Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Reconsidering My Position

This week I have read 2 apparently unrelated tweets. The first from the eternally bizarre & occasionally wise @cartblanch.
He directed me to this video

Now I have a lot of time for Stephen Fry and whilst I will probably still correct people, it did make me look at the tweet below from Greg Stekelman, aka @themanwhofell from a different angle.

"Fuck hashtags. If people can't tell what you're writing about without having it signposted, you've failed as a writer

Normally this type of thing would have passed by as I skipped to his next amusing tweet or drawing, but in light of the Fry speech, I started to think about what that tweet actually meant. Initially the arrogance & sense of entitlement on display left me unable to formulate a coherent response. It did occur briefly that @themanwhofell may have been trying to make some larger point about twitter and language but if he was, he has in my opinion, failed. The irony of which tickled me.

What Mr Stekelman seems to be inferring is that Twitter should be some sort of writer's game preserve, where only those who are willing to follow the rules set by an elitist few are allowed in. I have never heard such a barrel of arse nuggets. I am not a writer, although I like to think I can, on occasion, put the English language to decent use. I have, more than once, used hashtags for my own ends, usually in an attempt at humor. Does that mean that I should be ejected from twitter? Should the millions of users who employ hashtags daily be barred from expressing themselves online? No, of course not, any more than those who use slang should have their mouths stitched shut.

The phrase that irked me the most is 'failed as a writer'. Most of the twitter users are not writers, they are a network of people communicating in a manner that makes sense to them. We will spell things incorrectly, split infinitives, use wrong grammar and generally behave like the schmoes we are. To suggest, even briefly that this usage is somehow less valid than any your output is sneering pomposity of the highest order.

Secondly, the internet represents an explosion in the evolution of language. Hashtags, retweets whatever, they now form part of the common parlance of a large number of people. To remove yourself from this evolution on the grounds of "that's not how its done" is the worst kind of snobbery and denies you a new and refreshing experience almost every day.

So, Mr Stekelman, I have unfollowed you. I'm sure you don't care with your many followers, celebrity status and proper sense of English, but to me your work is ruined.

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Monday, 23 August 2010

When I became a man, I put away childish things

A thought trundled through my brain Sunday just gone. As I sat in the back garden with Jnr, dismantling my special edition Mr Potato Heads and cleaning them, it struck me that at the age of thirty (thirty one in 2 & a bit weeks) I have still retained a lot of my childish paraphernalia.

Take for example, my bookcase. Packed with broken spined Stephen King novels, 2 editions of Viz's Profanisaurus Rex, graphic novels, topped with the aforementioned Potato Heads, Lord of the Rings statues, a Lego Jedi and a miniature Mickey Mouse duelling light-sabres with Yoda, it looks like the hoardings of a nerdy pubescent boy. Not, as it is, the collection of a married father of one at the start of his 4th decade in existence. My taste in films has not really moved on since I was 18, it's still the inevitable mix of horror, 'dumb' comedies, action films and, of late, the Studio Ghibli collection. Granted some slightly more complex films & books have crept in but the staples have been the same for 15 years now.

Should I be worried by this? Am I now part of a generation doomed to never grow up? Frittering their lives away coveting the Lego Star Wars: Palpatine's Shuttle, set? I like to think not. The inference that this behaviour is childish is ridiculous. I've seen childish. Childish is throwing a temper tantrum because you're bored in Tesco. Childish is having "best friends" that last 2 weeks, or until someone else gets a new, better Bakugan (google it you lazy wotsit). Childish is owning something for a week & breaking it when you try to push it into the secret hiding place under the sink. Kids are frivolous and fickle over belongings, I am not. I have collected these things over the course of the last 13 years, they are either well used ( the books) or pristine ( the models and whatnot ). I look after my things and use them sparingly & carefully. Some I keep for the memories, some because I find the concept amusing. A graphic novel (you can call them comics if you like, doesn't bother me) is kept not because I'm immature but because I appreciate the story, themes & art contained in them. If you think "comics" can't have meaningful storylines, I suggest you read Batman: Arkham Asylum & Watchmen.

Is this blog an attempt to justify my kiddy shit to myself? Possibly, but in writing this I reminded myself how much I am attached to these things. They are part of me and if others see me as being childish as a result, so be it. If you think that then you don't know me and in all honesty, if you can't see it for what it is, perhaps I don't want to know you.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Creativity, or a Lack Thereof

Some days I question the validity of this blog. For someone with something to say on pretty much every subject under the sun, I rarely post anything. I'm beginning to think that I have a blog because it is the 'done thing' in social media.

I know the reasons why I don't post much, this blog, like my life, suffers from a continual lack of direction. I also want this to be something out of the ordinary, which with over 3 billion websites in Google's indexes must be approaching impossible. Everything I want to say is already being said in more eloquent terms by other people. Lastly, despite my cavernous memory for spurious facts and ability to pare any process down to it's simplest form, the only creative bone in my body is the stirrup (the tiny ear one). The only truly original thing that happens to me is my day to day life, and that would be fine to write about if I trained swans for a living, but I don't.

So, there are a few ways forward.

1. Close the blog.
2. Keep vomiting brain stuff on here & hope a direction appears.
3. Pick a topic and stick with it, no matter how turgid, original or uninsightful the content ends up being.

