Weekend Reading

  • Yelling at Amazon’s Alexa
    The first time I met Alexa, the A.I. robot voice inside the wine-bottle-size speaker known as the Amazon Echo, I was at my friends’ house, in rural New England. “Currently, it is seventy-five degrees,” she told us, and assured us that it would not rain.
    The future is coming. I admit I’m tempted even though I know the technology isn’t quite there. yet.
  • Brain Implant Restores Sense Of Touch To Paralyzed Man
    Twelve years ago, a car wreck took away Nathan Copeland’s ability to control his hands or sense what his fingers were touching.
    Science and technology can be marvellous. In every sense of the word.
  • Nations, Fighting Powerful Refrigerant That Warms Planet, Reach Landmark Deal
    KIGALI, Rwanda — Negotiators from more than 170 countries on Saturday reached a legally binding accord to counter climate change by cutting the worldwide use of a powerful planet-warming chemical used in air-conditioners and refrigerators.
    Not headline news, but maybe should be? Here’s to treating our planet better.
  • Letting Go
    At a young age, I put on a mask. A mask to try and hide all my foibles, to hide my anxiety so I could be somebody else and so that nobody would know the real me.  I thought I would never be able to take that mask off, maybe swap it for another but never to remove it completely.
    Worth reading, not easy to read. Such is the things that shape us.
  • Every baby born in Scotland will get a free box of useful things from 2017
    Babies born in Scotland will be gifted “baby boxes” from New Year’s Day 2017, the country’s First Minister has said. Nicola Sturgeon said Nordic-style policy, which was first announced in April, would be a “symbol of a belief in a level playing field” for all children.
    Continually proud of being Scottish. Regardless of the ‘politics’, stuff like this makes a real difference.
  • In Scotland, gusts of wind usher in a quiet energy revolution
    EDINBURGH, Scotland — Even by the blustery standards of this notoriously squall-swept land, Aug. 7 was a particularly gusty day.
    I didn’t see this get much coverage but it’s BIG news for the environment.
  • Do You Really Need to Worry About Your Electrolytes?
    Also: what the hell are electrolytes?
    Finally, some answers!!
  • David Letterman (and His Beard) Shop at Target These Days
    Why does David Letterman have a beard?
    Letterman is an American institution, but over here not so much. Basically. A guy retired and grew a beard… but ohhh then he did so much more.
  • Meet the Perennials
    This content is appropriate for people of all ages. And that’s the point. The days of targeting media and products at people based on their age is over. The Perennials.
    My name is Gordon. I am a Perennial.
  • Dear Men: We Need to Talk About How Y’all Talk About Women
    Yesterday, had a brother come up to me, *furious* that people were saying that Trump was just doing normal guy talk.
    Guilty as charged. Must try harder.
  • Can I Train My Cat to Be Less Annoying?
    Of all the misbehaving house cats in the world, my cat, Zadie, isn’t the worst. She’s sweet when she wants to be, she pees where she’s supposed to, and she only occasionally pounces on my forehead in the middle of the night.
    In short, all cats are dicks, can they be less ‘dick’? (answer, kinda maybe yes, but mostly no, because CATS!)
  • The scientists who make apps addictive
    In 1930, a psychologist at Harvard University called B.F. Skinner made a box and placed a hungry rat inside it. The box had a lever on one side. As the rat moved about it would accidentally knock the lever and, when it did so, a food pellet would drop into the box.
    Disturbing read but weirdly spooky because it’s all so true.
  • World wine output expected to hit four-year low
    World wine output is expected to hit a four-year low in 2016 after bad weather hit production in France and South America, industry forecasts say.
    It’s ok. Don’t panic!

