Eating Habits Have Been Hacked

Davie Davies speaking to Hooked author Michael Moss:

During the pandemic, he says, many people have sought comfort in the snacks they remember from childhood. “We went into the store, and we started buying products we hadn’t had since we were kids,” he says — recalling “great joyous moments.”

It’s only when you step back and look around when buying food you realise that a sorry state the world is in.

Our brains and bodies have been hacked by nostalgic food, bright colours and gimmicks to a point of almost no return. A point further highlighted by the pandemic as we all reached for something that made us feel better and take our mind of the doom and gloom.

This is fine in the short term but when you look at all the psychology used by brands it’s reminiscent of social media manipulation. The whole world is out to sell us something and to hell with the repercussions.

Humanity Is Great Again

I don’t need to resort to tropes to tell anyone how hard the last year has been. Since COVID-19 hit the UK like a train (no political discussion please) we’ve been in lockdown longer than I can ever remember. This has been hard on us all, but one for the weird consequences of this has been my contact with other people. I’ve only been able to see the outside world through Social Media — and that sucks!

I’ve spoken before about missing just being around others, and the lack of physical contact that I think humanity needs to survive. I have been talking, interacting and looking at everyone though the smokey lens of the online world for so long I forgot how great people actually are.

It’s easy to get disillusioned about the way of the world. More so when your bombarded with the worst that it has to offer, what feels like a constant stream of bad news and outrage with some random conspiracies thrown in for good measure. It’s only when getting back to some semblance of normal that it all starts to make sense. As the country opens back up again, I can now start to talk to people in person. Laugh and joke almost like old times that you begin to realise that the world is a much more positive pace when you remove all the digitals in between.

There is nothing like real people, in a real situation that brightens things up. Makes humanity seem great again and improve the despair felt when staying at home. I’ve got through the latest lockdowns with a few scrapes and metal bruises but being able to get out and about again is brilliant. These Smokey lens I have looking at the world through have been lifted, and I am forever grateful.

How To Do An EE Digital eSim Swop

Despite it being a standard feature in many Android phones it took Apple until the iPhone XS to implement a dual sim of sorts. Even then you need to have one as an eSim and that limits the networks that can support it. Thankfully EE were one of the first, so for the last few years I have been using two sims in my iPhone, one for work and one for personal.

One major pain is dealing with moving phones. I do that quite a bit, so ordering a paper EE eSim each time became a pain, not to mention an expense at £1.50 a time. Preplanning helps a little, but there has still been times I’ve been without service because I’ve broken my phone and can’t just pop my sim in another.

Thankfully EE have a solution, and you can now download an EE eSim for your iPhone in seconds! Here’s how to do a digital EE eSim swop.

You will need your current sim to be working to receive a text message, and also have already set up your new handset and downloaded the My EE app.

Once you’ve done that on your new phone in the My EE app, open the menu and go to Settings > Device and SIM > Replace my SIM > and select your number.

You will then have two options on supporting devices, SIM card — Post (2 to 4 days) at a cost of £1.50. Or eSim — instant download at a cost of 50p.

Tap on eSim, then select this device, and you’ll be on your way to transferring your number.

You will then get a notification that the eSim is ready to download, and then you can go through the normal set up options. This gives you the facility to choose labels for the numbers, which iMessage number is used and lots of others. Once completed you will need to activate the new sim by receiving a text to your old phone, put the supplied code into the app on your new phone, and you’re ready to go.

This is usually instant but can take unto an hour, turn your new phone off and on again to refresh everything, and you’re good to go on your new handset with a new EE eSim.

Head into Settings > Mobile data to change any of the options you’re selected on set up. If in any doubt call 150 from a working EE phone.

Where Does Apple Go With iPad OS?

Jeff Perry on needing the iPad software to catch up

I can see reviews coming a mile away claiming that the M1 chip is overkill for the iPad Pro and that it isn’t worth the same price as the MacBook Air, or that users should save money on the iPad Pro and just get the MacBook Air instead. As of right now, I can’t come up with any new arguments on behalf of the iPad than I had before this announcement. 

I can’t point at anything that moves the needle on being compelled to buy a new iPad. Even when compared to the 2018 version your pretty much getting the same thing, bar a camera and mini LED on the 12.9”.

