First Month with Squarespace by John J K Morris

Note - This is the written version of episode 36 of the JPG Podcast, except without the music, the improvisation or the Logic Pro X dicussion, but this written version includes a few nuggets of extra info.

Introduction

Anybody who consumes even the slightest number of podcasts will have listened to an advert from Squarespace. They are almost everywhere.

I bought a Squarespace account because I wanted to to merge my original and ageing WordPress blog with my Viewbook website which hosted my photography portfolio (btw nothing wrong with Viewbook, I never had a problem with them ever so I still recommend them if that's what you want). Getting a Squarespace account though meant I could merge these two sites together, that was important to me now.

Now before we get into this, I didn't intend to podcast with Squarespace in the beginning as I didn't realise it offered podcasting as one of its features. I think I know why though because it seems from the advertising and for the good publicity that they have, the podcasting part is somewhat underdeveloped, but it is free, anyway these are the things I found annoying and awkward with the podcast service

Podcasting

Space is limited on the basic account, you get 2 GB. This is *okay* for the show I use it with because I don't recording high-quality episodes and 2GB will last awhile and the show I’m making has a set life span. But other users might want more eventually, (which costs more) for example my other show JPG is between 60MB is 100MB in size at 128kbps so if I used Squarespace I’d only get 20 episodes out of the space offered. That's less than half a year of service before I start deleting episodes or upgrading. The space is manageable for me, but you need to know.

The second thing you maybe not didn’t know is you have to generate a second RSS feed. I say second because you might already use an RSS feed for your blog. This also means you need another tab at the top of your site, for a minimalist like me it's eating at me, but it does simplify things for visitors.

Hello Internet do this for their Squarespace site, but they don’t have a blog so it’s fine for them. Im trying to give you another example aside from my personal experience. 

Okay a little bit about automation with podcasting. Whenever you create a podcast with Squarespace you have to specify the minutes of the podcast, upload the artwork and subtitle the show. With a service such as Libsyn it’s done for you, the process is more streamlined to get your work online. I can't automate the things I took for granted using Libsyn (like uploading artwork). It's very odd and not as advanced, even though the interface is nicer than Libsyn. If I'm not clear, I have to upload artwork for each episode, whereas Libsyn will save it and apply it to future episodes.

With Squarespace you can push updates to any social sites you own. Twitter and Facebook work fine, but Tumblr doesn’t get all the information, even though Tumblr explicitly states it pushes a blog post in its entirety. It took a while for we to realise when I checked out the state of my tumblr site and noticed the audio file wasn't attached without explanation. There's no fix I've found so people were being made aware of a podcast update, but couldn't listen to anything. At the moment I include a link back to iTunes.

There are no stats with podcasting via Squarespace. Instead I have to use Podtrac. Again a little disappointing.

In summary, I will still use this service, it’s not exactly perfect, but it is free to me because I didn't realise Squarespace offered this service upfront. When I first found out they did, I was thinking I could move all three of my shows to square space, but then having 3 extra rss feeds and tabs at the top of the site could be a problem. I just use it for one of my shows to save money.

So that's podcasting for me at the moment. Maybe in my ‘My Year With Squarespace’, I’ll have something else to say about this service. It will be renewal time after all.

Photography (and blogging)

Now photography and blogging which was the original reason why I got Squarespace in the first place, blogging is much better than WordPress, much much better, the interface is kinder, more dynamic, less techie looking and faster. Templates are kinder on the eyes and much more manageable. There's nothing more to say, blogging is so much easier than before.

But, I had greater expectations with the photography templates. I would expect the templates to take my text files and image files and just plug them into the new template I selected. But it doesn't, you have to remove all the demo stuff that came with the template then add your own. I'd rather the service showed me the demo and upon transitioning to the template, it removed everything and inserted all my stuff. It makes setting up a site longer. That aside I haven't found a single Squarespace template that allows for full screen images that don't crop images. It's like Squarespace doesn’t understand photographers when we want to maintain the integrity of our photos by keeping them how we intended. I'm thinking of the Momentum template that caused me no end of pain as a bad example of this. I currently use the Forte template now because it doesn't crop my photography, but I don't get full screen images either.

This is something Viewbook understands as I did have full screen images, shame it didn't have a blogging features. Another downside with the Forte template, is that you get all your photos in diptychs and the caption text is present without the option to hide the text.

