I’ve been a big fan of Post Secret (postsecret.com) for years. I even included a positive mention of it on my website nearly four years ago.
Its probably one of the most popular “blogs” on the internet, though calling it a “blog” doesn’t really fit as far as I can tell. It is much more than that.
Post Secret started out with a very simple idea. The creator, Frank Warren, asked people to anonymously send him picture postcards containing their secrets. Many people have and many continue to send him their deepest and darkest on a regular basis. New secrets are posted on Sundays and remain on the website for a week.
I’ve been a regular visitor, making sure to virtually swing by to read the latest every Sunday, faithfully for as long as I’ve known about it. Each visit always evokes some emotional response from me, whether its sympathy, or understanding or amusement, I am always moved in some way, sometimes to tears.
It’s good to feel.
I’ve learned a lot about people and the human condition too. It amazes me how creative people are, how expressive an art form a simple post card can be, but most of all, how willing the contributors are to share their inner most hopes, fears and long held secrets.
Not only has Frank has turned his website into a thriving online community, but he has published many books and seems to be on tour, giving lectures and shows across America all the time. I own a few of his books and they include many post cards that haven’t appeared on the website. He really does get tons.
Early this morning, London time, the long awaited Post Secret app (iTunes Link here) was finally made available in the iTunes Store. It’s £1.49 ($1.99) and well worth adding to your collection. It’s expected to be available for Android soon, if that’s your platform of choice.
Frank and his designers have taken the concept of sharing secrets and built upon it, using the capabilities of your iPhone to make it so much more.
Of course, you can see other people’s secrets and there’s various ways to do that. You can view the most popular secrets, or the latest posted, but coolest of all, you can search them geographically. Don’t worry, the app won’t show your home address, just your city or town, though it appears its possible to tag it to a specific public location, like a school or business. That is very cool.
How do the secrets get location tagged? Simple, the app allows you to create your own secret post card, by taking a photo, then adding some text on top, then deciding if you want to include a general location. I haven’t shared any secrets so far, so I haven’t tested it yet…but I might someday and if I do, you won’t know it’s me, even if it’s tagged with London. I’m always anonymous online, so you can see the obvious appeal for me.
You can also “like” secrets, share them on Twitter and Facebook too.
I can’t recommend this app enough and I highly suggest you buy it right now. What are you waiting for??
Disclaimer: I have no connection to Post Secret whatsoever, and I am not profiting from this endorsement in any way.
I love Twitter, but I fear my love for it remains unrequited.
I’ve been properly on Twitter for about two and a half years. To be more precise, as of this writing, I have been using Twitter since the 31st of January 2009, which works out to 931 days. I used howlongontwitter.com to calculate that, I didn’t count it up myself.
In that time, I’ve found Twitter to be indispensable and addictive and while I am not the most prolific tweeter you will meet, I constantly read my timeline. I must dip in and out of it a thousand times a day.
What I don’t do is tweet or interact with other people enough. That’s why I suck at Twitter.
My tweets tend towards feeble and offensive (but original) jokes that probably make people laugh uncomfortably, if at all.
I also tweet, or rather retweet stuff about legalising cannabis and other drugs, because that is my pet cause.
Occasionally I may tweet something that I feel strongly about, like the recent riots in London.
I tweet about what I’m watching on TV sometimes and the weather occasionally and even the odd food-related tweet too.
In other words, I’m not unpleasant or rude, just probably not that interesting. That’s why I suck at Twitter.
I’m anonymous online, by choice, mainly because I am so open about my own cannabis use and as its status is currently illegal, anonymity allows me the luxury of honesty. I like to pretend this stance furthers the cause of legalisation, but I’m not always convinced it does and that’s a subject best explored another day. This post is about Twitter.
The other reason I remain anonymous is I prefer to be unknown. I am not seeking attention for myself. If you Googled my real name, you wouldn’t find me anywhere online; I’m not on Facebook, Linked-In, nothing. And while I have worked in the media for more than two decades, I’ve managed to avoid having a byline, screen credit, nor any mention of my real name and that has been intentional.
What it means on Twitter is I don’t use my real name or a photograph of myself as my avatar. That is why I suck at Twitter too.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I suck at Twitter for the rather silly reason that I have been sucked into thinking about follower numbers, something I have managed to avoid until now.
I’ve never really been bothered by how many people are following me, I haven’t done anything ever to intentionally gain them, never asked for them, begged for them, nothing like that. I’ve just tweeted when I felt like it, followed people (and accounts) that have interested me and that’s about it.
I’ve always found it a bit distasteful when people tweet about the number of followers they have, in whatever context.
“I need 27 more followers to reach 500, help!”
“Please RT this [insert celebrity here] I really need more followers urgently!”
“I gained 57 followers today, all because [insert celebrity here] retweeted me.”
Worse, is seeing celebrities tweeting each other and exaggerating their worth by bragging they have the most followers. I find this rather tragic.
Worrying about follower numbers is a mug’s game and sadly in the last week or so, I have become that mug. Here’s why: I’ve recently noticed a few people I know online, who started on Twitter when I did, now have double or treble the followers I have. I am a victim of comparative maths.
I know its silly, I know its meaningless, but its been on my mind recently
This is not meant to be a moan or a complaint, everything I’m telling you is observational and self-critical, but not a whinge or backhanded plea for more people to follow me. I’m just trying to understand what I am doing wrong on Twitter.
What am I doing wrong on Twitter? Loads, it would seem.
There are quite a few people I follow on Twitter, who don’t follow me back. I don’t mean celebrities, but normal people, like you and me. Well, more like you probably as I don’t come anywhere near being normal.
The lack of follow-backs from people I like perplexes me.
Sometimes, I scroll through my own tweets and read them back, to see if there’s something in them that makes people not want to follow me. Nothing leaps out.
I think I’m fairly pleasant, thoughtful and I’m true to myself. So what could it be?
