Interlude, task 2: Look at emails

Stefan Janusz
6 min readMay 5, 2017

[I’ve read the printed Programme and my mind wanders. Maybe emails will provide illumination? I check them. It’s a Tumblr birthday — one of many, all forgotten. Not quite related, I remember a blog post draft from 11 months ago that I never published. Don’t know why. Maybe I was waiting for a Grid date…from myself? I retrieve it — it’s synced here by one of several Dropbox accounts. Then I paste it in Medium and write this bit. Because this is happening now. When will then be now? Soon.]

You’re not actually experiencing a software failure. This GIF is illustrative of a thing mentioned below.

A few months ago I found myself searching for online photo libraries I’d started. I came across some photos that image search said I’d taken, but I couldn’t remember taking them at all: they were of an event — a panel debate — that I didn’t recall attending. Now, I’m not as good a photographer as I used to be, but these were better than I’d ever taken — at least in the digital age, the advent of which seemed to drag my artfully-conceived compositions down the the level of everyone else’s snaps, seeming to imply that all my shots on film were just brilliant flukes. In fact, it transpired that these photos I found on the web they weren’t mine at all. They’d been uploaded to an account I’d set up, the name of which was of a place I used to work, but the setting for author of the images had never been changed from my own. Well, that’s not my fault. But should I inform them? I probably should. I haven’t though.

A Twitter account with my name! My whole name in full as the handle. This, when I discovered it a few years ago, just added insult to the injury I had felt over Twitter when, in 2006 or 2007, I stalled on the choice of whether to take stef or stefan — only to have both disappear while I was making up my mind.* But my full name: I had definitely owned this account once, but thought it was too long for a Twitter handle, so had gone for ndajz: a mock-slavic take on en-dash — my favourite typographical symbol (chosen because almost nobody, to my mind, uses the multitude of different typographical dashes properly) [they won’t appear correctly here either, because Medium chooses the American-preferred style of em-dashes with no whitespace by default). The internet had revealed to me that my name is not unique — not even in this country — so it must have been snapped up by one of these imposters. They hadn’t even tweeted though! Months passed, but no tweets came forth from the imposter. And then one day, while reading through Keychain Access, I found a Twitter login for this very handle. It couldn’t be…could it? So I tried it. And it was me! Excellent, I thought. So now I could use this handle so that people trying to find me professionally (now that I was using Twitter in a professional capacity), and I could still keep the old one for brevity. I’d link them up; use some kind of pipe like IFTTT so my tweets were replicated. Or something. But I never did. And I think I’ve lost the login again.

My digital life is fragmented all over the internet: forgotten keys to; half-baked tumblrs; a hole in my Photobucket. Did I start more than one Probably.

iTools; .Mac; MobileMe. Subscriptions paid yearly. Except I always seemed to cancel the subscription just before Steve Jobs announced the new service, which meant I always lost out on the benefits for existing subscribers. I have owned Apple products since 2001…that’s 15 years. Once a die-hard Mac evangelist, my enthusiasm is now much-tempered: I see commuters on trains who were definitely the same people deriding Macs back in 2004; who now only seem to have Apple products, and always have to buy the new ones. If there’s a problem, they just book in an appointment at the Genius Bar in the Apple Store. Everything just works. Except some things actually don’t work, either as well as they used to, or you just can’t do them at all any more. iTunes is even more of a mess than it used to be, with many free functions only available as part of iTunes Match. Or whatever it’s called. Snow Leopard was the pinnacle, and everything has been downhill since then. But in reality, my real gripe with Apple is that a refurbished 64GB iPhone 5s I bought early last year [2015…I’m posting this nearly a year after I wrote it, remember?] lasted only until October, when I tried to change the battery myself and broke the motherboard. Well, at least I didn’t have to visit the Genius Bar and hear ridiculous questions being responded to with advice I disagreed with. So now my iOS life, live for 7 years since 2008, is over; just a backup file on our big Mac.

My digital life is fragmented all over bits of kit. My secondhand Fairphone cares not for the iOS phone it replaced or its legacy of apps and photos. SD cards bearing strange file systems and unknowable media. An Amiga’s 64MB hard disk full of music and artworks in my Mum and Dad’s loft.

The big Mac — a 3.06Ghz Core 2 Duo 24” — is on the kitchen wall (courtesy of a VESA wall mount adapter and after me persuading my better half that almost everyone mounted computers on kitchen walls these days) and I am writing this on that machine right now; Bluetooth keyboard on the kitchen table. The OS sits on a hybrid SSHD, a drive that replaces the original and which I installed myself, pulling the magnetically-held 24” flatscreen glass off the Mac with a pair of suction cups. It wasn’t difficult to do. I can tell you that a surprising amount of stuff inside a Mac is just held in place with sellotape. But most people — probably not the commuters on the tube — will ever see the inside of a Mac. Now, my G5 tower with two processors — that was beautiful inside (at least, when it wasn’t dusty). But that was a computer meant to be opened up. But not the iMac. Nowadays the entire thing is probably etched out of a single piece of aluminium using some kind of inverted 3D etch (technically this is impossible, but meh). That includes the glass.

What do I do with those 2TB? Well, I have three boot Osses at moment (Os’s? Ossiez?): El Capitan, Mavericks (which I keep for my Numark Omnicontrol DJ console, which isn’t compatible with El Capitan, and Yosemite — which the console will work with — is just awful) and Snow Leopard, which I’ve just reinstalled in a bid to recapture the days when the wall around the garden was more of a two-foot trestle fence.

Remarkably, the El Capitan install was migrated from the G5, which had on, it as its original OS, Tiger. It’s had every single version of OS X on there since then…building up unwanted libraries in much the same way that my 20-year old chrome fan sports thick layers of caked dust. There are programs on there that only work on PowerPC. It’s old. And yet, it’s actually quite fast. Or at least, I’m much slower than it is. I don’t quite understand why people insist on clean installs. Maybe the detritus, the fracturing, is what makes my digital self a true reflection of my human self?

[OK, so I still have this problem. What should I do? Anything? Nothing? What do other people do? I’d be interested to hear]

11 months ago, see.

*I had read about the beta launch on slashdot in 2006, so this memory of me originally trying to sign up probably isn’t as far-fetched as it seems. Probably.



Stefan Janusz

Human dad. Sporadic DJ. Civil Servant. Citizen of the Universe. Basically, Jodorowsky’s Dune. Currently looking for options other than Medium.