Tag Archives: manchester

We need more social and community focused startups

I wrote about a number of people who JFDI and how this may have the ability to make gentrification and other social conflicts a little more easier on a community.

On top of that I’ve been thinking how the traditional business models of shareholders wanting continues growth year on year is causing so many issues (well that and diversity). Anyway it got me thinking, maybe social and community startups are the new (ecstasy! I’m kidding, just following my previous post) thing. Don’t get me wrong theres been social enterprises for many years but this is something slightly more appealing.

ROI Pam Warhurst-10

Just flipping do it already!

Without knowing it, they are embracing the same approaches and plans as startups. Crowd funding, flat structures, lightweight project management tools and an attitude of just fucking do it . All are the hallmark of the following projects. James Headifen who runs the Ancoats Canal Cleanup project. Pam Warhurst  who started something  in Todmorden (still need to visit) by simply doing something  which is highly copyable and makes people happy. Homebaked a co-working space, bakery and the cornerstone of the local community, MadlabUK and DoES Liverpool a hacker and community space, giving room to a number of different types of niche hobbies and activities. Run very much in a JFDI style.

Closing the Deal

Chewing the fat with Chris

Me and Chris Northwood were in Vividlounge having breakfast thinking/talking about where startup culture starts to go wrong. We talked about the built to flip mentality and how that mentality is poisonous. Build your algorithm, get your users and market for me users. Nothing new and interesting for developers or designers to be involved in. Chris thought suggested it might be anti-developer , while I think it might be ultimately anti-human and progression.

Too many entrepreneurs, he believes, have a “built-to-flip mentality, as opposed to a built-to-last, built-to-change-the-world mentality.”

I mentioned this blog post I was writing in my mind, and talked about the examples I listed above. Social enterprises, ethical startups, what ever they are called… We need to foster and support more of them (this links to Adrian Hons talk from TedxLiverpool about supporting those who are brave enough to take up this challenge). But if you were starting a social enterprise, where would you go?

When I show people around Manchester’s northern quarter, I tend to have a story which I tell people. If you are setting up a business, the coffee shops of the northern quarter are a great place to get inspiration and get work done. But if you wanted something a little more focused,there is a co-working spaces in Madlab on Friday and there is the classroom. If you wanted more, the next step would be Techhub Manchester and beyond that you could get yourself a little office.

Dreamy Saturday Morning.

The local spaces on your doorstep

Chris suggested Libraries could have a role in this? University libraries are fruitful places supporting students for hours and hours working alone and together. Why is the public libraries not the same? Unlike Techhub which is driving you towards a more traditional startup outcome. Imagine a library as a co-working space with focused advice on how to run a social/ethical/community business… In return you get a free space and access to more resources including maybe funding?

For example we have our islington wharf residents meetings in the local NHS centre which has plenty of rooms not in use after 5pm. Because we are a local and non-profit organisation, we can rent the rooms for free. Certainly beats trying to hold a residents meeting in bar/cafe or one of our living rooms. There are tons of places like this which are underutilised but we pay for out of our taxes. These places can be the difference between a small gathering in a coffee shop and a place to actually bring people together. The library is ideal in my mind.

I’m aware of things like the Coworking directory but there is something interesting about supporting other non-profits in a public space.

Talking to Davemee one of the founders of Madlab, this blog might seem slightly simplistic, native and may misunderstand the extreme difficulties in getting a social/community/non-profit business off the ground. But I argue it should be as simple as setting up a startup and what a time to do it

My planned long drive to Bristol

View Drive Snowdonia in a larger map

This week I’m on holiday. Unlike most people, I won’t be travelling to some new destination full of sunshine and hot sand. Instead I’m going to drive through Wales down to Bristol.

Its a long ride (300miles!) and I will be stopping over somewhere in the middle (lets hope I don’t end up in a B&B with dogs!). And I’ll be honest I’m a little scared, but I got plenty of time and don’t need to be in Bristol till Wednesday afternoon to meet good friend Claire. I’ll then head over to my parents afterwards.

