BarCampManchester5, you missed out sorry…

BarCampManchester number 5 happened last weekend and I’m still feeling a little tired following a hectic weekend.

I have always said BarCamp is a special thing and recently I have seen less and less of them. I mentioned this in justification for why it must happen. BarCampManchester2 was the last one I was involved in and since then, its gone back to the 9am-5pm events. I have always said its a real shame for a great city like Manchester.

My hope was always to bring back some of the life and joy into BarCampManchester. And I believe we did this… Extremely well. BarCampManchester5 was arranged by myself with a small team of organisers. Those organisers were Claire Dodd and Dave Mee. I felt both would have the network and drive to continue the event onwards and upwards afterwards.

BarCampManchester5

Theres all the usual difficulties with picking dates for the BarCamp weekend but in the end we settled upon the weekend before Mozilla Festival, something I kind of wished wasn’t.  Regardless, it came together nicely thanks to our wonderful sponsors and the hard work Claire put into organising most of it.

Don’t get me wrong, we all played our part but Claire reminded me of myself at BarCampLondon1 and 2. Running around trying to manage most things. I learned pretty soon, to relax and embrace the chaos (somewhat)

BarCampManchester5

My only regret was the amount of food and drink wasted, we had a large drop out of people. Larger than I’ve ever had before. So the food orders came through and unfortunately we had to chuck quite a bit of it. We did our best to give away as much as possible to a homeless charity but in the end quite a bit went into the bins. At least no body was upset about the food, as we had food for every dietary type including strict vegans.

BarCampManchester5

Through out the weekend we had talks about a number of subjects, and there was lots of rooms to suit everybody. We had 6 session/spaces in parallel and although they weren’t always in use, there was plenty of room to chill and chat away along side the sessions.

BarCampManchester5

There were some great talks and the spaces really worked as a whole. For example the boardroom or as we were calling it the captains quarters, ten forward and observation lab encouraged intimate discussions about identity, sexuality, sleep tracking, dating, etc. While the engineer lab, bridge and holadeck encouraged less discussion and more presentations. All except the captains quarters had a projector and “ten forward” was even in the same space as the kitchen!

BarCampManchester5

After the evening feast, the traditional of werewolf started with 2 parallel games. Quite a few games past before we were down to 1. Some fun games and before long it was late and there was not quite enough people to play on. We had about 10-15 people stay over and sleep but the feeling of no pressure to go home or push off did stay with people. The last person pushed off about 2:30am.

2014-10-18 20.31.02

Sunday was quieter as usual and the bacon/sausage/egg butties did go down well but once again too many. We were able to change the order for lunch a bit so the amount of food wasn’t as bad. The sessions started to fill up the board and before long the board was full. Obviously people had decided now was the time.

BarCampManchester5

I did a number of sessions mainly on Saturday, and my favorite one has to be the paxman style interview with Tim Dobson about love and dating. Somewhere in the interview I suggested I would date anybody (I’m sure I said something different) and that got taken and twisted into a prize for the ending raffle? Go figure? Why and how I have no idea but Claire was very keen to send me off with one of the barcampers. In the end Chris picked up the star prize.

BarCampManchester5

Other talks worth mentioning included…

Journey to the centre of the gender sphere, Sleep session, Interactive Fiction, Create your first Bitcoin wallet, Can video games be a force for social good and my favorite How to sell without selling out. Especially liked Tim and Josh’s journey of discovery into a more ethical way to sell serverhosting.

Thanks to the sponsors who came through for the event… We even got a special cake for the platinum sponsors – Autotrader. Something to think about if you are thinking about sponsoring next year. Damm the cake was sweet!

BarCampManchester5

Talking about next year… I have said again that I’m hanging up my organising boots. But my hope is Claire, Dave or somebody else is inspired enough to run the next one with their own team. Hopefully BarCampManchester6 in a similar vein as this one. My thoughts is with time, a community of barcampers can/will grow and the demand will call for a new methods to insure the drop out is never as bad again.

BarCampManchester5

Something James suggested to me when I mentioned the problem of drop out in barcamp. Is a pledge to donate to a charity if you fail to show up or cancel you’re ticket in time. Using social pressure is something I don’t really like but actually in this case, it can be explicit on the website and ticket site. Those who don’t do so would have to live with the guilt or could be named and shamed? This seems to abide by BarCamp rules and shouldn’t be off putting for those who really want to come. Heck if you cancel the night before thats better than not at all (we were releasing tickets to the waiting list right up to the last few hours).

