Weekly Digest

Kept the walking going this week as well and so far no ill effects. 14 days and counting. Next week will see the first bit of travel in a while as I’m off to Bristol then Farnborough. I used to enjoy travelling but now, not so much.

Homeland is back and I’m hopeful of a good season. Binge watched some West Wing as it’s far better than watching the news. Also keeping an eye on the Sky/Discovery spat. I really need to move on from Sky.


Nadhim Zahawi

Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi spoke out last night against Trumps muslim ban as he feels he is now banned from visiting America and his kids are in the US studying. Another tragic example of how the Trump policy splits families apart and harms the innocent. Zahawi was on Andrew Marr today and said the Trump policy was cruel. Couldn’t agree more. Zahawi feels discriminated against. Of course he does. Think of the refugees – quite right, we always should do.

However it’s hard to feel too much sympathy with Zahawi as he supported the Vote Leave campaign and hammered home why freedom of movement endangered the UK. Be careful what you wish for.

Week One

So Trump’s first week has passed and what a week it was. He was exaggerating during the campaign they said. He won’t do things like the wall they said. There will be a replacement for Obamacare they said. There won’t be a muslim ban they said.

They were wrong.

In his first week Trump and his team wrote executive orders that have reset America’s position in the world.

Trump’s First Six Executive Orders

  • Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal: This executive order attempts to loosen financial elements of Obamacare.
  • Expediting environmental reviews and approvals for high profile infrastructure projects: An order to quicken environmental assessments of U.S. infrastructure projects.
  • Border security and immigration enforcement improvements: The contentious order to construct a wall between Mexico and the U.S. southern border. Trump has repeatedly vowed that Mexico “will pay” for the wall, which the country has denied. This executive order led Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to cancel a meeting with Trump.
  • Enhancing public safety in the Interior of the United States: Trump ordered more resources for immigration officers to crack down on undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and to limit funding for sanctuary cities.
  • Protection of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States: An order that suspends the U.S. refugee program for four months to weed out “radical Islamic terrorists” from entering the country.
  • Order to grow military: On Friday, Trump signed an order to spur “a great rebuilding” of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Trump’s First Eight Presidential Memoranda

  • Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies: An decision to pause any federal regulations put forward under the Obama administration until Trump’s team can review them.
  • Mexico City Policy: An order to revive Reagan’s anti-abortion policy.
  • Regarding Withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Agreement: An order to scrap negotiations regarding the TPP, a massive international trade agreement negotiated under Obama but not yet ratified by Congress.
  • Regarding the Hiring Freeze: A decision to halt hiring of new federal workers, excluding military jobs.
  • Construction of American Pipelines: According to this move, new pipelines should only be made with American-made materials.
  • Regarding Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline: An early approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. The gesture seen as a pre-emptive measure since firm plans for the project have yet to be formally approved. Since the executive action, TransCanada has submitted a new presidential permit application for the pipeline’s approval.
  • Regarding Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline: The controversial pipeline project in North Dakota, where protesters have been camped out for months, has been prioritized by Trump.
  • Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing: Under this action, Trump has asked for a plan to make the permitting process simpler for American manufacturers.
  • As if those weren’t bad enough…lying about the inauguration crowd size. Banning government agencies from talking on Twitter unless they go through the White House team first, leading to many rogue twitter accounts being setup allegedly by employees fighting the order. Resisting from within.

    Worse is the power that Nazi sympathizer Steve Bannon, currently in charge of American foreign policy, wields within the White House. Bannon who runs the right wing Breitbart got named to the National Security Council. He is setting America’s immigration policy. He’s a fucking Nazi. In the White House. On Friday the White House released a statement to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day with no mention of Jews, Judaism or antisemitism. The reason – Trump’s administration “took into account all of those who suffered”. Nazis.

    The muslim ban seems to have been the final straw for many not just in America but around the world. World leaders are openly condemning and rejecting Trumps policy. Tech leaders are finally openly condemning the ban as well, although not all. Unfortunately Theresa May and the Conservative government found themselves on the wrong side of the argument. Worried about trade deals and with Brexit pushing her into a corner she eventually blurted out “The United States is responsible for the United States’ policy on refugees, the United Kingdom is responsible for the United Kingdom’s policy on refugees.” Cards marked.

