30
May 14

I have discovered a new use for chocolate

As an “extreme owl” I often stay awake working in the night time.

Mornings are therefore not enjoyable for me. Even when I have a lie-in I can feel grumpy until the coffee flows.

I’m not sure if this is because my senses are heightened or if they are asleep. Either way, I reckon I am more sensitive than most to changes in light, sound, smell, and definitely taste.

Aside from the obvious side effects of morning hatred such as inability to open eyes and short-lived rage at the world (which incidentally can be extended into a general ratty mood for the rest of the day if some negative external thing happens during this window of opportunity) – aside from this I have another strange symptom.

I can’t put anything in my mouth. No water, no food, not even coffee. I have to be awake for at least 45 minutes before attempting to do this. Is this normal?

Today I discovered an exception: 3g of Dark Chocolate.

Not the sweet caramel substances you find in the newsagent. I mean the kind that you put in your mouth which, if stored in a larder, tastes like a cold, hard lump of nothing for the first few seconds.

This is perfect. The initial shock to the tastebuds (texture, sour, salty, watery) I experience with most other foods makes we want to run for cover.

But chocolate is neutral at first. It is already the right temperature for the mouth before it goes in. Then as it warms the flavour gently develops into something that is neither too sweet nor too bitter. It turns into a warm goo, much like being handed a soft blanket.

It gently wakes up the tastebuds.

Then as it disintegrates it slowly releases more and more interesting natural flavours. In doing so it activates the bitter and the sweet receptors just the right amount if it’s the correct balance of cocoa, cocoa butter, and sugars. It activates the sour receptors shortly after this, and gives them something to think about if the chocolate has a red fruit (cherry, raspberry, or strawberry) note.

The chocolates I like are more naturally fruit-like than nut-like, but even my favourite chocolates have a small amount of nut-like flavour, which also stimulates the salt glands – and we know what that does for saliva.

And all it takes is half a square of good chocolate.

Chocolate, I love you.


09
Jan 14

An open letter to my Facebook friends

Facebook, it seems, has become a front-end for cheap, baiting, advert-laden websites like Buzzfeed and apparently my Facebook friends are falling for it by the droves by posting links to “Top ten tatoo fails”, “8 reasons you are single”, “10 things you can do to be nice to a single person”, etc.

I thought Facebook and its evil advertising ways was the devil – not my friends themselves!

Get out there and create your own engaging content, write your own blogs, talk about your own life experience, create your own world – an authentic one, one that does’t pander to the brain-numbed masses, one that requires some kind of attention span to read – instead of posting links to pointless articles that only draw your friends into the frivolous world you inhabit online!

It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a great writer, photographer, baker, political mind, whatever. Your friends will read it and like it because it’s you, because they are your friends, and because you expressed a piece of yourself.

I have no problem with posting links to newspapers, news stories, or even the odd mild distraction to your friends.

But spare us the copious amounts of crap that line the pockets of sites like Buzzfeed who only exist to bait link clickers, and to profit from the lemming-like nature of unthinking humans.

Such websites have utterly no intention of making a positive contribution to humanity, to an online community, no intention to inform or educate. They are not built around a particular subject or theme. They are the internet’s cess pit and you are pulling your own friends into it when you post such links. Stop it!


01
Mar 13

One week today

The last seven days have been a blur. I have eaten and slept, but only because of the efforts of my nearest and dearest.

One week ago today, a kind man – a man I may never meet – was walking with his dog through an open green space in South London.

At first this man must have wondered why his dog, which had disappeared into the middle of a copse a few hundred yards ahead, was barking incessantly.

After a few minutes of calling and whistling, the man must have realised he could not bring his dog to heel and so went to see what the fuss was about.

Nothing could have prepared the man mentally or emotionally for what he was about to see.

For there, through a small opening into the copse in which the dog was barking, he saw a human body, hanging from a tree.

I never had the chance to tell my dear brother Steve how much I loved him.

I did not visit him daily in hospital.

I did not lock myself in a padded cell with him until his terrors were over.

I did not rugby tackle him to the ground.

I did not think up a master plan for his survival even more intricate and watertight than the far-fetched conspiracies he had built-up in his poor tortured mind over the years.

Why not? I was capable of doing these things. Because he didn’t let me close enough to see the signs? Was I simply not good enough to figure them out myself?

