Good to see Scotland unlocking….tomorrow is start of week 15 of WFH for me and I can see me having occasional days back in the office. Traffic is getting busier too. Be interesting to see where the mask discussion goes. Mandatory from tomorrow on public transport but the ask to wear them in shops is largely ignored. Would say around 10-20% are wearing masks in the shops in Glasgow…needs to be higher. What I’m looking forward to is a week off work even with the lockdown restrictions in place. Need a rest.
How Google Docs became the social media of the resistance
One video from the last few weeks that stuck with me was of the woman reporting a black man for hassling her…when all he had asked was to put her dog on a lead. This article explains more on the two people involved.
An unlikely campaigner, 22 year old Marcus Rashford has not only raised millions for disadvantaged kids but forced the Tories into a U-turn this week to provide school meals for kids during the holidays. Brilliant.
You Download the App and it Doesn’t Work
WWDC tomorrow and while there’s rumours of ARM Mac’s and significant iOS changes to come the news this week has been dominated by Apple’s App Store and how it’s doubling down on service revenue and insisting that apps must allow Apple to take 30% of revenue. What worked 13 years ago is no longer the case. Hopefully Apple will see sense and change it’s stance…before legislation forces it.
Glasgow tenements are fantastic. This story of how neighbours got together to reclaim a back garden is brilliant and shows another side of what lockdown has done – brought people together in times of need.
I’ve now spent the last 10 weeks working from home. I’ve been really productive but do have to watch a couple of things. There are little breaks in my day at the moment. Back to back meetings/calls and no gaps. You miss the walking between meetings, talking to others. It’s full on, one topic to the next. The other thing to watch is tiredness. Feeling more and more tired as the week goes on and that’s despite a daily walk to try and recharge. Still, I’m one of the lucky ones so shouldn’t complain.
As the UK starts to unlock I can now see unfolding in front of me why Sturgeon said weeks ago that when to unlock and how will be really difficult. Scotland’s leaders have been far more clear and effective from what I can see. That doesn’t let them off the hook as care homes, testing, PPE and late lockdowns are all their responsibility too. However the mess unravelling in London and Johnsons defence of Dominic Cummings seem like idiocy after what the UK has been through, all summed up in this now deleted tweet.
How the world views Britain
While the politicians try to kid us that Britains Covid-19 response has been world beating it’s easy to find alternative views. The New Yorker calls it right – a disaster.
Patients Don’t Die Alone
This Buzzfeed article provides comfort to so many that their parents, family or friends are not dying on their own.
Still here. Still working from home. Hope everyone is doing their best to get through the Covid-19 crisis as safely as possible. I’ve been keeping the daily walks going and last weekend popped into Glasgow city centre. I couldn’t believe how quiet it was. While my local area is busier as people do their exercise the city centre was deserted. Nothing opened, little use of public transport. No rough sleepers. There were more police visible than anything else. No cars and the few cyclists had the run of the streets – why worry about the one way system when there is no one around. Does make you wonder what our towns and cities could be in the future when you factor in the climate challenge we face.
Working from home has become a bit relentless. Call after call with little to break the day. Taking a few days off soon and also counting my blessings as I’m lucky. Still in a job, still productive, still healthy. My fortress of solitude is quite nicely setup now although thinking about a new office chair to make the long days that little bit more comfortable.
We are told by many many people (politicians mostly) that you shouldn’t compare stats across countries when it comes to Coronavirus. I even nodded my head in agreement reading this article from David Spiegelhalter in the Guardian that it will only be at the end of the crisis that we’ll see just how badly each country has done in dealing with the pandemic. But then there are some stats that you just can’t ignore:
With much of the world hitting first wave peaks, attention is now turning to how Covid-19 originated and could China and WHO have done more in January? This Wired article focuses on the information disappearing before our eyes as China tries to re-write recent history.
Getting It Right
Many countries have worked hard to control coronavirus. One who locked down early was New Zealand. While many countries have lessons to learn, if we do hit second peaks later in the year I hope our politicians look at the actions taken by the likes of New Zealand and are quicker to act.
I’ve done precious little photography over the last two months – loving the lockdown photo project by Christopher Swan. Great images and also many places I recognise around Glasgow and also where I work. The glamour of South Street.
Watch your back
With so many video calls and Zoom traffic booming, video backgrounds are now a thing. Couple of options if you want to jazz up that call. Studio Ghibli have released a set of great images from some of their best creations and Got Your Back have an ever growing set of suitable…and not so suitable backgrounds. Choose carefully!
Anyone remember the I Love You virus that spread in the early 2000’s? The author has finally been found! I still remember someone at work clicking on the e-mail and spreading it even though we told him not to….but I got an e-mail from such and such that said I Love You. Doh. Social engineering is a powerful drug.
