Simple pleasures

    I’m sitting here listening to music at a volume I deem perfect, with a freshly brewed espresso.

    The house is empty, apart from me. And it is sheer bliss.

    I don’t get a chance to do this very often, and when I can, I’m not always in the mood, but today is perfect. I hear things I don’t usually hear in the music because I am engaged in the experience.

    What a lovely way to end the year.

    Take time to find the thing that you love, and enjoy it.

    31 December 2022 — French West Indies

    I don’t make predictions …

    … but I do think that Social Media, in general, will come to a reckoning over the next year or so.

    There’s building evidence of it being a net negative for society.

    It may even be called a WMD one day. It is weaponised. It has a mass reach and is indiscriminate (despite the bs the likes of Meta et al. tell you about micro-targeting). We only need to establish the destruction it causes.

    30 December 2022 — French West Indies

    “There is only one Pelé”

    From the Guardian:

    João Saldanha, the coach who helped shape that 1970 side, once said: “Ask me who is the best right-back in Brazil, and I’ll say Pelé. Ask me about the best left-back or midfield man, or the best centre-forward. Always I must say Pelé. If he wants to be goalkeeper, he will be. There is only one Pelé.”


    29 December 2022 — French West Indies

    “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine.”

    Buying Instagram is best understood as part of a long pattern of Mark Zuckerberg coercing others into giving him power. From his days as a 19 year old designing a sexual-harassment-as-a-service website that exploited his female classmates to the Instagram acquisition, Zuckerberg — and thus Facebook’s — overwhelming ethos is “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine.”

    This a must-read from Cory Doctrow.

    In my opinion, the key to getting out of this rut of division and extremism is related to the end of Facebook, sorry, “Meta”.

    29 December 2022 — French West Indies

    AI-Created Comic Has Been Deemed Ineligible for Copyright Protection


    The United States Copyright Office (USCO) reversed an earlier decision to grant a copyright to a comic book that was created using "A.I. art," and announced that the copyright protection on the comic book will be revoked, stating that copyrighted works must be created by humans to gain official copyright protection.

    This is so interesting on several levels.

    The USCO says that works “must be created by humans” but doesn’t seem to define what “created” means clearly.

    At what point in the creation process does the USCO determine that computer-enhanced artworks are no longer “created by humans”? Could Photoshop be too much AI? What about auto-generated insights on BI platforms producing visualisations? Where is the line drawn?

    The artist pleads that “prompting” the AI is the artwork, and I sympathise with that argument.

    However, where this argument is a little weak is that the AI in question is drawing from human-produced work —as are many AI systems— from other artists and does not necessarily have permission to be included in the model to create “copy writable” works. And as we’ve recently discovered, there’s a growing dispute about whether or not there is a legal basis for training an AI model using images etc., without the owner’s consent.

    28 December 2022 — French West Indies

    Ask, and ye shall receive

    File this under “I did not know that.”

    If you’re a researcher and you happen upon a scientific paper that you’re interested in reading, and it’s found on one of those scientific publisher sites, you’ll be asked to pay anything from a few dollars to hundreds to get a pdf.

    From what I can tell, virtually (or literally), nothing goes to the author/s. Do this instead:

    I’m starting to think scientists should have a Patreon account so I can bung them a cup of coffee or something.

    26 December 2022 — French West Indies

    That Steph Curry Video

    I don’t know if you’ve seen the video, but it is damn impressive. But I had doubts. Turns out, for a good reason:

    How to Use Physics to Tell If That Steph Curry Video Is Real

    I’m not going to spoil it for you, but the ending is just as impressive when you think about it.

    25 December 2022 — French West Indies

    A grain of sand


    See more here.

    23 December 2022 — French West Indies

    Oops. It wasn’t just account information… It was your passwords too!

    The Verge:

    If you have an account you use to store passwords and login information on LastPass, or you used to have one and hadn’t deleted it before this fall, your password vault may be in hackers’ hands. Still, the company claims you might be safe if you have a strong master password and its most recent default settings. However, if you have a weak master password or less security, the company says that “as an extra security measure, you should consider minimizing risk by changing passwords of websites you have stored.”

