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.
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.
202o was quite the year. Let’s be honest – it sucked. Even at the start of March I didn’t expect to spend more than three quarters of the year working from home but there you go. Also surprising considering how many looked at home working (in my current job/industry at least) as a duvet day or being not as productive…..I’ve never been busier or achieved as much as I’ve done in the last 9 months. And with no whiteboard!
Not that I’m complaining. I consider myself really lucky that I can work effectively from home and carry out my role remotely while reducing covid risk as much as possible. What that did mean was a bit of investment in the home office.
I really need to get a blog post done on the new gaming PC 😎
Despite the pandemic I did focus on 2 things this year that were on the to-do list for 2020. Finally got the bathroom upgraded in January and I’m putting a lot more effort on paying off the mortgage. Other things like photography took a total back seat. Travel restrictions didn’t help in March and April but I lost all my photo mojo. Hopefully next year I’ll get back on the photography saddle.
Also lost the blog bug and with that the weekly updates went into hibernation as so much news was dominated by the pandemic, Black Lives Matter and politics. Found myself needing to switch off more from social media as it was all pretty relentlessly bleak. What I did fall back on was gaming and TV. New consoles helped and also games like Flight Simulator which is really just a world simulator and a pretty fantastic game. As for TV, I enjoyed in amongst everything else:
Industry is 2020’s version of This Life and the soundtrack for it and Normal People are well worth a listen. Surprise hit (for me anyway) of the year was Ted Lasso. Looked to be a pretty average but it really hit the spot with some feel good comedy which worked well in this miserable 2020.
Thanks to covid I’ve also enjoyed the years best meme played out live on Twitter – Room Rater.
So onwards to 2021. A couple of theme’s/goals but no resolutions and a hope that the year sucks less than 2020 despite the mess the UK is in thanks to Covid, Brexit and an incompetent Westminster government.
Its a new year….a new decade…and somehow everything feels much the same. How does that work? It’s been a busy start to 2020. New bathroom has been fitted which was long overdue. It’s been 16 years since moving to Kelvindale and the home survey said we had a dilapidated bath. Well it did ok but it’s finally been replaced. Really pleased with the end result as it looks totally different to what we had before.
Also back in the swing of things at work. Three weeks off was lovely but bills need paying and as ever it only takes a couple of days before the break feels a long time ago. It also looks like being a big gadget year for me. New camera, consoles and phone. If the rumours are true the camera could be out in March rather than September. Need to get saving!
Does Microsoft Have a Boeing 737 Max Style Crash Every Week?
This really made me think. I’m increasingly more plugged in to the world of vulnerabilities, patches and enterprise security. This article posits that Microsoft and others are having huge Boeing type issues every week or two. Is that fair? When you see the speed that exploits are being taken advantage of it’s hard to disagree.
Blue Fucking Monday
Every January the news and hence Twitter, Facebook and advertisers tell us the third Monday in January is the most depressing. It’s bullshit but every year it’s dropped out like some wonder fact. Always remember…
Twitter for good
Twitter gets a pasting around negativity and being a cesspool and generally that is true. However there are gems on there. A bookshop was swamped with orders after they tweeted about a tumbleweed day at the store. Well done everyone!
Radiohead Public Library
Radiohead updated their site and turned it into a library. So much to see and hear – there’s a huge amount of material. Love it!
Bowls is a pretty traditional sport. They are getting players to wear shorts to jazz it up! However a shot from this weeks World Indoor Championships went viral due to the skill on display. My mum loves watching the bowls but I was so surprised to see the shot appear on Reddit with many people lost as to what the sport was. Who knew bowls could go viral.
It’s the last one of these for 2019 and the last of the decade. Woo. All the best for 2020 and the new decade ahead.
I’ve watched a lot of TV this year – the quality and quantity of TV thanks to the many streaming services that have launched is in some ways overwhelming. Highlights in no particular order: Line of Duty, Chernobyl, Watchmen, Fleabag, The virtues, The Mandalorian, Euphoria, The Expanse (binged seasons 1-3 in prep for seasons 4 – all good), Giri/Haji, Succession Derry Girls, Game of Thrones, This Way Up, The Boys.
As for films – Avengers:Endgame, Apollo 11, Booksmart, Fast Color, The Irishman, Marriage Story, Ad Astra. Gaming was strange this year – not much out as next year is new console time for both Sony and Microsoft so little to recommend apart from Apple Arcade.
