Alterna-Front

Gone!

After nearly 15 years on Twitter, I’m gone. I’ve never used it that much anyway and was always more of a lurker than active antagonist on the platform. I followed a small number of people, mostly from education, writing and comics. I didn’t post very much. When I added something...

This application requires you…

It’s happened! My phone – an iPhone 7 bought in 2016 – is now supposedly too old to update to iOS 16 and, consequently, won’t install newer apps. The phone is perfectly good. It’s in great condition, continues to work really well and seems fast enough to do everything I want. I don’t need a faster processor for games or a better camera lense. Enforced upgrading!

Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales Vol. 1

Got this for £5. Have been after a reasonably-prices copy for at least 5 years.

New Year’s Day

To see in the new year we went for a walk in Hayle Park Nature Reserve and then down into part of the lower Loose Valley. Enjoyable wander.

Obsidian Canvas Tool

Obsidian’s latest update, 1.1.8, introduces canvas, a type of infinite note that encourages visual note-taking. Although it’s only currently available on desktop, it brings much of the functionality of OneNote. Once on mobile/tablet, all that’s needed is a stylus/handwriting  plug-in (which, undoubtedly a developer in the Obsidian community will be working on). Fantastic step forward for the app.

iFixed iPod

Frankensteined a classic iPod out of two broken ones today. I continue to like the idea of a dedicated music player rather than using a phone. It could be familarity and nostalgia that puts me off the current (terribly-designed) mp3 players. At some point I’ll swap out the hard drive for a larger sd card and add a new battery.

It’s all so quiet

Looks like the country has taken a day off. No one is out and nothing is moving.

Older Microblog entries HERE

Gillen’s A.X.E.

Find myself agreeing with Chad Nevitt’s fierce admiration for Kieron Gillen’s coordination of Marvel’s A.X.E. event: “I was stunned by the complexity of the narrative he is telling. It is absolutely stunning to see the various threads weave in and out of different comics, pulling together all of these characters....

60 Years Ago Today: Love Me Do by The Beatles

Someone to love. Somebody new. Someone to love. Someone like you. Time plays odd tricks. It’s 60 years ago that The Beatles released Love Me Do on 5th October 1962. The opening harmonica hook remains haunting and evokes the grainy black and white early Sixties. Melancholic images of fog on...

Suddenly it’s snowed!

Just looked outside and it’s snowed! It’s been cold over the past couple of days here in South-east Albion but I wasn’t expecting such heavy snow. Such a peaceful evening.

The villain is… the English teacher

Pat Mills is someone I have incredible respect for as both a writer and advocate of creativity. His Substack is required reading for me. For Mills, the villain in his creative life is the presence of his English teacher: “My teacher’s deliberate sabotaging of my creative endeavours – for a number of personal reasons I’ll get into later – actually forced me to find my own unique writing path. His negativity undoubtedly made me the writer I am today and I can see his influence in every single one of my stories… He is lurking in the shadows of all of them..” (Pat Mills’ Iconoblast)

Graduation Day

My eldest son, Lysander, graduated today with his first class degree in film-making. It was great to see him receive his degree – especially as his time at university during the pandemic was hard for him and, at times, he felt like giving up. It was heart-warming to hear how highly other graduates spoke about Lysander and the regard they held him for his skills and technical knowledge.

What a Draft idea!

Trying to save money has meant ending small subscriptions for services I’ve enjoyed using for years. I’ve just cancelled Drafts, the text capture app that I’ve used as a starting point for all my notes and writing. As much as I find Drafts an excellent app, I don’t use the actions – which are really its killer feature – nearly enough to warrant a monthly subscription. I use Drafts to keep notes and write longer pieces that I then move into other apps like Obsidian and IA Writer. It’s possible to do that using 1Writer, an app I already own on iOS, and Sublime Text on Mac and keeping them in shared folders accessed by the other apps. I’m going to see whether this works over the next month before deciding whether or not this will be permanent. After that, I’m looking to end my reliance on Microsoft (for OneNote) and – less so – Apple (for iCloud).

Paying Attention

Every time I think I have how Mastodon works in my head, I find a feature that is so unexpected and welcome. My natural inclination is towards organisation (eg. tying in my blog posts to Mastodon so they become a natural part of the conversation rather than forcing links to be clicked etc.) but it might do some good to be a little chaotic with this.

Walk in King’s Wood

Postponed from earlier in the week, we went for a walk in King’s Wood this morning. So quiet! So many mushrooms!

FURTHER DOWN THE STREAM...

60 Years Ago Today: Love Me Do by The Beatles

Someone to love. Somebody new. Someone to love. Someone like you. Time plays odd tricks. It’s 60 years ago that The Beatles released Love Me Do on 5th October 1962. The opening harmonica hook remains haunting and evokes the grainy black and white early Sixties. Melancholic images of fog on...

October comes with rain whipping around the ankles / In waves of white at night

Autumn is definitely here. Not the lingering, warm Autumn of early September, but the damp, wet Autumn that points with trembling finger towards Hallowe’en and the first chill winds of Winter. For me, September has been one of reading tales by Algernon Blackwood that seem to anticipate this change of...

Indicators of an Effective Teacher?

