How I learned the player was cancelled

Screenshot of my linux desktop

I have been watching quite a few new American TV shows and one of them was the Player with Wesley Snipes. But in the usual way, some turn into duds which I stop watching (minority report), some are hits and I can’t get enough of (limitless) and some just get cancelled before I can really make a decision either way (the player).

The weird thing was how I learned the player was cancelled.

I use to quantify my media usage and it also tells me how far behind I am (handy if you have friends who like to spoil things for you or use social media a lot). I decided a while ago this kind of ambient information could make up my desktop as a picture via Wallch which grabs a url (in this case my’s progress page) pipes it to a image which makes up my background.

When the screen is locked, the background is un-obscured and I noticed the other day, the text surrounding the the player saying the show had ended. Ended I thought? Looked it up and yes the end, no conclusion or answers to the mysteries. Just gone.

Trakt shot end of the player

Of course American TV networks have a long standing for just killing shows. The most famous being Firefly or course. So surprised minority report was canned ages ago.

Data, dating apps and the harsh consequences of permissions


Angie reminded me of something I forgot to wrote about many months ago. She pointed at BBC’s you and yours programme.

People who use dating apps to meet potential new partners have told You & Yours that they’re concerned about their privacy, after finding that Facebook has gained access to the details of people they’ve been speaking to. The names of people they’ve been matched with on the dating apps are appearing in their “suggested friends” on Facebook. We investigate how social media sites access our personal information and how users give their permission.

Yes, this isn’t new…! Dating apps like Hinge and Tinder use you as a matchmaker without your permission.

If you’ve got a robust Facebook friend list filled with single people who use dating apps like Hinge or Tinder, chances are you’ve appeared as a mutual friend between two different matches.

When your face appears as a link between people, you legitimize their connection. You become a topic of conversation, an “in” to launch a potential relationship.

Even if you don’t use these dating apps yourself, your personal information can still appear, because when your friends started using the apps, they gave the services permission to access their friend lists to display in-network matches.

There’s no way to avoid appearing as a mutual friend unless you unfriend everyone using these dating apps or delete your Facebook account. Even if your friend list is private, you’re still visible to these apps as a friend of a user who opted into sharing that information.

The potential consequences could be discomforting. Let’s say there’s a person on your friend list whom you added years ago and about whom you no longer know anything. If he matches with one of your good friends, she might decide to go on a date with him in part because of your online friendship, which can be misconstrued as approval from her social group.

The fact is Facebook has access to that data and when we install these apps, we are givng permission to them to do what they like with that data. Permissions is something which can add a bandaid to things but its not a permanent solution. I must find the bit in the FB EULA which says it basically snoop on and use the data requested from a 3rd party app. You didn’t think FB was doing it out of the kindness of their cold heart did you? Wake up and smell smoke. Its a harsh reality which I think people are still only just waking up to…. Linked data is still a concept which has really been picked up.

Alton towers smiler crash result

Alton Towers in 2015

Alton towers have finally came back with the results of the tragic alton towers smiler crash in June 2015.

Human error caused the Alton Towers rollercoaster crash in June that seriously injured five people, the Staffordshire theme park has said. Two women – Victoria Balch and Leah Washington – had legs amputated after the Smiler ride hit an empty carriage on 2 June.

seriously injured five people, the Staffordshire theme park has said. Two women – Victoria Balch and Leah Washington – had legs amputated after the Smiler ride hit an empty carriage on 2 June.

Staff misunderstood a shutdown message and wrongly restarted the ride, an investigation by the park confirmed. No technical or mechanical issues were found with the ride itself. The ride, which has been closed since the crash, will reopen next year with improved safety measures.

“A ride shutdown message was misunderstood by staff at the ride,” an Alton Towers spokeswoman said. “This led to a decision to manually restart the ride, overriding the control system without appropriate safety protocols being followed correctly.”

Staff misunderstood a shutdown message and wrongly restarted the ride, an investigation by the park confirmed. No technical or mechanical issues were found with the ride itself. The ride, which has been closed since the crash, will reopen next year with improved safety measures.

“A ride shutdown message was misunderstood by staff at the ride,” an Alton Towers spokeswoman said. “This led to a decision to manually restart the ride, overriding the control system without appropriate safety protocols being followed correctly.”

Human error… The kind from poorly paid late teenage-mid 20s people. Its hardly surprising as the chances of technical malfunction was always super low. The fact it was reset also explains why the failsafe didn’t do what its meant to do.

Humans are sadly the weak link, especially unmotivated, over worked and under paid staff.. I hope they start paying the staff better before the Smiler reopens next year.

“The investigation also identified areas where protocols and the training of employees should be improved. There were found to be no technical or mechanical problems with the ride itself.”

It added that Alton Towers had introduced a number of new safety measures across all its multi-car rollercoasters since the accident. When the Smiler reopens, it will include new safety measures including additional CCTV cameras and an enhanced safety process requiring a senior member of staff to authorise the manual overrides that caused the Smiler crash.

Maybe its time to use that years pass.

Is Medium doing what WordPress dreamed about?