I’m not sure either of things are needed by most people that use an iPad, but that’s a personal thing. No doubt the M1 is amazingly powerful but nothing changes at the moment. We keep holding our breath for a sea change in usability from iPad OS. Yet each you comes and goes with nothing bar a few tweets or changing the multitasking again!

I’m not even sure what that is. Where does Apple go with iPad OS without compromising more than they add in? I’m lost for ideas but please Apple. Do something. Shock me. Surprise me. Make a £1000 investment worth it.

The Great Podcast Doors Are Closing

Following Apples move to offer Podcasters subscriptions to help increase revenue for podcasters, and also grab some cash for themselves, the doors will begin to slam shut. Granted we’ve already seen some try and muscle into exclusive podcasts, Spotify tries to tie up some creators and podcast producers buy up applications, but I have a feeling it’s going to get a lot worse.

Instead of offering something built on top of a secure RSS feed, Apple have chosen to close it down entirely. Should you choose to make your Podcast more premium and charge your listeners, you will have to upload the audio straight to Apple. Closing off any chance of the show being available in another app, and removing RSS entirely.

Anchor The Feed

I am no lover of podcast platform Anchor, and have been outspoken about their practices, but this recent post from its founder seems to be the most sensible move. Instead of launching a service to tie everything down, he talks about the love of the openness of the RSS-based industry, but also the issues that comes with it.

Each platform that hosts content will have no choice to make a grab for premium content creators. Not because that is who they should be appealing to, but because they can’t miss out on it. Left unchecked Apple could not only take money from subscribers. They will also cut out advertisers, hosting platforms and even apps in their own App Store.

It’s understandable that some podcasters will start to get a bit jumpy, but most of these things are motivated by continued attempts to control the market. Open podcasting won’t go away, but the type of content that is available for free, or indeed in the place you want to consume it will dry up over time. We are well and truly in the boom time of audio focused content, which after a year of stalling due to COVID-19 could be a refreshing change.

However, I have a feeling the market will right itself. This has happened to TV, video and blogging before, but there was still enough out there to consume. Perhaps those of us that have been listening for years have just had too much time in the sun? I don’t believe its time to get worried, there are a huge number of podcasters out there that are working away for free that deserve to be better supported. It’s time to wait and see, and support the creators you think need it most.

The Problem Of Scale

One thing that constantly surprises me on is how nice people are. This has something to do with the barrier to entry being a bit nerdy, but everything to do with the scale of the platform. Although everyone seems to think that abuse and harassment is something unique to the main social networks, it’s actually a problem of scale.

You see I love (it took me a while) with my main appreciation being that it’s not where everyone is. Sure, I’d like more people to post it, I’d love to follow more interesting people, but with all the noise comes issues. My feed is filled with thoughtful comments, far too much debate about what platform to publish too, and nice photos. There is a positive vibe to the place, so much so that there appears to be no movement towards thinking about moderation.

The platform can be independent of the publishing platforms, so a swift move to remove cross posting would be easy to do, as well as removing hateful comments. This lax approach seems to be shared by every new approach and always fails to work, at scale.

I would already kill for better timeline organisation. Sure there is no incentive to move to algorithms that engage users more due to the paid nature of the platform. Stepping away from, it’s obvious where the trend goes for almost every other social platform that attempts to be moderation free. I am lucky in the fact I have placed my eggs in a basket I trust, Manton and the team have no reason to do anything other that tend to this nice positive garden they have created. Others are not so lucky.

Almost every platform that attempts to be a safe place for a certain type of person falls flat on their face with this problem of scale. You can promise to be moderation free, or simply not have the time to do it, but the fact is it’s impossible to run a platform that doesn’t have to do moderation.

Start with the spam you’ll inevitably get once there are enough users. Then the things you legally have to take down — abuse, copyright material etc. Once you reach a critical mass of users, then comes the algorithmic feed decisions due to lack of engagement and inability for users to keep up. This too is an inevitability as users can’t decide if their posts will be seen or not and start to post less if action isn’t taken.

All platforms that need engagement or show adverts will devolve into the same state eventually. Nothing will ever ‘fix’ social media. Scale kills almost everything, there is a huge benifit to not being where everyone is. Stay small.