Digging through one of my boxes of stuff, I found this copy of Elizabeth Perrott’s 1982 Effective Teaching, a book I’d bought and intended to read but had put away for the future. It’s a weirdly prescient book: outling many of the approaches to teaching that are currently being promoted...

Fantastic Four No.1 Panel by Panel

Comparing Panel by Panel with Maximum FF suggests the change in the way that the November 1961 first issue of Fantastic Four seems to be viewed (at least by Marvel). In 2005, Walter Mosley’s presentation of the issue is as an art object: something that “crystallized an art form that...

Black Beth and the Devils of Al-Kadesh

Very glad I found this in W.H. Smiths. Written by Alec Worley with art by Dani, Black Beth is the revival by Rebellion of an obscure British comic originally created in the 1970s (but unused at the time) with one published story appearing in the Scream! Holiday Special in 1988....

Maintaining a #digitalgarden

Since the mid-1990s, I’ve maintained a personal web site of some sort. Originally my sites were constructed using Frontpage and Dreamweaver, then I used Blogger for a period until around 2010 when I moved over to keeping self-hosted WordPress sites. There was a period when I used it as a...

Robert Aickman’s Introduction to The 5th Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1969)

Aickman’s fifth introduction is brief. He summarises his previous views: that ghost stories are separate from both horror and SF and that its “true affinity” is with poetry as it is “a projection and symbolisation of thoughts and feelings” that are excluded from usual written discourse. Ghost stories, he believes,...

Then we danced the dance ’til the menace got out

Positively pleased with my new Synology DS220+ NAS. Last week, part of my old NAS, a WD My Book Live, was remotely wiped. WD’s solution is to tell users to disconnect until they investigated the issue. It was clearly too late for me and I was worried that the other...

Talk for Learning

Notes from A Dialogic Teaching Companion by Robin Alexander (2020). Chapter 2 – Talk for Learning In this chapter, Alexander explores the relationship between talk and the development of a child. He examines the shift in the 1970s between the child as “lone scientist” to “apprentice”. The persistence of recitation...

Prologue to A Dialogic Teaching Companion

Notes from A Dialogic Teaching Companion by Robin Alexander (2020) Chapter 1 – Prologue In the Prologue, Robin Alexander gives a case for teaching talk as an essential tool in teaching and learning. He describes the positive value of dialogic teaching and asserts that there is a strong evidence base...

Robert Aickman’s Introduction to The 4th Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1967)

Aickman leads his fourth introduction to the Fontana Ghost Stories collection with a renewed attack on modern rationalism: “science will end the world,” he asserts. He goes on: “Even if there is no big bang, we shall destroy the world in no time, if we go on as we are....

“build a ladder of opportunity so that the able can get ahead”

Provocative New Statesman article by Adrian Wooldridge which insists that the key to the “reinvention” of the Labour Party is by going back to basics – appealing to the “new working class that is growing alongside the old one” – and reinstating a belief in meritocracy, “the belief that individuals...

To Coalition and Beyond: Back to the Future?

Notes from English and Its Teachers by Simon Gibbons (2017) In Chapter 6, Simon Gibbons brings the book up to date (to 2017 which – after Covid 19 and the lockdowns – seems an age ago). He presets a largely bleak and somewhat dispiriting picture of current English teaching in schools...

Writing Wrongs, TES

Great article in this week’s TES about the teaching of writing. Liz Chamberlain (Open University) and Rob Drane (English subject lead at the University of Cambridge) argue that writing is being taught in primary schools causes “a disconnect between how we view writing in the real world, and how writing...

New Labour, New Policies

Notes from English and Its Teachers by Simon Gibbons (2017) In Chapter 5, Gibbons focuses on New Labour’s impact on English. The Labour government sought to tackle the underachievement of poorer children. This was when I started teaching and remember all too well the exhausting period of the National Strategies....

“Honestly, I think I would know if there were aliens”

It’s a long time since I’ve read anything interesting about UFOs, but this article for NBC by Rizwan Virk, founder of Play Labs at MIT, seems to indicate that – while the area of ufology is generally mocked by scientists and big tech – there’s obviously something significant happening. Virk...

Denial and Delusion of the Thatcher Years

As someone who grew up in Thatcher’s Britain, it’s hard not to see the parallels between how fragmented and bleak things seem now and how it was back then. I’m not the only one. Very good piece by Guardian columnist John Harris who notes how the visible decline of Britain...

Some Thoughts About Caitlin R Kiernan’s Black Helicopters

Professor Zeh sits in his office in Heidelberg. It’s 1969. Rain falls outside and Zeh’s office window is nothing but a dark grey rectangle. He’s smudged the ink in his notebook, jotting down a thought about Bohr’s interpretation of measurement he had while staring at his reflection in a mirror...

Popular Opinion

Frightening – and yet unsurprising – report explaining how Facebook is used by politicians to unduly influence public opinion through the creation of incredible numbers of fake comments and likes from a tiny number of users. The report is based around an interview with Sophie Zhang, a former data scientist...

Hauntology Defined

An excellent definition of hauntology by the A Year in the Country site. “This is an area of culture where the use, appreciation and romance of often older electronic music technologies, reference points and inspirations segues and intertwines with the more bucolic wanderings and landscapes of exploratory, otherly pastoralism and...