Weekend Reading

  • A Freudian theory, now backed up by neuroscience, explains why so many fear clowns
    Creepy clown sightings across the United States are no laughing matter. Glimpses of disturbing clowns began in South Carolina in August, but the phenomenon of pranksters in sinister costumes has become so widespread that it was even mentioned at a White House news conference.
    Hey… is it Halloween soon maybe?
  • We’re So Addicted to Our Gadgets That ‘Unplugged’ Tourism Is Booming
    If a tree falls in the Amazon, but you don’t capture it on Snapchat, did it actually fall? I had the thought while hiking through the rainforest, on the third day of a digital detox that was slowly killing me.
    I’m away for a few days myself soon, I will have ‘gadget’ but aiming to be ‘unplugged’ as possible.
  • The App Fueling Twitter’s Most Powerful Political Campaigns
    On September 27, there was a brief moment when 1,685,719 people’s Twitter feeds were flooded with an adorable emoticon rabbit urging them to vote. This was not the first time the charming text art has graced Twitter.
    Always remember to count the gap…
  • Let’s All Obsess Over This Intricate Map of Alt Music History
    It started with The Sex Pistols. Specifically, with The Sex Pistols’ June 4, 1976 show at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester, England. The concert now ranks as one of the most influential performances of all time, up there with Woodstock. But the audience, not the band, made the show famous.
    GEEKGASMTASTIC stuff this!
  • How to Walk Past a Group of Teens Without Attracting Attention
    Do not make eye contact. They don’t need to know about your lifelong string of rejections or your secret need for approval. Just keep looking down at your practical shoes like the shame-filled, frightened adult you are. Don’t assume your personal safety. Most teen-agers are savages.
    This is ALL TRUE! They roam in packs, the buggers.
  • Twitter’s Woes Signal the End of the Social Wars
    Two buzzwords define the past decade of computing: mobile and social. Those days are coming to an end. Although smartphones and social media remain as important as ever, the war to control those platforms are over. Winners are being coronated as the losers are, at last, conceding.
    AKA what is the next big thing? (and how big is a big thing anyway… hmmm that sounds wrong)
  • How Did a Chunk of India and Eurasia Just Disappear?
    Half of the mass of Eurasia and India is missing, new research finds, and may have been swallowed up by the Earth’s mantle.
    Uhhhhh whaaaat?? We still know so little about the planet we occupy it’s scary.
  • Meet America’s Smokejumpers, the Navy SEALs of the Wild West
    It took three days for Vermaas and his crew to get their fire contained. They used chainsaws (to cut down trees that the fire would have otherwise used as fuel) and that Pulaski (to dig into the soil so there would be nothing on the ground for the fire to feed on).
    Nope, nope and nope. But WOW brave/mad/amazing guys.
  • The Japanese practice of ‘forest bathing’ is scientifically proven to improve your health
    The tonic of the wilderness was Henry David Thoreau’s classic prescription for civilization and its discontents, offered in the 1854 essay Walden: Or, Life in the Woods. Now there’s scientific evidence supporting eco-therapy.
    Damn tree huggers.
  • How Would “The West Wing” Handle Donald Trump?
    We had podcasters Joshua Malina and Hrishikesh Hirway weigh in. Before the dark drama of House of Cards and the political satire of Veep, there was The West Wing, the beloved NBC White House drama that aired 154 episodes over seven seasons, beginning in 1999.
    Posting this cos this is my blog and I can, so pfffftttt!
  • This is How Literary Fiction Teaches Us to Be Human
    Think about every bully you can remember, whether from fiction or real life. What do they all have in common? For the most part, they don’t read — and if they do, they probably aren’t ingesting much literary fiction.
    There are many reasons I enjoy reading but I hadn’t actually twigged that this was one of them.
  • But alas! the creature grows degenerate.
    sashayed: I started thinking absently about Steve Rogers’ jogging route during my run today and then i couldn’t STOP thinking about it because there’s literally NO WAY it makes sense unless you accept that he is specifically fucking up his entire morning routine to get another look at the cute guy.
    GEEKGASMTASTIC * 2! (I know, another one, so soon, geek stamina!)

