This website – my little home on the internet. What am I doing with it? Why don’t I post here first instead of Twitter? Why don’t I own my content? All thoughts that I’d have from time to time but nothing took hold enough for me to change behaviours. Mastodon has given me a kick though – I really should be blogging more again.
It would be great to see blogs grow again. I’m still a heavy RSS user but looking to refresh the feeds I follow which have become stale. There’s already some new follows for me in the Bring Back Blogging directory.
Just over 4 years ago Twitter as I knew and loved it felt under threat thanks to some planned changes to their API’s. Twitter was valuable for me thanks to the third party clients and the direction of travel from Twitter themselves around their apps didn’t work for me. Changing order of how I see tweets thanks to algorithms, adverts that were non relevant and a number of other concerns meant it was time to look elsewhere.
Mastodon seemed to be the place that had most chance to replicate/replace Twitter but it never worked for me. The majority of people that I followed on Twitter didn’t migrate. Mastodon had a barrier to entry that was fine for the tech savvy but alien to most others. The value of Twitter that I got from it, mostly thanks to use of lists and third party clients, just couldn’t be replicated on Mastodon.
So my Twitter habit remained and about the only thing that changed was my third party client, moving from Tweetbot to Spring.
Then Twitter got Musked.
Unbanning of questionable individuals, abhorrent treatment of Twitter staff and the public displays of his incompetence at running Twitter has lead me and many others to finally shift platforms. Mastodon has seen explosive growth in the last month but the main clincher for me has been the rise of third party apps.
Mastodon’s iOS app’s are OK….but Ivory and Mona blow the Mastodon official clients away and make for a far better experience on Mastodon. They aren’t for sale yet so you need to join a beta which have been really popular…or in Mona’s case use Spring on OS or Mac to get access to the beta. After a couple of weeks I’m getting more out of Mastodon than i do on Twitter. Part of that many interesting people have switched of their Twitter accounts and have moved to Mastodon. Others are using their Twitter accounts to focus on the mess that Musk is making…which makes for pretty repetitive reading.
Mastodon feels alive. Its like the early days of Twitter – no brands, no ad’s, no forcing content my way because thats what an advertiser wants. There’s still issues with the platform and it can feel like it’s missing functionality. The fediverse is also fragmented and your Mastodon experience may well come down to the world view of your server administrator – good luck with that.
I’m not going to shut my Twitter account down as it still has value. The sheer volume of people on the platform means local issues still get traction on Twitter compared to silence on Mastodon. There’s also a lack of politicians and journalists so many of the topics I enjoy following on Twitter don’t appear on Mastodon…that might be due to the server I’m on, the people I follow etc but I’m getting real value out of the tech/geek community that I now follow on Mastodon.
If you’re unsure of making the move here’s a couple of helpful posts and tools to help. A good overview of Mastodon and how to join the fediverse is Craig Grinnell’s guide on Stuff.tv. Firstly you need to choose a server and there’s lots to choose from. It’s fairly easy to migrate servers so it’s not a showstopper if you make a choice and then find it’s not for you. The Mastodon website is fine for the first wee while but you really want the app or third party client. Building a new network can feel daunting – I took it as an opportunity to find new voices – but tools like Movetodon make it easier to find your favourites from Twitter on Mastodon. Followgraph for Mastodon also helps surface interesting accounts that your followers also follow.
I’ve stuck to using the same account I created a few years ago – @email@example.com. Hopefully you’ll take the plunge and move to Mastodon if you have similar frustrations to me and don’t trust Musk to be a good custodian. See you on the other side.
Earlier this week Jason Snell published his 2021 Apple Report Card. His annual report is a great read for anyone in or around the Apple ecosystem.
The scores don’t highlight any surprises but the comments from those surveyed do highlight a few issues. iPad is hampered by it’s operating system, not the hardware which is industry leading and matches much of the new Mac’s. Apple TV is the biggest rise year on year and thats thanks to the new remote. Its still too expensive and limiting for what it is. As for HomeKit it feels like it’s been abandoned.
Apple’s hardware is in a great place…but it’s software is letting it down.
The iPhone 13 may have been out for a few months but this review from Sebastiaan de With goes deep on what’s good and not so good about the current camera’s, and software, in the iPhone. The images he captures shows how far todays phones have come and that photography is the reason for upgrading your device.
Like most things with the blog, I’m late to my 2021 wrap up post. Last year was deja-vu from 2020. Still mostly working from home, covid still dominating and much of the focus was on staying healthy and following the rules with the big difference being covid vaccines and hopefully a path to living with covid thats a bit more normal than what we’ve had for the last two years.
I’d no big plan for 2021 apart from keeping my daily walks going while working from home. Thanks to Chris doing a virtual Lands End to John o’ Groats walk through the year I thought I could up my walks to do a little bit more each day/week.
Around the end of August I realised that if I’d been a bit more ambitious I could hit 2000km for the year so I upped the distance and also the pace.
Boom – 2000km hit by mid December. I find the walking essential as it clears my head, gets me out of the house and also helps with the ever constant weight battle – more on that next. Would love to get back to running but thats not an option at the moment. As for 2021, more of the same. Want to make 2000km again and maintain the pace.