The lack of a photo and a name is off-putting, but my anonymity policy is not going to change until weed is legal. End of, as the kids today say. Its a reason, but that alone can’t be the only reason.
I don’t interact or tweet enough, but guess what? I’m probably the same in real life, being mostly a loner and misanthropic with it.
If you’re shit at life, you are going to be shit at Twitter. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to me, but it does.
How can I be more socially successful on Twitter than I am in real life? Answer: I can’t.
Quite oddly, I think I am probably more shy on Twitter than I am in real life.
Often I do think about responding to other people’s tweets, then I think better of it and don’t. I don’t like tweeting negatively, if I disagree with someone, however strongly, I tend not to say anything. And if I do agree with someone, I don’t want to seem sycophantic, so I don’t tweet.
On the rare occasion when I do tweet someone and they don’t respond, even with the simplest of acknowledgement, then I am crestfallen and I think the fear of that often prevents me from interacting with people too. Maybe you know what I mean, maybe you think that’s a lame reason, but its true.
Whenever anyone tweets me and they are polite, I always make a point of responding. I always try to thank people for RTs too, as long as I’ve noticed they’ve done so. I guess I just try to treat people on Twitter as I would like to be treated.
I suck at Twitter because I suck at life. I’m starting to believe I’m not particularly good with either pursuit. That’s not a happy conclusion.
Or, I could take the tack that I’m not unpopular on Twitter, I’m just undiscovered.
The best lies I tell, are the ones I tell myself.
If you do follow me, well done you for finding Twitter’s best kept secret!
You are truly a person of excellent taste! You have keen, discerning eye for the hippest and coolest, that your average nobody tends to pass on by without a second thought! You’re a trend spotter and a trend setter!
I’ve pretty much accepted that I will continue to exist in Twitter obscurity, while others around me zoom ever higher. I’m ok with that.
I take a lot from Twitter, I’m quite greedy in my quest for knowledge, I just feel guilty sometimes that I don’t put enough back into it. I’d like to entertain and inform more people, but that’s not who I am, not in real life, not online. So it goes.
These truths should be self-evident, but its taken me nearly 1,300 words to get here.
So now you know why I suck at Twitter, and now I do too.
I’ve always had a very unhealthy obsession with death, mainly my own.
I’ve imagined my own death countless times, in countless ways.
I’ve pictured myself passing quietly in a sterile white hospital room, alone, at a very old age, in the dark.
I’ve seen myself collapse in the street, clutching my chest, suddenly and without warning.
I’ve thought about all manner of violent death too, from a horrible car crash, to being brutally beaten senseless by a gang of teenage thugs.
I’ve thought about this a lot, too much, to the point of it being easily labelled a decades’ old obsession.
Its not really death that I fear, its the process of dying and my morbid curiosity at how I will go, whenever that time comes.
Will it be painful?
Will I suffer?
Will I linger?
Will it take long?
Is it going to happen soon?
The roots of my fear of death were planted by my father. He was an older dad, I was the child of a second marriage who came late in his life. He talked about dying all the time and how he just wanted to live long enough to see me and my brother right in the world.
As a child, hearing this mantra of his frequently, I worried about his death a lot. I was close with my father when I was a child, his talk of death scared me and dug deep into my sub-conscious, where it remains to this day.
As it turned out, he lived a pretty long life, but had an unpleasantly long and drawn out death. From his diagnosis to his passing, it took about a year, with his health declining steadily in between. The last couple of months were particularly bad, with his decline ever more steep and his hopes dashed with each treatment option failing. His final days were spent heavily medicated, but he was at home, in his own bed when he drew his last breath.
As deaths go, I’d give it a 6, he loses points for the duration of suffering, but gains some for being able to choose to be at home. Also, he scores well on the life to death ratio, he lived to be 84 and was sick for only a year.
You can’t really do a scorecard for death, each one is unique.
There’s an old joke about a guy who, when asked how he’d like to die, said “when I’m 100 years old I’d like to be shot by a jealous husband”. That sounds like an OK way to go, as long as you’re a sprightly 100.
My mother’s death, unlike my father’s, was relatively quick, happening over about 48 hour period, from becoming ill to slipping quietly away.
Where my mother loses out is in the quality of life stakes, she had a massive stroke about 7 years before, which left her severely impaired.
She couldn’t walk, had a lot of trouble talking too, and her coordination was particularly poor. For the 7 years she survived after the stroke, she was dependent upon help for absolutely everything, like dressing, washing, eating and going to the toilet. Its no way for anyone to live, or rather exist.
When my mother had the stroke and was being treated in the hospital, my father was given a choice of whether or not to put her on life support.
He had been told it was a very bad stroke and her recovery would be problematic and never complete. He was also aware my mother had a living will, which pretty much said, if she was ever in this position, not to take drastic measures to keep her alive if the prognosis for recovery was grim.
My father ignored my mother’s wishes and said yes to the life support. He couldn’t bare to think of life without my her nor could he imagine her not making a full recovery. Nature would have killed my mother off then and there, peacefully, in her sleep, but instead my father chose to use every miracle machine known to modern medicine to sustain my mother’s life.
His mantra to all hospital staff became this: “She walked into this hospital on her own and she’s damn well going to walk back out”.
How wrong he was.
My father could have spared my mother seven years of a horrible existence, but he was selfish. He paid for this decision himself as his life got much harder when my mother was finally allowed to go home after several months in the hospital and a rehab facility.
My mother could only get around in a wheelchair and had several medical appointments a week that my father had to transport her to, unaided. He was in his 80s.
He refused all assistance at first, and not until he was overwhelmed, did he relent and hire some home help.
My father’s own death obsession kicked into overdrive and his new catchphrase became this: “What would happen to my wife if something happened to me?” This thought ran through his head constantly, it kept him up at night, he mentioned it every time he spoke to me. His fear of his own death now had a tangible focus, my mother’s fate.