Weekend Reading

  • Bedlam: The story behind the London mental hospital that came to mean hell on earth
    The word “Bedlam” conjures up scenes of wild chaos and confusion but, in the 13th century, it was linked to one specific place: The Bethlehem Royal Hospital in London. This was the first asylum in England, founded in 1247, and it cared for the mentally ill free of charge.
    I have a bit of a thing for articles like this, taking something every day and exploring it (try The Allusionist podcast if this floats your boat).
  • New York monument honors victims of giant octopus attack that never occurred
    Cast-bronze sculpture by Joseph Reginella, who made up the story of a Staten Island ferry disaster, directs people to a fake museum nearby.
    Wonderful! Given the ‘state of the world’ at the moment we need a WHOLE LOT MORE WHIMSY PLEASE!!
  • This Is Why You Shouldn’t Be Drinking Coffee First Thing in the Morning
    If your job involves you pretending to be a functioning adult five days a week you probably rely on an early morning hit of caffeine to help you feel human. Sadly, it turns out we’ve been doing coffee all wrong.
    I post this only say I can say this in reply… ppffffttttt ANY time is CAFFEINE TIME!
  • How unsanitary is double dipping anyway?
    You’ve been there: a bowl of salsa, guacamole, or some other type of dip sits on a party table right next to crackers and tortilla chips. You want some, but can’t help wondering: have the other people at the party been double dipping?
    Is it just me or does ‘double dipping’ sound rude? Just me? (yeah right).
  • Everything Google announced at its massive hardware event today
    Google on Oct. 4 unveiled a wide range of new devices and services at an event in San Francisco, in what the company is calling the largest hardware announcement in its history. The new devices seemingly put Apple’s iPhones and Amazon’s Echo home hub right in the company’s sights.
    Lots of good looking and smart stuff. Enough to make me switch? No. Not yet at least.
  • Tiny machines win chemistry Nobel prize
    The 2016 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded for the development of the world’s smallest machines. Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir Fraser Stoddart and Bernard Feringa will share the 8m kronor (£727,000) prize for the design and synthesis of machines on a molecular scale.
  • Clown sightings: the day it all began
    The first person to spot a clown, the patient zero in the current epidemic of threatening clowns sightings spreading across the US, was a little boy at a low-income apartment complex in Greenville, South Carolina.
    Warning: Contains Clowns.
  • The mystery of why left-handers are so much rarer
    From the time we pick up a chunky crayon and start scribbling as children, it begins to become clear whether we’re right- or left-handed. But what makes one hand dominate? And why are left-handers in the minority?
    And why is it always the weirdos that are left-handed?
  • Leonardo DiCaprio: climate change deniers should not hold public office
    The actor Leonardo DiCaprio has said he thinks that those who don’t believe in climate change should not hold public office.
    Sad that it takes a famous person to make this point. Such is the world we live in.
  • Daft Punk tour rumours sparked by new website and hidden countdown
    Daft Punk tour rumours are circulating (again) thanks to a new website and a mysterious hidden countdown. The website alive2017.com is thought by some fans to be connected to the French duo, who have not toured for ten years.
    Like a spoof. But… what if it’s not?
  • Spare us the sight of men discussing abortion – especially politicians
    If you will never be in the position of needing one, we don’t really want to hear your thoughts on the matter. That includes you, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence
    Dear men, shut up already. Our voices have had their time (and look at the mess we are in!)
  • The Bigger Your Brain, the Longer Your Yawn
    While every STAT story aims to stimulate your cortex, if this one falls short and makes you yawn, you can thank us anyway—at least if a study published Tuesday is right. If you have a big brain, you can credit yawning for promoting brain growth and activity, the researchers found.
    I challenge you to read this article without yawning (you’re probably yawning already though, right?)
  • Trying to Solve the L.E.D. Quandary
    Is there a workable business model for products that are built to last, rather than to fall apart? This is an idea that I explored here in July, in a story about the L.E.D. quandary.
    Blocked product syndrome?
  • Speak, Memory
    When the engineers had at last finished their work, Eugenia Kuyda opened a console on her laptop and began to type. It had been three months since Roman Mazurenko, Kuyda’s closest friend, had died.
    Scares me to think what my ‘rebuilt self’ would be like…
  • Do commas still matter?
    My favorite bumper sticker I’ve never seen: Commas matter. So I’ve always thought, and do still believe with the passion of one whose knuckles were rapped for grammatical errors.
    I hope they do, matter I mean, because god knows I love to, you know, abuse them, whenever I can!

Rotterdam or anywhere

I need some time off work. The last week I had off was in June and whilst life as a contractor means no worky = no money, I know I need some downtime.

So I’ve booked the middle week of October off and I’m planning to try and get away somewhere.

Where? Well that’s the thing, I don’t really care where, I only really care about how much it’ll cost me. I’m thinking a 3-4 night city break (mid-week) and so far places like Prague and Budapest are at the top of the list (and, oddly Milan, cheap flights FTW).

However, part of me is tempted to wait until the first weekend (the 15th) and then try and book a last minute deal but where to and, more pertinently, how do I find the best deal?

