Archive for January 30, 2024

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

IFTTT Killing Legacy Pro Plan

Ben Patterson (via Hacker News):

Remember when IFTTT said it would allow its legacy users to set their own prices for the service’s “pro” plan, and that it would honor those prices “forever”? Well, it turns out “forever” has an expiration date.

In a message posted on its website, IFTTT just announced that its pay-what-you-want legacy Pro plans are going away, with current users on that plan slated to be migrated to the $5-a-month IFTTT Pro+ plan at the start of their next billing cycles.


The move comes just a couple of weeks after IFTTT announced that it would yank access to Twitter applets from its free users, as well as reducing the number of applets that free users could create to two, down from the original limit of three.

I’d been reluctantly subscribed since the introduction of the legacy plan, because although the service was not particularly reliable or stable, I hadn’t found anything better. Several weeks ago, though, they started enforcing rate limits such that IFTTT became completely useless for my main purpose of archiving tweets to e-mail. The Pro+ plan didn’t have a higher limit, either, so I deleted most of my applets and went back to the free plan. I’m disappointed that they have continually reduced their offerings, even for paying customers, and never fixed longstanding user interface and reliability issues. And I don’t understand why the rate limits are so low for customers paying $150/year. (via Hacker News):

If nothing changes, all remaining instances will go down eventually: Instances rely on guest accounts, which are valid for a certain time and of which you need a ton to run a public instance. The API for this got taken down and it doesn't look like a fluke this time.

Nitter is the other way that I’ve been accessing Twitter, but more and more of the instances are down, throttled, or require human verification.


Update (2024-02-06): It looks like IFTTT has broken auto-tweets for new blog posts. I’m down to a single applet, which should work with the free tier, but IFTTT reports that it has Pro features. I will start posting links manually, as I’ve been doing for the blog updates.

In Loving Memory of Square Checkbox

Nikita Prokopov (Hacker News):

As you can see, even the checkmark wasn’t always there. But one thing remained constant: checkboxes were square.

Why square? Because that’s how you can tell them from radio buttons[…]


You see, people on the Web think conventions are boring. That regular controls need to be reinvented and redesigned. They don’t believe there are any norms.

That’s why it’s common to see radio buttons containing checkmarks[…] Or square radio buttons[…]

Apple now uses rounded, sliding buttons for checkboxes in both Mac and iOS settings. Apple Reminders and OmniFocus both use rounded checkboxes for tasks. And Apple’s visionOS design resources recommend circles with checkmarks in them.

Anyway, with Apple’s betrayal, I think it’s fair to say there’s no hope for this tradition to continue.

Rui Carmo:

I remember reading Tog On Interface back in the day and thinking that Apple had the ultimate grasp of UI design, and their using round checkboxes these days is just… plain… wrong.


Portable EPUBs

Will Crichton (via Hacker News):

Despite decades of advances in document rendering technology, most of the world’s documents are stuck in the 1990s due to the limitations of PDF. Yet, modern document formats like HTML have yet to provide a competitive alternative to PDF. This post explores what prevents HTML documents from being portable, and I propose a way forward based on the EPUB format.


The act of working with PDFs is relatively fluid. I can download a PDF, quickly open it in a PDF reading system like Preview, and keep or discard the PDF as needed. But EPUB reading systems feel comparatively clunky. Loading an EPUB into Apple Books or Calibre will import the EPUB into the application’s library, which both copies and potentially decompresses the file. Loading an EPUB on a Kindle requires waiting several minutes for the Send to Kindle service to complete.

Worse, EPUB reading systems often don’t give you appropriate control over rendering an EPUB. For example, to emulate the experience of reading a book, most reading systems will chunk an EPUB into pages. A reader cannot scroll the document but rather turn the page, meaning textually-adjacent content can be split up between pages. Whether a document is paginated or scrolled should be a reader’s choice, but 3/4 reading systems I tested would only permit pagination (Calibre being the exception).

Therefore I decided to build a lighter EPUB reading system, Bene. You’re using it right now. This document is an EPUB — you can download it by clicking the button in the top-right corner. The styling and icons are mostly borrowed from pdf.js. Bene is implemented in Tauri, so it can work as both a desktop app and a browser app.

On the other hand, it doesn’t feel like a normal Web page, rendering in a frame unless you view the main HTML file directly.