Strong Opinions, Loosely Held

John Gruber wrote these words regarding Steve Jobs.

That’s probably the most concise thing I could use to describe how I approach life and especially technology. I think it’s how every rationalist should approach life. Be strong in your opinions and be prepared to defend them. But when you’re not winning or you’ve just been proved wrong, apologise, adapt to the new information and move on.

I remember being told that I needed to apologise more by a person who, in my entire time of knowing them, never once apologised for anything. But I persevered because sometimes it’s important never to sweat the little details and every person you meet helps shape you into the person you’re becoming. I do apologise, especially when given the chance. I try and adapt to the new information or the new status quo, and I try and cope with the aftermaths. This is how we handle change. It was Charles Darwin who said:

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.

And so interpersonal relationships and the ability to maintain and repair them must be important.

I hear a lot of people talking about Steve Jobs as if he was a monster. But that wasn’t my impression. I met him once at Apple Expo and he was warm and welcoming (as you might not imagine a powerful CEO with a reputation as a mercurial monser meeting a tiny, inconsequential customer to be). I conversed with him over email in September 2001 to explain that it was important not to let terrorists dictate the future (Lessons learned from Northern Ireland!) and his reply was one of the deepest concern for the safety of his employees and customers. Much more human than could be imagined. And so I’m left with the impression that Steve was human, that he loved and disliked like any human, but most importantly that he was loved – not just by his family or the whirlpool of blind hordes but by colleagues, peers and co-workers.

After a day of working with performance and intolerance (actually a performance of intolerance inspired by Augusto Boal and the Theatre of the Oppressed), I am moved to think of the microaggressions that plague us. Whether that’s disparaging a man you never met, or refusing to hear out someone who’s trying to apologise; the effect is the same. Boal wrote:

“Dialogue is defined as to freely exchange with others, as a person and as a group, to participate in human society as equal, to respect differences and to be respected.”

I’ve been ruminating on these words.

One of my favourite movies, Serendipity, has a powerful quote which inspires the remainder of the Heros Journey. I doubt there is any evidence to the veracity of it, but it rings true for me at least.

You know the Greeks didn’t write obituaries. They only asked one question after a man died: ‘Did he have passion?”

Well? Do you?

I do.

John Wesley wrote:

“When you set yourself on fire, people love to come and see you burn.”

And whoooo-boy that’s true.

When I burned, everyone turned up with marshmallows. And really I don’t blame them. There was immense entertainment in watching someone engulfed, I’m sure. The same sort of hecklers who gloated that Steve struggled with his personal beliefs on clean living before succumbing to his cancer. The same sort of lovely people, many of whom would be fine, upstanding pillars of the community, who rejoiced when Christopher Hitchens was succumbing to his own cancer, wondering loudly what he would do after a lifetime of denying God. Crikey, 2011 was a sucky year for my heroes.

So, in short, be kind, forgive, be passionate about your ideas but hold them loosely.

Get Pro

Over Christmas I bought my daughter an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. She cried, she was so happy. A 256GB model in Gold. I bought the larger capacity because it reduces the need to manage space. Or more accurately it puts off the problem. She’s been able to put together some stunning art using Procreate (which you can see on my Instagram).

Today I picked up one for myself.

It’s only a 64GB model, but this is a piece of engineering. It’s solid but light. The screen is simply amazing. The sound that comes out of the speakers is simply awe-inspiring and much much better than my MacBook Pro. It’s crisp and loud. Benchmarks say it’s close to the performance of MacBooks (my MBP is a late 2012 model with i7 processors, 16GB of RAM).

The device simply has to be experienced. I can’t wait to fire up Final Draft.



Just had a play with the iPhone X

The screen on the 7+ is larger, no doubt about it, but the X is nicer. Both are awesome for Flyover.

The X also completely smokes the 7plus performance-wise. And it’s in the little things like app loading times. And in processing files/exports. The few seconds you wait for things to just happen.

The X is a nicer size. Easily pocketable and easier to hold. I remember loving the size of the 6 when I got it but my lust for a larger screen drove me to the plus sizes. I’d be happy to trade off a little screen width for this. The removed bezel means scrolling less in Long reads though the text size is noticeably smaller (due to the decreased width) which is a little problem for people with old eyes.

I had no issues with the removed Home button but I wager that’s going to be an issue for some folks. Especially switchers. It just doesn’t feel discoverable even though I discovered it and the app switcher pretty quickly. I am “special” with all of the negativity that entails.

Physically it feels little different to the 7plus. Smaller obviously but still the same sort of feel to the device. I wouldn’t know it’s glass on the back. Will I use inductive charging? Hmmm I don’t see the real killer app here other than fewer frayed Lightning cables. And I’m less than impressed about the current charging pad solutions. It’s like they were made by marketing people with no experience of the real world.