I always said it, Manchester deserves a decent barcamp and hopefully this is the start of wonderful things to come….

NFC mixtapes

Thanks to Cefn for dropping myself the Cassette project.

I originally dismissed a bit thinking it only played one song per tape but from the video you can see it does actually play a playlist. I think its a neat idea but I prefer the shareability of our own physical playlist project. (interested in seeing more? it will be at mozfest this weekend) I’m also wondering how you create the playlists? But its worth saying the engine which reads the playlist and the actual player are separate on the physical playlist machine for this exact reason.

Love to work together on something which combines both things really…

Am I sapiosexual?

At 4:35am in a trendy loft style office in Manchester’s fashionable Northern Quarter. While waiting for one of the other BarCampManchester organisers to come and take over from my late night stint keeping an eye on things. After the werewolf games are done and most people have gone home. I find some time to do some blogging.
During the welcome talk I made the point BarCamp is a place to indulge your passion and share with others. I then show a quote from Simon Pegg. Then later in the barcamp, Tim Dobson interviews me about my views on dating. He asks a question which leads me to talk  about values and breakers.
I mention intelligence but add the caveat that its not necessarily IQ but rather smart and being thoughtful about things. I was going to mention something I heard the other day which I just couldn’t remember at the time. Sapiosexual
One who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature.

“I want an incisive, inquisitive, insightful, irreverent mind. I want someone for whom philosophical discussion is foreplay. I want someone who sometimes makes me go ouch due to their wit and evil sense of humor. I want someone that I can reach out and touch randomly. I want someone I can cuddle with.I decided all that means that I am sapiosexual.”

I like this description and it seems to fit very well with  my geeky personality. Even reading it sends little shivers down my spine. Now thats something I certainly could subscribe to and look for…  maybe one to add to my profile? Who knows…

Over loaded at the moment…

Cubicgarden

You may have noticed the lack of blogging coming from me recently? I’m currently going through 2 major events. First one being BarCampManchester5 and a week later Mozilla Festival.

Don’t worry I’ve checked my heart rate and its normal… Never want a repeat of mybrushwithdeath. However I’m trying to avoid getting ill with the horrible bugs that are going around with the change of weather/temperature and people generally getting ill around me.

Whose idea was it to have a BarCamp before Mozfest? Oh yes it was kind of mine, whoops! Its a little self inflicted but deep down I kind of love it too… Sure in some book that makes me slightly sadomasochistic or something…

Quite looking forward to November where I have little planned or scheduled except the flirty weekender…  Although I’ve already had somebody ask if I could help with something like Social Media Cafe Manchester? Although I hear rumblings that it might be coming back anyway.

My hope is somebody (I got thoughts) will take on BarCampManchester as a regular thing and do it better than myself. Like what happened in London with the Geeks of London.

Expect normal service to return in a few weeks time… (smile)

Beta certainly means beta on the Pacemaker

pacemaker_sonar_june_2007_10

I’ve had a problem in the past with the recording mixes on the actual  pacemaker using the new but unofficial firmwares.People on the pacemaker forum suggested it might be the fact I’m running Ubuntu and using mainly wine windows emulator or virtual machine technology. I was never really convinced by this argument to tell the truth but couldn’t be sure. So I would use the analogue output to record mixes with my laptop.

Pretty much all the new mixes in the last few years were done this way. I generally would record the mix on the pacemaker along with the output, making the track-listing easier to put in Mixcloud.

I recently bought a second-hand Pacemaker running the last official firmware 1.4. I tried doing a mix and as you can hear, its flawless in recording. This puts me in a bit of dilemma.

The feature I love the most about the new unofficial firmware is the snap loops, meaning you can just loop with no effort. In the very latest, you can even adjust how big the loops are. I will miss that feature but the ability to record on the go is fantastic and I’ve missed it for a long while.

I’m going to look at the differences in the filesystem and SQLlite DB to see if that reveals something obvious.

Old Pacemaker Firmware mix by Cubicgarden on Mixcloud

Little update….

I installed the old firmware on my old pacemaker and did a mix. As you can hear its pretty much working as it should recording the mix (its not perfect as I was walking and on the tram).