I have seen signs before in others. Like the dog with its killer sense of smell, you could not put me off that scent. I have called parents in the middle of the night to tell them to come to the hospital soon because their daughter may not make it – and please take a taxi.

I knew he was very ill; at Christmas time I tried to rally the troops around him to show a unified front of love and support. I failed.

I did not know he was that ill; since last week I have learned his family, my family, knew of his intentions. Since then I have heard his friends were party to the intimate details of his plans. Since then I have read diaries, letters, emails, text messages. Since then I have hacked his computer to find his final goodbye note.

Since then I have felt his darkness, hugged his children, reasoned with their mummy, cried uncontrollably.

Since then I have tried to reconcile this new Steve I did not know with the old Steve I grew up with.

My tears have turned to frustration at my parents’ inability to discern his truths from his lies. I have listened to every part in the play justify, defend, blame themselves, blame others, disagree, blame doctors, sob.

Since then I have identified the five stages of bereavement, related them to my own loss, tried to break free from them, in order to support my family, and failed. Like a rat stuck on a treadmill.

I considered myself enlightened and strong. I am neither enlightened nor strong.

Since then I have learned of his mantra over the last few months: better an end with terror than terror without end.

I have of course taken my mind to that dark place. Researched his hanging technique. Found out just how much planning was necessary. Walked through the procedure in my mind. Read medical accounts, reviewed statistics, and cried at the sheer terror of the fact that hanging was, for Steve, less painful than the mental torture he was suffering.

I understand mental illness this much: it is an entire mystery. I have not felt such terrifying depths of depression myself, but I have spent sleepless nights before Steve’s death trying to feel it. Trying to understand what it must mean to be unable to pull myself together.

I have heard hints in the past from Steve’s friends about how dark his thoughts had become. Nothing shocked me. I am not shocked by things which 99% of the rest of humanity would be shocked by. Why didn’t he talk to me? I am unshockable.

I imagine that Steve lost his battle with mental illness approximately twelve hours before the point he was found. Unbeknownst to me, this had a been a long battle lasting more than several years. How had I not known this?

Dear readers and friends, if you take just one thing from this, please contact a loved one, or even a distant friend, whom you know – or even suspect – struggles with depression or mental illness.

Go gently, but go. Ask questions until you are weary. Ask the difficult questions. Ask how bad it has been for them at its worst. Ask how they thought they might end it all. Go into the detail even if it does not seem appropriate. Just ask questions.

You may think they have people closer to them who are better placed to support them.

Forget that. Forget other people. Ask the questions yourself. Meet them in their darkest place, if you have the strength to do this. Of course, this can cause more harm than good if you are not prepared. But at least consider it. Consider opening up a dialogue.

Or if you have yourself battled, I would like to hear from you. Have the courage to share your mental state with someone you know can be trusted.

We live in a culture which has, in the most part, banished shame from mental illness, and so there are no excuses.

To my personal friends: I’m not taking calls right now. I need you to be there for me when I do, though.

Please donate to the charity below:

http://memoryspace.mind.org.uk/MemorySpace/memspacemindorguksteve-smith


10
Jul 12

Surely nobody thought “Fiscal Union” was really a good idea?

Far from being an Orwellian nightmare, I love the idea of greater fiscal and political union with our neighbours. Maybe it could even work… in 100-500 years?

But right now, as long as different countries within Europe teach different versions of history, value different types of trade, have different climates that affect their vastly diverse national identities – and not to mention different politics – I believe a single currency is a terrible idea.

Why? A given generation’s workforce in a given country (or ‘economic zone’) depends on the social values of its predecessor generation(s).

Example: let’s talk dinner parties. Your average dinner party of middle-aged professionals in Germany would hold an ‘engineer type’ in the same esteem we Brits hold ‘artist types’ (i.e. high esteem). The UK is largely numerically illiterate and, with the possible exception of medical professionals, we pretty much like to make fun of scientists.*

* I attend dinner parties (not with the middle-aged) with people who do like scientists. I am basing this on media representation, proportion of elected MPs who are actual scientists, the take-up of science subjects at ‘A’ Level or degree, school results in science and maths, and other soft statistics / observations.

If, within the global economy, money is to be made from science rather than art, then Germany is going to whip our asses, whichever metric you use to define economic success (GDP, GPI, etc.)

Now let’s say Germany and the UK were in some kind of hypothetical fiscal union. Given the above, the UK would need to become more competitive on a global scale, otherwise it would run out of money and not be able to buy drugs for the NHS or pay teachers to maintain a decent education system. It would have to ask Germany for a loan. Of course, it could go elsewhere looking for a loan, but I’m pretty sure Germany might have something to say about that.