What you think about can become real, as it wasn’t too long after this that they found a large, malignant and inoperable tumour in his bladder. Thus began his one year decline into death.
The “what to do about my mother” question became intertwined with the “beating this cancer” goal. “If I can just beat this cancer,” thought my father. “then I can continue to care for my wife.” It took him a few months to realise he couldn’t and the part time home help turned into a full time, live in carer for both of them.
When my father died, my mother continued to live in their house, with the live in carer. As it turned out, she would have had enough money to continue living this way, which was what I wanted for her, but her fear helped her decide to move into a care home. It was a good one, but expensive, more expensive than staying in her home, but it was my mother’s choice.
My mother spent the last five plus years of her life in that care home, before slipping into a coma and dying in a hospital bed, alone and unconscious. She should have died many years before, her life was no richer for those last, post-stroke years of hardship and suffering.
We all have to face death in all its varied forms and permutations. Death and dying come in many assorted flavours.
I lost four friends and many more colleagues, who all died while doing what we do, covering the news. I’ve been a journalist for over 20 years and when I was younger and more foolish, put myself in harm’s way too.
I’ve spent time in war zones and other dangerous places and the people I work with still do, every day, to tell you about people and places many people don’t give a shit about. Hey ho.
My four friends who all perished while working abroad, had quick, yet violent deaths. I’m not going get into any great detail here, Three of them were chased by armed men or rebels before being gunned down, one was killed by a stray, unexpected mortar shell. Each death effected me personally and professionally in quite profound ways.
All four of them were relatively young, some left behind partners and children. Each one was a decent, thoughtful and respected colleague and journalist.
One of these deaths was particularly hard on me because I was on duty when the news broke. I was working on a news desk, the central point of contact for everyone in my organisation. A lot of the telephone calls I received were from distraught people all over the world, waking up to the news of the death of a close friend. Many were in tears, many wanted me to tell them that the news got it wrong.
I wish I could have.
When death comes to the young and good, its particularly hard on those left behind, trying to make sense of out it, trying to understand it.
I’ll tell you something right now, there is no sense in any senseless death, there is no understanding. Shit happens, you just deal with it as best you can.
After that spate of deaths, my industry tried to improve on safety. More hostile environment training was brought in, safety advisors in dangerous places are deployed regularly now, but journalists still continue to be killed in the line of duty.
Losing friends makes you think about your own mortality, not that I needed any help.
There are two other friends I lost, both of their deaths remarkably similar.
They were both about the same age, both had similar interests and lifestyles. One was a musician, the other a journalist.
Both of my friends were 50 years old when they died, both had massive heart attacks. One was found in his flat, sitting in his favourite chair, the other was at home with his partner and fell over dead as he got up from the sofa. Both died fairly instantly and may not have had much time to work out what was happening.
Both used viagra and cocaine regularly and drank heavily too. You don’t need to be a doctor to work out that’s a bad combination.
As I get older, my death obsession seems to have more things to fuel it.
People my age (I’m pushing 50) die from all sorts of things, natural and otherwise. I think about my health more often. I don’t actually do much about it, but I think about it…does that count for anything?
I get my cholesterol and glucose checked regularly, along with my blood pressure. All are good, especially my cholesterol, which was 3.1 at my most recent test. I don’t look like I should have low cholesterol, but I do. Go figure.
None of that means I’m immune from whatever’s lurking out there, waiting to pounce on me. I don’t drink at all, but I do smoke, cigarettes and weed. I don’t exercise, I don’t watch my diet and I work only nights. Not exactly the regime you’d pay a thousand quid a day for at a health farm.
If you would pay a grand a day to live my lifestyle, get in touch, I’d be happy to sort you out, as long as you are happy always being high and masturbating several times a day, but not in public, because that’s just gross.
Will it be a heart attack that gets me? My father had one of those.
How about a stroke? My mother’s got that covered.
Cancer? It got most of my aunts and uncles on my mother’s side.
Car accident? I think about it every time I get behind the wheel. Will this be my last journey? Is there a drunk driver or overtired lorry driver out there with with me in his sights?
How about some freak accident, like a plummeting jet engine a’la Donny Darko? A stray bullet from some silly gang related shooting on my north London ghetto street? That could happen too.
Terrorism, viral pandemic, earthquake, tornado, take your pick, the news is full of so many lethal things.
There are so many ways I could die and not knowing how its going to turn out for me is a genuine obsession.
But would I really want to know how I’m going to die?
Wouldn’t it be the ultimate spoiler?
If there was a box I could click online that would reveal the details of my death, would I click it?
Would I really want to know the big three facts about my inevitable death; when? where? how?
Hell, yes! I would definitely click that box. And then I am sure I would regret it.
What would I do if I did knew the details of my death?
I’d try to cheat it, if I could. If I knew a bus was going to hit me on the high street next Friday, I’d damn make sure I was someplace else.
But what if I couldn’t cheat it, some horrible disease or medical catastrophe that couldn’t be avoided. What would I do with that knowledge, that my own body was a ticking time bomb, waiting to go off on a certain date?
Would I get my affairs in order, whatever that means?
Would I make a bucket list and try to cram whatever time I had left on doing things I suddenly felt were important?
Or would I just sit quietly, awaiting destiny, safe with the knowledge that my fate was well and truly sealed?
Who knows? I’ll never find out.
There is no real way to know when you’re going to die. Some people do find out the “how” from their doctors, along with a rough timescale, but I think that’s about as close as it gets. In that situation, I’d have no choice but to know.
Whether or not knowing would be helpful, well, who’s to say?
Whatever does get me, is out there somewhere right now, in the world or inside my body. Whether its today, tomorrow, next week, next year or next century is anybody’s guess. Who knows what miracles science might provide in the next decades?
There are two things I’ve always thought would happen to help people cheat death.
