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Gordy's Discourse

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.
1497 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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External link icon. Apple WWDC 2018 Summary

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: tech, apple, ios, macos.
197 words, less than 1 minute read time. External link to an article by Bryan Clark on The Next Web.

The Next Web provides a useful summary of Apple’s 2018 Worldwide Developer Conference.

If I’m honest, a lot of it doesn’t interest me too much. Emojis (or Animojis or Memojis) are a gimmick I never use; I don’t have an Apple Watch or Apple TV; I’m not a parent so I’m not interested in restricting app use time; and I rarely use Siri. I appreciate these things may be of interest to others, though.

Even the things that did interest me only did so vaguely.

iOS 12 is going to have improved photo sharing options and notifications will be grouped so that they can be swiped away more conveniently.

Mojave is the nomenclature attached to the new release of macOS. It’ll have a ‘dark mode’, a new Finder view called ‘Gallery’ and a screenshot feature like iOS.

The most interesting thing to me was the planned improvement to Safari to stop more tracking by websites. This I welcomed, although I suspect it’ll start a tracking war and Facebook — one of the organisations Apple is specifically targeting with this — will probably figure out ways to track things regardless.

Over all, though: meh.

Infernal Windows 10 Updates

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

Windows 10 is a lemon of the most lemony order. In my latest battle with it, it has the temerity to reenable the Windows Update service, despite me disabling it, and then it completely fails to install the update it so urgently wanted anyway. The ultimate solution to this failed update is, it says, to reinstall the entire OS. What a crock of shit.


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Washington Post Doesn’t Quite Get GDPR Right

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

If you're in the EU, GDPR has been everywhere recently. I'm basically in favour of it as a stepping stone to my ultimate desire here, which is for us to have full control over our data as a commodity. I explain a bit more about this here and particularly look at what's right and what's wrong with the way the Washington Post seems to have handled GDPR.


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The Drake Equation and the Search for ET

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: science.
1245 words, 5 minute read time.
Icon for the `The Drake Equation and the Search for ET` article.

The Drake Equation, which estimates the number of planets currently inhabited by intelligent life in our galaxy, can vary greatly depending on the numbers you plug into it. The thing is, there isn't a lot of agreement about what those numbers should be. It makes the whole thing rather pointless and I have serious reservations about the usefulness of this equation but, just for fun, I plug my own numbers into it.


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Tech Companies Should Have More Email Support

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: tech, apple.
625 words, 3 minute read time.
Icon for the `Tech Companies Should Have More Email Support` article.

I have recently had a fair amount of communication with Apple regarding a support issue and this has reminded me how many tech companies shun email support. I think this is a bad idea because it's the most efficient and convenient method of support in a lot of cases. This is a particular issue with me because I'm partially deaf and being forced to use telephone support makes things quite difficult. Technology companies in general need to offer more email support.


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External link icon. How Did Google Get So Big?

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: tech.
114 words, less than 1 minute read time. External link to an article by Steve Croft on CBS News.

A CBS News article by Steve Kroft in which Gary Reback, an anti-trust lawyer, is interviewed about Google’s search and search advertising monopoly.

The thing is, Google’s job is to become dominant and maximise it’s profits and shareholder value. That’s what businesses do. You can’t expect them to voluntarily do anything that might damage their own earnings.

Government regulation is the only way you’ll ever tackle this sort of thing. The EU seems fairly keen on this sort of regulation and has already hit big tech with a number of fines. The US, however, doesn’t seem to have the stomach to take on the big tech companies.

The Importance of Backing Up Your Computer

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: tech, apple, windows.
1162 words, 4 minute read time.

As someone who worked in IT for 35 years I often get asked to help out with the computer problems my friends and relatives have. One common thing I get asked is if I can get back some data that has been deleted. I then ask if they have a backup and the answer is often a disappointing no. It is essential you take backups because you'll most likely need them at least once. This article just gives the basics of how I think you should backup your computer and what data you should back up. I'm going to point all my friends to it.


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External link icon. Google Chrome to Flag Insecure Websites

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

Chrome currently specifically flags secure (https) websites but it’s going to be changed so that it specifically flags insecure (http) websites instead.

The trouble with this is it’s a blunt instrument. Take this site, for example. It’s statically generated and has no forms through which to submit personal data, so the http protocol is fine. There are no relevant security issues.

This site does, as it happens, support https and I encourage the use of it as a basic principle. Indeed, this site redirects to https automatically.

So I shouldn’t really have an issue with this but I’m not keen on Google becoming the sole arbiter of what’s secure and what isn’t. I’m particularly not keen on the use of the https protocol as the only security factor under consideration because a lot of sites are certainly not insecure when accessed via http. It’s just not true and by incorrectly flagging sites as insecure, Google could be damaging their business without justification.

What Does a Bona Vacantia Freehold Mean for Leaseholders?

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: rtm.
774 words, 3 minute read time.

I live in a complicated situation at the moment. I bought my flat from a company in receivership and the receivership process has been running all the while I've been here (over two years now). The freehold recently went bona vacantia, which means it's now owned by the Crown, and in this article I pass on what I know about this situation.


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External link icon. Medium Demonstrates Why You Should Publish Independently

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: tech, blogging.
111 words, less than 1 minute read time. External link to an article by John Russell on TechCrunch.

An article by Jon Russell at TechCrunch reports that:

Medium has abruptly pulled a feature that allowed publishers to operate paywalls on its platform, leaving some independent media scrambling for alternative options to maintain a crucial source of revenue.

This highlights something I’ve mentioned before. If you hand your content over to a third-party publisher you’re entirely at the whim of their policies, and they can change those policies whenever they choose.

I maintain that it’s always better to publish your own content via your own website. Use third parties to market that content by all means but link back to your own internet property.

External link icon. Is It Illegal to Do Something Someone Might 'Take Offence' To?

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: society.
269 words, less than 1 minute read time.

I know the world went mad in the early 90s but sometimes it still astonishes me.

In the above article a Staffordshire police spokesman said:

We've received no complaints about signage outside J W Ash and Son butchers in Leek. However, the local chief inspector did advise the owner to give careful consideration to what was written on the boards in case anyone took offence.

There are a few problems here. If nobody complained, why are the police involved? Why, regardless, is a chief inspector involved in something so trivial? Why can’t the police see the context of this; that it is just light-hearted humour?

The big one, though, is when did it become illegal to offend someone?

If it’s now illegal to say or write something that someone might take offence to, we’re finished as a society. There will be no more discussion.

People should be free to say or write potentially offensive things and likewise people are free to take offence and respond as they see fit, but we can't go around silencing people just because what they say might be offensive to someone somewhere.

There is of course sometimes a fine line between ‘offensive’ and ‘illegal’ but context always needs to be considered in such cases and common sense should prevail (erring on the side of permissiveness in my opinion).

If however it is now illegal to give offence, then we can get rid of the Kardashians, Kayne West, Donald Trump and about a billion other people whose very existence I find offensive. Perhaps a chief inspector would look into that for me.

Bear Writer Update - Version 1.5 Released

Posted by Gordon Ansell on with tags: tech, apple, bear, gtd.
577 words, 2 minute read time.
Icon for the `Bear Writer Update - Version 1.5 Released` article.

I keenly await Bear Writer updates these days. The team have now released Bear Writer 1.5, which includes selectable TagCons, additional default tags for better searching/filtering, export to ePub and more. This is just a brief article looking at some of the best new features.


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