Art, Photography, poetry, Technology

what lies beneath (photo poetry)

Ever since my curious mind was thrust upon this world; ever since I discovered the ability to reason and not be satisfied with the answers given to me…This has always happened to me.

Say for example, I go to the doctor and he tells me, “you have osto-prosperous syndrome. Due to this specific condition I’ll gonna be putting you on ana-laxti-tri-syhp-phex-trazine to help you manage it.” Some people see he’s a doctor, realize he’s spent year doing this and just give the three-bags-full nod. Well, not me. (You might also realize I know very little about the medical world). I want to know what is beneath the common day veneer people throw over everything. I will question the doctor until I’m satisfied I understand the internal processes, or at the very least the words he’s using.

The other day I had a similar urge to do the same with a hard drive. Most of us, have held a hard drive before, understood it has two parallel spinning discs, whose data is read by a needle-like lever darting backwards and forth. If this description if lost on you, just think of the vinyl (or record) player that has an extended arm used to read the data from the disc. (A slightly more crude, yet simpler analogy).

The hard drive in question was a 2.5″ (laptop sized) and had given up the ghost months back. Holding this device in my hands, I became plagued by two thoughts:

  1. Why don’t I open it up, and see for myself what the innards of this object look like?
  2. Once I’ve dissembled the drive, I will make this mess look beautiful. Why not?

Below I’ve included the photos I’ve taken as well as a poem I wrote a while back about a computer. Free free to leave any comments, if you have any 😀

hard drive_01

the wires inside

i closed a coffin today,
it was black with
wires of time inside

it lay on the floor
the silver fan
(cooling its heart)
Stopped and sighed
It lay in the warmth
of my own curiosity

i was more technology than
this carcass, splayed before
me and the wooden desk
i could get off the floor
crawl away from the slow
undergrowth – over
our lives.

i wept more for the
numb life hiding in
the cage and its brain
my tears fell out

so did the battery

hard drive_02

hard drive_03




Look after

One of the first signs of being passionate something is when you begin to feel. I used to live with someone who told me that you have to see a motorbike as a person. I bought one end of last year and he told me that I need to get a better exhaust so she can breathe better. I need to service this and that, occasionally give her a good clean.

At first the mention of seeing this piece of steel as a person, made me wrinkle my nose in confusion. As he went on I began to see the relevance. Your important possessions you need to maintain and nurture. I’m no master of the motorbike, however put me behind a computer and my eyes light up much the same.

When I left school my parents bought me a computer as a good-luck-out-there present. That same motherboard lasted me four years. That’s an eternity in the PC world. Think of owning a pair of shoes for 5 years (i.e. ones you use everyday) and you’re on the right track. My mother used to utter a phrase to me, every time something more valuable came into my reach. She simply said, “Look after.” I used to roll my teenage eyes back in angst, when that phrase came out. Now I look at it I can see EXACTLY the meaning behind it. I no longer look like I’m having a small seizure either.

I’ve seen so many people throw down there laptops, or just leave it running down to the last morsels of cache. Here’s a better example… Ever owned a laptop and left it plugged into the charger over night? That’s bad. Very baaaad. If you’re nodding your head it’s time to repent and allow the lithium cycles in your battery to themselves. Every battery (in an ideal world) will run from a vibrant 100% charged to a pitiful 0-10%, every day. For arguments sake a battery comes with 1500 cycles. That means fifteen hundred chances at holding charge for you, while you scamper off to meetings.

The idea is to have as much of that as possible. If you leave your laptop plugged in all the time, you’re hurtling current at the dear battery when none is required, and more importantly you’re stunting its ability to be a battery (slowly lose charge over time). Think of it this way. Do you leave the stove on when you’re done cooking? Nope. It draws power, and keeping it on will burn the shit out of your stove plates. Same idea. Charge when needed, otherwise allow it to sleep like the rest of us (pun duly intended).

