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Second Annual Review

19 Apr

Hello all!

Bit late with this years edition of my annual update on how I’m doing and all that. Sorry; I’ve been letting the blogging go a bit (which, in a sense, isn’t necessarily a bad thing), truth is I don’t really ever find the time. I felt bad about not updating you all on my Netflix usage over October like I said I would; turns out Breaking Bad is very good, but I found it a struggle to just watch telly all day, so I just gave up. I envy telly critics – they seemingly have the easiest job in the world, but watching any serious amount of TV must send you totally fucking crazy.

This being a second annual review, stands to reason there must have been a first at some point, roughly a year ago. And indeed there was! You can read it here. Not a very long post, and remarkably difficult to write – I was very emotional, possibly even crying at points when I wrote that. However, I set myself relatively low standards for the year. Let’s see how I got on…

WORK: “Well, compared with two years ago, I am happy enough in my work. I now work with people of roughly my own age again, the job is tolerable, and I can survive on what I’m paid. This said, compared with last year, it is a huge step back, and I would like to continue the forward momentum I had built up at some stage… I expect to be in a similar job (or worse, or unemployed) for at least the next twelve months.”

I’ve pretty much nailed this one. At time of writing, I have avoided unemployment. I went for internal promotions, and a few other jobs, all knocked back, but I’m still in the same job. For someone who (unfairly) has a reputation for changing jobs on a regular basis, it’s encouraging. The company I work for have a career development scheme which they’ve put me on, which is a positive. I hope to make the best of this over the coming year, and move on up within the company rather than look for work elsewhere.

Hopefully a pay rise will follow in the next year; I won’t disclose precicely what I earn, but it’s less than the first ever job I had after university, and that wasn’t a lot.

Taken about an hour or so ago (April 2014). No beer :-(

Taken about an hour or so ago (April 2014). No beer 😦

Out at the Bier Halle, Gordon St, Glasgow, with some pals from work

Out at the Bier Halle, Gordon St, Glasgow, with some pals from work. June 2013

On the plus side, not having a lot of money has it’s fringe benefits (see right):

Work was only one worry I had back in 2013. At time of writing, I’ve been single for I forget how long. Scarred mentally by previous relationships, last year I was as pessimistic as usual. I done wrote this:

FRIENDSHIPS: “Well, I don’t honestly see a difference really in the last two, or indeed several years really. I am fond of a lot of people, just as I hope they are fond of me, but I am not particularly close to anyone. This does seem to be a continuing frustration in my life. I hope this gets better. Love-live is still zero, and sadly I forecast that to be the same over the coming year.”

In a sense, I fear that this has gone backwards in the last twelve months. I don’t see my pals as often as I used to, and I am, in a sense, spiralling into the same old depression that has plagued me over the years (see blogposts passim, and my twitter feed on a drunken Friday night). I would say that I literally do not know how to make friends. Over the last couple of years, I have joined a couple of organisations (namely the Lib Dems and CAMRA), primarily with the intention of meeting people with similar interests. I don’t think I’ve made a single friend whilst being a member of the Lib Dems, likewise CAMRA. (Important caveat here: Most people I know in ale drinking circles I knew prior to joining CAMRA; If you’re reading this then you’re more than likely one of them, and I don’t mean you!). Now, one could be cruel at this point and state that membership of Britain’s least popular political party, coupled with membership of a very narrow-focused consumer campaign was never going to be a winner as far as popularity goes, but at the moment it really does feel like I’m going backwards when I didn’t think that was even possible.

As for (sexual) relationships; I won’t be in one over the next twelve months. That’s a cast iron fucking guarantee right there. No point in analysing the last twelve months because nothing happened, and nothing will. So let’s move on, shall we?

FAMILY: “Compared with a few years ago, my relationship with my own family has improved slightly; though with the exception of my mother, I don’t really speak to them all that often. In fact, the primary communication tool these days seems to be game requests on Facebook games. This is a definite area for improvement in 2013.”

There was no improvement in 2013. Me and my mum still speak once a week on the phone, I may occasionally get a text message off my eldest younger sister, a facebook message off my youngest sister, and hardly any communication off the other two. Me and my dad will email each other occasionally… that’s about it. That said, looking back on what I typed up last year, my relationship with my family must have been a bone of contention – I’m not sure that it is now. I love my family dearly, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve never been all that close to them, and I can’t for the life of me think why I put this down. Naturally, I hope that I am able to continue cordial relations with my parents and siblings into 2015, but I don’t necessarily want closer ties. I like that we are a relatively independent, free thinking bunch. Closeness will just lead to unnecessary drama and squabbles, and I’m best off out of that.

