Category Archives: Technology

What to do if the internet dies

Many of us rely on the internet. Sometimes we even do something useful with it, like sharing cupcake recipes and telling strangers why their opinions about Brexit and Trump are stupid. 

But have you thought what you’d do if the internet died? 

There are various technical things that could go wrong with the internet. These are too technical for this article. And some outside scientific events could also cause a catastrophic breakdown of the internet. Again you’ll have to take my word for this. 

Here, instead, are five tips to survive the death of the internet. 

1. Panic. This could take the form of screaming, scrunching yourself into a ball or shaking uncontrollably. 

2. Get a paintball gun or water pistol. This will help you to rob necessities without murder complicating things. 

3. Stock up on necessities like Flakes and Quavers. 

4. Have a plan. For example – how are you going to share inspiring advice or updates on your weight? Round robin letter? Phone calls? Radio phone-ins? 

5. Wait. Someone is bound to invent a new internet at some point. 

I hope you’ve found this article useful. If not, I have other advice on what to do if you find a frog in your garden and how to decide between chips and mashed potatoes. 

The truth about a Digital Detox

At the start of the year, I decided I should make a new year’s resolution.

I’d already stopped drinking lager in vast quantities and smoking my beloved Marlboro reds years before – and I was getting twitchy.

I like giving things up, you see. Especially ones that kill you.

Having said that, there’s no way I’m ever giving up Tramadol, fizzy Ribena or Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.

So it seemed obvious to go cold turkey on some other serious addictions – social media and reading the news.

I’ve been obsessed with the news for over 30 years – ever since the nightly reports on the BBC from the Arbitration and Conciliation Service, ACAS. I was even a journalist for a while.

And I’m a nosy swine who likes reading about other people’s misery. And I’m a sucker for a glib, shallow inspirational quote.

Three months without my regular digital updates, am I really still alive and compos mentis (Latin for sane)?

Well yes – and no. But that’s a different blog.

So what happened?

On the positive side:

I feel less twitchy about the imminent threat of being shot dead or blown up by ISIS, or whatever the media calls them now.

I feel less angry that we have a government full of the highest class of twat imaginable.

I haven’t missed the inspirational quotes at all. Strange, that.

On the negative side:

I don’t know what several acquaintances have been eating at each meal – and in between each meal.

I’ve started obsessively looking at my bank balance, the weather forecast for 20+ locations and I’m addicted to Wikipedia’s random page generator.

I haven’t seen Donald Trump’s picture all year.

As is usual with experiments of this kind, then, a mixed bag of results. I may return to my former addictions – or I may not.

But one thing is certain: the phrase ‘digital detox’ is really annoying.

7 reasons not to run marathons – and a saner way to keep fit

By Simon Henry @simlington

A friend’s then boyfriend used to run double marathons.

I was at their house one Saturday morning having a cuppa after a heavy night’s drinking.
Just as he was putting his trainers on before his 20-mile training run, my friend croaked:
‘Hang on a minute. Will you get me some cigs on your way back?’ and handed him £10.
He did, too – 20 Silk Cut Ultra. (She suffered from asthma and she claimed these light ciggies made her suffocate less than other brands.)

Why do you need to know this? You don’t – but it’s the only anecdote I can remember about long-distance running.

As a footnote to this heartwarming scene, they split up soon after this.
Something to do with ‘lifestyle differences’, I think.
Either that, or he went out for a training run another Saturday morning – and just kept running. Probably with her £10 in his shorts pocket.

What lessons can we learn from this anecdote?
Six or seven – depending on whether you count 3a and 3b (below) as one or two reasons.

Six or seven reasons not to run marathons

Brian the Snail in more relaxed surroundings with his roundabout friends

Brian the Snail in more relaxed surroundings with his roundabout friends

1. You have to put up with Competitive Silliness from people like Lloyd Scott who took 27 days to complete the 2012 London Marathon by crawling around the course as Brian the Snail from the Magic Roundabout. I hope he had some kneepads.

2. It’s frankly exhausting. Someone always dies or has a heart attack or stroke. And anyone who manages to finish feels like death for days afterwards.

3a. You end up showing off. You can’t help it. If you finish a marathon, you become a Marathon Bore. You just do. ‘Oh. Nineteen miles was the worst. Christ it was bad. I felt like my lungs were on fire,’ you say – even if the conversation is about The Great British Bake-Off.