    If I were a LastPass user, I’d be very worried.

    I’d probably move to another service, or find an on-premises solution that doesn’t rely on trusting someone’s ability to implement security correctly.

    Whether or not they had played fast and loose with the security of their customer’s data or not is irrelevant —unless you are an EU Citizen, and perhaps you should look at provisions under the GDPR for redress. I’m not a lawyer, yada yada…— their slow drip feed of disclosure is unforgivable.

    They either knew and were withholding information (did someone mention GDPR?), or they didn’t know that they had put customer password data on backups, albeit encrypted. Both are dreadful examples of management.

    There are a number of commentators speculating that cracking this data will take millions of years. I doubt it. Quantum computing, for one, is likely to solve that problem soon. Two, that estimate only holds true if we are static and don’t progress. A hundred years ago, we couldn’t imagine that we would have things we take for granted today in less than a million years.

    23 December 2022 — French West Indies

    It’s only going to get worse

    According to the Guardian, “Cheating in professional exams is still a ‘live’ issue at the UK’s biggest audit firms, the accountancy watchdog warned.”

    Just wait till ChatGPT or its successor gets good.

    I’m a teacher, and I’m already trying to find ways to understand how to test that makes it harder for AI models like ChatGPT to provide coherent answers. I fear I may be losing that battle.

    21 December 2022 — French West Indies

    Another “End of Era”: Terry Hall

    His voice and the Specials were part of the sound when we were growing up.

    Saddened to hear of his passing.

    The story behind Gangsters is interesting and totally Terry Hall.


    The Specials - Gangsters
    The Specials - Ghost Town

    19 December 2022 — French West Indies

    End of an era: The final Boeing 747 is delivered after 50 years of production

    Reduced to a cargo plane today, this was probably the most important plane ever designed, developed and put into production.

    I flew on one once, maybe twice.

    It was first produced before I was born and flown commercially in the year of my birth. Its production has stopped, with the last plane being shipped to Atlas Air as a cargo plane.

    One thousand five hundred seventy-four planes were produced, and less than 4% were lost in accidents or incidents that put them beyond repair—a formidable record.

    Of the 61 lost, only 32 resulted in a loss of life. Less than 2%. That’s a lot of safe air miles.

    Sadly, however, when they did crash, it usually ended in significant losses of life. Holding the record for the highest death toll of any civil aviation accident, the highest death toll of any single aeroplane accident, and the highest death toll of a midair collision simultaneously, we’re unlikely to see another plane like it.

    So long, 747.

    19 December 2022 — French West Indies


    For a specific class, freedom always means freedom to do and say what they want, not what anyone else does or says.

    As the owner of a private platform, Elon Musk is free to do as he pleases, but he cannot escape the consequences.

    It will be interesting to see where this goes.

    As of today (Sunday, 18/12/22), the platform violates two important GDPR provisions and is under warning from the EU regarding the de-platforming of journalists.

    The unmasking of Elon as a far-right apologist and activist is not that surprising.

    You can find me on mastodon.social.

    18 December 2022 — French West Indies

    The Same Old Logical Conclusion

    Despite the odd way it works —and the new, sometimes, infantile terminology— Mastodon feels a lot like Twitter when I first joined in 2009, but I can’t shake the feeling that it will go south quickly as more get on the app.

    It’s a small community (really stretching that definition, but hey 🤷‍♂️) with civil discourse and a genuine will to keep it that way.

    It won’t last.

    It never does.

    There is only one logical conclusion with Social Media, regardless of the business model. And that result is a cesspool of the worst of humanity intertwined with pure gold.

    Happy Holidays.