Lastly, but by no means leastly, was the vague category of “Hope”.

HOPE: “Unfortunately, this is the one area which scores particularly badly; unfortunately, having considered all things, I see last year as a bit of luck coming my way for once; sadly, I see my general trajectory heading south.”

HA! Boy, was I wrong on that one?! I was overly pessimistic last year. All in all, it’s been a mildly positive year – the job I do, due to an organisational change, became a lot more tolerable. I have lost a lot of weight which I wasn’t expecting to do. My health has probably never been better. However, it’s not all been a positive year. I feel a lot more fragile than I used to. One of my favourite character traits is, as a kid/teenager/young adult, no matter how many times I got knocked down, I would get up again. I had a bit of fight in me. Not any more. These days I just want a quiet life. I avoid conflict and, in doing so, people. I’m a lot lonlier than I was last year, and that was an area that I thought I’d hit rock bottom.

So what for next year? Well, again, I’m going to end on a pessimistic tone, sadly. I think my job (touch wood!) and my health will continue to improve over the coming months. I am aiming to have a size 32″ waist by June the 25th (my 32nd birthday) – I am currently a size 36″. We will see how that one goes. If I am successful, I will have gone from a size 42″ to 32″ in twelve months. Still, I’m not going to starve myself. My health, as it were, is the most important thing; there’s no point in wearing smaller trousers if I’m in a fucking hospital.
However, I don’t envisage 2014 being all plain sailing; even if I do lose further weight and get a better job; this is all about my overall quality of life, and I fear that I am not far off rock bottom at this point. I fear that I am in danger, a real danger, of relapsing into the mindset I had late 2010/early 2011 (see earlier blog posts) – and that’s not somewhere I want to be. 2014 will be a year where I perilously straddle the tightrope of having suicidal thoughts and not succumbing to them. I hope I remain as successful in the year to come as I have been so far.

And don’t mention the fucking football.

Web 9.0 – what the internet of tomorrow should offer.

26 Jul

Before I start this update properly, I ought to tell you now that whilst this is clearly a flight of fancy, and in no way a prediction of how future technology will unfold, you can bet your bottom Euro that I will do everything in my limited power to make this future a reality.

The internet, as those of you who’ve used it for longer than a week will know, is an ever evolving medium. Back when it first took off, not as a mainstream concern but as a curiosity for computing enthusiasts and Scandinavian funk-masters, the web consisted purely of text characters, consisting of A-Z, 0-9, the usual punctuation marks and some odd characters, for instance ┳╠▒◔♻♣♜♚➋➼to name but a few. Although the web did initially allow for different colours to be used, along with fancy ASCII blocks, it was basically just a tarted up version of teletext. Nope, teletext was probably quicker. And definitely cheaper – remember dial-up induced phone bills? Ouch.

Luckily, from a tiny acorn a mighty oak will grow, and in this metaphor, the acorn is the text-based stodge I mentioned then. Around about 1994-ish, this basic form of content sharing was given a boost when the first popular browsers hit the market – namely IE3 and Netscape 3. Not only did they offer a nicer visual experience to the home computer user by offering more colours than before, images that could be embedded in a text article (y’know, like in a newspaper), but they also allowed for background music to be embedded. Y’know, I once visited a website that had a MIDI file of Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds” playing in the background, it made me so angry that I punched a hamster in its kidney. With the introduction of universal content platforms such as Java, Flash et. al. it soon became possible to play games on the internet, and some multi-player. I once got grannied on Yahoo! Pool , as a result I got quite angry and lobbed a grenade at a cat. Indeed, as the internet was getting more and more advanced, I seemed to be getting both angrier and more complicated in my animal abuse methods. We’ve now reached the stage where it’s common practise to have video clips on websites, and flash adverts that take over the whole screen, and you really don’t want to know what I do to horses whenever I see a flash advert. But what of the future? What’s left to be done? As the title cleverly suggests, this blog post is about what the internet should offer in the medium to long term. I am of no doubt that a lot of what I suggest will not be feasible, let alone possible, but should that stop any self-respecting scientist from trying? Should it balls.