    Many hours later and after many countries had made their objections against Trump clear, May came out with a weak statement. Prime Minister Theresa May does “not agree” with Donald Trump’s refugee ban and will appeal to the US if it affects British citizens, Downing Street says. Does not agree is pretty weak but just a few hours earlier it was a matter for the United States. May was caught out or maybe it was her true colours.

    Trump has also lost his first legal challenge thanks to the ACLU. Their blog post on their win makes for sobering reading but also has a great quote:

    The United States is a nation governed by the rule of law and not the iron will of one man. President Trump now has learned that we are democratic republic where the powers of government are not dictatorial. They are limited.

    However it looks like the government will enforce the new ban despite the ruling. For those who think the muslim ban makes sense, some facts. No doubt there will be alternative facts presented at some point but you need to believe the data and not your racist views at some point.

    The scary part is that agencies in America are following through on these executive orders without it seems much questioning. What happens when an executive order is written that you are against? What then? Sit back and take it? Those involved in the legal case are already being victimised on social media and being threatened, just like brexit in the UK. The parallels are clear.

    So what to do? Fight. Resist. You don’t just have to accept which is repeatedly what the leavers tell the UK. If recent votes had swung a couple of percent the other way would the right wing have sat back? So why should everyone else. Thanks to Richard here’s Roger Waters nailing his colours to the mast.

    Donate to the ACLU, help bring Hamaseh Tayari home or sign this petition to prevent Donald Trump from making a State Visit to the United Kingdom. Best of all, don’t bury your head in the sand or ignore what is happening no matter how bleak it seems.

    Fuck racism, bigotry, and hate no matter where it happens or who does it. And fuck Trump and his Nazi staff.

    Weekly Digest

    A bit of focus on fitness so kept my activity rings full for the week. Boom. Nothing strenuous, just some walking but didn’t seem to have any side effects which is a positive sign.

    Overwatch has me hooked. Loving it.


    • Donald Trump inauguration TV listing goes viral
      The Sunday Herald TV critic Damian Love reimagined the ceremony as a return of the classic science fiction series The Twilight Zone. “After a long absence, The Twilight Zone returns with one of the most ambitious, expensive and controversial productions in broadcast history.
      This went viral last week and deservedly so.
    • The Problem of the Wilderness
      I went to Alaska for New Year with my friend Dan. We spent a week travelling North from Anchorage by rail, 4×4 & light aircraft. I took along my A7SII for the trip, not knowing what we would see.
    • Super real Mario Odyssey
      Mario meets GTA.
    • Clearing Out the App Stores: Government Censorship Made Easier
      There’s a new form of digital censorship sweeping the globe, and it could be the start of something devastating. In the last few weeks, the Chinese government compelled Apple to remove New York Times apps from the Chinese version of the App Store.
      Tech companies have a responsibility going forward to stand up to governments around the world.
    • Meet the Team Behind Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Page
      When Facebook went public five years ago, the world had a pretty vivid picture of who Mark Zuckerberg was.
      President Zuck in a few years time?
    • The Final Days of Obama’s Tech Surge
      Onsome members of the United States Digital Service — President Obama’s shining example of how Silicon Valley’s tech minds can make a palpable impact on government — got up early to attend a retreat at Camp David.
      Trump and the Republicans have threatened to trash much of Obama’s legacy…would that include this team?
    • I Earned More From Photo Gigs in 2016 With My iPhone Than My DSLRs
      2016 ended in a most fitting fashion for the new way I am trying to earn a living as a freelance photographer. On December 27, I was on Montara Beach photographing a college volleyball player on assignment for Volleyball USA magazine.
      Wow, times are a changing.
    • Attack on Alt-Right Leader Has Internet Asking: Is It O.K. to Punch a Nazi?
      Is it O.K. to punch a Nazi? That is not a brainteaser or a hypothetical question posed by a magazine on Twitter. It is an actual question bouncing around the internet after an attack on a well-known far-right activist, Richard B. Spencer, in Washington after the inauguration of Donald J.
    • WhatsApp, Signal, and dangerously ignorant journalism
      There is something about encryption that brings out the worst in journalists. Because to most of them it is magic, they are always searching desperately for the proverbial man behind the curtain, without knowing what to look for.
      The Guardian vs the rest of the tech press. Surprised they are being so stubborn on this story.
    • How 550 Facebook Users Spread Britain First Content To Hundreds Of Thousands Of People
      The Facebook profiles seem entirely ordinary. Scattered across towns in England, Wales, and Scotland – as well as Spain, Australia, and the US – they share photos of their grandchildren, missing children warnings, sad tales of animal abuse, and cute memes about hugs.
      Doesn’t take many to game the system.
    • My home is a mess
      The coffee machine has burbled into life, the aroma wafts temptingly from the kitchen. In the bedroom my sleep monitor suggests I need to wake up in the next ten minutes and the daylight bulb in the lamp starts to glow into life.
      Gordon’s post captures my situation as well. I’ve some smart home kit but it’s pretty fragmented and each platform owner wants to own the game to the detriment of the end user. Can’t see it changing anytime soon either.
    • Pictures From Women’s Marches on Every Continent
      Yesterdays marches were inspiring.
    • To Obama With Love, and Hate, and Desperation
      On a recent October morning in the White House mailroom, on the ground floor of the Executive Office Building just beside a loading dock, 10 interns sat at two long tables, each trying to get through 300 letters. Grab a bundle, sit down and read. It was pretty straightforward: Read.
      He’ll be missed.

