Archive for July 4, 2023

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Instagram Threads

Amanda Silberling:

Instagram’s rumored Twitter competitor just dropped on the iOS App Store in the U.S. The app will be called Threads, and according to App Store data, it’s expected to launch on July 6.

It’s a good time for Instagram to enter the fray — this past weekend, as Twitter fumbled the bag with rate-limit errors, competitors like Spill, Bluesky and Post saw significant growth. But Threads could have a leg up, since it directly ports over your Instagram followers and following lists. Instead of rebuilding a community from scratch, Threads users will already have their existing Instagram circles there from the get-go.

Threads (Hacker News):

Say more with Threads — Instagram’s text-based conversation app

Threads is where communities come together to discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what’ll be trending tomorrow. Whatever it is you’re interested in, you can follow and connect directly with your favorite creators and others who love the same things — or build a loyal following of your own to share your ideas, opinions and creativity with the world.

Dare Obasanjo:

This table is basically a list of features used by the app framed in the scariest way possible.

Colin Devroe:

The “Data linked to you” for Threads on the iOS App Store is because they are using Instagram as their authentication service. The two accounts are inexorably linked. If you use IG at all Meta already has this access/info.


Update (2023-07-06): Ivan Mehta:

Notably, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said in a post that there will be no ActivityPub support at launch. ActivityPub is a protocol that is used to post on decentralized networks like Mastodon. But the platform plans to allow interactions with other fediverse servers in the future.


As I alluded to in my previous post on the Fediverse and Mastodon (as before, used interchangeably here, deal with it), the prospect of Meta’s new “Project 92″/”Threads” being ActivityPub compatible has led a not-insubstantial quantity of existing Mastodon users to react with incredible fury and calls for the entire thing to be blocked by all other servers (“defederated”), in theory thus smothering it at birth while also protecting existing Mastodon users’ personal data, in this reading meaning their profile information and posts. Those who have tried to adopt a “wait and see” approach, or correspond with Meta to try and figure out what their intentions are, have been pilloried and in some cases received death threats.


There’s no secret backdoor in the ActivityPub spec that can be used to deliver adverts to be displayed in users’ feeds on other servers; and if Meta tried to create one, it would be easily defeated by those servers simply ignoring it.


The final point is that Meta does not need to run its own ActivityPub server to achieve all this stuff. ActivityPub is not secure in the slightest and is actually kind of a privacy nightmare. Frankly, there are worse and more obviously harmful actors already using AP than Meta[…]


It does not obviously help Meta in any way to have interoperability with ActivityPub. Threads would probably gain a lot of users whether it had ActivityPub or not, simply by virtue of a popup appearing in the Instagram and Facebook apps advertising it. While I’m sure it’s comforting for the people who subscribe to one or more of the above conspiracy theories to believe that actually Mastodon is really interesting and consequential, the reality is that Meta doesn’t need them.

Chris Hannah:

Regarding ActivityPub and the Fediverse, my opinion is that if Threads fully supports the protocol, then that is surely a good thing. Because, apart from major social networks simply not existing, having them work with an open standard is surely a pretty cool thing.

I do not doubt that some people will not want to have their instance to connect to Threads. This is a totally valid opinion, and I’m sure there will still be options for this.

However, I’m guessing a lot of Mastodon instances won’t block Threads. Which means, if you know people that didn’t make the jump to Mastodon, you may now be able to communicate with them this way.

Nick Heer:

My guess is that it looks good for Meta to look open and friendly right now — just look at how it has marketed the “metaverse”. I do not think most people care, but I think Meta believes it is good for its reputation.

Juli Clover:

Meta today officially launched Threads, the new social media app that it has been working on as an alternative to Twitter. Threads was meant to launch on Thursday, but the company pushed it live early due to the excitement surrounding its debut.


According to Meta, the app does not appear to be using any data to track users across websites and apps owned by other companies at this time, which makes it more private than Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

John Gruber (Mastodon):

The iOS app only supports an iPhone layout. I suppose I should not find this surprising, given that 13 years after launching, Instagram’s iOS app still doesn’t support the iPad natively, but somehow I do find this surprising. What a fucking mystery for the ages it is that Instagram won’t make iPad apps.


The website is view-only. You can’t log in, post, or reply. No indication whether this is temporary or by design.


Much better would be a URL format that includes the username of the poster, so you can tell who posted it just by looking at the URL.


Over 5 million people signed up for Threads in the first 4 hours after launch. (There are about 1.2 million active Mastodon users.)


