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50 Vapes of Days

There are a variety of different studies and opinions which try to define how long it takes to form a new habit. From 21 days to 66 or 90, the answer varies. Probably because people do.

So I don’t know how long you’ve stuck with something before it became a natural habit. But I’d be interested to find out. Certainly I’ve found that writing regularly about progress has been helpful, as I’m not someone who finds updating a spreadsheet on daily ‘quantified self metrics’ particularly enjoyable. But weekly updates on here remind me to keep going – even if I might be starting to bore friends on Facebook and Twitter.

So 50 days of vaping today:

  • 750 cigarettes not smoked.
  • £375 of cigarettes not bought.
  • Total cost of vaping so far: Kit £92. Liquids and coils: £88.50. Total: £180.50
  • Savings: £194.50
  • Potentially 125 hours of life, or 5.2 days re-gained.
  • And coincidentally, since getting the inclination to exercise again: 160+ push-ups, and 160+ squats. I can’t be exact as I’ve set my minimum at 20 per day, and anything over that is a bonus.

The savings weren’t as big as they might have been, as I stocked up with a new pack of coils (the first tank I bought finally needed a replacement), and 2 weeks of liquid (but with half at 6mg nicotine as opposed to 12mg). Bit annoying, as my savings would have been over £200 otherwise, but I’ll hit that in the next day. And that’s not counting lighters, or the petrol for late night trips to the corner shop.

I’m still very happy with the Apsire Zelos and Nautilus tank. For reference, I’m using it for Mouth-to-Lung (MTL) vaping and generally around 13-13.5 watts depending on the thickness of the liquid.

Might need to experiment with some new flavours though. It seems that a lot of people like a sweeter taste than me, and I definitely like more fruit and citrus flavours. So any recommendations are much appreciated…

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Will Open Source Inherit The Desktop?

The future is entirely mobile and in the cloud. That’s what every news article and analyst tells me. Desktop computers are only needed by a tiny percentage of people. And we don’t need processing power when our files are in Dropbox, our work is on Google Docs, images are edited in Adobe Creative Cloud, and all our music and video needs are covered by Spotify, Netflix and Amazon Prime. And we can run them all via superfast, completely reliable broadband allowing us to be incredibly productive at the remaining tasks not already performance by artifical intelligence.

Sounds lovely, but it’s not my reality.

The predictions do make sense. And it’s not surprising that cloud-based software-as-a-service has taken off. Why only make a profit on a single sale when you can get lifetime payments via a subscription model without pesky duplication or retail stores taking a cut?

But in my world, I have a standard broadband connection shared with other people in my house. And that passes through some TP Link Powerline adaptors due to flakey wifi. While they give me a stable connection, it’s not the fastest as it passes through 1960s era electrical wiring.

And while I love my phone, I’m either too old or too clumsy to write long passages or edit photos on it. And I’d rather keep it reasonably streamlined with the handful of apps I actually need to use, rather than loading every possible work and pleasure-related service onto it.

Which is why I not only believe Open Source will inherit the desktop, but I’m thankful for it.

Open Source Will Inherit The Desktop

So open source is not a new thing. Open Source software has been around for decades, and has many advocates and users. Examples you may be familiar with include Richard Stallman anouncing plans for GNU in 1983, Linux appearing in 1991, WordPress in 2003, Ubuntu in 2004, OpenOffice which began in 1999 and has been forked into various versions, including LibreOffice in 2010.

Plus Apache, Firefox, Android, and many, many more projects.

And in some areas, open source software is the default. But the typical consumer desktop is still generally either Windows for a PC or Mac OS.

But as the main proprietary desktop software companies increasingly move towards the cloud, that leaves a greater potential for Open Source to fill the void. For example, Microsoft has recently announced the end of MS Paint, and Windows Essentials was retired in January, 2017.

While some of those products have been replaced or integrated into Windows, Live Writer has been forked and open sourced to continue as Open Live Writer for those wishing to continue to blog via their desktop. I already mentioned LibreOffice for those needing a decent suite of office software. And I’ve personally used GIMP for image editing as an alternative to Photoshop and simpler tools – the Gimpshop version might be even easier for Photoshop users to transfer across. I’ve used Filezilla more times than I care to count – I’d be surprised if it isn’t the most used FTP software in the world by now. And VLC Media Player has coped with legally purchased official DVDs that have refused to work via the Windows DVD player for whatever reason…

Even my father appreciated Ubuntu when I installed it on his old laptop, but then again, I was replacing Windows Vista.

The thing is, some of those open source projects are a little clunkier than their proprietary counterparts. Not everything in LibreOffice, or Gimp is quite as intuitive, even thought it’s still perfectly usable when you find it. And there are occasionally driver issues with Ubuntu that you don’t tend to get as often with Windows, for example. When people make software and hardware, they’re used to catering to Windows and Mac first.

But when everything proprietary is moving to the cloud, and ‘normal’ people need desktop solutions, that means greater demand for compatability. And a bigger demand for improving the user interfaces and ease-of-use for all the main open source applications.

Which then makes it easier and more accessible for the next group of users.