Stats

Blogging stats while they are extensive (more than Wordpress) only makes me want to find out more and I'm being suffocated, take subscribers for example, all you get is a number, there's no other way to relate with the information, all I know is I have some and it changes dramatically at the end of each week, I don't know whether they are coming from the blog or the podcast. It's the same with Facebook’s, you can get subscribers from there, but you don’t know who or how.

Positive Notes

  • Square space provides really good apps for free with their service. They are a blogging app and a stats app. The blogging app is very clean, very minimal and I've used it while I've been making commutes around Hong Kong, stats are great, but againI want to know what is behind the information.
  • Cheaper, though it does feel this is the main reason why I've been passive to some of its shortcomings.
  • It has done the job of merging two sites into one.
  • The online help service. The help service is amazing and that’s the truest part from the advertisements. Many times I’ve needed their help and they answer in a short space of time without you waiting that long. They even send links to video explainers which show you how to navigate to that part of the site you need to be in order to tweak something or switch something on.

In summary the service works, even if it isn't as effortless as they say. Especially with setting up templates, that could be much easier.

Going forward I’d like to see updates to fix the lack of automation with podcasting or just work harder on that part as it is a bargain for what it is, it could be a major selling point. I would also like to see square space develop better photography templates. They really need to create some genuinely dedicated photography templates.

Link to the podcast discussing this topic here.

Interviewed for memehk.com by John J K Morris

Earlier this month I was interviewed by Harminder and Ki who host the I On Hong Kong People Podcast.

We talked about my various photography projects, especially the podcast at the top of this website, JPG got no love on the show, but that's okay, it wouldn't fit in the discussion.

We talk about the state of podcasting in HK and what's the correct amount of time to podcast.

I also put out an appeal for any interesting graffiti that is in Hong Kong, (if you're from HK and reading this, let me know of any please).



All movie trailers are the same! by John J K Morris

I found this on kottke.org, an explainer video (from the guys who made those excellent Star Wars clips illustrating how shit the original trilogy is). This newer video cleverly describes how all movie trailers are the same, by splicing them all together so you can see there's some formula applied to get us all wet for whatever is coming. Consider me manipulated like the rest of you.

Consider I've stopped watching trailers because they spoil so much at the expense of building any kind of atmosphere or anything unique, standout. This provides even more of an incentive not to watch trailers until something original comes.

Maybe not Game of Thrones trailers btw as it's not a movie and it had David Bowie in it! ;-)

RedLetterMedia's Youtube Channel.

 

Podcasting in April by John J K Morris

April, I hardly knew you.

JPG Podcast - Subscribe Here

32 - I Love Me Stannis. The only Game of Thrones Episode this month. Here we discuss episodes 5 and 6 of the fourth series.

33 - Talking about... 'Contact' (in two parts). A new segment in the show where I sit down with a new co-host called Chris and together we discuss a movie of worth. Our first is Jodie Foster's 'Contact'.

Prick Me - Subscribe Here (New Sound Cloud home here)

17 - Dating with... Matty. Only one episode this month due to time considerations. Probably the same for the next month until Hong Kong People Podcast reaches 50 episodes. At the same time, because of unnecessary credit card charges and my shoe string budget, I'm moving 'Prick Me' to Sound Cloud under their free tier. Episode 17 onwards will be being uploaded there for the foreseeable future.

Hong Kong People Podcast - Subscribe Here

Technically 5 episodes for the month of April, one of them being a duplicate as it's an extended version. In April I have four people sit down with me and discuss Hong Kong's past, present and future. I speak to a chemical engineer, an accountant and mother, a business sustainability consultant and an expat who has been living in Hong Kong since the 1970s.

Other Podcasts - The newest ones I'm listening to is Dan Carlin's Hardcore History. What a voice Carlin has, what a way of presenting information and providing context to important events in human history. Then there is the length of these episodes, many of them go into the three hour territory and it never suffers for it. Once you listen you're gripped. Proof podcasts can be listenable beyond the one hour mark.

Dan Carlin also does a second podcast called Dan Carlin's Common Sense. An american centric podcast discussing the contemporary events happening in the US. Dan Carlin takes a truer, level-headed, critical approach with whatever Dan decides to comment on.

I recently realised I must get the majority of my news from podcasts these days and I feel happier for it. The news podcasts I listen to tend to be more positive in their presentation than big news networks. Yes they are less up to the minute compared the 24 hour news cycle, but really, I don't believe we've benefitted from that as a society. Podcasts go into greater detail, they accept their position as a delayed source of information because they don't need to be first, creating a different experience as priorities shift to story telling, episode arcs and getting into greater detail. Don't forget the whole passivity of the medium.

