Twitter focus change

As time goes on, I’m finding Twitter much more enjoyable than Facebook.

But I’ve noticed a change – or, maybe, it’s something to do with how I’m interacting on Twitter – I’m not sure.

People have followed me in the past and I’ve looked at their profiles and not bothered to follow back. After all, I’m not really what you could call a “serious” Twitter user. I’m not really interested in numbers of followers or, that much, in who follows me. I don’t normally tweet very much, just doing the occasional retweets.

But then I started promoting Altern-i-life, the musical film that I helped to fund through Kickstarter. An I was tweeting and retweeting several times per day. And I saw that I was getting more notice and that more people were following me. And I decided to change the way I interacted by automatically following back. Then, after a little while I would see some had unfollowed me (so I would unfollow them since they weren’t that interesting) or my feed would be filled with rubbish or things that I didn’t like, so I would unfollow them first.

But, what I have noticed is some people are using Twitter as a way to promote something they’ve done. I first noticed it with Matt Haig who wrote The Humans. He, unselfconsciously, promoted himself by retweeting short (Twitter) reviews from people who had read the book. It seemed an interesting book, so I bought it. As you may know, I prefer a “real” book, made with paper and this was one of them. It became my favourite book of 2014. I absolutely loved it. So much so that I bought 2 copies (one in Italian) for Best Mate and F as presents and encouraged someone else to buy it.

As a result of that, maybe, I’ve been followed by other authors, each one promoting their book. Some are self-published and others not. And I’ve also been followed by musicians (singer-songwriters), some of whom have “given” me downloads of their stuff. So far, no one has had the impact of Matt Haig (so much so that I will definitely be buying his new book, out very soon) but I’m sure that, somewhere along the way, I’m going to find some more interesting stuff and something like “The Humans” (either song or book) that I will go “Wow!”

But, this was not what I thought Twitter was about, so, for me, it’s an interesting change of focus.

I still follow the people that I know IRL, those that are funny or give me information that I want to know about and, a very few, with whom I disagree with their politics or thoughts but who are interesting enough to keep me hooked. But now I have a load of people on my timeline that also have something to “sell”. If they are engaging enough, I keep following them anyway, even if I’m not that impressed with their product. After all, you never know!

Christmas Decorations are UP! And other Christmas-related things

The Christmas decorations are up!

No, don’t worry, not in our flat. I mean in a street which I use on my way home from work.

They aren’t switched on but they are up.

And, talking of Christmas, I have still to do the cards. This weekend, is the plan.

At the moment, F is talking about doing a house-warming party around the middle of December – when he has decorated the flat! :-) Bless him.

As an aside, I tried, on Monday evening, to get my computer to display films on the TV. We already have the HDMI cable punched through the wall and I had bought an adapter to attach to my MiniDisplay Port. So, it should have worked just by connecting. Although the picture was fine, the sound only came from the computer which, being in the next room, wasn’t really any good. After hunting around, I found that Macs built prior to 2010 didn’t have a proper HDMI slot and no audio was passed through.

Wednesday, I found an adapter that WAS supposed to do the job for Macs of the age of mine. Except that the company making them had stopped making them. However, I found one on Amazon and bought it. It’s “on its way” now. Should be here by Monday but I’m hoping Friday – then I can try it at the weekend!

In the process of trying to make the sound work on Monday, I found, on Tuesday night, that one of my programs wouldn’t work anymore. After hunting around a bit, I decided to re-install it. So that was that.

Except, on Wednesday night, I found that, as a result of my re-installation, Firefox wasn’t working properly and what-seemed-like-spam pages kept coming up. After much pratting around, I found the solution. Let’s hope that the new adapter I’m going to be getting doesn’t end up messing up other things on my computer. It’s not that I can’t fix it, it’s just that everything then takes so much longer.

It will be nice if we can watch films in the lounge, especially for Christmas!

The adolescents have taken over the Internet

It seems as if we’ve lost the art of “discussion.”

Words like misogyny, troll, anti-Semitic, sexist are banded around, it seems, for every occasion that there is some disagreement.

The latest I saw was for something called #gamergate. And, on that point, how come, after Watergate, does everything have to have “gate” tagged on? They aren’t the same thing, you know?

It seems (and please mind that I said “seems”) as if it all started when some unhappy person spouted off about their former partner and their breakup but has developed into something else. I choose my words well. I did not say “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” because, actually, that’s not important (although it seems to have become so.)