Having worked on open source projects, I’ve seen the difference even small changes can make to a user base when a product becomes simpler and easier to use.

You can tell the current audience of Ubuntu by their latest news and spotlight articles, ‘Developing Ubuntu using git’, and ‘Speed up your software development lifecycle using Kubernetes’. Compare that to ‘Windows 10 helps you do great things’.

Whether or not the open source world will take advantage of this new opportunity to take over a still valuable space remains to be seen. But unless something incredibly radical happens with broadband access in the UK, the available bandwith means desktop applications which use minimal data will still be required for a long time yet.

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Photos of a walk from Upnor to Hoo along the River Medway

Various photos taken on a walk along the side of the River Medway, from Lower Upnor along to Hoo.

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Cockham Wood Fort, Nr Hoo and Upnor on the River Medway

Cockham Wood Fort, Nr Hoo and Upnor on the River Medway

Cockham Wood Fort, Nr Hoo and Upnor on the River Medway

Cockham Wood Fort, Nr Hoo and Upnor on the River Medway

Cockham Wood Fort, Nr Hoo and Upnor on the River Medway

Cockham Wood Fort, Nr Hoo and Upnor on the River Medway

Cockham Wood Fort, Nr Hoo and Upnor on the River Medway

Cockham Wood Fort, Nr Hoo and Upnor on the River Medway

Cockham Wood Fort, Nr Hoo and Upnor on the River Medway

Cockham Wood Fort, Nr Hoo and Upnor on the River Medway

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Pioneering sites closed on day of Apple event

I saw a tweet suggesting that Monday would probably be a good day to bury bad news in the tech world, as most of the world’s press and coverage would be devoted to Apple, the Apple Watch and the new MacBook.

Turns out that two pioneering internet services did indeed share some bad news. The first is that Friendfeed is closing, a little over five years after it was acquired by Facebook. The small and declining size of the community is given as the reason, which makes sense as since joining Facebook in 2009, Friendfeed has been maintained, but no more.

It’s a shame to lose an alternative social network which certainly had some traction back when it launched in October 2007 – the fact that it quickly and easily aggregated content published on a huge variety of other sites made it an interesting microblogging alternative to Twitter. And whenever the latter service went down, a flood of users would jump on it as a backup.

FriendFeedLogo

There’s no word about any data export, and given that it’s shutting on April 9th, and the relatively small user community that’s left… The official blog announcement is here, and Google’s Louis Gray has a nice post on the closure.

In the comment on his blog, Claudio Cicali has linked to code on Github to export from Friendfeed – I haven’t used it so can’t vouch for it, but other commenters seem to be having success. It’s at https://github.com/claudioc/ffexp.

Then at the same time:

GigaOm Logo

One of the first Tech blogs I read, subscribed to via RSS and followed regularly has closed the doors for the time being. It was announced with a brief update on GigaOm, a brief statement by founder and now VC Om Malik, and coverage on a variety of competing tech blogs, such as The Verge.

While Friendfeed launched in 2007, it was back in the summer of 2006 that Om Malik left his job to work on GigaOm full time and grew rapidly. In 2012 it also acquired paidContent and merged it into the site – reporting an audience of around 5.5 million users per month at the time. It launched events, and notably a paid research arm. And maintained a number of great writers, including the widely read Mathew Ingram.

Now GigaOm might not be gone for good. The assets are now controlled by the company’s lenders, and had raised $8 million in new funding just one year ago, with a figure of around 70 employees at the time. Whatever happens, it’s a sad day for tech media, as one of the biggest hasn’t been able to continue to make it work.

‘All operations have ceased. We do not know at this time what the lenders intend to do with the assets or if there will be any future operations using those assets. The company does not currently intend to file bankruptcy’

 

 

 

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Support your local independent blog?

The result of eCommerce on the High Street has been that you either find cool little independent shops which offer something you can’t easily replicate online, or massive chains which provide goods you need right now. The main effect of disruption has been for people stuck in the middle like Woolworths and HMV.

And small, local shops have probably never been more celebrated. There are days to officially support them, awards for the best of them, campaigns to promote them, and ways for them to come together.

Doughnuts - CC Licence, Leon Ephraim www.yummygum.com

Doughnuts – CC License, Leon Ephraim www.yummygum.com

I’ve never owned a shop, so it’s been a reasonably good thing for me. I like small businesses that do something interesting, I like the fact I can find almost anything online, and when I need to go to a large shopping centre or supermarket, there’s one somewhere nearby.

But I wonder what will happen if the internet goes the same way. Will there be any outcry of support for small websites and blogs?

In almost every niche there’s an example of ‘big chain’ publishing. The large publishers of the past have managed to somehow survive and adapt somewhat successfully to the digital world, even if it’s been with reluctance.

And there are the big content shopping centres of the internet; Facebook, which is so ubiquitous people around the world don’t even associate it with being part of the internet. Yahoo!, still. And Medium.

In many ways I like Medium.