To be continued.... or not.

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Monday, 26 July 2010

Fucking Idiots and Flourescent Bags

A quick question before I start. Cyclists riding on the pavement? Acceptable or not? I ask both as a cyclist and pedestrian and with a certain weight of expectation that you'll side with me.

To my mind, it's only ever allowable when the path is also a cycle track, other than that I use the road for that is what it is there for. Imagine my surprise this morning when a cyclist nearly parked his front tyre twixt my cheeks and proceeded to ride off, muttering about a 'fucking idiot'. Who was this 'fucking idiot'? Was it the council for leaving gigantic potholes in the road? It seemed an odd moment for an outburst about an ongoing issue. A car or truck who had forced the poor cyclist onto the pavement? None were in evidence. Was it perhaps the member of Halfords finest who blutacked the bike together, thus causing steering issues resulting in this chap's transitory pavement ways? No. Of course it was me. A pedestrian, walking down a public footpath wide enough only for maybe 1.73* people, and taking up exactly my allotment of space and no more. Yet this 2 wheeled warrior felt aggrieved that I should be there and 'in his way', despite the ample, empty roadspace to his right.

Am I being harsh? Should I be forcing innocent 20 year olds to ride on the appropriate surface and highway? He wasn't wearing a helmet, he could die out there, oh god the guilt, what of his mother? I mean, I ride on the road but I have a helmet to protect my delicate bonce and a lovely flourescent bag to help drivers notice me. This poor wastrel could obviously afford none of these luxuries, unless he was ordering them on his iPhone as he cycled away. He was paying an awful lot of attention to his phone, that must have been it. Perhaps I am the fucking idiot? But I suspect not.

I have commuted by cycle for 2 years now and through taking sensible precautions and having an understanding of the rules of the road, both written and unofficial, have stayed safe throughout. It's not complicated, if there's a cycle path, use it. If not, get on the road where you belong.

Next week, probably, Cyclists and traffic lights. Grrrr...

*Results may vary according to the size of your ass.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Something is technically wrong...

I'm currently planning my next phone upgrade. Day was a handset would take my fancy and I'd go get it. Then, as life, debt, and parenting encroached on my finances and requirements, I found more research was required to get a decent handset at a reasonable price.

Thus I ended up with my current handset a Nokia E71 on the 3 network. At the time I wanted a full qwerty keyboard smartphone and having owned numerous Nokias across the years, it seemed like the smart option. Over a year later I am at the point where I may not buy another Nokia again.

'Why?' I hear no one cry? Well allow me to elaborate.

OS: In the modern day there are 2 realistic choices of phone OS. Android or whichever iteration of Apple's firmware is currently out. Android provides the illusion of opensource with most of the benefits of a proper support & upgrade structure. iOS is designed with a hardware set in mind and has unparalleled support but Apple always knows best and therefore it is a walled garden, albeit a lovely garden, with a pond, and no wasps.

Symbian could have provided a genuine 3rd path for phone OS. Not all of us want 7 battery draining front screens [HTC Desire], to be stuck 2 versions in the past [Sony Eric X10] and I'd like to be able to install what I like on my phone, not what you to deem to be safe [Apple, obviously].
A true opensource OS for infinite customisation and improvement could have done well in that market. As it is, they've taken 2 years to get Symbian opensource and used the semi-opensource as an excuse to not implement any real change or improvement. Even when the incremental changes arrive they're not always for the better. My recent update in firmware knocked 5-7 hours off my battery life with no sign of any alterations for the better. If anything, my phone is now slower.
Recommendation - Spend a year stripping Symbian of all the crap. Ask the community what it needs and act on it [see Linux for examples]. Then release it as a base OS, with reasonable minimum spec requirements and let the public do the rest [similar to HTC's tweaking of Android]. Also a new name. Sparkthrust or some such.

Hardware - I can't think of a Nokia since the 7110 that made me drool like a kitten in a fish market. Every one I've owned since has been under powered for the expectations placed on it. Camera? Yup. MP3 playback? Yup. Web Browsing? Yup. Apps? Just. But try doing more than 2 or 3 tasks at a time and the whole thing invariably hangs. e.g. I'm web browsing in Opera Mobile and I get an email. I multitask over to my email to read it and click to retrieve the mail, mail retrieves and starts opening. It hangs, for at least 60 seconds, all I can do is wait. This is by no means isolated to Opera or Email, multitasking on every Nokia I've owned is broken. Nokia seem to design 'nice' looking units, decide on a spec and OS version and then put the cheapest chip and least amount of RAM feasible in it. See also the N97, N97 mini, the 5800. The upshot is that Nokia's are cheap by smartphone standards. The hardware failures are the result of building to a price point.
Recommendations - Get the OS right, work out what you think you need to run it and then add 30% to that. Give it 2gb of internal memory an AMOLED capacitative touchscreen and a decent battery.

Apps - There is no proper app for Facebook [it's broken], Twitter [no official], Flickr, Gmail [worse than useless]. Gravity Twitter client is the only app I will miss from S60 PLEASE port it to Android.
Oh and the Ovi store is fucked. Kill it and start again.

As I type this, Twitter is convincing me to get a HTC Desire over the Wildfire, no one has mentioned any Nokia device, opensource or no.

Nokia - You are in deep, rancid shit.