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Writer’s Drafts

drafts

Here on WordPress, us writers (I use that term loosely when describing myself) have the advantage of a Drafts ‘folder’. Just like with e-mails (or text messages), we can start to write something and if we get distracted or we grind to a halt, our work is safely saved for us*, so that we can return to it later and ideally complete it and Publish (or send) it. I’m adamant this wont happen with this post – I’ll write and post, no click to save to Drafts or clicking the little x before I’m done (that you’re reading this is evidence of my success).

That’s the idea anyway – the purpose of Drafts. *If you lose your internet connection by the way, then you can’t rely on this auto-Drafts feature. Drafting, as I’m sure you are aware, pre-dates the digital medium, and as Wikipedia explains:

Drafting is the preliminary stage of a written work in which the author begins to develop a more cohesive product. A draft document is the product the writer creates in the initial stages of the writing process. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draft_document

The ironic thing is that page on Wikipedia is itself incomplete and awaiting some citations. Not that I can mock.

In my Drafts folder here on WordPress I currently have 8 unfinished articles. These date back to February, five months ago. Glancing at the titles I actually can’t remember how far I got or even why I began writing about certain things – I guess this explains why they remain in the Drafts folder. I should delete them I suppose, but I think I’ll just leave them alone for now, I might get bored one day and decided to make a reattempt.

It’s not only within WordPress itself that I have this little hoard of unfinished articles, in fact most probably aren’t technically drafts, but little thought snippets, but I’ll continue to refer to them as drafts for the purpose of this topic. Shamefully I have such ‘draft’ files on my desktop. Some are simple Notepad text files, and some are OpenOffice documents of similarly uncompleted and unpublished work. The latter ones are generally of a more assertive attempt since I write them there to make use of the spell-checker which Notepad lacks. I have even discovered that some of the Notepad text files I have created are empty – I created a new file by right-clicking my Desktop and selecting New, and Text Document, typed in the title of a topic that had appeared in my mind and hit Return, with the intention on elaborating on that title at some point, except I didn’t.

It gets worse.

In my “Internet” directory of “My Documents” (yes I’m really this organised) I have a folder of published WordPress posts, and nearby is a folder of (I’m embarrassed now) porn. I joke, I mean, unpublished WordPress posts. In my defence, it’s easier to have a folder for my unpublished WordPress articles because some have pictures I plan to include with the intended post, so a folder keeps everything together. Nice, neat, and tidy, and out of sight. Not burning on my conscience at all. Nu-uh.

It gets worse still.

Away from my computer, well off it, but scattered round it, I have notebooks, post-it notes and scraps of paper, some are more away from my computer in other rooms of the house, in my work bag, on my memory stick in my work bag, again ranging from simple title ideas to almost complete “posts”. Actually, I try and avoid hand-writing blogable topics because I know what a chore and a challenge it is to type up the hand-written stuff, as I don’t write the same way I type. Really, try it. Write a post with an actual pen and paper, and then type it up. There will most likely be differences in the way you write. For one thing it’s not so easy to edit or backtrack as you write by hand, like using a typewriter (without major crossings out, or Tipp-ex (other brands of correction fluids are available) and arrows directing yourself to move a whole paragraph or sentence to another location later. Messy stuff. We’re aware of this, well subconsciously perhaps, and write differently. We’re perhaps more distracted in our writing/typing on a computer because there are other windows to flick to. Mid-sentence we might Google something (other good search engines are available), something we might not do so often when writing by hand. Perhaps the distractions are the killer.

Oh and I just remembered that I also have notes on my phone. It’s a simple phone, not with any capability to actually submit to WordPress, kind of pointless really, but yet another shameful method of drafting without seeing a topic through.

