Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

March 2008

Found on the web and GeneralMonday, March 31st, 2008, (11:50 pm)

An imperfect ten

GeneralFriday, March 28th, 2008, (9:17 pm)

It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon and, despite the fact I am not in bed, a friend is formally inviting me to join them in a pillow fight. Surely that’s the kind of thing that is supposed to happen on the spur of the moment? Evidently not in the world of facebook. In this world a formal invitation to a pillow fight is no more or less out of the ordinary than being gifted a beer that you can never actually drink, or being given a kiss that has more air in it than a dinner party no-contact “mwahh.” Welcome to the world of ‘social networking.’

Like millions of people I have a facebook account. I signed up back in early 2006 so I could look at pictures posted on the site by a friend. She seemed keen that I view pictures of her being gloriously drunk and apparently pole dancing around a street lamp. The pictures were amusing enough and now I too had a facebook account, so what could I do with this I wondered?

Not having an abundance of drunken pole dancing pictures of my own to post I decided to just search for friends and see what they had on their facebook pages. Pretty quickly I was sucked into making ‘friend requests’ and squinting at tiny pictures of ex-girlfriends.

The ‘friend confirmations’ came in thick and fast allowing me the ability to voyeuristically peer into the lives of those people who I was now forever digitally connected with. Each confirmation seemed to fuel my desire for more friends and I spent increasing amounts of time on the site searching for people I knew, with the qualification for ‘friend’ status becoming ever more relaxed.

After acquiring a respectable number of ‘friends’ I found myself looking at my facebook page and thinking, now what? Pretty soon my ‘news feed’ was filling up with all kinds of stuff that I would simply delete without a second glance if it had arrived by email.

“Mark was challenged to a movie quiz.” “Sommer has added a new bumper sticker.” “Anthony just received a new comment.” “Jen wants to go out tonight.” “Someone is checking out Carly on Zoosk.” – This is junk, and I’m logging in to read this? Surely there must be more to facebook than this?

While I appreciate the opportunity to catch up with friends, once I’m up to date I’m not really interested in knowing that “David is looking for a new cell phone” or that “Paula is fed up of marking homework.”

I find myself getting numerous requests to join groups or install “exciting apps” like ‘beer’ or ‘easter eggs.’ But I don’t get anything from a digital beer or easter egg, and while that’s a nice gesture it loses what little value it had when I see that the sender has carpet-bombed the very same thing to the 641 people they have in their friends list.

But wait, they have 641 friends? Who has 641 friends in the real world?

Now all of a sudden my status as ‘friend’ feels worthless. They’re clearly some kind of ‘friend whore’ whose ‘friendship’ with me has more to do with showing the world how popular they are rather than being interested in anything I’m doing.

As I realize this I awaken to the fact that I too added them to increase my own number of ‘friends.’ “Look at how popular I am!” And with that, I take a step back to consider what it is that I’m getting from facebook.

Maybe there’s a side to social networking that I’m just not switched on to, but if so then it has thus far eluded me. I like connecting with friends, but this feels more like creating indistinct connections that allow us to broadcast rather than communicate. If anything I would suggest that it diminishes our desire to connect with people by providing an illusion that we know what’s happening in their lives.

Perhaps I’ve not immersed myself in the world of facebook to fully appreciate the value of a digital beer over a real one? I don’t suppose it really matters anyway, facebook feels like fashion to me. It’s today’s equivalent moon-boots or leg-warmers, and tomorrow we’ll be talking about something else. All that to say I just don’t get facebook, but I’m pleased for you if you’re one of the millions who enjoy the site.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go update my twitter.

How Facebook Is Like Ikea
Too Old for Facebook?
Am I too old for facebook?
I Still Think I’m Too Old For Facebook
Facebook users beware
Evolution of the social network
How Much Is Facebook Really Worth?
What the heck is Twitter?

Found on the webThursday, March 27th, 2008, (7:09 pm)

If you’re one of the many people who (for some strange reason) use facebook, then be on the look out for a phishing scam that is effecting the social network site.

TechCrunch are reporting the strange facebook scam which involves users being directed to a bogus facebook page and asked for their account details.

The scam involves a notice appearing on the wall of user profiles as a message from a friend, saying “Hey, I got a new facebook account. Im going to delete this one, so add my new profile” then with a link that appears to be a link to the new profile. The actual link goes to a URL on, a domain registered (and whois protected) on Namecheap and hosted at Softlayer that looks identical to the Facebook login page:

Users fooled into resubmitting their Facebook details on this page then have their Facebook accounts hijacked and all of their contacts receive a similar message, propagating the phishing scam.

The reason behind the scam isn’t entirely clear, though given the kind of information that some people are willing to share on facebook and other such sites, there is a very clear data security issue.

On a personal note, I still don’t really get facebook. I know I am outside their target demographic so perhaps that’s why the nature of the site eludes me and why I’m not excited about sending ‘friends’ random shite or writing nonsense on a ‘fun wall.’ Needless to say, most of my facebook friends will never see this post because they see no worth or reason for blogging.

Phishing Scam Targeting Facebook Users
How about an anti-social network : hatebook

GeneralTuesday, March 25th, 2008, (11:53 pm)

Remember Ben Saunders? Last year I posted a video of him giving a truly inspirational talk about his expedition to the North Pole. Well, he’s currently in Eureka, Canada, waiting for a break in the weather so he can once again trek to the top of the world.