As well as following covid rules and getting vaccinated as soon as it was available one issue I had was my weight. Through 2020 and then the first half of 2021 my weight was slowly creeping up. A weird weight loss at the end of 2019 had masked the gradual weight increase but hitting 91kg in July from a maintained low of around 83-84kg was the kick up the arse I needed.
Over the last 6 months I cut out some of the extra’s (bread!) I was having and coupled with the walking + pace increase has seen the weight drop back down to 83-84kg. Really pleased to get back down into that range. 2021 aim – maintain!
Not so good was sleep towards the end of the year. Through November and December I ended up averaging 4-5 hours sleep per night which is nowhere near enough and miles away from my normal of 7 hours. Can’t really call out a strong reason why although suspect work pressures/stress were the major contributor. Frustratingly the year ended badly with a real flair up of the chest illness I had a few years ago. So I’m back at the doctors and awaiting blood test results. It’s not stopped the walks although I have had to drop the pace a little but one by product is I can sleep all the hours. I wonder if the lack of sleep has ended up causing a relapse? Time will tell.
Thanks in part to covid and also the massive amount of money being invested due to streaming, TV now dominates film for me. There’s just too much TV to watch although I had a good go through the year in watching it all.
Surprising was how much the BBC and Ch4 dominates my watch time although many of the other networks you could lump together as Sky in the UK. Some shows that I watched and enjoyed through the year were:
Ted Lasso – season 2 was never going to live up to the season 1 hype but was still an enjoyable watch
The Expanse – season 5 and most of season 6….only one more episode left before it comes to an end! One of the best shows out there.
Line of Duty – another show that was never going to live up to the hype but still enjoyed it
Cobra Kai – a really easy but enjoyable watch
For All Mankind – best show on Apple TV+ – season 2 was excellent and a step up on the first
Vigil – enjoyed it especially the location spotting in Glasgow and the West Coast
Wandavision – outstanding – loved it
Loki – like a good season of Doctor Who with a bigger budget although the end underwhelmed
Great British Bake Off – classic season although still maintain Jürgen was robbed
The White Lotus – great to watch although not sure it landed the ending
This Way Up – cracking comedy/drama on Ch4
Showtrial – Another beeb drama that kept the suspense going week to week
It’s a Sin – stunning. If you watch only one thing from 2021 make it this. Joyous and sad at the same time.
Succession – essential, even just to hear another Fuck Off
Also binged Halt and Catch Fire from a few years back and highly recommend it. Next on the list of classics for me to tackle – The Soprano’s or The American’s…but I’ve got a few things from last year to finish off first.
As for films, Zack Snyders Justice League was surprisingly good, No Time To Die was a great end to Daniel Craigs Bond run and Dune was stunning…roll on part 2.
Games had a better year. Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite came out in the last couple of months and have been excellent. Most surprised by Halo after the delay in 2020 and the worries around the graphics and the studio. Returnal on the PS5 is a pretty stunning game to look at although I do struggle with the gameplay. I’ve got Metroid Dread to play plus a couple of PC and Xbox games but I’d say 2021 has been one of the best years for games in a long time…and 2022 is looking just as strong if not more so.
And finally a shout out to a simple game thats taken the internet, and Twitter, by storm – Wordle. A daily word puzzle that has no ad’s, no multiplayer, no in app purchase. I love it especially the sharing on twitter by fellow players and trying to work out their opening words/moves.
My effort from today:
Wordle 204 3/6
🟩🟨🟨⬜⬜ 🟩🟩🟩🟨⬜ 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩
A strange year of virtually no tech purchases. Thanks to a power cut at home I needed to buy a new printer, and I hate everything to do with home printers so that was a real grudge purchase. Mid December and my iMac failed which turned out to be a failed logic board (maybe power cut related???) so that was an expensive fix too. The only notable new tech this year was the Oculus Quest 2 which I picked up late December. Not used it much but surprised by how good the visuals are and how easy it is to use untethered from a PC.
One area I did invest in was upgrading my NAS, not by buying a new one, but upgrading the RAM and replacing all the drives as I had virtually no capacity left. My Synology is almost 7 years old but still supports the latest software releases and with the extra RAM and faster drives, Plex and also a couple of docker images are running better than ever.
2021 saw no new Apple purchases – so still using the iMac from 2017, iPad from 2018, Apple Watch from 2018 and the iPhone from 2020. 2022 will be different though. Really want to move to a new Mac with an Apple processor and leave the Intel to PC’s. Will wait for iMac and Mac Mini updates in 2022 before making a decision but leaning towards the Mac Mini and another monitor rather than heading down the iMac route again. Also expect to pick up a new Apple Watch in September/October but still undecided on the iPad as it’s still doing everything I need it to do so might squeeze out one more year.
As for other tech, if I could lay my hands on a new PC graphics card I could be tempted into an upgrade. A new camera to replace my Fuji XT-2 is also on the radar as I’m a couple of generations behind…but thats an expensive 2022!
As before I don’t do resolutions but look for overall area’s to improve or focus on. One that stands out is simplifying both in and out of work. Juggling a lot and need to focus on the things that matter and drop the rest. Second area is on health and focussing a bit more on understanding me, my body and also my diet. That’s a challenge but the biggest improvement would be to have a more positive and normal year. Fingers crossed.