Printernet Notebook, Non-Networked

A little while back, I said to myself:

I’ve been thinking about buying one of those mini-printers that bluetooth to your phone and let you print out little 2-inch x 3-inch Zink photos with sticky backs. So I could just take a photo of something, print it off and stick it in my notebook, with the digital original waiting to be backed off into an external drive later.

In May, what I did was buy myself a Canon Selphy printer. (UK) (US)

It’s a small desktop machine that pumps out archival quality prints. I would have liked a smaller and more portable option, but those Zink prints are basically faxes and will fade out in ten years.

You can equip the Selphy with a credit-card sized paper (which requires a different tray and different print cartridge, which is kind of bullshit, but I was mired in approximately 220 pages of screenwriting and said fuckit).  Putting photos on my website, or on IG, and backing them off into Dropbox or an external drive is fine. But I thought to myself, well, why don’t I just save some images for myself and paste them into the notebook?

This one was absolutely a note to self – a first experiment in infusing weird Mongolian vodka with organic cinnamon sticks. The date means “don’t forget about this!”

Because some things should just be for me, maybe. Or maybe leafing through old notebooks and discovering these will give me pleasure in years to come. Or, perhaps, just wanting to countermand that twitch of — I took a photo, I’ll sling to it to my private Instagram so a couple of hundred people can see/ignore it. Which is fine. But I like putting things back on my own terms, not obeying a twitch. And, I guess, it’s a sign to myself that I am off the social streams, not feeding the services the fruits of every little twitch, and specifically allowing syndication systems to release complete statements into the wild.

Category jotter is for fragments and randoms, and now I’ve connected two fragments up. Previously: Antisocial Network System Printernet

On Pause

WordPress Special Projects got in touch and we’re trying some stuff. Back soon.

On This Return To WordPress

This whole thing can continue to be filed under “Remember when this stuff used to just work?”

Reader, you will have noticed that I’ve swapped out the theme here a couple of times. The first time, it was because a theme update (Meks Typology) fucked itself up in a handful of ways, and because Jetpack updates would fail catastrophically and take the whole website offline, requiring me to FTP into the site and manually delete the Jetpack plugin and the thousands of busted files it would litter into the system. I went to a simple theme called Uncluttered. Jetpack seemed to behave, but the theme was broken and would only display images on the first page of posts. So I went to another simple theme that did not do this. And then the next Jetpack update busted the whole site. So I did some reading. Because I totally have time for all this.

My hosting is what’s called “Managed WordPress.” WordPress works on top of language called PHP. Media Temple’s “Managed WordPress” service sits on PHP that… well, the current version of PHP is 7.2.0. The version of PHP my site sits on is 5.2.1. It’s ten years old.

WordPress has a Site Health tool. This shows me that my copy of WordPress cannot actually write to something like twenty parts of itself. Guess which parts? Most of them seem to end with .php. Background updates don’t work and neither do scheduled events. Why do we care about background updates? “Background updates ensure that WordPress can auto-update if a security update is released for the version you are currently using.” Yyyyyyeah. That.

This would seem to be why shiny new versions of Jetpack arriving into shiny current versions of WordPress hit my hosting and explode.

I asked my hosting company about this. They may or may not update the Managed WordPress PHP install in the future.

You’ve already fallen asleep. At this point in the history of online publishing, we passed the threshold of absurdity a few paragraphs back. Media Temple are a good hosting company. They keep uptime. They don’t gouge me. They’re responsive. But this is what personal publishing appears to be deprecated to.

I’m sure the arcane masters of handrolled Indieweb, who remain incapable of communicating in colloquial English, are having a good laugh at all this.

I like WordPress. I’ve used it for many things for many years. I like the mobile app and the flexibility it gives me in posting from my phone in my preferred formats. But I am starting to regret not trying to make a blot.im instance work for my needs.

I’ve liked being here and doing this. But I may have to shut it off and start again. Or? If it really does require hours a week of deleting exploded files and sacrificing something to Satan every time I click a button? Just shutting it off. I came back to blogging too late, and shit stopped working.

Phone Wrangling And Email Life

We’ve all been there. Apps start to drag, you discover that there are things you really need them to do that they just refuse to do, and it becomes time to look for replacements. For me, it’s Airmail for iOS. I mostly liked the app, even though its ability to parse emails has degraded a little over the years, but it now doesn’t have a functioning search and is dragging 1.5GB of undeletable cache behind it. With twenty emails in it.

I never liked the built in Mail app – clunky and slow and basic. So I need to wait for my Airmail-snoozed emails to pop out and then move to a mail app that works better.

Which is an absurd thing to even write about, really. And god, I miss the Mailbox mail app. And it’s easy to fall into the “all this should be FIXED by now ffs” rant. But it’s also worth noting that people have been locked into a narrative of “we need to fix/kill email” for years now, when meanwhile it and SMS have remained and even cemented as default planetary communications systems. So you look for the app teams who want to enhance email. And maybe have a search function.

(I’ll give Edison Mail another go, probably. I used to use their old EasilyDo a lot, back in the day before it broke.)

Email never needed fixing. It needed polishing and to be treated like a modern tool like any other. Slack isn’t an email killer. Neither is any other thing that’s been touted as an email killer. They are financialised messaging systems. This particular delusion is way overdue for being snapped the fuck out of for good.