One is my view that ageing is simply a genetic disorder that eventually will be corrected with gene therapy. I think they are close to this discovery, isolating what it is in our DNA that makes our bodies age and then figuring out how to manipulate it and switch it off. It may sound like sci-fi, but its not and it will have all sorts of ethical and practical implications for the future of our planet.
Perhaps only the super rich will benefit from this discovery, maybe it will be available to anyone and everyone. Maybe it will be mandatory. Maybe it will be kept a secret.
While not delivering real immortality, it certainly would be a massive step in that direction, as long as you’re not hit by that bus on the high street.
The second scientific innovation that I think will eventually come, will be the ability to import (ingest? upload? scan? pick a verb) the entire contents of a human brain into a computer. Once you can do that, you could effectively recreate a person’s consciousness and construct a virtual world for them to exist inside. As long as you had a sustainable power source, this theoretically could deliver immortality for all.
Imagine being able to continue your existence in a perfect digital world, freed of the constraints of your flesh. For all intensive purposes, this digital world would be as real as our world and your sense of self, your identity, who you are, would be the same too. You would be reunited with your friends, your relatives, your loved ones, to spend eternity together in the most wonderful place imaginable.
That sounds a lot like heaven in the traditional sense, with one key difference. The heaven of our ancestors was an imaginary idea, this heaven I propose would be built by man and could one day really exist.
Do I think I’ll see these innovations in my lifetime? That’s the trillion dollar question.
I think the genetic discovery is not that far off, but its use in practise much further. Its unlikely in my socio-economic class that I will have access to it, if it is in my time.
The digital afterlife is harder to predict, as guessing at the future capabilities of computer equipment and the rate of change is slightly more complex than Moore’s Law would have you believe. Advances in quantum computing are making the news and once the real breakthrough happens, we very well may end up with more affordable computer power than anyone can currently imagine.
The singularity, anyone?
Once the contents of a human brain can be uploaded into a computer of unimaginable power, a multiverse of possibilities awaits. If I can live long enough to see that happen, I will be very lucky indeed.
I don’t hold out much hope.
I’ve always thought these amazing innovations would come the day after I die.
So it goes, as Vonnegut used to say.
That leaves me with a death obsession that won’t be resolved until its my time to shake off this mortal coil.
At least I have a pastime. They say having a hobby adds years to your life.
(The following is not an April Fools spoof post. That sort of childish behaviour is well behind me)
Like hello and whatnot. And ting. See, I’m down with the kids, innit.
For a change, I have a legitimate excuse for not posting anything here, my iMac died, twice.
I’ll spare you the tech bullshit and briefly sum up; the hard drive died, it went off to be repaired, it came back, the hard drive died again 8 hours later. It went back for a 2nd repair, this time the drive was wiped, but still working. It came back, the restore process was a mess, it took 3 days of fixing to get it back working properly.
Dealing with Apple and their authorised repair centre was straightforward and easy, and here’s a helpful tip: Always get the Apple Care on your Macs. Always. One serious problem or repair, it will more than pay for itself. With the problems I’ve had, it has saved me a fortune.
My current iMac is my third in the last 6 years, an 18 month old, 27” quad core LED screened beast and hadn’t given me any trouble till now, but when it died, it really died, while I was using it. I watched as icons dropped off my desktop, question marks appeared on the application icons in the dock, and running apps froze. I tried to restart my machine and when I did, the boot up screen showed nothing but a file folder icon with a question mark on it.
This is a bad thing.
A very bad thing.
I hope you never, ever see the dreaded, horrible, question mark-file folder boot screen icon and may god have mercy on your soul if you don’t have Apple Care.
I phoned Apple, who confirmed what I suspected, most likely the internal drive had failed. They asked if I had a back-up. I did, but it was 2 weeks old.
My bad, I only connected my Time Machine drive when the reminder came up, every 10 days — I had ignored it a few days before. Very stupid and lesson learned, my Time Machine drive is now always on and always connected.
This all happened on a Saturday and I had to wait until Monday for the repair shop to phone to arrange collection. They could have done it on the same day, ie the Monday, but it wasn’t possible on my part.
Long story short, they swapped out the dead drive for a new one, reinstalled the OS and tested everything. It was delivered back to me early the next week.
I was very happy to have it back and set about restoring everything from my Time Machine drive, which I was able to do, and I then began to fill in the gaps between my last back-up and the day of the crash, ie about a 2 week period of loss.
I was able to retrieve some recently purchased music via iTunes Home Share from another Mac of mine and I emailed myself all of the photos I last imported from my iPhone, then reimported them into iPhoto. I keep a lot of my current documents on iDisk, so they were easily obtained as well. I didn’t lose any important data, I was lucky.
I purchased two applications from the Mac App Store that I had to reinstall, though technically one of them was being installed at the time of the first hard drive crash. Can you guess where this is going?
When my hard drive died the first time, I was installing Xcode 4 from the Mac App Store. Its a hefty 4.5gb download and it was taking ages. The first thing I noticed as my system came apart at the seams was that the installation appeared to stall.
I was only installing it so I could activate the new multitouch gestures on my iPad, which requires Xcode 4 to put the device into developer mode. That’s it, a very lame reason.
I started to reinstall Xcode 4 on my repaired iMac, only this time, instead of doing the Mac App Store magic, it downloaded the installer package to my Applications Folder. I ran the installer and watched as it froze at about the same point it did before…and then my folders and icons started vanishing from my desktop.
Everything stopped working, I restarted the machine and low and behold, I was staring at the question mark-file folder boot icon again.
Apple arranged to have it collected again the following day, as a priority repair. Once the engineer had an initial look, he phoned me and said he was able to reinstall the OS and could see that the user data was gone. He said he would test the hardware and let me know the results, but on initial inspection, everything seemed fine.
Indeed it was, and after full and extensive testing, the machine was returned to me and this is where the real fun began.