3b. And you expect people to be interested in the apparently infinite ways you find to describe the same thing – viz: ‘It’s really quite hard to run 26 miles and involves a fair bit of physical discomfort.’

4. There’s a good chance you’ll get addicted to the ‘buzz’ of running marathons, and then ‘normal’ marathons won’t be enough. You’ll then end up doing extreme ones – like the dreaded Arizona Desert Triple Marathon in which competitors are blindfolded, not allowed to wear sun lotion, have a baby hippo strapped to their back, and – worst of all – aren’t allowed to wear their special runner’s watch showing their ‘split times’.

Just because time is a dull subject  doesn't mean you can't illustrate it artistically

Just because time is a dull subject doesn’t mean you can’t illustrate it artistically

5. You start being obsessed with Time. It’s no coincidence the London Marathon goes through Greenwich, the birthplace of time. Time is important, but it’s a really
boring conversational topic for anyone who doesn’t run marathons. Philomena Cunk from Charlie Brooker’s telly show is the only person who can make the subject of Time funny. Watch the clip here (4 mins 20 secs).

6. You complain bitterly about your running aches and pains. If I put my finger in a flame and then complained about getting burned you’d rightly call me something with four letters.

If you still want to keep fit, why don’t you just get off your arse – and do what humans are good at?

Walking.

Here’s how you can make yourself do it every single day.
Download a pedometer to your phone. I’ve got the Pedometer++ which doesn’t even waste my iPhone battery.

A pedometer can encourage you to get off your fat arse and do some walking

A pedometer can encourage you to get off your fat arse and do some walking

You tell it how many steps you want to do each day – and it shows you on a bar graph if you’ve done them.
Green is good. Red is bad. Orange is quite bad or quite good. You would be amazed at how effective this is.

I also do the Three Peaks in Yorkshire quite regularly but don’t want to make too much of a deal about that because:
1. It’s basically a marathon in length
2. I never stop talking about it and therefore
3. It kind of undermines many of my points above.

You can follow me @simlington on Twitter.
Lots of people are enjoying my posts about modern office life – especially:

The A-Z of office jargon
my Defence of the three-letter acronym and
Verbal tics, cliches and catchphrases.

And you can get my posts sent directly to your inbox too. Isn’t that good?

Copyright 2014 Simon Henry @simlington

How to get a job interview if you’ve grown up on Facebook

by Simon Henry @simlington

It’s hard these days for young people to find a job that pays more than the generous £2.50 an hour Apprentice Rate.

We all know someone who’s a bit ‘special’ – who needs that little bit of help to navigate the yawning chasm between childhood and getting a bloody job.

So here’s a Young Person’s Guide To Getting A Job (That Pays Over £2.50 An Hour).

1. Try to clean up your social media accounts. Employers accept that young people need to have fun, but if they see pictures and videos of you puking, having intercourse or smoking dope they may discount your application. (Unfair as that may seem.)

grumpy-cat

2. If you get a LinkedIn account, don’t post nude pictures, foul-mouthed rants or links to cats doing stupid things.

3. Get other people to check the CV and emails you send to potential employers. You may not care about apostrophe’s, speling and grammer. But others do.

4. Don’t check yourself in at the start of the interview.

5. Don’t ask your interviewer out – even if you really fancy them.

6. Don’t fart – even worse, don’t blame it on your interviewer.

smoking

7. Don’t smoke – smoking weed is marginally worse than tobacco but they’re both liable to get you thrown out.

8. Make sure your phone’s on silent or turned off. Don’t answer it – even if it’s your mum.

9. Underpants, piercings and tattoos may be your social currency – but they upset interviewers. Cover them up. And while you’re at it, chuck that gum in the bin.

10. If this all sounds a bit hard, you can always try your luck on Britain’s Got Talent, join the circus or join the Liberal Democrats.

If you enjoyed this, you may enjoy my post about why Failure is often better than success. Or just have a browse around – there should be something that makes you a bit happier.

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

And you can follow me @simlington on Twitter

Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014

How mindfulness meditation can save your career

by Simon Henry @simlington

‘Mindfulness’ is becoming mainstream, but does anyone with hair really know what it is – and can you buy it in pill form?

Let’s start with a definition.

What is the definition of agony?
A one-armed bandit hanging off a cliff with an itchy bum.

