currently drinking: griffiths coffee

I’m giving the aeropress a brief rest from the conga line of different single origins I’ve been drinking this year, thanks to the generous offer of Marc from Griffiths Coffee.

To celebrate the world cup, they have made their “Mundial 14” – a blend of South American coffees (including Brazil) that comes ground in a vacuum-sealed can. If you don’t have access to a grinder, this is a convenient way to get your morning fix, and they clearly have some skills in putting a blend together.

Thanks for the chance to try something different!

where do your ideas come from?

Surely no-one is surprised at the latest revelation that Facebook conducted a psychological experiment on 689,003 of its users, without breaking the terms of use that you agreed to when you signed up for facebook. If you’re curious, they found that reading a bunch of negative, or positive posts is somewhat contagious, and will affect the emotional terms you use in your own posting. Ethically concerning? Probably, but someone signed off on it.

It makes me reflect: to whom have I outsourced the media input, the stimuli that I take in, that in turn helps shape what I’m thinking about, and how my opinions evolve?

Logos is where I go to read the bible (and try to keep my Koine Greek language skills alive). I’ve been starting my day with the app for most of this year, and it’s been a helpful spiritual connection.

Feedly, which I use to keep up with 300 RSS feeds is something of a special case: at least for the most part I’m delegating to actual people who run websites for the content I’m reading. In case you’re curious, some of the Feedly content I push onto a stack to read later – either their “saved for later” content, or sometimes to Instapaper, which I read occasionally, but mostly don’t get back to.

Gmail seems a necessary evil at the moment, and its rules and spam handling keep a lid on how many different sources of information have the chance to interrupt me.

Twitter is more about when I choose to dip in, and which chaotic run of tweets will scroll past my eyes at a given time.

With Instagram, I’m still looking (at least briefly) at every photo, as I don’t follow enough people for it to become something I just dip into.

But other sources of information and entertainment include Facebooklinked in (which continues to copy Facebook in its approach to being a source of reading matter) iView player, YouTube, Vimeo and some movies, that I generally find via Apple TV).

For these, the content is curated by algorithms from a series of companies (who I trust with varying amounts of personal data) – it’s these sites that decide where my inputs come from. They present enough of a range of choices as to give the illusion that you have a well-rounded selection, but in fact, this is classic filter bubble

Even when I asked my friends (via Facebook) for suggestions on new podcasts to listen to (I use a combination of the Downcast app for iOS and a website called HuffDuffer for one-off MP3’s), I find them already closely aligned with the kind of generic-interest-with-a-touch-of-comedy that I had already stumbled upon. Does this mean that podcasts outside 5by5, the NPR family, and Ear Wolf don’t exist, or am I not well-connected enough to people who have more diverse interests?

What’s the call-to-action for this post? Think through how much time you’re spending soaking up ideas from sources where you should be more critical of their origins.

movie: edge of tomorrow

It took me all week to write this one up: Edge of Tomorrow is the latest Tom Cruise science fiction blockbuster, and – though it has not enjoyed great success at the box office, it’s one I really enjoyed.

A mix of Starship Troopers and Groundhog Day with an refreshing (for Hollywood) take on gender roles in action films. If you’re okay with a violent, sci-fi action film, and don’t mind thinking a little (not as much as a Chris Nolan film), then it’s a fun way to spend some time.

Reflections on running

Lately I’ve been trying to go for a run in the mornings. It’s worked pretty well when I haven’t been sick. I get up at or before the sunrise, walk a little, then run for a few km’s in a loop, walk a little bit home. I take my phone with me. While I’m running, it measures how long/fast/where I’ve been, plays me podcasts, and let’s me take photos of the sunrise.

So far, no injuries: time will tell. Even without all the apps, I love running, but the hardest part is taking the doona off the bed and getting out of the house. From there, it’s not too bad, especially those mornings when the sky puts on a show. 

hot air about a balloon

Today and yesterday there was a lot of media coverage (e.g. Fitz, ABC news in the US, Herald Sun, SMH, Daily Mail) of the hot air balloon that an Australian gambling company sent flying over Melbourne. Based on the Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks Rio de Janeiro

It looked like this:

Depending on who you ask, it was some harmless fun, just promoting the World Cup and trying to encourage the Australian supporters not to give up on their team. That is was not actually promoting gambling (surely that’s a bit of a stretch with the company logo so prominent on the balloon). At the other end of the response spectrum it was an incredibly insensitive thing, associating Jesus with gambling.

The social media response to the balloon was certainly mixed, as it ever is. For what it’s worth, the hashtag chosen seems to have a broad variety of comments, not just those related to the campaign, so perhaps it needed a little more work.