Sure – in the short term, the ailing UK would benefit from being in the fiscal union, as it would mean it could pay for those drugs, teachers, police, prisons – and maintain some kind of status quo. But it really will need to buck-up its ideas. The problem is: how can it become more competitive? The UK can’t simply change its interest rates – they no longer exclusively control the bank! Businesses can’t magically pay their employees more to attract more talent.

British people won’t magically decide they suddenly like scientists over artists. Worse still, the position of Germany would ironically make Brits dislike scientists even more.

(Aren’t we already seeing the above phenomenon, where although a country is benefiting from being in union with stronger country, they are ironically resenting them at the same time?)

Eventually Germany would have to say to Britain, “right. You need to become more numerically literate if this is going to work”. Germany would invest in education programmes in the UK for decades, but this wouldn’t address the core issue.

This scenario can only end in one of two ways:

1) an amicable break-up of the fiscal union
2) full-scale … wait, don’t mention the war …

The above is of course a hypothetical, over-simplified version of the truth.

But tell me dear readers, do you agree with the basic analysis?


20
Mar 12

Clicktivism or Slacktivism?

I know, I know; the Kony 2012 subject has been done to death. I don’t plan to weigh-in too heavily on the debate, except to make a small comment on what the media has termed “clicktivism”. Or indeed what sceptics have termed “slacktivism”.

Before I go on: my viewpoint on the campaign. Naturally it goes without saying that a Brit such as myself sees the “Stop Kony” campaign – or rather the more bizarrely named “Kony 2012″ (more akin to a Presidential election campaign title, right?) – with a healthy dose of scepticism. I wouldn’t go as far as Charlie Brooker did in likening it to a cult, after all Kony is not a myth and his well-known LRA has been in operation for almost 2 decades, throughout which time numerous atrocities have been reported by the international media.

No, Charlie Brooker’s attack on the campaign was in itself egotistical, and attempting to make comedic capital out of the systematic rape and murder of kidnapped children by a man whose arrest warrant was issued by the ICC a decade ago is unfathomably stupid and shallow.

Satire should be relevant; as such Brooker might have focussed on the core debate which includes the organisation’s transparency, immediate fame, and efficacy. A little side-poke at the ‘cultish’ nature of the campaign might have been more palatable in this case.

Back to the matter in hand: “clicktivism” or “slacktivism”.

Although, in themselves, these terms are cringeworthy, they point towards a social phenomenon unique to the new Twitter/Facebook generation. That is, the belief that fame in itself can solve problems.

Over the last few days on social media, I’ve seen examples of this;

  • a young black English rap artist (early on in his career) tweeted about wanting to make friends with the rich in Chiswick, because he believes that by association this will bring more fame to his music career
  • a young New Yorker friend of mine posted a video on Tumblr of herself saying “our job is to stop Kony, we have the power to do something. As internet users, teenagers have the power to control how famous Kony becomes”.

Whilst the first is obviously a clear case of today’s obsession with celebrity over that of talent, the second is worthy of a little more debate.

I’m in two minds about the effect of fame on politics and international law. On the one hand I lament the fact that charities like Oxfam and Amnesty have been chipping away at this campaign for decades, and one single-issue movement gathers pace, produces a glitzy video, and blows their attempts on the given issue out of the water by engaging young people.

On the other hand, is this not just the new form of political campaign? Throughout the history of representative democracy, politics has been about issues and people gathering fame, whether this involved those on the campaign trail knocking on doors and delivering leaflets, or more recently making glamorous videos. Was not the Obama ’08 campaign the blueprint for the latter?

Head of Research at Oxfam UK, Duncan Green, blogs with scepticism about the issues of fame and charity. Whilst he makes some valid points about the absorption rate of human rights issues into the minds of young people, I can’t help feeling that his response focusses mainly on the style of the campaign rather than the effect it might have. He is “appalled” by the tone, the depiction of Africa, and the “feelgood schmaltz”. Whilst I don’t personally like these aspects of the Kony 2012 campaign, these are the very things that made it successful, and brought 60 million viewers to the cause. They are mere stylistic objections.

In summary, whilst I want to dislike the whole focus on glamour, the Invisible Children published a thorough response to current criticism of their campaign, detailing their breakdown of expenditure.