Great article on the history of iPad keyboards. I’ve been using a Magic Keyboard for a couple of weeks and I’ll post my thoughts soon but as the article shows there’s been a lot of changes in the last decade.
Important video for all of us during the lockdown. Spaceship You gives some great advice on how to get through the next weeks and months. Find 10 minutes to watch this.
1 Pixel Wealth
When you hear about millionaires and billionaires it can be hard to imagine just how much money that really means. 1 Pixel Wealth does a great job in highlighting the inequality in the world right now. Keep scrolling!
This is pretty amazing. OpenAI have released an AI Jukebox – give it an artist and genre and it will generate new music. Some of the results are spookily good.
The Best Sporting Video Games
The BBC have put together a top 50 sporting video games list with comments from loads of people about why a particular game is important and needs to be in the top 50. So many great memories in this list.
What a time sink this is. 9 eyes is named after the Google Maps camera module that sits atop cars, bikes…even people to take new Google Maps imagery…and has 9 cameras. This site is full of the weird and wonderful images that Google has captured. Some are funny, some weird, some seedy and some a snapshot on everyday lives across the world. Addictive.
We’re now into week four of the UK lockdown, and week five of me working from home. This new normal will be with us for months. The daily death tolls are horrendous as is pretty much all news. But look on the bright side…even dogs are grassing people up to the police now.
We’ve turned into a nation of curtain twitchers happily passing judgement on others. Sad. However I’m more angry than anything else at the moment. Angry at our government who are happily spinning the lack of PPE while avoiding scrutiny as to why we are the worst performing country in Europe. Angry that daily stats are trotted out and we are almost numb to them now. Angry at years of underinvestment in the NHS. Angry that the Tories are riding this pandemic for all it’s worth.
But staying angry will get me nowhere. It’s not healthy and at the moment thats the only thing we can focus on. Staying healthy, following the rules and protecting the NHS so it’s there for our friends and family when we need it. Stay safe folks.
The Queens Speech
I’m no royalist but the Queens speech to the nation was damned impressive. Clear, honest and with a degree of hope. While she always speaks at Christmas this was only the fifth time in 68 years thats she’s addressed the nation on TV. Powerful.
Boris thanks the NHS
Another speech that was impressive was Boris Johnson on his release from hospital. It’s good to see he’s recovered from a nasty infection and I can only hope that his words, though well said, are followed by action. However he has form so time will tell if he really does value and protect the NHS.
We are approaching (hopefully) peak infection in the UK but it’s disappointing that despite the warnings from Italy and Spain it looks like the UK will have some of the worst statistics at the end of this pandemic. Two views stand out. Germany and the UK started at around the same time and pace but the UK have came of far far worse – is this why? Also, this twitter thread from Elaine Doyle is really worth your attention. Why has Ireland been far less impacted than the UK? The UK were slow. I know also that there are big differences in population density but Ireland acted quickly and decisively like New Zealand. The UK took their time. The main question now – why aren’t the mainstream media questioning the government. There’s a fucking press conference EVERY DAY. Ask something other than PPE and what are the rules for ending the lockdown.
If you are off work, missing going out at the weekends and can’t quite find something to do or watch then bored.solutions is for you. Basically it’s a site full of idea’s of what to do while self isolation with some handy filters to allow you to pick 1 day, weekly or 1 month challenges. Enjoy.
Here’s How Those Hot Jigsaw Puzzles Are Made
My mum loves jigsaws and thanks to the lockdown they are in hot demand and short supply. Loved this story from The New York Times that shows how modern jigsaws are made. I thought they would be far more automated by now.
Scotland after the trial of Alex Salmond
While the pandemic unraveled much of UK life, the trial of Alex Salmond concluded and in his favour. There’s much to unpack and so much of this story still to be told. This article from Dani Garavelli covers the trial and what’s still to come. There’s some uncomfortable days ahead when some more of what happened is finally revealed.
What a month. The impact of Coronavirus has now hit home in the UK…scrap that…across the whole world. What was impacting China and other Far East regions earlier in the year has now totally changed life in the UK and Europe. I can’t think of anyone right now who won’t have been impacted.
The “new normal” is what many are calling it. For me that means working from home. Trying to keep a routine, trying to do some sort of daily exercise, getting used to constant video and phone conferences. I’m lucky in that I can remain productive and keep doing my role remotely but others aren’t so fortunate.