I restored from my backup and this time it wasn’t as smooth. There must have been remnants of the previous restoration, because my Home Folder and login name changed, with a number ”1” added to them, the system created a new identity for me, constructed from all my old files. I didn’t lose any data, what I lost were permissions and privileges.
There’s a relatively easy fix for this, via Disk Utility and the Repair Permissions command, but that can only get you so far if you are booted up from the internal drive. To really fix it, plus run the Repair Disk command, you need to boot from the OS X installation DVD. Booting from that DVD is a very basic part of troubleshooting and guess what, I couldn’t do it.
I tried every possible way to boot from the DVD, I even spent nearly an hour on the phone with Apple trying to troubleshoot it. I just wasn’t able to get it to work. I could read the DVD, have the system recognise it as a bootable drive, I could even start the software on it to the point where it needs to restart and then zip, nothing, the DVD would spin for a bit, then stop, while I got no further than the Apple Logo boot screen.
I cloned the install disk to a flash drive, that didn’t work either. With help from Apple, I booted the iMac into target disk mode, connected it to my laptop via FireWire, but Repair Permissions was greyed out. I was able to run Repair Disk though.
The Apple guy (who was great, patient and very helpful) said that I had 2 choices, send it off for another repair or he could send me a replacement installer DVD. His view was that if my install DVD was corrupted, that could be why it kept hanging when trying to boot and he also speculated that the same corrupt nugget of data was stopping the flash drive in the same place in the process. It made sense, was I decided to try the new DVD option, even though it would take a week to receive it in the post. Better that than boxing it up again and having it gone for another week.
I thanked the Apple guy and felt dejected. And then I had another idea, I used SuperDuper to clone my entire internal drive to an external, bootable, FireWire drive. It took 4 hours to copy over nearly 400gb of data, but in the end I was able to boot up my iMac using the FireWIre drive.
So my iMac is working, my internal drive is not mounted, I dove straight for Disk Utility. Repair Permissions was not greyed out, so I clicked on it and let it do its magic. This time, it ran for literally ages and I could see it repairing countless files and folders. At the end of the process, I rebooted back to the internal drive and waited to see if I could access everything with administrator privileges.
I could. It worked. Happy days.
I still don’t know why I couldn’t boot from the DVD, but could read the DVD otherwise and won’t know until the replacement DVD appears. If I can’t boot from it, it will have to go off for a 3rd repair, but if I can boot from it, I’m laughing.
But what about the initial problem and the subsequent second problem, both identical from my point of view?
I think in the first instance, they might have replaced my hard drive for no reason, on the basis that the paperwork instructed them to do so, rather than testing it to see if it would work again with a reinstall. I don’t know this for sure, but I think its likely that the drive was only wiped.
The more thorough testing during the second repair revealed the drive was wiped and since the symptoms of both crashes were the same, I am guessing everything else was the same too, but again its only a guess.
So what caused both problems?
The only common variable in both scenarios is the installation of Xcode 4 from the Mac App Store. It can’t be a coincidence that it was being installed both times the hard drive went ka-blooey.
I mentioned this to the helpful Apple guy, who said he’d never heard of such a thing. I’ve searched on Google, I can’t find anyone else who has had a similar problem, but sometimes things conflict, software anomalies happen and they are not widespread.
Could I reproduce this a third time? I don’t know and I’m not going to find out by trying to install Xcode 4 again. I don’t even want a 3 quid refund from Apple.
I just want my computer back…and I think I have it back now, but I’m not convinced just yet.
My iMac is the centre of my life. That may seem like an overstatement, but actually its not.
To say I have been a bit depressed by all this, now that would be an understatement. I’ve lost sleep, honest to god, lost sleep from the stress of all of this.
If you don’t relate to tech and a digital lifestyle, I’ll try to put it in a perspective you might appreciate:
The most expensive thing I own is my house.
The second most expensive thing I own is my car.
The third most expensive thing I own is my iMac.
The third most expensive thing I own died.
The third most expensive thing I own was put in a box and taken away by a stranger, twice.
The third most expensive thing I own spent the better part of 2 and 1/2 weeks, away from me.
The third most expensive thing I own was my only access to a life time’s worth of photos, all irreplaceable.
You get the idea.
My iMac is my workstation, my powerhouse for digital heavy lifting, the centrepiece of all my high tech kit and it was out of the picture for nearly 3 weeks.
No joke, I had the same sick in the pit of my stomach feeling I’ve had when someone close to me has died.
Now that I have solved the major issues with my iMac, I’m trying to convince myself its back for good. Its a trust issue thing and clearly my toys and I enjoy an unnaturally close relationship.
And I said I wasn’t get too technical. Oooops
Update: Found THIS THREAD on the Apple Support Discussion Board, with many people who had exactly the same problems with Xcode 4 installation wiping their drive.
(If you’ve found this page because you suspect you’ve had problems resulting from trying to install Xcode 4 via the Mac App Store, I really want to hear from you. Please email me, my address is firstname.lastname@example.org)
Like hello and whatnot.
Another year has flown by and I’m already celebrating my anniversary of being the northlondonhippy, again.
And by celebrating, of course I mean writing this.
Seven years ago today I started my original website on Blogger. Its still there, though I moved everything to this, my own hosted website a few years ago.
Back at the beginning, I posted quite frequently, mainly because I had nothing better to do.
Blogging sprouted from a relatively brief period of unemployment , it gave me something to do with my time, when I wasn’t getting high or gobbling magic mushrooms, which were legal at the time.
You didn’t think I was going to get through this without a mention of shrooms, did you? Shrooms played an important part in the early days and I was a regular consumer of them. Since the government tightened up the regulations, I’ve been without them. I miss them, a lot. Shroom reference ends.
Flash forward to seven years into the future, to this very day and you’ll see that I hardly post anything, any more. There’s probably more posts about my lack of posts, than any other subject.
I don’t even attempt to make excuses any more, I’ve just accepted that my participation here is sporadic and random. I pop up whenever I feel like it, I just don’t feel like it very often.