Here’s the thing with most holiday (flight + accommodation) booking websites, they presume you know where you want to travel from, where you want to travel to, and the days you want to travel.


I don’t mind if I fly from Glasgow International, Glasgow Prestwick (what a misnomer!), or Edinburgh Airport.

I don’t mind where I end up (the main limitation being cost).

I want to spend 3/4 nights but I don’t mind when those nights are as long as they are between the 15th and the 23rd October.

So my criteria is limited to cost, a range of dates, and a range of departure locations.

I generally do not mind where I end up. I will find things to do when I get there (or do nothing but read and lounge around).

And I refuse to believe I am alone in wanting something like this but I’ll be damned if I can find anywhere that offers this option.

Closest option I can find is through Skyscanner which at least lets you look for flights to ‘Anywhere’ and sorts them by price. So I’ll start there and see where I end up I guess (here’s hoping I at least get out of Glasgow!).

Weekend Reading

  • The women of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch brothel answer your questions about working as legal prostitutes
    In August, two Quartz reporters, Allison Schrager, who’s also an economist, and Siyi Chen, a video journalist traveled to Carson City, Nevada to visit the famed Moonlite Bunny Ranch Brothel.
    How do you break the stigma around sex workers? By talking to them.
  • I Used to Be a Human Being
    I was sitting in a large meditation hall in a converted novitiate in central Massachusetts when I reached into my pocket for my iPhone. A woman in the front of the room gamely held a basket in front of her, beaming beneficently, like a priest with a collection plate.
    Turn off your smart phone for a weekend. Lock it away. Give the key to a friend. Or… find the middle ground (ain’t it always the way!)
  • The Road Ahead
    I am in my 100th year. When I was born in 1916 in Amsterdam, New York, Woodrow Wilson was our president. My parents, who could not speak or write English, were emigrants from Russia.
    Kirk Douglas (yes, yes, he is Spartacus) writes. I hope those voting in the US read and absorb.
  • Middle-aged man threatened by successful young woman
    For most people, managing to be so derogatory and so misogynistic in just 126 words would be quite a feat. But not for The Sun columnist Rod Liddle, or, as I refer to him, Little Rod (no explanation needed).
    An exquisitely crafted takedown of a luddite. Read, share, amplify.
  • Dancing Naked in Public
    If the contemporary art world seems like a place of pretension, status-seeking, and giant checks being paid through Larry Gagosian and David Zwirner, then it’s the critic Jerry Saltz who may be the last hope of bringing us all back down to earth.
    “Modern Art is Rubbish” is a statement in and of itself (also a pretty decent album) but should all art challenge? What is the role of art anyway?
  • Avert Your Eyes
    This year marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Soviet Russia, the largest military confrontation in the history of our species.
    De-sensitised? Over-stimulated? Weary of the world? Who is drawing the line these days (and if it’s down to us, how the hell do we manage to do that).
  • It costs Apple about a third as much to make an iPhone 7 as it charges you
    The cheapest iPhone 7 retails for $649, but new research suggests it costs Apple roughly $225 to build one. Market research firm IHS Markit recently took apart the iPhone 7 to price out all of the individual parts that go into building the phone.
    Only linking this one so I can write the following comment. Ehhhh capitalism much? Thank you.
  • Stupefied
    Each summer, thousands of the best and brightest graduates join the workforce. Their well-above-average raw intelligence will have been carefully crafted through years at the world’s best universities.
    Think you are smart? Don’t worry, the company you work for will dumb you down soon enough (if I’m a reflection of recent working experiences… wow I’m thicker than 3 short planks!)
  • High Hitler: how Nazi drug abuse steered the course of history
    German writer Norman Ohler’s astonishing account of methamphetamine addiction in the Third Reich changes what we know about the second world war.
    No comment needed really.
  • LGBTQ and Other “Diverse” Books Lead Banned Books List
    “Diversity” may be a buzzword in enlightened literary circles (so much so that certain writers feel oppressed by the very idea) but diverse books — especially those with LGBT, with emphasis on the T, content — are among the most frequently challenged books, according to the American Library
    Spoiler: That damn 50 shades book is there but NOT because it’s BLOODY AWFUL!
  • ‘Galactic Tick Day’ Celebrates Sun’s Trip Around the Galaxy
    Every time the Earth makes one complete loop around the sun, humans celebrate the journey with some kind of New Year’s holiday. So why won’t we celebrate every time our solar system completes one loop around the center of the galaxy?
    Another link posted just so I can write the following; A galactic tick sounds like something we need a gigantic can of bug spray for!
  • Facebook and Google: most powerful and secretive empires we’ve ever known
    We need better language to describe the technology companies that control the digital worlds in which we speak, play and live Google and Facebook have conveyed nearly all of us to this page, and just about every other idea or expression we’ll encounter today.
    First person to mention Apple wins a prize!
  • How Pop Culture Tells Women to Shut Up
    Sady Doyle’s new book, Trainwreck, explores the many ways the U.S. (and its media, and its paparazzi, and its Donald Trump) continue to demean the ladyfolk.
    Read, absorb, amplify. To all the women I know, please never ever shut up (you are all way more smarterer than I is!)
  • This Old-Ass Commodore 64 Is Still Being Used to Run an Auto Shop in Poland
    Hell yeah. We need to learn a lesson about needless consumerism from this auto repair shop in Gdansk, Poland. Because it still uses a Commodore 64 to run its operations. Yes, the same Commodore 64 released 34 years ago that clocked in at 1 MHz and had 64 kilobytes of RAM.
  • ReflexLOLogy: Inside the Groan-Inducing World of Pun Competitions
    From the moment he spoke, I knew I was screwed. On the surface, the guy wasn’t particularly fearsome—pudgy, late thirties, polo shirt, plaid shorts, baseball cap, dad sneakers—but he looked completely at ease.
    Puns, the lowest and best form of wit.
  • On How to Disagree
    We live in a world saturated with disagreement.
    One of those, common sense advice things that needs to be repeated. Often.

