Winston Smith

The less you know about me the more I reveal. #100days

UPLINK: 2020-04-24 NHS on TikTok

Is it wrong of me to find this pretty distasteful? Maybe I'm a heartless bastard, but I think when people are dying in hospital or patients being deprived of operations or cancer treatments, it's at best a bit insensitive to be dancing in wards in hospital. There was one of the nurses and doctors spinning around on a MRI scanner that's been dormant. Bad taste - do that at home, not it your protective gear just to get in on the TIkTok challenge. Pretty sad that the NHS are actually promoting this out through their social channels. Like I said maybe a bit crap that I should feel differently, but that's just my personality type - to have a bit of self-dignity and respect in the settings of a hospital. Especially when people are dying, and the public are being prevented from seeing their loved ones in hospital. Perhaps I should just get a sense of humour, lighten-up a bit, but when I see people who have worked hard to build a business and then see it go down the drain due to the shutdown, I consider the stress, anguish and heartache - I don't see these business owners doing TikTok "challenges to let off a bit of steam".

Right now, I'm kind of becoming a bit embarrassed to be human. I'm actually starting to question what it means to be human and what humanity will look like in 6 months time.

Some links:


UPLINK: 2020-04-23 Starlink zips over the UK but where is it leading?

Last night I watched the Starlink rocket pass overhead. What a sight that was. It took 22 minutes to pass from Florida to the UK. That's pretty astounding and it was awe inspiring to watch. By the time it got to the UK it was pretty small, it looked a bit like a plane, but it was pretty obvious it wasn't. We were lucky that it was a beautiful and clear night. It was dusk and blue hour, which made it a really perfect sight. It passed by in around 30 seconds, carved a perfect line through the sky and was incredibly bright. Then it was gone.

I've only just started to learn about Starlink since seeing these satellites pass over the past few months. It's very weird and quite eerie to witness. I get that there are already satellites up there, but seeing these is a little bit bizarre. Maybe because we are locked down that I feel this way. Standing in my garden looking up at this SpaceX rocket racing across the sky made me wonder what it's all about. I heard a couple of people down the road let out a bit of a cheer, but wonder what it is exactly they are cheering for. Why do we need this tech in our lives? I haven't researched it that much, but its to provide a global internet coverage, especially for rural areas. I get why that could be a good thing, but it just sits uneasy with me, having an American megacorp launching so many of these so rapidly into space. Here's a few reasons why:

  • Space junk - just how much do we want to create up there, storing potential problems? I think these are set to burn themselves up after use, but still we are sending a load of crap up into space
  • Privacy - Do we really need a global always on Skynet? More tracking, more ways for governments to spy on individuals.
  • Astronomy - There are serious concerns from astronomers on earth that all this crap in the sky will prevent them from discovering new wonders of our universe.
  • Control of information - the current internet is kind of democratised even now. That's becoming less so every day, but having a single corp controlling the global internet is not the kind of model I think is healthy for a democratic species.

As I said, I haven't done that much research on what Musk is planning, it just doesn't sit comfortably with me at all.

Further thoughts for me - how are Musk, Telsa, SpaceX and the US government linked? There is clearly more than just a private venture at stake here. Is Musk just some sort of front man for the US government? I'm sure the NSA would love a piece of all of the car telemetry and certainly they are involved in Starlink.

All in all, it was a pretty historic thing to see launch from my back garden, but as tech accelerates beyond control makes me wonder how what I will think of that moment in 20 years' time.


2019-12-16 Had it with Coud Services

I have truly had it with cloud storage services after me last experience of PCloud. This on the surface seemed like a good service. However it's just been a nightmare. Everything from ba syncs to data loss.

Honestly I've been thinking this for some time, but I'm just gonna buy a couple of portable hard drives and have that as my back-up service.

