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Commuting mask watch: down to about 10% of people wearing masks on this Southern train. Very thinly occupied, though.

One day I will manage to swab myself for a lateral flow test without retching.

Today is not that day.

Today has been the sort of day when I log onto Twitter, see the trending topic list, and log straight back off.

MacOS Monterey is a weirdly bland update — having been using it for a couple of hours, you could have easily persuaded me that the install failed and that I was still in Big Sur.

Om Malik on the iPod 20 years on:

Maybe knowingly (but more likely unknowingly), Apple had made a device that made it easy for normals to understand and embrace our then-new century’s big idea: the abstraction of our physical life into the digital domain.

Doc Searls on supply chains:

“But the worldwide supply chain (which is less a single chain than braided rivers spreading outward from many sources through countless deltas) is impossible to reduce to any one formal cause.”

The “Christmas Stocking Fillers” PR emails have started arriving, despite the fact I’ve never once done a gift guide in 18 years of writing my blog.

Maybe this year’s the year? 🤷

What stocking fillers would be appropriate for journalists, anyway?

Today, I had managed the sort of productivity that if I managed every day, my life would be a lot happier and calmer.

I actually think I can spot two reasons why that happened, so… 🤞🏻

Back at City, ready to teach journalism again. 18 months ago, I walked out of here during one of the production weeks, completely unaware that it would be so long before I’d be back.

But it’s good to be back.

Facebook being down might actually ease the petrol crisis, now that there’s no way for people to flag up that a petrol tanker has just arrived at a garage in their local Facebook group.

Slightly perturbed to discover that my daughters think that I’m basically Izzy Moonbow…

Day 2: It’s never fully dark, down by the river. #mboct

There’s something quite nice about a day so wet and blustery that you feel no guilt at all about just chilling out in the house.

Day 1: My daughter couldn’t resist reaching out to touch these fishy up-cycled spoons at the Artisans’ Market. #mboct

It feels like a crunch is coming in the UK petrol crisis in my part of the country, at least. Those people who have held off filling up, as their needs were less urgent, are beginning to run out of fuel.

And the situation is not easing, as promised.

The deadlines of my working life used to be defined by when the presses needed to roll. Now, they’re defined by school pick-up time.

Well, I wasn’t expecting My Little Pony: A New Generation to deliver some of the most on-point political commentary about the last 5 years, but here we are:

The text recognition in photos that’s part of iOS15 is pretty damn impressive.

Gotta say, shipping the new GoPro in a plastic bag somewhat undermines the “plastic free packaging” messaging…

A GoPro Hero 10 in its shipping packaging.

Life is too short to gift attention to unpleasant people

Something I should have worked out 30 years ago:

If someone whose work you like and enjoy turns out to be a complete tosser, let them and their work go. There are many lovely people out there doing great work who deserve your attention and money instead.

From a famous humorist who was the very first person who was just brutally unpleasant to me in my journalism career, to a former co-author who decided to interpret everything in bad faith, a lot of people have contributed to this insight. But now I’ve had it — and been using it for the past year or so — my world is a happier place.

The new Netflix CGI He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (the kid-friendly reboot not the Kevin Smith continuation series) is really quite a bit of fun, with some imaginative touches. My daughters are really enjoying it.

In less than two weeks, we’ve gone from “so hot in my study, I had seat beading on my face during courses” to “so cold I’m contemplating turning the heating on”.

Just ordered a new iPhone for the first time in four years.

That’s the longest I’ve held onto a phone in the smartphone era. But the time to upgrade has come…

Ah-ha. Big Sur 11.6 finally shows up for M1 Macs. Apparently today’s wave of Apple updates patch vulnerabilities that are actually being used to exploit devices — so get your updates done, people.

Huh. Weird. My pre-M1 iMac has the MacOS 11.6 update, but not my M1 MacBook Pro.

Today’s exciting lunch break: cleaning the tent post-camping trips.

A tent pitched jn a back garden.

Just booked my first evening out in Brighton since the pandemic began.

I shouldn’t be — but I do feel slightly nervous…

When I had a Real Job (™), I used to routinely ignore work email when on holiday, and come back to a terrifying pile of unreads. This is the first time I’ve managed to do that in nearly a decade of self-employment.

Wish me luck. I’m going in.

Just spent a happy couple of hours revamping a neglected blog, ready to start posting on it again from tomorrow.

Very happy with the new look.

One of the things I love about visiting Woods Mill is that you can get beautiful images before you’ve even left the car park…

It is slightly terrifying to realise that, as of this autumn, I will be in a position to do “what I was blogging about 20/10/5 years ago…” posts.

“I do not demand a gin palace at every corner, merely that it is written into the constitution of the nation that every village must, as a public service and a monument to more sensible civilisations, maintain a pub.”

— From In the Country by Kenneth Allsop 📚

Should your bookshelves reflect the person you are now, or should they encapsulate all the versions of you from earlier in your life?

Is it even social media if you don’t occasionally post photos of your lunch?

I much prefer the feel of matt dust jackets when reading a hardback book to glossy ones.

The absence of iPadOS 14.7 from last night’s round of updates is curious…

I have coffee and a piece on supply chains to finish. Wish me luck.

Self-solving tech problems are my favourite kind.

An uptime notification on an Apple Watch.

Last night I had intense dreams about Swedish third wave coffee shops.

That’s about as on-brand for me as it gets.

The problem with working on a MacBook Pro and an iPad Pro side-by-side is that I keep trying to touch the Mac screen…

Today is my “Max Vax” day — two weeks since my second dose.

💉💉🎉

I am happy to report that, as of this weekend, all adults in my household are fully vaccinated. 💉💉

(It’s just me and Lorna, but still…)

Just had a depressing email about the planned final withdrawal of the .eu domain name I used to own, but am no longer entitled to.

Steve Leighton has left HasBean, and now I don’t know what to do

My favourite coffee buyer and roaster is no longer running the company he founded. The most recent bag of coffee I had from the company was, well, disappointing, in a way that I don’t remember encountering from them before. And then a marketing email from the company dropped into my inbox, and it dawned on me that it lacked the enthusiasm and personal voice of the man who used to write it — Steve Leighton.

A quick Google later, and I uncovered the truth — he’d left HasBean, and was clearly having a rough time before he left:

For the last few months, I have been dealing with what can only be described as a mental health breakdown. To protect myself i have disappeared into my private life.

And parting company with the company he founded — and sold — was clearly the right thing for him to do, however hard that must have been.

My third wave coffee journey

I’ve been drinking HasBean coffee for well over a decade. Somewhere around 2008 or 2009, when I started spending time back at Estates Gazette’s Holborn offices, I tweeted about my struggles to find a good way of brewing coffee in the office. And Steve replied. He recommended an Aeropress, and so I bought one from him, and some coffee to go with it. And I’ve been a customer of theirs ever since.

Between his videos, his blog posts and his Instagram posts from origin, he helped suck me much deeper into the world of coffee. I didn’t start drinking the stuff until my early 20s, and then went through the slow journey from instant to cafetière through the last years of the 90s and then the early 2000s. And then, partially because of Steve, I started to encounter the third wave of coffee, and that was me hooked. I’ve looked for good, independent coffee shops all over the UK, in the US, Singapore, Malaysia and India, thanks to the world Steve introduced me to.

My post-HasBean coffee supply

For the last 12 years or so, I’ve had a reliable source of coffee I can trust. Steve has a knack of not only choosing great coffees, but roasting them well to bring out the richness of flavour. Generally, the roast was lighter than you encounter from many roasters, and that’s become my preferred style.

Happily, Steve is back buying coffee for an Irish roaster, and is also moving to Sweden to be with his pregnant parter full-time. (He co-owns a coffee shop over there with her). That’s great for Steve — and for the Irish and Swedish coffee scenes.

But now, I find myself hunting around to see if a different supplier can meet my coffee needs. I’m starting with Sussex roasters, as I like to bring money into the local economy when I can. Let’s hope I can find somewhere as good.

Otherwise, it’ll be pricey shipping from Ireland for me…

Up at stupid o’clock for a podcast guest appearance…

Having a coffee in Tom Foolery with my daughters. It almost feels like the old days again. ☕️

Mr Hancock and his rules

People died alone, not even able to hold the hands of loved ones, because they followed rules Matt Hancock set.

People gave birth without their partners being there, because they followed rules Matt Hancock set.

People never got to say a proper goodbye to people they’d loved for decades, because they followed rules Matt Hancock set.

People have spend over a year alone, isolated and lonely, often without any comfort from human touch, because they followed rules Matt Hancock set.

And Matt Hancock looked at the sacrifices they made, the moments and relationships lost forever, the tragedies that played out all over the country, all done in the name of protecting one another, and thought “I’m too important to follow my own rules.”

And he had an affair.

So, no, Mr Hancock, this is not a private matter. This is very much a public matter. This is an insult to every member of the British public that sacrificed to keep your rules.

And it’s an insult you have compounded by failing to resign.

Today, in a career first, I received a press release about a toilet brush.

Not any old toilet brush, mind.

A crowdfunded toilet brush.

If you ask me, this is nothing but a pile of junk.

A pile of junk.

Luca, the new Pixar movie on Disney+, proved a perfect Father’s Day watch with my girls. It’s a simple story, but the richness lies in the relationships and characters, with a surprising amount of subtle shading in their behaviour.

Well worth a watch. 🍿

This week it has become abundantly clear to me that some tasks are better done on a big screen, and some on a small screen. And figuring out which is which, and switching tech to accommodate that, has a huge impact on productivity.

Missed the live WWDC keynote stream, so here’s the plan:

  1. Read the previews on Apple.com
  2. Scan the hashtag #WWDC21 on Twitter
  3. Pour a beer
  4. Watch the keynote when the replay is available
  5. Try to ignore my wife’s mocking commentary.

An engaged newsletter audience is better than a big one.

(And I managed to write it without making a “size isn’t everything” joke. Apart from that one, obviously.)

Friendly wee chap in the churchyard this morning.

A squirrel in the churchyard of St Mary de Haura.

First library visit since the first lockdown! 📚

Two girls and a pile of library books.

Genomics and pandemics and the avoidable crisis

Zeynep Tufecki:

The latest news from the United Kingdom, which has better genomic surveillance than almost any other country and thus can allow us to disentangle causes of outbreaks better, is not good.

Immensely proud of the fact that my wife, as a medicial genomics lecturer, has played a part in making the central sub-clause of that quote true.

However, the rest of Tufecki’s newsletter is well worth reading, as it challenges those of us in countries with successful and extensive vaccination schemes to start thinking what we can do to aid the rest of the world, before we see a worsening humanitarian catastrophe.

I will never cease to be amazed by the speed with which my daughters can make our living room chaotic.

Watching last week’s Countryfile has me thinking about drones again. There’s some fantastic drone-driven storytelling shots, rather than the normal eye-candy.

I know I should move on from being annoyed when people use “blog” when they mean “blog post”.

But I’m finding it really, really hard.

There is not enough side-eye in the world for this: Google revives RSS.

Google, some of us remember Google Reader.

And we have not forgotten. And we have not forgiven.

Dear Substack writers,

Crossheads massively enhance the readability of your precious multi-thousand word hot takes. They are fully supported by the CMS. Please use them.

Yours etc,

Adam

Birthday party in progress: pin the tail on the Gnasher…

A drawing of the Beano's Gnasher, teady for a "pin the tail" game.

This was the very first piece I wrote in my self-employed life, back in 2012: What is post digital?

In classic style, it was about 10 years too early…

I’ll be honest — editing these photos is making me hungry.

Mmm. Brownies.

This week I have more good old-fashioned phone calls than Zoom or Teams meetings.

It’s such a relief.

Look at me, updating node.js from the command line like I have the first clue what I’m doing.

I think I’ve found a way to articulate the discomfort I’m feeling in my work:

  • I’m passionate about journalists, who are generally a good, passionate bunch
  • I’m less passionate about the journalism industry, and the serious number of structural issues it’s unwilling to address.

I just managed to lose a cup of coffee in the living room.

How’s your Monday going?

Wow. Just found a classic example of misusing “proof links”. A writer on Medium making certain statements, and linking to “prove” them, but the pages he links to don’t back it up at all.

Credibility hacking. 🤦🏼‍♂️

It turns out that our local church uses some rather dated tech…

Floppy disks being used for a church organ.

Hmmm. Does anyone have any idea why my micro.blog site wouldn’t pick up an analytics code put in the Footer section of ->Design? It seems to have stopped working when I installed one of @cdevroe’s themes. 😕

Always worth taking time out to feed our feathered friends.

Bird feeders in a back garden.

Bottoming out

On Wednesday morning, I hit a low. My family has been lucky during the pandemic — none of us have caught the virus (as far as we know), and we haven’t lost anyone. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been an impact. For me, the main impact has been on my mental health. 

The near-destruction of my business a year ago has shaken me profoundly. It’s eroded my sense of self-confidence more than it should have, and left me prone to bouts of bleakness. I hesitate to call it “depression”, because I don’t have a diagnosis, and I know people have it a lot worse than I do. But it’s there, I need to acknowledge it and learn to live with it, because I don’t think it’s going away any time soon. 

Some frustrations that morning — a couple of pieces of work I thought were in the bag turning out to be far less so — sent me spiralling downwards. One situation in particular felt like a very personal rejection, and was probably what triggered my bleak mood. I can still feel it haunting me a couple of days later. 

I had to pull away from social media — Twitter especially — for a while, because it’s not good for me at the best of times. I toyed with the idea of starting to look for a job again — something I haven’t done seriously for nearly a decade.

Living self-employment

And then, I remembered that I am self-employed, and that I am so for a reason. I really am my own boss, and I can take time off if I need it. I declared the rest of the day a mental health day for myself, and took myself off to Worthing to do a couple of chores. 

Once they were done, I gave myself permission to just wander, explore. To see new places I hadn’t seen before, something I haven’t really done in over a year now. I followed the main street in Worthing far beyond where I’ve every gone before, and after I passed the tertiary retail and the empty units, I started finding some interesting wee shops off the side-streets. 

Found, a shop in Worthing

Badgers Books in Worthing

And, my goodness, did I feel better afterwards. I hadn’t realised how much I missed exploring for its own sake, going new places and finding new things.

That made me realise that maybe I need to rebalance my time again. As a natural result of the pandemic-driven downturn in my business and the lockdowns, my world had pretty much shrunk to my work, my family and my neighbourhood. It’s not any slight on those three — all of which I love — to say that I clearly need a little more than that in my life right now. 

Perhaps, if I invest a little bit more time in things I enjoy, and in some of my personal projects, I’ll be a lot less vulnerable to bad days in the the day “job”. 

It’s certainly worth a try. 

The beach is going for drama this afternoon.

Having one of those days where I wonder why I bother with the stress of being self-employed.

It’s been nearly a decade since I had a full-time job. Maybe it’s time to go back.