Always wondered if WordPress is missing out to Medium.

Medium is becoming the preferred social platform for thoughtful commentary, provocative essays, and blockbuster enterprise journalism from independent and commercial publishers seeking to instigate meaningful conversations on topics of substance, interest, and import. Here, these conversations push thinking forward where it matters and drive real impact in the world.

Distributed conversations is something I thought WordPress was up to a long while ago. Its certainly easier when you own the platform and can make sweeping changes. Have a look at the way twitter closed off API access to 3rd party apps and services because they wanted to monetize there (literately) platform.

Its what makes me suspect of sinking time and my own thoughts into platforms like Medium and Slack. Yes they can do things which others can’t do currently…

…But I remember platforms like Medium and Slack are not open (even with the XMPP and IRC gateways) and there is a very bad side to this. Chris Messina tweeted recently about a new wordpress move in the middle of the slack fall out

Unfortunately I can’t install Calypso as its OSX only at the moment but its open and theres a hope someone will create a Linux client or even a Chrome/Firefox app?

Maybe WordPress will ultimately show Medium how to do distributed conversations, but in a open way, after all.

As for Slack… I’m still not sure, but I am using it via XMPP instead.

How does it genuinely feel with that person?

First Dates s4ep12

Did you see that couple on first dates? Season 4 episode 12

They started out like it was going to end in disaster.

First Dates s4ep12

She was a yoga instructor he had never really been to yoga. She was vegetarian he ordered the steak. Discussion was thorny to say the least. She spent ages (5mins) bad mouthing him in the toilet to another woman as he sat there wondering what was going on. She even considered leaving out the bathroom window (pretty sure that was more talk that anything).

First Dates s4ep12

Then in a moment of honestly it all turned around…

When they discuss how bad the date has been so far, she starts to write off the date. He says roughly…

I think you are trying to protect yourself by being horrible to me. You’re obviously nice but something may have happened in the past?

Not willing to show any vulnerability or be authentic and genuine is a common thing with dating in the 21 century.

You can see instantly how her face and body language changes. She suddenly realises there could be something here. Its like night and day the change around.

First Dates s4ep12

Its a good example of how he/she makes you feel which matters (or as I call it chemistry)… as datingsitereviews says.

Focus on how someone makes you feel. It’s impossible to date without judging. In a way, that’s what dating is about – evaluating people to determine if they’re a potential partner. Just make sure you’re judging the right thing. Picking apart someone’s clothes or hairline is superficial. Instead, focus on how they make you feel. Are you comfortable? Are you happy? Do you feel like the best version of yourself when you’re around them? Those are the things that really matter.

Here’s my clipped version, see how long it lasts on youtube for (I have previous on this)…

Fascinating to see it all happen (even if its slightly staged). Heck its for a better reasons than those I last time wrote about.

Hyperoptic hyperfast broadband

Its coming at long last, hyperoptic have turned on hyperfast broadband at our exchange in New Islington and I have a order for next Thursday to hook me up with 1gigbit hyperfast broadband. Yes Hyperfast is the correct term…

Hyperfast broadband might be used to describe speeds of 500Mb or higher, while gigabit broadband refers to services capable of achieving connections of 1Gb (1000Mb or 1 gigabit) or higher. While no national providers currently offer services of these speeds, some smaller local providers are already offering extremely fast full fibre optic broadband with the capacity to reach speeds of up to 1Gb.

You might remember me talking about them in the past, a whole 18months ago! So why has there been such a delay? Well to be clear it wasn’t due to the lack of interest on the part of Islington Wharf. We got 25% sign up across the complex really quickly. Hyperoptic put in the infrastructure within the building pretty quickly. But it wasn’t to be because when the test switch on was tried, nothing worked. They traced it back to a fault in the connection. Something had  happened in connection with the new tram station and the work on the tramline.

When they built the tunnel for the tram line to Ashton  from Piccadilly Station, it went underneath great ancoasts street which is a part of the inner ring road in Manchester. The work crushed or damaged some of the fibre conduits. When it was identified this was a serious problem, hyperoptic had to seek permission from the local council to close part of the ring road to allow work to fix the crushed fibre conduit. You can imagine this isn’t a trivial asking and getting the council to do anything in regards to road works is always going to be a very slow process.

From Hyperoptic,

…Establishing a clear fibre route from the exchange to Islington Wharf is taking longer than anticipated due to a blockage. We’re waiting on permission from the Council’s Highways Authority to start the clearance work as it requires road closures.

While waiting for things to be fixed, Hyperoptic wired up Milliners Wharf, which is about 5mins walk away up the canal (I actually over look it from my flat). Luckily they are on a different exchange and there is no canal blocking things. So they got hyperoptic ahead of islington wharf, even though we had sign up much earlier. Chris decided to go for the 100meg option, oppose to the 1gig version. Of course I went for the 1gig version.

So after 18months things got sorted and this Thursday I have the hyperoptic engineer coming to hook up my flat up. I’m looking forward to running my own speed test and downloading all those Linux ISO. I’m also looking forward to utilising the 2.5Tb of spideroak storage. I’m was considering the unlimited option they had a while ago.

