Everything You Need to Know about the TidBITS 2018 Infrastructure

Originally published at: https://tidbits.com/2018/04/02/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-the-tidbits-2018-infrastructure/

We’re extremely pleased to pull back the curtains on our new Web site, which is the main face of a completely revamped Internet infrastructure. Adam Engst explains what we’re trying to achieve and how to make the most of the site.

1 Like

Looks like a great improvement, and fantastically well done to avoid trackers with ads and social media.


I like everything. The great explanation, the care for privacy, the detail of the plugins, the ads and social plugins without tracking. But I need a dark theme or my eyes will be totally dazzled in the second paragraph of each article :slight_smile:

1 Like

Successfully changed password. Thanks.

I’m using the Brave browser with dark reading theme enabled in preferences and then click on reading view to get a dark background on the Tidbits site.

Excited by the new lightweight design that takes into account how users consume the content that we’re here for. I’ll be sure to re-up manually come renewal time!

This looks great! The password change was nearly effortless. I look forward to exploring the new format. Thanks for all your efforts.

While reading the newly formatted TidBITS issue #1411 on Mac Mail, I wonder why the summary list of articles near the top are underlined and yet are not clickable? The first one has this underlying HTML:

<a href=3D"#post-30273">iOS 11.3 Adds Battery Health Screen and Much More

Is the problem with Mail or the HTML code?

They are clickable, at least in Mailmate. Didn’t test in Apple Mail. They move to anchor points within the email rather than launch a web view of the article. Given the length of the email, it’s quite smart, glad you pointed them out, I’ll use that.

I’m just now starting to explore the new site but I’m quite impressed. The only issue I’ve encountered was when I tried to reset my password last night. I never received the e-mail reset link. It may have gotten hung in my provider’s spam filter. Didn’t have any problem getting it this morning though…

Thank you! We went to a talk by a professor involved with the Princeton Web Transparency & Accountability Project last fall, and were just disgusted at the amount of effort being put into tracking users. I mean, advertisers were even tracking users by battery status!

We decided then that the new site would be as clean as we could make it. Nominally, that means we’ll earn less money, but it’s not like Google AdSense ads were bringing in real income anyway.

1 Like

I’ve heard this from a couple of people, but I’m curious, what do you do in nearly all Mac apps that use black text on white backgrounds? Charles Maurer addressed this in “Better than the Printed Page: Reading on an iPad” and followed up with more in a comment.

If the white of the Mac screen is too bright, I wonder if the solution is to tweak your display settings so it’s never so glaring.

Thank you! As I’ve said before, TidBITS members really are the only reason TidBITS still exists. We couldn’t possibly have survived otherwise.

What version of macOS are you using? In 10.13.4 High Sierra on my iMac, clicking the links in Mail does scroll me down to the actual article start.

As I said in the article, we’ve seen sporadic support for this basic HTML feature in email clients, but it does seem to be working in Mail for at least some people.

Since we sent email about the accounts to roughly 25,000 people, it’s not too surprising that some email messages might have gone missing. Hopefully it will all settle down in the next few days.

Wasn’t this a problem in Mail.app in… oh, maybe 10.10? I seem to recall some discussion about this a couple of years back, maybe more.

Congrats to all involved, the new site and email format are fantastic!

If you have suggestions for how we could format the issue better for your situation, I’m all ears.

My one complaint with the new email issue is that the links use some sort of SendGrid redirection. Two significant issues this causes (to me, in the context of how I read TidBITS):

  1. I can’t hover over a link to see where it leads to (which I often do to decide if I want to follow it).
  2. I can’t use the QuickLook feature on the Mac (little :arrow_down_small: to the right of a link) to quickly preview the link:

Is there any way the links in the email issue could be made to function a bit better?


1 Like

There are many applications in MacOS that use white background, but once in a while one makes it too much. There are more attenuated and brighter whites, and some more matt. Like everyone, I visit many pages with white background and the new website has seemed especially blinding. The problem is not to regulate the brightness of the screen because that problem is not with all the luminous websites. Maybe they just did the test only on Apple screens. I use a Benq 32’’. A little attenuation wouldn’t hurt. And maybe a dark skin for registered users.

Love the look of the new web site. I am seriously going to miss the text-only version of the weekly TidBITS issue, however. It was the epitome of what plain text email should be. No need to load images I didn’t need to see, which is particularly important for me who either has no data plan on my mobile devices or a prepaid one (where data is $10 per 100 MB). Links were gathered at the end of each paragraph, making them easy to selectively load (or ignore or file for later use).

I find the font in the new HTML version far too large in Mail on macOS and the formatting very awkward if remote content is set to be manually loaded (which I do on all platforms for security reasons as well as bandwidth). Also, some images are not alt-tagged and some of those images do not have a frame, making it almost impossible to determine what you are missing (or what you would gain if you load images). This is clearly a poorer experience than the previous plain text version if you do not routinely load images.

I suspect I will dump the weekly email edition that I first subscribed to back in the early 1990s and see how the RSS feed does for me. It’s been a while since I donated to the cause (far too long, actually), so I’ll probably try a membership, even if I find the RSS feed doesn’t serve me well. (I don’t use an RSS reader on my iPhone, so part of the test will be whether I miss having access to TidBITS when I am away from broadband or WiFi.)

I like the idea of a dark (think, daringfireball-esque) view, and sure, make it a member perk!

1 Like