On the face of it PCloud was decent. Good value for the year, a fairly decent app and the desktop virtual drive seemed to work ok. In fact that was one of the best parts. Could have a virtual drive with up to 2TB of storage available on my work mac. The problem was that when I inspected a couple of folders several of my photos were missing. Not good! Not good at all, the whole point of cloud storage is to have the ability to safely store things like photos. A further problem was that a folder I deleted kept reappearing. What is that all about? I'd delete the folder, both on the desktop and on my mac, then boom. There it was back again. That is a proper pain in the arse. I have no confidence in this service going forwards. All I wanted was a safe place for my files. Especially Photos and Video.

All this after spending nearly two weeks of constant upload to get 300GB into the cloud on my slow home broadband connection.

I tried Smugmug, Flickr, Google Photos, Dropbox, Piwigo. So far nome of them have been perfect. I guess most of these aren't really back-up solutions, so I can't complain.

So I think I'm done with cloud services. Sure a portable hard drive is going to fail, or get lost or destroyed. I'll of course have to have a separate back-up of these files. So far I've tried a lot of options. The only benefit cloud has given me so far is access to my files on my mobile. I think of the times I've needed to access my files from my phone remotely and its so rare. So I think a portable HDD is the way to go for me. 4TB is a nice chunk of storage for £80.

2019-12-14 I didn't go to the gig

I decided to bail out of the gig. I'd rather have stayed at home than have a two hour round trip to London. A shame as it would have been a nice evening out. I lied and made the excuse that the trains were messed up. I also went to buy a ticket so I could claim my £45 per diem. That is a bit naughty but I don't really care. This company screws people over and I haven't had a pay rise in nearly two years. Well that's unless you count the £400 a year rise I got.

So we stayed in and had a had a chinese instead. This was after we went to the station pub for a bit. Had a few pints there which was nice. It's still pretty sad that I decided to stay at home rather than go out, but that's maybe telling for a lot of my motivation at the moment.

On the whole my motivation seems to have improved somewhat. I'm still hating social media. It's really crap if you ask me. I don't know why I'm bothering with Twitter anymore. Who am I actually speaking too? It's a bullshit echo chamber so I think I'll post there less. My ego has been growing less and less and my need to share my life online is dwindling.

2019-12-10 More lack of motivation

I really feel totally unmotivated by things at the moment. Especially work.. Life just feels terribly unfulfilling. I don't even feel like I want a career any more.

  • Technology is pissing me off - it's too complicated
  • Social media is pissing me off - it's so unauthentic
  • Egos at work are pissing me off - they are total wankers
  • I'm fatter and unfitted than I've ever been
  • The weather is shit and it's dark all the time
  • I don't really have any significant friends
  • I've just returned from Dubai which is the shit hole of humanity.

More on that.

Some how I need to get my mojo back. I'm hoping that I can maybe write my way out of it.

2019-12-13 Thoughts on the General Election

So the conservatives have smashed the general election. Boris defeated Jeremy and gets to gloat in his victory. I was totally divided on this one, and have become pretty disillusioned with the whole thing. I voted, I decided that I should event though I didn't really want to. I would have voted for the Tories as no way was I voting for Labour. But.... Brexit. I voted to stay in the EU so how could I then vote for a party that was going to smash us out of the EU (although I sort of respect democracy so think we should maybe honour the vote to leave).

I voted Lib Dem. A kind of pointless vote really. Firstly it was never going to have an effect in my area. Secondly if they did actually get in power they'd for sure mess things up. So why did I vote that way, was caught in between a rock and a hard place. I voted by post over a week before polling day. That has it's advantages in that I don't have to watch all the dross in the week before the election. Has the disadvantage that if something radical changes I've already cast my vote.

So as I woke to a massive conservative win I had totally mixed feelings, but it wasn't a surprise. L

On Brexit

It's going to happen. We are out of Europe. At least now we will have some sort of closure on what seems to have dragged on for ever. We can say goodbye to our European friends and move on. I think there will still be masses of disruption for years to come. If there was an opportunity to stay I would gladly take it, but now the conservatives are in so let's get it done.

On the NHS

I fear for the NHS. I think the Tories will screw it up somehow. Probably sell bits of off to their mates. This institution is too important to too many people to mess up.

