My phone provider transcribed a message left for me using these words…

Aunt Marley Burt

I love it. For a second I was tempted to change my name to that…


This post on Daring Fireball led me to this email tracker, read receipt and spy pixel blocker plugin for macOS Apple Mail. I know nothing about programming software and was able to install the plugin for my laptop using the Terminal. It’s working. If you want to check it out click on the next link.

GitHub – apparition47/MailTrackerBlocker: An email tracker, read receipt and spy pixel blocker plugin for macOS Apple Mail.:

MailTrackerBlocker is a plugin (mailbundle) for the default Mail app built-in to macOS. Email marketers and other interests often embed these trackers in HTML emails so they can track how often, when and where you open your emails. This plugin works by stripping out a good majority of these spy pixels out of the HTML before display, rendering the typical advice of disabling “load remote content in messages” unnecessary.

Browse your inbox privately with images displayed once again.


Every day I am getting email about this website and specifically about this little blog. Here are a couple of examples:

One of our clients has shown interest in being featured on an article on your website.
Is that something you are able to accommodate?
We have a great in-house team of writers and we can provide the content, or if you prefer, you can also write it and feature our client.
Can you please send me a price quote for an article? Please keep in mind we are an agency and require competitive pricing as we resell them to our clients.

here is another one:

We’re interested in purchasing a link insert on
We’re happy to discuss terms that include:
Inserting a link onto your existing page of yours (as long as it’s relevant piece of content, of course). We’d love to discuss a home page link too, if possible!
Our link needs to be permanent & do-follow
Our link can’t be labelled ‘sponsored’ or ‘guest-post’ (or anything similar)
Please let us know your price. Serious buyer.

Our link can’t be labelled ‘sponsored’ or ‘guest-post’ – in other words we want it to be an ad that doesn’t appear to be an ad. I have received hundreds of emails like these. That’s all kinds of wrong. Sometimes I think everyone does it and perhaps I should do it too and who knows maybe I can make some coin this way… but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I have never even shown ads on this blog, so I am certainly not going to insert links into my posts, or allow guestposts that do.


I have watched a whole bunch of videos. My first reaction is that I can’t believe people are willing to sit through so many ads! I suppose this reaction is similar to my disbelief that humanity is happy to use free email even if it means giving up loads of data.

I watched a Korean woman’s YouTube videos. She has almost 600,000 subscribers and gets away with multiple ads in each video. I am convinced that most of the appeal lies in the well-recorded ASMR-type sounds.

I started wondering about the importance of the human interaction. Could the imagery be more abstract without losing the appeal? Here is an example: what if a video combined the sound of brushing hair with moving images of a field of wheat or tall grass moving with the wind. Or, perhaps, the sound of soft footsteps and imagery of water – a still lake perhaps.

Does abstraction not work, or would it be more interesting?

Three Sounds

I am experimenting with different methods and microphones to record soft sounds and how play with them, arranging them in some way. Here is this morning’s experiment. The file starts with the sound of boiling plantains on the left side. Second, the sound of my footsteps on wooden stairs, in the center. I was wearing wide pants and one can hear the fabric against my leg as well as the foot steps. Third, the sound of typing on a laptop keyboard, on the right side.


Morning Light


I am experimenting with different methods and microphones to record little sounds, like soda bubbles, boiling of water, drumming of finger on hand, and such. It feels like using a microscope and looking at tiny things.


What happened to Email mirrors how the Internet itself has developed – from an idealistic community to a shark infested… I was going to write “nefarious sewer” but that’s going too far.

There are names for many kinds of the attempts to swindle: Standard Phishing, Malware Phishing, Smishing, Vishing, Pharming, Malvertising, Clone-Phishing, and Man-in-the-Middle Attacks.

Then there are Spy Pixels:

When you open an email, the sender can find out if you opened it, how often you reopened it, where you physically were when you opened it, how long you spent reading it, if you were on a phone or a computer when you opened it, and even what kind of phone or computer you own.

What’s startling is that the sender doesn’t even need your permission. By simply sending you an email, they’re able to learn things about your behavior that you’d never voluntarily offer up. All against your will.

They typically do this by using a service that embeds a spy pixel in emails they send you. A spy pixel is a tiny, often invisible image that’s hidden in an email. When you open the email, the image is downloaded from their server. Bingo – now they know you’ve read it (and potentially a whole lot more).

See also: BBC article ‘Spy pixels in emails have become endemic’

Apparently all of the mailing list programs use these spy trackers, which is another reason I am quite happy to have abandoned my mailing list.

Perhaps it started with Free email? Big companies offered FREE email accounts and we all jumped at that. Who doesn’t like something that’s free! We neglected to read the fine print about tracking everything we do. Read this about the extend of tracking.

What’s the solution? We either say it’s all fine, at least I am not paying for email – although, in truth we ARE paying for it because they sell the info they gather on us. What are the alternatives? I have discovered two alternatives that work for me.

The first alternative is ProtonMail. Read more about them at There is even a free account option to let you check out the service. I have been using ProtonMail for a couple of years now and it works well for me.

The second alternative is Hey Email. Read more about is at There is no free option but you can trial the service for two weeks. I have only been using it for a few days and already don’t know whether I want to do without it. They have really thought about how email should work and designed something that’s better. As I wrote to Jon yesterday it costs about two lattes per month. You mean $10, he guessed. $8.25 per month I replied. I really don’t want to pay for yet another service, but I might have to keep Hey because I have a feeling it will promote my wellbeing.

And, by paying for something we earn the right to hold the payee accountable.

Il Maestro

Great essay about Federico Fellini and his movies.

[Essay] Il Maestro, By Martin Scorsese | Harper’s Magazine:

As recently as fifteen years ago, the term “content” was heard only when people were discussing the cinema on a serious level, and it was contrasted with and measured against “form.” Then, gradually, it was used more and more by the people who took over media companies, most of whom knew nothing about the history of the art form, or even cared enough to think that they should. “Content” became a business term for all moving images: a David Lean movie, a cat video, a Super Bowl commercial, a superhero sequel, a series episode.


On the other hand, it has created a situation in which everything is presented to the viewer on a level playing field, which sounds democratic but isn’t. If further viewing is “suggested” by algorithms based on what you’ve already seen, and the suggestions are based only on subject matter or genre, then what does that do to the art of cinema?

Curating isn’t undemocratic or “elitist,” a term that is now used so often that it’s become meaningless. It’s an act of generosity—you’re sharing what you love and what has inspired you.