Now think of the computer as a human. You paid a couple of grand to get it, so for fuck’s sake give it some TLC. Go and get a comfortable bag for it, and research how to take care of it. This is not a rant at stupid people, but more a reminder at the end of the day all our equipments asks is that we “Look after [it].”

Treat your gadgets tenderly as you would a lover. Chances are they may even help to get you laid, at the end of the day.


Technology, Thoughts

Pulling the plug on ignorance

How do you explain the internet to someone? Or even something as simple as email? It’s been so engrained in our culture and our lives, to actually step back and look at the milestones is a sobering effect.

A few weeks back I was dealing with a lady of 77 years of age, let’s call her Margret. Her family was intent on getting her an iPad. The reason being she lives in a small old age home and needs to contact her family via Skype. Obviously a few people in the family are tech-savvy, and managed to gather together enough money to buy her one. I thought it was a great token of kindness, because now not only can she Skype (i.e. call her family abroad) but also she has access to tons of applications and data at her fingertips (on the internet).

So I activated her iPad and showed her how it all worked, and while I was setting up her Apple ID, the first thing that I asked her was, “What is your email address?” She gave me a blank look. I explained that her for an account of any kind we’d need an email address to get her account going. I told her that she would be able to write letters to her family instantly, that’s the best explanation I could give without overwhelming her further.

I felt sorry for her, and the way technology frightened her. It’s really a marvelous thing once you get your head around the basics of the iPad. Due to various circumstances, she was probably given the opportunity to learn (how to operate a computer) but felt too scared and inferior, and shied away from the opportunity. Now her family had dosed her with a bucket of water by thrusting an iPad in her hands.

This leads me to two topics :

  • Why are we so afraid to learn?
  • Technology is the key liberator of our time.
The Fear of Learning

When we start to learn it pushes out right out of our comfort zone into the realm of ignorance. Most of the time if you want to learn…you have to be receptive and be prepared to listen. Many people hate that feeling of vulnerability, and feel insecure (sometimes evening getting angry).

One of the better qualities in a teacher is patience. This is something that has poisoned many of us against certain subjects, since we had one cantankerous and moody teacher and scowled and berated us when asking a dumb question.

Learning is also a process of stumbling.

A wise old woman, who is a homeopath put it to me in this gentle way, “I’d rather die a failure than never having tried.” Progressing in life is simply trying new things. To get better at something (i.e. more skillful), you simply have to try. you may not succeed straight away, but that’s ok. Do a little bit at a time. Once in a while we will stumble and fall. Make mistakes, maybe even injure ourselves…but then like my good friend said at least we won’t be dying a failure.

Once you’ve tried enough times, you explore on impulse.

Learning (as a teacher and pupil is a exciting and intoxicating feeling), once you’ve got the hang of the initial trying, you will goad yourself into finding new avenues. My father (who is a seasoned, and powerful educator) put it to me this way. “Learning is just about being curious.” You don’t have to be reading an entire library of books, or have ten degrees behind your name. Just get excited and your curiosity will teach you to explore and gain a deeper understanding.

Wrestling with the wires

The more I work in IT (either by myself, or by helping others), I’ve come to realize that it’s more than a skill. It’s a language and a tool, if you don’t embrace it immediately, soon it will fall away “like sand through your fingers”. If that didn’t make sense, allow me to use another example.

If you’re having a casual days with a few friends, then suddenly someone asks you “Hey let’s go to that pub I told you about?” The only catch being there are five people (including yourself), yet only two motorbikes to get you there. Now you’re stuck. Well, unless you’ve an wild caveman living in isolation…technology will always be this functional tool we require to alleviate the logistics we encounter.

Getting in a car the first few times, is darn nerve wracking. Once you’ve got the knack of it, you wonder how you managed without it. This is the dilemma I faced a while back with Margret. I had to rewind my thinking only a decade or two, so she could understand the advantages of embrace this digital beast we all face.