Old Pacemaker Firmware revisited by Cubicgarden on Mixcloud

The descent of men not mankind

Thinking Digital 2014

I always get stick for not consuming a lot of BBC media but thats just the way I am to be honest (maybe one day I’ll go into this with more depth). However every once in a while I come across something which somebody recommends or links to.

Recently I have consumed the Future of Radio series (which I’m sure somebody thought after hearing about Perceptive Radio) and a very touching documentary about mixtapes which really sums up a lot of the thinking behind the physical playlist project. However its the Future proofing which has most impressed in the last month.

Can Civility Survive?

Mathematician Hannah Fry and guests look at whether civility can survive in the modern age

The Singularity

What happens if we reach the singularity, the day when machines match human intelligence?

No End of Pleasure

How will humans experience pleasure in the future?

The Descent of Man

Writer Michael Smith explores the uncertain future of masculinity.

It was can civility survive which got me interested in the series. Actually something Zoe posted on a similar vein got me thinking about the connection of doing things the modern way. Not relying on the legacy of the past. I mean for example, I mention Sarah quite a bit, shes lovely but shes an ex. Why should I be afraid to mention her? Anybody finds this weird could do with a strong reminder that its 2014 FFS! The same applies to most of the points Hello Giggles makes especially

  • The wallet reach

  • Being terrified to mention your ex

  • Feeling any embarrassment about online dating

  • Sticking out a terrible date out of politeness

But this blog is about the descent of men… Which I would if creating a mindmap for, would cross check with Blaise’s talk from Thinking Digital (video online now and MUST be watched) which also crosses over with The Singularity documentary from the BBC and many more posts including this one.

Listening to the documentary about the uncertain future of masculinity, I felt like how I felt when blaise gave his talk. Its a little scary from a male point of view and its clear to see why some men are rebelling. They like things how they are and don’t want it to change. The change is scary but theres no excuse for ignorance and hostility! They have to get use it because its going to happen and frankly its a great thing for humankind and the diversity of the human race. I urge men to look at this all as a positive thing!

It always reminds me of my position as a feminist and that blog post which really solidified my view.

That’s much better TedXSalford

TedXSalford

Although I was pretty critical of TedXSalford last year, I did go back this year. To be honest I wasn’t planning to but friends convinced me and I decided well after the great work at TedXLiverpool and TedXManchester, I should give it another go.

This time I was nicely surprised by the line up and speakers. Gone were the massive names but in their place good names which few people had heard before (or at least I had not heard of them before). One of the big names Caprice didn’t show for what ever reason and to be fair I thought it was maybe better without her. Not because its her but because it didn’t need a big name.

One of the things I like about TedX’s is they bring people who you never heard of before. TedXSalford did a good job highlighting people I had not really heard before next to people who you heard about but not really seen before. Here’s some of my highlights

TedXSalford
Brooke Magnanti (Belle De Jour)

Myself and many others are aware of Brooke from the famous blog she wrote about her experiences as a call girl. I was fully aware of her but never seen her in real life. Although she was hounded by the press also, it was Girl with a one track mind (Zoe Margolis) who was more interesting to me as she was not a escort but a women who dared speak her mind. Good to hear her talk regardless, even thought its quite a while ago now.

TedXSalford
Jack Sim (Mr Toilet)

Jack Sim’s talk was all about the essential hygiene which the toilet brings to us all. I say us all but what I really mean is most of the developed world. Jack highlighted how important it was to have a toilet and his life mission to give everybody in the world access to a basic toilet. The killer part of the talk was highlighting how he took on the title Mr toilet and the opportunities he took to get the word out.  I can’t even begin to express how important his mission is. Jack rightly received a standing ovation from the audience for his fantastic work.

TedXSalford
Bruce Hood

Always great to hear a talk about why people believe and the crazy things we do believe. Nicely put together and really interesting talk about one of those things I’ve always wondered about.

TedXSalford

Juliet Mitchell

I won’t lie, I didn’t really know who she was but what she was saying really struck a cord with me as a feminist. Smart slow talk with plenty to think about. A nice directional change from the high energy of some of the other talks previously.

TedXSalford

Robin Ince

Talking about high energy…. Well Robin had it in bags upon bags. He seemed to bounce around the stage talking about how remarkable  and complex the human brain is. Interestingly the points which made the human brain remarkable were…

  1. The fact we recognise ourselves in the mirror (he made the point animals don’t recognise themselves, and think its another animal by the way they react)
  2. We stopping ourself from doing the wrong thing at the wrong time (we think bad thoughts but stop ourselves recognising it would be a bad idea)
  3. We leave our thoughts and dreams behind for generations beyond our time (legacy)

Robin’s speech spoke volumes to me having had my own experience understanding how powerful the brain can be. Great talk… Another standing ovation.