I have been reading their terms, conditions and fair use policy again to make sure I won’t be cut off. It all looks fine still, but running a tor node might be out of the question maybe…

Space wrangler for the global connected village at #mozfest

Mozfest 2015

I got hoodwinked into spacewrangling at Mozfest again. Not quite sure how it happened again, theres a unwritten rule that unless you flat out reject the invite, you will be involved again

. That and Michelle and Sarah can be very percussive with their super bright smiles. Of course its not just them, you have the Mozilla community (almost family) which are such lovely people you can’t say no.

The festival really starts way before in Spring. For the BBC R&D team (myself and Jasmine) this was the Moztreat in Scotland with our fellow space wrangler Jon Rogers. It was soon afterwards we joined the weekly calls and developed the connected library idea further.

Mozfest Global Village

Like most things in Mozfest, its never quite solid till it actually happens. Meaning the concept of the connected library became part of the Home of the future. This then became part of the global village concept. To be fair I had already set my sights on a much bigger concept of the home of the future. A connected home with spaces which are connected virtually, to explore the concept of home from home and the population increase we are due facing. Homes too expensive that families share them and make use of them in different ways. We didn’t quite get there but next year I’m certainly thinking about it (yes I’m already thinking about next year).

So while the focus was on the library and public and private spaces, I picked out sessions which fit with the humanity theme. For me humanity included inclusion, diversity, storytelling and expression through media. This was boiled down to the line up you can see on the public Github.

Global Village at Mozfest

One of the big challenges with organising such a festival in the open way Mozilla do is to coordinate everybody together and give them the tools they need to get things done. In the past this has been done through a combination of etherpads, google docs and a lot of emails. This time however some smart person thought about using the Github issue tracker? It worked incredible well with all the public calls appearing here. We were then each invited to the repo and could add labels (pathways) or a milestone (spaces). It all worked incredibly well and I’ll consider it for future applications. I did make a joke about forking it to create my own festival one day.

With all the work around the schedule and speakers done by myself, Jasmine took charge of the actual space. Sarah connected us with a number of people including a very talented set designer called Jess. They came up with the concept of cardboard, which involved lots (500 in total) cardboard boxes about 40cms cubes. It all came back to the idea we had originally when we bought a Ikea unit and decided the cube spaces were deep enough for books, picture frames, anything we were planning to do with them.

One of the key ideas was to have actual books alongside generated books. Yes we were planning to print books out in real time. A kind of print on demand service with books showing their status of buffering as they are being printed. Looking back it was ambitious but we did manage to print a few books by Sunday afternoon.

Global Village at Mozfest

The non-generated books were ordered in via a very helpful Ravensbourne librarian called Sarah. She was great and got us as many of the books as possible. For Ravensbourne they would be good for the students to have recommended resources from experts in the industry. Not only that, they would some reasoning why and who recommended it. The list would make a really good resource for the future.

Nicky asked if the complete list would be made public in the future. Fear not… Its all in Google Spreadsheets here.

During the process of putting together the global village it became clear this was going to be one heck of a project and the only way it was achievable was by collaboration. Now collaboration has overhead and especially when working with people you haven’t ever met or can’t get in a room together.

Global Village at Mozfest

We seeked collaborators to create different parts of the global village. After much back and forth we had 4 distinct spaces.

  1. The Library by BBC R&D
  2. The Garage by Dundee Uni and Mozilla
  3. The Garden by the MET office and the Unbox Festival
  4. The Kitchen by Designswam

Each space adopted the theme of cardboard, building out their spaces from the cardboard boxes. It was quite an amazing thing as you can see. Many people said some great things about the whole of the 6th floor where they all existed together. The cardboard was great because it also helped isolate the noise a bit. They also made interesting barriers between session spaces and great stands for various things.

Global Village at Mozfest

Everything from a kitchen table only complete with Alex’s table cloth to a make shift hacked together garden shed. The highlight of the cardboard was the circuital columns designed by Jess which were quite amazing. And just when you thought that was great, you walk into the garden and find the banyan tree. Elegantly put together by the Unboxed festival organisers from India. It was pretty stunning and the space it created within its branches was like nothing you can imagine. I wanted to move the eye contact experiment to that space but it was already being used for something else.

Global Village at Mozfest

Honestly I was impressed (it takes a lot to impress me, many friends will tell you) with all the spaces in the global village. Last year the ethical dilemma cafe up the game and this year we broke through and created something which everybody was talking about. We may not win any design awards for it but it worked so well.

Mozfest this year ran very smoothly, partly because we had most of Friday to setup, unlike previously when we had to rush to do everything on Friday night during the science festival or straight afterwards. This usually leads to very early setup and rushing around on Saturday morning, but this time we knew what space we had on Thursday and Friday we could setup the library and think about the other spaces.

Global Village at Mozfest

During the planning stages of the global village, I had considered workshops, hacks and exhibits. Exhibits would be things which people would interact with independently of a session,  A hack would start as a  workshop and then disappear into the garage for further development. We had a few exhibits of our own including ambient media, our book printing, a cardboard dollhouse, a augmented telescope, digital me, etc, etc. The whole space felt like there was energy and something to see and do. My only regret is not having a little more space for free roaming.

