Adam Stoner

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Subscribe at adamstoner.com to see the written version of this newsletter and get it in your inbox on the first Sunday of each month... If you read or heard my last update, you will have learned that I moved house on September 3rd. That all feels quite a long time ago now but I am both delighted and relieved to tell you that it went seamlessly. Moving house was objectively the biggest thing I did this past month but I've done so much more since then. In the past seven days alone I've...  Created a pilot for an upcoming podcastVisited a top-secret secret underground bunker to see an old Roman wall Gone bouldering and rockclimbing at The Warehouse in GloucesterMet a tamarin monkey at Bristol Zoo with keeper OliviaDone both rockclimbing and animal meeting at the Wild Place Project, just off the M5 near Bristol Here's what else I've been up to this month. Netflix Original Criminal is a good watch. Filmed in just three rooms, you're plonked in the middle of an interogation with suspects ranging from a murderer (S1E1) to a prision inmate who just gets a bit bored (S2E4). When you've exhausted the 7 episodes the UK version has to offer, there's also Spanish, German and French versions all with different stories that you can watch dubbed.  Warhol: A Life as Art by Blake Gopnik is a behemoth clocking in at almost 1,000 pages but offers the most comprehensive insight into Warhol's work yet. I tried my hand at screenprinting earlier in the month with a £40 reusable kit from Hobbycraft. It wasn't reusable (the blocking element dried in the screen to the extent that no cleaner would remove it) but I did make lots and lots of prints, some of which I'm quite proud of. If you're going to give it a go, Pēbēo acrylics are beautiful to work with and come in the most flourecent colours you can think of. I've also been reading Selfie by Will Storr and Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age by University of Oxford professor Viktor Mayer-Schonberger.  The Social Dilemma is a depressing but important film that's been recommended to me on two occasions. I watched it on the 24th. It features a bunch of technies including the creator of Facebook's Like button and the founder of the Center for Humane Technology talking about social media's effect on the psyche. I think social media is just a moral panic for a connected world but the film presents some valid points especially around the problems of misinformation. For audio friends, freetousesounds.com is selling their entire collection of over a terabtye of sound effects and atmos recordings for just $20. There are sounds from all over the world and there are some real gems in there too... Take a listen to the podcast version of this newsletter to hear a selection of them.  Finally, 2017 daily vlogging sensation Casey Neistat is back with more of the same, complete with very 2020 clickbaity titles and thumbnails. I love his style of storytelling and whilst I have no desire to become a daily-anything, I do remember watching a lot of 'how to vlog like Casey Neistat' videos during university. The one tip I remember was to cut off the end of sentences to make your movie seem more pacy; people can usually work out what you're going to say...
Subscribers (it's free, and you get this in your inbox!) can read this bulletin and see the things I mention at adamstoner.com/026/ On Thursday, I moved from my childhood home of lots-of-years to a new address in a different county. I don’t know whether the move went seamlessly or not because I’m writing this newsletter before it happened and I’m doing that because the address I’m moving to is so far in the middle-of-nowhere that I won’t have a stable internet connection for well over a week. You'll find out how the move went next month, unless I have been crushed beneath the weight of my collection of half-worn-out but not-too-worn-to-throw-away-yet jeans. Here's what I've been up to this past month: Activity Quest, the weekly magazine programme packed with stuff for families to do out-and-about, is still my primary focus at work. In the past month, Fun Kids presenters have experienced the Tower of London, London Transport Museum, the Imperial War Museum and Wildwood in Kent. Get it wherever you get your podcasts and hear a sneak peek of the next episode in the podcast version of this newsletter, available here. In terms of other listening, I've become somewhat enamoured with Bandcamp, spending way-too-much-money on it in the past month. On it, cosmetic store Lush is selling the bespoke music they use in their spas, all of which is phenomenal. From their Beatles inspired A Hard Days Night album to covers of lullabies and musical walks through nature, the albums are a testament to the unrelenting creativity of Lush's co-founder, Mark Constantine. I went on a little Lush binge-buying session at the start of the month, mainly trying their fragrances. Karma is a Lush staple with its spice and orange (more summer-leaning than Christmas) and Pansy is a must-buy if the scent of a Lush store, wafting down the high street, is a turn-on for you. It had been almost a year since I last ordered from them and in that time they've reformulated some of my old favourites but their toothpaste and mouthwash tabs (nibble and brush, or nibble and sip water) are still incredible inventions as is The Olive Branch shower gel... I'm thrilled to see Moneybox, the investment app I am an investor of myself, do so well with their first round of crowdfunding, raising over £7 million. The app itself is brilliant, if you've never used it; a real set-and-forget approach to saving. I'm very proud of all the companies I'm an investor of, all of which are more-than-profit, UK-based enterprises. Black Bee Honey, award winning unblended and unpasteurised British Honey from Somerset and London.The Wild Beer Co., also Somerset based, known for its use of alternative fermentations, unorthodox yeasts, seasonally-foraged ingredients and exotic produce.Moneybox, the savings app that rounds-up your purchases and saves the loose change in ISAs you control, including socially-responsible funds. Reach out if you plan to support one and I may be able to set you up with a little extra. I've been trying to think of ways I can appropriately mark this change in my life; not just moving home, but also the world slowly waking back up after the biggest global hibernation in centuries. That said, here are some artists whose work I've been inspired by recently. Whatever I do to highlight this change in my personal life, it's highly likely I'll have drawn on their work too: Liz West, whose work on colour bends buildings and enhances architectureAndy Warhol, whose exhibition in London I desperately want to see before it closes in November and whose technique (screen-printing) I loveSamuel Burgess Johnson's work around typeBrian Eno's January 07003 album, focused around bells, the sounds they make, and their uses in culture.
6 September 2009 was my first day on Twitter. 6 September 2020 will be my last. At 12:33 BST on 6 September 2020, exactly 11 years after its creation, all past tweets on @admstnr will be automatically deleted. The bio will be changed to the following: I no longer use Twitter and haven't since 6 September 2020. Visit adamstoner.com to find out what's happening or email me@adam.so to get in touch. After I've updated that, I will change my password, and I'll log out. I will not read Twitter.I will not respond to DMs.I will not be tweeting. Whether this is forever or not is yet to be seen, but my track record for returning to these kinds of things after taking such nuclear options isn't particularly forgiving. I binned Facebook in mid-2019 after doing something similar, Instagram also. For now, the best place to keep up with me is here on adamstoner.com, via my podcast (which is an audio version of this website), and via my free newsletter which I send out once per month.
