Greg Morris

Follow @gr36 on Micro.blog.

    I’m Here For Other People

    There is a new word I learnt a few weeks ago – compersion. It’s vicarious joy, associated with sexual pleasure (Louis Theroux taught me it before you ask). It’s used mainly in talk around swinging and polyamorous relationships. However, that’s not what I want to discuss (thank god) but it does relate to what I think my calling in life is.

    I struggle to see the point in life. For many years of it I have been in pain and for a long time have questioned what the end goal is. I’m a creature of habit and strive for structure and routine, but often feel like I’m living in a never-ending cycle looking for the exit route. Endlessly searching for the point in all this, and maybe because I’m getting on a bit I’ve started to look harder.

    This has been the topic of my journaling and my notes. I’ve been reading and watching so much about the topic that Google must think I’m having a breakdown. Perhaps I am, but I think I’ve cracked it. I think the whole reason I am here is the vicarious enjoyment I get from improving other people lives.

    I’ve become a little obsessed in leaving a legacy. I won’t be able to leave trust funds or investments, I just want to leave behind memories of a great guy. When I’m gone, I want people to think “he was a great guy that Greg”. That’s it.

    I enjoy other people trusting me enough to come to me for advice. I love going out of my way to help people with chores or issues or anything really. I get my kicks from seeing other people smile. If there is an all powerful creator they 100% put me here to help other people. Sure, I get enjoyment from technology and other stuff, but improving other people’s lives is my drug!

    I think I’m doing a pretty good job, but there’s always more to do. Perhaps now I know myself a bit more, I can go even further.

    14 Years

    Yesterday, myself and my wife celebrate 14 years of being together. It’s not as long as some people, but we’ve been so far together that it feels like a lifetime. We’ve had ups and downs in our time together, but we’ve always remained strong and grow closer together all the time.

    I know everyone says this about their other half (maybe not everyone) but I feel so lucky to have found her. We are in many ways polar opposites, a minimalist vs a maximalist, but seem to be the Yin to each other’s Yang.

    It’s not all ups in fact, we’ve had a lot of downs, but we deal with the downs together. Raising two wonderful kids, dealing with all of Lucie’s hospital appointments and social care needs as best we can.

    The best thing is that my wife makes me a better person. That’s all I can wish for in a person. Someone that loves and cares for me, but also challenges me and pushes me forward. My biggest fan and also the person who keeps me grounded. I love this woman with all my heart. ❤️

    Bring Back The iPhone Battery Case

    MagSafe has allowed more innovative things to come out than I imagined. It’s become more than the pointless plug that was introduced alongside the iPhone 12. Apple built a pretty great range of accessories. It’s bound to be improved upon over the years, but before that happens, can we please go back to the iPhone battery case.

    Before everyone yells at me to tell me how horrible it looks, I get it. It was ugly, heavy and a bit of a nightmare to get in your pocket – but the iPhone battery case sold alongside iPhone from 7 to 11 was an excellent solution. It is an exceptional application of function over form and far exceeds the usefulness of the current MagSafe battery.

    For around £130 you could boost the battery of your iPhone by around 80%. This depended on your usage, but by using one on my iPhone 7 I could double the battery life easily and also have a case around my phone at all times. Admittedly, this wasn’t the nicest case in the world. Made from a very grippy rubber that seemed to pick up pocket lint like it couldn’t bare to be away from it – it still kept your phone protected.

    The MagSafe battery pack in comparison costs around the same as the old battery case, but doesn’t function nearly as well. Arguably it is a more elegant solution, you can slap the battery pack on as and when required instead of carrying around the battery all day. With the MagSafe magnets keeping it attached to the back of your iPhone 12/13 or 14. However, in reality it barely clings to the phone, and you have to handle it with care to actually keep charging your phone.

    There is no case to keep the battery pack attached to the back of your phone, leading to loss of charge and a much less economical way to charge your phone. By using wireless charging to charge the phone instead of the Lightning method used by the battery case, the MagSafe battery pack gives you around another 40-60% charge. Possibly more, but the rate and level of charge is dictated far more by phone usage and temperature.

    Should you need to recharge your MagSafe battery pack, it needs to be plugged into Lightning, thus kind of defeating the whole point of it. You can’t wirelessly charge the wireless battery, but you can charge both at the same time, albeit very slowly. The battery case does require the same Lightning charging, but charges both your phone and your battery at the same time and much quicker than MagSafe. With no issues with loss of connectivity nor heat.

    I also think the case is a much more pleasing solution than the white battery stuck to the back of your phone. The battery case was not the nicest looking case in the world, far from it, but the MagSafe Battery is much worse. It doesn’t fit to the back of the phone very well and, although it arguably looks OK on an iPhone Mini, it looks ridiculous on the iPhone Pro Max versions.

    What they both do have going for them however is excellent support built into iOS itself. Being able to see the charge of both batteries at glance makes them both much better options than many third-party versions. If Apple sold a separate case to fit over both phone and battery pack, the MagSafe battery would be much more usable, but frankly they should just go back to using the battery case full stop.

    There’s Nothing Quite Like Twitter

    I know what you’re thinking, yet another put down post for my pet hate social media site, but no. There’s some praise this time, kind of. The truth is, there is nowhere else that’s quite like Twitter. I can muse all I like about what brands should be doing, but if you’ve got an issue, and you want it resolving – doing it in public on Twitter usually gets results.

    For the last few days, I’ve been trying to get my company sorted on a business plan with Craft. It’s not my favourite app in the world, but I tried loads with the team, and it was the most rounded for what we needed. Unfortunately, the sign-up has been less than smooth, so I reached out to them via their preferred email method and waited. Two days passed by, and baring in mind I was waiting for to spend money, I received no reply.

    There is something to be said about my confidence levels in their product now, and I’m frustrated. So, I did the only thing I could think of, logged into Twitter for the first time in months to tweet at them. In minutes, I have a reply from the co-founder Viktor and an email address to contact him.

    The issue is not resolved yet, and I’m not far way from walking away instead, but this shows the power that Twitter has. Nowhere else can you do this with brands and get your issue sorted. This isn’t unique to Craft, I’ve done it numerous times over the years and sorted numerous issues all on Twitter – via a quick tweet and usually a follow-up by DM.

    The chance of this being possible on Mastodon is frankly slim to none. Although I still hold up hope that the same activity could be replicated, I think that we would have started to see movements by now. There’s just something about Twitter that, I doubt, could be replicated elsewhere.

    The Benefits Of The Max Club

    Josh Ginter shared some thoughts on returning to Plus Club:

    The Pro Max’s larger, more comfortable keyboard means I can bang out responses a little quicker and hone in some of my more focused Mac-time to truly productive work rather than email responding.

    Should I believe that everything happens for a reason, I would start to think the universe wants me to have a big phone again. Over the weekend, I had a long chat with good friend Daryl Baxter and talked about an iPad Mini for content consumption. Only after remembering the price of the new mini did I consider the potential benefits of having a bigger phone instead.

    In my self reasoning post from 2021 I argued that if you want one device the biggest you can get make sense. There are huge advantages to have a big phone for typing, watching content and interacting with it – most people only see the downsides. Which tare considerable when you consider the weight and sheer size of the Max models of iPhone.

    With that said, I used the 13 Pro Max for most of last year and enjoyed being able to type out blog posts easily, edit photos enjoyably and generally get along a bit better when I needed to use my phone. It’s when it’s not in use that the downsides become obvious. That budge in my pants is the camera bump, I’m not pleased to see you!

    As I become more reliant on my Apple Watch and only have my phone on me when it’s unavoidable, it makes sense to have the best one that does the small tasks well. Writing, reading, watching a film on the elliptical all lend themselves to jointing the Max Club again.

    Damn it, I think I just talked myself into it.

    Trying to sum up my thoughts on Readwise Reader

    I’ve tried several times to articulate my feelings on Readwise Reader, but failed every time. Sometimes frustratingly so because I think a lot of my problems relate to things I feel when using it. Don’t get me wrong it works great, and some features are really well done, it just doesn’t feel like it wants me to enjoy reading.

    So, I’m stuck trying to pin down thoughts on sometimes ephemeral feelings provoked by an app. You can’t measure and compare feelings, but you know when they just don’t push your buttons. In contrast to Matter that I have been using as my read it later app for quite a while, it feels strange. With all its straight edges and hollo like colours, it always strikes me as industrial.

    It feels like it is made to hack my reading. I can swipe this way and that way, highlighting until my heart’s content. Optimised to get through my queue as quickly and as easy as possible by pushing me towards using keyboard shortcuts, recommending highlights and archiving everything for use later on. If I’m too busy to even read the article, I can ask AI to summarise it for me, and even write talking points on it.

    If that’s your thing, and I believe it is for many people, this app is great. There are loads of options and what seems like a never-ending series of screen options. It’s just not for me, and that’s OK. Matt Birchler did an really great overview of its features and you can check it out below. I’d highly recommend a subscribe to Matts channel too, it’s one of my favourites.

    For a reading app, I think it’s important to make reading the most important factor. Everything else should get out of the way, with intuitive and easy to reach controls. Otherwise, you’re in danger of creating a busy environment that leads to an overwhelming feeling once articles build up.

    I am currently still using both Readwise and Matter for different reasons. Reader to fly through my subscribed feeds and work related newsletter reading, and Matter to relax whilst catching up on my saved articles. With them both being premium services, and reasonably expensive ones at that, this can’t continue once my free trial is up. There are no difficult decision to make for me, but I love that Reader exists. Both to push Matter forward and to offer alternatives for people that need different things. If you’re in the market, it’s worth checking out.

    There Will Always Be More Work

    Like most people I know, I am constantly worried about getting through my task list. At times in the last couple of years I’ve been absolutely buried with no way out. I’m always desperate for ways to maximise my time and ‘hack’ my way to getting more done. Judging by half of the YouTube videos I am suggested, I am not the only one, but there is a surprising fix.

    I must preface this post by saying that these thoughts are 100% inspired by the brilliant book 4,000 weeks by Oliver Burkeman. A book I descovered by complete accident after stumbling on some of his blog posts. There’s also a certain amount of presumption going on here, we don’t all control our task lists, but we can all control the way we approach them. So, I feel as if there are loads of areas of life that these general thoughts can be applied to.

    When it comes to work, it isn’t often the actual tasks that cause the issues. It is the stress of having so much to do and never enough time to do it. The way of the world seems to be stuffing more and more things into less and less time. It doesn’t matter if the things you have to get done are decided externally or your deadlines are internal, the end of your task list will never come.

    There will always be more work to do. Things that you could get done, and jobs that are waiting for gaps in your time. Companies expect more and more from their workers, and getting towards the end of your list only leads to more tasks. It is only when you realise that you can only get done what you can the real freedom comes.

    Are you still under the illusion that you’ll one day reach a point in your life where you no longer have any problems? — Sam Harris

    There is absolutely no point stressing about getting to the end because modern life is a treadmill you can never get off. Much like “inbox zero” only leads to more emails, all the modern productivity punchlines just lead to more work. By embracing the fact that the end will never arrive, you can relax, knock as many tasks off as you can and get some downtime.

    No revelation will happen, but the freedom from feeling guilty for the tasks you complete just leads to a happier life. It might lead you to get better work done, too.

    Advances In AI And Blogging

    There appears to be a collective belief that the world of blogging is changing. It is true that we are living in an era where Artificial Intelligence (AI) that is transforming the way content is produced. I’m just not convinced that it will change the way I, or most people I know, blog. Mainly due to the reasons why most people blog being entirely different to those of content farms doing it for income.

    There is absolutely no denying that platforms like Chat GPT could make it easier and more efficient for me to create content. That content could allow me to be more targeted, engaging, and interactive, but there in lies the issue. Ask any AI to create a blog post, and it will churn out SEO optimised, un-personal content full of basic facts. There won’t be any feeling or thought-provoking statements. It won’t feel like me.

    AI uses (NLP) algorithms to understand, interpret, and generate human language. This technology allows the user to craft content based on various factors, so in theory I could create blog posts based on my understanding how my audience interacts with my blog. Refining posts to better meet their needs. That just isn’t blogging though, is it.

    The prediction is that I could go deep in the weeds and start personalising content to each individual reader. By recognising the topics, my readers are most interested in and the types of content they prefer, AI could deliver more relevant, personalised content to keep them engaged. Automating the creation process as we go. No more writing, editing nor publishing. Blog posts would be created based on keywords or topics with little to no input.

    Does that sound like blogging to you because it certainly doesn’t for me. What AI will create is a stark difference between people writing on their website and companies doing it for money. The whole point of blogging is writing and expressing yourself. No AI can do that, nor will they ever because being involved in the process is the entire point.

    A blog post is like a conversation between a writer and a reader. You can tell when the post has been crafted and constructed using experience and thought. It hasn’t been pumped out for clicks. Unfortunately, as tools become easier to use, like those built into Notion and Craft, bloggers may take the easy route, but at that point they won’t be bloggers any more.

    Journaling And Me

    There are not many things that improve my life straight away any more. Meditation did exactly that around 6 years ago, and now journaling is doing the same thing. You read that right, me, journaling. After all my dismissive posts and words over the years of not knowing or wanting to write in one. I’ve got to admit, it’s quite remarkable.

    I realise that it is only the end of January, and it’s easy to exaggerate the benefits before the novelty has worn off, but hear me out. I also might be preaching to the choir a bit here, as many people that I follow are already proponents, but I’ll talk about it regardless. This isn’t a New Year’s resolution, but more like a reevaluation, one that I talked about before starting out. I paid up for a year of Day One to see what happens, it also went to the store and bought some journals too. This is a journey split into two parts.

    Day One

    A long journey starts with a single step, and that tiny little movement forward was actually posting to Day One. I’ve had it installed on my phone more times that I care to remember, but struggled to write much. Instead of spending any money on this crazy idea I had, I made myself start writing at least one post a day electronically. It was a little test for me that I had to complete for me to gain the reward of any expenditure.

    After the first couple of day of writing, frankly nonsense, each morning, I could see the difference. By not expending too much mental energy and letting my fingers type out exactly what I was thinking about and feeling with no prompts, I literally kick-started my day. I felt happier, more relaxed and resolved my thoughts first thing in the morning. After just 5 days I stumped up and bought Premium because I knew straight away I was on to a winning idea.

    Now 29 days in, I’ve posted consistently at least once a day as early as I get time. This is a morning pages of sorts, a literal brain dump of everything swirling around in my head. I have often followed this up with smaller thoughts and any other things that I am thinking about. It took effort and went slowly at first, with great trepidation.

    Whenever I get a feeling or a thought, I reach for Day One now and just type it out to see where I get to. Some of these turn into blog posts, but most don’t. They are just for me, and I probably won’t read them again. Just knowing they are there is enough to make me feel better. I would love to do this manual with a pen and paper, but the thought of it being accessible by others terrifies me. Not because I have anything to hide, but it’s embarrassing to think of someone else reading my thoughts.

    Due to how well this small step went, I treated myself early and bought a bullet journal, thus starting the second step of my transformation.

    Bullet Journal

    A massive experience that paid off. That’s the way I’m describing my bullet journal that is constantly open on my desk or in my hand being carried from meeting to meeting. Where I once sit typing away into my MacBook, I’m now writing into my bullet journal and people are noticing the difference.

    On the surface, I know that I shouldn’t be using a manual bullet journal for task planning and note taking. It makes no sense, as I’ve covered before, more than once. It’s often redundant, takes more work and isn’t searchable. I realise when a spend so much time at a computer or with a phone, it makes sense to use digital tools. Yet writing things out manually, being intentional about things, and just flipping through pages ignites something in me.

    It is as if the physical act of bullet journaling stimulates me more. I remember more things, take more notes, manage and plan things better. There appears to be no downsides. Well, perhaps the slightly precarious position that all physical things are in. Bar loosing my book, or not having it with me, it’s all positives.

    To combat this slightly, I’ve adopted a ‘Field Notes’ notebook that’s usually in my back pocket, just in case. Mine is actually a Moleskin version, but most people are more accustomed to what Field Notes looks like. This is perhaps the most significant change in my life and one many people have commented on. I’ll admit it’s a little weird, but it helps me live a much more intentional life, and is another solution to my life becoming phone free.

    Seen something worth thinking about. Make a note. Heard something on a podcast that I want to research later. Make a note. Thought about a peculiar thing that you would like to find the answer to. Make a note. Seriously. Yesterday I wrote in my field notes “what is the psychological theory why you see new things all the time”. Turns out I was thinking about the frequency illusion or the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Could I have found this out with a quick Google on my phone, of course, but I would have forgotten it as quickly as I looked it up.

    The physical act of writing something down improves my memory of it - it’s science! Yet, every person I mention this too seems blown away by manual writing things down. Is it a bit of a pain transferring things if I want to write about them or research them later, yes. That’s the point though. I can review all the notes I make, and think about them several times, with a quick flick through my field notes. Leading to better retention, more ideas and more awareness of my thoughts.

    For me there is often a tendency to preach about a new practice that has yielded results too early. So I have tried to put off writing about this for a while. There’s often a turning point at the start of the year, even if you don’t make resolutions per se, just to decide to do things a bit differently. However I am well past January 14th which is quitters day, and don’t see these new practices changing.

    I think there are more manual things that I can bring in to aid my digital life. As I said, intellectually I know that perhaps leaning on apps is the way to go, but emotionally and mentally writing things down and ticking things off fulfils me more.

    Drinking Has A Weird Place In Society

    Derek Kedziora writing about giving up alcohol a few months also.

    I was never a daily drinker, but I was always had one beer too many at parties and heavily relied on a bit of alcohol for confidence and getting through awkward social situations.

    After drawing back and consuming much less for a while, it’s been a little over a month since I decided to give up alcohol. I had written a long post about this, but read Derek’s post above yesterday, and it distilled most of my thoughts into a paragraph.

    In the UK, alcohol consumption has a strange place in society. It’s seen as something you just do as an adult. Stressed, get a beer. Feel a bit down, get a beer. Want to have fun, alcohol is involved somewhere. Even though I’ve never had an issue with alcohol, this is where my issue is. It’s an avoidance technique to dealing with difficult feelings and isn’t the solution.

    So, I feel better. My mental health is better. I’ve lost a bit of weight and I just feel better in myself. I’ve had just two drinks since Boxing Day and I feel great.

    There are too many iPhones

    For at least a couple of years, I’ve had an iPhone problem. Well, it’s not Apple’s fault, it’s mine, so I guess it’s more of a me problem. With iPhones. The problem is (that is my issue, not Apples) that there are too many iPhones, and I wish we could just go back to one version.

    I write regularly about wanting to go back to not having a smartphone. I also write fairly regularly about my justification of having a huge iPhone. That’s because I am a walking paradox. I know intellectually what is best for me, but I also have crippling FOMO, so I go around in circles.

    I often think I need a smaller phone. Or a bigger one. Or no phone at all. What I always want is the opposite of what I have. Because I’ve fallen for the fallacy that a specific thing will change everything. Almost like the provisional life that Swiss psychologist Marie-Louise von Franz proposes. I am convinced that once I have the other version of this thing, then I’ll have the device I’m happy with.

    There once was a magical time when Apple produced one iPhone, I bought that and used it for a year until the new one came out. Then came a plus version that I deliberated on a bit and usually bought the big version. Now I have (if I include last year’s mini version) five to choose from. Well, 4 really because no one wants an iPhone 14 plus.

    All with their advantages and disadvantages, not to mention various price points. Giving customers excellent choice. Which means that someone always has the version you don’t and the grass always seems greener to someone like me. Even after years of knowing that I have this issue, I still haven’t solved it. Despite all the minimalism mantras and deep thinking, my issue with iPhone remains, and it could be an issue forever.

    We Have A New Twitter

    Luke Harris on his blog, writing about social media as a whole:

    I’m on Mastodon, but I’m bored with what I call “the timeline era”. Scanning an unending stream of disconnected posts for topics of interest is no longer fun, I prefer deciding what to read based on titles, or topic-based discussion.

    Before I start, I need to point out, early enough in my post, that I understand all the benefits of Mastodon. I don’t need you to yell at me that I “don’t get it” like you did when I criticised the onboarding process.

    Mastodon promises to be a much better place than Twitter because of the way it is set up. But as it gets busier and busier, and popular users start to struggle like they did on Twitter. It becomes more and more apparent to me that it’s only a matter of time before it suffers very similar issues.

    Sure, it’s not going to shove terrible content in your face for engagement, but the main feed is far too busy now to enjoy. Without some kind of filtering and algorithm, Mastodon is frankly impossible to follow. Not to mention the reply guys are there, with all their “what about” tendencies.

    I was expecting more from social media in 2021, and I’m still waiting for something better. The problem is, as Luke covers in his post, snacking on the internet and trying to follow a never-ending stream of disconnected post is ultimately unfulfilling.

    Thinking About ‘Important’ Things

    I give myself a hard time about the things I do and getting the most out of my short time in this mortal coil. I obsess over things like social media usage, writing practices and lots more I don’t write about. It does get me down some times, but here’s the thing, I am confident I put thought into the right things.

    Sure, I might occasionally spend too much time comparing writing apps or to-do tasks but, in the main, the things I put thought into are important. As Oliver Burkeman points out in great detail, our life on in this pace is limited to about 4,000 weeks. If it takes me time and a bit of mental energy to decide I want to avoid looking at social media as often as my chimp brain wants to. For me, that’s good time spent. Deciding what I am happy with and is correct going forward.

    I think it is critical to think about the things you do if they are to make a large impact. Obsessing over details that will save time, money, energy are the best things to worry about. Spending time worrying about what blogging platform to use, or what reading app gets your money is arguably a different thing all together, but we’ve all been there.

    Only you personally know whether these things are important to you or not. The unfortunate thing is that you only really find out what’s significant from experience. I hate to think of the amount of time I’ve wasted tweaking CSS or building themes for my blog that didn’t really matter — but I enjoyed every moment. I learnt things, and broke things, and I picked up skills in the process.

    Any other person on the planet though would probably class that as wasted time. They would look at me weirdly that I spent a good few weeks thinking hard about social media usage, when they don’t give it a second thought. What I think is important is unique to me. I would view my tinkering completely differently if I wanted to be a real writer. Perhaps I should have spent it sitting in the chair and learning the craft.

    They do say that perfection is the enemy of progress. At some point you do have to stop worrying about the how’s and the why’s and get going. Doing the things you set out to do and sticking to it. If that’s the case, you’re not thinking about important things any longer. You need to start moving forward instead of getting in your own way.

    The Evolution Of Attitudes Work

    The posts I write do not disappear into the recesses of my mind, I think about them often. My thoughts and feelings often change over time, but when it comes to my attitudes towards work, I’ve remained fairly fixed for years. Whereas the general perception of work has had a major culture shift, accelerated by the pandemic, and one that is great for the world. Hustle culture and working because that’s what you’re supposed to do has been replaced by a desire for more.

    Toni Morrison’s excellent post in the New Yorker on the work you do reflecting you as a person has been shared around again recently. Summing up what people seem to consider recent thoughts on the workforce. Yet, this post was written almost 5 years ago.

    As the post points out, you shouldn’t be working for anything else but yourself. Not in the sense that we should all have our own businesses, that would be great too. More in the sense that you should want to do the work or the tasks you do. It might seem like meaningless tautology, but the importance of stressing that “You make the job; it doesn’t make you” is vital.

    At the root of every position you take should be a root desire for you. It doesn’t matter what that desire is, nor the way it manifests itself. It should be something that fulfils you. Emotionally. Spiritually. Furthermore, it is at this point I must bring up the excellent words of Patrick Rhone.

    If I were paid to dig ditches, I would discover that the ditch is for a water line to a new house that means someone gets clean water. Once I think it through, I can find my passion in the ditch digging. - Patrick Rhone

    Don’t get me wrong. You can still have a job, it be a job, and you don’t need to be excited by it, nor it reflect anything about you. However, I would bet that you can find something in it to be excited about, but even so that job isn’t you. You are not your job, you are a person, and your job should be how you make money to be that person.

    I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a job I enjoy, and it lifts me up as a person. It is still not me. Unfortunately, not many people are as lucky as I. To leave you with one take away, a distillation of all of these words down to a few, it is to remember “You are not the work you do; you are the person you are”.

    I Tried To Hack Podcasts And It Made Me Hate Them

    Around this time two years ago, I decided that there was a whole medium I need to get more out of, Podcasts. I spent a lot of my time listening to them whilst driving, walking the dog and many other things. Listening to some fascinating shows, but I never took much away from them apart from surface level enjoyment. So, I decided I needed to hack them like I did with reading and start to make notes against all the points I found interesting. I was wrong.

    First things first, there is something to be said for taking notes from a podcast. Perhaps not every podcast (maybe ignore most of the points made on Joe Rogan, for example) but many that I listen to are information dense, and I sometimes think that I’d like to learn more about this. With that said, with the ability to note everything down, and have it synced over into an app ruined a lot of the experience.

    Not only was I triple clicking my AirPods like crazy (that’s the shortcut to save a clip in the podcast app Airr) I was missing the whole point of listening frequently. Due to the volume of notes I was making, the actual process of saving and going over them later was untenable. When you note everything, it misses the point of note-taking completely. If everything becomes a note, then nothing does.

    Not to mention that podcasts became something to concentrate on and worry whether I should have noted that last statement or not. Constantly reminding and listening again to see if I got the point, rather than consuming something in the background whilst doing a more important task. It didn’t take me very long to burn out and not want to listen to anything any more.

    Much like reading, for me, some activities don’t need to be hacked to get the most out of them. They are downtime or a background content to passively consume. When I need to take notes I will every now and again, using Siri or Apple notes and that suits me fine. I’ve only just returned to listening to them again because I tried too hard to make the most out of podcasts, and it made them suck. Don’t make the same mistake.

    Finding More Meaning In Less

    Over the last few days, I’ve been reading a lot about the rediscovery of minimalism. This is 100% because of the circles I move in, but a few people around me are discussing similar thoughts and ideas that I have currently. Finding more value in having less stuff and getting back to basics.

    I can honestly say that the original Minimalism film on Netflix, before they remade it in 2020, changed my life. It followed these two guys that I’d never heard off through their journey of spreading the ideas that turned their life around. It features some wonderful people like Patrick Rhone that opened my eyes to a life of enjoying experiences and people, not things.

    Somewhere in the following months and years, there was a transformation in the way minimalism was portrayed. The people I followed and looked up to changed. It became like a cult of people that waved their flag of how little they had. The message became a constant cycle of telling you to sell your bed, or they were selling you stuff. Much like CT Miller I fell off when minimalists were constantly trying to sell me their Patreon, or their course, or whoever else they could flog. As he puts it, “as minimalism began to dovetail with financial planning and whole food health claims, I got off the bus”.

    Minimalism was no longer a way to live a happier life by letting go of things. It was a way to make money and virtue signal at every point along the way. A cult with arguably a good message, but a cult all the same. Those that had given up their jobs to spread the word, had run out of things to say. Minimalism is a pretty simple message, after all. So, they began to give out advice on everything and anything, like a Christian preacher that begs for donations, it ruins the message along the way.

    The evolution was from minimalism, the way to look at the world and enjoy more things. To minimalism being a marketing angle. This happened with mediation, mindfulness and numerous other words before it. But flipping the message of less into a way to sell you things was truly disgusting.

    There are still true voices out there, though. It is those that are causing this new wave of minimalism. Writers like Patrick are an inspiration to people like me and helping make my life a better place. There’s true value in living with fewer things and appreciating people much more than stuff, but you have to work a bit more to find them.

    A Small Break

    Hello all. You may not have even noticed, but I’ve taken a short break way from being online. Stresses and strains on my life have meant that I haven’t had much time to be my usual self on the internet, both in time and temperament.

    I first noticed this towards the start of the week that I wasn’t in the best frame of mind and didn’t want my negative attitude to affect my posts or replies. I’ve let this happen before when Twitter poked and prodded at me to cause an emotional reaction, but learnt to deal with it is much better now.

    It’s remarkable the different the way you feel impacts the way you think and react to things. Being mindful of emotions is important, and often having to save all my mental energy for important decision or deep work in my day job means I am exhausted when it comes to posting and replying online. For better or worse I truly value what I do around the internet and as such a step back is what I (and possibly many people) need every now and again.

    What I thought was solely down to manipulation of emotions and my attention by social media companies runs much deeper than I first realised. However, the fact remains that social media companies work hard to pull on these strings and keep users interacting with their service. Emotions breed interaction. Mastodon, and in my case specifically through micro.blog, is a much nicer place for me to hang out. That doesn’t mean there are not issues caused by the constant stream of updates.

    Anyway, enough of the negativity. It’s only when I step back and don’t post do I realise how much I miss it. I get overly worried about being connected all the time, but it provides a considerable benefit to me. Not only that, but I’m lucky to have found numerous great people that interact with me. Thanks for being wonderful.

    A Blogging Origin Story

    Matthias Ott predicting 2023 is The Year of the Personal Website:

    Your personal website is a place that provides immense creative freedom and control. It’s a place to write, create, and share whatever you like, without the need to ask for anyone’s permission.

    This is one of the main reasons I started my blog. I had been writing for other peoples for a long while, providing tech news sites with 4–5 posts a day for free, but wasn’t allowed to write about what I want to. My writing wasn’t an expression of me, it felt like being exploited.

    So, a created a personal website. Something that could reflect me. It linked out to the posts I was still writing for other sites, but also mixed in photos, personal thoughts and everything else I wanted to post. It was my place on the internet, and in many ways it was me.

    Since 2012 I’ve never stopped blogging. Unfortunately, back then I wasn’t really concerned about my posts, so when I moved or decided to change things I pruned older things and ones I didn’t like. So many of my words are lost, many don’t have my name on any more, but lots and lots are still here.

    I won’t lose any of them again. Nor will I give them to other websites to monetise for their gain, or get drawn into the worst if of the worst on display. There have been many years that blogging is “coming back” but it never left. This year more than any other, it might be true though. We’re dusting off our personal websites and making the internet ours again. My origin story will be different to all others, and some people will be starting right now. I can’t wait to see what we build together, with our blogs.

    Black And White Photography

    I’ve never been a fan of black and white photos. Not in the sense that I don’t like them, I’m just not drawn to them, and they don’t speak to me as much as some people. My wife, on the other hand, is obsessed with black and white. Shooting in it constantly, or editing all of our photos into monochrome afterwards. Every single photo print that is up in our house I’ve had to edit into monochrome to her tastes, and until now, it’s been frustrating.

    I have no idea what flipped in my head at the weekend, but I just decided to go out and shoot in black and white. I found a really nice film recipe that emulated old Illford film and off I went.

    Since doing so, I’ve shot so many basic things that have been transformed to show much more in the photo. By switching to black and white, the images show so much more drama. Not to mention, I feel like I’m stepping back in time to one much simpler than now. The below shot is straight from camera jpegs whilst walking the dog to try to show what I mean. It’s boring, but appealing.

    I love the noise, the creamy colours and the texture of the leaf. There’s just something about black and white that I’ve failed to notice so far. Perhaps it’s because I’m shooting in black and white, so I’ve only ever seen the shot that way. Instead of shooting in colour and effectively removing it all? I’m not certain.

    This isn’t so to say I’m converted, but a simple change to my camera has enabled me to see things differently. There aren’t many things that are like this any more, so it’s a strange feeling. Plus, I also have my wife’s “I told you so” in my ear!

    8 Day Streak

    It appears that this journaling thing is sticking. At least for now. I am 8 days into it (I started a bit before deciding to purchase pro) with a streak going and everything. Out of those first few days I almost forgot once and didn’t complete my morning pages until 2pm. Which I don’t think is bad going for something I am still unsure what to do with.

    Whenever I write about this people come back with all sorts of suggestions, that I have tried numerous time. I could be really stupid but I still don’t know what to write half the time. I am just getting into the habit of opening the app to my morning pages journal and typing something out. It usually starts with some navel-gazing, but some thoughts and feeling usually come to the surface fairly quickly.

    There is no way to know if this helps at all, but as an overall indicator of the new year, I do feel better in myself and have more motivation to do things. However, that could be that I actually managed to sleep over the holidays and my body is at a baseline of tiredness instead of in desperation mode (it was 2:20am this morning).

    Weirdly, I actually enjoy the process of spending a few minutes to typing things out in my own bubble. I try to do 5 minutes, and it sometimes goes a little over. I can get quite a bit off my chest in that time. I am going to start saving more things to Day One when we spend time as a family and keep some pictures in there, but as for journaling, I am still unsure. As a first test I will do 30 days and see what I end up feeling like.

    I Think

    I often forget to put these two tiny words into my sentences. When I make link posts or try to make a point, it’s easy to get carried away and state your opinion as fact. When all we are really doing it publishing what we think.

    There’s typically not many definitive answers to the things I tend to write about. It’s all ephemeral thoughts, feelings, educated guesses. There might be some research conducted here and there about the topics, but frequently the conclusions to those have more questions than answers.

    There’s nothing wrong with giving our opinions on things, it’s the whole point, really. Blogging about topics and ideas that we have that might be right. Yet, I forget to put in those tiny words a lot of the time. I think a lot about the topics I write about, I just don’t write about thinking. I write about knowing.

    🔗 Bowing To Social Media Convention

    Matt Birchler defending the like button:

    I think of likes on social media kind of like non-verbal responses in the real world.

    I agree with the statements Matt makes (or made a while ago) because they are accurate to social media convention. Most people won’t reply, nor will the author get as much affirmation back to their post. But to that, I push back and say it doesn’t matter.

    We’ve convinced ourselves to do things for likes and clicks. Posting for the sweet dopamine that comes from peoples responses when we shouldn’t care. As if posting to the internet is some kind of performative act.

    I say shouldn’t because I get it, we all like likes, but we shouldn’t do. A like online is the social media version of “lol” to a text message. It means I’ve seen this, and I want to avoid appearing rude, so heres a button click.

    In many ways, it’s worse. Even if, as Matt points out, the replies are mostly “cool” and other derivatives, at least the person took some time to do it. They didn’t fall down, responding with anything besides a button click. But pressing like makes you and the person on the other end feel good, so there’s no immediate downside, really.

    It’s the long-term effects that cause the issues. Even though it may not apply to you, a huge proportion of people get self-worth from likes. They have become a yard stick that people measure themselves against, and have removed a lot of interaction. Not all interaction is verbal, I get it, but I also don’t have a counter next to the number of people that’s smiled at me today.

    Why Don’t You Just Do Your Thing

    Mike Chudley in his video on Why 85mm is RUINING your Street Photography

    I believe that 85 millimeter lens could be ruining your street photography and more precisely hindering your ability to improve as a street photographer

    And

    someone walking down the street at f/1.4 isn’t street photography it’s lazy

    First things first, I really like Mike’s videos (usually) and have followed him on instagram for a long time. He is a great photographer and one of my inspirations. I’ve DM’d him a couple of times to say I love his photography, and he seems like a nice, genuine guy. I think this video is purposely explosive to get views and spark discussion. Which is a good thing, but I’d like to push back.

    The way the video comes across, and some statements made infuriate me because it is needlessly preachy. Not because I’m a fan of 85mm, but because it’s dismissive. I simply can’t get as close as 35 mm in the places I go, I can’t walk around London for hours on end, so I have to take what I can find. Smaller towns and villages are my stomping ground and I have to be a bit further away, I’m afraid.

    I agree with what he is hinting at. Low aperture shots look nice, but often don’t show off the whole point of street photography. All the situational information and the environment is blurred out, removing the entire point. But smaller focal lengths just don’t suit my style, so to say I am lazy, and my photography isn’t good enough because I don’t like standing on top of people is just bizarre.

    I switched off when he claimed that “walking down the street at F 1.4 isn’t street photography, it’s lazy”. There is some useful advice in there somewhere, but the hyperbole ruined it for me.

    🔗 Good luck convincing average people to use Mastodon

    Manuel Moreale on internet silos:

    fundamentally people are, when it comes to the internet, lazy. And gathering where everyone else is definitely seems easier. It’s also easier to delegate the job of moderating and policing to someone else, and so as a result people will inevitably cluster around a few big websites, regardless of what infrastructure we build.

    I think this post is spot on. These people hanging around on mastodon, and other ActivityPub supporting platforms, are a tiny minority. Most people don’t want to think about servers, moderation, or anything. They will just go where everyone else is.

    Why do you think people hold on to horrible places like Instagram for far too long? They are lazy, unmotivated and insulated by a herd. It’s a nice idea, and a wonderful place to be, but it’s never going to be mainstream…..but that’s totally OK.

    Folder Peek: Mac Folders In Your Menu Bar

    Another little app that I discovered to aid my Mac life recently is another free one. I discovered this one through a post by fellow micro.blogger Jarrod Blundy, and it has become a staple of my Mac usage ever since.

    Do you ever have to go digging around in finder to head to the same usual folders time after time? Me to. We have a Dropbox shared archive at work that drives me insane with the amount of level changes I need. Sure, I could set up a load of messy aliases or dock folders, but this apps solves all of that. Placing a nice and neat icon in my menu bar and storing all the folders I require.

    I can also navigate around with ease to other destinations, see a preview of the file, or open the file I require without leaving my desktop. There are so many delightful little touches that it's hard to point out them all. My favourites are right-clicking on the icon opens the folder in finder, and that I can set a few different folders to all be accessible from one menu bar icon. Although it is starting to look a bit full now!

    I am so impressed with this app I’m also testing a few other ones by the same developer Sindre Sorhus as they all seem very high quality. I have already installed, Today to put my calendar in my menu bar (menu bar all the things) and also Actions to extend Shortcuts abilities. I have a feeling that I might be going all out on customising my Mac currently so I hope you don’t mind me sharing what I find along the way.

    Journaling for Journaling Sake

    This afternoon, I randomly decided I was going to go into town and buy a bullet journal. No idea why, just seeing all the new year posts around and numerous people setting theirs up made me want one. The only issue is that I already know this wouldn’t work for me, I’ve tried it, and only a few days ago writing two posts outlining why this wouldn’t work for me. That wasn’t going to stop me though.

    Watching YouTube and looking online for the journal I was going to buy, and it only took about an hour for me to realise the error in my thinking. I would happily pay £20-30 to get a book and some pens etc, but not £20 for a year if Day One (there’s a new years offer until today). I already know that digital tools are better for me to use. The only attractiveness of using something manual is that I will have even less reason to use my phone. Which is still quite attractive, I must admit.

    What I did instead was stump up for a year of premium in Day One, so I can have a few different journals. One for morning pages. One for random thoughts and feelings whenever I feel like writing, and perhaps another for logging what we get up to as a family with photos. I really like the idea of getting one printed each year with our adventures in.

    So, I went full circle in a matter of an hour or so, just like I always do, but I do feel like this will really help me, I feel positive about this decision.

    Four F**king Months

    I’m on a bit of journey at the moment. One that I am determined not the be preachy about but one that I will share some thoughts and feeling about along the way. Since quitting Twitter, I’ve been assessing where and how I want to spend my time and due to random Googling about social media topics I came across a video by Sam Massey.

    He talks about quitting social media and references a video by Dave VanDonge as his main inspiration. The talking point is this - the average American spends 705 hours a year on social media. In 8 hour work days that is four months of work!

    Just think about that. 705 hours of doing nothing but scrolling through social media and often being exposed to the worst that humanity has to offer. There’s exceptions here of course. To all those screaming “yeah but…” I am sure your feed is curated perfectly and the time you spend there is be beneficial to you. Awesome. But just think about all that time.

    The average (so there’s some people out there doing much more to make up for me) American puts in four months work to social media. Think about all those people that don’t have time to see friends. Or exercise like they want to. Or learn a new skill. Whatever it is, the time is there, it’s just not being used.

    Like I said, no preaching. I’m not telling you to go delete all your social media accounts right now. But man. That’s a load of hours to just waste away. Actual figures could be even worse, some places found around 147 minutes a day (just under 900hours a year). I’m still in a bit of a shock.

    Two New Mac Apps I Love

    For once, the YouTube algorithm came up trumps and I stumbled, across a new channel to subscribe to. Jeff Su makes productivity videos (doesn’t everyone on there) and I’ve found some of his content really helpful. First whilst researching improvements for my productivity, and I then watched a video on simple Mac that he thinks are underrated.

    Two stuck out straight away for me and I have been using them ever since. They are Shottr and Latest, both of which combined to produce this post yesterday when the new micro.blog Mac app update came out.

    Shottr

    I really love Cleanshot x, it offers more options but it’s also £30. Whereas Shottr is completely free and gets you 80% of the way there. With powerful keyboard shortcuts, the option to include backgrounds and also mark up your screenshots, it’s outstanding that you get all this for free.

    It also has built in OCR and you can blur out text without blurring the rest of the image, which helps when you share as many screenshots as I do.

    Latest

    For all the apps you have installed from outside the App Store, Latest offers a nice update interface. Instead of setting each app to check for updates and call home every so often, you can turn these all off and just check Latest once a week or so.

    The reason that app is so appealing is the awkward updates that seem to pop up when you are trying to do something, and this simple app puts you back in control. It will present all updates in an essay to understand interface and even pull in all the information such as descriptions and changelogs.

    I hope that these two free apps can be as helpful to you as they are to me. I am always on the lookout for new things to make my Mac better considering how much time I spend sat at it so I will keep posting new things I find.

    I Am Sorry, But My Heart Was In The Right Place

    A couple of days ago I wrote a link post, the same as I have done hundreds of times before. Found an article online somewhere, read it, picked out a few things that stuck out and threw them into Apple Notes. I typed out my thoughts on the couple of highlighted areas and published these to my blog.

    No more thought was put into this than I have put into every other link post I have ever published. Unless I am specifically subscribed to the author, I have absolutely no knowledge any further than the post I consume, or perhaps some supporting links they post in said article. However, this linked post I published happened to be by someone who has some terrible ideas about trans individuals, and this was only pointed out to me yesterday evening.

    Thankfully, this was by the excellent podcaster Alex Cox (you can see the replies on the post) making me more aware of the person I was linking to. To be clear, these ideas are not in the post I liked to, I just read a post talking about ancient aliens and thought the ideas surrounding disagreement were poignant in the current climate. However, this doesn’t stop me feeling terrible about it.

    As soon as I received the reply, I began to worry and think about what I should do. My heart was absolutely in the right place, and I immediately wanted to make sure I have done the right thing. I think it is OK to separate some ideas from the person who has them, but at some point publishing online I do have a certain responsibility, even with the tiny platform that I have. It would break my heart that someone would find this person through my post and then consume other terrible posts and ideas.

    Let’s just say I didn’t sleep much last night thinking about this, but I decided in the end to keep the post up, but with a clear disclaimer at the top. I believe the post still stands up on its own. I hope people understand that I read this at face value, however I genuinely understand how it could read if you are aware of the backstory (which I was clueless about).

    Focus Modes Still Suck

    It’s been a little over a year since I wrote about setting up iOS focus modes. At the time, it was a new feature in iOS15 and one that felt far from ready for release. The confusing UX and complicated options lead to my conclusion that hardly any people would use the feature. Now 13 months on, my feelings have changed very little. Improvements have been made, but the hoops you have to jump through, and the missing features, mean that Focus Modes on all Apple devices still suck.

    Overall, the experience of trying to set up your Focus Modes feels like it was designed by an engineer. That the team designing this already expects you to understand how to use it, with little to no onboarding or instructions. This isn’t unique to Focus Modes, Apple still struggles to communicate the intricacies of its software and even the help guides online expect you to already have a large knowledge of the feature you need help with.

    I did get a little too excited when iOS16 introduced a way for apps to tap into the new focus modes. Namely, Apple Mail can now make certain accounts show at certain times, but with there still being no “everything else” Focus Mode, you can’t make your work email only show in a work Focus Mode. It will still be displayed when there is no Focus mode active.

    This wouldn’t be an issue, I could just create a focus mode that is active when not at work and hack around this. Except that an icon appears at the op of my screen constantly, and the sync between devices is still all or nothing. Apple really needs to spend some time thinking about how these modes work and how normal people might use them. I love the fact I can have my phone be different things at different times, but the designers haven’t thought about what happens the rest of the time.

    Having Focus Modes is better than nothing. The improvements are moving in the right direction, but setting them up and understanding everything falls well short of the mark I expect.

    What is a blog

    Sounds simple, doesn’t it. Everyone who’s used the web knows what a blog is. They were the web for a very long time, before all this social media nonsense kicked off, and there’s a very real push for more people to start them. The belief is that you have to have something to write about, or you need a special set of skills, but in reality you don’t need anything.

    Well, you require a way to do it, and thankfully there are loads of options out there, many of them free, but this post isn’t about that. The trouble comes with what to put on your blog, and that’s where it’s important to remember what a blog is. It’s a web log. It’s there for you to ‘log’ anything you want. From thoughts and ideas, to life lessons and photos from vacations. There should be no worry about the what or the why of what you put on your blog.

    You don’t need to start a website. Nor do you need to moleskin the posts you put there. You just need to take all the output you would usually give to a social network for free and put it on your blog. That’s why services like micro.blog, Tumblr or WordPress plugins like social sharing are the best place to start. You can share your blog to wherever you want, but keep control of everything you do.

    There’s a higher, more preachy post on owning your content in here somewhere, too. One that urges you to get to grips with blogging to make the web a better place, but all you need to worry about is having a blog. Using it for whatever you want to use it for, and making sure you carry on sharing with the web. What is a blog is a question with numerous unique answers, but the reality is that a blog is you.

    Can We Try To Remember How To Disagree Please?

    It would appear that the author of the linked post has some very wrong ideas of his own. I think my post still stands up as I took the linked article at face value. However given the informtion that I now know the post could be seen in a completely different light. I did not know this at the time of writing and will not be linking to this person again. For more infromation see here.

    Jesse Singal urging us to Rediscover Wrongness

    People can usually believe wrong things without being dangerous, and in fact billions of people do hold religious beliefs that make no logical sense without becoming violent zealots.

    I am wrong, what feels like hundreds of times a day, some days. Occasionally, it’s small things that I didn’t think though correctly and guessed. Sporadically, it is matters I didn’t really understand or misinterpreted the information I had at hand. And every so often I just choose wrong, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

    Don’t get me wrong I am right a lot of the time too, I’m not ready for life help yet, but I am not doing anyone any harm. There’s no malice in a lot of the things I believe in that could be wrong, I am just wrong and that should be OK. I’m fine with being wrong, finding out that I am wrong and then changing my world view, but many people seem to have forgotten this skill altogether.

    The issue comes when someone that another thinks is incorrect is painted as a harmful, and often portrayed in an exaggerated way. The other side of a disagreement isn’t evil or trying to trick you, they just see the world differently to you and make decisions based on their experiences. As Jesse points out in the linked article, “If everything is dangerous or violent, then nothing is”.

    The notion in the article of much of this constant state of angriness is due to the attention economy is correct. The more exaggerated the accusations and finger pointing, the more attention is gained. No-one believes that having a wrong idea about the way the Pyramids are built is harmful, as the author well knows, but that doesn’t get clicks, does it.

    There is also a real issue of the bubbles we all live in now. Social media algorithms creates a space where we see posts and updates that we agree with. YouTube and Netflix force content on us that we will like, and issues arise when we bump up against the edges. We, the people, need to learn how to disagree with someone but still appreciate them as a person. To smile and shake your head at the conspiracy theorist next door, but still stop and talk to them whenever you can.

    The lines of politics have never been this rigid before, and it’s pathetic. I know we can get back to being OK with this. I was brought up with a friend group that was as diverse as it comes, and with an ingrained bullshit detector that was sharpened in a school without internet access. We learnt to fall out, make up again, argue and bicker but still get along together.

    I know this ability is in all of us. One wish for 2023, now the walls of large social media are at least a bit broken, can we re-learn to disagree politely, please? To take criticism, embrace other view points and not worry about it. You might actually learn something too.

    I Was Going To Write Today

    I really was. Despite not feeling very well, and not due to New Year’s Eve for once, I wanted to publish something today. Not because I had much to say, but because I am on a bit of a roll lately and have found that the act of wanting to write something usually pushes something into my mind.

    This is in stark contrast to my thoughts a few months ago, where I chose to keep quiet unless I had something to say. However, I have found that my motivation needs a bit of a prod even now and again. Taking some advice from James Clear in Atomic Habits (via Chris Hannah) sometimes I have to want to be a writer and take on a writer’s identity to actually do some writing.

    Instead, I just fixed loads of bugs in my blog, wrote an about me page and played around with my writing environment. I’ve been a long-time user of Ulysses and have been feeling the itch to move to something new. Doing the usual thing of downloading every app going, realising that Ulysses is the best one for me again, and instead messing with my theme to make it look new. A new lick of paint seems to have done the trick for now at least.

    Hence, this post started out as a test to see whether I liked the new theme or not. So in a round about way I did what I set to do, just not in the way a ‘proper writer’ should do. Or maybe they do, fart about and do other things until inspiration hits them? I have no idea, but getting things done in your own way doesn’t really matter as long as the thing gets done — and I had fun doing it.

    Manual Practices To Help With Digital Task Lists

    Following my link post talking about bullet journals, I received quite a few replies. Many from those that have, like me, tried and failed to use physical tools, but some from advocates. One worth noting was from sketch noter Chris Wilson, and my response was something I wanted to expand on.

    I have come to terms with the fact that, despite my love of physical things, digital tools suit me better. I always have one on my wrist, in my pocket, or I am sat at my desk. This is not for want of trying. In January, each year, I buy a diary, accompanied by some new notebooks, and throw myself in again. Only to fail sometime in the next month and go back to Apple Reminders. I don’t have a super stressful job that requires me to project manage or anything in depth, but I have numerous tasks that fall onto my desk each day.

    What I have noticed from this cycle of trying is that without conscious thought, digital tools can be just as bad as physical ones. The expectation is that these intelligent apps will somehow make sure we get everything done, when in fact there is the same risk of a pile up of tasks that will never be checked off. There is no magic app that will get things done for you, and I’ve tried them all, you have to put the work in too.

    Reviewing

    One of the most beneficial practices from bullet journaling is having to copy tasks over to the new day. Keeping things in your mind and making sure they are completed on time. The best way to do this digitally is by scheduling in at least a weekly review of all your tasks. I do this as the first thing in my calendar every Monday. Reviewing each task in my lists, the steps I follow are:

    • making sure everything that has to be done has a due date
    • nothing is in my inbox
    • tasks that do not have a due date after 4 weeks are given one or deleted
    • all tasks are scheduled around other calendar appointments
    • calendar blocks are put in for all tasks that require deep work

    This practice is easy to dismiss, but from experiences if you do not take time to address all the things expected of you, then things will be missed. Tasks will end up gathering digital dust without due dates. You will begin to struggle to remember when and if tasks need completing or if you have already done them. Without being mindful of the tasks you have, you will forget things and not get as much done.

    No Exceptions

    Everything needs to go in one place, no exceptions, no excuses and no forgetting! If you have one book to write everything in, then you must have one app to do the same. There is no perfect app and to be honest, most people will suffice with whatever app is pre-installed on your phone. Apple Reminders is my favourite app to use because it works with Siri. I find it hugely beneficial to ask Siri to do it rather than tapping through options, or even having to pull out my phone.

    This isn’t a pitch for a specific app, far from it. It’s more of a plea to pick something and stick with it. A new app won’t help you get things done, but a better system will. I have to use Todoist for work tasks currently, but this will be stopping in the new year thankfully. However, even if you want to use one app for work and one for home to separate things, this is still an easy way to work.

    There are many things that physical todo lists excel in and there is no getting around it. If you really want to get things done, you have to put in some effort too. Expecting an app to save you without putting in the work is a shortcut to failing.

    🔗 I Really Want To Keep A Bullet Journal But ...

    Jon Porter writing in The Verge about his move back to apps rather than a physical journal via Robert Rackley:

    Having to write each task out manually turned a to-do from something I could just file away in an app and forget about into something that I had to manage on a daily basis.

    I have tried manual task lists about as often as I try physical journaling. It falls down when I begin to forget to carry the book around, or I start missing things because I forgot to write it down. However, there is not doubting the physical act of having to sort tasks manually each day helps you get things done.

    As Jon covers in the excellent article, just the process of bringing tasks to your attention means that “you get around to doing a non-urgent task after forcing yourself to write it out every day for a week”. This timescale also tracks with me and the point at which I would complete a task I would rather not do just to stop having to write it out. 5–7 days is also the point that I would hold on to a task and perhaps decide it didn’t need doing for the very same reason.

    This perhaps make you think poorly of bullet journaling, but the same applies to all the fancy apps on the market.

    It’s easy to think that an app or to-do list service will take you by the hand and organise your life for you, but if you’re not careful, it can just become an infinite digital locker with a messy collection of notes filed under “forget.”

    If you don’t put the work in and review your tasks periodically no app will save you from reaching the very same dead end.

    The biggest reason I can’t get on with journaling, bar having to carry around a book, is the fact I can’t make it look as nice as I think I should look. My book is utilitarian rather than filled with delightful sketches and perfect handwriting you see from advocates. The embarrassment of my book is enough to keep it hidden away rather than front and centre like it should be. Thus killing any notion of using a physical book or bullet journaling dead on arrival.

    🔗 No Social in media any more

    Sarah Frier pointing out that DJ Khaled is not your friend:

    This year, social media mostly stopped offering a window into the lives of our loved ones. It turns out that the social part of social media, which helped shape human behavior online and off for more than a decade, is proving to be something of a fad.

    This tracks with almost every other news story about social media that doesn’t involve Musk. Social media companies are trapped in a loop that limits friends posts reach to prioritise viral content, leading to less posts by friends, thus less posts to show you.

    As they all scrabble for your attention the only winners are advertisers, and those aiming for maximum attention. When there is no social in the networks anymore they just become a media channel.

    My Presence Online

    The indieweb has become an important part of my decision-making when it comes to online things. It wouldn’t stop me from using a new service if support was lacking, but it would form a large chunk of the decision-making. I think it’s essential to make sure where you put your content and spend your time is a good place. Not only that is supports you as a person, but also the web as a whole. I’m just not into placing my content onto services that use it for their gain any longer and the implosion at Twitter has done us all a favour.

    As such, I have begun to create myself a place on the web, particularly the social web, that is wholesome and ethical. Mastodon continues to be an excellent, if a little nosey currently, place to be, and you can follow my posts by subscribing to @gr36@social.lol. This is more personal things and throw away posts that social media is made for. Shout out to omg.lol while we’re at it as a superb service that started as a landing page for social media but just keeps offering more and more.

    When it comes to blogging, I’ve been an avid user of micro.blog for some time. Although I chose to move my website to a new home this year, it didn’t last long, so my more relaxed place to publish is at gr36.com. Hosted with its own presence in the indieweb, and you can follow it anywhere that supports ActivityPub @greg@gr36.com. This will contain everything I publish, short or long and also all my photography, similar to an RSS feed but for the social web. You can even reply to posts, and they appear as comments.

    When it comes to feeds, there’s still a notion floating around that RSS is dead. This is as ridiculous this year as it has been for the last few, and continues to be where plenty of people read blog posts. I like to split my posts a little for those not wanting a feed full of my ramblings. The RSS feed at gr36.com/rss contains just blog posts, whereas the JSON feed contains everything.

    For some strange reason people tend to like following me and always make my online world as nice as possible. If all of this information means nothing to you then I apologise and presume you’re already following along in the best way for you. Carry on.

    No Perfect Christmas

    There isn’t usually much to report from my Christmas day. We spend the day, like most of those that celebrate, eating too much and being thankful for everything we have. This year has been a tough year for us all, with personal struggles and economic issues to contend with. However, this has led to considerable personal growth.

    My son has been working really hard on his confidence and social skills since going to secondary school. Lucie has been developing her own way of communicating with us all, despite not being able to talk. We have a lot to be thankful for, despite the slight uphill nature of this year.

    My wife and I had a very long conversation about the stresses of Christmas once we had both sat down after lunch. The expenditure and organisational stress often gets on top of us, but we are always aware of the need to recognise what we have to be happy for. Christmas is always a stressful time, and even if the day goes perfectly to plan, which it rarely does, you always wonder if you’ve done enough. We all feel this external pressure to present Christmas as this perfect little event and put too much on ourselves to make the day perfect.

    Life isn’t like the movies and TV shows though. The trickster element of the universe loves to throw a spanner or two in there to keep you on your toes. However, rarely do we realise that there is absolutely no need for Christmas to be like you see elsewhere. Everyone’s Christmas is the same as yours, regardless of what they present it as. They are all chaotic, stressful and a long way from perfect, so there’s no point worrying about it.

    No one will lay on their deathbed and wonder why that one a Christmas we had wasn’t flawless. They will be happy that we were all together, or as together as possible, and grateful with it. They all come in different shapes and sizes with their ups and down, so enjoy them while you can. Merry Christmas to all this that celebrate, and wonderful tidings to those that don’t.

    Whatever you’re up to at this time of year, I hope you enjoy it. ❤️

    My Theme For 2023: Slow Down

    I usually pick something that I want to focus on for the coming year. The past couple have gone by in a blur of COVID and other issues so I haven’t put as much attention towards them as I’d like. Last year, I wanted to watch more films as a way of getting back my attention and returning to a lost love, but I failed miserably. This year I am picking something more important to me than ever before, I feel like I’m getting old, so my theme this year is slower.

    I have always given myself a hard time for resting and relaxing, even though it’s an essential part of life. Feeling as if I am wasting my time by playing games or simply doing nothing, but it is making me ill. Since my serious health issues of early 2022 I have begun creeping back into my old ways of being constantly on the move and not giving myself time to recover. As I published before “Stillness is the only indicator of when I am really ill” but that will be no more.

    I need to give myself space to breathe and be alone with my thoughts more often. Leading to better decisions, retaining more information and much less mental stress. Far from being lazy, I have already discovered that slowing down actually allows me to do be more active when I need to be and achieve more whilst doing it. I have plans next year to finally run my return marathon, so I will need all the rest and recuperation I can get, but this slowness goes much deeper than just giving my body time to recover.

    By being slower at everything, the quality of what I am doing will improve, whether that be designing something at work or writing a blog post. It will save me work in the long run in revisions and correcting silly mistakes. Moving fast and breaking things only goes so far. The last thing I want to do is break myself, and in 2023 slowness is the key.

    It’s Like Twitter Only Worse

    When users first log into Mastodon after fleeing Twitter, I can almost guarantee that this is one of their first thoughts. The “Social networking that’s not for sale” didn’t aim to be the detox drug for those seeking to ween themselves off the bird site, but despite its claims to be radically different, it offers the perfect replacement. Mastodon doesn’t work as well though, and that’s a good thing.

    There’s just no getting around the fact that Mastodon looks and feels very much like Twitter. So much so that many people expect to be able to treat it the same and wonder why some features are missing. With the introduction of apps like Ivory, the excellent app from Tweetbot maker Tapbots that is still in alpha phase, this likeness becomes even more apparent. In fact, some users have only begun to use Mastodon because of these similarities. The ways in which it differs though is an important part of the service, and something that a lot of thought goes into.

    One of the biggest sticking points is still onboarding and the need to choose a server to join. Granted, most people sign up for one of the largest instances mastodon.social, simply because it comes up top for a Google search of Mastodon. However, joining through the correct channels will mean making a choice, and this is introducing friction in order for the user to put in some thought. Which instance you join is actually important, you will get the most from Mastodon by joining like-minded people, although it is effortless to move.

    Perhaps the best example of these intentional barriers is the inability to add a comment to boosting a post, the Mastodon version of a re-tweet. This is intentionally missing to avoid the usual use of dunking on someone, and also encourage interaction. It doesn’t take a lot to be able to achieve a similar result by copying a link to the post and sharing, but adds in just the right amount of friction to put you off. Hopefully allowing enough time for you to think twice about your action, and perhaps decide better of it.

    By adding in intentional barriers to certain parts of the social media experience, Mastodon nurtures what it feels is a better experience overall. Decentralisation is a big part of this, but also with the way the service works. Encouraging interaction and conversation, along with a completely chronological timeline, makes Mastodon a fundamentally better place to be than attention economy driven social media. It might seem ‘worse’ but it’s better for you all round.

    Overthinking Social Media

    The original title to this post used the word agonising. It was a bit too strong, but perhaps displayed the annoyance and thought that I have put into not repeating the same social media mistakes. In its simplest form, I can’t decide what to do with my social media usage, and that means I’m doing everything just in case.

    The issue all stems from Twitter. I can’t allow myself to get to a stage where I feel like I have to use a noisy service that’s bad for my brain. Mastodon used to be that place, but as the user base has ramped up more and more, I’m starting to feel like it will become just another Twitter. I’ve written about this before, only the day before deciding to go all in on micro.blog to help stem the noise.

    This helped to start with. No boosts, no local and federated feed to lose myself in—bliss. However, all I did was follow everyone on Mastodon in a worse app. Without the filtering and muting available on Mastodon directly, I couldn’t bare to open the app. It ruined the one refuge away from the noise, so the solution was to go back. Unfortunately, two weeks on and several Elon decisions later means the user base has swelled even more and there’s now brands there!

    I need a space that lets me interact with people but doesn’t burst my brain with a constant stream of ‘stuff’. Perhaps this place will never exit, or that I need to put some work into curating my feed. This was pointed out to me by Twitter users when I complained about similar issues there. I remained in the mindset that if I have to put loads of work in to make it right, it’s not the best place to start with.

    I have hope that Mastodon calms down a bit, or that I can perhaps find an app that lets me filter things more granular. Turning off boosts perhaps or putting people into lists. Whatever the solution is, there is one thing for sure—I will keep fretting over it for no good reason.

    🔗 Mastodon Isn’t Just A Replacement For Twitter

    Nathan Schneider for Norma mag:

    Scalability explains a lot of what seems wrong with social media. Content moderation at scale needs to be semi-automated, which often means applying universal rules without context or nuance. And when abuse, harassment and misinformation drive engagement, the incentive is to address it in a way that doesn’t threaten business.

    There have been many words written about how large scale social media doesn’t really have an incentive to get rid of hate. The reality is that if engagement is the measurement of income, then moderation decisions all of a sudden become much more complicated so as not to harm the bottom line. Nowhere more apt is the adage “if you’re not paying for the product…” become more appropriate than a social media platform that has harassment problems.

    The fediverse opens new doors. It allows us the possibility to collectively own and more fully self-govern the online communities we participate in.

    What is attractive, and also a little worrisome to those on gigantic instances, is the idea that in the fediverse you can self govern. You as a user have a choice to own the things you see online and the people you interact with. If you don’t like the way something goes, you can move your experience quickly and easily.

    Just like on the rest of the internet, anyone, from violent extremists to people with uncommon hobbies, can use the available tools to create siloed spaces. The difference with the fediverse is that it facilitates a structure of relationships between communities.

    I truly believe that as long as what you post online isn’t illegal, you should be allowed to do so. What Mastodon and the larger fediverse allowed users to do is to find a place where they can self express themselves, but also shield themselves from expression that they don’t want to see.

    The idea that the fediverse is like your neighbourhood and your instance is your house works well here. If your neighbours do not behave in a way that you think is appropriate, you as an individual can choose to no longer allow interaction. Your neighbourhood also has the power to remove said house, or indeed the house can move to a neighbourhood that better fits its identity.

    Currently, many servers appear to be run top-down by people who have the technical skills to set them up, but not necessarily with the social and economic capacity to foster and sustain community self-governance and address online harm.

    I hope that enough people and communities build up the knowledge and funding to move into smaller instances where they can self govern. Currently, too many users fleeing Twitter are on large-scale servers controlled by individuals or small groups.

    If the venture capital model were unleashed on the fediverse, the democratic potential of software like Mastodon would likely be lost.

    My biggest worry, and what I fear is inevitable, is that someone like Google creates or purchases a multimillion user instance and starts wielding too much power. This would destroy everything that is good about the fediverse.

    Stories For Egos

    This crafty little ego keeps trying to work its way into my life. Today I am taking my son to Arsenal to watch a game, it’s his first time, so naturally he’ll want to take in the sites and take some photos. Unfortunately, my primary response is downloading Instagram ready to record some stories.

    Photos and videos as memories are one thing, but my ego wants to show off on Instagram. I’m ready to thumb my nose at my followers. Look where we are, look what we’re doing, we’re having more fun than you!