The web should be more seamlessly integrated with mother nature
Long Term

Now, as far as this pundit (hello) is concerned, recent developments in making the internet more accessible are to be welcomed. We can now get the internet on mobile phones, we can get laptops that can be hidden under a folded up copy of the Metro, and one can get free Wi-Fi internet at the pub, supermarket, even on the bus. However, it is just a start, and with devices getting smarter, wi-fi getting stronger and more devices getting some sort of online connection, I would speculate that in the very long term, possibly about 100 years from now, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the fields in which our grandchildren will gaily dance will all be online. Somehow. I’m not really sure on the specifics but I’m fairly sure water conducts electricity, and I know that you can transmit internet wirelessly, and the fields could be an internet of sorts… obviously the specifics need working on a bit, but I’m convinced that the basic premise is a goer. Besides, I saw an episode of the New Adventures of Superman where they done this. That, and above all else I really want a future where any act of gross stupidity or misfortune is instantly rewarded by an 80ft floating ghostly cat in the sky, playing a tune on a keyboard.

Get Paid To Surf

Short Medium Term

You will have to forgive me a bit of reminiscing here, but I remember a by-gone era when companies would pay you money for surfing the web. It was easy money, all you needed to do was spend literally hours and hours glued to a screen attached to a bit of wire that cost 4p a minute, and after a couple of months doing this you’d get a cheque through the post for about a fiver. More, they say, if you encouraged friends and family to sign up. Oh yeah, and you had to have a window with adverts open, or occasionally click on a link, or fill out a survey, or sell your soul. Thems were the days. Sadly, in the case of the ad-sponsored programs (such as All-Advantage), their demise was swift, presumably because they were paying more money to people using their software than they were receiving from advertisers.

Moreover, I believe that these business models failed simply because they required people to go out of their way to do something they wouldn’t otherwise do – filling out a survey takes time, and watching adverts is… a bit weird, truth be told. What if there was a way of obtaining revenue from folk who were doing what they do anyway?

Naturally, ones first reaction to a proposition like that would be a confused one. Surely, if you’re doing anything that involves using the fruits of someone else’s labour, you should be paying them, right? True enough. But what about when the fruits of your labour are used without remuneration? Comments left on websites, photos uploaded to social networks, etc. often have a financial value to them – why cant the authors/creators benefit from this? Fucking hell, I’ve gone all serious. It’s probably worth mentioning that I haven’t the foggiest how this would happen, and who on earth would be silly enough to pump money into a venture like this, but you never know – will@xcos.eu if you have more money than sense, yet more business acumen than I do…

Make it a bit more like telly:

NOW!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I propose that the interwebs best and worst features are that anyone can use it – in fact an old adage about monkeys, typewriters and infinity springs to mind. Because the internet is ultimately created entirely by its users, it means that all manner of things, both wild, wonderful and completely inane, can be found. Go on, try it. I’ll wager that out there in the world wild web are such diverse things as Tom Hingley from the Inspiral Carpets being eaten by the French, and Captain Beefheart playing cricket with a shoe, and possibly some obscenities too. The reason such things (probably) exist on the internet is because there is no filter; no censor who has the power to force idiots off the internet for posting cats that look a bit like Dale Winton. In many ways, I should be grateful there is no internet censor, as I’d most likely be one of the first to be banned. Possibly shot, I don’t know how lucky I’ll get. Anyway, my point is that the internet should be made more like telly – in that we should have a choice of a few pages to visit, and that’s it. lMum gets to watch a webpage a bit like The One Show, and for Dad, GardenersWorld.com. The kids should be forced into only being able to go on CBBC’s website, or possibly Habbo Hotel. Oh yeah, and while I’m at it, only one computer per household please. Squabbling over which website to look at can only strengthen the modern family, man. As an aside, I don’t want to be Draconian over this. I still would encourage freedom of discussion and debate on message boards, newsgroups etc. However, for the safety of the internet as a whole, I really do think that people who disagree with my point of view should be beaten up. Not hospitalised, or anything serious, just roughed up a little. Maybe a little kneecapping, who can say.

Anyway, that’s just my 2ps worth. For legal reasons I am required to let you all know that I don’t routinely get angry and cause animals harm, not do I espouse fascist views, nor do I condone violence towards people with differing views. Often. Until next time!