Blogpril 20th -Mini-mini Blog

The daily blogging seems to be hard this week, as I’m getting into the home stretch, and I’ve only myself to blame for that. However rather than spending my train commute trying to get down words of a piece of private creative writing that I’ve been working on for months, instead I’ve been trying to get down blog ideas, which perversely has led to me thinking about new ideas for my creative writing. Once April is over I’ll be rewriting the whole thing. Procrastination is a wonderful thing…

Meanwhile, whilst not blogging this evening I watched the first part of the 1980s TV adaption of the James Clavell novel Shogun, which was a lot less dated than I expected, mainly because of it’s focus on actually casting Japanese actors, instead of of the past and present Hollywood trend of ‘any Asian person will do’ (or, inexplicably, Scarlett Johanson.) It’s sad that I was so impressed with Shogun for this, and really hammers home how far the film/TV industry still has to go – we might ridicule yellow face as a thing of the past, but it’s only been replaced with clever prosthetics and CGI.


Blogpril April 19th – The Web We Want

I haven’t read all of the data and articles yet, but I already really like The Guardian’s The Web We Want, both a series about online harassment and an experiment in making their site a safer place. I think the thing I like about it is that the Guardian isn’t tiptoeing around the subject of online abuae, but rather facing it head on and admitting that, yes, there is a problem, yes, it affects our site, and yes, the harrassment and abuse disproportionately affect women and minorities, here are our figures. 

For many people, this might seem obvious (it is obvious) yet many news sites seem to tread too carefully around the subject. References to ‘trolls’ have begun to infuriate me in the past few years, it is a phrase that seems to trivialise the entire problem, especially in the eyes of anyone who doesn’t use the Internet constantly. If we portray the online baddies as dumb mythical monsters that turn to stone in sunlight rather than the actual criminals that they are, then maybe these problems wouldn’t have been swept under the rug for so long, and abuse might not have become so endemic on the Internet. The Guardian’s willingness to admit to the problem in their own house, and to point one of the major problems (while abuse can and does happen to just about everyone, just as in everyday life some groups have it worse) is, if not a sea change, then a clear breath of fresh air.

Blogpril April 18th – Lost Momentum

It’s very easy to get into the routine of writing a little bit on one topic every day, but as it turns out, a few days away from that routine and I’ve completely lost the habit. I read through a couple of news sites on my way to work and had a few ideas, and couldn’t get started. There’s a lot of really interesting things happening on social media that I need to write about, including the Guardian’s The Web We Want, which I really hope could help bring about positive change, and on the other side I’ve had a few thoughts about how we define privacy in the online world, thanks to the debacle of Social Autopsy. In tech news, I’ve been reading up a little on WeMo and smart homes. 
Anyway, I’m off to sleep on all this, having just planned out the next few days of blogs (after that I’ll be getting into those commentaries about Lets Plays in academia that were promised last week.) I’ll just leave you with one more piece of research from today’s commute – did you know that automatic tea machines are a real thing? I’m a little bit horrified.

    Blogpril April 17th – Brief App Review: Expense

    I picked up on Expense randomly when I decided that some ‘productivity apps’ would help me, we’ll be more productive, or at least organised. Expense is a nice intuitive app for recording your spending, with plenty of options for different accounts, different types of outgoings etc. It hasn’t ended up making much of an impact on my life in the way that Sleep Cycle has, but then again that’s my fault for not being more diligent in recording my finances in it. It is password protected, naturally. I was a little unnerved to see that it has Facebook sign in, but since then I’ve seen some developers working on online security comment that Facebook is a surprisingly secure way of storing logins. 

    Pros: Clear Interface, colour coding. 

    Cons: Slightly patronising push notifications at times. No, I haven’t spent any money so far today app, that’s because I’m trying to save it!

    Blogpril April 16th – App Review: Sleep Cycle

    This is the second blog so far posted well in advance, since I’ll be away this weekend. Writing ahead has taken me out of my usual routine of coming up with an idea/piece of inspiration and immediately splurging about it, so I’ve decided to take some suggestions from my sister and write about apps.

    It didn’t take me long to realise that the one app that I use daily is Sleep Cycle. Mainly as an alarm, but also because it forces me to confront when I’m going to bed too late, not getting in enough hours or engaging in bad habits right before sleeping (eg. Using my tablet or phone, drinking caffeine etc.) 

    I’m also a sucker for statistics, so seeing my own graph and getting to compare sleep rates etc. with national and international averages (dear Japan, you guys really, really need to sleep more.) is pretty cool. 

    Advantages: dark blue background doesn’t hurt your eyes, if you, like me, frequently wake up suddenly and then have to check your phone to see what time it is. Nice range of alarm tones. Motion- detector snooze button (essentially you hit your phone and it shuts up.)

    Disadvantages: Motion-detector snooze button, leaving you lying in guilty silence for 60 seconds until it starts up again. 

    Blogpril April 15th – I’m not here…

    This is the first of three blogs that I’m writing well in advance to cover being away traveling/sailing/going out with friends over the weekend 15th-17th April. I’m a volunteer with The Roma Sailing project, and usually trips out with them mean being somewhat removed from technology aside from the necessary stuff (gps, radar) however in recent years, there’s been more reliance on phone apps etc. for tide and weather predictions etc., so hopefully thee will be something there that inspires me to blog. 
    A part of me almost finds it a shame that I have ended up using technology more while sailing, and I’ve realised that a portion of this is down to wanting a reason to get away from it for a short period. But while at sea it would be nonsensical to avoid using any advantage to keep people and boats safe, I know that (although it’s also important to practice sailing without the tech, just in case. 
    Due to my job, I don’t think it’s possible to avoid computer/tech contact at all. But while I’ve sometimes laughed at the idea of ‘tech detoxes’ in the past, maybe it would be a good thing to do. Not something to blog about though – that would sort of defeat the point of it!

    Blogpril April 14th – Miniblog Update

    I was so busy earlier in the week trying to advance-write posts to cover this weekend that I basically burned out on writing in my commutes and almost gave up. In some ways, this blog challenge has been easier as I’ve deliberately kept the blogging casual – mainly no links or images, no major prepping, just getting words out on a variety on topics. But it’s almost felt harder to keep up than last year’s Blaugust challenge.
    I’m gutted that I simply forgot this time last week, and also that I’m still up too late writing. This  point is a major problem and will require a change of daily routine to fix, so that, not the blogs themselves, will be a focus over the remainder of April.