If you’re the sort of person who wants a quiet timeline comprised only of posts from carefully curated accounts, Threads is not for you, and probably never will be. But the sort of people who like Twitter’s “For You” feed and trending topics in the sidebar might find Threads more fun.

Chris Hannah:

I was expecting it to be “Twitter, by Instagram”, with emphasis on the Twitter. Instead, it’s the other way around.

To me, Threads takes one of the most annoying parts of Instagram, the algorithmic timeline, makes it worse, and then provides it as the foundation of a new social network.

Riley Testut:

Yup, Threads is the real deal alright. Already following many of my friends that never made it to Twitter (let alone Mastodon) 🙏

Eugen Rochko:

There’s been a lot of speculation around what Threads will be and what it means for Mastodon. We’ve put together some of the most common questions and our responses based on what was launched today.

Jeff Johnson:

The fact that Threads shipped without a chronological timeline tells you everything you need to know about that “service”.

M.G. Siegler:

I both thought Meta should try to go after Facebook (yet again). And thought it might actually work this time. But I honestly didn’t expect Threads to be this good, this fast.

Tim Hardwick:

But users thinking of installing the social media app just to check it out should be aware that you can’t delete your Threads profile without also deleting your Instagram account.

Matt Birchler:

First, Threads is a massive hit. It looks like over 20 million people (update: 30 million) have joined the service already in the first 12 hours since launch. That’s not Instagram users automatically migrated, that’s real people (and many brands) installing the app and setting up an account. That’s astounding uptake, even for a company like Meta with billions of users.


We’ll see how sticky Threads is beyond the first few days, but my hot take right now is that Bluesky is toast. I would say it still has a chance if Threads was 100% its own thing, but Threads’ upcoming ActivityPub integration is going to help nerds feel better about using Mastodon (or other ActivityPub networks), and everyone else will either switch to Threads or stay on Twitter. I really don’t know where Bluesky fits into this anymore.

Dave Winer:

No web browser interface?

Tons of bugs! Surprising they shipped in this shape.

Bait and switch -- ActivityPub support real soon now.

Update (2023-07-07): Mario Guzman:

I have a bad feeling that Threads is going to be huge. Literally people I know who said they don’t care to be on a microblogging platform like Twitter legit signed up day one like my brother, my realtor, old coworkers… AND THEY ARE USING IT. I can’t be the only one who is seeing this.

Max Tani:

Twitter is threatening legal action against Meta over its new text-based “Twitter killer” platform, accusing the social media giant of poaching former employees to create a “copycat” application.

Ish Abazz:

I had no idea that Threads was a reboot.

Update (2023-07-10): Jay Peters and Jon Porter:

Instagram’s new Threads app has already surpassed 100 million users, meaning it reached the milestone dramatically faster than even ChatGPT.


Users aren’t just signing up: they’re posting, too. As of Thursday, my colleague Alex Heath reported that there have already been more than 95 million posts and 190 million likes shared on the app.

Binyamin Goldman:

It is mind-boggling to me that the same people that consistently question the Instagram merger and support big tech regulation do not see the issue with Meta using its market position to dominate an existing social networking space overnight. It is ok to not like Elon Twitter and hold this opinion. Threads becoming the fastest-growing app overnight despite missing many key features is a sign of market foreclosure and one of the clearest abuses of a dominant position in tech I think we’ve ever seen.

Perhaps this is one reason they pre-announced support for ActivityPub.

Update (2023-07-13): Mysk:

The fake “Threads for Insta” was downloaded at least 300,000 times before Apple quietly removed it. Isn’t the App Store obliged to explain why the app was removed, at least only to the victims who downloaded it? This will raise awareness and educate users about avoiding such scams.

Update (2023-07-27): John Gruber:

To get to the Following [chronological] timeline in Instagram, tap the Instagram logo of the Home tab; that presents a menu with options for “Following” and “Favorites”.


The much-requested Threads web app is coming soon, apparently.

Abusive Web Notifications

Adam Engst:

These attempts to phish you by notification are malware, plain and simple—the form known as adware. The alerts try to trick users into visiting a fake website and entering login credentials or credit card information to facilitate identity theft, just like a phishing attempt via email. Attempting to eliminate the notifications by running anti-malware apps like Malwarebytes, DetectX Swift, or VirusBarrier won’t work.


Unlike regular malware, notification adware doesn’t require an infection, so anti-malware software has nothing to find or remove. Instead, notification adware exploits the capability of Web browsers to let websites display system-level notifications just like native apps. No one would intentionally sign up for adware notifications, of course, but websites can—and increasingly do—ask users if they’d like to receive notifications.

