I’m a huge fan of #InsideNo9, but just watched the ‘live’ episode on iPlayer and feeling underwhelmed. It all seemed a bit obvious, with the story spoon fed to the audience and relying too heavily on pre-recorded material. Maybe it worked better on the night?
Last week: food poisoning/flu/virus. This week: toothache and a root canal.
Eating a jacket potato, which given the last few bedridden days, is quite an achievement.
Who is this website for?
Quite the unnerving experience as I went to open a new carton of Oatly… what the actual fork!?
Reading the small print, it seems like they’re attempting to freak out another Paul. Phew!
The Good Place is a quirky comedy that continually reinvents itself while keeping ethics and moral philosophy at its heart. It’s worth your time… although perhaps not an entire Sunday.
In what has become something of a tradition, preparing myself for re-entry into Britain with a final taste of Europe: a Belgian waffle and a can of Jupiler.
A two-week stay in Berlin not only gave me time to explore the city, but also space to question the direction of my career and address a growing sense of disillusionment with my profession.
What a treat, to visit such an amazing city during the most colourful time of the year. Wir sehen uns bald wieder, Hamburg!
Some wise words from Danielle:
The end result of our attempts to work together efficiently by breaking things down is that the topologies of our workplaces are left with gaps and overlaps.
I love this post, not least because it offers a new perspective on the work we do and provides a model for talking about how different teams can better collaborate with each other. There’s much to agree with in this piece, although I found the following to be especially true:
Recognising the gaps and overlaps is only half the battle. If we apply tools to a people problem, we will only end up moving the problem somewhere else.
Some issues can be solved with better tools or better processes. In most of our workplaces, we tend to reach for tools and processes by default, because they feel easier to implement. But as often as not, it’s not a technology problem. It’s a people problem. And the solution actually involves communication skills, or effective dialogue.
Have only spent part of the morning exploring its center and still have so much to see, but Hamburg ist sehr schön! This is absolutely my kinda city.
From the director of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and The Big Short, Adam McKay’s latest promises to be both entertaining and informative. Christian Bale is once again unrecognisable as the film’s protagonist, but the supporting cast looks incredible as well. I’m looking forward to this one.
Travels between Germany and Denmark have seen me spend an inordinate amount of time on DSB’s IC3/IR4, a train that combines the comfort of British Rail’s Class 442 ‘Wessex Electrics’ with the aesthetic of Star Trek and the absurdity of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.
On a train. On a ferry. 🚅⛴
On German Unity Day, a tour of Tempelhof Airport proved to be a powerful act of remembrance.
If nothing else, this evening has served as a welcome reminder that it pays to be outgoing and friendly, and that I can thrive whenever pushed to be so. To hell with comfort zones!
Heading to Berlin. See you there?
I rarely have anything good to say about Uber, but thanks to this uncharacteristically restrained work from Wolff Olins, I have to admit that I find their latest rebrand to be damn near perfect. Perhaps finally there are some adults in the room.
Ich bin ein Berliner?
Another identity from the offices of Pentagram that elicits a feeling that lies somewhere between despair and indifference.
A familiar story: England take an early lead only to eventually lose. Heightened expectations following this summer’s World Cup campaign now restored to more realistic levels.
Off to Wembley to see England v Spain. Think the last match I saw here was Great Britain & Northern Ireland v Brazil at London 2012, so it’s been a while!
On the occasion of my brother’s wedding anniversary, wishing my eldest niece Maria a happy 8th birthday, and welcoming to the world my fourth niece (fourth!), Emily. Phew!
Google decries URLs as being confusing and untrustworthy. Meanwhile, Google obfuscates URLs via AMP, and appends them with UTM codes for tracking. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
Visiting Brixton has been a revelation! Thanks go to @aajhiggs for introducing me to its many gastronomic delights.
It’s mid-afternoon, and yet only now do I realise that today is in fact Thursday, not Friday. 😳
As people look to replace Twitter as their social network of choice, Mastadon and Micro.blog have emerged as early contenders.
I love a good wedding, not least one in which the live music is provided by an uncanny David Bowie tribute act that does a sideline in Larry Grayson impressions. Bizarre. Anyway, congratulations Lewis and Sarah!
Held my first session mentoring another designer today. Felt good to pass on the fruits of 15 years experience in the field.