This is bizarre. Sonos offer a 1/3 discount on your old product if you turn on “Recycle Mode”. But this bricks the device and makes it unusable. WTF!?! I’ve got a few Sonos devices but this will make me think twice about investing any more in their system.
Great article on the love for The West Wing right now. It’s one of my favourite TV shows ever and thanks to The West Wing Weekly podcast I’ve been rewatching all 7 series. There’s only 4 more episodes to go so it really will be a case of what’s next after January? If you’ve never watched The West Wing give it a try alongside the podcast…and if you’ve not watched it since it originally aired there’s no better time.
Not long until the big day and prep work is done. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing I hope you have a good Christmas.
100 per cent
Two big stories from the weekend all around racism in the UK. First up – Stormzy. He’s got a new album out so has being doing a lot of press. In one interview he said that the UK is racist and it’s worse under Boris Johnson. I don’t know anyone that would say the UK doesn’t have a racism problem. If they do then they are part of the problem. As for Johnson, he’s got form and has normalised everyday racism in my opinion so Stormzy is spot on. However that didn’t stop the media spinning the story.
One of the worst was ITV who claimed that Stormzy had said the UK is 100% racist. A very different meaning to what was said. A few hours later they backtracked, deleted the tweet and changed their story, but the damage was done and the story spread over social media. To see why it was such a bad article, read the original interview in the tweet below – he did not say the UK is 100 per cent racist.
Ps. Afterwards, during my interview with him, #Stormzy elaborated his opinion on racism in Britain and he expressed his negative remarks about PM Johnson. So, to have the full picture, please read my full transcript below, which is the original and only reliable source of it. pic.twitter.com/uoM9370V7R
The media spin has now become a bigger story a bit like how the election issues were spun into something else to avoid tackling the original issue. Let’s get back to the real issue – racism is on the rise in the UK. What’s to be done?
Racism in Football
This year especially has seen an increase in racism at football matches in Europe especially but also the UK. This weekends Spurs v Chelsea game saw a player targeted again. Step forward Gary Neville who, on a live show, articulated what many were feeling. Something needs to happen. Authorities need to do more. The main political parties have to clean up their act.
Sky Sports host David Jones though didn’t agree. “I am compelled to say, they are the views of you, Gary Neville, and not those of Sky Sports, that is my duty.” “I’m here to try and hold a balanced debate” he later said. What the fuck? How can you have a balanced debate about racism unless you bring on Tommy Robinson, Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson? It’s bad enough people at football matches feel it’s OK to do this….but there must be hundreds of others standing around hearing this and doing nothing. People need to step up.
The rise in nationalism across the UK is partly to blame. The ability of social media to amplify the minority and give voice to right wing extremists is another. Racist views that had long been stamped out and at best kept behind closed doors are now more prevalent as people have become emboldened. Johnson and other right wing media establishments have profited from being openly racist. Johnson even has the cheek to threaten the footballing authorities with action unless they clean up their act. He really has no shame. However I do hope the football powers that be do take more meaningful steps. Small fines at club and international level aren’t enough. And it’s not just an English or European issue. It’s the Old Firm match this weekend which see’s many racial taunts from both sides. This is Glasgow today.
TWO weeks this has now been on display in our city on the main motorway. TWO WEEKS, and nothing done about it. Can't help but think if it was racism towards any other ethnic minority it would be taken seriously and removed immediately. @GlasgowCCpic.twitter.com/lTCqmEoeJb
Labour is going through an awful lot of infighting after one its worst performances in decades. It will take more time and analysis to truly understand what went wrong but it’s clear that it and its union friends are picking the wrong battles. An ex Labour MP, Anna Turley, took Skwawkbox to court after being slandered in an article in 2017. She won her case but Unite spent over £1M defending the story on Skwawkbox. If you are a Unite member paying your fee’s, are you really comfortable that so much money has been spent in this way? Why not on the election campaign?
On holiday now until next year. Needing the break as tiredness and health haven’t been great the last few weeks. Looking forward to a lazy recharge over the next couple of weeks.
General Election 2019
So clearly many people spent last Thursday kicking children and pensioners into traffic as well as voting Tory. Since then the Labour Party have imploded, the LibDems have disappeared and lost their leader while the SNP are pushing Scotland to independence much like Wales and Ireland. Hard to see there being a United Kingdom by 2025.
Moment of the night was Swinson losing her seat and Sturgeon celebrating. Some will say its unbecoming of the FM. Bullshit. Show’s the cut throat business of politics.