Read this post and see the things I mention at adamstoner.com/025. Producing Activity Quest has been my main focus this month, sending Fun Kids presenters to newly re-opened locations across the UK in an effort to make a programme that encourages families to also get out-and-about safely this summer. I've been recording my own experiences for the podcast. You can hear me in the first episode, where I visited GoApe in the Forest of Dean... I had the pleasure of speaking to Sir Tim Smit, founder of the Eden Project, for Activity Quest. He spoke about getting active and ways in which people of all ages can improve the world. That's in the most recent episode, which you can listen to wherever you get your podcasts... On podcasts, Santa Daily and The Week Junior Show didn't pick anything up at the British Podcast Awards at the start of the month, but we did get some very funny mentions from Chris Moyles and I'm still delighted that we were punching with hitters including the Guardian, Monocle, and BBC Radio 4. Toward the end of the month, I began listening back to some bits-and-pieces from my personal audio journal. I've kept an audio journal since the start of 2015, just blabbering into my iPhone once-a-day-or-so. I've only really listened back to bits this past week as I've begun archiving over 1,000 entries. Keeping this journal has been the best thing I've ever done. I've got voices of friends past and present, relationships old and new, and sounds from places across the world, plus some important lessons: May 2015: "Just spoke to a CNN dude about Bitcoin for a radio doc. He said to pile $400 into it [scoffs] yeah, right, alright mate" Hindsight is a wonderful thing. That $400 would be just shy of £20,000 today. I've been reading: Memoirs and Misinformation, Jim Carey's autobiography. In an interview about the book, he said the cover came from an accidental screenshot of a FaceTime call with his assistant after they'd both been told they had minutes to live.Mentors: How to Help and Be Helped by Russell Brand. Do listen to it (read by Brand himself), rather than read it. It's quicker and much more entertaining. I've been listening to: I've made an Apple Music playlist of what I've been listening to in Spring/Summer 2020. I'll be adding to it constantly until the end of this month at which point I'll make an Autumn/Winter one. Tap the link to open it in-app or in browser, so you can copy the tunes to your own playlist. Picks include selections from Hayley Williams' solo endeavour Petals for Armor and Dan Croll's new EPs, plus Broadcast, Rubblebucket, Gorillaz, Femi Kuti, Bloc Party, Brian Eno, and Thom Yorke.  I've been enjoying: Call of Duty: Warzone, which came out in March but is something I've only just stumbled upon in the past few months. Something tells me this was a savvy marketing ploy from the folks at Activision: release something in the midst of everyone being stuck at home to get a feel for the gameplay ahead of a wider game release later this year.When I saw one my favourite limited edition items was back in stock on the Monocle store earlier this month, I knew I had to get it. I snapped up a spare Monocle x Laperruque cardholder – one of my favourite possessions, mainly because of how humble and understated it looks, but also because of how beautifully made it is.Rapanui sell clothes in partnership with charities like WarChild and the Marine Conservation Society and donate a percentage of the profits to them, something I've written about before. I got a nice Vivienne Westwood tee just after I sent the last email update.WarChild themselves have created a clever way to raise some cash (and have raised £80,000 as of me recording this) by auctioning and raffling off some incredible prizes, from backstage access to gigs when they're back-to-normal to signed guitars, video-chats with stars, and limited-edition prints.
Hello, my name is Adam Ayrton Stoner and this is Recently, a monthly email round-up letting you know what I've been doing, reading, watching, listening to and enjoying recently. Members can read this post (and see the things I mention) at adamstoner.com/024 This month, I've been working on a tool that lets you donate your Twitter account to causes you believe in. After signing in, you select the @handles of a few not-for-profits and how many times you want to retweet every 24 hours. The app then watches their feeds and shares tweets based on a number of criteria including keywords, any attached media, and popularity. I've built it with safeguards in mind so that if ever I release it to the public, I can disable @handles of select organisations from benefiting from the exposure. I've been running it on @admstnr for a little while now. Go check it out and tap follow whilst you're there, if you aren't already. I'm really happy with the results. I received a preview of Derek Sivers' new book, Your Music and People. Derek was the founder of one of the first online music distribution sites, CD Baby. The book contains important lessons not just for musicians but for anyone in the creative industries. I purchased Design Anarchy as a PDF from Adbusters, the anti-advertising group. Equal parts memoir, manifesto, and design manual, Design Anarchy is a call for creatives to up-arms in the fight for our mental environment. The physical book has a sandpaper cover, destroying anything placed beside it. I've been watching a collection of bad movies with friends on Discord calls. We began with Cats (2.7/10, according to IMDB), moved to The Room (3.7/10), The Cat in The Hat (3.9/10), and Birdemic (1.8/10) most recently. I recommend none of these to you but it is a good excuse to get on a call. Snowpiercer on Netflix is a good watch all about the survivors of Earth's second Ice Age living out their days on a luxury train. We join the story about seven 'revolutions' (years) in and, as you can image, there's quite-literal class struggle.  I've been writing about the new iPhone SE, which I'm using as my primary phone, read that at adamstoner.com/se. I also wrote about the world we should try to build post-lockdown and how we can't return to business as usual, at /radical. I've been listening to a lot of Times Radio, the new radio station from The Times of London. A lot of industry experts seem wowed by the station – and I've been wrong about the launch of radio stations before – but I'm not so impressed. I think they've missed a trick or two in failing to make their live breakfast and drive shows shorter and podcasting them, filling the rest of their schedule with expertly crafted programmes (their other podcasts), which we know The Times can already do very well. I think Times Radio should have been a mirror of The Times newspaper, with every section mirrored on-air...
I don't usually write about tech gear. I usually write about tech principles. And I don't consider myself a 'gear head' whatsoever – I actually find that whole culture rather abhorrent – all of which makes this post very unusual. On April 24th 2020, Apple released the second-generation iPhone SE. In comparison to its current flagship models, the iPhone SE is a downgrade in handset design, sporting the same shell as the iPhone 8 – Touch ID and all – but is nearly identical computing-wise, running on the same A13 chip that's in the iPhone 11 Pro. I've been using the iPhone SE alongside my iPhone XR for a week now and have come to believe this is one of the most significant events in the consumer electronics industry to date. As Nadim Kobeissi writes: The iPhone SE signals a pivotal shift that the industry can’t back away from. The foremost producer of 'luxury' smartphones is doubling down on putting its latest and greatest processor, camera, operating system (and almost its display) into a form factor that can sell for under $400 without going cheap on the body or on material quality He's right. The most powerful chip in a smartphone – an entire pocket computer in a tiny form factor – for a third of the cost of Apple's flagship and computationally identical model? I'm not sure who snuck that past the accountants at Cupertino! There are already leaks online of what the next iPhone might look like, but it won't matter. Unless it can do something tremendously radical, something no other smartphone dared do before, it will exist only for the status-obsessed gear monkeys.  I wanted a phone that would encourage me to use it less without being functionally useless. I purchased the iPhone SE with the intention of making it a 'private device' to run alongside my XR. Something I'd encrypt and lock-down to write peacefully on, without social media or calls. A 'work phone' with the misconception that nothing much will work on it at all. I was wrong! This phone is brilliant. I never loved the all-screen design of Apple's latest devices and found the size to be horrendously obnoxious, so much so that flicking between my SE and XR made the latter very uncomfortable. Using my XR after using the SE makes the XR look like the sort of phone you'd give your grandmother: massive buttons and a screen so large that she wouldn't need glasses to read it. The iPhone SE is deft in comparison. This is the first easily-pocketable phone on the smartphone market in over three years. I barely know I'm carrying it which is exactly what I want from a phone: something that works for me but gets out of the way. According to Wikipedia at the time I write this: The second generation of the iPhone SE was among the smallest mainstream in-production smartphones at the time of its release. The iPhone SE stands to benefit from iOS software updates for the next two to three years. The SE is what I'm going to stick with for that time before reassessing what's on the market. By then, I hope we see a departure from tablets-as-phones (I refuse to call them 'phablets') and toward what phones were always intended to be: small and portable. All of this reminds me of an essay penned in 1988 by poet and environmentalist Wendell Berry titled 'Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer'. Toward the end of the essay, he lists 'nine standards for technological innovation', all of which are still pertinent today. His first three points are as follows: The new tool should be cheaper than the one it replaces.It should be at least as small in scale as the one it replaces.It should do work that is clearly and demonstrably better than the one it replaces. Wendell might like the SE.