Actually, I’m thankful I’ve never possessed a Dictaphone (other brands of dictation machine are/were available), although I am aware that my phone has a voice-recording tool, as did one MP3 player I once owned, and there is also a microphone plugged into my computer. So I could start… but I wont. But returning to the Dictaphone thing. Thinking about that reminds me of films and TV shows where some nerdy person, like/or a scientist or crime scene investigator, uses a Dictaphone to record their findings. I probably aspired to that image, thinking it cool, yet I rarely saw them actually reviewing all the little cassettes they must create (obviously newer versions are digital and have no tape in), what a hoard they must have, just like my hoard of Drafts, so it’s surely not so bad. An example is in Star Trek with the Captain’s log (and The Big Bang Theory and Sheldon’s Log), how often are those logs played back? One counter example is in Back to the Future where the Doc and Marty record the time travel experiment (ok it was using a video camera and not a Dictaphone, but the purpose was the same, just more visual), and what was recorded was actually referred to and used later in the film (but in the past).

In referring back to the Wikipedia page I quoted before, I should perhaps work through the list it provides regarding the drafting stage… if only the drafting feature on WordPress included some additional features to guide writers through the hurdle that is “from draft to post”:

  • develop a more cohesive text
  • organise thoughts
  • explain examples/ideas
  • uncover transitions
  • discover a central argument/point
  • elaborate on key ideas

Further reading:

A couple of years ago I read the book The Shallows, which is about “How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember”. If you’re interested in how the internet distracts us, or even how we write differently with a pen and paper compared to on a computer, I recommend this book by Nicholas Carr [link].

Title image was found uncopywrited, although all rights reserved as it’s from the film Back to the Future (as you likely know), bla bla bla.

 

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“You might be able to achieve something.”

This is a statement someone made to me following a brief discussion about why they thought I should take part in the Tour de France.

I chuckle now, particularly because this was the second person to make such a suggestion – the first being my brother.

On both of these occasions it seemed that, becsuse I ride my bike most days (which isn’t even techincally a ‘racing bike’), and therefore (I assume) I look super fit (this would be extra funny if I was to ever stand in lycra shorts next to an actual Tour de France winner), I would be capable of competing in such a thing as the Tour de France. Here is the point at which I laugh – I laugh at their naivety (not in a cruel way I hope) – do they not know what it takes to take part in the Tour de France, how fit those riders are, or actually how slow and, dare I say it, pathetic my efforts are by comparison. Clearly not.

As you can see, I found both occurences of this conversation to be ammusing, but I was also taken-a-back by the statement that I “might be able to achieve something.” I know full well I wouldn’t achieve anything other than (if I could take part in the Tour de France) actually completing the route. Actually, you don’t need to do the actual Tour de France to cycle the route that it takes, as I believe some cyclists do. The reason I was taken-a-back was because the comment had the implicating undertone that I’m set to achieve nothing, I am nothing, I am pathetic.

I don’t believe this, nor would I like anyone to think this way about themselves.

I’m not sure if it was intentional, but as you can see, I did ponder such an accusation.

Personally, as I am aware, I do shy away from ‘competing’ with others in a fair few aspects of my life – I actually have few friends I share hobbies and interests with – this is my life, I simply state is here for insightle purposes, not to sound depressive! I much prefer competing against myself, at least that’s what I do in the absesnse of being around others – I set my own targets and goals and I continually try to better myself in the things I enjoy doing. This includes cycling – I keep a log of each day’s journey and compare each month and year to the previous one for example – I know last year I cycled more miles than the year before and this year I’m aiming to improve on that (although I do feel I’m near to peak and wonder what effect that will have on my attitude). I have ‘competed’ against others in the past (or rather, I took part in the same events and looked at their perfomance compared to mine) and probably had no interest in putting in much of an effort to improve to the levels of others. Even with intellectual persuits I compete with myself – I keep a record of each book I read and either (consciously) improve or equal the number read year on year. I feel like these are achievements.

My arguement is that you don’t have to compete with others, and ‘win’, to achieve in life. In fact, if all the ‘competitions’ everyone enters in life are against other people, statistically speaking, not every one of those people will be winner. And who likes to come second? The only times “taking part is what counts” matters is when you’ve made a personal achievement in the process.

 
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Posted by on 16 July, 2014 in Books, Cycling, Psychology

 

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Amazon.co.uk Wish List – full name made public by default

I have a section on my website where I list all the books I have read, I also have a list of books I would like to own – a wish list if you will. Perhaps, since I buy most of my books via the Amazon Marketplace, I should use Amazon’s Wish List feature.