On Labour

They really did manage to right royally mess themselves up in this election. Being accused anti-semites didn't help. I don't really know the basis of this, but it seemed to do some major damage.

On the map

This says a lot about the state of the UK and filter bubbles.

Cities - Labour
Wales - Labour
Countryside - Conservative
Scotland - Wants out

This has always been the same so no real change there, but I does show the fragmentation of the UK. Sure some of these seats are closer than others. I still feel these elections are getting more decisive and nasty than ever.

Other random thoughts

  • The state will get massive new powers. Facial recognition and other intrusive technologies here we come.
  • Boris Johnson in power, this will totally go to his head. This guy is going to be a megalomaniac.
  • The fallout over the next month or so will be all about politics.
  • I bet loads of young people didn't bother to vote.

On the Future

Things will go on and be just fine, I have no doubt about that. The world will keep turning. The UK will still have a decent economy (in part thanks to London). The poor will still get a rough deal like they always do. There will be more moaning and complaining from all sides. I'll avoid the news as much as possible. Being ignorant perhaps is bliss.

So that pretty much rounds off my thoughts on this general election.

2019-12-12 Shooting in Mono

Yesterday I spent the day shooting in mono.

I usually always prefer colour photography, but for some reason yesterday was a black and white day. I think that reflects my mood. I'm not feeling much colour in my life. Infact, as I said yesterday I'm really in a bit of a funk. I know everyone gets like that, but that is unusual for me.

That said, I love the mono shots there is something quite nice about stripping back photography to a raw date of commotion, light and form. Sometimes colour just gets in the way of the story. I want to shoot more black and white. I always revert back to colour as then "I have the option" to convert to B&W, but I never do. When I shoot in B&W (setting to high contrast mono or grainy film preset) I have no choice in going to colour. What is done is done. That is the moment captured.

So back to the funk. What is a funk anyway? Funk is funky, not something bad. But the funk is how I would describe my mood. I badly need to get myself motivated again. I'm hoping that some writing and photography will help. I'm bouncing around with a love hate relationship with social media again. I must install and uninstall Instagram every week. Twitter I'm flirting with again, but I don't know why - for what reason. Plus I'm back here writing again after a long hiatus. I guess I just want to produce stuff and share it. A bit like the black and whit photos. What was the point in shooting them to not share them. A bit like this writing, what's the point in writing it if not to share.

I think overall I just want to be more authentic. Maybe more on that some other time.

2019-12-11 WFH feeling like shit

I have no idea why (that's a lie) but I feel like shit today. I'm not sure why I do it to myself. It's been a bad day overall. My car is totally buggered it is now completely covered in mould. I'm probably going to have to get it scrapped. This is pretty depressing. It's a great car, but water leak damage has been a nightmare. I think I'll just make do without a car. We did with only one car for ages. Still pissed me off the garage couldn't find the fault.

I'm just so tired today. I skipped footy training. I'm getting fat and old. This is not how I want to be. Depressed, lethargic, fat and old.

2020 coming up. I need to change. It has to be time for a change. I can't keep going the way I am for another decade. It's ridiculous. Small gains is what I need. It starts tomorrow. Always tomorrow.

2019-12-10 Dubai is a shithole

Dubai is a shit hole of a country in my opinion. There is nothing but steel, glass, sand and a load of either A. Pretentious arseholes or B. Modern day slaves. I find the whole place pretty disgusting. Sure the weather is nice in the winter compared to Europe but that is it. Honestly I feel like it could be one of the most overrated places on earth. For me it is also describes everything that is wrong with humanity. A land of building more stuff, spend more money, consume more things. The hypocrisy of the place is ridiculous too. No booze, unless it's hidden - and believe me the Emirati drink booze for sure. There is this undertone of oppression of women too which I despise. There is also a massive class divide, both defined by money but also by race - Pakistanis, Indians and others are totally second class citizens and are usually in low paid jobs, over worked and treated like shit.