This post was written before the reigniting of the Black Lives Matter movement. The ideas in this essay boil down to one central principle: the redistribution of power, which is vital to equality. * I've been doing lots of thinking in lockdown about the world I want to see when the current crisis is over. Remembering that business as usual has led to our current condition and that business as usual was failing us on so many other accounts, I wonder what the new normal should look like when 'normal' returns. In our new world, I envisage this going a step further. I imagine a government comprised entirely of citizens' assemblies; groups of people randomly selected to learn about, deliberate upon, and make binding decisions in relation to issues. We trust this method, which has roots in ancient Athenian democracy, to form juries in our justice system and sortition was even proposed in 1999 as a way to replace the wholly unelected House of Lords. Changes in the way we... Generate energy, from the coal mine to the solar panelManufacture goods, from foreign factories to 3D printersCommunicate, from switchboards to distributed networksPay for things, from fiat money, to local currencies, to cryptocurrenciesShare knowledge, from patents to open-source solutionsCreate culture, from copyright to Creative Commons ...are already moving in the direction of giving individuals more autonomy. I hope this continues in a post-COVID society so that collectives of like-minded individuals can form co-operatives and create positive-change in their communities. I am a believer in the free market when the companies in question are for the common-good. It's a known trait of governments to use crises like the coronavirus to rush in new legislation while citizens are too emotionally or physically distracted to resist it. That's the premise of Naomi Klein's 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine. Respected whistleblowers like Edward Snowden have warned of governments using coronavirus to erode privacy laws. In the UK we've seen the creation of tools like the NHS 'Track and Trace' app which haven't undergone proper scrutiny. As Stephanie Hare reports in the Guardian: "the Government has so far denied parliament the opportunity to pass primary legislation to protect and limit the use of our data relating to using the app" In this new world, we must also protect the privacy rights of individuals. We mustn't assume that the people or platforms that connect us have best intentions at heart. We should encourage the use of cryptographic tools to protect communications, digital files and other assets across the board. This new world would make organisations like Extinction Rebellion, Wikileaks, and Creative Commons the de-facto norm. It would revel in concepts like Bitcoin and the blockchain, in freedom of the press and freedom of speech, in truth, and in radical transparency. A lot of these ideas look radical on paper (or at least on your computer screen, or in your ears, if you're listening to the podcast version of this blog post) but all of them are things that I've personally witnessed in the last few months... They're all ways in which people have organised or prepared themselves when faced with the lack of ongoing professional guidance of any kind. We've seen grassroots communities blossom in our local areas, the public consciousness has a newfound appreciation for jobs that keep humankind ticking over, and we've collectively woken up to the realisation that business as usual was taking us down a path to an even bleaker future. The roof of the Reichstag is a 360º dome constructed entirely of glass. The debating chamber of the Bundestag, the German parliament, sits directly below it. It's a lovely metaphor, symbolising Germany's move away from a past of Nazism and toward a future of transparency where the people control the Government. That is the same spirit in which we must build our new foundation. How normal was normal anyway?
Hello, my name is Adam Ayrton Stoner and this is Recently, a monthly email round-up letting you know what I've been doing, reading, watching, listening to and enjoying recently. Members can read this post (and see the things I mention) at adamstoner.com/023 I was buoyed to see several Fun Kids podcasts nominated at the British Podcast Awards earlier this month. The Santa Daily, presented by Father Christmas in the countdown to December 25th is up in two categories: Best Daily, against the likes of Monocle 24's The Globalist, which has been waking me up every morning in lockdown, and even Today in Focus from The Guardian.Best Radio Podcast against Chris Moyles' Radio X and two picks from BBC Radio 4. I'm most proud of The Week Junior Show, the news podcast for children, fully punching its weight in the Best Current Affairs Podcast category with players like the Economist, LBC's James O'Brien from Global, and the Guardian. The results are to be announced in a livestream on July 11th. Gunning for next years' nominations, I'm still producing and editing Fun Kids' lockdown podcast, Stuck at Home. We also launched a brand new podcast, Sean and Robot's Comedy Circuit, which I did the artwork for, and re-launched an older channel with a newer concept, Story Quest. I've been writing about: All of my podcasts – including this one! – are available as blog posts too. Head to adamstoner.com to read them. On Tuesday, I wrote about how the problems we experienced pre-coronavirus will continue to exist after it. Climate change and social justice, but this post paid particular attention to the Black Lives Matter movement.On Wednesday 10th June, and written before the reigniting of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, I put down some radical ideas for a future post-coronavirus. It mainly focuses on governance but the ideas are definitely geared towards creating more equal and just societies. Subscribe in your podcast app of choice to hear me read it when it's released.Earlier in the month, I wrote about how one might use blockchain technology to build uncensorable social media platforms. I don't have the technical know-how to do that but I have been working on ways to mirror tweets to the Ethereum chain; a bit like an immutable version of Politwoops, which tracks tweets politicians delete.
When the COVID-19 health crisis began, we packed up our problems into neat little boxes and popped them in the corner of the room. 'We'll deal with those later,' we said. 'We have more urgent matters right now. People are dying.' As anyone who has ever done a house clear-out knows – and we've all had enough time to! – the rubbish doesn't throw itself away. The problem sit there until you deal with it. But in this metaphor, the problems aren't labelled 'Kitchen junk' and 'Old bedding', they're 'Institutional racism' and 'Structural inequality'. Is this a surprise to you? It isn't to me. All of the things we faced pre-coronavirus will continue to exist post-coronavirus. We've packaged the problems and know what they are but the stack of boxes is starting to fall under its own weight. Who are you? Are you going to try and re-stack those boxes to be dealt with even later or are you going to address the problem head-on and finally sort out the mess you've been living in? Tick tock. People are dying.
The amount of emails I get about how adamstoner.com is made are so numerous (about two to three per week now) that I though it best to just write a public post about it... My website is built using a Content Management System (CMS) called Ghost. Examples of other CMS include Wordpress and Squarespace. I’ve been using Ghost since 2016 and chose it over these other options due to how lightweight and simple its admin interface is as well as the coding language it’s written in. I find Wordpress, which I still use elsewhere on a daily basis, is bloated, written in an old coding language and actively depends on third-party plugins to be functionally useful. Like Wordpress, Ghost is open source meaning you can host it yourself it on platforms like DigitalOcean, AWS, and Heroku from as little as $5 USD per month. The majority of other options, including Squarespace, are proprietary; you rely on them to host your website and, as you'll discover if you try to move away from the service, have next to no control over your data. I host my instance of Ghost on Ghost(Pro), the service provided by the very people that make Ghost, for $29 USD/mo, paid annually. Sure, I have the technical know-how to make Ghost work on platforms like DigitalOcean but I'm lazy and the option to reach out to their incredibly responsive support staff is worth every cent. Ghost does everything I need it to including handling memberships, paywalling content, sending email newsletters, and dealing with the schematics around signing-up and logging in. Ghost uses Handlebars for theme design. It looks like regular HTML with special lines that pull data from the CMS. A good knowledge of HTML and CSS is mandatory for theme design but you can pick up Handlebars very easily by reading Ghost's comprehensive theme documentation. If you're using Ghost(Pro), knowledge of these basic things is really all that's required to build a stellar, custom website like mine. Otherwise, you'll need to know what a command line interface is and how to use it. The theme I use on adamstoner.com is custom made by myself. It's incredibly minimal and modular, allowing me to change anything I want quickly without having to open a bunch of files. If you're after a custom Ghost theme, get in touch with me and I might be able to help you out. When it comes to design, Ghost has a lovely 'set it and forget it' approach. Content is king in the admin interface and you needn't worry about a bunch of annoying and often unnecessary fields getting in the way of publishing it. I often find publishing things on other CMS' feels like a form filling exercise rather than a creative one. That covers the basics. Of course, there are optional extras, all of which stem from your personal ethos and design preferences rather than necessity. This website contains CSS to make the user experience as comfortable as possible, catering for those that use both light and dark mode user interfaces on their devices. It also uses one or two simple colours in very clear ways in order to attract attention and prompt action. Remember, the internet is still slow and expensive for the majority of people in the world. Every byte counts. Nothing is faster than the lack of something which is why there are no webfonts, no icons, no advertisements and certainly no social media tracking beacons on this website. It's also as privacy-friendly as I could possibly make it thanks to analytics options like Fathom and the fact I self-host my email newsletter. The intention behind all of these choices is to ensure that adamstoner.com loads as fast as possible on almost every device around the world. And it works – this very page weighs a meagre 15kb and loads in less than 1/5th of a second – which is probably why so many people ask how it's made. Now you know!