TedXSalford

Jamie Edwards

You got to hand it to Jamie and to be fair Jack Andraka was also good on the night. And its great to see young people inspiring other young people. Favorite quote from the event… “I tried to buy the parts for a Fusion reactor on ebay…

It really shows how transformational knowledge can be

TedXSalford

Sophia Wallace

Almost one of my favourite talks of TedXSalford was Sophia’s talk about the Clit. Yes the Clitoris, something she calls Cliteracy. Yes we’re talking about the female sex organ. Usually not spoken about and few people know much about. Sophia  rolled out a ton of facts including…

Vagina actually mean sword holder (how crazy is that?), the clit has its own blood supply hence why organisms can happen again and again and again in very quick succession. The misunderstanding (or is it a conspiracy) by many that it was just a like tiny female penis and this was a taught fact up till about 15 years ago.

I am totally on board, with sex education. I use to think I had bad sex education, but after talking to others. I would say Whitefield school didn’t do so bad. However I have to admit the amount of female focused pleasure was lacking? And the clit never came up as a big deal (no pun intended).

TedXSalford

Sophia’s talk about the advocacy originally was interesting, for example replacing song lyrics but she kept on which kind of dragged on a bit which spoiled it a bit. I mean it was important of course but the clit shaped glasses? Really?

Wrapping up, TedXSalford was much better but still has some ground to go to make it as good as TedXLiverpool, TedXManchester and TedXBradford. It was a very long day (9am – 8pm) and even with the breakout sessions it was a commitment. I will be interested to see where it goes next year, because it could be easy to go back to the tried and test formula of big names instead of taking the risk with local talent.

Talking of which, I retweeted Kevin’s tweet about the local speakers following a break out session. It seemed to be a quote, which I later found out to be untrue (nobody else in the session heard this quote).  I asked Kevin and Mishal for a details but only Mishal (director and originator of TedXSalford) got back to me with details. Kevin had equal chance to get back to me but didn’t. Its a shame somebody would make up lies like this and spread them, no idea what he gains from doing so? If he has a problem, write it down (like I did) and don’t pretend to quote somebody.

Well done TedxSalford and everybody who made it all come together this year.

Blame tinder or the sick people

Killer Prom Date - Dig The Grave Black & White

Jody sent me a link on Facebook, to this horrible story of a women who was gang raped after meeting a guy on Tinder.

This is horrible and shows the sick and twisted people who hopefully nobody will ever come across. However I do find the advice the detective says a little difficult to take in one go.

Detective inspector Haddow said: ‘It’s absolutely vital that people using dating websites and apps remember that how a person portrays themselves on the internet can be very different from their real life persona.

‘With this in mind, we strongly advise people that if they decide to meet a person they have been introduced to via the internet, then ensure the meeting is in a public place and take a friend along with you.’

I have been on dates with women who have brought a friend along and its been a slightly surreal experience. Now to be fair one was sitting on the same table as us and another one in the next booth. If you are going to bring a friend, for goodness sake don’t bring them to the table!

The story is so horrible and I can’t imagine much worst but its really hard to give advice on what to do before going on a date besides the usual stuff like meet in a public place, text your friend to say you’re ok, get them to call you at a set time. Most of these things the lady in question did and she still ended up meeting these sick people.

I guess the point I’m making is, its not great to put hard rules down, they may help but its not bulletproof advice. Its a matter of judgement,  if you feel somethings not right, get up and go. Heck climb through the toilet window if you have to. But the only person who really knows what to do at the moment is yourself, which is another reason not to drink too much on dates.

Its too easy to say she should have done this, she should have done that (blaming the victim for something so horrible is also a stupid thing to do – don’t look at the comments!). Frankly love and dating are very risky, you can do much to minimise the risk but at some point you need to open yourself up or you never will know.

Online dating? Why so serious?

Why so serious?

In passing I also found the hierarchy of seriousness in the Guardian’s post, interesting following the last post

At the top is something like Guardian Soulmates or Match – the ones you pay for. At the lower end are the likes of OKCupid or PlentyOfFish (POF) which are free, more casual and less “Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?”