If the pie chart tells a truthful story, then I’m all in favour of how they are spending their money and running their ads.

Those who want charities to remain chipping away quietly at issues of human injustice rather than making grand statements that engage young people may have to start rethinking their position, because global, single-issue movements will play an increasing part in the future of charitable giving.


21
Dec 11

The Pluralist Paradox

Deep down inside of me, there is a swing voter waiting to get out.

A true British I-don’t-really-know-what-I-think voter, someone who could go both ways. Hell, I could go three or four ways.

I know, dear imaginary reader, you are thinking, “but how can someone so … so – political – how can you not be true and loyal to a single party?”

Don’t get me wrong. The swinger inside of me is not the typical British non-thinker. Not the common man on the street who waits until there is a critical mass of others to think on their behalf so they can chime in at the last minute and back the winning party. Not the fickle man on the street who just loves to complain about whichever party is in power and backs the opposition because, “there’s no possible way we could have four more years of the same old [insert current governing party here]”.

No, my swinging tendencies come from much, much deeper within me. My struggle is thus:

On the one hand, surely our socio-economic outlook looks far prettiest when people are allowed to do what they want whilst not harming others; a liberal, pluralist society? What is wrong for you might not be wrong for me, and therefore we should agree not to legislate for what you consider to be wrong, because it would be unfair for me. Instead we should just hang out / do business with people who have similar views to our own.

Of course we should have high taxes and good quality public services. This isn’t a matter of politics, it’s a matter of economies of scale: pooling resources allows us to reduce overheads. (I’m talking theoretically, of course.)

But on the other hand – and please excuse my Newtonian worldview (blame my Christian parents) – given that humanity, if left unchecked, tends towards selfish and greedy behaviour, perhaps after all it doesn’t look that fabulous when people are allowed to do what they want.

Here I cite the global financial crisis as being caused by unfettered or poorly-regulated capitalism.

Or what about society and the family? It is horribly non-liberal to interfere with matters of the family: married couple tax breaks between man and woman, making it legally difficult and expensive to get a divorce, reducing benefits to single mothers and punishing walk-away fathers who don’t take responsibility.

Whilst the above may offend our sense of social liberalism, let us hypothesise what their long-term effect on society might be, and therefore the effect on our economy and, eventually, our wealth as a nation of individuals. In economic terms, those societies defined by people pulling together (be this around the traditional unit of the family, or otherwise) are the ones that generate wealth for their futures. Those societies that are fragmented and socially disorganised are the ones that get poorer.

Given humanity tends towards greed and ultimately destruction (we agree on this, do we not?), and given in my example of the family above this would mean men will love women then walk away from them unless there is a compelling financial reason not to, perhaps a liberal society with fewer rules is a less successful, inferior one?

I used the construct of family to make my point, but this could equally apply to other constructs.

And this is the crux of my indecision. Conservative rule is too socially prescriptive. Labour rule causes too much fragmentation of society to allow for growth or progress. Liberal Democrat rule… well, our party just gets laughed-out or shouted-at most of the time.

What is my problem with political loyalty? Why do I mistrust staunch Labour party members, staunch Conservative party members, or staunch Any party members?

Is it that my world view espoused above is essentially flawed? Is it that I’m merely a liberal mind trying to get out of a conservative body? Or is it because my politics derive too directly from the existential questions in my head? Or is this a common Paradox of Pluralism?


22
Sep 11

How Sociable is Facebook towards Developers?

If Facebook wants to be the social ‘platform’ on which the web resides – a grand vision, but an attainable one – it had better start being nicer to web developers.

For years, Facebook has been a taker, not a giver. What other platform begs you to feed information into it in the form of personal user data, communications, shared web content (and its corresponding metadata), provides proprietary mechanisms for you to identify your own independently-hosted web content to Facebook, and then refuses to let you feed anything out again except by using a tiny suite of ‘widget’ style, iframe-based pieces of javascript: unstylable, uncool, and uncooperative. God forbid you should try to scrape anything to create your own feeds from these stubborn widgets – or from anywhere else – lest you put your own Facebook account in jeopardy for violating their terms.

And should you ever try to interpret the meaning of anything that isn’t ‘being a friend’ – for example you need to engage users with your company – you really must let Facebook call the shots on these interactions, too. It was only a year ago Facebook decided you would rather “Like” an entity than “Become a fan” of it. And now – subscribe? Is that the same as like? Is it similar to what you do with an RSS feed? I don’t have a problem with the evolution of change, but it’s frustrating seeing businesses having to tweak their social media paradigm just because Facebook didn’t get it right first time.