Wikipedia describes the blockchain as: a decentralised, distributed, public, digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that any involved record cannot be altered retroactively, without the alteration of all subsequent [records] Wikipedia describes social media as: computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation or sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks On May 15th 2020, I dumped £2.50 GBP worth of a cryptocurrency called Ethereuminto a wallet and, for the $0.10 USD it cost to make the transaction, wrote this message forever on the Ethereum blockchain: This is uncensorable, distributed, private and immutable social media. Here's what I mean by that... Social media networks are controlled by single entities – companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter – who are free to select their own rules and enforce them on their own terms. These companies police public platforms that act as our modern-day town squares without oversight.  Whether you believe that social networks are getting right or wrong when it comes to content moderation is beside the point; removing voices from these platforms does not remove the ideas that these voices espouse, it simply pushes the people that follow those ideas underground, makes them feel attacked and maligned, and reduces their exposure to counter-arguments, all of which serves only to further radicalise them.  I believe in a radically open internet. I imagine using the already well-established Ethereum network as the underlying power behind a social media platform, using addresses as usernames and the ability to add input data to transactions as posts. Ethereum holds value (~$200 USD at the time of writing) and each transaction requires a monetary investment (~$0.10 at the time of writing), both of which are economic barriers to entry, but also advantages. The users pay for the network, not advertisers, which not only heightens user privacy but also makes immoral hi-jinx, the likes of which we saw in the 2016 US Presidential Election, highly improbable. For the first time in human history, this could spell a communication network that is not reliant on the trust of others, a network that is entirely immutable, and, provided you didn't self-reveal your identity, also anonymous.  All it would require is a nice UI. Feel free to chuck some Ether my way at adamstoner.crypto and chat to me (for the time being) on Twitter, I'm @admstnr.
Hello, my name is Adam Ayrton Stoner and this is Recently, a monthly email round-up letting you know what I've been doing, reading, watching, listening to and enjoying recently. Members can read this post (and see the things I mention) at adamstoner.com/022. This month, I've been: Producing and editing Stuck at Home for the UK's children's radio station Fun Kids, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts and for a short while on BBC Sounds.Providing guidance to friends on starting their own podcasts, including which platforms to use and what it should look and sound like. If you're thinking of starting your own podcast and are after feedback, want some artwork, or want to find out how a producer can help lift your solo project to the next level, send me an email.I've also been writing a lot – a lot – in Standard Notes, the end-to-end encrypted note taking app, about lockdown and some of my worries about it.I've been using the time at home to get a grip on the mundane day-to-day tasks that sometimes escape us in our usual lives. I've been upgrading a lot of my monthly subscriptions to annual ones, eschewing monthly bills and saving some cash in the long-run and giving everything a good clean and tidy! I've been listening to: I've created an Apple Music playlist of the tunes I've been listening to recently. Tap here to give it a listen (or take a look, so you can find tunes on your platform of choice). It contains tunes from Hayley Williams' solo project Petals for Armor, Broadcast, Cornelius, Gorillaz, Femi Kuti, and more.I've also been listening to longform interviews from the likes of Thom Yorke and more, most courtesy of Apple's radio station, Beats 1, which, although I ripped into it in my 2016 university dissertation, is absolutely killing it right now. My opinion on the station has almost 180º'd – I need to write a follow-up! I've been watching: Masterclass. I'm not one of these people eager to make every waking moment of their life a mission in productivity but Masterclass is a fantastic way to fill moments you might be saving instead of, say, commuting. Vogue's Creative Director Anna Wintour has been teaching me leadership, a former FBI negotiator has been telling me how to haggle, and Gordon Ramsay has been teaching me cookery, all from the comfort of my bed. I've been reading: Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life, a pop-science 'my experience' book (it's sold in Urban Outfitters, which tells you all you need to know) but an interesting insight nonetheless.Against Creativity by Oli MouldYear of Wonder: Classical Music for Every Day by BBC Radio 3 presenter Clemency Burton-Hill. The pick for May 3rd is Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat major, K. 498 ('Kegelstatt'), III: Rondo – Allegretto by Mozart, which you can presumably find on your streaming platform of choice 🤷‍♂️ I've been enjoying: Rozu, a new fragrance designed by renowned perfumer Barnabé Fillion, which is supposed to mimic the lifecycle of a rose from earthy scents to blossom and decay. It smells divine.A keyboard cover from Editor's Keys, which handily shows shortcuts to my preferred audio editing software, Pro Tools.Half-year, 192-page notebooks by Stalogy, ordered from Marylebone-based Trunk Clothiers.Creative Review, the design magazine. Their February/March 2020 'Truth and Lies' issue contains stories on Quiz, the show-cum-TV drama, and reality TV, featuring Daniel Eatock's Channel 4 Big Brother eye designs.Frontline Brew from Redemption Roasters, the café down Lamb's Conduit Street in London that supports prisoners with coffee roasting programs, now supporting frontline workers with gestures that matter: supplies, not applause. That's all for now.
