Updates from Doug Belshaw Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Doug Belshaw 1:56 pm on February 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: link   

    No CEO: The Swedish company where nobody is in charge

    Shame there’s no mention of co-operatives here.

  • Doug Belshaw 6:03 pm on February 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: privacy,   

    The advice in this WIRED article about retaining your privacy when going through US customs also applies on an everyday basis 

    From the article:

    If customs officials do take your devices, don’t make their intrusion easy. Encrypt your hard drive with tools like BitLocker, TrueCrypt, or Apple’s Filevault, and choose a strong passphrase. On your phone—preferably an iPhone, given Apple’s track record of foiling federal cracking—set a strong PIN and disable Siri from the lockscreen by switching off “Access When Locked” under the Siri menu in Settings.

    Remember also to turn your devices off before entering customs: Hard drive encryption tools only offer full protection when a computer is fully powered down. If you use TouchID, your iPhone is safest when it’s turned off, too, since it requires a PIN rather than a fingerprint when first booted, resolving any ambiguity about whether border officials can compel you to unlock the device with a finger instead of a PIN—a real concern given that green card holders are required to offer their fingerprints with every border crossing.

    There’s a great example of how to be truly subversive later on in that article where it suggests that you turn on two-factor authentication on all your accounts (which you should use anyway) and then remove the SIM card from the phone you’d use to get the code you need. That way you can’t be forced to unlock your device. You can post generated backup codes to yourself, or get someone you trust to send them to you once you’ve cleared security. Genius.

  • Doug Belshaw 9:24 am on February 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Baltasar Gracián, time   

    Bide your time. It indicates a great heart and profound patience. Don’t be too hasty or too vehement. First master yourself and then you master others. You must journey through the tracts of time to the centre of opportunity. Prudent delay allowed success to ripen and secrets to mature. Time’s crutch is more effective than Hercules’ nail-studded club.

    from Baltasar Gracián’s ‘The Pocket Oracle and Art of Prudence’, Maxim 55
  • Doug Belshaw 9:10 am on February 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Seneca   

    Of all people only those are at leisure who make time for philosophy, only those are really alive. For they not only keep a good watch over their own lifetimes, but they annex every age to theirs. All the years that have passed before them are added to their own. Unless we are very ungrateful, all those distinguished founders of holy creeds were born for us and prepared for us a way of life. By the toil of others we are led into the presence of things which have been brought from darkness into light. We are excluded from no age, but we have access to them all; and if we are prepared in loftiness of mind to pass beyond the narrow confines of human weakness, there is a long period of time through which we can roam.

    Seneca, ‘On the Shortness of Life’
  • Doug Belshaw 5:05 pm on February 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: dystopia, Gutenberg parenthesis, literacy, secondary orality   

    Four types of dystopia (and what it means for literacy) 

    CC0 Rafał Malinowski

    In this post, Darren Allen outlines four types of dystopia:

    • Orwellian — autocratic totalitarianism
    • Huxleyan — democratic totalitarianism
    • Kafkaesque — bureaucratic surveillance
    • Phildickean — rule by replacing reality with ersatz reality

    He goes on to note:

    The reader can decide for herself under which of above we currently struggle to eke out a life worth living. I would like to suggest that all modern societies are both Kafkaesque and Phildickian with either a Huxleyan or Orwellian overarching framework; modern, western, capitalist societies tend to be basically Huxleyan (HKP) and pre-modern, eastern, communist countries tend to be basically Orwellian (OKP).

    For me, the interesting one of the four dystopias outlined by Allen is the Phildickean version:

    This technique of social control began with literacy—and the creation of written symbols, which devalued soft conscious sensuous inspiration, fostered a private (reader-text) interaction with society, created the illusion that language is a thing, that meaning can be stored, owned and perfectly duplicated, that elite-language is standard and so on—and ended with virtuality— the conversion of classrooms, offices, prisons, shops and similar social spaces into ‘immersive’ on-line holodecks which control and reward participants through permanent, perfect surveillance, the stimulation of positive and negative emotion, offers of godlike powers, and threats to nonconformists of either narco-withdrawal or banishment to an off-line reality now so degraded by the demands of manufacturing an entire artificial universe, that only hellish production-facilities, shoddy living-units and prisons can materially function there.