    Weekly Digest

    Work was pretty full on this week but got a lot done. Finished with an 8 mile walk n Saturday morning which was good…but tired me out. Slept like a baby last night. Still not got rid of this viral nonsense yet.

    Watched the first episode of Taboo last week. Stylish, moody but needs more plot and story. Also back into West Wing series 2 which is a magnificent counterpoint to American politics right now. If you haven’t watched it (really?!) or haven’t see it in years dive in and watch along with the excellent West Wing Weekly podcast.


    • Uber debuts Movement, a new website offering access to its traffic data
      Uber is opening up in an area where it might make sense competitively for it to stay more closed off: The ride-hailing company’s new Movement website will offer up access to its data around traffic flow in scores where it operates, intended for use by city planners and researchers looking
      Great use of the data that Uber have amassed. For me this is what Ai in cars can bring, not just safer driving but
    • Twelve things you need to know about driverless cars
      By 2025 most of today’s drivers are unlikely to even want to own a car. But will we still have gridlock? Will you need to pass a test? We asked the experts From forecourt to scrapyard, a new car in the UK lasts an average of 13.
      Just moved into third year of the A3 so later on will be deciding on keeping, getting a new lease or moving to 2nd hand again. Tipping point soon but maybe not this year?
    • This Is What It’s Like to Read Fake News For Two Weeks
      A few weeks ago, perplexed by the persistence of fake news, I attempted to think like someone I wasn’t. On December 13, I created a dummy Twitter account. More of a clone, actually. I chose to emulate Michael Flynn Jr.
      Fake news has become so prevalent, not just online but in the newspapers as well, that I’m not sure it can easily be countered. Sad.
    • I wore men’s clothes for a month – and it changed my life
      It’s 9am and I’m having breakfast at the House of Commons. I’m wearing a three-piece pinstriped suit, matching tie and pocket square, and the confidence of a mediocre white man. To my left, a man is pouring me coffee; to my right, another is listening respectfully. How did I get here?
      Eye opening read. Didn’t expect the results.
    • Guy Makes Sweaters Of Places And Then Photographs Himself In Those Places
      Love it!
    • Bringing Wide Color to Instagram
      When captured by an iPhone 7 Plus, most of the oranges and colors in the room are outside the sRGB color gamut, so detail is lost unless we use a wider color space. The color space that Apple chose for its devices going forward is Display P3.
      A great, detailed and downright geeky post…and I love the results on the iPhone. More please, on all devices. And thats not just a plea to Apple but also iPad support please Instagram.
    • Final Fantasy 7 – An oral history
      We are saving your place in the story as you read. Today, it sits above a Doutor coffee shop a few doors from a train station in a busy part of Hiyoshi, Yokohama.
      Long, long read on an incredible game.
    • The 50 Most Beautiful Shots of The Star Wars Franchise
    • The dream of Ara: Inside the rise and fall of the world’s most revolutionary phone
      It looked nothing like an iPhone, or anything Apple might dare to make. Hakkens imagined a smartphone made of interchangeable blocks, and each block — the screen, the battery, the processor, and so on — could be easily upgraded or repaired, so it wouldn’t end up in a landfill after two years.
      Never thought this would work and some of the idea’s are batshit.
    • Tony Fadell tells us the story of the iPod-based iPhone prototype
