Tag Archives: christmas

Edward Snowden’s Christmas message to the UK nation

As mentioned previously, Edward Snowden’s alternative Christmas message to the UK Nation was short and packed with depth.

Ex-National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has delivered an “alternative” UK Christmas message, urging an end to mass surveillance. The broadcast was carried on Channel 4 as an alternative to the Queen’s traditional Christmas message. Mr Snowden focused on privacy, saying: “A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all.” The 30-year-old has temporary asylum in Russia after leaking details of US electronic surveillance programmes.

I’ve clipped it to Archive.org, (mp4, ogg, mkv, webm, avi) under some kind of fair use and that this should be available to all the public, wherever they be. As you can see the bit torrent sharing isn’t going so great at the moment. I did upload to Youtube but it was blocked within 4mins by the Youtube bot. Kosso also made a copy here.

So reflection of my issue trying to convince my dad yesterday, how would Snowden’s alternative Christmas message work?

“…The technology of George Orwell’s 1984 are nothing compared to what we have available today. We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go.”
 Great use of 1984, something almost everyone has heard of. Its something which keeps coming up again and again. Well here is Snowden telling you its worst than you can even imagine.
“A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, unanalysed thought. And that’s a problem because privacy matters, privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.”
Ok so hopefully the take away is your grandchildren will never experience what you had when growing up. For the rest of us, this should make a lot more sense. Even myself who’s a very public person, will always fight for those who require and seek privacy. I know what Vince Cerf said about privacy may actually be an anomaly but we need to pursue it for the sake of the next generation.
“Together we can find a better balance, end mass surveillance and remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying.”
Practical and simple advice. And he’s kind of right. So simple…

Me personally would happily give away parts of my privacy in return for non-surveillance and the ability to remove and delete history.

Raspberry Pi’s for the godchildren?

With all wires - Top

Its a tricky one…

I like to buy presents of my godchildren which matter. Its tricky because you don’t want to buy something boring but educational. When I was young my godparents would get me Lego, Chemistry sets and ultimately Technical Lego. This certainly helped my creativity develop.

So whats the modern equivalent of Lego? Something you can buy more of and add to?

Well I thought Raspberry Pi. Yeah, no brainer right?!

But here’s my issue.

I have 2 male godchildren (4 and 6) and 1 female (7).

My natural thought was to get one for the 6yr old, specially because his dad is technical and the child has already shown an amazing comfort with computers. The other male is too young and frankly more interested in super-heroes. So why not the older female?

I don’t know… (and I feel like I’ve had this debate before, so excuse me if you’ve heard it before).

I also didn’t want to buy her pink stuff but she loves it so much. Along while ago I bought her some pink lego and she seemed quite happy with that. Although to be fair I’ve never actually seen play with them. Me being a melding godfather decided one year to buy her a mini telescope, hoping it will foster a little more science in her life. Of course this nothing against the parents, I love them to bits. But my understanding of what a godfather does is to do whats best for the child regardless of how much it drives the parents insane.

So back to the point, why have I not bought her a Raspberry Pi? Is this nasty sexism which I don’t know about? Absolutely not!

I guess I balanced it all in my mind and decided it would be a little unfair to force something like this on her at this stage. Instead I bought her some more Lego but the friends subsection.

What would you do? Am I doing down the godfather title by not giving her what might be good for her? She has godmothers, maybe its the godmothers who gives her what she wants and the godfather who makes the difficult decisions. And I don’t mean that in a sexist way, the godmothers should be making the difficult decisions for the boys, while the godfathers are buying stuff he wants?

Who knows but I am certainly thinking for her birthday, I should find something which crosses over and brings out her geeky side.

Any tips on what, are very welcomed.

I’m hoping the likes of Jasmine Cox, Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Rosie Campbell, Rebecca Gregory-Clarke, etc. Can offer some advice on this? I can’t be the only one wondering about this….?

Hallmark, what on earth is going on?

I don’t understand Hallmark and generally a lot of traditional retailers… They really don’t get the internet at all!

My story started when ordering Christmas Cards from Hallmark.com. I looked at others like that flipping funky pigeon, but decided I would go with Hallmark because the quality of the cards seemed better and the website was slightly better arranged.

So I ordered all the cards for friends and families, relaxed knowing it was done and dusted.

Then I got my cards for my family in the post. Everything seemed great except my parents card had a major screw up on it. So bad was the screw up you couldn’t really read what was on the card at all. I had to go out and buy another one in a rush.

Hallmark wtf?

