Mis establos!!!

None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained). Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

I work on the EPSRC-funded @CHI_MED project; all views are my own. I used to work at Diabetes UK (until 22 June 2012) as a Science Information Officer (effectively a science-specialist librarian but not quite a clinical librarian). Before that it was ScienceLine and back in the mists of time it was lipid chemistry & neuroscience.

Contact: @JoBrodie or reconfigure this email address me.meeeee @ gmail.com (replace me and meeeee with obvious letters, eg... jo.brodie@ etc).

Oh OK then it's jo dot brodie at gmail dot com

Friday, 19 December 2014

How to take screenshots

A version of this was originally posted another post about capturing tweets.

How to take screenshots
On desktop computers people may want to INCLUDE the URL in the address bar but NOT INCLUDE their bookmarks. If so they can usually use the VIEW option in their browser to temporarily hide their bookmarks toolbar (and any other toolbars) to neaten the captured image. They can also resize the entire window and use the Ctrl+- (the Ctrl or Command* key plus the hyphen key) to reduce the size of the text on the screen. Ctrl++ (Ctrl / Command and the + key) to embiggen it again :)

*Command = for Mac keyboards

To take a screenshot on a Windows desktop PC or laptop
• Look for 'Print Screen' on the keyboard which is likely to be spelled Prt Scr.
• Press it to take a picture of the entire screen or press the Alt key first and then Prt Scr to take a snapshot of just the active window.
• This silently copies an image of the screen, or part of it, to the clipboard (it doesn't send it to the printer).

If you open Paint (free with Windows) or Word you can paste it in (keyboard shortcut is Ctrl+V). In Paint you can edit the image.

To take a screenshot on a Mac laptop

Note that 'Command' = the ⌘ key
Command+Shift+3     Capture the entire screen to a file
Command+Shift+Control+3     Capture the screen to the Clipboard
Command+Shift+4     Capture a selection to a file
Command+Shift+Control+4     Capture a selection to the Clipboard       
Source: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1343

You can use the Preview tool (free with Macs) to do some basic editing of the image.

To take a screenshot on an iPhone
Press the on/off button (at the top right) and the 'home screen' button at the bottom. This will copy whatever's on your screen to your camera roll which you can then email to yourself (private) or upload to image sharing services (public).

To take a screenshot on an Android phone (v4.0 and above)
Press and hold the power and 'volume down' buttons simultaneously - h/t @ErisianLib
More at http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/how-to/google-android/3446798/how-take-screenshot-on-android-phones-tablets/

To take a screenshot on a Samsung S3 Mini
Press and hold the 'home' and 'on/off' (power) button simultaneously - thanks to @Jackpot73 for the info. 

To take a screenshot on a Windows 8.1 phone
Press 'power button' and 'volume increase/up' at the same time - info from @Flatsquid, thank you

To take a screenshot on a Sony phone
It's power and volume down simultaneously, according to @clangyandjammy - thanks

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Things lots of people don't seem to know about Twitter - some Twitter myths

Over two years ago I rattled off a quick post about what happens when you block someone on Twitter. I didn't think a great deal of it after that but began to notice, from Google Analytics search logs (the search phrases that result in people visiting my site) that a lot of people are mystified by a variety of aspects of Twitter. That post has since gone on to be the really popular one on my blog (450,000 views says Blogger, 130,000 views says the more accurate Google Analytics).

Thanks to the latest change to the Twitter block I've been keeping an eye on tweets that include phrases like "they can't see your tweets" and have been a bit disheartened to see how many people seem to believe this. Quite a few have even declared that they can now "come off private" because no-one will be able to see their tweets. It's not true.

There are a lot of (actually perfectly reasonable) assumptions made about Twitter but unfortunately they seem to be mostly wrong.

I'll add more 'Twitter myths' here as I think of them. It concerns me that lots of people are blithely unaware that if they have a public account ALL their tweets (other than DMs) are searchable and embeddable in blogs and Storify stories etc. Probably very few of these people follow me (I've tweeted about 150 of them since the weekend) so it's hard work getting this info out. Tell your friends :-)

1. Blocking someone doesn't stop them from seeing your tweets
There are so many workarounds including them logging out, creating another account (things like Tweetdeck let you log in to multiple accounts at once), searching for your tweets, they can of course search for tweets from you and see the conversations you're participating in even if you make your account private.