So, this person called their former partner a liar and accused them of having several affairs.

This is very sad. Made more so by the decision to publish the details online, in a blog post. This was, apparently, to “make people aware” of what their partner was really like. So that others would be able to decide whether to trust them or not. But it strikes me as more of a “washing your dirty laundry in public” and it certainly didn’t make this person look good.

The partner was a “big shot” in the the world of computer games, having developed at least one themselves. Apparently, to get good reviews, this person slept with a journalist (who, I have read, didn’t actually do a review of the game!)

This partner also, it would seem, somehow managed to scupper some other thing, set up in direct competition to the partner’s own business.

So, there we have it. A person (the partner) is, apparently, a) a shitty person to have a relationship with (according to their ex-partner) and b) runs a business; trying to get favourable press and destroy the competition. That’s all it was or, rather, all it started out as.

The problem is that the original post is not a happy post. It reminds me of something one does when one is 20. A relationship breaks up and one side is more hurt than the other (which is normal as it’s rare that both sides “decide” to split) and being more hurt, they want to make the partner hurt too. It’s a normal reaction. But, unfortunately, adding a post to the Internet is a little like whispering it to everyone in the world. It becomes “public property” and, at that moment, because it’s the written word, a little like Chinese whispers, it takes on a life of its own.

It morphs into something different.

And, from what I’ve read, what could have been a discussion on how the gaming industry (let’s not forget that this is BIG business, now, not some nice little community of like-minded people) works and how it should work and what’s wrong with it, it developed into a fight between two camps and, at worst, an attack on women which it never started out to be. It started as an attack on one person who happened to be a woman but could have equally been a man.

So, what started as a rather sad individual trying to get some retribution for the break up, ended as something completely different – a fight between people with the minds of adolescents.

I mean, “death threats”? “Attacks on women”? It’s not normal, fair-minded people who do that, surely? And, yet, hidden behind the anonymity that IS the Internet, it seems we can ignore “discussion” and go straight to hate-filled rhetoric.

Guess what? The Internet is NOT a safe place for your private things. Who knew?

So, according to the DailyHateMail, there has been O U T R A G E about some “private” photographs that have been “stolen”. People are comparing it to rape, stalking and the rest.

Well, in my opinion, don’t put anything anywhere on the Internet that you wouldn’t be happy to leave lying around on your coffee table when you’re giving a dinner party with complete strangers. And, by that, I mean any device that can access or be accessed by the WWW. This includes telephones, pads and computers.

Worse still is to entrust the safe-keeping of those personal affects to a storage place that is not, physically, in your house. That’s like leaving something important and personal in a secret hiding place somewhere down the road.

In the “old days” this was easier. After all, we were not “connected” and if you took a photograph on your camera and you developed the photograph yourself, you had complete control. If it was anything other than that, you were not in control. I’m not sure how we got to a place where we thought, even for a moment, that the Internet was safe? After all the stories in the recent years, too!

And, so, do I “feel sorry” for these celebrities that have had some nude pictures stolen and banded wound the Internet for all to see? Well, no, not really.

First: Why are you taking nude photographs of yourself? Or, why are you allowing someone else to take nude photographs of you? If it was for your personal pleasure, then they should be kept (safely) on your computer or camera.

Secondly: Why did you think that it was OK to put them on some central storage place or send them via email or message? Haven’t you heard about the revelations by Snowden about people screening all these places? Did you not stop to think that, if the NSA/GCHQ can do it, so can other (?less scrupulous?) people? If not, are you some kind of stupid?

Thirdly; You’re a celebrity. You can expect the rags like the DailyHateMail to try and get these private pics. And, if they can’t get them first, then they can be “outraged” that someone else got them first! Did you not hear about the News of the World hacking scandal? Have you been living on some distant planet?

So, the upshot is that it’s entirely your own fault.

But, I really want to know: Have all these celebrities really been busy taking nude pics of themselves? Am I now so old that I find it really quite strange? Have we developed into a civilisation the likes to create its own porn?

And, tell me why it is that (apparently) so many people are interested in seeing certain parts of celebrity bodies?

Let me go and have a look for some to find out ……….


From Top Of The Pops to Nursery School – timetravelling backwards

I’m what you may call a “quiet” guy.

