Tag Archives: blogging

A blank white space

Every day on my Apple Note app I get to stare at a blank white rectangle. Sometimes a few ideas enter my consciousness, on other days all I see is that white rectangle and wonder how best to fill it.

My SwiftKey app (thank you Bill Gates), offers me the use of 26 letters, plus a plethora of numbers, punctuation, signs and emojis, which I can arrange in a variety of different orders, some of which might even make sense.

Along with the text I could chuck in some web links, I could even throw in some pictures, but the space is all mine to fill in any way I choose.

Today is one of those white rectangle days, I could…

… write something almost original that will be linked to websites around the world (London’s top secret tower)

… write something prosaic about my life that doesn’t even raise one comment (Where Are We?)

… write something that gives me personal blog satisfaction (statistics 2021)

… copy a chunk of witty text off someone else’s site and modify it, in the hope that everyone thinks I wrote it (Metacognition)

… republish something I wrote on here many years ago in the hope that nobody notices it’s a repeat (Previously posted: Weather we care)

… list a lot of other websites that have come up with something much more interesting than anything I could think of (London links)

… write just nine paragraphs that take all evening to compose (A period of inactivity)

… write something with spelling or grammatical mistakes that people will delight in picking me up (Everyone is entitled to my opinion)

… write something controversial that ends up getting lots of derogatory comments (ULEZ Zone)

… write something controversial merely to try to get lots of comments, derogatory or otherwise (ULEZ Zone)

… write something cathartic that gives readers an insight into myself (Why won’t the blog just write itself?)

… write something that will be ignored by everyone on the world wide web (Cabbie’s dead end)

… write something that is not particularly about London, but it fills a slot (Search Me!)

… just fill the space by writing something about writing something – although I’d never do that, of course, because it would be cheap and easy (A blank white space)

A blog is a blank canvas ready and waiting each day to be filled by something – anything. The only limits here are time, imagination and one’s creative ability. The best blogs are those where you know the theme, but never quite know what angle someone’s going to find to post next, but you know that whatever it is, it’s probably worth reading.

They’re the blogs you go back and read time and time again, and as you’ve reached the end of this rather self-indulgent post I suggest you are willing to read and return to this little corner of the cyberverse.

I like writing my blog because I never quite know what’s going to pop up in my thoughts and what I’m going to write next either.

There you go, that’s another daily white rectangle filled. I wonder what I’m going to write tomorrow…

When a blog expires

Last month I mentioned a date when daily uploading to CabbieBlog would cease, and it got me thinking about just how long those regular musings would remain available on the Web.

In short, one day this blog is not going to be here. I don’t just mean I’ll have stopped writing new stuff, but the stuff I have written will have vanished.

When my WordPress subscription expires and the blog is hosted for free on their corporate platform, it’ll eventually slip away, either degrading over time or with the plug pulled in a single extinction event. Even if its content was still languishing on multiple servers somewhere in the world, the means to access it, with the URL transferred elsewhere or just extinguished, would mean the death of CabbieBlog.

Much as we take for granted the internet today, over time millennial online protocols begin to change, much as VHS, floppy disks and 8-track tapes, CabbieBlog’s ultimate published legacy is potentially zero.

So I thought I’d run through some of the larger risks concerning the future existence of this blog, whether I’m around to see them or not, and consider not just where its content might still exist; but whether future archivists will still be able to access or read the posts.

WordPress takes issue with my blog and deletes it

WordPress’ terms and conditions state: ‘We have the right (though not the obligation) to reclaim your username or website’s URL due to prolonged inactivity’. So should I metaphorically cease to put pen to online paper they can delete me from the cyberverse.

I keep an archive of the blog in Word documents, but whether the device or program will be readable in many decades time is doubtful.

I take issue with my blog and delete it

I can’t think why I’d want to, but WordPress does have a self-destruct button. Protocols have to be followed, but not many after a few drinks…

Or a hacker could gain access to the blog and cause havoc.

I once used Last Pass to store my passwords, but after reading recently it had security issues I now don’t use the platform and have increased password security. As for drinking, a laptop and beer make uneasy companions.

WordPress decides to withdraw supporting hobbyists in favour of commercial customers

WordPress has been up and running since May 2003, just three years before I started blogging on a different platform. Over these past two decades countless other websites, services and platforms have fallen by the wayside. When WordPress released Gutenberg it was obvious they were aiming at the commercial customer, rather than hobbyists, so I’ll be looking over my shoulder for the online Grim Reaper.

If I’m still active I could transfer the blog to an alternative platform, Google’s Blogger is the obvious solution, but it’ll take some migrating, with thousands of posts, photos and links to other posts on CabbieBlog, and that’s assuming I’m still in a position to achieve this Herculean task.

Internet protocols degrade

It happens slowly but inexorably, something everyone can read one year becomes something nobody can read several years later. Text, photos, embedded maps, videos and sound clips are subject to being superseded by new wizz-bang coding, not to mention HTML commands that new browsers no longer understand causing a carefully-coded table to fall apart in an unreadable splurge. One day a page is going to fail to load because something on it is no longer understood.

Don’t do too much fancy stuff. As I mentioned before, a lot of additional risks would stem from my death or incapacitation, and many changes to services and protocols can be mitigated if I’m still around to deal with them. But if I’m not here then nothing can be done and those problems would gradually mount up over the years until they are no longer readable in their existing form.

WordPress introduces new features that I cannot understand

WordPress has form on this, occasionally introducing some new way of doing things that I have to find a way to work around, and Gutenberg is an example, many of us can’t get our heads around the new protocols. Most shouldn’t affect already-published posts but some future changes might, for example, if they decided that everyone had to upgrade to a bespoke mobile-friendly template and I wasn’t around to do so. This one is an odds-on favourite to happen one day.