      This week marks the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone introduction, and with it, a flood of stories about the design and development of the device.
      Some good background from one of the actual team at the time.
    • How the world reacted to the first iPhone 10 years ago
      A decade ago today, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, and nobody knew quite what to think. It was expensive; it didn’t have 3G; there was no physical keyboard and the touchscreen didn’t have a stylus.
      Still interesting to see the reaction to the iPhone…especially Ballmer.
    • A closer look at the Nintendo Switch
      Nintendo finally unveiled launch details for its its new Switch console today (to recap: March 3rd worldwide for $299). While the pricing and availability are big news, the bigger news for me was the ability to actually play with the new console at an event in London. The console consists of a 6.
      Really not sure about the Switch. Pricey, lack of games, low tech specs. Still, I’ve ordered one as I’m intrigued…or an idiot!
    • The Greatest Chess Game ever played
      The Greatest Chess Game ever played: Garry Kasparov (2812) – Veselin Topalov (2700)
      Great commentary of a great game.
    • How An Allegedly Fake Video Killed A Much-Hyped Drone Startup
      On Dec. 20, Lily Robotics was up against a wall. It was five days before Christmas, and dozens of eager customers who had spent more than $499 to pre-order the company’s flagship product were wondering if they were ever going to see it.
      Cheeky fuckers. They faked the video, took in millions from people and never delivered the final product. With Kickstarter there is always an element of risk, but these guys look to be fraudsters which doesn’t help anyone on that platform.
    • How voice technology is transforming computing
      ANY sufficiently advanced technology, noted Arthur C. Clarke, a British science-fiction writer, is indistinguishable from magic. The fast-emerging technology of voice computing proves his point.
      It’s early days but voice offers an intriguing glimpse at a future without UI.
    • App Extensions Are Not a Replacement for User Automation
      Here’s a thought experiment. Let’s imagine that Apple decided to combine their engineering resources to form app teams that delivered both iOS and macOS versions of applications.
      Really thought provoking article by Sal Soghoian, an automation genius recently let go by Apple.
    • Euan McColm: Why voters should take no pride in the NHS
      It is a minimum requirement of any politician that he or she should be a passionate defender of the National Health Service. Few things matter more to voters than the NHS. We are sentimentally attached to it in a way that we just aren’t to other public services. This is quite understandable.
      Maybe we should focus less on Independence, eh?
    • Understanding the Diderot Effect (and How To Overcome It)
      I am not a psychologist, nor am I philosopher. But I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the goals we pursue, the things we own, and the items we buy. I find it to be a fascinating study into the human spirit. There are countless reasons we buy more stuff than we need.
      So this is why I buy so much shit.
    • How the inventor of Mario designs a game
      Shigeru Miyamoto’s design philosophy, explained.
      But maybe it’s Miyamoto’s influence that makes we want the Nintendo Switch.

    10 Years of iPhone

    9th January 2007. I’d been an iPod user for many years and a Mac user for six months and really enjoyed Apple’s keynotes at the time even if it was watching on the live blogs rather than on a video stream. Apple never attended CES but always used to dominate the show with an announcement of a new product or updates to an existing line but the announcement of the iPhone was special.