This is part due to my new years resolution about driving in a different country. I know Wales doesn’t really count but its a big test run for Scotland, Ireland or France. I also saw Graham Hughes again at TedxLiverpool (which I’ll write about later maybe) his world record visiting every country on planet earth without flying is incredible and inspirational. My old colleague Matthew Cashmore drove to Russia on his motorbike but to be honest I’m not certain my scooter would survive such a ride, hence I’m signing up with the AA just in-case.

I’m hoping to film as much of the ride as the battery will allow using my helmet mounted HD camera (you can see a snippit here). But I will be recording the journey with my tracks on my Nexus 5. May just bring the work phone just in-case of emergencies.

Weather looks to be good throughout, wish me luck!

25 Things #OnlyinManchester says Buzzfeed

I don’t really look at Buzzfeed because frankly its, well. pretty bad… Anyway Sarah Moran sent me a tweet to say I was on Buzzfeed…

Ian, you’re on Buzzfeed!

Really? I thought? thinking spam, but then I had come across Sarah’s tweets before. So I checked it out, expecting to be mentioned down the page. I wasn’t expecting to be at number one!

“Oh Manchester, so much to answer for,” especially judging by the #onlyinmanchester hashtag.

A pie butty from @leosfishbar WTF! #onlyinmanchester http://t.co/emUZBvsU

I said it then and I’ll say it again… WTF! Seriously… This is insane, just like chips and gravy! *lights the flamebait/fuse and runs away!*

Interaction, one reason why women avoid tech?

Elizabeth talks posture

I had the pleasure of going to Manchester Tech Nights, which is usually clashing with the Manchester Werewolf Chapter. Thankfully not this one, good work Chris sorting this one out.

The bit which stood out for me was a talk from Elizabeth Clarke who talked about the interaction between males and females in the work place. I didn’t know what to expect but before long Elizabeth was asking questions of the audience which was 75% male. Her point is the way we interact is different and knowing the differences could be part of the reason why females feel uncomfortable in the male dominated tech world.

Her background is fascinating, and makes a lot of sense based on her view point.

I’m very sure many women in the tech industry have some bad stories of when guys have invaded their personal space, have felt uncomfortable and the communication has gone a rye. Saying so always reminds me of the key reasons why Girl geekdinner was such a success.

It was refreshing to see and hear. Reminding me very much of the things I tried to do with Relationships 2.0 and Geeks Talk Sexy. Little bit of knowledge can not only help aid the interaction between workmates. But also help gain confidence outside of work. And many could really do with a dose of self confidence.

I’d love to do something with Elizabeth in the future, but we shall see if I can convince her back to her flirting advice days.

Hate gentrification? Think about the community

Warning in lift of Milliners Wharf

There has been a number of issues around the New Islington (Ancoats and Northern Quarter) area as of late. including Mans body found in the Ashton Canal and the calculated mugging of someone at 7pm a few weeks ago. The later, took place on the tow path under the bridge by VividLounge and I say calculated because their were 4 people involved and they locked a gate forcing people to walk under a bridge, straight into their trap.

Warning in Islington Wharf lifts

Although not good for those involved, its a careful reminder of the not so nice side of living with gentrification.

Theres been a ton of tension in San Francisco recently, which was going to write about here but opted to write on Single Black Male if they accept it.


I’m under no illusion that we are the outsiders moving in on what many have classed as their home forever. You can feel the tension in the air sometimes, specially as planning permission is given and locals see another highrise which they can’t ever dream of living in. Its not the first time I have experienced this. When me and Sarah moved to Woolwich, we lived in a small set of houses in the shadow of some council estates.

The only real trouble we ever saw from some young kids, who decided to throw stones into our garden while we were having a BBQ with friends. Which to be fair is nothing compared to the Beckenham Halloween incident.

They were planned to be knocked to the ground (not sure if it ever happened?) but Woolwich centre is a different place, as I witnessed when I went back 2 years ago. This mainly due to the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) which connected Woolwich with the city of London in all of about 25mins and the Olympic games which had money filter down from Stratford (East London). One of the last deprived areas of London suddenly became pricey and we sold our house at the right moment, getting a buyer pretty much straight away. That is the upside of gentrification… and to be fair it was quite a nice place to live if you were careful and avoided trouble.