There were plenty of prominent Christians quoted, but the sound-bites that made it through were about the Jesus who turned over the tables of the money changers, and that Jesus would be against gambling as it was exploiting the poor. It seemed a bit of a missed opportunity to talk about the Christian message more broadly, so I thought I’d have a quick go.

The reason Christians make such a fuss about Jesus is tied to those things that we believe about him. That he is God’s Son, that he came to earth to die on a cross (the iconic gesture of outstretched arms we see on the hot air balloon), and be raised back to life.

Why? People were not living lives that were up to God’s standard, and so God intervened so that the relationship between God and people could be restored. Someone who wants to become a Christian asks God for forgiveness through Jesus’ death, and then, having been forgiven by God, seeks to demonstrate gratitude to God by living a life in keeping with the teachings of Jesus.

It’s at this point that the anti-gambling message would come in: gambling would be among the less sensible things that can be done with money, and promoting gambling tends to encourage the people who can afford it the least to allocate more of their money than they can afford, with a hope of getting a giant windfall.

There was a lot of hot air spent on the balloon, but on the positive side, a giant Jesus in the sky is surely an excuse to talk a little about the Christian message.

movie: The Trip to Italy

Movie: The Trip to Italy

Usually for a comedy, the best jokes are in the trailer. So it was a pleasant surprise that the majority of the jokes in the trailer were actually the first part of scenes of longer, funnier dialogue: there were lots of laugh-out-loud moments, the scenery was amazing, the food looked amazing. There was a lot to enjoy.

The genius of it, though, is the transition back and forth from the surreal conversations to the real-world of the restaurants, and the more mundane aspects of relationships and life that creep through. It’s not an unreserved recommendation: there was a subplot that was a bit sad (I can’t say more without risking spoilers), and there’s a lot of fairly choice language throughout.

Wearables and the future of productivity

I’m as much of a sucker for productivity articles as the next person, and this article was one of the better ones. 
It’s safe to guess that if you’re reading this, you have a smartphone, if you’re not in fact reading this on a smartphone. Through poor planning, I’m writing this on a smartphone rather than one of the many devices I could reach for that also have internet access and the ability to transcribe my thoughts to the internet. 
It was over six years ago that I started using a smartphone – a friend told me at the time that I’d enjoy it for a while, but would eventually go back to the feature phones, as they were not great things to have. He was probably right at the time, but we’re seeing a landslide transition away from feature phones toward smartphones now, and it seems unlikely people will go back. 
When I first had an email address (1994), I had to check the email via a computer in a lab at uni, or if I was lucky, via a modem in a tent window. It was a clearly demarcated task with a beginning and an end. It was possible to run a program that would tell you whether you had email, and see a visual indicator of that on your computer screen, but this was an oddity: email messages were still quite infrequent in my life, though I spent a lot of time on them even then. 
Once you own a smartphone, your relationship with notifications changes. It’s possible to switch them off, but the default with everything you install onto the phone is to add another source of interruptions to your life. 
The emerging trend of “Wearables” – an additional device or devices that is easier to access than a smartphone – will bring this carnival of distractions even closer. I still wear an analog wristwatch, and use it to look up the date and time on a regular basis. My watch, though a potential distraction, cannot give me any new tasks from other people. A smart watch, though, is a potential source of additional stress with every glance.
More challenging still is an eyewear solution like Google Glass. Never mind the privacy concerns (for now): what happens when the kind of context-sensitive advertising and updates begin to be superimposed on everything that you see?

As we head toward a future where interruptions are ubiquitous, spend some time now practicing unplugging, before it becomes even harder to quiet the recurrent hum.

Caffe Due Amici, Padstow

Caffe Due Amici, Padstow

Caffe Migliore Coffee. 156 Alma Rd, Padstow. Unless you’re quite familiar with Padstow, you’ll be unaware of a second group of shops, away from the train station, closer to the Padstow Heights part of the suburb. In this small batch of shops, a new building has emerged in the last year, and last week this cafe opened up, so I thought I’d have a look.

Where the magic happens - Caffe Due Amici, Padstow

The fit-out is a beautiful one – lots of concealed lighting – the green lights in the photo above were blue on my first visit, so this is some kind of coloured LED lighting. The menu is cheaper than I was expecting – you can sit in with sourdough toast and a long black for $8, but they have a full kitchen at the back and will prepare eggs or more complicated fare, and there’s the expected sweet treats on offer as well.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with the coffee, but I’ve been enjoying it; it’s all ground to order, and my long black comes out with a healthy crema: a good sign indeed.

A welcome addition to the range of cafes in the area. Open 6am-5pm every day.