Facebook has taken a lot of unfair flack in the last decade, mainly because of their refusal to be pigeonholed into either a platform for private data (e.g. email) or one for public data (e.g. blogs). Despite a number of iterations in its privacy interface (ranging from the bizarre/arcane to the really-quite-sensible), Facebook still struggles to convince its users that controlling the privacy of their data is not exactly rocket science. It was solely because of its popularity, and the fact it became lowest-common-denominator for personal communications online (read: “it attracted stupid people”) that Facebook suffered an exponential amount of bad press regarding its ‘security issues’. I shudder even writing those words, for one thing Facebook has not had major PR problems within its lifetime, at least as compared with any other social network you care to mention, is security – in the technical sense. It’s merely the media’s interpretation of the word I’m using here.

Of course, Facebook was absolutely right to keep strong tabs on its data and interface early-on. I’m sure it wasn’t as much a branding reason as the fact Zuckerberg didn’t want to get sucked in to the same issues MySpace did, where users were encouraged to ‘personalise’ their pages, ultimately resulting in a social network that was unusable for all.

But surely the time to open-out (I’m not talking about styling one’s profile page) came and went about three years ago? Instead, at this time, Facebook was buttoning-down its strategy so as to retain as much data as possible whilst making it slightly more interactive with the rest of the web. And so was launched the adoption of the “Social Graph” model.

I’m hoping that any changes taking place over the coming months may involve Facebook adopting an open standard. Not the kind of “open” mentioned in Zuckerberg’s blog post from a year ago, but a real kind of “open”.


28
Feb 11

The Long Tail

I talked with the owner of my favourite pub in Cambridge last night. The pub shall remain nameless for reasons that will become apparent.

He refuses to sell Carling, Stella, Bulmers, etc. on tap. Instead he sells fine whiskeys and rums, real ale (offering 2 guest ales which change regularly), and decent ciders. His landlord and financial backing (brewery) insisted he sold the big brands, in order to have the pumps installed in his pub when they started. He agreed to the deal as he couldn’t afford to buy pumps himself, ordered a single barrel of Carling, didn’t connect it up to the pump, left it for a few months until the beer was out of date, and sent it back saying there was no market for it in his pub.

To this day he only sells decent, CAMRA-happy real ales.

In one sense, he was shooting himself in the foot. There is always a market for the lowest common denominator. To prove this, he sold Carling for one night for a trial, and apparently it sold far better than the other drinks put together.

But he then went on to say that he didn’t want that kind of person in his pub. Whilst you might think that’s a bit “Basil Fawlty”, it is now three years later and his pub is extremely popular. Instead of a television, they have live folk music and jazz nights, they sell the work of local painters and graphic artists, and the pub is very well-loved by locals. The locals in this neighbourhood are quite unique in that they consist of people like bow-makers, musicians, artists, and academics.

Although he still doesn’t make as much money as he would if he sold the popular brands, he also doesn’t have to deal with rude, drunken males (Stella), packs of abrasive middle-aged women (Barcadi), and the like. Instead, most of the people who turn up at 6pm are distinguished men and women who come with newspaper and conversation. Whatsmore they campaign on his behalf.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with selling certain types of product to certain types of people. This pub is not at the very highest-end of the market in wine, for example. Nor does it shun the popular brands of bar snacks, as another example. It’s just that I was impressed by this pub owner’s vision. The fact that he saw this vision through means the local neighbourhood really benefits; localism has increased, people talk to each other more – which even has knock-on effects to crime prevention, and it makes accessible a sense of community that otherwise may not have been apparent. And community amongst the British middle classes – particularly in city life, is something that is so rare.

Of course it’s a well-known phenomenon that great businesses, however big or small, create their own market. However what impresses me is that in order to find your own market, part of this process is denying the existence of the market you don’t wish to serve. In a world that, given the chance, would rather drink Stella Artois, it takes a certain vision to carry-on with what you want instead of going with the economic flow.

It’s like the Radio 4 effect vs. the Radio 1 effect. Radio 4 caters for 5% of the radio-listening population (I made that figure up). But of those people, 100% would complain if the channel went off-air for a few minutes. Conversely, Radio 1 caters for 80% of the radio-listening population, but a far smaller proportion (2%?) would notice let alone complain if it were to go off-air.