I activated my first list and amended the privacy setting so that I could make the list public via a simple link/URL. However, when I checked out the link using an alternative web browser, I noticed that my full name was public by default. I prefer to by known online as Brian. I could change the list title, and add a profile picture, but no where mentioned my full name (ironically, being logged in kept it hidden from me).

amazon_wish_list_full_name

A quick search online revealed various forums with posters listing the steps to take. However, it seems those steps work for Amazon.com, but not Amazon.co.uk. Hence this post.

Here are the steps:

When logged in and viewing your Wish List, click on “List actions”:

amazon_list_actions

Click on “Update list profile” (I’d also recommend checking your privacy settings too).

Amend your “Recipient’s Name”.

amazon_wish_list_recipients_name

Be sure to click “Save profile settings”

To check your settings, return to your Wish List (via the “Your Account” button) and click “Share with Friends”. You’ll be presented with your unique wish list URL/link. Copy and paste this into another web browser (or copy it, log out, and paste it into your address bar).

amazon_wish_list_share_with_friends

amazon_wish_list_secure

Here’s my Wish List: http://www.amazon.co.uk/registry/wishlist/299VZCIRK1LZC

 
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Posted by on 24 June, 2014 in Books

 

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Twitter takes the shine off fame

There is this world where normal people seek likes and followers. A world where people think they can be just like the famous, if only they behave like them (but without the talent).

With the rise of famous people posting their every little thought, and make-upless selfies, is it not that some famous people are lowering the bar for us mere mortals?

I like my famous people to be people to aspire too, something glossy and unreachable, unobtainable, make-up clad (to a point) and airbrushed. I don’t mean this in a shallow sense – I like to think of them as living in this other world the rest of us can only dream of.

And I like it to remain a dream, to only exist in Hollywood.

I don’t want the fast cars, the endless money, I certainly don’t want the fame, and I really don’t want the make-up, or to have my photos airbrushed (unless you can do something about my nose).

However, my level of aspiration has declined for the famous that jump on social networking sites and present themselves like the rest of us. I don’t know who Andrew Garfield is (he has the name of a cat, so he must be all right), but I sat up and took note when I read the following:

Andrew Garfield refuses to use micro-blogging site Twitter as he is not a fan of self promotion. The 30-year-old actor said he steers clear of social media as he does not feel comfortable telling the world about his life, reported Digital Spy.
There is something crass about self-promotion. I can’t do the Twitter thing either. Maybe there is something wrong with me. Maybe I need to be better at saying ‘Check me out’. I should do that. ‘Yeah, so go see the movie, because it’s the best thing that you will ever see!’, he said. – [link] My emphasis

How refreshing, and wise. I just hope I don’t receive too much attention this post.

[/attention seeker]

 
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Posted by on 23 June, 2014 in Blogging, Films, Internet, TV

 

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From Guantanamo Bay to ISIS

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba was established by the United States back in January of 2002. According to Donald Rumsfelt it was set up “to detain extraordinarily dangerous prisoners, to interrogate prisoners in an optimal setting, and to prosecute prisoners for war crimes.” Most of the detainees are from Afghanistan and were captured in the “war on terror”.

The Bush administration asserted that detainees were not entitled to any of the protections of the Geneva Conventions – treaties and protocols that establish standards of the humanitarian treatment of war. While ensuing U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 2004 have determined otherwise, and Obama declared to close the camp, the damage seems to have already been done, and likely continues to be done.

Perhaps Obama isn’t to blame for the lack of closure, since it is Congress that “has made closing the prison difficult through various pieces of legislation.” Perhaps the prison shouldn’t have been opened in the first place while George W. Bush was in office (Amnesty International criticised Bush’s human rights record). Many countries have called for the camp to be closed, but requests have had no effect. It makes you wonder who calls the shots or who is just a puppet (leaders/congress/lawyers etc.).

It’s hardly surprising that those who have always had their issues with the US and the West turn to more extreme measures, or extremism if you will – a ‘war on terror’ was always going to be a case of meeting fire with fire. With every step in the wrong direction a deeper and deeper hole has been dug. And now we have ISIS.