What Do I Really Want?

I’d like to say this was in my younger years, but until fairly recently I bought loads of stuff because I thought I wanted it. Wasted thousands on tech purchases and waved any dismissive thoughts away with the reasoning that it was my only vice. Upgraded my phone, tablet, computer, and anything I could get my hands on almost constantly in a search for something better. When in fact it wasn’t better it was looking for, it was an answer.

The next model of iPhone was always the one that would fill what I was looking for. No? It must be the next one coming in a few months then, or maybe I needed an iPad to go with it. Whatever the feelings left after the hit of dopamine had subsided, it was explained away with buying something else.

That wasn’t what I was searching for though, I wanted something to fill another hole in myself. It didn’t matter what the hole was, but I filled it with buying tech. Simply because I thought it made me look cool on the internet. Although every upgrade offered me something, these things are not what I needed. What I, and load of people like me, needed was to get to the root of what I really wanted. What was I trying to mask and fill with buying things?

It wasn’t until discovering minimalism that I became aware fo the feelings I had. Like many people I talk to, the Netflix documentary introduced me to a way of looking at the more essential things in life. Thinking much harder about the things I choose to put in it. This isn’t an advert for minimalism, but the message given is a powerful one. The thing I needed was not a thing at all, and for different people it is different things — but one thing links us all, it’s not stuff we need.

These feelings haven’t gone away, I don’t think they ever will. They are still there, I bought every size of iPhone simply because I could, but how I deal with them is different. Being aware of feelings and the reasons behind them has been an important step in improving my overall happiness and seems to have curbed the never-ending search for fulfilment. Much simpler things make me content now, and when these pangs of purchases come I ride them out and think about what the root cause really is. It’s me.

Mange Comments Like Your Content

Justin Tadlock discussing the relevancy of comments:

Commenting on and discussing ideas in an open forum can change hearts and minds. It can lead to discoveries and create life-long friendships — I still routinely chat with people I met through blogs and their comments from nearly two decades ago.

I love comments, but then I don’t really have much of a community outside of friends I’ve met online. Outside a few spambots I have never received anything other than nice feedback or healthy debate. But…

Comments on popular platforms such as YouTube can be an absolute dumpster fire. As someone who publishes videos for my day job I am constantly removing comments on videos that showcase the worst that humanity has to offer.

Ryan McCue, a core contributor to WordPress, said that comments should be a plugin.

I strongly agree with this, the default option for anything on a blog, web, video whatever should be comments off, and you turn them off by default.

Openness when being able to choose a comment provider should also be the de facto stance from all platforms. If I want to move hosts or anything else, I want to take my comments with me.

McCue’s response was to a tweet by Brian Krogsgard, the Post Status creator and editor. “WordPress should have one singular button that says: Turn off all comments and comment displays. This is so hilariously complicated, it’s absurd.”

Comments on WordPress are so far behind where they should be it’s a joke at this point. Dating the way they look and feel is impossible without editing core WordPress files and good luck in understanding what options do what. I spent a good few hours configuring Webmentions as comments and allowing them to be displayed, when it would have been a 2-minute job.

I, the publisher should own the comments the same as I own my content, so making them a plugin would be the perfect move. Don’t even get me started on the non movement of implementing Webmention after 5 years.

Comments should be part and parcel of your life online. However, all roads point to something better. You will get fools, but you’ll get them on social media anyway, but better tool are needed to breathe life back into something so important to the web.

Everyone Falls Down These Holes

Matt Birchler on making a mistake:

And finally, it has been a healthy reminder that the internet can push anyone down a rabbit hole towards believing something false. We all try to be rationale people, and we’re all convinced that what we believe is reasonable and other people are crazy, but none of us are above being pushed into weird (and sometimes dangerous) beliefs with just a few clicks.

I constantly read that people that believe in conspiracy theories or have outlying views on the world are stupid and should know better. If you fall for miss information, or just form your views a bit differently to others then you almost deserve it because you’re dumb. That may be the case for the weird and wonderful, but as Matt points out above its really hard to work out what’s true on the internet.

As much as on the internet no one knows you’re a dog, no one knows your true intent for what you publish. Everyone falls down these holes, and it’s important to remember that.

