Future Boy

Day 1: Start again: in Good News PT is back today. YAY.

The Next Chapter Bar

Today I am here to remind you that the Future is not as forgiving and understanding as some of you seem to believe.

In the last week, a significant number of people in my timeline have seen some form of bank fraud happen in their accounts. Is it a coincidence that the biggest breach of data ever took place shortly before this? I dunno, but it’s a sage reminder to check your online accounts, making sure you don’t hold excess cash in your main account. Any excess (if you are that lucky) should be stuffed elsewhere, regardless of whether it gets saved or not. Also? Two factor authentication as standard on any app handing your money.

I digress however, but only slightly. It’s time to reference the fact that tons of privately marked tweets were, it transpires, easily accessible to anyone on an Android phone. This isn’t really news at all, because the idea of Private Messaging and Encrypted apps should be ridiculous to anyone who still holds onto any belief that the Internet is some kind of mysterious place like it was back in the 1990’s, where Government never listens and big business cannot capitalise.

Privacy, in a public space, is the biggest issue everybody should be talking about.

When you step back and consider facts, a lot of stuff is pretty well looked after. There are some basic mistakes that shouldn’t be made as consumers: online banking passwords really ought not be the same as the ones you use for porn site access. ANYTHING with a nominal value to your existence on the Internet should have a secondary form of authentication, preferably NOT tied to a mobile device.

However, what is abundantly apparent in recent years is that certain companies don’t really care about the privacy of the data you share. When you forget that Big Brother doesn’t need to watch you if you are dumb enough to use services without thinking through the consequences, the police and other organisations won’t even need a warrant to hack your Facebook account if every message you spew forth is tinged with hate. It’s just there, shouting into the void.

Just because nobody replies to you, does not mean there’s nobody listening.

The most amazing thing of all, of course, is that all this data combined adds up to an amazing way to unconsciously propel lots of industries forward. Targeting the right people online; not smart enough to grasp their news is fabricated but capable of casting votes, is one high profile example of using freely available data to influence all our futures. Yet people complain their privacy has been invaded, despite the unavoidable truth that this is not totally the fault of those doing the exploiting.

Let’s take an example: let’s say you wanted to train a camera to more accurately distinguish how faces age over time, as part of wanting to employ face recognition software for law enforcement. Picking the same person with… a ten year age gap between two pictures would be a decent starting point, wouldn’t it…?

[FX: Removes Tinfoil Hat] Okay, so maybe not everything is a government conspiracy, but on the other hand if you people could just stop sharing every single thing about yourselves 24/7 then the AI would have a far harder time deciding what you really like, before serving it up to you on a lovely, buy now and save 21% platter. I know that’s not going to happen, and a lot of people are betting on the same being true, or else I wouldn’t have a ton of people trying to invite me to a bazillion new ‘gamer only’ or ‘writer only’ social networks, or using my ratings to condemn delivery drivers and private cabs to personal hell if they don’t turn up on time.

‘Leave a review’ they say. Response to my blog posts is largely non-existent. What future is there in the writing world if you’re required to have a 3.6 star rating or above on your Blog before anybody will even retweet you? Has anybody thought through these systems properly, or are we condemned to a future where a Black Mirror episode looks more like a documentary of how life in the future was perfectly represented from a fictional past?

When I was a kid, the Future was shiny suits and flying cars. Now it’s all data and peer pressure and living a life online that should never be there in the first place. If your privacy really matters, stop doing shit online. It is terribly easy, and takes no effort at all to achieve: get your dick picks out of my DM’s, stop posting your cleavage in order to make you feel good about yourself. It isn’t difficult. You are the arbiter of your own destiny.

The only person making you share everything is yourself.

This is Not a Love Song

Day 6: So then, last night’s Blaze.

769 calories for the night. I’m not gonna lie: I didn’t do everything I was asked to do. There wasn’t really any slacking per se, however. There are red lines. ACTUAL RED LINES. They didn’t last very long mind, but HEY I don’t really care.

I am getting stronger. It is getting easier.

This may be a part of my life that can be very much improved.