Those of you who’ve read my blog long enough will know that, although on the surface I seem quite well-adjusted, sensible and, well, just plain ordinary, I am, underneath it all (or, rather, in my mind), quite seriously screwed most of the time.

I have conflicts and dilemmas most of my waking hours. I find it really difficult to be “close” to people.

I have friends, of course. Well, I should say, people that I quite like and that I speak to quite often. But, what I consider “real” friends – no, not many.

And a recent post from one of my links got me to thinking about relationships with people and friends, in general. More specifically, it took me back to when I was younger (much, much younger.)

When I was 12 or 13 or maybe even before that, my Nan bought me my first record (single). The reason was that one of the members of the group came from where she lived and, this being rural Herefordshire, not famous for it’s proliferation of famous rock stars, was a very big deal. From my Nan and Grandad, I learnt about Top of the Pops – because they used to watch it every week.

Apart from this making them very cool (although we didn’t use that word then – maybe “hip” or something), they got me interested in music and the radio and Top of the Pops. So, then, I used to watch it every week. And I got a radio for Christmas or my birthday which enabled me to listen to Radio Luxembourg under the bedsheets at night.

The thing about this was the charts. All these programs worked on charts. And charts I liked. I was, for some reason, fascinated with charts and the moving up and down of songs based on their popularity and sales. And I wanted my own “charts”.

Obviously, I was young and didn’t have any buying power so I came up with the idea of a chart for friends. To make it real, they were “marked” to different criteria (which I don’t remember now but possibly something like – how nice they had been to me this week, had they shared any sweets with me, did I share any sweets with them, etc.). Each would be given a mark (quite possibly out of 10). The marks would be added up and, from that, the week’s chart compiled. This would mean that I would know who was my “best friend”.

I really don’t remember how long I did this for. I had a little exercise book and dutifully recorded the “chart” every week, watching how people moved up and down. It made me feel better if someone had been horrible to me and they dropped sharply down the chart and better too if someone who had been “middling” shot up to number one because of something nice.

Obviously, reading this now, I was set to be on a psychiatrist’s couch as soon as I was old enough :-)

But, then again, I was at school. And children are quite horrible. Friendships are made and broken on a whim. “I won’t let you play with my toys. I’m not your friend anymore. I’m going to tell my Mum.” These are all the things we say and hear. We’re learning about the value of people, how to trust them, how to read them.

So, let’s bring that up to date. Today we have a new Nursery School. But this one is for adults, it seems. In broad terms it’s called social media. In the olden days, we became friends with people that we met, face-to-face, people that were physically in our own circle.

Then, with the invention of the telephone, we could become friends with people that we spoke to a lot.

In fact, I remember, as a buyer, many moons ago, I became “friends” with a guy who was employed at one of our suppliers. We used to chat a lot and, when I left that company, we arranged to meet up. Of course, we never spoke after that. Not because he was a horrible person in real life but because I think we were a bit disappointed that the guy on the phone was not really like that in real life.

Social Media is another revolution. We can become friends with people so easily. Maybe we like their photo or the things they write or the pictures they post.

On Twitter, a while back, I would follow anyone who followed me. So it was that one person followed me and I followed her back. The problem was that, in real life, given the nature of her tweets, I wouldn’t have ever spoken to her after our first meeting. She was (is), in a word, vile. Nasty, small-minded, arrogant and always making out that she was cleverer than everyone else. I decided that Twitter was the ideal platform for her and that, in all probability, she had been the most hated person at Nursery School – she had (has?) no social skills. Zero. Nada.

How grateful was I when I discovered that she had “unfollowed” me – permitting me to unfollow her! She still appears on my timeline from time to time (being retweeted by others on my timeline) and, occasionally, I visit her profile to see if she’s changed. Needless to say, she hasn’t.

There’s a guy that I follow that reported on the Grillo-Renzi meeting, for example. Now, I’ve been following him because he tweets some interesting stuff about Italian politics and the economy. When I read what he wrote about the meeting however, I realised that he was also quite stupid. But, then again, he’s not my “friend” (I don’t even know if he follows me and, to be honest, care less) and, after the tweet about the meeting, is surely never to be.