That’s not strictly true, as I seem to continue to maintain a running list of topics I want to cover, I just don’t seem to get around to doing it. Then, whatever the topic might be, becomes less interesting to me, or less relevant and I delete it from my list and it just never gets written.
I’m back to making excuses again. Sorry, I’ll stop now.
It would be easier if I could just beam my thoughts directly to the internet, I think that’s coming as a feature this summer in the iPhone 5, but don’t quote me on that. I wouldn’t want to be starting that sort of a rumour.
I know I bang on about Twitter a lot, but I do spend a lot more time there than I do on my own website. If you did want to bathe in the weird thoughts flowing through my head on a daily basis, that remains the best place to do it. Though again, my participation is random and sporadic. I consume far more than I contribute to Twitter, but I do suffer from information gluttony and tech addiction.
That’s probably one of the biggest changes to my life in the last seven years, the amount of technology in it. I’ve always liked tech and toys, but here in the future, they are more pervasive and useful than ever before and I find that I am always connected, always consuming media.
A typical day starts with me picking my iPhone up from the bedside table, switching off airplane mode and letting it check my email. I put it in airplane mode when I go to bed, so it doesn’t ding or buzz with new messages, but I leave it on because it is also my back up alarm clock.
I come downstairs and fire up my iMac, which is the hub of my technological existence. The hard drive in it died last week and its being repaired this very second. Don’t worry, I have a TimeMachine back up, so I don’t think I’ve lost very much at all, but I am missing my 27” beast very much.
I’ve been using my lifeboat computer in the meantime, an original black MacBook that I think is nearly 5 years old. While I’m thankful that I’ve got it to use now, its painfully slow, its got about 25% of the screen space of my iMac and the viewing angle of the LCD screen is not very good. Five years is a very long time in tech termss and my MacBook is definitely showing its age. Its better than nothing, loads better!
Anyway, my normal routine with the iMac is to switch it on as soon as I wake up, read the papers online, along with a few other websites, check my RSS feed reader, keep an eye on Twitter, do some work on some other websites I work on, deal with professional and personal emails, sync and charge my iPhone and control my Mac Mini.
My Mac Mini is around 4 and a 1/2 years old and is also showing its age. I use it as my media hub, its connected to my flatscreen tv and my A/V amp. I use it to play music (streamed around my house to two AirPort Express units, one in the kitchen, one in my bedroom), I also stream online radio stations the same way. I use the BBC’s iPlayer service, I download and playback videos from Bit Torrent, I use it to screen XVID films friends give me, or even just to playback videos I’ve shot myself. It gets used a lot. I mostly control the Mac Mini with a remote control, or I use OS X Screen Sharing to remotely use control it from the iMac.
My iMac is a powerful computer, I use it to edit video and I mainly use iMovie. I also record my own music, using Logic Pro and a host of external toys and musical instruments that connect to my iMac with ease
Once I’ve done everything I have to do on the iMac, I might move over to the sofa with my iPad. I surf, use Twitter, keep up with my RSS feed, all in a relaxed, comfortable way, but that’s not all I’ve done with it. I’ve also used it to edit video, write blog posts and record music. Some of the music production apps I have are truly amazing, especially Apple’s new GarageBand app. Its easy to lose hours of your day just playing around with it. I’m also a secret Angry Birds HD addict, but shhhh, don’t tell anyone.
My iPhone is always with me and I use it for so many things, its really a Swiss Army Knife of a gadget. Its my calendar, my contact book, my mobile Twitter machine, RSS reader, internet browser, still camera, video camera, music player, film and video player, navigation device, compass, photo editor, video editor, news portal, note taker, audio recorder, gaming device, clock, weather centre, torch, handheld trackpad for my Macs, email client, reference library, text message device, oh and its a telephone and videophone too! It does even more than that, I’m just running out of steam thinking of it all.
My point to all this tech history is that none of this was possible 7 years ago, 2 of the devices I just mentioned couldn’t have even been imagined then.
In 2005, I had a running joke here about my brand new all digital lifestyle, right around the time I bought my first iMac. Its no joke today, my life truly is all digital. So’s yours. So is everyone’s.
They like to describe all this as “disruptive technology” and that’s a pretty accurate term, as long as you don’t see disruption as a necessarily bad thing. I don’t buy CDs any more, I don’t go to record stores any more, because that industry has been disrupted by the ease and availability of music downloads. If you own a chain of music stores, you’re not going to like this sort of disruption, but if you are a keen media consumer, you’re probably pretty happy about it.
Technology isn’t the only thing that’s disrupted my life in the last seven years, there’s also been some illness and some death. When it comes to disruption, nothing else comes close.
Both of my parents passed away since I started this website. My father was already ill when I started it, and his cancer featured frequently back in the day. Somewhere, in the archive, is a post called “Dad’s pissing blood again” and I’m surprised it didn’t win any awards. He died before this blog was a year old.
My mother crossed over to the great beyond at Christmas, two years ago. Nothing fills you with the holiday spirit like a bereavement on Xmas eve, and that applies to the future too, Xmas will now and forever be a reminder of her death.
While my mother had health problems for years, her sudden death was unexpected. My father died slowly over the course of a year and we pretty much knew when his death was coming to the day. I last spoke to him two days before he died and I got to say goodbye. I didn’t have that chance with my mother.
I’ve become old in the last seven years, at least in my head I have. In my head I’m not 48, I’m “pushing 50”. One of those posts I haven’t written is entitled “My unhealthy obsession with death” and I will get around to writing it, mainly because I’m hoping that spitting out a life time of death obsession might help me move past it. Or not. Who knows.
Blogging is like therapy for me sometimes, its a good way to try to work shit out.
I don’t really think I will ever work out my weird obsession with death, specifically my own. I’ve imagined my moment of death so many times, in so many ways, yet I know that none of it has probably come close to whatever horrible fate awaits me, as it awaits us all.