What does the future hold for small towns like Walsall?
Now, pay attention, 007…
Boarding the 15:30 LNER service to King’s Cross signals the end of my week-long adventure up north. Returning inspired and invigorated, my thoughts turn to when I can make a return visit.
Emil Nolde’s colourful expressionist work appeals to my aesthetic sensibilities. Yet his anti-Semitic views and support for the Nazis (who deemed his art to be ‘degenerative’) make him hard to admire. It’s that age old quandary; can you separate art from the artist?
Out of five backpacks emerged a story about loss and acceptance, told via the fantastically analogue medium of shadow play. Touching, humorous and inventive, @TheBackpackEns’s The Search for a Black-Browed Albatross was an unexpected joy.
The Edinburgh Fringe is a victim of its own success. With so much on offer, audiences face a paradox of choice. Sat in a coffee shop at the Pleasance Dome unsure what to see, I was given a spare ticket to The Search for a Black-Browed Albatross. Problem solved.
As I make my way through the throng of festival goers, I’m drawn to the sun drenched Old Town and the cragged rock upon which the castle sits. A squeal of train brakes emanates up from where once was – and seemingly could still be – a loch. There are few places quite as architecturally, topographically and culturally rich as Edinburgh. I love this city.
Exploring Newcastle’s former ambition to become ‘Brasília Of The North’.
An appreciation for identity programmes that seek to refine rather than reinvent.
Applied ‘Trigger’s broom’ philosophy towards the upgrade of my phone. Same phone, but replaced its battery and case. As good as new!
Facebook is trying to convince people that fake news is not their friend. And yet only yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg admitted that Holocaust denial is permitted. Child abuse gets a free pass too. Facebook’s relationship with fake news isn’t complicated; if it pays, it stays.
While tonight’s result is disappointing, I doubt the agony will live as long in the memory as that felt after England’s semi-final exit from Euro ‘96. I guess penalties will do that to you.
We’re singing for England, E-N-G-L-A-N-D 🎶 It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming, football’s coming home 🎶
Round of applause to @ThreeUK for selling HomeFi routers that are not locked to their network. Made it much it easier to sell mine now that it’s no longer needed. 👏🏻
Finished reading: Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons, ISBN: 9781786491022
From its Roman walls to a series of modern carbuncles, Exeter has a curious mix of architecture – but not nearly as much as it once did.
GDPR can’t come soon enough.
Today, I dip my toes into the world of journalism, prompted by a little side-project I have in mind. Can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.
I think we’re well past the point where our industry gets a pass for launching products without thinking about their second-order effects.
A related anecdote. Having received far too many robocalls asking if I had been involved in a car accident recently, I took to making beeping noises down the phone to see how far I could progress through these annoying and false conversations. One day I almost – almost – started to do this before realising a real person was calling about a genuine issue. Had I made those funny noises, not only would I have been deeply embarrassed, it would have been pretty demeaning for the person on the other end of the line.
In a society where truth and trust are a scarce resource, this appears to be an incredibly foolish product to be bringing into the world. Talking of trust; I have zero faith Google will do the right thing with this technology, rhetoric about transparency or not.
It’s that time again.
With a client project briefly on hiatus, I’ve been using my free time to think about a proper redesign of my website. Looking at the 404 page – priorities! – I thought it was probably time to bring back this guy. You’ve been missed, little fella.
The Beauty of Transport is such a compelling read. @danielhwright’s latest article goes into fantastic detail about the sadly short-lived identity for Rail express systems, a programme I distinctly remember poring over as a 12-year-old train livery geek. So, so good.
The Birmingham Design Festival is shaping up to be a great event. The Renew/Rebuild discussion is of particular interest; especially relevant when many of Birmingham’s brutalist buildings have been demolished in recent years. Such a shame I’ll be on holiday when it’s on.
Watched Isle of Dogs. A fun yet timely story. An inventive example of stop-motion animation. A beautiful piece of graphic design. A work of art. A visual feast – with dogs!
Having grown up just 50 miles away, somewhat embarrassed to admit that Leicester has been a bit of a revelation to me. This beautiful, historic and vibrant city has much to offer… and only an hour away from London on the train (like that should matter).