Do I want an X? Of course. Over and above an 8? Yes.

I don’t know what happens next year though. Will they have an 8s? Or Something really clever?

And yes, it’s pronounced Echhss.

I’ve started a GoFundMe

n 2015, I kinda lost everything. It’s taken me a goodly amount of time to build things up again and now I’m looking forwards. This is one step that I thought I’d need to make – I’ve sacrificed my land based assets for “good causes” and any of you who know me would know this.

Last year I had raised £5K but a friend in need was in trouble and I gave it all away. Hence the figure quoted. So, I’m playing catchup again.

So this is my bid for a floating home. Somewhere to work on over the winter and spend time on the water.

I’m not looking a floating gin palace – just something that’s serviceable, liveable, pre-loved and can serve as my base of operations.

What moral decisions should driverless cars make?

The issue with this logic problem is that it’s a human problem, not an AI problem.

We place this logic problem in front of a human and someone dies. Maybe even five people. But His are not limited to the same laws that we are. And that’s the law of fuckwittery.

This logic problem assumes there is no choice. But looking at His show there is a choice. Humans speed. They drive without seatbelts. They mess with the radio or their phone while driving. They talk and get distracted.

AIs don’t do this.

Imagine being in a car which will never exceed the speed limit. In fact it will likely go a significantly slower speed than the limit. Always. And it has LIDAR – it can see over obstacles and round corners because it’s not alone. It can patch into the LIDAR of other cars.

The car won’t kill the people in the road, or the pedestrian or you. And I’m not taking it too literally.

It will automatically slow down when approaching a blind corner and it will know it’s stopping distance intimately. It’ll slow to a crawl if it detects something unreasonable.

And yes, it’l do this while you’re screaming that you’ll be late. Which if you are, it’s your fault, because the AI would have told you when it was appropriate to leave for your destination. It’s smarter than you. And that doesn’t mean it’s more creative or more empathic, it just doesn’t make the stupid mistakes that humans do.

So why is this on TED?

This Life Is Ours….video coming soon…

How til vote in Norn Iron in 2017

Time of the year when we start to discuss the voting system here.
How it’s okay to start numbering candidates at the ones you like and stop when you hit a sectarian party. For some of you that means you only have one choice. For some of you it’s no choices. Then it’s okay to just put A, B, C or write a Happy Birthday message. (That’s called spoiling your ballot and it’s an extremely valid method of protest).


3…stop when you see a bigot…

Yeah, that pretty much eliminates DUP/SF/SDLP/UUP/TUV/PUP….
I base this on designation. We have to deplete the ranks of parties who describe themselves in terms of being unionist or nationalist. It’s the things that hold us back. It’s the ultimate expression of “us versus them” and we built it into government.

3…stop when you see a bigot…

2016 – you weren’t so bad…

In January I set myself new resolutions.

  1. Travel – and new adventure
    • (Scotland
    • Scotland (sailing)
    • Spain and Portugal (sailing)
    • USA, Mexico, Cuba
    • Galway/Inis Mor (sailing)
    • Croatia
    • Scotland (with kids)
  2. Learn
    • RYA Day Skipper Tidal
    • Creative Writing (with Belfast Books)
    • Woodworking
    • RYA VHF Radio operator and licence
    • Short Drama Course (with Rosie Pelan)
    • BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Performing Arts
  3. Hope
    • Be patient with anyone
    • Laugh and spread your laugh to others
    • Say yes, when it is to help
    • Strive for great love (and ok, that was a cock up)

I’m working on my 2017 resolutions. I have my travel aims down. The rest, well, I feel the need to create, not only an expression of my “art” (whatever that is) but also a community effort. Still a work in progress.

Below Maslow

Stephen Hawking writes: This is the most dangerous time for our planet

Hm. It’s hard to address this without first rejecting that TRUMP and BREXIT were anything like a cry for help and rejection of the elites.

This is a calculated populism created by a subsection of elites who work to discredit liberals and experts while enriching themselves and taking advantage of mob stupidity.

The reason capitalism works is that the average human is greedy, selfish and unwilling to engage in critical thought.

It’s not just people who vote for racists, it’s as simple as the guy who throws his fag butt on the ground.

And this selfish indolence is not created by socialism or Liberals and Lefties. It’s a construction of capitalism to make those capable of working work and those only predisposed to consumption to consume.

I’ve never seen it but I reason there must be a missing section to Maslows Hierarchy of Needs. The lower half, what happens when you don’t fulfil these needs.

How about?


If our physiological needs are not met, we start to blame others for our misfortune. When these fears are not allayed, we act our violence to those we distrust. And when this is not prevented, we self-harm.

That tells me more about TRUMP and BREXIT than any other theory but it’s just a theory.

Hawking is more concerned with our inability to leave this world if the right-wingers fuck it up for everyone. I’m more concerned with what’s left for those who stay.