Recently is my monthly newsletter letting you know what I’ve been doing, reading, listening to and enjoying. It’s usually only available for members — you can sign up for free at adamstoner.com.  Members can read this post (and see the things I mention) at adamstoner.com/021. When I shared my last update, the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis was still a tragedy happening in a country with little resemblance to ours, millions of miles away. Today, in the UK, we're faced with thousands of fresh cases and the prospect of hundreds of deaths each day. There's a lot of suffering and despair in the world right now, not just from those afflicted with the virus but also from small businesses that have shuttered and people whose lives have dramatically changed. But I also see a lot of hope. I see people mucking in and helping out locally, I see new businesses – and new ways of doing business – rise from the ashes of old ones. This crisis has also highlighted to me that humankind has the power to make significant change very quickly. We know in the face of immediate crises what needs to be done. Already, we see forms of community democracy and grassroots action starting to spring and I see an increased sense of autonomy among individuals and communities who are able to make their own decisions in the presence of slow moving professional advice. My hope, when this whole thing is over, is that we can turn this action into lasting system change. The fear we are all experiencing today is a revelatory one – it's of vulnerability and frailty – but it's important to remember that whatever you're doing to help, whether it's staying in or fighting on the frontline, helping in hospitals or shopping responsibly in supermarkets, sharing information online or in your community, we all have a part to play. I've been trying my best to play my part... As schools shut their gates for what could be the last time this academic year, Fun Kids – the UK's children's radio station that I work for – moved up a gear. I'm producing and editing a daily kids podcast called Stuck at Home. Shutting the office has turned me on to ways of working that I probably wouldn't have tried. Earlier in the month, I shared some of my favourite creative tools in a post titled Weapons of Mass Creation – you can read it at /weapons – but I've found a few to be vital for working from home: Slack and Zoom for communication (even though Zoom faces questions over its end-to-end encryption claims)Cleanfeed for high quality remote recording; we're using it at Fun Kids to record Stuck at Home and The Week Junior ShowDropshare for sharing files with people quickly and CloudMounter, which lets you mount services like Dropbox as if they were hard drives In the absence of a professional soundproofed studio, I've been using a Shure MV88 microphone plugged into my iPhone with a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35's to monitor the sound. It's what I am using to record my podcast, under a bunch of duvets! Let me know your favourite tools for working from home by dropping me a tweet (I'm @admstnr) or by emailing me by tapping here. Now that so many of us find ourselves working in places that were previously very not-work, I think having fun and interesting hobbies to separate those times are important. Spring is here and I've begun planting up my VegTrug. I'm growing onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes and, as always, chillies from the fantastic people at the South Devon Chilli Farm. Although I grow every year, I was inspired to get a move-on by Dave Erasmus – a longterm mentor of mine – who mentioned the importance of growing food in a video on his YouTube channel. I've also picked up my ukulele for the first time in a few months, strumming some tunes every now-and-then to help break up the day. I'll spare you a video of that!
This post was originally published on adamstoner.com. It's called "The best journaling app" and you can read it at adamstoner.com/journal and below... I've tried journaling for years and I've used just about every journaling app there is, even going so far as to build my own. The habit has never stuck until recently and I put my newfound success down to one thing: Standard Notes. I've raved about Standard Notes in the past. It’s a beautifully minimal, open-source note-taking app that’s end-to-end encrypted with keys that you control. Standard Notes itself sums up much of my feelings over privacy and journaling in their own post titled ‘Why Encrypted Writing’: "Internet living is about being in a room with 50 million people. We are not ourselves there. We have to be much more cautious about ourselves. [...] I know that when I speak with friends on Slack, or write a note on Evernote or Google Docs, there is an ever-present 1% chance that what I am typing will one day be seen by someone else. And with this thought lingering in the back of my mind at all times, I do not write like I would write in a private journal. I write as if an audience were present. I pause between every few sentences to look both ways." Standard Notes is not a journaling app but a note taking app with limited support for multimedia attachments or formatting. Its lack of features is exactly why I love it. Day One — the market leading journal app — is much too overpowered for my needs, capturing bucket-loads of metadata (from the weather to your location to step counts and even what song you’re listening to as you write) that I don’t need. 750 words, based on Morning Pages, three pages of long-form handwriting, also looks like it would suit my needs but I think the lack of user-controlled encryption is irresponsible. Although price is never much of a worry for me – make a good product and I'll buy it from you – Standard Notes' five-year Extended plan also works out ever so marginally cheaper ($2.48 USD/mo, billed as $149 every five years) in the long-run than Day One and much, much cheaper than other note-taking apps like Evernote and OneNote. So, how do I structure my journal? Every day has two entries, titled with the date and whether it was written in the morning or evening: Saturday, 28th March 2020 [AM]Saturday, 28th March 2020 [PM] From there, I tend to copy the Five Minute Journal template, listing a few things I am grateful for and a few things I hope to achieve in the day ahead. I then write generally for a period of about 5 minutes or so on whatever else is in my mind. I title each section – Gratitude, Aims – and call this last one 'Purge Writing', a stream-of-consciousness word-vomit from keyboard to app. I tend to do this on the train as part of my morning commute, standing my iPhone on the table and using a Logitech Keys-To-Go ultra-slim, ultra-portable silent keyboard to type on. Before writing in the evening, I will re-read the bullet points from my morning entry (but never the 'Purge Writing' section, no matter how tempted I am to) and then list all of the things I achieved in the day. Hopefully that's a copy-and-paste job from the morning list but it can sometimes be wildly different! My evening entry is simply a timeline of my day with how I felt about certain events documented beside it. I tend to write my [PM] journal just before bed, usually using my laptop. Standard Notes' sync feature is great in this regard. This whole process takes me about 1% of my day, which is about 15 minutes. The effects I've seen on my wellbeing are only positive. I believe everyone can benefit from spending just fifteen minutes working on their priorities and getting what's in our messy and chaotic heads onto paper – or, in this case, in to the safest app of its kind that I've found. 
Everyone has their trade. Everyone needs their tools. I'm one of those arty-farty media types that calls themselves a creative. Ask any creative what software is imperative to their work and Adobe Creative Cloud will be top of their list, period. There’s not much worth quibbling about here – everyone uses these tools and for good reason: they’re brilliant. I predominantly use Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. Avid Pro Tools is an advanced, industry standard audio editing software. If you're proficient in Pro Tools you're probably proficient in anything. Pro Tools is what I trained with throughout my Radio Production degree and what I continue to use almost six years later. I edit my podcast and lots of audio for a range of people using it! Codepen is a playground for building and testing front-end code. It supports HTML, CSS, and Javascript and has supported the development of pretty much all of the web projects I've made. It's a great way to get something down, play with it, and see changes in realtime. Standard Notes is a multi-platform, end-to-end encrypted, zero-knowledge, cloud-hosted note taking app. If you’re confused by what half of those things mean, read my 2019 post titled ‘Encryption, security, privacy' at /security. Standard Notes is my digital notebook — a bit like Evernote, Bear, or OneNote — but nobody other than me can read it. As well as day-to-day thoughts, it’s also where I keep track of budgets and invoicing for freelance clients, and where I keep my personal journal. It's also where I wrote this blog post before sharing it via the next item on this list... Ghost is the open-source Content Management System (CMS) developed and maintained by the not-for-profit, can’t-be-sold Ghost Foundation. It’s what this website is entirely powered by. They host it for just $36 a month. It's a powerful alternative to Wordpress without the bloatware, plugins, or godforsaken PHP. I’ve used many podcast providers in my time but Podcast.co beat the rest. They don't offer some of the more powerful features that enterprise giants like Omny Studio have – things like dynamic ad insertion – but Podcast.co does do everything a personal podcaster needs, with fantastic support staff and a gorgeous interface to boot. Dropshare is an unsung hero. I use Dropshare to share files among friends and freelance clients. It's the final link (quite literally) in getting my paid-for creations to the people who need to see them. It’s a great replacement for WeTransfer (hosted on platforms you control) with support for custom URLs, personal landing pages, and simple security features. CloudMounter is a great app for using cloud based services as if they were external hard drives. I use it for Dropbox, Backblaze B2, and Google Drive. It's great for managing client assets and for saving back-ups of your work to the cloud. On the subject of back-ups, you better have some. Backblaze is a one-click solution for entire computer backups. It indiscriminately uploads everything from your machine to the cloud with support for one-year version history and more. It's a good belt-and-braces approach to keeping your files safe. I use Backblaze B2, their low-cost cloud archive option, to keep and store files I'm finished with. As for email, I use Mail Yeah, Apple's default email client. I just want something to send and read messages and Mail is that thing. Stop overthinking email. I've used nearly every to-do list app there is and Actions, built by Moleskine Studio, is the best. Timepage is their calendar app. I use both to track my time and manage both personal and work projects. What are your tools? The processes behind the work people do sometimes fascinates me more than the work itself. Tell me what tools you use – or tools that you think I might like – by emailing me@adamstoner.com or by tweeting me – I'm @admstnr.