Job losses, money fears, mental wellbeing and all that on top of the impact of the Coronavirus itself. People warned what a global pandemic could do to the world and guess what – they were right. Social media has become even more noisy and sometimes for good as well. Local groups forming, how can we help each other as we will all be impacted at some point. The negative is the constant shouting by so many people that the government is wrong. The scientists are wrong. They are too slow, they aren’t reacting, country x did this by now, why haven’t we, masks are vital….or they aren’t as it’s not airborne. CONSTANT SHOUTING.
Twitter feels like an anxiety amplifier at the moment. For every positive post there’s another 50 that are predicting doom. I’ve a particular hatred for those on social media that have pivoted from Brexit and/or technology and become scientists in literally two weeks. Impressive. Makes you question what they actually know as much of what they spew or retweet isn’t really fact but merely information that supports their argument. Try TikTok instead. Almost calming. And those that are still claiming it’s like a mild flu. That the lockdown is an over reaction. Fuck you. It’s not. It will kill lots of people in the UK well before their time. Friends and family. Hopefully not yours. Just today the first NHS frontline worker has died due to Coronavirus. This isn’t flu!
The difference when outside is stark. Empty roads and pavements and for the most part people are respecting the social distancing rules. Some don’t. Some get too close. Some look like they don’t care. Shopping is now queue’s with 2 metre gaps and empty shelfs. On a walk this morning three different police vehicles passed by, all the more obvious thanks to the empty roads. Police state? But then I’m judging those that can’t keep their distance – ticking off a shopper on Friday cause they couldn’t wait to grab the same goods I was buying. And I’m saying pavements are quiet but late morning to early evening they are really busy as people get some of their daily exercise. If the rates don’t start to plateau in a couple of weeks I can see the exercise guidance changing.
The impact of the virus will be felt for years. Economies tanked. Pensions bust. Economy is a funny one. All of a sudden we can find money for everything. Broadband is now a utility. Key workers are some of the lowest paid in our economy. The NHS is now getting the investment it should have had for the last decade. And Jeremy Corbyn has been proven right. The only thing proven is that it has and always was…all about him. Thanks goodness his reign is almost over. Also a small plea to tech podcasters right now…there isn’t much tech news at the moment, stop spinning out your podcast for advertisers. Thanks.
Didn’t expect to write all that but needed to vent. Before I finish with a few links just want to say one thing….stay safe.
The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming
Google tracked his bike ride past a burglarized home. That made him a suspect.
This is scary. A man in America is accused of a crime as the tracking data from his app put him at the scene of a crime. With the increased powers at the UK governments disposal there needs to be checks and balances on the use of technology to fight the pandemic but also how it may impact on civil liberties.
Who Would Have Thought an iPad Cursor Could Be So Much Fun?
The new cursor support in iPadOS is great. And fun. Using it with the iMac’s trackpad and it works really well. The new Magic Keyboard, while expensive, is something I’m looking forward to trying later in the year. Really liked this series of tweets from Steven Sinofsky on the cursor update and the new iPad Pro’s.
30 years of hope: my life as an ardent Liverpool fan
The new Deacon Blue album is one of their best. Great lyrics, strong melodies and a damn fine album up there with Raintown for me. This review is a love letter to Deacon Blue and like their new album I loved it. Give it a try – a bit of a tonic against the grimness of 2020.
Feb was quite the stormy little month. Too much wind. Too much water. A whole lot of virus. For one reason or another I never got round to one of these posts until March. Oops.
How the BBC’s Netflix-killing plan was snuffed by myopic regulation
The BBC has been fighting Netflix, Sky, and now Apple and Disney with one of it’s hands tied behind it’s back. iPlayer was, and still is, an amazing resource but has often lagged Netflix and others. Now it’s probably too late to fight back, especially if the Tories (and crazy Corbynista’s) get their way.
In Coronavirus Fight, China Gives Citizens a Color Code, With Red Flags
Only time will tell how successful each countries fight against the Corona virus is. China has used tech and it’s communist power in ways that very few others can emulate. It’s right that a government should use all power and tools at it’s disposal. Shame that China initially tried to hush it all up.
Google’s ambitious push into gaming is floundering, and it’s due largely to too few games on its Stadia platform — here’s why developers have held back
Few things unite gaming firms. However they are pretty united in condemning Stadia. The tech is great but the economics and the consumers sell just doesn’t make sense. This is dead.
Record breaking rainfall
No surprise that this last month has been the wettest February since records began in the UK. What really surprised me is the MET office graphic that had to go to 400% to cover off the rainfall totals. Wow. What you saying now climate deniers?
Mac text editors are ten a penny. Tot is a little different. It’s a small menubar based text scratchpad on the Mac that is free. It supports iCloud syncing and you can get it on iOS….where’s it’s £20. I’m loving it on the Mac but can’t quite bring myself to buy it on iOS yet. Well worth a download and try to see if it fits your workflow.
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.