ISIS is the “Islamic State in Iraq and al-Shām”, an “unrecognized Islamic state” who’s independence was proclaimed back in January. The term Jihadism is usually thrown in for added effect.

ISIS has its links with the Guantanamo Bay detention camps thanks to an ex-prisoner, a Moroccan man “suspected of recruiting fighters for [the] ISIS war in Iraq and Syria. The guy in question “was extradited to Spain in 2005, but was acquitted for lack of evidence a year later.”

I can imagine both of these scenarios:

1) a soldier, caught and detained at Guantanamo (already with grievances against his captors), and subjected to whatever else goes on there, later release to go on to live a less desirable life.

And also:

2) a man, wrongly detained at Guantanamo, with no prior issues with his captors, but after being subjected to whatever goes on at the prison (perhaps including being bundled with soldiers like scenario 1)) later being released to live a less desirable.

In fact, recently there have been concerns about British prisons (in Britain) “turning into a breeding ground for terrorists”, so I think this says a lot about what we can expect from a prison such as Guantanamo.

A third scenario of the following, seems highly unlikely:

3) man/soldier being detained at Guantanamo … being released with total love and respect for the world and people around him.

One can see why, having dug themselves into the hole that is Guantanamo Bay, or indeed the one that is “the war on terror”, digging their way out and closing it and letting all those guys go free, really isn’t an option. The prospect of “rehabilitation”, which could be considered to be a case of training people to live “the good western life” seems 1) highly unlikely, and 2) what I think many people object to in the first place – the “West” isn’t an aspiring prospect for everyone, just as a world of “Islamic Extremism” is one were being told to fear.

If you want a world of peace, you don’t do to war.

If you want a world of loving people, you have to be a loving person.

Call me soft if you will.

 

Sources and notes:

I used a variety of sources and notes to form the above. The initial urge to write it was based on reading the first article, the rest make for some interesting reading.

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2660299/Former-Guantanamo-Bay-prisoner-10-jihadists-arrested-Spain.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guantanamo_Bay_detention_camp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Guantanamo_Bay_detainees

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_former_Guantanamo_Bay_detainees_alleged_to_have_returned_to_terrorism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_Conventions

www.reprieve.org.uk/publiceducation/2012_08_30_Public_Education_Innocents_Guantanamo

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/6/guantanamo-detaineestalibanbergdahlswap.html

www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/promise/177/close-the-guantanamo-bay-detention-center

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/2006-06-10-guantanamo-suicides_x.htm?csp=34

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2592581/Warnings-Britains-prison-turning-breeding-grounds-terrorists-figures-reveal-42-inmates-one-jail-Muslim.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_State_in_Iraq_and_the_Levant

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jihadism

 
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Posted by on 23 June, 2014 in History, News, Politics, Psychology, Religion

 

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Random limerick alert!

I just made this up, for some reason. I hope you enjoy :D

There was an old lady from Leicester
Who had an excessive amount of chest hair
So she whipped out some wax
And tried to relax
While she grimaced and groaned until bare.

 
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Posted by on 20 June, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Scientists find energy in coffee

A headline in The Independent amused my interest a couple of days ago when I read that “Waste coffee grounds can power vehicles.” [link]

I suppose it initially amused me because I was in a cafe sipping a mug of the stuff at the time and I was tempted to enquire what the barista (the job title they put on their CV) does with the waste grounds – I watch the machine running the hot water through the grounds into each cup and then the grounds are discarded, much the same as tea.

I was further amused by my recollection of Back to the Future at the end of Part I and the beginning of Part II when Doc pulls up in the Delorian (which has been modified in the future) and refuels it with waste from a garbage can – one of the modifications is the addition of the ‘Mr Fusion’ system which is it what provides that ability.

back_to_the_future1

back_to_the_future2

The third thing to amuse me was my understanding of the science behind the headline, which seems to be amiss in the latest claims/findings – all stuff contains energy. From my findings 100g of instant coffee granuals contains around 63kCal [link] I don’t know the capacity of the thingymiwozit a coffee machine uses. But with all this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that a car can be made to run on used coffee grounds, in fact it has been done before [link].

 
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Posted by on 19 June, 2014 in News, Science, Technology

 

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