Facebook too – I have friends on there that are my friends because we used to (or I used to) play games through Facebook. Now that I don’t, I do wonder why the hell I don’t just purge them. I have other “friends” on there that I’ve never met who have become “friends” via other means (they might be friends of friends that I have at Hay Festival, for example.) Again, I sometimes query why they are there, taking up space on my timeline. But I don’t want to be the first to cut them off! Stupid, eh? But, although they aren’t really my friends, I don’t want them to feel hurt – unless they really piss me off, of course. Then there are “friends” who I’ve never met and know little about but who I have some sort of interaction with. I can class them as “real” friends in that we do interact, of course. Whether they would be real friends in real life is another matter – and I simply don’t know the answer to that – I’ve never met them and don’t know enough about them.

Of course, when V “defriended” me on Facebook a few years ago I was both surprised and a bit disappointed. But not so as you’d know. After all, we’d split up in real life and, to be honest, he was right in one way. Still, it’s a shame.

But I really can’t lose sleep over someone who defriends me nor unfollows me. it’s up to them. They have their reasons. I have a real-life friend who I follow who doesn’t follow me on Twitter. Should I get upset or be offended?

Well, no, I don’t think so. Firstly, it’s not like my tweets are so fantastic. Secondly, whether she follows me on Twitter or not doesn’t actually change the way I feel about her and doesn’t make her a horrible person. In fact, she is one of the sweetest, kindest people I have ever met in my life – and whether she follows me or no doesn’t change that.

The thing I DO know is that a “friend” on Facebook or Twitter is not really a “friend” but more of an acquaintance – like someone you know at work. I really can’t take it all too seriously.

But, people do. People get upset and rant and rave. People follow me on Twitter and then unfollow me if I don’t follow back. Well, like Facebook friends, it isn’t the quantity but the quality that counts in my book. If people have interesting timelines/profiles, I follow them. If not, well, I don’t. It’s really as simple as that.

But it is a little like a Nursery School – or it can be. People take offence at something someone says and it blows up out of all proportion. Someone defriends or unfollows someone else and that someone else feels hurt and “excluded”.

But, it’s not real. It’s over the Internet. A true “friend” relationship takes time to develop – over months and years with ups and downs along the way. Physically being in front of someone smooths those ups and downs as you can see, sometimes, the real person. On the Internet, all you have are words and words don’t show feelings and, worse, can be downright lies.

We’ve a long way to go before we are out of the Nursery School that is Social Media. We have (and it has) a lot of growing up to do – made worse by the fact that in this Nursery School, most people are adult and so have already “grown up” and have their fixed ideas on what is right and what is wrong.

So, perhaps, we’ll never grow up!

What do the Tardis and an Antarctic Hut have in common?

Sorry I haven’t been posting but there have been “issues”. It’s still not quite finished yet.

In the meantime, for you delectation, here are a couple of things I’ve been meaning to post.

The first is Google Maps’ inside view of Dr. Who’s Tardis.

The second is Captain Scott’s hut in the Antarctic.

In the first case, you are inside and can “walk around”. Be aware that if you go outside it will “vanish”, of course.

In the second case you can go inside the hut and walk around a bit. You can’t, however, go far from the hut.

Still, I liked them and have been meaning to put them up for ages.


Well ……….

Sorry for the lack of posts over the last few days but my phone is getting worse and I’m worried that it would break whilst I’m away. Obviously, I wanted to make sure that all my contacts and calendar entries were safe, so I looked online to determine how to transfer these to keep them safe.

Apparently, there’s no really secure way and so, over the last few days I have been transferring contacts and calendar entries across to my email system, manually. One day these phone companies will properly understand that you want to keep everything and transfer them to the next phone.

So, I have been busy and, also, someone at work asked me for historical details of a previous project – so, in between entering all my details, I have been finding this information and sending it to them.

And now we’re on the last day. There’s still some of the last task to do but, in about seven hours from me writing this (or earlier, maybe), I shall be on my way home for three weeks of holiday. As such, Internet connection will be more difficult (with my phone as it is and with the house not having Internet connection) and it is highly likely that I won’t post anything nor respond to anyone much over the 3 weeks. I can, of course, get access in an emergency.

And the plan?

Well, F has only 2 weeks (the first two of my three) and, given that, on the 14th and 15th August, Marina di Carrara celebrates the public holiday with fireworks on the sea (and Dino does not like fireworks), we may, if all goes well, go away to Umbria for a few days or even a week – somewhere away from people and, as long as there are places to walk the dogs and a swimming pool, we will be very happy. Also, for F, it means a real break – and that will make him very happy and so, in consequence, I, too, will be very happy.

