Stop blaming Facebook

Reading time: 3 mins
“The next two decades it’s gonna be privacy. I’m talking about the Internet. I’m talking about cell phones. I’m talking about health records and who’s gay and who’s not. And moreover, in a country born on the will to be free, what could be more fundamental than this?” ~ Sam Seaborn, The West Wing. In case you missed the news, it turns out that tens of millions of people have had their Facebook data used by a company called Cambridge Analytics to help skew the last US Presidential election (good summary here). The joys! Facebook privacy has always been a bit of an open secret, at least to those who work in IT. You can control a lot of the …

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Switching Off

Reading time: 6 mins
My bedroom is never completely dark. Sure, the black out curtains help, but the gentle glow of street lights still sneaks into the room, the orange glow casting gentle shadows. Once my eyes adjust I can make out the detail of the print hanging opposite my bed, the sleeve of a shirt hanging off the back of a chair. In a bid to lull my brain into a state of rest – I’m not sure what woke me at 3am but I was most definitely awake – I started pondering what was in store for me tomorrow. Starting with the basics, what’s the date tomorrow? And then it hit me, it’s March. The third month of the year. Already! Where …

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Weekend Reading

Reading time: 8 mins
Extra long list today as I was too busy wandering the streets of Barcelona last week! Stephen Hawking obituary The image of Stephen Hawking – who has died aged 76 – in his motorised wheelchair, with head contorted slightly to one side and hands crossed over to work the controls, caught the public imagination, as a true symbol of the triumph of mind over matter. A sad day. ‘Remember to look up at the stars’: the best Stephen Hawking quotes The British physicist and author had a way with words. Here are a collection of some of his greatest quotations Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, combined a soaring intellect and a mischievous sense of humour that made him …

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Glitter mops and fashion

Reading time: 6 mins
This is largely the tale of how a love of Korean sauces helped me realise that it’s ok not to conform to fashion. I was looking through some slow cooker recipes the other day trying to decide what to make for dinner. I ended up picking a recipe for Balsamic Chicken and added the ingredients to my shopping list ahead of my visit to the nearby behemoth that is our 24hr Tesco. I don’t actually go to a store to do grocery shopping all that often these days, not because I don’t enjoy it – how else would I have discovered the Korean beef sauce that I could happily live on for months – but precisely because I enjoy it …

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Sunday Mornings

Reading time: 3 mins
Late last year I met a friend in the pub for a celebratory ‘end of week’ catchup. We got our bitching about colleagues and various crappy work issues dealt with whilst the post work crowds rolled in, but as they started to head home to loved ones, or headed off for a night out on the town, we moved on to other topics; specifically Sunday mornings and just how much they can suck. As a child, Sunday mornings were largely about going to church. Dressed in my best Sunday clothes, hair slicked down to look presentable, I was shipped off to Sunday School before attending the morning service. Sometimes the Sunday School kids would sit together upstairs and try not …

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Gig: Elbow and John Grant

Reading time: 2 mins
We got the train to Manchester in the morning. It rained the entire time we were there, soaking us to the bone as we explored the city centre. We ate in a chain restaurant, Italian I think, before heading to the gig. That was a few years ago and though it wasn’t the first time I’d seen Elbow live, it was the gig that sits large and raw in my memory. Bawling my eyes out as the lyrics to Scattered Black & Whites ripped my heart wide open, snapshots of childhood memories, my Grandparents, my baby sister, tears streaming down my face. Maybe it’s because he’s roughly my age with, it seems, a similar propensity for emotion and love and …

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Weekend Reading

Reading time: 5 mins
How to get yourself out of a funk On Tuesday, I woke up feeling a bit tired, uninspired, and just generally not in the mood to tackle my to-do list for the day. I understand myself well enough by now to know how to react to this situation (most of the time) but was curious about how other people deal with such episodes. For those of you suffering a bit of Cabin Fever thanks to all the snow… Soderbergh’s thriller shot on iPhone premieres in Berlin Director Steven Soderbergh said on Wednesday he so enjoyed making his psychological thriller “Unsane” on an iPhone, he would find it hard to go back to conventional filmmaking. Interesting thoughts on the impact of …

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Lighting in the dark

Reading time: 3 mins
“It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we have a full tank of gas, half a packet of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses… HIT IT!” Last weekend saw me driving through to Edinburgh as the last remnants of daylight faded to black, I had already taken my sunglasses off, and I don’t smoke, but the sentiment was the same; (mini) road trip! The previous evening found me and several hundred other people, wandering the streets of Strathbungo, a suburb in the southside of Glasgow, enjoying the labours of many a budding window artist as we partook of the annual Strathbungo Winter Wanderland. With local roads closed to traffic, we took to the streets to peer over railings and hedgerows to …

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Gig: Post Modern Jukebox

Reading time: 2 mins
Everytime I listen to the current hits of the day I come away with a catchy tune in my head. Sure it’s auto-tuned, heavily produced, and reliant on a hook rather than things like a melody or a smart lyric but they are catchy nonetheless. And yes, I am big a huge snob about this and no I don’t care. For me the sign of a good song is one that can embrace change, that can be rendered new by a change in tone, or pace, or instrumentation. Some bands do it to themselves (think Creep by Radiohead, from thrashy distorted guitars to heartfelt acoustic ballad) and some artists grab a handful of such tunes and make a career from …

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Weekend Reading

Reading time: 4 mins
Apple Music’s Archaic Album Categorization→ Benjamin Mayo sums up one of the most annoying features of Apple Music: the way the service thinks everything is an “album”, making it extremely inconvenient to find what you’re looking for. These artefacts of compact discs show up again when looking at an artist page. And this, amongst other reasons, is why I use Spotify. Last blog standing, “last guy dancing”: How Jason Kottke is thinking about kottke.org at 20 In 2013, Jason Kottke wrote a prediction for Nieman Lab’s year-end roundup: “The blog is dead, long live the blog.” Kottke was then (and still is) owner of one of the longest continuously running blogs on the web: kottke.org, founded in 1998. “Sometime in …

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