    Not all Stories shared are for this reason, but that is the reason I wanted to share mine. I might still do so, but in the right way because showing off is not like me at all. Sure I’m a photographer, but I try my hardest not to be an Instagram guy but if I’m not careful that pesky ego sneaks its way in again.

    I Expect More If I’m Paying For It

    There are loads of services and apps in my life that I pay for. Perhaps too many, but if I value a service and use it a lot, I like to pay the developers something for their trouble. It feels unethical to use something and not contribute if you can, so I spend too much money on services. However, there’s something that flips in my brain once I start paying for something and I become much less tolerable to bugs.

    Hey, bugs happen, and they happen lots in complex software. Although I am uncertain if there is some weird logic going on in my brain, but I just expect then when a service is free or very cheap. Unfortunately, the tide turns, and I tend to start asking questions and getting frustrated when signing up for a subscription and the bugs are still there.

    I, rightly or wrongly, expect a service to keep on improving and getting better if it is supported by a subscription and tend to quit things quickly if they don’t start improving. I am not crazy for thinking this, right?

    We Keep Talking About It Because It Hurts

    I’ve had enough of reading and listening about Twitter as the next person. So much so I’ve muted the words on Mastodon, and it has removed almost all trace of it. However, I get it. I still can’t help myself reading every new post that crosses my attention, and I know why we all feel the need to talk about what is going on over at the bird site — because it hurts us all.

    In no small part, I owe a lot of my career to Twitter. When I first signed up I didn’t understand it at all, but quickly found loads of new people to follow and out of it grew my love of technology. First by getting in deep to the jailbreaking scene, hacking the Palm Pre, and then later on I was in to Android in a big way. I was motivated to learn, write and interact with people I met all over the world. For some strange reason, my followers swelled to thousands and some of them even took me seriously and one point!

    Due to my writing and covering technology, I became the resident tech support at home and in my day job. Eventually leaving my sales job to do what I loved full time. All the skills I have now are because I wanted to do something that I had learnt about on Twitter. Unlock a Galaxy phone using the commend line or testing out some new app and giving design feedback. I went to school for none of the things that make me good at my job now, my school was Twitter and the people I met there.

    That is why the downfall of Twitter hurts so much. I spent years of my life there, having fun, meeting new people and learning things that I would not have found anywhere else. I sense that this is the same for many people I know that have had to leave. Not through force or harassment, but they have left because they cannot support the site any more. We held on as long as we could because of those glory day we all enjoyed, but those days are gone. Twitter is gone, it hurts, but let’s move on together.

    🔗 Twitter was special. But it's time to leave

    Matt Tait in Pwnallthethings hitting the nail on the head more than once, but the real sticking take away was this:

    Some people will love Trump’s tweets. Others will hate them. But Elon doesn’t really care so long as you pay to talk about it and watch ads as you do.

    I’ve heard take after take after take on Twitter and what’s happening, but this sums it up perfectly. The game to boost engagement is to have the best and worst things on the platform, and Twitter has been too cleaned up for Elons liking.

    He does care who you like or don’t like. I have no doubt that half the things he says he doesn’t mean, but he is stuck with a $44bn bill to pay that increases at more than $1bn a year.

    There is only one way to pay for this. The more people that use Twitter for talking about Twitter, the more ads are shown. Elon doesn’t care if you like or hate the tweets, as long as you are talking about them on Twitter. The best thing you can do right now is just leave and never go back. Nothing that you get from the service has got to be worth this, surely?

    Calming Down My Feed

    Since moving all of my proverbial social media eggs into one basket, it has become obvious that a noisy feed sucks. Don’t get me wrong, there are some gigantic benefits from following everyone from one app, and not doing my usual bounce around several apps to elevate boredom. Unfortunately, I doubt that the best pace for this is micro.blog because it’s making my experience worse.

    Like many users on the service, I use micro.blog because it is slow, thoughtful and much quieter than most places on the internet. Currently, Mastodon is the opposite of that ethos, it’s fast-paced, constantly updating and in many ways just like Twitter. Which is fine, I love Mastodon, but the very nature of the service is ruining my one soils away from the noise, and unfortunately, it lacks robust filtering and muting options.

    Dall -E: illustration of a stressed person with a mobile phone

    This is no slight against the service, there has been absolutely no reason for me to need it until now, I’ve never felt the need to mute or even unfollow anyone before. The only options available for me currently is a timeline with all posts, or one without replies. The saving grace is third-party app Gluon, but this doesn’t carry over into using micro.blog on the web, which I do the majority of the time. To get the best from the environment I am trying to create, I require some filtering or dare I say it, a sorting algorithm.

    I get it, that’s never going to happen. The presumption is that implementing machine learning for sorting your feed and prioritising some posts is always bad. When the truth is that for a truly scalable social platform it should be a priority. It doesn’t have to maximise user engagement or any other trap of the attention economy, it just has to quieten down your feed. It really is a problem of scale. I could quite happily follow hundreds of people on Twitter, but couldn’t even think about that kind of number of any other service.

    I am thrilled that so many people have left Twitter behind, but the increased engagement with Mastodon means I need to find a way to escape every now and again. For now, I believe I will have to split these two services apart again to make sure I can hide away from the noise some of the time.

    Matter: My Most Used App

    Yesterday I posted that I had jumped in with the new pricing strategy for Matter and become a Patron subscriber. Strangely, I thought that most people had heard of this amazing ‘Read it later’ app as it was the new hotness for a while. Following some questions on why I choose to use it and comparisons to other services, I thought I’d cover a the main thing I like about it.

    The app has been a staple on my iPhone and iPad for what seems like forever, and giving back £130 for my free usage and receiving another 3 years of service thrown in is the least I could contribute. First things first, I honestly have no idea why I use it over another service. Not because it isn’t great, but because I haven’t used a whole load of different options and I just enjoy using Matter, so never look around. They’re a risk, like with note app, that you can spend too much time moving about and not enough time reading.

    When it started, Matter had built into it a social side where you could follow friends and see what they were reading and see highlights and comments from them. I really enjoyed this part, and after spending a little over a year helping to develop Upnext I jumped ship to Matter. Using the free app to save all the content I found around the web to consume later. Matter calls itself “a better reader” and on the surface it is exactly that. You can save links from all over the web, not just articles, and access them later to read in a much better environment.

    The app offers highlighting, commenting, leaving notes on sections you’re interested in, and all the usually expected functions of a reading app. The exceptional side to Matter is that it then combines with everything else to make your consumption of things better. Including an excellent integration with Gmail that pulls newsletters into your subscriptions tab with no interaction needed. This is especially useful for longer editions that I receive from Platformer or Galaxy Brain.

    I can then highlight and takes notes on the parts that I want to remember later, and send them to wherever it is that I intend to save them. Matter already integrates with note-taking apps like Roam Research, Logseq and Obsidian, but I can also send them straight into my Apple Notes system or write about them in Ulysses. More often than not, though, I can archive them into my permanent folder and refer to them later on if needed.

    All of this has been free for months, and even when they introduce the Subscription in January you will only pay if you want things like fluid highlighting, note-taking and integrations. It will remain a totally free read it later service with no ads. I think this is why I could never see myself using anything else. I love the app, it works well and does even more than I require it too, but I also trust the company. They are not using my consumption data to show me ads or sell it on for a quick profit.

    The company now has a robust business model (it was a bit of a concern before, but I expected a subscription eventually) and see themselves as being around for years to come. There are other services around, I was a long-time user of Pocket, but Matter have built up for me as such it is and will continue to be my most used app. It continues to get better and better and now with even more funding behind it there are exciting time to come.

    This Is Meta

    For a long time, I have never thought about the topics that I write about. Granted, I still think I am some kind of tech reporter, but I have no desired to actually write about the topics needed to become one (plus I suck). I much prefer to publish things that come to mind and let others decide whether they want to read dit or not. Only when Jarrod kindly encouraged people to read my blog because I wrote about writing did I think about how meta my blog is.

    I spend a lot of time thinking about why I write, so I guess this seems like a logical step from thought to publish. Many of the people I follow seem to struggle with either wanting to write more and not having a subject, or pigeonhole themselves to a point they feel trapped. The truth is, I often start typing away intending to publish something without even a topic in mind. The tactile feedback from my keyboard is enough to keep my happy for a little while.

    I don’t have ‘a thing’. There isn’t one area that motivates me to write about it, there is just me. I think that is the reason that my posts meander around some topics, but rarely stay still. There’s some tech, some personal things, some really random posts, but mostly it is just what is going on in my head. That is why a service like micro.blog suits me so well, because there’s only one blog with everything posted to it. I don’t have to worry about where this post goes or if it fits in with a certain site.

    There’s nothing wrong with the meta posts on my blog, but I think I need to expand a bit more. Last year I brought in a writing Kanban board that allowed me to be the most active I have ever been, but I feel that these posts will still revolve around the same topics without some effort on my part. We’ll see.

    Writing In Public

    I’m pretty certain, if it doesn’t exist already, that in the near future you will be able to predict my mental state from my blog posts. They show where my thoughts are currently and often what is going on in my life. I enjoy posting, but there is something exposing about hitting publish and your words being there for all to see, but it is one of the best things you can do.

    Everyone does what I do. Except they vent into private chat groups, social media DMs and sometimes on social media itself. They express themselves through words, or increasingly voice notes, to let others know what they are feeling — they just don’t do it as publicly as others. Though they really should.

    Dall-E digital art of someone writing in the street

    This isn’t another one of those posts where I try to convince everyone to get a blog, nor is it one where I have a go at Social Media. It is more of a realisation of the way that writing in public makes you feel. Embarrassed, sometimes down, but more often than not I feel relief and closure from the words I publish. I sometimes struggle to allow myself to feel the things I do so publicly, but the intrinsic rewards of every post are overwhelmingly positive.

    That is not to imply that i don’t sometimes have to keep a lid on my ego, and think about the reasons I am writing my post — but over the years this has become rare. The reasons I post are because I think that someone out there might read my things and like it, but even if they don’t, I enjoyed doing so in public. Allowing myself to feel exposed and ensure the things that I may otherwise have shared privately are indeed correct. There is nothing like shining a light on your thoughts and ideas to let you know where the cracks in them are.

    I might regret it in the future when the robot overlords take over, but it’s all I’ve known for more than a decade and I love it.

    Are You Really Missing Out?

    Since Twitter imploded, I am ecstatic that a lot of the wonderful people I have met online have followed me out. It gives me even less reason to think about going back, but I’ve seen some bubbling thoughts about returning. What social network you choose to use shouldn’t be this hard, but I do know why there are these lingering doubts, and it’s mainly to do with FOMO.

    The Fear Of Missing Out is a powerful motivator. Hell, it’s the reason, historically, I bought so much tech. I see things online, and they look cool, so I feel like I’m missing out on something. This is precisely what others are starting to feel, they are under the impression they are missing out on things happening, and that feeling sucks. However, it’s important to think if you actually are missing out or the feelings are unfounded.

    I understand. Your followers have more than halved, and there are people who did not follow you to where it is you’re hanging out now. Are you actually missing out though? Think of some specific things you are missing out on, or is it just the thought of not being there when something happens? That’s what kept me on Twitter so long, and I’m sure loads of other people.

    Look, you can use whatever platform you want, and you certainly shouldn’t feel like you can’t use something because other people have left. You should love what you love, hate what you hate and enjoy it. The feelings you feel are just that, feelings. Unless you need to be there to cover every new thing, there’s a lot of enjoyment in missing out (EOMO) on things. Most of which will pass you buy, and you won’t care, and the important things will get to you no matter what.

    One Contact Point With The Internet

    There are a few unsolvable questions in my life. What iPhone will I actually use? Which read it later service is the best one? Will I ever stop changing notes apps and actually write some notes? Perhaps the biggest ones revolve around social media. I haven’t been happy with my usage of it for years, but still as yet can’t find a solution.

    This is frankly a ridiculous issue to have, but my feeling on Social Media boil down to my relationship with Twitter. I love it, well perhaps loved is the better word. The microblogging service has meant I have met some really awesome people that have become close friends, but has also ruined my attention span and given me a boredom avoidance crutch for too long. I am in many ways thankful the billionaire baby ruined the experience, so I could fully leave. Since then, I have spent too much time worrying about where to spend my time.

    I still found myself bouncing around from app to app when boredom struck, and having too many places to check, transferred my addiction rather than solved it. So, with a great deal of trepidation, I decided to go all in on micro.blog and forward my Mastodon account to it. One app with all of my social media usage in it was a risk, there are some massive advantages but also so downsides that I have to think about.

    Much Calmer

    Although micro.blog uses ActivityPub and allows you to follow any other accounts that use the indieweb protocol, it isn’t Mastodon. As such, there are things that I miss out on. The most obvious being that it doesn’t show boosts. This is a bit of a controversial point on Mastodon, but this removal has actually improved my enjoyment.

    I was one of the people that was calling for Mastodon to introduce boosts with comment, but now I really do understand why it isn’t there, and I really enjoy not having boosts at all. Admittedly, it does cut down on discoverability a bit, but I maintain that good people to follow will always come around. I love the interaction and conversations on Mastodon, and these still show up and allow me to still find new people.

    Using micro.blog I also cannot see any local or federated timelines, so some openness of Mastodon is cut off. The flip side is that I am not lost scrolling through lists and feeds looking for something to entertain, and overall has made me ‘check in’ much less. Only worrying about the last few things that are happening and my mentions.

    Less Control

    Being the worrier that I am, giving up control of my one sole access to social media is a bit of a gamble. What if micro.blog were to suffer an issue, or stop working completely? Perhaps they change the way it works by some way I don’t like, or increase the pice by an untenable amount. Much like Twitter, micro.blog is controlled by one person who makes all the decisions, but I trust Manton a lot more than I trust Musk.

    Being a smaller used service, there is not the choice of apps that there are for Mastodon. Although everything is open source, the demand does not facilitate numerous apps being created. The official app is fine, but this is something to be aware of when you’re all in on a service. It could be worse, I could be forced to use the WordPress app!

    Diversity Of Followers

    Having used micro.blog on and off for years, I am aware that the people who make up its user base tend not to be very diverse (with exceptions of course). The barrier to entry of the service tends to mean that the topics discussed are very cyclical and insular in nature. Whereas Mastodon is the opposite. Although a little nerdy to understand, I have found a far more diverse set of people to follow than I ever did on Twitter.

    Making sure that this exists is an important way for me to gain a wide range of opinions on topics. By adding in Mastodon, I feel this is much easier to achieve, although I do feel as if this may be harder going forward given my inability to browse timelines and not see all posts. However, by being mindful of this, I should avoid building myself an echo chamber.

    Removal Of The Social Media Trappings

    Using micro.blog also removed all the follower counts and social media shenanigans that taint any service. Granted, Mastodon does not use ranking algorithms and the like, but does have hashtags that are gamed and some users that yearn for attention. This is all stripped away on micro.blog and Manton has been clear that he will continue down this line. In his words, “compatibility with Mastodon lets us support the good things that Mastodon has accomplished, while still carrying forward what, I think, are the unique strengths of Micro.blog.”

    Lack Of Mute

    One part of Mastodon I absolutely loved was the powerful muting. I quickly set up a range of filters that meant politics nor Twitter craziness graced my feed. None of this exists on micro.blog bar muting users. I have hope that perhaps this will improve in the future, however as yet I have not seen any of this. I have a feeling that boosts may cut a lot of this out, however I will need to keep a real eye on things.

    With all things said it does worry me having one point of contact with all of the social web, but so far I have found it very calming. I have removed the issues surrounding consuming the internet in bit side chunks and calmed down my feed. How long this confidence lasts will be interesting but at the moment is has been a good decision. I own all of the content I put out now and it is all on one place, syndicated to wherever I want it to.

    Shortcuts To Use With Micro.blog

    Several people still point to my older post on how I post to my blog using automation. Unfortunately, some of these Shortcuts no longer work or can be done better, so I decided to update them. Here’s all the Shortcuts I use to publish and use micro.blog to help you automate your life.

    Micro.blog Post Search

    I love linking my posts together and making sure I reference and expand on previous thoughts. The easiest way to do this is to search on micro.blog for the old posts, and you can do this with one tap.

    Grab the Shortcut here, and change the text to your account ID number found by doing a post search and getting the numbers after /posts/and before ?q.

    Image Upload

    For those that include images in your posts and want to upload them beforehand, they usually lean on Mimi uploader. An excellent third-party app that helps you do this with one image or full albums of them. However, this Shortcut will do all that for you if you do not need the graphical front end.

    Grab it here and place your app token in the top text box. Once run, this will ask you to select the images you want to upload and then ask of the alt text of them. Once done, you will have the Markdown syntax for all of your images copied to your clipboard.

    Post To Microblog

    This basic Shortcut forms the backbone of other ones I have built for my posting style. However, it comes in very useful if you want to post from apps that don’t support publishing to micro.blog. So, you can turn your simple text editor of choice into a publishing app by sharing the text to this Shortcut.

    Life Update

    For the last few weeks, I’ve been using this updated version instead of my status.lol Shortcut with all the updates of my life. Mine is a pretty boring one, but the Shortcut has allowed me to post things effortlessly.

    Grab it here

    I made this modular this time so that other Shortcuts I made can be used. This makes both making the Shortcut and understand what is going on easier. You will need the image upload shortcut, the post to micro.blog shortcut and the omg.lol status Shortcut shown above.

    Once saved to my Homescreen I can post a feeting status or a more permanent post to micro.blog. I use this multiple times a day to share micro posts and some of my photography.

    Moving My Mastodon Account To Micro.blog

    Well, first things first. I am not really moving my Mastodon account to micro.blog in the technical sense but rather forwarding everything, but if you’re reading this you want to do the same. Thankfully, the process is pretty easy, and you won’t need much knowledge to do it.

    The reason I wanted to do this, is that I can follow Mastodon accounts (or any other ActivityPub service) from inside micro.blog and didn’t see the point using two apps to do the same things. I went backwards and forwards on which way I was going to do this, and decided that a quieter timeline on micro.blog was the way I wanted to go. My only concern was leaving my other Mastodon account on social.lol empty and losing the people that I follow.

    I first created an iOS Shortcut to find the accounts that I wanted to follow on micro.blog. For more information about following ActivityPub accounts on micro.blog check out the help docs here. I gave this a day or so to see if this was the way I wanted to go, and then went all in.

    Micro.blog Alias

    On micro.blog head to Account > ActivityPub and click set Mastodon compatible username. The default for this is your micro.blog username, so mine would be @gr36@micro.blog I changed this to one using my custom url and to keep things nice and simple I chose @greg@gr36.com. Once you have done this, your username will appear in a box at the top of the page, next to this click Aliases.

    Here, you add in your ‘old’ Mastodon account that you want to transfer followers from and forward all traffic. You can add multiple aliases here if you need to.

    Mastodon Move

    On your Mastodon instance, head to Settings > Account and towards the bottom you will see Move to a different account. Here you need to add in your new micro.blog Mastodon compatible username, and then put in your password.

    I would like to point out that you can only migrate once every 30 days, and that the process may take a while to complete. All of your followers will be moved across to the micro.blog account and if anyone replies to your ‘old’ account this will also show up in micro.blog.

    Although you can unlink these if you want to open your account back up again, I have not tested this. I have no idea if your followers or content come back again, so consider this destructive, unless you find out otherwise and please let me know.

    You Deserve A Blog

    When I see what some people pay for a blog, I gasp. I mean, I get it, I want to publish things as much as the next person, and I admire the dedication, but the costs some people stand to write on the internet makes my eyes water. I wonder if these types of costs are what stop more people having a blog?

    It’s no secret I think everyone should have a blog, they should write about whatever it that they want to write about if only to get it out of themselves. I am not alone in the feeling, and the great news is that, as Andrew Canion points out, “the internet is healing”. There is a whole range of awesome services popping up and really great prices that should entice more people.

    It is wonderful to see quality products being run by quality people, without any the social media chicanery. This is the way. Long may it last. - Andrew Canion

    He is current testing out the new Weblog feature of OMG.lol, one of the ridiculously cheap services that are seeing a resurgence. For just $5 a year you can have a great social media landing page, a ready-made community on Mastodon and loads more. This isn’t an advert, but it is just one of the services worth noting as you consider your place on the internet, post Twitter.

    My personal favourite is micro.blog which takes a bit of work to set up and get going, but you’ve also got Blot, Write.as and even Tumblr seeing a resurgence. There is absolutely no need to revert to the expensive services that control a vast amount of the web, and even less of an excuse to start publishing online. You do not have to put yourself under any kind of pressure on a subject to write about, just let yourself publish whatever it is you want to say.

    You really do deserve a blog, and to get writing online. More so now than ever before — what are you waiting for?

    Thinking Too Much About Social Media

    Due to the billionaire baby, I’ve been thinking far too much about social media. I can see no end to the news coverage of Twitter or the various escapades on Elmo, and other platforms are just revolving conversations of the same. Mastodon feels like you’re spending time with a begrudged ex that won’t talk about anything else. As such, those topics bleed through into my thoughts, into my writing and seemingly into every part of my life.

    Woe betide anyone who brings up Twitter in real life, you will get schooled on my latest thoughts and wish you ever asked! When I published the latest in my long line of posts about social media this morning, I considered I might have a problem on my hands. In my effort to get away from the subject, I am actually making matters worse and perhaps thinking about it too much when in reality it doesn’t matter.

    To any normal person, it is a pretty easy decision on social media platforms. Use it or not. The conversation or thoughts on the subject go no further. Yet in my internet riddle brain I must way up where people are, who is using the service and then worry about whether it is good for me or not. I wholly blame Twitter for this. Never in the history of humankind have so many users hated being in a place, but not been able to help being drawn back to it. What I must consider is that those unique ambivalent feelings probably won’t exist again.

    My thoughts about social media go deeper than they should. In many respects, that is a good thing. Spending some time considering where you place your time is a practice missing from most people’s lives. It can go too far, though. I spend too much time thinking and writing about Twitter that I might as well use it. I am not looking for some self gratification that my decision to leave was right, as most of Mastodon seem to be. Yet, social media is too often occupying my brain when I have better things to write about.

    Snacking On The Internet

    There are many things I am taking away from my 30 days no Twitter experiment. The feelings of worry that have all but disappeared are a by product of not being plugged into the attention economy, but I’m still not convinced I am getting the best possible results. My attachment to Mastodon has meant that I am still consuming the internet in bite sized chunks and far too often.

    There is no doubt that my new favourite place to hang out is a really nice place to be. Due to the platform not being invested in maximising my time on site, users do not have the worst of the platform shoved in their face. The content is not really an issue, but the snack sized updates feel like I have not moved on. I have theorised that perhaps the constant scroll has associated itself in my brain with a worry state. The sheer fact that I am consuming the internet in the same shallow moving state is also causing me issues.

    At the end of the day, any social network site is a distraction. Granted, sometimes I need those, but more often than not I don’t. Mastodon is great, but ultimately suffers from the same issues as Twitter due to the humans using it. Consuming the internet in a giant feed of updates will eventually fall into the same traps, and I’m not convinced it’s good for my brain. It doesn’t matter where those updates are, or where I follow along with them, it will still be a tool for my monkey brain to get its fix.

    As nice as the place is, I don’t feel like Mastodon is anything more than a replacement. Now is the perfect time to consider if the internet should be followed a bit deeper instead through blogs and news sites. Writing more. Sharing and interacting with a bit more care and attention than fleeting updates.

    It doesn’t matter the words used. A status update is a Toot, is a Tweet, and perhaps I’ve just had enough of all of them? Currently I feel like I’ve escaped an abusive relationship, but I’m hanging around with their slightly nicer identical twin. Sure it’s better, but it’s a bit too familiar.

    Shortcut: Find Mastodon User On Micro.blog

    I still can’t decide where I want to put my time. Do I follow mastodon users on Micro.blog or follow micro.blog users on Mastodon? At the minute I’m doing both, and thankfully it’s straightforward to find any ActivityPub users on Micro.blog. Even easier with the handy Shortcut!

    Grab it here

    All you have to do is find the user’s account and run the Shortcut. You need to highlight the user’s account address in Safari and share the webpage to the Shortcut. This is especially handy for people with a complicated instance address. If this isn’t possible, just type (or paste) in the handle when asked.

    The Shortcut will then convert the address to the correct format and search micro.blog. From there you can follow the account easily, just make sure you’re signed in. All of your accounts in one place, like magic. That’s interoperability for you!

    The Constant Worry

    The cost of living crisis in the UK has been getting progressively worse for the last few months and is destined to continue that way. Price increases to gas and electric, coupled with corporate greed, has seen food costs rocket upwards with dramatic effect.

    I am thankful to not be in a financial position where this will kill me, but the constant worry about money is really starting to take its toll. Food expenses we have cut down on tremendously and started to really budget and plan everything, but heating and electric is becoming a nightmare.

    I mean, listen to me with my first world problems, but I’m starting to think that the UK perhaps isn’t as first world as we think. Always having to think about turning things off, and playing the balancing act with heating is really stressful. Constantly considering keeping people at a temperature that they will be OK, but not too warm, where we are wasting money. We shouldn’t be living like this in a developed country.

    The threat of falling into debt or not being able to keep my family warm is stressing me out, and the worry of prices going up again after April makes it even worse. Perhaps we’ll just sell up and move somewhere warm.

    Woodland Walk

    I needed some time out this afternoon, so went for a walk in the woods with my trusty x100v. I’ve never been one for woodland photography, but love a nice walk in nature. I tried to take a range of photos as the colours are still hanging on from autumn, but judging by the images that actually came out, you would think I had been mushroom hunting.

    I’ve Replaced The Habit

    Despite all the words, the thoughts and the conscious decision to try not to. My monthly challenge of no Twitter for 30 days has not gone as well as it should have. I was hoping to really bring myself around to the idea that I don’t need to be online as much as I am, but instead I’ve just replaced my Twitter scrolling with Mastodon scrolling.

    Undoubtedly, this is much better for me. There’s no need for me to worry about being led down rabbit holes, or toxic tweets being shoved in my face. Mastodon has no motivation to maximise the time I spend engaged, but it’s still worse than nothing.

    The good news is that I feel much better for not being on Twitter. Despite all the tech news coverage and seemingly everyone talking about it, I have zero motivation to go back to Twitter. The reason for this is pretty easy for me to recognise because a large percentage of people I follow have checked out of Twitter too. Helping to curb my feelings of missing out or not being included in conversations.

    When I say I have not been on the website, I truly haven’t and that’s the first time in a long while. When I’ve had similar time away, I’ve always checked in a little. Scrolled thought friends profiles without being logged in or had a look to see what’s happening. What I have done though is replaced my Twitter muscle memory with Mastodon. Reaching for boredom relief is still built into my subconscious instead of just embracing the boredom.

    Overall, this is a step in the right direction though. Despite not really seeing the point in sharing so much any more, Mastodon has given me the fix I needed to pull myself away from doom scrolling Twitter. I need to give a massive thank you to the billionaire baby for finally ruining Twitter to a point I don’t care any more. Cheers!

    Learn Your Lesson On Social Media

    Given the resent issues with the bird site, it’s been great to see so many people delete their accounts to move away. Voting with your attention is the best way to use the power at your disposal. Of course, you can use whatever site it is that you want to use, but many of the users I am seeing are just moving from one bad silo to another. Perhaps naively, I thought people would have learnt by now to demand more from their social network.

    You don’t need to know the ins and out of indie websites and decentralisation to know that any private company that controls your attention is going to do the same things. They all have layers of staff to pay, infrastructure to keep running and as such need to show you as many ads as they possibly can, or charge you money to use it.

    So, with disappointment, I see users making the same mistakes that photographers did when Instagram went down hill. Jumping from one silo into another one, that will always end up going the same way. Manipulating the users to maximise time on site is inevitable. Thankfully, this is the perfect opportunity to really think about your social media usage and come to terms with the fact that nothing good can ever come from the attention economy.

    With that said, use whatever you want to use and if something brings you happiness, then go for it! However, investing your time into a place, wherever that may be, that has your best interests at heart should be a focus. Not jumping to the new hotness. For many people, there will not be a new place, and perhaps that is the best thing for society. Although I am enjoying using some alternatives such as Mastodon, I am thinking long and hard about my usage and don’t want to swop one bad habit for another one.

    Why Start A Blog?

    When I first stated writing online, I didn’t even know what a blog was. I set up some online hosting, and cobbled together an HTML website from a theme, and then when I posted something I would duplicate a page and link it up on the man index, all manually. No research done, no WordPress, I had no clue. All I knew was that I wanted to publish online and be a writer, and it wasn’t until 2013 that I really sorted myself out and began to publish properly.

    Due to this desire, I wrote about my thoughts about technology on my blog and then posted the links to Facebook and Twitter. I am so glad that I went this way and have almost all of my posts as a record instead of pouring all of my time into social media. Although I have no idea what started this motivation, the last few weeks have proven that more and more people should be doing the same and putting some value into the things they put on the internet.

    My first WordPress Blog From June 2013

    In this time of turmoil and possible migration, don’t just fall into the same trap and do the same with Mastodon, or wherever you end up. There are some great services out there now that can provide you with a cost-effective way to turn your would be tweet storms into blog posts to make them yours, forever. I am a little bias towards micro.blog because, although not perfect, it offers you a great way to get started and start posting everything to one place.

    My true hope with all this Twitter nonsense is that people start moving away from social media apart from for real communication, and that more thangs get published online. Blogging isn’t about putting 300+ words together in a nice little package and choosing the right images to go along with it. It can be anything you want it to be, your blog and your posts are your own and don’t need to conform to anyone else’s rules.

    You will hear many blog supporters discuss ownership, the indieweb and even internet standards when getting preachy about having a blog. None of these really matter to most people, the real reason you need a blog is to showcase you. To have your little place online that isn’t affected by algorithms and billionaire babies. It’s just yours.

    Just Shut Up And Listen

    It’s rare that a trailer sparks any reaction in me. I often feel like I have watched the whole film, don’t you think they are too long nowadays and ruin it? Anyway, I saw one for the Netflix film Shutz by Jonah Hill yesterday, and it sparked plenty of feelings. Something that I have been trying to work on myself over the last few months, and that’s just STFU and listening to people.

    Pretty near the start, he says something that has echoed around my brain all day. “They just listen [therapists], and all your friends, who are idiots, give you advice. And you want your friends just to listen”. I’ve written before about me struggling to make many real life friends. The ones I have, I never unload my feelings onto them because I do not want them having to listen to my issues, but I have always been a good sounding board for them. People talk to me frequently about their issues, and I try to give the best advice I can.

    I struggle with talking too much. I’m like a toddler, when I hear something that I have thoughts about I want to share them straight away. I do have a filter between brain and mouth, but it might be a little on the short side. Should I in fact, just shut up and listen more instead of giving out my advice. Typically, I have no experience of the situation they are experiencing and as such I am, as Jonah says, an idiot.

    Flipping this on its head, I think I would talk to more people around me if they just listened. I don’t share my feeling with others, apart from on my blog, because I don’t need the advice, I just need to say my feelings out load. Much like my process for writing, talking though things often lets me come to a resolution on my own. I’d love to be listened to more. I’ve started watching the full film this morning and already written down loads of notes to refer to, so I might get more advice than I bargained for out of this.

    Apple Watch Ultra: This Isn’t Supposed To Be For Me

    I distinctly remember watching this year’s Apple event and being interested in absolutely nothing new. The yearly even that temps me into spending massive sums of money didn’t come across as well as usual. Most of the improvements were software anyway. Despite my bank balance thanking me, I felt a bit flat that I wouldn’t be picking up my usually iPhone and Apple Watch combination ready for my birthday in a couple of weeks time.

    How wrong could I have been. Just a couple of months later, I am sat typing this out with an iPhone 14 Pro in my pocket and the most surprising hit of the year, an Apple Watch Ultra on my wrist. Whilst I like the iPhone, I would give it up with very little thought if I had too, however no one is taking this watch away from me now, and that shouldn’t be the case.

    All of the Apple marketing tells me this watch is not for people like me. Sure I am relatively fit, despite health issues stopping me from running much, and I do like the outdoors. This watch is supposed to be for those that are levels above me. Divers, rock climbers, ultra distance runners, it’s not supposed to be for full-time dads and office workers, but here we are. All the improvements are just as useful in everyday life as they are for those Apple aim it at, and I adore it.

    That’s it, review over. There are enough people out there that will walk you through specs and all the things that it can do, unfortunately I lack the ability to express the boring bits well and answer those types of questions you may have. What I can do though is tell you why and how this helps me in my daily life and hopefully help you see where it could be useful to you. This is pretty easy because there are not many areas that make a difference, but they add up to something that most people should consider.

    Battery Life

    Presentations and marketing never give a true reflection of the type of usage you will get from Apple devices. They are pretty spot on, but no-one does the things they highlight. They don’t watch video playback on a MacBook Pro for 18 hours straight, and most people won’t be doing 60 hours worth of exercise (low-power mode required). It’s even hard to work out what battery life would actually be like when comparing to the ‘regular’ Apple Watches “all day” but the Ultra will easily see you through three days.

    I loose around 25% per 24 hours, including sleep tracking and at least one workout. Although occasionally, it seems to plummet at twice that rate until I reboot, which is bound to be something software related. Is this the best battery life on the market, no. Is this anything compared to a Garmin watch for example, no again. It is the best Battery life in an Apple Watch to date, and this means less to worry about.

    The only ‘downside’ is that charging takes quite a while. Using a supported fast charger, it can get you from 25% ish up to 50+ in 30 mins, but it takes a while to top it up to full. I have mediated this by charging it most days for 30 minutes or so while I have a shower and get sorted for the day. This sees the battery life hover around 80-50% constantly and suits me much better than having to charge it for 90-minutes or so every few days.

    I am over the moon with the improvements to battery life of the Apple Watch Ultra. I wear it constantly, use if for phone free days out, and in my testing when I was trying to see how far it would get me I only lost 12% after 5 hours of hard use. If you’re like me and want to be contactable, still be able to make payments and other modern things, but don’t want a phone around all the time, the Apple Watch Ultra is the perfect device.

    Size & Design

    When I first thought about getting the Apple Watch Ultra was when people I knew began to receive them and use them. Sure, I’d seen the glossy images in press reviews and seen a few in video reviews, but once they were all over social media my opinions changed. The design that I thought was chunky and horrible, actually looked much better ‘in-person’. When compared to larger Casio watches the Apple Watch Ultra looks much nicer, to me at least.

    Of course, this is all subjective. You may look at the raised lip to the flat screen, coupled with the crown guard, and think yuck. Some of my desire was just motivation to have something else, anything else, than the Apple Watch I had been wearing for years, but the Ultra version looks really impressive and feels great on my wrist. Even my tiny wrists. Seriously, I have to buy Size 6 braided loops and a S/M in the Orange Alpine Strap as seen in almost all press shots (it is nice though).

    The great thing about the new design is that it doesn’t scream smartwatch. It’s obvious that it is one if you’re paying attention, but from everyday life, to the boardroom, the design looks more like a watch than the original design. The chunky design is not for everyone, and in fact more stylish watch brands are going the offsite way and slimming down, but it looks much better than the press photos would have you believe.

    Comfortable

    The weird thing about this watch is, despite the increase in size, and it is a big watch, it’s far more comfortable than other versions. The heart rate sensor doesn’t seem to push itself into my wrist as much, and the increased width makes the straps pull around my wrist rather than down. With the increased battery life, I tried sleeping in it, which I rarely did with the old one, and was surprised how comfortable it is.

    Watch straps are a bit looser when compared with the regular ones, which makes perfect sense given that the watch itself is slightly bigger. This is only obvious with fixed length bands like my favourite braided loops.

    Rough & Ready

    I have lost count the number of times I have accidentally scraped my watch on a wall, or knocked it on a door frame. Accidents happen in real life and although my sport versions always stood up OK, they always end their time with me with more than a few scrapes and chips. This new titanium version with the robust design gives me the confidence that I don’t have to worry about it. This is one of the great appeals of this watch, yes it can stand up to mountain climbing or whatever, but it will also resist being hit by a ‘ toy or fumbling it off its charger in the dark. It’s outdoor proof and also life proof.

    Useable

    Many of the design changes are due to fitting in a much larger screen. I suppose 49 mm is not that much of a difference from 45, but that’s almost a 10% bump up. The new watchOS 9 exaggerates this further because the OS feels much larger than before, making interaction with the screen much easier. From swiping on the keyboard replying to a message to opening and using a app, it really is surprising what a difference a few mm make on a watch screen.

    The screen is also much brighter when in use. This isn’t something that I noticed when using older versions, only when testing both side by side you do notice the stark difference. Making the screen much easier to see and use, especially when working out, when a quick glance is all you need to see all information on the nice big screen.

    The screen is not the only thing that’s been improved, sure you’ll also get more accurate GPS and a depth sensor, but a massive improvement is the onboard speaker. Making it even more useful in daily life if, like me, you get phone calls at the worst possible time. I’m not saying people on the other end can’t tell they are on speaker, but you can hear them load and clear now whatever you are doing. When phone free, I’ve been making and receiving quite a few calls and the speaker makes a nice change to having to carry around my AirPods just in case.

    I Love It

    All of these things make the Apple Watch Ultra one of the best buys of the last few years. The battery life and small improvements all around have made me think less about it being a smartwatch, and more of a life assistant. I have the confidence it will do whatever I need it to do, whenever I need it. I can go phone free for hours on end as well as stand up to all the stresses and strains of my hectic lifestyle. It comes with me everywhere and I absolute love it.

    That’s not to say that everyone should rush out and buy it. This is a £850 watch, after all. It won’t retain the value like spending the same money on a regular watch would do, and it won’t last nearly as long. However, it can aid your life in some very specific ways that I think plenty of people would enjoy. If you have the opportunity, try one out and see what it can do for you.

    How To Filter Posts By Category On Micro.blog

    I’ve been using the awesome service micro.blog on and off for what feels like forever. The service is niche, and a bit quirky, but that’s my thing, and it is the perfect replacement for noisy social media. Don’t get me wrong, it’s far from perfect, but allows me to not have to worry about where I post things and cross posts to wherever I want. Enough of the gushing now, what really annoyed me for a while was working out Hugo theming and the little nuanced micro.blog differences, and I have finally worked out how to split posts by category properly.

    Micro vs Full Posts

    I have a constant argument with myself if this matters or not, and ultimately, it doesn’t, but I have always felt that my Home Screen is too busy with everything mixed into one place. I’ve been able to remove all micro posts for a while, but decided to come up with a way to display micro ones separately. The key to my new set-up is creating different lists in the Hugo back end.

    Most themes will feature something similar to {{ $paginator := .Paginate (where .Site.Pages.ByDate.Reverse "Type" "post") }} in the layouts/index.html. What this means is that Hugo will paginate all the posts on the blog. Your theme will then go through all of these pages when you use {{ range $paginator.Pages }}.

    My old solution was to put different data into the paginator, such as .Site.Taxonomies.categories.[yourcategory] and this works fine. However, we can make this more robust by creating different pools of data to use at different points. By using {{ $microposts := .Site.Taxonomies.categories.micro }} I am telling Hugo to pull all posts in the category micro into a list called microposts alongside the usual $paginator. This can be anything you want by using the same method {{ $[list name] := [the data to find] }}. all categories in micro.blog are found using Site.Taxonomies.categories not the usual Hugo of Params.categories.

    I can then call this data later on and cycle through the posts at a different point using {{ range $[list name] }}. In my new theme, I now have a main area that displays full posts (those with a title) and micro posts (those without a title) in a sidebar. I’ve also added in my OMG.LOL status widget too, if you want to customise that, take a look at my guide.

    I am by no means an expert, and I am certain this knowledge is well known, but I thought I would share it so that others can benefit from it.

    Some Small Thoughts #2

    Turns out that I have more smaller thoughts than I thought (try saying that three times fast). Coupled with some nice feedback, has inspired me to publish some more bit sized posts for you to consume.

    The Happiness Privilege

    I’ve just finished Happy, Sexy, Millionaire by Steven Bartlet. It’s a pretty short book that doesn’t fall into the same trap most books with a similar message do and become a series of cherry-picked anecdotal stories. Near the start he discusses his pursuit of happiness, in that he started out with the wrong outlook and gives one of the most important outlooks that I’ve read for a while.

    The premise is to not look for things to make you happy, but look for happiness instead. As he points out, just the sheer contemplation of wanting to change your life to be happy comes from an amazingly privileged place already.

    The fact that you can even dare to think about changing things in your life to be more happy should make you stop and think. There is a massive section of the world that this simply isn’t an option, there is no other process than simply doing whatever they need to survive. We are all in an amazingly privileged place just to be reading this text and thinking about happiness, never forget that. You are already enough.

    Quiet Apathy

    There’s a general belief that there are only two sides of every argument now. Commentators point to issues like Brexit and vaccinations that the world at large is moving further apart. There’s some truth in this, at least in my anecdotal observations, the world does seem further apart. However, that is because you only hear from both of these extreme sides, and the rest of us don’t care enough.

    Take something like the online discourse around the COVID-19 vaccine. Peruse the online world, and you might think you’re either in the camp that got it as soon as possible, or you’re an anti-vaxer. The truth is, the vast majority of people were somewhere in the middle. Positive about the advancements, but prefer a bit of a wait and see mentality. We don’t need to be split into camps, but the reality of the online world is that the other side of the argument is always wrong. Quiet apathy is the way to live life happily, have your opinions but don’t give a damn about other people’s versions of them. Bliss.

    Quote Of The Week

    All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible - T.E. Lawrence

    Mastodon For Companies

    I love the fact that Twitter is burning down. Not for the staff there, I hate that these talented people are without jobs or forced to have one they don’t like. But for the selfish fact it has got me to the stage where my need to visit has diminished, and I feel mush happier about the world.

    The only thing I miss is being able to get in touch with brands. Many seem to prioritise support through Twitter and Facebook (neither of which I use) and sending them a tweet for help is easy to do. With this in mind I wondered what would happen if Twitter imploded, or the brand just didn’t want to be there any more, and I ran through a thought experiment where they all had Mastodon instances.

    It would be straightforward to toot (I still hate that word) at a brand’s customer service if they all become universal. For instance, all customer service could be @cs@webaddress, and you wouldn’t need to root around for anything. Amazon order not shown up, just message @cs@amazon.co.uk or had a bad experience in Tesco, reach out to @cs@tesco.co.uk. This opens up the ability to have those individuals who are representative of the brand, or otherwise want to be open to contact to have the ability, or you just have an internal social network too.

    Yes, this relies on everyone understanding Mastodon and there are many that still don’t, but I think it’s a pretty nice idea. Thoughts?

    Being Angry

    I was pretty angry this morning. With good reason, I thought at the time. I had lost 4-5 hours worth of work, but it still felt like a pointless emotion. It didn’t get me anywhere, changed absolutely nothing about the situation, and only made me feel worse.

    Anger is, in most situations, a pointless emotion to feel. There must be some evolutionary advantages to feeling anger, but in the modern world in generally gets you nowhere. Even in combat, where you would think anger could be advantageous, it just clouds your judgement and increases the chance of mistakes.

    Duncan Trussel put it fantastically when he said that “anger is the second wound inflicted by your enemy”. Something he puts down to Buddha, but unfortunately, I can’t find any reference for it currently. Whoever said it, it is dead on. The only outcome is an wound on the person suffering with it, burnt by its toxic effects.

    Anger does not bring back my work. In any situation, it doesn’t change whatever has happened, it just affects the future negatively.

    Ten Days No Twitter

    I feel as if I start every post about Twitter with the same words. I both love it and hate it, blah blah blah. Well, this time a billionaire baby annoyed me, so I quit for a bit and then decided to set myself a new monthly challenge. I’m 10 days into “No Twitter November” and I have a few observations.

    The Itch

    I’ve known for a long while I’ve had a deep-rooted muscle memory Twitter itch. Despite all of my attempts, I can’t stop my unconscious brain from grabbing a device and opening Twitter whenever I am bored. I do it without thinking, and often only catch myself after minutes of doom scrolling.

    Thankfully, this has dried up fairly quickly, but I’m not going to lie, the first few days were frustratingly bad. I had to make sure I had signed out everywhere and had no apps installed. The sight of the sign in screen was good enough to jar me back into the real world and stop me from going any further. In the last couple of days it has only happened twice when compared to the first few days occurring a couple of times an hour.

    Using Mastodon a bit more has helped / replaced this, so I feel like I am cheating a bit. However, that place doesn’t give me the same hate filled rage and leave me feeling deflated, so it’s a net win.

    The Logged-Out Experience Sucks

    There are a few newsletters I subscribe to that include some funny tweets, or useful threads to check out. Mostly these show fine, but others require a tap, and if they do, I am usually immediately hit with pop-ups to sign in and “join the conversation”. It sucks that I can’t consume the information logged out, but I expect nothing less.

    I debated log and hard if even reading these tweets constituted cheating, but concluded it didn’t. This was further confirmed given the terrible experience if I’m logged out anyway. Every so often you can see what you need to and the screen is taken over if you scroll down, sometimes you’re blocked entirely. It sucks.

    75% Of Media Relies On Twitter

    After a few days of no Twitter, I began to see it everywhere. At first, I put this down to some kind of withdrawal, but it soon became obvious how much of the news sites, personal blogs and YouTube were covering things that happened on or about Twitter.

    Granted, this was exaggerated by the baby billionaire doing his best to burn it down. There aren’t many “did you see what happened on Twitter” water cooler moments, but a gigantic percentage of news is about what so-and-so tweeted or other things linked to the service. I now entirely understand why journalists feel like they are chained to checking Twitter. Which leads me to my last point.

    I Miss People

    There are a few people who have joined me on my jump from Twitter, but many have not. I miss the interaction I got (no matter how small) from people that I’ve met over the years. Reading their life updates and learning new things they are up to.

    Some of this has moved to a group chat, but it doesn’t feel the same. I do miss Twitter when it’s good, and I wish there was some way to make it work, but the longer I spend off the service, the more I realise it is the right thing to do. Perhaps in time I will realise that this space in my brain is better used elsewhere, but presently I miss it. There are a few people that I only interact with on Twitter, so I’ve had to stalk people’s Instagram or find another way to contact them.

    Ultimately, I do see myself dipping my toe back in, but perhaps in a much reduced basis. It may take more time to work out the way I am going to gain the little community I had, but I think it can also be built elsewhere too. There’s another 20 days to go, so things might change by then, I’ll let you know.

    Some Small Thoughts

    Since ditching my newsletter a while a go, I haven’t really had a place to share smaller thoughts with the world. It was effortless to fill it full of things that took up some space in my brain and perhaps would make a good talking point, but wasn’t worthy of a blog post. So, I’ve decided to publish them every so often anyway and see how it goes. Welcome to some small thoughts I have had over the last week or so.

    Systems and tools

    It doesn’t matter what you are trying to do, the system is the most important thing to get right. Look at what you need to achieve and then work backwards in a realistic step process. Once done, the tools you choose will fall around the system. If you don’t get everything straight, you can fall into the trap of letting the tools dictate the system itself. If a tool I use can’t do the job I want it to do, do I then find a different tool or change my system and expectations?

    The risk is that changing your tools every time is costly, in both time and money, but if a tool doesn’t fit the system or do what you want it to do, it breaks the system. Working out what you really need to achieve is the only way to solve the problem.

    Look at note-taking, for example. Numerous people are told “you need to take notes like this” or “use this app to achieve this specific thing” instead of working out where they must be to make it work. My note-taking system was broken for a long time. Not in terms of taking notes, but using the notes later on. Linking between thoughts and surfacing ideas has never worked as well as it thought it should. This made me look around constantly for new tools to do this, when in reality when I stopped and thought about it, I never used them anyway.

    Is your system broken, or your tools?

    Different Photos, Different Places

    I figured something out last week to do with photo services. I post different photos to different places. Instagram gets a bit more editing and only a few chosen photos. I usually then posted more natural ones to Glass when I used it, and then I am perfectly happy dumping all the rest on my blog / micro.blog.

    The different places seem to be set up for different things. I would never dream of posting anything personal to Glass. It feels too much like a pro photographer’s place to share the best of the best. Like what Instagram should be without all the gaming and attention seeking that plagues an otherwise great platform.

    I sometimes found myself shooting a photo slightly differently, or editing a different version for Instagram. Which often leave me feeling a bit strange. Typically, photos I don’t even like do better on Instagram because they have a similar look and feel to others, but I edit how I like when I post to my blog.

    Quote of the week

    Maybe, I need to make peace with the fact that I cannot keep up. I cannot keep up with the growing list of brilliant books. I cannot keep up with the gifted writers churning beautiful essays. And, with a heavy heart, accept that I am okay with it. No End to Content Overload - Excursions

    Because Of Instagram

    “The modern world is stupid” says every old man who wants to shake his fist confused. Me included. I don’t get most of the business decisions today, and most of the marketing I see is just bizarre. Which is somewhat worrying because that’s what I’m supposed to know about for my day job. I do understand where most of it has come from, and the influence of Instagram cannot be understated.

    There’s a whole world of products and businesses out there built solely because of the instagram effect. They have designed their products, and sometimes entire practices, to appeal to a certain ascetic and sell things to the Instagram (and now TikTok) generation. This isn’t just something that appeals to Gen-Z either. The amount of money that I have spent on experiences and products purely because my wife wants to post to Instagram is more than I care to admit.

    An ode to quick note

    It took Apple a while, but they finally made Apple notes truly useful on my iPhone. Yes, there are still things they need to improve, like the terrible implementation of rich text, but quick note is a revelation and the cornerstone of everything I need to capture whilst using my phone.

    It doesn’t matter where I am, what I am doing, but within seconds I can take a note. By adding a small icon to control centre, and also allowing me to swipe up on the iPad, I’ve turbocharged my note-taking and also saved myself some money. I no longe rely on an app like Drafts, to make sure I can take a quick note — I love Quick note.

    A Verified Mess

    Although my monthly challenge forbids me from checking Twitter, my reading stream and other social media is full of Twitter news. I honestly couldn’t care less what the business does, and what Elmo turns his attention on to monetise its user base, but most of the chatter seems to be about blue check marks and paying for subscriptions. Weirdly, I’ve been thinking about this for years and have a few thoughts.

    The main issue is my confusion around what Verified means on Twitter. The word just seems wrong in the context that Twitter puts on it. Never fitting in to any mental model I can come up with. The way in which it is portrayed certainly needs refreshing if not removing, but the blue check already carries its own weight after years of use.

    Verified should mean ‘this person is who they say they are’. In so far as Twitter have carried out some checks, perhaps uploading an ID and placing some code in your website, and as far as they can tell, this person is real. The user is then verified, but it shouldn’t have the importance that Twitter places on it currently.

    To Twitter, Verified means that this person is who they say they are, but they represent the way Twitter wants to portray its service. In as much as, if you don’t conform and break some unwritten rules, the first strike for Twitter is often to remove the user’s Verified badge. A weird way to work when you can call the service anything you like, yet chose your marker as ‘Verified’.

    How I Would Fix Verified

    For years, I have wanted a Twitter pro that is worth paying for. Solving the platform’s biggest problem and also gaining some income. Whilst I understand that the way Twitter works, fast-paced and with a massive reach, is its USP. Most of the issues users face is due to bots and anonymous users.

    I feel users should be able to prove who they say they are and get a blue check mark. You shouldn’t be forced to use your name or other downfalls of similar ideas, but Twitter should be able to tell who you are and therefore be answerable for your conduct. As a perk, users can decide to only interact with others that are verified and have robust filtering in place to only see those users. If Twitter wants you to pay, fine, that’s their call, but users need useful features in exchange for money.

    Twitter could then extend this towards other markers for people that represent whatever it is that they mark people as Verified currently. Perhaps a gold checkmark, or a deferent thing all together. This still may not resolve the issues currently plaguing it, nor pull me back, but it would perhaps go some way to addressing the current issues.

    Apple Ad Store

    There’s very little for me to comment on or add value to the conversation around Apple showing adverts on their devices. There are many more knowledgable about the situation than I, and couple with the fact I don’t care currently, means I stay quiet. That said, the recent moaning makes me think back to the days I used to love Samsung phones and the biggest reason I quit was ads.

    That’s right, dear reader, I once very nearly switch to Samsung around the Galaxy Fold 2 / Note 20 Ultra era. They were great phones and I enjoyed using them to review, but what put me off in the end was that I felt like I was the product. Adverts would constantly be displayed in Samsung apps, such as Pay. They even went as far as sending notifications and adverts right in your notification area at some points. All of which completely put me off dealing with the company.

    If you buy a cheap device, you expect companies to bundle in services and try to push you towards spending more money. You don’t, however, expect this when you spend upwards of £1,200 on a phone like the Fold 2 or Note 20 Ultra. Granted Samsung are possibly the worst offender in this space, and do similar things with their expensive TVs, so we might be comparing Apples to Oranges, but it just feels off.

    I absolutely expect a company to be pushed to make more and more money, and I understand that people have a strange perception of Apple as a whole, but it’s starting to feel a bit weird all of a sudden. There is nothing immediate to worry about, but after years and years of Apple telling us they don’t do adverts and yelling at other companies that treat their customers as products, it feels like the tide is turning.

    Granted, these are only feelings, ones based on experiences with the worst of the worst, but I understand where some users are coming from. If we continue down this road, it could very well end up a disaster. However, rightly or wrongly, I do have faith that Apple will do this correctly. Unfortunately, I can look at the trashy adverts in Apple News and see a world where Tim Cook can’t be so preachy any more.

    Tools, Time & Energy

    I’ve been trying to formulate in my mind what I want to achieve with publishing online and my online life in general. Not to achieve like the world of content creation, worrying about metrics and income, but really what I do it for. What is the yardstick to measure things against if you aren’t really concerned about the yards or the stick that people usually use? My publishing and my browsing habits really come down to three things — tools used, time available and the energy I have.

    Tools

    In my modern life, I nearly always have enough tools available all the time. I do most of my writing on my iPhone, this is in stark contrast to even a few months ago where I would always default to using my Mac. By choosing this separation, it felt a bit more organised and if I sat down to write, I wrote. Whereas now when I have an idea I capture it, or more often than not write the post there and then.

    This means that my fingers could nearly always be busy. There are a few moments that I don’t have my phone with me, but I can always capture ideas because there is never a time I don’t have my Apple Watch on. Tools are seldom my problem now I’ve sorted out my publishing workflow.

    Time

    The biggest thing we all struggle with is time. Finding this in between all the things you have to do in our daily grind can be a task in itself. Thankfully, much like exercising, I can prioritise these above plenty of other things. For me, time spent scrolling social media or watch TV is better spent writing in a journal or publishing a blog post. My only comparison is against what else I could be doing because writing or reading others writing gives me lots of value.

    With that said, others will value things differently. Some play games to unwind, some are artists, and some love doing nothing in front of the TV. There is no right or wrong here, just the result of lots of thinking and the occasional values audit.

    Energy

    For me, writing doesn’t always take a lot of time, but it takes some mental energy. A certain level of motivation needs to be achieved to get an idea from a small note into a publishable article. I used to take much less care of things, but despite the scruffy appearance of my blog posts, I do send some time on them.

    Energy is also a big decider of where I want to put my reserves when I’ve been at work all day. Writing copy and staring at a computer all day doesn’t always mix very well with wanting to do the same thing when I come home. This is combatted somewhat by my mobile publishing workflow, but occasionally, my remaining energy is better off focused elsewhere. Playing with the kids or completing the endless lists of home jobs I have to do often gets priority here.

    The Result

    It all comes down to this. What do I want to achieve by writing the posts and publishing it? I am always conscious of not writing things to get replies and attention, and would rather get things out that help people. That might be to teach someone a new way of doing something tech related, or just show my thoughts behind topics I am thinking about.

    Ultimately, I try to make sure that I don’t expect anything in return for the posts that I write, and that I am fine with that. The result is that I want to help others, or just get the thoughts that I am typing out to a conclusion and at which point I might as well publish them anyway. My blog posts are often a public journal of sorts and cover the topics and concerns I have at the time of writing. I do often wonder why I bother publishing things, but the result is always because I like to, and that’s enough for me.

    Falling For The Apple Watch Again

    As with everything in my technology life, I go backwards and forwards on the Apple Watch. On one hand, it gives me the perfect device to take me away from technology, and on the other it’s another device to maintain and worry about. I’m always one for making my life easier and cutting tech out my life if I can do. With that said, after a bit of work and a few Shortcuts, I have fallen for it again.

    Following a little time unplugged, I had been toying with the idea of putting my Apple Watch away for good. Whilst it did add some value into my life, I had come to the conclusion that it wasn’t enough. I held on a little longer due to rumours of a redesigned version in the upcoming months, so I kept my options open. I’m not a fan of this elongated squircle and have always wanted something more stylish.

    Thankfully, the released Apple Watch Ultra didn’t really appeal to me, apart from my desire for something different on my wrist. I blame Maique for this slightly because he highlighted the usefulness of the new action button he is using for updating his omg.lol Status. Instead of spending £850 on a watch that would not suit my wrist just for a button, I have put some effort into making my Apple Watch work for me and in response, I love wearing it again.

    The way I have done this, and the Shortcuts I have set up, are uniquely for me and not really the point of this post. It is more to point out how versatile technology can be with a little effort. By making the Apple Watch mine, within the very tight realms of what Apple allows, makes it much more useful. An Apple Watch could never replace other devices, but I can put my phone down even more so than before.

    I would still like to see an action button on updated versions but for the time being I am very happy. This tiny computer on my wrist isn’t so bad after all.

    The iPad Kind Of Sucks Now

    I’ve been mulling over these thoughts for months now, but resisted on posting them because of the backlash. I know I should never do that, and feel free to post what I want, but you know what the internet is like. Following yesterday’s meagre offering following 18 months of development, the time has come. The iPad sucks now, and that’s a real shame.

    I used to be that guy. The one that used his iPad for everything and preached about it at every available opportunity. Selling the iPad to anyone that would listen and teaching people the tricks you needed to make it really work. This was way back on an original iPad Air, then a long line of Pro variations. Then one day I just kind of ‘woke up’.

    I had an epiphany and realised that it wasn’t the iPad that was so great. I mean it was good, and Apple were doing what they needed to do, but it was the apps and particularly Shortcuts that made it. Apple broke several of my much-needed shortcuts to get things done, and the whole thing fell apart.

    So I quit. Publicly and emotionally, I’d had enough of trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. Fortunately, Apple now sells a perfect replacement for those that like myself spent thousands on iPad Pros with keyboards and pencils in the form of the M1 MacBooks. I chose the Max variant in an MacBook Pro, but many switched to the new Air and spent less.

    I didn’t care so much for ‘pro apps’. Or for them to allow me to use external monitors correctly. All I wanted was for them to stop messing around with the way the iPad actually worked and decide what it wanted to be. At the point of quitting, the iPad existed in somewhat of an oxymoronic state, in that it was costly but not all that capable. The software was flakey and didn’t really ever live up to the promises Apple made.

    The iPad still exists in that same position, but the terms are worse. My initial quitting was three years ago and nothing has changed. There has been some kind of awakening of late. One where users that previously waved their ’iPad guy’ flag have realised they are indeed doing themselves a disservice. The reality is unless you explicitly need a touchscreen, the iPad Pro is a poor, expensive, choice. Apple still has no idea what they want the iPad to be, and even less of an idea on the ‘pro’ versions.

    Base model iPads now come in at £500. Which is at least £100 more expensive than you should be paying for a consumption device. Sure, it can work with keyboards and pencils (kind of), but that’s not the appeal of an entry-level tablet. Couple this with a confused lineup of Airs and unimproved £1000+ pro devices, leaves next to no appeal.

    The answer to the age-old question of “what iPad should I buy” is now “last year’s model”. Should anyone dare to ask what tablet they can get to do some work on might need some follow-up questions, but in reality the correct reply is “a Surface Pro”. That hurts a little.

    How I Use OMG.lol Statuses

    The fun little service omg.lol is the new hotness on micro.blog and seems to be seeping out into the wider internet. Not only is it ridiculously cheap for what you get, the developer Adam seems to be making constant updates and offering more and more value for money. For just £5 per year you get access to a landing page for your social media, mastodon instance, email forwarding and my favourite service — statuslog.

    Statuslog allows you to post small updates containing whatever you wish, along with an emoji. Exactly the type of thing that allows you to share what you are up to without having to interact with a service. As with everything omg.lol creates, it’s brilliantly designed and easy to customise for your use.

    Status On My Blog

    I have embraced the set-up of micro.blog. It promotes using your blog for shorter posts as well as longer ones to keep hold of your content. There are just some posts that I don’t care about, and are what Twitter was really made for. Short, to the point life updates, that have no value — think “drinking coffee” and not tweet storms of information.

    I put the status card right at the top of my blog home page, so should anyone land on it, they can see what I am currently up to. The level of usefulness is debatable, but I like it! For a full walk through of getting this set up see the help page here, but in short I put in the following code.

    <script src="https://status.lol/[your-address].js?time&link&fluent&pretty"></script>
    

    Styling

    Thankfully, the styling of the status card looks great out the box, so it’s rare you will have to do anything. I wanted it to look more like part of my blog, so I styled a few elements. This took me a bit of trial and error to get this correct. When I first implemented by own changes, I used the &pretty on the end of the script and simply styled the areas I wanted. However, this now uses some !important styling and as such breaks any custom styling you want to override.

    To style the status card, you will need to remove &pretty from the script above and style everything in CSS. The default CSS used at the time of writing is below, however this could change at any time.

    .statuslol_container {
    
    },
    
    .statuslol {
    display: flex; 
    flex-wrap: wrap; 
    gap: 1em; 
    background: #e7ebf3; 
    color: #111; 
    border-radius: .5em; 
    padding: 1em;
    }
    
    .statuslol_emoji_container {
        flex: 0 0 1em; 
        font-size: 3em;
        padding-right: 0;
    }
    
    .statuslol_content {
        flex-grow: 1; 
      flex-shrink: 1; 
      flex-basis: 0; 
      margin: -.5em 0 0 0; 
      text-align: left; 
      overflow-wrap: break-word; 
      overflow-wrap: anywhere; 
      color: #111 !important;
    }
    
    .statuslol_time {
        opacity: .5; color: #111 !important;
    }
    

    You can then go for your life, change anything and everything you want to, and make it look to your taste. I love the stock gradient of the card, but implemented my own darker version I found on UI Gradients.

    Posting Statuses

    For a long time, I have wanted to be able to post tweets without actually opening the app. This used to be straightforward with Shortcuts (née Workflow) but the best you can do now is transfer text into the app to tweet from it. This is where the excellent statuslog service comes in. I use it to post a short update, which is posted to micro.blog, Twitter and Mastodon.

    If you are a Drafts user, you can use a really nice action to update your status easily. However, I am not, so after some inspiration from micro.blog user and omg.lol unofficial ambassador Maique  I created a Shortcut to do this. You can grab the shortcut from here.

    To use this Shortcut, you will need an API key for your OMG.LOL account, that can be found here, and also put your account username in the other box as outlined on importing the Shortcut. As you can see, I have added this to my Home Screen for easy access and made an icon, which is below.

    Icon available here

    If you then wish to then import the status into micro.blog the RSS feed you will need is http://[your-address].status.lol/feed replace your address with yours. If you do not use micro.blog there are automation services such as IFTTT that can Tweet whenever an RSS feed is updated.

    Under Pressure

    It’s that time of year again. At the point where our business starts to get a little less busy and other staff start catching up on their projects, mine takes off. There’s no reason for it, but something always crops up or needs competing each year, so I’m a little used to it by now. Last year we decided to redesign all of our brochures and then launch a new website the week before Christmas!

    This year’s task has completely taken me out of my comfort zone. Even though a large portion of my work is design, I’ve never been good at original illustration. A sliding it like the plague and relying on others to do the heavy lifting. Low and behold, this project requires loads of it and has been stressing me out, lots.

    So much, so I could not sleep last night due to worrying about things I was not happy with. Not a great felling, but ultimately, I gave up at 4am on Saturday and worked it through. A few hours later, I’m happier with the outcome and have actually developed my skills no end. This bit of pressure has pushed me to work on skills that I avoid if I can do.

    Unfortunately, there’s still a long way to go for this project, and I am still no artist, but the pressure has actually helped.