    A footnote next to the word ‘literacy’ explains:

    Obviously I’m not suggesting that literacy is inherently or completely dystopian, but it is the beginning of a dangerous and distorting process, which starts with societies demanding literacy for participation — and devaluing orality and improvised forms of expression — and ends with the complete eradication of reality. This danger and distortion increases with every step towards virtuality (print, perspective, photography, television, internet) until, by the time we reach VR, there remains no possibility of reverie, transcendence, humanity, meaning or genuine creativity, all of which become suspect.

    Fascinating. More than a hint of the Gutenberg parenthesis and secondary orality in there!

  • Doug Belshaw 1:44 pm on February 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: digital literacies, politics   

    (But What If) We're Wrong. 

    CC0 Evan Dennis (via Unsplash)

    I finished reading Chuck Klosterman’s But What If We’re Wrong? yesterday. It’s fantastic. You should read it.

    What I particularly like about it is that he lets you the thought processes behind the points he’s trying to make, ‘open sourcing’ his belief system for you to deconstruct. In other words, you don’t just get the big reveal. It’s a personal book, and not (as he says in the introduction) a collection of essays.

    There’s many quotable parts of Klosterman’s book, but this paragraph, which comes towards the end, really stuck out for me. Remember, he’s writing just before Brexit and the 2016 Presidential election:

    We spend our lies learning many things, only to discover (again and again) that most of what we’ve learned is either wrong or irrelevant. A big part of our mind can handle this; a smaller, deeper part cannot. And it’s that smaller part that matters more, because that part of our mind is who we really are (whether we like it or not).

    This seems particularly prescient. It comes a few thousand words after this nugget:

    If we think about the trajectory of anything – art, science, sports, politics – not as a river but as an endless shallow ocean, there is no place for collective wrongness. All feasible ideas and every possible narrative exist together, and each new societal generation can scoop out a bucket of whatever antecedent is necessary to support their contemporary conclusions.

    The point Klosterman is making is that the internet brings everything into a ‘long now’ where the time difference between, say, the 1970s and today is eradicated. Although he doesn’t mention it explicitly, he’s referencing what danah boyd calls context collapse.

    We now have immediate access to all possible facts. Which is almost the same as having none at all.

    It’s a crazy world we live in when Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia that’s (theoretically) editable by anyone bans a well-known newspaper as an ‘unreliable source’.

  • Doug Belshaw 8:48 am on February 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    I’ve switched this site from Known to WordPress, hence it looking slightly different. Bizarrely, Known had a way to export data, but then you couldn’t import it into a new installation! I’ve managed to get all the posts into a new installation of WordPress, but the images (and some of the formatting) is a different matter…

  • Doug Belshaw 4:30 pm on January 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Improving students’ experiences of learning through alternative digital accreditation 

    I’ve been at BETT 2017 yesterday and today. A few weeks ago, I was approached to do a short presentation in a new virtual teaching and learning environment called ALiS. It’s a spin-out from the University of Birmingham, and supported by Sheffield Hallam University.

    Click here or on the image above to check out the YouTube Live recording (embedding has been disabled, for some reason). I’ve shared my slides separately here.

  • Doug Belshaw 6:09 pm on January 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    The vicious cycle of 9-5 ‘open’ offices 

    CC0 Davide Cantelli (via Unsplash)

    I couldn’t agree more with an article I read today entitled If you don’t trust your employees to work remotely, you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place. In it, Yan Lhert, a software developer, lets rip at employers who favour open offices and a 9-5 culture:

    I am a night owl. You can tell me I have to have my butt in a chair within your line of sight at 8 or 9am, but that is very wasteful. You are wasting my time and yours. I am not a morning person. I will start being very effective around 11am and I really get going in the afternoon/evening. If you force your preferred hours onto me, both employer and employee lose. You get less output out of me! Here’s the cycle when I’m forced to be in a chair in your office at 9am:

    • I force myself to be up early and rush to work, feeling ill prepared
    • I try to focus and be effective in the morning, but struggle and the day is off to a bad start, killing my mood and momentum
    • I’m tired in the afternoon and cannot work effectively at my peak work time. I drink tons of coffee trying to kickstart my productivity
    • I go home when I’m finally starting to get going
    • I am restless in bed and can’t sleep because I drank too much coffee and I’m worried about getting up early
    • By the end of the week I am tired, frustrated, angry, and disappointed with my performance

    It’s a vicious cycle which has been hugely detrimental to my mental health and well being. This is another area where the science is very clear: there are morning people and there are night owls. You should accept your employees for who they are and optimize for their abilities. I am a night owl, always have been, always will be. I am done trying to work in the mornings – it is a waste of time as I am not effective and make more mistakes when I try to work at this time. I will only consider arrangements where I can control my work hours. This does not mean that I am lazy or a slacker. Far from it – I am frustrated that I cannot work at my peak productivity and I will not accept anything less than that from now on.

    I can’t actually believe that articles like this have to be written in 2017. We know what works, that rewarding people for results rather than following process works best, yet we carry on regardless.

    I spent three years working remotely for Mozilla (with plenty of travel) and now, as I’m self-employed, I do something pretty similar. Offices, and in particular open offices, don’t work.

  • Doug Belshaw 9:52 pm on January 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Linux apps I install by default 

    I’ll be setting up a new laptop tomorrow, so I’m spending this evening getting this one (Lenovo Thinkpad X220) ready to be a family machine. I’m going to wipe it and install Ubuntu GNOME 16.04 LTS on it as, in retrospect, I think it’s a better long-term prospect than the (otherwise excellent) Elementary OS.

    To remind myself, and for the benefit of anyone who’s likely to make the switch to Linux soon, here’s the apps I’ll be install straight away on my new machine. I’ve added a little explainer as to what each is and why I’ll be installing it. They’re not all free and open source, but I’d like one day to have an entire work flow that does consist of such tools.

    Albert — a fast, lightweight, quick launcher. Basically allows me to use the muscle memory I have for searching via Cmd-Space in macOS.

    Atom — a hackable text editor. The good people behind GitHub make this, and I find it very useful when writing any HTML and CSS.

    Audacity — free, open source, cross-platform audio software for multi-track recording and editing. I use this t edit the TIDE podcast and any audiobooks I produce.

    Calibre — an ebook management app and converter. Allows you to take control of your digital reading (and t strip DRM from Kindle ebooks using the right add-on)

    Clementine — a modern music player and library organiser. Also integrates with online music sources and can be controlled via Android smartphones.

    Firefox — web browser from Mozilla. I just feel safer and that my browsing is more private using this over, well, anything else really.

    f.lux — shifts the colour temperature of my laptop screen towards the red end of the spectrum during the  hours of twilight and darkness. I’m actually pretty photophobic, so this is essential for me.

    GIMP — free and open source image editor. I use this any time I’m going beyond simple cropping resizing f images.

    LibreOffice — a free and open source office suite. I use this when I have to (which is not very often)

    nvPY — note-taking application similar to Notational Velocity, but for Linux. Syncs with Simplenote.

    ownCloud — access & share your files, calendars, contacts, mail & more from any device, on your terms. I use this to sync files, instead of something like Dropbox or Google Drive.

    Skype — video conferencing tool. I mostly use appear.in, but when it gets flakey, or people would prefer using something they’re familiar with, Skype pretty much always just works. I don’t like using Microsoft products, though.

    Skype Call Recorder — does what it says on the tin. We use this to record the TIDE podcast.

    Thunderbird — email app. Sometimes you need an actual desktop mail application, and Thunderbird is solid, dependable, and has lots of great add-ons.

    Transmission — bittorrent client. Simple, straightforward way to download large files.

    If you’ve got Linux apps you always install by default, I’d love to hear about them! Add details in the comments below.

compose new post
next post/next comment
previous post/previous comment
show/hide comments
go to top
go to login
show/hide help
shift + esc