My path to tech hippieism

Plus: AT&T's data downgrade, Google's passkey push, and a quick way to copy web links

May 7, 2024  | Read online
Bitwarden, Obsidian, and Proton

Over at Fast Company this week, I've got a lengthy profile of Bitwarden, the password manager I use every day and have written about a bunch of times here.

The story is mostly about Bitwarden's origins, how it makes money, and what its role might become in a world where Apple's and Google's built-in password managers keep getting better. One angle I didn't really touch on, though, is what software like Bitwarden means to me personally.

Yes, I use Bitwarden because its generous free tier was effective at getting me in the door, and because I've grown to enjoy some features such as masked email integration. But it also aligns with my values as a sustainable, durable tech product that's unlikely to put the screws to its users.

Over the past year or so, I've been seeking out these products more often while becoming less reliant on fly-by-night startups or major tech companies, whose own offerings seem to be getting worse over time. Bitwarden is just one example of software that's actually built to last.

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Need to know

AT&T's data downgrade: AT&T is now selling a $7-per-month "Turbo" upgrade for unlimited mobile data plans, claiming it'll offer a higher-priority connection for things like video calling and live streaming. But it's also quietly downgrading customers who don't pay the toll, moving them to a lower-priority tier of its network. (I just wrote about these prioritization tiers, called "Quality of Service Class Identifiers," in last week's newsletter.)

Wireless carriers already deprioritize customers in times of network congestion when they've used more monthly data than their plan allows. Now it wants people to pay extra to avoid being stuck in a slow lane regardless, which makes you wonder what's the point of those data allotments to begin with.

Google's passkey push: Google says more than 400 million accounts have used passkeys, which it's pushing as a replacement for passwords in tandem with Apple and Microsoft. With passkeys, your device's face or fingerprint detection essentially proves who you are, rendering user-created passwords unnecessary.

I have written about passkeys numerous times, both here and at Fast Company, and while the idea makes sense, the implementation is a mess. Every app and website handles passkey creation differently, and the ability to access your passkeys depends on which device, browser, and password manager you're using. You still can't export passkeys, either, so you're locked into whichever platform or password manager is creating them for you.

How do you square all that with Google's 400 million-user figure? Google automatically creates passkeys for Android users, who presumably account for a huge chunk of the adoption. While the company says it's recorded more than 1 billion passkey authentications thus far, that averages out to a measly two or three logins per account. You can safely keep ignoring this tech until the kinks get ironed out.

Pandora price hike: Pandora was the last holdout on charging $10 per month for unlimited on-demand streaming music, but it's quietly raised the price to $11 per month like its rivals. Prices are also up to $18 per month for families, $6 per month for students, and $9 per month for military.

Seemingly no one has reported on this, which shows you how much people care about Pandora these days. (I still think its free internet radio offering is unparalleled.) I've updated my streaming music savings guide accordingly. (Thanks for the tip, Matthew!)

Tip of the moment

Quickly copy links: Last week, I came across a neat Safari extension called Supercopy, which does precisely one thing: It adds a Cmd+Shift+C keyboard shortcut that copies the address of your current page, be it on a Mac or an iOS device with an external keyboard.

If you browse the web as much as I do, you probably wind up copying a lot of links to paste elsewhere, so naturally I got to thinking about the fastest ways to copy a link in other browsers. A rundown:

  • Most Windows browsers: Press Alt+D to highlight the link, then Ctrl+C to copy. (Memorize it thusly: "Da link, Copy It.")
  • Browsers with Chrome Web Store support: Install the Quick URL Copy extension, then use Ctrl+Alt+C (in Windows) or Ctrl+Cmd+C (on a Mac).
  • Firefox: Install the Quick Copy URL extension, then assign it to a keyboard shortcut.
  • Most smartphone browsers: Long-press the address bar, then hit the copy button.

You can also add a one-click "Copy URL" button to your bookmarks bar using a bookmarklet.

Now try this

Turn off annoying Windows ads: Another great find by Justin Pot over at Lifehacker, OFGB is a free Windows app that can disable the ads that Microsoft stuffs into various corners of Windows 11. Just choose the ads you want to hide—like the ones that appear in the Start menu, or on the lock screen—and OFGB will automatically make the appropriate registry edits. (If you'd rather make these adjustments manually, Chris Hoffman has a handy guide on which settings to tweak.)

Further reading

Spend wisely

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