Sight and Sound - I by John J K Morris

Articles

Warren Buffet's Best Kept Secret to Success: The Art of Reading, Remembering, and Retaining More Books. - Discusses how fast people read, types of reading, tips for improving the speed of reading and reading retention. Also - Staples - What speed do you read?

How to Develop the Coaching Eye - Bob Takano

On screenshots and taking pictures of words - Austin Kleon. This short article provoked me to download two apps, both on the iTunes, they are Cite and OneShot. Both are very easy to use and help give your twitter followers more context when tweeting.

The AI Revolution: The Road to Superintelligence. - Tim Urban. Long insightful article about 

How Sleep Deprivation Decays the Mind and Body (The Atlantic) - Seth Maxon. Maxon takes us on a personal account on the lack of sleep while mixing in some insight from professionals trying to figure out why we need sleep.

We Should Have a Better Condom by Now. Here's Why We Don't. (Slate) - L.V. Anderson. A very long and in-depth article about creating a better condom. Starting with the personal motivation of a designer trying to improve on the sensation of condoms while asking the question as to why isn't there anything better than latex and why haven't condoms improved since the 1940s (answer: meeting FDA regulations).

Videos

Louis C.K. "If God Came Back"

HARDGAINERS: How to Build Muscle (The Skinny Guy Lie)

STFU and Listen interviews Trent Oster - Basically an interview with the Creative Director of Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition. It's an interesting nostalgic youtube video, but I wish these guys did a podcast version. Still a good listen.

Everything Wrong With the Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Cinema Sins) - Often I watch these CinemaSins without having watched the parent video. With this however, I watched the Tolkien Edit version and thank fuck I did. I'm glad this Sins video is out there to Shame Peter Jackson and his team. I'm also glad the fan edited film is out there also which is available from all good rental stores, no wait I mean subscription services, I mean torrent sites sorry.

A Podcast 

A recent one I've started listening to is Dan Carlin's Hardcore History (selling old episodes here), the episodes come out every few months and they need to. Episodes typically run over the three hour mark. I'm listening to a series focusing on WW1, there are five parts at the moment and the level of detail and context provided is astounding. The podcast is definitely worthy of its name.

I'm planning an episode of JPG with Charmaine soon and I'll go into greater detail about this. For now though, if you want to get lost in a retelling of various events across human history then this is the stuff. I binge listened to the 'Blueprint for Armageddon' series almost all in three days, that was over 18 hours. Hooked barely describes what's happening here with me (helps to listen on 1.5x speed).

All the more amazing is that Dan Carlin as the host is speaking on his own, this isn't a discussion podcast.

I found it via Joe Rogan's podcast, he was talking so passionately about it with his guest when they went into the reasons as to how the last 100 years of human history have changed simply because of a chance meeting outside a sandwich shop in Sarajevo.

Subscribe on iTunes here

When You're Not On the Bang Wagon by John J K Morris

Many episodes ago on the JPG Podcast, I stated to Adam I won't be watching the Avengers 2 trailer before watching the new Avengers 2 movie. You can guess the timeframe with that.

At first not watching the trailer was super easy. I just avoided Apple trailers dot com. For months after the trailer landed everything was fine.

The downside now with living in an advanced major city though is when you try to avoid the electronic billboards and TV screens. Before giving up on trailers, quickly viewing these on the MTR was great. These were first signs things would be difficult to live a no spoilers lifestyle.

I've now in the last month I've lost count how many times I've had to avert my eyes every time I've travelled around the Hong Kong MTR system. The city's infrastructure is trying to constantly show me snippets of most likely one of the biggest movies of the year. I've seen bits of Thor throwing his hammer (I think in a graveyard, I don't really know) and a bit of the Hulk doing his smashing.

What do I know so far? As somebody who is avoiding any news on this important topic.

Well, I read about the Avengers all hanging out together (with Rhodey) trying to pick up Thor's Hammer. This was from Empire Online film news before the first trailer dropped. I know there is some robot that goes crazy that Tony Stark built and everybody comes together to fight it, plus Magneto's kids from the end of The Winter Soldier are in on it somehow.

But, Hong Kong loves their marketing, the second wave of potential spoilers came in the form of giant size temporary statue displays. Franchises love creating photo opportunities to generate buzz in Hong Kong. There is never a mall without one.