Neither me or Sarah were attacked or even hassled from memory. We knew our neighbors and some people in the area. We also took part in the residents committee when possible. Woolwich wasn’t bad, it had a nice local market and I could get a haircut at 10pm.

New Islington to Brixton via San Francisco

The problems with New Islington, seem to stem from property developers who have gone into the area and I gather promised a lot and failed. Not only that they screwed over a lot of the locals and refused to enter into a dialogue with them. Not only that they have carved out a section for themselves rather than opt for a softly softly approach. Ask anyone about the promises for new islington by Urban Splash and the Ancoats medical dispensary.

But its not always the tensions are the fault of building developers. Sometimes you get a community of people who refuse or don’t get the idea of joining a existing community. I would say this is whats happening in San Francisco from what I have been reading and heard. I’m not blaming the geeks, startups and general people. But I am saying if your company starts to put on special transport and security (yes I’m pointing the finger at the BBC too) this is not a good message to the local community. It basically reads, the local community can not be trusted. Trust is essential for community to grow.

My next stop is Brixton, South central London. Lovely diverse area with a rich history and some very troubling moments. When I was in London, it was a good place but like Woolwich, there were places you don’t go. Having spent some time on the jury there, I have seen what happens when you ignore this and go looking for trouble. However I recently went back to visit my sister who lives on the outskirts of Brixton because she can’t afford to live in the area anymore. We met next to the station which had a small Starbucks! This alone was shocking for me but then we walked around the Brixton market/village? which had transformed from a standard market to South London’s Shoretditch or Northern Quarter.

Trendy makeshift bars and restaurants selling over priced food and drink. Don’t have a problem with this part so much. But my sister told me the tale of how locals are being forced out in favor of more bars and restaurants to cater those who wonder from the tube, 200 meters into the market and back.

Novelist Alex Wheatle describes how his native Brixton has changed from being an area where many outsiders feared to tread to somewhere where south London’s young professionals can now go for an £8 burrito. But has Brixton lost its unique vibe? ‘It’s very pleasant,’ says Wheatle, ‘but I do miss that constant pounding of reggae’

Alex is right on the money, its cool but something might be missing, be it pounding reggae or something else.

If you haven’t heard Spike Lee’s gentrification rant about Brooklyn, New York its a must… Here’s just a few of the snippets I found interesting…

You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like you’re motherfuckin’ Columbus and kill off the Native Americans. Or what they do in Brazil, what they did to the indigenous people. You have to come with respect. There’s a code.

Or even move them all out…?

You just can’t come in the neighborhood. I’m for democracy and letting everybody live but you gotta have some respect. You can’t just come in when people have a culture that’s been laid down for generations and you come in and now shit gotta change because you’re here? Get the fuck outta here. Can’t do that!

Like I said originally, Ancoats was the Italian quarter, and although its changed. You got to have some respect…

That’s another thing: Motherfuckin’… These real estate motherfuckers are changing names! Stuyvestant Heights? 110th to 125th, there’s another name for Harlem. What is it? What? What is it? No, no, not Morningside Heights. There’s a new one. [Audience: SpaHa] What the fuck is that? How you changin’ names?

Remind you of New Islington or Brixton Village anyone?

Spike is kind of right in what he says, its a rant but most of the points are good. But I’m not so sure gentrification is 100% bad.

My hope is for communities to form and connect becoming stronger together. I mean who doesn’t want to live in a strong community where people look out for each other and their space? I am personally starting to do more to unite the residents but we do need to think bigger picture…

I think this is where the study of familiar strangers comes in to play nicely. I also heard about a hyper local project around microblogging, which I think could do wonders if people are engaged enough to get involved. Of course throwing Technology at a social problem is never the solution but it can help if used in the right way.

I mentioned recently in Return of the JFDI, the Ancoats Canal clean up project. James actively works with the local community on the project. He’s very active in the Ancoats area and adores where he lives.