A block on Person X just stops their tweets from being shown to you (you can still go looking for their tweets too). Every now and then Twitter changes its block function and a lot of people seem to think there's been an improvement. With the latest December 2014 if you visit someone's profile on desktop Twitter you're told that you've been blocked and can't view their tweets. If they search for your tweets they can still find them, or they can use a third party app like Echofon on iPhone which, at time of writing, is still showing full profiles.

It's possible that in the next few weeks Twitter will tighten things up so that (a) smartphone apps won't show profiles and (b) desktop searches won't show tweets from the person who's blocked you but I can't see a way round (c) them logging out. Even if Twitter insisted on people logging in to view tweets they could still log in with a different account.

Beyond making an account private I can't ever see a way to stop someone from seeing your tweets (and remember they can still see the other halves of your conversations).

2. Changing your Twitter handle doesn't stop people from finding you - blame conversation threading
I think this confuses a lot of people too. You change your Twitter handle and your previous one stops working. If someone visits the profile of the old account name it tells them the page doesn't exist. Anyone following you at the time of the change will be immediately 'transferred' to following you on the new account.

However if anyone has ever replied to any of your previous tweets then a 'thread' has been set up between the two, and this threading persists even if your name has changed. People can use this to find your new account. I've done this unwittingly by wondering where some annoying person has gone (usually an alternative medicine quack spouting rubbish and trying to avoid being challenged), failing to find their profile page then searching for any tweets I'd sent to their previous account.

In the search results on desktop Twitter (the best search interface) their old handle is no longer a clickable link (cos their page doesn't exist). But if you click on the tweet to unfurl it, and see the threaded conversation, then you'll probably see what their new Twitter name is. That's probably how anyone would have found your new Twitter name, if that's ever happened.

Possibly this will change in future. If you've blocked someone and then changed your name then at the time of writing they can still find you by searching, but if Twitter fixes its search so that your tweets won't show up to people that you've blocked then this could become harder. Though they could still log out or use a different account to check.

The only other way around this is to create a completely new account or delete ALL of your previous tweets (up to about 2009/2010 when I think threaded conversations were introduced).

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Twitter's updated its block function but nothing has really changed

It appears that Twitter has rolled out a new version of its block. If you view, on Twitter (desktop) or Twitter for iPhone (I assume it's similar for other smartphones), the profile of someone who's blocked you you'll get a message saying:

"You are blocked from following @Name and viewing @Name's Tweets. Learn more"

It looks like you can't view their tweets and suggests that if you block someone they won't be able to see your tweets either. This is incorrect.

If someone's tweets are public then anyone can view those tweets by using any of the following methods
(a) using a different browser
(b) logging out of the blocked account and using the same browser while logged out
(c) logging into a different account
(d) using a different smartphone app - at the moment Echofon for iPhone lets me see the profiles of a couple of homeopathy quacks who've blocked me
(e) search for their tweets (or if they're using a hashtag you'll still see their tweets there) on desktop Twitter or with Hootsuite / Tweetdeck.

If you want to ensure that someone cannot see your tweets you'd need to
(a) make your account private and

(b) be careful who you allow to follow you (is it them under a different name?)
(c) hope none of your followers get phished or hacked, or leak your information

Remember that anyone can see tweets sent to you (by searching for to:yourname or @yourname on Twitter dot com, search).

What does a block do then?
It's acts as a mute, it's really nothing more than that.

If you block me any tweet I send you won't show up in your timeline or mentions, so I am effectively silenced. You'll be able to go looking for my tweets if you want to but they won't be delivered to you.

If I look at your profile I'm told I can't see your tweets but I can use the methods above to see them, as you can if I block you.

Blocking someone doesn't ever stop them from seeing your tweets. It just means you don't have to see theirs if you don't want to (and they can't favourite or retweet you - well they can manually retweet you).