This means there are life size replicas of whatever is next for us consumers to be aware of, currently outside of the biggest malls are somethings called a 'Hulk Buster' (I got the name from the damn headline of a The Verge article) fighting the Hulk, not only that, there are two of them, one of them just so happens to have Tony Stark already wearing his existing suit inside it.

So now I know that the Hulk Buster isn't an automated creation and it's probably designed to exclusively fight the Hulk (hence the name). As a side note, doesn't that mean the Hulk's strength can be measured now as It's coming up against an artificial device which Tony built.

Surprised The Hulk Buster wasn't pictured like this below as the marketing has been insane for Avengers 2; making sure we all know who is in the movies incase we can't read the poster's credits.

Who is playing Iron Man? I'm not sure, email me with spoilers.

Who is playing Iron Man? I'm not sure, email me with spoilers.

I'd rather see Iron Man in all the posters, not Downey, I'd rather see Captain America, not Chris Evans sans helmet, Thor btw has never worn his helmet since his first film. I understand contracts and stuff, but this kind of placement of actors takes some people like me out of the illusion. That's just annoying, not really spoiler stuff (but not worth a separate post).

That besides, there's season 5 of Game of Thrones which I also haven't seen. I'm waiting for Charmaine to get back from the States. I received a cryptic tweet on Twitter and I don't think anything was spoiled, but I did ask every body else on my feed to not post just in case. Will it help, probably not, but I'll try to be careful. Game of Thrones is easier to not get spoiled since it's HBO and I'm in a foreign country anyway.*

Bottom line, it's hard work not trying to stay up to date and everything is setup for you to watch, to engage and consume with whatever should be in the public sphere, Everything seemed easier before the Internet was so ingrained in into our lives.

Spare a thought for those who watch movies and TV series still years after without getting things spoiled for them.

*Side note, one channel over here decided to show someone get pushed through a moon door. Annoying.

Backing Up WhatsApp by John J K Morris

TLDR: May be backing up chat histories isn't important, it may be easier to let it all go. Seriously why save it?

Recently my phone has been demanding that I make some space available for it, then it may leave me alone for a while longer. I've checked on the state of the apps I'm running and I've also been trying to get all my photos under control. 

Podcasts could be a problem (10GB reserved for them), but I strictly manage those with Castro. The last space hog left is WhatsApp. I've been using it since my first iPhone (3GS, then 4S and now 5).

The WhatsApp app has survived through different host bodies through numerous iTunes backups, growing larger and larger and consequently slower and slower because of it. So to save phone space I need to lobotomise WhatsApp of its memories, actually my memories, and put that life's history into another host body. Let's say my Mac so I can check on it later and it can live on.

What back up solutions exist?

My first reaction is to think I'd need to save it all so I can reference something in another conversation later.

At the moment, WhatsApp laughably allows for iCloud backups, but it's just a backup, not something that can exist separately from the app. There is also the option to email out the contents of your chat histories. I use 'histories' and not 'history', because you'd need to do it for each chat you value. I guess if you're anal and went through with this email back up thing every month, you're set. This seems however like a lot of work.

I'd rather just export everything out once a year before chats get too big. It would be searchable though.

Archive? Well, I'm not sure whats going on as all the information is still on the phone. You're just hiding it and not saving space. To me an archive is something to view later, I think of the Ark from that Indiana Jones movie where they saved it somewhere else from everybody with top men working on it for later (don't see Crystal Skull [where it pops up again], but see here for the official word on archiving).

The Ideal Solution?

I'm left with the idea of an app that creates a backup/archive in a format that allows the images and texts to be reviewed later in a browser on a desktop machine.

Just a side note, I never think about email in the same way like text messaging and I have email going back years and years, 

If you want something like that desktop app I mentioned. It's possibly going to cost at a minimum $25USD. Those apps are not (speaking as a Mac user) on the App Store. They all seem to reside on dodgy looking sites loaded with adverts and questionable user reviews and state they are free until the last moment before downloading it, also download.com thou. Like this app.

The fact that none reside on the app store makes me think even more about the legitimacy of these solutions. There is iFunbox and it seems the best way, but it hasn't been updated in a while and nor does it actually work (for me anyway).