Although I do agree about the statement, I think of it as more like a spectrum. You have your Match and Guardian Soulmates on one end and your Social dating apps like Tinder at the other end. Around the middle is something like OKCupid.

The more serious end of the spectrum is full of people wanting kids and marriage quickly. Theres also a certain amount of desperation you can feel coming from that end. Its very much what people use to make jokes about when they thought of online dating.

The other end is less serious and more casual. Yes you get casual hookups that end too but also you get people who are more laid back and less pushy about being in a relationship. Right now my circumstances would favor somebody from this end.

The mistake people make, is thinking all the quality is at the non-casual end of the spectrum. I’m not economist but dating is a bit of a numbers game. I guarantee the number of people you meet at the social dating end is far greater, even if its to meet and think never again. I would also contest that you will get more tech savvy young professionals and geeks than the other end.

Game mechanics in online dating

Josh sent me this

Not quite sure why he sent it my way except to say I’ve had very little success with Tinder myself. I have theories and to be fair the article hints at the same conclusions.

It’s playful. You put in your pictures and add some information if you can be bothered. I started with one line “Single Canadian girl in London”. It’s superficial, based purely on physical attraction, but that’s what I was looking for. You go through what’s there, if you see someone you like, you swipe right. If he swipes you too, it lights up like a game, then asks if you want to keep playing….But Tinder is addictive. You find yourself browsing and swiping and playing on.

On Tinder everything’s disposable, there’s always more, you move on fast.

A game, addictive, disposable… Like a casual game? Candy crush, angry birds, cut the rope anybody?  Somewhere on my blog I wrote about how the application affects the mindset of the user. Sure Sherry Turkle talks about this too.

Funny enough Sarah a while ago sent me a post about Tinder from Buzzfeed.

Once again, the application has an effect on the user behavior. Tinder is simply too game like. I mean I would contest that most social dating sites are using game mechanics across their sites and apps.

There seems to be much debate about if “Love is a game?” but this simply isn’t sustainable…

Food allergens warning, EU change will help

homemade-har-gow

I love dimsum, but I always worry whats inside… luckily this is going to change… real soon

Sarah sent me a link to the new Food Standards Agency’s changes. From December 2014, all food businesses will need to provide information about the  allergenic ingredients used in food sold or provided by them.

There are 14 major allergens which need to be declared:

Cereals containing gluten namely wheat (such as spelt and Khorasan wheat), barley, rye and  oats
Crustaceans like prawns, crabs, lobster and crayfish etc.
Eggs
Fish
Peanuts
Soybeans
Milk
Nuts namely almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachio, cashew,
Macadamia or Queensland nut.
Celery
Mustard
Sesame
Sulphur dioxide or sulphites (where added and is >10mg/kg in the finished product. Often found in dried fruit and wine)
Lupin
Molluscs like clams, scallops, squid, mussels, oysters and snails etc.

How great will this be… another nice solution to add to the allergy cards.

Who pays…? Remember It’s 2014 after all…

Dinner date - Day 122, Year 2

Rob pointed me at a piece by David Mitchell in the Guardian about who pays on the first date. He called it my favorite subject, although to be clear its not, I just find it fascinating the social, society and gender pressures at force. I’m not the only one to notice this…

Why do we cling to prehistoric dating rituals in a technological age?

The majority of us still believe that men should pay when men and women go on a first date. Is this a sexist throwback, or a necessary means of communication between the sexes?

. A survey published this month found that 77% of us think that, between a male and a female, the male should foot the bill. Of the 1,000 respondents, 73% of the women and 82% of the men said that it was for the bloke to get his card out.

What do you think about that then? Terrible? OK? Presumably about 77% of you agree that the man should pay, but then you may still think it’s terrible that you think that. Is it a harmless remnant of a more sexist age, an adorable antiquated tradition that benefits women and has survived the passing of many of those that disadvantaged them? Or is it a horrible sign of the patriarchy’s continued power? Money, the great capitalist symbol of strength, remains the territory of the penis-bearers (by which I mean possessors, not endurers).

Ok so I looked at the survey in question, what I found was slightly disappointing.

77.4% of 1,004 people surveyed across the country who are in a relationship – believe men should pay the bill on a first date. About 19% felt the bill should be split in some way. Only 3.7% said men should not pay the bill.