You can see all the accounts that you have blocked at https://twitter.com/settings/blocked

Read more about private Twitter accounts

Read more about Twitter blocks
What happens if you block someone on Twitter? What happens if they block you? (7 June 2012, updated 4 January 2014 and again today (12 December 2014).

Friday, 5 December 2014

Alexandre Desplat is film music concert-ing next Thursday at Barbican

by @JoBrodie, brodiesnotes.blogspot.com - cross-posted to the Sound stuff blog

Press play to enjoy a 11min sonic overview of the music of Alexandre Desplat including a short interview, by Tim Burden, then scroll down :)

Well now this is a good name for a film music concert! I might rethink the titles I give to my talks on diabetes research ;)

LSO on Film: The Magic and Majesty of Alexandre Desplat (link on LSO page)
with the London Symphony Orchestra
Thursday 11 December 2014 / 19:30
Hall, Barbican

Before the concert, at 6pm, there's also a free Q&A with the composer, hosted by the flautist / flutist / flute-player (LSO Principal Flute Gareth Davies).

Alexandre Desplat, whose name I can almost pronounce, is doing a concert of his film music next Thursday. He's done the scores for some very well-known films like Harry Potter, and The King's Speech (I felt that needed a comma given the style of naming films within the Harry Potter franchise) as well as some as yet unknown to me.

Two of my favourites from his work include Birth which also happens to be directed by Jonathan Glazer (I think he's amazing) who's just been announced as the Wellcome Trust's new Screenwriting Fellow, and Painted Veil.

It seems that Birth will be included among the concert pieces, woohoo - see the YouTube video at the end.
Programme to include music from:
  • The Imitation Game
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • The King's Speech
  • The Queen
  • Philomena
  • Twilight: New Moon
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Girl with a Pearl Earring
  • Godzilla
  • The Ghost Writer
  • Birth
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Coco avant Chanel

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Twitter's block still seems to be 'security theatre'

Blocking an account never stops a person from seeing your tweets. They can log out (or use a different account) to view your profile.

Every now and again Twitter tweaks its block function. The most recent one that I was aware of was to separate blocking from reporting - they made it easy to 'no blame' block someone (if they look like a pretty irrelevant account that sells widgets and you happen to have mentioned widgets once) or to select from a range of options if you wanted to report a more troubling account.

In their 2 December 2014 post on improvements to harrassment, blocking and things like that they said

"Additionally, accounts that you’ve blocked won’t be able to view your profile."

I've asked the post's author about this... because I think it might lull people into a false sense of security.

To be honest this was how things used to be a couple of years ago and then, because* everyone would either just log out or view with a different profile Twitter let everyone see everything, so at least people would know that a block doesn't make any difference to someone's ability to see tweets.

(*possibly not because, it might not have had a causal relationship to be fair)

I'm not sure why this has changed again. My worry is that quite a lot of people will think that if someone they've blocked can't see their profile / tweets then they're 'safe' from that person seeing their tweets. I don't think this is true at all.

It would seem that there is no way to protect a user from an irritant seeing their tweets other than for them to make their account private (even that can be imperfect, see posts below).

An improvement might be to make it impossible to see any tweets without being logged in (but that doesn't solve the 'using a different account' scenario, and it doesn't seem to be what Twitter wants as it presumably it wants to share its content to draw in new users).

I'm basing my assumption about what people understand about Twitter and the block function from the search queries that bring them to my blog. A couple of years ago I wrote a post and have kept it up to date, it turned out to be quite popular and as far as I'm aware is still on the front page of searches for things to do with Twitter blocking (126,000+ people have viewed it) and as such I get to see an awful lot (13,000 searches) of people wondering what happens if they block someone. Most don't seem to understand what happens, which worries me.

What happens if you block someone on Twitter? What happens if they block you?
(7 June 2012, updated 4 January 2014)

How to view private tweets - and what to be aware of to protect your account
(7 December 2013)
In most circumstances you cannot view private tweets, but it's still quite leaky.

Don't assume that your private Twitter account is all that private
(7 December 2012)