What is Twitter Doing?

Don’t think twitter and i are going to stay friends for much longer… which is a real shame because up until recently it has been a really useful tool for keeping up / reconnecting with friends around the world.

To me twitter is a fairly private place* – i have a private account and have had since day one, only follow people that i know or are posting things that will be relevant, automatically prune my tweets with a month long moving window, am cautious about accepting new follow requests. Consequently my interactions with celebrities, brands, clickbaiters and other assorted scum of the earth is greatly limited.

Having curated my set of follows over time it has become a reliable means to keep up with what friends are doing (many of which live far far away), a feed of research happenings (mostly security and climate change related), and an “important” events feed (earthquakes, prime ministers fucking pigs, that sort of thing…)

That has all worked really well for a while. And then recently it stopped being so frictionless. At first it was just the website, but that was alright because the iPad client was still nice and simple. Then promoted tweets started coming up in the iPad feed… first i blocked all of them, then i started reporting them as spam. That was followed by ‘who to follow’ (otherwise known as, “fuck off! stop being creepy!”) and ‘while you were away’ (are there people too stupid to manage a timeline?). And, then i deleted it.

Which left me with the Mac client. When the App Store update for that one came i made a backup of the current client, and have been steadfastly refusing to be tricked into getting rid of the “1 update to apply” flash on the icon.

Eventually that client is going to stop working, and the only way forward from that point is deleting my account!

Obviously there are plenty of twitter replacements, but i know from past experience that it’s pretty much impossible to get any level of engagement on those platforms. Something new will come along, catch the zeitgeist, and we’ll do this whole rollercoaster ride again.

Which brings me back to the original question: what is twitter doing?!

Well, in the grand traditional of silicon valley startups, obviously they are attempting ‘monetise their user-base’. The people running the company now are not the same as those who put the original idea out there – they are long gone, and busy frittering away more money than they can ever reasonably be expected to spend in a lifetime on coming up with the “next big thing”. Which leaves us, the user-base, to deal with a wave of vultures all attempt to cash in before the collapse. Short-term profit over all.


 

*  this is probably an oddly considered use of twitter, or any SNS for that matter, but to me the wide open dash for followers / following is far more bizarre. In what social situation would you make connections and express your thoughts to almost complete strangers. What is normal about having hundreds / thousands of “friends” that you don’t know?

The situation is obviously different if your engagement with twitter is for promotion, information dissemination, performance, art, etc. but purely personal accounts? Odd.

Book Covers

Tangentially related to the previous post…

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That’s Iain’s latest book (or maybe it isn’t – a few months have passed…) The cover is a crop of the following photograph of mine, taken with the previously maligned Natura Black 1.9:

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Not sure it’s the crop that i’d have made, but i’m notoriously bad at cropping my shots.

It strikes me as somewhat unusual to have covers that are “full bleed” photographs at the moment. Maybe it was never a thing… but certainly the current trend is to more designed and graphical covers. The IWTFY books have eschewed that direction and, to my eye, look all the more distinctive for it.

Both IWTFY covers have also been fairly abstract portraits of M., taken in the bath with a digital P&S… that is a trend which seems difficult to continue.

Sticky Shutter

The olympus xa2XA2 is pretty much my favourite P&S camera. I’ve travelled with one for years. And i mean years – M. had one when we met…

That particular one died a few years ago. The shutter had started to get unreliable and eventually completely unresponsive.

It was a sad day, but a new one was purchased on Yahoo! Auction, and point and shoot life carried on unabated.

This problem with the shutter is apparently common, and the inevitable is now happening to the replacement. It’s hard to get too upset that a camera that was produced in 1980, and has likely seen hundreds of rolls of film, starts to give up the ghost. However, at this point it’s likely that any replacement that i find is quickly going to suffer the same fate.

Time to start to learn to fix it! According to this “tutorial” it should be simply a matter of opening it up, cleaning, tweaking the contacts, and getting it back together. It’s the last part of that which gives me pause… the alternative is to take it to the grumpy camera repair man and have him do it. Less embarrassing than turning up with a bag of pieces.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of P&S cameras, there is also the Fujifilm Natura S. Another purchase from Yahoo! Auction… and i have to say that i don’t like it. Some people rave about them, but unless you’re *only* shooting 1600 ASA film, it’s a horrible experience. The flash tends to be very eager to fire, even when you’d expect that it wouldn’t, the menu system is junk, settings don’t survive a power cycle, it has no exposure compensation, which leads to “fun” DX coding hacks (scraping paint of film canisters with your keys…), and to top it all off, the focus on mine is really soft in a lot of situations. Despite some reasonable results over the last couple of years, it has never become the replacement that i hoped it would be.

Grilled Mushroom and Spinach Pesto Pasta

Spur of the moment cooking with what was around…

  • long pasta
  • eryngii (King Trumpet) Mushrooms
  • large brown mushrooms
  • olive oil
  • spinach leaves
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves
  • fresh lime
  • fresh tomatoes (cherry or large) roughly chopped

Cut thick slices of the mushrooms, throw a little olive oil at them, season with salt / black pepper, and put them under the grill.

Blanch a handful of spinach leaves (1 – 2 mins depending on how young / fresh they are), drain, and squeeze dry. Blend them in a food processor with olive oil, garlic, and the juice of half a lime.

Put the pasta on to boil (we’re currently in love with Bucatini, but spaghetti, linguine, etc. would be fine).

Meanwhile, cook the pesto on a *low* heat for a couple of minutes – you just want to warm it and cook away some of the raw garlic bitterness. Add the grilled mushrooms… you remembered to turn them, right?

When the pasta is cooked (leave it a little hard to the tooth – it’ll cook some more in the frying pan) use tongs to transfer into sauce. Don’t worry if the pasta is a little wet, that’ll just let down the pesto a little and stop it being to cloying.

Coat the pasta with the pesto and add the chopped tomato, and give them a minute to warm through. Serve with the rest of the lime squeezed over.

Black Bean Soup

Another ongoing recipe that will  always be under development.

  • 1 large Onion (chopped fine)
  • 3 – 4 gloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • cooked black beans
  • tin of tomato
  • 1 jalapeno (fresh)
  • 1 -2 chipotle (rehydrated)
  • 1 romano pepper
  • bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1 fresh lime

In a large saucepan, heat a teaspoon of vegetable oil with bay leaves, slowly cook onion for five minutes. add the peppers, chills, garlic, and half the cilantro. Cook for another minute, and then add the cumin. Add the beans and tomatoes, and cover with water. Simmer slowly for 30 – 45 mins. Towards the end of the cooking time, if the beans haven’t started to lose their form “encourage” them with the back of a wooden spoon.

Serve with the rest of the cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and hot sauce as appropriate.