Recently Observed

Organised, Not Organised
Having a digital calendar that I can access on my phone is wonderful. Except when I forget to put things in it. In totally related news, I have a ticket for the next Honeyblood gig (8th Dec) at St.Lukes in Glasgow going spare if anyone wants it… me? I’ll be at the Red Hot Chili Peppers gig that same night.

Apple Music still not great
As a heavy user of playlists, that’s where my focus is when it comes to choosing between streaming services. In that respect, Spotify is by far the better option. I can put together a new playlist and add tracks to it in a few clicks. Apple Music takes about the same number of clicks but OHMYGOD the search is slow, and the ‘back and forth’ between search and song result is clunky and doesn’t always work.

Bluetooth Headphones
I have a couple of pairs of bluetooth headphones (both recommended by The Wirecutter). They both sound good enough to my ear. Both suffer from the same issue when connected to my phone. This has held through iPhone 6 to my new iPhone 7 so it’s not phone related.

Depending on the proximity of my phone the audio playback stutters. Badly at times. It’s massively annoying (in a very first world problem kinda way) with tracks dropping in and out. I can solve the problem by removing my phone from my pocket but who wants to walk around with their phone in their hand all the time? Boooooo!!

I almost shaved my beard off this past weekend. I didn’t, and if I did I would only be going back to the goatee I had before (which I had for… 20 years? shit). A close trim of the beard sufficed though, for now.

And those are the random observations of my nothing life this past week or so. I know, I know, edge of the seat stuff around here.