    It’s still great to watch it now. Steve Jobs in his prime, a product that was a game changer compared to everything else on the market and by far the best tech announcement in my lifetime so far. When re-watching the announcement a few things stand out:

    • Steve starts with such confidence and in just over three minutes has already announced the iPhone name and has the audience eating out of his hand.
    • Slide to unlock demo is the first hint at the innovation to come and what the touch interface will bring.
    • Demo of the iPod and the build up to how will you select an artist…the first demo of touch scrolling and the gasps from the audience. So good.
    • Amazing to see the first mention of the camera and photo’s was in the phone section rather than internet communicator. Total contrast to today’s demo’s and the focus on photos.
    • Pinch to zoom – another gasp.
    • How slow Safari was to load pages.
    • Let me bring Dr Eric Schmidt onto the stage. How times have changed as back in 2007 Schmidt was on the board and Google was a big part of the demo.
    • Totally forgot that a bluetooth headset was announced alongside the iPhone.
    • Near the end of the launch Steve said the iPhone is like having your life in your pocket, the ultimate digital device. How true.
    • He then finished with a quote – I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been from Wayne Gretzky. Hard to look at todays Apple and feel the same could be said in 2017.

    When you look at what the iPhone launched against at the time it really was a jump forward and offered some game changing features that we now take for granted. Swiping, pinch, large touchscreen and literally no buttons. Yet I didn’t buy the first one – no 3G was a deal breaker for me and sure enough only a few months after launch Apple announced a new version that had 3G and more importantly removed reliance on web apps and brought with it the App Store. For more on the history of the iPhone, this post from the Internet History Podcast is well worth a read.

    The version 1 iPhone is the best product launch I’ve seen. Now we carry computers in our pockets and for the majority of people it’s the only device they need. What will the next 10 years bring? Hard to tell but I can’t wait to find out.

    Weekly Digest

    Slightly different look to the post this week thanks to Gordon’s article on how he automates his Weekend Reading posts. So I’ve followed his advice and use Workflow on iOS to save a few steps and quite a bit of time. Enjoy!

    Straight back in to work and it’s busy busy busy. Set yearly goals and hoping to deliver a few more than I managed last year.

    Sherlock…just not doing it for me this year.

    Forza Horizon 3 on the Xbox One. Really enjoying it. Great gameplay, lots to do and it looks and sounds gorgeous.