It’s lovely to see the vegetation sprouting again on the beach — a sure sign that summer is on its way.

Shoreham Beach in spring.Shoreham Beach’s vegetated shingle starting to grow in spring.

Dear Substack writers,

It is not compulsory to have an opinion on the Basecamp mess.

Yours,

Adam

(Who has just deleted several lukewarm takes on the subject from you all…)

Looks like there are security updates for Apple things out — urgent ones, too.

Looks like I’ll be updating all the family devices while I work this morning.

This is an absolute shocker: last night someone cut down an osprey nest at Llyn Brenig in Wales, where a young pair were incubating their first egg.

Ospreys are a schedule 1 species, and any disturbance of them during breeding season is a crime.

Just replaced the Cat 5 on the wired elements of our home network with Cat 7 cables.

Boy, I know how to have fun on a Friday night.

The masked FaceID unlock works great on my iPhone running iOS 14.5. A nice little quality-of-life improvements for Apple Watch users.

So, if M1 Macs can run some iOS apps as well as Mac apps, and the iPad Pro now uses an M1 chip…

…WWDC is going to be really interesting this year, isn’t it?

So happy to see Apple go back to colour in the post-Ive era.

So, 100 hours on from my first vaccination jab, the side-effects have been negligible. My arm was very sore until yesterday morning. I had a slight headache on Saturday morning, and I was unusually tired for most of the weekend.

Otherwise, all fine. Roll on 💉 #2

So, it turns out that the downside of being married to a woman with a PhD in Immunology is that I get a narrated description of exactly what’s happening in my body in the days since my first Covid vaccination.

It’s fascinating, but a bit disconcerting…

I think the obsession with newsletters is obscuring the bigger story: that the growing prevalence of publishing platforms with built-in member support is going to change the dynamics of publishing over the next 10 years — and more than we expect.

While pulling together this list of weekend reading I remember thinking how often I was linking to Substack in it.

And then I remembered feeling the same about Medium a few years ago.

This too, shall pass, and the web will endure.

Anyone else using a Mac found that their rate of genuine emails filtered to spam has shot up in recent months?

I think my daughters might be prematurely middle-aged:

Two girls chilling out in camping chairs.

Sometimes it’s amply clear that these are chalk downs:

People climbing up the steps to Cissbury Ring.

There’s a metaphor here about nature and technology…

An overgrown, rusted cable telephone sign in Shoreham-by-Sea

Up and at ‘em early this morning for a last pass on a really interesting research report I’m editing.

Spring really came to Shoreham-by-Sea, yesterday. I took advantage of the lockdown easing to have a bonus lunchtime walk.

A boat floating in the Adur.St Mary de Haura’s east elevation in Shoreham-by-SeaLooking towards East Street from the churchyard of St Mary de Haura.Trees and daffodils in the churchyard of St Mary de Haura.

M1 MBPro life:

“Right, I’ll just send this video over to Compressor to render out while I make a cup of coffee and …

“…oh, it’s done.”

I do like to get down and dirty with a server once in a while:

Updating Ghost from the terminal

Today seems to be a 5/10/15 years ago day:

  • Medium pivots and seeks to reduce editorial staff? 2016!
  • Should employed journalists have their own newsletters? Twitter accounts in 2011, blogs in 2006.

We’re trapped in some kind of eternal media hell loop.

This, from @colinwalker, is what so many people miss about blogging at its best:

There is no truly right way to blog but there is a best way, one that connects our words to those of others, that shares as much as it borrows such that we are all the richer for it.

A rare moment

A window in Emerald Quay, Shoreham-by-Sea

Yesterday morning, I did something I’ve never had the chance to do in the last eight years: I lay in bed for a while and just looked out of the window. The girls had been into our room, and Iris had, rather cheekily, opened the curtains. They were back playing quietly in their own room, so there was no rush for us to be up. There was nowhere we needed to (virtually) be. Nothing was pressing.

So, I lay there while my wife dozed, and watched seagulls soar in the thermals above the buildings around.

And it was good.

Last night, we finished the last of the Christmas mead — just in time for spring.

This is not the real view from my house - but neither is it a Zoom background…

The Shoreham Harbour pilots’ boat coming back in after meeting a container ship offshore.

The Shoreham Harbour pilot boat

The uncomplicated way year ones express their joy in seeing their school friends over Teams is something we could all stand to learn from.

I’ve just realised what I miss most about face-to-face lecturing: the after lecture chats.

Nobody hangs around to ask questions or chat after Zoom lectures. And often some fascinating ideas came from those chats.

Maybe next academic year…

The combination of stupidly fast yet silent when dealing with lots of video and other tasks is still making me very happy I invested in an M1 MacBook Pro.

This sign has met a premature end, but I look forward to the day when its ilk are no longer needed.

Finally got a flexible boom arm for my Mevo streaming cam. I’ll have my home training studio just about perfect by the time we go back to training face-to-face!

I do miss the days when my home office was my home office (as a self-employed person), rather than one my wife lets me use on occasion…

I’m not saying it’s cold — but here’s a frozen boat we found.

New Year, New Lens

One of my joys during this year of lockdowns and restrictions has been rediscovering photography with a camera, rather than a phone. My trusty Canon M50 has seen a serious workout, as I’ve turned my daily walks into an opportunity to really focus on and capture the peninsula where I live.

I hadn’t been paying much attention to the development of Canon’s M-series of mirrorless cameras over the last few years, but I was becoming slightly frustrated that, with my lens set, I couldn’t easily capture most things with one lens. And when you’re out walking with two children, on the beach, in windy conditions, lens swapping is not always an option. 

And so, I was delighted to find out that there was now an 18 to 150mm lens that would be perfect as an all day lens. But I was less delighted to find out that it sells for nearly £400 — which was more than I can justify right now. 

However, after a couple of weeks eBaying old camera kit I no longer use, I had both more shelf space, and enough money in my PayPal account to pick up a second hand lens on eBay. 

Here are two photos, taken from exactly the same spot, at the extreme edges of its range:

18mm

Shoreham through an 18mm Canon M lens

150mm

My garden through an 150mm lens

This is great. I’m really looking forwards to putting it through its paces on our daily walk today. 

Well, this morning I had to reset my router to factory settings and rebuild my network to get everyone online again.

How’s your day going?

One thing that being married to someone with a PhD in immunology has taught me: take any pronouncement on immunity from anyone who isn’t an immunologist with a whole truck of salt.

Not the morning conference(s) I expected to be attending at this point in my career, but it is what it is…

Two girls getting homeschool instructions on iPads.

Team Tinworth lockdown work and homeschooling station for the day.

Planetary, a decentralised social network, officially launched yesterday.

I’ve been on the beta. It’s interesting - but really needs the network effect to kick in.

When you head towards the beach, it’s easy to forget that Shoreham is still very much a working harbour. But a walk up the riverside quickly reminds you that it is. Yesterday, we saw one of the fishing boats bringing in a catch.

A fishing boat in the Adur bringing in a catch.

The “staycation” semantic drift is complete, isn’t it?

The accepted usage now seems to be “a holiday in your own country” rather than “a holiday at your own house”.

This bit of boat decoration is cute, unless you’ve seen Toy Story 3, in which case it’s vaguely horrifying…

Buzz Lightyear strapped to the top of a boat.

Oh, Wix websites are a pain. They have a “blog” section, they even publish RSS feeds - but they don’t set up auto-detect properly, so you have to know where the feed lives before you can subscribe. (It’s at /blog-feed.xml)

An interesting set of predictions for 2021. If the world shifts its focus from solving the COVID crisis to solving the climate crisis, we might just have a chance as a species.

What can we do to help that happen?

Knackered after homeschooling. Updating all the iOS things to 14.4 because it’s brain dead work, but feels productive.

Low tide on a rainy afternoon is not the most photogenic time in the Quay.

Emerald Quay at low tide in the rain.

Scenes from homeschool:

👧 “What does ‘dour’ mean?” 👱🏻‍♂️ “If only there was some sort of book that listed words alphabetically alongside their meanings.”

Be a fox, not a hedgehog

One interesting idea in Matthew Syed’s Sunday Times piece on how social media sound bite culture is destroying nuance in complex debates:

In a wise essay in 1953, the philosopher Isaiah Berlin contrasted two types of thinker: the hedgehog and the fox. The hedgehog has one big idea. It reduces everything to this one idea. Everything else is filtered out. The fox, conversely, has lots of ideas. It likes to see the broader context, how concepts fit together, and is anxious to bring more information to light.

Berlin’s point — although he made it subtly — is that it is psychologically easier to be a hedgehog, but to understand a complex world, it pays to be a fox.

We need more foxes.

Repeatedly misspelling “audience” is probably not good, when you’re running a new module called “Audience Strategy”.

And I just misspelled “strategy” and had to correct it, too. 🤦🏼‍♂️

Emails from luggage companies are getting ever more desperate.

Lockdown isn’t easy. I’m having a rough day.

It’s OK if you are, too.

It deeply bothers me that on-going access to a whole load of important and significant writing from the last few years is entirely based on the continued existence of only two companies: Medium and Substack.

Well, it took less than a week of lockdown before I saw someone in a local Facebook group calling for martial law to stop people drinking takeaway coffees on their daily exercise walk.

People can be very scary.

Shout out to fellow working parents who are trying to navigate both earning a living and home-schooling our children.

The extra time with the little ones is a real treat, but that doesn’t make it easy or stress-free.

A cold and frosty morning on the Beach, and it’s not lifting.

Ryan Broderick:

I did not expect email newsletters to be a life raft for digital expression, but, at least right now, they are.

Anyone who thinks Bill Gates can create a vaccine-delivered microchip that controls people has clearly never seen a class full of parents try to use Microsoft Teams to do remote learning for their children.

My daughters’ rendition of “We wish you a Merry Lockdown and a Happy New Tier” is simultaneously very cute and mildly creepy.

Less than 12 hours to finish a book and meet my reading challenge goal…

I just learnt that Jackie Cassada, an acquaintance from my old White Wolf/RPG writing days, has passed from COVID.

A lovely person and a great talent, lost. Heartbreaking.

Beach life in Tier 4: where better to take your permitted exercise?

Worthing, as seen from Shoreham Beach on a december afternoon.

Storm Bella has passed, but it’s still very blowy down on the beach.

Maybe just regretting a little that I offered to handle the live-streaming of midnight mass tonight.

Oh, do you remember when we used to go to “coffee shops” and other people would make coffee for us?

Kids today wouldn’t believe that.

I suppose that I should be working systematically through One Man & His Blog’s archives, upgrading them and correcting problems left over from various platform moves.

But it’s more fun just to chose a random tag — like seashore.

Archive spelunking

Managed to resurrect all but one of the broken links on this 14 year old post. (The reason why is a subject for another post).

Looking back on the 2006 web - pre-social media as we know it today - I can’t help feeling that many aspects of it were better and healthier than what we have now.

These two things can both be true:

  1. Herd immunity is a real, valid scientific concept.
  2. Attempting to achieve it for COVID19 without vaccinations would be inhumane.

You don’t have to deny 1. to argue for 2.

Listening to my daughter’s Zoom singing lesson is making me very proud and a bit emotional. As someone who can’t carry a tune in a bucket, hearing her blasting out songs with incredible precision and confidence is quite something.

There’s plenty of discussion of journalism business models. There’s some discussion about emergent journalistic forms. There’s rarely any deep connection between these two discussions.

And that’s why so much of the industry is still struggling.

I’m not saying we’re deep in middle age, but there is considerable excitement in this household about the arrival of a new washing machine tomorrow.

There’s a good reason we should temper the current Substack enthusiasm in journalism circles with a little caution. It wouldn’t take much for the newsletter platform to reinvent itself as an attention gatekeeper.

And there’s VCs lurking the background, wanting their payday…

A restaurant in Île de Ré, from back when I used to travel overseas.

And go to restaurants.

An Île de Ré restuarant in August 2019.

Frost on the roofs this morning. The girls were very excited. The adults, less so.

Frost on Emerald Quay roofs, Shoreham Beach.

I used my new MacBook Pro for an hour this morning to monitor a livestream I was running, dived into a quick Zoom call, have done some emails, edited some photos and worked on a blog post.

And I have 95% battery left. 🤯

Conspiracy theories: making the gullible feel insightful in your Facebook feed right now.

So… this is my first post from a Mac powered by Apple Silicon.

Spending far too long looking at video of myself has been one of the major downsides of the pandemic.

Blogging is a discipline: it’s a practice of expressing your thoughts in writing, routinely, and with focus. Writing a post every day for Microblogvember has helped reinforce that.

And…done. 🍾

I am, and have been for as long as I can remember, a pedestrian by preference. Walking is my favourite way of getting anywhere.

Shame it’s impractical for so many journeys.

Has anyone else come to quite enjoy wearing a mask? I like seeing the fashion choices people make with them, and will quite miss that when the pandemic passes.

I won’t miss the disposable ones left as litter on the ground, though.

Last night, I faced the dilemma of going to bed early, or staying up and having some quiet time to myself. I chose the former - and was rewarded with a half hour to myself, as I was up before the rest of the family.

Result.

After years of having the house to myself for several days a week, it’s hard to adjust to constantly sharing it.

I’ve never craved “alone time” much - but I’m starting to.

Much as I hate to admit it, structure and focus make a huge difference to a client Zoom call. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the pleasures of small talk, too.

Requiem for a lamp

I’m saying “goodbye” to an old friend this morning. For the last 23 years, whenever I’ve been working at my desk, across three different properties, this old, battered lamp has lit my work. Last week — in the middle of a lecture — it finally, catastrophically fell apart.

A broken anglepoise lamp.

I didn’t even choose it. It came into my life because my girlfriend of the time was working at Terry Farrell & Partners, a firm of architects. They were having an office refurb (or was it a move? I can’t recall at this distance) and she grabbed some things that were being thrown out.

She left it behind when she exited my life and, amusingly, my relationship with the lamp has lasted well over ten times longer than my relationship with her… But I’m proud that I’ve used this thing that came my way for so long. This lamp has had over two decades of extra use after it was first consigned to the bin, and in an era when we’re ever more aware of the climatic cost of a throw-away culture, this small choice has proven to be surprisingly satisfying.

Eight months ago I was forced into delivering online training by the pandemic. Even after mass vaccination, I think it will remain part of my mix. The benefits - attendees from all over the world, provision of videos of the session afterwards - are too compelling.

Chris Cook in this morning’s Tortoise email:

“The challenge is how we all get to the finish line without needless further fatalities: a vaccine makes it increasingly clear that an infection delayed can now become an infection prevented.”

Exactly.

Today’s lesson: do not record your Zoom sessions locally, if you have multiple incoming streams. It seems to strain the connection too much.

Revamped online lecturing and training setup working well. 👍🏻

The power of disinformation to capture people’s minds is terrifying. Watching a friend’s Facebook friend who is clearly deep in the rabbit hole is sobering.