Slides and referenced transcript from my presentation at Create Leicester
Finally – finally – watched The Grand Budapest Hotel. Layered, light-hearted and lavish; I enjoyed every choreographed second of it.
I wasn’t looking for a metaphor, but with a pile of rubble sat before me, confirmation that a chapter of my life had reached its conclusion.
Buying your fresh fruit and veg at local market is a valuable social connection. When I take my daughters to our local food market on Saturday’s they get to interact with our local community. The market sellers always chat to them. They often count the money (cash) when we pay, and help work out the change. One lady that serves us asks them what they’re doing for the rest of the weekend, and they learn to interact with other adults that aren’t their family or school teachers.
I can get supermarket fruit and veg delivered to my door (probably more cheaply), but this convenience comes at a cost of social value.
There is always a cost to convenience. As a business, the question is where you offset your costs. It’s 2017, and Amazon have just bought Whole Foods Market. What does that really say about our interactions with our local shops and markets?
My question for companies like Amazon is how will they think about the social value of what they sell in the future? Or, how will they think about offsetting the social cost of the speed and convenience they’re prepared to offer? My expectation is that they won’t think about these things at all.
Amazon’s answer appears to be unmanned stores where your every move is tracked, all for the ‘convenience’ of not having to use a checkout.
The real potential of emerging technology should be how it helps us to design for increased social value. I don’t want to live in a world where everything is so seamless and so fast that most moments pass me by.
Amen to that.
The WHO advised that consuming 50g of processed meat a day – equivalent to just a couple of rashers of bacon or one hotdog – would raise the risk of getting bowel cancer by 18% over a lifetime. (Eating larger amounts raises your risk more.) Learning that your own risk of cancer has increased from something like 5% to something like 6% may not be frightening enough to put you off bacon sandwiches for ever. But learning that consumption of processed meat causes an additional 34,000 worldwide cancer deaths a year is much more chilling.
I’ve been thinking about reducing the amount of meat I consume – for many reasons – but wasn’t aware of the health risks associated with the processed variety. Looks like bacon is off the menu.
Three aspects of my personality have proven pertinent.
I haven’t posted a video here for a while, so in an attempt to change that, let me direct your attention to this charming animation by Katy Wang. It’s the music video for Ma Mama, a song by Toto Bona Lokua, a trio of Afro-French musicians.
This is precisely the sort of thing I had hoped Apple Music would recommend to me, but that dream faded a long time ago. I could join Spotify but… reasons. Good job I have Claire’s recommendations to fall back on.
Kris Benbow, 1981-2018
Headed back to Glasgow, via a highland winter wonderland. Stopping at Dalmally, the train is greeted by Angus, the station dog.
For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.
Robert Louis Stevenson captures my sentiments perfectly, as yet again, I find myself sat aboard the Caledonian Sleeper, and headed for Scotland.
A Guide to Modernism in Metro-Land – the essential guidebook to discovering the modernist treasures of London’s suburbs – is currently seeking crowdfunding on Unbound. Backed!
HISBE’s ‘refill bar’ is such a great idea! Using this to replenish washing detergent and other cleaning fluids should go some way to helping me reduce my plastics consumption in 2018.
Why do some designers choose to work for ‘evil’ corporations – and what happens to them when they get there?
That was the answer I gave Kate when she asked me why I thought Brexit might not happen. This was Harold Macmillan’s response when asked what he thought would most likely knock a government off course – although some dispute whether he ever actually said this.
At the time, I had wrongly attributed this to James Callaghan, having confused it with
A lie can be halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on, which he said in an address to the Commons. But variations of this phrase have been around since the 18th century.
Where’s a Winston Churchill quote when you need one.
Currently watching series two of The Crown. Claire Foy’s impersonation of the Queen is impeccable, matched only by Bertie Carvel’s embodiment of Robin Day. Both are genuinely believable – unlike HMY Britannia, whose CGI reminds me of that used in Titanic, twenty years ago.
Tickets booked for Richard Herring: Oh Frig, I’m 50! at The Old Market in March (or RHOFIFATOMIM, as all the cool kids are calling it).
The Doctype Brighton drinks are a regular monthly social meetup for those in the web industry in Brighton & Hove. It doesn’t matter if you’re a developer, designer, project manager or do something entirely different, if you work, play or simply dabble in the web industry then come and have a drink with people that will understand your code jokes and talk to some like-minded folk.