This post was originally published on adamstoner.com. It's called "Coronavirus and news anxiety" and you can read it at adamstoner.com/coronavirus and below... With the COVID-19 Coronavirus spreading, it's natural to feel anxious. News outlets hang on data and unfortunately that means they hang on death counts. The nature of modern news means these figures feel inescapable; push notifications for every new case can feel like the virus is moving closer and closer to where you live and work even if the risk remains relatively low. Compound this with the firehose of information and misinformation on the social internet and you have a breeding ground for fear and anxiety. It's easy to feel helpless in the face of something so devastating, uncontrollable, and seemingly invisible. "One thing I know about me and news coverage is that my mind, especially when anxious anyway, can catastrophise very quickly. [...] News operates like an anxiety disorder. It gravitates to despair." – Matt Haig on Twitter "What people fear most about tragedy is its randomness - a taxi cab jumps the curb and hits a pedestrian, a gun misfires and kills a bystander. Better to have some rational cause and effect between incident and injury. And if cause and effect aren't possible, better that there at least be some reward for all the suffering." – Jeffrey Kluger writing in TIME If, like hundreds of other people right now, the headlines are worrying you or you're struggling to come to terms with exactly what's going on, then here are just three things that have helped me... Follow the advice. This will vary by country and even by local authority but in the UK the advice is currently to wash your hands as frequently as you feel you need to and steer clear of anyone displaying any flu-like symptoms. If you are symptomatic, isolate yourself, and call 111. National Heath Service adviceDepartment of Health and Social Care advice Turn off breaking news notifications (which never tell the full story) and avoid news from outlets that typically sensationalise. I have a preference for news organisations that use two or more independent sources for every single piece of information. The GuardianThe EconomistBBC NewsPodcasts The Globalist and The Briefing from Monocle 24 Break numbers into percentages and rationalise them. As of writing this, less than 100 people in the UK are known to be afflicted with the virus. That's less than 0.0001% of the UK's population. Zero people in the UK have died. There may be nearing 100,000 cases worldwide but a lot of them are resolved, over 80,000 of them are still in China, and most people who are infected ultimately survive. The odds are in your favour. Worldometer (which would fail my test as a news source but the data may ease your concerns nonetheless)World Health OrganisationDepartment of Health and Social Care
Recently is my monthly newsletter letting you know what I’ve been doing, reading, listening to and enjoying. It’s usually only available for members — you can sign up for free at adamstoner.com.  Members can read this post (and see the things I mention) at adamstoner.com/020. The back-to-back battering of storms Ciara and Dennis earlier this month proved largely uneventful for me and my travels. Disruptive but relatively low-destruction storms like these serve as a handy reminder that extreme weather events will become increasingly frequent as temperatures continue to climb. I spoke about how to educate yourself and others on the climate crisis. It's a list of 24 things you can do to learn more, understand the solutions, and become a climate activist. You can also read it on my website. As well as working on my own podcast, I've also been working on and enjoying the podcasts of other people. The Space Programme is one of them. I designed its artwork. The orange version is the final thing but you can also see what version one looked like too at adamstoner.com/020. I've also designed bits and pieces for BBC Radio Gloucestershire's newest on-air initiative, 50 by 50. Presenter Dominic Cotter just turned 49 and and he's on a quest to do fifty new things in the countdown to his 50th. Where There Is Light, an art installation built to celebrate 20 years of Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, was installed at Gloucester Cathedral. As well as a gorgeous evolving light display, a soundscape created in collaboration with the Everyman Theatre, The Music Works and Squidsoup, featured stories of refugees and asylum seekers from various countries who are now living in the area. I heard the School of Life's Alain de Botton on Virgin Radio at the start of February and purchased one of his books, The News: A User's Manual, shortly thereafter. Here's a snippet of a 2014 talk that de Botton gave on exactly that topic. I saw 2014's The Kingsman and its sequel for the first time the other day. If you haven't, make sure you do. It's the perfect mix between a classic spy film and an action flick with some dark, Tarantino-like humour blended in. My girlfriend recommended the movies after we spent the morning walking around Croome. Croome's a National Trust site – we're both members – and also home to RAF Defford. As well as large parklands there's also a museum dedicated to the service men and women and their work during the war. Minutes after sending my last newsletter I stumbled upon a group of people who knit the weather. I'm a fan of taking concepts that are hard to grapple with and distilling them into simple things. In 2017 I made a clock with a single hand that takes 365 days to complete a revolution. Here's Josie explaining how to knit the weather: "I decided that this year, every day, I would knit a row on a scarf to mark the corresponding daily temperature/weather of my town. It felt like a good way to engage with the changing climate and with the changing year. A way to notice and not look away." I picked up Marrakech Intense, a parfum from my favourite skincare and toiletries brand, Aesop. It's marginally cheaper than their other offerings but still £67 for 10ml. After almost a year of trusty service, I've finally worn out the two pairs of Calvin Klein jeans I purchased in May 2019. I've gone for some classic tapering Levi's 501s to replace them. I've been a lover of meditation app Calm for almost ten years (even speaking to its co-founder Michael Acton Smith back in 2016, read it at /calm) but have recently subscribed to Headspace. I am particularly a fan of Everybody Headspace, ten minute meditation sessions every 30 minutes that groups of people do together in real-time. Plus Andy Puddicombe's voice is nice!
This post was originally published on adamstoner.com. It's called "All emails answered" and you can read it at adamstoner.com/emails and below... Since mid-January, I’ve been replying to 100% of my emails. Every single one. It’s something I gleamed from Derek Sivers who over the past ten years has replied to 200,000 emails from 86,000 people – including ones from me. Thanks, Derek. I used to hate email. It used to scare me. Far too formal. Far too pressing. Then, out of nowhere, I decided I was going to reply to every single email I received. Yes, every email. Even the spam emails. Even the mailing list emails. Even the ‘I filmed you jerking off through your computer webcam send me $12,000 in Bitcoin or I’ll send it to your contact list’ emails. (I wouldn’t pay even if it were true. My contact list might though, just so they don’t have to see that.) All emails answered. Email became fun. It became cheeky and chatty and casual. It became less about being a to-do list organised by other people and more about being a water cooler moment in the middle of my day. I began to like email and I think you can too. Email me. I'm me@adamstoner.com. Sometimes I'll fire back a 'Thanks!', sometimes I'll fire back something more in-depth and personal. Become a member by signing up for free at the bottom of any page on adamstoner.com and you'll get a VIP priority email address so I'll reply to you even faster.
