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Calm notifications

I am a fan of notifications actually.

Without notifications, I can easily find myself in neurotic, addicted “checking-checking-checking” loops.

Here are some properties of a good message notifications system:

Only stuff I actually need

For me, this usually means that someone I know (friends & fam, or coworkers) is trying to talk to me personally, or there is a local emergency like the water lines are gonna get shut off or something.

Newspaper type stuff, newsletters and such, do not belong here. I can read RSS as part of a daily or weekly routine. Books don’t fly off the shelf into my face normally and neither should this sort of stuff.

Anything that can be batched away like that should. I only wanna be notified when it’s about real human connection.

Easy to silence

One button should toggle it and it should also mute at night and turn itself on the next morning. For example, if it normally automutes at 10 PM but I shut it of a few hours earlier to turn it in early, I don’t want to need to remember to turn it back on the next day.

It’s also great when I can do things like “OK, mute for one hour” and it turns back on for me so I don’t have to remember to do it myself.

Ideally it should also be able to automute when I run specific apps; I don’t wanna get email pings when I’m talking to someone on Jitsi.

Manual toggling like this is great for when I wanna do some deep work. I wanna be “available for notifications” some of the time, not all of the time.

Still there even when I’m not

If I silence the notifications or even leave the computer entirely, I don’t wanna miss messages. I can sort them through and read them later. This needs to be super reliable, and if it is, it’s what helps me have peace of mind when I toggle and mute the notifications.

In other words, they can’t be ephemeral. If it’s important enough to be a notification, I wanna see it.

I get the point of some things in some situations being suited for ephemeral notifications (like network status things or stock trading stuff or whatever) but those things don’t apply to my current life.

Not annoying

The sound shouldn’t pierce my ears and I always turn all kinds of vibration completely off. The best system I ever had was back on my Debian desktop where the only notification was a number showing up in the top right corner. Not a glaring red badge, just a calm black number on white background, no sound, and completely persisent until I had cleared out the queue. No number if it’s zero, otherwise it’s the amount of un–dealt-with messages. And a keyboard shortcut toggled visibility of the entire area that the number was in.

Everything in one place

Ideally, I don’t wanna have to look for email notifications in one place, usenet in another, RSS in a third, IRC in a fourth, text messages and voicemail in a fifth, Fedi in a sixth, forum DMs in a seventh etc.

That’s just an ideal, it’s not something I’ve completely attained.

Reliable when it is on

Here is where iPad completely sucks (and from what I understand, Android has the same problem) since notifications are often delayed or missing entirely, which sends me back to neurotic checking-checking-checking land.

It should work solidly and reliably.