Global Village at Mozfest

The sessions are big part of Mozfest and this year rather than the long running sessions, this time Mozilla suggested a hour long session time. This was good because it meant everybody moved around and settled at roughly the same time. It also made scheduling sessions a little easier but it would have been easier to do if people had known in advance when planning their workshop. For example a few of the workshops, had planned for 3 hours and this was still possible but would break things quite a bit.

Generally everything went into a brand new app created by Ryan at Mozilla. It had been used at one or two other conferences but nothing like Mozfest. It was good and in the usual Mozilla way worked on the open web with some very smart clientside caching for access when the wifi drops out, which I have to say didn’t happen from what I could tell. It got slow sometimes but generally it was good when I needed it.

I didn’t go to enough workshops once again, heck I just caught the end of some of the keynotes.

Mozfest 2015

I was around in the building adaptive storytelling with Lancaster University, who had built a second Perceptive Radio for BBCRD. This time the radio was built as a platform for perceptive narratives. The workshop included a quick demo of the radio in action and then a class getting people to make new perceptive narrative by combining dice. I tried to connect up Brian Chirls with Lancaster Uni but it didn’t quite happen, which is a shame.

Mozfest Global Village

One of my favourite sessions or even pathways (a few joined sessions in a sequence) was around humanity in the form of talking about things which are usually brushed under the carpet. Mental health and happiness in the digital era were discussed in the libraries back room space. A space deliberately tucked away from the glaze of the general public walking around the library space. On reflection this also made the space quite tricky to find and I had a number of people looking around confused trying to work out where it actually was. We had planned to make a map but it didn’t quite happen unfortunately. The Ravensbourne floor plan didn’t really help either, as the space was divided up between the kitchen and the libraries back room by cardboard boxes and a portable screen.

Eye contact at Mozfest Global Village

However once you were in the space it did feel like you stepped out of the festival a little. Nothing like sitting under the banyan tree, which was positively zen liike but a little different regardless.

Global Village at Mozfest

The Banyan Tree was setup by Unboxed festival as part of the garden. It was great but I have to say the MET Office also did great job turning making the garden complete with garden shed.

Mozfest Global Village

Another pathway/theme we had in the library spaces was around diversity. We had a number of talks covering diversity in new and interesting ways. We had a number of talks from diversity in the new economy, hiphop, hypertext and hackerspaces to a zombie apocalypse.

Global Village at Mozfest

There was a micro theme around neurodiversity as the zombie apocalypse workshop was created by somebody with autism, she took part and the feedback was amazingly positive. The hope is to make it a workshop for future BBC diversity training.

Mozfest Global Village

Dyslexia also got a workshop and spawn another ad-hoc session on Sunday afternoon also in the library. Some of us felt the term assistive technology was slightly patronising. Assistive technology should be seamless, not call attention to its self and the user plus just be useful. A artist from the Tate took part and we talked about future plans of theirs to do more around diversity in 2016.

I have to give it up for the excellent agenda and space put together by Alexandra DS from Designswam. The agenda was spot on and so well thought-out. Everything in the kitchen was around the future of the kitchen by looking at gender roles, food production and consumption.

Mozfest Global Village

She tempted people into the area with fresh/local food and some incredibly good workshops given by some great guests. I mean a carbon zero lunch with local cheeses and fruits with a discussion about the nature of carbon zero food, who could resist this?

Mozfest Global Village

Outside the Library, the #HomelabKitchen was the place I spend most of my time. The Garden was on the other side and the Garage was beyond the Kitchen. In the  Garage the BBC Microbit table football was extremely popular and it was great to see people really interested and engaged with the possibilities. Spencer did a fantastic job telling people about the BBC micorbit and what he had done so far with it.

Mozfest Global Village

I didn’t get around to many of the other areas on the other 8 floors! Which was a shame but I did drop in on a few while walking around looking for people and seeking food I could eat.

Mozfest 2015

Unlike previous years, I didn’t get to dj at all, instead there were two options on the table on Saturday evening. One being a quiet night at a hotel bar and the other being a night at Namco station near Waterloo.  They were pretty good options and I think better suited the Mozfest audience. 1700 people would agree and I can’t wait to take the homelab concept to the next level.

Over all Mozfest has grown from strength to strength. Mozilla really shifted into another gear and made Mozfest a unmissable festival.

Global Village at Mozfest

There are so many thank-you’s I would love to say but I fear I will miss somebody. Michelle, Jon, Jasmine, Sarah, Claire, Jess, Mike, Alexandra, Maxine, Misty, Rhianne, Leanne, Mia,, Spencer and Marc all stick out in my mind. But there are so many more including the Salford media students, everybody who did a workshop and session in the global village, lots of the other spacewranglers, etc, etc…

It was a blast, with plenty of opportunities to follow up on.

Sarah always said it was going to be a home run, and it really was…

What Cinema can learn from Broadcasting?