The project is a great example of how two communities can come together to help bring together a better community. I will spell it out if you’re not aware, a tight community generally face less crime. Yes you’ve all heard it before, its all part of the Broken Window phenomenon. Want more… have a read

My point is… Gentrification doesn’t have to be aggressive or seen as them vs us. It can be nice and gentle, where everyone is involved and everyone is happy with the changes. I’m also not saying the local community are to blame for the crime but it in the interest of both communities to come together to push out the undesirable behavior.

My highlights of TedXManchester3

I wish I brought my Nikon D40, because the pictures I have are pretty bad with the dark light of the room.

A while ago I talked about TedxSalford and said some slightly negative things about the overall event. No disrespect to the organisers, I just felt it lacked a soul.

I just think I prefer TedxManchester personally. There is something about genuine and authenticity which seems to be missing. I felt like we went from here’s a massive speaker to here’s another big speaker to yes you guessed it another massive speaker…

Later, I talk about the programming of the speaker line up. For many people this might not matter too much, but to me it makes all the difference.

TedXManchester/TedXUniversityofManchester had a line up of not many big name. To be honest you would be hard pushed to spot anyone as such famous. But that didn’t matter at all, actually it added to its overall charm.

Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t all smiles. Still there were issues which made a very good event not an excellent event.

Manchester Academy is a venue for concerts, raves and performances. Because of that the venue was extremely cold. I actually went home at lunch and got my jumper and another coat. There was also no public wifi. However there was Eduroam, and I guess because 40% of the people in the room were students, they were catered for. But the rest of us were struggling without. Luckily getting a solid 3G signal wasn’t too bad.

On the plus side having banquet tables made the whole thing feel much more relaxed. Which is quite amazing for a dark rave hall. But enough about the event logistics, lets talk the line up.

The line up was diverse and vast… but I would say everyone was good even Alessio Rastani who drive me nuts with his call outs and general love of the ugly side of capitalism. However here is the ones which really got me writing notes.

Anthony Lishak
Your voice on paper can be impressive was the rallying call from Anthony. He hammer home the point that when your young people encourage you to do creative writing but as you get older the creativity is lost in favor of structure. This really hit home for me because when I started my blog, lots of people said it was a total mess (maybe still is) 10 years later, I’m still writing and I largely ignored the spelling and grammar pokes from people.

I loved the example he used around Adjectives + Verbs + Connectives = ? I assume the higher the number the better? What is a Connective? (please don’t answer because I don’t really care)

I grabbed some time with him in the break and talked about the fact writing shouldn’t be my natural outlet. Great talk and really makes me wonder how pushing a structure on writing is another way to restrict people from free thinking?

Hannah Mosley
Started her talk about tattoos and body modifications. I personally never really cared too much about tattoos and not really a fan of them, so kinda switched off at the start. But Hannah’s point wasn’t about the tattoos, instead it was about the manipulation of mainstream media. Something I certainly can get behind with my experiences in TV and TV people. Hannah had ended up with her online profile damaged by the mirror in this entry.

I feel for Hannah but never got a chance to talk to her. Over dinner later with friends I talked about some of my experiences and seeing snog marry avoid being filmed in the northern quarter. Shocking stuff, I asserted. Something we shouldn’t stand for…

It was a stroke of great programming to have Jon Sopel from BBC News follow her… He turned it around by focusing on very worth while subject of journalism at the edges.

Carrie Green
You all know how much of a suck I am for peoples shifts or change in perspectives. It all stems back to my brush with death and I’ve been wondering ever since, what it may take to wake up other people? So when I heard Carrie talk, it really hit home with me.

Carrie started her talk with a simple request. She asked for someone to join her on stage. As I was sitting at the front, I put my hand up but in the dark depths of the Manchester Academy, my hand then arm waving was lost. Another request and still no one, so I stood up and shouted yes I’ll do it. Finally she heard me and called me up on stage. As you can imagine, the stage at the Manchester Academy who only a week ago played host to Prince/Symbol/whatever. Isn’t really made for the audience to get up on. So I had to climb on a chair, pull myself up and then walk across the stage. Luckily I had dumped my motorcycle coat by that point. In my head I was convinced she was going to perform some hypnosis on me. But I was driven by what I’ve read and experienced in the past including the richness of life and how to be interesting?