Today’s beach walk did not feel autumnal at all. Between the waves and the overcast skies, not to mention the biting wind, it felt distinctly like winter is coming.

It’s just possible I’ve found a solution to something that’s been bugging me all year. 🤞🏻

OK. A week in I am prepared to say this:

Big Sur is bloody lovely and it has completely reignited my joy in using my Mac.

As I child, I railed against my dependence on sleep.

As an adult, I embrace it.

Night, all.

Wake. Take children to school. Train people via Zoom. Collect children. Feed children. Read bedtime story. Edit training videos. Sleep. Wake. Take…

I regret I didn’t take more notes in the early days of the first lockdown. It was an unusual, but quite special, family time. And I do want that memory - the good part, at least - to persist.

I need to remind myself more often that it doesn’t actually matter how far I am from my goals, as long as the direction of movement is largely correct.

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, Mysterious and spooky, They’re altogether ooky, They’re Adam’s family.

😎

The fact that the entire British political establishment is waiting anxiously for a blog post makes my deep loyalty to the medium feel completely validated. 😏

One thing from the before times I really miss: just grabbing my laptop or iPad and heading to a coffee shop to work for an hour or two.

If home working turns into a long-term trend, I guess we’ll have to find ways of recreating those social lifelines.

First impressions of Big Sur: amazingly fast on my ancient 2013 MacBook Pro. The visual refresh takes a little getting used to, but it’s close enough to the current iPad look that it feels fairly familiar.

A couple of hours in, and I haven’t hit any problems yet.

Hello, Big Sur.

(That sounds like something from a really bad prison movie: “Jim, if you want to survive in here, you need to keep Big Sur happy…”)

The Big Sur login screen.

The balance of my wardrobe has changed during the eight months of lockdowns and remote working. I wear far fewer smart jackets, shirts and jumpers, and far more sustainable outdoors gear.

I like this change.

I’d love to say that I’ve got used to the famine/feast aspect of self-employed life.

But it would be a lie.

”Before Ramsbury, I was a nowhere man, living, as my parents did before me, in a multitude of places without really putting down roots in any one. Ramsbury made me a somewhere person.”

— Peter Marren, The Consolation of Nature

This is true of myself and Shoreham Beach.

The new “Apple Silicon” MacBooks looks very tempting as a replacement for my elderly MacBook Pro — but perhaps I should hang on until next year.

It might not be all Zoom, all the time, by next summer…

The vaccine news is, at least, promising. It does give us a glimpse of a future where the virus is much, much less of a threat, and that makes me wonder: will we see a struggle between those who want to embrace a new normal, and those who want to force us back into the old ways?

There’s no doubt lockdowns are hard; that unfamiliar feeling of liberties removed, of freedoms curtailed. But last time, it helped bind communities and families.

Will this one do the same?

Just successfully sourced my coffee filters from a local business rather than going reflexively to Amazon.

Met this chap on our beach walk today. Seemed nice enough, but not very talkative.

A figure made of seaweed, driftwood and old sunglasses.

Today’s news about the US presidential election gives me a little hope for the first time since 2016’s Brexit vote that being of fundamentally decent character still might matter.

I’m not willing to inflate the balloon of hope too much just yet. But a little hope is nice.

It’s not exactly puzzling why we chose to live here, is it?

There’s something utterly magical to me about beaches in the off season, when it’s just us die hards out there…

I’ve slipped out of the habit of using my 9.7 iPad Pro, and that means I’d forgotten what a lovely size of device this is for reading and email. It’s probably due an upgrade when the new iPad Pros hit next year.

Maybe I’ll even be using it when travelling again by then.

Hospital visit concluded. My youngest’s head wound cleaned and glued together. And I didn’t have to stoop to bribing her to be brave. She managed that all by herself.

I’m so proud of the courage and self-possession she has as a five year old. Long may it last.

Have to say - I wasn’t expecting to be spending time in A&E on the first day of lockdown.

So, lockdown it is, from tonight. I’m very lucky to be living very near to these places. It’s going to be much easier for us than so many others.

Boats on the river Adur. The churchyard of St Mary de Haura.

My family continue to astonish me. I’m a lucky man to have these people in difficult times.

Things that have become a routine part of my life since the first lockdown began: moving around Gigabytes of video recordings every week.

Sometimes you have to get something out of your head before you can concentrate on the other things you need to do.

It’s out of my head, so it’s time to get editing training videos.

Thoughts in the face of Lockdown 2.0

On Friday, I drove my mother-in-law home, and passed through many towns on the journey. We were often caught in traffic jams, and sometimes I ended up idling outside pubs. Every time, I saw the same thing: a handful of tables in use, in a largely empty pub. And that’s on a Friday night, one of the key trading days of the week for licensed premises.

And now we’re going back into lockdown. Those pubs will be essentially without income for a month, at the very least.

How many will survive it?

The pub cull

The small town I live in has already lost at least two pubs to the pandemic, with others looking precarious. What will be left by the time we have the pandemic under control? How many of the town’s small retailers will survive another month without income?

When the virus is under control — finally — I want to go out for a drink with my friends. I want to catch a show at the local arts centre. But will that be denied to us, because we only cared about preserving lives, not the quality of them?

It is, it must be, possible to give thought to both.

Trapped in reaction

It feels like we’re trapped, the UK at least, in reactive mode — responding to short-term shifts in viral prevalence, without any long-term vision of how we survive it, and what we want left afterwards. Oh, there’s talk of the “science cavalry” arriving — but both the timelines and the effectiveness of any vaccines or treatments are very much an unknown quantity.

Are we really prepared to emerge from this at some unknown future point with our high streets devastated, our pubs shut and our theatres and community centres gone? There’s two ways that this virus ends lives: by taking lives, and by taking away what makes life worth living.

Our greatest test in this time, is to work as hard as we can to save every life we can, but while still acting to preserve what feels valuable to us in our lives. Right now — in the UK, at least — it feels like we’re failing on both sides.

Viral Polarisation

And that, in turn, feels like another expression of the polarisation in our society. You either have to be pro-lockdown, or anti it. You can’t be somewhat pro-lockdown, but concerned that we’re not paying enough attention to ameliorating its social, economic and (most vitally) health consequences.

That takes a nuance that our politicians seem incapable of, and certainly the loudest voices online have no tolerance for. Join the tribe. Hold the view. Punish the transgressors.

A future of shouting at one another over social media, without any ameliorating social contact in a pub, a theatre or a community space seems bleak to me. But how do we avoid it? How do we use digital tools to help preserve the places that matter, connect to each other in meaningful ways, and both preserve both life and quality of life into the future?

The next steps

This is not going to be all over by Christmas. It’s probably not going to be all over by Christmas 2021. It’s time we accepted that, abandoned a hope of the science miracle that will make the problem go away, and start building for a more realistic future which co-exists with the virus, but isn’t dominated by it.

It’s going to be challenging. But it needs to be done.

How’s the UK Covid app doing? Oh:

“The “world-beating” NHS Covid app, downloaded by 19 million people, has systematically failed to send alerts telling people to self-isolate after they came into contact with infected people.”

🤦🏼‍♂️

Today, had the makings of a dreary, dreich day. But time with good friends helped me recover from some tech stress and face the coming lockdown with more resilience.

Just spent 30 minutes catching up on newsletters. My, do some well-known journalists suffer without subs and editing. Witticisms that aren’t witty, and blatant errors of fact. 🤦🏼‍♂️

Happily, many of the indie newsletter people - or the freelances - are much better.

Parole by election

John Naughton on why the US election is consuming his brain, despite the fact he lives in the UK:

Maybe it’s because there’s a possibility that on November 3 something might change in the US, whereas we in the UK are stuck with the worst government in living memory for another four years. So we’re like long-term prisoners serving time and looking enviously over the wall at our fellow-prisoners in the US who might just be paroled on November 4.

Here’s an unexpected pandemic side-effect: after six months of recording online training seasons and editing them for later reference by trainees, I no longer detest the sound of my own voice.

I walked up into Old Shoreham yesterday, to pick up some things. It’s interesting seeing the traces of the old village concealed within more modern housing.

An Old Shoreham house in Shoreham-by-Sea.

I just started looking for some data for a lecture, and the third result was one of my own blogposts, which had exactly the information I needed.

Thank you, past me. I must remember to be as kind to future me.

If you’re going to write 500 words summarising a report, you could at least do the reader the courtesy of linking to the original.

😤

I know it’s a thing some SEOs like to recommend, but I do find webpages with no publication date on them immensely annoying as a user.

I’m trying an experiment. I’ve switched my default search engine on my iPhone to DuckDuckGo, and will see how I get on.

So, I thought I had the whole 20 seconds hand washing things sorted. And then the Apple Watch update with hand washing tracking hit. A month later, I finally have 20 seconds of Apple-approved hand washing cracked. 🥳👍🏻

Shoreham Beach, UK / 2020-10-14 / 8.49am

Walking home around the quay after dropping my children at school. I’ve lived here for 10 years, but I’ve never stopped feeling like I’m on holiday the whole time because I’m by the sea. I hope that never changes.

A Day In The Life

Apple ProRaw actually looks quite interesting. Be interested to see how quickly the major editing apps support it, though.

Lisa on the roof, talking environmental stuff amongst the solar panels is cool.

I’d be more excited by 5G coming to the iPhone if I thought I’d be going anywhere in the next six months

🤷🏼‍♂️

“Something only Apple can do” is going to get really annoying really fast.

On the sofa for the Apple announcements, and my daughters have joined me…

Just rewatched Frozen 2 with my daughters.

Anna is clearly the most thirsty of Disney heroines.

🍿

Uggh. One of those days where I’ve been working solidly since 9am, bar 10 minutes in the garden, it’s now time to go collect my daughters, and I don’t have nearly enough done.

Well, you can tell I just topped up the suet ball feeder, because it sounds like there’s an avian riot in progress in my back garden. 🐦

I just betrayed my principles and did a rant as a Twitter thread not a blog post.

I shall say 3 “Hail Sir Tim”s, and recommit to the open web.

It’s disturbing how easily the California fires slip off our radar, just as the Australian wildfires did.

I don’t so much want slow news as future-looking news; the stories that will continue to matter in the long-term.

15 years on, journalists are still talking nonsense about blogs

This person has no idea what they are talking about:

The reason no one talks about “blogging” anymore is that, for what blogs were good at — sending your personal views on the news (or some other topic) to a dedicated audience — other tools offered simpler, more effective tools for doing just that, most notably social networks. Why go through the trouble of setting up your own blog and slogging through a cumbersome back-end CMS when you can just create an account on Twitter and start sharing hot takes in a couple of minutes?

Well, here’s an hack who clearly has it paid any attention to what’s happening in blogging right now.

Plenty of people talk about blogs and blogging. Just not in politics and news journalism. Go and have a look at fashion, and it’s a different story.

It makes it hard for me to take the rest of the story seriously, though.

Well, I never thought I’d reach a point where the US president announces he’s ill with a potentially life-threatening disease — and my first response is scepticism.

But here we are.

Spending my evening editing the videos of yesterday’s lectures.

I know how to live.

LumaFusion export.

It’s possible that our HomePods are the most used pieces of digital tech in our house at the moment. We’ve lived the six months of the pandemic to a background of music, and it really helps.

I could do with fewer plays of the Trolls World Tour soundtrack, though…

Today’s learning: six hours of Zoom feels very different to six hours of in-person lecturing.

However, I’m not facing 90 minutes of travelling before I reach the comfy sofa, so there’s that. 🛋

Today, I am mainly thinking about the health impact on lecturers of spending six hours in front of an iMac Zooming, rather than gamboling, gazelle-like, between lecture theatres and seminar rooms.

Oh, sweet joy. iOS14 has brought emoji search to the iPhone. 🙌🏼

That URL looks completely legit and I shall be claiming straight away. 🙄

This one of those rare things, an online quiz actually worth doing. It’s a test to see if you can identify which social media accounts are real, and which were set up by disinformation organisations. And it explains the signs you should be aware of… 👌🏻 Can you Spot the Troll?

Everything wrong with both Facebook and internet fandom in one screencap.

One thing that makes me sad about the Apple Event: a few years back the Fitness+ announcement would have been a set of APIs to allow fitness providers to work with the Watch, not an Apple Service.

What the heck is going to differentiate the iPad Pros if the iPad Air has the A14, the new keyboard and Pencil 2?

Remember, in the UK, the government can break international law if they find it inconvenient, while its citizens are encouraged to report their neighbours to the police if two families stop to chat in the street.

Welcome to Dystopia Now™.

Pubs 👍🏻 Offices 👍🏻 7 people in the park. 👎🏻

Yup. That all seems logical. 👀

Once you know an AI is grading your work — you can game it.

The next decade is just going to be a long series of disasters as people try to use AI where they really shouldn’t, isn’t it?

On social media pile-ons

Melissa Harrison:

Moreover, I’ve learned not to join in with Twitter pile-ons, or insult or mock people I disagree with. This is partly because I have no wish to add to the febrile atmosphere that permeates social media at the moment, and which I think is poisoning so much of our public debate. It’s also because the moment that you insult or belittle someone, the opportunity for progress in the discussion is lost because they’re not going to be open to anything else you say. Why should they?

Written four years ago. Still insightful. Still true.

The absolute genius of “Black Lives Matter” as a phrase is that its very existence provokes evidence of its need, as people react negatively to what should be a simple statement of fact.

My procrastination is weird. For example, I’ve nearly finished what will become issue 2 of Coffee & Complexity — but I’ve barely started issue 1.

🤦🏼‍♂️

I’m doing my best to keep the bird feeders topped up today. The sudden cold snap means they’ll be looking for food more urgently - and some of them will be preparing to migrate.

Birds on a suet ball feeder in a West Sussex garden.

Sitting by the sea while my daughter has a socially distanced outdoors Rainbows meeting.

I couldn’t figure out why my mouse wasn’t working this morning, until I turned it over.

Well played, daughters of mine.

Trying a small productivity hack today: doing half hour bursts of email, and then closing the app for a couple of hours.

🤞🏻

I’m currently reading The Daring Of Della Dupree by Natasha Lowe 📚 to my daughters. They are absolutely loving it. Just enough peril to keep them hooked, but some genuine history in there for them to learn from. 👌🏻

The “aircraft engine housing and car wash brushes” look for garden gates is in, in, in, this summer.

The garden of one of the Shoreham Beach houseboats.

In praise of the cloudy summer's day

Fishing boats moored in the Adur

After a week of glorious sunshine and sweltering sunshine, it’s a relief to see clouds overhead again. Oh, it’s still warm, but it’s the lack of sunshine that’s the point. It’s freeing. We’ve been to the beach, and over the river to town. My eldest and I cycled, without becoming sweaty messes. It’s been a lovely day.