    Mourning For A Past Me

    I thought for a long time that the pandemic had ruined me. Despite being one of the lucky ones and not being greatly affected by it outside the obvious, I have never felt the same since. The pins and needles I feel in my brain has gone into overdrive and I feel constantly burnt out.

    I’ve recognised this, and for quite a while I have been trying to get back to the way I was before the pandemic. Don’t get me wrong, the 18 or so months suffering its wrath did not ruin me, but I just don’t feel myself anymore. I don’t think I am alone in this, but it is more obvious because during the lockdowns I weirdly managed to shine. Dealing with a crisis suits me well, and remaining calm and collected under pressure is fairly easy. Unfortunately, the adrenaline and focus have now gone, replaced by emptiness and a sense of being lost.

    In the little over 9 months the UK spent really struggling to get things under control, I became the fittest and healthiest I have been for years. The fact we were all at home together meant I had time and space outside of working to really exercise. I discovered my love of cycling on empty roads, and despite my waking hours seemingly being separated by the hours I drank coffee and those I consume beer, I thrived.

    My spiral down began two weeks before Christmas 2021 when I had my COVID-19 vaccine booster shot. It knocked me off my feet for weeks. So much so, my heart and lungs have never been the same since. I am still exhausted when doing small things, but I can still run a little, providing I break through an invisible barrier and manage to keep going. I have no idea what is up with me, and no doctor will listen to what I need to fix. As such my mental health has suffered dramatically, being able to exercise is one of my only enjoyments in life.

    I am trying really hard to get back to where I was, but being nearly 40 I feel like my body is fighting me at every step. I yearn to be back to where I was in what feels like the blink of an eye ago, but that dream always seems out of sight. No matter the effort I put in, no matter the dedication I have, I just can’t reach the proverbial carrot on a stick. In many ways, I am mourning the loss of myself, but I will not accept the me I am now. There was to be a return to normal somewhere down the line, and it best be soon.

    Ride The Waves

    Over the years, I have become used to most of my life being like swimming in the sea. Bobbing up and down and having to work with the environment to get the best out of my experience. There is absolutely no point in me trying to swim against the tide, nor ignoring the waves for risk of them breaking over my head. It’s best to just ride it out.

    There have been points where I have tried to force it. Sitting in my chair, and fretting over writing something because last week it was easy. When in reality I had obsoletely nothing that I needed nor wanted to say at that point. I have attempted to break through walls and run distances simply because I used to be able to do it, when in reality the tide was on its way out.

    In contrast, there have been times when I have struggled through the adversity. Smashed through the wall and taken much more away from the experience. Run personal bests following a moment of dread before lacing up my trainers and doing it anyway. The sweetest victories are those that I fought uphill, against the grain, and at points thought about quitting.

    When the tide swells, I’ve learnt to just go with it. My inspiration is something I have to take advantage of while it is there and publish thoughts as they arise. I have to capitalise on motivation to exercise when it is there to make sure I can have down days and not feel bad about it. The most important thing I have to do is listen to myself and understand why. To discover in myself the reason for having to ride the waves to avoid drowning, when some days I’m carried forward by them.

    A little walk with the dog

    Working from home allows me to stretch my legs on my lunch break and also clear my head. I love walking and value the ideas that come to me when doing a little exercise and “switching off” for a few minutes.

    Today we want down the canal

    Took in some countryside views

    Autumn is definitely on the way!

    And noticed all of the power lines lined up in this one spot.

    🐶

    Some Thoughts On Matter vs Pocket

    There’s a lot more I can say on this topic that I am currently motivated to type out. After being a faithful Pocket subscriber for years, I switched to Matter months ago and have never looked back. Well, maybe once or twice.

    Among a slew of new ’read it later’ apps, Matter stands out as it’s what everyone seems to use. It’s the new hotness, and most of that is because it plugs into everything and allows you to do more with your reading. This is the only reason I am still using it, despite it ripping out all the social features I loved.

    That is a little tongue in cheek, but my real worry is how exactly this is going to make money. No doubt this will be a subscription service in the not too distant future, and I expect a significantly priced one considering the development that has gone into it. This worries me because of the level of data I have invested in an app that I don’t know how much they will sting me for. In comparison to an effectively free service offered by Pocket.

    The rest of the questions on comparing the apps is what you want from them. They both achieve similar things. Matter has the ability for you to add in newsletters and RSS feeds, whereas Pocket surfaces much better recommended articles. When it comes the reading itself they are both on equal footing, which just about every other competing app is.

    In Short

    Pocket is like a reliable pickup truck that’s getting on a bit. It’s been built for a specific job and does it very well. It’s not filled full of the latest tech, and you don’t see any upgrades coming. However, you know what you are getting. It’s reliable and will be around for years to come.

    Matter is a Tesla. It’s the latest and greatest, filled full of all the toys and plugs into all sorts of extensions. You’ll need to get used to a few quirks though and learn how to use it best. The problem is: We don’t really know how long it will last and how much it’s going to cost us eventually.

    There’s nothing wrong with either option, but there will be one that fits you best.

    Mobile Publishing

    My blog has being going for almost a decade. In that time, technology has transformed my life and the way I write has gone through some pretty major shifts. What was first typed into a frustratingly slow WordPress installation can now be published from a variety of apps with surprising ease, and often now straight from my phone.

    Don’t get me wrong, publishing from a mobile isn’t new. I was doing everything from my iPad for years, and this is the same. More of a realisation of the true power that smartphones and the internet hold for us. There’s a lot of doom and gloom surrounding them, and more and more people wanting to ditch them (myself included) but you are mistaken if you think it is all bad news.

    It’s remarkable that I am currently sat in my car waiting, as I always do, and typing out my thoughts to instantly post online. I might even spell check them first! This is my pushback against the thousands of posts I see telling anyone that will listen how bad their phone is. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been there, all the minimalism people ask you to ditch it and that used to get me down. Currently I choose a big phone because I can do things on it that I would usually need a regular computer for. I can shape and mould this tool to enable me to do things and at the same time be aware of the downsides.

    Publishing is my thing, and the fact I can do it all the time in situations where I might otherwise be bored or scrolling social media should be appreciated. I can see myself doing this more and more as time goes on, and it gives a nice contrast when I sit at my computer all day doing other things.

    Thanks Elon, I Feel Much Better About Myself Now

    There’s some crazy weirdness surrounding Elon Musk. He’s the darling child of what seems like all the internet, but most of his followers are paid for. Unfortunately for someone held in such high regard by tech bros everywhere as some kind of god, his phone records have revealed his ideas actually kind of suck, and he’s surround by sycophantic suck ups.

    I won’t go into the ins and outs of what is contained in his texts and emails, there are more intelligent people than I to do that. What I will say is that reading some of these summarisations has made me feel much better about my business life. No longer am I held back by the ideas that some of them might suck. As Charlie Warzel pointed out, “Whoever said there are no bad ideas in brainstorming never had access to Elon Musk’s phone”.

    There truly are some absolute stinkers that come from both Elon and his long list of suck ups. Two of my favourites are Elon suggesting that people pay to tweet (at a cost of 0.1 Dodge Coin) and Jason Calacanis having “the best idea ever for monetization,”. His world-changing brain fart was charging famous people to be able to spam their followers with DMs. This is without the several conversations that exist in which they try to “solve free speech”.

    Never again am I going to chastise myself for having poor ideas, or even a lack of good ones. Clearly not the only reason, but a large part of people like Musk’s success comes down to finance backing and the availability of opportunity. Which is about as far away from what we are led to believe. We are told that the reason he is so successful is his ridiculously long days, or his tenacious attitude to working. Not the billions in the bank, and being surrounded by people that can provide opportunities to thrive.

    Both of these things are true of Musk, and he does a much better job of application than I ever could. However, peaking into his phone records gives me a behind the curtain glimpse. Allowing me to understand the real workings of those in successful positions. My ideas might sometimes suck, but they don’t suck as bad as this, and if they did, I would keep it to myself!

    Taking The Shot

    The best advice I give anyone who wants to become good at something, is to do it. Constantly and consistently, become obsessed and love the practice. This goes double for photography. Unfortunately, I think social media has ruined the expectation of taking photos and that really sucks.

    I was at one time worried about only taking photos that everyone likes. Studying the settings people used and trying to recreate shots that others had taken. I spent far too long picking through Instagram to find shots for places I was due to visit. Looking for the right angles and interesting things to look at. I learnt a lot, but it ruined my motivation for photography for a while because I always felt I didn’t live in an interesting enough place.

    Like most things, Instagram is a photography version of comparing your insides to someone else’s outsides. All I began to see was crystal clear, pin sharp images that had been edited perfectly, and my shots never looked like the ones I wanted to recreate. The reality is that I didn’t see their trash can, nor the times that tried to shoot things and missed, I just saw the best of the best. My shots were never going to live up to the standard I thought I should be at and that sucked.

    Thankfully, I quickly realised that I wasn’t taking shots for other people. I was taking them for me and wanted something different from everyone else anyway. An easy way to do this was to take pictures of things, rather than capturing moments. I began to focus on things that caught my eye and rare moments that were unlikely to be seen again. Unfortunately, this can lead to instances where I only gain a handful of shots I am happy with despite hours of shooting. Or more often than I care to admit, they all went in the bin!

    As my interests change to street photography, the chances of poor outings increase dramatically, so my motivation can take a hit occasionally. That doesn’t mean I will stop taking them, though. That one shot I am pleased with is worth the grind of getting nothing at all.

    Recommended Reading

    Since Matter chose to remove all of their social sharing features, I’ve lacked things to read. As much as they claim to have improved things in getting recommendations direct from Twitter, they really suck. There is nothing better than learning what the people around you are reading to let you know what to take a peek at, and I wish more services understood that.

    I have a particular hatred of American politics and its ability to worm its way into everything. Covering all of social media with its poison and then infiltrating everything that large-scale services suggest I should read. However, that issue is much larger than one topic. Matter now surfaces hardly any posts that I want to read, which means I don’t read as much. It is not clear how the recommendations work, but clearly, some people are reading these posts, but that person is not me.

    It sounds like I am ripping on one particular service, but I am not. In fact, I love Matter, it is one of the first apps I install on a new phone, but all services seem to do this now. Taking recommendations from too broad a selection of people, or making all the suggested posts human-curated. This may work for some people, but again, not I.

    In a world of algorithms and intelligent services, you would think that someone, somewhere would be able to learn what I enjoy reading and recommend me more like it. I would rather not live in an echo chamber, but I want to avoid having to put in as much work as I do to find enjoyable articles. This is precisely the type of useful application new technology should have instead of manipulating people on social media, can’t it just find me things to read… please.

    Our Stoptober

    The idea of Stoptober is, at least in the UK, to stop drinking or smoking. It’s used as a marketing gimmick by so many companies that have a vested interest in selling you things, but the premise is great.

    Considering myself and my wife don’t smoke, nor drink very much, we have decided to instead stop our negative thoughts. After both suffering with our mental health for a few months, it is the ideal opportunity to try to get back to feeling like ourselves again.

    How on earth are we going to do this, you might ask. Well, we’ve chosen to meditate every day for a month. It’s a practice that’s dropped off in our lives recently and a good opportunity to introduce it to our son, who’s also joining us on this journey.

    Day one is already completed after a nightmare setting up our family plan to Headspace to include my son’s Android phone. Hopefully, this might be the kick up the backside we both need and improve our thought patterns and concentration.

    🔗 How platforms turn boring

    Russell Brandom for The Verge:

    I call it the Bootleg Ratio: the delicate balance between A) content created by users specifically for the platform and B) semi-anonymous clout-chasing accounts drafting off the audience. Any platform will have both, but as B starts to overtake A, users will have less and less reason to visit and creators will have less and less reason to post. In short, it’s a sign that the interesting stuff about the platform is starting to die out.

    This is a fascinating point and one that is further expanded to partially explain the inability of Vine to cash in on its network. There’s a slow change in the way people relate to their social network of choice, they all start out small and lovely places to be, but once they get to a tipping point it’s all downhill. What was once a space for sharing becomes yet another avenue to distribute on, and becomes less and less unique.

    Instagram has gone through several cycles of this and seems to be on its way down again, whereas it hasn’t really stuck on Twitter. As Russel points out, “What’s left is often depressing and unpleasant, but it’s uniquely Twitter” — and if that isn’t a perfect description, I don’t know what is.

    Dinner Date

    Not very often I post what I am randomly up to but my wife took me to Cinco Lounge for dinner the other night and it was fantastic. The right mix of weirdness (I think they call I chic) and excellent food - I had Wan Chai Fried Rice Bowl with Miso Chicken.

    I love the way they use old gym floor boards, may be fake I don’t know, but it brings back loads of school memories.

    Pictures all over the place that we couldn’t work out if they are painted or prints.

    Being Lonely

    It was only fairly recently I came to the realisation that I was chronically lonely. Granted, there are a few of you out there that I do consider friends that I have met online, but I’ve never had many real life friends. Those that I organically picked up through school or college now have lives of their own and drifted away.

    As a defence mechanism for more than a decade I convinced myself I didn’t need people anyway. Built a persona of some kind of tough guy loner and even convinced myself for a bit. I had a sales job where I spoke to loads of people daily, but it was all an act to fill a role that I enjoyed quite a bit. It allowed me to be the person that I used to be in school and forget myself for a while.

    Today is my birthday, and I’ve spent it alone with my dog. Exercising, reading and waiting for my family to finish school and work. Today has been a bit like bunking off school, you get the day off but everyone else is doing other things anyway, so you just hang around. I honestly have nothing to do and no one to see, and that’s a tiny bit sad to say out loud.

    There’s no cry for help here, but more of a public display that it’s OK to be lonely. Especially as a man, it’s really difficult to express those feelings. You don’t have to hide it away, it’s OK to need and want other people around you. As great as my dog is, he’s not enough to make me feel good on my birthday, and that’s ok for me to feel. I am thankful for the few messages that I have received and realise that I am still an amazingly lucky guy to be where I am.

    I’m just lonely, and an introvert. Is that even possible?

    My Blog, My Escape

    The importance of having something that you can fully focus on and forget the world for a bit is becoming more and more obvious to me. Perhaps it is because the world sucks and the moment, and there is always some kind of bad news just around the corner. Or maybe it’s just that I am struggling more than I ever thought possible, but I just need to switch off for a while and not feel bad about it.

    Some people find this in computer games, some find it in reading, but mine is writing and tinkering with my blog. I can only truly escape from the world for a bit whilst typing away on my keyboard doing my thing, and I only figured this out because I haven’t been doing it so much lately. Between COVID, work and just feeling burnt out when I get home, my personal projects have been on the back burner more than normal.

    Thankfully, I have still been publishing quite a bit lately, but this has been from my phone. An experience that I quite enjoy as it allows me to publish on the go and be a bit more personal about things that are happening currently, but doesn’t quite give the same escape. Whilst using my laptop, I tend to let my mind wander a bit and don’t end up scrolling social media so much. I might start writing a post, and then tidy up the code on my blog, then perhaps edit some image sin Lightroom to publish. Just flit around doing random things I enjoy and not have to worry about anything else.

    There’s no solution here, at least not one that I have worked out yet, but I wonder what random escapes others have. Something that seems so mundane or perhaps that others would hate gives me so much joy, so I bet we’ve all got some weird things we need to do to get through life.

    The Importance Of Remembering

    Starting this post took longer to work out than almost any post I have written. Where do you start when the subject you want to talk about is so devastating, but still important to think about. I guess fair warning, this post could upset some people as it discusses children passing away.

    I can’t even imagine the feelings that our friends feel every year their little boy’s birthday comes around. They have suffered the worst thing to happen to any parent and had two of their children pass away. Both suffering from a genetic heart condition that was undiscovered until their second boy died soon after birth.

    They are both amazing and a credit to their family with the way that they remember them both so publicly. Tonight we went to their home to celebrate what would have been his second birthday. Each year we remember him, as we did a few weeks ago with his brother, by releasing balloons. They each have little messages on from us all as a little token of our loss.

    The event is not a somber affair, but more of a celebration and a thank you for being in our lives. It’s hard to put into words how much we miss them both, and by releasing balloons it allows us to pause and think of him as they float away. A quiet and apt event which we all stand and watch with our friends. Whereas I would want to bury myself away and not be around people, they have an entirely different way of dealing with the grief and one that helps us all.

    I always end up leaving their home with a renewed outlook on life. If they can deal with something so devastating, then the framing that we all put on our troubles seems insignificant. By celebrating their children each year, so publicly, they are helping others in more ways than they realise.

    They have set up a charity in their boys names and are also helping more families to discover this genetic condition, so they can receive the help they need. I feel lucky to know them and find them both amazingly inspiring.

    🔗 It’s just not that good

    Seth Godin writing about things being good:

    Not that good for who? If you mean to say, “I don’t like it, it doesn’t appeal to me,” then that’s what you should say.

    If, on the other hand, you have enough expertise and domain knowledge to say, “I understand what has appealed to the audience you’re trying to serve, and this isn’t going to work.”

    Weird that this post should come up when I am consuming more tech reviews than I think I have ever done. Of course, the vast number of reviews come away with no conclusion and tell you everything is great, but a good number of them draw conclusions based on their very limited and niche usage.

    The decision on a product or service is good or bad is based on your experience. Some reviewers can think about how more general users would feel about things, but many do not. They extrapolate from their opinion, which is often clouded with other factors, and draw conclusions based solely on themselves. Using this to influence purchases from other people.

    This might be the last time I do this

    When I was younger, I had to go with my grandad to church. He was, what I used to think of as a hardcore Christian, that was until I had been exposed to Americans. He never missed a service, and I hated going.

    All the excuses I could think of were saved up for the weekend to try to get out of it. I honestly despised going with every fiber of my being. I was young, and you’re supposed to hate things like this, and it didn’t help that every second of it was terrible. The place was cold, the people were weird, and I had much better things to be doing with my time on a Sunday morning. Yet now I would give anything to go with him.

    He passed away some years ago now, and I look back on even the times I would rather not be there as some of the best times of my life. You see, there will always be a last time you have to do something you dislike — but when it’s gone you will miss it.

    I’ve sat up at night for hours and hours with my daughter Lucie. Through whole nights just holding her because she needed me close to settle. There have been times that my son requires something doing and all I want to do is sit down for a bit. I will always do them though, with a smile on my face, because there will be a time when they won’t need me any more, and I’ll miss them.

    You never get the time back, even the times you hate. However, from experience I know how badly you will want to live that experience again should the worst happen. Even the times you hate is precious, appreciate it.

    Lucie loves shoes

    I guess one of the things you realise when you have kids, or you’re around a lot of them, is that they all have weird obsessions. You expect the usual superheroes, or horses or fire engines, but my daughter is obsessed with shoes!

    She just loves them, and I have no idea where it has come from. Granted, she is disabled, but since she could crawl around, she always had a shoe nearby. Where most kids need teddies or blankets to settle down, Lucie has an emotional support shoe (it’s brand new). My Adidas Samba has even been down to an operation with her.

    Our house is just littered with shoes for her to play with, or just carry around, as well as the usual musical or flashing toys. Perhaps it is because she spent much of her life on the floor due to mobility issues, but at this point I am just speculating.

    If you ever visit our house, she will chase you around until she decides your shoes are not nice enough, or you take them off so she can have a proper look.

    It causes some weird looks from people that don’t know her, but that’s just Lucie — and she loves shoes.

    Oh! This isn't good enough!

    Since moving to a new domain and trying to put all the things I create together online, I’ve been feeling a bit of pressure. Granted, completely self-imposed, but a very real tinge of anxiety to be better at what I publish there. A noble pursuit but one that’s made me feel down.

    Before I discuss these worries, let’s take a step back a bit and be honest. I’m playing pretend. In a world of writers, photographers and all around publishing masters — I’m not even small fry and the framing of this is important when discussing these types of worries. Simply because I shouldn’t have them at all.

    Publishing my thoughts to the internet was easy when I didn’t care. My domain wasn’t my name, and I wasn’t even pretending to build some kind of online presence. I’ve been putting things online for a little short of a decade and never worried once about what it looked like. Something worth remembering because my blog in no small part is one of the reasons I have my day job. Yet now, I have some kind of blogging yips because nothing is good enough to be published.

    There are no shortage of ideas on what to write about, but they rarely make it past a draft. To cure it, I’ve had to strip everything back and make my writing more personal. Go back to my blogging roots and make my website about me again. I may be boring, I may make ridiculous typos, but it’s the only way for me to seemingly publish more often.

    I am positive others feel this way because they compare themselves to others. It’s the way of the modern world online, comparing your insides to everyone else’s outsides and we all know it. Sometimes you have to get out your own way and just do it.

    It's Not The Camera, It's A Camera

    There is no getting away from my love of photography and cameras. My favourite thing in the world is going somewhere, anywhere, and just wondering around pointing my lens at things. The simple act of doing so is like mediation to me, and nothing thing else comes close.

    Occasionally, I shoot loads, sometimes I don’t. Occasionally, I get things I am happy with, more often they all go in the bin. I love having my camera in my hand, and each year when new iPhone day comes around, I seemingly forget no phone can replace it.

    The process of taking photos has nothing to do with the camera I have. The iPhone camera that’s in my pocket is more than capable of capturing most of the street photography I do. The reason a camera matters so much to me is that it is just a camera. Nothing more, no internet, no restrictions. I am alone with the world.

    I do take loads of photos with my phone too. No doubt once I get over myself, I will enjoy using the iPhone 14 Pro huge new sensor. In fact, it’s the only reason I bought it. I couldn’t care less about dynamic islands and always on displays. As soon as Apple began talking about the new 48mp sensor, my brain was already thinking about what I could do with it. It’s just not a camera.

    Let’s take nothing away from mobile photography. In no way do you need a camera to be a photographer, people get spectacular shots using smartphones. That is simply not me. As strange as this sounds, having and using a camera has become part of my identity as an individual. I carry my x100v with me anywhere, and despite my initial thoughts, I don’t think that will stop. I’ve never really enjoyed using a phone to take anything more than snapshots but I think now might be the time to at least try.

    🔗 The iPhone Isn’t Cool

    Damon Beres writing for The Atlantic:

    In a market generally defined by boring hunks of plastic, Apple gained an edge through impeccable design that was actually less functional than most of the competition.

    The iPhone got its foot hood in the market because it was Apple. They designed and presented it in a way that was theirs, and no one else could come close to the pull they had. It wasn’t the best, didn’t have all the features that everyone else did, but it was exciting and new.

    The iPhone 14, meanwhile, with a suite of incremental and frankly boring improvements, is the iPhone that will change nothing.

    It’s a bit steep to say nothing, but it doesn’t change much. The rate of change is so small now that new releases are boiled down to a few words. Even the marketing is clutching at straws and the presentations are filled with things that the old model could do, or can now do with the software update launched with the new phone.

    Where the iPhone once symbolised verve, it now evokes crushing inevitability. The company will produce, the people will consume, and the waste will pile up (and up and up).

    Apple doesn’t even need to try to sell phones. Users buy the version newer than the one they have and continue to do so. Complacency is nothing to fear when your market is this dominant and if you sell a few less, you spent less in developing it, so what does it matter.

    Schrödinger's iPhone

    Each year, when the new iPhone is released, I feel the same emotions that I experienced the year before. The iPhone takes up a weird position in my life where I both want it and don’t want it at the same time. Unfortunately, I can’t open a box and remove the device from its unknown position.

    I first observed this with the iPhone 12, but the new iPhone 14 pro has taken this to a whole new level. The shiny new device that landed at my house on Friday is beautiful and really nice to use, but also ultimately pointless and offers me very little exchange for the outlay. This is the problem, it’s so impressive and shiny and new that I want to pick it up and use it, but also don’t want to use my phone all the time. I don’t have anything  to do on it anyway.

    I am not motivated nor excited by gadgets any more. Perhaps because I am getting old, or perhaps iPhones are getting boring now. My phone is a tool, a tool I try to use as little as possible, but have accepted that it must exist in my life. The iPhone 14 pro is so good at its job that I can rely on it to do more things than ever before. I can read, and write, and take outstanding photos. I can also doom scroll social media and miss the world around me.

    I realise all of this is no fault of Apple or the iPhone, it’s me. I want to put these barriers in place so that I enjoy my life more, yet I miss the times that iPhone delivery day was one of the best times of the year. The new iPhone didn’t cost me much due to selling my old one, and there was only one version to choose from. Now my comparison is against the £1200 I spent buying my shiny new toy and the value it gives me back.

    As for right now, I’m typing this out on my iPhone 13 mini. Trying to express my feelings as if writing in a journal to myself. Can I afford the new iPhone, sure. Do I really want to spend this money, not really. This one does just fine, and probably will for a while. It’s just the desire for the shiny new things I can’t switch off. That’s what marketing does to you, I guess.

    Why GR36 has returned?

    My life online is often complex and filled with preaching advice that I don’t take. More often than not, that involves my use of an app or blogging platform. If you’re new around here I go backwards and forwards in just about everything and most the of words coming further down the page I have said before but still don’t really believe. My blogging habits suck.

    For more than a decade, I have wanted to be a writer. About technology mainly. There are two pretty big reasons standing in the way of though. One is that I’m not any good at it. Two, I can’t be bothered to put in the effort to become good at it, despite the number of blog posts I have written telling myself I am going to.

    At various points in my life, I convince myself that I am going to knuckle down and get on with it. Or build a more professional blog, or just burn it all down and publish what I like. Of course, I believe all of these things, at the time. I’m well aware of what I should be doing, and messing around like I do is not that.

    Anyway, those more observant of you might have noticed that I am publishing on my ‘old’ domain again. The reasons for this are related to a lack of motivation rather than a brilliant idea. Publishing more personal posts and returning to more of a microblog intention is where my current motivation is, and I really couldn’t be bothered to move things properly. The friction is deciding where the different types of posts I was writing began to get too much.

    All of my old blog posts can still be found on gregmorris.co.uk, but I won’t be publishing anything new there going forward. Not because I’ve given up, I just couldn’t find an easy way to do what I wanted with the permalinks and RSS feed. To be frank, I could have sorted it out, but the work I would have put in vs the return from actually blogging just didn’t make sense.

    So, everything is here, and also there. Get it. Good. Carry on.

    Constantly Waiting

    Over the last few weeks, I have come to realise how much time that I spend waiting for people. Islam sat in my car, just chilling and waiting for something to finish.

    This is usually my view. Waiting for my son to finish school and walk to meet me. I’m not cool enough to be able to actually go to his school any more, so I have to sit in the car and wait. Which I guess could be viewed as wasted time.

    Thankfully it gives me time to catch up on my reading queue, or listen to a podcast or write a quick post (like this one). I used to spend much longer time on my own, but driving all over the country, so I guess in the grand scheme of things it’s a net win.

    I love to people watch too. Just take in what else is going on in the world. I just wish my waiting places were a bit more interesting. Does anyone else live there life like this? I don’t mind it, really.

    Isolating

    Day two of being positive, and it has been a lonely one. In other circumstances my day might have been considered perfect, filled with crap TV, books and chilling out. I don’t feel ill per se (bar a headache and a bit of a cough) but I am completely drained of energy.

    Despite my family checking on me and making sure I am OK, it’s not the same as hanging out together. This is what I miss the most. Keeping myself away from the others is the right thing to do, but it feels really isolating and not what I am used to. I look forward to our weekends together and even if we don’t do much, enjoy time just hanging out.

    I am having to do things in burst due to feeling worn out, just sitting up and typing this out is bound to leave me feeling tired again. However, there isn’t much sleeping going on due to my dreams being disturbed and a bit hallucinogenic. When I wake up, I feel as if I have been out running, not laying in my bed.

    COVID is such fun. It isn’t like any other illness I have had before and despite having three vaccinations, and catching it symptom free last year I can still feel this ill is weird.

    Caught (Again)

    On Wednesday afternoon, I started to feel a bit under the weather. Nothing major, just a bit of a sore throat and lacking energy, but I’d already been for a run that morning, followed by loads of meetings, so I figured I just needed some rest. After taking some tablets, I headed to bed for one of the worst night of sleep I have ever had, and that’s where the fun began.

    Tossing and turning, periods of hot sweats and feeling unbelievably cold gave way to a massive headache and no energy. I knew this feeling from earlier in the year though, so I did the sensible thing and did a COVID test, which came back negative. The giant headache I had was like nothing I had experienced before, making me feel sick and unable to do anything.

    Thankfully, this morning I felt a bit better and managed to shake off the bad head thanks to loads of painkillers. I thought it was all behind me until the cough caught up with me, and at that point I decided to test again and the dreaded red line appeared!

    Could be placebo, or could be that I am heading down hill, but the cough is worse, and my energy levels have dropped to zero. However, I am feeling OK in myself. The worst part by far is having to stay away from my family. I’m semi distanced upstairs, and I miss them tremendously. Lucie didn’t understand why she couldn’t have a cuddle after school, but I couldn’t bare her getting poorly.

    Could be much worse, I suppose.

    The Internet Is Boring Now

    For what seems like forever, I have been trying to cut down my usage of Twitter. Going around and around in circles with tactics to reduce the time spent scrolling and place it somewhere else. I know the service is bad for me, for issues that are my own, not the services, but after years of usage I just can’t stay away.

    It drags me down rabbit holes that I use to avoid doing other things, and ultimately make myself feel worse about the world and affecting my mental health. I know this, yet still do it, so I’ve taken some drastic action to avoid even logging in. On Sunday, I changed my password to one that I do not know, and then deactivated my account. I now have no choice but to have a little break away from using Twitter, with the surprising realisation that the internet is actually pretty boring!

    Granted, I don’t stray into much of the web, but it no longer provides the entertainment relief it used to, and I’m fine with that. The itch to reach for my phone is slowly going due to the fact I open up a couple of other apps, realise nothing is happening and then close them again.

    I guess I’ll carry on reading or writing instead of scrolling, as well as lifting my outlook on the world. I’d like some more group chats in my life though to fill my slightly isolated feeling.

    First Day

    Today is one of the scary times as a parent, the first day at big school for my son. He’s 11, so he’s off to secondary school, and at this point in life it’s a hug shift to go through. Thankfully he’s coping with it really well, and despite some nerves he’s really looking forward to new experiences.

    On our way to school, he was asking me about my first day at school, and to be honest, I don’t even remember it. Not because it was more than 25 years ago (yes I am that old) but because not much of my school life seems to have stuck in my head. I guess that’s the thing with the events, they seem huge at the time, but depending on when you write the novel that is your life, depends on how much space it takes up.

    All I remember are fleeting little memories that really stuck out, but the nerves and terrible feeling that no doubt happened on my first day are lost to time. We spent a few minutes talking about that, and he realised he couldn’t even remember his first day back last year, so that gave him confidence.

    I am so proud of him. Not because of what he achieves or the things he does, but because of the person he has become. James is such a nice person to be around and that gives me confidence with the way we have worked as a family. We will only get this experience once, as Lucie stays at the same school until she is 19, so we might as well try to enjoy it today.

    I Don’t Want Anything

    At the same point each year, my wife and I get into the same discussion. It’s a few weeks until my birthday, and she wants to buy me presents. So, we have the same circular conversation that I don’t want nor need anything, and she tries all sorts of tactics to get me to give in.

    My wife shares a viewpoint with most of the world, in that the volume of stuff or expenditure is equal to the amount you care about someone. She thinks that if I don’t receive anything, then I will be disappointed, and no amount of reassurance seems to matter.

    I will concede that some of my issues with my birthday are deep-rooted phycological weirdness. For example, I do not believe birthdays are anything special and seem like a celebration for nothing. You are not achieving anything by being on a rock that has gone around the sun any more. No, I don’t know what my parents did to me as a child!

    However, I hate stuff, and cluttering up my life with things I do not really need and have just thought up to make someone happy is a nightmare. So, I will have the conversation year-on-year, forever…

    The World Is Too Big And You’re Too Small

    I know at some point in my life I am going to have to let you go. I pray that is not for a very long time. There were years before you arrived, but I don’t remember them clearly. When you were born, it was as if I were born again and have lived another, better life with you. I know you were given to me to teach me about the world, and I promised to show you it.

    When we sat up at nights, we talked. You never said anything back to me, but you spoke to me for all those hours. When most people would be yearning for their bed, I needed you in my arms as much as you needed me close to you. To hold and protect you. For you to teach me about myself.

    There will be a time when these moments will go, and I will die a little. You have made me who I am today, my special little girl. I am your legs, your body, and your words, and I will not fail you. You are my eyes now, for I see the world with you for as long as it will let us be together. The world is far too big for you at the moment, but that won’t be the case forever…just not yet.

    Social Media Interaction

    When typing out my thoughts and going well past a short tweet, I thought for longer than I should have about the title of this post. I like to give them a snappy title that sums everything up. The most logical word to use for this would be engagement, but like productivity, that word is ruined now.

    It shouldn’t be. It is the reason I use social media and the driving motivation to stick around on Twitter when logically I should leave it behind. Talking to people and engaging with others is the point, after all, social media without the social part is pretty pointless. Yet, we all base its importance on numbers and stats that mean nothing.

    I must admit that I still don’t really ‘get’ social media. I’ve never been able to crack that part of my marketing brain and really push on to succeed in that world. Mainly because all the ‘engagement’ stats that people measure against mean nothing to me. Likes, hearts, clicks, all that kind of stuff just don’t matter to me. The people behind them do, and it’s so sad that all the importance of social media seems to be dying apart from these things.

    My followers have fluctuated between 1,900 and 2,500 for years. Loads of bots pump it up for a bit, and then Twitter sorts it out and deletes loads of them. I’m not a popular figure in the slightest, but the replies that I get are from a cross-section of roughly 30 people. A small sliver of the people who are supposedly following me and interested in what I have to say. Again, at risk of sounding ungrateful, this number means nothing to me, but the people do, so where are they?

    Why has Twitter died so much, to a point that interactions are few and far between? Since the whole Elon thing, it seems as if once great Twitter users can’t be bothered any more. Myself included. Much like the job market struggles, perhaps the pandemic has made people realise that all this superficial stuff doesn’t matter any more and their time is worth more. I can only speculate, but many of the real people seem to have gone.

    The enjoyment I take from tweeting seems to becoming less and less. I thought for a long time this was me, I wasn’t engaging enough and no one was interested in this old dude any more. As time has gone on, I realised the reason I tweeted less and less was because others were tweeting less and finding similar struggles.

    At least that what I am telling myself, or maybe I am just old and don’t get it any more.

    I’m Proud Of You

    Being the parent of a disabled child, I’m well aware that I need to curb my enthusiasm towards things. But today I am so proud of Lucie.

    Not because she did anything special, or achieved anything anywhere near the markers that “normal” kids set down. But myself, my wife and son sat at a pub and had an enjoyable few hours. Not only did Lucie really enjoy the music being played. But she expressed herself, let us know when she wanted things and also told us that she wanted to stay a bit longer.

    She’s amazing, and I’m so proud of her.

    I Can’t Be Bothered

    My motivation to do, well, anything, comes in waves. At some points, particularly lately, I can’t be bothered to write, run or do the things that I know I should do. However, I also know that these are the days that will make the most difference to me. I will improve the most struggling through the hard days and make sure the easy days feel much better.

    I know these things, but that doesn’t mean I can always drag myself towards doing these things. Every so often I just can’t be bothered to do anything, I don’t feel the need to hack every waking moment of my life and maximise everything. Occasionally, I just want to let the motivation slip away and smash it again another day.

    It sucks, being on Struggle Street, but I am happy in the knowledge that it always gets better. There is always and end to the empty feelings and lack of motivation when the colour returns to the world. So keep going, my friends, and I’ll see you at the end.

    Phone Size Thoughts

    Bigger phones are popular mostly because they are a computer replacement for a lot of people. As we do more and more on these devices a lot people want the biggest screen they can afford but there will always be those that just want something manageable (to them). - Lee Peterson

    Lee gets it spot on here, for a lot of people there only device is a smartphone and it makes perfect sense to have the biggest and best you can use. However there are a lot of people, myself and Lee included, that just want a device that gets out the way.

    For a long time I have thought the perfect screen size was around 5”, or a device around the size and weight of the iPhone 7. However people like myself have to accept that the world wants bigger whereas I’d rather put some barriers in the way to my screen time.

    The Quiet And Calm Of iOS

    As with everything tech related, when I start to see similar thoughts and ideas shared online, I am never sure what the motivation is. Could it be that several people have come to a shared conclusion at the same point, or are marketing departments gearing up for something? Of course, it’s building up to that time of year when we all talk about iPads.

    The simple answer when debating the authenticity of anything is to consult independent publishing, aka read personal blogs. So, when Robert Rackley posted Minimal Mac, I knew that for one reason or another the strange feelings that I currently have around my MacBook are shared.

    Multitasking is bullshit. I can’t help but roll my eyes whenever someone comes with a fancy talk around the necessity of having multiple displays or app windows opened at the same time and all the time. — Minimal Mac

    For many weeks, I has already decided that during my week away at the beach, I wanted to avoid taking my laptop. I’d be taking loads of photos and would no doubt do some publishing, but I wanted all trace of work put away for a few days. The answer, of course, was to take my creative computer aka my iPad Pro. I don’t work on it any more, and it has been a long time since I even used one properly, so the timing is perfect.

    So, I snapped on a magic keyboard, and took the most laptop like iPad away with me and used it exclusively for a week. Well, I used it a bit, this was a holiday after all. There are still some frustrations, none of which will be fixed by the upcoming iOS16 introduction of new app windowing. IN fact nothing has really changed from the iPad that I left behind three years ago, but I think my expectation have changed.

    As I type out this post back at home on my Mac, I realise how much calmer iOS is when you expect nothing of it. I wasn’t looking for a do it all machine, I was looking for it do to a few simple tasks, and do them well. There’s just something so brilliant about using one app at a time and nothing else. No more trying to fit a round peg in a square hole and expecting the iPad to be a desktop computer. Much more than this, the iPad delivered a small space of calm and straightforward usage — just like it always has.

    Perhaps Apple is trying to deliver what its users want and are working hard to deliver the next generation of device. Or perhaps there is just more expectation from an iPad with an M1 chip that costs almost £1000. Whatever the reason is that the iPad Pro seems to never deliver what is expected of it, when you want calm and easy to use, iOS is where you find it.

    I Don’t Know Where To Put It

    For the last few weeks, I have been struggling with what to do with the posts I want to publish. With my renewed motivation to do a bit more, and also publish more photos, the sensible thing is to sort this out now. As it stands currently I have a blog and a micro.blog, and the lines are getting blurry.

    I have long ago given up the idea that my writing will be popular or even widely read, but I love having a nice blog just for me to publish my thoughts and feelings. If one person reads it, then that’s a bonus. If they take something away from it, apart from knowledge not to visit again, then perfect. I love publishing anything that comes to mind, and in that sense, just having one blog makes perfect sense.

    I have been here before, when I just wanted a place to type something out and hit publish. Despite my insistence that things have changed, I moved back to Ghost soon after and made a new home. So, I have more than a bit of trepidation on going all in on one blog yet again, given that neither of the places do a good job of fulfilling both of these post types.

    Ghost really doesn’t work well with posts having no title and no support of any open web standards. Whereas my micro.blog is nearly always breaking, or not doing something quite right. Something I'm not really concerned about with smaller posts, but I like to publish something if I have half a mind to do so.

    If it was possible to move my Ghost posts over, I would have a test on how micro.blog would look, but that doesn’t work either. I will probably mess around with two spaces for a lot longer, until I lose the motivation to think about it any longer.

    Back In The Chair

    Creativity is a habit. - Do the Work, Danze

    I’ve fallen into a bit of a rabbit hole with Rishabh Dassani as it seems each of their posts speaks to me on some level or another. Giving me little bits of advice in productivity, organisation and life.

    Some of the points outlined in Do the work have reminded me of things I have discovered myself and then let slip. I need to start sitting in the chair again and making my creativity a habit. My inspiration and motivation to publish come in waves but only when I put the work in do I really make strides in publishing my thoughts and clearing my mind.

    I write because I enjoy the process of writing and hitting publish is just a nice outcome.

    Beach Life

    Today was very much beach day. Not because the weather was great (it was OK but not great), but simply because we would rather not do anything. We don’t have the luxury of being somewhere exotic so we have to make do with the English beaches. We sat in the waves for a few hours and enjoyed ourselves none the less.

    Lucie has a love of the water and the ocean in particular, so she won’t leave it until it’s home time!

    I even had a swim out to sea with my son, no-one wants to see photos of that!

    Scratching The Itch

    I woke up this morning with a need to take some photos. No idea why, but it wouldn’t go away so I took my x100v when I walked the dog.

    Found a nice little church tucked out the way

    And took some public footpaths back

    However it just didn’t cut it, so I took my XT3 and walked around for an hour or so in the early sunshine.

    With quite a few people heading to the beach.

    Stopped off for an ice cream

    And then found a pub!

    Sunrise

    Lucie woke us up at a ridiculous time this morning, but instead of wallowing in our tiredness we decided to get up and watch the sunrise.

    What could have been a terrible sleep deprived morning turned into one of the most awe inspiring experiences I have had for a while.

    There was just myself, my wife and Lucie on the sea front, with nothing to hear but the calm waves.

    Something we may never do again, but worth the extra effort needed.

    Getting Away

    We all needed to switch off for a bit so we’ve headed to Norfolk for a few days doing nothing.

    Saw the nicest vintage bus in the car park

    And went straight to the pub!

    All Work And No Play On One Computer

    Around this time last year, I gave up my work iMac Pro and began working on my personal MacBook Pro. In many ways, this was the best decision I have ever made because I can take my computer wherever I am in the office and also plug it into a monitor when I am working at home. Yet, my work and my creative life have never felt the same since.

    I spoke at the time of the deep cross-overs that these two areas of my life were having. Pondering over the use of an iPad for my personal life to introduce a bit of calm. This experiment didn’t last very long due to various factors including the iPad no longer working, but the idea is sound and given my recent struggles is something I want to explore again.

    What really tipped me over the edge towards iOS adoption again was a couple of excellent posts by Josh Ginter. Since March, he has been keeping a separate creativity computer (an iPad Pro) due to being in a similar situation as myself. I hadn’t quite realised that the feelings he felt were the same ones swirling in my head until reading this. Indeed, he has become a proponent of a separate creative everything, to build walls between personal and professional.

    It makes perfect sense and drawing parallels in my photography life, I simply have to keep a separate ‘work’ and family camera. So with my work kindly supplying a new iPad for me to use, the experiment is on once again. I am hoping that the calmness and tendency for me to use one app at a time will give me some creative spark and allow me to work a bit deeper on the tings I enjoy.

    I didn’t do it

    I didn’t, as I suspected, renew my Glass subscription just for the sake of it I cancelled and deleted my account. Nothing personal and I know people around here love it, but the cost was not worth it.

    I still can’t really figure out why but this description from Marc does a good job of summing some feelings up.

    “Glass seemed to be somewhat of a monoculture. This makes sense: everyone in the app is rich enough to own an iPhone, probably also owns an expensive dedicated camera, a laptop (probably a MacBook) capable of editing them, and has enough discretionary income to pay a monthly subscription to a social media platform. This is boring.” - Marc Wickens

    There are entirely too many places to share photos and micro.blog + a bit of Twitter suits me fine. Maybe even some Instagram, who knows.

    Being A Realist Is Boring

    When you are a child, you dream of huge, almost magical things happening in your life. The future is filled with so many, almost endless, possibilities that all those fantasies and aspirations don’t seem so hard to achieve. Yet for some reason all of that magic seems to fade as you get older, and you have to start being a bit more realistic, but it's really boring.

    It’s a bit of a Meme now that all children want to be famous before they know what they would like to be famous for. There shouldn’t be much push back because this is understandable. These people are ones they look up to early in their life and as such the pinnacle of their world.

    It’s easy to be dismissive of this. When children want to be YouTubers or play games for a living, it is just a modern-day version of what we all wanted to be when we were young. I always wanted to be a pilot because I lived in the flight path of some of the counties air defences and the sky was always filled with massive transport planes or high-speed fighter jets.

    This love was nurtured by my grandfather, who would ask me what planes I wanted to fly and where I would want to go. Asking questions about how I thought I would become I pilot and what training I would need. He used my innocent desire to open my eyes up to the things I needed to think about, and that has stuck with me.

    So now when my son says to me, he wants to be a YouTuber, my reaction is “cool, how do you think you could do that” instead of the realistic (pessimistic) answer of “that’s not going to happen”. Indeed, the ship to making money on YouTube has not sailed, but it is harder than ever to get started and the level of work required is huge. It's important that he starts to think about this, but there’s no need to be boring just yet.

    Hold On To Your Permalinks

    Matt Birchler is to blame for some of the decisions I make in my tech and blogging life. Not because he does things differently, or tries to push his readers into things, but because he’s someone I look up too, and he speaks mostly a lot of sense. He’s been blogging for more than a decade (a milestone I won't pass until next year) and I am happy to say he is a good friend.

    Matt has made a good name for himself in tech circles, and has done so by producing great content and plenty of it. His post from a few days ago about not moving blogging platforms is one of the reasons he’s been so successful. While I agree with his post wholeheartedly, there are a couple of things to dig into here to supplement it.

    The links to your posts should be treated like gold dust. They are the reason people read your stuff and find your blog in the first place. You should hold on to these as the most important piece of your blogging platform, and if you do, moving host will not matter in the slightest.

    Your first job when setting up a blog if you make the hard choice to move platforms is to maintain the same structure as before or put a plan in place to redirect everything. With the first option being preferable. The links to your posts online are more valuable than what platform you use or how nice your posts look.

    Let Down By Providers

    As I wrote in 2020, users should be able to move their blog quickly and easily. Developers of these platforms are still letting down their users by not providing at least robust import options for all of their competition. This argument, granted, is idealistic and in many ways something that I never expect to see – but it still feels gross that barriers are in the way of you owning your content.

    I can understand why companies put intentional barriers in the way to make moving more complicated, they want to keep your custom. However, the fact that platforms like WordPress and Ghost fall down at import options, is the reason you shouldn’t move about much. Not because your decisions are bad, not because your readers will care, but because you will waste too much time doing it for very little gain.


    Of course, your readers will care if your permalinks break, or your RSS feed changes, but there are solutions for this. The biggest issue is that the time wasted moving and sorting issues out could be better spent blogging. Do that instead.

    This is me: not you

    One of the reasons I try not to write about my ways and opinions much any more is because of how peachy they can come across. When talking about anything, particularly something like technology usage, there’s a tendency to use instructional language that ends up being a post about little more than feeding the ego. My posts are never aimed like that, but I have read many that are, and whole books, that make me question my publication and motives.

    Let’s take for example my repeated need every so often to cut back my usage of Twitter. This always leads to some kind of response coming back my way, either in direct reply but snarky subtweets. These kinds of responses do not bother me, but they do reflect the way that social media tends to respond. I am told that the ‘personalness’ of social media leads to personal responses, but all we see are reply guys and Debbie Downers.

    People that take each interaction that is thrown into the ether as a slight on them and not merely a comment on the way that specific person feels. Using my Twitter example above, simply because I want to cut down my Twitter usage does not mean I am waving some kind of self-righteous flag and now looking down on people that continue to use it.

    However, I get it. I’ve read the posts that are doing that. Lecturing you about the benefits of the thing they have done and imploring you to do the same. With all the ‘look how good I am’ ego pumping that their fingers can type. However, this is not the reason I publish things, it’s for me more than you. There is no preaching. Just a stream of consciousness and a written reference of my thoughts and feelings. Don’t take it personally.

    For The Sake Of It

    My Glass subscription will be coming to an end in the upcoming weeks, and I don’t know what to do with it. Well, that’s a lie, I do, but I’m almost 90% sure I’ll end up paying another year just for the sake of fitting in.

    Don’t get me wrong the app, and the website, is pretty, and I do think it is a good place for photographers to post. However, I only really post to it because it doesn’t really speak to me. I don’t feel a pull to post my photo there, and it wasn’t until posting more to micro.blog that I remembered to reinstall in on my new phone.

    People I like post to it, the service keeps getting better and better, but I don’t get any real value from it. There are no more nice comments or sharing photo spots like there was when it started up. Appreciations are done well, but took away all the comments, and that really sucks. As much as I don’t want Glass to just be another social media channel, it doesn’t feel like a community and that is the biggest things stopping real engagement.

    Couple with this my recent tidying up of my expenses and realisation of how much I could save a month by using different apps, means I am 90% of the way there. The cost isn’t extortionate but it all ads up!

    I have a feeling I will end up just keeping it around or get FOMO at some point after I have cancelled.

    My System: Notes

    In my journey to improve my overall systems of things and also slim down on some expenditure has taken a lot longer than expected. There could be many reasons for this, the number of services available, my persistent love of switching, or just my lack of motivation – however I needed to get notes right first, so this is where I started.

    A surprising amount of my time is spent writing notes. They are used to manage my life, keep my writing ideas and also save anything that I find interesting and don’t want to try to remember. Because of their importance, I have tried to lean on service that I think show the importance of these notes. Services like Roam Research, Bear, Agenda, Obsidian and many more have come and gone. Costing me money and wasting time transferring things backwards and forwards.

    As much as I want to be that guy and carry around a notebook and sketch things out. The reality is that I have to make all of these notes digital and searchable. Only one app has remained consistently used in all my time, Apple Notes. There could be many reasons it has remained despite repeated attempts to replace it. Perhaps the inbuilt nature means that it works with more things. Maybe it is simply because it is always there, but despite its shortcomings in a few areas, Apple Notes has proven the most robust and stable thing to use for years.

    Of course, this is a bit of a meme at the moment. Other people's reliance on Apple Notes proves to be constant with my experience and usage, but the internet never fails to make fun of things. I find this particularly hilarious because the journey from low IQ to high IQ is precisely what I have been feeling over the last few years. Despite using almost all the apps in this meme, I use Apple notes more than anything else, so it makes sense to just lean on this in my new system.

    Don’t confuse this for a gushing review of all the things Apple Notes does better. There are flaws and plenty of them. Apple Notes doesn’t do everything I want it to. Apps like Roam Research and Obsidian appeal to my brain much better than the rigid folder structure of Apple Notes. The linking between items and highlighting relationships features in all other options but Apple's option is more appealing. That is without the reality that Apps like Bear look and work infinitely better than my most used app.

    Yet all the others fall down in others area in my systems, and the way I work means that the inbuilt abilities of Notes on my Mac and iPhone trumps nearly all.

    Quick Notes

    The backbone of most of my note-taking is Quick Notes, both the function in Apple Notes and the ability to take notes as quickly as possible. I realise that I am in a privileged position of using iPhone, Mac and iPad, but it doesn’t matter if I click in the bottom right on Mac. Or swipe in on iPad, or tap the icon in control centre — all the notes I take on the fly appear in the Quick Notes folder in Apple Notes.

    I use this as an inbox for all the notes I take on the go. If I were to use the system outlined by Tiago Forte in Building A Second Brain, this would be my Capture phase. Everything and anything gets saved as a quick note to be referred to or filed later. I am not crazy on the rigid folder structure of Apple notes. My brain doesn’t work as well in this hierarchy as it would when compared to a daily note approach used in Roam or Obsidian. However, having an inbox makes it easier for me to refer to things and then schedule in times to sort through them to action, file or delete the notes created.

    Siri

    There’s a lot to be frustrated at Siri for, but it works quite well with the stock apps and means notes can be made on the go. This comes in particularly useful when driving, or out walking with AirPods in. The example below is a typical note I would make whilst walking, a book is mentioned in a podcast that sounds interesting, I make a note and act the note later when I have time.

    Of course, I could try to remember all of these notes, and some people claim that systems like these make our brains soft. However, I have been making robust notes for a little over 3 years on everything I do, work, family, entertainment and much more. This has made me able to retain more information, improve my productivity and enjoy more time switched off.

    Note-Taking

    It goes without saying that quick notes on the go are only one part of note-taking. There are far more notes containing large pieces of information, meeting notes and important things I need to save, potentially indefinitely. What I have come to realise when speaking to others in similar situations is that much of theirs are done on paper, if at all.

    There is a certain level of expectation when watching interesting videos, reading non-fiction books, or just attending a meeting that the information you receive will just stick in your brain. This might just be me, but what I found out fairly early on at University is that taking notes and reading them back later, at least a couple of times, helps me be able to refer to them later on.

    This can be by mentally recalling them fully and being able to quote some information, or simply being able to recall “I’m sure I have a note on that somewhere”. A typical one of my longer notes is shown below. Whilst listening to another podcast with Dave Brailsford, he highlighted some information about his CORE method of mentorship. I was able to make a quick note using Siri and then when I had more time I looked into it deeper and made longer notes.

    The ability of Apple Notes to seamlessly switch between voice, written text and even handwritten notes, as with my CORE note, is outstanding and something that very few other services do as well. I am not one for dragging in images or links, but Apple Notes does this with ease too.

    File & Reference

    What’s the point of a note if you can’t find it later on? The information in notes needs to be searchable and easy to navigate. I have not adopted any more of Tiago Forte method of note-taking with storage, but instead adopted for easy to understand folders. Some are projects I am working on, but most are just an area of my life.

    I have to say that most notes go in the bin after a small action, or become much longer ones after researching topics. So long-term storage is only those that I really do need. I found some people online talking about almost a decade's worth of notes in Evernote, and I shudder to think of the mess, but the most important thing is being able to search and find what you are looking for.

    I could go deeper and use tags and a larger volume of folders; however, I have found there is much less metal stress of deciding where the notes go if there are fewer folders to choose from. Furthermore, I will only create a new folder if there is no suitable folder already.

    Deciding what notes to keep is a hard choice, but with quick notes usually being actionable, it is important to me to be ruthless and only keep information for as long as it is useful. Apple Notes Search is on device, meaning that it is always fast and easy to find what I need. The powerful indexing also searched had written text with surprising accuracy, even with my terrible hand writing!

    Having toyed with Readwise and all sorts of ways to import reading notes, that just never stick an inbuilt app just makes sense. Without doubt Apple Notes is the app I use the most. Now I have my system in place it is working even better for me and meaning I can write more posts and know where all my stuff is.

    Writing Instead Of Scrolling

    A simple idea, stollen from YouTuber Struthless to replace what is ultimately bad for me, with something that is better. He replaced Social media with ‘micro-journalling’ to improve his mental health and found some exceptional benefits, so for the last couple of days I have replaced my doom scrolling with writing.

    To succeed, let's face it a task like this isn’t as easy as it seems, I needed to make some modifications to the way my phone works. I am not actively avoiding Social Media (AKA Quitting) I am just limiting it. So, I had to make sure I wouldn’t open up Twitter without realising it, and pack my home screen full of the types of apps I wanted to use instead.

    Reading and writing in all its forms went right on my home screen to make sure they are in my face as much as possible. I am trying to make as much use of Apple Notes as possible to capture anything and everything that comes to mind. Having already started to lean heavily on it as part of improving my overall systems, the quick note function coming to iPhone with iOS16 is a particular favourite new feature.

    This didn’t work straight away, I had to delete all the social apps from my phone too, and also make sure I was signed out in Safari too. Now whenever I get the itch or find myself a bit bored instead of drifting away and scrolling social media, I write or read something instead. One often leads to the other and a few minutes down the line the feelings have, thankfully, gone.

    There’s a habit of these types of posts to be preachy, but there is none of that here. This is simply what I am doing to better my day-to-day life. Again, this isn’t about avoiding social media, it is just me trying to be happier and at the same time write more – win-win.

    Focused Time

    I wrote a post a few days ago about not being able to switch off and be focused. Well, that was the intention, but it came across in different ways to different people. I got lots of feedback from it, ranging from useful tips and interesting conversations to the usual “here’s my unsolicited advice”—all of which I’m grateful for.

    However, I do want to clarify, I do know how to focus and when I need to. The post was simply pointing out that we don’t all live in the luxury life where we can just turn everything off. If you work for yourself, there’s a tendency to forget, some of us (most of us) have an environment we need to be contactable in.

    Unfortunately, countless businesses and management of those businesses expect things done certain ways and emails to be answered, etc. I am semi lucky that I don’t work for one of them, and I get plenty of time for deep work and creativity if I need it. Which, I doubt is the case for most people.

    There’s a lot of research to suggest that the average time workers actually spend working in a day is a fraction of the period of time they are “at work”. Most experiencing 56 distractions a day, which is insane levels of outside noise to be expected to work in.

    There is no luxury of turning off your email, or unplugging your phone in these places, and they are often starved of focused time to be able to do things properly. All the self-help books, dreaming of a world without email and productivity advice in the world won’t make a dent if the company culture doesn’t change.

    Focused work is so important to each worker at all levels of employment. Yet, much like the weirdness we are seeing with working from home, there is a tendency to lean into “that’s just how we’ve always done it” and expect email to be answers straight away and phone calls to be taken. How many times have you sat in a meeting that should have been an email?

    Gaming Life Level 2: Steam Deck

    It seems like an age ago I wrote about loving Stadia. It has its issues, is always a few days away from being killed, but it brought me back into gaming because of the ease of access. I had my iPad, adopted my son's Playstation controller, and I was away. Sure, I always think about building a gaming PC, but I probably never will, so enter the Steam Deck – level 2 of casual gaming.

    To understand where this fits in and why the Steam Deck has made a difference to my gaming and life, the context is important. Despite playing numerous games at a young age, I stopped for so many years that I forget how many. I felt as if playing games was a waste of time, and I didn’t have many spare hours to spend gaming anyway.

    Since playing on Stadia, I purchased an Xbox One Series X and despite it being a great device, playing in-front of a TV doesn’t suit my life all the time. It scratched my itch, but I didn’t have the time between everything else I had to do, a handheld device I can pick up and put down would be a much better fit. Thankfully, Vale’s hard to get Steam Deck provided cutting-edge gaming on the go.

    Don’t expect this to be some kind of review, more of an overview of how much I have fallen in love with this device. Since picking on up from a friend of a friend for a reasonable price, I’ve been able to play great PC games on the go, as well as install emulators for an all-around experience.

    I don’t use my Steam Deck for even half of what it can do. I don’t hack it or tweak it or do anything that ‘real gamers’ might do. However, I do play it to death, so much so I am worried about the longevity of the battery as I have to charge it up so often. A point that is exaggerated by the fact the battery is not the best, about 2 hours of gaming is all it can handle whilst playing anything graphically intense.

    It isn’t all good news. If you’re a casual gamer like me, knowing what to play is a pain. The Steam library seems to talk in some know of second language and recommend games that I have to google to find out what the gameplay is like. So, YouTube is my best friend for the games I do buy, which is far too many of them.

    All these words are to say that the Steam Deck is a great device. Not the best gaming set up in the world, but just what a casual gamer needs to be able to play more and enjoy a woder selection of games.

    Of Course, I Am Scrolling Through Social Media Again

    I am starting to think my brain is fundamentally broken. I can’t sleep, can’t sit still, and literally can’t do anything online without scrolling through social media.

    It happens when I am not paying attention, and then I suddenly realise that post I sat down to write isn’t getting finished off, not are those photos getting edited. Instead, I am down a rabbit whole of the worst things about humanity or finding out why someone is getting cancelled on Twitter today.

    I don’t think this is an attention thing like I have suffered from before, more of an entertainment need. Perhaps now is the time to take a step back from the online world and write more. That seemed to work for Matt Birchler, and was a big reason I had a very productive end of last year.

    It isn’t easy for me to quite social media because it’s pretty much where all of my social interaction comes from (sad I know), but I am going to try.

    ❌ Twitter ❌ Reddit ❌ Instagram ☑️ Writing ☑️ Reading ☑️ micro.blog

    Placebo

    For reasons that I don’t really want to go into, I’ve had to resort to sleeping tablets. Nothing major, just herbal things to help me drop off and stay asleep. I’ve used them before, many years ago, and found they really help when I’m struggling to get enough shut-eye.

    I popped the first one last night “30-60 minutes before bedtime” as instructed, but felt the effects in minutes. Except I couldn’t have. The tablet had barely reached my stomach, yet I felt tired purely because of placebo. My mind had already decided this tablet was going to make me sleepy, so exaggerated its effects.

    It’s remarkable how much the placebo effect has on our lives. Every single human trial has to account for the fact your brain can fix things for you. Kind of makes me want to just take sugar pills instead and see if that puts me to sleep too.

    Thankfully I went to sleep, and despite waking a couple of times went straight back to sleep and had a deep dream filled few hours for the first time in a long time.

    I want to do everything and nothing

    It doesn’t take more than a few minutes for the uncomfortable feeling to set in. Tiny little pin pricks that raise in intensity while I am still. Prodding me towards doing something, anything, just stop being still.

    My attention hasn’t wandered. I am not bored, if anything I love being bored. Yet, my mind will not let me relax before it is reminding me to not waste my time and do something, anything.

    Playing games, waste of time. You should be reading or working out, or writing, or doing something constructive. I have to make the most of the time I have, don’t I?

    This is not a recent thing, either. It drives my wife up the wall because I am so restless. Stillness is the only indicator of when I am really ill.

    For years, I have felt like I have to hack my life to constantly be better. I need to quit doing this, maximise that, do two things at once. My brain only has two states, and constant rages at me that whatever I am doing is either wrong or not done enough.

    Even when I am still, I am thinking about what to do next.

    My life doesn’t work like that

    Shawn Blanc has a cushty life being able to be indistractable until lunch.

    Between 6am and noon is arguably my most precious / important / valuable time of the day for getting things done. That’s why I keep all of my devices in Do Not Disturb until noon. This way I am free from any and all notifications, pings, buzzes, until the morning is over and it’s time for a lunch break.

    Oh to live in a world where I didn’t need to earn money between the hours of 9-12. To have a life where I could work when I want to and have no regard for people needing me.

    The buzzes and dings that wouldn’t disturb my life. Leaving my kids to fend for themselves with any issues, no boss disturb my concentration, and nothing ever break that needs my attention.

    That would be the life.

    WFH slipping away

    Over the last few weeks, I am having to spend more and more time in an office environment. There’s no rhyme or reason for it apart from the things I need to do need me to be there. I can slowly but surely feel my happy working from home routine being washed away.

    I am dead sure there isn’t, but it feels like every little step is some kind of grand plan to remove ‘the new normal’ and return to the old way. Perhaps working as we always did is the way to do it, but all I know is that I am happier, healthier and more productive working in my own home.

    Who knows what the future will bring, but the current requirements are playing on my mental health and productivity, and as a result my home life.

    Oh, Instagram!

    Where to actually start? Every so often we see the once great Instagram app slide into oblivion, barely clinging on to its importance to the users that have used it for more than a decade. Unfortunately, there isn’t a service that comes close to the reach that Instagram has, but hopefully that will change if they keep going the way they are.

    The latest round of excuses making is not new information, but when a Kardashian chips in, companies tend to answer. With that said, this isn’t because of some altruistic intentions. The Kardashians make their living from social media, and clearly the effects of Meta changing the way the app works is affecting the bottom line.

    Casey Newton summed this up expertly in an edition of his Platformer newsletter (paywall), an episode of The Vergecast and also a widely shared Twitter thread. He is dead right in conclusion — if you don’t like it, tough because Facebook has all the data, and it knows what it’s doing. Plus, it doesn’t care about you.

    Adam Mosseri was fairly quick to come out and answer some feedback (again) following the Kardashian post. As if by magic, the same message is released, with intense stares into the camera and quick jump cuts between points. Because that’s how you do things to be down with the kids. It was long winded and clearly scripted but there are a couple of points to press on in this specific message.

    Photos

    So, where does this leave photos. As a photographer, I wholeheartedly believe that Meta does not give a damn about photos. It is a legacy which they would get rid of if they could. All the surrounding words were half-hearted and stale. Using words like “continuing to support photos” without actually showing any excitement or reassurances to those that are left out.

    With this shift to mobile first video, they are also forcing photographers to either use a terrible 16:9 vertical crop that is even worse than the 4:5 one that went before it. The alternative is having your photo fade out at the bottom and look terrible. None of this was pointed out in the video, however, because Adam is loves photos after all.

    Video & Reels

    The shift to videos was doubled down on. In no uncertain terms, this is the way Instagram is going, and its users are simply going to have to get used to it. In his words, “I do believe that more and more of Instagram is going to become video”.