Well, this is handy – the venue is practically at the end of my street!
Michael Lopp on how to write:
Randomly think of a thing. Let it bump around your head a bit. If the bumping gets too loud, start writing the words with the nearest writing device. See how far you get. The more words usually mean a higher degree of personal interest. Stop when it suits you.
Wait for time to pass and see if the bumping sound returns. Reread what you’ve written so far and find if it inspires you. Yes? Write as much as you can. No? Stop writing and wait for more bumping.
This perfectly articulates what I was trying to get across in my last post. This bumping sound can too often get drowned out by the sound of tweeting.
After reading Robin’s re-introduction to RSS, I decided to make Feedbin my feed manager of choice. I had been using a self-hosted instance of Fever for many years, but since this is no longer supported, I moved1 my subscriptions over to Feedly at the beginning of the year.
As a piece of software that operates mainly in the background – Reeder is where I spend most of my day – I was willing to put up with Feedly’s many quirks. But then I tried Feedbin. The difference between the two is like night and day. Feedbin is not only usable, but damn right gorgeous to boot! I guess the adage is true: you get what you pay for.
This move has prompted some other RSS related news, in that I’ve fixed my XML and JSON feeds, and redirected legacy URLs to their canonical locations. It can’t have been fun subscribing to my site recently, as I fiddled and fumbled while adding support for micro posts. I think I’m happy with everything now, but no promises.
Anyway, for the avoidance of doubt, you can subscribe to my site using your syndication format of choice:
How very Web 2.0.
Twitter is a place I visit to get annoyed. I need an alternative. That alternative could be my very own website.
There are industry observers talking about the need for AIs to have a sense of ethics, and some have proposed that we ensure that any superintelligent AIs we create be “friendly,” meaning that their goals are aligned with human goals. I find these suggestions ironic given that we as a society have failed to teach corporations a sense of ethics, that we did nothing to ensure that Facebook’s and Amazon’s goals were aligned with the public good. But I shouldn’t be surprised; the question of how to create friendly AI is simply more fun to think about than the problem of industry regulation, just as imagining what you’d do during the zombie apocalypse is more fun than thinking about how to mitigate global warming.
The perceived threat posed by superintelligence is an idea that was shot to pieces by Maciej, but this framing – that it’s an insight into the minds of Silicon Valley’s corporations and its leadership – actually makes a lot of sense.
Perhaps we can use it to understand another of its weird obsessions, ‘curing’ death. As noted by Emily Dreyfuss (Silicon Valley Would Rather Cure Death than Make Life worth Living):
The harm here isn’t just that Silicon Valley is trying to solve the wrong problem, which wastes brainpower and resources. The focus on innovating away death sets a cultural tone that directs attention from answers that might actually help, like infrastructure or education.
I tend to agree with Steve Jobs, who said death is the greatest invention of life. Maybe this particular obsession is just a manifestation of what corporations perceive as death: regulation. As the original title of Ted’s article stated – the real danger to civilisation isn’t AI. It’s runaway capitalism.
Not sure what to make of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Suspect it was unable to meet my heightened expectations – partly due to a trailer which focused on its comedic rather than dramatic aspects. Requires a second viewing.
The Web is not Google, and should not be just Google.
Lego, board games, playgrounds, hide and seek, digging holes, building sandcastles and bodyboarding… after a week in Brazil playing with my three wonderful nieces, returning to Britain (somewhat bitten and burnt) having rediscovered my inner child!
My favourite feature of Brazilian bathrooms is electrical sockets in showers. Mixing electricity and water? Está bem!
Morning in Guarulhos.
Finally watched The Trip to Spain on my flight over to São Paulo. Had already seen the first few episodes, and thought this instalment lacked charm of the first two; watching this feature-long edit only cemented those concerns. This series has clearly run out of ideas, as evidenced by the weirdly drawn out conclusion. I’m full.
The fine folk over at CSS-Tricks asked me to write about the accessibility improvements I made to 24 ways. As ever, happy to oblige! Added a few thoughts about celebrating the act of maintaining older projects, too.
Having copied, pasted and formatted another 115 pages of OCR’d text, Bradshaw’s Guide now contains tours throughout South West England, the West Midlands, Wales and Ireland.