I’m glad that she tried, otherwise she would just be a failure, a figure, a statistic even. Perhaps embracing the depths of the unknown, and wrestling with it…will be the greatest challenge us homo sapiens face?


the workers prayer

Hey Bloggers

I must be honest it’s been ages since I’ve posted anything. The reason for this is that I’ve been in between moving house twice, and well as being employed in a full time capacity in my job. Anyway, I’ve decided to include a few poems I’ve managed to scribble down lately 🙂

the workers’ prayer

caffeine is my Shepherd i shall want
in the days when melancholy
covers me in its thick skin
and conjures up a conscience

i shall fear no evil
when i have sugar flowing
through my veins
my mouth will ramble on
like a child’s fingers
that fumble with the
wrapping of an exuberant toy
(writhing in the box)

the coffee beans and silver spoon
shall surely comfort me
all the days of my life

at four a.m. all you hear is
the cry of my kettle
the giddy ideas
the holes in the keyboard

this mantra is the fuel
and stickiness that binds me
to the kiss of my Muse
she scampers out of the bed
(ahead of me)
washing the dishes
wresting the kettle
picking out the knots
(in yesterday’s events)

its time i smile and guffaw
maybe even frolic
in the gumption of Real Life
eating half my toast
slamming his fingers
to the beat of the clock

this morning the latte
cried a little when i slammed
its cap on too early
it leaves a small scar in the
center of my tie
i look at during work
between the pulse of my ballpoint
drawing fast cartoons
in the margin of minutes

clipped culture
freshly pressed men
remind me of the reluctant steam
creeping out
of today’s baked car tires
all chanting the workers’ prayer




Reviews, Technology

Could ’social viruses’ ruin your company’s reputation?


Social networks, as the name says, are “social,” and thus subject to the shifts in behaviors, norms, and attitudes that affect any group of people. There are both constant negative and positive streams surging through these networks that can change minds and re-mold opinions.

Organizations attempting to harness the power of social networks need to be aware and prepare for the ways social networks — which can be notoriously fickle — can quickly impact brand perception, or sow fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Boris Pluskowski in a recent post, raises the possibility that some companies may attempt to manipulate social networks to undermine competitors. In considering this really dark side of social networking, there is a possibility that competitors may purposely attempt to plant “social viruses” to attack or convert the social networks of competitors. Imagine one company proliferating negative statements and accusations about a competitor’s products and services within a network. It happens in sales circles all the time, right?

Yes, social networks have innate self-policing and self-editing capabilities to put the kibosh on such behavior, but still, damage can be done in the meantime. And, unlike a situation in which a sales representative disses a competitor’s product in the privacy of a customer’s office, the diss goes viral across the globe.

Pluskowski references the work of James Fowler, co-author of Connected, who demonstrates the powerful influence social networks have on attitudes and behavior. (”Your colleague’s husband’s sister can make you fat, even if you don’t know her. A happy neighbor has more impact on your happiness than a happy spouse.”)

“I can certainly envision ways in which companies could manipulate a few key individuals to enable them to corrupt a competitor’s user community,”Pluskowski explains. “Sowing seeds of discontent, and setting up the consumers to be virally vulnerable to the possibility of alternative realities.  Could we then be on the verge of a new weapon in the corporate strategic arsenal?”

The best defense against such lowly tactics to to develop a strong, social virus-resistant social network. Pluskowski provides this advice:

“Engender a strong goodwill and feeling within your community, and you’ll find that it’ll be resistant to negative vibes… Cross your community though, and that bad feeling will spread far and wide like wildfire.”

The iPhone 4 is a great example of a community resistant to negative vibes, Boris illustrates: “Despite all its difficulties and problems, people are still buying it –- not because it’s that much of a better phone than anything else on the market (nor even its previous version the 3GS) –- but rather because Apple’s conditioned its community to be resistant to negative viruses by ensuring that they not only respond, but also try to over-satisfy the customer whenever possible. As a result, the community of Apple buyers continues strong, and continues to grow in number.”