There are also fake notifications that appear within the browser window and look like system notifications—but usually using the design of a few years ago. These will show up without any prompting and are good at tricking people, in my experience.


The Trouble With Mac Gaming

John Voorhees:

Quinn Nelson of Snazzy Labs has an excellent video about the trouble with gaming on the Mac. The video’s title says it all: “Macs Can Game. But Apple Can’t.” As Nelson explains, it’s not the hardware or the software that’s holding the platform back. It’s the size of the Mac market and the lack of any apparent strategy to attract more than a few big-name game studios to the Mac.

John Siracusa:

I’m not linking this @snazzyq video just because it agrees with everything I’ve been saying for years on @atpfm about Apple and gaming…but it’s also not a coincidence that so many knowledgeable people have the same thoughts on the subject.

Peter Cohen:

So Game Porting Toolkit a starting point for Mac games, not an endpoint. In fact, getting games working on the Mac platform has never really been the issue. I’ve been covering this scene now for 30 years. Finding someone to convert game code to run on the Mac isn’t the problem. Game devs today are better at building portable code than they used to, and the tools they rely on are better at targeting multiple platforms, too.

Business is the issue that’s stymied Mac games over the years. Game publishers often avoid the Mac platform because they don’t see the revenue potential. The counterargument is that Mac users don’t buy enough games because they aren’t out at the same time or in the same quantity as Windows. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg conundrum.


After Apple announced Game Porting Toolkit, I did a straw poll of veteran Mac game developers. General consensus was interest, but eye rolls too. The mood can be summarized as, “We’ll see how long this lasts.”

What do they mean? Apple’s infamous for shifting priorities after announcing new game technology and walking away from it.

See also: Microsoft’s gaming strategy.


Update (2023-07-10): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Update (2023-08-04): Samuel Axon (Hacker News):

Apple’s macOS has been the second most popular operating system on the Steam game distribution platform for a long time, but that has now changed. Linux has surpassed macOS for the No. 2 spot, according to Steam’s July user hardware survey.

Update (2023-08-09): mikeymikey:

Mac is at 1.84%, Linux is at 1.96% - but 42% of that is Steam Deck

So really the breakdown would be more accurate as:

  • 1.84% Mac
  • 1.14% Linux
  • 0.82% Steam Deck

If we’re gonna play perspective games, I’d much rather paint this as “Valve’s successful launch of their own gaming console has already almost equaled the total number of active Steam Linux users” 🙃

Jan Ekholm:

The alternative interpretation is that “company launches marginal handheld devices, almost eclipses Apple’s all efforts in a year”. The gist here was however that Apple is so inept when it comes to gaming that it’s comical.

Colin Cornaby:

Kind of worried Blizzard is just starting to let the Mac go in their few remaining games. World of Warcraft has a few glaring and obvious graphical issues in the Metal renderer that have survived for months now. My gear isn’t even textured on the character screen.

Roger Ogden:

As I understand it, the Metal version of WoW would not exist if it wasn’t one person’s passion project. It’s apparently no one’s job to maintain a Metal version of the game, and that makes me sad.

AutoCAD Perpetual Licenses Can No Longer Be Activated

Steve Johnson (in 2016):

Hidden in amongst a bunch of the usual highly dubious subscription statements from Carl Bass is an announcement that spells doom for Autodesk perpetual license owners.


Translation: Autodesk is going to drive up prices of maintenance subscription (perpetual license keeping-up-to-date fee) to match the much higher prices of product subscription (rental). Maintenance subscription will then be merged into oblivion. Your return on your long-term investment in Autodesk software will be zero.

What if you don’t want maintenance updates—can you keep using what you have?

Ian Davis:

my permanent standalone autocad product license has become invalid. and as of a couple of months ago, is no longer supported. so I can’t get a new standalone permanent license. they will however sign me up for current software on a subscription basis.

Via Louis Rossmann (Hacker News):

If you have older versions, their activation system doesn’t appear to work the way that it used to, you have to do manual activation. And what gets particularly more annoying is some people need activation codes, some people don’t, but more importantly, if you move on to a new computer, this appears to be the case that I’ve confirmed with several people who are actually using this software. You can use it as long as you like, but if you move to a new computer, you have to move the license as well, using the license transfer utility. If you no longer have access to the old license installation, you’re out of luck. Autodesk won’t supply you a new activation code.

In other words, even if you only want to restore from a backup and run an old version of the app on old hardware with an old OS, that may no longer be possible.