This post was originally published on adamstoner.com. It's called "How to become a climate activist" and you can read it at adamstoner.com/climate and below... Understand the problem Watch Climate 101 with Bill NyeWatch Al Gore's 2006 documentary An Inconvenient TruthRead This Changes Everything by Naomi KleinKeep an eye on respectable news outlets and recognise and accept that extreme weather events and climate change are inextricably linkedFind out more about global carbon budgets and what happens if we exceed them by reading Global Carbon Budget 2019Read the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Special Report on what happens at a global warming of just 1.5ºC Understand the solutions Accept there is consensus. 97% of peer-reviewed climate scientists agree climate change is human-caused.Watch Al Gore's 2017 documentary An Inconvenient SequelRead Project Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global WarmingRead How Bad Are Bananas: The Carbon Footprint of Everything by Mike Berners-LeeResearch zero-waste living. Research plastic-free lifestyles. Research recycling schemes in your area and fossil fuel free sources of power (I use use Bulb) Act Swap to products and companies that share your newfound valuesWeigh your options and cut your own carbon footprintRead This is Not a Drill: An Extinction Rebellion HandbookRead No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference or watch a speech by Greta ThunbergRead On Fire by Naomi KleinDonate to an environmental not-for-profitPlant trees (US: One Tree Planted / UK: Offset Earth)Write to your local elected representatives and ask what they're doing to address the climate crisis. Press them. Keep pressing them. Fire them if they don't act.Write to your local business leaders and ask what they're doing to address the climate crisis. Press them. Keep pressing them. Boycott their companies if they don't act.Refuse to debate the science. The climate crisis is fact and we have no time for liars or self-preservationists.Go on a climate marchGo on climate strikeTell others about the climate crisis (and feel free to share this page to help inform them) Contact I love hearing from people. Introduce yourself via email and say hello – I reply to all. Email: me@adamstoner.com Social: @admstnr on Twitter
I'm not a fan of clothing emblazoned with huge brand names. Jumpers with the company name written across the front or designer logos that occupy a quarter of the garment turn your body into advertising real estate. When we buy clothing with brand names splashed across them in such ostentatious ways, you become ad space for some of the most powerful companies imaginable. Instead of wearing the brand names of some of these companies and turning our bodies into billboards for them, what if we instead donated that space to organisations that help improve our world? Instead of wearing a t-shirt that bears the name of a soft-drinks company, let's try wearing something that reflects our values. Most charities have online stores and whilst a donation is worth far more to them than a t-shirt purchase, combining the two can be a powerful way to give. That's why, when I need to replace an item of clothing this year, I'm going to start buying from my favourite charitable organisations and quite literally wear my values. I'll get some replacement clothes, they'll get some funding, we'll both improve the world.
If the previous decade was about radically open social media platforms (as Andy McIlwain calls them) I have a strong feeling that this coming decade will be the complete opposite. Instead of status updates sent into the unmanageable and unfiltered void, I'm betting on a flip from audience to community, from reach to engagement, and from viewers/listeners/readers to paid-up die-hard fans. And I want you in on it. I've taken a decision that some of the mightiest publishing giants in the world have struggled with and implemented something akin to a paywall. Unlike a toll where someone must pay to pass, I prefer to liken my paywall to a stile you might find on a countryside walk. People can wonder through freely; the stile just separates people who are passing through from the ones who intend to be there: the ones that care. You. There are two reasons why I've taken this decision: Control of the platform is control of the message.You can't build deep connection in 280 characters. Control of the platform is control of the message. Social media platforms are in the business of selling your own audience back to you. This is their business model. It is by design. For years, businesses, publishers, and influencers have been encouraged to move conversations to social media platforms and to generate streams of unique content for them in return for little investment and the promise of large audiences. In one respect, those audiences did arrive – these kinds of entities frequently have millions of followers – but follower counts are ultimately insignificant when the ability to reach that audience depends, as Steve Lambert laments, on one thing above all others: payment. Since mid-2017, when I began falling out of love with social media and wrote a fully-fledged program that started deleting my tweets on a rolling basis, writing on this website has been my preferred method of mass-communication; semi-private, long-form messages that feel both personal and valuable. No algorithm, no advertising, no attention-grabbing bells and whistles. No behind the scenes talk of serotonin or dopamine or how to get you addicted. No foreign interference, no data to harvest. A private and meaningful conversation is just an email away. In other words: I control the data, I control the message, I control the platform. You can't build deep connection in 280 characters. This is about deep connection. Every time somebody new registers to my website, I get a notification on my phone, live and as it happens. Sometimes I'll reply and say hello. Giving me your email address is the deepest form of connection you and I can have on this website. It's also the only trackable way I know my readership. I am not a writer nor a professional blogger and I do not write here for recognition or audience. I would write here even if I had zero readers and for all I know I might: I don't run analytics software here because I think it's creepy and I respect your privacy too much to spy on you. Rather than trying to reach as many people as possible, I'm focusing on a specific group who appreciate what I do most. You, trusting me with access to your inbox is worth more to me than access to your social media timeline. This list of people who are interested in my work is my only measure of success. My goal in putting up my stile is to create a community to connect with, to discover what is important to you, and to foster more meaningful relationships on the internet...
Despite the determination and focus they bring, I've never been very good at sticking to New Year resolutions. Rather than a lack of willpower, I put this down to a lack of accountability. I've been doing some work with non-profit organisations in the last quarter of 2019 and have seen firsthand how a deep-rooted need for accountability can help achieve goals. As an Individual Member of 1% For the Planet, I'm expected to upload donation receipts and proof of income. This radical transparency not only keeps all participants honest but also encourages and keeps them on track. At the risk of humiliating myself should I fail, I'm sharing this year's resolutions publicly... Fancy food belongs in fancy places. I drink a shocking amount of barista-made coffee and Coca-Cola and spend a disgusting amount of money on take-out lunches and dinner. It's time to nail these issues with a simple solution: If I want restaurant food, I'll eat at restaurants. I'll also only allow myself a Coca-Cola if it's in one of those locations. As far as coffee's concerned, I'll make coffee at home and take it with me unless I'm drinking it in one of my favourite locations. Become more carbon effective. My second resolution is to become more carbon effective in 2020. My goal is not to offset the carbon I produce — although I will be doing that to the tune of being over 200% carbon-positive thanks to more-than-profit Bristol-based Offset Earth — but to instead mitigate as much carbon production as possible whilst simultaneously maximising the effectiveness of the carbon I cannot mitigate. That means buying organically, locally, and sustainably wherever possible and being even more selective with the things I spend my cash on. Continue a cultural education. Education should not be a funnel but a wide line and I believe some of our most important lessons and insights come from things that are far divorced from classrooms and curriculum. In 2019, I grabbed myself both a National Trust membership and a National Art Fund Pass and used both to visit heritage sites and galleries across the South. Not only did it mean I was intentionally carving time each week for my own headspace and education but this led me to visit places I never thought I would be interested in, like places of worship. Although my membership to both has lapsed, I intend continue visiting locations of cultural significance in 2020. Somerset House's 24/7 exhibition is one of the first on my list as is Andy Warhol's exhibition when it visits the Tate Modern in March. Address technological hygiene. I've become very lackadaisical about my technological hygiene by allowing tech to seep into places it probably shouldn't be: I've begun sleeping with my phone again. My life-technology balance needs re-addressing and I intend to start 2020 with a few simple and easily actionable steps to get back on track; to move my phone out of my bed and back to its charging pad on the other side of my bedroom, to turn on Screen Time for my devices and monitor where I can improve, and to take a break from my one remaining social media platform for a period of time, Twitter. So, to recap: Restaurant food belongs in restaurants.Become more carbon conscious with a view to minimising my carbon footprint.Continue to visit locations of cultural significance.Resolution #2 but for technology!
