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Gordy's Discourse

External link icon. Twitter Finally Takes Some (Minimal) Action Against Infowars

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: tech, social-media.
107 words, less than 1 minute read time. External link to an article by Jon Russell on TechCrunch.

Further to my previous post on this issue, Twitter is taking some action against Infowars, although it only amounts to seven days in the sin bin.

Jon Russell at TechCrunch writes:

Twitter is punishing Jones for a tweet that violates its community standards but it isn’t locking him out forever. Instead, a spokesperson for the company confirmed that Jones’ account is in “read-only mode” for up to seven days.

Apparently Infowars fell foul of a targeted harassment clause in Twitter’s Ts & Cs.

This is what Twitter claim, anyway. Or could it be that they’re just finally giving in to user pressure?

The Infowars Debate and a Website's Whims

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: tech, social-media.
839 words, 3 minute read time.

Infowars is complete nonsense in my opinion but it raises a bigger question: the rights a privately-owned website has to determine what content they allow. I argue that their right to choose what content they show and who they allow to post on their site is absolute, as long as it's legal.


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Five Good Books I’ve Read in 2018

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: entertainment, books.
823 words, 3 minute read time.
Icon for the `Five Good Books I’ve Read in 2018` article.

Five fiction books I've read in 2018 and would recommend, along with very brief reviews. 'The Good Daughter' by Karin Slaughter, 'The Outsider' by Stephen King, 'Norse Mythology' by Neil Gaiman, 'How To Stop Time' by Matt Haig and 'Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine' by Gail Honeyman.


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External link icon. Skunk, Waffle and Onion Amongst Emoji Candidates for Version 12

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: tech.
49 words, less than 1 minute read time. External link to an article on Emojipedia.

There’s also axe, one-piece swimsuit, ballet shoes, otter, banjo, parachute and many more. These are all candidates to become part of the emoji universe in March 2019.

I’ve never used an emoji and never will, but if I were to use one it would definitely be the otter.

Why Reading Beats Video for Information and Instruction

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: tech.
678 words, 3 minute read time.

I like to read and I firmly believe that, most of the time, written articles are better than videos or podcasts for imparting information and instruction. This article represents my dubious attempt to justify that position. I'm not against video and audio per se - indeed I love watching films or listening to music - I'm talking about things like help texts, how-to articles and similar.


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External link icon. Advertising Accurate Broadband Speeds in the UK

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: tech.
175 words, less than 1 minute read time. External link to an article by Jon Brodkin on ArsTechnica.

I'd missed that a regulation had been introduced to force ISPs in the UK to advertise more accurate broadband speeds. It seems "up to" speeds must now be accurate at least 50% of the time.

The article reports:

BT, EE, John Lewis Broadband, Plusnet, Sky, Zen Internet, Post Office, SSE, TalkTalk, and Utility Warehouse previously advertised their standard (ADSL) broadband deals as up to 17Mbps.

The new advertised speed is now more than a third lower at 10Mbps or 11Mbps.

TalkTalk has completely dropped advertising speed claims from most of its deals.

Vodafone has also changed the name of some of its deals: Fibre 38 and Fibre 76 are now Superfast 1 and Superfast 2.

I can’t say I’m surprised as I think most of us will have often seen speeds lower than the ones advertised for the packages we bought.

Whilst they’re at it, they could take a look at the so-called ‘unlimited’ data packages. These invariably come with small-print limitations that are along the lines of: “It’s unlimited until we decide it isn’t.

OmniFocus Review

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: tech, review, omnifocus, apple, macos, ios, ipad, gtd.
1616 words, 6 minute read time.
4 star rating 4 star rating 4 star rating 4 star rating 4 star rating
Icon for the `OmniFocus Review` article.

There are many list taking and mild project management apps for Apple products. I've tried a few of them but OmniFocus remains my favourite. In this article I review OmniFocus 2 for macOS and 3 for iOS, the latter of which finally brings proper support to the iPad platform. I really like this app and it would have a five star rating if it wasn't for a couple of features in the iOS app that particularly bother me.


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External link icon. Google Plans to Comply With Chinese Censorship

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: tech, companies.
201 words, less than 1 minute read time. External link to an article on the BBC.

There isn’t a lot of meat on the bones of this story yet but Google said:

We provide a number of mobile apps in China, such as Google Translate and Files Go, help Chinese developers, and have made significant investments in Chinese companies like JD.com.

But we don’t comment on speculation about future plans.

If this story turns out to be true then it essentially means:

  • 2010: Google shuts down China search engine because they believe in free speech.
  • 2016: Google realises it’s leaving lots of money on the table and CEO Sundar Pichai says “Google is for everyone - we want to be in China serving Chinese users.
  • 2018: Google decides financial gain trumps free speech and plans the release of an app conforming to Chinese censorship.

Just a reminder that Google’s 2004 IPO prospectus said:

Don’t be evil. We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served—as shareholders and in all other ways—by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains.

Hmm. I’m looking forward to seeing how they justify this one (if, indeed, there’s any truth in the story).