    15 December 2022 — French West Indies

    The Line I Will Not Cross

    Yesterday I wrote about how I’d likely dial-down Twitter use, but not leave the platform. Then this:

    Forcing me to give my location AND opt-in to personalised ads is a line that I won’t cross. I’m confident that many people will not do so either for all sorts of reasons, from personal privacy to personal (physical) safety from nefarious actors. Because location information is data, it can be breached and used to profile and locate people physically on the planet. Twitter is not immune to being hacked. Gaining access to this type of data is becoming easier, with one-stop shops for buying and selling hacked data easily accessible, which means almost anyone can do it.

    I suspect this is not legal with the GDPR and could not be successfully implemented in Europe and European countries.

    14 December 2022 — French West Indies

    Not particularly social

    According to Insider Intelligence, as reported in the Grauniad, Twitter will likely lose 30 million users over the next two years. To put that into perspective, Twitter’s Q2 2022 DAUs were in the region of 238 million.

    Ad revenue is in free-fall to boot.

    I, for one, am looking at alternatives, and the recent uptick in posting is partly to do with that.

    For the moment, I’m still on Twitter, but I’m no longer engaging, not that I did much previously. I only use an automated bot to post updates on this blog, something that will eventually get turned off I suspect.

    I’m on Mastodon, and besides the really quirky way it works, I’m beginning to see more activity from the topics and people I tend to enjoy reading. I anxiously await a decent client and an API for WordPress and other systems to post automatically.

    13 December 2022 — French West Indies

    Crypto or Criminal?

    It is getting harder to tell whether Crypto actually means “Criminal”.

    Take this Reuters article, for instance (emphasis mine):

    The charges under investigation are unlicensed money transmission, money laundering conspiracy and criminal sanctions violations, the four people said. No final charging decisions have been made, though prosecutors consider Zhao and some other executives to be subjects of the investigation, one source familiar with the situation said.

    I don’t think there’s any doubt that Proof of Work Waste blockchains should be considered criminal when considering the substantial environmental impacts. But hey, as long as you have your “unique” profile pic or your magic beans, who cares, right?

    12 December 2022 — French West Indies

    Experiences and Timelines

    I had an odd experience last night. I say odd, but that’s making it sound more dramatic than it is on closer inspection.

    I’m an ex-pat and have been for approximately two-thirds of my life. Some years ago, I passed the threshold of living outside my birthplace for more years than in. Some years ago, I passed the threshold of living more years with my mother no longer alive than alive. These are arbitrary datelines, but they have meaning and significance when you are the person directly living them.

    Last night, I passed one of those arbitrary thresholds. Through circumstances irrelevant —a birthday party— I caught up with someone I hadn’t seen in more than 15 years. I’ve now crossed the threshold of having acquaintances from long ago in my relatively new life in the French West Indies.

    If this had happened whilst I was still in the UK, meeting someone from ten or twenty years ago, I wouldn’t remark upon it. But it happened here, in my adopted home of over 18 years, making life’s timeline more intriguing to me.

    11 December 2022 — French West Indies

    Hold my beer

    The world: “Surely it can’t get much worse than this now?”

    SBF: “Hold my beer…”


    10 December 2022 — French West Indies


    If you listen to many podcasts in the tech space, particularly where a lot of Apple discussion takes place, you won’t have missed a podcast called Cortex.

    It is hosted by Myke Hurley and CGP Grey and touches on several topics where tech has an influence.

    One episode I look forward to every year is the Themes episode. This year is no different.

    I don’t go all in on the theme journaling they promote —they even sell a physical journaling notebook based on the theme system. It just doesn’t work for my brain that well.

    However, the idea of having a theme every year is interesting and does have some slight effect on how I do things during the year.

    I’ll let you discover the podcast and how the yearly theme works, but I sometimes find the nudging of it helpful.

    Every year I place an all-year calendar event in a dedicated calendar called surprisingly Theme, which runs from the 1st of January to the 31st of December.

    The way my brain works, if it’s not visible, it doesn’t exist. It is a simple reminder to keep me on track with a little nudge in the right direction.

    Have a listen, and you might find it helpful too.

    9 December 2022 — French West Indies

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