Pluskowski also recommends that organizations nurture a new skillset – that of the “social doctor, able to diagnose potential viruses prior to them taking effect and injecting the corporate social world with the virtual equivalent of vitamins to re-enforce it.”

Business leaders also need to be eternally vigilant about showing sensitivity and concern for customer communities, Boris adds. Unfortunately, this sensitivity and concern “is currently alien to the majority of companies who still treat their social networks as a sales and marketing tool rather than a living, breathing symbiotic organism.”



Underneath the wires


“Software is everything!”


This is the first thing that I heard come out of my lecturer’s mouth. My immediate reaction was… how could this possibly be true? Prior to hearing that, I’d spent hours fixing family computers, installing motherboards, restoring hard drives, and tossing in a variety of electronic organs into this electronic being. If you are an average computer user and you see another guy with a toolkit, screwing stuff in the right place and building up a computer…you are impressed.


When I first started my journey into geekdom the most obvious thing was to learn how it worked. If you want to learn to help cure people, that general consensus is that you should study medicine, get to handle a few organs, and soon enough knowing the majority of the body…should mean that you can help people master their troubles. Instinctually I thought the same way about computers. Surely the guy with the cables in his hands, is better off than the guy that’s sitting behind the computer typing?


–>By the way this isn’t a picture of my room…although it’s good to dream 😀



It took me a while to realise that my logic, although correct to some degree, lacked a different approach. Somewhere along the line, in the computer world, we’re going to encounter software. If you’re into networking, learning to build up a motherboard may be useful however, at some stage even a cable monkey has to learn to flick through computer diagnostic screens and check everything is hunky dory. A doctor can give you good advice, but somewhere down the line he’ll encounter a patient with a bodily abnormality that is a result of something in her psychology (or software), rather than in the torso.


I’m using the human comparison for those of you reading this who aren’t familiar with computers on a technical level. Early on in life I did a few years of therapy to correct my internal software (psychology or thought patterns). This doesn’t mean I’m sorted for the rest of my life (i.e. there will always be updates I need, and new paths to explore.) When I started to first work with my head for a while, I began to realise that problems can get fixed faster. If you’ve been to a therapist of some kind and are prepared to change, sometimes you will find the strength in yourself, to correct a few errors.


I’m not trying to sound too idealistic and unreasonable either. Hard work and determination play a huge role as well…although back to the computers now.



The layers

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Nothing is what is seems.” This is a very paranoid and poor judgment to make. Instead of getting worried, take a second to think of it in terms of technology. We look at websites every day; we click on links, download photos, Google research topic and so forth. Behind it all is code. Endless amounts of words and numbers, directing the flow in information to the right place (waiting for sometimes a single mouse click from a user). This should be a frightening prospect to those who delve into other academic fields. If you look deep enough into the human body, you no longer see obvious foibles like emotions, veins, organs, or blood. You start to see cells and atoms…and beyond that chromosomes and DNA. These attributes we all carry help us to stay alive, to catch criminals and invent even greater technology.


This is how I’m starting to feel about software. There are people who spend years behind the computer coding, building and sculpting. They are (for the most part), the people responsible for when a new gadget or computer is released. If software wasn’t around we would stop emailing each other, watching cable, TV adverts would be non-existent, and life would feel pretty dull and uneventful all of a sudden.


So what is my point behind all the examples, and computer loving? Embrace technology. I often say to people that ‘there is a program for everything’. You might be able to think of something that hasn’t been made, to contradict me. Well, in theory I’d put a word in a programmer’s ear about it, and within a week you’d need to find a new argument. Now I’m not trying to act like some sort of genius, and come across as if I can build anything, but we have the tools are out there.

Apple is emerging as one of the leaders in the computer industry. One of the reasons for this is because when you buy an apple, you get a lot of software given to you to use, before you need to throw down another credit card. The whole point is they want to use software, to give people a boost. Why should a user buy a computer, and waste time gathering together bits and pieces of extra software, to start using?

I like that idea. Put some tools in the customer’s hands, and teach him to build!