Inspired in part by Long Bets and the new decade, I'm making some predictions for the coming ten years. They're based around areas that I think will be the biggest points of improvement and decline for humankind: Power and population, politics, food, climate, travel, artificial intelligence and technology. Power and Population: By 2030, one country will have shutdown its citizens access to the internet for a total of at least 366 days – 10% of the decade. Freedom House report that we are already seeing these trends in countries like Iraq and Iran, where the state maintains significant control over the internet backbone, in China, which limits access to foreign resources and requires foreign companies to adapt to domestic regulations, and in Russia, which is increasingly ordering network shutdowns in relation to protests. In India, as I type this on December 27th 2019, the longest internet shutdown in the country's history is taking place: 145 days and counting. Politics: By 2030, at least one country 2019's United Kingdom will have re-entered something that is, or that resembles, the European Union. I predict that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union in the early 2020s but that by the end of the decade at least one of its current countries, England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland, will be a member of something that, if not identical, is almost functionally identical to the European Union. Furthermore, I predict the country will have entered into the alliance without consulting the public in the same manner they were consulted when asked if they should leave. Food: By 2030, per capita meat consumption in both the USA and UK will be lower than it is in 2019. As we come to terms with the impact that food and faming has on our planet and begin to realise the health risks associated with our modern day diets, I predict that per capita meat consumption in both the United States and in the United Kingdom will be lower than it is today. In 2019, each person eats approximately 99.3kg (USA) and 61kg (UK) of meat according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, whose numbers (or the closest thereof) will judge the success of this prediction in 2030. Travel: By 2030, almost every high-street travel agent in operation today will go the way of Thomas Cook. As international travel continues to become faster and cheaper and as companies like Airbnb continue to make it easier for ordinary people to market their homes as destinations, it is my prediction that only travel agents that specialise in luxury long-haul holidays (like Kuoni) or multi-leg journeys (like STA) will still be in operation come the end of 2029. Climate: By 2030, the UK's hottest temperature will be at 45ºC or more. That's 6.3º hotter than the current record set in 2019 and 0.9º hotter than the record temperature set in France, also in 2019. Artificial Intelligence: By 2030, a non-human entity will have passed the Turing test. The Turing test is simple. Put a computer and a human on one side of a wall and a human tester on the other side. If the tester can't recognise which candidate is human and which candidate is a computer after a series of questions, the computer has successfully passed the Turing test. I predict that by the close of the decade, a computer will have consistently 'tricked' a panel of multiple human testers into believing it is the human. The speed of technological advancement is phenomenal but we have to question what we stand to lose when our feet are bound to the accelerator. Yes, that might include frivolous luxuries like experts in travel and silly little art projects, but it'll also include things of more consequence, like free and open communication and potentially our very humanity.
Today is my last day with Monzo, the bank account that lives on your smartphone. There are several reasons why I'm opting to leave Monzo but one key reason is that I have more Current Accounts than I need. In the process of consolidating them and weighing up the pros and cons of each, Monzo didn't fare too well. I initiated a Current Account Switch earlier in the month and my account is in its final day of being absorbed into an account with a so-called 'legacy bank'. For the record, I think Monzo is a great bank. In the time I've had an account with them, I've encouraged tens of people to sign up and I think the work the company has done to make banking accessible to as many people as possible is highly commendable. This is a bittersweet goodbye because I will miss some of its features, not least free transactions in other currencies. By far the biggest reason for closing my Monzo account is that my legacy bank has cloned nearly every feature of the Monzo app into its own. I believe this is going to become a real problem for Monzo, Starling and other 'challenger banks' over the next few years, especially as their mobile apps are their sole modus operandi. Simply put, now that Monzo and my legacy bank are nearly identical, and given the choice between an institution that's been running for over 200 years or one that got their banking license in 2017, I am opting for the former. The only things that now separate the two are that my legacy bank has a wider range of financial products available to me and gives me the ability to handle my money in many more ways. If my time using Monzo has taught me anything, it's that options are good. Whilst I'm primarily cashless, the option to handle my money in-branch, including via cash and cheque – the later of which I did yesterday – and on more digital platforms than just my smartphone, add tremendous amounts of value. All that's left for me to do is say goodbye in true Monzo style... Bye! 👋
Sometime between the hours of 6pm on September 10th and 7:30am on September 11th, my iMac was stolen from my place of work. It was an unimpressive but effective break-in: a brick through the window, the computer under their arm, and out into the London air. The hours that followed my discovery were filled with the tedious task of both damage limitation – 'what was on my computer that might compromise my security if somebody were able to access it?' – and setting up a new machine. For both my own future reference and anybody else that might be searching "what to do when Mac stolen" then here are the steps I took both in attempting to secure the old, stolen machine and in setting up the new one. *** To secure yourself after finding your device stolen: Attempt to find the device using 'Find My...' I don't think the thieves will be silly enough to let the computer connect to the internet; on the off chance they do, the Mac will begin the process of erasing itself and ping me its location. Apple have a guide on how to use Find My Mac on their website. If you haven't set this up yet, do it now. Consider changing some of your passwords If you use Apple devices, change your Apple ID password. Although the hard drive of the iMac in question was encrypted and I am therefore confident the thieves will be unable to extract data from it, I changed the passwords for anything that opens automatically when signing into my computer as an additional measure of security. Slack, email, even my password manager. *** When setting up a new machine: Turn on Location Services and sign into iCloud so that you can view all of your devices in 'Find My X'‌‌‌‌ As I've already said, I don't believe this will help me retrieve the device but it's a handy option to have. You'll also have the serial numbers stored in your Apple account which might be needed for purposes of law enforcement and insurance. You don't have to synchronise all of your data, either. In the settings menu, you can opt to just turn on Find My Mac. Turn on FileVault FileVault secures the data on your hard drive by encrypting it on-the-fly. It means that if someone were to plug my hard drive into another machine, they won't be able to do much with what's on there without the recovery key. You should store the key away from the machine in question. I keep a copy of all my encryption keys in the safest place I can think of, a Safe Deposit box in a central London bank. I'm not even joking. Set a firmware password A firmware password is different from the password you use to log in to your device. A firmware password prevents people from starting up from any disk other than the designated startup disk. This means the £1.5k computer they're trying to tinker with is now only worth its parts. Carefully follow Apple's guide to set up a firmware password. Download and restore your old data Let me say this really clearly: If you don't have a secure off-site back-up of your data, you're a fucking idiot. Backblaze creates cloud-based backups of your entire machine with optional encryption for just $6 a month. No storage limit, no catches. I restored my stolen iMac in mere minutes. I was back up and running in under 4 hours. Reassess your workflow Since the theft, I've opted to use Dropbox's Smart Sync tool to handle design files. I'm also opting to extend my personal rule to work in the cloud with tools that both enhance my security and guard my privacy further than my personal devices and onto the one I spend most of my time on. It's never nice to find out you've been the victim of theft, especially if it happens to property that's personally yours rather than property that belongs to the company you work for. Hopefully you have insurance and are able to find the silver lining – this might be the excuse you need to redesign the way you work.
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Podcast Details

Created by
Adam Stoner
Podcast Status
Active
Started
Jan 1st, 2019
Latest Episode
Oct 4th, 2020
Release Period
2 per week
Episodes
28
Avg. Episode Length
6 minutes
Explicit
No
Order
Episodic

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