The Palm is lauded as some paradise island. It's just a gravelly beach surrounded by building sites. The Atlantis at the end is just some over-hyped monstrosity of a hotel, over priced and full of tourists I've rather avoid.

Prostitution is in all the major hotels an on plain sight, and yet shows of public affection between a husband and wife are frowned upon. Again major hypocrisy.

No-one has a story. No-one has a background or history of the place they are staying or working. It's just a multicultural melting pot of people there to consume. There is no history, or if there is it's just buried into oblivion.

I was there on work, but I kind of feel bad for even contributing to that economy. I'm part of the problem not part of the solution. Honestly, when leaving there I was ready to go and felt like shit for being a human. I also started to feel more resentment for other humans. Just looking around at everyone in their designer gear, label fiends. Sure I got to go there for work, but it's not somewhere I would travel under my own choice.

I've travelled to Dubai three times and it doesn't get any better. Each time I travel, I'm just thrilled to get out of there. I honestly can't see the attraction. If meet someone who loves the place, I really start to question their judgement. Sure this is pretty judgemental of me, but fuck it this is how I feel and my opinion is my opinion. Honestly, if you are thinking of travelling to that hell hole. Just don't bother.

2019-10-06 Netbook thoughts, plus a family out on their tablets

2019-10-06 Netbook thoughts, plus a family out on their tablets

So I'm typing this on my little netbook toy laptop again. Just using a simple notepad text editor. I'll then paste into standard notes. I still like standard notes, but I still prefer plain text files for longevity. They really will be fully functioning in years to come. I also love that I can use any text editor of my choice to edit these files. This works the best for me. I do love standard notes and the encryption it offers, but I just fell in love with plain text files a few years ago, so I’ll probably just keep everything in that format as I go forwards. There really isn’t a better way to journal in my opinion, especially if all I’m doing is typing plain text.

Weird Family

We went out for a drink at a local boozer. We love that pub especially after a ncie walk with the doat down and there was this really weird family next to us. Husband, Wife, Son, Daughter. g. SAll of them around a table with their iPads on the table looking at the screens. The dad even had his headphones in to watch some video. The mum was shopping for shoes. I don’t know what the kids were watching or gaming. We spoke to them briefly (before they put their heads back down into their tablets. They couldn’t have a dog as they both worked full-time. How mental is that, they work all week away from their kids and yet they then spend the weekend in a really nice boozer looking at iPads each. I guess that’s the modern way of the world. I don’t see that very often which is good. I know I shouldn’t be judgemental and let’s face it we all use our tech all the time, but there have to be some times that are sacred, especially times out and about. Maybe they are all tuned in to each other when at home and this is their special time out when they can all sit on their devices. Maybe I’m just old fashioned, and like I said, who am I to judge what other people do with their kids.

Getting pestered for presents

It’s my birthday soon enough and I’m getting pestered for what I want for my birthday. I’m lucky in that I’m a man that has pretty much everything I need. This causes tension at birthday times as I can’t tell anyone what to get me as a gift. I really can’t think of anything I need. Sure maybe a new bit of tech would be good, but I really don’t need anything. What’s the point in a new camera or a new laptop? My existing kit performs exactly as I need it to. It performs really well. I guess I could do with a new 2TB external drive which would be my life drive - storing all of my text, photos and music on it. But again, I don’t really need this so it seems a bit pointless to just buy one.

End of another week

I’m writing this on a Sunday, I don’t know when I will publish it, but another week has flown by. That’s crazy really we are punching through October faster than ever. I’m back on the daily writing which is nice, I’m reading a lot again which feels much healthier than just sitting on my phone or laptop pissing around not really learning anything just running down the clock until the end of my life.

The tiny underpowered laptop for staying productive in writing

The smaller and more underpowered laptop the better it is for writing. I really believe this to be true. The great thing about a little laptop is that you really don't get distracted by a web browser. Mainly becasue it's so underpowered

2019-10-05 Encryption

Today I created a encrypted hard drive using Veracrypt. This will be my offline non cloud digital life. Of course, I will need a decent backup plan too. I have decided to do this as I'm fed up with all of my personal data, especially photos being sprayed across the internet into various data servers. Sure here i am blogging in the wild and writing this onto a data centre somewhere out there. But these words are public, I intended them to be that way. I no longer want my personal writing or photos to be on public data centres. That will suit me just fine.