Our bikes in the church bike rack

I know this is heretical in a sun-worshipping age, but you can do so much more outside on days like this than in the relentless heat of a sunny day. You can stay out longer, you don’t need to avoid the middle of the day and, most of all, we’re not inundated by half-dressed visitors.

Oh, I know this is very much a first world problem, but our beach gets absolutely bombed when the sun comes out. It’s been far worse this year, as people who are — quite understandably — choosing not to go abroad this year head to the local beach instead. We don’t go to the beach much on sunny days. We’re happy to cede that to others, because we get to use it for the rest of the year. We can swim when there aren’t people messing around in powerboats and jet skis where they shouldn’t be, and can enjoy an autumn or springtime picnic on the beach.

The sun’s gone in. The vistors have stayed at home. And the beach and the river are ours again.

Bliss.

As soon as the sun goes in, we get the beach back to ourselves. This was absolutely heaving a few days ago.

Pandemic pleasures: being at home enough to keep your Hotbin composter at a steady temperature of nearly 60C. 🌱

Here’s one reason every journalist should write a newsletter for a while: nothing teaches you more directly the relationship between what you write and subscriber churn.

I am embarrassed it has taken me until my late 40s to understand the difference between a good quality, long-lasting t-shirt, and a cheapo one.

Lots of people using the slipway behind our house today.

Boaters and SUPers waiting to launch from a slipway.

This sunflower has self-seeded from below our bird feeder. What a lovely surprise.

A sunflower in the back garden.

Typo of the day: “toe-hugging”.

Less green than tree-hugging, and just possibly a bit more kinky.

Sign on the equipment in the local playpark. One day, it’ll be an historical oddity blithely ignored by children for whom it’s an irrelevance.

Roll on that day.

Covid-19 warning sign on childrens' play equipment.

An additional mask, now they’re compulsory in shops.

Adam Tinworth wearing a mask.

We get some surprisingly big ships on this stretch of the river.

My eldest daughter loves performing. She never voluntarily passes up the opportunity to be in the limelight.

I suspect she gets it from her paternal grandmother. Here is my Mum performing in an amateur dramatics production sometime in the early 1960s.

Ann Tinworth acting in an amateur production.Ann Tinworth acting in an amateur production somewhere in north London.Ann Tinworth acting in an amateur dramatic production in the 1960s.

A momento of my old life as a hotel and restaurant journalist.

A Hotelympia commemorative playe from 1996, featuring a Gary Rhodes meal.

It turns out that 1970s and 80s Lego is still exciting to today’s children…

Just paid for another year of micro.blog. You’re stuck with me, folks.

Hand-writing this post using Scribble and my Apple Pencil in iOS 14. That was easier than I expected!

Maltese boats.

Vivid memories from a holiday to Malta very nearly 20 years ago.

Colourful boats in a harbour in Malta.Colourful Maltese boats from autumn 2000.

The view from our back garden in Dollar, Scotland, 30 years ago.

Photo by my late mother.

Looking down at Dollar in 1990, from a house in the High Street.

Looking back at locked-down May in 1 second every day.

One unexpected - but happy - side effect of lockdown: I’m now wearing jeans of a waist size I haven’t managed to squeeze into since my 20s.

It is just possible that 1989 Adam was trying a bit too hard.

Malta in early autumn 2000. While the clothes certainly date it, the complete absence of phones is quite remarkable. Just a film camera and a chunky video camera.

Tourists in Malta in autumn 2000.

My daughter just uttered the phrase: “No. You are NOT selling my precious Shakespeare books!”

BRB - exploding with pride.

Clare Foges:

Politics can either be a parlour game of ideological point-scoring or it can be the business of meaningful change. To be the latter our politicians must avoid the temptations of descending deeper into the culture wars.

I am middle-aged enough that I really am very excited about my new compost bin. 🌱

Gaming through the eyes of privilege

20 years ago I was quite involved with the tabletop gaming world, and the fringes of the SFF world, as an author. Hit Amazon or Wikipedia and you can see the tracks of my time there.

For me it was a good escape and a creatively rewarding outlet in a tricky period of my life.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that for many others it was a community where they opened themselves to harassment and abuse just by their very presence. And that should never have been acceptable.

Many people, including a few I worked with, have been accused of harassment and assault. There was a wave a few years back. And now there’s been a second round of exposures.

The fact that it was such a positive place for me, and such a negative one for people less white, straight and male than me, is a pretty good example of exactly how privilege works.

The Fate of the Mac?

Jason Snell: Thoughts on WWDC 2020 Day One:

The truth is probably that the future of the Mac is as a “pro” version of iOS and iPadOS. It’ll run more or less every app that’s available on the iPhone and iPad, but it’ll also run traditional Mac software. Over time, the distinction between iPad apps and Mac apps will begin to fade away entirely, and the Mac will just become a keyboard-and-trackpad mode of the iPad.

Phew. My MacBook Pro just scrapes into the Big Sur compatibility list.

This time next year I suspect I’ll be choosing between an Apple silicon replacement - or going all in on iPad Pro for mobile computing.

Well, having Adobe and Microsoft both on board already will make the ARM transition for Macs much, much smoother. And 3 times 4K streams in Final Cut Pro is exciting stuff.

MacOS Big Sur: love the new design, but feel like they’re just trolling us with the name now.

Automatic hand-washing detection and timing on Apple Watch! That’s as Covid-y as it gets.

Controversial opinion: I prefer this keynote format.

Dance workouts on Apple Watch. Oh, yes. 💃 ⌚️ (Watch-based cycling navigation seem vital in a Covid-world, too.)

I can barely read my own handwriting. Good luck to iPad OS in figuring it out.

So… if your phone runs out of battery, your car won’t start or open?

Cycling directions in iOS maps in iOS 14 🚴‍♂️ 🎉

They have a real aversion to static shots in this pre-recorded WWDC keynote, don’t they?

The new iOS 14 widgets just announced at WWDC are going to be amazing on iPad.

Wow. Empty Steve Jobs Theatre. Striking way to acknowledge the unusual times.

Tech false economy

So, today I’m working on a brand new iMac - the first time I’ve bought a new Mac in over half a decade. And that last couple of years where I was eking out what I could from the old Mac Mini has been a false economy. My productivity has shot up.

I hadn’t realised how much time I spent waiting for apps to open, or hanging around waiting for them to process something.

It really was a false economy. I should have made this investment a couple of years ago, and I need to budget for doing so in future.

I’m actually more interested in how — visually — Apple chooses to do the WWDC keynote later on today, than what they actually announce.

Do they try to replicate the normal stage format? Or do they go a different direction?

When the Rampion Wind Farm was announced, I was worried about its impact on the feel of the beach.

A few years on, I’ve grown rather fond of it.

A kitesurfer surfing in front of the Rampion Wind Farm.

Well, I am deeply disheartened to read this about Warren Ellis.

Is it that we as a society rewards manipulative talented people with success? Our that the success we grant allows talented people to become like this?

Turns out it’s easier to say “world-beating” than actually deliver it.

Who knew?

(Everybody else.)

Home schooling parents: a nature documentary on Disney+ is a perfectly valid natural history lesson, right? RIGHT?

An old schoolfriend of mine, Nichol Wheatley, has become an accomplished and talented artist. And yet, he remains a lovely bloke. ;)

With art shows on hiatus for obvious Covid-y reasons, he’s having a studio sale - and there’s some stunning stuff in there. Do check it out.

Sometimes, you only realise how unwell you’ve actually been when you start feeling better. Today, I feel roughly human again for the first time in a week. No idea what it was (other than it wasn’t Covid-19 - I was tested and the result was negative), but I’m glad it’s behind me.

After some thought, I put today’s social & digital lunchbreak outside the reg wall, because the lead story is important for everyone in online publishing.

onemanandhisblog.com/2020/06/s…

(People who get it via email do get exclusive content, though…)

Finally getting back to the beach.

It’s amazing the difference removing the feeling that the clock is ticking on your trip out makes.

Photographer friends: can you recommend a good hand strap?

“You’re muted” has been uttered more often in the last two months than in all the rest of human history combined.

There are probably a lot of future PhD theses in exploring why masks have become such a polarising issue in the US, compared to pretty much any other country.

An evisceration of Google Classroom

Khoi Vinh:

Google Classroom’s lackluster design is actually perfectly in line with the way we’ve always thought about the spaces we build for learning. Schools have by and large been conspicuously if not chronically underfunded, especially in comparison to spaces for work.

The last two months have proven that:

  1. There is lots of potential in online learning
  2. Most of the tools are, frankly, pretty poor

I hope Benedict Evans is right when he suggests that we are likely to see an explsion of startups in this space in the coming months.

The pandemic office job needs flexibility

Rory Sutherland:

I was influenced in this by the work of Nassim Taleb, who argues that a high degree of variation may be better than monotonous pursuit of a supposedly optimal average. This led me to think it might be better to partition work into periods of high sociability interspersed with days of self--seclusion, as an alternative to the neither-fish-nor-fowl halfway-house of the open-plan office.

I think this would both address some of the problems with offices during this pandemic period, and quite possibly lead to a more productive information worker workforce.

There’s a lot of pre-existing work on more variable workplace structures, most of which has been soundly ignored for decades. To give some context, I was writing about some of these issues for Estates Gazette 20-odd years ago. But everything remained trapped in the homogenous open-plan office approach.

There’s some real work do be done here around new ways of working, and new ways to use office space.

The Cambridge University decision seems sensible - push the low-hanging fruit online, work on how you handle the rest. Better to plan for strict social distancing with the ability to ease it, if the situation allows, than to just hope it will be easier by the autumn.

My wife is making two cups of tea - for herself.

This is going to be an interesting day…

I miss cinemas. The longer this goes on, the more I realise what I miss and what I don’t from The Before Times.

And I miss going to the cinema with my oldest daughter. They’re gone for now, and for a while to come. I hope they come back before she’s too old to want to join me.

The time finally arrived. The lockdown haircut had to happen.

Actually made it to the beach for the first time this week.

So. Our printer just broke.

It’s probably the shock of being used more in the last six weeks than in the previous six years.

Between home-schooling and trying to sustain a self-employed income, I don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard as I am right now.

I am very much not here for “bored in lockdown” gags right now.

I have won the viral apocalypse.

Please send tribute.

Lockdown bank holiday camping.

Yes, that’s our back garden. ⛺️

A small tent in our back garden.

A stunning late afternoon down on Shoreham Beach.

Shoreham Beach, West Sussex on a late May afternoon.

After three mildly stressful days, the results of the PCR jury are in: and I’m clean.

(I was asked to take a test as part of a research study, not because I was symptomatic.)

A UK government text message showing a Covid-19 test result.

My four year old daughter has just declared that I am the leader of all journalism in the world, and my wife is the leader of all science.

We have accepted this honour and would like to reassure you that our reign will be benevolent.

Three learning byproducts of the current crisis

Things I have learned through reading about Covid-19, which aren’t actually about it:

  • I need to have the flu jab in future. Not because I’m at any particular risk, but because I (like many) have under-estimated how serious it it, and want to protect others.
  • Vitamin D is way more important to our anti-viral response than I ever imagined. I’m planning lots more outdoors time, when allowed, and supplements in winter.
  • I need to understand systems thinking much more than I do.

Generally not a huge fan of Nietzsche, but in thinking about social media and how you should behave and spend your time there, this remains ever-useful:

”Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster. And if you gaze into the abyss the abyss also looks into you.”

April in 32 seconds and 13 years

So. That was April. It lasted just over 13 years, I only drove the car three times, and those were the only times I left Shoreham Beach.

This was - and is - an historic period but for most of us - the lucky ones - our lives have been incredibly mundane despite that. Even with the anxiety and the homeschooling and the work and financial stress, the time with my wife and children has been a blessing.

The danger of valuing confidence over humility

This is a really key insight in Ed Young’s superb piece The Pandemic Doesn’t Have to Be This Confusing:

A lack of expertise becomes problematic when it’s combined with extreme overconfidence, and with society’s tendency to reward projected confidence over humility. “When scientists offer caveats instead of absolutes,” Gralinski says, “that uncertainty we’re trained to acknowledge makes it sound like no one knows what’s going on, and creates opportunities for people who present as skeptics.”

That’s about as socially distanced as it gets.

Two girls ealking on a blustery Shoreham Beach.

Me pre-lockdown: Do we even need a printer at home any more?

Me in lockdown, and homeschooling: We need a better printer!

This fella dropped by while I was lounging in the garden.

Our family lockdown exercise. I love these three so very much.

The Tinworth Family on Shoreham Beach.

If you give your article a headline that starts “We need to talk about…” I will not read it.

I’ve got the perfect background for the next few Zoom meetings.

Very professional, I think.

When lockdown eases, which approach do you think companies will choose?

Allow more remote working? Up their office space to allow for social distancing? A mix of both?

Evidence, I think, that my daughters are handling this lockdown more productively than me.

The worst of it?

I can’t even eat them. I’m milk intolerant.

D-Nile

Odd, odd 36 hours.

It turns out that I was in emotional denial about how much the world has and will change, even if I acknowledged it intellectually. Some bad news about a couple of bits of work triggered a small emotional collapse and a (largely) sleepless night.

But I’ve come out of it with a renewed focus on adapting myself to the new reality, and I’m feeling much better, thank you very much.

Now, let’s be honest: you didn’t need to know that, did you?

But I think it’s worth sharing it. What we’re going through? It’s tough. And let’s not be afraid to show each other when we’re struggling.

Rough day - two bad pieces of news about two different projects means things are looking financially pretty precarious for me.

Just about enough regular work to get by for now, but it looks increasingly like I’ll need the self-employment support scheme when it launches.

Agenda: Tuesday 21st April

Difficult evening last night. I found it hard not to think about all the things that this situation has taken away from my life - but I really should count my blessings that it has yet to take away anyone I love.

Morning

Home schooling: Maths and English, plus ballet on Facebook Live, and a Zoom chat for my youngest’s class.

😱

Afternoon

Working:

  • “Cheat Sheet” for a client’s journalists
  • Assessment of SEO potential for client’s stories
  • More work on a strategy document
  • Marking

Hoo boy. Gonna need some coffee today…

My weekend project was taking a moribund blog, exporting it, migrating it to a new platform and getting it up to speed.

It worked.

Now, let’s see if I can make that time worthwhile with some content…

Agenda: Monday 20th April

Morning all,

With at least three weeks to go before there’s any chance of easing this lockdown, I need to get my brain in gear.

Home school restarts this morning, and I still have enough work that I need to focus on keeping working - while figuring out how to sustain an income over the coming months.

I’m going to try to do daily “agenda” posts - just to focus myself and hold myself a little accountable for what I need to do.

Today

  • Morning: working. Editing, writing and marking are the top priorities
  • Afternoon: home-schooling, with a focus on natural history and computing

Let’s go… 

Tonight I am transcoding an Easter Service video, produced remotely by multiple local households, for best playback on Facebook. It’s already on YouTube.

