks Drag and Drop

Notebooks Best Note Taking Ipad
Multitasking with drag and drop makes collecting articles trivial

The Workflow action above is especially handy on the iPhone, but the iPad has another option that is easier still. Notebooks has excellent support for the drag and drop feature of iOS 11. So if you don’t fancy using Workflow, you can use multitasking to simply drag links and files directly into a reading list. Or, you can use something like the excellent shelf app Gladys to hold the material you collect before dropping it into Notebooks later. Gladys now has a Mac version too, which adds some continuity to the workflow.

Best note taking apps for college
Using a shelf app like Gladys gives you a chance to triage material before it is adding to the list

Among the Best Note Taking Apps

If you follow this site, you probably know by now that all my data ends up in DEVONthink, one way, or another. Whatever passes through Notebooks still ends up there, but DEVONthink’s super power is search. It has passable editing and annotation tools, but I prefer doing the interactive work before it ends up in what is essentially a personal research database. For a lot of users Notebooks might even be enough. While the task management features were no doubt conceived for GTD nerds, they end up making Notebooks among the best note taking apps for college, or university users. The caveat being it's not a handwriting app. In fact if anything holds it back, that would be it. I would get around that by using Nebo as a capture tool myself, they complement each other well.

If DEVONthink’s not your jam, or you’re looking to replace Evernote with something private and local, Notebooks is a handsome and feature rich app. It has relative feature parity across macOS, and iOS, and a lot of unexpected touches. GTD purists could configure tickler files, and contexts until their head is sufficiently empty of all that arduous, excess thought. 1. It can even run its own local WebDAV server for private local sync. It sounds strange, but it’s really not.

  1. I’m joking, you beautiful nerd you.

iCloud Sync for DEVONthink

Devonthink Icloud Sync

If I had to name a single app that holds my workflows together across macOS and iOS, it would be DEVONthink. I have tried many other solutions for the problems it solves, with varying degrees of success. I was an Evernote user for some time, but privacy issues, proprietary document formats, and a variety of other concerns were enough to turn me away. Other tools have come and gone, Eagle Filer is probably the closest thing I have come across to 1, but the more you peel back the layers of DEVONthink the more you you understand why all those nerds were telling you to try it out in earnest. 2

For a long time a superficial reticence towards the DEVONthink interface kept me away from it. Once I finally gave function a rare victory over form, it didn’t take long to realise what I had been missing. That is not to say I have no desire to see changes to DEVONthink. A little self-preservation has started to inform my desire to see the user interface refreshed. One gets a sense the DEVONthink user-base is strong and loyal, and the longevity of the company no doubt owes a lot to the maturity of the software. However, I worry that too many potential users are missing out a powerful application for superficial reasons. And, who knows, those potential users might be needed to ensure the sustainability of software that I would now hate to do without.

Adding iCloud Sync

One immediate wish I had for DEVONthink has recently been granted with the addition of iCloud sync. This is a great news for a number of reasons, with the most obvious also related to usability. The iOS version, DEVONthink to Go has been a revelation, both as an advance research tool for iPad and iPhone, but also in terms of advancing the usability of DEVONthink in general.

DEVONthink’s sync end-to-end encryption is one of my favourite features. I even suggested it as a hack for syncing encrypted data to iOS via Dropbox. The one area it fell down was the lack of iCloud support. That was understandable, given iCloud drive hasn’t always had a stellar reputation for package data, but things have changed.

Setting up iCloud sync for DEVONthink is simple; which is the whole point. A user generated encryption key is still required to ensure end-to-end encryption, but there is none of the other rigmarole required for other cloud services. That means no need to nominate a sync-store name, no mucking around with server addresses or usernames. If you already have other sync-store setup, you can either disable them, or consider them redundancy. It’s not quite the same as a backup, but certainly can’t hurt.

 

Icloud Sync Devonthink Ios
iCloud Sync for DEVONthink with end-to-end encryption

 

If you have complex research and retrieval needs, or your simply a ditital pack rat. I cannot recommend DEVONthink enough.   One of these days I will write it up in detail. Until then, I suspect the iOS version might be a good gateway drug for a potential user. You can read a little about that version here.