Health and Safety would have had kittens but I walked across the stage at Carrie. In my mind I thought she might pull a Derren Brown grabbing my hand arm in the shoulder and saying calmly “Sleep…” I was nervous but also excited, what did she have in store for me? I reached her and she moved like she was going to shake my hand? She did and asked my name. To be honest by that point I was quickly analysing her and she seemed as nervous as I did. She reached in her left pocket and instantly thought, uh oh… She pulled out a twenty pound note and handed it to me.

I so wasn’t expected this and it took a while to sink in. I’m sure my posture must have looked a little goofy. Carrie, announced to the audience that if they had come forward, they would be walking away with £20 too. I think I said wow thanks, and shook her hand again before exiting the stage. On the way off the stage the scope of the whole thing came to me and I did a little throw of the hands in the air with the money (slightly crass but I’m sure Alessio Rastani would be proud).

She talked a lot about visualising where she wanted to be and that helping her through. Once again something I can relate to, as the hypontheraphy I had for my fear of needles (Trypanophobia) is all about visualising. Its what I use a lot of when stuck in a ruck.

I was able to grab Carrie afterwards and on twitter. So much I wanted to say to her and find out from her. It was a excellent talk and reinforced the idea that you don’t need to experience near death to refocus your life. The world can be what you want it to be, you just need to think it.

Caleb Meakins
This guy totally stole the show. On a similar theme to Carrie Green and Doug Ward, Caleb asked the audience, “What would do if you couldn’t fail?” (seems the best talks start with a question?)

Caleb’s talk was all about the fear of rejection and getting out of your comfort zone. He setup my40days.co.uk.

Suggest a challenge on Facebook or Twitter. By taking on these challenges that are deemed entirely unachievable and socially awkward, I will learn to come out of my comfort zone, think outside the box, and take risks as I attempt to successfully achieve each day’s challenge.

As you follow me on this journey, I hope to inspire you to chase your dreams and not let the fear of failure stop you from reaching and exceeding your potential.

We then had fun watching some of the videos from the youtube channel. Then talked about the serious side of what he’s doing. He talked about social stereotypes,  stepping out side your comfort zone and life beginning at the edge of the comfort zone. Sounds very clique but it came across well along with fear is the sign your alive and without failure there is no success. I’ve been known to say something similar taken from Vanilla Sky.

Just remember, the sweet is never as sweet without the sour, and I know the sour

I expect Caleb will be seen again soon…

Other notice ables were Pam Warhurst (almost given a standing ovation, but don’t worry there will be more about her soon) was amazing as usual. Doug Ward was great of course but I’ve heard his story quite a few times, Waleed Lakhani left some interesting thoughts, Laune Penny was great and ever so passionate but her work for the SKA project was slightly lost in her accent.

I have to say the event was very good and I’m glad TedXManchester was able to balance going big with cleverly theming and fascinating speakers. Good job done and I’m very glad to have gone and spent my Sunday at TedXMancheter… Looking forward to the next one…

Lucy Powell MP replies to #thedaywefightback

Lucy Powell
Following on from…. My healthcare thoughts and the #thedaywefightback. I got a email back from my MP Lucy Powell (well ok a email back from one of her team)
Thank you for your email regarding the revelations of GCHQ and NSA data gathering.
I agree that these are, of course, extremely serious allegations and I know from the many e-mails and letters I have received that there is considerable public concern about this issue.I agree it is vital that these allegations are thoroughly investigated and that we ensure there is effective oversight and a clear legal framework to our intelligence operations. As I am sure you are aware, there was an important debate on the intelligence and security services in Parliament on 31st October last year.Our intelligence and security services undertake vital, often unrecognised, work to protect our security and to counter the threats we face. Given the global nature of their work it is also crucial that our intelligence agencies are able to share information across international borders with our allies, including the USA.

There also needs, however, to be public confidence that our intelligence agencies are themselves law-abiding and accountable and that any intelligence information received from the USA or any other country has been obtained legally. These recent allegations also underline once again the need for effective Parliamentary and Ministerial oversight of all three of our intelligence organisations.

I believe that the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), which has the remit to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the country’s intelligence agencies is the right body to investigate these allegations, but I do think it is important that we look at all the options to ensure that there is proper parliamentary oversight of the intelligence services.