It looks nice. It launched with a focus on writing, and particularly long-form writing. There’s the secret paid support for some writers and public offers for some others. You don’t have endless advertising, or fifty thousand recommended articles from Outbrain, Taboola, or Zerg etc. And there are countless fantastic articles on subjects I’ve never even considered reading about, alongside the things which I know would interest me.

But in some ways I hate it.

It’s no longer about just long-form. You now have a stream which mixes longer and much shorter pieces. And the idea is that it provides the best one-stop place for all content, just as Facebook began with connections, Youtube for video, and Google for search.

It feels more and more like the Bluewater Shopping Centre of online publishing. Nice design, good amenities, and an easy place to spend more time and money than you intended. But also slightly soulless and constricting.

And every day we read about another death of blogging, as someone with a fairly well-known name decides to give it a rest for a while.

In print publishing there has always been the odd breakout hit in an industry dominated by those who could afford the staff, the presses and the distribution. And the same will be true of digital publishing in the future. But sadly I doubt we’ll see the same types of support for the small-to-medium websites and blogs which let you feel like you were entering a local cafe, pub or someone’s living room to listen to what they had to share and discuss it with them.

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Post for admin purposes only

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My favourite Cory Doctorow books…

Someone recently asked me to recommend some books I’ve been reading, and when it comes to Cory Doctorow, I’ve probably re-read my favourites several times now.

So rather than just sharing my personal picks in a private email, I figured I’d share them publicly. They’re all available as free downloads from his Craphound.com site, but whether you grab a PDF version or a Kindle file format, if you enjoy them, I’d urge you to buy a copy for friends or family, or to consider buying a copy which can be matched to a library or school which would like a copy. The whole point of artists and creative people embracing the open, sharing, Creative Commons world is to allow people to share, remix, spread the word and support their favourite artists more easily, not just to load up on freebies!

It’s been made a lot easier for me after I happened to give one book to my father as a present, and despite buying my parents a Kindle, they still love print editions, so that’s birthday’s and Christmas sorted for a while!

 

My favourite Doctorow books:

Purely personal choices – yours may, and should differ. I’d recommend that if you have the time and inclination you read everything, but I know at least one person who needs a curated selection.

I’m not going to impose the reasons I particularly like them – read them and make up your own minds. All I would say is that you should ignore the fact some of them are labelled as ‘Young Adult’ books – the difference between a teenage and adult reader is enthusiasm, not the ability to handle complex issues!

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Blog post picked up by the Peterborough Telegraph

Quite nice to be asked by the local Peterborough Telegraph if they could publish a recent blog post on TheWayoftheWeb, ‘Why your business must own its content‘, on their Peterborough Today website.

Also nice to be quoted in a good article on Search Engine Watch asking how much SEO Reporting is too much?

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Things trying to stop me from blogging…

Besides being thankful that work occasionally makes it hard to find time to write – because otherwise I might struggle to have the money to pay rent or eat, there are other things which eat into my creative time… So here are 3 of the current offenders:

Songpop:

I’ve always been a music geek. I even confess to being a music snob all too often in the past. So the free Android version of the classic ‘Name That Tune’ is horribly addictive, as I get to compete against players around the world in ultimately pointless competitions to see who can correctly identify 5 90s Alternative Tunes, or 5 examples of Modern Rap.

If you want to risk it, the free version is on the Play Store.

 

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Multiplayer:

I honestly thought my addiction to Call of Duty had ended after I spent a ridiculous amount of time completing all 15 prestige levels in Black Ops. And yet, even though the actual multi-player game has some issues with connection speeds, I’m finding myself sucked into the familiar grind to unlock weapon attachments and camos.

And that’s key to the Call of Duty obsession – the pacing of rewards in-game for amassing a set number of kills, and in between games with the promise you can soon wield a gold gun, or one with diamond camouflage. Add the social side of a group of similar-aged guys with shared interests that I know are probably online while I type this, and it’s tempting to just go and jump on the Xbox for ‘just one quick game’. If you think you can handle it, Black Ops 2 is out for PC, Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii U.

 

Urban Explorer forums:

I’ve been fascinated with urban exploring, and the amazing finds that are being photographed. There are some interesting forums on the subject, where you can find yourself spending hours looking at what has been discovered. And it’s fascinating to discover how many interesting building might be derelict or decaying in your area – the explorers tend to do a great job of documenting the history of each location.

 

 

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Been watching: Jonah Hex

I’ve been a fan of films and comics since I can remember, and in recent years I honestly thought the days of terrible comic book films was over.

I was wrong.

Jonah Hex manages to be truly terrible. It’s badly paced, repeats the dramatic reason for seeking vengeance as if the viewer has amnesia, and manages to waste the talents of both John Malkovitch and Michael Fassbender. On top of that, two Western films with John Brolin came out in 2010, and the other was the fine Coen brothers remake of True Grit.

Even someone like me, that thought Green Lantern was actually OK, had to admit defeat with Jonah Hex. And despite the distraction of Megan Fox in a corset, I still can’t believe that one of the bad guys in the climatic final fight would be apparently about to kill her, only to completely ignore her and get back to his evil tasks to let Jonah Hex have time to get there and save her…

Truly terrible.