The Next Chapter Bar

Yesterday I got into a conversation with a random person who seemed quite keen that they deserved a follow back. I’ve been trying to start a conversation with someone for months who lives locally to meet up, and every time a suggestion is sent off, there’s silence. Doing friendship on Social media’s a fucking mug’s game. Some people just drift in and get upset when they don’t understand WTF is going on in your Timeline (because they don’t read your feed except at a certain point in the day) and then others just retweet everything that looks important. Some days, I can’t cope.

That was yesterday. Today is better.

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There is an effort to get out of the comfort zones, obviously, and that’s happening now too as well as exercise and MIND EXPANDING WORDS but some days, when it’s just me and me alone in my head, I wish more people understood what that was really like. The ultimate irony of course is that those thoughts have existed here since… well, 2011. Trying to find someone to read them who a) I’m likely to get on with and b) isn’t a stalker ends up as the most ridiculous of asks, because if that happened…

Yesterday, something significant finally registered.

What I’d like now is people who I don’t know to be part of my life. Starting from scratch might be stressful for some, but actually it would be great to find individuals who don’t already know all the emotional baggage from the rest of my life. Maybe then, I get the opportunity to explain everything a bit better than the wibblings from my past. Employing that tactic with the people I have so far has been reasonably productive, too.

boosh

Watching other people rave about ‘their internet friends’ can begin to be demoralising, after a time, especially when yours live a long way away and you don’t get to hang out very much. The more thought is applied, the more comes realisation that perhaps the next stage of my life isn’t best organised in this way, but might well be best served looking for inspiration in other places. It is, after all, a very big world ‘out there.’

Maybe I’ve just gotta watch out for the opportunities when they appear.

Freedom ’90

Life is funny.

If you ask me what has gotten me here, in 52 years of existence, I’m betting only a very few would know the part Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd had to play in that process. Moonlighting was an almost vital part of my late teens, and although it is fair to say it has not aged well, its part in my mid 1980’s life was… well, indispensable. This song, and the Billy Joel album it comes from, had been lost from my memory until first thing this morning. Suddenly, it demands another listen.

The lyrics to this song are amazingly apposite as a metaphor for myself.

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When I got to Mulberry Street for the first time the significance of past to present didn’t really register. It’s taken all this intervening time, with exercise and writing, to grasp that an awful lot of my past has been suppressed. The reasoning behind this isn’t a massive surprise, and isn’t the point of this post. I’m here this morning safe in the knowledge that I don’t need to panic. Hard work is it’s own reward, that’s not just one of those stupid things people say because they can’t get the critical notoriety so craved.

Yes, you can change your life to suit your soul’s desire.

I’m also amazed that after thirty two years of not hearing an album the words to every track exist with perfect recall, but I can’t remember the names of any of the people I studied with at either school or college. How exactly does that work?

Dead Calm

RIP my Mac Mini, late year model which, after many, MANY hours of sterling service has become a rather lovely paperweight or table stand. Fortunately, there’s a replacement on the way with everything backed up. I’ve also bitten the bullet and factory reset my phone, which reminded me it is high time I sorted life out and dumped it for good. Therefore, after some faffing, I have a Huawei Mate 20 Pro coming from my mobile  provider which is currently cheaper than my current contract.

The photographer in me will finally have a decent camera to play with.

Also, today was the day when none of the actual work I wanted to do was completed but a whole lot of other stuff was settled. It’s a fairly massive plan, which is gonna be done on as little money as possible. The final upside is that I can design my own custom-made desk. It will double my storage space here, and finally allow the background required to start doing video diaries. That’s the long term plan, but to get there first is a lot of other work.

The point however is, that after a decade, I am finally moving on from the period of my life that almost killed me.

Your Game

I had to wear a jumper for an hour this morning. I’ve missed that.


I’m also still on the first cuppa of the day, thinking about what happened yesterday and trying to work out what should be written about. At 5pm I found myself in East London when the heavens opened, and it is easy to grasp why such biblical scenes become inspiration for poets and artists. It was glorious, watching the World (as I saw it) cleansing itself so suddenly and brutally. Then I got home and was reminded that my view of the World is not everybody’s and that sometimes, it matters to understand the bigger picture when you’re talking to an audience.

When it all gets a bit fraught, comprehension can be a problem.

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Occasionally I’m sitting watching my feed and am quick enough to see someone Tweet something, clearly think better of it and then delete it. When you see several people do this on the same subject (as was the case last night) it is a clear indicator that tempers are running high and the sane people understand they gotta be careful. This is why I don’t run an abbreviated feed either, because to really get how people think, sometimes, you appreciate it when they do make a mistake. It doesn’t make you bad or wrong, just human.