I hope that in the future the ISC will hold as many hearings in public as possible and that the ISC can become a full Parliamentary Select Committee, as I believe this would improve its transparency and accountability to the public.Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.Yours sincerely,

Lucy Powell MP

Well at least she replied I guess? I imagine many others are getting nothing back…? Quite a generic email to a complex issue…

Wonder what would happen if I replied to her? Wonder if I would get a reply again?

What is it about TV people?

There is something about TV which seems to attract some of the people I personally don’t really like much.

I was on the 18:57 declassified train back from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly. Declassified meaning the whole train is one class and you can sit in first class on a second class ticket. Anyway sitting on my reserved single seat, I couldn’t help but notice the people on the seats ahead of me making a bit of noise.

As the train wound its way up to Manchester, they got noisier and nosier. There was lots of bitching about collages and celebs (did they not understand they were in a public place?). They bought lots of wine/cava from the onboard shop and drink them just as quick. “Oh don’t worry I’ll claim for them” said the most senior one. They made it clear they worked in Media City and met celebs all the time in the studios.

What got me was, when we got into Piccadilly one of the quiet passenger sitting near me said quietly to another passenager.

Well I’m so glad our license fee is being used so wisely…

And who could blame her for saying so? I wanted to say, I don’t believe they are BBC employees, but choose to see what else would be said. However the carriage filled up with people getting ready to get off.

So I ask what is it about TV?

I’ve met many types of media people but TV just seems to attract posers, dicks and showoffs? Outside the obvious idea of the broadcast, I mean these people are on the wrong side of the camera. Maybe its a build up  Of course I’m not saying all the crew who work behind the camera are posers, dicks and showoffs. But it certainly attracts them.

Ok this is one time right? I’m very wrong right? Lets look at other times I’ve come across TV people… The Year of Making Love and that massive saga. Enough really said… And also lets not forget the Edinburgh TV UnFestival, great event but the TV festival events were something else. Although I have admit its Edinburgh in summer and its the end of the festivals. But finally its not just me, insurance companies put higher premiums on TV producers, as I found out when trying to insure my scooter. As soon as I changed my job title to almost anything but senior producer, the premiums dropped massively. If anyone asks, I’m a senior designer… Certainly not a TV producer…

Sorry to people I know who work in TV, I’m sure your one of the good bunch, your being let down by a vocal few!

TedxSalford biggest in the UK, don’t you know?


A few Sundays ago (10th November 2013), I had the somewhat pleasure of going to TedxSalford.

I say somewhat because although I enjoyed most of the talks, I felt strange about it. Specially after doing the first TedXManchester at the old BBC in Oxford Road. And then speaking at the second one in the cornerhouse.

The whole event is slick and a well polished affair. And thats my problem with it.

TedxSalford as someone said on stage, is bigger than most Ted Conferences! According to wikipedia the Lowry theatre holds 1730.  There were a lot of people maybe at a push 1400  as the lowry theatre wasn’t quite full but the ground floor and circle were packed solid. I got a seat in the private boxes which was lovely. Cheers iMartyn, Simon and Shane.

How did it get so big? I assume its the support from the University of Salford which helps make it possible. Thats not to take anything away from the staff and people involved in the whole operation. But I’m use to Tedx’s showcasing new and local talent rather than collectively getting people flown in from across the world. And with a line up including astronauts again its easy to see why its so popular.


Ok hands up I’m bias because having run the first TedxManchester1 with Herb Kim in the BBC Oxford Road, I do feel like we tried to do a number of things including highlight local talent and local concerns. TedxManchester2 was the same, but of course I would say that having the chance to tell my story on stage. I can’t imagine TedxSalford would let me anywhere near the stage. Yes they had a Manchester Utd player but to be fair he was pretty good for being nervous. You can’t help but feel they over stepped the local by having an international foodball player.