Its weirdly ironic that I wrote a blog post about what cinema can learn from TV, 3 years while ago almost to the day of the this way up conference in December I’m about to talk at.

The this way up conference is a film exhibition innovation conference which launched last year. It returns with a jam-packed two-day event that promises to inspire and enlighten, provoke and challenge, connect and share.

I’ll be doing two things on behalf of BBC R&D

The first one is on Wednesday and is a lunch time workshop around a unreleased Perceptive Media project, I have been working on for most of the year.

Lunchtime Lab: BBC Perceptive Media Want to contribute to the evolution of storytelling? BBC Research and Development’s North Lab, based at MediaCityUK in Salford, showcase their latest experiment in a top secret, closed door workshop. A select group of THIS WAY UP attendees will try out a new smartphone app before being a shown a premiere of a short film that looks to change the way we engage. Further details are strictly under wraps, but the BBC are looking for volunteers to take part in this limited study and to share and discuss their experiences with other participants. Workshop led by Ian Forrester, BBC R&D North lab. Results from the workshop will be revealed at Thursday’s The Film is Not Enough session.

Its really research in the wild and we have no idea how the audience will react to this. The results will be intriguing to say the least.

On the Thursday I’ll be on a panel talking about the changes which need to happen to regain the cinema audience.

The Film is not Enough – With the rise of event cinema, alternative content, enhanced screenings, sing-a-longs and tweet-a-longs, is there a danger that the original purpose of cinemas is being lost as audiences demand novelty and gimmickry? This panel will hear from those folk changing audience perceptions and expectations of what ‘coming to the cinema’ means. Panel includes: Tony Jones (Cambridge Film Festival), Jo Wingate (Sensoria), Rhidian Davis (BFI), Gaby Jenks (Abandon Normal Devices – chair), Lisa Brook (Live Cinema), and Ian Forrester (BBC Research & Development).

I’ll talk about details of the project experienced on Wednesday and explain why this is a good and scalable way to regaining the TV and maybe the cinema audience. The panel should be good with a number of really viewpoints and Gaby Jenks from Abandon Normal Devices chairing the debate.

What cinema can learn from broadcast will be driven home by the keynote from Nick North, the director of Audiences at the BBC.

Look out for more details soon… but theres already plenty of interest….

What are those blades you strapped to your feet?

Adidas SpringBlade

A long long time ago when I was much younger, I use to design trainers on paper in my bedroom. One of the things I drew many many decades ago was a trainer with empty soles. Idea being that the underlying structure was so strong it would hold up without it. Now this is slightly crazy talk but this is the time when the Nike Air 180’s had just come out (1991?) and kids were getting mugged for their Reebok Pumps (at least in Bristol they were).

To be fair I remember them looking more like the Adidas bounce’s (which I owned a while ago and the A3’s before that) but I think the Spring blades are very much in the same vein.

I like the fact were moving away from the classic trainer look again. Dare I say it,

…classic trainers are the skeuomorphism of the digital world. Let them die please!

There was a period of time recently when I couldn’t go into popular trainer shops without shaking my head and a little sigh of contempt for the shockingly boring line up of trainers. Thank goodness someone is trying something new. Even my Adidas ZX Flux (the socks as they have been known as) are quite different (although you could say Nike Presto’s done this 10+ years before)

I was reminded of this all, by the reaction I got to my trainers recently and the blog I just wrote about thinking digital manchester.


Interesting the effect of uniqueness. I recently had a lot of comments about my latest trainers (Adidas Spring blades).


Highlights of Thinking Digital Manchester

Thinking Digital Manchester

Thinking Digital is a breath taking conference which always wows and has become a stable part of the conference scene in the UK.  It was great to hear that Manchester would play host to the conference, but there was a worry that it wouldn’t live up to the dizzy highs of Newcastle?

Herb and the team set about taking the core elements of Thinking Digital and mixing it with Manchester. The results were great… It made perfect sense, rather than roll into Manchester with a exact formula, they will let it grow and mature like how Newcastle did. The conference took place in the darken space of the largest cinema at HOME, so my pictures didn’t come out too well. It certainly wasn’t the intimate feeling you get in Newcastle but I’m sure that will change and mature over time.

So enough blabbering, lets talk about the highlights…

Thinking Digital Manchester
Eddie Obeng

I missed Eddie when he talked in Newcastle, mainly as he was the first on, the 2nd day but I like his presentation style and what he had to say about counter intuitive thinking. Social media is broken, video conferencing is broken and we are digitally obese from the sugar, salt and fat of the digital era. Aka easy to use, convenience, and free. Very interesting metaphor


Conrad Wolfram

When ever I hear Wolfram talking about what they have done recently, I always think darn they are really doing stuff I could use within BBC R&D. It certainly was big data to better intelligence. The notion of insight is always a tricky but wolfram certainly seem to be leading this emerging field. Great to see a British innovator leading the field.

Thinking Digital Manchester
Julian Treasure

Julian I wrote about before at another Thinking Digital and his TED talk is something quite special with 4+ million views and very positive comments. Excellent talk and lots to think about when talking with purpose, which to be fair should be a lot of the time really.