  1. Eagle Filer is an excellent piece of software, but doesn’t have the same intelligence as DEVONthink, or an iOS version.
  2. You can count me among them now

Quick Fix: Disable Circle Jerking and Autoplay in Chrome

Disable Autoplay Chrome Browser

I use Safari by default, but I’m a still bit of a browser hopper at times. The stark reality for anyone who runs a website — whether a bonafide developer or a hack like me — is Chrome Browser accounts for around 60% of all web traffic 1. I have made the mistake of optimising this site for Safari, based on a ropey sense of potential reader preference. If you’re a chrome user reading this, I assure you I have disabused myself of that notion. 2 Given Google all but owns the web, knowing your way around Chrome is non-negotiable.

Chrome Flags

In many ways Chrome is drastically more functional than Safari. For extensibility, it leaves Safari in the dust. If there is one thing I have always appreciated about Chrome, 3it’s the ability to dig into the experimental features. To do similar things with Safari requires invoking a terminal incantation, using the Safari Technology Preview version, or both. It is a little on the janky side.

If you’re ever troubleshooting chrome, it is worth looking at the flags to see if you can’t put paid to unwanted behaviour. There are some useful features buried in there. If you don't know what chrome flags are, or you're wondering what they can do, here are a couple I set recently.

Disable Circle-Jerking

This is an old trick that douche-bags use to trap users on a site. Loading history entries with the current URL means when users hit the back button it simply reloads the same page. Chrome has a handy little flag to disable this behaviour.

  1. Type Chrome://flags into the address bar
  2. ⌘+F and search for ‘History’
  3. Set the ‘New history entries require a user gesture’ to ‘Enabled’

Disable Autoplay

There are two flags I like to set for this. One for Autoplay, and the second to automatically mute any tabs that somehow escape this rule.

  1. Same as above, type Chrome://flags into the address bar
  2. ⌘+F and search for ‘Autoplay Policy’
  3. Set to ‘user gesture is required for cross origin iframes’
  4. ⌘+F and search for ‘Tab audio muting UI control’
  5. Set to Enable

Get back to browsing, and enjoy.

  1. depending where you get your stats
  2. For anyone who cares, until recently part of the caching system used by my web host Cloudways was intermittently broken on Chrome.
  3. And Firefox, for that matter.

Secure Email Client Canary Mail Joins Setapp

Canary Mail Setapp.png

Subscription App Store, Setapp, is one of the first things I recommend new Mac new users these days. From inception, the apps included in a membership were always impressive. Setapp can meet the software needs of a large majority of Mac users, and the collection is constantly improving. The latest improvement is the addition of excellent, security focused email client Canary Mail.

Setapp’s other email clients don’t work for me. Boxy looks pretty, but it’s designed for Gmail, and I gave that vice up some time ago. Unibox is a contact focused client, which might be useful if your workflow is focused on particular people. but doesn’t work for a curmudgeon like myself.

Canary’s thing is security. It makes encryption more user friendly by integrating with the MIT and Keybase servers. End-to-end encryption is automated when both sender and recipient are Canary users, or can be initiated manually when sending to other clients. It is probably worth reiterating the point in my post yesterday, about the recently discovered PGP and S/MIME exploit. Using encryption is simply a good habit, and something an app like Canary can help with. However, nobody should be relying on email for genuinely sensitive information. If you need serous encryption for messaging, use Signal. But, securing the content of your mail is not the only security concern with email clients.

Protect yourself from Email tracking with Canary

A feature I really appreciate in Canary is the ability to block email trackers. With all the talk of web tracking, I’m surprised I don’t see more about the tracking that goes on in email clients. While an extension of what happens on the web at large, email tracking is potentially worse for violating privacy. A 2017 paper from Princeton University researchers revealed the extent of the problem.