If I get the chance to post something, I will, particularly if we go to somewhere in Umbria.

In the meantime, should you also be on holiday (Lola) or not (Gail), have a great three weeks and I’ll see you when I get back.

Why isn’t there a LOT of shouting about it?

We’re bored with the Snowden thing now, aren’t we? I mean the chase has, kind of, stalled. So nothing to see here – let’s all move along.

Except, of course, it really shouldn’t be like this. From what I understand, the UK Government has issued a Section D (I might have this wrong) notice to the British Media – effectively stifling what they can report about it.

Hence, it’s no longer really headlines. Of course, the headlines SHOULD be asking difficult questions of the Government. Asking how come GCHQ (and NSA) are collecting all our data. Asking them when it’s going to stop, etc.

But, don’t worry at all. After all they’re not collecting ALL data. Only the metadata which, by all accounts, doesn’t actually tell you anything much.

Except that’s not even true.

If you have a Gmail account, you can, actually try it (partially) for yourself using Immersion.

And you should. See how your connections are made. Who you email most – how they connect. Of course, you’ve nothing to hide, have you? So it’s not really important, is it?

Well, no, of course not.

But, follow the logic and think about the fact that they’re not just collecting the metadata from Gmail but from all your email accounts (people often have more than one – e.g. a work and a private account).

But that’s OK because if you have something to hide you will just use the telephone.

But, they collect the metadata for that too!

And for the web browsing history you do.

And anything else you do on-line.

It’s a much fuller picture they have of you now, isn’t it?

Are you comfortable with that, ‘cos I’m not?

To see how someone has analysed the Immersion program, go to this rather good piece, here.

Also see the original article, from where all this came, in the Guardian.

But, of course, this is all being done by the “good guys”, isn’t it?

Well, watch the following video:

And now tell me that you’re not just a little scared?

Becoming a hermit has never seemed such a great idea until now, eh?

I wonder when (or even if) Governments will be hounded to do something about it?

Spying – for the masses or, rather, on the masses.

Police spy on innocent people to try and find some dirt to discredit them.

Someone tells us that British and American secret agencies are spying on us all.

The whistle blower above is “chased” across the world by the very people who did the spying.

And those are just the very latest. We could add Bradley Manning, Undercover British Cops having affairs and babies under false names to find information and then “disappearing”, those same cops planting bombs and writing leaflets, and so on and so on.

It’s nothing new and nothing entirely unexpected.

But, for God’s sake, don’t buy into this “If you’re innocent, you have nothing to fear” crap. You have everything to fear. You don’t know when, at some point in the future, for some reason you can’t now foresee, that information about you will be twisted and turned against you. No one is safe.

And we aren’t really in a democracy unless, by that you mean that everyone gets a vote. They used to get a vote in the USSR too, you know?

What makes me laugh is the discreditation of Snowden. Apparently, people are castigating him for going to a country with less “freedom” than the USA. Whereas, of course, if he were to go to a country that was “friendly” and as “democratic” as the USA, he would, undoubtedly be sent back to the USA and suffer much the same fate as Manning or the others.

So, when Hilary Clinton said:

“countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of internet users risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century”.

Maybe she didn’t quite mean what she said. This was back in 2010 which I wrote up in this post.

I guess it’s OK if you’re letting them do what they want but just recording everything they do. Eh, Hilary?

The Lives and Loves of Hana Lee

I’ve just read my first “real” e-book (or is it ebook like email. Perhaps, in time, it will become an ebook).

This is one written by someone I know. Well, I say “know” in that I’ve been following his blog (The Ugly Truth) and he came to stay one night at my place on his way somewhere else and we had a pizza and a beer.

Anyway, it’s good and you should read it and not only to support him in his first venture in self-publishing (but not his first book).

The book is The Lives and Loves of Hana Lee.

It’s rather good and I read it in a few days (which tells you that it’s good) even if I would have preferred a paper copy.

I warn you now that it has quite a lot of sex in it – but, for those of you who like sex, I guess that’ll be just fine.

I recommend it. Read the sample in the link above and then, of course, buy it. You will buy it ‘cos you’ll like the sample and you’ll just HAVE TO find out what happens. :-)