And given the comfort it will bring to people in 12 weeks of self-isolation, this is time well-spent.

Prepping a video for the local church. Not how I expected to be using this kit…

Dr Tinworth and I started watching The Mandalorian last night.

OK, I now understand the fuss. It gets the Star Wars aesthetic perfectly, and tells an intriguing story. Looking forward to working our way through it. 📺

Testing video setups is much harder when you actually have to share your home with the rest of the family while you’re doing so…

Funny how my plans for the year have now largely boiled down to:

  1. Don’t die.
  2. Don’t go bankrupt.

Everything beyond that is a bonus right now…

I have just remembered that once, a very long time ago, I drank whisky, smoked a cigar and chatted with Omar Sharif.

Life has been good to me, in ways it is easy to forget.

The speed with which some local folk have started demanding that martial law be imposed is quite, quite terrifying.

I’m gonna be really good at these motionlapses by the end of 🔒⬇️

I’m really enjoying the process of pulling together my daily distractions newsletter. Finding three things to link is great fun. Today’s issue features @hollyhoneychurch, too…

Somebody is being far too generous about my linguistic competence.

Seven’s a good age for learning to code in Swift, right?

Well, the quasi-lockdown in the UK is really good at showing up who are the selfish people in your neighbourhood - and who has the scary authoritarian tendencies.

Parenthood involves far more gluing toys back together than I expected, to be frank.

So, today I corrected one small piece of misinformation about the government’s position, and got accused of all sorts of things as a result, before being blocked.

How’s your day going?

We need more than great coronavirus reporting right now. We also need distraction — and journalists could make that easier to find.

Here I am in the Stockport Advertiser in July 8th 1976:

The Tinworth family in the Stockport Advertiser in 1976.

Blossom in the garden. Nature’s beauty continues, oblivious to our anxiety. And it is a balm for it, too.

Blossom on a fruit tree in our back garden.

Dear fellow journalists,

It is not necessary to give every article an intro linking it to the pandemic, especially if it has nothing to do with Covid-19.

Thank you, Adam

Where is the coronavirus information campaign?

This is a good point in an otherwise rather run-of-the-mill “tutting at the tutters” piece:

It is strange that we are not being bombarded with adverts along the lines of the ‘Get Ready For Brexit’ campaign about what we should be doing and are instead reliant on – often inaccurate – memes being shared over social media.

This is certainly the case in my neck of the woods, and those confusing messages are leading to tension. The lack of clear, central advice means that people are starting to form pro- and anti-online mobs around the issue of driving somewhere to exercise or walk your dogs, for example.

Spectator: The ugliness of coronavirus shaming

I’m slightly jealous of people who are dealing with lockdown boredom. Luckily, I still have enough work to more than fill the working time I have left after doing half the home schooling for my daughters. With local community commitments, time is actually pretty short…

This morning: teacher Now: cook Afternoon: back to working Evening: 🥃

Repeat for an indefinite number of weeks.

Tuesday

Yesterday was a good day. After a bleak start to the morning, I managed to find my mojo and buckle down to work. And there was good work news - one client was happy to switch to an online version of the workshop I’d been planning for them, and I had constructive discussions with a small team of fellow trainers who may be delivering a project collectively.

I still hope that the government do something for the self-employed - but I’m beginning to hope that I might not need to take advantage of it.

Home-schooling is going pretty well. The girls are excited and having fun, so we’re riding on the crest of that wave for as long as we can - hopefully it will carry us through to the Easter holidays. We are lucky enough to have a small garden, so they can run around outside in their breaks - and the weather has been conducive to that. Goodness knows what this is all going to feel like in 5 weeks on a rainy Wednesday, but for now Team Tinworth is enjoying itself.

I had an extended session with the girls teaching them some of the features of their iPads beyond playing games. That went well - but I was slightly disappointed to discover that my eldest didn’t know what a programmer or programming was. Something to work on.

The quasi-lockdown announcement last night wasn’t a surprise - and we’d already been living like that since the schools closed. We can still do our daily beach walk, thankfully, as long as we maintain social distancing. That’s reassuring.

Day four in the house — and it’s going well so far.

There are times when I think one of the fastest ways to stop coronavirus misinformation spreading would be to shut down Medium.

A quick history of technology lesson - now the girls understand why the return key is called the return key.

Computing lessons with Mr Tinworth. The pupils are learning that there’s more to iPads than games.

Currently staring at a newly-arrived “while you were out” card from a delivery company.

I mean, WTF?

Monday

I do find myself wondering about the long-term mental health implications of this crisis. We’re making massive changes to our lifestyles and economies to keep many of our most vulnerable alive. And that’s the right things to do.

But the consequences of that decision will be with us for years to come - long after (hopefully) a vaccine has been found, and the restrictions end.

For example, as a self-employed worker, the abrupt closure of my work pipeline, along with the government proving support for all categories of worker apart from us, is having a corrosive effect on my self-confidence. While it’s not their intention, I’m sure - it sends an unintentional message that “you lot don’t matter”. Couple that with abrupt cancellations and work conversations going silent - it’s brutal.

Isolation and lack of reinforcement is part and parcel of being self-employed. And most of the time I can handle it. But right now, it’s taking every bit of willpower I have left.

I’m up. I’m dressed. I’m working, doing my best to keep the clients I have left, and figuring new things I can offer that people might want to pay for at a time like this.

This afternoon I’ll swap in with my wife and be home school tutor for my kids.

The only way is forward.

Highly socially distanced beach walk. Hoping the idiots who are carrying on as normal don’t take that from us as well.

“Does anybody remember the old days, the days before, when we used to have coffee shops and pubs, and people used to go to work in offices?”

“Stop being weird, Dad.”

Looks like the whiteboard has arrived - ready to start delivering courses remotely.

Look, I know the world doesn’t need more “how to work from home” pieces. But I wrote mine anyway, because, unlike most people who have been writing them, I’ve actually being doing it for eight years

And I mean it about the clothes and plants.

Every gamer who is now working from home and video conferencing is feeling very smug about their microphone quality…

Just saw my daughters off to school for the last time for the foreseeable future. Homeschooling from Monday.

Strange times.

At this difficult time, I would like to reassure everybody that, for the sake of the nation’s — nay, the world’s — morale, I will NOT be participating in any viral singing memes.

Thank you, and good luck.

All respect to the Debenhams marketing team for giving it everything they’ve got in this moment…

‘Conan’ To Air New Shows Beginning March 30 – shot in his iPhone:

”The new shows will be shot remotely on an iPhone, without an audience and with guest interviews being filmed via video chat, according to the network. O’Brien’s production staff will remain working from home.”

Has anyone seen any reporting on how the anti-vaxxer communities are reacting to the pandemic?

So, I’d like to apologise for wishing to spend more time with my family, whilst holding the monkey paw.

My bad, everyone.

How do you cope with losing half your income in a matter of weeks?

I’m struggling tonight, as I read about the people who are looking at this period of social distancing and self-isolation as a special, cocooning time. I know that they are seeing it as a rare chance to invest time in themselves and their family as an antidote to the fear and uncertainty around us all. I do get that. But I’m jealous.

Those of us who earn our living in face-to-face situations — training in my case — just don’t have the luxury of doing that. For me, it looks like it will be the period where half my income disappears - possibly for over a year. I have good friends whose income is dependent on the events industry in the same boat.

I don’t have the luxury of viewing this as special cocooning time. This will be have to be the period where I have to make memberships work on One Man & His Blog, or manage to sell my training as online courses instead, or get more consultancy work, or something…

In a matter of weeks I’ve gone from a financially comfortable situation to a perilous one. That’s not a time for cocooning. I love my family. And I need to keep them clothed and fed.

My daughters are currently in the bath pretending to be antibodies attacking a virus as it binds to cells. 😶

I suppose this is what happens to children with a molecular biologist as a mother…

Video from my wife of Victoria Station this morning at around 10am. She estimates it was 80% quieter than normal…

Supermarket delivery is being overwhelmed

Lewis Dormer:

25% of UK shoppers polled by RetailX have reduced or completely stopped shopping ‘in person at physical stores’ while 5% report a temporary increase

Online grocery deliveries are now fully booked for over two weeks in many parts of the UK. If we’re expecting whole families with symptoms to self-isolate for a fortnight, they’re going to need find ways of upping availability of delivery slots.

Well, things are getting a little, um, motivating.

I’m self-employed, and make the major part of my income from face-to-face training. Looks like I need to find a way to replace that income stream for some months.

I have ideas. But this is going to be challenging.

My January in one second everyday. (I always seem to be playing catch-up with these.)

Pleased with this one. The print is long gone - it was in display in a photo cube and was bleached out years ago. The negative was loose in my parents’ junk drawer for decades, and was badly scratched up.

One scan, an hour’s work on retouching, and this is the result:

So. After supper Iris gets down, grumbling a bit. And then sits in the corner assiduously writing.

This is what she hands to me.

“I have just eetn (eaten) the yoyos and I am still hungree”.

4 years old and issuing her first letter of complaint.

I am so proud.

So, based on what is emerging from my scanner as I work, I was quite a cute toddler.

Unexpected.

Scanning 126 and 110 format negatives with a Plustek OpticFilm scanner

I’ve been taking photographs for a long time. I was a photographer as a primary school child, using the cheap cameras of the 70s that my parents would buy me. And that means I have a lot of negatives from very long-gone formats. In particular, my earliest photos are on Instamatic film, of the 126 and 110 varieties. You can see examples of both below:

126 and 110 format negatives

I’ve been progressively working my way through my much larger 35mm neg collection, but up until now, I’ve lacked a good way of scanning these older formats. I could scan the photo prints, but some of them are faded, and what’s the point of hanging onto these negs for decades if I’m not going to use them?

I did buy a cheap Veho scanner a couple of years ago that claimed to be able to do scan the negs, but the results were not good. I knew I could get better results from these negatives. I was contemplating sending them off for professional scanning, but the quality of the photos, in many cases, did not seem to justify the cost. Surely there must be a way I could use my existing film scanner?

Thankfully, when searching around the subject, I found a supplier of negative adapters for a variety of film scanner brands, including the Plustek OpticFilm model I use.

My Plustek OpticFilm 8200i

I put in an order, and waited impatiently for 10 day until they arrived. (They were shipped from the west coast of the US.) Here they are:

3d Printed neagtive adators for a scanner

My scanning setup

I scan using VueScan software on my Mac. It is also available for Windows.

I put the scans into cloud storage, and then edit on my iPad Pro, using a mix of tools. I start with Pixelmator Photo for tweaking colour, levels and so on. I then clean up the dust and scratches using the healing brush in the iPad version of Adobe Photoshop. I used to do both stages in Pixelmator Photo, but I recently discovered that Photoshop’s healing tool works much faster, saving me significant amounts of time.

126 film scanning

Scanning 126 film

Here’s some early results from the 126 film:

Mum & I in Venice in the 1980s

Mum & Dad in Venice in the 80s

Me and my parents in the Pula Arena, in 1980s Yugoslavia

110 film scanning

110 film scanning

And a first example of 110 film:

Me, on in a swimming pool, on holiday in Minorca in the 1980s

None of these are great photos. But they’re some of the only images I have from this period of my life, and so it’s great to have access to them digitally, at last.

I worry that coffee shops (and elsewhere) now refusing to let customers use reusable cups because of Coronavirus concerns will kill the momentum built up over the last couple of years.

Once the COVID-19 crisis has passed, the climate crisis will still be there.

A London hairdresser marketing its way through Coronavirus.

A chalkboard alliding to covid-19 precautions and impacts.

Cleaning up negative scans in Photoshop on my iPad is quite soothing.

‪Britain is currently split between those buying every roll of toilet paper in sight, and those who are too embarrased to buy any toilet paper lest anyone think they are in the first group. ‬

Well, the course I was running today may have been cancelled (yes, Coronavirus-related), but the view early this morning on the way to the station was lovely…

Well, the panic buying is clearly still happening. This is Waitrose in Worthing a few hours ago - toilet paper and paracetamol sold out.

Post-Nature Tots babychino from the Woods Mill café.

It’s fun looking back on my old “blogiversary” posts - like this one from 11 years ago, when my blog was 6.

Well, now. One Man & His Blog is 17 years old today.

That’s astonishing. It’s probably the most time I’ve committed to a single thing, bar the relationship with my wife (who was not yet my wife when the blog began…)

I have managed quarter of a century as a journalist without hearing the phrase “fronted adverbial”. But now I am a parent of a primary school child, it is imperative I know it, apparently.

Children in school. Bird food topped up. Dishwasher on. Coffee made.

Dammit. It’s time to do some work.

I do wonder if the double-whammy of the climate crisis and the coronavirus might make us think a little harder about how and why we travel - and maybe help us enjoy digital’s ability to keep us globally connected while relishing where we live, too.

Spectacular sunset as storm clouds approached this evening.

Craig Mod, in his Roden newsletter:

“What I find most dangerous about Twitter is that it can generate similar chemical feelings to having done “the work,” when in fact, you haven’t done the work. You’ve just micro-plastic’d idea potential.”

Trees and the climate crisis

The trouble with trees:

I do worry, however, that a destructively naive view of nature and a rush to get trees in the ground will sweep all before it.  We risk repeating the errors of the past and once again cause great ecological damage.  Simple solutions to complex problems are always wrong.

Tree-planting has a role to play in combating the climate crisis - but it’s not everything, it appears. That brings us back to rewilding.

I was doing some site analysis for a client, when it occurred to me that I’d never registered my micro.blog account for search console, or anything like that. So I did. And then I ran it through Page Speed Insights.

Well played, @manton. Well played indeed.

The government just made us look untrustworthy on the world stage

The Law and Policy Blog, David Allen Green: The moral hazard of the United Kingdom casually breaching the Political Declaration:

In effect: the Unite Kingdom is sending a signal of “don’t trust us, insist on strict legal obligations”. And this signal is not just being sent to European Union – the signal is now being broadcast to every nation in world, to all the countries where, post-Brexit, United Kingdom may want to have “trade agreements”. The United Kingdom may think it is saying to EU “screw you” but in fact it is telling the world “screw us”.

If this is political posturing in search of a better deal, I think they may have failed to think through the consequences.

This is an absolutely fantastic essay on how fragile the cultural works created on the web have become, through the lens of the late Clive James’s website: Internet Amnesia.

How much more vulnerable is all that creativity locked away in the big social platforms?

Nic Tinworth, Hong Kong trail community legend, dies aged 44.

This is sad news. Nic and I were probably distantly related, as there aren’t an awful lot of Tinworths in the world. He was one of the first other Tinworths I encountered on social media, and we end up chatting occasionally as a result.