Thinking Digital Manchester
LJ Rich

Herb must say to LJ, you have this much time and yes to anything you want. Shes an amazing woman with some seriously amazing ideas. Her thoughts about looking at the other senses, is exactly what I’ve been thinking for a long while. Why does Media have to be visual and audible? What about media which you feel and or smell?

LJ crafted a performance which was amazing to hear and see but also tightly focused around what you feel too. This was done with popping candy. At the right moment we all put the popping candy on our tongues and were treated to a wonderful symphony of interactive glitching with audio and video, representing a meteor storm.

I can only start to express how this all connected together to create a immerse experience like nothing else I can really explain while sitting in your seat.

I had the joy of talking to LJ about maybe doing something together in the future, so watch this space… Its one of those great things about Thinking Digital

Thinking Digital Manchester

Stephen Waddington

Stephen pretty much said most of the things me and Marie talked about in our workshop the day before on increasing your personal impact. There were things which we had to cut short including lots about the Cluetrain Manifesto. I think I was nodding my head through most of his talk, amazing a lot of this hasn’t just made its way into the conciousness of most people by now.

Thinking Digital Manchester
Pam Warhurst

Pam is a force of nature and I have written about her and her incredible (pun intended) work. I also got the chance to point out her wikipedia page is using the photo I shot at a previous thinking digital. I even told her I visited Todmordern purely because of her great work.

This time she talked about her aspirations to build a network joining all the other communities working on similar projects together. She is seeking people to get involved and help with the technical side of it all. I already said I was interested and just waiting for her to get in touch.

The idea of more civic/community driven startups (if thats the right classification) is something I’ve thought about a lot. It also reminds me that I must start that Civic startup manifesto following a conversation I had in BarCampManchester6 and attributing the excellent/crowd storming work the geeks of london did with the hackday manifesto.

Maybe I could link them in some way for the benefit of everybody?


Tom Chatfield

Tom’s talk was like a episode of Freakonomics live. He covered so much in his talk that I struggled to keep up.

Really interesting to hear about limited mental resources we all have, or as I prefer attention. He went off into a blog post I pretty much wrote a few days ago around swipe left or right culture. Which was a result of the substitution of difficult questions with easy ones (swipe left or right). Then talked about how difficult questions make us feel stupid and somehow ended up with what are we and physical stuff is a feature not a bug.

Good talk, wish I spent some more time at the social chatting to him. I was sandwiched between Wolfram and Tom, and to be fair I thought it would be better if they were sitting next to each other.

Thinking Digital Manchester
Lemn Sissay

Another new person I have never seen or heard of, till about half way through his talk. Reminded me of Jason Silva in his poetic wording and unique style.

Like Tom, so much was said and indicated, it was hard to tie the talk down to one singular thing. But the diversity aspect was well said and had me silently clapping and grinning.


I wrote down uniqueness and quality on my mindmap for Lemn’s talk, very fitting. Interesting the effect of uniqueness. I recently had a lot of comments about my latest trainers (Adidas Spring blades).


Thinking Digital Manchester was a very good conference with lots to take away, it doesn’t quite yet touch the legendary Newcastle events but I remember the original Thinking Digital in 2008, I can imagine in a few years time, it will be another jewel in the Thinking Digital crown. Home is a excellent venue with the bar, food and plenty of social space. But the cinema layout doesn’t have a patch on the sage two’s theatre. Imagine Thinking Digital Manchester in the royal exchange…now that would be something!

Regardless, the whole event was run very well and you felt like there was just not enough time in the day. It was seamless even with the new rash of technical faults (never happens at TDC usually). The format also worked well, but I did feel the social did need more emphases, as a lot of people didn’t realise the main social was on the night before the conference. Which makes for some fuzzy mornings I can imagine.

Excellent work Herb Kim and team… Me and Marie are looking forward to coming back with a even better workshop next year

Using some generic machine for presenting

I have to agree, my machine runs Ubuntu which makes using Windows or OSX  weird but its everything else which is important.

For example…

  • I turn off my trackpad and use the trackpoint (nipple if you prefer), so I don’t have to worry about accidentally pushing the pointer when presenting.
  • My mouse pointer has a certain amount of acceleration and is very quick, I hate trackpads with no acceleration.
  • I usually have my own bluetooth clicker because then I know exactly how smooth I need to click and the response my machine should give me.
  • If something goes wrong, I know how to fix it or can debug it.
  • I don’t use presentation notes, and its a pain to use real estate with them.
  • The text is usually too large, mine is tiny because I have great eyes
  • I also hate those bright screens and have to turn it down instantly, plus I have redshift/twlight running usually so I’m not blinded by the screen
  • I can make changes to the slides right up to the last moment
  • Screensavers are disabled meaning nothing will lock, unless I want it to.

I know what its like for the organising team but I have VGA and walk around in my bag with Mini-Display port to HDMI. Its rare my machine doesn’t work with the external projector or screen. I’m responsible for my machine and my presentation, relying on the conference organiser to remember to copy everything and make sure everything works good on the generic machine is unfair in my mind.