About 29% of emails leak the user’s email address to at least one third party when the email is opened, and about 19% of senders sent at least one email that had such a leak. The majority of these leaks (62%) are intentional. If the leaked email address is associated with a tracking cookie, as it would be in many webmail clients, the privacy risk to users is greatly amplified. Since a tracking cookie can be shared with traditional web trackers, email address can allow those trackers to link tracking profiles from before and after a user clears their cookies. If a user reads their email on multiple devices, trackers can use that address as an identifier to link tracking data cross-device

It goes on, if you want to read the whole paper you can find it here.

Beyond Image Tracking

The most common form of tracking is via invisible pixels. This is why I advocate for switching off the ‘load remote images’ setting in whatever email client you use. The problem is, blocking images is a blunt tool, it can render some email unreadable. Canary is smart about blocking only the tracker pixel, so it doesn’t ruin the design of html email. Using Canary in conjunction with something like 1Blocker can mitigate many of the concerns raised about leaking your personal data via the seemingly innocent act of opening a newsletter.

I am pleased to see Canary turn up on Setapp. I struggle to see how the proliferation of single-app subscriptions is sustainable in the long run. The outrage might have died down, but the fatigue is starting set in. Macpaw’s setup is smart, it shows in the quality of the software they are offering. I cannot recommend it enough. Especially when a 50% discount for students means over a hundred apps are available for US$5 a month.

If you have no need for the full suite, Canary Mail is also available direct from the Appstore on both macOS, and iOS.

Details on a New PGP Vulnerability | Schneier on Security

You might have seem some of the hullabaloo around the web about the discovery of a security flaw in PGP or S/MIME. From Bruce Schneier, the vulnerability is not in the encryption itself, rather the exploit is carried out in transit.

The vulnerability isn't with PGP or S/MIME itself, but in the way they interact with modern e-mail programs. You can see this in the two suggested short-term mitigations: “No decryption in the e-mail client,” and “disable HTML rendering.”

The suggested workaround is solid advice. Email has never been a sensible means for secure communication.

Why is anyone using encrypted e-mail anymore, anyway? Reliably and easily encrypting e-mail is an insurmountably hard problem for reasons having nothing to do with today's announcement. If you need to communicate securely, use Signal. If having Signal on your phone will arouse suspicion, use WhatsApp.

Comedy and Virtue

Twitter’s Parag Agrawal

We are sharing this information to help people make an informed decision about their account security. We didn’t have to, but believe it’s the right thing to do.

Silicon Valley’s Jared Dunn

‘In doing what we ought, we deserve no praise because it is our duty.'

— St Augustine

I pity whomever makes Agrawal’s sandwiches.

Show and Tell – Tuesday 8 May, 2018

The Appademic Show And Tell Links.jpg

An intermitant collection of concisely annotated, tech related links

We Know Where You Live

Palantir Knows Everything About You

The most emblematic paradox; it goes like this. Facebook knows everything about you, but Palantir knows more.

Cops Around the Country Can Now Unlock iPhones, Records Show | Motherboard

I know most people don’t expect the FBI will want to access their phone. To understand the situation, put the argument to yourself in reverse and you will soon realise the implications. Thankfully, these holes are usually filled in before long. Either way, use the strongest security you can by principle.

Google's File on You Is 10 Times Bigger Than Facebook's – Here's How to View It | Zero Hedge

Compared with most people I know, I'm pretty careful about the privacy of my data. I'm still scared to look at what Google has on me. By now, nobody should be surprised, and yet I wager you will be surprised. Look if you dare.

Stop Using 6-Digit iPhone Passcodes | Motherboard

Typically we won’t hear about cracking technology going underground for sometime, so forget the argument that you — being a law abiding citizen — needn’t worry about the police.

Idle At Work

The New Lesson Plan for Elementary School: Surviving the Internet – the Washington Post

This is more than I can say for a majority of the fully grown adults I spend my days avoiding

Susan, a 10-year-old in pink sneakers who likes YouTube and the mobile game “Piano Tiles 2,” quietly raised her hand. “I will make sure that I don’t tell nobody my personal stuff,” she said, “and be offline for at least two hours every night.”