Best wishes to his family at a difficult time:

“I’ve been thinking a lot about legacy,” he said when I last saw him in January. “What is legacy? My legacy is the amount I’ve raised for charity. Through RaceBase, we’ve raised HK$1.5 million. No matter when I’m gone, I’ve still raised that amount. When my daughter grows up, she’ll know her dad raised $1.5 million for charity.”

Well, this is troubling. ¼ of all climate crisis tweets appear to be generated by bots - and 95% of them take a denialism position.

This, of course, gives real denialists an outsize sense of their own support - and makes conversion of people to the “cause” more likely.

A day of exploring with my girls. Making progress on a long walk.

This post by Euan Semple, which is an expression of moral relativism (or adjacet to it, at least), feels both elementally true to me - but also a dangerous way to think about one of the things he mentions: Facebook.

It feels, at some level, that it lets the people in charge off the hook.

Thoughts?

Looks like Storm Dennis has abated enough that the kite surfers are heading out again.

This is a fascinating, and troubling, German investigation into the way corporations are funnelling funds into climate change deniers: The Heartland Lobby

Their latest approach? A young influencer, that they are positioning as the anti-Greta.

The girls appear unimpressed by my efforts to get them to go for a walk in the face of Storm Dennis

A new town, alone and on foot

Martin Belam, on the joys of travelling to see his team play an away game:

I also think there’s something useful socially about travelling around the country more. To get out of your normal locale. To see people and places you don’t normally see. To experience a miserable afternoon in Aldershot and feel the way it has been neglected, or the way Northampton’s town centre has been hollowed out in favour of an out of town retail park you couldn’t possibly entertain going to without a car, to see that Cheltenham looks lovely and there’s more to it than horses. To mind boggle about the drugs that council town planners must have been on at some points in the seventies.

20 years ago I had a wonderful job. I got to spend one or two days a week travelling to a different part of the country, and profile the property markets there. Like Martin, I always took the time to enjoy a little of the town itself, to explore the residential areas, and the town centre. It was even more interesting when I could stay overnight.

I regret that it was in the pre-digital camera, pre-blogging (for me, at least) era, because I have very little record of those experiences. Martin’s post made me achingly nostalgic for those trips - and makes me wonder if I can’t find a way of bringing them back into my life.

My major lesson this year so far is that the right new coat can do wonders for your self-image.

Good night.

Whatever happened to Yahoo’s digital time capsule?

Marie Boran asks if everyone has forgotten about Yahoo’s digital time capsule?:

This was to be opened on the company’s 25th anniversary on March 2nd, 2020, but the webpage looks abandoned; according to the webpage countdown there is still a decade left until the capsule opens.

So much of 90s/00s digital culture is gone. Future historian will lament that we were so careless with the archive of the formative days of our digital culture.

Actually getting out of the house to work – it’s far too rare at the moment.

After Ciara

This was the garden at 8am this morning, after the worst of Storm Ciara had passed:

Garden mess after storm ciara

Not too bad, although things aren’t looking great for the potted Christmas tree.

I was planning to sort this out around lunchtime, as a work break. But I ended up legging it to my daughter’s school in a hurry, to take her her water bottle before she went into class. And, as I had my coat and boots on anyway,…

Tidying in the storm's wake

20 minutes of quick tidying (and refilling the bird feeders) later:

My garden, tidied after Storm Ciara

We got off lightly, despite being in a coastal AND river location. We’re pretty luck about how sheltered we are from weather coming off the sea. (Gales blowing down off the Downs and along the Audr are a different matter entirely). In fact, much of the Quay is looking surprisingly tidy, and many of out neighhbours have been out sweeping and tidying. All very minor.

Others have not been so lucky.

Typical Medium post: “I’ve never been married, but I’ve spend 20 minutes with a search engine, and now I’m going to pretend I know the seven behaviours that will destroy your marriage”.

Beach plant.

Plant on Shoreham Beach

One of the nice things about Shoreham Beach is that, as a protected and rare habitat, we get a good range of plant life, even in winter.

Reading some embargoed research - and it is basically 😱. Huge shift to the way I think about .

I’ve never come across any device that’s better for writing on than an iPad. There might be a big ass Mac behind it, but the wee iPad is perfect for squeezing words out of my brain.

The great unsolved mystery of the last 22 years: we still don’t know what she gonna look like with a chimney on her.

I don’t tend to procrastinate on difficult tasks. It’s the boring, repetitive ones I put off too long.

Finally started watching Halt and Catch Fire. I now want to listen to a lot of 80s music. 📺

Took a riverside walk today. It’s a good reminder that Shoreham-by-Sea is still very much a working port.

Fishing boats moored in the Adur.

I’m not a great one for making too much of New Year, but it is a great marker for doing some analysis. I’ve just been going through the analytics for the digital futures site I write for, and the posts that caught people’s imagination are fascinating.

Some clear trends emerge.

Oh, Lord. I just tried to swipe to scroll a print magazine. 🤦🏼‍♂️

Newsletters are a particularly brutal medium. You put in the work, craft something you are proud of - and often the first feedback you get is someone unsubscribing. Nothing wrong with them doing that, of course, but it’s almost perfect for shaking your confidence…

I’m trying something new - triggered because I couldn’t get this stuff in my usual links digest if it was going to work in an email. But I think actually capturing and curating investing stuff from social media is worthwhile:

The Social Diary: reads from the feeds

There’s a slug on the kitchen window this morning. Our kitchen is in the first floor. I can’t decide if this slug is ambitious or has had a lucky escape from a bird…

Why aren't we taking Australia's bushfire apocalypse more seriously?

David Wallace-Wells:

But the response to what’s transpired in Australia — again, over a period that has stretched into months — is unfamiliar, to me at least, and not in a good way. Those California fires transfixed the world’s attention, but while the ones still burning uncontrolled in Australia have gotten some media attention outside the country, in general they have been treated as a scary, but not apocalyptic, local news story.

It’s a harrowing glimpse into the future that awaits many of us if the climate crisis continues in its current direction. And we’re just not paying attention to it.

The scam of pseudo-attention metrics

Seth Godin:

Part of the scam is that the pyramid scheme of attention will somehow pay off for a lot of people. It won’t. It can’t. The math doesn’t hold up. Someone is going to win a lottery, but it probably won’t be us. And a bigger part is that the things you need to do to be popular (the only metric the platforms share) aren’t the things you’d be doing if you were trying to be effective, or grounded, or proud of the work you’re doing.

It is quite remarkable that one of the biggest things to happen in UK politics so far this year… is a blog post.

Still, beats US politics and one man’s Twitter account, I suppose.

Who broke journalism?

Om Malik:

”I would like to add that greedy and short-sighted executives and media company owners broke the industry because they were too lazy, arrogant and unintelligent to understand the ramifications of the internet to the information ecosystem.”

🔥

Consume Better — recommendations from the team at Hamburg’s NEXT conference (including myself) on digital media you’ll enjoy for the year ahead.

It’s well-known that women are under-represented amongst both Wikipedia editors and biographies, but how about in the citations.

Go on, have a guess.

This is how existing prejudice gets reinforced.

I’ve reached my daily reading goal on Apple Books. I’m using it to try to push myself to spend more time reading long-form, and not just articles on the web.

Found on the beach this morning. Someone’s feeling patriotic, clearly.

My children have finally discovered the ability to sleep in…

…2 days before they go back to school. 🙄

I have learnt more about video encoding and transcoding in the last three months than I expected to.

Is it me, or is Gruber a bit pissed (in the British sense) in the latest Talk Show? 🥴

I have reached the point in coffee fussiness where, after being disappointed with a coffee when brewed with Aeropress, I switched to a different brew method - and really enjoyed that coffee.

There’s no hope for me now.

Brewing coffee with a V60

The people’s web could be so much more interesting than the big F

Anil Dash on the people’s web:

If we’re going to build a new web, and a new internet, that respects our privacy and security, that doesn’t amplify abuse and harassment and misinformation, we’re going to need to imagine models of experiences and communities that could provide a better alternative. There’s not going to be a “Facebook killer”. But there could simply be lots of other sites, that focus on a different, more constructive and generative, set of goals.

The great irony of the last decade is that a handful of companies have used a decentralised system to build massive centralised monopolies. You don’t undermine them with a new monopoly, but with a network of smaller, cool and useful stuff.

Heh. One unforeseen side-effect of having a newsletter - you get to see who is already on their Christmas break by their out-of-office updates…

As a lecturer, nothing makes you feel better than a student who turned in something pretty mediocre initially, creating a final submission that is both inspired and professionally executed. Big smile on my face right now.

Newsletters are beginning to over-whelm my in-box. Time to try out Feedbin’s ability to aggregate them in my RSS reader, I think.

I found my parents’ old tree angel, so she’s back in service after a decade off.

God, there are times when I hate being right.

This really is one of them.

Everyone blames algorithms for creating filter bubbles - but people are way more effective at creating them for themselves.

Tonight I will be staying up for the exit poll and no longer. I want to face whatever tomorrow brings with a full night’s sleep behind me.

Toxic

It says something about the toxic state of British politics that I recorded a podcast about my voting thoughts and decided not to publish it.

Why?

My criticism of the Tories for lying and deception is irrelevant, because they genuinely don’t seem to care. That’s so deeply shocking that I don’t even know where to begin.

And my unease with Labour’s leadership will immediately lead to me being attacked by their Twitter outriders, who will accept no besmirching of his hallowed name.

How do we take our politics back from these people?

I have a nasty feeling that in 20 years’ time, our children will be asking why we wasted so much time, energy and passion on something like Brexit when our planet was in crisis.

They will judge us, and they will be right to do so.

My daughter won the school limerick competition.

I’m trying not to literally explode with pride - but it’s touch-and-go.

Frost hit last night. I think autumn is done and winter is here. ❄️

There’s nothing better than a nice, fussy way of making your coffee…

I back the Contract for the Web because the vast potential of it for humanity is being undermined by corporate greed and irresponsibility, political inaction and personal negligence. It’s time to reclaim digital from the bad actors.

Join me to build the #WebWeWant.

There are many fine advantages to working from home. Dealing with my wife in her full-on procrastination mode is not one of them.

Lovely Autumn day in Shoreham-by-Sea - between the rain, at least.

opens Twitter reads for 2 minutes goes to bed despairing of humanity

🛌💤

Having used both WordPress’s Gutenberg editor and Ghost’s block editor, I have to say, I made the right choice to use Ghost for OM&HBg. It make construction of rich features so much more fluid. The WordPress version emphasises the block, the Ghost version the whole feature.

Fingers crossed that I am on the final stage of a difficult evening, and will be home for a whisky and bed within the hour. Literally my entire evening wasted on queuing and travelling.

The number 2 bus from Shoreham to Steyning.

I was initially excited when I found this site for Sussex bloggers, because it felt very like the sort of thing we did in the early 2000s. And then I saw this:

“Join our directory of bloggers based in Sussex, through which we’ll connect bloggers with brands.”

Oh, dear. 🙄

Phones and Tablets are killing the PC

Steve Jobs Was Right: Smartphones and Tablets Killed the P.C.:

Apple’s latest iPads are different. Not only can you get work done on them; in many ways they’re productivity dream machines. Today’s iPads are powered by custom-designed processors that are faster than the chips on some of the Macs Apple makes, and the iPad’s separately sold keyboard is better and more durable than the accursed, falling-apart mess of a keyboard that Apple is shipping on its much-maligned current line of laptops.

I know this isn’t true of everyone - but it’s true for some of us. I’ve spent the majority of the day working on my iPad, without even considering reaching for the MacBook Pro.

My top artists on Apple Music in 2019.

I’m not a raging brony. It’s my daughters.

Honest.

Yo dawg we heard you like Moodle so we put some Moodle in your Moodle so you can Moodle while you Moodle.

I’ve been fiddling around with my Ghost templates, and now fixed it so that comments only show on members-only and subscribers-only posts once you are logged in. For example this post.

I love the idea of having conversations that are at least partially protected.

Beautiful Remembrance service at Church of the Good Shepherd this morning. The two minutes’ silence with the waves crashing on the beach is always moving.

Today at Woods Mill. The dirty secret? This was four adults…

Well, that was possibly the lowest key birthday I’ve had in my 40-something years on the planet. Not a bad thing - the family celebration of it has been postponed until the weekend.

Mean

Yes, I know that this was yesterday’s prompt, but I didn’t get to it (even though I posted other things) and I did have something I wanted to say:

One thing I try not to be on the internet these days is mean. But it is an effort. I’m good at the snark. I can bring the snark. Some people encourage me to let the snark run free.

Sometime the snark is deserved. I retain the right to be snarky about Zuckerberg and the FaceBorg.

But I don’t think it’s good for me, or the state of discourse on the internet. I don’t think it makes me feel good about myself. It brings me attention, but it’s not attention I value.

10 years ago, I had a long drive to Sutton every morning for work. The one way I could guarantee I’d arrive in a good mood was to go out of my way to be courteous to other road users.

I feel the same way about the internet. Let’s not turn social media into a secondary school environment where the meanest win. Be helpful. Be useful. Don’t associate with those who aren’t.

Be better.

OK, the app became garbage, but I do miss having something called iTunes on my Mac. It was such an iconic piece of software in its time.

Such a beautiful crisp, autumn morning, with a lovely “after the storm” feel.

Beautifully peaceful with plenty of birdsong at the station this morning.

Early start to London. Not what you’d call busy at the station.

Four witches, a cat and a vampire just left my house, to demand sweets with menaces. 🎃

Weird. My big iPad Pro took much, much longer than any other device to update to 13.2.

Oh, hello. iOS 13.2 is here. Time to update ALL THE THINGS again. (Including HomePods and AppleTV.)

Ghost 3.0 has just launched - and it’s got built in tools for building a membership site for news.

This makes subscription businesses way more accessible to set up and run.

I think it’s fair to say that today’s weather has been changeable…

Inktober is one of my favourite “internet challenges”. It fills my feeds with such interesting and varied images.

Biorecycling plastics with enzymes

Carbios’ new factory will use enzymes to biorecycle plastic:

In a matter of hours, the enzymes decompose the plastic into the material’s basic building blocks, called monomers, which can then be separated, purified, and used to make new plastic that’s identical to virgin material. Later this year, the company will begin construction on its first demonstration recycling plant.

This sort of innovation could change the whole debate about plastics. Exciting stuff, if it works.

The reason to study Latin

Report: Students Who Take Latin Have Better Chance Of Summoning Demon Later In Life::

“According to our data, children who studied Latin in grade school were far more likely to contact, summon, and then raise a damned soul from the underworld,” said classics department chair Emily Greenwood, adding that students who learned Latin tended to be more adept at chanting ancient incantations, opening up portals, and comprehending Demonic screams.

My old Latin master was also head of the school Christian Union. Makes you think… 🤔😂

I know it’s fashionable to diss HomePods, but they are hugely popular in the Tinworth household.

