I quit Facebook for a month, you’ll never guess what happened next …

One day in January 2016 I checked my Facebook “news” feed to discover that it contained no actual news from any of my friends. There were no status updates, no news or pictures of friends and their lives. What it was crammed full of was shares, likes and re-posts (usually clickbait or viral marketing stuff) none of which I cared about. I decided I’d had enough, I would go on a one month Facebook detox.

I posted a status telling everyone that I was going to leave Facebook for a bit, uninstalled the app from my phone and deactivated my account on the site. I went Facebook “cold turkey” for a month and here’s what happened. Continue reading “I quit Facebook for a month, you’ll never guess what happened next …”

Fixing Telegram’s notification icon in Mate

I like Telegram a lot for cross platform instant messaging. It’s basically a WhatsApp clone but superior (for my purposes) because it has native (Windows, Mac & Linux) clients as well as mobile apps.

A while back I noticed that a Telegram update had caused the notification/indicator icon to go missing on my Ubuntu MATE desktop:

Telegram notification icon missing
Telegram notification icon missing

I eventually tracked the problem down to an environment variable: XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP which Telegram uses to determine which desktop environment you’re running. In Mate it’s set to “MATE”, setting it to “GNOME” (which is what MATE actually is) works around the problem and the icon comes back:

Telegram notification icon present
Telegram notification icon present

I now use the following script to launch Telegram when I logon:
#!/bin/bash
export XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP=GNOME
${HOME}/bin/telegram/Telegram "$@"

My email to Chris Skidmore MP regarding the Syrian refugee crisis

I’m not normally a political person but the unfolding Syrian Refugee crisis has really affected me. Men, women and (worst of all) innocent children are dying whilst trying to cross into Europe to escape the conflict in their own country.

Britain has a proud history of helping those in need and I feel ashamed that we are not taking a more proactive role in taking in more of these poor people. Germany have said that they will be accepting more refugees from Syria. This is a lead we should have taken but since we haven’t we should at least follow.

In my opinion our Prime Minister, David Cameron, has brought shame on our country by denying that taking in more refugees would help:

“I don’t think there is an answer that can be achieved simply by taking more and more refugees.”

I’ve just written the following email to my local MP, Chris Skidmore, requesting that he stand up for Britain taking an official stance of accepting more Syrian refugees:

Dear Mr Skidmore

My name is Simon Aldrich, I am one of your constituents living in Kingswood with my wife and one year old son.

I would not describe myself as a political man. I have never before written to my Member of Parliament but I feel compelled to do so now regarding Britain’s position on the humanitarian crisis which is currently unfolding in Europe and at its borders. I won’t go into further details as I’m sure that you are fully aware of the appalling situation. As a father yourself I’m sure that you could not help but be affected by the harrowing images that have appeared in the media over the last few days and weeks.

I’m fully aware that Britain has already responded to the situation in Syria with aid and civilian expertise but I contend that this is no longer enough. It is my strongly held belief that Britain urgently needs to follow the lead set by Germany and have an official policy of taking in more refugees from Syria.

As your constituent I ask and hope that you will make the people of Kingswood proud by using your influence in parliament and in the media to demand that Britain does the right thing.

I look forward to hearing from you and will be following your actions with interest

Yours sincerely

Simon Aldrich

<Address and Telephone Number included>

I will update this if & when I receive a response from Mr Skidmore