I'll just have everything available on a little netbook that I can take around with me. I'll type my private journal up there and all will be golden.

I also encrypted a little 32GB microsd that nicely slots inside my netbook (which has awful storage - like 4GB left after the operating system is installed. That's cool with me as I'll just store everything on that encrypted SD drive.

I don't know if I'll continue to use standard notes. I do like that it's cross platform and cloud sync, but I'm trying to spend less of my time using cloud services and just want to use simple offline encrypted text files. I want to spend less time online overall. That's why I love this tiny underpowered netbook. It really is pretty shit, 2GB ram and some underpowered processor. It's still way more powerful than my first desktop, but somehow struggles with the web these days. I like that, less multi-tasking, more focused on what I want to do, which is writing and reading and 'thought taking'. It's a case of only firing up a web-browser to check something then closing and moving on. Any more than 10 tabs open in a browser and this little netbook will creak. I'm also getting used to the little keyboard and it's actually pretty sweet. I think I'll write more about this keyboard sometime in the future as although it's probably worth £10 now, it's one hell of a machine that I would have killed for back in my early 20s, so why dismiss it now as some little computer toy, which is what it really is. It's a toshiba satellite cl10-b-100, which is a joke of a laptop compared to my MacBook, but somehow I'm really loving the portability of it. I think I'll install linux on it at some point, just for fun and to see what I can do with it. Although having said that I think that it could be impossible to go back to windows after as I don't have any recovery usb etc. Windows is ok for me for now, so I'll probably stick with it.

Loving my books again at the moment. Just finished - Permanent Record by Edward Snowden. Loved the short easily readable chapters. I powered through this book in no time. He really seemed a genuine kind of guy that was trying to do the best for citizens of the world. I didn't learn too much more about the secrets he revealed. I took a bunch of highlights so need to go back through those. It was good to read his account of things, and the kind of book that passes the time well, but I wouldn't say it was a 'must read'. I might change my mind as I reflect on it a bit and read the highlights again.

2019-10-04 Looking back, I'm not a computer

Just go offline. There is no need for the cloud for anything. Why the need to share across platforms? This is the safest way to type. Store everything on a single text file happy days. It's more about the process than the actual storage of what you write.

Write, just write, worry bout what you are writing about. Except you won't. But maybe you will. Only on your deathbed. Did I write too much, no enough. But did I live? Ain't that the truth? Did I actually live? Or spend my whole life thinking, texting, looking at my phone and worrying.

Be bold. ..... Honestly, just be bold with your life. Enjoy it, live it and love it. Don't look at other people, just roll with what you have. Ignore material things. Self publish. Look forwards.

I think the reason I want to document my life, is because my memory is fucked. The internet and computers will remember every bit, byte an terabyte of what I did. My memory is fucked. I can barely remember what I did last week, let alone 10 years ago. I keep getting flashbacks of my life from wayback, like 10-15 years. Fuzzy memory Deja Vu things. It makes me sad. I'm not sure writing or photography will help. Maybe my memory is just fucked. That's the probelme with working around computers all your life. You expect your brain to work the same way as a hard drive. It doesn't. Oh well.

I think I've always looked forward, now I'm thinking about looking back. I'm not wired to look back, it makes me sad.