One positive thing about Catalina: I can open the Music app without it bringing my Mac to its knees. That wasn’t the case with iTunes.

“Oh, God, don’t upgrade to Catalaina if you want to keep using our software” has been a recurring motif in my inbox for the last week.

I think, after seven years, I might finally be getting the hang of Moodle.

Good news: MacBook Pro happily upgraded to Catalina.

Bad news: installer refuses to touch my desktop because the hard drive is throwing SMART errors. Uh-oh.

Heads up, folks. If you’re seeing huge battery drain on iOS, Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1 app could be the guilty party.

It ate over ⅓ of the battery on my devices in a matter of hours.

Oi, old geeks out there. Your favourite memes from the past 20 years. Go.

And remember:

Ceiling Cat is watching you.

After more than three hours on the road, I pull up at home, and can hear the sea crashing on the beach not very far away.

Bliss.

Woods Mill this morning. Although autumn was clearly in the air, you wouldn’t know it from this photo.

Today, I am digitising my childhood records while I work.

This morning’s fun game: where has my wife hidden my aeropress?

I am surprised by how quiet this university is at 9am compared to later in the day. I shouldn’t be. But I am.

Not often I look back on conference food with affection - but the NEXT conference lunch bowls were epic:

Seriously high tides here yesterday. How much higher will they go today?

Protecting yourself from social media jealousy

Julia Buckley:

Most of the advice I’ve seen on the issue of comparisons has been around the fact that social media can present an unrealistic image of the world and that we should unfollow accounts that make us unhappy. This is good advice. But unfollowing alone will not stop you comparing and feeling those negative emotions again every time you see someone who has that thing you want.

Some sensible thoughts here.

Early days yet - but iPadOS 13.1 may well have ensured that my MacBook Pro doesn’t get replaced. I think I’m an iPad Pro man here on out.

A week ago, I saw a badger on my way to the airport. Thinking about it is still making me happy.

A little editing on the sofa, using LumaFusion and my iPad Pro. Soooo nice.

I often think that the most dangerous phrase in the English language is “it’s simple”.

Feeling very much like waiting for iOS13.1 next week, rather than risking my phone on iOS13 right in the middle of a working overseas trip.

I think that was the first newsletter to my paying members I was really, really happy with. Now to keep repeating that.

The only thing from that keynote I’m 100% getting: Apple Arcade. Might get a new watch… strap. Might get the iPhone 11 Pro, but will hang on to my cash for now and see if there’s a Mac and iPad Pro event next month.

I have two very excited little girls who have just seen the Apple Arcade trailer. Good price for the whole family. We’ll be signing up.

Here’s one great reason to love the DJi Osmo Mobile 3 if you’re involved in social video production:

Living by the sea really bring it home to you how polluted our waters have become with waste.

Treating myself to a nice aeropress coffee after my wet and windy walk. ☕️

Jane Manchum Wong

”It appears to me that Medium wants to double as a Reader app in an experiment. This unreleased feature is called “Save to Medium”, similar to how Instapaper works.”

Nope. Uh-uh. Not using that.

Having the sort of day where I write what I thought were two thoughtful and useful posts, and the world just shrugs its shoulders at me.

It’s the blogging equivalent of a null result in science.

But it’s that or clickbait…

Since the end of my days as RBI’s head of blogging, I don’t really get much change to spend time fiddling around with the technical stuff at the back end of blogs. Just done some of it today - and it’s quite fun! I missed it.

Now, off to fiddle with some DNS records…

A year or so back I won an XBox One S. What games would you recommend for me, as a very lapsed gamer? What are the real classics on the platform?

A walk through the blogging graveyard

Moving from Feedly to @NetNewsWire via Feedbin has been largely a positive experience. The one oddity, though, has been the sudden reanimation of a whole bunch of dead feeds. I’ve probably been subscribing to RSS feeds for 15 years, so the effective “reset” of my feed read status means that, unexpectedly, blogs which last published nearly a decade ago are showing up again.

And reading through it is a melancholy experience. The worst, of course, are the blogs of people who have died, often with final entries which give no clue as to what is coming. There’s a lot of blogs of student journalists, some of whom have gone on to big things, many of whom have left journalism entirely. There’s sites that moved - but the old site still survives while the new site is gone from the web.

There are people whom I got to know through blogging, and who became face-to-face friends for a while — and then who disappeared from the web for reasons of their own, unknown to me and never advertised. Some of them I’d love to catch up with, but have no way of contacting them now.

There are online services that have come and gone, including the last post on the Google Reader blog. Posts from optimistic startups that flamed out, and many, many promises to “restart the blog” that never came true.

We are, I hope, in the early stages of a blogging renaissance. But ploughing through this graveyard made me experience a little touch of how the very old must feel, still living their life long after all their friends are dead, and wondering if there’s anyone left who cares.

Wow. Fell behind on these. Here’s July - over a months ago - in 1 Second Everyday.

Understatement of the day:

”It’s almost seven years, now, since David Cameron decided that an EU referendum would reunite the Conservative party. I wouldn’t want to speak too soon, but just at the moment, it doesn’t seem to be going entirely to plan.”

Working in the M&S Café while my wife and daughter do some final school shopping. I am getting the evil eye from pensioners, whose regular spot I have probably accidentally occupied.

The slow erosion of the democratic norm

Rachel Sylvester makes an important point in The Times:

Democracy is about persuasion rather than obliteration and there are rules underpinning political conflict that don’t apply in military combat. The prime minister seems to have forgotten that, far from being the nation’s commander-in-chief, he is only “first among equals” in the cabinet and depends for his power on the House of Commons. The scorched-earth approach being pursued by No 10 will make it almost impossible to unite the Tory party, let alone the country, when the skirmishes are over.

There is an autocratic streak in a lot of current politics that should concern anyone who values democracy.

It’s been a long time since these two shared a spot in my dock together.

Spending a lot of time in spreadsheets today. Not something that happens a lot in my work, but weirdly satisfying when it does.

Don’t look now folks, but I think autumn might be here…

Does anyone else use FeedBin? Considering trialing a switch from Feedly - but would like some informed experience before I make the jump.

Well the good news is that a lot of people have a much deeper understanding of how our parliamentary democracy functions than they did yesterday.

The art of pseudo-science in politics

This sums up how many articles and books cloak nonsense claims in a thin skin of scientific respectability:

Inconvenient Facts claims, over and over, to be based in science and emphasizes the importance of the scientific method; however, the author does not, himself, use the scientific method in his own analysis. There are no references to any peer-reviewed journal articles by Wrightstone himself. Many of his “inconvenient facts” are non-controversial statements. In fact, most of them are actually true. It’s the conclusions that he draws from the “facts” that are not supported by peer-reviewed journal papers — they’re just his own misleading opinions.

Opinion is not expertise. And opinion can be wrong.

A day when I find a new pretentious coffee shop is always a good day.

Small Batch Coffee in Worthing.

So, the reason for my silence here over the last couple of weeks was that I was holidaying in a nearly bandwidth-free place.

And it was lovely. Just taking a first pass through the photos now.

View from a seaside villa in La Flotte, Île de Ré, France.

Pub sign angles are a surprisingly good guide as to how windy the day is…

The garden was in fine form today, in the few moments I could steal away from work.

I hit my daily Move goal for the 1,000th time. Result.

I’m not sure that this acquisition will “produce value”. These are sites with utterly different cultures, and I can’t see Vice adapting its culture to allow Refinery29 to thrive.

Reasons I love blogging #3478: I spend several minutes Googling “Ted Danson flossing” for a blog post this morning.

Tumblr as we know it is dead, as a pile of corporate obfuscation makes clear. What’s left is a zombie-like shell - and a gap for places where young people can experiment with their identity.

There is a particular danger zone for bad sleep decisions. And I am right in it now. 💤

If you use the Speedtest app on your iPhone, press and hold on the Go button. After a while… …something happens.

I see it’s “update all the Apple devices” night.

One thing I’ve learnt about myself in recent years is that things like Apple Watch straps and GoPro sleeves (like this one) make me disproportionately happy compared to their cost - as long as the material and colour are right.

Very happy with this one.

Social media fatigue — and its rememdy

This is from a post by a former colleague. It resonates deeply with me:

I’m so freaking tired of social media. Everything is terrible and I feel like every time I log on, I’m either being sold something or told how to feel about something (always terrible). I deeply love social media, I need the friendships I’ve built there, but right now it’s all terrible.

I have been bouncing around the point where, if I didn’t need to be on social media for my work, I’d have quit by now. But, instead, I’m slowly making it work for me again.

I’m quite happy that yesterday I was able to construct something on an issue that’s important to me that went low-key viral on Facebook. Not huge numbers by any objective scale - but a significant proportion of the target audience.

Nice to know that I’ve still got it, and that I can use it for good.

The screen time "problem"

We’re told that too much screen time hurts our kids. Where’s the evidence?:

However, in a world witnessing ecological destruction, political polarisation and growing social divides, should fears about technology really occupy the limited space in the forefront of our minds? Concerns about smartphones might fade away in the coming decade, just as anxieties about video arcades, Dungeons & Dragons and Elvis’s hips did in previous generations.

I remember the D&D panic, as a gamer in the 80s. It seems ludicrous now, doesn’t it?

The whole “screen time” idea is as meaningless as “paper time”. What you are doing with that screen time is the issue, not the existence of the time itself.

The underlying price of digital-only friendship

To Understand Facebook, Study Capgras Syndrome:

This withering of primate familiarity in the face of technology prompts us to mistake an acquaintance for a friend, just because the two of you have a Snapchat streak for the last umpteen days, or because you both like all the same Facebook pages. It allows us to become intimate with people whose familiarity then proves false. After all, we can now fall in love with people online whose hair we have never smelled.

Remembering the weird internet that was

A couple of great quotes from a piece by Owen Williams on Medium (shudder):

But when we lose the weird internet, we don’t just lose a space where people could tinker and make things for themselves. We seem to have lost the curiosity that inspired that weirdness in the first place.

And this:

The internet made it possible to build something out of thin air without millions of dollars in funding. It’s important we don’t forget that, because it’s the best way to learn and evolve.

Practicing the art of productive procrastination, by tidying up my Ulysses app.

One of the better spur-of-the-moment decisions I’ve made in recent years was the creation of a Sunday Sunday playlist of podcasts. It’s all outdoors/nature/comedy podcasts, with no politics or tech. Such pleasure from that initial investment of time.

The Comfortably Dumb - Om Malik follows up in his post about his growing discomfort with embedded tech from the big companies in “smart” devices.

Random discoveries via navigation apps

Lovely, random experience this evening. Apple Maps brought me an unexpected route home, showing me a bunch of villages and towns a short drive from where I lived that I’ve never seen before.

At least two of them are now on my “to visit” list for the near future, and another will be the first place I take Hazel on our summer holiday “adventures”.

I think my authorised app connections to Flickr need some updating… (iPhoto 2??)

Catching up - this is January in 1 Second Everyday.

I do love the feel of the new “grove” style Apple Stores.

the Apple Store on London's Regent Street.

Listening to Andy’s 20 year journey at the Flock event in Shoreham-by-Sea.

Settled up my second payment on account with the taxman. Slowly, but surely, breaking the habit of doing everything at the last minute.

Catching up with the MacBook news. Prices finally getting down to where they need to be, but a new keyboard would be the icing on the cake.

However, depending on how iPadOS shakes out, I may well be done with MacBooks.

Trapped in the attention farm

Dave Winer:

Ever notice that mostly what people post on Twitter is designed to get attention for the author. I think that’s due to the award incentive of the system. Flow == more followers == power and prestige.

Yes. It’s the big and dangerous trap of Twitter, especially for journalists. Twitter increasingly rewards attention-seeking behaviour, rather than useful behaviour.

After a productive day in front of a screen (or three), I have just treated myself to 40 minutes with a real, paper hardback — Tom Cox’s 21st Century Yokel — and a glass of whisky.

Perfect end to the day. 🥃📖

So, when everybody’s in-boxes are cluttered with newsletters in about 18 months’ time - will we see the grand blog and RSS revival, as history cycles through technologies again?

Oh, DJI. I’m not sure encouraging non-consensual voyerism is the right way to sell your products…

A screenshot from the DJI app, envvouraging readers to share amourous moments they've captured…

Many PostIts died to bring us this strategy…

The philistines in this hotel have turned the coffee machine off for the night. HOW VERY DARE THEY.

It’s all glamour in the consultancy business, I can tell you…

This will probably get me into trouble, but I’m quite excited by Jony Ive leaving Apple. He’d clearly run out of things to say about computer design, and is interested in exploring new fields.

That opens up space for a new vision to come forward for Apple.

I have a suspicion that a child may have used this seat before me…

I have got to bring my tab habit under control. There’s no point opening all these damn things, unless I’m going to sit and read them.

The New Wilderness

No two companies have done more to drag private life into the algorithmic eye than Google and Facebook. Together, they operate the world’s most sophisticated dragnet surveillance operation, a duopoly that rakes in nearly two thirds of the money spent on online ads. You’ll find their tracking scripts on nearly every web page you visit. They can no more function without surveillance than Exxon Mobil could function without pumping oil from the ground.

This is a fundamental, unavoidable truth of both their business models.

Finished drafting tomorrow’s newsletter for my paying subscribers. Feeling good about it (although slightly guilty that this is not going on the open web. But then, this is a topic I’ll return to on my blog, I’m sure).

Is messenger app interoperability feasible without destroying encryption?

Warning for highly polarising politics…

I poked into why #notjewish was trending on Twitter, and why an account I had no awareness of had blocked me - and found some really simple answers - with complex consequences

Interesting discovery while booking a trip: it’s no longer safe to assume budget hotel chains are substantially cheaper than more upmarket offerings.

Lovely morning down by the Adur as I walked home this morning.

Here’s one from the archives - that’s me on the left, taking a photo of the chief scout, during the 75th anniversary of scouting celebrations in 1982.

Seeing this magazine on sale in my local newsagent is odd. I associate it so strongly with my Mum and my childhood, it seems almost incomprehensible that it’s still going so long after she died. A silly reaction, I know.

Here’s a soothing 20 seconds of beach life for you…

Got up at stupid o’clock this morning to catch a train and attend the launch of the Reuters Institute Digital News Report this morning. It was worth it.

Here are my liveblogged notes from the event.

Just preparing my notes from this morning’s Digital News Report 2019 launch event for publication - how refreshing to have an all-female panel at a journalism event:

Passing though Croydon. It’s almost 22 years since I worked here. Not far off half my life ago… and I think I’ve only been back twice.

I find upgrading firmware on devices a surprisingly satisfying process.

Nice to be heading up London late enough to drop a bag off at the charity shop and get a coffee from Tom Foolery.

Of all the things to find, a shopping list from my Mum, who has been gone over a decade:

Working on a Friday, unusually, due to a day swap with my wife. Throughly dreich out there today, so working seems better…

What’s bringing you joy this morning, people of micro.blog?

