This well known quote from manuals of etiquette is something that I try to live by, particularly on social media.

Twitter (and increasingly Facebook) seem too full of stories of hate and dismay, so I tend not to add to it. I’ve been busy with work for quite a long time, which explains why I’ve been so quiet on social media for a while now.

But there’s a problem – by not speaking up about positive things, it creates an echo chamber of negativity. I’ve spotted this same fact with app reviews for my day-job – if I’m not sharing my positive (or even somewhat neutral) news, then everyone sees more negativity.

With that in mind, you’ll be hearing a bit more from me going forward – the good along with the bad – I hope it won’t be too annoying!

I’d love to give my Grandma credit for this quote – but really is a paraphrasing of a wise old lady called Alice Roosevelt (daughter of Teddy) who said:

If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit next to me.

I think the original quote is even better – I think I may start using that instead! 😀

Yesterday I went for a 5k run around Willen Lake. It was cold but rewarding and while my time was OK, it would be fair to say that my training so far in January has just been maintenance, nothing more.

I need to do some 10k runs soon and up my training (work/stress permitting) – let me know if you want to join me! Annoyingly I managed to pull a muscle in my back after that, so I’ve been walking like an old man all weekend – very frustrating!

Aside from some Minecraft playing with Lara, Amy & I have had a quiet weekend recovering from our respective injuries.

While the weekend quickly receded, we watched an old Ridley Scott film, Legend, with a practically teenage Tom Cruise and the lovely Mia Sara – whom I definitely harbour a “dad crush” on. (Turns out she’s a writer now too). Not sure I’d recommend the film – Ridley Scott should have stuck with sci-fi.

We managed to devour the 1st series of the Lemony Snicket reboot on Netflix in less than a week. It’s very good.

The acting is impeccable and the treatment is in-line with the film, if a little bit more heartfelt. You’re sure to love it.

Oh, and the theme music is awesome (and written by Neil Patrick Harris himself).

Just don’t expect it to be cheerful!

Ok, today feels a little weird.

A pretty normal day: work, cold, family time and bed.

Elsewhere, someone moved into political office – a bit like the changing of the guard, but with more guns and smaller hats.

I get frustrated when I read the news – we have it on in the office, it’s a little distracting but makes us feel more connected to current affairs. 

Problem is, sometimes you’d rather not watch real life, but immerse yourself in fantasy. This is one of those days.

My suggestion, put the fire on, make a cuppa and immerse yourself in fantasy…

I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions, and we’re already well into January, but I came to a conclusion, much like Danny Wallace, to write a blog post on my website every day.

To be fair on myself, I’m no going to beat myself if I miss a day or two, the key is to stop waiting to write a masterpiece and start writing anything!

I’ve got other aims this year, which h I’ll talk about as I get there – but hopefully reading these pieces won’t be too laborious. I promise I won’t take it personally if you unfollow me on Facebook, if you find them dull or repetitive.

What are your aims for this year and why?

Preface: As I’m trying to blog each day (and have already missed one), I’m experimenting with sharing my thoughts on possibly controversial topics. Bear with me, and remember ‘opinions are like…’ *Ducks from ensuing firestorm*

So after months of bickering and waiting for the government, Teresa May announced her grand plan for how to execute Brexit.

She wants to have her cake and eat it. In fact, it’s pretty much what Johnson and Farage said, but without all the bleating about a time of past colonial glory. Or maybe it was there and I missed it.

Finally – some talk about the Single Market

Interestingly, there was talk about some specifics in May’s wishlist:

  • No to the Single Market
  • No to tariffs with Europe
  • No to EEA membership
  • Restrictions on European immigration
  • No ‘cliff-edge’ if talks aren’t concluded (and ratified) within the 2 year timeframe
  • The ability to pick and choose which EU programmes the UK is involved with
  • No ‘hard’ border between UK & Ireland

We’re going to have to fill in the gaps for the meantime – as details were in short supply. Remember – Brexit means Brexit.

The problem is, this is just a wishlist – nothing more. The reality is likely to be quite different:

  • Why would the EU actually provide preferential terms to the UK, rather than encourage us to stay in the EU?
  • Access to certain EU markets (particularly Euro financial ones) simply can’t be run by a non-EU country.
  • Even when we leave, it’s foolish to think that less integration will result in the UK being more attractive than the EU.

What does the EU think?

There’s an interesting opinion piece in the Guardian today from Guy Verhofstadt – the chief EU negotiator for Brexit – I’d recommend you give it a read. Here’s the tl;dr version:

…it is an illusion to suggest that the UK will be permitted to leave the EU but then be free to opt back into the best parts of the European project, for instance by asking for zero tariffs from the single market without accepting the obligations that come with it. I hope that British people will see from the perspective of an EU taxpayer how unreasonable this would be.

I’m not looking forward to the negotiations personally, but I am looking forward to the cake. You can get the recipe for it here.
I wonder if I can make a gluten-free version?

Watched it for the first time last night. It was riotous and silly and a little obscene – and very funny!

I particularly loved the Ferris Bueller hommage after the end.

#spoilers #nsfw

P.S. As a rather geeky aside, this was the first time I streamed a film from my Plex server at home, over the internet, while Amy was watching it at home. Who needs Netflix, eh?!

WhatsApp was in the news this week due to a rather inflamatory article from the Guardian:

Privacy campaigners criticise WhatsApp vulnerability as a ‘huge threat to freedom of speech’ and warn it could be exploited by government agencies

Initial reading is alarming, even going as far as recommending that people trying to avoid government surveillance should stop using it immediately. That sounds really serious.

Signal founder, Moxie Marlinspike, responded on the Signal blog strongly:

Today, the Guardian published a story falsely claiming that WhatsApp’s end to end encryption contains a “backdoor.”

One fact of life in real world cryptography is that these keys will change under normal circumstances. Every time someone gets a new device, or even just reinstalls the app, their identity key pair will change. This is something any public key cryptography system has to deal with. WhatsApp gives users the option to be notified when those changes occur.

The fact that WhatsApp handles key changes is not a “backdoor,” it is how cryptography works.

Given the size and scope of WhatsApp’s user base, we feel that their choice to display a non-blocking notification is appropriate. It provides transparent and cryptographically guaranteed confidence in the privacy of a user’s communication, along with a simple user experience. The choice to make these notifications “blocking” would in some ways make things worse.

So we can breathe a sigh of relief, right? Not quite.
While I’ve got much more faith in the Signal Protocol, than I do the Guardian’s fluid reporting (particularly on tech-related matters) – it does raise an interesting question:

Should we be asking our online services whether they could (or even do, if they are allowed to tell us) provide a backdoor for government entities?

I think so. Without asking this question frequently, we forget that actually these online services usually answer to a higher power, government entities – which means that unless steps are taken to specifically encrypt and avoid inadvertent logging, your messages/emails/photos etc aren’t as private as you think they are.

I’m not suggesting that everyone jumps on VPN or Tor, just to circumvent snooping that may or may not be happening now (or in the future). Nor am I suggesting that everyone is actually breaking the law and needs to avoid this level of encryption – but unless the public understands the consequences of turning a blind eye to government online surveillance, we risk sleepwalking into a less secure and less transparent online world.

I’m off to back up my email somewhere safe – any recommendations?