It’s also a worrying state of affairs when someone won’t feel comfortable enough to stand by the courage of conviction and would rather leave a conversation completely than be a part of it. It shouldn’t matter what you think, it really shouldn’t. People can and ought to respect that diversity. You don’t have to agree with each other to be friends. The irony in all this (from where I stand) is in this particular argument I’m quite happy not to agree with people. My enjoyment is not being impaired by doing so, as it transpires there’s a lot more satisfaction to be had just by being allowed to disagree.

Holiday is coming up, as of Monday it’ll be travelling and Italy, but rest assured I am thinking a lot about the Worlds not only inhabited but that will be left behind.

On my return, I already know that things are going to change.

Reality Bites

Yesterday was one of those moments on Social media where it became apparent that my version of Reality quite seriously deviates from a lot of others. It was also a salient reminder that what gets published is never the full picture.

You need to constantly be reminded of this, especially with those who quite obviously use the platform as an advertising tool, or as means to show their friends how invested they are in their joint interests. Part of the problem for me, over time, is that my depth of obsession with a number of subjects has either drifted or ceased to exist. However, for others those feelings still remain, and it would be both churlish and unfair to prevent the enjoyment that they bring.

It’s also quite difficult to discuss the consequences of a difference in outlook without someone taking this as criticism, and that’s the bigger issue. Depending on what your piece of art (whatever it maybe) set out to do, should largely dictate the response it receives. Critical thinking asks of a reader, or viewer, or anyone participating in a group event not to just get lost in what they are given, but appoint personal relevance to the experience. That does not have to mean enjoyment.

This is where the whole fabric of Social media begins to show some basic flaws.

monkey2

280 characters is a pretty tough platform to get right first try. I ended up yesterday telling a story, getting the threading wrong (each Tweet in the right order, attached to the same header) and ended up copy/pasting the whole thing off into a work processing document before getting it right second time around. If you’re reacting instantly and don’t think your process through, the consequences should by now be quite well understood.

However, that’s not all there is to worry about. If you’re the person who is happy their mates are having fun and isn’t fussed when they flood your timeline, there is nothing to worry about. However, when you’ve had a shit day, and it’s time to not just allow people to be happy because that point needs to be made… we all know where this is going. I unfollow those who complain about Eurovision, for instance, because a) it’s a part of my timeline and b) if you don’t get it, you won’t get me.

Occasionally, these differences allow you an important insight into people’s outlooks.

EATADICK

For me, all of these moments where my feelings split are carefully recalled for future reference. Occasionally however something happens (as was the case yesterday) where it’s more than simply a difference of opinion, and I think I see something that might not be there. What needs to happen then is the independent verification from others that a) I’m not insane and b) this can be interpreted in several ways. I’d like to thank therefore everybody on my timeline who made me feel that I’m not alone, and that this Reality isn’t just mine.

That matters far more than I initially realised.

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Everybody needs to recognise the reality checks when they happen. Being alone, having a difference of opinion that sets you aside from others is not a bad thing. It’s not reason to panic. It shows that, crucially, your reality is not just yours alone. Understanding why these differences occur is nearly as important as being able to accept that they have, and the whole process has potential to radically transform the way you think.

Just be careful how you react when they happen.

Crying

What a weekend.

I’m on five hours sleep right now, and maybe this isn’t the time to be starting something quite complex and potentially life-changing, but that’s how this works. Today begins a sixteen-week Cycling training course, which is how long before I go on holiday. An awful lot could and might happen between now and then, but this is how major change takes place.

trainings

It’s meant for Ride London athletes, but the whole thing is organised around Zwift’s workout mode, and is linked to your FTP, so (ideally) it only pushes you as far as your body itself is capable. It is a change from just doing a weekly goal and has the potential to fundamentally alter me physically. I have no idea how long I can keep it going, and what the consequences of doing it might be, but this is my plan going forward. I have my starting weight as a guide, and I’ll be able to judge physical fitness by the end in terms not simply of my FTP, but endurance and stamina.

They say everything should have a goal, right?

If all else fails, that’s four month’s worth of content taken care of.