Craig Federighi on iPadOS:

“It’s become a truly distinct experience. It’s not an iPhone experience. It’s not a Mac experience. The name is a recognition of that.”

Music to iPad fans’ ears…

Jason Snell (@jsnell) on why Catalyst apps might be good for…

…the iPad.

”Basically, the better the iPad app, the better the Mac app. This has some fun ramifications, because it implies that Catalyst may actually prompt developers to put more work into the iPad versions of their apps, too. iPad and Mac users can all benefit from that.”

Thank you, micro.blog folks. I enjoyed sharing the keynote with you!

My favourite sort of Apple keynote: I have no strong desire to buy anything new as a result of it, but I know all my devices will get better in the autumn. Result.

All in all, that feels like Apple worked its way through a big old list of things people have been complaining about for years, and got pretty much all of it done.

iOS13 supported devices:

“New software features will be available this fall as a free software update for iPhone 6s and later, and will be available with iPadOS for iPad Air 2 and later, all iPad Pro models, iPad 5th generation and later, and iPad mini 4 and later.”

I love it when they do these developer-specific sections in the WWDC keynotes. I mean, they mean nothing to journalists like me, but there’s something cool about making consumer tech journos sit through this…

I knew nothing about Minecraft before this demo. And I know nothing about it after this demo.

Well, that Pro pricing did NOT go down well…

Nice to see the iMac G4’s best feature back in the new Pro Display XDR.

Uh. The demo fail on the new iPad selection gestures is not encouraging… The guy’s clearly nervous as heck, but still.

And there we have it - both external drive support on iPad, and the ability to import files traight into a particular app.

Oh, fabulous. Multi-user support for HomePods is great news. Our living room HomePods get a huge amount of use - and it’ll be great to have my Apple Music profile with fewer My Little Pony tracks on it… 

Those elongated ovals from the new version of the TV app seem to be a major design trend in iOS13.

Oh, wow. That’s a big upgrade on iOS photo editing. But that video editing is even more exciting. That’ll make the #mojo people very happy.

Beauty influencers. From the internet. Ah-ha.

Wow. Sign-in with Apple. It makes perfect sense as an extension of Apple’s privacy policy. It’ll be interesting to see who adopts it… and even more interesting to see who doesn’t. And that email cloaking feature is just genius.

I do enjoy Craig’s dad jokes, but then, I am very much a Dad.

And my eldest is just going to love that lyrics feature.

OK, Tim Cook just won in our household. Multi-user support in tvOS will be so handy for the Tinworth clan.

The only positive thing I can find to say about May’s premiership is this:

I’m glad it happened while my daughters were old enough to register a woman was prime minister, but young enough to not realise how terrible she was at it.

It’s been so long since I used the Underground regularly that I’ve reverted to being a Tube N00b.

There’s a man on my train wearing a hat with a crown over it, an imitation smart glass HUD, a cape, and a sword and shield. Gotta say, I’m a bit jealous.

How we Dooced blogging — and its community

This Vox profile of Heather Armstrong — Dooce — is a deeply melancholy read:

In the time that Armstrong had been absent from her site, bloggers had been almost wholly replaced with social media stars who relied on Instagram to gain a following. The word “influencer” had taken over, and quickly. Bloggers had risen to fame thanks to deeply personal posts; Instagram personalities operated in a much more visual medium, relying on photos of cute kids and beautiful homes for likes.

It’s both affecting in its coverage of her mental health issues, but also in how clear it makes it that we lost something profound in the shift from blogger to influencer.

Lots to think on.

Nice view as I crossed the bridge this evening.

View towards New Shoreham and the South Downs from the Adur Ferry Bridge.

Inner voice: “This keyboard is filthy. I should clean it before I write any more.”

Deep inner voice: “Wow. Your procrastination game is ON FIRE today.”

Probably my most self-aggravating work habit is composing emails in my head - and then never getting arournd to typing them out and sending them.

I see it’s an “update all the Apple things” day again.

Extinction Rebellion die in at the Shoreham by Sea farmers market.

What’s that sound? Oh, it’s the influencer bubble popping:

”Most global internet users lack confidence in what they see and read online, with only 8% believing that the bulk of information shared on social media is true, dropping to 4% when it comes from influencers.”

Ooops.

Finally got around to adding another of my key services to my site: Live Event Capture - where I create rapid posts from event content, working in conjunction with the skilled editorial cartoonists at Drawnalism.

Self-employment is basically a years-long oscillation between being stressed about money and being stressed about volume of work.

It was windy yesterday at Woods Mill, but the sound is just lovey.

I love this photo of Iris in the woods from yesterday.

This is a compelling read about life in the outer circles of Silicon Valley:

”A film of pseudoscience sticks to everything we touch. We don’t just write messages to users; we calculate the correct word for a situation and deploy it.”

The Metrics of Backpacks

Working on old negative scans does make me miss the grain and texture of film photography - but I really don’t have the time to indulge in it any more.

Fascinating how much cars date photos, even after “just” 15 years.

I’m so dizzy, my head is spinning…

…because my daughters brought some horrible virus home for me.

This is a weird one. I am feeling very strange.

Thanks to my daughters, my iPad Smart Keyboard is looking particularly fabulous today…

And here’s the final image of Adam, a sculpture at the Eden Project, shot back in Spring 2004.

Enjoying working in Pixelmator Photo to clean up some old negative scans:

There was a lot of construction work still happened at the Eden Project back in 2004. I loved these art plants that part screened the construction. Nice hard hat fruit.

Talented investigative journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead in Derry last night. I knew her, and was always in awe of her work. RIP, Lyra. And thank you.

Facebook has finally banned a swathe of far-right hate groups, including the BNP, EDL and Britain First.

Not before time. Particularly glad to see Britain First on the list - they are very good at putting a respectable Facebook face on outright hate and racism.

Wow, this is a telling quote:

”But he brightened when he turned to one of the topics that, according to people close to him, truly engaged his imagination: using AI to keep humans from polluting Facebook.”

I’m a journalist, and one deeply interested in the future of journalism, and its business models. And I balk at paying £250 a year for Tortoise.

So, who is their market likely to be?

The platforms are not the internet

John Naughton:

In reality, the problem we have is not the internet so much as those corporations that ride on it and allow some unacceptable activities to flourish on their platforms, activities that are damaging to users and, in some cases, to democracy, but from which the companies profit enormously.

Couldn’t agree more.

I really need to stop letting my blogging slip as soon as my life gets busy. It’s such an intellectually rewarding exercise for me that my life is poorer when I don’t do it.

And no, social media does not scratch the same itch at all.

Yet another Facebook developer leaks private data

An insanely large Facebook data breach:

The Mexican media company Cultura Colectiva and an app called “At the Pool” used their access to their users Facebook data to make local copies of it, then left that data exposed, in the clear, without a password, on the public internet – 540 million records in all, stored in publicly accessible Amazon S3 buckets.

It looks like the data has been there for five years. And, yet again, it’s via a third party who had access.

Woe betide any pony that fails to perform to the expectations of Iris.

Weird flex for a CMS company, but OK:

”Today Automattic is announcing Happy Tools, a suite of products for the future of work. Each product in Happy Tools has been used internally at Automattic to grow our company.”

Revenue play, at the expense of focus? Hmm.

May not have thought relative mug and scanner positioning through properly…

My coffee mug being knocked by my film scanner

My wife:

”My lifelong career love affair has only ever been with bioscience but what a huge, fascinating, awesome world that is. I am so grateful to be able to potter about in my corner of it and marvel at the rest.”

Glad the word “career” is in there!

One of the interesting things about the current MacBook Pro keyboard problems is that it’s proving to me that a five year old machine is pretty adequate for my needs still, as I avoid buying a new one until it is solved.

I can hang on to Apple kit for longer than I have been.

AirDrop is such a handy feature of Apple devices. It doesn’t get enough kudos.

Wow. Early 2010s-era One Man & His Blog. In many ways, the “classic” era of the site…

One Man & His Blog in 2011

Bittersweet memories of 1999

Scanning colour negatives in Vuescan on a Mac.

Wow.

The current batch of negatives I’m scanning right now really capture a moment in time. They must be from 1999, one of the more significant years in my life - and 20 years ago, almost exactly.

The first few photographs are of the woman who was soon to be my ex-girlfriend in the flat we shared (and, honestly, the coming storm was written all over her face in those images), while the next batch were of a party at the flat of the woman who is now my wife.

Those really were a few months that changed my life forever, and in ways that were only good.

However, the deep sadness is that one person in those images is no longer with us, passing too, too young.

Plenty of pain in those images and the memories they evoke - but also joy. I wouldn’t surrender either.

The Traditional Photograph Versus The Social Photograph

I like this distinction a great deal:

Jurgenson told me that he draws a distinction between the traditional photograph as a permanent documentary object and the social photograph, which tends toward “ephemerality, playfulness, and expressiveness. When images are easy to make and easy to share, they come to be less about permanence.”

It comes from an interesting piece about the intersection of digital photography and memory.

Serious photographers have always distinguished between the “snap” and the “serious photo”. That distinction has taken on a much deeper meaning in the digital age. The social photograph is clearly a “snap”. But that doesn’t negate the role of the traditional photo.

I bought a new mirrorless camera last month, and I’ve really been enjoying disconnected photography for a while. It is a distinctly different experience to shooting with my iPhone.

10 Mothers’ Day without you, Mum. Still missing you.

Apple cancels AirPower:

“After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project.”

That’s an almost unprecedented hardware screwup for the company.

Learning from Mueller

Andrew Sullivan: Mueller Summary Is a Big Win for America

Mueller is someone we should study if we want to see how to oppose this president effectively. You can’t out-tweet or out-insult the clinically narcissistic and characterologically disgusting. You cannot beat him at his own game. But you can consistently refuse to take his boorish bait and maintain your own standards of conduct. You can calmly stare down a bully, and you can let your actions speak louder than your words.

Surprising take. But, actually, I can see his point.

Democracy has a price, and you can’t stop paying it.

Democracy has a price, and it’s not an easy price to pay. Nothing is ever completely settled under a democracy. Any decision that can be made by a democratic process can be over-turned by a democratic process. People on the Remain side are suffering the downside of that right now. They - we - thought the benefits of membership of the EU - and the downsides of departure - were so obvious and so clear that a vote to leave would be unimaginable. They - we - didn’t fight hard enought to make the positive case for the EU. And so they - we - lost.

However, the day is coming soon when the Brexiteers find themselves on the other end of the equation. They will have “won”, but then those hundreds of thousands who marched in London, and the millions who signed the petition become the beginning of a campaign to rejoin. The day we leave - the day that was meant to be today - is the day the really hard work starts for Brexit supporters, because that’s the day you have to start proving that you were right, that we will be better off out. Every day you fail to do that, every day the economy falters, that people get laid off, every day that international travel gets harder, or our young people lose out on studying opportunities or jobs because of Brexit is a day that democracy starts grinding against you.

Our young people are angry. They’re protesting against climate change, and our failure to address it. Children in my town protested against Brexit, and the response was patronising, rather than engaging. They will not forgive - or forget - that easily.

This price is why authoritarianism is so attractive to so many - when they have “won” they can stop fighting. We do not live in a authoritarian regime, and I pray we never do. If you supported Brexit, you don’t “win” on Brexit day - you start the hard, long job of proving you were right.

Good luck.

You’ll need it.

Just spent 8 hours in this room with a great bunch of journalists and communication pros, talking editorial analytics. I really enjoyed it. I hope they did, too.

The Southwark Room at The Bridge after a day's training.

Everything you need to know about me can be summed up thus: I used to write RPGs professionally, but gave up just before they became cool. 🤦🏼‍♂️

Got to say, I’m most excited for Apple Arcade. There’s some games I want to play in there, starting with Beyond a Steel Sky.

Like many people, I suspect, I signed the petition not because I think there’s a realistic chance of Article 50 being revoked, but instead to remind May that there are many millions of us out here who don’t want to leave the EU. The will of the people is divided.

My daughters have very carefully, precisely and secretively placed 10p coins under their chairs. I love them, but sometimes they are very sinister.

Oh, dear. When did I enter that demographic?

Thanks, Facebook.

The “Revoke Article 50” petition is closing in on ¾ of a million, and gaining about 3k signatures per minute.

Joining the rest of my family in marking World Down Syndrome day:

This makes me very nostalgic for an earlier era of Apple.

Rainbow Apple logo on the shutters of a shop in Islington, London

I’ve come across a number of blogs in recent weeks that have “moved to Instagram”. One thing is for sure: they will eventually regret that decisions. Maybe not soon, but eventually.

My new pride and joy

This is my new pride and joy.

A year or so a switch flipped in my head. The more I watched vegetable trimmings, teabags and coffee grounds go into our bin, the more bothered I became about it. Those were good resources, resources a damaged planet badly needs, and we were locking them away for centuries or more in capped landfill sites.

I hated it.

Our council doesn’t offer kitchen waste recycling, so the only option open to me was home composting. My wife took some persuading, but a few months ago, with agreement, I ordered myself a beehive composter, and for the last two weeks it’s been sitting in the back garden, happily accepting anything I throw its way.

Compost n00b

I’m a novice - I know I am. I’ve only had a composter once before, back when I lived in Lewisham. But the garden there was not what you’d call accessible. It was down two flights of stairs, once you were out of the front door - and then up another flight of stairs. And to get to those you had to escape the back door, which was heavily bolted. I always assumed it was that way due to break-ins before i moved in, but I never found out. But those bots sure as hell slowed me down.

Now, my new composter is just outside the back door, and there’s so much more fun to be had. (Yes, fun. Don’t @ me.)

There’s so much more to compost than there used to be. For example, Waitrose have just started sending their organic bananas out in compostable bags. Magazines are arriving in similar bags. Even my local coffee shop is providing compostable coffee cups and lids. In they all go.

Yes, this is fun. I’m looking forward to turning over the compost in a month or so. I’m looking forwards to watching how effective all these compostable materials are. I spend so much of my life in front of glowing screens, something like this is just such a refreshing change. And, let’s face it, with the state of the planet, every single change like this we make helps, just a little.

I had awesome wallpaper as a child. (That’s not me - it’s a school friend).

Stephen Kent in my childhood bedroom, with Star Wars wallpaper.

The kids are revolting

”Theresa May said they are wasting teachers time – the response was that while this may be true, governments have wasted 30 years, which is worse! “2 years bitching about Brexit while the planet is dying” was such a good poster it almost went viral.”

I remember, as a child, learning about the great fallen civilisations of the past - and wondering what it felt like to live in a time when your country was a pale shadow of what it used to be. The last two years have answered that question conclusively for me: it stinks.

You can catch up on all my posts from last week’s useful news:rewired conference here.

Lots to think about there.

Love the cover of the latest @standartmag by @grigorybabich. Stunning work.