    • Thanks Mom!
      On Christmas in 1995, I unwrapped a shiny new IBM Aptiva. Much to my delight, my mom had gifted me my first PC. Each time I’ve thought about my mom making this purchase, it’s been thru the lens of someone looking back in time.
      Love this post. Reminds me of my mum and dad getting me an Amstrad CPC for Christmas. Money was tight and they must have scrimped and saved to get it but I loved that machine and in many ways set me on a path.
    • Apple’s 2016 in review
      This has been the winter of our discontent. 2016 was the year the tone changed. There’s always been a lot of criticism and griping about anything Apple does (and doesn’t do — it can’t win) but in 2016 I feel like the tone of the chatter about Apple changed and got a lot more negative.
      Excellent post and captures what many feel about Apple right now.
    • Wind just generated more power than coal in the UK, for the first year ever
      During most years since the industrial revolution, the UK has relied on coal to produce the lion’s share of its energy (in the last 10, gas has been top some years, and coal others).
      Good to see our reliance on fossil fuels decreasing.
    • Alexa: Amazon’s Operating System
      The concept of an operating system is pretty straightforward: it is a piece of software that manages a computer, making said computer’s hardware resources accessible to software through a consistent set of interfaces.
      Alexa won CES this year. VW & Ford are putting it in their cars, many vendors had integrated Alexa into their products and Amazon have a real leg up on their competitors with Alexa. Interesting times.
    • How ‘Rogue One’s’ Princess Leia, Grand Moff Tarkin Were Created
      Bringing back the late Peter Cushing and 19-year-old Carrie Fisher for a story taking place before the 1977 “Star Wars” was a CGI challenge.
      Still found the CGI characters false and jarring in amongst the real actors. Do not like.
    • That mystery Go player crushing the world’s best online? It was AlphaGo again
      DeepMind’s AlphaGo is back, and it’s been secretly crushing the world’s best Go players over the past couple of weeks. The new version of the AI has played 51 games online and won 50 of them, including a victory against Ke Jie, currently the world’s best human Go player.
      AI is taking over the world, one little step at a time.
    • Mini Metros
      Love this – minimalist graphics of the worlds light rail systems.
    • What Did And Did Not Happen In 2016 – AVC
      As has become my practice, I will end the year (today) looking back and start the year (tomorrow) looking forward. As a starting point for looking back on 2016, we can start with my What Is Going To Happen In 2016 post from Jan 1st 2016.
      Review of the year by Fred Wilson. His 2017 predictions are worth reading too.
    • The Scottish pioneer whose plan for a basic income could transform Britain
      In the city where Adam Smith developed the free-market theories that inspired Thatcherism nearly 300 years later, a young Labour politician is pursuing an economic vision that takes a drastically different approach to “the wealth of nations”.
      Not sure if this will work but it’s worth trying and one could argue it’s better than what we’ve got now.
    • First 10 Years of iPhone: How It Has Changed Our World
      The Legendary Intro 10 years ago from now, Steve Jobs introduced the original iPhone. I was luckily covering the event onsite.
      January 9th 2007. Time flies.
    • Journey to Iceland
      @Shortstache full trip. Entire country of Iceland over 10 days.
    • this is iceland
      I really need to book a trip to Iceland.

    Forth Bridge

    The Forth Bridge is one of the most iconic bridges in the world, not just in the UK. I took advantage of a clear but cold day to head over to South Queensferry to try and get a good photo of the famous structure.

    Forth Bridge

    Rather than take hundreds of images I set off with one image in mind. I wanted a long exposure of the bridge with the morning sun casting it’s glow on the red painted steel and brickwork. The skies were clear as expected but soon after sunrise the sun was shrouded by a rogue cloud. Damn. After 15 minutes the sunlight returned and I got the image I was after.

    During the wait I took the opportunity to fire up the drone and take some alternative shots. My video wasn’t great – lack of practise and preparation, but I did get a couple of images that I was pleased with. I got warnings while flying of low temperatures and also over stressing the motor which was a bit disconcerting as the drone was about a mile out from me over water. Between that, batteries running low and me starting to freeze I didn’t get as much out of the drone as I should have.

    Forth Bridge

    My biggest fail of the day was I got cold. It was 0, feels like -4 and I was on a bit of sand/riverbank so very quickly I started to get cold. I needed more layers and better footwear. After 90 minutes I had to move on as I was that cold I was getting pains. A brisk walk to get another view of the bridge helped but it really was too late and I spent the rest of the day feeling cold and sore.

    Forth Bridge

    This trip was my first using the Peak Design Everyday Backpack. I love the design and flexibility that the bag offers but need to think how best to configure the flex fold dividers as one collapsed as soon as I removed the camera due to load but thats easily fixed by altering the layout. I loved all the expandability that the bag had as well and it meant I could use one 20L bag to carry all my gear. However it’s not watertight. This didn’t effect me yesterday but I wouldn’t trust it on a day out with variable weather. Its water resistant but the top pocket doesn’t seal so you run the risk of water getting into the main compartment. Overall I’m pleased with the purchase but not convinced I’ll be able to use it 100% of the time unless I also carry a rain cover for the unpredictable Scottish weather.

    Next on the shopping list is probably a set of Lee filters. They aren’t cheap but will help with a lot of the photo’s I like to take. Before I buy I’m going to get out and use the camera more. I upgraded to a Fuji X-T2 towards the end of 2016 and I love it but need to use it more not just to understand it fully but also to improve my photography. There’s only so much a book or manual can teach.

    If you want to see more of the Forth Bridge photo’s then the album is here on Flickr along with my other photos.