I complained to @Hallmark and @hallmarkuk on twitter (ah a good reason to have my twitter archive) and wrote them an email or two. Anyway I didn’t get much back till after new years.  Nothing on twitter which is very poor, over a popular season like Christmas. I referenced the tweets in the email…

In the end I got a reply over email saying…

Dear Ian Forrester
Thank you for your email

Unfortunately we are unable to click on the following link. To assist you further can you please supply us with the order number given at the time of purchase. If you have a Hallmark account this can be found on the “order history” section or you can find this information on your Hallmark confirmation email.

We hope this is helpful

Kind regards
Hallmark customer service

Yes you heard it right… HallmarkUK couldn’t click on the Yfrog image link in twitter because why? To which I replied saying…

Description on twitter reads

“Bloody @hallmarkuk screwed up my parents xmas card! twitter.yfrog.com/esy2bbt... :( didn’t look like that in preview
The picture is of the card I received at the end… (attached)
Order Reference Number: POxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Joel Bussey customer support got back to me with this…

Dear Ian,

Thank you for your email, we appreciate you taking the time to advise us of this error. We have made the printing department aware of this mistake to avoid future errors.

I will process a full refund for that item for the value of £2.39.

Again I am sorry for any inconvenience this has caused and if you do have any further question please feel free to contact us.

Kind regards

I was frankly insulted and told them so. I also complained that there Twitter account was a total joke and some of my upset could have been defused with better engagement on twitter.

Last email I got from them was…

Dear Mr Forrester

Thankyou for your email.  I am sorry to hear about the trouble you had and the inconvenience caused.  My colleague Joel, has issued you a refund, unfortunately we are unable to reimburse any more money but as a gesture of goodwill and the trouble you encountered I can send a pack of sample cards for your use.

If you can forward me your address I shall get this out to you.

I have also passed on your details to our social media team to look into the trouble you had online with Twitter.

Thanking you and once again apologies for nay disappointment caused.

I thought this was a joke and I was insulted again because it wasn’t about the money… I found it odd that they needed my address once again?

I wrote this…

Poor show Hallmark! You call this customer service?
Most of the online retailers would just refund me the whole amount as a show of faith :(
Next time I’ll be taking my custom to the likes of Moo.com who know what customer service really means
You should be able to get my address from the online system I used to order the cards, if you can’t do that…
…it would suggest you might not be the person to authorise a refund either?
I’d suggest passing me on to someone who can do the refund or send me my “sorry we screwed up” order
I’ll look forward to hearing from the Social Media team.
They should have been all over my tweets on the run up to Christmas
Shameful :(
So I was expecting a sorry card and a pack of cheap blank cards… However for some reason I got this pile of stuff in the post today.

Hallmark wtf?

Totally random stuff! What the…?

Winnie the pooh record-able storybook (might be useful for perceptive media), 2 magnetic note pads, some odd blank book and stuffed toy which reads a book to you.

SERIOUSLY WTF! No seriously Hallmark, WTF?

All in a massive parcel and no usable cards or even a sorry card. I’m very surprised but not in a really good way. Nice of them to send me stuff and I am greatful (in a way) but WTF!!!!!! Really? I keep looking at it on my table and shouting WTF!!!!

I have no idea what they were thinking or what there trying to say? Its almost like they think I’m actually a young kid or maybe this is there way of trolling me? I just don’t get it and I have no idea what to say about it. But I know what some of the godchildren will be getting for there birthdays this year… :)

I warned @HallmarkUK but to be honest next time just send a card (its what you do!) and say how sorry you are! Simple!

Art as artifacts of identity

Back to the Future fanart present

Laura Sharpe my new girlfriend (yes I’m off the dating market now) made me this for a Christmas present. She was worried I wouldn’t like it but I think its flipping great. For me Back to the Future was the Starwars of the 80’s and is the definitive film of my generation and will always be. So very apt Laura picked it and what a great piece of Fan art to represent the greatest trilogy there has been? Honestly the only thing Laura could have done in addition, is added attribution to who ever’s work it is

She really picked up on my drive to replace all my commercial art work with fan art.

I’ve been thinking for a long while about using FabLab for something but wasn’t sure what exactly. Well now I’m wondering if I could create more custom type things like this?

Up till now I’ve been mainly thinking about picture frames but maybe theres something more I could do? Always good to have someone to inspire you to think differently…

One of the projects I’m hoping to get off the ground is in the Creative Exchange cluster around making the digital Physical in a similar slant.

Transforming the digital space trapped inside screens and devices into physical experiences in the real world. In particular moving beyond the primarily visual experiences of flat screens towards ones that can engage all our senses so that the digital public space can also be felt, heard, tasted, smelt, or even worn. Drawing inspiration from research in areas such as: tangible and natural interfaces; perceptive and ambient media; augmented reality/virtuality; hacking and 3D printing the projects will explore how to create innovative prototypes that turn digital spaces into lived experiences.

Get your turkey order in now

I know turkey is in huge demand over Christmas but this is just weird?