    The powers at Instagram see video as the future because they simply do not want you using another app, and TikTok is the single biggest threat that Meta (and others) have ever faced. As such, they will shove videos down users throats, so they realise that Instagram does video, and isn’t just a place to cross post them.

    Adam pointed out that even if they don't change anything else, more and more videos are being shared and that’s what the users like. This may be the case, but you only have to look at the volume of users that have to post videos to get the engagement they used to. My evidence is of course anecdotal, but I have not met a simple photographer that posts a Reel apart from that they have to, or they lose work.

    Not all video growth on Instagram is down to this, but a large percentage of people sharing videos are those that make money on social media and as such have no choice but to join in with Reels posting. Add into this the users who are now cross posting their TikTok videos to Instagram because why not, and you surely have a gigantic boost in video sharing with only a small algorithm change from Meta.

    “If you look at what people like and consume on Instagram, that’s also shifting increasingly towards video”. These words stuck out to me the most, what Adam left out was the last part of the sentence, which should have been “because they have no choice”. Mine, as with many peoples, relationship with Instagram is tenuous at the best of times. I really hate it, but I have to post if I want more people to see my stuff. So, as I said before, I’ll just carry on until it’s gone.

    Small Walk At Rutland

    It was a bit blustery and choppy out on the water, but an enjoyable hour walk with the pooch. Headed to the south shore and went a bit further south on the path until we got to the boat harbour.

    I wish I had taken a longer lens and managed to get a better shot of the boats, but this way is well worth another visit in the near future. Also a bit easer to shoot with it not being so sunny and reflecting off the water.

    All shot on x100v.

    Never going to switch

    Gruber doing his usual thing

    “Apple silicon is a profoundly inconvenient truth for many computer enthusiasts who do not like Macs, so they’ve gone into denial,”

    Or. Bear with me.

    Windows publications like Windows machines and have realised their readers are not going to switch 😱

    Instagram may be trash, but I can’t stop

    The well shared Om post from a few weeks ago:

    ““While Instagram initially fueled my passion for photography; rather than being inspired through the art of photography itself, too often I find myself chasing numbers of followers and likes. I realized that all this time I wanted to share my work to get a ‘pat on the back,’ rather than to inspire,” photographer Nicole Malina told PetaPixel.”

    Same same. But what is the solution for me to see all the photographers I enjoy following? Check up on all of their portfolios every so often? Use a different service with a fraction of the users?

    Neither of these are tenable. Instead I’ll keep using it and hating it

    TikTok grabs all the things

    Turns out TikTok is basically spyware.

    “TikTok is said to collect “everything”, from search and browsing histories; keystroke patterns; biometric identifiers—including faceprints, something that might be used in “unrelated facial recognition technology”, and voiceprints—location data; draft messages; metadata; and data stored on the clipboard, including text, images, and videos.”

    There was a weird sense of misplaced attention when Trump tried to ban TikTok during his tenure. Perhaps it was just hyperbole at the time but as pointed out above the Chinese based company gathers ridiculously large amounts of data on users.

    Including information on your clipboard, which could be passwords and other sensitive information.

    Of course no uses will actually care because they get to watch silly videos and meme dances….

    Open Plan Sucks

    Mike Elgin on the hopeful demise of open plan offices:

    The open-plan office obsession, which probably peaked around ten years ago, was based on what I’ve called “collaboration bias” — the under-examined assumption that ad-hoc social encounters are more valuable for business, creativity, and productivity than un-interrupted “deep work.”

    The amount of time wasted in stupid takes should be enough for companies to realise. Yet the insistence of all being together and maximising collaboration is based on lack of trust.

    No one trusts their staff and fail to understand the true importance of deep work.

    Ninja Warrior

    We went to a Ninja Warrior experience park yesterday in Sheffield. It’s safe to say the kids were absolutely knackered at the end but we had loads of fun.

    It’s for bigger children to be honest otherwise it’s like any other inflatable park. However James managed to do loads of the course trials.

    Didn’t quite make it up the wall though ☹️

    Always Carry Your Camera

    I guess this is why the x100v always comes in handy, because if you just fancy shooting or something catches your eye you’re ready to go. Here are a few shots I caught in my local town whilst doing other things.

    The Queen's Baton

    Some of the Commonwealth joined us today to celebrate the Commonwealth touch being carried through our town. Great to see so many people lined up to see it travel around on its way to Birmingham.

    It’s already traveled more than 2,500 miles through 180 countries. The games begin in a little over two weeks time.

    Photography Adventures: Newtons Apple

    I’ve struggled with my motivation and inspiration in photography for years. It’s been something I am always interested in, yet limited by the time and attention I can give it. I felt as if living in a sleepy (boring) town was difficult to take the pictures I wanted to take.

    These feelings are ultimately driven by external forces. Looking at others that take amazing photos and live in cool places. It was easy to blame other things instead of improve my abilities.

    So I decided to challenge myself to look at things differently. Pick somewhere and take different photos of it and look for things no one else had taken. My first stop was a local sculpture that I had taken one of my favourite shots of all time at. I aimed for 10 and got quite a few different images that I am happy with

    The End Of The Road

    I always struggle to start writing a blog post, so I will just get right to it. There’s no more podcasts coming. I have taken it as far as I can with the time and energy I have available I’m afraid. So with a heavy heart it’s time to say good bye.

    That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed doing it, and this time around the guests have been fantastic and the conversations even better. The fact is I would just rather be doing other things with my time, and when things feel like a drag it's time for them to go.

    The roughly one hour show I release every other week, takes around 2 hours to record. A further 3-4 to edit and then with time and evergy needed to book guests and do everything else, the time has come to sunset And You Are.

    My main passion presently is photography, and I am enjoying developing my skills and spending time with my camera in my hand. Combine this with my work and family life, as well as other things I enjoy doing, there just isn’t space in my life to continue.

    I hope you have enjoyed the sporadic seasons as much as I have, and have been introduced to some new people to follow. I will be releasing a few episodes from the archive over the next few weeks, so they are all available, and then I will need to figure out a way to host them permanently without costing me a fortune.

    As much as I am sad to see things end, this feels like the right thing to do at the moment. Well, you never know what the future holds I guess, but for now, this is the end of the road.

    See Ya.

    Being Consistent For What?

    Lee Peterson via Jeff Perry:

    .. my blogging has almost completely stopped, it’s reinforcing that 80% of what I do here is done from my phone. As I adjust to using the iPhone Mini I’ll blog more I think, I just didn’t realise how much I did actually do from my mobile.

    I’m not one for reading something and writing a post straight off the bat, but this one did speak to me quite a bit. I too, struggle with consistency. My blogging comes in peaks and troughs. I used to beat myself up about this, but the reality is, it really doesn’t matter.

    Blogging doesn’t need to be done a certain way, or at a certain rate, unless there is some outside stress that you need to consider. Unless you live from the page views, or get paid for the posts themselves, it doesn’t matter. Publish once a day/week/month/year it doesn’t matter, because you did it when you wanted to do it.

    This is nothing against Lee, nor Jeff, they both write excellent things, and you should check them both out, but it's more to say that pushing isn’t always the way. If you’re doing something for the love of it, then make sure that love is always at the heart of it.

    I’ve fallen down this trap before, and as great as publishing every day is, it’s a strain for no benefit. The same can be said for my photography on Instagram, when I started out, I felt like I had to post every day and grind out posts to get the followers. This just means I fall out of love with things.

    It is interesting to think about the rate that things can change when circumstances do. I write mostly from my Mac, and have never really got in to it from my phone, but it is great to see that such excellent things can be done from their phone. I love my blog, and I could never not publish to it, but I will do it when I want to because I love it so much I never want to forget that love.

    Putting A System In Place

    My life is busy. Between work things, hospital appointments for my daughter and all the other things that life brings, myself and my family live out of our shared calendar. Don’t get me wrong, I get a lot of stuff done, yet I’ve never really nailed down a process that ensures I stay productive — well now is the time.

    Inspiration for this kick in the ass comes from Matt D’Avella and his fascinating video on Bullet Journaling. Instead of preaching the benefits of it and showing off the ridiculous artwork in his, like every other video on YouTuber, he actually did the practice and talked about the issues and covered the improvements it could make. So of course, me Googling bullet journals starts at least halfway through the video until I realise that’s just not going to work.

    The reality is I have tried this before and although it starts well, and I spend a lot of time and money setting it up, the act of writing things down and remembering to check them doesn’t fit for me. That’s not to say it wouldn’t for everyone. Clearly there is a following out there, just take a look at the hundreds of videos made on the subject and the number of places that will sell you accessories to go with it. Manually doing something relies on me having a notebook with me all the time, and that’s never going to happen.

    Unfortunately, I do carry around my phone with me near constantly, or at least have my watch on my wrist, so I need to lean on the tools I have. Digital means to get things done are everywhere, and it's important to not get distracted by shiny new things and spend more time setting things up then getting things done. Taking inspiration from Kia, I have made an internal agreement to only use apps I have already, particularly stock ones, or services that I already rely on and will not increase my expenditure.

    This might take some time.

    Just Takes A Bit Of Effort

    The cursor blinks at me in a, what I interpret as, passive-aggressive way. Its yellow line set starkly against the black screen. Gently appearing and reappearing in the same place as if to utter to me that it hasn’t moved. I still haven’t typed anything, instead sat staring at my tormentor. Sitting in the chair, but still unable to conjure up anything to fill this space.

    Sounds easy when you say it out loud. Writing things, blog posts or instruction manuals or web copy. It’s the doing it that’s the hard bit. When you have a vocabulary as small as mine, you’ve perhaps typed out every word you know hundreds of times and now is the point where you wonder what is.

    This might as well be dark magic I’m trying to use. I am trying to make something from nothing, but this is a blog post and not a demon to engulf the world. It shouldn’t be this hard.

    Every skill is, though. You have to work at the things you want to do. Especially when you’re as poor at it as I, yet still kind of want to be a writer. Even more so than a fighter pilot I really wanted to be in year 5. Turns out my eyesight is about as good as my grammar, so I am screwed in both counts, but I digress.

    Fuck you line. I’m going to type something now and prove you wrong. Opening up my writing app does work, and I can publish something. The words can be decided upon and put in some semblance of order. I can do this, it just takes time and effort to put the wheels in motion.

    If I’m honest, writing would be a bit boring if it was easy. Yet, anyone can do it with a bit of effort and a mind that wonders. Even me.

    Sold A Fake Connection

    On my few days unplugging, I noticed something strange happening. The sun was shining, the atmosphere was upbeat due to most of us having 4 days off work, yet as I looked around the campsite it was filled with people sat feet apart but looking glumly into their phone screen.

    There was social interaction going on, but much of it was circling the phone screen. Sharing funny things they have found, or talking about doing a particular thing they had seen online. The internet is the social hub that controls almost all the interaction here.

    Each person was more than able to gain the feedback and entertainment they needed, in person. Yet almost all appeared focused elsewhere entirely. As Richard Seymour outlined in the Twittering machine perfectly, all the of the people around me were using their smartphone to take them away without leaving. “It is as though we are both lonely and threatened by intimacy”.

    Indeed, this book – with all its nihilistic approach to social media – outlines a lot of what I observed, but did not make this site less of an eye-opener. “The Twittering Machine promises to give us access to everything, limitlessly, allowing us to transcend the limitations of mere flesh”. Of course, this behaviour is defended by those that have swallowed the marketing.

    The truth is, we have been sold this idea that by being always connected and entertained, we are being more social. Facebook promises to “bring people closer together” yet our society couldn’t be more apart than any time in human history. The tale that social media connects us together is a lie, and instead we are left with people that value connectivity over the internet more than with the people around them.

    Scoring internet points and sharing memes is not social. Talking, interacting and engaging is. These things can happen over the internet, I have some great group chats and social media interactions that provide this, but none of this is facilitated by the companies. What they really want is for users to feed it so full of data that it can sell you things. Becoming so big that people feel at a detriment for not being part of the fake conversation.

    Those that do not want to adopt these modern tropes feel obliged to explain themselves to others. Feeling judged and looked down on because they do not conform. Made a social outcast by the very people they are trying to interact with on a personal level. It seems apt that many conspiracy theorists refer to those that believe the prevailing narrative as sheep, when the reverse is true to those that will not swallow the social media lie.

    There is no social in social media if it takes us away from the world around us. If we sit in huddles with others and stare at our phones, in any of this.

    The Wonder Of Tech

    For the last few months, I have been trying to work out why I can’t be bothered with tech any more. I have felt these feeling before, but always come around again when something happens, or I just come out of the rut. Don’t get me wrong. I have long given up writing about it in any great details, I leave that to people better at it than I, but this time is different – I just can’t be bothered with it at all.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still read about it and keep slightly up to date with news, but most of it is just met with a shrug. Thankfully, I worked out my feelings while reading Platformer this morning, and I think it’s because the wonderment has gone.

    What makes these moments stand out, I think, is the sense that some unpredictable set of new possibilities had been unlocked. — Casey Newton

    There are a few things in my life I still look back on that created these feelings of amazement. The “oh shit” moments that technology improvement split my life into a before and after section. The first time I logged into Yahoo chat and the person I spoke to was from the USA, the first time I downloaded a song from the internet instead of needing a tape. Google Assistant speaking the answer to a question straight back to me, or filling my room with sound from one Sonos speaker.

    The list could go on and on, but all of these things seem very far behind me. Where have my “Oh shit” moments gone, and what could create them going forward? In the post above, Casey talks about AI providing the next line in the sand that we will all remember. The moment where the world changed forever, and you look back on to remember where you were when it all changed.

    Perhaps Casey’s right, it could be a long way off, but Ai advancements will provide a real change to the way the world works. What won't provide it is Apple putting widgets on my lock screen, or being able to shoot a photo at 3x instead of 2x. My world of tech has slowed, and it is perhaps no longer about world-changing moments and instead slow progress forward which can mostly be ignored.

    Bored Whilst Shopping In Nottingham

    One of the massive advantage of having a Fujifilm x100v is being able to take it anywhere in my pocket. Well today was one of those days! I knew my wife would spend ages in Primark so I wandered around for 45mins or so.

    I need to go back to Nottingham with nice light for a full day as there is loads to shoot and the people are awesome.

    Unplugging Should Be Mandatory

    At the end of last week, I went off the grid. We packed our car full of camping equipment, turned all the gadgets off , placed them in a draw, and went into the wilderness. Well, that’s not quite true, we were nowhere near wilderness on a camping site with showers and entertainment – however we were as far as we can realistically go with Lucie’s disability.

    Four days, spent doing nothing but walking, talking and enjoying each other's company. There might have been a bit of drinking and eating going on too, but it was a wonderful experience to just unplug and get away from everything. I did take my camera with me, but it was the only electronic thing we had with us. No phones, no watches, and nothing to take your attention away from the present time.

    I would like to say it was a glorious experience. Indeed, it was a very enjoyable one, and we had lots of fun and learnt lots about each other and ourselves. However, in times like this, you realise just what a difference tech makes to your life and you as a person. I have written several times about my realisation that to truly live in a modern world, you can’t be completely disconnected. The world always needs an online application here, and an app for banking there – but there is nothing like just pulling the plug for a bit.

    I observed numerous behaviours in myself that are totally technology-based. I found myself trying to check my email on my watch, despite not having one on. Not only that, but I tried to claim my Costa points despite having no phone, and I lost count of the number of times I swear I could feel my phone vibrating. Despite all this weirdness, it was fantastic, and I will do it again more often.

    I am already in a habit of leaving my phone at home and relying on my favourite minimalist phone, but I am determined to try to do more. I truly think a period of going offline should be mandatory for everyone. Even if you discover you hate it, you’ll appreciate it even more.

    Disappointed

    Even though I shot about 200 photos over the 3 days we spent camping, I ventured out today to shoot some street photography. It’s like mediation for me and I faced a bit of time out. The weather was a bit rubbish, and the light a bit muted, but I just wanted to get out and shoot a bit for something to do.

    This was the first time trying to shoot in the street following my switch from my beloved Sony 85mm to 35mm on the x100v. I really struggled to get comfortable, feeling far too close to everything and everyone. At times I felt like giving up entirely and throwing this camera in the bin.

    I struggled to find much to shoot, and those I did capture were not very interesting. Every single shot was deleted in camera. I came home dejected, felling like a failure and wondering why I bother. If I didn’t love this camera in other situations so much, I would have listed it straight away on eBay!

    Given a few breaths and a drive home, it’s easy to see the answer is to work harder and practice. To become a better photographer with a 35mm lens and stop worrying. Some days just go like that, and you don’t see anything or don’t feel very inspired. In truth, what I don’t want to do is just take the same shots as others, or shoot for the sake of it. By failing, I have learnt something.

    It’s easier to buy new things. There is a whole world out there telling you to buy this and that. Solving any problem you have with new shiny things and mounting up your debt. It’s something I have done before even when I got nice shots, so when I don’t the feelings can become even worse.

    It won’t make me give up though, just feel a little disappointed for a while and then just get on with it. Such is life.

    Keep It Simple Stupid

    You might have heard this term, commonly referred to as KISS, it is used in training for almost any subject you can think of. Indeed, it has become a bit of cliché but KISS relates to so many things and points in life that it should be a mantra to everyone. Keep everything in life as simple as possible, always.

    Call it minimalism or whatever you want, but again it has raised importance in my life to do with photography. You may have noticed, or may not even care, that my rate of sharing photos has changed. I am sharing lots because I am taking lots, and that’s because I’m keeping it simple (and I’m stupid).

    Since getting into photography 4-5 years ago, I’ve been on a mission of Gear acquisition. Buying new stuff whenever I could, and selling a few things too because I thought that’s what I needed. Every time I took photos, I focused on the things I missed and not the improvements I was making. Compared my pictures to those that I admired and convinced myself that I needed a full frame camera, or some fancy glass. That I could be even better with better stuff. Despite me knowing that this has very little to do with it, whenever I looked at others I wanted their stuff and not their talent.

    The thing with camera gear is there isn’t really a ceiling, so it could get idiotic. However, I was sensible, and came to a decision a few weeks ago that I didn’t want to have a ‘proper camera’ any more and I wanted to change things. Out goes full frame cameras and more lenses than I know what to do with, and in comes a Fujifilm x100v.

    I honestly can’t tell you how much of a revaluation this has been. I watched enough reviews and videos on the camera to know that others feel this too, but I never expected it. This small camera with a fixed lens just makes me want to take photos again. There are no lenses I can lust after, no settings videos I need to brush up on, it’s almost point and shoot.

    I guess it could also be said that it’s making me take simple images. No more worrying about being all arty, just take photos that catch my eye. With less expectation from the photos I take, I relax a bit more and enjoy shooting. It’s so small and light I take it to more places, I feel more comfortable shooting with it, and to be honest, I just love the way it looks.

    The x100v also allows me to simplify the camera itself. It spends most of the time in aperture priority and the camera does the rest. Even the JPEG’s coming out of it are great. I love this little thing because it keeps it simple.

    What to write

    Do I try to force myself to write something, or let it come back on its own? The hard to take fact is that after months of having loads of inspiration on subjects to write about, the juices (and to a certain extent motivation) have dried up.

    The truth is that I don’t want to force anything out just because I feel I need to. In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

    You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.

    At the minute, I just don’t. My brain is a wash with taking more photos, designing new things and generally absorbing information instead of sending it out. So, when I sit down to write anything, there is nothing worthy that comes out – well, nothing I want to see published to the internet at least.

    There are so many things that I just don’t care about any more. I can’t ever see myself writing another tech review, or going any deeper than fleeting hot takes on tech topics, I just enjoy doing different things now, and I think that’s OK.

    Trying to be zen

    We had a nice day to day, for a bit at least. A day out at the seaside with the kids and enjoyed a bit of time on the beach. Enjoyable but exhausting.

    You know the feeling when you get home a after a long day, you’re delighted to be home and just want to relax for a while. Yet, the universe had other ideas for us. Lucie’s feeding tube wouldn’t work correctly, and after some trial and error, we found out it was the button in her tummy that was broken. We couldn’t feed her.

    So off we go to hospital. It’s 6pm at night and shouldn’t take that long for them to get us a new one and change it. It’s a 3-minute job maximum. How wrong could we be?

    We waited an hour just to talk to a nurse, she disappeared, never to return. Therefore, we waited another hour just to talk to another person. All the time, Lucie hasn’t had anything to eat or drink for hours and is getting increasingly frustrated—as are we. There’s more to this story that I won’t go into, but needless to say we didn’t leave the hospital for almost 4 hours.

    I love that we have the NHS in the UK, but it’s times like these that you really struggle to stay zen. The calmness you feel is really tested when you are dealing with organisations or individuals that seem set to try you. Almost as if the universe is playing a game with you to see if this good mood you’re in can last. You try to smile and laugh as much as you can, but the game can push you to the limit at times.

    Just as we are about to leave the doctor turns up, takes less than a minute to change the button and we are on our way a little before 10pm. Thank goodness.

    Glasgow Early Morning

    I spent one night in Glasgow and couldn’t sleep at 6am so I went out and shot a few photos to explore the city a little. Just wandering around for an hour has made me want to go back and explore more.

    Still No Salary!

    Like everyone else that uses LinkedIn I get the occasional notification on jobs we think you might be interested in. I am not, but I always have a look anyway to see what’s out there.

    The list just now was pretty long, and contained some high profile names looking for new talent. However it took me until the 12th listing to see one with a salary outlined! It only got worse form then on, because it was the only one of 42 jobs that told me how much the alert would be.

    Weird that we are still hiding the numbers and seeing what talent we can get and only showing our hand at the last possible moment.

    Many is not the only thing that matters, but its pretty important given the current climate don’t you think.

    It can suck sometimes can't it

    It doesn’t take a lot to see how frustrating some people can be. Here I was in a happy little bubble and thinking the world was getting better and twitter was an OK place to be again.. and then Doctor Who was announced as a Black man

    I am still not convinced that most of the outrage and general bigoted tweets are real. Much like flat earth, I think there is an in-joke I just don’t get. Or perhaps this is my minds defence mechanism for convincing myself that the world really isn’t as bad as it seems? This is all got to be just for attention, or internet points or something right?

    Anyway, my good mood continues, but perhaps my positiveness towards social media does not.

    Sharing?

    About an hour ago, I decided I was going to sign up for a year of micro.blog and start sharing more things. I’d just finished the 7th day straight on using our home cross trainer as part of our monthly challenge and wanted to write something. These kinds of posts would really fit into my blog, and decided somewhere else might be better—but then it hit me just how stupid that was.

    What exactly was I wanting to write a post for? To show how great I am, but not let it interfere with this illusion that my blog is somehow professional? I have no idea, to be honest.

    But then again, I have no idea why I share so much stuff already, and indeed want to share more. Perhaps I have let the ego in too much, and it wants some praise for a task I am doing just for a bit of fun with my wife?

    She’s still convinced she’s going to win, by the way! Never going to happen.

    Get On And Do It

    I recorded another episode of my podcast last night, and the guest gave me such an inspiring speech that I almost wanted to release the episode straight away. I won’t, for fear of all the coughing and dad jokes (it will follow soon enough) but the words are still ringing in my head.

    How you master your craft is to just get on and do it. We spoke specifically about writing and all the crap that goes on around it, but it could easily be applicable to any other art form you choose. You simply can’t become good at something without practicing and just keeping your head down and moving forward.

    A while ago, I came to the realisation that there are no shortcuts to being a good photographer. Much like sitting in the chair, you just need to get out and take photos. You don’t need fancy glass, a new camera or anything else. It doesn’t matter where you share the images, pick Glass, or Instagram, or send them out my email if it suits you. If you want to take good pictures, you have to take pictures, and lots of them.

    In writing terms, it simply doesn’t matter what blogging platform you use, what newsletter you decide to do, nor what computer you choose to do it on. If that is what you aim to do, and be good at it, you just need to keep on doing it. Consistently. Constantly, and not worry about anything else. If this doesn’t sound appealing to you, perhaps whatever it is that you are trying to do isn’t that important to you after all.

    Spending money doesn’t make you good at something. The equipment you use doesn’t make you good at something. The way you look doesn’t make you good at something. Only you make you good at something, and it’s time to get on and do it.

    Thinking About Twitter

    Trying to form my desires and intentions for sharing online is hard. There are a few things I want to do, and a few more I would like to do but probably won’t and then a few more that I would like to cut out.

    The motivation to put my ducks and a row is not prompted by Elon, but when others are doing and writing about the same thing currently, it could well be a slight motivating factor.

    I haven’t formed any opinion on the Twitter thing, partly because I don’t really care. I am lucky in the sense that I haven’t experienced any of the issues that mayincrease with a less carefully approach. However, I can’t get emotional about something that hasn’t changed (yet) and I may struggle to give up my beloved Twitter if anything ever did.

    My sharing online was at a point not too long ago where I almost walked away entirely. I have absolutely no idea why I continue to share what I do, why I feel the need to tweet many things, and have given up trying to work it out. I have not got to the stage where my brain thinks in 280 characters, but I am not far away from a life like this.

    There is no doubt in my mind that Twitter affects my concentration and my attention span. Yet, even knowing this, there would have to be something pretty dramatic to stop me from using it. Sure I can be intentional about its usage, I do limit myself a little and still stay engaged with life, but until Elon burns it down I will still keep coming back.

    Twitter has given me so much positive in my life, it may never reach a net negative. Meeting people, finding out things and providing comfort when I need it most keep me coming back time and time again, and I don’t see that ever-changing.

    Twitter Spaces

    The app's first words to me about Spaces were “What the #$@!% is that” and I entirely agree. I hate that little icon that plagues my Twitter app screen. I think it’s supposed to be a microphone, but I vaguely remember it being something different. The powers that be at Twitter have decided to leave it with me with no option of removing it, but my opinions are changing.

    Last night, myself and Jeff Perry decided to set up a Twitter space and have a chat about tech. There’s no messing about, no need for microphones, or a recording set up at all. All you require is a phone and away you go, and there is something really freeing about that.

    Of course, if you’ve been into voice first social media, this is all old news. Services like Club House have been providing spaces for people to chat for a couple of years already. Proving that there is a desire for people to use their voice rather than type out words and also help remove some of the nuance that 280 characters often provides.

    The ease of use and the tools that Twitter Spaces provides has proven to me the usefulness of the service with just one try. Closed captions, visual indication of listers, sharing links you discuss into the chat – all of these features that are only obvious once you use it, make it a well-rounded feature after all. I do still wish they wouldn’t keep ramming it down our throats.

    Like they did with Fleets, the not long for this world disappearing version of tweets, Twitter uses its app to leverage adoption of new features. Often annoying users to the point they give up, or switch to a third-party app to avoid the nonsense. The icon is one thing, but I have found a big blue bubble attached to the top of my home screen more times than I care to mention, simply because someone I follow is listening to a live Space. With no option to hide it I have listened in to some of them, but never really have the time to stay for long.

    I would guess most people won’t either. Twitter is small tweets while you’re doing something, and unless it is something I really want to take in live, I rarely have the time to stop and listen if I catch one ad-hoc. Which makes Twitter Spaces a confusing proposition. All the shenanigans put me off initially, I can see the value in the service with ease of use, but ultimately am not convinced Twitter is the place for it.

    I Miss Pebble

    Eric Migicovsky on Why Pebble failed:

    Looking back with hindsight, I should not have aggressively grown the company without a stronger plan. We should have just stuck to what we knew best and continued to build quirky, fun smartwatches for hackers.

    There is a lot to take way from this article, so I will keep it brief, but it’s rare to see a founder admit the mistakes made and especially so publicly. I love Pebble, it was the first smartwatch I truly used and was the first and only time I helped found something on Kickstarter (RIP my red founders edition).

    Despite its relative success between nerds, you’d be hard pushed to find an average person who knows what a Pebble watch was, and this is part of the failure.

    Around this time Apple came out with the Apple Watch and we thought the smartwatch market was about to explode. So in a quest for big sales growth, we figured our 2015 strategy would need to shift focus to a broader market, away from our core early adopter market positioning.

    It’s reasonable to expect boom time once Apple got involve, however instead of appealing to the crowd they had already made they tried to appeal to more people. Instead of remaining true to their hacker nature, they pumped money into features and tried to become mainstream. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I wonder if, at a time that even the Apple Watch didn’t know what it was, Pebble could have carved out a place in the heart of users that wanted something hackable.

    However, we can but dream. I am not certain that Pebble would still be alive today. They would have undoubtably been swallowed up by a bigger company, but it would have been great to see what they could have achieved with another few years under their belt. As great as seeking investors can be for boosting a business, the constant need to see return and strive to be a success is dangerous.

    How To Sign Shortcuts Files

    I woke to an email about an ancient Shortcuts repo I had stored old backup files in. They were available as a place to save Shortcut files I had written about because the iCloud link sharing can be a bit flaky. They were so old it contained loads of .wflow files and I had forgotten it even existed, but they now need to be signed to work with iOS15.

    Of course, I felt no need to update these, but thought it should be pretty simple, so tried to get them updated anyway. Unfortunately, I was wrong and the lack of detail in how to do this is pretty poor, but with a bit of trial and error I got them signed without issue – I hope.

    Tools

    You will need a Mac to do this. It is the only way I have found to reliably get everything signed using the command line. Some information online suggest that it can be done on iOS using SSH, but I couldn’t get this to work, and it felt very fiddly.

    So to use this guide, you will need a Mac running macOS Monterey and be able to use the terminal app on your device.

    How To Sign The Shortcut

    Open terminal on your Mac, and cd into the folder containing the shortcut files. Use the following command to sign the shortcut file:

    shortcuts sign -i a.wflow -o b.wflow

    Where a.wflow is the name of the shortcuts file, and b.wflow is the name you want the signed Shortcuts file to be called. Due to the weirdness in names, I actually found it easier to rename my source file as ‘a’ and then rename ‘b’ to whatever I wanted it to become.

    Who knows if Apple will change the requirement yet again, but for the time being, you will now be able to load the file into shortcuts on Mac or iOS without issue, as the new file is now signed.

    We Need A More Social Web

    Om Malik on Why do you have to share:

    “Their whole algorithmic model is based on engagement – and lots of it. The model is not concerned about the consequences. The more inflammatory the content, the more engagement it drives. The greater the engagement, the more viral the content becomes. And the wheel turns, and turns, and turns.”

    There are too many part of this post that I wanted to quote, so much so that the post I wanted to share was in trouble of becoming a repetition. The main point is why do we share so much stuff to websites no longer interested in the social web it was founded on.

    You can point to areas in all service that try and fulfil the promise at the start but ultimately they all sell out to make advertising money. The humna interaction ahs been boiled down and warn away to a point where only the most horrible remains.

    85mm For Street Photography

    Although there are a few people who sometimes use a longer lens for Street Photography, there are far more that dismiss a longer focal length. The internet is filled with posts telling you to buy a 28mm, or a 35mm or at most a 50mm lens. Sure they are all good options (who doesn’t like a nifty 50) but it doesn’t have to be that way.

    The fact I don’t have to stand so close to people is the one over arching thing that makes a longer length so great. When you’re just starting out, or still learning like I am, a 85mm length is great. Allowing you to get the up close and personal shots that make street photography so great, but not have to deal with the people that go with it.

    Some of this is confidence, I have absolutely no motivation to go up to someone and ask them if it's OK, nor would I ever point my camera at someone right in front of me and a longer focal length means I am less likely to have to. When some photographers talk about the candidness of a tiny little lens, I get the same feeling with my 85mm f/1.8 Sony lens. Taking pictures becomes easy and worry free.

    Typically, photographers think a 50mm lens would be smaller too, but not any more. If I wanted to keep a fast lens in 50mm I would be lugging around the SEL50F12GM at 778g (not to mention the £2,099 price tag), or loose around a stop of light on the SEL50F25G at a fantastic 174 g. Whereas the SEL85F18 I have strikes a great balance at 371g and a very affordable £400.

    Using my A7c and a 85mm prime is the perfect combination of nice and light with enough ability to capture the shots I really want and be a little more removed from the subjects. This may change with confidence and progression, but let it be said that you simply do not need to buy some expensive glass nor stand really close to people to get great shots. I love 85mm for almost everything, and you might too.

    I Don’t Need A Blog

    There are far too many things in my life that I don’t really need. I don’t need half the technology I have, nor most of the myriad of online services that I pay for. These include the hosting for my blog. I don’t need it really, but it serves a purpose deeper than the small amount it costs me each month and gives me tremendous value anyway.

    My blog has been up for more than a decade (the earliest post I still have is from 2014) and it has been through numerous changes. The most recent of which was an investment in the new domain last year, but the hours poured into it outweighs the monetary costs significantly.

    My blog has been many things over the years, attempted portfolios, business ventures and had any number of facelifts but still mainly provides an outlet for me. In theory this website provides very little to me, it doesn’t get me anywhere, my life would be the same if I didn’t have a blog, but I still want to have one.

    Call it a hobby if you will, but writing gives me something that nothing else provides. I love talking to people on my podcast, and I love journaling, but getting thoughts to the stage where they can be published (even rushed ones) helps me tremendously. So, when thinking about things you need, it is not always a simple equation that can be worked out. Just because on the surface it gives me nothing in return doesn’t mean it has no value to me. In fact, the opposite, and I would argue that more people should have one.

    The benefits of it run far deeper than the sum of its parts. No person should judge their blog based on the number of views the posts get because it always serves a different purpose. It allows you to publish whatever it is you want to publish, get it out of your brain and own it from start to end. I don’t need a blog, but everyone should have one.

    The Busy Fool

    I am not one to write about business. Not because I don’t think it’s valuable to have opinions about it, but just because I don’t think I have many important things to say. My working life thankfully has been pretty simple, and I am not about to pretend to have magic insights to improve yours. I do come across a certain type of person though and I would like to warn you against becoming one.

    The busy fool is easy to spot. They are often very gifted in the position they are in, but need to lean on everyone else around them more than they should do. Their demeanour leads you in to the vicinity of the busy fool because they are always busy with something. It is only when you get closer to them that you realise that numerous things are going on, but very little is achieved.

    There is very little that can be done to help this scourge of your business because they have very regularly worked their way into a more senior position. Unfortunately, this is the cause of their affliction, and their lack of output doesn’t seem to matter any longer. Without the clear indicators that come with lower positions, they have replaced productivity with busyness and imploded into themselves.

    Implied stress from workload is all of their doing. You see, the busy fool is a business mime act. Displaying all the outside actions of achievement and high output, yet under the surface there is no substance to their bluster. Identifiable by last-minute preparations for every task, pleads for help on basic things they have no time to complete, and constant instance that they have too much to do.

    Do not fall into the trap by convincing yourself you are productive when you are just busy.

    Reading Doesn't Need To Be Hacked

    I am one of those people that constantly strives to do things better. Always looking out for tips that help get things done simpler, and also seeking simplifications to processes that Kia Kamgar would be proud of. Yet, there are things that seem long-winded, perhaps a little messy, but just need to be left alone.

    When looking for all these gains there is a tendency to go a little too far. You see tech bros and CEO’s trying far too hard to hack everything to find gains. Some which make perfect sense, shaving some time here and there, particularly in a busy life, pays for itself in a short period of time. However some are changed just for changing sake.

    As Anna Winer puts it in Uncanny Valley “Reading wasn’t about mainlining information. The tech industry’s efficiency fetish was so dreary”. Some things just need to be slow and not the most efficient way of doing things. Yet provide the best return for your investment. Take reading for example, more and more services are sprouting up to cut all the corners and give you the book in a faction of the time it takes to read. This might pay off for some, but hacking reading seems like something that wouldn’t be that useful.

    The joy is in the reading. Absorbing the information at your pace, and thinking about things as you read them. Much like trimming the silence from your podcasts (don’t do that either) often it is reading between the lines and applying your experiences that provide the most feedback. I could have dictated this whole blog post instead of writing it out. Or perhaps recored it as a voice note. Yet, the process of writing it out, editing and trimming along with everything else that goes into it is as enjoyable as the result.

    Simplifying processes saves not only time and effort, but typically money. Meaning, you win on all fronts and improve your life for the better. However, this doesn’t apply to everything, you can’t hack some things, and they are just better left alone.

    Trapped By A Company

    There have already been many words written about the walled gardens of tech companies. Usually reserved for talk about Apple and its tight grip, it’s also a long-term aim of almost every company. Build a reliance on your company that runs too deep to change, and you will have a customer for life but perhaps a frustrated one.

    You can achieve this in many ways. You can’t simply build a product that is so good that others pale in comparison because, eventually, someone else will either copy or overtake you. There needs to be a grip that keeps a customer, and the strongest grip in technology circles is to provide everything your customers may ever need. There is no denying this approach when I think about my purchases and reliance on Apple, but it isn’t just about what they sell.

    The reality is, for me at least, the premium I pay for the products I buy from Apple is a worthy exchange for the service I get. Not only is it a well-rounded software and hardware experience, unlike any other I have experienced. The purchasing service and the after sales support is unmatched. I can’t find another company that provides me with a complete wrap around service that Apple does, and although it feels trapping at times, it gives me a huge amount of confidence.

    I appreciate the level of service that Apple gives in retail is not as good as it used to be. Some interactions feel more like a sales pitch than a support visit. With that said I have experienced, in the past Samsung and more recently Nordictrack, customer service once I have made a significant purchase and nothing seems to live up.

    This doesn’t mean that I cannot be critical of the things I use, nor does it mean I am not open to new experiences. It simply means that I am aware of what keeps me using Apple products, and it isn’t just the fact I am trapped by services. App stores and competition of services doesn’t really bother me, but a company I put my investment in providing good service does — as such I am, unfortunately, stuck!

    I Want To Write Something

    There is a tale to be told here. One that having a blog sometimes feels a little like having an unpaid job. A job that you feel like you should be doing better and more often than you are, but I reality you don’t owe anyone that obligation.

    The feelings of owing the people who read and subscribe to my blog at least some kind of activity have been circling for years. In 2018, I struggled with the motivation to do it, and despite improving my drive to publish, and even picking up an award for doing so, the motivation still comes and goes.

    Despite my desire to push things out, I still think the peaks and troughs of publishing just need to be ridden. There is little point going through the motions for little reward, I’d rather wait until I have something to say rather than waste your time. The constant changing requirements in my life mean that for long periods I don’t have the energy remaining to catch up on the latest news. Despite now doing one of my own, my podcast consumption remains low, and almost every article I read and want to make a comment on I do so in Matter.

    Having different outlets is great, but doesn’t get away from the fact I want to write more things. My desire to write and publish never leaves me, but the motivation or time to do so frequently does. Life has this funny way of getting in the way of everything else that you would like to do doesn’t it. By the time the day is done, I have done too much staring at a screen that even a little while longer to bang some keys seems like too much.

    With all this said, I shouldn’t feel like I need to. There is no reason for me to worry about those that enjoy my things because they won't stop. They may just be a little delayed while I attempt to write something.

    Table Tennis National Championships 2022

    Sports photography is not really my thing, and not even something I have tried before. However never one to turn down an opportunity to take photos I spent two days enjoying the sport on display. I managed to capture some excellent shots outside of what you might normally expect from the event.

    There’s 148 more where these came from!

    Interoperability Should Be Simple

    Unless you’ve been living under a technology rock, or simply don’t care, you can’t escape European legislation trying to cub technology companies. Investigating, charging and regulating the world's largest and most influential companies can be tough, but they seem to finally be getting a handle on things. Yet, what seems easy could be impossibly hard to achieve.

    The latest round of legislation by the EU, termed the Digital Markets Act (DMA) aims to level playing fields dominated by a few companies. Despite containing many well-educated and thoughtful changes to current acts, including increasing the responsibilities of companies deemed large enough to be “gatekeepers”, the focus has been on messaging interoperability. The ability to send a message from one app to another.

    Make sense in theory, doesn’t it. The EU want my messaging app to be able to send a message to anyone else's messenger app, and not be locked into using one companies service. People have long talked about iMessage lock in, which in Europe is substituted by WhatsApp lock in (which thankfully is available on every platform). Messaging should function as a universal or accepted standard. Take email for example, I can send the same message to another email address regardless if that is a gmail, hotmail or custom domain. The EU argue messaging should be the same, a user should not be restricted to what service they want to use.

    Messaging is different though. It’s messy, controlled by big players and tech giants that either start up a service or buy a service that already has a large user base. With this kind of control comes benefits. Unlike phone calls, emails and sms messages that are all interoperable, the best messaging apps are encrypted — often end to end. So, interoperability is essentially impossible.

    Perhaps that’s the point. The EU powers know that interoperability should be easy but is, in fact, a privacy breaking ruling of epic proportion. We already know that the powers in charge don’t like encryption, they love snooping on your information and arguing it's for your protection. They know that the average Joe won't care and only half understand the issues at hand. Instead, arguing for the ability to be able to message their friend on WhatsApp with their Telegram account.

    Interoperability and big tech giants are not the real target, your privacy is, and they want the right to snoop on you. Sure, messaging should work like email, but the governments of your country made a world that requires your messages to be encrypted and are now breaking it with something ‘simple’.

    Nordictrack Cross Trainer Resistance Too High? Here’s The Fix!

    As excited as I was to unpack my new purchase as soon as it arrived, that was all dispersed the first time I used my Nordictrack SE7i Cross Trainer. The resistance felt far too high, and I puffed and panted my way through 15 minutes despite being used to doing an hour on others.

    I put this down to being a little unfit, or maybe I just needed to get used to this specific version. However, the shine was well and truly dulled by my first experience. Thankfully, for my sanity, I wasn’t alone. Several people were having the same issue on brand-new machines, some of which returned their purchases because of this. To say the Nordictrack customer service doesn’t have a great reputation is an understatement — not to worry, here’s the fix to the resistance being too high on your equipment.

    After watching this video to see how things worked, it’s easy to see there is some adjustment to the tension management cable. Numerous people have done this and made walk through video of their version, but thankfully my Nordictrack SE7i or S700 wasn’t nearly as complicated.

    You will need a screwdriver and small spanner. Remember, you do this at completely your own risk, and keep in mind this may void your warranty.

    1 Remove the footplate

    Four screws at the back of the machine will mean you can remove the foot that the machine will stand on if you fold it up.

    2 Remove the Surround

    Two more screws to remove on the top above the footplate.

    Once removed, you can remove the curved surround from the back of the machine.

    3 Find and adjust the cable

    One removed, you will be able to see inside the read of the Nordictrack Cross Trainer. Look down on the machine’s right-hand side, you will see the silver cable join that you need to adjust.

    Mine was finger tight, but you may need a small spanner to make adjust the resistance. To accomplish this, first loosen the smaller nut away from the longer piece. Then you can adjust the longer piece to your desired effect. Unscrewing makes the resistance decrease, tightening makes the resistance increase.

    For more information, watch the below section of video.

    [embed]https://youtube.com/watch?v=B1J_i3k55Es&start=100&feature=oembed[/embed]

    The advantage of not taking lots of the machine apart is you can now test and readjust as required. Mine required lots of loosening. iFit recommends a starting point in their workouts of resistance level 7, but your ability will vary.

    An Algorithm Isn’t Always The Way

    It’s very unlike the world of Twitter to lose its mind when the company changes something about its app or service. More words were written about the move to 240 characters than the world needed, but most users just get used to the noise. Some throw all the toys out the pram and quit. Perhaps move to Mastodon for an hour and come back, but as a Twitter developer, you have to expect the outrage when you mess with the timeline.

    For some strange reason, Twitter have been obsessed with forcing users, or at least fooling them, to use their ‘home’ feed for a very long time. One not composed of reverse chronological tweets. Instead, filled with spammy content to boost engagement, 7 different tweets that someone you forgot you followed liked, and random topics someone somewhere decided you might not hate.

    This week was no different. The big brains at the blue bird decided instead of being able to tap an icon and switch between the way your timeline displays, both need to be pinned side by side.

    There’s no denying that, when social networks get to a certain size, some algorithmic sorting and pruning is recommended. Simply so users can deal with the sheer value of information. It’s simply a product of scale that needs to addressed at some point or another. With that said, Twitter seems to be a different breed of social network. It doesn’t fit the mould of others (with perhaps an exception also made for Instagram) and needs to hang on to its free flowing, constantly updating nature.

    Twitter has been the birthplace of some of the best movements to be enabled by social media, and indeed some of the worst issues plaguing society. Both ends of this scale are caused and enabled by an always on chronological timeline. Perhaps something does need to be done, but sorting a Twitter feed by a ranking algorithm is not it. Boosting posts by popularity could potentially lead to a much worse place.

    If there is one thing that Twitter users engage with is drama, and surfacing the posts that are engaged with the most is just asking for trouble. This is without mentioning that a move towards algorithmic sorting is simply not what users want. Thankfully the rollback came quicker than I expected, but no doubt is to be followed up by a move similarly deaf to its users desires.

    Algorithms, machine learning and development smarts improve numerous tech issues, but Twitter is not one of them. To kill the reverse chronological feed is to kill something at the very core of its nature. Perhaps one day, hopefully when it is not too late, Twitter will listen.

    Trying To Make Friends As An Adult Sucks

    If the last two years(ish) has taught me anything, it’s that I love working from home. I have been happier, able to get more work done and also be more engaged with home life than ever before. There are a few things I miss from working with people in person, but on the whole I love it — but I’m lonely.

    I am not sure what sparked me thinking about the interaction I have, of which I do have quite a lot, but the realisation is that I have very few friends. Don’t get me wrong, I have people in my life that I care about outside my family, but I don’t have any close-knit friends like I used to when I was a kid.

    I’ve given up attempting to make them too because it’s almost impossible as an adult.

    I don’t even know where to start, I miss the times when my motivation to be friends was that the person lived vaguely close to me. Shared similar interests as me, or just went to the same school. Whereas now, everyone I speak to has busy lives, and we all carve very little time for just being friendly.

    Unfortunately, it could be a major cause of depression. Certainly, the root cause outlined in a large portion of Johann Hari TED talk is this lack of connection I feel. Online tools, and smartphone are great, they give me at least a sense of what I am missing, but can’t replace real connection. There is no excuse not to reach out to those in your life, but nothing replaces an in-person chat, or a hug.

    There is an inbuilt, perhaps masculine, trait I have to accept that I don’t need or won’t ever have friends. It leads to feeling further away from the people I am forced to interact with because they are in my circle, but I really want to try. I just don’t know where to start. Do all adults feel like this?

    Scared Of Stopping Sharing

    Despite me applauding myself, I don’t think I have broken the cycle completely. Sure, the urge to scroll through Twitter every brief break in activity has subsided somewhat, but there is still work to do in getting my attention back. The truth is, for me to completely do as I intend scares me more than a little because I don’t know what I would have left.

    I have posed myself several through experiments recently. Trying to work out what is sucking my attention away and what is a valuable resource. Twitter, for example, still offers me quite a lot of value and I like sharing things and having the odd rescission. I don’t know why I do. Logic would tell me that there is absolutely no reason for me to post half the things I do, yet I enjoy it, and sometimes logic and reason don’t win.

    Instagram occupies a little less space in my life, but arguably should be held a little higher. However, the app and service are so toxic to attention span, I simply can’t use it very regularly. Of all the time sucking, manipulative apps that I still have accounts on, Instagram is the worst by a mile. Yet, I still feel like I have to use it. Despite me still learning, I like to call myself a photographer, but the question comes who am I a photographer for?

    The fear comes from honesty. If I am completely honest with myself, and I were to go through with the things that I want to do. Such as deleting my instagram account, I am genuinely worried I wouldn’t want to take pictures any more. Which partly answers my question about whom I take them pictures for. Without the result, i.e. showing them to other people, there seems very little point.

    Without question, I enjoy the process of capturing the shot, although I do hate editing because I am poor at it. So, the process does give me some satisfaction, but the result is really the reason for donging it. If it were not for Instagram, or other social media, I wouldn’t take the photo in the first place — I would just look. Meaning, I wouldn’t be a photographer at all.

    Who Knows What Is True

    Steven Lee Myers, Paul Mozur and Jeff Kao writing in Bots and Fake Accounts Push China’s Vision of Winter Olympic Wonderland:

    While China’s control of what its domestic viewers and readers consume is well established, the country has spread its own version of the Games beyond its borders, with an arsenal of digital tools that are giving China’s narrative arguably greater reach and more subtlety than ever before.

    When dealing with world events now one of the things you have to navigate is truthfulness. The article above is surrounding the reach of Chinas government and its ability to sway a narrative, but this could be about any government or private company.

    The ability to dictate the way you want things to appear seems to be getting easier. You can lead people already in certain belief structures down any path you choose. It doesn’t matter if it is a tech review, voting strategy or as we are seeing now a war being waged. What some would refer to as PR spin, or to give it the correct term propaganda, is rife everywhere.

    Thankfully we also live in a time where information is at our finger tips and the fast flowing, free publishing nature of the internet usually comes out on top. The issue is when some people can’t, or won’t, fact check the stories they read.

    Don’t Let It

    I feel the same stresses that many people seem to be experiencing at the moment. The pressure in your mind that nothing seems to fix. The inability to concentrate and the nagging idea that you might be depressed. At the point where all the issues that the previous two years brought should be subsiding, for many of us it feels worse.

    Perhaps it is my health issues catching up with me, perhaps I am just getting old, but I can’t escape the feeling of dread. I simply don’t feel like the person I used to, as if something has been taken from me, and I am constantly searching to get it back. For weeks and months, having no clue what was missing in my life, until I stumbled on a podcast with Johann Hari and discovered it’s my attention.

    During the pandemic, I have leaned on the online world to keep me going. Relying on my online friends and the ever-changing discourse to keep me entertained and engineer at least some kind of normality. For this, I am eternally grateful. Taking part in iMessage groups and Twitter rambling chats has been a godsend. Unfortunately, this has had such a detrimental effect on my mental health and general life enjoyment that it's hard to quantify it. An effect further exaggerated by my day job being constantly connected to the web.

    This isn’t another downer post. I am not moaning about my impulses to open Twitter constantly. I am not berating the internet for doing something that makes good business sense. It is more of my admittance that I understand it now. I know where the itch comes from, and it is inside me. I am craving something else. An escape, some company, or simply a distraction from something that I don’t want to do, and the apps or services created to gain your attention are always willing to give me whatever it is you need.

    They, of course, will keep serving you whatever you require. Through algorithms and machine learning, pulling in manipulative design and gaming our system — they will always know what you require even if you don’t. Each time you log on the battle commences to keep your attention, but you don’t have to let it. It sounds simple, but it takes effort and understanding coming to terms that the motivation is in you.

    I have too long been blaming everything else but myself for this. Only now after I have broken the cycle, I can see that the issue was with me all along. The internet is not at fault, it has been the support network for us all. Working, interacting and playing online has got us through, but it’ hurting us to continue this reliance, don’t let it keep you down.

    Is Web3 Just To Make Money?

    Jordan Pearson writing in Bored Apes, BuzzFeed and the Battle for the Future of the Internet:

    What is manifesting is not a world where middlemen are deprived of their share and data brokers are cut out of the action due to clever, privacy-protecting protocols, but rather a new online world in which seemingly anything can be financialized thanks to blockchain technology, which creates a digital infrastructure in which “every product is simultaneously an investment opportunity,” as Bloomberg’s Matt Levine has put it.

    This sums up the biggest reason I can't get behind all the talk around blockchain and web3. Every single application that is outlined (none of which work in practice) is to sell you something. Investment into any blockchain is purely for monetary gain, and there is nothing wrong with that, but there needs to be a major use case outside this.

    I do admit, we need cryptocurrency adoption, perhaps for no other good reason than to allow people to send money to whomever they like without governments and companies getting involved. Yet, I haven’t seen anything serious behind web3 apart from monetising everything.

    You can scream and shout about decentralisation and freedom all you like, but the amount of grifting going on — and the excuses that are made that this is something that just happens — puts it in the same league as the dark web.

    Time To Break The Apple Watch Free

    During the past few weeks, I have bene leaning on my Apple Watch as my primary device. It has become the answer to most of my distraction problems, and in many ways the most important in my life. Taking a step back and thinking about the use case for all of my devices has proven to be an interesting experiment, and I have come to some differing conclusions than those I may have done before. I truly now think it’s time to break away from the smartphone and introduce more add on devices.

    When I am sat at my desk, much of the time I do not know where my phone is. Not because I am so pretentious I just don’t care, but because I don’t need to. Apple has done a remarkable job of making all of their products so integrated that often my phone goes missing for hours. Anyone texts me it pings my Mac (iMessage or not) when they call I can answer hands free or use AirPods for a little more privacy, meaning I never miss a thing.

    This, of course, happens with an iPad just as seamlessly, with everything synced across devices for good measure. This isn’t perfect, but the vast majority of the time, I frequently wonder why I have a phone at all. Alas, Apple place so much emesis on the iPhone that I couldn’t do this without it acting as a relay. They seem dead set on never freeing the Apple Watch from its grasp, and perhaps they should reconsider.

    Granted, to live a completely free life it may take more investment. However, I would much prefer for another device to take over as the fulcrum and make everything else add-ons. The most obvious of these would be the Apple Watch. Picture a world where this is your ‘main’ device. You can pick up and put down devices as you choose, and they can action anything you need.

    Using your iPad, it becomes just like a big phone. Have a smartphone with you, then it works as it does now but when you don’t need it, you just turn it off. Require a smaller phone for the weekend away? This becomes much less hassle if your phone is a satellite device for something else.

    This is without thinking about the rest of the add-on devices that could be possible, or simply work better once it breaks free. Mixed reality and potentially virtual reality devices will be launched by Apple soon, so I could envision a world where all I require is my Apple Watch and some glasses. It makes perfect sense for the ability for my Apple Watch to be everything because it’s always strapped to my wrist. It's time for it to break free and become a device in its own right and work better with everything else.

    Agorithums and Safe Spaces Make Things Worse

    The Tim Ferriss Show 477 with Yuval Noah Harari:

    the way that we will get so used to having these computers and robots that are very attuned to how we feel that we might become even more irritated with the humans who don't feel who don't react, who don't understand how we feel it don't reacting in the right way.

    For the longest time I have been trying to figure out why people don’t seem to be able to take up opposing views but still communicate well. Discourse seems to break down far to quickly into name calling and there is a complete intolerance to other sides of arguments. TO put things simply we don’t know how to argue correctly any more.

    I’ll say it before and I will keep saying it, the most important conversations in my life, those that have taught me the most are with people that don’t think the same way as me.

    And then part of the problem is that so many people like everybody, often self centered. So I don't get what my husband is feeling because I'm too focused on my own, my own feelings. One of the reasons that computers could be better than humans in this is that they don't have feelings.

    Unfortunately tech creates safe spaces to limit integration with apposing view points as little as possible. The mighty algorithm creates a feed where everyone reacts the way you do to everything. Limiting your understanding of other points of view. Becoming used to social friendships built on the back of shared interests and dedicate less and less time to those that don't behave as we think you should behave. There is no time for people that we have to make an effort to understand.

    But there is no problem with this because it makes us feel great inside, we rate ourself higher because the AI understands us better and gives us the things we need. Keeps us happy, but destroys real community with it.

    Your Attention Is Yours

    Dan Counsell writing in I Will Not Buy Another iPhone:

    Doing whatever they can to get my attention. The trouble is, I'm a sucker.

    Whilst I get it. The natural response is to blame someone else for the things that are wrong. The alternative, as Nir Eyal highlights in Indistractable, is to feel shame in your weakness of not being able to resist temptation. The reality is that many of us are welcome aware of the manipulation going on, so are more than able to resist.

    Marketing is not “too good”, you are not a “sucker”, and are more than able to take back your attention that has been stolen. Yet you must shoulder some of the blame to begin to do so, as bad as the internet is, it’s your fault too.

    Google Search Ruined The Web

    Nick Heer writing in Trust in Google Search Is Dying:

    Big publications are all trying to do their own take on the Wirecutter for home goods, and results for software are mostly marketing disguised as informative articles. Perhaps declining trust in Google’s results may be better attributed to an overall decline in the quality of what is on the web. Websites are increasingly optimized for revenue generation on their own terms, so marketers desperate to get on the first page of Google results have broken it as a search engine.

    Search results now are absolute trash so it’s no wonder trust in results is failing. You have to dig through ads and SEO inflated adverts in disguise to find anything useful.

    As thankful as we should be that good search exists, algorithms have made almost everything bow to the Google overlords and you can blame them. If you don’t rank you don’t matter. You don’t need to be the most trustworthy, or even present things correctly. Just just have to know how to game the search.

    Link Posts From Obsidian

    This started off life as a link post to an interesting video on Matt Birchlers writing set up. However, it quickly spiralled out of control into me writing regular expressions, editing javascript and spending two days making this set up my own. If you’re into doing anything like this, then the best place to start is his excellent video below.

    [embed]https://youtube.com/watch?v=GqTyyQBi3hA&feature=oembed[/embed]

    I’ve been using Obsidian for a while and created quite a robust set-up for tasks, notes, and everything else. This lasted a while but started to fall away the longer it went on because I still had to use other apps to get things done, such as Ulysses. The thing I have found about being consistent is to remove as much resistance as possible. Cutting down on the chance that the idea will slip away, or the task just won’t be completed. So transferring fascinating links in Obsidian and then then into a writing app or Ghost was untenable.

    So, thanks to Matt, and a few tweaks I have found something that really works and in the process I have even moved reading apps!

    Matter

    Despite being in the beta testers since really early on, Matter never really stuck with me. I was a hardcore Upnext user and nothing could tear me away. That was until the team kept updating and improving things to a point I had to go back. Matter allows me to read all the articles I want, highlight them, make notes on them and then push them straight into Obsidian (and Notion too is thats your thing).

    By installing the Obsidian plugin, all of my notes and highlights are pulled in and displayed for later reference. I use this to refer to things, link notes together, and research some topics that come up whilst digesting my reading list. To make this my own, I had to edit the javascript to display things exactly as I wanted. My biggest desire was for the highlighted quotes to appear as markdown quotes and a title at the top. Matt walks you though how he did his, my changes are made in the same place as follows.

    # ${feedEntry.content.title}
    ${this._renderMetadata(feedEntry)}

    Notes

    ${annotations.map(this._renderAnnotation).join(“n”)} .trim(); } _renderMetadata(feedEntry) { let metadata =URL: ${feedEntry.content.url}; if (feedEntry.content.publication_date) { const publicationDate = new Date(feedEntry.content.publication_date); const publicationDateStr = publicationDate.toISOString().slice(0, 10); metadata += Published Date: ${publicationDateStr}; } if (feedEntry.content.author) { metadata += Author: ${feedEntry.content.author.any_name}; } metadata += "n"; return metadata; } _renderAnnotation(annotation) { return > ${annotation.text}${annotation.note ? * **Note**: ${annotation.note} : “n”} `.trim(); } };

    Shortcuts

    If I decide that the quote, and my thoughts are interesting enough for a link post on my blog, then the second step is to get that into Ulysses. To achieve this, I use the MacStories Shortcut Launcher Obsidian Plugin and link this to my Link Post Apple Shortcut.

    With thanks to Matt once agin for sharing his Shortcut with me, he got me quite far down the road. Due to me messing around with the way I wanted the information to be displayed in Obsidian, his regular expressions didn’t work, so I had to customise this quite a bit.

    Shortcuts
     

    This Shortcut looks for the title, URL, and Author. There’s also some customisation with the option to select the quote you wish to use and then the facility to add a different title to your post. It works on Mac and iOS; however text input is a bit finicky on macOS (as all Shortcuts seem to be). Regular expressions are the key here, so the shortcut is pretty messy and probably could be better, but the elements are as follows.

    (?<=URL:)(.?)(?=n) finds everything after URL: and before a new line.

    (?<=Author:)(.?)(?=n) does the same but with author.

    ^(#)s?(.+)n{1,2} finds anything in the document that is H1, i.e. a title with a #.

    >(.*?)(?=n) finds all markdown quotes in the document.

    It is unusual for me to show more than one quote in a post as I try and pick something that sums up the whole point. Or sometimes pick up smaller sections that hit me personally but don’t necessarily reflect the whole post. If you wish to pull out all quotes then deleting the ‘select from list’ section will transfer all into Ulysses.

    All of this is rearranged into my set-up I publish link posts in and then opened in a new Ulysses sheet. I promise not to spam everyone with loads of link posts. In fact I don’t post many of them, but this set up has already meant that I have referred back to what I have been reading a lot more. Obviously, your millage may vary.

    The Ultimate Minimalist Phone

    For the last few years, I have been looking to go back to simpler times. Ones that didn’t try to hack my brain every time I open my phone. Or, in fact, a time when I didn’t need to carry a phone with me at all. Those times might be long gone, but I can’t just give up on my dream without a fight. After a bit of backwards and forwards, I think I might have found the best minimalist phone.

    After experimenting with older devices, I felt unfulfilled and sometimes caused more hassle than they are worth. Recently, I tried a ‘dumb phone’ in the Punkt MP02, which left a lot to be desired considering its £300 price tag. Couple this with the realisation that I need to be able to access some apps occasionally (How on earth do you do banking nowadays when the branches are hardly open?) – I was stuck. That was until I realised I had the best minimal device to replace my phone the whole time – my Apple Watch.

    I’ve been in love with the Apple Watch, particularly a cellular version, for as long as I can remember. It allows me to leave my phone at home when I don’t need it but still be contactable, yet I couldn’t see its real usefulness until I took a step back. I truly think this could be the best minimalist approach to a world that seems to demand a smartphone.

    Minimal

    The screen is small and, although perfectly nice, isn’t appealing at all. Nothing about it tries to hack my brain to use it more. It just sits and does its thing without intervention until called upon. It has very few apps installed on it, most of which I can control and remove if not needed. Many services are not updating or removing their apps from the Apple Watch because they missed the point of it, but those that remain can be completely independent.

    The notifications on Apple Watch are surprisingly powerful, but I did have to do a bit of work to turn many off. Apple still likes to ping you for far too many things by default – rings notifications, breathing stuff, hand-washing, and fitness all set to off. Sure you can also do this to your phone, which is recommended, but the Apple Watch just slips up a sleeve and becomes almost invisible when you don’t need it.

    There's no conversation distractions, no facedown on a table dilemma, and no reason to not pay attention to the world. Much like a dumb phone, it just waits for interaction from others. Taking up very little space in the world, and much of the time you can't tell it’s there.

    Useful

    Podcasts and music work perfectly, streaming over LTE and playing through my AirPods is a dream when out and about. Not to mention, Apple Pay still stores all of my cards and allows me to pay exactly as I would with my phone. Unfortunately, the weird looks and slight embarrassment when using your watch never subsides.

    As someone who has health issues currently, the Apple Watch has really shown its usefulness. Being able to pull my phone out or share data with a healthcare professional that proves my resting heart rate, activity levels and all sorts of other indicators is wonderful. Having a device strapped to my wrist that is actually more useful in many ways has proven to be great to rid myself of other devices when I don't need them.

    Intentional

    With all this said, the thing I love most about adopting this approach is that it asked nothing in return. I can’t use it for much, but I can use it for everything useful. All whist not being a phone at all. Unfortunately, I still require a phone to set the Apple Watch up, but the bonus being that for those times I do need a more regular looking phone I have one. However, due to just how useful my Apple Watch has been, should it ever rid itself of the iOS reliance, I may consider not replacing my phone.

    Perhaps my perfect combination would be an iPad Mini and an Apple Watch. I can't see a future where the smartphone won't dominate our lives, but I am some way to freeing myself. The Apple Watch gives me a semi-smart device when required, and the accompanying phone gives me a phone if I really need one. Which isn't frequently, it sits alone on my desk because I don't use it much. Even less now.

    Platforms Are Not Treated The Same

    Coverage from Steriogum on Neil Young pulling his music from Spotify :

    In a open letter to his management and record label, which has since been taken down, Neil Young has asked that his music be promptly removed from Spotify, citing COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on the platform. “I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them,” he wrote. “Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.”

    If we are to constantly blame social media platforms for the miss information posted to their site (and we should). Then it only stands to reason that scrutiny should fall on everyone else too.

    Where are the false information flags on podcasts, or even songs? Joe Rogan gets held to account more than anyone else because he’s so popular, and controversial. However his reach could be so damaging. There is only so many times you can hold your hands up and say “well I’m a dummy what do I know” before it wears thin.

