Jonathan: Quite a day for wildlife! This morning, driving back to the Big Garden from the croft, there were half a dozen or so seals ‘beached’ on the skerries close by the Eriskay Causeway. They were so near, and their outlines so striking against the turquoise blue of the water, I stopped a while by the stone revetment to watch them. I reached for my camera, but remembering all the tasks I had to get through today I thought better of it. A pity, a real pity, because as I let out the clutch and accelerated an otter suddenly appeared on the revetment right beside me – with a fish in its mouth! If only I’d stopped!! … I need to re-order my priorities. This afternoon, on the way home from Daliburgh, we saw two short-eared owls engaged in a dog-fight, presumably over territory. And last but not least, at the croft this evening, working on fencing, I could hear a sky lark singing, but the song was not from up in the sky, but the ground and nearby. Looking about me, I could seee – perhaps just 15m away – the male skylark dancing on the spot, his crest raised and wings fluttering and his head thrust forward and beak open as he sang: darting about him, also on the ground, a slightly smaller bird, presumably a female. Apparently unimpressed, she flew off, and he darted away after her. I’ve not found any description of courting rituals in books I have, or online, so don’t know whether this is behaviour is usual.
Jonathan: Perhaps instead of civil engineer / crofter I should have joined the ranks of International Rescue. Two damsels in distress have been saved from outrage or calamity, all whilst sat at my desk and sipping a mid-morning coffee. In Wales, Becky was wrestling with unknown powers lurking in the dark corners of her computer, whilst here in Scotland (well admittedly just across the office – but, really, I could have been anywhere in the world) Denise was saved from a mistaken over-write (which in my experience is by far the most common means that data is lost, not simply the deletion of a file) which was made at some time in the past, unknown. So world saved by 1045hrs ; so can I take the rest of the day off?
Jonathan: Google has become too big, too powerful, and is increasingly abusing its position of implied trust and near monopoly. Its products seem uniquely attractive and useful, but they hide a calculated exploitation of every one of us that uses its services, especially those who are persuaded to part with their money. Those clever algorithms are coded under direction of Google’s management to achieve specific outcomes: I don’t mean the search results – they’re just bait, I mean the hidden outcomes that serve Google’s interests, not ours. My own experience over the past two-three years – espcially since my relationship with Google first became monetized – seems to have something in common with the recent legal complaints of multinational corporations. I’ve become increasingly wary of using Google’s products, and now spread my internet-based activity and presence over other providers, making my own own infinitisimally small contribution to encouraging a broader competitive marketplace that will save us from being suffocated in the intoxicating goodness and greatness of the Google-everything universe. I am lobbying political representatives to press for Google’s methods and motives to be challenged. I think government needs to dig deeper and wider than just corporate tax avoidance. If you have similar concerns, act on them. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, compare search results for a wide variety of subjects, using Google, Yahoo, DuckDuckgo, AskJeeves etc : ask yourself why the results are so very different, particularly where the subject of the search could potentially lead to you being persuaded to buy something.