Silicon Valley's Sixty-Year Love Affair With the Word “Tool”

Permit me a juvenile aside if you will, it seems we could update the old adage about what you eat.

“Is Curing Patients a Sustainable Business Model?” Goldman Sachs Analysts Ask | Ars Technica

For whatever reason, I know a lot of people struggle coming to terms with this very simple, but obvious contradiction in our economic system. This is about as clear an example as one could imagine.

Your Pretty Face Is Going to Sell | Open Space 

A brief investigation of commodified affect via YouTube, amusing.

What Else Floats on Water

Apple Sued an Independent iPhone Repair Shop Owner and Lost | Motherboard

I come across some gobsmacking equivocation when it comes to Apple. The idea that this behemoth is anything other than a halo bearing wonder of the modem world would undermine everything advocates want to believe about themselves. The truth is a little more uncomfortable.

“Apple is proving themselves to be the worldwide poster child of the Right to Repair movement,” Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of Repair.org, which is pushing for this legislation, told me. “They continue to make our case for us—suing legal repair providers, such as Henrik, lying to consumers about CPU performance throttling instead of battery replacements, and the coup de grace of hypocrisy—building products that are hard to repair and then proclaiming they care about the environment.”

Anyone wondering what right to repair would mean for the rest of the world might start here.

The specifics of Huseby’s case won’t matter for American repair shops, but that Apple continues to aggressively pursue a repair shop owner over 63 iPhone screens signals that Apple is not interested in changing its stance on independent repair, and that right to repair activists and independent repair companies should expect a long fight ahead of them: “I feel that this case was extremely important for them to win,” Huseby said.

Now Look Here

How Microsoft Helped Imprison a Man for ‘counterfeiting' Software It Gives Away for Free | TechCrunch

I’m out of words for this one. This is brutal from Microsoft, even if it should come as no surprise.

Stop Calling These Dark Design Patterns or Dark UX | These Are Simply asshole Designs

Whether you want to believe it or not, our economic system is built on obfuscation. These practices are deceitful, no question. At the same time, they paradoxically reveal a certain overlooked truth. I’ll leave it to you to work out what that is — in case you overlooked the first sentence.

Brutalist Design Is the Bad Influence We All Need

If you have any interest in design, you may like to read this. Aesthetics aside, there is a sociological argument hiding in here about pseudo-originality. I’ll leave you to find it.

The Disturbing High Modernism of Silicon Valley | Cal Newport

First time I’ve ever been remotely interested in something from this blog

No, Students Probably Aren't Blowing Their Student Loans on Bitcoin | the Chronicle of Higher Education How not to do research

Group Madness

Ex-Google Engineer Scraping YouTube to Pop Our Filter Bubbles | MIT

Chaslot, who worked at YouTube in 2011 and then at Google until 2013 (he claims he was fired for trying to give users more control over the algorithms that recommend content; neither Google nor YouTube addressed that contention in a response to a request for comment about this and other issues he has raised), figured this out by tracking YouTube’s suggestion algorithm. He tested his theory by building software that simulates the act of starting out watching one video on YouTube and then clicking on the recommended “Up next” video (which will also play automatically if you have YouTube’s autoplay feature turned on), over and over and over.

The New Lesson Plan for Elementary School: Surviving the Internet | Washington Post This is more than I can say for a majority of the fully grown adults I spend my days avoiding

Susan, a 10-year-old in pink sneakers who likes YouTube and the mobile game “Piano Tiles 2,” quietly raised her hand. “I will make sure that I don’t tell nobody my personal stuff,” she said, “and be offline for at least two hours every night.”

San Francisco's Bizarre Scooter War Shows How Tech Companies Ignore the Law | VICE

Literal disruption — and I mean, literally literal.