    Breaking Rule #1

    Cheri imploring me to join no social media club but not to talk about it:

    My feelings are true to me, but I don’t want others to feel judged for what they choose to do

    Everyone knows it. The first rule of any club, doesn’t matter if its fight club or NSM club, is you don’t talk about it. Breaking rule one is sacrilege and can lead to club banishment. Or in my case, people feeling bad — and I’m sorry.

    I’ve had a few conversations over the last couple of weeks with people that I have talked through my choice to back away from social media and I’ve needed more words that I expected. Once you utter the words that you don’t use social media it puts anyone that does on the back foot.

    Like a subtweet, or a slight of character it can feel personal. As if you’re casting aspersions towards anyone that does. Which in my case is not the case. I love sharing my thoughts and feelings on my blog, but also don’t want them to interfere with those of others.

    There is no judgement here. You won’t find any big push to make you do something you don’t want to do. Whatever you choose to do with your own time is cool with me. More though needed when sharing on my part I think.

    Not Everything Has To Be Sold.

    Charlie Warzel talking about Wordle in Galaxy Brain:

    Wordle’s success has scrambled the brains of people in tech who have a reflexive desire to monetize things that are popular.

    What if I just want to do a thing because I like doing it. Not everything has to be sold, marketed and developed to a stage where i hate it. I just want a past time that I enjoy doing and sometimes it even costs me money! Take writing for example every platform now wants me to market it, sell it and build a brand when that is not what I want to do at all.

    the fact that the game is immensely popular suggests to me that maybe, just maybe, there’s a quorum of people who are tired of things that feel extractive

    Subscription fatigue is one thing but you can tell when things are trying to get things from you to fund it. Data, attention, or just setting you up for the payment hit later on. It feels exploitive and you can small it in the air from the start.

    Just Background Noise

    When I wake at silly times in the morning and get out of bed, I don’t even know why I put the TV on. I am not bothered about what is showing on the screen, it doesn’t light my way in the dark, I must turn the volume down so low it is impossible to hear. Yet, it’s always on because I can’t face the fact that I am staring at my gadgets.

    Though it could be argued that my TV screen is nothing more than a larger one sucking my attention. An alternative to the smaller one in my hand, or the slightly less small one on my desk. It doesn’t feel as guilt ridden. If it's on, I’m not just staring at my phone, I am watching TV and happen to be using my phone at the same time. I am second screening but not really.

    When, in truth, the screen is nothing more than background noise to make myself feel a little better. Simply lit up to offer a little self assurance that I am not lost to the doom scroll or never-ending dopamine hits of red dots on my devices. That’s what other people do, not me. I might select a documentary to play while I pay little attention. Just to really prop up my ruse. Fooling myself that I am learning or consuming something worthwhile instead of doing what I don’t want to admit to myself that I am 100% doing.

    The mental gymnastics my subconscious does to try to appease my ego is comforting. At least I can sit here, at 3am, safe in the knowledge that I am watching TV and perhaps learning something instead of loosing sleep to my phone. I am better than everyone else after all and deserve this background noise just to drown out the screams from my logical brain.

    What’s After I Quit?

    For years, I have imagined a future I seemingly cannot attain. One where I no longer have a need for a smartphone and don’t share my life on the internet. Perhaps I retire to a cabin in the woods. You know, that type of thing an old person raging against modern times would do. Granted, I am not old, and I have accepted the smartphone need, but what exactly would happen if I did quit the rest of it?

    No one I know seems to have managed it. At least no one I hear from any more, and that’s the point, isn’t it. As Cheri points on in No Social Media Club, 30% of Americans don’t use social media at all, where are their ideas published? The only ideas I can take in are those that want to quit and either can’t (me) or don’t really want to (also me).

    The fact is, I am also worried. Worried about the feelings that also disappear if I were to somehow slip out of the grasp of social media. By some chance that I lose my motivation to share my life online and interact with others, would I also share my voice? The reality is that if my motivation to share were at some point removed, so too would be my drive to write.

    Would I become another person lost to the no social media club? Never talked about, unless someone occasionally remembers that person who managed to quit it all. Looked back on with the same weirdness as I remember the kids at school that didn’t have TVs at home. It didn’t matter that these families were tight-knit, much happier and actually enjoyed each other's company — the weirdos didn’t even watch the X Files!

    I wasn’t around to publish before the platforms took over, and somewhere in an alternate timeline there’s a me that never started sharing things. Does he still write? I am positive my blog would die along with my interest in other peoples lives. As much as I do not write to be read, my whole blog is built around sharing thoughts and ideas to faceless people. If I don’t share with people I like, I doubt I would publish at all.

    Social Media Ghosting

    The straw that broke the camel's back, or broke my relationship with Facebook, was a podcast on ghosting. I am pretty sure everyone knows what it is by now, but in essence it is the idea that you don’t want to deal with issues so you just ignore them, and by them, I mean people. I didn’t like the idea that I was cross posting to Facebook, as if I were there, but never replying to any posts. I was Ghosting.

    That was more than 4 years ago now, and I don’t regret it for a second. However, I see the same social media ghosting going on all over the place. In an effort to cross posting everything everywhere there are massive holes developing and some times it’s sad to see them. I am guilty of this currently, I haven’t quite figured out what I am going to use and what I am not, so Twitter cross posting can come across a bit rude. I can only apologise.

    There’s a certain level of expectations from comments on social media. Sure they don’t all deserve replies, but I might be in the minority here, but it feels weird to leave the service completely. Sure, you’re not responsible for where your content gets posted, but cross posting appears just like a normal post. So, I’m a bit uncomfortable with it. On services such as micro.blog this is really obvious. It is littered with users that have signed up at some point, added their RSS feed and have not checked in for a long time.

    Posts are receiving replies, asking questions and giving feedback to no avail. Many users seem under the impression these posts are by active users, which is a real shame. Twitter, Facebook and Mastodon are littered with these ghost posts. Does it matter, no, is it something I think about, of course. It’s great to be able to share your work everywhere and get more people to view it, but I like to monitor it at least a bit just so I don’t seem rude

    There’s a Flaw In The Metaverse

    To be honest, I never wanted to talk about the metaverse. An idea that has been floating around since at least the 70s that we are all going to live in VR one day. Populating a world that replicates our old one but allows us to do it somehow better. This idea only being pushed into the forefront again because Facebook wanted to take some light off its rubbish pile of a service.

    Instead, insisting the company, now called Meta, was going to focus its efforts on building a metaverse for us all to live in, and this couldn’t be further from what people want if they tried. There’s no denying that technology will get to a stage where it can augment, and in many ways replace, the real one. The sad fact is we might need this if we continue to build data centres and mine cryptocurrency to buy digital crap instead of fixing the world we have. No-one want it to be built by Facebook, though.

    Yet, the fundamental idea presented is flawed on so many levels, I am surprised we are still talking about it. That is without the notion that a company like Facebook is going to power such a world to begin with. I don’t want to even go there with the idea that Facebook can somehow be trusted to “bring us all together” when we are perfectly capable of doing that without a viewer strapped to our head. Let’s take a step back for a minute.

    The Metaverse that Meta presented was one of replacement. A massive pitch of a rendered reality, not one that can actually be made, instead of the one we live in. Mark presented alternative ways to meet, make meetings, even shop, all in VR and the idea is laughable. No one wants to do those things. No worker in the world wants to have a meeting as it is. Spending time and money recreating something that no one wants to do, instead of finding a way to eliminating that thing, is Silicon Valley at its finest.

    What's this? I can push a cart around a virtual grocery store and pick up things off a shelf? I don’t even want to do that in real life, and the technology available to us has already allowed that menial task to be eliminated. Do I even need shopping at all, unless it's for the preselected nutritional paste that is pumped directly into my system because I can’t take the mask of my face because of all the fun I am having watching digital concerts and chatting to my friends in VR?

    To burrow down to the core of the issue that I have is that there is nothing new here. Nothing that makes the world a better place, and solves problems. There are, for instance, massive benefits of using VR for disabled people. Improving accessibility and making interaction easier. Nothing is solved by it, but another layer is added on top to make things as ‘normal’ as possible. There’s no pitch to this effect, though. Just privileged folk having meetings or watching a concert with a headset on that they could do in person, or with existing tools.

    Add to this the very real side effect that all this energy and work being done is destroying our planet anyway, it seems like some kind of shortsighted dystopian story. A tale of solving problems that occur from the problem trying to be solved. Yet, the solution is already possible.

    Negative Vibes

    Have you ever heard the expression that the universe is a mirror? The idea that whatever you put out into it, gets reflected straight back at you. It seems a little absurd on the face of it. A theory akin to The Secret, that you can manifest whatever you want just from your frame of mind. Yet, I think there’s something in this, you know.

    Ever been in a room with someone who’s in a bad mood? You don’t need to see or hear anything, you can feel the energy in the room. The stress feels as if it is leaking out of their body and often starts to affect surrounding people. That feeling lights something in me and I often need to get out of there straight away. It makes kind of sense thought when you think about it.

    All the negative stuff we put out or see every day must go somewhere. Crappy tweets, passive-aggressive comments at work, it can’t hurt to be mindful of it.

    Since listening to a fairly out-there conversation with Duncan Trussell and Aubrey Marcus, I’ve been more concerned with the negative energy I put out. This isn’t directly anything to do with my hiatus from Twitter, but there’s got to be some benefit to not seeing all that the cesspool has to offer, numerous times day. Given the fact that some people learn to express more outrage over time whilst using social media has been scientifically proven, it could be manipulating us all more than we think.

    As I wrote about yesterday, I know I am more predisposed to this kind of thing. I’ve seen the results for myself. From emotionally abusive and manipulative partners to down right aggressive work colleagues, they’ve all taken their toll on me in one way or another. So in a bid to do what I can to steam the flow, I’m beginning to be more mindful of the way I am and hope that this brings about a positive change in others. It already makes me feel better!

    Two Cameras: Two Uses

    James Tocchio on his view that the camera matters:

    I’ve been missing that. All of that. And it’s really hit me this week that I’ve spent the past couple of years thinking that the camera didn’t matter anymore. But I think, maybe, that it matters more than ever.

    If I am honest, I’ve not yet worked out what all the words are, they seem jumbled and don’t really get to the point. Yet, the whole time reading I was thinking about my thoughts about my camera, so I guess that’s the point.

    I have two, my A7c and my iPhone 13 Pro. After spending some time accepting that I need both in my life, they now serve entirely different uses for me. Neither is more important than the other, but I am glad I have both.

    My smartphone needs to have a good camera to capture all of life's moments. My kids doing things I want to let others know about, or record a memory I want to look back on. Perhaps to show the world what I am up to and post a short post about it. I often try to put come artistic flair on it, but more often than not they are candid, slightly blurry moments frozen in time.

    My camera on the other hand is for expressing myself. Picking it up to do something, or go somewhere, I want to capture with my self-expression. Like painting a picture or making some music, this is my art. Granted I am still learning, but it's the way I want to express myself outside my blog and what I am dedicated to.

    It Depends On When You Write The Book

    There have been a few points in my life that have felt like it was ending. The specifics of these no longer matter to me, a long time ago fading into insignificance. Yet at the time, they felt like major issues that appeared insurmountable.

    Of course, everything can be overcome. The feelings of major issues fade in time. Life moves forward, and the events depicted in the stories told about it evolve.

    It'll go from being, you know, a book of my life to becoming a chapter to a paragraph to a line to a word to a doodle - Jason Sudeikis

    Not everything happens like this. There have been turning points that need to be worked through, both good and bad. They still retain the size and gravity that the moment dictates, but they still fade in time. As Jason sums up above, depending on when the book is written, all lives events shrink in importance the further you get from them. From a chapter, to a few lines, and often become next to nothing.

    The rawness of emotions regularly feel overwhelming at the time. But like physical scars, they need time and space to heal. They also need to be looked after, tended to and dealt with. Ignore an issue, and it will get worse over time. Baby it, and the surrounding area will stiffen up and make matters worse. The only answer is to deal with the issue and recognise your body and its amazing ability to heal itself, in time.

    Goodbye For A Bit

    Colin Devroe on Quitting Social Media:

    Not that I can’t focus. I can sit down and get into flow on a programming project more often than not. But when I’m still, when I’m idle, when I feel like I could be bored at any moment I grab my phone and scroll through Twitter which sends my mind into overdrive on a million topics, timelines, thoughts, and emotions.
    I don’t think this is good for the human brain. I know it isn’t good for my brain.

    It’s the last few words of this post that I’ve been saying for a while. I know the are are loads of positives in connecting with people, yet every time I move away I get “yeah but why”.

    I know, for a fact, that when I use social media a lot I am a worse person. I waste more time, I procrastinate more and I think about things less. My desire to watch more films, play more games and also write more just doesn’t have time for scrolling through other peoples lives. My Twitter obsession started more than a decade ago and it’s time for me to take back my brain.

    Yes I know I do this every so often. No it’s not going to be for a year like Colin. If Social Media is good for you, great, but the amount of push back I get is stupid. You do you.

    I will check in a bit, but the last few days of only being able to go on Twitter on my desktop has been really helpful for me to see things more clearly. So if a little is good, more must be better, right?

    Well, we’ll see. Goodbye for a bit. Feel free to reach out in other ways if you want to. Love you all.

    Subscription Creep

    After some inspiration from Maique I thought I would take stock of things going out of my account. I am a sucker for trying out new apps and services, often forgetting to cancel them before the free trial expires. So, I got out my bank statements and checked my subscriptions page and made some adjustments.

    Must Haves

    Apple One - We as a familly get a ton of value out of one subscription for £29.99. 2 TB of storage for photos, Apple Music for all of us, and we use Apple Fitness quit a lot too.

    Headspace - we have been subscribing as a family for about 3 years now, and the £75 a year we pay is a bargain.

    Ulysses - My writing app of choice, and I’ve tried them all!

    Pocketcasts - I want to use something that has clip sharing in, but Pocketcasts is the perfect app for me. I have built up quite a few smart playlists, and the £9.99 a year for Apple Watch streaming, and other benefits is a bargain.

    Adobe - I technically don’t pay for this, the business does, but it's the lifeblood of everything I do. Expensive but so worth it.

    Netflix - Love it, watch loads of it for everything from documentaries to rubbish TV when I want to unwind.

    Brain FM - Essential and my most used media app. Lifetime subscriber, so I suppose doesn’t count as a cost any more.

    Hover - When I bought my domains and see little reason to move. No longer pay them for email services (done by iCloud) so the cost is minimal.

    Digital Ocean - Tiny price (£10pm) for my blog and a few other bits that I run myself.

    Micro.blog - Experimenting again with sharing smaller posts here, and for the minimal price it's a good service. Built a page that looks like my blog and will see how it goes.

    Gone

    1Password - After a few years being a faithful subscriber, Apple Passwords now provides everything I need. So, I won't be renewing at the end of this month.

    Glass - Technically still a subscriber, but I don’t use the app any more and won’t be renewing in September when it is due.

    Hey - Nothing wrong with the app and service, just don’t want to give the company any money.

    Drafts - Tried to get back into this recently, can’t find a use for it that I can’t do with Shortcuts.

    Day One - Can’t get into this whole journalling thing and if I did I don’t think I require another app to do it in. Some people seem to love it.

    I feel pretty good about the amount I have cut down in the last year or so. With more and most service being rolled out by iOS recently, I have saved a packet. So, I don’t feel so bad giving them £30 pm for Apple One.

    Most if the subscriptions I do pay are family plans paid annually, so they work out much cheeper and much better value with 5 of us using it.

    A Path For 2022

    Taking inspiration from a few other bloggers posts that I have read, I thought I would post my intentions for the upcoming year. That way everything is out in the open and there is at least a little accountability in the universe. The new year is usually when I start something new, leading to it dieing around April time. This year is different.

    Nothing new is planned for this year. That’s not to say that opportunities and ideas won’t arise, but I intend to double down on what I am currently doing.

    Writing

    Posting every day in November was exhausting but also very beneficial. My blog has broken even for the first time in years for November and December. I am never going to make the money out of writing that I have in the past, but getting to a stage where my traffic justifies the work I do is a fantastic feeling. All from a small Carbon advert at the top of each page and post.

    I will continue to post regularly, no numbers, no targets, just solid output whenever inspiration strikes. I have moulded my workflow into a great place, filed with Shortcuts and publishing prompts that I know I can continue at a good pace. Due to my increased output I like to think my writing has improved, and I know my style — which is half the battle with writing.

    I have a few posts lined up for other publications in the works, so I hope that this will bring a bit more exposure to my blog and open up other avenues for creative work.

    Other Skills

    Learning new skills recently to build my new blog and take on new challenges has been enjoyable. Having ported a new theme to micro.blog I have plans in the works to do some more, as well as produce my own theme for Ghost.

    This year will be one of less wasted time on social media and more learning new things to expand my skills. I hope that this again will open up more areas for creative work and allow me to progress my career.

    Other Areas

    After the usual discussions with family on New Year's Eve, we have all outlined what we want to work on this year. Mine is one of improving my social side in person and make more connections. I struggle a lot with in person socialising and lean far too heavily on social media to provide the needed conversation. How I do this is something as yet to be finalised, but no doubt will involve pushing myself a long way out my comfort zone.

    I have also highlighted my desire to play more games, watch more films and also read more books. With that comes to an end, my eclectic range of things to do in 2022. My overall theme is “more of the same”, worry less and enjoy more.

    On This Day

    A friend Of mine, Gabz has been going backwards and forwards on where to host his blog. He tried Ghost for a bit, but went back to micro.blog mainly because of a feature he likes called “on this day”. Much like some features on social media, it surfaces posts from the current date one year ago, meaning you can see what you were posting. This gave me pause for thought.

    Not on his blog, it's wonderful, but the desire to look back. It is human nature to lean on our memories. They made sure we didn’t go to the dangerous places, knew what a predator looked like, and allowed us to flourish as a species. Learning and growing from our memories is a fundamental building block of success in every area of life. Yet, I am not convinced we need to do so much of it now.

    Due to digital technology, almost every area of our memories are being offloaded to the web. Each image permanent, each post saved and in some cases brought back to life every so often. I take photos of my kids and life things all the time, yet have a mentality to hardly ever look back. My personality is fixated on living in the present and looking forward — but some people find looking back important.

    I get a lot of benefit of offloading my mental load to other means. Even this blog is my place to think out loud and work though my thoughts to conclusion. Linking back to old posts that have supporting ideas or often changes in attitude are essential for my personal improvement. Clearly there is a massive benefit to looking at the improvements that have happened and the journey you have made through life, I am just not convinced it needs to be so fixed.

    Don’t our memories need to be a bit fluffy and malleable? Would life be better if we didn’t remember so much. Just the bits and pieces we need to, in a way that suits us. Can growing and learning still happen if we can’t move away from mistakes and events that have happened?

    These are all questions I have not answered yet. I am sure there will be a time when I will be thankful that my past self took so many pictures of life events. They might be the only thing to stir the memories from their sleeping place in my brain. My interest is how different we as people can be when it comes to our memories and the things we value most.

    Glass Feelings

    I am not the type of person to be influenced by other people's thoughts, but they often prompt thoughts of my own. Lots of talk about Glass from people I follow has led me to think about my usage, and it’s complicated to some them all up.

    The simple one is I love using it. The app design is beautiful. An uninterrupted feed of great photos with a well-thought-out UI. Finding people to follow is pretty easy now that categories feature heavily. Meaning my feed to full of both the types of images I like to look at and those of the few friends I have that use Glass.

    Granted, the standard of photography feels a bit intimidating. Glass is definitely where a lot of pro level shooters share their shots. Some very skilled individuals simultaneously give me imposter syndrome and teach me lots about the pictures they take. Glass can be very inspiring in terms of the type of shots that look good and the settings to be able to capture them.

    With all that said, I’m losing the motivation to check it. If it wasn’t for the wonderful widget, I think I would have deleted the app by now. Trends in photography absolutely exist, but I see lots of the same type of images. All shown in the same way, and often whole sets of images posted one after the other in a ‘dump’ that floods my timeline for a long while. However, I can put up with all this, frankly I put up with a lot bigger issues by using Instagram — but posting in multiple places is untenable.

    No one I know apart from nerds on the internet uses Glass, and that is unlikely to change. I don’t need Glass as a portfolio of sorts, so I think it has reached its usefulness lifespan. The novelty has worn off for many people I follow, leading me to question my usage. As nice as the app is, and as great as the team behind it are, my interest in using something so niche is coming to an end.

    What Is A Smartphone For?

    Some would say we have an unhealthy relationship with our phones. That for many it is a digital attachment to our hands, ever present in a world that increasingly encourages it. Others would argue it’s a revolution, allowing us to be more connected to each other and have more information at our fingertips than ever before. We all sit somewhere on the spectrum between those two extremes, but I find it essential to try to establish where you are, and where you want to be.

    Personally, I have a weird relationship with mine. I don’t like to use it much, but I am stuck in a world, a job, and an interest group that needs one. Having come to the realisation that I can’t get rid of it, I like to push it to the extremity. Or at least that is the story I like to tell myself.

    I don’t like to use my phone, but I do. Going through periods of addiction, then realisation, before I return to sporadic use. The reasons for this are varied. I am unquestionably being manipulated by the apps and services I use, but all of this lays at my door. The reality is that I love using my phone, it allows me to interact with more people, get more stuff done and generally be more social than I would be in person. However, using it makes me a worse person. I don’t sleep as much, I am distracted, and I hate what it does to my brain. So, I ask myself this question, often whist staring at the slab of metal and glass in my hand. What is my smartphone for?

    What does it achieve? Which tasks couldn’t be achieved without it? What can I do easier? There are numerous answers to these questions, but focusing on them is important. Using the tool for the purpose you bought it for in the first place and not sliding down the hole is all about self-control. Being able to know what job your phone is doing, and what it is doing to you.

    Everyone’s answer to those questions will be different. I need my phone to keep in contact with people I don’t see in person. For taking photos of my kids to save. To share my thoughts and ideas with the world. I don’t need it for scrolling through Reddit at 2am. Or for tweeting random stuff instead of interacting with people that are around me. However, for others this will be different, and some of those things will be true, but knowing this is half the battle.

    My Homescreen To End 2021

    Due to my fixed nature and habits I don’t change my home screen very much. It stays pretty static, containing one page of icons and some widgets in slide over and that’s it. Not using your phone much has its benefits, but a few changes are worth sharing, so here’s an update to see out 2021.

    Apps

    Ulysses - I think I have tried every notes app out there, and despite trying to use Obsidian for everything, I love to write in Ulysses. The small price per year is worth being able to publish and update posts in Ghost alone.

    Upnext - Replacing Pocket as my read it later service. Currently in open beta Upnext gives me a place to read all of the newsletters I love, articles I save and also YouTube videos I want to watch later. All in one place.

    Brain FM - This app is almost always playing on my iPhone. I love it so much that it's always on hand to play something calming, improving my focus or just so the world isn’t silent.

    Day One - After using it religiously years a go I am trying it out again as a bit of an experiment. I am not certain how this fits into my life yet.

    Tweetbot - You’ve caught me at a bit of a low point right now. Back using Twitter and it's on my home screen. The travesty!

    Obsidian - What is there to say that hasn’t already been said. Despite falling off a little towards the end of the year, Obsidian is the app I use the most to write, learn and make notes.

    💡
    I still love reviewing apps and have helped out several teams over the years beta test and design their apps. Get in touch if you are interested in working together.

    Widgets

    Glass - The only reason I still have the app installed is because of the widget. I love having nice photos on my home screen.

    Headspace (stack) - My meditation app of choice, I love it.

    Pocketcasts (stack) - Despite not consuming nearly as many as a couple of years ago, Pocketcasts is the best app across iPhone, watch and car play.

    Audible (stack) - Hate Amazon, Love audible. Trying to force some audio books into my life currently due to my tendency to fall asleep while trying to read!

    Reeder - To gets my reading on! Love catching up on RSS feeds of my favourite content and Reeder syncs across all of my devices using iCloud (no middle service needed).

    Shortcuts - Automation is central to me getting stuff done. Check out some of my favourite here.

    Lightroom - I am stuck in The adobe suite unfortunately.

    I Didn’t Do Any Of This For Me

    In early 2020 I was dismissive. Stuck with the majority of the country that scoffed at the thought that some flu couldn’t be anything more than media hype. It had happened before, and although we’d had a few scares with other viruses, it was easy to write it off.

    The first step was being sent home from work, nothing more than a little holiday. I’d wanted to work from home for ages anyway. Then people started dying. A few at first and then a lot more. My wife and I sat opened mouthed as the prime minister ordered us all to stay home. A moment I will never forget for as long as I live.

    All of my energy now went into keeping everyone safe. Not me, there is every chance that our family would be fine. We are all young, no medical conditions that would make catching COVID-19 dangerous. Everyone else that would be at risk was our concern. Our elderly family, those with medical issues, neighbours, and friends that needed our help — that was our focus.

    We stayed home. Walked once a day with our dog. Stood on our doorsteps and clapped those putting themselves at risk to help others. My wife went back to work to help the adults she looked after, our family did its best to complete school work, work for our employers and keep everyone safe. Not for us, for everyone who required us to help.

    We dedicated days, then weeks, then months of our lives to make sure those at risk got the best chance possible. Cancelling everything that would put others at risk. Holidays, birthdays, seeing family, all of that fell away. Replaced by video calls and huge group chats. Just to keep us going. Our mental health suffered, we isolated when we had to, we spent weeks not going out because doing so put others at risk. We looked after everyone by looking after ourselves.

    The chance of making it back to normal came quicker than expected. Medical treatments meant that the chance of dying reduced. Care packages enabled people to survive, the waves of patients in hospitals declined in their intensity. Vaccinations came and allowed us to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Compared to what we had been through, the exchange of a few hours feeling sick in return for help with immunity was like a golden ticket out.

    We saw what those suffering had been through. We lost neighbours, friends, family. We heard from people that survived, some still suffering. Thankfull that there was a way out, a medical marvel. Not perfect, but it gave us a chance.

    The sacrifice was, of course, worth it. I suffered, and in many ways I still am. My family still bares the scars of staying in, some that won’t heal for a long time. Mentally exhausted from the effort to save others. None of these sacrifices are for us. Hardship in life rarely is, but to be a good person is to think of others. Help as many as you can and improve the lives of others when you can. Yet, in 2021 these values seem lost.

    Lost to a world dedicated to the individual. Lives filled with selfishness and greed. Where they are all the main character and care very little for others around them. Instead of making this obvious sacrifice for the health and well-being of others, concentration is on themselves. We all did what we needed to do to get through this and are being held back by the few. We didn’t put ourselves through this for us, we did it for you.

    You could at least help.

    Limiting Your Reach

    Matt Birchler on his need for photography to be fun:

    Additionally, since Glass is paid and artists generally like people to be able to see their work, it doesn’t make sense for really talented people to post there (certainly not only there) because it’s limiting who and enjoy (and maybe purchase) their work.

    Although this post talks more about Matts waining use of Glass, this little part towards the end stuck out to me. Echoing my thoughts about posting photos to Glass.

    I wish I could just quit instagram, and Glass is precisely the sort of place I would quit it for. Although if I did, no-one I actually know would see my photos, so I have no choice but to post to Instagram as well. I am not bothered about building a following or anything, but the average Joe people are never going to use Glass. Then comes the obvious realisation that if I might as well just post to instagram.

    So, here I am, loving at app, enjoying the photos posted, but still posting to Instagram.

    The Ergonomics Of Use

    Despite many years of taking photos, I have only visited a camera shop twice. Once to sell all my gear and another to purchase a new camera. It was the second visit that really stuck with me. It opened my eyes to the fact that the things you use should ‘fit you’ in more ways than one, and it’s how I look at the world now.

    I intended to buy a new A7iii. It was the camera I had previously, it was in my price range and ticked all my use case boxes. Yet, the helpful chap in the shop made me try almost every camera in that price range and see what they felt like. To paraphrase his words:

    The camera needs to fit you. In your hand and in your person. Does it do what you need it to do, or are you changing things because of what it can do?

    The A7C I left with fits in my hand so much better than anything else. It has features that I value, like an articulating screen, and is the camera that ticked the most boxes. Yet, the one I absolutely wouldn’t have bought had I not gone to a camera shop. I would have leaned on all the reviews that exclaimed how this camera was pointless, or only useful for travel.

    This isn’t a pitch for a specific camera, either. I get a lot of stick online, and in person for my choice of “tiny phone”. Of course this is all tongue in cheek (I think) but this plays into the same feelings I had when new MacBooks launched. I bought the phone that fit me best, and I am starting to think I might have small hands.

    For these two things that I handle the most, it's important to me that they feel right. Indeed, they feature the things that I want, but if they are uncomfortable to use or something doesn’t feel right, I won’t use them. More significant than the specs or features, is the feel of a device, the ergonomics of use and its ability to work with you. You shouldn’t be changing your life or your use case to fit a device, it should fit you.

    Brain FM: The App Always Playing On My iPhone

    I am not even sure how I stumbled on Brain FM, but I have been using it for years. Stumping up for a lifetime subscription (no longer available) a while ago due to its ability to providing me with awesome background audio to my daily life. When I say that, I really mean it because it is nearly always playing through my headphones.

    Loads of services aim to provide constant looping audio as a means of filling silence. The rise of playlists and services such as Lofi has opened up a larger market to studying music and the like, but Brain FM goes further. They use AI and human composers to reduce distraction and improve behaviour. If that sounds a bit far-fetched, all of these claims are backed by scientific research. Using fancy words like “Neural Phase Locking” and “functional music”. I can’t possibly comment on the validity of these claims, but in my subjective experience it does something to me that means I can get more done.

    For the past few months, I have dedicated my time to working in a deeper state, and Brain FM has proved invaluable to achieving the most I can. My favourite by far is at the top of the app home screen. Ninety minutes deep work is the peak period to get stuff done but not burn myself out. So, I sink into this state a couple of times away. Especially when I am in the office, my Bose QC35s are on, connected to my iPhone, and I am in concentration mode.

    The looping relaxing music soon disappears to a point where I am not listening, but the audio undoubtedly helps me shut out the world and concentrate on the task at hand. Replacing the need for me to half concentrate on a podcast or worry about what music to listen to.

    Brain FM is also filled full of white noise options, meditation audio and what seems like unlimited options for music. So, there’s no messing around deciding what to listen to. If you want to check out some preview of the app and see if it’s the kind of thing that will help you concentrate, there are some clips available on YouTube.

    [embed]https://youtube.com/watch?v=DKPZslKCeiw&feature=oembed[/embed]

    Conspiracy Theory To Fill The Gaps

    There is a theological perspective called “god of the gaps”. This idea is that whenever humans are exposed to something they don’t understand, they fill it with a notion that they have already accepted. At many times in history, that was with gods and mythology. As so, all the gaps humans had in their knowledge were explained away easily.

    This is not to say the god, but a god was always responsible for everything that appeared outside our control. In more modern times the gaps that we didn’t understand, the stars, the tides, the very makeup of our being all being explained by science. Which can be a belief system in itself, but as great as science is, it doesn’t replace everything. Unfortunately, these gaps that still exist, even when sometimes explanations are available, are being replaced by conspiracy theory.

    While gaps in scientific knowledge are certainly still being used to justify a belief system, when it comes to gaps linked to more social problems, the gaps is often filled with ‘alternative theory’. That’s not to say that some conspiracy theories don’t eventually come to have merit — perhaps this is why they have become so attractive to those seeking to understand things that can’t be explained away. This of course is part of the issue.

    I love to understand as much as I can. Yet at some point I have to realise that I cannot become an expert on everything and put trust in people that do. After studying scientific method, but not being a scientist, for numerous years, I like to rely on my hidden bullshit detector. So, I use both my knowledge and a high level of suspicion to fill the gaps in my knowledge whenever I come up against them. Without letting one source tell me the way, more taking a broad overview of information and letting it point the rough direction.

    Although, for some. A similar approach may be true. However, with their underlying desire for everything to be explained, and all responsibility removed, leads to belief in stories. We can blame social media for increasing it (undoubtably true) but the thirst to understand is one we all share. Which makes these beliefs somewhat understandable as away to bring understanding to an ever-changing and impossible to understand world, now my worry is that we are addicted to it.

    I Love Christmas Lights

    Snapped this whilst out walking the dog earlier. I’ve taken it before with my camera, but there is something about the Christmas lights I see when walking my dog in the evening that fills me with joy. They are not over the top, not the most lavish afraid but beautiful in the dark evening.

    Christmas always make me think about those that have gone before. Times I spent as a child growing up with all my extended family, eating and drinking until we can’t stuff anything else in. We couldn’t afford loads of presents, I wanted a Mega Drive one year, but my mum could only afford a Master system, but we always spent loads of time together. Always at my Grandmas house and always doing the same things as clockwork.

    I went from a small child not really wanting to be sat at a table eating food or playing with my toys on the floor to an adult helping to lay the table and joining in the conversation. Until my Grandfather passed away, and my Grandma became too frail to host us all and the mantle passed to me for a few years. In 2021, it will be just us four now, Team Morris.

    We have built our own traditions, things we do every year, and made the day ours. The reason I love the lights so much is that it tells me how far I have come, grown older, but never lost the focus on the things that really matter. Spoiling our kids with things they want, but still stuffing ourselves to completion.

    Welcome To The Morris Point

    Matt Birchler tweeted and wrote about the Dunning-Kruger effect recently. I have no idea what prompted the post, but I hope to god it wasn’t me. On looking at the graph posted I realised that I am very susceptible to this and there is a very specific point on it just for me. I am calling this the ‘Morris Point’ because it's caused me so many issues in my life, so I’m claiming it as my own.

    When you first start doing something new, or learning about a new subject, the curve at which you take in new things is steep. Leading to overconfidence and often a very high chance you will make a fool of yourself. I love these periods, where you’re obsessed with everything about the new things and learning lots, but with no experience to back up your opinions.

    As time goes on, this lapses, and your tendency to have confidence in your skills starts to wane. With me, this gets to a certain point, and crashes like a stone. This is the Morris point, typically one of no return. I start to question why I am doing this, if I am good enough to carry on, and often give up completely. With little encouragement, the easy way out is to quit.

    Never stop doing your best just because someone doesn’t give you credit - Dan Green

    The curve at the bottom looks insurmountable on the way down. The time you put in impossible to achieve, and the imposter syndrome hits hard. Only sheer determination and a bit of luck gets you through this point and on the way up again. It doesn’t matter what it is, YouTube, podcasts, newsletters. They all bit the dust because that’s the easy way out at the bottom of this curve. I am only still writing through sheer force of will, and I have nothing better to do!

    A few likes, some feedback, a positive word or two, all help when you’re at the bottom and trying to get up again. I guess you have to bear with the gobby overconfidence for a bit to see if something better comes out the other end, or if they just give up trying. Doesn’t hurt to know your limits though — and watch out for the Morris point. It’s a killer.

    A Fixed Perspective

    I’ve never been a fan of prime lenses. Although they are a staple of almost all photographers I admire, their fixed nature has never appealed. I viewed them as being too restrictive, whereas a good zoom lens can get me a wider range of shots by adding on a little more weight.

    Yet, every beginners photography guide I read or watched told me to get a good prime and learn to “walk with my feet”. Which is their way to tell you to look for the shot and how to position yourself instead of planting your feet and zooming around. You earn the shot much more, and potentially improve your eye for shooting.

    So, I gave it a go. Shopping around for a while and settling on a really nice 85mm f/1.8 Sony Lens for a great price. It's a little over the 28-70mm that I usually shoot with, so I hoped the extra range would prove useful in future. As soon as it arrived, I fixed it to my A7c and went for a walk.

    The whole experience was strange to start with. I was fixed into one way of shooting with no room to move. I had to work a lot harder than I anticipated, but the shots I did get were very different from my normal ones. By restricting the way I could shoot, I changed the way I looked at things. Gone are the small details and tight focus images, replaced by photos that I think contain a lot more information than before.

    I found myself looking for stories to tell. Buildings on the river, shadows of the unusually bright December sun, architecture details that would be easy to miss. They are not perfect because I missed numerous things due to depth of focus (I simply wasn't used to having an f/1.8 lens) but I am happy that I decided to limit myself. I would have shot similar images but missed all the surrounding elements to them by zooming in.

    I would have been too focused on the details instead of the bigger picture, which is a lesson for life, I guess.

    Christmas Rush

    I really should be slowing down this late into December. In times gone by, I would have been twiddling my thumbs for at least a week by now. Yet, I am working more than ever, getting ready to launch.

    New websites, new printed media, new marketing angles, it’s all exciting times. But exhausting nonetheless.

    I have spent far too much of the last few weeks sat down, and I know it's bad for my body. I can feel the change in my hips, legs, and core. I feel crushed up and no amount of exercise and stretching seems to make any difference. I adore my job, though.

    Luckily, I only have another week to go, and then it’s holiday time! I am really looking forward to a break and recharge my batteries. Family time always makes my soul completely.

    Feeling Unsafe

    Today I had a wonderful walk around a local town with my camera. I’ve never done this before, I walk lots and take pictures lots, but I usually have the family or the dog in tow. Today was different, I did the whole photographers things and took my camera out to see what I could find.

    Thankfully I got some great photos and learnt a lot about street photography (settings and the like), but one interaction made me cut my visit very short.

    When I was waiting for a car to move to get a shot I wanted, somebody was hovering around me. Something just seemed off, he walked towards me, stopped and then just began to act weird. He was taking photos of a random shop (nothing very interesting about it) on his phone and sneaking a peak my way every so often.

    I decided to leave the shot and walk away because he made me feel uneasy having my camera out. Thankfully, I have an A7c with a 85mm prime attached, so I can fit it in my coat inside pocket. Once he has gone, I stopped to take another shot, and another man approached me (you can see him sat in this photo). He began to ask about my “gold camera” (it’s silver) and how nice it looked. Which is cool, I am all up for getting people interested in cameras, but then he started asking me how much it was worth and if I had insurance.

    At this point, I asked him to have a good day and got the hell out of there. They both just made me feel uneasy, so I trusted my gut.

    I hope this doesn’t often happen and is just bad luck on my first time out.

    Missing The Tech For LOLs

    Andy Nicolaides on the outlook of some tech commentators:

    For many millions of people out there, VR could, and already can to a certain extent, open their lives to opportunities they can’t currently enjoy and experience. We’ve all heard the laughs and sniggers about watching a concert with people virtually but for so many people, VR may finally give them a chance to experience something many others of us would take for granted. The argument for and against VR and a meta verse is always so black and white, but the world is rarely so easy.

    I tried really hard to not open with a social media trope but — so much, this!

    I am sick and tired of people that have an important voice and an influential following making these kinds of takes. Most of these boil down to “If it doesn’t work for me, it’s stupid”. Granted, I didn’t listen to the whole show, just the clip Andy posted, as I stopped to listen to this show a long time ago because of these hot takes. So, I may be missing some kind of grand explorer or inside joke, but I doubt it.

    The fact that still people can’t think outside their box is frankly ridiculous. VR is 100% never going to be for me, and I laugh more than a little at the way Meta pitch it to users, but much like Facebook itself, I can’t still see why some people would use it.

    I am not sure if this is just playing to the audience, as this ‘sad VR looser’ rhetoric is a tired joke at this point. Making comments along the link of “don’t you go outside” or “don’t you have friends” misses an entire section of the population that can’t. Missing the accessibility angle (this post is from three years ago about Connected doing the same thing) is absolutely unacceptable in this day and age.

    VR is already helping people access parts of life that you take for granted and the fact you can’t even be bothered to look into this make me think much less of you.

    I Appreciate You

    After going backwards and forwards (as normal) with the photo sharing service Glass, I am enjoying using it lots. I post the best images I take to it. Although I can’t hold a candle to some of its skilled user base, it scratches my photo social media itch and teaches me quite a bit about the images people shoot.

    Right from the off, the founders spoke about their desire to avoid the expected social app norms. You won’t find follower counts, like buttons or, my favourite, an algorithmic feed. Although, it feels to some as if they have rolled back their choice with the implementation of an “Appreciate” button. It’s not like it seems.

    Extending my previous thoughts around social media likes, particularly on images, leads to looking at how to use the function positively. I was not alone in thinking that Glass could work in a way of giving small feedback prompts but not ruin the service completely. I had some ideas, but the team at Glass have absolutely nailed it. Although at first glance it looks like a dangerous slope, no public counts and no algorithm to game means much less attention-seeking rewards.

    Even the word they use, appreciate, is a perfect fit for what I want to say about a photo. Even “I like it” is not enough occasionally. One of my favourite things about micro.blog is that people would respond to posts with “thank you for sharing” which makes no judgement or response, just an appreciation of taking the time to post it. A perfect fit for Glass. I am thankful that people pay £25 a year to show me the shots they are proud of.

    As with everything, It’s not completely harmless, but I think it’s a good compromise. Take the image above. I was pleased with it and couldn’t wait to get it edited and posted. Only to receive absolutely no feedback. Is it rubbish? It is just not what people want to see? I have no idea because it just sits there on Glass for people to see. My reward is getting the shot I wanted and the process of producing the result — but not everyone is like that.

    Of course, I don’t care. Others may do, but I feel as if the users that would care have other apps better suited to their interests. My takeaway from the update (I’ve been able to use it for a couple of weeks now) is almost all positive. Being able to leave a small token of appreciation will replace the hundreds of times I write “great shot” or “love this” and means the comments I do leave have more thought in them.

    To Write More, Read More

    There is no getting around the fact that creating things consistently is hard work. It doesn’t matter what it is, making videos, writing blog posts, painting, crafts, it all takes time and effort to keep going. Particularly if you need inspiration to spark the content in the first place, something that comes in waves for me. The biggest thing that help to write more, is to read more.

    Full disclosure, this post was inspired by similar thoughts and guidance from Matt Birchler on his content creation cycle. If anyone is to be listened to, it’s Matt, cause his constant stream of videos and blog posts are unbelievable. However, I have shared some guidance on my reading and writing flows previously to try to help.

    This time I am going to concentrate on how I read things and how I then go from inspiration to publication. This will outline what apps I use, how I like to do and where I do to. Posting this hopefully will give you an insight into my creative process and perhaps help you start writing more too.

    RSS & Triage

    The internet is full of awesome stuff. So much so, it can be impossible to keep up with it and take nothing away but. A feeling of being overwhelmed. To combat this, you must remove any completionism you have. No one has the time to read and watch everything. So triaging the inputs you like is critical, and I do this mainly through RSS.

    Using my favourite app, Reeder, I have loads of feeds set up to put in content from all over the web. I can then easily look at things being published on my iPhone or my Mac and fill a few moments. I hardly ever read anything in reeder unless it is a really short post, I give scything a quick scan and do one of two things.

    • If it looks interesting, I will share it to Upnext.
    • If it doesn’t, I will move on.

    If I ever get to the point of feeling like there is too much to process through, I just mark all as read and move on. As compelling as things are on the web, nothing is vitally important, and good posts have a habit of popping up again anyway.

    I do this a little with Apple News too, but it is filled with far too much crud to filter through very well, despite limiting what is shows.

    Reading & Highlighting

    I read everything in an app that I can highlight and share these with Readwise. This is absolute detrimental to me because I want to be able to read and retain the things that I highlight as fascinating. At the moment I am using Upnext for this, but I have also used Pocket in the past, as well and small dalliances with Matter.

    All of my Newsletters are also delivered into Upnext, so I can highlight them as if they were web articles. Pro-tip, you can also get around some paywalled articles by saving them to relater services, but not all.

    I open Upnext on my iPhone whenever I feel like it. Small instances of downtime in the day, as boredom relief, and then in larger periods at night on my iPad Mini. I don’t read every word of every article, nor do I highlight loads of things, but I adore reading and learning new things.

    At any point if I highlight something really thought-provoking I will share it straight into Ulysses where I have a writing Kanban set up. This is the start of all of my link posts and many of my articles.

    Listening & Thinking

    There are four smaller areas that fall in here, all of which are important to my creative process. Upnext has the ability for me to listen to some articles, so when driving I sometimes consume these to fill the boredom.

    I can’t go one without talking about podcasts, either. Although my listing has dropped dramatically over the last couple of years, there are a few shops I never miss and listen to these at work or when walking the dog. If anything in these episodes sparks some inspiration, I have a shortcut set up to type a few words into my Ulysses inbox. I have also done this with Notion in the past.

    The third part of listening is being open and taking in feedback. There are many times I have written a post, spoken to someone about it, and then written again because my viewpoint has shifted. There is nothing wrong with this, and it is important to listen to feedback and take it in creatively. It also leads to some of the best conversations I have ever had about interesting topics. Be open.

    Lastly, before anything gets published, you need to think about it. Just sit (or walk) and stew over the words you want to say and make sure they are correct. Establishing your true feelings and not rage publishing is something crucial, but it is even more critical to give yourself time to think about the things you consume. Just be alone with your thoughts and process everything.

    Writing & Publishing

    Every single word I publish comes from Ulysses, I am writing in it now. Having messed around with so many apps and wasted a considerable amount of money, I always come back. For the small price it is an outstanding app, providing a great experience to create everything from a short link post to a full on novel.

    The corrections available in the app seem to catch almost all of my spelling and grammar issues littered through every post, and it actually makes me a better writer. It doesn’t matter where you publish your work from here, but the most critical thing is that you do it. I do it mobile from my iPhone, but I do prefer to sit in the chair and type away. It gives me a better environment to think about what I am writing and establish what I am trying to say.

    There are no rules to writing, despite some believing so, and even less to blogging so publish away. Read more, write more and let’s converse more about the things we enjoy. That tweet you just threw into the ether, should have been a blog post.

    The Problem With A Closed Platform

    Isobel Asher Hamilton on the demand by scientist to see internal research:

    An international coalition of more than 300 scientists working in the fields of psychology, technology, and health have published an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, asking the Meta CEO to open his company's doors to outside researchers who need to investigate the effects of Facebook and Instagram on child and teen mental health.

    This is part of the problem with Facebook. The conclusions and opinions all boil down to “we think it does this”. We all know that Facebook knows, it has all the data, but it hides it away so everyone external has to guess. The company is the only one that knows what it is doing, both in terms of changes to its platform and the effects on its users, so there is no oversight.

    Sure, it’s a public company, it can’t be expected to always acts in the population's best interest, and that is precisely why we need to be able to see inside.

    This recent request for research into the harm of its platforms is unlikely to go anywhere. Facebook religiously blocks attempt to study digital harm on it platform, inclusive requests from ProPublica and New York University to name a few. The PR fallout from any absolute research would be sure to set a fire under the platform that would burn it to the ground, and clearly they already know the outcome.

    Putting In Some Barriers

    Exactly two years ago, I was thinking about barriers. At the time it was to do with comments on my blog (I was moving it yet again) but this time it’s in my life. Although they are different topics, they both cover the same area. The intentional design of a barrier to restrict access to something.

    Not entirely, just ruin the flow enough to trigger some thought or increase the motivation needed to complete the task. It is a pretty easy thing to do. Behaviour = Motivation x Ability x Prompt. The holy grail of those designing to keep you engaged and manipulate you to do desirable things. Whereas there are sometimes we need the opposite.

    Take using my phone for instance. I know using it too much is bad for me, and intentionally bought a smaller one to put up a barrier to usage. Although I now don’t use my phone very much, there are days when I do. I get engrossed in something or am particularly bored, and I think to myself “I need a bigger screen”. When in fact I, as a person, don’t need a bigger phone at all. I know these things are internal, it’s not the internets fault, but a bigger phone will make me use it more. As such, I put up an international barrier.

    I’d love to go back, but the reality is I require these things in place. In the same way someone who wants to lose weight might hide the sweet treats, I am putting my weakness behind as much of a hurdle as I can. Believe it or not, this is hard for me to do. I spend my life trying to make customers be able to do what they need to do as easy as possible. I want to roll this mindset out to everything, but being able to realise that barriers can be a good thing makes for better living.

    I Know What I Should Do, But…

    There are so many things in my life that cause me to think about for far too long. I dwell on things that shouldn’t take me as much time as I do, and then make others based on sheer gut instinct alone. Hell, a good 70% of this blog is me talking to myself about a decision but framing it as if I am giving advice. In most of the situations, I know what I should do, but I don’t want to.

    Take my photography for example. I know that I shouldn’t care about likes. I am also well aware that in fact I should delete my Instagram account entirely, but that is just never going to happen. I like people seeing my stuff, and my friends only seem to use apps developed by Meta. I like the little hit of dopamine that I get from a few likes every now and again. The answer to make me a better person is obvious, but sometimes despite knowing this, another option is also valid.

    Instead, I’ll spread my photos around the internet like confetti and see what sticks. Waste my time doing all the things when I know what the ‘correct’ thing to do is — for me, at least. This expands into a lot of my life, I can never decide on which phone to get despite knowing which one I shouldn’t. I know I should really cut Twitter out of my life, but I don’t want to. I am sure there is some psychoanalytic name for it and some deep-rooted reason for this indecision, but at this point in my life I just don’t care any longer.

    There are of course some things I know I have to do for the better that overcome this barrier. Eating well, meditating and exercising to name a few, that will never fall away despite me having a million and one reason to stop. But for everything else, I will continue to give myself a hard time about it, and that’s OK. I think.

    How To Use Tailwind With Your Ghost Blog

    Never one to be left behind, I am continually looking for a way to speed up my theme development. Call it desire to be cutting edge, or near of missing out, whatever it is I love to play around with it. One thing that gets loads of attention is Tailwind CSS, so naturally this was on my list to play around with.

    They call it “A utility-first CSS framework” but what it actually means is you can style all of your classes right in the HTML. There are pros and cons with this, but here’s how to get it working on your Ghost Blog.

    Before You start

    Fair warning this requires a bit of command line work, and if you’re not comfortable with this back away now! You will need:

    • A computer running a desktop OS (macOS, Linux, or Windows)
    • A supported version of Node.js (at the time of writing this is 12.x, 14.x or 16.x)
    • Yarn and npm installed
    • A folder to do all your work in

    Install Ghost Locally

    First, start with Ghost CIL. In the command line:

    npm install ghost-cli@latest -g

    Now CD into your empty directory and run:

    ghost install local

    This will get ghost up and running locally on your machine, most errors are communicated daily well, but for extras do ghost help.

    If everything looks OK you’ll have a site at http://localhost:2368/ghost. For more information on what this means, check out the Ghost docs.

    Your Theme

    This next part is up to you, either install a theme you want to use Tailwind with, or start developing your own using the Ghost Starter. You will need to put your theme files into your Ghost local install folder, content/themes. If you want to clone a theme from GitHub, or your theme is stored on GitHub (you should be!) CD into this folder and use:

    git clone git@github.com:<your-github-username/.git name-of-theme

    Install Dependencies

    Your theme more than likely will use Yarn, the Ghost Starter linked above is the best example. Use Arm to install everything needed by Tailwind. In your theme folder, use yarn add tailwindcss and then add in the necessarily files npx tailwindcss init.

    Gitignor File

    Unless you want more than 5,00 new files committing to your repo, you’ll need a robust gitignor file. Most themes have these set up already to no commit files such as DS_Store on Mac, so make sure you add in node_modules to your file.

    Import CSS

    In /assets/css/screen.css add in:

    @tailwind base;
    @tailwind components;
    @tailwind utilities;
    

    This imports the tailwind classes to your main CSS. This may partly replace some of your CSS to the Tailwind classes, so something such as typography may change on your theme.

    Gulpfile.js

    Add in the following to your gulpfile.js.

    1 - Under // gulp plugins and utils put in const tailwind = require(‘tailwindcss’)

    Under function css(done) there will be a section for postcss( add in tailwind(), so it will look something like the following.

    function css(done) {
     pump([
     src(‘assets/css/screen.css’, {sourcemaps: true}),
     postcss([
     easyimport,
     autoprefixer(),
     cssnano(),
     tailwind(),
     ]),
     dest(‘assets/built/’, {sourcemaps: ‘.’}),
     livereload()
     ], handleError(done));
    }
    

    Restart All The Things

    Now that everything is completed, restart Ghost with ghost restart to make sure everything is being cached correctly. You should be good to go now and can get cracking with adding in new styling. When doing this, you will need to CD into your theme folder and run yarn dev to build the correct CSS.

    You can also try out some themes that already have Tailwind built into them such as Ghostwind or Origin but I am enjoying working new classes into my website. For more information on using Tailwind, see their documentation.

    TV Entitlement

    I wasn't going to write anything today. When driving home after work, I had decided against it because I've had a busy week so far and just wanted to relax and watch football. Arriving home, I soon discovered we had no internet and no TV. Our provider, Virgin Media, were having issues, and we were one of thousands affected by the outage.

    No big deal. At least for me, my son likes to watch a bit of gaming YouTube before dinner and Lucie loves her Cocomelon, but it's not the end of the world. It's not like we don't enjoy each other's company or anything. Best to double-check the service status and see what's going on. That's when I strayed into the worst Twitter thread I have seen in a while.

    Scrolling through, it's hard to work out if the whole thing is some kind of joke I am not in on. Stinking to high heaven of entitlement, all because of an issue that means they can't watch TV. No one is really put out, but don't you dare take away their telly programmes! I haven’t seen anything quite like it, and Twitter is a pretty crappy place. The replies and entitlement would be annoying if it wasn't so hysterical.

    The thing is, that could be any of us. We live in one of the best times in history. With long lives to live. Well, if this damn virus stops trying to kill us, with very few real problems. Most of us live in nice warm homes with internet access (well how else are you reading this) and live a life of true privilege.

    It’s dead easy to take all this for granted. Letting your ego run amok. Leading you to act as if the whole world owes you something. It is a constant risk. Taking a step back and looking at the much bigger picture is important every time something like this crops up. It’s much better for you to think though things fully because scrubbing those entitled tweets from the internet might be harder than you think.

    Team No Sleep

    For as long as my daughter Lucie has been with us, my sleep has been disturbed. The first weeks of broken slumber that are supposed to gradually reduce are still with us 11 years later. Her genetic condition means she suffers with several disabilities, but also seems to have the superpower of needing very little rest.

    The nights and early morning I am awake are a burden. One I must carry for life, with no solution available (seriously, we have tried everything). Dependably, I am awake on average 5 nights from 7 at 3 or 4 am, sometimes much easier. Where most people suffer from sleep deprivation because of their choices, be it screen addiction or fixation on hustling, I would love to sleep more.

    The weird thing is, on the occasional days Lucie does sleep until a reasonable time, I miss it. Not the headaches or the chronic tiredness, but the extra time. The early morning runs and the work completed at silly times of the night are a giant bonus. When I only have a ‘normal’ number of hours to use up, I run out of them far too quickly.

    How on earth are we supposed to fit all this in. In 24 hours we need to sleep for 8, are expected to work for at least 8, leaving only 8 left. Just 8 short hours to do all the things that we need to do. Eating, washing, dressing, housework, commuting, and you know actually do things we enjoy. The modern world is broken, and it is no wonder lack of sleep is such an epidemic.

    I am in a much better place if I just steal a few hours of sleep and use them for something else. Of course, my health isn’t it's literally killing me, but my enjoyment improves. The world is a much quieter place at 4 am, and I love it.

    Writing Everyday Is Exhausting

    Joshua Ginter’s thoughts on publishing every day:

    There are nights where you just want to veg and play video games rather than throwing something together for the blog. There are times when you don’t have a fully formed opinion and you sort of puke it out into existence. Or you create filler pieces to get through a few days.

    This whole piece covers some of the thoughts that have been floating around in my head since publishing more often. I thought about posting something similar later on this week but Josh does this far more eloquently than I would. So I thought I might as well throw some of my own words behind his.

    When I first set my goal to publish every weekday for a month I had loads to go at. Ideas were flowing and at one point I had 4 days worth of posts ready to go. This gave me some runway to slow down a little and let thoughts arrive, and of course, they arrived less and less as the days went by. So as I got closer to days where nothing was sat in my ideas tray I began to feel the pressure. Rather than writing when I had something to say, I wrote because I had to say something.

    Some posts I am proud of, some not so much, but I have learnt a lot along with way. My practice of writing every day is years old at this point (most of my words are just for me) but it helps me get ideas straight in my mind. Writing blog posts is no different. I often start with a small idea, pull on that thread and it evolves into something new, and often interesting.

    I love thinking about things and blogging is me doing that in public. It gets tiring giving yourself pressures and goals, so I will slow down, but I still want to keep the momentum going somewhat as I love doing it.

    My Focus Mode Set Up

    If you’re a bit sad like me, one of the most interesting features of iOS 15 is Focus Mode. Bringing some much-needed updates to do not disturb that went before it, and also making your phone much more customisable in different situations.

    Unfortunately, it is a first-gen product if ever I have seen one. Being overly confusing, and actually a bit complicated to understand. My biggest help in diving in to this was Matt Birchler’s excellent walk through video. This allowed me to get mine set up in three different scenarios.

    Home

    This set up was the easiest to implement as it represents pretty much where my phone was in ‘normal’ mode. Taking the regular set-up screens and making all the apps I have installed available. What Focus mode allows me to do now is remove the use of my work email app, and also make work people not able to contact me outside work time.

    Now I am even less tempted to check me email, and also any rogue calls or text that creep through sometimes on days off are no loner an issue. This did take a lot of tweaking over a few days to get the contacts right, it would be great to see Apple do a bit of work on this, but it’s a good starting point.

    Automation features allow me to switch this on effortlessly. I am in ‘Home’ whenever I finish working hours (early morning/evening) and all weekends.

    Do Not Disturb

    The best mode! Very similar to the DND I had set up previously but even more powerful. I have all apps restricted and only a very select few people can contact me (close family).

    Due to being able to use different home screens at different times, I have put in a nice dark wall paper and made my screen empty using a fake black icon with MacStories Icon Creator Shortcut. This mode is active at night and whenever I am in meetings using Smart Activation.

    Work

    Any other time I am not home, I am working, so it needs it own mode. This mode removes all needless distractions and helps me work deeper. Bringing my task list and flagged emails in front of my face at every opportunity.

    I love the location automation here that turns this on whenever I arrive at my office. Unfortunately, it doesn’t turn off if I leave, meaning that I had to use the ‘Home mode” switching at times outside working hours. I feel like I could go further with this set up, but it is fitting in very well and removing quite a bit of distraction from my day.

    Improvements

    My biggest take way from doing this is the surprising realisation on how unapproachable this feature is. It is both the best and worst new featured added in iOS 15. Due to this overly complicated UX, I would wager that most people won’t even try to understand it, which is a real shame. Outside this, there are a few things I would like to see.

    Lists

    The first being implementing lists of contacts. It gets quite messy having to add in all the people who can notify you. Adding in custom lists would help no end, or simply being able to select a few contacts that cannot contact you rather than having to add in everyone else.

    Icons

    The icons on the Home Screen bug me more than a little, as they also display on my Apple Watch. Being able to add in restrictions to the ‘normal mode’ would help with this. There is no way to have a mode for every other situation, but also add in restrictions to apps and contacts.

    Syncing

    I love the way that this feature syncs across devices, but it’s all or nothing. Adding in selective sync or perhaps even a feature to only display notification on some devices and not others would be a massive improvement. I don’t mind being tapped on my watch, or something silently appearing on my phone screen at work, but don’t want it popping up on my Mac.

    If this post prompts you to dive in and get something set up, then I would love you to share it with me. I think I can go further with this, but it took me so long to understand the feature and then set it up, I am reluctant to fiddle too much. Don’t let that put you off though, give it a go and see if you can improve your phone.

    What Are You Actually Missing Out On?

    During one of our many meandering chats, my wife and I were talking about her phone. She’s using an iPhone 11 and although there is nothing wrong with it, the phone has seen better days and the battery is not what it should be. We were discussing if she wanted to upgrade to something better, and her response is something well worth thinking about.

    Her approach was, “I’ve never gone to do something and not been able to do it, or had an issue that a new phone would solve”. As with many things we talk about, this gave me lots to think about. How many times have I purchased tech on the promise of it helping me do something that I’ve never even thought about doing.

    This can’t just be me. A brand promises me that “feature x allows me to y” and I am all in without even thinking. The fact that I have never even tried to do Y means that maybe I don’t need this new thing after all.

    Undoubtedly, there are exceptions to this. New features that enable users to do even more can be valuable editions. However, that is seldom the case for me. I look at other lenses for my camera and think, oh that smaller f/stop will mean I can shoot in even darker conditions, or with even better separation. When in the truth is a lens with a larger aperture has never stopped me getting the shot I want.

    Buying a new phone every year is my biggest weakness. I tell myself that the upgrades are worth it. That the things I value get better, and then proceed to never look at my photos and don’t use my phone enough to actually make it worthwhile. Sure enough, I have never gone to do something with my phone and not been able to. A new phone might do some things better, but what am I actually missing out on? Not much.

    Seriously Stop Worrying

    Arthur C Brooks brings the fire to make you understand that No One Cares

    If I wouldn’t invite someone into my house, I shouldn’t let them into my head.

    I highlighted far too much of this article to share, the quotable things just kept coming. So I had to go back and read it again, just to make sure I got the real feel of the words on the page, and found it quite revealing.

    To discover something that Marcus Aurelius observed almost 2,000 years ago that applies perfectly to todays worries is quite shocking to me. “We all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own,” should be a waring post on social media. Why worry about what others are thinking when you should really be worrying about yourself?

    Because it feels very personal when we feel socially harmed, even if that is only perceived. Our brains are made for < 150 person groups of gatherers, not thousands of people online so it's important to remember that there is no need to worry about what others think, because in actual fact they don't care.

    Tactile Things In A Digital World

    Many years ago, I think my blog was on Medium, I wrote a post with the same title. It has been lost to digital rot, but my thoughts are the same as they were. The importance of feeling and touching things in a world filled full of apps and devices can’t be forgotten. There is nothing that comes close. Holding books in your hand, turning the pages of a magazine, the process of picking up and examining a purchase before deciding is just impossible to beat.

    The argument against this of course is a kind of sudo minimalism. Not having to put up with ‘things’ is often a much better solution. Who wants loads of book lying around that you are not going to read again? What on earth do you do with used up notebooks or journals? If a digital service can replace these things, and remove the hassle of them hanging around once spent, then it could be a much better solution for some. In today's modern world there is an app for everything, but I can’t feel anything about a bit of code.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love my Kindle. Well, I love an E-Reader, I hate that the best solution is a Kindle. It allows me to read several books at once and carry around something so small and light I barely know it’s there. Yet, I never feel the bookiness that my heart desires. With a physical copy of someone's words, I feel like I own it, rather than renting it from Amazon until my devices breaks. Using digital services in many situations make sense, but an E-Book never feels like I am reading a book. It feels like I am staring at another screen.

    For the risk of sounding a bit out there, and picking things that the modern world seems to have lost its love for, the same must be said for writing. Journaling, or note-taking, is one of my favourite things to do. I just love scribbling things down, even in my terrible scrawl it feels fantastic. I can make the case for digital journals to a certain extent because they offer something more secure and easy to keep, but holding a pen and feeling it scratch on paper makes my heart sing.

    All the algorithms and cleverness in the world from things like Obsidian can't replace me writing things down and forgetting about them later. Reading an incredible page turner of a novel doesn't feel the same swiping on a screen. I don’t buy books, of course, only a few reman from purchasing them in days gone by. Journals and notebooks no longer litter my house, replaced by apps and services because they just make more sense in the modern world — but that doesn’t mean I can’t yearn for something more tactile.

    Going Through The Motions

    When I got my first big break in my working life, it was for a giant corporation with a robust training regime. If you’ve never had the miss fortune of having to jump through these hoops, consider yourself lucky. Whilst they are mainly built sincerely, and at least instil in your staff base the same basic level of competency, they often suck.

    Sales training was the worst. Someone, I presume years ago, had read far too many psychology books and put together a plan you could not deviate from. They handed out a massive dossier to learn that boiled down to “if the customer says X, you say Y” in as many situations they could come up with. So, I learnt it, went on my way and tried as hard as I could to regurgitate the manual as frequently as I could.

    I had no choice in this, secret shoppers were another dirty trick of this company, so you felt like a robot at all times. Let me tell you, I sucked. I sold next to nothing and struggled so much I felt like quitting. Until one day I was so fed up with feeling like this I decided I was going to leave, so I talked to every customer ‘normally’ and my sales took off.