Weekend Reading

  • The Drug of Choice for the Age of Kale
    The day after Apollo 14 landed on the moon, Dennis and Terence McKenna began a trek through the Amazon with four friends who considered themselves, as Terence wrote in his book “True Hallucinations,” “refugees from a society that we thought was poisoned by its own self-hatred”.
    Proof the human beings will always want to try new things, and we are suckers for being ‘in the know’ about ‘the next big thing’.
  • What Makes Stephen King’s It a Horror Story for the Ages
    I wasn’t much older than the adolescent heroes of the Loser’s Club the first time I picked up Stephen King’s It.
    I’m a big fan of Mr. King but will confess that I started It but didn’t finish it. Might be time to pick it up again (prior to the movie coming out).
  • ‘I’m a non-binary 10-year-old’
    Leo is 10 years old. For most of his life he’s lived as a girl, but this summer he began to speak openly about his sense that this didn’t feel quite right.
    This kind of thing needs to stop being a story, alas I think we are quite far from that being the case. More power to Leo.
  • A Shocking Amount of E-Waste Recycling Is a Complete Sham
    Until recently, I had never really thought about what happens to my old electronics. I took them to a community e-waste recycling drive, or dropped my old phone in a box somewhere, and I assumed my stuff was recycled.
    I shudder to think how much of my e-waste falls into this, most of it I’d imagine. Humans are the worst.
  • The Secret Lab Where Nike Invented the Power-Lacing Shoe of Our Dreams
    The Sneaker should come alive.
    You only really need the headline for this one. And yes, it is exactly the Back to the Future sneakers! WANT WANT WANT (Humans really are the worst, I do not need this shit!)
  • The average person is better off without a fitness wearable, weight loss study finds
    This year alone, 19 million people are scheduled to buy fitness wearables with a simple mission in mind: Get fit. But these purchases may have zero effect when it comes to weight loss, based on new research from the University of Pittsburgh.
    But does ‘get fit’ = ‘weight loss’? I’m having pizza tonight as part of this experiment.
  • Does quitting social media make you happier? Yes, say young people doing it
    Teenagers and young adults switching off from Facebook and other social apps reveal how the change has affected their lives Our love of social media seems to have grown and grown in the past decade, but recent studies show the tide may be turning for some platforms.
    Note: Blogs are not considered part of social media (subtext: please keep reading!).
  • Can Carrots Improve Your Eyesight? Let’s Dissect This Food Myth
    You probably grew up hearing that eating carrots could help your eyesight—even make you see in the dark. That would be nice, except it’s not entirely true (unless you have one helluva vitamin deficiency).
    Nation removes carrots from diet. Next week, a study suggests eating carrots can help with your hearing.
  • Leo the Silent Raver tells Glasgow Live why he’ll never stop dancing
    He’s a familiar face to many who live, work or simply shop in Glasgow. Always dressed in bright clothing and with a smile on his face, Leo Mushet is the Silent Raver and can be spotted showing off his dance moves in the city centre.
    Never judge a book by its neon day-glo cover or dodgy dance moves.

New Apple Hardware and Software

Given the upgrade cycle I choose to follow with my phone, this past week saw me get a new iPhone (7), which has a new version of iOS (10), as well as a new Apple Watch (Series II) which itself has a new version of watchOS (3).

That’s a lot of new and whilst a lot of the improvements across all of these devices and operating systems are evolutionary in nature, the increments are telling enough for me to notice and adapt my usage accordingly. Thankfully none of the changes are negative and are probably best categorised as ‘positive disruption’.

iPhone 7 and iOS 10

I’d been running iOS 10 betas on my iPhone 6 which wasn’t kind to the battery at all but got me a sense of how I’d be using the new iPhone 7. It’s important to note that the iPhone 6 does not have 3D Touch so, for people like me, the iPhone 7 brings that into play as well.

There are a lot of software changes in iOS10, I like the new Notifications/Control Centre changes, there are parts of the new Messages features that will be useful (and others which will be distracting), and the extension of Siri is already showing up with apps like Airmail (my email client of choice) hooking in to the API.

The screen itself is noticeably better as is the new camera, a welcome boost of hardware and software capabilities in one go.

Evolution aside, the biggest two changes for me are the aforementioned 3D Touch, which I’m still adapting my muscle memory too, and the new ‘non-clicky’ Home button.

The latter, plus the change to the unlocking process, is the biggest change I’ve noticed. With the button movement replaced by ‘haptic’ taps it’s a little odd at first if you aren’t used to it, but as I’ve had similar tapping on my wrist via the Apple Watch it wasn’t that big an adjustment, and I’d warrant users of the new MacBook which uses this mechanism in the touchpad won’t take long to adjust either.

Add in the new Raise to Wake feature – lift your iPhone to see the screen (yes I know Android has done this since forever) – and you end up with a subtle new way of using your iPhone without unlocking it, meaning I can check notifications or switch tracks from the lock screen.

Top tip: don’t register all of your fingerprints for TouchID and you can use a non-registered finger to tap the home button, turning on the screen without unlocking the phone.

I was also glad to see Apple bringing their Upgrade Programme to the UK (despite some day one teething troubles getting signed up), it’ll be interesting to see if I take advantage and upgrade to the iPhone 7s (?) next year.