…study asked more than 1,000 people across the United States

Survey of 1004 people? Thats it? And its American…. In the random survey I did myself, it showed Americans tend to go with the man paying plus 1004 isn’t a lot. Moneysavingexpert did a poll a little while back and they had 13,000+ people vote.

Ok ok…! Enough… David later makes some good modern points.

Another aspect of society’s sexism is that we generally assume the man will always want to have sex with the woman. By convention, he will have asked her on the first date, and the purpose of the event is for her to see if she likes him – his approval is assumed. That’s not altogether PC. What if she turned out to be racist or talk with an interrogative inflection or constantly say “in any way, shape or form”? Is the man supposed to pay and then make himself sexually available to this harridan, purely out of gallantry?

Absolutely… Just because we’re on a date and I’m a man doesn’t instantly mean its a foregone conclusion. Trust me I’ve been on dates where the woman has wound me up so bad, I’ve just wanted to get up and leave. Certainly sleeping with them is the very last thing I’m thinking.

…we try and communicate using money. We fall back on our knowledge of ancient patriarchal conventions of what it means to pay, or be paid for, as a way of trying to send and receive signals through the fog of mutual ignorance. It’s not a good system, but it’s all we’ve got. Until we get back to our computers and can just click “like”.

I’ve heard this quite a few times in the past. The only way to tell if somebody likes you is if he (or she) pulls out his/her credit card and pays the bill. Its a clear sign of interest. In 2014, it shouldn’t be this way and I’m hoping with projects like the flirty weekend, the ability to express yourself and understand other peoples body language won’t be the complex puzzle it currently seems.

Films you may have missed in early 2014

Locke
Locke

Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) has worked hard to craft a good life for himself. Tonight, that life will collapse around him. On the eve of the biggest challenge of his career, Ivan receives a phone call that sets in motion a series of events that will unravel his family, job, and soul.

I heard about this film but watching it on the independent cornerhouse screen was great. Its a very simple concept but digs deep into the emotion of multitasking human communication. If you get a chance this is a film which must be seen. Tom Hardy is fantastic in this film, yes his accent isn’t great but the plot makes up for this.

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The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet

A 12-year-old cartographer secretly leaves his family’s ranch in Montana where he lives with his cowboy father and scientist mother and travels across the country on board a freight train to receive an award at the Smithsonian Institute.

Charming film with a quirky but playful plot. Its a beautifully shot film and won’t get much attention which is a shame. Lovely plot and interesting outcome.

Lucy
Lucy

A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.

Under the Skin
Under the Skin

Jonathan Glazer’s atmospheric, visually arresting abstraction stars Scarlett Johansson as a seductive alien who prowls the streets of Glasgow in search of prey: unsuspecting men who fall under her spell, only to be consumed by a strange liquid pool.

Lucy feels like Limitless but something there is something special about it. Its got all the set pieces but throws in a bunch of reasonable stuff about evolution. I can’t help but feel Lucy wouldn’t have happened unless the director had seen her in Under the skin. I mean Scarlett Johansson is great (hey I’m fan) and I tend to love the roles shes in but Lucy and Under the Skin really showed shes got a lot more depth to the roles she takes.

Mindscape
Mindscape

A man with the ability to enter peoples’ memories takes on the case of a brilliant, troubled sixteen-year-old girl to determine whether she is a sociopath or a victim of trauma.

This is like a cross between inception and the cell. Although the movie does drag a little, the concept is a intriguing one and the twist does come as a bit of a shock.

Edge of tomorrow
Edge of tomorrow

Major Bill Cage (Cruise) is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is unceremoniously demoted and dropped into combat. Cage is killed within minutes, managing to take an alpha alien down with him. He awakens back at the beginning of the same day and is forced to fight and die again… and again – as physical contact with the alien has thrown him into a time loop.

Tom Cruise again is at it. Hate the guy but love his acting. Edge of tomorrow feels like sourcecode but crossed with oblivion. The results is a sometimes laugh out loud funny film (Doug Liman is good at that) which has its dark moments. Lots of lessons to be learned from it but without being too preachy. Tom once again plays next to a strong English female role. Last time Andrea Riseborough in Oblivion and now Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow, and boy oh boy is Emily great in this film. Just don’t be put off by Tom Cruise, go watch it

Bad wolves
Big Bad Wolves

A series of brutal murders puts the lives of three men on a collision course: The father of the latest victim now out for revenge, a vigilante police detective operating outside the boundaries of law, and the main suspect in the killings – a religious studies teacher arrested and released due to a police blunder.