    Don’t get me wrong, after months of spouting the lines some of them still come out, but they felt more natural because I was taking to people as myself, not just going through the company motions. People stopped looking at me like I was trying to sell them something, and they bought something from me instead.

    I realised at that point that my problem was that I was not being true to myself. I didn’t believe in what the company was telling me to say, and that is straightforward to spot from the outside. You can’t fake it until you make it if you’re not even sure you want to — and this applies to so much else.

    As I wrote about a few days ago, I didn’t really want to make technology videos, I went through the motions and made some because I thought that's what I was supposed to do. They sucked. I expanded from writing and talking about technology into another field that I have seen others do without actually wanting to. I went through the motions without thinking about what I was doing, as if I were following instruction on “how to build a brand”.

    How many other things in life do we go through the motions without our heart being in it. The results of which will be nowhere near those that result from proper motivation. These sorts of ill-fitting ideas are preached in far too many mediums to those looking to get rich or build something. I have lost count of the times I have seen headlines similar to “Follow these easy steps, and you too can be as rich as me” or “check out the morning routine of this billionaire”.

    The idea being that massive results are as easy as going through these steps. There are sometimes you have to buckle down and go through the motions, but very few where you should expect a net positive result.

    Twitter Login “Nothing To See Here” Fix

    There is nothing more annoying that technology not working the way it should do, without any fix. Well, maybe there is, but this is me we’re talking about, and I’m pretty neurotic about these types of issues. I have been battling being able to log in to third-party Twitter clients for ages and have finally stumbled on a fix.

    This will also address some issues with using Twitter to sign in on other services. Some users have issues not from a third party client but simply sharing to Twitter from elsewhere. The error in question has no code, no help, but lots of hassle. When trying to log in to Twitter, it displays “Nothing to see here”.

    Upon some cursory Googling, it seems that only iOS users suffer from these issues. Perhaps Android just handles these things better, let’s be honest, iOS can be user hostile when it comes to many web things. Solving them sometimes a puzzle in comparison to more user-friendly solves from Google.

    The answer thankfully seems to be simple, if impossible to find, so here you are following my guide.

    Option One

    The first thing to try, and the one with the least aggravation, is to try your email instead of your username. Seems to sort out some issues, but failed to be the answer to my prayers. This is the fix that most third-party apps suggest, along with turning off two-factor authentication, signing in and then turning it back on again. Give it a go first.

    Option Two

    You’re going to have to purge all the Twitter web information from your device. This is the likely culprit and unfortunately, when compared to macOS or literally any other operating system, it is all or nothing. There is no option to only clear Twitter related data.

    Head into your setting, go to Safari, and tap on ‘Clear history and website data’. This should resolve the “Nothing To See Here” appearing after putting in your login details. Allowing you to log in to a new app or authorise a secondary service.

    Supporters And Followers

    Whilst looking at options to add a ‘tip’ service to my blog, I looked at what felt like a never-ending stream of them. There are no shortage of options, ranging from full on monthly subscriptions, to occasional buy me a coffee type platforms. I went for the latter to see if I can monetise the work I do with my ‘How To’ posts. I found reading the marketing copy on these websites really eye-opening, and it started me thinking about monetisation of the content I make.

    One such website Buy Me A Coffee has the tag line ”A supporter is worth a thousand followers”. Which sums perfectly up the outlook of those looking to gain something back for the work they put in. My self included, of course. I have been trying to get something back, if only to cover the costs of hosting, for almost a decade with very little success.

    As I wrote at the start of this year, “The web is much different now than even that brief time ago”. It is still a little hard to accept that the number of people making a living from writing on the web is so small when compared to a few years ago. A few dedicated supporters well outweigh, in terms of revenue, thousands upon thousands of page views.

    I am still overwhelmed when people read my posts, even more so when people give me feedback, and amazed that anyone ever felt enough motivation to donate to me. I value all of these people equally. The anonymous readers that never say a word, read the advice they need from a post and then leave. My followers on Twitter that occasionally like and retweet my nonsense. Or the people that I have met online that I now consider friends.

    Sure, it would be nice to motivate more people to support me, but that is not why I do it. I am already a success because that looks very different to me in comparison to whom these tip services are primarily aimed at — but supporters do help!

    Instant On

    For those of you not following me on Twitter (and why not I’m hilarious) I bought an Xbox Series X. I’m not a big gamer by any stretch, but having played Stadia for quite a while I thought it was time to branch out on some hardware, and I am so glad I did.

    Those of us that have busy lives or just generally kids and partners that need attention, know the realisation you don’t really have time to play games any more. Many people's modern lives are not conductive to playing for long periods of time, and as such we often miss out completely. There are some thoughts on games getting much shorter to complete, but the average game still takes more than 25 hours to polish off.

    If you’ve been nodding along and thinking the same as I, let me introduce you to the wonderful world of instant on. Available on both new Xbox versions (and I think the PS5) it removes a major sticking point of gaming for me. With instant on there are no credits to watch, no introductions to get through and very little loading at all. You can be in a game within seconds, and it’s glorious.

    Sure, instant on might be killing the planet a little faster, so I guess my gushing should taper a little. However, the fact that I can grab a small slice of time to myself in between everything else I have to do has been brilliant. I can leave races midway through on Forza when duty calls or go and do something between matches in Fifa, all without having to worry my game is paused somewhere — which was my solution before.

    I am never going to be able to sit down and game for long periods of time, but the small 20 or 30 minutes here and there mean I might actually play some games again. The small hump of motivation to actually switch the Xbox on and not have to update GB worth downloads nor watch credits might just save my sanity a little. Praise MS for Instant On.

    Shot With Meaning

    I recently came to the realisation that I seldom look at the photos on my phone. For years I always wanted the best possible camera to capture every single moment of my kids growing up. It was part of me, and something I enjoyed doing, yet I never look at them.

    I am sure one day I will be glad I do all this clicking. Don’t get me wrong, I am a long way from living life through a lens, but I like to capture everything. They might come in handy when age catches up with me and I rely on all of these captured memories to spark the ones in my mind. Until then, they sit waiting for a possible future where I am old but still own a smartphone.

    Despite hardly looking at them, they still mean a lot to me. They are simple family snaps. Some adorn our walls, displaying the family times we enjoy so much. I can look at a simple photo and feel all the things that I felt at the time and be instantly transported. They fill this strange place where they are priceless to me, yet are images that if anyone else looked at them would be worthless.

    They are not a sum of their parts. They don’t contain world-class composition and expertly exposed colours (all things I fuss over in my other photos) because they don’t need to. These photos capture a snapshot of a time that will never exist again, and in it trap all kinds of emotions. Not only that, but they tell stories of what we were up to at that point, the things we did and how far things have changed.

    Despite this realisation, I will continue to snap loads of digital memories. Still buy iCloud storage and better camera phones every year because I know I am building value. They mean everything to me.

    How To Edit Your Ghost Theme Using Github

    Since first trying Ghost, one of the best things about editing my theme is the ability to host on Github. Through a simple integration I can easily edit my theme to make changes from almost anywhere. If you want to do this too, this guide should help you out.

    Ghost Integration

    First set up the Github integration on your Ghost install, this provides you with an API Key that you will need when using Github. Head to the settings cog at the bottom of you control panel and click on Integrations.

    Create a new integration and give it a name. On the next screen make a note of the Admin API URL and the Admin API Key. Please keep these private as these allow access to your blog content.

    Github Set Up

    Secondly you will need to host all of your themes files on Github. Make a private repo, give it a name that represents your theme and head to settings > secrets. Click ‘New repository secret’ and set up GHOST_ADMIN_API_URL and GHOST_ADMIN_API_KEY with the integration details you set up earlier.

    Once you have done this upload all of your theme files to the repo and commit them. The last step is to create a new file in your repo .github/workflows/main.yml. This file needs to contain the following.

    name: Deploy Theme
    on:
     push:
     branches:
     - master
     - main
    jobs:
     deploy:
     runs-on: ubuntu–18.04
     steps:
     - uses: actions/checkout@master
     - uses: TryGhost/action-deploy-theme@v1.4.1
     with:
     api-url: ${{ secrets.GHOST_ADMIN_API_URL }}
     api-key: ${{ secrets.GHOST_ADMIN_API_KEY }}
    

    This theme will now show up in your design settings, however you will need to make a change to you theme to trigger this. Adding in some text to your readme file is the easiest way.

    You can now make changes to your theme through whatever way is easiest for you. I use Visual Studio Code, but on iPad I found the best app is Working Copy. Every time you push a change GitHub will build your site and them push these to your live site, this usually takes less than a minute.

    Longer Thoughts Are Truer Thoughts

    Josh Ginger on honeymoon phases with new devices:

    By then, it’ll all be too late.
    But at least it’ll be true.

    It’s as if Josh had been reading my mind. The rate of publishing and the things being published has been a big theme of my thoughts of late. I’m not worried about being the first or the best, but I like to write things that mean something.

    I got pretty good at telling what devices were going to be useful when reviewing numerous phones. Sure, I still got caught up in the excitement, but devices like the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the Galaxy Fold 3 I could tell within a day or so if they made any difference to me. But of course, I had to handle a lot of tech to do this.

    If anything I am the reverse now, I dismiss things and then when I actually read or watch reviews I start to see where they could benefit my workflow.

    With all this said, I always try to take in reviews after time with the device. I have lost count of the number of videos reviews I watch claiming the device is the best thing ever, only to have another on a few weeks later on why they are returning it. Some of this is of course YouTubers being YouTubers, but the honeymoon period feelings are strong and should be considered.

    Something To Say

    I am very dismissive of publishing my thoughts on many topics tech related. More so about devices and news that I am very late on. I figure that most people have already read or watched what they need to from the real tech people. Ones that get the product first or find something new and published the first article.

    I am not the only one that feels like this, and it’s not just technology. Game reviews are also considered broken by many because smaller reviewers stand little to no chance of being heard when the review things weeks after bigger sites. I have spent years fighting the negative feeling of my hard work ending up getting very little attention. These thoughts very often make me wonder if to bother at all and I see this in many others.

    You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.“ by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

    Except I do. We all should. If we have something to say, that should be said (written, painted, acted, whatever medium you choose), do it. If you have thoughts that you want to express, just because others have similar thoughts doesn’t make them any less valid. I don’t publish because I want to publish things, I do it because I have something that I want to publish.

    It’s an easy mistake to make. I made some technology review videos in years gone by because I just wanted to make technology videos. I didn’t have something to say really, I just wanted to be a “YouTuber” like others I look up to. Don’t get me wrong, I think they came out OK, and I continue to make videos currently — but it was for the wrong reasons and quietly died out.

    Feeling these feelings of not being heard is not unusual, but if you have something to say, say it — but don’t say it just because you simply want to talk.

    The Web Is Broken

    I don’t usually frequent /r/conspiracy, but I stray into it sometimes just to see what crazy is going on in the world. Like macabre entertainment that makes me feel a little better about myself. Gone are Bigfoot and aliens, replaced with COVID-19 vaccination fear and politicians being pedophiles, with the occasional randomness thrown in. One such post caught my eye that discussed the need to have modern devices to just view webpages, and it has a point.

    Don’t get me wrong. The thoughts are muddled, the technology knowledge very thin — but like a child with a stick, they hit the point somewhere along the road. The web is a mess. Full of tracking, adverts and complex things that all need to load. Sure, they may look nice when viewing them with a good connection and a nice device, but if you don’t, the web can suck.

    Consuming content often means you have to put up with some of the worst websites. Ones that suck all the life out of the web, consuming resources and slowing down the load time down to a crawl. Not to mention the acceptable practice of popping things up in front of your face, most of them not properly optimised. The result of all this is often a terrible experience, and users have a habit of blaming the hardware in their hands.

    Kevin Wammer went on from the tweet above to talk about this a few days ago. The fact that I often have to save an article to a read later service (Upnext is wonderful) is a testament to how broken everything really is. Instead of building the best possible experience for users, much of the web is made for the most gain possible. It might be displaying adverts, it might be putting up a paywall, or it might just be for attention. It all boils down to personal gain and nothing more. Greed broke the web and it may never recover.

    Explained By Stupidity

    In what seems like another life, I spent a few years working for massive corporations. You know the type. Thousands of employees with several layers of bureaucracy yet you only actually speak to a handful of them. Communication was stale and cold, filtered through HR and marketing teams before it hit your inbox. There was no emotion in them, no story telling and very little actual communication.

    You learnt to de-cdoe the words in to their actual meanings. Read between the lines and work out what was actually being said. Far too much energy had to go towards the interpretation of the false words and how best to action them. Unfortunately, in this dog-eat-dog world, in many situations this meant working out how to protect yourself. The burning realisation that at any moment the company could change the way they do things, and you could be surplus to requirements leads to constant paranoia.

    Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity — Hanlon's razor

    This wasn’t all bad, I suppose. I did develop a pretty thick skin as well as becoming pretty good at reading people. Now, in my calmer days, working in a job I love to bits, I have come to realise that worrying about what other people think is a fool's game. Trying to second guess things, and read between the lines in most situations gives you nothing but a headache and paranoid delusions. My approach to the actions of others now follows Hanlon’s razor above.

    Once you adopt this viewpoint, it’s surprising how a large portion of what you may have previously worried about is just the stupidity of others. When the reality is that no one really cares about you, or puts as much though into you as you do towards them. Having a scout mindset and giving people the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise is the best way to be.

    Where’s My Chew Toy?

    I’ve been having a bit of a bad time currently. A few issues in my professional life coupled with being extremely busy has lead to me not being my usual self. Simmering in my grumpiness last night sat on my own and all I can hear is squeak, squeak, squeak. Looking over at my dog going to town chewing on his favourite toy. Ripping it to shreds and wagging his tail like the crazy dog he is. He’s in his element. Captivated by something so simple and experiencing pure bliss, and I want to know where my chew toy is.

    I’d love to go back to a time when I valued something so highly that it was able to remove me from the world entirely. Captivate my attention and keep me entertained in a euphoric state for as long as I let it. I remember the times when a new colouring book would do this to me. Leave me oblivious to the world around me while I gave the blank pages a colourful facelift whilst sticking my tongue out. I don’t think the things around me have changed all that much, but I certainly have.

    It’s not the things that put us in this state, it’s our ability to surrender to them. To let ourselves enjoy something with 100% of our being. Ever tried one of those adult colouring books? A perfect activity for a little while, and then your brain reminds you about all the adult things you should be doing instead and pops the little bubble of delight you had going. It is hard being an adult in a world that has so many demands on us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get a chew toy every now and again, does it.

    So, I sat looking at this happy little boy, ripping up his favourite toy and having the time of his life. All I could do is smile, laugh and soak in the second hand enjoyment. I instantly started to feel better because Charlie taught me something. To let go every once in a while and not dwell on things you can’t do anything about. Just enjoy your chew toy.

    What Is Email Now?

    I used to be OK with email. Even in my day job I didn’t get much of it, I was one for picking the phone up and talking to people instead. My relationship wasn’t all roses, but it was certainly maintainable. Then something changed. During the pandemic, email shifted. Evolving into something else entirely, and I wonder where it’s going.

    When shops were closed, businesses slowed to a crawl and our internal communication not yet ready for the word of Slack channels, my inbox began to explode. Every company wanted my attention, had new offers for me to explore, and of course all the conversations we had in person went somewhere else.

    Email used to be a place where you had conversations, but as conversations have moved to text and DMs, it’s increasingly become a place where you store receipts, arrange appointments, collect announcements, and now, receive newsletters. — Jack Shafer

    If we want to look at why this is the case, of course I asked for these emails. I said yes, it was OK for my bank to keep me updated about their new products. Agreed that the company that I bought flowers from 3 months ago could let me know when my next anniversary is, but I didn’t expect this. What was once the electronic version of posting a note to a friend is now a battleground for my attention, and also where I get my news.

    That is because almost all of my favourite journalism is now delivered into my inbox. Personalised and funded by me from the writers that I love (Galaxy Brain is seriously the best). Newsletters were the biggest tech boom of 2020, and I love it, but looking at this objectively, how can these two things exist side by side in my inbox. The solution may be to use something like Hey, the service I was obsessed with for a hot minute. It lets me separate everything out, but I am not convinced that’s good enough.

    None of us want email to be this complicated. Granted, I can unsubscribe from as much stuff as possible, but I do like the occasional sale email and tempting bargain waved in front of my face. I can’t give up on well times emails about events I want to enter again this year and reminders for birthdays. I shouldn’t have to choose between what goes where because email now hates me. This is without even talking about corporate email.

    The relentless things keep popping into Outlook all day, every day, trying their damn hardest to distract me from getting things done. Gone are the days I can leave the app minimised on my desktop because some time recently we seem to have all unconsciously agreed that email must be answered straight away. Nothing comes after work email either. You can all move to Slack or Teams as much as you like, but that just means you’ve got two things to check now because no one stops sending damn emails! All. The. Time.

    I can’t figure out what email is now. It’s a weird mixture of first class journalism and marketing neediness. I can deal with Social Media wanting my attention, what I can’t deal with is losing the most important communication channel I have outside of actual human contact. Help.

    No-one Makes Content For Facebook

    Casey Newton noticing Facebooks plagiarism problem:

    Facebook’s report details the top 20 most widely viewed posts on the network over the past three months. One of the posts was deleted before Facebook published it. Of the remaining 19, though, only four appear to have been original. The remaining 15 had been published in at least one other place first, and were then re-uploaded to Facebook, sometimes with small changes.

    It’s interesting to think about where people post things and in what order. Instagram Reels is clearly full of TikTok made videos that are redistributed. Which doesn’t seem to matter because they can monetise it anyway, and the same can be said for Facebook itself.

    When the odd breakout personality does exist on Facebook, sure they can make money, but the content has to be very niche. The biggest touted success such as ‘Ladbaby’. Content is typical of the people that still use Facebook. Just take a scroll down the most viewed pages report, and you will see pages such as “Do You Remember When” and “That ain't right”. Which tells you all you need to know about the people spending the most time using Facebook.

    Communities and groups are one of the biggest drivers of serious Facebook traffic. That same report shows pages such as “The Typical Mom” and “All Things Mamma” raking in 96m and 92m views per quarter. So, clearly there are people using Facebook, and loads of them, but they are not creating content for the site. They are interacting with others, forming groups and seeking advice.

    I have always considered Facebook a bit of a distribution space anyway. Words go on a blog first, videos always got to YouTube first and photos go on Instagram. The fact that the Newsfeed is filled with plagiarism is not really a surprise to anyone.

    Shortcuts

    Undoubtedly, the biggest thing I was looking forward to with the macOS Monterey update was Shortcuts. It promises to be the final piece in automating the Apple universe. Admittedly, it is a bit hit-and-miss, feeling as if it’s still in beta, but most things work well. My favourite part is pinning Shortcuts to the menu bar, and this is my favourite one.

    In creating this Shortcut, I took inspiration from Gabrizio Rinaldi’s version that I found via The Birchtree Bark Newsletter. However, I wasn’t happy with just starting the screensaver. This is fine if you are working from home, but I work in an office and regulations dictate my workstation must be locked when I am not at it. This took a bit of work as older versions made for Automator no longer work, but step forward some simple Apple script to save the day.

    Grab it

    This small shortcut will quit all apps, put the volume down to 0 (no one wants to hear your Mac pinging when you’re at home) and also lock your Mac. You can leave some apps running if you need to by customising the first step in the Shortcut. All you need to do is click on ‘choose’ and select any apps you want to keep running.

    You will need to give Shortcuts permission to run scripts. Also make sure this is pinned to the menu bar as if you try to run it from within Shortcuts the last part will not work as the app has been killed halfway through!

    You are welcome to add in other automations on the end of this, like Gabrizio did, such as switching off HomeKit enabled lights or putting the heating up a bit for when you get home. I debated playing a sound clip to signal me clocking out, but I might use this a few times a day so I didn’t want to annoy myself! It would be great to see what you do, so let me know.

    Update: Slight tweek to make sure the whole script can run.

    Do I like likes?

    I know I am not supposed to. Well, I am supposed to, it’s human nature, but I am supposed to hate myself for it. I think that's the way I am supposed to feel about likes on my photos. To be clear, we are talking about Instagram at all times, no other photo service gets the reach that the ‘gram does, and perhaps that's the real travesty here. Yet, I can’t go anywhere else because, according to some, I am an attention seeker.

    Being already hyper conscious of my tendency to crave some response to the things I post online, I should really gravitate towards photo services such as Glass. I’ve gone backwards and forwards on this excellent service and won’t go into my thoughts here. Needless to say, it just doesn’t provide what I need from a photo service. They are steadfast on not cowering to the social media trope of including likes, but that means a lot of your photos go without anything.

    If the works for you, and is the reason you use Glass or another platform, cool. I wish it didn't mean as much to me, but the only option on Glass is leaving a comment. Which is great i theory, but they mainly devolve into talking or asking questions. Actual feedback is very minimal, and I leave far more than I receive. Leaving questions such as are my photos any good, are they not being seen, does my photo style just not fit? Do I need to keep going or give up completely? Wanting a quick, easy way to give and receive feedback is not a lot to ask.

    I could post my photos to the dumpster fire that is /r/photocritique, but I feel if I did, I might give up taking photos completely. Being mostly friendly, unfortunately I have seen users go to town on photos because the subject faced the wrong way, or they didn’t use composition correctly. All feedback that may be needed, but I think I can judge how good my shot is from a tried and tested source — likes.

    Public likes are obviously a contentions subject. Research suggests they are terrible for people that begin to use them as a marker to judge themselves. Granted I am not a teenage girl, that seem to be affected the most, but I really like them on my photos. I am not going to spam hashtags to game the system and delete photos that don’t do well, but a small bit of reward goes a long way when you are learning.

    Likes get a bad rep, but the way that Instagram implement them is purely for their gain, not ours. Played like a slot machine to manipulate users of the service to post more and spend more time using the service. However, done correctly, likes could be a useful metric to measure yourself against — although I have not seen them done well on any service yet. The issues are often the humans behind them that seek more and more feedback in an attention economy — again coming back to Facebook.

    Perhaps likes are not the issue, it’s Facebook, but there may never be an answer. Certainly, not one that suits everyone, so I am still not sure how I feel about them.

    I Need This Thing

    I’ve been learning photography for around 4 years now. I love looking back, sometimes through hands covering my face, at old photos I have taken and seeing my progression over time. It is one of those skills, like writing consistently, that seems like it should be effortless but in fact is reasonably complicated. I’ve had frustrating times when it’s been a struggle to keep motivated, but I haven’t acquired these new skills by buying something.

    All I want to be is a good photographer. That's all I really want from life. Take photos, edit, and go to interesting places that allow me to do those things. When I started, deciding it was time to stop using my phone and buy a ‘proper camera’, I wanted the best thing available. Spending hours reading all over the internet, having a look at what I could afford, and pushing my budget further and further up. I decided eventually that wasn’t the right move, and spent a lot of time with a small Sony A5000 before moving up the range.

    Learn how to do the things you want to do instead of buying things hoping it will allow you to do the thing you want to do. — Patrick Tomasso

    I still get these feeling now. The number of times I have thought “that lens would make my images so much better” I prefer not to admit. When in fact I don’t need to buy anything, I just needed to practice, review and learn the skills needed. Buying a thing doesn’t get you anywhere, new apps don’t make you more productive, new platforms don’t make you write more, and buying things is just an endless loop.

    Purchasing instead of learning gets you nowhere apart from deeper in debt. You don’t need to spend anything to become something, just time and effort — which is perhaps the most expensive thing you own. I wanted to become a good photographer (I still do) but there is nothing I can buy to make me one.

    Facebook could have fixed misinformation spread two years ago

    Alex Kantrowitz reforming the Share Button :

    A simple product tweak, the research indicated, would likely help Facebook constrain its misinformation problem more than an army of content moderators — all without removing a single post. In this scenario, adding some friction after the first share, or blocking sharing altogether after one share, could help mitigate the spread of misinformation on Facebook.

    Seems like another day, another revelation from the ‘Facebook Files’ and I am sure there are lots more to come. You can of course push back and claim that the leaks were of information gleamed from internal documents and not form actually decision makers but it’s clear that they reflect the overall nature of the beats.

    When it comes to misinformation, internal Facebook research noted that people are at least 4x more likely to see misinformation from a shares post. That is that if the original post users see is from outside of their friends list is four times more likely to be false, and up to 20 times in some situations. Lets that just sink in for a moment.

    Two years ago, Facebook discovered that users were seeing false information shared into their newsfeed and apparently did nothing about it. The research goes on to make a recommendation that adding friction to sharing or blocking sharing all together would help mitigate the issues they were facing. Whilst it’s not known for sure if any action was taken, employees did openly discuss the findings on internal systems, it is clear they did not make any meaningful changes.

    Going Deeper

    In July of this year, I quit twitter for the longest I ever have done. It was only about two weeks, but I did it properly this time, deactivated my account and everything. I can see your expression from here, I know this isn't an achievement to be lauded up, but it was pretty good for me. Having started to pull back in March, I had finally had enough. Every time I have tried to do it before, I failed. Finding myself checking the web app at least once a day. In many instances, I also just replaced Twitter with another social media platform, usually micro.blog.

    Granted, I am using Twitter again, but reading Deep Work by Call Newport is making me want to pull back again. Perhaps not from everything like the extreme examples given in the book, but I find myself nodding along to the majority of the points raised. There is no doubt I experience some side effects discussed. All the signs are there. Struggling to focus sometimes, getting distracted by simple things, massive procrastination, the list goes on.

    Frustratingly, this should have been already obvious having read The Shallows some years ago. I am becoming convinced that the modern connected world is running my brain, but I need it so much that I couldn’t even dream of long periods of deep work away from it all. I can’t put this all on social media, though. My, and in fact everyone's, relationship to email is broken. The unwritten expectation of swift replies has tormented me into time blocking my day to periods when I deal with email. Pushing everything else to the extremities does a lot for the work that I love.

    There is no better feeling of contentment than becoming engrossed in a task you enjoy. Focussing on a topic you relish engaging with, otherwise why do it, and having no distractions to bring you out of flow state. Time disappears and projects get completed, simply by removing the triggers. Long ago, I accepted that I can’t go back to simpler times, but I can make my time simpler. I can go deeper into tasks and I get far more enjoyment from doing so. Not only from completing the task at hand, but more enjoyment when I do surface.

    Roll this out to family time and other tasks that I love doing like photography and not only am I more engaged with what’s in front of me I am also enjoying social media more (email still sucks).

    The Solution Is More Journalism

    Charlie Warzel writes about what to do now we know all we do about Facebook:

    I think there’s also justified resentment among members of the press that true grifters, many of whom are barely even trying, are able to leverage platforms that are asleep at the wheel to access massive pools of attention with their reckless version of journalism that foments white grievance, legitimate conspiracy theorizing, and violence.

    The old way of publishing media is not just dying, it’s already dead. The gatekeepers of publications — the printers, the producers and the large corporations — no longer have the hold they once had. Information can spread wider and faster than it ever has before. Unfortunately, with that power shift come the, as Charlie calls them, Grifters. Those that aim to leverage this new power of publication and use it for their gains.

    Anyone with access to the internet and publication skills now has an unnatural reach around the globe. Shifting power to everyday people by giving them access to unlimited information, but very few filters on the actual information available.

    I don’t believe that any platform or organisation should decide what the truth is, but at least with the old way there was some level of accountability on the publications. I am not sure what the answer to the misinformation issue. It may be more journalism, more publishing and better independence from social platforms. One thing I do know is that if these issues are not stemmed soon the future will look back on this period with distain and laugh at how stupid we all were.

    Blog Envy

    The sheer number of repos I have on GitHub containing blog themes in various states of repair is a testament to my personality. Despite having been writing on the internet for more than a decade, I am never happy with what I have and spend too much time messing around with things instead of pushing out posts. Others get these feelings too, something I am calling blog envy.

    I look at blog designs like Birchtree.me and think to myself “I want a blog like that” and then go out and try to build one. Setting up a new local installation of Ghost, or WordPress, or whatever the thing at the time is I think I need to have. Of course, a few hours in I have something that looks somewhat like my inspiration but more like a cheap man's imitation. Importing posts and fixing things take a few more hours, when infact I should have spent those hours doing something more constructive.

    There is no doubt that I have picked up some skills in doing this, a fact that was put to the test when building my new home, but it was still a lot of time wasted. I am often reminded of a post by Nitin Khanna that expanded on an idea by Jeff Perry. It is a post well worth reading, unfortunately the original inspiration has been lost to Jeff’s restless blog syndrome, but if you will allow me to paraphrase a little. It draws parallels between not wanting to ruin a nice, expensive notebook with subpar notes, to playing with your blog so much you never write on it. Something I know a little about!

    I shouldn't beat myself up that much, but I see it in loads of others that spend money moving things about and getting nowhere apart from deeper in debt. Jealousy is not a bad emotion to have about the results of someone’s hard work and years’ worth of effort. However, the response is emulating the effort put in and not worry about the design or the way they do things. Not least because if you do finally achieve the emulation you desire, it won’t be yours anyway.

    Spending hours creating a website is fine, if you have something to put on there in the first place. When creating this very website I tried out loads of awesome designs but when push came to shove they just didn’t reflect me. My blog is an extension of me, and I shouldn’t be jealous of others because they are not me.

    The Best Laptop Keyboard I Have Ever Used

    Joshua Ginter on the difference between the M1 MacBook Air and the new MacBook Pro keyboards:

    There’s a noticeable difference between the new M1 Pro MacBook Pro Magic Keyboard and the M1 MacBook Air Magic Keyboard. The M1 Pro keyboard sounds different, has stronger feedback and actuation accuracy, and has smaller function-keys.

    I am no mechanical keyboard aficionado, but I love having a keyboard with the right amount of tactile feedback. There is something about having good key travel and a reassuring press that makes me feel at home.

    It is remarkable how much faster I type, how more accurate I am, and just how much more I want to write on a good keyboard. I am sure there his some science behind it, but I am not sure how I would even sum it all up adequately. As I wrote about previously, the butterfly keyboards I used were fine, the return to scissor switches was of course better — but the new MacBook Pros’ keyboards are superb.

    Tech Evangelism

    There were certain periods in my life where I was so ingrained into the world of technology that nothing else entered my mind. I was working in it all day, then writing and talking about it all night. It was my 'thing' and I enjoyed it, but I was boring. Sure, I loved being around cutting-edge technology, getting the inside scoop on loads of new things coming before the market did, but there comes a point where you're just not a well-rounded person any more.

    I was for all intents and purposes a 'fanboy'. The things I used where such a part of me that I felt I had found my tribe, and I was absolutely going to tell everyone about it. First it was Android because I chose to use Googles OS and not that stupid fruit one, my calling was to argue the point on almost everything there was about it. My friends all asked me for tech advice, came to me to know things, and I preached my calling to all that would listen.

    My journey to Apple was a long and boring one, but I don't feel like I needed to be like I was when I used Android. Now I am part of the Goliath and not fighting with my fellow Davids. That was until the iPad Air 2 came along. When handed one for my job, it had to quickly become my everything. On my journey to tweak and bend the iPad to work for me, I defended it as if it were my child. Because I was so invested in the whole ecosystem around working on an iPad, it became a part of me, and in many ways I was an "iPad guy" before many of the people currently looked up to even started. I was in before it was cool!

    I got emotional when people like Joshua Topolsky trashed by beloved iPad, and defended it to the death. It was in fact when using an iPad became too much I that I began to see that others may have a point too. My passion for something was blinding me to see anything else. When in fact there are far too many reasons behind what tools we use and things we buy that others may never understand. In much the case, we as content creators often feel the need to defend or explain our purchasing decisions to people that consume our things for reasons I still don’t understand myself.

    Now my tools mean very little to me. Sure, I have strong preferences towards iPhones and particularly macOS, but they are not part of me any longer. I love technology, and mainly stick to Apple products as I know them the best, but I can't be as evangelical for them as I used to be able to. In many respects the tribalism we feel is natural, no one likes things they love receiving negativity but it gets a bit much after a point. Use what you use and be happy.

    Sterling helps bring meditation to the masses

    Raheem Stirling speaking to Wired about the benefits of meditation:

    It’s only now that I can see the benefits of such a practice on people of all ages and I’m really looking forward to the difference we can make together in developing the conversation around mental health, educating on tools and resources that can help people manage everyday challenges.

    I wrote a while ago about the strange response you get from suggesting meditation to others. The perception of meditation is still very varied. Although now more than ever people seem open to trying new practices to improve their mental health, meditation is still a bit woo woo for most.

    Heaven forbid you utter the word mindfulness. Marketing companies seem to have ruined this word for anyone to use, carrying with it all kinds of hippie visions.

    Anything that brings this wonderful practice to more people, and allows others to see the benefits to almost everything in their life is a benefit. I am excited to see where this goes.

    A Writing Kanban

    I am a simple soul that falls for far too many marketing ploys. Companies don’t even have to put much effort in, either. I listen to people on the internet far more than I should do. It only takes a post like this by Josh Gunter for me to clean up my Ulysses set up and dive back into it again.

    This could be the fourth or fifth time I have returned to using Ulysses. I’m never quite sure why I stop, I just get destructed by the new hottest thing and have my head turned. I try almost every new thing because, as Josh says in the opening live of his Ulysses set up post, “I have these on-again, off-again relationships with certain types of apps”. Although he doesn’t with writing apps, these and task managers are my weakness — but after last time I really should have learnt my lesson.

    Enough self deprivation, let’s move on. I found the idea of a kanban set up of-sorts inside Ulysses interesting. Although my usual use of an inbox and folders for deferent types of post weren’t a million miles away, this is another step towards regular posting. For me, it’s all about getting things down on paper, at least digitally. It’s easy to forget ideas, or lose them in another notes app, but storing everything in an inbox or ideas folder should help me write more. It also won’t hurt to allow me to delete a few once the idea has settled a little!

    By moving things down the question a little, I am already writing a bit more when I have a few moments, or checking over posts that I need to edit. Filling a few moments with writing or jotting down notes rather than anything else. Storing ideas and links for posts is also easy with Shortcuts integrations with Ulysses, I may share this Shortcut once I have settled on a set-up I am happy with. You never quite know with me, I might be on to the next thing pretty soon, but this setup should push me to publish more. Please check it out for yourself and see if this setup could improve your workflow to.

    Instagram On The Web

    In all the time sucking manipulative apps I have ever installed on my phone, Instagram gets me every time. The Facebook affect has turned my once beloved app into a cesspool of attention-seeking posts that use all the UI tricks in the book to hook me in. It gets me every time. There are too many good things about it to stop using my account completely, so imagine my surprise when posting from the web became available.

    As part of quite a few updates to the way Instagram works that are happening at the moment, Meta have launched web posting after announcing the upcoming feature in January. It’s a welcome feature to. Everyone who uses a camera knows the slight annoyance of editing your image in Lightroom after importing from an SD card. Only then having to save to Photos or send it to your phone to post to Instagram. Sure, it’s a first world problem, but it always felt like one that could be fixed. Instagram has a web interface, yet chose to close off parts of the experience to only mobile users — no doubt all in the pursuit of growth.

    As much as I love using Glass there are far more people on Instagram and I find more posts of awesome pictures for me to look at. So sucking me straight in and wasting my time doesn’t take much doing, especially with all the wonderful autumn colours in new images being posted. Thankfully, I am awe of this and try to limit my usage or not have the app installed unless I want to post. It feels like this update is for people like me to solve the two issues pointed out above but still get usage.

    It’s not perfect. There are still a few features missing from the web experience, such as editing previously posted images, but it’s a gigantic improvement. Along with recently going back to allowing image previews on Twitter it’s great to see the service improving. If they could just get rid of the shopping tab and actually get interested in me adding photos again, that would be great!

    A New Home

    I know what you're thinking…. again! This time I haven't fallen out with myself and moved just because someone else told me how good their blogging platform is. Or decided that I want to try to quit something yet again. This time it's a little more important because I have got my hands on a new domain and wanted to build something to last.

    After years of trying, literally the first time I tried was 2014, I have managed to purchase gregmorris.co.uk. It took a while of going backwards and forwards with domain buyers, but here we are. Now that I have a domain that reflects me a little better, I wanted a website that reflects what I am up to. It didn’t seem right just porting my scruffy WordPress blog and I have been lusting after something more portfolio based for a long time.

    My first thoughts were to implement my photography into my blog posts here on Ghost, but I annoy enough people with the range of things I post about that I didn’t want to worsen it with my photos too. So I built this.

    It isn’t all my work. The theme started off as Edge, a photography-based theme that is official and free. The theme looks lovely, but I dusted off my skills and made a blog page to go with it that is brand new. I also tidied up the CCS, made things my own and implemented a dark mode (your eyes will thank me). I’ve worked really hard on it, hence the radio silence for a while and dedicated a lot of my time to learning many new skills. Likewise, I keep expecting things to break, but they seem OK at the moment as long as I don’t keep playing with it.

    What about GR36?

    Nothing will happen with that domain for a while. All of my posts have moved over, but redirecting all the historical traffic I get will take some time for me to work out how to do it best. I will more than likely keep the domain around for the foreseeable, and do something with it once I am happy that everything is done correctly. I am a little sad that after more than a decade blogging gr36.com might die off, but I am excited that my website better reflects my interests.

    For the next few weeks, expect internal links to be a little broken on my new website as I update everything. I kept all the permanent link structure the same, but there is no avoiding a complete domain change. I have a new RSS feed which I may point the GR36 one at shortly.

    I would love to know your feedback and opinions on anything I should change, privately if possible.

    Can You Stop Messing Around With Keyboards Now?

    At their October event Apple unveiled huge improvements to the ‘pro’ line up of laptops. Moving the whole line over to their own silicone, adding in more ports and silently whispering an apology. Despite more than 5 years meddling with them, adding in needless features as well overcomplicating and compromising their laptops — they are done with meddling with keyboards. How long this will last, who knows, but the simple (all be it silent) admission that can be read between the lines, is that they were wrong in almost all areas. The constant march towards thinner and thinner devices simply does not work with laptops.

    In order to slim down their laptop line in the last few years Apple, understandably, made quite a few decisions that were at detriment to its users. Battery life suffered. Connectivity needed by many of its users was removed and replaced by dongles, but most damaging was the compromise to the working of the laptop. The butterfly keyboard is perhaps one of the most damming decisions Apple has ever made about its computers. I was one of the lucky ones that wasn’t affected at all through my usage of them, yet still queued up to pick up my 2020 version once they returned to more traditional scissor switches.

    As someone that types out thousands of words a day, I do have some opinions on these keyboards but this post isn’t really about them. It’s more about the way companies view the keyboards themselves. They have improved slightly over the years, but remained pretty mush as they were decades ago. A bit like the mouse, you can mess around with some things, add in buttons or make using it easier to use, but you cant change the way they work. The touch points are the most important area of a computer, and like handle bars on a bike, need to feel good and work well.

    Who knows if Apple saw the future of typing on their computers as being as close to glass as possible, but that’s not a future I want to be a part of. The butterfly keyboards I used were fine, you get used to them in the end (unless yours breaks) but as soon as you return to something using scissor switches you realise who bad they are. Nothing beats good key travel and a nice tactile feel — there are whole industries built around it worth more than $1billion.

    I can forgive the Touchbar (also now removed) as a gimmick that Apple thought would become more useful. It didn’t hurt the keyboard, apart from needing more concentration to use than it should do, but messing around with the keyboard itself gets much more of a reaction. The company is now aware that is customers like full-Sized, tactile keys but I am not sure why it took 5 years to work it out. Perhaps now they will stop messing around with the keyboard and continue to build thicker, more capable laptops that have what their customers need.

    Meta Dismissive

    Casey Newton on Facebook going Meta:

    It struck me, given the recent conversation around how old and out of touch Facebook has been lately, how strong the Boomer vibes were coming from those reacting to Thursday’s presentation. A surprising number of people seem to think that technological progress ended with the smartphone, and that augmented reality, virtual reality, and connected experiences between platforms will never come to pass.

    I’m not into all opinions that seems a little bit like an old man shaking his fist at the sky being labelled ‘boomer’ but I completely understand where Casey is coming from here.

    I don’t think there is anyone of the opinion that technological advancements stopped at the smartphone but if you are of a certain age the prospect of VR/AR being “the future” has been spouted for decades and is still not here. So it may seem to some that land never seems to appear over the horizon.

    All through the 80’s and 90’s VR was promised and hinted at through all sorts of media. Movies like the Lawnmower Man, and video games systems such as the Virtual Boy seemed to be the vanguard of a new era — only for the noise to die out for another couple of decades. We’ve also been searching for the next thing after mobile for years, so I think we can excuse the dismissive tendencies even without whoever is trying to build these things.

    My Blog Is An Extension Of Me

    I go backwards and forwards about what I want gr36.com to be. Over the years it has been a portfolio of sorts, an attempt at being a news website, a podcast host and lots of things in between. Nowadays it’s decidedly more amateur and more of an extension of myself that evolves over time depending on what I am up to and an extension of myself.

    I don’t even have a ‘thing’ I want to write about. Most people seem to have an issue, or a cause, or even an interest they want to cover all the ins and outs of. I loosely revolve around technology but expand into all sorts of areas that I am interested in, but I guess thats the point a personal blog should be an extension of the person hitting the publish button.

    Everything that my blog is I have learnt to do. I have studied zero computing skills officially, but my blog as taught me HTML and CSS skills along with some serve management things, SEO knowledge and a vast number of things — many of which I have already forgotten. The current WordPress is self-hosted, when it was micro.blog I had to learn all the Hugo things that made it tick. As such, in times of hardship when I wonder why bother I remember that my blog is more than words, it is a place I have grown.

    But most importantly, I want to be able to be wrong. I want to change my mind! I want to evolve. . . .blogging feels to me like a world of endless drafting, endless revisioning. – Austin Kleon

    I have written a great many words, most of them terrible, but most of which have taught me something about myself just through the act of typing them out. I have changed my mind, worked thing through and changed as a person because I have written them on the internet. I want to be held accountable for the words that come from me and a blog is the best place to do it. As Austin write about above, it’s more forgiving than putting all of your thoughts on social media. You are allowed to get things wrong. Be forgiven for the occasional (or more than occasional) spelling mistake or typo because a blog is you.

    Much like the post on a blog, that you can edit, improve, and grow them they reflect the thoughts that spurred them in the first place. Austin Kleon also goes on to point out the importance of getting things wrong later in his post he says “Being wrong publicly is the easiest way to learn what you need to know.” This applies to a friend texting you to say that the MacBook Pro 13″ has two ports and not four, but also to opinions you have on anything. I can get things wrong in person, or on social media, but there is nothing quite like writing a post and growing because I wrote it.

    The design is a bit weird; the words are hit and miss but it’s my blog, and it’s personal.

    Edit: Not long after this I found a new home

    Shortcut For Easy Apple Passwords Access

    As much as I love 1Password, I don’t love having to pay yet another subscription. So when Apple overhauled their password manager I was intrigued to try it out as fast as possible. Sure, using a fully integrated system probably isn’t the safest way to do things, but given 1Passwords move away from OS specific apps these improvements could be exactly what I needed.

    At first look it works well enough to get most people going. Improving the security of average users accounts by suggesting much stronger passwords. The recent improvements also allows users to add in one time passwords, otherwise referred to as two factor authentication codes. Without doubt it is leading users down a path to making sure their accounts are much more secure and anything that allows you to do this without any technical knowledge is a good move. Even if it is perhaps not the very best practice to follow it is better than no password manager at all.

    With that said, entry of passwords is not always the easiest when compared to other options. Providing the website or app is developed correctly you can put in usernames, passwords and two factor codes with a few taps, but if not it is a pain to go into setting and find them. Well this Shortcut created by Reddit user Krokmau enables access on not just iOS but also macOS providing you have the Monterey update installed allowing access to Shortcuts. Once run it will detect what OS is being used and display the passwords stored in iCloud.

    Grab it HERE

    I have pinned this to my menu bar on my mac as well as put it in the iOS widget on my homescreen so I have easier access than I have ever had before. I am sure Apple will improve things moving forward but perhaps not for another year. So in the mean time this Shortcut will save you loads of time hunting around in settings.

    Review Bias Is A Thing

    Lee Peterson on his lack of trust in #giftfromgoogle reviews:

    As part of the Pixel 6 rollout Google gives out their latest devices to YouTubers and they are encouraged to share their thoughts via this hashtag. Don’t trust these reviews, it’s a gift so it’s already in the name they will mostly be a biased view point showing the positives not a real work review.

    So just like pretty much every review then. Look I get it, the hashtag is a bit weird this year, and perhaps is a way to display #ad without actually saying it — but Google gives out Pixels to people all over YouTube every year — just like what seems like every other brand on the planet.

    With that said, I agree with Lee. I absolutely do not believe what half the reviews say on YouTube currently. I have to watch loads of them to get an overview of what is actually going on and then try and pick out the topics reviewers have been told to cover. It’s pretty easy to pick them out because the same words are repeated but some brands are being downright manipulative about what is shown. Anyone remember the original Surface duo weird review embargoes? The below video from Mrwhosetheboss goes through the issues we face as consumers in loads of detail.

    [embed]youtube.com/watch

    Add Information To Notion With Shortcuts

    Without getting too much into the tools I use (yet again) I have been enjoying using Notion lately for all of my productivity needs. It’s not perfect but the power and flexibility it offers me for free is pretty crazy. One of the downsides is using it on the go as the iOS apps leave a little to be desired, but seeing as my usage on mobile is limited now I built a shortcut to help out.

    The Set Up

    The Notion API has been around a little while but it’s very under utilised in my opinion. Given the fact Notion appeals to a wide rage of businesses and individuals alike it comes as no surprised that the API allows for quite a lot to be achieved without even opening the app. In order to get access to this you will need to visit their integrations page and set up you own access token.

    1 – Whilst signed in to Notion, head to the main page for setting up automation and add a new integration with a name of your choice. Once set up you will need the API Key, so copy this somewhere safe. This allows limitless access to your Notion data (with a few bits of extra information needed) so please keep it safe!

    2 -Second you will need the ID of the database you want to add information into, you can find this in the URL when the database is open as a page. This does not work with Linked Databases so make sure you have the original one open and copy the URL.

    https://www.notion.so/{workspace_name}/{database_id}?v={view_id}
    

    If you have only one Workspace you wont have the Workspace name in your URL, so just copy everything after the Notion URL and before the question mark.

    While you have this page open share this database with your integration by clicking ‘Share’ then ‘Add people, emails, groups or integrations’ and selecting the integration you just set up. This gives the API full access to this database only. In my example below this is my ‘Inbox’ where everything goes first for me to sort out later on at my desk.

    The Shortcut

    Download the Shortcut found here. Paste in the API Key when requested and secondly add in the Database ID. You can change these afterwards by editing the commented text boxes with the relevant data.

    Once run, this simple set upasks you for a title and some content for the quick database entry you are making. This then puts the information into the below JSON format using the supplied variables. The real power of using the Notion API is the possibilities are huge. The API contains the ability to set up any number of blocks inside this page, rich text styling, adding images and loads more. You can find out more information in their extensive API documents.

    {
        "parent": { "database_id": "{database ID}" },
        "properties": {
            "title": {
          "title": [{ "type": "text", "text": { "content": "{page title}" } }]
            }
        },
        "children": [
        {
          "object": "block",
          "type": "paragraph",
          "paragraph": {
            "text": [{ "type": "text", "text": { "content": "{block content}" } }]
          }
        }
      ]
    }
    

    I have set up a few of these to be able to add in items for my Todo list, blog post ideas and also clip web information for me to look at later on. I may look at creating something much bigger in future as my usage of Notion increases, it may never pull me away from Obsidian fully but it’s an amazing service none the less. If you create something I would love to see where you go with the Notion API and Shortcuts.

    Don’t buy the M1 MacBook Pro

    Matt Birchler with some comments on the MacBook to buy:

    I would argue the only Apple Silicon Mac I can’t recommend is the 13” MacBook Pro. It’s several hundred dollars more than the Air and gets you the same performance in a larger body.

    My first thought was of course you wouldn’t buy the 13″ model when something so good has just launched. To be honest I wasn’t really aware that the ‘older’ model (can’t really call it old now can we) was still available but sure enough there it sits starting at £1299. No doubt to give Apple a marketing angle that their pro laptops start at a lot less than they actually do.

    Sure, look at the MacBook Pros in isolation and the base model, hell even the £1499 512gb version is an attractive purchase for some people. A saving of at least £400 is nothing to be sniffed at. However throw the MacBook Air into the mix and it makes no sense to go for a cheaper Pro.

    There will be some people out there that need 4 ports, or want to squeeze out a couple extras hours of battery life and there are some very minute differences in performance but for the saving of several hundred pounds more the macBook Air is the machine to go for unless you have deep pockets.

    Edit: turns out the 13” MacBook Pro has the same two ports as the Air. So even less reasons to buy it.

    Making Bets On The Future Is Risky

    Jon Porter on Apple being ready to admit it was wrong about the future of laptops:

    Whether that’s because Apple is more dominant when it comes to smartphones or just because the benefits of wireless audio were more obvious to people than USB-C accessories, people seem to have been far more ready to roll with Apple’s annoying headphone jack decision. There’s a valid debate to be had about whether Apple kicked off a trend towards wireless audio or whether its move just turbocharged one that was already taking place, but either way, Apple made a bet that the future of smartphone audio was wireless, and for all intents and purposes, it seems to have paid off.

    It is unusual for Apple to be early into new spaces of technology it is not unusual on them making bets on the future of computing. Some of these fail (butterfly keyboards), some of them take a long time to come to fruition (flash), and some are forced through simply because Apple is behind them (headphone jacks). All of these are calculated by people far more intelligent than you or I, but theses always those waiting around to point some fingers. Generally speaking Apple seem to take the approach that in computing it’s better to be at the front and corse correct when possible, then be behind and risk missing the boat entirely.

    Whilst the linked post above is vastly exaggerated, it’s great to see Apple willing to make corrections when needed. With that said replacing the SD card slot is not admitting they were wrong on USB-C at all, as pointed out they just don’t have the clout to push forward like they do on mobile. Most devices seem to still be sold with a USB-A cable at least on one end, and with so many brands dragging their heels it becomes a drag to carry around a dongle but not as bad as others seem to make out.

    Apple didn’t put USB-A ports back in their laptops, but they did concede the the future is not as wireless as they might have thought. Unfortunately just a few months after admitting their bet on the future of keyboards they now return to a macBook that argues it has “pro-level” connectivity, when in fact it has a similar set up to a macBook found in 2015. Ouch.

    But I Already Have A Dongle

    Jason Snell on the Exile from Dongletown:

    Apple’s argument for getting rid of the SD slot was that the future would be wireless, and we wouldn’t need to use cards to transfer data anymore. It wasn’t true back in 2016, and it’s still not true. Sure, some devices equipped with SD cards now offer wireless data transfer, but let me tell you—it’s not as fast or reliable as just plugging in a card and transferring the data!

    I still see this crop up from time to time. “I don’t need one because I have a dongle now” or “my camera supports some weird transfer over WiFi that I need an app for”. Nothing beats having an SD in your laptop, even more so for one aimed at pros.

    I might be an edge case for people that will buy a MacBook Pro but I use 2-3 cards in rotation almost daily. Having to shoot onto multiple cards because they fill up fast. Not to mention I am away from my computer while doing this so I rely on being able to transfer all of this onto my Mac in one go. Even in a world where things have moved forward a few years and some cameras are moving partly to CFexpress but an SD card slot just makes sense if you have the room in the machine to put one.

    A dongle is fine, but a built in slot is better.

    The Pro Default

    I always love a good trip to the Apple store. A little to gaze at all its capitalist glory, but I usually have a good chat with the person sorting my stuff out and enjoy meeting some new people. Picking up my Apple Watch last week was no different and I had a good chat about the recent iPhone with the person helping me. We chatted for quite a while about their range of Pro devices.

    We joked about what even is a Pro device, and that it means different things on different products, but they pointed out the surprising range of people that buy Pro branded products. To give you the cliff notes of our conversation, they pointed put how great the iPhone 13 is, and the iPad / MacBook Air. It’s great to have a device at every price point, but the reality is that a lot of people buy the most expensive one they can afford and often stretch to buy the Pro device without the need.

    The anecdotal evidence seems to point towards the same conclusions. Your local coffee house features people browsing the internet, or writing Word docs on £1500+ laptops, and I have lost count of the number of friends whose children have written a MacBook Pro on their Christmas list. Every year when the new iPhone comes around, I see a whole new range of people that buy the expensive Pro phone and start taking photos walks for a few weeks to justify the costs. Sure, people can spend money however they wish, and more power to you, but Pro shouldn’t be your default.

    This was even more evident, something I almost feel for myself, at yesterday’s event. Apple launched some new, good but staggeringly expensive, laptops yesterday which most people have zero need for. I work in a field that typically relies on powerful equipment to export video and manipulate designs easily and the power is still far more than I need. My 2017 iMac still doesn’t miss a beat, and no doubt more power would speed things up, but the cost isn’t worth the trade-off.

    These Pros are for those that need serious power on the go, yet I have a feeling I will see these all over the place in a few weeks. Apple devices have always been a status thing for some. Like designer clothing the enjoyment comes from brandishing something just for the cost – or so I am told. I can’t wait to be able to pick those notched screens out with not too much trouble and have a look at what tasks are being done on a machine that is at least a thousand pound more expensive than required.

    Of course, you do you, but the rest of the range are great too you know. Perhaps something cheaper might actually be better for you.

    I Don’t Use My Phone Much

    Every time I tweet these words or heaven forbid say them out loud, I get a wide variety of strange looks and responses. Many of which I couldn’t really understand and some of which could be the start of alienation completely. For some strange reason, some people took this personally — and that’s weird.

    You may see my lack of need to use my phone as a statement of superiority. That I am looking down on those that do use their phones a lot, and while it could come across like this, nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is I could be seen on the same level as those weird families that didn’t have a TV while you were growing up. Not in a modern way — they don’t feel the need because they watch shows on a tablet or laptop — but because they don’t like it. These people seem to look down on others that did have a TV, and as Joey on friends asked, I never quite worked out what all their furniture pointed at.

    I did use my phone a lot in years gone past. When spending hours and days on the road it became my lifeline back to my family and my working device. Sure I had an iPad, but my phone was always the biggest and best battery life iPhone I could get. It never left my person and I used it constantly.

    Until the iPad mini was announced I was also talking myself into going with the Pro Max version this year and wrote about my thought process behind it (and some self-affirmation I needed). However, I spend most of my day sat at an iMac and when I am at home I just want to be away from things. So, my phone only fills in the small gaps now, it’s small itself because my needs have changed. I don’t use it much, but not in a weird way!

    A Month Without An Apple Watch

    I’ve been toying with the idea of not using an Apple Watch on off for a few years. Usually when summer rolls around and I don’t want a tan line I think about leaving it at home more, but always go back after a few days. Well, this year I had an enforced hiatus from having an Apple Watch and its taught me a few things.

    I wrongly sold my Apple Watch a week before the new one was announced thinking I would be without it for a little over two weeks maximum. Yet here we are a month later and still a week or so to wait. It has been a weird experience because I have had one strapped to my wrist since the first version. In fact, it is one of my favourite devices that I have ever purchased and, until the Series 6, have upgraded religiously each time. I can boil the reasons why I love wearing an Apple Watch Down to two areas and lacking one for a while has allowed me to see things a bit more clearly.

    Heath Tracking

    I love being active, It’s as simple as that. Although many life things get in the way I always find time to work out, even just a little. Before the Apple Watch launched, I went through a series of fitness trackers, running watches and fuel bands. Nothing quite filled the areas that I wanted nor provided me with something I could rely on.

    This is the area I have missed most while being ‘Apple Watchless’. Although I have enjoyed the odd run a little more being freed from the ability to check how fast I am going, I miss the tracking. Being able to see how much I have been moving and see if I need to push a little further to fill my rings is priceless. I also like being able to keep an eye on my heart rate first thing in the morning and can often spot tiredness or illness coming before I feel it.

    Of course, there are alternatives to this. However, health data is so personal I don’t trust anyone else with it. I have years of health data in iCloud, so the simple fact is I won’t go anywhere else. I could use the Strava phone app and a HR monitor and sync this into Apple Health but the Apple Watch just makes everything so seamless.

    Notifications

    This has been the biggest revelation. Whilst I thought I was doing pretty well with managing all the dings and red dots. Turns out I have just been triaging them on my Apple Watch and not sorting the issue. Due to the easy to feel taps on the wrist I can forget about, I have had my phone on silent for years and never really given it much attention. Now that I must have my phone on ringer, I have sorted the problem out for good. Setting up Home, Work and Sleep Focus modes to make sure I only get what I need. Don’t get me wrong I had all the usual suspects turned off but was still pinged a surprising number of times by apps I had neglected. Such las Apples own media apps and personal email.

    Overall. It has been an interesting experience, but I can’t wait to order one on Friday and return to some normality. It’s weird that a bit of tech has thrown me. I could live without it, but I don’t really want to.

    iPhone 13 Pro Review: Another Step Forward

    Last year I decided the iPhone 12 Pro was the best choice in the line-up. It offered the best compromise for getting the best technology in a smartphone while not having to carry around a giant surfboard. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t perfect and didn’t feature the absolute best Apple has to offer leading some (myself included) to be a little frustrated in choosing a phone. Things are much fairer this year, but the choice is still a difficult one.

    Whilst last year I bought all models of phone this time around I narrowed it down to two. My choice was between the iPhone 13 Mini for its awesome form factor or the iPhone 13 Pro. The more manageable ‘smaller’ version of Apples top of the line Pro models is better than ever in the key areas that users will care about – battery, camera, and screen.

    More Juice

    Many words have been written about the iPhone 12 battery life. It wasn’t that bad if you take the iPhone 11 out of the equation, but we were so spoilt by the 2019 versions that 2020 felt disappointing. Apple claimed it stayed similar, but it went from great down to just ok.

    Thankfully, they have returned to greatness with the iPhone 13 Pro. Being on par with the 11 Pro, and in some cases much better. I have struggled to get lower than 40% left when going from 7am to 8pm, and power users shouldn’t struggle with achieving 5hours of regular usage with plenty left in the tank. It brings back a level of confidence that you will get through the day with very few issues.

    The new A15 is touted as being responsible for most of these gains, with not just increased ability but also more efficiency cores. The iPhone is already overpowered for what is needed from a smartphone, but Apple still pushed forward and developed another step forward in its chips. The A15 has two performance and four efficiency cores so most of the time it will be idling along only using little power but ramp up when needed. Obviously, the iPhone 13 Pro will never miss a beat, no matter what you are doing, but neither did the two generations that went before it. The new 5 core GPU plays games and does everything you want with ease.

    All the tech crammed into the iPhone 13 Pro helps maximise battery life. The performance and power saving ability of the A15 help, as does the updated screen, but the fact is the phone contains a bigger battery. The trade-off being an increase in weight from 187 grams to 203 grams which is considerable, and noticeable as soon as you pick the phone up. Only you will know if the trade-off is worth it to you — but just know that this isn’t magic giving you extra power through the day.

    Super Shooter

    Not all the heft can be attributed to a bigger battery thought, as the iPhone 13 Pro sports a much bigger camera housing and more protruding lenses. Thankfully, Apple are not hiding it away this year, and embracing the massive bulk because it once again provides the best camera in a smart phone.

    You can hem and haw about Android this and that, but the reality is every year the new iPhone comes out the others play catch up. There is a lot to be said about the image processing producing a photo you like, but without sounding too much like a fan boy, Apple have constantly taken strides (or steps) forward each year with their cameras.

    I am not sure that it is, as Apple say, the biggest camera update yet, but it is a big one. With all this said most people won’t be able to tell the difference in the images from any iPhone in the last 3 years but if you’re into the details it becomes obvious.

    All three lenses have been updated and are the same across the Pro line up this year. The wide camera being the most obvious upgrade, featuring sensor shift stabilisation that only featured on its big brother last year, and improving to ƒ/1.5 aperture. Combined with bigger 1.9 µm pixels the sensor captures 47% more light, meaning images are not only more detailed in darker areas but also easier and quicker to capture.

    The telephoto goes to ƒ/2.8 aperture, from ƒ/2.0 aperture but is 3x rather than 2x so don’t let that fool you. Allowing you to get in tighter to things that you can’t “zoom with your feet” and produces noticeably sharper images compared to previous models. I still feel a little like Apple neglects the telephoto and still leans far too much on a cropped main sensor image in lower light than it should, but the improvements are noticeable and very welcome. I like using the telephoto to get closer to images without moving so I can shoot quicker, and the standard of image produces by the new telephoto is closer to the wide camera, but still not as good.

    Another update is the Ultra-Wide, ridding itself of the terrible ƒ/2.4 aperture to a more usable ƒ/1.8 aperture. This is not a lens I use very often and find it a little too wide for creating anything other than arty alternative angles. However, when I do, the improvements are a huge step up. Shadows are much better and not as muddy with more detail retained. An improvement this vast might get me to use it a bit more.

    To be honest my photography has truly little need for an angle as wide as the 13mm equivalent, but I might use the new macro mode. Get within 10cm of a subject the camera will switch to the wide angle in macro mode, allowing you to focus on subjects down to 2cm away. I remain reserved on the novelty wearing off, but it’s certainly great to have the option, even if the interface is a little confusing.

    I got a little excited writing about the tech specs of the iPhone 13 Pro camera, but all of these won’t mean a thing to most users. What they will notice is the images are easier and quicker to capture than ever before giving you confidence that in almost any situation you will get the shot you want. Photographic Styles will also let you tune your images during capture to constantly get images that you will love every time.

    Refreshed Screen

    Finally, right! Whilst Android phones have been implementing higher refresh rates for several years, Apples phones have been rumoured but never received the attention they needed. The push back was that iOS mitigated the need for a refresh above 60hz, but as soon as you use anything better you begin to understand. ProMotion is not new, being in iPad Pro for quite some time, but makes the iPhone feel much more fluid.

    It’s hard to tell when you first start using the device, as its more powerful too, but as soon as you go back you instantly feel it. The screen retains all of specs in iPhone screens we’ve seen for a few years, with a boost in the brightness of the screen up to 1,000nits, but the big story is ProMotion. The Apple tech used intelligently changes the screen refresh rate between 120hz down to 10hz when required. Saving your eyes, and your battery life.

    This is one of those features that seems like it should have been done a long time ago. However, I trust that Apple waited for the tech to catch up and the battery life to not be affected too much. ProMotion is a nice to have feature, but not a necessity unless you use it and then unfortunately it has now ruined me for other phones.

    Goldilocks

    There is simply no denying that this year if you want the best of the best the iPhone 13 Pro is the phone to go for. It offers significant upgrades over the already improved ‘regular’ line up but most of which users won’t notice. It is undeniable that the £170 extra gets you a much more capable phone that it’s hard to turn down if you know what you are looking for.

    The screen makes using the phone much smoother and enjoyable. The camera captures better images quicker and the battery gives you the confidence to do it all day. You will see loads of these in use over the next few months as people upgrade. Not because of these improvements but because it’s the new iPhone and that’s OK.

    You don’t need to be into specs to get the benefits. The iPhone 13 Pro improves the lives of average users and the experience of power users. It’s a win-win.

    iPhone 13 Mini Review: Problems Solved

    When the iPhone 12 launched I couldn’t make my mind up which one of the all-new line up I wanted. Granted it was a weird year with different release dates, but in the end I ordered them all. Which was an interesting endeavour to see the real-world differences between using them. Most of which are not obvious from simply reading professional reviews. At the time I stuck on the iPhone 12 Pro which I called the Goldilocks phone, but throughout the year I switched between almost all models because I am weak.

    They all had advantages and disadvantages. Despite all being great phones, almost all were the same old iPhone and didn’t do anything for me. All apart from the Mini version. If you will allow me to quote myself.

    when I set my hands on the iPhone 12 Mini it sparked something in me that I have not felt for a while. It was the same old iOS device I love, but it was different for a change. A truly modern smartphone in a small package with pretty much nothing taken away.