The Other and the Final Solution

Oddly in this digital age of 1 million+ apps touted repeatedly by TIm Cook, there is no app for this, I can get a fart app instantly if I wanted, but something potentially more worthwhile like a simple backup app for text messaging apps isn't. Considering how much time and thought I've put into this, looking for a solution, it made me question the point of actually wanting to actually back everything up.

Rather than start writing about the value within this topic, it's probably better if I leave this section open ended. I'd rather hear from other people to see how they manage their digital memories and revisit this topic at a later date.

I'm thinking of nuking it all. It's not like we can hold onto our internal transcripts, so why should I try to insist on saving the digital ones? 

'Welcome to Macintosh'. by John J K Morris

There's a new podcast out called 'Welcome to Macintosh', I found it on Daringfireball.net, I've already listened to all three episodes thus far. The episodes are short and they so far chronicle the little interesting things that have been developed around the Mac and Apple over the years. Think of Applefolklore.org, but far more contemporary and in audio format!

Two things were made apparent to me though. First, it's another tech podcast; it's more than just a bunch of fans talking around their microphones and chatting. This podcast along with Inquisitive's mini series 'Behind the App', are elevating the tech genre in the podcasting medium, there is more reportage and cultural analysis being employed. As somebody who listens to probably to too many tech podcasts, I hear a lot of overlap when large groups of like minded people are commentating on singular technology events. These two podcasts stick out for trying to do something different. They are also a sign that the genre is growing up and becoming self-reflective.

Second, These two podcasts revolve around Apple. I haven't come across a similar podcast in the same style into the effects of say Samsung's or Microsoft's impact on our culture.

New Photography - 'Occupy 2014' by John J K Morris

Those who read the old website will remember I made daily updates regarding the Umbrella Movement of 2014 here in Hong Kong. Today I finally finished a portfolio edit of images from those previous months. I've been tardy with this I know, but I've always worked long term on projects. My fastest was done in six weeks, but luckily I had enough local knowledge beforehand. Though I enjoyed the process of almost like blogging the events that transpired here. It helped immensely as I was writing in the moment.

A protester takes a rest after securing Lung Wo Road.

A protester takes a rest after securing Lung Wo Road.

 

if you're reading this on my site, just head to the top of the page, if you're reading from Tumblr click the link here. Thanks for looking, share if possible.

If if you are new to this website and my work, there is also an accompanying podcast that will go hand in hand with this work which will be combined into a final piece later on.  You can check it out and subscribe here.

 

Podcasting in March by John J K Morris

Damn, March has already gone, I can't believe I'm recapping the podcasts of that month already, ten in total! Let's have a look at what we've done. 

JPG Podcast Episodes - Subscribe here.

30 - Cool Story Bro. Only one Game of Thrones discussion themed episode this month. Here we cover episodes 3 and 4 of season 4.

31 - 'It's Wonderful that it's thin, Good For Them'. Myself and Adam cross international borders via the internet and get down to discussing Apple's latest announcements. (There is also an after show, in that I want to know how Adam is getting on with his 16GB iPhone 6+, we talk about the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Stargate, rant about the Sci-Fi channel amongst other things).

Prick Me - Subscribe here.

14 + 15 'Dating with Jonathan', this is the start of a new series where I interview people about their dating habits and personal interests. It's only fair to start with myself if I subject others to the microphone.

16 - Price to Pay, in this episode, Charmaine and myself discuss Tinder's pricing structure and she shares a personal dating story.

Hong Kong People Podcast - Subscribe here.

I managed to fit in 5 episodes from five people for the month of March. They are all under an hour and of course everything is about Hong Kong. Interestingly, I've met people from Tinder who came on the show and I'm getting my first recommended guests coming on the show. From those that don't know, I'm making 50 episodes this year for this first season.

Other Podcasts - I've already discussed my recommendation for the Joe Rogan Experience, but I downloaded episode 601 after noticing Katy Bowman was his guest. I've spoken about Katy before here. I'm so glad she is vocalising her work via a podcast as it's fascinating stuff regarding the biomechanics of the human body and for healthy living. But now, I know she talks on her own podcast and I want to mention it here.

Other News - I have a dedicated 'studio' space for podcasting now. It's simply a fold down table from Ikea which I've drilled into the wall. It makes a huge difference from before wear most of the casts were done around the sofa or on my mattress! I've pictured it as my photo editing table though, but you get the idea.

Also if anybody reading this is in Hong Kong and would like to come on the Hong Kong People Podcast then please contact me via the contact page above.

I've also added a FAQ here.