It’s Easy To Wish For Something Else

The world online would have us believe that everyone else’s life is better than ours. No matter how great the universe is when you look around you, there are always ones that appear better. You can stare at the photos, read the words and watch the videos and never fail pick out things you wish for your own. It’s easy to see positives in others but not in yourself.

Even if the portrayal is far from the truth. Others internet lives are, on the surface, perfect. Everyone else is always living their best life, enjoying things better than your experiences or doing a better job of it anyway. Almost everything appears better on the outside. The grass always appears greener, but the grass is fake.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see — Henry David Thoreau

The surface is an easy place to observe, it’s the place easy for us to understand, free of the complexities that lie just beneath it. We cannot take everything in, there is simply too much information for us to process, so we focus instead on what we wish to see, and when a lot of what we see is airbrushed it’s impossible to see negatives.

This isn’t a new problem, it’s easy to blame the internet, but the internet is full of content others publish. After all, why would you want to show pictures of yourself not in the best light, or having a bad time? What a weird Instagram that would be if the images were what people were actually doing every day. As much as the modern phrase of “it’s OK to not be OK” is spoken, it is not OK to not be your best on the internet.

You can speak of pressure from beauty standards, advertising, and more modern-day worries until you ar blue in the face. The self-fulfilling prophecy is unbreakable, until you realise that this is all fake. It’s easy to see positives, it’s easy to focus on the worries you already have, and it’s natural to see what you want to see.

Your feed is the edited highlights, and so is everyone else’s. Wishing for other lives, other bodies, others income is easy when all you see are the nice bits.

Time To Slow It Down

My daughters toy says this to me every time I hand it to her. Its nighttime based vocal cues and music prods her towards winding down and going to sleep. For how long who knows, but it helps her drift off. I’ve never really paid attention to this until today whilst thinking about the very same things.

I’m not old, but I’m not as fast as I used to be — me to my wife after a run

Whilst trying to up my running millage now the weather is better, I am forever having to tell myself to slow down. My legs are stuck in this weird pace that I can handle for 10k but not for much longer and I have a habit of blowing up with too many miles to go. A lesson I should have learnt by now, but one that doesn’t just stop at running. I also have a sustained habit of tweeting too fast, thinking too fast and hitting projects too hard too soon.

Try as I might, I just can’t slow myself down some times. I haven’t expanded the internal monologue that happens whist running to the rest of my life. It’s a lesson that I have read quite a few times lately and one I needed to add my support too. I have recently been introduced to the GTD tag of “high energy” and this makes perfect sense to me. Don’t go hard all the time, slow down and go hard when you can.

Slow doesn’t mean as slow as possible it just means slower than you might expect. Doing things at the correct pace is one of life’s biggest lessons. That pace is going to be different for different people, and different times of day and hell even different periods of time. We are constantly encouraged to move faster, work harder and fill every waking moment with something that others deem important. When in fact it’s time to slow down, do things properly and maintain them for longer.

When it comes to tweeting, maybe just don’t instead.

Why Highlights Are So Important To My Reading

It’s only a few months since I covered my reading flow. It’s something that has changed a lot in the last year due. Motivated by my desire to take more advantage of the time spent engrossed in a book or catching up on my queue of online articles. This doesn’t matter when and where I am doing this, but one thing I’ve come to rely on is highlighting and being able to read them back.

Only when testing two new upcoming reading apps (super top secret sorry) that are yet to implement highlights that I realised how important they are. Without even thinking I draw my finger across the screen to highlight a specific sentence or passage that I want to remember. When that doesn’t happen, I don’t feel like I am getting the best I can out of this experience.

Many things slide past without needing to be highlighted, but more than a few times I have had to put the article into another app so I can save the highlights for later. I could try to do this with Shortcuts, but there is something about being able to see what you’ve read and which bits are important. Remember how satisfying it felt to bust out the marker and highlight things on your school texts?

These highlights typically end up on social media, lead to alink post or are saved to refer to later. Readwise definitely helps with pushing these into Roam for me, but there are a huge number of ways to read these highlights back and let the information sync in better. If you are thinking about using a service, or creating a new one, highlighting should be top of your list.

Not everything needs highlighting, but everything needs to be able to be highlighted.