I suppose in marketing terms, this effect is called the short tail vs. the long tail. I know where I’d rather be, in my life and in my work.


15
Feb 11

No2AV – more expensive

Doubtless you know the arguments for and against AV; I credit readers of this article with enough intelligence to understand the difference between AV and FPTP, as well as what it would mean in the bigger picture – how it would change politics over the course of a number of years, and over a number of terms and elections.

http://www.no2av.org/why-vote-no/

“AV is complicated and expensive”. Whilst the claim that AV might increase your council tax is something that technically could hold true, a little more probing shows that the cost of an election in its current form is negligible in comparison to the cost of many more meaningless things councils spend their money on. I don’t have figures for the 2010 election but for example, BBC cites that the 2005 general election cost more than £80m, whereas late last year Hertfordshire Council alone made savings of £150m to be had from an efficiency drive. (Source)

  • Cost of possible efficiency savings for one council: £150m
  • Cost of general election for whole country: £80m

Surely our national democracy is worth more than half the potential savings from a mere efficiency drive by one constituency in the home counties?

More to the point, democracy should have no price.


19
Jan 11

Confessions of a GTD junkie

My background is music, my teens were spent in music lessons, music centre rehearsals, practising for gigs, listening to music, and my university studies were classical music.

My speciality is improvisation, and if you put me in front of a huge audience and gave me a grand piano and a song request of pretty much anything I could hum (especially something interesting like a jazz tune), I would confidently play the song without music, form my phrases correctly, play with the rhythms, and make a piece out of it. (A skill which is second nature to me, but seems to impress most non-musical people I know.) I am fearless when it comes to musical improvisation, and I know that small mistakes are sometimes what gives a piece character and spirit.

The same is not true of life.

Small mistakes – or forgotten thoughts – lead to lost sales, decreased efficiency, and generally adds to the feeling that there is something important that I haven’t thought of.

(A small example: having to go back to the supermarket because you bought all ingredients for an amazing recipe except the critical one.)

In reality the small mistakes don’t get in the way of my efficiency and rarely lead to lost sales.

It’s more that the fear of small mistakes, and I’m sure this is irrational, the fear of small mistakes is something that hovers over me like an impending huge mistake in itself, unless I have a mechanism to thwart it. Unless I have a tried and tested system.

GTD stands for “getting things done”, and the theory and tools are a very popular subject for discussion on websites such as lifehacker.org.

I have a strong suspicion that many people who place a little too much emphasis on searching for the perfect method of getting things done (rather than just… getting those things done!) have this same affliction.

To put it in a more positive light, I actually enjoy the process of recording tasks. It sounds ridiculous, but in the same way I get caught up with the intricate process of brewing my coffee, with the exact right brew ratios, water temperature, coffee age, pouring technique; I like to get a bit caught up in the process itself. Perhaps it’s because it gives me time to think about other things. Or perhaps it’s just how my brain is wired. I fought it for a while … futile.

By ‘caught up’ I mean that I sometimes stay up late reading the blogs of people who write various GTD (task list) applications, contributing to discussions, and the like.

I flip from one method to another. Windows application, iPhone application, application that syncs between Windows, iPhone, and ‘the cloud’, hosting own php task-list applications online, I even toyed with the “pen and paper” method, which is whereby you write a list on a bit of paper (or in a book) – magic I know.

(This didn’t work out for me as soon as I realised that I keep different writing books for different things, and that my Moleskine exists for me to brainstorm my life mid-week. It’s useful for drawing connections between notes, writing freestyle, and the like, but not appropriate for recording things in a running list whilst I am on a job, in bed, for good, in a searchable, archivable manner that you can come back to at any point.  Also I have this belief that paper should not be used for things that have to be properly recorded, due to their annoying habit of getting lost when you need them.)

I’m a GTD whore, and I often declare my allegiance to one application over another then change my mind.

I am currently using a sub-optimal solution on my iPhone that syncs with a cloud-based system that gives me access to my tasks on a laptop if I need. It’s extremely flexible, safe, and efficient, but sub-optimal for many reasons I won’t go into here.

I have compared tonnes of apps (for an idea of what I mean, see this list – I’ve looked in detail at every one of them myself, and spent many hours customising a number of them for my needs. Yes, I know. Not efficient).

I probably shouldn’t disclose here how many apps I have also purchased for this.

Confessions over.