Let’s now have a definition that’s relevant to our subject.

What is mindfulness?
It’s being aware of what’s going on in the present moment.

(Sometimes painfully aware of what’s going on in the present moment – especially if you’ve got David Brent as your boss.)

So how can mindfulness help your career – like it says in the title?

The answer is that mindfulness fosters patience and a non-judging acceptance of what is actually happening in the present moment.

And these virtues can help your career – unless you present University Challenge or Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares in which case you need to judge impatiently.

Patience
Chief execs and directors constantly play the Patience card game on their computers or phones. It’s ideal for looking busy and professional in board meetings, PR events and when announcing redundancies. Copy this trick and you’ll no longer be waiting patiently for a promotion.

Non-judging acceptance
HR email you saying: “Going forward we’re transitioning 50% of the team”.
The best way to be part of the 50% that aren’t facing the sack is not to reply “What the f*** are you talking about?”
A non-judgemental silent acceptance in this case is the best way to keep your job.

To be good at mindfulness you just need to be good at meditating.

And meditating is easy. You just watch your breath going in and out.

I’ve been doing it for two years and can now do it for 20 seconds (sometimes) before I start thinking about my tea or where I should go for my summer holiday.

If you want to learn more, Google Jon Kabat-Zin, Danny Penman or Mark Williams. I’m told they can all concentrate on their breath for longer than 20 seconds!

And they all have really successful careers – teaching mindfulness.

If you enjoyed this, you may enjoy my post about why Failure is often better than success. Or just have a browse around – there should be something that makes you a bit happier.

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

And you can follow me @simlington on Twitter

The art of copywriting is dead – official

by Simon Henry @simlington

“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach teachers.”

It’s a trite and old formula – but it’s fun if you know any teacher trainers. And it means you can use commas in a really odd way.

Speaking of trite and old, if you’re a copywriter like me, read on – you may need a specialist underwear cleaner sooner than you think.

Everyone thinks they can write great copy.

einstein

Even Einstein got in on the act. Here’s some copy by the brainiest scientist ever (apart from Brian Cox):

“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”
“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

What a show off.

In today’s digital age, professional copywriters claim they can ‘engage’ with an online audience by creating ‘easy-to-digest’ ‘content’ that bolsters ‘brand loyalty’ while meeting the client’s ‘digital objectives’.

Basically, we copywriters claim we know how to use the right phrases to get the right reaction from our readers while using the right number of repeated words (it’s always three, right? Or is that now four?)

Sorry fellow writers, we’re up the creek. And there are no paddle shops in sight.

Take a look at this new app – Hemingway

heminway-app

Anyone can just paste their words in and it provides a ‘readability score’.

It even gives advice on words you should change to make your copy easier to read. You can thank them here @HemingwayApp

I’ll get me coat.

If you enjoyed this, you may enjoy my post about why Failure is often better than success. Or just have a browse around – there should be something that makes you a bit happier.

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

And you can follow me @simlington on Twitter

Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014

6 ways your phone can help you avoid a Valentine’s Day disaster

valentines

by Simon Henry @simlington

Sick of being told how to save your failing relationship?

Tired of being told you have to spend loads of cash to make your lover sleep with you? Same here.

Here’s how you can make your Valentine’s Day ‘the best ever’ – with the help of your phone!

1. If you’re going to watch your Facebook Lookback video together make sure it doesn’t feature too many photos of you with your ex.

2. Turn your phone off for an hour and concentrate 100% on your lover. (Note there is a danger you’ll realise he or she is actually really irritating.)

3. Don’t use a Track your Cheating Partner app. If things are so bad, you should really just finish it.

no-ring

4. If you’re going to propose, it’s probably best not to do it by text, email or Facebook Messenger. Some things are still done better face-to-face. (Though a Vine might be a good compromise.)

5. Remember you can buy last minute “Oh Shit” presents – especially hotels, meals, spa days and chocolates – on your phone.

6. Finally, don’t follow any advice from the Reader’s Digest. Here’s one of their tips:
“Use a toothpick to write a special note on a banana peel. After a few hours, the bruised skin will reveal your hidden message.”

If you enjoyed this, you may enjoy my post about why Failure is often better than success. Or just have a browse around – there should be something that makes you a bit happier.

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

And you can follow me @simlington on Twitter

Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014