    All of those feelings are still strong, every time you handle the mini form factor. It does take a little getting used to, even more so if you’ve used larger phones, but there is much to be said about being able to reach the whole screen with one hand. Packing a 5.4″ screen, it’s only a fraction under the ones used on Plus sized phones in days gone by — but in a tiny little package. However you’re not going to be reading any books or scrolling through stuff for hours on this phone without some eye strain.

    The screen retains almost all of the specs from last years model, coming in at 476 ppi and the usual expected quality from Apple displays. Thankfully, it receives a boost in max brightness to 800nits, which only becomes apparent in bright sunshine, but it’s a welcome one. The iPhone 12 line struggled in some conditions despite its 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio and True Tone technology. Thankfully no such issues plague either iPhone 13 version. You’ll also get a smaller notch in the screen too, but if you notice it you’re paying more attention than I do.

    Did I mention it’s small? Also light at only 140g, which rids me of the pinky pain that can strike with heavier phones. I know most phone reviews are written by individuals that have a few more years on me so are not bothered about carrying around a huge slab of glass, but for those of us more interested in having something more manageable, how great the phone is to use is already obvious from the words above.

    Build quality is exactly what you would expect from a top-of-the-line smartphone from Apple. I am still extremely negative towards the flat sides of the newer iPhones, but thankfully the ‘regular’ line of iPhones lacks the polished stainless-steel edges, so they are more smudge resistant. Unfortunately, the back of my Midnight version is not! The black(ish) version this year is a very dark blue that is a lot lighter than expected, with the glass back showing handling marks constantly.

    I usually shy away from spending too much time on the performance and ability of new iPhones. They have been faster and more powerful than users will ever need for some years now and that doesn’t change here. The A15 chip in all the new iPhones features improvements to last years A14 in both performance and battery life. I am sure you can find words about cores and GPUs in other places, but its hard to say anything about specs like this other than its great. Shrug emoji!

    Big Shooter

    The phone itself is ever so slightly thicker than last year, but you won’t notice it using the mini. Most of the heft is in the bigger camera system. One that takes the wide-angle lens that featured only on the iPhone 12 Max last year, combines it with what is, at first glance, the same ultra-wide from last year and puts it in a new diagonal set up.

    The conspiracy theorist in me side eyes the slight tweak to the camera positioning as a way to signal your use of the new phone, but Apple claim they had to move it slightly to fit everything in. Which is an amazing achievement. I find it incredible that the camera lens and sensor shift stabilisation that only featured in the biggest phone last year makes its way to the smallest handset available. Bravo to Apple for not taking the easy way out.

    What this means to users is that the new Wide sensor lets in 47% more light and keeps the sensors more stable than ever. The camera on the iPhone 13 is more confident than ever, providing faster capture, longer night mode shots and a better all-round experience than anything that I have used. Sure, not since the iPhone XS have I been disappointed in an iPhone camera update, but this one lives up to the hype.

    The iPhone 12 cameras, particularly on the Pro, were excellent shooter, but tended to blow out highlights if you are not paying attention. When things got dark, night mode helped, but without having the steadiest hand in the world, images often left you with a water colour rather than a pin sharp shot. With the new camera system and more processing power the cameras take a big leap forward.

    I can confidently wave the camera at almost any scene and get a great shot. Night mode needs around a second less in my testing to achieve better results than last year and shadows retain much more detail. Most people won’t notice the image improvements, because they were great before, but everyone will notice pictures are easy to take.

    I would have loved this to also feature the new ƒ/1.8 aperture ultra-wide from the pro models (Apple do claim the ultra-wide lens is ‘faster’) but I can’t have everything I suppose. There’s also no macro mode from the pro models, but in my testing, this isn’t as good as it is made out to be. All in all this is a significant improvement all around. Perhaps not enough to warrant an upgrade from the iPhone 12, but one that will make even pixel peepers happy.

    Big Cells

    The reality is I don’t use my phone all that much so When Apple introduced a mini version of an up-to-date smartphone it instantly grabbed my attention. The perfect handset for me. Well Almost. The iPhone 12 Mini lacked in battery life so badly that in the times I was away from home (few in 2020) it was always a concern — so I disappointingly went back to a regular 12 and sulked.

    In fact, it was the biggest compliant I saw from other users, or potential buyers. The battery life was average, as long as you didn’t expect to use it like a big phone. This year, the Mini sports what Apple claim is 1.5 extra hours of battery life – which is only a useful stat if you have something to compare that too.

    Apple figures are almost impossible to follow along with, and they use all sorts of figures to avoid telling you what to expect. In my testing the battery life is around 20% better than last year’s model. The iPhone 13 Mini lasts around as long as the iPhone 11, which is as Apple claim 17 hours of video playback.

    In the real world I can easily use my phone for 3–4 hours (I did it for science) and still have around 40% left. However, I don’t have notifications on for anything other than phone calls, messages, and emails, and don’t use many apps outside of banking, Twitter, Instagram etc. The iPhone 13 Mini still won’t stand up to someone using their phone lots (or so-called power users) but this phone is not the appeal for those people.

    I don’t have some anti-phone stance, but when I spend my days talking to my family, sat in a meeting with an iPad and Pencil or sat in front of an iMac the Mini is perfect. It fills the gaps I need it to but perhaps it won’t fill yours. It isn’t for everyone.

    Less Is More

    It’s not all good news though, because the small form factor has some downsides. Modern life seems to point most users towards a larger and larger device, so using a ‘smaller’ phone is not conductive to all tasks. I have small hands, to typing on the mini is great for me but everyone else I have shown it to struggles.

    There is a cultural expectation to be small phone adverse which becomes apparent when people ask about your phone. Others use words like “too small for me” or “its tiny” when in fact it isn’t small at all. Many of them are already using phones that are marginally bigger, if at all, but the Mini feels much more compact than it is.

    There is not much that can be said about the iPhone 13 Mini that isn’t summed up in a few words. It’s ultimately an iPhone so you know what you are getting, a top-of-the-line phone in a small package. The iPhone 13 Mini is an upgrade as if Apple went through the phone and ironed out the few, but large, issues from the iPhone 12 Mini. Meaning that it has stepped up in my estimations from a good phone to a great phone.

    The iPhone 13 Mini is bigger than ever. Bigger camera, bigger battery and sporting a much bigger appeal. I can recommend this phone to other people now, and I think the iPhone 13 Mini will be the phone most people should buy, but they won’t.

    Junk Values

    For the longest time I have been questioning why I do things. Not because I like making myself feel bad, although I am sure some people think I do, but because one of my biggest motivations is to ensure I get the most of my brief time on this earth. I want to make sure that when I am doing all the things I get up to, they are for me, and not falling for the same traps I see the world around me falling for.

    This comes down to a lot of things. Social media usage, writing and photography are a few examples of things I enjoy for the intrinsic feelings I have. That’s not to say that I don’t receive, and enjoy, some extrinsic feedback from all these pursuits — and there is nothing wrong with that.

    So why question all these things? Why not just enjoy them? Well some research indicates that our overall wellbeing is dramatically affected by the motivations why we do the things we do. In fact, lots of pursuits that out modern culture deems ‘normal’ could be detrimental to our mental health. Conclusions seem to indicate that the more you are driven by extrinsic values the more likely you are to become depressed and anxious.

    Unfortunately, the modern world is much more driven by these external feedback loops than ever before. Leading to them to be termed ‘Junk Values’ due to their similar effects on the mind that junk food has on the body. Show off what you are doing to make people envious. Buy stuff to make you feel better and show off. All values that are hyper fixated on in modern western culture and ridiculously bad for your health.

    So What Now?

    So why does thins all matter to me? As much as I love posting things online and writing blog posts, and I am not going to lie on my deathbed and think about all the retweets I got or who liked my photos. I don’t want to miss anything in life for the wrong reasons and letting myself get away with small steps leads to bigger issues.

    I have written many times about enjoying the process of writing more than the end results, and in fact the result causes me a considerable amount of anxiety because there is always an error I spot or some issue to solve. Yet I must keep some checks and balances in place to ensure things stay level.

    You might notice breaks in my publishing, and social media posts because when I get to a point where feedback is my focus I need to step back. Indeed, when I write a post I am happy with that discusses a topic I am hoping to have some discourse around it, and it fails the natural things is to wonder why I bother. Which is letting these extrinsic needs take over why I am really doing the activity in the first place.

    Taking photos that I want to take and posting them online is one thing but taking photos just to post online is another more dangerous activity. I have let my ego in before and won’t let it happen again. As with junk food, the effects are minimal in moderation, but start living on them and you will not only never be satisfied but also your health will suffer.

    Unfortunately, we are surrounded by a world destined to promote these junk values. Valuing things on likes and retweets and living a life through a lens to prompt envy in others. Consuming entertainment that plays on the worst parts of us all and surrounded by adverts telling us what we have is not enough.

    You Probably Don&#x27;t Need A New Thing

    Patrick Tomasso in his iPhone 13 Pro review:

    Learn how to do the things you want to do instead of buying things hoping it will allow you to do the thing you want to do.

    It’s a bit of a joke among photographers the number of times people say to you something along the lines of “you take really good photos you must have a nice camera”. There is no response to this statement that allows people to grasp the stupidity in what they said other than handing them the camera and telling them to take some good photos.

    Which is an arrogant thing to do. However, the fact remains that the camera is just a tool. Granted, some cameras can sometimes improve certain aspects in photos but the results are because of the person using the tool.

    Which all the words are set up to lead me into saying the same thing Patrick says in his video. You don’t need to spend money to become a thing, you just need to learn the skills needed. You don’t need an iPhone 13 Pro to take better pictures no matter what Apple tells you in their marketing. The cameras are great, but they were great in the models that went before them. The most important thing is to keep taking photos and improving.

    This appears in so many places in photography. The believed need to get a full frame camera, and new lens, loads of kit is all consumerism and nothing more. I am not pro, but I have improved so much using APSC cameras and ‘cheep’ lenses, and I still take rubbish pictures even with a ‘better camera’.

    Concentrate on learning, not spending.

    Time For An Actual Oh. So. Pro Camera

    This is so pro, and we think you’re really going to love it. Words that seem to flow out of every Apples executive at every mention of their top-of-the-line iPhone. Of course, we can argue for ever about what Pro actually means but when it comes to cameras, Apple talks a good talk in every press release. You can’t argue with the fact they walk far down the line of supporting those statements too, but for whatever reason just don’t seem want to give their users pro camera controls.

    Don’t get me wrong, you can achieve amazing things with the iPhone camera. In my opinion it is still the best smartphone camera to just point and shoot the Note 20 Ultra gets remarkably close.) and 90% of the iPhone users won’t care about this at all. They will carry on shooting shots on their iPhones and getting amazing results. However, for the few of us out there that want more control we are reliant on third party apps like Halide, or just admit defeat.

    Most of the controls needed are available in a sense. Users can tap on the screen to adjust the general exposure of an image and use a slider for a bit control over the image. Focus can be changed slightly and even locked with another tap(s) on the screen although and minute control is not allowed, and the camera interface also lacks any kind of influence over shutter speed. Something that becomes immediately obvious once you want to use Night Mode, but the option appears and disappears what seems to be randomly.

    F-Stopped

    All in all this is fine. As said most users won’t even need these kinds of options, and that’s why they are missing. However, it can get frustrating when Apple makes a big deal about what aperture their lens are and grade the amount of fake background blur achievable in Portrait Mode in f/stops yet give you absolutely no control over this in camera, it’s all fixed. I love the fact that the new iPhone 13 Pro’d wide camera can go down as low as f/1.5 but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to shoot at f/8 sometimes!

    Perhaps I am missing something. It is possible that Apple have thrown so much stuff into its very confused camera interface that I have missed out on learning new tricks. Indeed, I didn’t realise I could lock focus until I wanted an Instagram reel a few days ago. With that said, even because the expose control exists doesn’t mean it is easy to use, or that I know what is changing in camera. Shutter speed or ISO, both of which I want to be able to control myself. Undeniably Pro photographers take amazing shots with them all the time, but for an Oh So Pro Camera, it’s not as pro friendly as it should be.

    The solution if you really want pro controls, and I think any solution Apple would point too, is third party apps. I use Lightroom, with a quick launch option as a widget, but many others rely on the awesome app Halide. The argument could be made that the team behind Halide are doing a ‘better job’ than Apple in pushing the iPhone (and iPad) camera boundaries and informing its users that want more out of their photos. Granted, again this is going to be a ridiculously small percentage of their users. Leaning on a third-party system is fine for a more robust reminders system, or a new email app but falls down a little for such an integrated part of your smartphone such as taking pictures. At least until Apple allow me to set a default camera app and support it properly.

    Instead, the solution is that the time has come for Apple to really put its money where its mouth. To deliver a pro interface to go with its pro camera set up. Most third-party apps do a wonderful job at imitating the stock camera app and making it feel more ingrained with the system, but if Samsung can build nice pro controls into its app, so can Apple. Oh, and add on a camera button while you’re at it.

    Edited at 16:19: I had not realised the aperture was fixed on Apple lenses, which makes sense.

    Not Just A Question Of Economics

    Federico in his iPad Mini review:

    The new iPad mini has no such aspirations. Instead, the iPad mini flips the iPad Pro aesthetic on its head and asks: what if the iPad Pro’s industrial design, with its focus on gestures and the display, could also work in a tablet that is unashamedly portable and designed to be held at all times, rather than propped up on a keyboard?

    This is one of the huge points that I have failed to articulate. Not since the first iPad Pro have I picked up a device and instantly been convinced it will change everything.

    Not because it’s small, and light – it is obviously. But because it’s not trying to be an iPad Pro at all. There is no keyboard for me to buy and no lofty aspirations that I should be using it for ‘real work’. It’s just an iPad.

    One I can throw in my bag and take anywhere. Read in bed and catch up on my favorite tv shows whilst sitting in the car. Whilst indeed the iPad Air is not too much more expensive it feels like a cheaper iPad Pro. Whereas the mini is just what I need as an accompanying device to everything else I have. I could do all these things on a bigger iPad, or a bigger phone, but I don’t want to.

    This isn’t a device for everyone, but it’s perfect for me.

    The Wallpaper App V2

    When it comes to using your tech, there are few better feelings than slapping on a new wallpaper and feeling like you’ve got a brand-new phone. Being able to add in a high resolution backing to all your apps overtime you unlock your phone or tablet that shows of your personality sometimes takes a lot of thinking about. However, the new update to The Wallpaper App is the only tool you’ll ever need.

    Version two from indie dev Ben Harroway, speaker at WWDC 2019 and the brains behind Noisy Book App takes the already great app to a new level. I expected nothing less because when Ben produces apps he delivers in spades, with the second version packed full of customisable stunning wallpapers for iOS.

    One the day when some will be receiving their brand new iPhone 13, you can transform your current phone with a few taps. With a simple interface of taps and swipes you can scroll through the huge inventory of designs in-which you wont struggle to find something that takes your fancy. But don’t think this is just a glorified gallery. The Wallpaper App also allows you to customise all the designs to your liking. With almost infinite combination of design tweaks available along with the ability to personalised colours.

    So it doesn’t matter if you’re addicted to dark mode, need something bright and beautiful to cheer you up or are looking for a cool live wallpaper to show off to your friends, the version 2 update to the Wallpaper App has it all. I’ve Downloaded loads of them already for both my phone and iPad and you’d be hard push to no fill up a large part of your storage with gorgeous wallpapers – for £1.99 it’s an absolute bargain. #Notsponsored

     

    Incremental Updates

    Every time Apple update something in their line-up that doesn’t quite live up to people’s expectations the finger pointing starts. Words like “incremental”, and the lack of “innovation” start being banded around along with the “should have been an S year statements”. I don’t agree with these statements in relation to the iPhone 13, however even if that is the case for you, these small steady steps forward are the best thing for everyone.

    I struggle with the urge to upgrade more than most people. I obsessively get a new iPhone each year (yes even the iPhone XS) and more than occasionally look back and regret it. Each year the new phones indeed offer me something, however small, but I have come to terms with the fact that the drive for me to upgrade is one of habit and ego. When it comes to the device I use the most I just like something new, constantly. The sheer fact that I buy the pro phone each year is because it is new but being mindful of this allows me to see just how truly stupid it is.

    This so called “lack of innovation” or “incremental updates” are exactly what our consumerist culture needs. Small updates each year help to dispel the myth of needing to constantly upgrade. Indeed, the actual benefits of newer models are becoming so small that when talking to others it is easier to put people off than ever. Leaving room for you to question the line up and be far more objective about stretching to upgrade. A positive further enforced by a line-up that contains overlapping features and, at least perceivably, very few compromises at each price point.

    Sure, there are more capitalist ideas behind releases than I want to think about. There must be technical reasons but simple things such as moving camera lenses to new positions could be interpreted as making sure to show off the new phone. You can be sure each year there is also a new flagship colour too. However, a line up where you can get 90% of a phone at 70% of the cost is one that I applaud. Long may small incremental updates keep coming and someday even I might not feel the urge to buy, but I doubt it.

    On Your Face Again

    Very few times in my blogging life do I have to go extremely far back in my archives. Perhaps a year so to reference in newer posts but usually not far at all. Today I had to go right back to 2016 where I urged people not to put a computer on their face. Of course, referencing the now infamous Google Glass which had been floating around for a few years previously, but at the time the latest thing was Snapchat Glasses.

    As I said previously, there are few things that really worry me when it comes to technology but being surrounded by other people’s recording devices on their face is chilling. Without doubt the improvements made to smartphones, particularly cameras have helped the world at least feel a bit safer. If you’re in any doubt you can pull out your smartphone and record what is going on. The effect being a small degradation of privacy with a positive benefit to life. Whereas Google Glass and Snapchat glasses felt like more than a step too far.

    Indeed, it was like reliving the past when Zuckerberg lauded up their latest innovation along with esteemed Sunglasses brand Ray-Ban. They not only look pretty much the same as the Snapchat version, but with a much premium build quality, they are also set out to achieve the same thing – record as much of your life as possible. It’s at this point I start to think if I right in the thoughts I have about a product or am I just a grumpy old man that doesn’t ‘get it’. As much as I hate the approach of Living life through a lens, I must accept that that this is just how the world works now; but putting it on your face just doesn’t sit well with me.

    I am pleased to see that thought has been placed on some of the privacy issues. An LED light when recording or taking an image at least instills some confidence in me that I am not being recorded all the time. Facebook of all people have thought about the push backs that people had against previous attempts to face computers and implemented safety as best they could. Sure, it doesn’t take much to stop the LED from working or cover it over, but this is less likely with you are stumping up at least £300 for a pair. Indeed, I do question if a pair of Ray-Bans on their face say more about the intended use than cheap plastic Snapchat ones? However, that is not only amazingly pretentious to say, but is also difficult to draw conclusions from.

    Some technology I just don’t understand, and Face computers are one of the things I will never get. This is because the product is not for me, it’s for people that want to capture more things. Which in today’s world feels more understandable than it did even 5 years ago. I have no issues holding up a camera to take pictures, and I feel much more comfortable with people having to do the same. Indicating to me that my image is being recorded and making it easier for me to protest should I need to. We do indeed live in a world full of cameras, so camera glasses and no doubt AR ones are unavoidable. It’s weird that Facebook have allowed me to be at least a little more accepting of them, but I still have hope that they don’t take off.

    What If Twitter Is Actually Empty

    OK. Hear me out before you reply and do as Twitter says and read the post before commenting. The bottom line is, I don’t believe all the things in the post, but I do find it interesting to think about in the age of the modern web. Throwing around ideas and then debunking them in your own mind is a good exercise for finding truth when people are trying to deceive you — like they are on Twitter.

    A couple of days ago I was introduced to a conspiracy theory that at first glance seems pretty out there. As with all of them, you’re never quite sure if people actually believe it or are just messing with others. The basis of the idea is that the internet died five years ago. Most, if not all, of the human created content you see online is populated by artificial intelligence and all the actual humans are gone.

    If you search the phrase i hate texting on Twitter and scroll down, you will start to notice a pattern. – Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic

    Seems out there doesn’t it. However, how many people on Twitter do you really know? Like in person know, a handful, more? As a percentage of the total people you follow I’ll bet it’s low — well all the others could be AI bots couldn’t they. Sounds bonkers, but when you consider that the PPC estimates that in 2020 at least 37.2% of all internet users were robots, and in 2016 they were responsible for 52% of the web traffic. Suddenly you start looking at the people you follow on Twitter with a side eye.

    It wouldn’t take much to fool us. There are already bots pretending to want to date you, pretending to be helpful customer service assistants, and much more besides. It wouldn’t take much artificial intelligence to tweet interesting things often enough for us to follow them.

    What about other interaction I hear you all say. What about the blog posts, photos, and perhaps even videos that they also post online? The unwelcome news is that other content is pretty easy to fake too. Remember Tom Cruise playing golf? Ask yourself if that person you follow, interact with, and look up to could be fake and the answer is usually a high possibility.

    Of course, this conspiracy theory goes much deeper into talking about the agendas of those that control the bots and the “various corporations that are in cahoots with the government to control our thoughts”. Which at this point I am surprised there isn’t some lizard people involved. However, let’s not forget that operations by organisations have been proven to influence not only election results but also general feelings around sensitive subjects. There isn’t much of a leap to suggest that corporations and more ‘friendly’ governments are using similar tactics.

    I think you would be surprised how many bots you interact with daily, and these kinds of topics are interesting to think about. Then again, I could be a bot and this is simply to distract you from what is really going on!

    The optional module, imagick, is not installed, or has been disabled - Digital Ocean

    Before I start, the full disclosure is I don’t think this error message makes much difference. After resolving this I have not noticed any improvements with image handling, but some-people (me included) just like clearing warning messages! So, if you’re like me and just want to get rid of the bits of red on your WordPress health check then here’s some help.

    The Error:

    When running a WordPress health check you will get the following error

    The WordPress Hosting Team maintains a list of those modules, both recommended and required, in the team handbook (opens in a new tab).

    Warning The optional module, imagick, is not installed, or has been disabled.

    What does Imagick do?

    To use their own words “Imagick is a native php extension to create and modify images using the ImageMagick API”. it will enable you to edit your images much easier with the ability to add in loads of different effects and customisations natively in the WordPress media gallery.

    It is also used to optimise the image you upload to WordPress and create different version fo images for different situations. Imagick also works with a larger range of image types and is thought to produce higher quality images overall. With that said, WordPress functions perfectly fine without it so installing is at your own risk and completely up to you.

    The Fix For Digital Ocean Hosting:

    On Debian/Ubuntu SSH into your server using terminal and do the following:

    $ sudo apt install php-imagick
    $ sudo systemctl reload apache2

    If you run the PHP-FPM service, you also need to restart PHP-FPM service for Apache.

    If you are hosting on anything else, or don’t have access to your server please consult with your host to solve this issue. Also note that the module is optional and not required, to reinforced what I have said previously I have noticed zero difference and merely did it to get rid of the warning – do so at your own risk.

    The Death Of A Newsletter

    It is with great sadness that I announce the death of a good friend of yours. The Greg Thinks Thing newsletter sadly passed away in its sleep because of neglect. It has a good run, reaching the ripe on age of fifty-two editions, and leaves behind much of its content in the form of blog posts ‘retconned’ into my blog as if it has always been there.

    But seriously it’s gone. I tried my best to keep it going but since no more working from home and more blogging going on, I just don’t have the time to write it. Many of the resent things I tried to write specifically for the newsletter felt forced, or rehashes of blog posts so I will leave this excellent platform to those more suiting of sending things straight to your email inbox.

    It served a great purpose though. I sailed along at the boom time when everyone and their pet hamster had a newsletter and wrote more during what was a tough time for me and my family due to COVID and national lockdown(s). It gave me something extremely specific to aim for and make sure that despite everything going on around me I published something very personal and got a lot of things off my chest. Sending them to people that really wanted to read them.

    Which brings me to a larger point about the purposes of the things that I do. Newsletters started off very personal things, sent straight to us directly without messing about online. Like a direct message from a friend filled with thoughts and ideas. However, this has changed, newsletters are now a massive industry with top notch writing that is only available through email. Often linked to more controversial publishing Substack has also managed to gather up some writers that want to stand on their own and publish exclusive things only to the people that want to read them. Hiding everything away unless you pay for it.

    Whereas I want the opposite. I have fallen back in love with writing again and long may it continue to bring my joy. I want people to get my thoughts however they want. Social Media, RSS, reading apps and there are even service out there like Mailbrew that will package it back up to an email if that’s your preferred method. Reading and writing is the most important thing for me, and the small thoughts that maintained more than fifty editions of my newsletter will just be blog posts now.

    Thank you to those that read the editions. Or didn’t, you just signed up and that was enough. I enjoyed writing them immensely but it’s time to focus on different things and let those that can write better than I take you money and ping your inbox.

    Refill My Glass

    How do you write a follow up post? Especially one where you’ve changed your mind just because someone on the internet said you should have stuck it out? Or do you avoid writing it at all and just hide away in blissful ignorance. Those are questions for other days, but today I will write it because I did change my mind and return to using Glass and I am glad I did.

    I did the same thing with Hey — the now divisive email app — and flip flopped around before diving in for a year. Glass is different though, I don’t really know what to do with it but I can’t leave it because it just looks so good. I missed looking at the awesome photographs in one of the best designed apps I have used for a long time. It was simply the lack of being able to find such an enjoyable experience anywhere else that lead me to begrudgingly stump up the £25 entrance fee and post a photo.

    I don’t want to write about Instagram again, because all those words have been said. Yet the lack of every other existing service is the very reason I was pushed again to Glass. As much as the lack of interaction on my photos was annoying, and the same appearance of the photos I saw is still true using a different service with different aims takes a change in mindset.

    I don’t want Glass to be another social media service where I follow everyone that I know (obviously I will do) I want it to be something different. I just want to look at nice photos that people are proud off and at the moment Glass is chocked full of them.

    As everyone posts their best photos from their highlights and no doubt catches up with all the great photos, they have taken over the years I am impressed by the standard of shots. In fact, I am almost embarrassed to post some of mine, because they don’t feel up to the excellent standard of those I am scrolling past.

    I have deleted so many photos that I thought were great at the time, and fine on Instagram – but now I am playing photographer I am not so sure!

    For Money, or For You?

    Matt Baer on Writing Just Because:

    we can see how lonely it might be to sit in a room and constantly create “content” so that we might one day reach financial success or high status. We’re each lonely individuated language machines, pumping out words (no matter what they are) for a far-off “audience” to easily digest. We mentally live in the future where we’re successful and recognized, instead of the present moment where real creation happens.

    A spent much of this post nodding along to the thoughts on difference in writing for money and just for yourself. I’ve never been one to try and build a brand, or I’m rubbish at it, I am not sure which — but needing to write posts for money seems like it would suck.

    The platform issues that Matt talks about a side, the reality is that you must now constantly churn out the ‘content’ your readers want or that overseers dictate. This changes the whole communication objective. Very quickly becoming stale and removing much of the social aspects that are enjoyable about of writing a post on the internet anyway. Pushing out words to tick boxes and make other people happy instead of asking questions and starting conversations.

    Minimalism And Big Phones

    Try as I might to be a good minimalist, I get lost along the way every now and again. I am never sure if I am doing this right, not spending too much time on taking instruction or being aware of how others deal with things. Yet there is one thing that I see constantly around those that title themselves minimalists and that is their aversion to technology and particularly phones with big screens.

    I don’t use minimalism as a destination. I am not as crazed as some people that visit the sub Reddit and constantly worry about ridding themselves of more stuff, I just like having less things. What I do have, and what I do, gets some thought put into it and I only purchase what I really need in my life.

    When it comes to tech, I love new things. I can’t help it, it’s my one weakness, and at this point I have given up fighting it. I spend quite a lot of my life online for my job and enjoy using my phone more than most minimalists would let themselves and I am perfectly happy with that. To me, my life is about making informed choices, being aware when those are being taken away from me and being willing to take a step back when needed. Which brings me to my feelings towards using big phones.

    Hey look, you do you, but I used to give myself a tough time whenever I used one (that doesn’t sound like me at all does it). Sure, a smaller phone in general makes me much happier, but when you put thought into a purchase and having something bigger adds value to you, these feelings shouldn’t exist.

    I constantly think about the people that worry themselves silly because they feel that minimalism means they must have less and less at the detriment of themselves. These is no end point, or goal to achieve, simply some rough things for you to think about whenever you think about bringing new things into your life. Being mindful of the things that you do, and the things that you buy to ensure you get the most amount of value possible. If a bigger screen on a phone does that for you, or I, then that’s great.

    I have flaws in the way I approach tech in lots of ways. I am mindful of the way it can manipulate me, but also open to new way of looking at things. I like having a bigger phone because it is one of the devices, I use the most. I communicate on it for my job, my personal life and I write much of my blog on it. Couple this with the fact my eyesight isn’t what it was, and a bigger phone just gives me more value and I am sure it would do for others too.

    I wrote many of these thoughts as a process for myself to understand why I am thinking about getting a max when then new iPhones come around but feel free to use these as your own excuse to not feel bad.

    Writing Consistently

    It’s hard work writing all the time. Some people seem to find it impressively easy and set off my imposter syndrome constantly. Yet for the most of us having the inspiration and then sitting down and actually writing the thing can become a mammoth task. Even more so when you do it constantly as there are so many things in life that can get in the way. When a friend of mine asked recently how I write so much, I looked bemused because I don’t write that much really. Not much that sees the light of day anyway, but perhaps my targets are much more than others.

    There is no easy fix for publishing. A lot of the time you simply have to get out of your own way, and stop trying to fulfil demands you can’t meet. Everyone has big ideas, and can promise themselves, and others, to meet a level that they think they need to. However life always has a habit of getting in the way, and being present in the day to day things is more important that staring at your computer urging yourself to write something.

    My writing comes and goes. At the moment I am publishing more regularly, but I am not worried when at points I don’t have much time to sit down and write something to publish. I don’t put pressure on myself to achieve certain levels, Mainly because I don’t make any money from my blog despite a few adverts and despite the fact that I like people on the web, my personal life is much more important to me.

    I make loads of mistakes. Typos galore, and my grammar is never up to some many peoples standard (I have been turned down for so many writing positions it’s crazy) but that’s OK. Despite my imposer syndrome I have gotten used to just hitting publish and not worrying about it.

    Sitting In The Chair is my most important, and most read, bit of advice to date. Simply writing stuff is the key to publishing more online. Much of what I write day to day is for me, formulating thoughts, recording things and linking ideas together. This could be journalling, putting things into Day One, or making daily notes, the most important thing is that you (and I) are writing things out.

    It might sound like a meaningless tautology, but the reason I write so much is because I write so much — and you should too.

    My Glass Half Full

    The two week free trial I had in place for Glass comes up for renewal today and I am really conflicted. To the point where I think I might sit and wait for a bit before jumping in. Granted the cost is only £26 for a year currently, so what I stand to loose is minimal — but what I stand to gain isn’t exactly much either.

    I stand by much of the thoughts I had originally in that I do really like the way it works. The founders of the company really seem to want to make something great for photographers, and I trust them to stay stead fast on their founding aim to avoid all of the social trappings spoken about when pitching the app. However my worry is I just want anything but Instagram and this is just the latest in a long line of attempts to replace it.

    These thoughts on getting into yet another social platform do not happen in a vacuum either. Since diving back into taking pictures I have been thinking about what kind of pictures I like to take and also why I enjoying taking pictures in the first place. Worry isn’t the right word to use, but I certainly think about who I take photos for and why I share them. The words I use to describe it can have lots of delusions of grandeur. Using words like “artistic” and “self expression” when in reality they could simply be to try and make me look cool on the internet.

    A Bit Of Validation

    I havn’t quite found my ‘thing’ yet and as such take very varied photos, and the reality is I want other people to like them. They are taken as much for me as they are other people and I do worry constantly about making them good enough to share because they are important to me. James Popsys talked about making his photos about something, not just ofsomething. Which really speaks to me when I start to think about capturing a split second of a scene and try to tell the story of why I took that image. Composing a story in one split second when the world around is constantly changing is like meditation to me.

    But with all this fluffiness going on, turns out I like my images being validated and Glass doesn’t do that for me. I know this is the whole reason the platform was built, and I agree with its goal but maybe I just don’t need that at this point in my journey. I have a sinking feeling that my photos are not good enough when compared with the smaller number but higher percentage of actual photographers on Glass and they just disappear into the app.

    When I scroll through the app, the people I follow are also very minimal. Many of those that flocked to the app have fallen off already, with many more to follow once the end of their two weeks trial arrives. In which case I may be left with a ghost town of dead accounts and photos that all seem to look the same.

    Although they are improving things slowly the discovery is not where I want it to be, and the resultant people to follow list features loads of people that take the same kind of pictures and offer me very little in return. Invites are specificity being shared with a more diverse pool of photographers currently but even that doesn’t seem to have moved the needle yet. It doesn’t have much to do with diversity, but everything to do with an iPhone only, invite only barrier to entry — which could be intentional.

    I knew this newness would wear off, and I knew that I had reservations right from the start. Don’t mistake this post for a full on trashing as I still think that in the long run apps like this are needed – I just don’t think it is for me currently. Turns out I quite like getting a few likes.

    Update: Follow up here where I changed my mind and went back!

    Where is your community?

    Carl Barenbrug going In Search of Alternative Community Platforms:

    Although I wouldn’t go as far as saying I entirely dislike them, I feel I could experience much better and healthier communities and technologies than those I have found on the likes of Instagram and Twitter.

    I completely get this feeling. I am constantly looking for somewhere where I fit in and people share the same outlook as me, and because of the way most social platforms work they all suck. They seem to all want my attention, want to force conversations on me, and don’t do enough to grow communities on them. [[Social Media In 2021]]

    I love Twitter, and that’s part of the problem. Yet I always get this sinking feeling when I use it for a bit. A feeling of dread, doom and stress instead of interacting with like minded people. Yet I have to still us it, not least because my brain won’t let me quit it [[twitter-muscle-memory]], but more for the (at least fleeting) feeling that I am being social.

    I’ve tried micro.blog and although the people on there are lovely, if your face doesn’t fit or you opinions on things are different it can suck. Mainly because the people are all pretty similar. [[bye-micro-blog]] However I am convinced that the smaller, paid for communities are the answer it is just a matter of how to find them.

    As Carl signs off with.

    It’s only going to be through experimenting with other community platforms that this will become clearer to me.

    Filtering Out The Noise

    In case you’ve switched off, or reading my blog for the first time, you will have noticed that I am struggling to use social media in all of its forms – but particularly Twitter. The constant moving nature of the service, coupled with its instance on surfacing the very worst of that constantly flowing information, leaves me feeling exhausted and upset at the world. Sometimes it feels impossible to keep up with all that is going on and that’s because I simply don’t need to.

    Social media puts millions of people in front of our face every minute of everyday. Meaning that you can easily communicate with more people than ever before in human history. The bad news is, they can also communicate with you, and the noise can become too much very quickly. Filtering out the noise and getting to the important things easily is one of the most useful skills to learn if you want to live on the web, and lets be honest in this day and age you have to.

    What may seem interesting and important now may be completely irrelevant and uninteresting in a few days. – Christian Bager Bach Houmann

    The millions of people in front of you can lure you into a false sense of what is important. If 1% of Twitter gets upset at something that’s million of people, but if 1% of your fiends did it wouldn’t be important at all. Without constant mindful thought, the large scale of social media can dangerously push you down rabbit holes to taking in information that simply doesn’t matter. It has a habit of portraying a false senses of importance and urgency towards topics that in very short order become unimportant. However it is only you that can decide what is really important to you.

    I find that saving things to read later helps a lot, allowing me to delete articles that no longer interest me when I get around to catching up. Leaving some space between discovery and reaction often dulls the urgency felt to topics and also allows me to get a much fuller picture of what actually goes on. Only then will I try and formulate my thoughts on topics that matter, often in the form of a new note in Obsidian.

    Writing about the things that matter and the things that I learn is huge. This doesn’t have to be blogging, although that would be great, but just writing something down is key. mUch like having a second brain for tasks — journaling, making notes in a system, or starting a full on knowledge tree will help to filter noise and has the added benefit of helping to retain much more important information.

    The constant need to publish all of our half baked thoughts to anyone that will listen is not a new idea. It has existed almost as long as humans have existed. The only things that has changed is the scope of communication and the availability of the platforms. The internet is not to blame for the pressure we all feel, but some simple things do help with cutting down the noise. Being clear about the things that really matter and being aware when you are being sold something different is key.

    Would You Do It For Free?

    Seth Godin on being In it for the money:

    It’s such a hard thing to be honest about. Because money is tied into status, possibility, self-worth, connection, sustenance and more. How many people would be doctors if being a doctor was something you couldn’t get paid for?

    Many people spout similar things about not working if you love what you do blah blah blah. I mean, its true that if you can find something you love then it doesn’t feel like work, but the world just doesn’t work like people on Linkedin seem to think it does.

    Anyway. Who on earth should work for free on anything? Even if you love what you do and don’t get paid for it (like my blogging in some part) you should be rewarded for it if you are providing some value. There are enough people trying to get things for exposure, or companies trying to to employ loads of free interns without all this nonsense.

    Seth uses this post to pose some interesting questions about payment for simple things and the value of what people are doing, but providing value to others for no reward is dumb.

    Glass Thoughts

    It is really hard for me to form thoughts on new services as quickly as I would like. My initial excitement usually dulls in very quick order but not before I have shelled out some cash to use it. As much as I never think anyone wants to read my thoughts when there are far more popular takes, I do have a few things to say about photography apps.

    Since reading No Filter last year I have been a little sad. The excellent behind the scenes story of Instagram from founding to acquisition made me miss the service even more. I am still filled with a longing for the old Insta days, unfortunately one that I know couldn’t exist today. It’s hard to believe that just 10 short years ago Instagram was the popular up and coming app with all the buzz, but a decade is a long time on the internet and things change.

    The modern version is 5 or 6 different things crammed into one app, and removes exactly what Instagram is for. This, understandably, has left many photographers out in the cold and a little bitter considering how much work they have put into the service over the last decade. So many have been looking for something new. In recent memory the app Gala arrived and looked promising but ultimately failed to keep my attention.

    A Little Different

    Glass is different though. It is set up as an anti Instagram and removes all of the foils that entrap almost anything that Facebook touches. The app is designed to display the photographs beautifully, removing almost all engagement traps. Likes, follower counts and a constant strive for influence is replaced by a constant stream of the latest images uploaded.

    The design focuses on the images themselves and the details of them. Displaying privacy conscious EXIF data about the image giving you an insight into exactly how the image was shot. You get to not only see the images, but feel the desire behind them, if your a photographer of course and know your shutter speed from your aperture.

    My first log in allowed me to follow a few people that I knew already, but also find others that took the kind of images I like to see and learn from. As an amateur shooter being able to peek behind the curtain and understand how a shot was made proves a great learning angle too.

    Glass Intentions

    The founders talk a great talk, and seem to be walking exactly as then intended. When talking to Om Malik they sold the service well and aimed it to fulfill exactly what I and many photographers were hoping for.

    We’ve intentionally avoided any public counts. We don’t want Glass ever to become a popularity contest. We’re not home for influencers. We are a home for photographers. – Tom Watson, founder of Glass

    There is zero counting and metrics going on. No followers (well I guess you could count them yourself if you want to), no hashtags and best of all no likes. I want that rush of dopamine as much as the next person, but double tapping is far too easy. Where as in Glass if you like a photo the only choice you have is to leave a comment, which feels much better.

    With these metrics gone there is no algorithm at play currently. I am sure if the app grows there will be no choice but to tweak this slightly, for the risk of becoming unmanageable. Glass is no where near reaching a scale that needs more though putting into it, but only time will tell. I do fear that they will eventually feel the pain of volume, however with zero metrics there would be no point gaming the system anyway.

    Which in short means that my trust in getting into the app feels very well placed currently. They have spoken publicly about the very straight forward way you are able to get your photos back out again should you wish to leave, which is also great. The iOS only limit also seems to be lifting with Android and web versions in the works, so hopefully everyone can join very soon.

    Paying For It

    However. Saying things like “We believe great photography can come from anywhere and anyone” is fine. But the anyone is only those that can stump up the £50 a year entrance fee. Don’t get me wrong I love the fact that paying money to support a service means none of the bad stuff that comes from free services. However the worry would be that Glass becomes just another service along side all the others.

    If I want as many people as possible to see my shots then I have no choice but to post them every where else too. So when the next years subscription comes around am I willing to pay again to look at photos posted by others everywhere else too?

    Reservations Prevail

    My answer is probably yes, but the true telling will be how many people stick around in in a few months time. A few of my friends share similar feelings towards the new hotness app but I might have to cross my fingers and hope. Following high profile shooters is one thing, but I would like a mix of people I know.

    As the opening few sentences gave way to a flood of my opinions I am still very bearish on the future. I can’t tell people how good a service is until I have used it for more than 14 days, and more so for a service that costs money and isn’t for everyone. My hope is that the grand plans for Glass keep on track and achieve even more, but my worry is the new hotness burns out and we all skulk back to Instagram again.

    Other Peoples Trash Can

    I am sure I will keep going on about it, and also spam my Instragram now, but having a camera back is a great feeling. I am no Peter McKinnon but to try and build my skills as much as possible I have been watching loads of YouTube, and one point in particular has struck a cord with me and applies to so much of life.

    James Popsys discuses some tips for beginner photographers, not the usual shutter speed and ISO stuff, but actual practice advice on getting better. You see, in photography it’s pretty hard to judge how well your progression is coming on. The easy thing to do is compare your images to ones shared by your favorite photographers and get down beat about it. While it’s important to remember their skill level is something to aim for, what we don’t see is their trash can.

    For every stunning image shared there are hundreds, if not thousands, of images in the bin. All we see is the polished end result curated to share online, and that goes for almost everything in life. For every runner that jogs past your flat out sprint. Or every writer pushing out amazingly written concise posts. We don’t see the whole story. No one is present for the painful miles of hard work, the deleted drafts and indeed everything else that goes on behind the scenes.

    This could be said for all social media too, comparing your insides to others outsides can be completely demotivating when you are trying to learn a skill or just get better at something. What is worse is that we all know it with ourselves, we pick the best of everything to showcase, but forget when consuming others work. However keeping in mind other peoples trash can is exactly the same as yours can be vitally important.

    I am a big proponent of marginal gains, and improving steadily and consistently over time in whatever it is we choose to do. Spending time to make sure we are working towards a goal at all times and only using others to motivate us in the correct way. No matter how good the end product may be, we all have a trash can full of rubbish that never sees the light of day.

    Having A Camera

    It was a very quick thought that flowed through one day when writing out edition 33 of my newsletter. A fleeting emotion that struck me when I was thinking about what had happened that week. A week where I had mourned not having a camera around, and not been able to do what I enjoyed. It was strange how not having one thing in my possession pulled on my strings that I ever anticipated, and felt somewhat embarrassing to admit to publicly.

    In April this year I chose to sell my A7iii camera due to lack of use, and wanting to slim down my possessions to a level that I was happy with. I am a minimalist, but sometimes I forget and tend to have to go through a purge every now and again to calm things down. I felt a huge pang when delivering it to its new owner, but due to seeing no end in sight of the pandemic knew I couldn’t leave it gathering dust much longer. Since then I didn’t think much of it, until two weeks ago.

    Our progression out of periodic lockdowns has progressed dramatically over the last couple of months. Now things are opening back up, I have more opportunity to get out and about. Had I known things would go this fast I perhaps would not have chosen to sell so soon, but I digress. This thought of not having a camera, made me feel quite sad. It is silly to get emotional over a possession, but this one in particular signified an important part of my personality and for that I mourned more than a little.

    For fear of repeating myself, there is just something about holding and using a camera that means a lot to me. As good as lenses and sensors get in smartphones (and I have used loads of them) they just can’t compete in my eyes. Are there loads of people more talented than me? Sure, but in my head I am a photographer (my editing sucks a bit though) but not having a camera made me not feel like one anymore. Even more so saying it out load.

    I am glad to say that my wife got fed up of me talking about it, thinking about it, and of course procrastinating, and bought me an A7c (my reasoning for not buying another A7iii is too long to go into) and I can’t wait to get it. I’m planning on shooting more street things and documenting my increased traveling so this compact FF shooter should be perfect. I also feel like I have a bit of myself back — I am never doing this again.

    Want to contribute towards a new lens 😆

    Be Happy It Happened

    Recently myself and my wife were talking about death. Nothing happened, it’s just the weird way our minds work and we often end up walking down strange conversational paths, and this one was no different. We both have very different view points on passing on, and although I have no ability to affect the way others feel or what they do after I go, I know one thing for sure — no sadness.

    My words were along the lines of “if any of you lot wear black to my funeral I will haunt you”. Which is my tongue in cheek way of making my point that although I am sure you are sad I am gone, please celebrate the time I was here. I’m not egotistical enough to claim everyone should feel blessed I was in their lives, but please be happy of the legacy I leave behind. Even if it is dad jokes and bad blog posts. Be happy you had something and not sad it’s gone.

    Then it suddenly hit me. This is exactly the opposite of what I have been doing about working from home. I have been moping around and morning the loss of WFH instead of being happy that I had the opportunity to experience it for more than a year. I had no right to work from home, but had an excellent experience that I was lucky to have. An experience, during a pandemic, that many did not have and their lives have changed for the worse because of it.

    Like a marriage break up or a loss, I am happy that I managed to have this experience. I really enjoyed it, I am more than open to returning to something like it in the future and in actual fact I will strive to achieve it. However I realise that I am not entitled to work from home, there are many benefits to being in a more social environment. Although I do need lots of down time to recharge my batteries, I like being able to work collectively in person as it suits me well.

    Work To Live Not The Opposite

    Jason Friend on it being a little bit crazy at work:

    It’s no wonder people are working longer, earlier, later, on weekends, and whenever they have a spare moment. People can’t get work done at work anymore. Work claws away at life. Life has become work’s leftovers. The doggy bag. The remnants. The scraps.

    I am constantly surprised by the level of work some people seem to put in. This seems a very American thing, and perhaps they are mostly chasing the American dream, but the level of life that their work takes up is frankly ridiculous. Spending 12 hour days at work and then being expected to work weekends and also slave away with no paid holiday (vacation for America readers) seems so weird.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with hustling when it’s needed but it doesn’t have to be the standard to succeed surely. Work to live, don’t live to work is the age old saying but as technology takes on more and more of the slack, why exactly are people working more and more?

    Linked By Others

    One of my most enjoyable newsletters is Tablet Habit by Jeff Perry, particularly because I am diving back into the world again and using my iPad for everything. I have been lucky enough to be linked by him a few times and it always makes me feel very humble.

    I never feel interesting enough to be linked to and frankly never expect my things to be read, but after years of doing it you would think that my thoughts would have changed towards myself. Don’t get me wrong I have had periods in my life where my ego has gotten away with more than it should, but I think its important to always remain at least a little bit grounded.

    However my feelings are different. I am amazed when people say they read my things and it still feels weird even after a decade.

    What Happened To Rich People?

    This week, Jeff Bezos went to space. I am not interested enough to get emotional about it, although some people are. I am also not going to use this to launch into an anti-Amazon tirade, because I could. I have simply been thinking that I long for a time when people with loads of money gave it back.

    In my youth, multi-millionaires spent their wealth building public buildings, donating to schools and putting their name on things that helped. All they seemed to want was to massage their ego with a library named after them, not disappear into the sky inside a phallic shaped rocket. People of the UK became used to Richard Branson trying to go around the world every now and again, but the rest of them were benefactors to things that made our community better.

    I am sure Bezos et al do give money away but it makes you really think when they pull stunts like this. Its become a meme that they could fix world hunger but instead choose to do x, but maybe its time they become accountable for something. Instead of launching something into orbit, or trying to get to Mars, they take a look around and choose something to fix because there are plenty of things on this planet that need attention.

    Shortcut: Pocket Quote To Obsidian

    One of my favorite things to do is read through all the items I have saved throughout the day to my articles. It gives me time to wind down and usually gives me something to think about, and where most of my link posts come from. Unfortunately I can’t find anything that reliably shares any highlight I make to Obsidian, although things are in the making, so I made a Shortcut.

    Pocket have changed the way that articles are shared out of the app recently and make this much more accessible instead of hiding the URL. This Shortcut isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing I am sure it could be done better, but it works! All you need to do is highlight the quote you want to save, then select share via and tap the Shortcut.

    Get it here

    App needed: You will need to download Tool Box Pro at the moment because Shortcuts is unable to save files outside of the Shortcuts folder in iOS14 and earlier.

    To set this up in Tool Box Pro

    Head into setting, then set up a folder bookmark as your obsidian folder. Then in the Shortcut select the folder bookmark you have set up. Hopefully you wont need this much longer, and I will update the shortcut when iOS15 comes out.

    Why Are Apple Media Apps So Terrible

    Reddit user heyyoudvd replying to a thread on Why do Apple’s media services apps suck so bad?:

    This was the single biggest fear I had with Apple getting into the content business, and it’s coming to fruition. When you become a services company, you are financially incentivized to sell your services. You’re incentivized to put your content ahead of your end user experience.

    That’s why the Music and TV apps feel like giant ads. Instead of providing you with tools to organize, arrange, and sift through your content, these apps are built like giant billboards, advertising the next movie and the next album that they want you to consume. It’s not about what you want to watch or listen to; it’s about what content they want to push on you.

    The surprising thing from this thread is the fact that so many people don’t realise this. It’s the reason that most things from Apple are average at best and no where near the level of innovation they were in the past. When you reach a certain level of revenue and have overwhelming responsibilities to share holders, your outlook becomes much wider than it once was.

    As Seth Goodin would say you have to start making “average products for average people”. You are no longer interested in creating great products for your fans, but need to look at larger and larger audiences and as such become vanilla.

    Apple no longer makes iPhones, Macs, iPad, apps and everything else for you. It makes them for everyone.

    The service example used here is a perfect one, there is no incentive to make the best app on the market any longer. If you’re Apple there is a huge incentive to make one that pushes its wears in your face. Apple no longer even conforms to its own rules for apps, and only upholds its App Store rules for some companies and not others. All in the pursuit of income and you, as users, should not be surprised.

    Users hold up revenue figures and ridiculous numbers of iPhones sold as a badge of honor and then are surprised when it comes back to bite them in the ass. You don’t get it both ways I’m afraid.

    One Mans Junk Is Another Mans Treasure

    Chris Hannah on the subjectivity of weeds:

    For example, when reading a product review, whether it’s an app or a computer, it’s important to remember that a weed to them might not necessarily be a weed to you. So you need to take into consideration any biases that the reviewer might hold themselves, before applying their findings to your situation.

    This comes up a lot when talking about iPads as Chris points out but also absolutely anything that you can form an opinion on. One of the most important skills is to figure out where the other person is coming from, any biases that have an affect of their opinions. As well as other deciding factors.

    I often find when looking at reviews the cons pointed out don’t really matter to me, or seem harsh and more often than not some of the features that they enjoy don’t work in a way that I need. A weed is only a weed of you don’t want it there.

    Getting Rid Of Amazon

    I feel like I am cutting more things out of my life than I am putting in at the minute, but its a journey that is proving ever beneficial. Amazon have annoyed me to such a stage that I am removing my reliance on them completely, a task that unfortunately is proving more difficult that I first anticipated. So much so that I have almost given up a couple of times but I am slowly managing to find other options.

    Purchases are pretty easy to remove, I just find everything somewhere else. The only downside is delivery and expectations. I have been a Prime subscriber for years now and as such order everything from Amazon. They stock almost everything, at a great price, with free delivery and a slick distribution and returns network — there is no equal and perhaps that is part of the problem.

    Prime is now canceled, I never watched the TV anyway, but other stores that sell items have no where near the level of service that Amazon do. So expectations need to be dampened a little, and hopefully that may mean I might buy less stuff! I have found a local place to collect my dog food from at regular intervals, and this weekend found a place that offers the last few bits we had on a subscription with Amazon. I am supporting more local businesses now than ever and hate myself for relying on Amazon for so long instead of doing a bit of work and finding other places.

    Due to their incompetence Amazon have lost around £200 from me already this month as I have purchased all business needed from somewhere else, and will continue to loose around £45 per month not including one off purchases from now on. Don’t get me wrong the company doesn’t give a damn about me dumping them, they told me as much themselves, but if more people do then it may cause a dent.

    I just need to purchase a different E-Reader and Kindle will be the last one to go. I purchased a physical book for the first time in years yesterday! Fun times.

    A Quick Check In

    I wrote about deactivating my account on this weeks newsletter sent out on Thursday. It is something I need to do, if only to prove to myself I can. Without going in to too much detail I just want to break the habit of scrolling through it all the time — read the newsletter for more words on it. Anyway I digress.

    I decided to log in today, not because I opened it in habit, but because I needed to contact someone and had forgotten their number. I discovered that all of my followers have gone, and all of the people i was following have also been removed — which was a surprise but gave me a perfect moment of clarity.

    There seems little point carrying on with Twitter now. I can’t really be bothered to put in any work following people again and curating my account. My first thought was that this may give me the ‘fresh start’ I wanted, but once I checked in on a few people I quickly realised I would simply end up following the same people as before and nothing much has changed.

    The same topics are going around, the same poor quality trending topics are still trending, and generally I felt absolutely nothing. I wondered if this was doing the right thing logging back in again, but turns out it has actually put me off even more. I havn’t missed out on anything, the real people that I have found have reached out or not bothered. The news that I once loved to follow flows almost straight on to blogs etc so the RSS feeds I follow surface everything I need.

    I feel a little bit as if I am standing in the corner of a party refusing to talk to people like some unsociable idiot but checking in actually helped me frame things in my mind better. Where as I always thought I would go back and join in in some way, now I do not see myself returning. I changed my imagery and deleted all of my tweets to really signify this intention.

    I want my page to be there for a while. With the sight realisation I may be speaking to soon, I don’t see my self going back. If I decide to one day then it will be because I really want to start again and at the moment there is no value in that.

    Scared Of Changes

    M.G. Siegler in defence of Safari:
    largely I read this critique (which itself is kicked off by linking to another critique, which itself is kicked off linking to more critiques still) as one that is just as much about not liking change at all as it is about the new changes.

    This was very much me when I first tried out iOS15 a few weeks back. The iOS version especially just breaks my brain and every bit of muscle memory built from years of using an iPhone.

    I still don’t get it though. Even after taking a step back and looking at the way it works. The bottom URL bar I can forgive even though it feels like changing for changing sake, but the buttons that users need are all now hidden away. Reload, share, in fact everything other than forwards and backwards is behind a nondescript three dots. This feels a little like the multi-function reply button from iOS13 so hopefully the designers will realise how stupid this is — Matt Birchler has offered up a few ideas that are straight from current HIG designs.

    Deactivated Twitter

    This week I chose to deactivate my Twitter account at least temporarily. There was no single reason for doing this, because if there was I am sure it would of happened long before now. It is simply because I don’t like the way using Twitter makes me feel. I have written before about my love of the service, but the amount of time and attention it takes away from me. I just want to experience boredom again.

    Every waking moment when I have a spare moment I would find myself just opening up Twitter. I say myself because this happens without conscious thought. I don’t decide to check it, my habit just kicks in and I am scrolling through the latest things being canceled or people moaning about whatever today’s thing is before I am even aware of it.

    I know I’m an addict because Twitter hacked itself so deep into my circuitry that it interrupted the very formation of my thoughts. …a corporation that operates against my best interests has me thinking in 280 characters. Every thought, every experience, seems to be reducible to this haiku, and my mind is instantly engaged by the challenge of concision – Caitlin Flanagan for The Atlantic.

    You see, I have learnt to avoid the rabbit holes as much as possible, but being mindful of the habit and the time wasting has been enough to wake me up to the fact it is simply not good for me. The real issue is that I miss some of the people that I interact with on Twitter and no where else. I have some very close friends that I wonder if they will just fall away, however what keeps me going is the fact that true friendships find a way to continue.

    I don’t see myself falling away completely, I would like my account to still exist just in case I want to go back one day, or to check every now and again. However at the moment I don’t trust myself, I must break this addiction. This is the only way.

    Sharing Everything Is Too Much

    G. Keenan Schneider on Hating the Internet

    Social media has convinced us that any thought, regardless of effort taken in developing it, is worthy of publication.

    I think I have shared this post before, because it is full of relatable content and take away quotes – but this one hits perfectly.

    When i first started with twitter seeing all the “just heading to yoga” tweets because almost everyone I followed I knew personally and the service as a whole was pretty quiet. Knowing things about the people you wanted was enjoyable and easy to get through the noise.

    We now live in a time where everything is regurgitated onto your time line, there is no way to filter specific types of tweets, and the platform as a whole is full of noise. As such I have to move further and further away from the platform I love.

    Not least becuase the service is determined to surface the most polarising and “engaging” tweets into my timeline and its all a bit too much.

    How To Publish To Micro.blog With iOS Shortcuts

    My blog is currently hosted on the excellent micro.blog service. I could go on about why I chose this place to host, but my thoughts are summed up on my post here. It suits me perfectly because I publish everything to one place, from short ‘tweets’ to photos and also all of my writing. Due to this ease of posting I do most of it mobile from iOS with the help of some Shortcuts.

    Images

    Pictures are pretty easy to handle on micro.blog. If you want to post one image with some accompanying text there are a range of apps to use, including the very Instragram-esc Sunlit. Meaning you can post whatever you want wherever you want.

    If you are writing a longer post and want to put some accompanying images in it, this simple Shortcut has you covered. It will upload the image to your micro.blog uploads section and then copy the link to the image directly to your clipboard ready to paste into your writing.

    Get It Here

    All you will need to do is attain a app token by going to Account settings and scrolling to the bottom and clicking App Tokens or clicking here.

    Text

    No good posting something without any text. For Shorter ‘tweets’ a range of apps are available to making posting easier, however if you really want to speed things up this simple Shortcut for iOS will ask for your post and then…post it.

    For longer posts with a title this simple shortcut will help you out. Simply highlight the text you want to post and share it it the Shortcut, it presumes you are writing in markdown and will remove Title formatting for you and use this as the post Title.

    Get It Here

    All you will need to do is attain a app token by going to Account settings and scrolling to the bottom and clicking App Tokens or clicking here. This posting really is one touch. There is no facility to add in categories (I may work on this later) but I use filters very heavily so these are well worth looking into.

    Note: These currently do not work on iOS15!

    Publishing To WordPress With iOS Shortcuts

    If I can be allowed to stick my neck out a little here, I think the iPad is the perfect blogging device. The battery life is great, it’s very affordable, you can take it anywhere and interact with it in several different ways. In a pinch you can even take photos with it, although you might get some strange looks. Publishing from iOS has also never been easier, and here’s how to do it with a couple of Shortcuts.

    Images

    Often choosing images is the hardest part of a blog post, once you’ve chosen them you have to upload them and choose where you want the go. Which can be a real pain particularly on a mobile device. WordPress is pretty easy to work with but means you have to stop what you’re doing and use either the web or their app to sort out images. This is usually where people give up, but fear not, the Shortcut below will upload your image and copy the markdown syntax for it directly to your clipboard.

    This Shortcut was created by Mike Rockwell at Initial Charge. who has a whole toolkit of Shortcuts for publishers.

    Get it here

    No more messing around, simply select your image, use the shortcut and paste in where you want the image to appear in your writing. You’ll need to set up a Tiny PNG account with this one so you don;t take up too much space with your images and pages load faster, but its really easy to do. In fact because this Shortcut is so simple I sometimes now upload the images I want to use and paste them in first.

    Publishing To WordPress

    Once all the words are finished, the final step is to publish your posts. This usually involves copying the text, opening the web browser, logging in and going through the various steps of actually getting everything out there. This can be streamlined down to a few taps using the Shortcut below. It is one I have shared this one before, which was first created by Tim Nahumck in his drafts review I simply updated it to use newer Shortcuts methods.

    Get it here

    This Shortcut will transfer all the text into a new blog post for you, as well as set the title correctly, remove any extra spacing and then ask you to confirm categories and tags. Meaning you don’t have to rely on using a app with publishing built in, you can now write your post out in any app you like such as Apple Notes.

    There you have it, you can publish to WordPress with a few taps thanks to Shortcuts on iOS.

    Early Xbox Gamepass Thoughts

    The future is finally here. No you still can’t work on an iPad, but game streaming is finally good and starting to remove the need for hardware. You should already know going into this that I am already well on the boat with cloud services like this, and a heavy Stadia user. It was the service that got me playing games again, and although I feel no affiliation to the service, I like it very much.

    This morning for some strange reason I noticed that I can sign up for Gamepass ultimate now for a £1! Whilst still in beta, the service allows for anyone to sign up following a pretty lengthy closed beta period. I don’t own any gaming hardware at all, so cloud services are all I am really interested in currently. Despite my love of Stadia I have alway had half an eye on Gamepass Ultimate. It contains a few games that I would want to play, and seems like it should put Googles dalliance with cloud gaming into the shade.

    The two services have lots of crossover parts, whilst adopting two pretty different approaches to gaming. Stadia wants to be your everything, provide you with free games for a small fee and allow you to buy others from them. Whilst Microsoft simply wants you to pay a subscription and be allowed to play games from studios it owns or works very closely with. There is no facility to buy games outside of these provided with your subscription.

    With Stadia, games do rotate in and out of ‘pro’ (which costs £8.99) but once you have claimed the games you can continue to play them — as long as you keep paying the subscription of course. With Gamepass you’ll never own anything, presumably games will stay on the service and more will be added, but if you stop paying, no more gaming. Where as Google will allow you to keep playing any games you have purchased without paying a penny, all be it at 1080p and not 4K like with the pro service.

    With all this said, Gamepass is actually amazing value for money, and even more so if you own an Xbox or a gaming PC. Included is Xbox Live Gold and EA Play in the £10.99 a month subscription. If you have hardware you will also get more games — for example you can play FIFA 21 on Xbox or PC, but not cloud streaming for some strange reason. However the quality of game available for free is much larger on Gamepass.

    Ultimatly it all boils down to Microsofts ability to do what Google wanted to do. It has the power to make games available because it has been doing this longer, and owns its own studios. Google have shuttered all of its first party studios despite spending millions on them, and instead are to focus on partnering with others the develop or port over games, with varying success.

    Although Gamepass is the much better value for money, I am reluctant to jump in without being able to buy other games. this may lead to me having both services until that happens, or as MS no doubt will hope, I buy an Xbox. I see Gamepass as a huge edition if you have an Xbox or a gaming PC, and will only get stronger over time. However for someone like me I could run out of games I actually want to play fast and then have no where to go. 

    I expect Gamepass to very quickly outshine Stadia and hopefully push it to get much better. Or kill it off completely.

    A Question Of Platforms

    When publishing a link post yesterday about blogging feeling more away from regular social media, the main point picked up on was comments on my posts. As Curtis Hale points out there is no provision for people to leave comments on my posts, other than replies on micro.blog.

    I chose micro.blog recently due to its social side and also the nature of the platform allowing me to post everything in one place. I didn’t spend any time wondering where does this go, and put short ‘tweets’, Instagram style photos and long blog posts all on one blog. Making the experience a bit more personal.

    In exchange for this I get a much more rigid platform than the WordPress one I came from, and rely totally on one persons vision for what he wants. Manson does an excellent job of running micro.blog but that’s not really the point, that is to say that I have given over a large portion of control to another person. Much like Facebook and Twitter dictate what I can and can’t post, micro.blog controls the way the platform works and how it moves forwards.

    When thinking about comments the only thing that works are micro.blog replies. I should be able to pull in replies from Twitter using bridg.y now, but it has never worked. I no doubt could look at other options and try and run a stand alone commenting system, but this would be hacked on rather than an integrated solution. Giving over this large level of control sometimes feels freeing at times, but in equal measures frustrating.

    If the platform decides to go a direction that you don’t want to then you are at its mercy, or you pack up and leave. Something that should be easy to do, but often at times isn’t. Perhaps something more open is better suited to what I want to achieve, or where I want my blog to go.

    I am lucky in the fact that I can usually mold things to get to where I want to be and if I think about comments and the potential of avoiding the trappings of social media, my current platform does not provide it. I guess its important to think about these things when you give over control, and rember that needs can change a lot faster than platforms do.