The Effect Of The Internet On Dating In The 21st Century

The 1st of November feels like so long ago now, since I did so much in the 2 weeks afterwards. I’m going to try and avoid doing this again as my voice started to strain afterwards and I’m fighting off a cold with meds now.

But the effect of the internet on dating in the 21st century was a good talk and thanks to the 20-30 people who came out to listen and ask questions.

I wasn’t at my best after 3 Halloween parties but Ragged talks got everyone together and did a brief introduction.

I had created a google slide set but converted it to docs as a outline, which I could refer to on my tablet. Reason for no slides? The Royal Exchange wouldn’t allow ragged talks to plug in electronic equipment incase they bring down the power system. Little frustrating but I knew this when I accepted it to be fair. I just forgot how rubbish I am without slides or not just talking from my own experience and have to refer to facts & figures.

Don’t worry it was recorded, so you will get to hear it for yourselves sooner or later…

I used a whole hour but it was full of interesting parts and some interesting answered questions. The Mafia talk was also good and learned a lot more about the most dangerous ndrangheta including how to find out more in Ambers new blog.

Ambient intimacy the new loneliness?

A few weeks ago I took part in the eye contact experiment in Sheffield. The purpose was to connect with a fellow human being in a way we usually avoid in modern society.

I have already wrote about the use of Mobile technology in Japan and crossed it with the selfie craze. But I have to admit although the selfie/narcissism was bad. There was a low level almost ambient undertone to the silence of people looking at rectangular LCD screen.

Japan is always known as way ahead of the curve. When most of us were still using desktops and laptops to connect the internet, residents of Japan were using their phones. Theres many other examples but I spotted something which deeply worries me. Sherry Turkle’s connected alone was playing out everywhere you went.

I was in the queue for a rollercoaster and 4 guys were standing in silence through out the whole 40-50min queue. There were each transfixed to their phones not uttering a single word till we finally got on the ride and then they were best buds, laughing and chatting away. I saw them again later (the theme park wasn’t that busy and isn’t that big – about the size of Thorpe Park) and it was more of the same.  They may have been playing the same game but together they were alone.

Alone together

Sad as it may be (you could say its part of the Japanese culture, but I’m not so sure), you are seeing more and more of this. And its not just a age thing. The online world can be very seductive and some people forget the offline world for many reasons. Maybe things are difficult there, things are not going so well, they can be somebody else?

Sounds familiar right? Some people have been calling it ambient intimacy, something I heard a lot time ago but hadn’t really stop and thought about.

I  forgot the term, which I saw as the logical conclusion of what I saw in Japan and seeing to a lesser degree here. I first wrote about it when listening to Leisa Reichelt talking at the future of webapps 2007.

This thought catalogue piece sums up quite a bit is the new loneliness

Our generation of sadness and loneliness is of the unchecked variety. Of wallowing. Of letting ourselves be disconnected from both others and ourselves. Learning to soothe more than heal. Learning to put a band-aid on problems instead of working through and solving our problems. If something is not immediate, we don’t want it, even if it’ll make us stronger. We’re not growing as people, not really. We’re shoving away “bad feelings” we don’t want to face by clicking, refreshing, scrolling until we’ve numbed ourselves out enough. It’s addiction.

I was talking to a friend recently and she was telling me about the massive effect grindr is having on the gay men of Manchester. The once vibrant gay village of canal street is now full of hen parties and hetrosexual men chasing them. The gay men so addicted to the new reality of grindr, they don’t waste time meeting/socialising down canal street, when there is a sea of faces and other parts of the body on the comfort of your screen. Of course there is human contact but its short lived, fleeting but also highly charged and very exciting.  If its not, don’t worry theres other fields to go explore and why not?

This is something I talked about during my ragged talk.

In years, decades to come will we see the ambient intimacy the same way as we see smoking now? Or if Adrian Hon is right, eating meat?

I’m confident that in a hundred years, eating meat will be regarded in the negative way we now view racism or sexism – an ugly, demeaning, and unnecessary act. Like smoking, it will simply fall out of fashion because we’ll find better and healthier alternatives, although we’ll still occasionally eat humanely reared-and-killed animals. Note that I still eat meat even though I should know better.

If there was one picture which sums up this slow backlash, it has to be this one… removed.


As the author says…

The joining of people to devices has been rapid and unalterable. The application of the personal device in daily life has made tasks take less time. Far away places and people feel closer than ever before. Despite the obvious benefits that these advances in technology have contributed to society, the social and physical implications are slowly revealing themselves.

I saw it a while ago but frank reminded me of the picture while we were talking about the eye contact event.

There was a number of talks at Thinking Digital Manchester which strayed deep into this area., including our own workshop.  Authenticity was the word of the moment. Be yourself and talk with a human voice. Something the Cluetrain Manifesto talks a lot about.

I have bounced back and forth and about this whole thing, creating many revisions (62 to be honest) and drafts of this blog post.

Part of me wonders if this is just the new reality and I’m actually just getting old?