It’s That Time Of Year Again, 2019

I’m a member of the Writers Guild of America, West. This means that I was put on a list of people who receive what are called screeners, DVD copies of material which is up for a major award. An Emmy or an Oscar. I have never divined how this actually works, because as far as I’m aware I am eligible to vote in nothing at all and as a UK citizen who lives in the UK I am of no use or interest to anyone anyway because I’m only the producer of a global top ten streaming show hahaha that is still weird to type. But still they come. Today, I received a mysterious parcel which contained the teleplays and DVDs for CATCH-22. And, wonderfully, the DVDs actually play! I am very grateful, because I think George Clooney is a fine and interesting director. And, well, it’s CATCH-22.

See, what usually happens is, the screeners will not play on any device I own, because they’re so stuffed with encryption as to essentially just be custom coasters. But they’ll keep arriving until September, when the Emmys happen (voting actually ends soon, I think, but they put these screeners on the slow boat – I’ve had them arrive the month after the awards before). And then Oscar season will take over. Last year’s Oscar screeners were a parade of the following: I shove them into DVD players, make a face, snap them into little pieces and put them in the bin (because they all have codes, because you’re not allowed to give them to anyone else). Marketing money well spent.

But CATCH-22 works! Thank you, Hulu marketing squad, for getting it.

The Joy Of The Unsold Book

Every now and then, some charming soul will attempt to fuck with me by informing me that they’d seen one of my books in a remainders bin, or a discount store, or a charity shop. The intent is apparently to let me know that nobody likes my work and I am a failure.

I smile every time.

I was poor for a long, long time.  You know how I bought books?  From remainders bins, discount outlets and charity shops. I would never have been able to afford books without those places. I would never have discovered the books that were in fact the most formative in my development as a writer and as a human without those places.  Those places are second, third and fourth chances for the right person to find the right book in the right moment.

Those photos of my books on a discount table or an Oxfam spinner give me hope. Bring me full circle.  Make me smile.

(Written 3 February 2017, recovered from morning.computer)

Ganymede Series 01

And I know I keep saying I’m Not A Watch Guy, but look at this insane thing:

Currently USD $350 on Kickstarter. It has colour-coded hands of different lengths, corresponding to the colours of the numbers you see there. I immediately thought of old radio frequency windows. It’s kind of wonderful to me, so I backed the Kickstarter. Because I’m Not A Watch Guy, but this thing just gives me pleasure when I look at it.

That Shingy Life

One of the things that’s come to bother me over the last year is seeing people falling into constantly being on the road and giving talks, pausing only to dump a tweetstorm before going somewhere else and doing talks, week after week, month after month.  Not least because I worry they’re going to turn into Shingy.

You remember Shingy.  David Shing. “Digital prophet” for Oath, bats around the world as a brand ambassador, talking, talking, talking, making little sense and making no cultural mark.

During a half-awake session of link-surfing while full of flu meds the other week, I happened across the blog of one of those guys who was always doing talks and camps and streams and conferences and all the fucking rest of it.  He’s in his fifties now.  On his blog, he notes that he has tiny savings and even after downsizing he and his wife both need full-time income streams to keep the lights on and the kids fed.

Put another way — even a year ago, before his business hit some self-inflicted disasters, he would have had jack shit to show for that Shingy life.

(Because Shingy, you know, has been on a six-figure salary for years.)

Now, said guy has always been a braying idiot who was wrong about everything.  But I worry for the other people.

A thought for the new year: try to stay home for a bit and make some things that might last, please?

And yes, yes, I know, precarity, cobbled-together career skeins, gets harder all the time, freedom versus drowning in platform capitalism, I know.

But a privileged white man from Silicon Valley with an address list fatter than Ron Jeremy’s phone book did it all century and has fuck all to show for it, so how do you think that’s going to work out for you?

(Written 6 December 2008, recovered from morning.computer)

Not My Teaching, But My Study

What I write here is not my teaching, but my study; it is not a lesson for others, but for me. And yet it should not be held against me if I publish what I write. What is useful to me may also by accident be useful to another. Moreover, I am not spoiling anything, I am only using what is mine. And if I play the fool, it is at my expense and without harm to anyone. For it is a folly that will die with me, and will have no consequences.

Montaigne

Post Death Internet Service

What I need is a post-death internet service.  This is something people have been talking about a lot over the last few years. I don’t know if any true solutions were found for the thing that, this morning, I think I’d like the most.  A year after I die, I’d like to post to Twitter or something. Hell, who even knows if Twitter will be there by then. He said, as if he were likely to outlive any internet service.  Maybe it should go to my newsletter system instead.

But: just a message, a year after I die. Saying, hi, I died a year ago, but I just wanted to tell you something.

Which, yes, is unsettling enough on its own, I know. It’s not unamusing to me, obviously.  But.

Hi.  I died a year ago, but I just wanted to tell you something. I loved being with you all, and I hope you’re all making the most out of life, because we only get one go on the ride. Hold on tight.

But I think mostly I probably just want to scare the shit out of people.

I’m not buying an URL for a digital haunting service DON’T LOOK AT ME

(written 12 September 2017, recovered from Morning Computer)