    More Comments And Replies Please

    Julian Summerhayes on The love of writing:

    Sure, it doesn’t have to be here which technically, I suppose, is a breach of my (self-imposed) embargo on social media but a blog (don’t ask me why) feels different. It sounds a bit woo-woo but it feels like I’m conversing with the Universe. No, not necessarily that one, but the one that circles the compass of my life.

    I love Julians writing, it’s always filled with thought provoking ideas and often leads me asking questions about myself and the universe. His love of writing always shines through and he happens to be on a similar logged off embargo to myself.

    Writing and blogging doesn’t feel like social media. It doesn’t feel like being ‘online’ but it can come with the same trappings if you get bogged down in sharing it everywhere. You have no idea what people are saying about you because no one seems to leave comments or write replies any more, if there was more interaction on the web without having to get super nerdy on the indie web then maybe we could all quit Twitter.

    Logging Off

    The past weekend we managed to grab some time away as a family. It’s been a long time coming as we booked this in March 2020, so the release to finally get away was huge. The break away wasn’t anything lavish, but even a couple of days with zero to worry about and we can enjoy some activities together was fantastic. For the long weekend I chose to not take any connective technology with me, and it can’t tell you how both weird and wonderful it felt.

    The day we arrived whilst waiting to order some food, twice in fairly quick succession I raised my wrist to see what the time was. Only to see a faint tan line and in indent from my Apple Watch. I let out a small groan due to lacking the ability to check the time, and wondered why on earth all of my tech was at home a couple of hours drive away. I didn’t need it, I didn’t want it, yet my brain still tried to play through the tried and tested route of fixing a small period of boredom with a gadget.

    As much as I am aware that it is not the internet that does these things to me, it is becoming harder and harder to mediate them with the reliance I have of both working online and enjoying spending time connected. I am currently managing to live in an in between space where I try and limit the time I spend with gadgets, but not miss out on what they can do for me.

    Pandemic Issues

    There were a few issues. When we left each other for even a small period of time, such as walking to the shop to fetch some breakfast, my wife couldn’t update me on what she needed. Of course this wasn’t a huge deal, but I also couldn’t use the NHS COVID app to track me being at several facilities, and as such felt a bit out of place. I could have done this manually, but I am not comfortable leaving my personal details on a random forms, so opted to just rely on my wife scanning the QR code.

    All of the attractions we visited also required ordering of food and drink from a smartphone app which again I had to lean on my wife more than usual. The pandemic has placed a reliance on our connected lives and the smartness of our devices far outside the ability to contact with others. I am under no illusions that me being without a smartphone for a longer length of time just wouldn’t work out, but it’s nice to dream a little.

    The lack of Apple Pay, messaging and everything else my phone does for me didn’t crop up as much as I thought it would. Most obstacles could be overcome with a little thought, but having a computer in your packet is just so much easier. However the silence from my need to check social media and the reduced pocket space needed made for a much more enjoyable break away. What first was an annoyance of not being able to find out the time became something I enjoyed and instead focused on other things.

    I have not decided when I will return yet as I am enjoying a break away for the next week. I did open Twitter today to be greeted with 13 notifications. All of which are spam to try and get me engaged in the platform again. So I swiftly closed it again. I miss it, but not in the ways I expected. It’s great to log off for a bit every now and again.

    I might realise how much I miss it…. Perhaps.

    Using Craft For Daily Notes

    One of the most beneficial habits I have gotten into is taking daily notes, and I really wish I had started it earlier in life. My initial foray into Roam Research gave me the inspiration to start recording my day, simply because it is right in your face whenever you open the page. This practice has gone with me to my new home on Obsidian, then a few weeks ago Craft launched something so of course I checked it out.

    Craft is a strange app that I cant really work out. When it first launched it was pitched in a strange place that didn’t quite do 100% of anything I needed. It wasn’t quite a writing app that did everything a paid app should, but had a weird wiki kind of vibe to it. I can only describe it as if Notion and Bear Notes had a baby.

    Having tried, and not liked very much, Craft a couple of times already, it was only the update to include daily notes that peeked my interest. While I am no stranger to jumping around apps, I wasn’t quite ready to start messing around with my set up again. However there is no harm in trying things out without getting invested and this update is a huge one.

    By introducing a redesigned sidebar, Craft have allowed you to separate these notes away from everything else you want to write. Daily notes is a practice that I preach to almost anyone that will listen, the one thing that remains from my time using Roam Research. In these I record almost everything that happens during my working day, such as telephone calls, things I am thinking, interactions I have had and anything else I think I might need to refer back to later. This allows me to just get things out of my brain at the time they pop up so I can act on them later, or refer back to them if needed.

    One thing that Craft now does really well is the ability to take meeting notes. After you have granted the app permission it will display any calendar events and allow you to start a meeting note with one click. Information from the calendar event is populated into this, and the note then shows up in the daily note and also the in app calendar. I like to distribute the notes I have made later to those that have attended, or invited so being able to do this in PDF, docx or whatever method you need is really handy. If you adopt Craft for work, you can also share these with the users you need to and even mention them in the doc itself.

    Craft works with the now very popular method of back-linking meaning you can link notes together if needed and refer to them at later points. This is the real benefit of me being able to refer back to things I have recorded later on. This could be some bits of information that led to a meeting, or something as simple as an idea that I later turn into a blog post. In the screen shot above, I make a note at the end of the meeting to reference a new one set up (we usually agree on this and arrange the event in the meeting) so this then shows up when I start in the new meeting note. I can then open the note in split screen or a new tab and refer back really easily.

    Backlinks are also really handy when building out some knowledge and making notes around topics. Amazingly handy if you are studying something, but also useful for daily life. I get ideas quite often that pop up during my morning pages that i write out when first at my desk. I can then start to link recurring topics together really easily by using [[]]and searching for the old note. This isn’t as useful as the implementation in Roam or Obsidian, but its not far away and is a little more approachable.

    One update I would really love to see is the inclusion of unlinked references, and also improvements to the ability to search for individual block references inline. I don’t like taking my hands away from the keyboard when typing things out on morning pages, so this would be much better. However I realise that this isn’t Obsidian to I am happy to take some compromises.

    Actions

    More often referred to as tasks, Craft has inbuilt checklists for you to be able to add in meeting actions in markdown or using its / command. Although Craft is no replacement for a task manager, you can use this as a sudo one for recording things to do. Each day will highlight any outstanding tasks next to the date. You can of course put these actions into your task manager of choice, Craft works really well with Things 3 providing a link back to the note in the tasks set up.

    With all that said, if you intend to use the tasks inside Craft please note that there is no easy way to see all set up items in one place. The only place these are highlighted is in the daily notes. I have reached out to the developers and they are intending to implement this soon.

    There you have it, a very brief dalliance with daily notes in Craft. It isn’t as fleshed out as I would like but it’s pretty robust if you are going in with no expectations. I am sticking to Obsidian for the time being, but will have half an eye on any updates coming out.

    Force Some iPad Into My Life

    When I think about all of the hardware I have owned over the last few years there are far too many in that list that I care to admit. I do switch around phones every so often for reviews, but my personal computer life takes on huge dramatic swifts every now and again. Since prosumously ditching the iPad after more than 5 years as my computer I have gone backwards and forwards switching out laptops, for iPads, and back again. I think it’s time to stop.

    In fact I think it was time to stop a while ago. I am really starting to struggle with work and life separation due to only having one Mac now. So much so I don’t want to open my laptop at home. I know that I will dive in to things that I, granted need to do, but don’t need to do when I wanted to write a journal log.

    I have some inspiration to thank for my meandering thoughts. Jack Batty wrote about wanting to try and make the iPad his everything, and this part particularly stuck out.

    But, iOS is calmer than macOS, and right now I need a little calm. – Jack Baty

    To use the word that tech commentators hate to hear — when I am ‘working’ on an iPad (e.g. writing a blog post or editing a photo), it feels different. As Jack puts it, using iPad OS is calmer, it never feels like work. Granted sometimes it’s a full time job trying to work out how you do somethings that are simple on a Mac but the simplicity is so refreshing. The iPad feels computerish without feeling like the rest of my waking life.

    So, here’s the ‘forcing’ part. I am going all in again. Apart from my work day, which I can do nothing about, I am using an iPad for everything else. I haven’t spent anything, it’s a 2018 12.9″ iPad Pro with a Magic Keyboard I have had for a long time so I have nothing much to lose. I am actually quite excited.

    Wheres The Downside To Mail Privacy Protection?

    At Apples WWDC 2021, Apple focused very tightly on improving the security of their products. Many people dismiss this as a “marketing line” and although there are some worrying trends in the way they are going about things, this is the Apple way I approve of. One of the biggest push backs has been against their improvements to Apple Mail that removes tracking and spying tactics used by marketers.

    Dubbed Mail Privacy Protection, it nullifies the tiny little trackers in emails you receive, ones that relay loads of your private information to servers without your knowledge.

    Presumably Apple will route emails through a proxy and load tracking pixels on their servers before serving the email to you and I am really struggling to find a downside to this. There will be loads of people waiting to tell me how wrong I am, just as they did last time I pointed at them. I am happy to be proven otherwise, but most of they people that speak up are ingrained in a business that needs this data, but my conclusion is drawn from three areas.

    • If your newsletter is free, you don’t (or you shouldn’t) care if people read it or not, because the work involved in producing it is exactly the same.
    • If your newsletter is paid, you are paid by the people that sign up to receive it. Thus it makes no difference if people actually read it or not. The cost of production is the same, and you get paid the same regardless.
    • If you send marking emails, you will need to see if your emails are successful or not. This is the only area where tracking would matter to you, and to this is say tough. Full disclosure I am involved in this area of business and I am still happy Apple are turning off the tap to those more predatory than myself.

    You see, there is nothing inherently wrong with tracking if an email is opened or not, it can be useful to know. We have it in message services such as iMessage, and you have been able to do this optionally in Exchange email for years. However these are transparent and something the end user has to agree to. Presumably using the method detailed above, all tracking pixels would be marked as opened anyway, and then it is up to the user to read it or not. However most tracking doesn’t stop at this.

    Take a look at most marketers email dashboard and you will be able to see not just when it was opened and what links are clicked on but also how many times and where the person is! Data that should be protected unless a user opts in to share this with you. Pixel tracking is one of the many scourges of the internet and I trust Apple to lead the fight against it.

    We cant say for sure if the open rate metric will no longer be valid, but with certainty everything else will be killed off and I for one am overjoyed!

    Changing Decisions

    Seth Godin on making a new decision:

    If we’re going to go forward, it’s because something has changed. It might be that our situation is different, that the story we tell ourselves is different, that the times have changed or that your offering has. It might be that we trust you more.

    There is a lot of differing opinions when people change their decisions. The weirdest for me is when some think that changing your position makes you weak, or that you can’t be trusted. When in fact it shows a much larger ability to be balanced in your thoughts.

    The common derogative term is “flip-flopping” and while never being set on your position is a bad thing, or as my Granddad would say “always being on whatever boat is floating” — when the situation changes there is absolutely nothing wrong with changing the way you approach it.

    In fact it is the correct thing to do.

    Work And Home Digital Separation

    We’ve has a huge shift at work, returning to more of an office based environment for at least a little while. I am really excited to be building up a larger team around me to push the company forward, but my trusty iMac Pro has been donated to a returning member of staff more in need.

    Due to my indecision in knowing what to do I am not left with only one computer. I know ultimate first world problem right! My working machine is my personal laptop, one that is with me almost always. I do love my 13″ MacBook Pro though, I purchased it a few months before they switched to M1 and it looks awesome working on a nice big display.

    Anyway I digress slightly. The point I am trying to make is that due to this shift, my computer is now everything. Personal things and working things are all done on the same laptop. So where I could separate my life slightly from my laptop to my iMac, that’s no longer possible. I never set up emails on my personal machines before and installed very few working apps. That is no longer possible, my home and office have merged, everywhere I turn working is always in my face.

    For most of the time this is fine. I love the work I do, and I often have ideas for design bits or some inspiration at the weekends. Being able to jump straight into Illustrator or Figma is a blessing for those sorts of situations. For every other time when I just want to open up my laptop and do some personal tasks, my emails and other work things are just right there staring at me!

    If I thought I had lots of Twitter muscle memory, I have even more for work tasks. I just find myself replying to emails on a Sunday afternoon, or managing tasks for the upcoming week without even realising it. Much like my working office being the same as where I do my personal things, it gets to the stage where there is no separation and I never feel like I am away. Some personal rules or spaces need setting up I think. Perhaps two users for my laptop. Or maybe I just need to get an iPad!

    Speak, Don’t Stomp

    Carl Barenbrug on being rational

    Upon reflection, it is entirely someone’s prerogative to block me for whatever reason they may have. That’s not something I’ll lose any sleep over. But, you know what would have been a little more rational? Taking the time to email me and explain their issue. Open an asynchronous dialogue like a decent human being where you can give your words and actions a little more consideration

    I might start a movement about slowing down and thinking instead of reacting to the barrage of stimulus we get on a daily basis. I’ve done it, as will have most of you, when I should have opened I dialogue and tried to talk.

    I’ve also been blocked by people that I follow very closely and took it amazingly personal, when they could have had a number of reasons to ban me from their timeline!

    I am a huge proponent of talking to people that think different to you, and in in many ways don’t like you. If nothing else it gets you used to living with people that oppose you so you don’t live in a bubble.

    The Simplicity Of The iPad Is Its Biggest Attraction

    I seem to be writing about the iPad a bit more, simply because people are thinking and talking about it more following WWDC2021. You can guarantee this always happens at two points, following release of new hardware, and after software updates. Amplify this double of Apple have released a new iPad and then talked about a software update that hasn’t met imaginary predictions. So, currently we are in the middle of a perfect storm, or I guess an imperfect one.

    The common consensus seems to be that the iPad needs to move forward and be more like the Mac. There is some long held belief that the iPad Pro must start to deliver everything to everyone, becoming more like a traditional commuter — when in fact the opposite is true.

    I love having a iPad because it can do everything I need. If I want to chill out on the sofa and read a bit, or I want to scribble some notes in a meeting it is perfect. I also know that of I need to draw out some design concepts, illustrate a document or connect a keyboard to write out a blog post it can do all that and more — with ease, and most of all simplicity.

    I can get in depth and have side by side windows, Slideover ones and picture in picture stuff going on, but I can also open an app in full screen by default and everything else gets out my way. No docks to hide, no menu bars or anything else to worry about — a procrastinators dream.

    Some of these feelings come from working on a Mac all day. The iPad feels different and more relaxed, but even when I used an iPad as my main computer I just loved the way it was simple to understand and got where I needed it to go. I wasn’t trying to force a square peg in a round hole, I wasn’t expecting it to do anything more that I needed it to, because when push comes to shove, better tools are available.

    I must applaud Apple for achieving this mix of power and simplicity for iPad OS. Every time “someone familiar with the matter” starts to talk about making the iPad like a desktop computer I feel a little bit of dread that the iPad will loose its charm. Push too far towards the work, and loose its way with everything else it is great at. I wish Apple would bring the iPad out into the sun with feature parody, but it doesn’t need anything else to be a great iPad. For everything else, there’s a Mac for that.

    Will The iPad Ever Move Out From The Macs Shadow?

    Before we get anywhere into this post, I absolutely refuse to start this stupid debate again. I love the iPad, I used it as my only device for years, and now I use a Mac because it fits my work life better. It is because I love it so much that I appreciate everything it can do for users.

    As many others did, I sat and watched WWDC2021 and expected the iPad to go up a gear. It did in many ways, but the updates still left many wanting more. I don’t believe users should be up in arms at the exclusion of “pro apps” and screaming for the myriad of features that were never promised by Apple — but with that said the iPad still feels a little stagnant.

    Apple can’t or won’t make the iPad too powerful because they want you to buy a Mac too. For proof of this look no further than the upcoming Universal control. A feature which feels like an extension of Sidecar, allowing you to move your mouse across the many screens you have at your disposal. Be those Macs or iPads. Yet even this feature isn’t universal at all.

    e9e34e7ce2.jpeg

    You can only use this control from a Mac. So if you were thinking you could use your iPad and move your mouse across to grab a file from a Mac, you have another think coming. Unfortunately Apple still view your iPad as Mac adjacent. A supplementary device that is amazingly powerful but just not quite there.

    I worked from an iPad for around 7 years, since before the iPad Pro was even a thing. So I know what an iPad is capable of and I know where it’s limits are. You will get no wild claims from me about where you can and can’t work. Yet the iPad still seems to exist in the shade of the Mac. Not quite achieving its potential.

    Seemingly for the fear of cannibalising Apples computer market. The taste left in many users mouths is one that all the moves Apple make are to entice customers to purchase more devices. Hey, they’re a company, that’s the way companies grow. But after years of users waiting and wishing for things I am starting to get the feeling that the prayers will always go unanswered.

    Undeniably the iPad makes strives forward each year – some small, some large. Yet the potential is never met, and perhaps never will be. I dream of a world where the iPad steps into the sun and becomes its own thing, because it’s only Apple holding it back now.

    Hate what you hate, and enjoy it

    One of the best things about blogging and sharing things on social media is the constant changing environment and shifting your perspective. Yesterday I shared a few thoughts on what I am going to try and stop on Twitter. The level of what about this can get annoying, so stopping it myself is a worthwhile endeavour.

    Most people seemed to share a similar outlook, and the tweet below from Andy made me think a little more or letting people enjoy the things they enjoy – but also hate whatever they want to hate.

    This wasn’t directed at me, but seeing as I had not long shared my post, I took it as a sub tweet or at least something to pay attention to. Well, he’s dead right.

    It’s important that everyone has a way to vent when they want to. If the prevailing opinion is that you should let people enjoy whatever they want, then we should be letting people hate whatever it is they want to hate.

    Hate what a political party is up to at the moment? Let it out. Want to tell others have stupid Apple is? Go for it. Enjoy the release without 17 replies telling you how wrong you are.

    But what about...

    There are so many things I love about Twitter. It was the first social network that clicked for me, despite having a Facebook account for a while before hand. The fast moving pace of updates and the activity levels of people that I enjoyed following just made it a place I wanted to be.

    When I first started using Twitter I was hacking the iPhone and had a pretty successful side hustle unlocking them and helping others develop Cydia hacks. I was also really deep into Android Twitter building loads of friends that I still speak to all over the globe. I had a place, a constantly changing environment surrounded by people I wanted to deal with. I got hate from Apple fanboys but I didn’t care. This was me and I loved it.

    The user base then felt like it was tiny. People that I spoke to in real life didn’t really use Twitter that much, but fast forward to now and it feels like everyone is here. It’s still fast moving, but it’s huge and often times exhausting. So I’ve tried to quit, more than once. Yet I keep coming back once I feel better, and then it got too much again, and the world goes around because I never learn.

    Trying to work out what is so exhausting is the puzzling part. Partly it is the speed of information flowing past, slowing down always proves effective. However I have never really ever managed to put my finger on why, until today.

    Listening to an episode of ‘You’re wrong about’ recommended by Gabz the concept of “What about…” was given as becoming exhausting and it instantly clicked of me. I love hearing other peoples opinions on things, expressing myself and giving far too many of my own outlooks in replies to tweets — and this is part of the issue. Opinions are something everyone has, and should be happy to share them with others, but when there is so much noise it gets frustrating.

    As the host points out, When you tweet your three favorite bagels, someone will come back “but what about Poppy seed..”. The solution is not to stop people from replying to tweets, or limiting them in anyway, because that’s just not Twitter. To be honest I don’t think there is a solution, apart from not using Twitter so much.

    I am certainly going to be more aware of the replies I make to others, and simply enjoy the sharing of opinions.Maybe write a blog post or two instead. Replying only when I have something to add, or a question is asked. This isn’t going to stop me going down rabbit holes and wasting time, but it should help my mental health a bit.

    I Love The Journey

    It’s amazing how easy I am to sway into using something else. I’m perfectly happy using obsidian, bar a few tiny things, yet here I am setting up Craft because it got daily notes.

    It’s not that I have anything to gain, and it’s not marketing hype, I think I just like playing with new things and trying out other ways.

    I guess it’s a bit of a waste of time but it give me quite a bit of enjoyment so what’s it matter. I enjoy the journey of transferring my information, setting things up to work for me. Those little “a ha” moments when you find a little feature that works are as enjoyable as finding a robust system and sticking with it.

    More Thought Less Action

    Don’t get me wrong, there are massive advantages to fast moving, constantly updated feeds of things happening. Twitter has been instrumental in so many positive things in the world it is worth remembering at every turn. However I want to live in a world with more thought goes into things posted.

    Books are written almost a year before they come out.
    Tweets take about 24 seconds to launch.
    Which world would you like to live in, book-world or twitter-world? – Seth Goodin

    There should be a holding cell. What if instead of launching your tweet into the internet its kept to one side, like your drunken texts to an ex, they remain until you confirm your intention to send later on. A get out of jail free card for those tweets you really shouldn’t have sent, and a way to make sure your feelings are straight before you throw your thoughts into the conversation.

    How many of your tweets or status updates would be deleted if you had to confirm sending them 12 hours later?

    Insides vs Outsides

    Laura Turner on How Twitter Fuels Anxiety

    Using Twitter, I am constantly comparing my insides—my anxieties, fears, and insecurities—with other people’s outward selves: their accomplishments, polished selfies, and edited articles.

    You see. We all know this. We all pick the best photos, apply the best filters, and also some use god awful filters that look nothing like them. Yet we don’t see to extrapolate this to others.

    The anxiety fuelled by social media is often predicated on the comparison of the expression of others lives to our own. Yet nothing is real! For much of the web, inner selves are not the ones that are on display. The constant battle to win approval by making yourself as appealing, approachable and inoffensive is a pressure felt by all but ignored in equal amounts.

    Constant observation is a way of life for some and the next generation looks set to be worse. We have become so used to look at other peoples lives so much that we expect our own to be under the same scrutiny.

    If There Could Be Only One Fix For iPadOS

    Mat Birchler on Multitasking vs Parallelism:

    the ability to me to tell my computer to do something, and then I move on to totally different things while it does its thing. For me it’s out of sight, out of mind, but it’s still happening.

    This for me is THE biggest issue I have with iPad os. By either inability or oversight, nothing can operate in the background well enough. Dropbox can’t sync correctly, I can’t upload a long video to YouTube very well, and generally doing something complex can suck at times.

    It annoys everyone, full time iPad users included, so why the OS still can do this is beyond me.

    But what’s the old iPad Pro saying “the next OS update will fix everything”.

    Where Do Your Values Fit?

    I am making my way through the wonderful book “Think Like a Monk” by Jay Shetty. It’s hard going, because there is so much to think about I have to stop and digest much of what is being introduced. One of the largest ideas I have found beneficial is the idea of a ‘Values Audit’. A dedicated time where you asses where your perceived values fit into your life, and make some conclusions towards your actual values.

    For example someone may claim their values are spending time with their family, but can’t put their phone down to interact with their children. Or you claim there is no time to exercise, but spend hours a day watching TV. This can lead you to be self critical, but there is no need, really what comes from this is more shaping of your actions to display what you value the most.

    As my granddad would always say to me “talk is cheap, actions pay the bills”. It’s free and easy to outline the inner working of yourself in words, but your actions quite often display other things. A recent book I read on called Ruined by Design by Mike Monterio discussed a similar thing when designers do things they don’t want to do, but fail to stand up for their values. Leading to a large portion of companies implementing manipulative practices, but this doesn’t just apply to designers.

    How many of us would take a position or a job that doesn’t fit in to our values. To use myself as an example, would I design for a company that portrayed dark patterns? Would I write for a company that tracked its users and showed loads of adds? Would you?

    Of course many of us would. Taking a job simply because it is with a company we want to work for, but doesn’t display any of our values. There is a certain amount of fighting from the inside you can always do working for a company that doesn’t stand for you, and there is no shame or accusation in that. However it’s important to be aware of whats happening and do these value audits regularly.

    Being mindful about the practices you have, your outlook on the world around you and most of all, your output into the world. If at all times we can ensure our true inner values are being portrayed and supported, the world would be a much happier place and you will be a much happier person in it.

    Bring The Humans Back!

    Amelia Tait on algorithms taking creativity out of social media:

    In the future, social media giants should bring back more of the human touch. In the real world, trusted individuals curate our museums, galleries and music festivals – why don’t we have the same approach to creative content online?

    I guess this very much depends on the scope of 230. The old definition for the protection was that if you did any moderating then you were liable, but seeing as moderating is a product of scale where does this get to?

    Human curation would be lovely to have, it works pretty well on micro.blog, but you very quickly start to see the issues. Bias and control starts to show even at very low levels, so in large scale social media it would become impossible.

    We can still dream though. A time where algorithms couldn’t be gamed by spamming content, where people took pride in the content surface on their website, and the cream always rose to the top. Happy time.

    I’m Not Like You Think

    I completely missed last week being mental health awareness week in the UK. A period of time dedicated to making people more aware of mental illness, and perhaps try and remove some of the stigma associated with both suffering with an illness and indeed seeking help. I have been very open about my struggles with my mental health in later life, I only discovered that I had mental health issues later on when I knew what they were.

    At a time when I knew what mental health issue were and how to deal with them. For the longest time I had no clue that the ups and downs that I felt were not normal feelings and in fact something to pay attention to. The weird thing that people come to realise when they get to know me personally, is that I am not how I appear online. Despite all the tweeting, the publishing and the podcasting, I am very introverted.

    I am outgoing when I need to be, or when required by the situation. I can adapt to almost anything and not worry too much about my internal feelings. But this is usually followed by a need to ‘recharge’ my social batteries that have been depleted.

    Introverts get their energy by being alone or in small groups, while extroverts get their energy from larger groups of people. – Ellen Hendriksen

    I suffer greatly from big swings in my outlook on life, and the largest take away I have become used to over the last decade is — that’s OK. However. With all the positive things going around about mental health, I still get loads of push back. It’s still normal for people to tell you to “get over it” or “man up”. That is somehow acceptable in the modern age, to dismiss someone because you think their issues are not important.

    This isn’t random people either. Many work colleagues and friend are perfectly fine to say these kinds of dismissive things about others mental health, and a few even believe it doesn’t exist!

    When things like mental health week come around, it’s easy to think that it is the people that suffer from issues that this week is for. It’s for the people that don’t want to talk about their issues, but I believe it is more for everyone else. No one wants to talk about these things, and accept that they are happening all around us. These weeks are for the people that push back. That tell me to “get on with it” and belittle the way I feel.

    It’s OK for me to not be OK – and it’s got sod all to do with you.

    Web-log all the things

    Cory Doctorow reflecting on years of bloging:

    Peter “peterme” Merholz coined the term “blog” as a playful contraction of “web-log” — like a ship’s log in which hardy adventurers upon the chaotic virtual seas could record their journeys.

    This makes both perfect sense and is baffling all the same. This puts the act of blogging into a completely new(old) context. The current modern task is to write articles and build a brand to sell. Where as the way blogging should be is to communicate with others and log what you’re doing.

    On the flip side of this, Social Media has taken over all of the logging for us, leaving just the longer ‘essays’. Which way around it should be is up to you, but I’d love to see more return to a web-log — wouldn’t you?

    My Obsidian Set Up

    For the last few months I have been using Roam Research as the powerhouse behind almost everything I do. I’ve written previously of my love for the way it allows me to record my thoughts and everything that goes on in my life. It links very heavily in to both my writing workflow and my reading workflow, and as such has been a huge boost to my working and personal life.

    Even with all this praise, I have still always looked for something else. Although it has proved valuable, I don’t love the £195 a year price tag, and I also hate it is only semi available on mobile, and has no offline mode. I’ve tried alternatives, including Obsidian, but nothing else quite fit the bill, but this time something stuck and I’d like to share my current Obsidian set up, what it does for me and how it could help you.

    What Is It

    Obsidian is, in there own words, a powerful knowledge base that works on top of a local folder of plain text Markdown files. It takes many of the things I loved about Roam (I have no idea which one came first), particularly the network of thoughts that link themselves together but makes it local.

    This is a huge benefit when you consider that access to something as important as your network of thoughts should be available at all times. I have not experienced issues accessing Roam, but other online apps have had these issues. Also consider that I havelost work because Roam has updated itself and not saved my document — and I am not alone with these issues, as rare as they are.

    Instead Obsidian builds on top of plain text markdown notes that are stored locally. Granted, this means that you rely on things syncing between devices, so if an internet connection is in short supply you will still have issues. However is means you can create and edit files wherever you are and don’t rely on the cloud. I have my ‘vault’ (more on that later) set up in iCloud that syncs to all of my devices quickly and easily. The text files are kb in size so I have, as yet, not had a single issue.

    My Set Up

    As with most platforms promising to boost your networked thought, Obsidian can be as simple or as powerful as you want to be. At its base, you simply point it at a folder, called a vault, containing text files and Obsidian displays them for you. You can put these files into folders of unlimited depth and set them up however you wish. By clicking on a file you display the text within it.

    You can link these files together, by using the now very familiar double square bracket ([[]]) or the hashtag #. This allows you to link notes together in non hierarchical order. As in, they can link backwards and forwards as well as to whatever else you wish. Your file name is automatically searched through the vault and any mention of the same thing will be surfaced as an un-linked reference. These can be people, books, films, thoughts, in-fact whatever you want them to be.

    My set up is very simple in terms of folder structures, I have one for book notes, one for article notes, one for random notes, and a few others for People, Templates and Podcasts. This is not needed, all of the text files can be left in the root of the vault, but I like a nice clean look on the side. Everything can be searched for anyway, and in many ways you don’t even have to see the files to link them together.

    Daily Notes

    My biggest strength now is recording absolutely everything that I need, or want to refer back to later. I used to save these things sporadically in Apple Notes and also Ulysses. Now Obsidian is open constantly while I am at my mac. Every time I open Obsidian it is on my daily note, this contains my daily tasks, meeting notes, Journal entries and almost anything in my life.

    When I first sit down in the morning I type out some Morning Notes. This has been my practice for months now and just helps me surface whatever is going on in my brain that morning. I don’t think very much about these, I try and get out of my own way and let my thoughts flow out. Admittedly some of this is repeating trends of how I am feeling, but quite often these thoughts turn into blog posts or just something I work on personally.

    My daily note also contains my Routines, these are simple things I am bringing into my daily routine to make myself better. Really simple things like walking the dog, meditating, exercising and anything else I am working on. You create a task by typing - [ ] Task name.

    To set up daily notes turn this on in the core plugins. There are also some options in settings to customise this a little. I set up my daily note to start from a Template, so I always have the same headings and tasks to tick off.

    I have another area for my aforementioned day notes, this allows me to take brief notes on meetings, telephone calls and also anything else that crops up in the day. I can’t tell you how beneficial this is for emptying my brain and writing down all my tasks.

    Plugins

    While we talk about turning on plugins, now the real power of Obsidian starts to come out. You can use a whole range of plugins created by the community of developers out there that are constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible. Plugins are split into ‘core’ and community. The Core plugins are optional things that Obsidian can do if you wish, and Community plugins are downloadable extensions to do extra things, some simple, some really powerful.

    You can also install plugins outside of the app that are easy to discover in their thriving community or their Discord channel. From my experience most people don’t stray outside of the Community plug ins. I use the following heavily.
    Calendar: This shows a calendar in the right side bar, allowing you to go back to daily notes from those days or make daily notes on dates in the future.
    Natural Language Dates: This allows you to easily tag things with dates by using @todayor @tomorrow or even @next week.
    Text Expander: Does exactly what it says on the tin. Allowing you to customise short codes and replace them with regularly used bit of text.
    Kindle Highlights: Syncs by book highlights into my book notes folder in a similar fashion to Readwise.

    I have tried to make things as simple as I can, but also molded things to my usage. There are hundreds of community plugins to do loads of things and you can spend days of your life trying them out! One non community plugins that I have to mention will follow because it is the basis of how I get things done.

    Tasks

    As mentioned about you can set tasks up really easily in Obsidian and there are load of plugins to help you manage these and keep ticking those check boxes off. To add a date to a task you simply tag it so for example.
    - [ ] Do this thing #2021–12–25

    This will make a task for you to complete that will be linked to the daily note on the 25th December 2021. You can go further and further with this and customise this until your heart is content, but this is task management in Obsidian 101.

    Wait, there are plugins though! After using Obsidian GTD for a little while I opted to use Tasks. The benefit of this was that I can get my set up to display the tasks I have to complete in a way that works for me. I have a note titled tasks that contains code to display my priorities that are overdue, need doing today and those that are upcoming. As well as having an Inbox of sorts by surfacing any task I have not allocated a date to.

    Tasks also allows me to set up repeating tasks and displays the date I completed each task next to the item with a nice green tick emoji — I like that! I leave my Tasks note open in a second page by CMD + click.

    Book & Article Notes

    Ever read something and thought it was great but immediately forgot all about it? Yeah me to, until I started making notes about it. When I read anything in Pocket, or on my Kindle at night, the highlights go into Obsidian for two reasons:
    1. For me to refer back too later if i need to
    2. For me to go over and expand on at a later date

    These notes may sit doing nothing, or may be expanded on and stored for later reference, either way they are not taking space up in my brain and have not been lost. The Kindle highlight plugin allows me to do this whenever I have finished a book and want write a little about it, if only a mini review. However I transfer over my Pocket highlights once a week or so for reference.

    Making notes in this fashion quite often comes out in my daily notes, or my writing later on, because a quick search or a glance at the links tab in the right sidebar will surface any relevant information to me. With a few keystrokes I can make sure these thoughts are connected up and begin to see my knowledge graph forming before my eyes.

    I tried this also with Podcast notes, which can be really useful when sycnced through the app Airr. However since my listening declined these have stopped completely.

    I was initially dismissive of making notes like this, and still do shy away from going as deep as I could. Some of this is trauma from University and making hours of notes, but some of this is just not what I use Obsidian for, but with that said it’s amazing the difference it has made. Simply by having them there and padding some of them out my recall of the topics discussed has been improved tremendously. If there is one thing I can’t stress it’s don’t me as dismissive as I was. Make loads of notes about everything.

    Writing

    This is one of the biggest things that I always wanted Roam to be. A place I could write out anything and it be stored and linked to if those topics come up again. Try as I might, I just never got there with Roam. There are options to turn it of, but first and foremost it likes things in bullets and blocks which felt to rigid and strange. Whereas Obsidian is text editor at its core, so writing is a delight.

    Everything I have ever written in a text file in my writing folder. Published or not it’s there and can come up again whenever the time is right. Whats more is that all my documents are written in my beloved markdown. So I can type away and never click a mouse button if I don’t need to! My search for a perfect writing app has changed back to storing everything in Markdown in Obsidian, so no more subscriptions. Publishing is as easy at copy and paste into micro.blog and put in my images.

    Using the very geeky comandline universal converting service Pandoc and the accompanying plugin, I can also export my work documents and things I am working on to docx and pdf as and when required. I don’t really want to get in to setting this up because it is boring, but I might do at some point.

    Mobile

    I am lucky enough to have the beta version of the iOS app to test (it is available on Android too). This is a full featured app that works exactly like the desktop version. Meaning I can type in my notes, pull up any information I need, or even work on my iPad!

    The fact that a free service got here before a £195 one like Roam did is baffling to me. Bravo on the developers and the community to getting to this stage and deliver such a full featured app with very few caveats.

    Conclusion

    And there you have it, my very simple setup in a nut shell. I’d like to cover concisely why Obsidian stuck for me this time, but I really have no idea. Many people I follow have started using it, and as such I gave it a little more time. It’s not Roam Research and that’s ok. I love it even more because its simple to pick up and you can get as geeky as you like.

    I have recently discovered some more plugins that I am experimenting with for creating templates and moving things even further forward. But for now the real benefit I get from this is being able to open it each morning and use it all day for the things it does best — recording my thoughts and linking them for me.

    Ethical Pirating

    Last week the new Mortal Kombat film launched, but only in the US! This isn’t exactly a blockbuster film but something I really want to watch given my love of the old one, and the game. Understandably filmmakers are having to find new ones to generate the income they deserve for the films they make, but they seem to be tone-deaf when it comes to limiting releases.

    The film is available to buy and stream in the US, but nowhere else. Meaning that everyone outside the US cannot watch it unless they adopt illegal means. No doubt many people will resort to this to watch, but I prefer to make sure content creators receive the money they deserve. However, I don’t want to wait.

    Is there an ethical middle ground? Is it OK to pirate a film if you then buy it when it comes out to give back? There is no reason viewers outside the US should wait for an indeterminate amount of time, and it is almost impossible for me to avoid people talking about it. This is a hard question, and no doubt many people will just watch the film for free.

    The Rage Machine

    Maple Cocaine on Twitter on Twitter:

    Each day on Twitter there is one main character. The goal is to never be it.

    Such a simple few words seems to have captured so much of my feelings towards social media and Twitter specifically . Every day there is something else for the different levels of twitter to get emotional about. Those emotions are almost always negative and hateful in their tone.

    There isn’t outpouring of positivity and creation like there was a few years ago. This has something to do with the surrounding world, but everything to do with the emotions people put into Twitter. I do still use it, but shy away from much conversation due to not wanting to occupy myself with it more than needed.

    I want very much to curate my social media garden to be more pleasant, but somethings just seem to break through. This week it was Basecamp, next week it will be something else. The rage machine keeps on working if you like it or not.

    The Scout Mindset

    A recent Vox Conversations episode brought me towards a book about scout mindset. This is the basis of making your mind more inquisitive to look for information and understand everything fully instead of defending your beliefs.

    I wrongly presumed that this was obvious to everyone, and then immediately realised that I was defending my static position already. I started to think about what happens when your beliefs become so ingrained in you that they become part of your personality. Are you the Apple guy? The Android girl? The iPad dude?

    When your very person is framed by something you believe in, how can you ever hope to look at anything with a scout mindset. I’ve been guilty of this in the past, and projected my own bias onto many different things. We all have these things in us that we believe in, but the real thing to take away from this approach is to be mindful of them and make sure it doesn’t cause you to miss any information or mean you’re defending your position because you feel like it’s personal.

    Beliefs don’t have to be permanent.

    Podcast Investment

    Of course over the last few weeks I have been going backwards and forwards over podcasting again, but this is not more rumination. Instead it is emotion towards lost relationships, at least one sided ones.

    During my 5 years working around the UK I spent a rough average of 5 hours a day driving, often much more. This time was always filled with podcasts. Each time I turned the key, after a few seconds pause my trusty Ford CMax (I had three of them in a row) was filled with my chosen episodes.

    Hours and hours of my life I spent listening to Podcast personalities that taught me so much. They were my introduction to tech, to working on an iPad, my glimpse into brand new ways of thinking and new topics for me to become interested in. As the miles rolled on, I devoured whole episodes of my favorite shows over and over. The hosts shared personal insights with me, and we built up and very one sided relationship. I felt invested in them as podcasts and also individuals.

    When my working life changed these dropped away, and as COVID hit they disappeared completely. These relationships my mind had built were severed and almost all of which I have no interest in now. It was only when compiling a list of my podcast feed now that I realised how many people have slipped out of my life.

    I am filled with a strange melancholic feeling towards these shows and people. I am thankful for everything I have learnt and the interests I have found, but realised this was all one sided. All of a sudden understand people that become obsessed with people from TV shows than mean something to them.

    Small Changes, Big Effects

    I’ve changed my morning routine little by little over the last few weeks and it has made a huge difference.

    I feel like I am stealing the idea a little, because Matt D’Avella made a brilliant video about small changes at the end of last year which inspired me so I cant take the full credit.  However after months of searching on how to put good habits into my life, it seems I have found the answer — slow and steady wins the race.

    Introducing small, achievable things to do each day is the key to making much bigger changes in your life. I started with small things like meditate and go for a walk, setting a reminder each day and ticking them off. This soon evolved into exercising each morning and walking the dog before 7am by just moving slowly.

    I have always wondered why people get obsessed by successful peoples morning routines. Perhaps they are trying to find something in them that will change their own life and make them successful too. This is bonkers, but I am in a different mindset to morning routines now. You don’t need to go all out, but changing small things can really set you up for the day. I was in no rush to change everything and not be able to keep it up, but just one new thing every couple of weeks has been a huge revelation.

    What small, achievable thing could you do to improve your day?

    My Podcast Feed

    It’s been a while since I listened to podcast as intently as I used to. Somewhere in 2019 I fell off a bit as I didn’t have to drive as much, and the pandemic just killed almost all of my listening. The empty space I used to fill with talking and chatting about tech is not just empty but I’t still consuming up a little while running or walking the dog. Chris Wilson pestered me into writing about what I am listening to, so here it is!

    Wired UK

    The only Tech thing I listen to now is a good round up of tech news that is actually interesting. It got a bit too much in the pandemic due to talking about research and related things to do with COVID but its back to its best. No spec stuff, no wild rumors to get emotional about, just stories and insight about how tech is changing the world. If you like the magazine, you’ll love the podcast.

    Duncan Trussell Family Hour

    My favorite person, perhaps on the planet (don’t tell my wife) never fails to entertain. With in-depth talk about life, reality, religion, psychedelics and almost anything goes. His insight into how he looks at the world has affected me deeply since discovering him on Joe Rogan a few years ago – I never miss an episode.

    Vox Conversations

    This is a new one for me, I have only been listening a couple of weeks but have gone back and devoured a lot of the back catalog. It’s very political in places, and offers a very slanted view of the world, but has introduced me to some really good books and interesting people. I particularly enjoyed the recent episode on Satanic conspiracies in the US.

    Tim Ferris

    What more is there to say about this podcast, it’s really great. I do dip in and out due to not having the attention or time for a 2hour + conversation but they are always a great listen. Tim has a great way of interviewing and bringing the very best our of people. His show with Yuval Noah Harari changed my outlook on life completely.

    Darknet Diaries

    If you’re following me and not listening to Darknet I don’t know what you’re doing with your life. This is one of my very favorite. It scratches my tech itch but in a completely different way. The story telling behind some of the greatest hacks in the world, and also some you’ve never heard of ,never fails to grab me.


    Others worth mentioning:
    Louis Theroux Grounded, The Missing Crypto Queen, Aubrey Marcus, Project Human

    Basecamp Ego Rules

    Casey Newton exposing the all hands meeting at Basecamp

    They really don’t care what employees have to say. If they don’t think it’s an issue, it’s not an issue

    Of all the words in this excellent write up these speak volumes to me. We’ve all seen this arrogance recent years, the ego that runs amok in the founders comes and bites them on the ass.

    When you don’t listen to feedback, when you think all your ideas and experiences are the only ones that matters, you have a real issue. Running a company in your vision and being thick skinned enough to stand by your decisions is one thing. But when the success goes to your head and you become tone deaf to everyone but the chip on your shoulder sooner or later that will catch up to you.

    I am in no doubt Basecamp is not going anywhere, there will be thousands of people itching to take over these positions that don’t care. They just want a foot in the door. However if this knock tells the founders one thing, it should be that they are not as great as they think they are. Listening to people doesn’t mean you take the advice or feedback, but means you must at least appreciate where your employees and users are coming from.

    Eating Habits Have Been Hacked

    Davie Davies speaking to Hooked author Michael Moss:

    During the pandemic, he says, many people have sought comfort in the snacks they remember from childhood. “We went into the store, and we started buying products we hadn’t had since we were kids,” he says — recalling “great joyous moments.”

    It’s only when you step back and look around when buying food you realise that a sorry state the world is in.

    Our brains and bodies have been hacked by nostalgic food, bright colours and gimmicks to a point of almost no return. A point further highlighted by the pandemic as we all reached for something that made us feel better and take our mind of the doom and gloom.

    This is fine in the short term but when you look at all the psychology used by brands it’s reminiscent of social media manipulation. The whole world is out to sell us something and to hell with the repercussions.

    Humanity Is Great Again

    I don’t need to resort to tropes to tell anyone how hard the last year has been. Since COVID-19 hit the UK like a train (no political discussion please) we’ve been in lockdown longer than I can ever remember. This has been hard on us all, but one for the weird consequences of this has been my contact with other people. I’ve only been able to see the outside world through Social Media — and that sucks!

    I’ve spoken before about missing just being around others, and the lack of physical contact that I think humanity needs to survive. I have been talking, interacting and looking at everyone though the smokey lens of the online world for so long I forgot how great people actually are.

    It’s easy to get disillusioned about the way of the world. More so when your bombarded with the worst that it has to offer, what feels like a constant stream of bad news and outrage with some random conspiracies thrown in for good measure. It’s only when getting back to some semblance of normal that it all starts to make sense. As the country opens back up again, I can now start to talk to people in person. Laugh and joke almost like old times that you begin to realise that the world is a much more positive pace when you remove all the digitals in between.

    There is nothing like real people, in a real situation that brightens things up. Makes humanity seem great again and improve the despair felt when staying at home. I’ve got through the latest lockdowns with a few scrapes and metal bruises but being able to get out and about again is brilliant. These Smokey lens I have looking at the world through have been lifted, and I am forever grateful.

    How To Do An EE Digital eSim Swop

    Despite it being a standard feature in many Android phones it took Apple until the iPhone XS to implement a dual sim of sorts. Even then you need to have one as an eSim and that limits the networks that can support it. Thankfully EE were one of the first, so for the last few years I have been using two sims in my iPhone, one for work and one for personal.

    One major pain is dealing with moving phones. I do that quite a bit, so ordering a paper EE eSim each time became a pain, not to mention an expense at £1.50 a time. Preplanning helps a little, but there has still been times I’ve been without service because I’ve broken my phone and can’t just pop my sim in another.

    Thankfully EE have a solution, and you can now download an EE eSim for your iPhone in seconds! Here’s how to do a digital EE eSim swop.

    You will need your current sim to be working to receive a text message, and also have already set up your new handset and downloaded the My EE app.

    Once you’ve done that on your new phone in the My EE app, open the menu and go to Settings > Device and SIM > Replace my SIM > and select your number.

    You will then have two options on supporting devices, SIM card — Post (2 to 4 days) at a cost of £1.50. Or eSim — instant download at a cost of 50p.

    Tap on eSim, then select this device, and you’ll be on your way to transferring your number.

    You will then get a notification that the eSim is ready to download, and then you can go through the normal set up options. This gives you the facility to choose labels for the numbers, which iMessage number is used and lots of others. Once completed you will need to activate the new sim by receiving a text to your old phone, put the supplied code into the app on your new phone, and you’re ready to go.

    This is usually instant but can take up to  an hour, turn your new phone off and on again to refresh everything, and you’re good to go on your new handset with a new EE eSim.

    Head into Settings > Mobile data to change any of the options you’re selected on set up. If in any doubt call 150 from a working EE phone.

    Where Does Apple Go With iPad OS?

    Jeff Perry on needing the iPad software to catch up

    I can see reviews coming a mile away claiming that the M1 chip is overkill for the iPad Pro and that it isn’t worth the same price as the MacBook Air, or that users should save money on the iPad Pro and just get the MacBook Air instead. As of right now, I can’t come up with any new arguments on behalf of the iPad than I had before this announcement. 

    I can’t point at anything that moves the needle on being compelled to buy a new iPad. Even when compared to the 2018 version your pretty much getting the same thing, bar a camera and mini LED on the 12.9”.

    I’m not sure either of things are needed by most people that use an iPad, but that’s a personal thing. No doubt the M1 is amazingly powerful but nothing changes at the moment. We keep holding our breath for a sea change in usability from iPad OS. Yet each you comes and goes with nothing bar a few tweets or changing the multitasking again!

    I’m not even sure what that is. Where does Apple go with iPad OS without compromising more than they add in? I’m lost for ideas but please Apple. Do something. Shock me. Surprise me. Make a £1000 investment worth it.

    The Great Podcast Doors Are Closing

    Following Apples move to offer Podcasters subscriptions to help increase revenue for podcasters, and also grab some cash for themselves, the doors will begin to slam shut. Granted we’ve already seen some try and muscle into exclusive podcasts, Spotify tries to tie up some creators and podcast producers buy up applications, but I have a feeling it’s going to get a lot worse.

    Instead of offering something built on top of a secure RSS feed, Apple have chosen to close it down entirely. Should you choose to make your Podcast more premium and charge your listeners, you will have to upload the audio straight to Apple. Closing off any chance of the show being available in another app, and removing RSS entirely.

    Anchor The Feed

    I am no lover of podcast platform Anchor, and have been outspoken about their practices, but this recent post from its founder seems to be the most sensible move. Instead of launching a service to tie everything down, he talks about the love of the openness of the RSS-based industry, but also the issues that comes with it.

    Each platform that hosts content will have no choice to make a grab for premium content creators. Not because that is who they should be appealing to, but because they can’t miss out on it. Left unchecked Apple could not only take money from subscribers. They will also cut out advertisers, hosting platforms and even apps in their own App Store.

    It’s understandable that some podcasters will start to get a bit jumpy, but most of these things are motivated by continued attempts to control the market. Open podcasting won’t go away, but the type of content that is available for free, or indeed in the place you want to consume it will dry up over time. We are well and truly in the boom time of audio focused content, which after a year of stalling due to COVID-19 could be a refreshing change.

    However, I have a feeling the market will right itself. This has happened to TV, video and blogging before, but there was still enough out there to consume. Perhaps those of us that have been listening for years have just had too much time in the sun? I don’t believe its time to get worried, there are a huge number of podcasters out there that are working away for free that deserve to be better supported. It’s time to wait and see, and support the creators you think need it most.

    The Problem Of Scale

    One thing that constantly surprises me on micro.blog is how nice people are. This has something to do with the barrier to entry being a bit nerdy, but everything to do with the scale of the platform. Although everyone seems to think that abuse and harassment is something unique to the main social networks, it’s actually a problem of scale.

    You see I love micro.blog (it took me a while) with my main appreciation being that it’s notwhere everyone is. Sure, I’d like more people to post it, I’d love to follow more interesting people, but with all the noise comes issues. My feed is filled with thoughtful comments, far too much debate about what platform to publish too, and nice photos. There is a positive vibe to the place, so much so that there appears to be no movement towards thinking about moderation.

    The platform can be independent of the publishing platforms, so a swift move to remove cross posting would be easy to do, as well as removing hateful comments. This lax approach seems to be shared by every new approach and always fails to work, at scale.

    I would already kill for better timeline organisation. Sure there is no incentive to move to algorithms that engage users more due to the paid nature of the platform. Stepping away from micro.blog, it’s obvious where the trend goes for almost every other social platform that attempts to be moderation free. I am lucky in the fact I have placed my eggs in a basket I trust, Manton and the team have no reason to do anything other that tend to this nice positive garden they have created. Others are not so lucky.

    Almost every platform that attempts to be a safe place for a certain type of person falls flat on their face with this problem of scale. You can promise to be moderation free, or simply not have the time to do it, but the fact is it’s impossible to run a platform that doesn’t have to do moderation.

    Start with the spam you’ll inevitably get once there are enough users. Then the things you legally have to take down — abuse, copyright material etc. Once you reach a critical mass of users, then comes the algorithmic feed decisions due to lack of engagement and inability for users to keep up. This too is an inevitability as users can’t decide if their posts will be seen or not and start to post less if action isn’t taken.

    All platforms that need engagement or show adverts will devolve into the same state eventually. Nothing will ever ‘fix’ social media. Scale kills almost everything, there is a huge benifit to not being where everyone is. Stay small.

    What Do I Really Want?

    I’d like to say this was in my younger years, but until fairly recently I bought loads of stuff because I thought I wanted it. Wasted thousands on tech purchases and waved any dismissive thoughts away with the reasoning that it was my only vice. Upgraded my phone, tablet, computer, and anything I could get my hands on almost constantly in a search for something better. When in fact it wasn’t better it was looking for, it was an answer.

    The next model of iPhone was always the one that would fill what I was looking for. No? It must be the next one coming in a few months then, or maybe I needed an iPad to go with it. Whatever the feelings left after the hit of dopamine had subsided, it was explained away with buying something else.

    That wasn’t what I was searching for though, I wanted something to fill another hole in myself. It didn’t matter what the hole was, but I filled it with buying tech. Simply because I thought it made me look cool on the internet. Although every upgrade offered me something, these things are not what I needed. What I, and load of people like me, needed was to get to the root of what I really wanted. What was I trying to mask and fill with buying things?

    It wasn’t until discovering minimalism that I became aware fo the feelings I had. Like many people I talk to, the Netflix documentary introduced me to a way of looking at the more essential things in life. Thinking much harder about the things I choose to put in it. This isn’t an advert for minimalism, but the message given is a powerful one. The thing I needed was not a thing at all, and for different people it is different things — but one thing links us all, it’s not stuff we need.

    These feelings haven’t gone away, I don’t think they ever will. They are still there, I bought every size of iPhone simply because I could, but how I deal with them is different. Being aware of feelings and the reasons behind them has been an important step in improving my overall happiness and seems to have curbed the never-ending search for fulfilment. Much simpler things make me content now, and when these pangs of purchases come I ride them out and think about what the root cause really is. It’s me.

    Back As Far As I Can

    Last year I wrote about my desire to move completely away from smartphones in general and detach myself from the internet as much as I could. With this comes the juxtaposition and the realisation with the fact that I work online, and simply need access to things a smartphone can do most of the time.

    Despite flirting with every size iPhone 12 I have stuck with the 12 mini and this has enabled me to go back as far as I can. With a few tweaks such as moving my phone out of my room, I have enabled myself to deal with the internet at prescribed times, and in ways I want to.

    This is no fault of the internet. These issues are in me, but also affect those around me. These issues are completely self-made. It’s not the apps I have installed. It’s not the designers fault. It’s not anyone else’s fault. It’s mine. Because I feel bad, I think that it’s outside things making me feel this way and I look for a fix. A quick one preferably, to stop this constant pressure I feel. Instead of working on myself and understanding the triggers.

    A smaller phone has helped me not reach for it as much. As has moving it out of my sleeping space. They are not the cause of my issues, but a way of me fixing them and understanding my triggers. I have gone back as far as I can, and I am much happier than I ever have been, not because of a smartphone, just because I am the person I want to be.

    Mange Comments Like Your Content

    Justin Tadlock discussing the relevancy of comments:

    Commenting on and discussing ideas in an open forum can change hearts and minds. It can lead to discoveries and create life-long friendships — I still routinely chat with people I met through blogs and their comments from nearly two decades ago.

    I love comments, but then I don’t really have much of a community outside of friends I’ve met online. Outside a few spambots I have never received anything other than nice feedback or healthy debate. But…

    Comments on popular platforms such as YouTube can be an absolute dumpster fire. As someone who publishes videos for my day job I am constantly removing comments on videos that showcase the worst that humanity has to offer.

    Ryan McCue, a core contributor to WordPress, said that comments should be a plugin.

    I strongly agree with this, the default option for anything on a blog, web, video whatever should be comments off, and you turn them off by default.

    Openness when being able to choose a comment provider should also be the de facto stance from all platforms. If I want to move hosts or anything else, I want to take my comments with me.

    McCue’s response was to a tweet by Brian Krogsgard, the Post Status creator and editor. “WordPress should have one singular button that says: Turn off all comments and comment displays. This is so hilariously complicated, it’s absurd.”

    Comments on WordPress are so far behind where they should be it’s a joke at this point. Dating the way they look and feel is impossible without editing core WordPress files and good luck in understanding what options do what. I spent a good few hours configuring Webmentions as comments and allowing them to be displayed, when it would have been a 2-minute job.

    I, the publisher should own the comments the same as I own my content, so making them a plugin would be the perfect move. Don’t even get me started on the non movement of implementing Webmention after 5 years.

    Comments should be part and parcel of your life online. However, all roads point to something better. You will get fools, but you’ll get them on social media anyway, but better tool are needed to breathe life back into something so important to the web.

    Everyone Falls Down These Holes

    Matt Birchler on making a mistake:

    And finally, it has been a healthy reminder that the internet can push anyone down a rabbit hole towards believing something false. We all try to be rationale people, and we’re all convinced that what we believe is reasonable and other people are crazy, but none of us are above being pushed into weird (and sometimes dangerous) beliefs with just a few clicks.

    I constantly read that people that believe in conspiracy theories or have outlying views on the world are stupid and should know better. If you fall for miss information, or just form your views a bit differently to others then you almost deserve it because you’re dumb. That may be the case for the weird and wonderful, but as Matt points out above its really hard to work out what’s true on the internet.

    As much as on the internet no one knows you’re a dog, no one knows your true intent for what you publish. Everyone falls down these holes, and it’s important to remember that.

    Seeing Yourself Everywhere

    Anna Wiener in Uncanny Vally

    Wherever I traveled on the internet, I saw my own data reflected back at me: if a jade face-roller stalked me from news site to news site, I was reminded of my red skin and passive vanity. If the personalized playlists were full of sad singer-songwriters, I could only blame myself for getting the algorithm depressed.

    Living inside an algorithm, like we all do, has no upsides. We are all stuck seeing everything that people ‘like us’ are doing. Ourselves reflected back at us and informing the choices we make next. We’re pigeonholed and controlled by an algorithm that makes it almost impossible to break out of.

    Even when we do, and come across someone who doesn’t have the same feelings towards things we do, trouble is bound to happen. Other people don’t understand us as much as the machines, and as such other view points get us upset. The world online thinks the same as us, so why doesn’t the larger world outside?

    This is further exaggerated when you live in somewhere like Silicon Valley where the online world is built by the people in your outside world. Shudder.

    It’s Easy To Wish For Something Else

    The world online would have us believe that everyone else’s life is better than ours. No matter how great the universe is when you look around you, there are always ones that appear better. You can stare at the photos, read the words and watch the videos and never fail pick out things you wish for your own. It’s easy to see positives in others but not in yourself.

    Even if the portrayal is far from the truth. Others internet lives are, on the surface, perfect. Everyone else is always living their best life, enjoying things better than your experiences or doing a better job of it anyway. Almost everything appears better on the outside. The grass always appears greener, but the grass is fake.

    It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see — Henry David Thoreau

    The surface is an easy place to observe, it’s the place easy for us to understand, free of the complexities that lie just beneath it. We cannot take everything in, there is simply too much information for us to process, so we focus instead on what we wish to see, and when a lot of what we see is airbrushed it’s impossible to see negatives.

    This isn’t a new problem, it’s easy to blame the internet, but the internet is full of content others publish. After all, why would you want to show pictures of yourself not in the best light, or having a bad time? What a weird Instagram that would be if the images were what people were actually doing every day. As much as the modern phrase of “it’s OK to not be OK” is spoken, it is not OK to not be your best on the internet.

    You can speak of pressure from beauty standards, advertising, and more modern-day worries until you ar blue in the face. The self-fulfilling prophecy is unbreakable, until you realise that this is all fake. It’s easy to see positives, it’s easy to focus on the worries you already have, and it’s natural to see what you want to see.

    Your feed is the edited highlights, and so is everyone else’s. Wishing for other lives, other bodies, others income is easy when all you see are the nice bits.

    Time To Slow It Down

    My daughters toy says this to me every time I hand it to her. Its nighttime based vocal cues and music prods her towards winding down and going to sleep. For how long who knows, but it helps her drift off. I’ve never really paid attention to this until today whilst thinking about the very same things.

    I’m not old, but I’m not as fast as I used to be — me to my wife after a run

    Whilst trying to up my running millage now the weather is better, I am forever having to tell myself to slow down. My legs are stuck in this weird pace that I can handle for 10k but not for much longer and I have a habit of blowing up with too many miles to go. A lesson I should have learnt by now, but one that doesn’t just stop at running. I also have a sustained habit of tweeting too fast, thinking too fast and hitting projects too hard too soon.

    Try as I might, I just can’t slow myself down some times. I haven’t expanded the internal monologue that happens whist running to the rest of my life. It’s a lesson that I have read quite a few times lately and one I needed to add my support too. I have recently been introduced to the GTD tag of “high energy” and this makes perfect sense to me. Don’t go hard all the time, slow down and go hard when you can.

    Slow doesn’t mean as slow as possible it just means slower than you might expect. Doing things at the correct pace is one of life’s biggest lessons. That pace is going to be different for different people, and different times of day and hell even different periods of time. We are constantly encouraged to move faster, work harder and fill every waking moment with something that others deem important. When in fact it’s time to slow down, do things properly and maintain them for longer.

    When it comes to tweeting, maybe just don’t instead.

    Why Highlights Are So Important To My Reading

    It’s only a few months since I covered my reading flow. It’s something that has changed a lot in the last year due. Motivated by my desire to take more advantage of the time spent engrossed in a book or catching up on my queue of online articles. This doesn’t matter when and where I am doing this, but one thing I’ve come to rely on is highlighting and being able to read them back.

    Only when testing two new upcoming reading apps (super top secret sorry) that are yet to implement highlights that I realised how important they are. Without even thinking I draw my finger across the screen to highlight a specific sentence or passage that I want to remember. When that doesn’t happen, I don’t feel like I am getting the best I can out of this experience.

    Many things slide past without needing to be highlighted, but more than a few times I have had to put the article into another app so I can save the highlights for later. I could try to do this with Shortcuts, but there is something about being able to see what you’ve read and which bits are important. Remember how satisfying it felt to bust out the marker and highlight things on your school texts?

    These highlights typically end up on social media, lead to alink post or are saved to refer to later. Readwise definitely helps with pushing these into Roam for me, but there are a huge number of ways to read these highlights back and let the information sync in better. If you are thinking about using a service, or creating a new one, highlighting should be top of your list.

    Not everything needs highlighting, but everything needs to be able to be highlighted.

    All Set Up And Nothing To Show

    Zach Phillips on generating work before building a system

    A common experience I have as an unbearable software nerd: I get a peek at a system that a prolific person uses to create their prolific output and think “God, Microsoft Word? Are you an animal?”

    I then go back to tinkering with my Grand System which has generated nothing yet.

    While I do think it’s a tragedy that any person is still using Microsoft Word, I’m looking in exactly the wrong direction.

    I don’t know if it’s because I’m blinkered by my life online but I spent this whole post thinking about how this relates to blogging and writing.

    Over the years I wasted so much time messing around with my blog that I spent less time putting out posts — and I know others do this too.

    That’s not what people come for. Sure a nice blog design makes it easier to read things, but there’s little point if there is nothing to read anyway. The system is less important than the things we put into it, so do that first before worrying.

    My Phone Has Moved Out

    For at least the last 4 years, each night I have taken off my Apple Watch, and placed it on a charger next to my bed along with my iPhone. So for the time I am asleep, or at least trying to be, my phone is within arms reach on a standup charger.

    This helps tremendously as I always have a bedside clock on hand that glows with a subtle bump to the table, and I can be at the mercy of my alarm within a few seconds. But it also means that at any point I can reach over and entertain myself when I should be sleeping.

    We’ve all done it. “Just Checking” Twitter before going to bed and an hour disappears as you descend a rabbit hole. Or perhaps you see it light up as a notification comes in, and now you’re fully awake because the supermarket had a great offer for you at 2am. Thankfully I am one of the lucky ones that doesn’t need to be contactable at night, but I’ve only just realised that moving your phone into another room is the way to go.

    It was only through pure accident that the realisation hit me. I was ‘between’ phones and having to use an iPhone SE 2016 that relied on wired charging. As such it lived in my separate office for a couple of days until my new one arrived. Meaning everything was left until the morning, the extra effort to get out of bed, cross the hallway and retrieve my phone meant that I just left it alone.

    That bit of extra space meant I slept better, felt better and the difference was so stark that despite no longer relying on a charging cable, my phone dock now lives in the other room permanently. I hope it likes its new living space, along with all the accessories that go with it. I still do grab it sometimes but much less than before. I wish I had done this sooner.

    Posting To The Internet Is Not Your Job

    I’m at risk of starting to sound like a broken record. This strange habit exists in me that I want to do loads of things but just never quite get around to them. I want to make videos, have a podcast, and publish loads of blog posts. The truth is I have no reasoning for wanting to do any of these things though, other than posting to the internet.

    There is no desire in me to preserve my life in writing or video. No need to spread my garbled messages with the world. I have no knowledge grater than anyone else on this planet and, in fact, considerably less than most. I just want to do these things, but at points it sometimes feels like my job.

    Don’t confuse this with lack of enjoyment. I love doing the things I do, and in many respects that is my motivation. However, giving myself a hard time because I have not fu