Who couldn’t be excited by the new possibilities to be connected to many people at the same time? Jason Silva called itcollapsing geography with cellphone wormholes. However this also pulls us out of the moment (must finish reading Douglas Rushkoff’s Present Shock) creating physical barriers with the people we spending time with. Maybe its the intent or even the lack of intent which is the problem?

Like checking your phone at the table, your subconscious intent is that the current situation isn’t interesting enough to fully engage? Or a sign we feel strangely lonely?  The fear of missing out is a double edged sword, and is a really strong motivator in this all. Then throw in the paradox of choice and you have a recipe for long term problems. This is what I thought when I first heard the term present shock to be honest.

Mozfest Global Village

This was some of the motivation behind a short pathway of two great sessions at Mozfest 2015. Hacking Mental Health: Changing Views in Tech and Happiness in the digital era. (reminds me of  The Practice of Happiness workshop by Bobby Paterson at Thinking Digital 2011). We even ran our own eye contact experiment in the crazy space of Mozfest.

Eye contact at Mozfest Global Village

With all this playing on my mind (and the fact its a link between all the events over the last few weeks)…

I bought a copy of Alone Together and Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. I decided enough with the drafts, I’m putting this thought on hold for a further blog post or maybe a discussion some day?

Apple store security in racial profiling hot water

Even Steve Jobs himself would be shaking his head…

Honestly when I first saw this video via the guardian, I wasn’t really surprised.

When I was younger, I was regularly followed by security guards in stores. I knew what it was about but I guess at the time we just boycotted the shop and just went elsewhere. Its the same way I was stopped by the police for many dubious reasons.

Like most countries, Australia has its race problems and this isn’t an excuse and I’m glad the young people captured this all on video. The more of this stuff which comes out into the public domain, the more people have to face up the problems in our modern society.

Dare I mention the way the police are killing black people in the states

… I won’t lie, I did shout inside

…2015 right! How can this still be a thing!!!

Of course this caused a wave of postings and comments across the web, even when Apple somewhat apologised. Although I got to say the companies diversity isn’t exactly great either.

Can you pay me back for the Coffee? #OcadoAndChill

date @ simone's 2324

When Hannah sent me a link to the metro piece about one of the bloggers I follow a bit

Basically person A meets person B, things don’t go so well on the chemistry front. Person A decides things to call it a night or go home. Person B goes away then a few days later, contact Person A wanting compensation in return.

Here’s the story as my date told me

My mystery into who pays on the first date stemmed from a journal I wrote on OkCupid when I went on a date with a previous woman. She had made a bit of a song and dance about paying and I kind of innocently wondered, out loud. I do wonder sometimes if I should wonder a little quieter. This time my post on OkCupid caused a small flurry of comments and discussion (and I guess more dates).

My date brought up who pays on the first date and we natter away about that date. However My date told me a story which literally made my chin drop for ages.

On her previous date, she had gone after a bit of chat back and forth. The man had come across quite strongly and My date decided to give him a chance anyway. On the date he wasn’t really make a good impression, and when the bill came she offered to pay half. The man didn’t think this was a good idea and insisted on paying for the whole thing. My date said again, she was willing to go dutch and split the bill. Again the man insisted to pay for everything. Feeling like she may have insulted his inner ego, she backed down and let him pay.

The man walked her to her bus stop and suggested another date should be on the cards. My date righly said maybe she will see. The next day he called her to see how she was and about the second date. She broke it to him nicely, there wasn’t any chemistry and there wasn’t going to be another date sorry. His answer back was frankly shocking…

He said WHAT? I couldn’t believe it… I felt like I had misheard My date in the low level buzz of Bakerie.

“He said he wanted his money back!”

Yes the man My date had last dated wanted his money back after My date had offered to have pay half orginally.

My date must have sat there looking at my face of shock and horror for about 5mins. Every once in a while I would repeat her words again… “he wanted his money back?”

Both are pretty shocking to be honest even in the face of Dating awkwardness.

As nobaddatesjustgoodstories says,

I don’t come with a money back guarantee. Dates aren’t commodities.

I actually felt angry, because as you’ll know if you read this blog often, I am a massively big believer in women always offering to pay for dates.

His response is just beyond me!

Absolutely… I can not even imagine what it must be like to be treated like this.

However my date had a very good reply, one that was genius…

After a while we broke up in laughter, when it had all sunk in and I could ask what happened next?

My date was a strong willed woman and I just knew that couldn’t be the end of the story. It wasn’t… She told me.

She explained how hurt she felt but she thought on her feet and told him, to send his address to her and she will send him a cheque for the exact amount of the money to the penny.

Oh my date was good! I commented to her… Yes she continued. And I have not heard anything from him since.

I pretty much fell back and clapped my hands, attracted a few glances around the Bakerie environment. “Amazing!”

My date was amazing, and what a story. I thought my dates were bad but she had taken the biscuit, put cheese on top and eaten it whole.

This is only one chapter out of a collection of stories in a book/blog keep meaning to make public… Maybe its about time?

Thoughts and ideas of a dyslexic designer/developer