A Flaw-by-Flaw Guide to Facebook's New GDPR Privacy Changes | TechCrunch

No, it’s not about to end anytime soon

Facebook Removes 1.5 Billion Users From Protection of EU Privacy Law | Ars Technica

Either data is worth more than the tax breaks (which is likely) or to keep hold of both, a new level of tax dodging chicanery is required. Either way, Facebook is a grotesquely scaled version of a street huckster who gives you a dime while pinching your wallet from your pocket

Login With Facebook Data Hijacked by JavaScript Trackers – TechCrunch

In case you missed this. I recently heard a well known podcaster offering some thought on how it is relatively safe to use these single sign-on solutions. You know, Oauth is completely locked down; don’t be paranoid, and so on. So, anyway.

The abusive scripts were found on 434 of the top 1 million websites including cloud database provider MongoDB. That’s according to Steven Englehardt and his colleagues at Freedom To Tinker, which is hosted by Princeton’s Center For Information Technology Policy. I

The Many Deceptions of Mark Zuckerberg | Creative Good

Lies, damned lies, and Facebook.

Broaden Your Mind

Introduction · Front-End Developer Handbook 2018

Open source generosity of a kind. Nerds are largely a very generous cultural subset

And Now, For Something Completely Different

In Search of Photographic Treasure: Alfred G. Buckham | International Center of Photography

These photos are incredible.

A Robot Does the Impossible: Assembling an Ikea Chair Without Having a Meltdown

Closest thing to genuine artificial intelligence yet

 

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

One Year of Micro.blog and The Micro Appademic

Micro Blog Appademic Feed

Micro.blog has reached its first anniversary. I have been planning to cover the budding platform in detail for sometime. Eventually, I may even get there. In the meantime, in addition to setting up my own micro blog, I have added a feed to this site for the network. Although I haven’t quite figured how I will delimit the content, at the very least link posts will be pointed that way.

This is a fascinating project. Whether you’re looking to ditch the ever more toxic proprietary social networks, or simply gain control over the content you post online. That goes for anybody. It dovetails perfectly with the Domain of One’s Own initiative that Profhacker and others advocate.

What Manton has achieved with the platform in such a short period is remarkable. Here are the highlights from his One year of Micro.blog post.

If you haven’t checked out Micro.blog lately, here are some things that happened just in the last few months:

  • We launched a microcast called Micro Monday to feature members of the community. Each week, a different Micro.blog user joins Jean MacDonald for a quick interview about how they blog and what they like about Micro.blog.
  • To make it easier for anyone to create a short podcast, Wavelength lets you record, edit, and publish a microcast from your iPhone. You can also upload MP3s from the web and serve a podcast at your own domain name.
  • Sunlit is our iOS app for posting photos and discovering photos and new Micro.blog users to follow. It’s a free app with more control over publishing stories with photos, text, and different filters.
  • There’s a new theme for hosted microblogs called Marfa. We use this theme on Micro Monday.
  • Medium was added as a cross-posting option. Post to your own blog and Micro.blog will automatically send a copy to Medium.
  • Expanded the Discover section on the web and in the native apps to highlight photos, podcasts, and more. It’s a great place to see what
  • people are posting about or find new people to follow.

That is some list. For my own two cents,  there are a lot of ways the platform can improve, and no doubt will.  If Micro.blog suffers from anything, it is the relative lack of documentation for how genuinely open it is. There is a middle ground for all the tinkerers,  that I suspect will eventually be filled in. The kind of people who aren't web developers, but neither are they unable to cobble somnething together on their own that isn't a WordPress site.  At the same time, what has been acheived so far is impressive.

The easiest way to get started is to roll with Micro.blog’s own hosting, but as alluded to above the open nature of the platform means there are a plethora of ways to get started. I have setup a site using the wonderfully minimal Chalk Template for Jekyll. But bear mind, if you do something like that you will likely not have use of the Micro.blog apps for the social features. Which is why I find myself grappling with obscure ways to implement Micropub protocol for a self hosted Jekyll site. If I manage to crack that problem, you’ll know.

If you’ve always wanted to start a blog, but didn’t know how. Micro.blog might be what you never knew you always wanted.

Photo by James Pond on Unsplash