Keep an eye out for my death post, it will be a cheery little number, guaranteed to lift your spirits and make you want to do a happy dance down the street.
The truth is that I feel expendable, disposable and irrelevant because I am getting old. Maybe that’s normal. Maybe there’s no such thing as normal.
I can feel my body breaking down, I discover some new ache or pain on a daily basis. My joints creak, my muscles throb, my bones ache and I’ve been diagnosed with a long term health problem that requires daily medication for the rest of my life.
Middle age is a joy.
Middle age is stupidly named. Either you are young or you’re old. I’m old. Physically I am, but in my head I’m still 18 years old and full of all the hopes, ideas and dreams I had at that age. Sad, eh?
I’m the same person I was back then, I might move a bit slower and have loads more knowledge and experience, but I’m still me.
And I still smoke weed.
That was one of my goals when I started blogging, to further the cannabis cause. I’ve been smoking weed every day, for a couple of months shy of 30 years. I would qualify my use as a combination of recreational and medicinal, though its certainly more medicinal these days.
Weed should be legal and the fact that its not shows just how mixed up our current drug policy has become. Cannabis can be so beneficial in so many ways.
Right now, in these difficult and depressing economic times, cannabis is a cash crop our leaders should not be ignoring. A licensed, regulated and more importantly taxed cannabis market would be a much needed boon to the economy. Instead they would rather close schools, hospitals and libraries and let criminals control the market. Its as foolish and shortsighted as it sounds.
I’m not going to bang on about it too much now, my position is clear.
I may not be as prolific as I once was, but there’s a giant archive of nearly 750 posts to explore. You might learn to love me, you might come to hate me, but I’m sure you can waste plenty of time here, if you desire.
So that’s it, my weird and rambling reflection of the last seven years of living my life online, just for you. I’m always here, just a few mouse clicks away. Come hang out with me, any time.
If the first seven years are anything to go by, the next seven ought to be a real gas, man! Groovy!
There are many big problems in our little world here that could all be solved with some simple, rational thinking and common sense.
Let’s start with a big one, admitting to ourselves just how primitive a species we are, even though we have iPods and Microwave Ovens and other modern wonders of technology. We still remain quite primitive and relatively ignorant of so very much regarding the universe and our place in it.
We are extraordinarily primitive, more so than anyone would ever like to think. We are still a tribal race, unable to take a long term or global view of the true nature of our existence or the context.
We still cling to an “us versus them” mentality, we view people like us, living in the same place as more important than others, we foster rivalries and dissent between races and nations, rather than encouraging stronger ties based upon our similarities.
We are all the same, we are all earthlings first and foremost, every individual on this planet should have an equal worth, with the operative word being “should”, because the reality is nothing like that.
We value different people, different races, different classes, different nationalities as all having different and unequal worth in our so called modern society. We remain incredibly selfish when only selflessness will redeem the human race.
Imagine some space aliens arrived, imagine them any way you like, as long as they seem real and somewhat ordinary, because chances are intelligent life in the universe would be both of those things, ordinary and most likely real.
Imagine they didn’t read the fine print in their Travel Guide to the Universe which carried the caveat to our small blue planet, advising against any direct contact when visiting, because of our unevolved and primitive nature. They missed that bit and landed their space craft in the centre of a big city, expecting to be warmly welcomed by the friendly residents of our world.
Imagine the many surprises in store for these space visitors as they discovered our planet was not unified, we still believed we were the only species in the universe, created by an invisible, yet all seeing, all knowing space god, fighting each other for land and oil and religious differences. Oh, how they would laugh and mock us, seeing us as no more than insects scurrying around in the dirt.
They wouldn’t be too far off in their brief assessment of our world.
I keep coming back to the word “primitive”, because it truly applies. Our knowledge of the universe, of our world and ourselves is so blinkered, narrow and incomplete and yet we exist in a giant state of total denial. We have no collective self awareness of this fact and most would scorn me for me suggesting it.
Sometimes the bitter truth hurts.
If we want to have any hope of surviving what lies ahead for us as a species, the starting point needs to be a giant collective realisation of just how immature we are as race, and that we continue to evolve both biologically and socially.
Following that first realisation, must come another big realisation, that our knowledge of universe is minuscule and we know next to nothing about the true nature of matter, space and time.
If we ever did truly understand the true nature of matter, space and time, then most likely we could manipulate all three and make them bend to our will with ease.
We are eons from that point, but that doesn’t make it out of the realm of possibility, it just depends upon how long we last as a species.
I’ll give you an easy example of what I am talking about; the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland, which cost a gazillion dollars (or pounds or euros, or whatever currency you prefer) and is the largest scientific experiment ever constructed, is trying to find an invisible particle which theoretically gives mass to matter.
If that’s gobblygook, I’ll try to explain it, though many of these ideas often feel unexplainable to our tiny, meat computer brains.
Our understanding of subatomic theory is so (and here’s that word again), primitive, that we can’t see what gives mass to matter, because at the microscopic levels we can physically observe, most of the structure of an atom consists of empty space. Scientists theorise that there must be additional, invisible particles that are part of the subatomic architecture which give matter mass. I hope I am getting this right, I am not an actual physicist, but I do play the home game a lot.
To me, this seems like quite fundamental stuff that we are only guessing at, scholarly straws at which we can only merely gently grasp.
We are a long way away from any deep, meaningful understanding of anything big or important.
We still have no idea of the true origin of our universe. Again, we can and do only guess and then only to a point. Most theories start at some incomprehensible singularity that somehow erupted into the Big Bang and many only start one second after the Big Bang happened.
I’m not denying the Big Bang, on the contrary, there is plenty of evidence to support it as a theory, but many theories are incomplete, or depend upon things like cosmic inflation and expanding theory to fill in their quite considerable gaps.
The term “singularity” is thrown around quite a bit in science and yet to me, it seems to mean something that can’t be explained, or understood, so let’s just set it aside and take it as read that it exists and is a point on which we can build speculative theories.
