Firefox Tip – Use the ^ Search Operator

This list of 11 secret Firefox tips is fantastic! Number 2 will change your life! OK, that’s overselling it a lot. Many of those I already knew, but the second tip really is great:

Search for a needle in a tabstack

Tab hoarders, we see you. Heck, we are you. Don’t ever let anyone shame you for having dozens (and dozens3) of open tabs, implying you don’t have it together and can’t find the right one. Instead, dazzle them with this trick. Add a % sign to your URL search bar to search specifically through all your open tabs, including tabs in different windows. Then you can click over to the already open tab instead of creating a duplicate, not that anyone has ever done that.

Bonus tip: If you love that tab search trick, try searching through your Bookmarks with * or your History with ^.

I’ve (somewhat) cut down on my tab hoarding thanks to One Tab and Pinboard, but my Firefox history is massive. Being able to search my history with ^ is a game-changer for me. I’m actively trying to build up my muscle memory for using that search operator.

Get Your Blog Posts on Mastodon

Here’s a full list of steps to get your blog posts on Mastodon:

  1. Install and activate the ActivityPub plugin for WordPress

That’s it! Thank you for following along.

OK, I’d actually like to say a bit more. When I first installed the plugin, I was trying to figure out how to connect it to my Mastodon account. If you’re using WordPress, it’s straight-forward to get your blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and LinkedIn thanks to Jetpack (I work for Automattic who makes Jetpack, but I don’t work on Jetpack). Jetpack works by connecting to those sites’ APIs with your account, and then posting to your account. I assumed that the ActivityPub plugin would work similarly.

But Mastodon isn’t like any of those other sites. Since anyone can run a Mastodon server, and Mastodon speaks the ActivityPub protocol, the plugin turns your blog into a server in the ActivityPub network (the “Fediverse”). You don’t need another account, your WordPress account is your account.

So how do you actually see your blog posts on Mastodon?

That part actually tripped me up. You have to go to /wp-admin/profile.php to see your Mastodon ID. I don’t know where I read that, but it wasn’t obvious to me. At the bottom it tells me that my ID is @georgehotelling@g13g.blog so I searched for that on my Mastodon server and was able to follow my blog. The format seems to be [username]@[hostname] but you should check your profile page just to be sure.

Wishlist

There are a few things I’d like to see from this plugin in the future:

  1. Remote Follow. I’d love to be able to create a remote-follow page for my blog, similar to how Mastodon has a remote follow page. The Social Icons block in Gutenberg already has a Mastodon logo, but it would be nice to be able to link to a page that lets you subscribe, like on Mastodon.
  2. Customizable Feeds. Another thing I’d like to see is the ability to create and name feeds for posts that match a WP_Query. First off I could have a shorter ID like @blog@g13g.blog or something. I could also use it with Custom Post Types to have short links (like Waxy or Kottke) on one feed, maybe photos on anther feed for Pixelfed.
  3. Replies as Comments. If someone replies to my post anywhere on the Fediverse, I want the option to include that in the comments section.

Oh, and about Mastodon…

I have said it elsewhere but I love my Mastodon instance. It reminds me of BBSs back in the day, or maybe the local Livejournal group. It’s cozy with a lot of familiar faces. 90% of the content on the instance is marked “followers only” for privacy, so if you’re interested be sure to follow people you see mentioned.

Mastodon, like blogs and RSS, is also one of the last places on the web where you don’t have an algorithm choosing what you see. No one is optimizing tho software for engagement metrics. That alone is pretty valuable to me.

A step toward replacing Facebook

One of the things I noted when I left Facebook was that I ended up outsourcing my social labor to my wife. Sarah Jeong wrote a great piece for The Verge about her experiences without Facebook, and found similar gaps in the Facebook-less life.

The real problem only began to present itself much later. I missed big personal news from people I knew. I missed dance parties and house parties and casual get-togethers. I was the last to find out about births and the last to see baby pictures. Classmates got engaged and married and I didn’t find out until after my hiatus.

The epitome of this phenomenon was when I sat down to interview my friend Dia Kayyali, an activist organizing against Facebook’s real names policy. “You’re coming to my birthday party, right?” they said, as we were leaving the cafe where I had interviewed them.

I froze in my tracks. “What party?”

“Oh,” said Dia. “I forgot you’re off Facebook.”

Please read the whole piece. The subtitle is “Facebook is an emotional labor machine, and if you want to leave it, you’re going to have to start doing a lot of work.” It’s a great look at why a thoughtful person would still use Facebook, despite it’s drawbacks.

I believe that distributed and remote workers need to take responsibility for social plans. Maintaining social ties is literally a matter of life and death. I am out of sight and out of mind and not the center of anyone else’s world.

How do you keep up with folks without Facebook? One way I’ve found is Monica, an “Open source personal CRM.”

You can use Monica to log when you do something with a friend, and get reminders when you haven’t talked to someone in a while. Want to go out for lunch or a beer? Take a look at who you haven’t seen in a while. Since it’s open source, if you don’t trust them with your data you can run it yourself.

The drawbacks are that you need to maintain the data yourself (instead of Facebook) and that it focuses a little too much on phone calls.

If that’s too much, another trick I’ve used is to create a Trello board with the months of the year on it. Put a card for each friend in the column for your last contact (however you define that) and you can see at a glance who you should catch up with.

I’m not perfect about keeping up. If you are reading this and realize we haven’t hung out in a while, please invite me out. I’ll say no because in May I’m going to London for a work trip and moving to Ann Arbor, but we’ll catch up after the dust settles. And I’ll be sure to log it in Monica.

❤️ This post proudly created in Gutenberg

About that new stadium in Detroit…

Two years ago Detroit got approval to spend over $283 million of taxpayer money on a new arena for the Red Wings just six days after the city filed for bankruptcy even though the Red Wings’ owner is Mike Illitch the founder of the Little Caesar’s pizza chain who’s worth an estimated $5.1 billion.

And if you think that it’s OK because it will put the money back in the economy…

A major review of almost 20 years of studies showed economists could find “no substantial evidence of increased jobs, incomes or tax revenues”