Discussing software, the web, politics, sexuality and the unending supply of human stupidity.

I think I may be in love with Panti Bliss for this TEDx talk. Panti says what every openly gay person is forced to think, every single day.

Key quotes I loved:

  • “We try to be normal and carefree, just like everybody else. But we’re not. We’re constantly scanning the pavement ahead, just in case. If we see a group of blokes coming towards us, maybe we decide silently to continue holding hands, defiantly. But now, our small intimate gesture between two people in love is no longer a small intimate gesture—it is a political act of defiance. And it has been ruined.”
  • Homophobia is the “background of our lives”.
  • “I’m fed up of putting up.”
  • “They are afraid of what the world will look like when it treats gay and lesbian and bisexual people with the same respect as everybody else. They are afraid that they won’t fit in this brave new world of equality.”

If a style guide suggests doing something that causes confusion for the reader, ignore the style guide. As a writer you have a nearly sacred duty of care towards your reader: to not confuse them. This duty is higher than any style guide—if the style guide gets in the way of you doing the right thing for the reader, toss the style guide away. Your reader is your highest priority.

This is something I have learned by experience far too often.

Looking at a Flickr stream on my phone. A banner appears at the top advertising the app. If has a link that says “Open in App”. I have the Flickr app installed so I tap it. Instead of taking me to the app and showing me the photos I want to see, it takes me to the App Store so I can download the app I already have installed.

Fabulous usability, guys. This is why Yahoo! isn’t a sinking ship…

I’m still trying to understand why people build mobile only apps. I have a 15” laptop with a beautiful screen and a full keyboard in front of me. Why do you want me to have to experience your service only on my phone screen with the limited input of a touch keyboard? This trend is the stupidest thing ever.

Another UKIP candidate has been forced to stand down due to the revelation of homophobic and racist remarks. I’m so glad they got rid of this bad apple, like they have for all the previous bad apples.

UKIP PR will undoubtedly now be arguing that the media are persecuting UKIP by accurately reporting what their candidates say. This game has become so predictable, it is now banal.

Strangely enough, updating to iOS 8.1.2 fixed issues I was having with Spotlight search (specifically, it not working at all).

Somewhere deep in the guts of WordPress is a non-awful blogging tool. Alas, because everyone decided they wanted a bloated CMS with gallery and shopping cart and discussion forum bolted on the side in badly written, insecure PHP, it has now become a complete mess. And the bolted on shit tends to be utterly unusable too.

I would suggest a rule that public transport ought to have library-like silence but that wouldn’t be much of an improvement since most libraries have abolished the rule of silence in order to get idiots to spend more time in libraries.

The impact assessment for the R18 Content Access Controls regulations is quite interesting.

For instance, it contains this rather amazing admission from the government…

According to literature reviews commissioned by Ofcom (Cumberbatch report 2010 and Helsper report 2005) there is inconclusive evidence that R18 equivalent material causes harm to people under 18. This conclusion is arguably the result of the inability to test the harmful effects because of ethical considerations relating to intentionally exposing people under 18 to R18 material.

Got that? They don’t know whether or not R18 material (porn, basically) is harmful to under 18s.

Later on in the same impact assessment, they list as one of the benefits of changing the regulations:

Preventing the exposure of R18 material will support the positive development of people under 18.

Except that contradicts the “inconclusive” evidence that was cited in the impact assessment.

The statutory framework protecting people from harmful material is unclear because it relies on a demonstration that it ‘might seriously impair’ those under 18, thereby providing scope for interpretation.

Except we don’t actually know that it’s harmful or “might seriously impair” those under 18, because the studies have been inconclusive—as this very document points out.

We could perhaps instead do something radical like talk to young people and learn something about how they use and relate to porn—because, hell, most of the teenagers I knew did when I was a teenager back in the late 90s and porn came down the wire at dial-up speed. The problem there is if you do a study, there is always the possibility of finding negative results, just as it is always possible when you study the harms of, oh, say, recreational drug use, you might find that it is less harmful than the law makes it out to be. You obviously then have to shoot the messenger.

Lazy moralism is so much easier than science, which is why politicians will always prefer it.

I’ve got a radical idea: when I’m working, maybe all software could fuck off and stop nagging me to update itself from version to 1.5.3. Do it silently in the background, but I’m trying to fucking concentrate.

I read about “playful cities” and I wonder how “playfulness” makes cities actually better for humans. Is it reducing crime? It it helping people hate their jobs less? Is it helping reduce the number of people chucking themselves under trains to end it all? Is it making people less likely to be racist or homophobic our loudly proclaim their hatred for immigrants? Is it helping reduce social privation? Improving educational chances for the worst off in society? Is it actually making a meaningful change in how cities are.

Or is it just making pretty things so designers can say “look at the pretty things I made” and put photos of said pretty things in their portfolios with lots of pious discussions of urbanism? When I hear ‘playful’, my mind usually jumps to ‘insipid’. I’d love for someone to convince me that I’m wrong to be so cynical about this playfulness stuff.