Apple Watch

OK, this was a bit of an indulgence, but given the age of my old Apple Watch, and the improved water proofing, battery life, and processor speed, it felt like an easy to justify one. I wear my Apple Watch every day and probably interact with it more than my iPhone these days.

Add in the new watchOS 3 – which is a VAST improvement in many areas – and I feel more than justified. Bye bye Glances (and scribbles, and favourite contacts), hello ‘dock’ which is everything that should’ve been in the original OS but wasn’t. I couldn’t agree more with the articles I’ve read that state that what Apple did with the watch was the right thing. Release it, react to how people actually use it, and build from there (to those people complaining that you still need a phone to take calls on your Watch, how often do you actually do that? I’m not so sure that feature will ever be added to the Watch, I think Series III will be thinner before it adds in more features like that).

All in all, the Apple Watch now feels like part of the same ecosystem as my iPhone rather than the ugly sibling in the corner. It’s fast, responsive, and I’ve already started pushing more things to it (rather than limiting it as much as I could in the past because it was cumbersome and slow).

iPad Only

I’ve also upgraded my iPad Pro to iOS 10 so all of my Apple devices are bang up to date (well my MacBook Air (now safely gathering dust) remains on the last beta of macOS but I hardly use it these days).

In summary, I’m still a happy Apple fan boy. Yes, they aren’t as customisable, yes there are things I wish I could adjust but by and large there is nothing that gets in my way, and everything that is on my wishlist is very much down to my own personal taste. Equally, I like that every iOS update brings changes to my working/usage habits, I like that I’m challenged to tweak things, learn new things and adjust my usage a little.

Oh yeah, and no headphone jack on iPhone 7? So what? I’ve been using Bluetooth headphones for the past year anyway smug grin.

Single woman walking

Walking home from a gig, late on a balmy evening in the West End of Glasgow, light rain was falling as I and others plodded our way along Great Western Road, disappearing and emerging from lamp light to lamp light. Most people were heading in the opposite direction to me.

It’s a nice part of the world, a mix of affluence and well to do university students, all branching off into different areas along Great Western Road, a long straight busy street. It feels, to me, safe. But as I walked I noticed something.

Every single woman I walked past did the same thing, I didn’t notice if they did it a few steps away from me or just walked this way all the time but, of the 10 or so who I passed, all of them were walking with their head slightly bowed and their body slightly turned away from me.

Some were on mobile phones, and one was accompanied by a large Alsatian walking happily beside her, the lead slack (which suggests a very well trained dog, and well trained dogs are loyal and protective) yet she too felt the need to turn away, to hide and cower as she walked past, to make herself as small as possible. Trying to be invisible.

I’m a big guy, I’m aware of my size and I did everything I could to not be intimidating. I mimicked their behaviour and turned away, I deliberately looked away to the other side of the road so they could see I wasn’t looking at them. I tried to figure out if it was better for me to walk on the inside of the pavement, away from the road, or nearer the edge. I stuck with the former thinking that the open road would be an ‘escape’ where as the hedges and fences away from the road would be a trap?

And then I realised just how fucking horrible it is that I have to think this way. That this is what men have done to women.

Perhaps it was the recent ‘how to talk to a woman when she’s on the phone’ thing that was doing the rounds, but the body language of all the women I passed was striking in their similarity.

It’s saddening and horrifying. How many of these women were conscious of what they were doing? How many were doing it because they saw me approaching? How many were doing it because that’s ‘just what women have to do’? How many were doing it because they have been shamed into thinking that, if something were to happen, it would somehow be their fault?

As I’ve said before, these are the thoughts of a cisgender, upper middle-class white male. I am afforded all of the privileges that society has to offer. It’s up to me, to all men like me, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with allies and help change this.

It starts with the smallest consideration of the words you use everyday, even things you may think are trivial – “Hey guys” when the people you are addressing includes women (or perhaps people who are trans or non-binary gendered) – it starts by challenging your friends when they are using their privilege to the detriment of others, it starts by calling out behaviours that you know aren’t acceptable regardless of who is using them.

It’s not easy. I will try my very best, and the memory of my walk home will stay with me for a long time.

Men, we’ve had it too easy for too long, we have to be the ones that change.