Thank you for placing your Christmas fresh poultry order with tesco.com. To ensure you receive everything that you’re expecting, please read through the information below: • Christmas fresh poultry is only available in deliveries between 20th and 24th December*. Please note that if you move your delivery outside these dates, you will lose your poultry order. • December 14th** is the final day for placing Christmas fresh poultry orders. You will no longer be able to add, remove or change these products in your shopping basket after this date. • Don’t forget that you can make amends and additions to the rest of your Christmas order until at least 11.45pm on the night before your delivery. If you do so, you will notice that the Christmas fresh poultry you have ordered will be marked with a message to say that you can no longer amend the quantity on the item. Please do not be worried by this – it is simply to show that your fresh poultry order is already in the system. Thank you for taking the time to read this message and we wish you a very Merry Christmas. Kind regards, Tesco Customer Service

If I don’t get my Turkey on the 23rd, expect a full twitter onslaught… :)

BBC FM 2012 Christmas Party mix

Its the season for Christmas parties and the BBC is no different. Yesterday (Friday 8th) it was time for the BBC North Future Media Christmas party at the Deaf institute. To change things up we had a different DJ every 30mins. Of course the Dj’s were from the BBC Future Media (FM) staff.

I was 3rd from the end and threw down a mix of some dance right up to proper trance via some tech trance. Because I was doing this on the pacemaker device (seems a lot of people thought I was using my phone on stage) I was able to record the mix at the same time.

Hardly my best mixing or best choice of tunes but it was right for the time as the dj before was playing commercial house. I was in two minds about some of the tunes but by the end of the 30mins, I decided screw it, here comes the trance.

The playlist is short as you expect in 30mins…

  1. Watch Out (Dirty South Remix) By Ferry Corsten
  2. Shifter By Timo Maas
  3. Shnokel By Miki Litvak & Ido Ophir
  4. Café Del Mar (Marco V Remix) By Energy 52
  5. Out Of The Blue 2012 By System F
  6. Uncommon World By Bryan Kearney
  7. Ecstasy By Eddie Makabi Feat. Einat

Summary of the BBC Backstage London Christmas Bash

Ian & Matthew @ BBC Backstage

Some of you might notice this is almost a copy of the summary on the backstage blog, but I've added bits which I felt were best left for a personal blog.

Thank you to everyone who turned up and made this our most successful event to date.

We had started very early on Saturday afternoon packing bags thanks all the people who signed up and helped out before the doors opened.

Crazy amount of backstage goodie bags

We did open the doors on time and did turn some people away because they were not on the main guest list, which was a big regret on our part but those were the rules we specified in the emails. After 8pm the venue was open for anyone who wanted to enter.

Nicole only has eyes for one person

Once we said a few welcome and thanks speeches it was back on with the party and a night of endless chatting and djs playing all types of music. There was even some so called dancing…

End of night dancing

Our goodie bags were packed with stuff and enjoyed by the people who came to the bash. Everyone also got one of our new Backstage T-shirts, which went down well.

BBC Backstage Goody bag

There was some interviews at the event, which were done by Chris Vallance of BBC Radio 5 Live's Pods and Blogs. We've put them online for your listening enjoyment

Matthew Cashmore talks about BBC Backstage
Sarah Blow on London Girl Geekdinners and Geek culture
Walid Al Saqqaf talks about Trustedplaces.com
James Cridland talks about Virgin Radio
Ian Forrester talks about London Geekdinners and Geek Media
Matthew Spouce on New Scientist Magazine
Adam Fletcher on Spread Shirt
Nigel Helmeton on Trexy.com

My wife Sarah also wanted to say sorry and explain what happened upstairs which caused her to shout fucking bitch while she headed for the toilet very upset. It would turn out Dedrie from Chinwag had been joking around and took it too far with someone (sarah) who she didn't know.

We have received some fantastic feedback…

And a huge thank you to Ian, Matthew and their team at BBC Backstage for being wonderful hosts. A big thank you as well to our generous sponsors who helped the evening go with a swing by providing us with food, drink and raffle prizes – Admob, Skills Matter, ConnectMeAnywhere, O'Reilly, Trusted Places, Techcrunch UK, and Chinwag.

Helen from Swedish Beers

I just got back from the BBC Backstage Christmas Bash. I went with Adam, who was in London for the night en route to Le Web in Paris. I met some interesting people, some new, some old, drank back some of my licence fee in free beer, and had a pretty good time. We were interviewed by BBC Radio 5 at some point, but Adam thought it would be funnier to wind me up and make me laugh than it would to be on the radio, so I doubt that it'll be aired.

From Matt Sparkes.

Actually the BBC never paid for any of the drink. We only paid for the venue and food. The Sponsors paid for the drinks and although your laughing might not have got on the radio. We may have found a uncut version for the Backstage community.

