Posts in: Journal

Google Can't Tell If I'm Alive

I woke up this morning to find an email from Google’s Inactive Account Manager waiting for me. Apparently, they haven’t detected any activity from me in a while, and were asking me to check in to confirm I was still alive and well! Initially I was concerned that it might be a scam, but examination of the email headers showed it to be genuine. Then I was mildly annoyed at the inconvenience of having to go into my Google account, something I only do when I have to.

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'Distraction-Free' Starts With You, Not a New Purchase

I’ve had ‘Can “Distraction-Free” Devices Change the Way We Write?’ in my inbox to read for a while, and finally got around to digesting it in full. While it was an entertaining read, it’s definitely one of those articles that fits the category “Any Headline Ending In A Question Mark Can Mostly Likely Be Answered With ‘No’”. And it felt to me too weighed on the techno-solutionism side. I’m a very happy user of iA Writer, one of the apps mentioned in the article, and I used the Freedom app to help wean myself off of social media and other distractions several years ago.

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Email, The Internet's Backyard

Josh Withers’ blog - Stand back, imma fix email I look at my mate Ash’s iPhone screen and see the red badge on his email app and it terrifies me. What’s the current unread count, Ash? The thing is, most people don’t love their inbox because it’s their internet yard … and most people don’t like looking after their own backyard. They like going to restaurants where waiters bring the food and take away dirty dishes.

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Oh, Kickstarter...

I had already made a decision to pause my participation in Kickstarter projects this year, but the news that they’re planning to jump on the blockchain bandwagon has hardened my resolve to step away from there. Not only is it a middle finger raised against the future of the planet, but I’ve very little confidence that this will ultimately benefit anyone other than Kickstarter, their investors and blockchain partners. Decentralisation, it appears to me, just means different middlemen, less accountability and more likelihood of getting scammed.

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The Surveillants Surveilled

Disrupting Spycraft: Always-On Surveillance Is Prompting Massive Changes In Covert Operations As Tim Cushing points out over at Techdirt, there’s some deep schadenfreude about spies and covert operations getting tripped up by the surveillance apparatus that their bosses have encouraged over the last few decades.

The Same Dark Road

Dan Blankenhorn offers a lesson from history for Elon Musk: Henry Ford was the great manufacturing genius of the early 20th century. In 1921, he was at the height of his fame, fortune, and power. He was hanging out with Thomas Edison. His every utterance was chronicled by an adoring media. But things were about to take a turn. By the time he died in 1947, Ford had wrecked his historic reputation.

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Pandora's Browser

I’ve decided, after some deliberation, to take some small steps back into social media. But I’ll be doing so from within a controlled environment, namely Firefox on my Mac with Containers set up per network. Moreover, I’m using Bumpr to make sure that links from elsewhere on my computer to those networks only open in Firefox. I also have uBlock Origin installed in Firefox to make sure all adverts and trackers are mopped up.

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The Paradox of 'Tumblogging'

Over the weekend I started following some more Tumblr accounts via their RSS feeds, and I reminded of the odd nature of blogging on that platform. (As an aside, I’ve been active myself on Tumblr several times over the years, so I’ve seen both sides, creation and consumption.) On the face of it, Tumblr has a lot of good things. It is quick and easy to set up and customise a blog, the editor works well, and it has built-in support for audio and video content.

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'I fear that this contract, once made, has been made for ever'

University of Cambridge abandons open standards for proprietary ones, and starts to pay the price Quentin Stafford-Fraser details the consequences of the University’s fateful decision to move from a self-hosted email system to Microsoft Exchange Online. An important reminder of why it’s a good idea to control your identity online, including domain name, email and web presence. Anything else places you at the mercy of companies that don’t have your interest at heart.

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