Controlling Your Own Creative Content and IndieWeb

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: tech, social-media, blogging.
676 words, 3 minute read time.
Icon for the `Controlling Your Own Creative Content and IndieWeb` article.

I've long bleated on about why you should have your own website rather than use the so-called 'corporate web' and I bleat on about some more here. I do feel this is a really important issue and it's the only way to protect your own words, photos and videos, immune to the whims of the likes of Facebook, Google, Tumblr, Blogger and similar. I also point to IndieWeb in this article as they provide an excellent blueprint for doing just this.


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External link icon. Clamp Down on Fake News, Says MP

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: society, tech, social-media.
137 words, less than 1 minute read time. External link to an article on the BBC.

Whilst I quite agree that genuine fake news probably needs some sort of regulating, we have to be careful. There’s a trend for politicians (and others) to simply brand anything they dislike or disagree with as ‘fake news’.

The lines are very blurry with this sort of thing and one has to be careful to separate something written as opinion from something written as fact.

Social media — and Facebook in particular (once again) — gets it in the neck a lot in the above article. Normally I’m quite happy to blame social media for many of society’s ills but some of the ‘spin’ from the regular press could also be seen as fake news and maybe that’s a consideration too.

Although the irony of politicians berating others for lying is not lost on me.

External link icon. Well Said, TechnicallyRon

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: tech, social-media.
390 words, 2 minute read time. External link to an article by Aaron Gillies on TechnicallyRon.

I don’t really do Twitter. I had a crack at it for a few weeks and TechnicallyRon (Aaron Gillies @TechnicallyRon) happened to be one of the people I followed. But ultimately I found Twitter unrewarding — partly for some of the reasons Ron mentions in his article — and I’m now leaving it alone more and more, just as I did with Facebook a few years ago.

Social media just isn’t my bag it seems.

Bur Ron’s article highlights something I’ve thought is endemic on Twitter. People make throwaway comments or failed attempts at humour. Or they’ll say something rash in their younger days that they perhaps now regret. Essentially, people make mistakes. The thing is, there are also a bunch of degenerate buffoons on Twitter (and some in the press) who’ll take any little things like that, rouse a mob around it and try their best to tear someone to pieces. They build a straw man from a few throwaway sentences someone once posted and then proceed to burn him over and over.

The intelligent will see through this of course but unfortunately there are enough stupid, vindictive people to cause a problem.

I don’t know why Twitter in particular is like this. Maybe it’s the immediacy of things or the all-access nature of it. Maybe it’s the 280 character limit — I’ve often wondered if setting a minimum limit of, say, 500 words might force people to think about what they post a bit more.

Twitter loves a generalisation too. Every person who [name whatever trait you like] is bad. There are no shades of grey and there’s rarely any celebration of differences. It simply doesn’t reflect how reasonable, intelligent people behave outside of social media.

No, it’s not for me. But I hope TechnicallyRon manages to get through this okay and I wish him the best of luck. His book ‘How to Survive the End of the World (When it’s in Your Own Head)’ is superb and says far more about the man who wrote it than any of his tweets.

Not that that’ll mean anything to the idiot trolls of course.

External link icon. Flying Cars Are as Likely as Flying Pigs in the UK

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: tech, science, society.
227 words, less than 1 minute read time. External link to an article by Dave Lee on the BBC.

I applaud the companies creating these things. It’s the way we should be going. Granted the flying car in the article linked to above only has a top speed of 6MPH and a battery life of just 20 minutes, but it’s a start.

Our transportation systems seem to be getting worse instead of better — slower instead of faster — and that seems at odds with a so-called “advancing technological society”.

We have no commercial supersonic flight since Concorde’s demise, the roads are congested and speed-limited to the nth degree and the railways often just don’t run at all, either because of things like timetable changes or an endless series of strikes.

So props to any company trying to improve our transportation system.

The problem, though, will be the regulation. I’m convinced that driving, if it was invented now, would simply not be allowed and I dread to think about the reams of regulation that’ll be necessary to allow us to take to the air on a personal level. It would take governments — ably assisted by hoards of money-grabbing lawyers — decades to come up with the rules, and they would be aplenty. And that’s if it was even allowed at all.

Please excuse my pessimism here. It’s not the scientists, technologists and engineers I doubt, it’s the government and the law-makers.

Depression and the Importance of Trusting Someone

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: personal.
1496 words, 5 minute read time.
Icon for the `Depression and the Importance of Trusting Someone` article.

Depression is an isolating disease, and of course that isolation perpetuates it. It took me over 20 years to learn to trust someone when I'm in the throes of depression and even now I don't always get it right. I do however recognise how important it is to do that.


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Filemaker 17, Briefly

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: tech, apple, macos, filemaker.
515 words, 2 minute read time.
Icon for the `Filemaker 17, Briefly` article.

I quite like Filemaker. It has a few longstanding peculiarities that sometimes make it awkward to use, but it's useful when you need a quick and dirty database app. I'm now on version 17, which is the latest, and this is my very brief summary of it.


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