I don’t know where to go with this film. Its brutal, disturbing and crafty put together. Its also funny in parts  like a tarantino film but its certainly not. I would put this in the same kind of category as Oldboy and  Ichi the Killer. Well worth seeking out if you like your comedy pitch black and action slightly twisted?

13 Sinds
13 Sins

A bright but meek salesman, drowning in debt as he’s about to get married, receives a mysterious phone call informing him that he’s on a hidden camera game show where he must execute 13 tasks to receive a multi-million dollar cash prize.

I’m not one for horror type films but I like a great thriller. Concept is simple, but as you can imagine the tasks quickly ramp up to insanity. Its interesting to see where the balance of shame, greed and sunk costs come together.

Filth
Filth

A bipolar bigoted junkie cop, manipulates and hallucinates his way through the festive season in a bid to secure promotion and win back his wife and daughter.

I didn’t know what to expect but thought I’d give it a try. It didn’t look great and I was giving it the thumbs down till the twist when it all clicked and I was seeing parallels with Trance.

fault in our stars
The Fault in Our Stars

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a patient named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Not my usual kind of film but I watched it anyway, interested in the neat innocent relationship which was developing between the two main characters. Like Filth, Trance, Mindscape, etc, the twist comes as bit of a shock. I’m sure people will see it from a mile off but to be honest I wasn’t expecting a twist, so when it came it really hit home. Good film to remind you about the important things in life.

Why was my internet throttled?

Over the last few days my internet has felt super slow. I couldn’t work out why? So after a number of tests on my local gigabit network, turning things on and off I decided something was happening further up the pipe. But what? Ping times to all the usual big services was fine. But pull up a webpage and it was hit or miss that it would load half the components.

It was time for a email by to my ISP (ukfsn.org) asking what was going on? The email I got back within a hour or so said this…

I’ve just checked the line and I can see that it is showing as being blocked due to repeated copyright infringement notices.

Please contact Enta support to resolve this.

Unfortunately I am not able to resolve this for you as they will require confirmation from you that you are not engaging in file sharing or similar activities around material that is subject to copyright restrictions.

Enta provide the actual pipe to my ISP (ukfsn) as they provide to many others. Generally ukfsn care little about (within extremes) what you do with the internet and don’t monitor its customers. But it seems somebody further up stream is doing it for them and worst still they are throttling bandwidth.

I called Enta, they explained what they thought was happening and suggested I should turn off all machines and devices on the connection till I know what’s happening. I explained I had already done so and seen nothing suspicious and they turned the throttling off, saying they will monitor the situation. At no point was I blamed which was good because I was planning on going crazy if they dared accuse me.

I originally thought it was a government thing but Hadley pointed me at this story.

The British Recorded Music Industry (BPI), which together with the Motion Picture Association (MPA) has agreed the voluntary regime with the ISPs, said that the warning letters issued by ISPs will be sent out on the basis of evidence gathered by the rights holders.

“In order to help protect their copyrights, rights holders monitor public peer-to-peer swarms, looking for their copyright content being made available illegally,” the BPI said in a statement. “When they discover copyright content being made available illegally, they capture the evidence, verify the copyright content and record the IP address, date and time stamp. A summary of this evidence is then be provided to the ISPs, who establish which of their customers was using the IP address on that date and at that time and send an ‘alert’ to that subscriber.”

I’m still a little unsure if what they did was really fair or even legal? I want to see the evidence, but what can I do with it? Maybe I’ll get a few days credit to my truly unlimited connection? A letter of apology? Is it worth it? Tell you what if it happens again I’ll be spitting blood!

Manchester’s Flirty weekend starts Thursday 27th November

Marina's portrait I - IMG_8005 ed bw

Is Manchester ready for the Flirty weekend? Are you ready for the flirty weekender?

Starting Thursday 27th November we have a exclusive Flirtology workshop in Manchester. The next day will see one more evening of the premiere flirting workshop, then Saturday night a special event we are calling “the starter” hosted by myself and Jody. If all goes well, we may take to the airwaves of BBC Merseyside to reflect on how the Manchester flirty weekend went.

More details will be coming soon, but look out for it… you won’t want to miss this!

Thoughts and ideas of a dyslexic designer/developer