John Wilison will you admit to seeing a good side to the BBC now?

Some more comments and emails

To an interesting party tonight courtesy of the folks at BBC Backstage, who were kind enough to manage to get me into this party at moderate last-minute. Lots of fascinating people, some even saying that the party reminded them of the last web boom.

James Cridland

I just wanted to say thanks for organising such a delightful event on Saturday – it seemed to flow supafine from what I could see once we got off the front desk – and I had interesting conversations which is all I care about really, thanks again!

Nicole from HP

Well I can happily report that the BBC Backstage London Christmas Bash was a total success! Ian and the rest of the guys behind the event did a cracking job in organising it. One of the key highlights was the cake for the guys at trustedplaces.com kindly provide. The BBC goody bag was also very cool too

Adam Burt

I would like to thank you and your team for organizing such a great party. We had a great time. Thank you.

Josette from O'Reilly

Lots of drinking, Cake and a little dancing from the odd one or two people… As well as speeches and prize giveaways. Oh and not to mention the sear number of people there… There were party bags, t-shirts and we even had santa's little helpers do the party bags. /images/emoticons/happy.gif

Sarah Blow from London Girl Geekdinners

Thank you for letting us participate in the BBC Backstage event as sponsors. The cake has generate a good amount of buzz.

Walid from Trusted Places.com

I wanted to thank you for giving Skills Matter the opportunity to be a part of your great party on Saturday evening

Joanna from Skills Matter

Just wanted to drop you a quick note to say thanks for all your hard work organising the backstage bash/geeks christmas party. It was great fun, and nice to see everyone all in one place.

Caz from BBC/Siemens

I went along to the BBC Backstage Christmas party last night. I've posted some photos to Flickr. I'm a Graucho-Marxist curmudgeon who'd never belong to a club that would have me as a member, but I can honestly say thanks to Ian Forrester and his colleagues at Backstage, the sponsors, helpers, and the tireless staff at the Cuban it was a great night.

Miles Metcalfe

I did recieve one email (from a sponsor) complaining about the bash.

I write today to express my disappointment to see the information bag sitting in the corner when leaving the BBC party on Saturday…

…On top of this there was only one poster in the whole venue that mentioned us but there where a host of “supported by” posters scattered around…

…I hate to write this negative email but we did hope that as a sponsors we would receive better promotion and because of this we found the evening frustrating.

I have yet to write back because every other sponsor has said thank you very much and they would like to work with us again on the next one.

Finally a selection of our best shots from the bash

trustedplaces.com cakeBBC Backstage London Christmas BashParty on!PosterO'REILLY - BackstageSarah with her lemonadeDSCF8410.jpgIan & Matthew @ BBC BackstageSarah Blow with a cocktailDSCF8444.jpgPeople chilling upstairsMario twitteringRadio 5 live's Pods and BlogsDj Cashmore spins some tunesSarah and ShilaInspire the backstage bashTag your self hereHelen and SarahGet your backstage tshirts hereDot caught taking all the beerMatthew gets interviewed by BBC Radio 5 liveBBC Backstage London Christmas BashBBC Backstage London Christmas BashBBC Backstage London Christmas BashBBC Backstage London Christmas Bash

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London Backstage Christmas Party, Saturday 9th Dec

Smooth water

So its now no real secret. I'm planning a big christmas party for BBC Backstage. The difference is that rather than going it alone and creating a whole lot of havoc with everyone elses plans. I decided that Backstage should actually talk to the rest of the community groups in London and encourage one big party. This is core to the BBC Backstage values, rather than go it alone we're going to see whats already out there and see if we can help out, encourage more take up or parcipitation. Anyway, so after the emails went out, I started getting into conversations with different groups and got a line up to rival all line ups. And on Friday night at the geekdinner I revealed the party plans.

To make things clearer, I posted up the details on the Backstage blog and then with the advice of Rob, hit Upcoming and Eventful

Yes the rumours are true…

There is a BBC Backstage Christmas Party being planned for Saturday 9th December in London.

Rather than host it ourselves and clash with everyone else's parties. We decided that it would be very fitting to backstage if we collaborated together some of the best groups and communities in London. Then got them under one roof to share in the Christmas Party…

Seemed like a crazy idea, but I would like to introduce our fantastic partners for the Christmas Bash,

Swedish Beers
London Girl Geekdinners
Geekdinners
London Perlmongers
London Webstandards Group
London Ruby user group
Open rights group
London 2.0
Momo Monday

We have an excellent Cuban venue (TBC) all to ourselves deep in the area of Moorgate and Citypoint.

So please keep a note in your calendar, as Saturday 9th December looks to be a fantastic night to be in London.

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