Take Black Holes, which are pretty much theoretical mindfucks anyway.
There is a physical point to a Black Hole that scientists refer to as the singularity, where all that is known about time, space and matter doesn’t apply. Its just an easy way to admit our ignorance in a scholarly way.
The same is true for the theory surrounding the day when our computers become smarter than we are and can autonomously design and construct ever smarter and better machines than themselves. Theorists refer to this as the singularity as well because they don’t know what the impact will be on our world. Unless you’re James Cameron and you can envisage a Skynet like computer deciding we are bad for the planet and seeking to wipe us off the face of the earth.
Wouldn’t it be prudent to better ourselves as a species and a race, so when that day arrives, the machines see us more of a benefit worthy of keeping around and allowing to flourish?
I’m just sayin’…
Perhaps we need to label more things that we don’t get with the word “singularity” and increase its common usage and understanding. For example, when men collectively complain that they don’t understand a woman’s mind, instead of labelling it a mystery, you could say its a singularity.
Or these kids today, they are a total singularity to me. You get the idea.
Let’s take religion. No, seriously, let’s take it somewhere and dump it and leave it in the past, where it belongs.
Religion is a prime example of our primitive nature that we desperately cling to like a comfort blanket. Religion is a primitive way of dealing with singularities, by filling in the blanks in our rudimentary knowledge of the universe by consigning everything we don’t understand to a benevolent/vengeful space god.
Religion is the epitome of our primitiveness, it is the best example of how undeveloped we are, because we still allow it to colour how we treat each other and dictate our moral code.
When we finally transcend religion, as we need to do if we want any hope for a better future for our species, we will need to base our moral code on more humanist ideals.
I try to be a good person, not because I want or hope for a better place in the afterlife, but because being good and doing good is something that matters to me. I care about my fellow man and woman. We all need to find that spirit of kindness in our own hearts, from a genuine belief in the betterment of our world.
What we don’t need to do is base our morality on the fear of a non-existent god who will punish us for our bad deeds.
Murder is wrong, not because it is in the Ten Commandments, but because it is immoral to unjustly take another’s life. We should understand that at an innate level, in our bones we should all know that killing is wrong.
And we do all know that, but we find ever more creative ways to justify killing on an industrial scale, all over the place. We kill with weapons just as much as we kill with our own selfishness and greed. There should be enough of everything to go around for everyone, no one should starve or lack fresh, clean drinking water, yet we all know that is not the case.
We don’t view the world as one big extended family, we highlight our differences, rather than stressing our similarities. Its actually amazing if you think of what we all on this planet have in common, yet you never hear anyone talk about it.
We all want a better world, the differences lie in how we all think we get there.
We need to move to a post-tribal mindset, we need to view things globally, rather than locally.
We need to care more about what’s happening to everyone, not just the people who are exactly like us.
We need to move to a point beyond religion, where science explains as much as it can, while actively pursuing answers to the things that remain unknown.
We need to put individuals first and agree at every level that we are all truly equal on this earth.
We need to act responsibly and think in terms, not of years or decades, but millennia, because if we want to have any hope of surviving, we need to be that forward thinking.
I know I’ve been knocking us for being primitive, but I don’t want to take away any of our already considerable achievements. We’ve worked out some impressive things, but we’ve only really scratched the surface of what there is to be known in the universe. I’m glad I have a microwave oven and flat screen tv, but we can go so much further and at an exponential rate.
I dream of a time in a time in a few thousand years, where we are the masters of all time, space and matter, where all the mysteries of the universe are finally revealed and understood by one and all.
I like to think of the many developments I’ve seen in my short lifespan, and how many more I will see in my remaining years.
I’ve joked before that they will discover the key to eternal youth and longevity the day after I die. But in the back of my mind is the tiny hope that I will find a way to cheat death, even if it is only in machine form, so my consciousness can carry on learning about and observing the human condition. Our best days still lie ahead of us and it drives me nuts that I won’t be here to see it all.
Someone reminded me recently that I used to be the northlondonhippy.
Technically, I am still the northlondonhippy, I just don’t seem to practise much or preach, not like I used to anyway.
I logged into my own website to do a bit of maintenance and thought I should just say “hey”.
Blah blah lame excuse for not posting, sarcastic, self-deprecating joke about being useless here. (attn subs: you think of a gag this time, you think its so fucking easy.)
I haven’t even been on Twitter much, well not posting those tweet-things anyway.
I feel like I am fading away, drifting ever further into irrelevance and obscurity.
Was I anything other than irrelevant? Did I ever actually exit obscurity?
I think we both know the answer to both of those questions.
That’s how I think of my posts, in terms of the two of us; you and me.
People rarely read together any more, so I know you’re reading this alone. There may be someone else in the room, many someones perhaps, but you are the only one reading this.
You’re probably the only one reading this in your town, city or possibly even your country, if you live outside of the UK or the USA.
Think about that, I’m your little secret, that no one in any reasonable proximity shares with you.
If you think I came home from a draining nightshift, or rather a couple of weeks of draining nightshifts and had a big, fat spliff, you would be correct. If you think my deep self-loathing and abject fear are reaching a crescendo at this very moment, you would right again.
See, you know me as well I as know you. We’re like BFF’s, only you don’t have to buy me a card with a picture of a cute kitten and a caption that says “hang in there, baby!”
If you did, I would probably have to disembowel you and that might put a dampener on the whole BFF thing.
Let’s just be BFF’s that know each other on the internet. They’re the best kind anyway.
You could always just follow me on Twitter and get this sort of rambling nonsense and dark bullshit in smaller doses. Go on, I don’t charge much, its @nthlondonhippy — because there wasn’t space for all the vowels.
Birthday last month, blah blah blah, ageing, getting closer to death, blah blah blah. Now aren’t you glad I didn’t post much in January?