So we end this year/decade on a downer in my opinion. The worse off in our society will be further penalised while the have’s feel less of the impact of Brexit. What a mess.
Greta Thunberg – Time Person of the Year
Time’s person of the year is often controversial but hard to argue with this years choice – Greta Thunberg. Her story is remarkable and she’s had a massive impact on the conversation around climate change even if it’s not delivered a material difference yet. The difference in a year is striking.
Everyone hates passwords. This article proves that almost half of users iterate their passwords. No surprise in this day and age of complex passwords, three out of four characters, number, symbol types etc. We need to do away with forcing users to change passwords every x days and help and support with alternative methods or allow them to set a complex password but not enforce the frequent change – we’d be far more secure.
The 2010’s have seen some great gadgets and The Verge has a nice top 100 round up. Stand outs for me from the list – iPhone 4, DJI Phantom and the iPad. That iPhone 4 design is such a classic.
The Deep Sea
Almost my new favourite thing, The Deep Sea is a great website that you must visit. Just keep scrolling….it goes on for a long time.
This is amazing. AI Dungeon popped out of nowhere a couple of weeks ago. Years and years ago text adventures were all the rage. However they were limited by the path the developer wanted you to take – think Bandersnatch. Not so with AI Dungeon. You can ask it to do anything you can in written language and it has scope and scale to grow according to your commands. Give it a go while you still can – it’s costing the dev’s $65k a month to host.
A while back I blogged on how I was using the Apple Watch to keep active. So much so I hit a streak of 365 days. That was a long time ago and like Forrest Gump said “For no particular reason I just kept on going”. Today was day 1000 of the streak.
I still find great benefit from doing this. It gets me out and about on days that I would literally do nothing apart from sit at a computer screen. It’s also kept my weight in a fairly good place despite not being able to get back to running or other more active pursuits. I know I’m being gamed doing this but if it’s helping what’s the harm?
There have definitely been days when I wanted to do anything apart from a 30 minute walk. Sick days, wet days, snowy days, windy days (remind me of this tomorrow when I’m getting blown away during a downpour), far too hot days but I’ve stuck with it. I’m sure I’ll keep going too until there’s a sick day that just stops me from continuing but hopefully thats a while away yet because there’s always more podcasts to listen to while walking. Onwards!
In four days time Britain has yet another general election. Like many I’m sure, I’m sick and tired of vote after vote that seems to make very little difference. I’m sick and tired of referendums. Distilling complex issues into one yes or no question is not democratic especially in this day and age where politicians can lie without any consequence. There’s also no point in having them if the result is never carried out or commitments around “once in a generation” are then walked back within weeks.
I’m sick and tired of TV debates that achieve nothing and where politicians are not held to account. I’m sick and tired of leaders who can duck out of anything that looks challenging or could lead to a slip up.
However what annoys the most is the current crop of politicians in the UK. By far the worst in my lifetime, the state of the parties and their leaders gives me little choice in next weeks vote. We seem to be heading to voting for personalities rather than parties. All the parties are focussing on their leader and less on policy. They’ve always done that to a certain extent but this year more than ever. First past the post doesn’t help. We really need to move to some form of proportional representation to better balance the views across the country.
Frankie Boyle’s Election Countdown whilst funny makes for depressing reading but I agree wholeheartedly on his rule’s for voting Tory. Britain is broken right now. We shouldn’t need food banks. We need to fund education and health properly. Universal credit doesn’t work. We need to reverse the last 9 years. We need to hold current parties to account for their leadership. It still amazes me that the SNP get a free run in Scotland despite the mess of education and the NHS. I lie though – until independence is delivered they’ve pretty much got 50% of the vote. Like Trump, they could literally do anything and their supporters will still vote for them.
While I don’t like Corbyn and think he’s one of the worst leaders in decades I’ll be voting for Labour on Thursday. They are offering a radical alternative to todays ill’s and while I don’t agree with all their policies they better align with my moral compass than any other party.
Despite opinion polls I can only hope that tactical voting and the many campaigns online switching your vote will deliver, if not a Labour majority, a chance that they could lead a minority government. If not then Labour and Libdem’s need to hang their head in shame at this missed opportunity to work more smartly and seize power. Come the morning of Friday the 13th I can only hope we are in a better place. The fear is that there are more like this guy who will do whatever it takes to deliver Brexit and vote against a fairer society.