If I’m able, to try to learn new ways of doing stuff, my absence makes the demise of CabbieBlog inevitable.

The hosting servers fail to access CabbieBlog

Looking towards a few decades hence and the means of keeping the blog online will progress to the point when the website is not accessible.

Saving CabbieBlog for posterity, it might be wise to consider devising a Blog Legacy Strategy, poised to kick in after my death, so that this blog stays live for as long as possible. But I’d need to trust this chosen person explicitly who has access to vintage servers. Alternatively, the British Library is archiving everything, as part of its long-term UK Web Archive project. They’ve been taking snapshots of this blog, most recently on 1st February 2022, which should mean you’ll always be able to go back in and read through my archives if you really want to.

In conclusion

What I’m saying is to enjoy flicking through this blog while you still can. The navigation works, the comments exist and all the posts and pictures are still accessible, as indeed they have been for the last 15 years. But one day, whenever that may be, it’s all going to fade away and disappear, much like its author.

My thanks to diamondgeezer for much of the technical jargon here.

A period of inactivity

I have come to a point in my life when death is more than an abstract concept. Sometime in the future, you might be surprised to learn, CabbieBlog will cease to post daily, in fact, nothing will emanate from CabbieBlog Towers.

Whether that happens next week or sometime during the next decade I have no idea, but when it does, what happens to everything I’ve produced electronically?

Think of your archive, I bet a lot of your notes, emails, long-form posts and opinions are locked behind passwords, not to mention all your digital photographs. Should a family member or biographer wish to research your life where do they go for material?

So, what happens to these electronic thoughts and memories when one dies? The answer is very unclear.

There is no clarity over who actually owns the millions of keystrokes you’ve lovingly crafted. Take cloud-based email providers Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook or BT, their terms and conditions (look me in the eye and tell me you’ve read their small print), say your emails belong to them.

Surprisingly as bigger platforms are run by Millenials, they have finally embraced the concept that their customers might actually die, and have given this a little thought. Google offers an ‘inactive account manager option’ – a wonderful euphemism – where you can tell this behemoth of communication to pass all your data to ten trusted contacts. Next of kin will not automatically be allowed access, and a request from an executor is not guaranteed.

Facebook offer to freeze or delete an account, if frozen, it only remains visible to the family. Microsoft has a next-of-kin process team but refuses to disclose passwords. Yahoo by contrast is more ruthless, upon hearing of your demise, delete the account.

The process and boundaries are still being explored in this brave new world of digital communication. Should you feel the need to pass on your thoughts and comments to later generations it’s best to download to a device that will last the progress of time, and digital redundancy – remember what happened to floppy discs.

And one final thought, should a world-renowned biographer wish to research your life, best let them have the passwords before it’s too late, it is Friday 13th today.

What I didn’t blog this year

Or what I couldn’t be bothered to blog about. A lot has happened in London this year from the Queen’s funeral to having three residents living in Mr Chicken’s old pad in Downing Street, much of this has not been mentioned here on CabbieBlog.

So here in no particular order is what this year has escaped the attention of this website.

With far more resources than CabbieBlog, I thought I’d let Hugh Edwards and the BBC cover her late Majesty’s final journey, and watched it on Sky News.

Having made the occasional appearance here, Sadiq Khan’s trip to a cannabis farm in America was studiously ignored.

Likewise, the decision to remove the controversial Euston Road cycle lane was greeted by the merest smirk at CabbieBlog Towers.

Shamefully no mention was made of the report that London’s rough sleepers have jumped by 24 per cent, studying The Knowledge and seeing how many homeless there were once shocked me.

The long-awaited completion of Crossrail – sorry Elizabeth Line – only got a mention regarding its corporate colour.

The cable car had three names this year without being acknowledged here: starting with Emirates Air Line, by June it became the prosaic London Cable Car, transmogrifying into the snappy named UFS Cloud Cable Car.

Despite having read Up in Smoke: The Failed Dreams of Battersea Power Station by Peter Watts the official opening of yet another rich man’s gaff in London passed with barely a backwards glance.

Wennington village became the poster boy for climate change when 20 per cent of the properties were destroyed by fire on Britain’s hottest day, as the much-visited Rainham Marshes by this website is nearby, a paragraph or two should have been devoted to the most important concern of our lifetimes.

Should I have told the world of the death of ‘Gorgeous’ George Vyse, London’s most colourful and sartorial elegant cabbie? Ironically he died following a collision with a moped, the very vehicle used on The Knowledge.

Despite featuring CabbieBlog on several occasions, the demise of Time Out on London’s streets after 54 years didn’t even get a shout-out.

Sadiq Khan’s new HQ, the pretentiously named The Crystal opened without fanfare, so at CabbieBlog we didn’t celebrate the event.

And did I mention reaching an age milestone this year? Thought not.

Unblogged London

Once in a while, an occasional London subject pops up in my brain, often these are not worthy of a long-form post, or short enough for a tweet.

As an experiment, I thought I’d try drafting these snippets for anyone who would like to receive them and send them via email. It’s free, of course, titled Unblogged London, it has a distinct format courtesy of Substack, an app that makes it possible for writers to communicate via email, with the addition of an app should you wish to read work from other writers.

Most Unblogged London posts will be short reads only taking a couple of minutes to peruse with the addition of the odd photo. You can subscribe here:

At uncertain intervals (you won’t be getting these that often) they’ll pop into your inbox. Signing up is free (a paid version is offered for some other Substack contributors) and contributions from me will always cost nothing. If you’d like to sign up please do so and consider sharing.

The first missive: The London Garrotting Panics.