2019-10-02 Random Thoughts

It's a weird one today. I don't feel motivated like I should. I have no idea what is going on with me. I am 100pc going through a midlife crisis I rekon. I'm still writing so that's all good. I'm not reading as much though and that is all bad. I should be reading at least a bit every day. I love it so much, so don't know why I've stopped. I really need to clean up my act a bit. Stop the boozing and bad eating and get healthy. I'm 40 next week for goodness sake. That as far as I'm concerned is bloody old. Not quite the "downhill" from here old, but still old enough to have some of my best years behind me. Oh well I'm not going to well on that. I think that I need to be a bit more positive in my writing. I need to lift myself out of a bit of a funk that I've got myself into. It's all a bit pointless just writing 20,000 words of negativity. I think the problem is the time of year. The summer is leaving us and I'm sure that has something to do with it. I love the autumn, but not so much the winter. Also, I've really let myself go physically. This time last year I was in tip-top shape. This year I'm probably the fattest I've been in my life. I need to get back on that fitness streak. Disappointed with myself for letting that go. I've got football training tonight so at least that is something. Time to step it up. I might even start this daily writing to motivate me to do that and keep me honest. I've also dropped back from my photography. I haven't shot anything since I've been back from Spain. Well just a few snapshots. I'm in London today and don't even feel the motivation to take a camera. This is weird for me.

The sun is shining today which is nice though. Absolutely stunning out there. It feels great to be alive.

2019-09-31 Campervan

I signed-up for Reddit. I had a question on privacy so I decided to sign-up with an anonymous username generated by a random username generator. I've always lurked on reddit, but never posted. My question was answered in seconds which is amazing really. What a great resource it is. I used to love internet forums back in the day, especially before facebook. I was in an online minidisc forum way before most of my friends were online. I had 2000+ posts on that forum and eventually became a mod. I loved that back in the day. Now we have an obsession with being seen as our real-world personas online and I hate that. Sure it's useful for somethings, but for other's it's nice to be anonymous.

In other news we have bought a campervan (well more of a motorhome). This totally makes me want to go off grid even more. Of course I won't be doing this because I have my responsibilities, house and job etc. The thought of being offline in a self-contained camper van. Kindle fully loaded with 1000 books. A 1TB drive loaded with all of my music and photos. The odd film I download whilst on public wifi. Then just stay off the web and the grid as much as possible. Ideally just dialling in when I need a small bit of information. A very simple life. Just me and my loved ones, a bike and surfboard. Really limited tech, low power, low usage, just chill. I'd be well happy with that.

2019-09-30 Time racing, Instagram, On Being a hermit

Time is absolutely racing away. It's ridiculous, it really is. I wake an start to type or grab a coffee and half the day has already drifted by. I want to absolutely maximise each day. Each moment is fleeting and it's gone before you know it. That's the thing - maybe I'm trying to fit in too much but cataloging every aspect of my life. What's the point in spending forever cataloging, I never really look back. I only ever look forwards. I should simply shoot photos write text, publish and forget. I'm still finding this blogging a nice way of simply letting off some steam. That's all it is. I'm considering moving back to a simple HTML file for my blogging it was such a simple way of doing things. I can't be arsed to run a massive CMS for my needs it's just not worth it. Ideally I'd just run this off my this off a home websever. I use strapdown.js and just edit a singe html file with a massive TOC. It isn't pretty and it's not going to win any love from readers. That's not the point though the point is to just try and get away from the technology that is slowing my creative process down.

That's bloody easy to be honest. That's probably good enough for me. One massive html file. Once again I just really like the notion of getting everything offline and encrypted. I'm going to try my best to keep that philosophy going.

I've been off instagram now for a quite a few months. I really don't miss it at all. In fact I feel pretty liberated by being off of it. I have thought about signing up a few times it, but really fuck that shit. I really don't have a need to go anywhere near it in my life. I was only drunk when I installed the app again and thought I'd give it a whirl. Totally pointless, but that's the way it its. What was it about being drunk that mean that I'd want to connect with complete random strangers. I don't get it. Maybe I was showing off, maybe I was just bored, maybe I was just drunk. It's funny though how the user interface felt really familiar and I actually felt at home again. I guess when you have spent literally hours of your life in an app you kind of love it for what it is.

On Being a Hermit

I feel like being a hermit, I genuinely would be interested in just chilling the fuck out on my own away from things. I'm not running away, I'm just getting over and feeling a bit more introspective. A bit like all this shit of trying to get offline. I picture a less stressed out life with just me and a portable hard drive.