Weekend Reading

  • Not all men commit abuse against women. But all must condemn it
    Male violence against women is rife – and it’s getting worse. We need a new, inclusive form of masculinity to eliminate it. The failure of men to speak out about male violence against women and girls renders us all complicit.
    A (now) long standing argument that I will keep repeating and reading.
  • The Falling Man
    Do you remember this photograph? In the United States, people have taken pains to banish it from the record of September 11, 2001. The story behind it, though, and the search for the man pictured in it, are our most intimate connection to the horror of that day.
    I’m amazed how vivid my memories are of 9/11, but then it (and the fall of the Berlin Wall?) are the main two global events in my lifetime. Horrific.
  • ‘We’re the Only Plane in the Sky’
    Nearly every American above a certain age remembers precisely where they were on September 11, 2001. But for a tiny handful of people, those memories touch American presidential history.
    A different look at that day, and at that President. Some details I had forgotten (early reports had a small propped plane involved).
  • Psychology behind the unfunny consequences of jokes that denigrate
    Q: Why did the woman cross the road? A: Who cares! What the hell is she doing out of the kitchen?
    Definitely guilty of this.
  • Why the Purple Skittle Tastes Different Outside America
    Pop quiz: What flavor is the purple Skittle? If you grew up tasting the rainbow in the U.S. of A, the answer is clearly grape. But in other countries, including the U.K. and Australia, purple Skittles taste like another fruit altogether: blackcurrant.
    I never noticed this. But then my ‘cram as many in your gob at a time’ approach to eating Skittles probably distracts from the subtle nuanced flavours…
  • Ikea Forever
    Not long ago, during an interview with the BBC, Kanye West announced, in his trademark third-person idiom, that he hoped to design for Ikea: “Yo, Ikea, allow Kanye to create, allow him to make this thing because you know what? I want a bed that he makes, I want a chair that he makes.”
    I know a lot of people who rail against IKEA, putting their feet up on their KLATFUR table as they do so.
  • New words notes September 2016
    It’s time for another quarterly update to the OED, and we have more than 1,000 revised and updated entries including 1,200 new senses for you to explore, as well as an anniversary to celebrate.
    I love words. I love silly words. I love silly words that a certain Mr.Dahl invented.
  • A philosopher’s 350-year-old trick to get people to change their minds is now backed up by psychologists
    The 17th century philosopher Blaise Pascal is perhaps best known for Pascal’s Wager which, in the first formal use of decision theory, argued that believing in God is the most pragmatic decision. But it seems the French thinker also had a knack for psychology.
    If I was smart enough I’d have used this to make you pay for reading this, or have me pay you to read this… dammit, I always lose these arguments!
  • iOS 10: The MacStories Review
    Sometimes, change is unexpected. More often than not, change sneaks in until it feels grand and inevitable. Gradually, and then suddenly. iOS users have lived through numerous tides of such changes over the past three years.
    Geek heaven, an extensive (50,000 word!) review of iOS 10 (I’ve not even finished reading it yet!)
  • Secret Room
    These books shelves hide a secret room.
    Adding to my ‘when I win the lottery’ list.
  • Who will win in the age of open banking?
    For Europe’s financial and banking industry, December 2017 will represent something of a reckoning: it’s the deadline by which countries in the European Union will be required to enact the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2).
    Go on, admit it, you had no idea this was a thing. Nope, neither did I but it will explain some of the changes you’ll see in the coming year or so.
  • Who owns your tattoo? Maybe not you
    More than 20 percent of all Americans have at least one tattoo, and for millennials that number jumps to almost 40 percent. What could be more intimately a part of you than a work of body art permanently inked into your skin? You probably assume that the tattoo on your body belongs to you.
    This is why my tattoos are custom designed (bar the first one I got, but the guy who did it is dead now so I think I’m safe…).
  • This new machine can read book pages without cracking the cover
    People can now read books without opening them, thanks to a new device created by scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Georgia Institute of Technology. The machine uses beams of radiation to creep in between pages and scan individual letters.
    One for all the ‘never crack the spine’ weirdos out there..
  • Scientists Just Tested the ‘5-Second Rule’
    You’ve probably heard of the five-second rule: If you drop some tasty item of food, but can scoop it off the floor within five seconds, there isn’t enough time for bacteria to get on it and it’s a-okay to eat.
    I’m still waiting for the results of the ‘found a malteser under the sofa a week later’ rule (but it’s ok, I’ve got a malteser to eat whilst I wait).