Ben is a 31 year old Englishman who in his own words “specializes in dragging heavy objects around cold places.” He doesn’t consider himself an explorer but an athlete. “I am an explorer of limits – geographically, physically and mentally. It’s about pure human endeavour, and the way in which I can inspire others to explore their own personal potential.” He says.

In a matter of hours (weather permitting) Ben will begin his latest solo adventure unsupported and on foot from Ward Hunt Island to the Geographic North Pole.

His aim is to get to the top of the world in just 30 days, thereby smashing the current record of 36 days 22 hours which was set in 2005 by a guided team using dog sleds and numerous re-supplies. The route Ben has chosen has only ever been completed once solo and unsupported, by Pen Hadow in 2003, and Ben plans to halve Hadow’s expedition time. It’s an ambitious goal which, if achieved, “will totally reset all existing North Pole records.” According to Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

Pulling a 60Kg Sledge packed full of equipment as well as all the food he’ll need for the expedition, Ben is going to walk (and at points even swim) the 478 miles to the North Pole in temperatures ranging from -50 to -5°C with the wind chill as low as -70°C. He will be completely alone in the region with 5.4 million square miles to himself, that’s a land mass larger than the entire United States of America!

Thanks to an Iridium satellite phone and a satellite beacon you can keep up to date with Ben’s progress via his website. There you can also leave comments and encouragement which he’ll actually be checking in to read from time to time. He won’t be able to comment back, but he’ll no doubt appreciate knowing that there are people out there willing him on.

After 8 days on the ice Bens’ expedition to become the fastest man to walk solo and unsupported to the North Pole is over following the critical failure of his ski equipment. More information.

Ben Saunders website & expedition journal
Who the hell is Ben Saunders?
Be inspired : Ben Saunders
[Video] Ben Saunders on BBC Breakfast

Faith & ReligionSunday, March 23rd, 2008, (7:24 pm)

Happy Eastre everyone! Of course, these days we call it Easter, the Christian holiday that celebrates the curiously ever changing anniversary of when Christ miraculously rose from the dead.

Make no mistake, I love Easter as much as anyone else. We get a four day weekend in the UK (the longest holiday of the year) along with chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies, so who couldn’t love that, right?

I don’t really care about the fact that Easter is actually a pagan festival named after the ancient Anglo Saxon Goddess of Spring, and that it was effectively hijacked by ancient Christians who altered to suit their faith. But it’s with that in mind that I think I now understand why it is that Christians seem to have a propensity for copying and ‘Christianizing’ things from popular culture.

Last year I wrote a fairly critical post about the launch of GodTube, the Christian version of popular video sharing site YouTube, and now I think I might have been a little uncharitable in toward ‘Christian culture.’ After all, they can’t help it, being unoriginal would seem to be engrained into the Christian faith as much as the crucifix, or fish stickers for cars!

But one thing I don’t quite understand is why we don’t all eat chocolate Jesuses, or chocolate crucifixes? Maybe the thought of children gnawing off the head of Christ is offensive or sacrilegious? I’m curious though, back in the day when people were praising the goddess Eostre, wasn’t replacing her with Jesus offensive to the pagans?

In truth I don’t care that the Christians stole Eastre. It’s a four day holiday that involves feasting and chocolate, so for all I care they can steal more festivals. After all, if by doing so we get to have more long weekends then I’m all for it!

Happy Easter everyone!

Was Jesus a pagan?
Easter is a Pagan holiday
Unoriginal sin
The Pagan origins of Easter

GeneralSaturday, March 22nd, 2008, (7:21 pm)

I know this is ridiculous thing to blog about, but I’ve just learned that a delicious drink I discovered in the Highlands of Scotland last year has been discontinued by its creators.

‘Amber’ is a whisky liqueur that is, or rather was, quite possibly the tastiest drink I have ever had the pleasure of sipping. Created by whisky makers The Macallan, Amber mixes their famous single malt scotch with maple syrup, pecans, and pear nectar. Just opening the bottle in any room of my apartment would fill the air with it’s rich aroma readying you for the taste to come.

It was created for the American market and therefore was difficult to come by here in the UK, and now it would seem what little stocks there were have all but dried up just as my bottle of this rare drink is about to run dry itself.

Despite visiting highland distilleries last year with my friend Susan, I have never developed a taste for whisky, but Amber was something else and nobody whom I have shared it with has disliked it. Even my whisky loving friend Zeb (Martin) found that the uniquely tasting drink went down surprisingly well.

The drink was on a limited release to Washington, Denver and Seattle after small-scale trials in Boston. However, after just over a year The Macallan have decided to discontinue it. Bottles are still available in the U.S. for as little as $30 (£15), but here in the UK the few websites that have it listed are selling it for upwards of £32, that’s almost $70! I can’t help but feel royally ripped off at that price, but nonetheless I’ll probably get myself one last bottle and save it for special occasions.

My friends have often times relentlessly teased me for drinking flavored coffee, smoking the occasional flavored cigar, and more recently drinking this flavored whisky liqueur. But while I haven’t developed a taste for whisky on its own, I have now developed a taste for these heavily flavored whisky liqueurs. Yes I know they’re primarily marketed to females, but I don’t care about all that. Now I have to find a new drink to occasionally indulge in. Any suggestions?

As the summer fades (Part 2)

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