Please don’t get me wrong, its nice both TedxManchester and TedxSalford have each found there niche and they don’t overlap. I just think I prefer TedxManchester personally. There is something about genuine and authenticity which seems to be missing. I felt like we went from here’s a massive speaker to here’s another big speaker to yes you guessed it another massive speaker. Thinking Digital has big speakers but Herb balances them with themes to make proceedings a lot less choppy. I’d also look at what Imran does with TedxLeeds and TedxBradford. Well thought out lineup, with a narrative running from one to the other.

Saying all that… The whole event was very well produced except the sheer amount of people made getting lunch and the break out sessions a total nightmare. There were some fantastic speakers…the one which got me was once again Graham Hughes who talked about being the only man to travel to travel into every county by land only.

Other noticeable talks came from Lucy Siegle who talked about the fashion and the incredible waste it generates (one for my sister). Google Glass technical lead Thad Sturner for a great break out session i was able to squeeze into. Poet Lemn Sissay for some great slam poetry on stage. George Smooh for making my brain overload a little. Hetain Patel for his amazing art work and art direction.

Something I mentioned a lot in previous blog posts. Recorded from TedxSanjoseca, Steve Mazan’s look at life and death. Not to be missed…

So as a whole TedxSalford is well worth going to if you want the TED experience (I assume it might be like that, although I’ve never actually been). Just don’t expect anything local like the other regional tedx’s. That can be a good and bad thing depending on what you want or expect. This is a case of bigger isn’t always better…

300 seconds to tell your story

Sharon O'Dea - intro

I have always wanted to help people around me, its in my blood and I sometimes end up doing it regardless of my work load (must stop doing so). Anyhow a few months ago I ran a series of events as part of the BBC’s Connected studio called BBC Connected Social. One of the events was a ignite event about design. Although I tried to get a number of women involved, I got nowhere.

This didn’t go unnoticed and to be fair rightly so… The event went ahead and was a success but I couldn’t help but feel crappy about the lack of women I got onboard. I have been known to level criticism at some events for the lack of women and diversity but I couldn’t make it happen myself.

Ever since (and to be fair before) I’ve been thinking about putting on a conference with the aim of encouraging women to give public speaking a chance. I originally thought about working with Madlab to put on such a event, specially after the last girlgeek barcamp (bracamp) and my rushed look at the success of Girl Geekdinners.

Anyway after getting a chance to hear Melinda’s (miss geeky) views on 300 seconds I joined the dots and connected people.

I believe the event matches the BBC values nicely

We respect each other and celebrate our diversity so that everyone can give their best.

I’m now super stoked to be able to say the 3rd 300 seconds event will be at the BBC, MediaCityUK.

What is 300 seconds?

300 Seconds is a series of talks by and for the digital community. We believe that digital is better when we can learn from the brilliance of the many, not just the few. With our events we hope to give our peers, and in particular women, a means of gaining confidence and experience in speaking in public.

On the Thursday 14th November, you can get your tickets now to apply to speak or just listen and support. Of course the event is open to men as well, so what you waiting for? Go get yourself a ticket and I look forward to seeing you and sharing the special surprises we have installed for the night.

Top 10 tech hangouts in Manchester


Inspired by The next web and Martin’s Tweet for the Top 20 tech hangouts in new york city. I thought well I’ve not really done one for Manchester’s geek/tech scene. I’ve done some posts for top first dating locations which seems to get a lot of search engine referrals. Heck I’ve even talked about coffee shop clashes.

So here’s my list of the top tech hangouts in Manchester…

  1. Madlab
    Go there anyday almost anytime and it will be full of geeky/tech interested people. Its amazing the diversity of people and interests.
  2. North Tea Power
    Although a coffee shop, its usually full of people on laptops working away on startup ideas and new types of projects. Excellent coffee with plentyful types of tea. Owners are lovely people and take their coffee seriously.
  3. TechHub Manchester
    You heard of Techhub, well its the same formula just in the north of England. Of course this is where serious tech startups go to be taken seriously by investers of all kind. Its not the kind of place you can just rock up but they do have social events including Silicon drinkabout every Friday evening. There is also a Northstar Cafe (thanks Angie) below which you can sometimes find tech people and its only 5mins from Piccadilly Station.
  4. Takk
    New on the scene, and forms part of the new Northern Quarter or new Piccadilly Basin area. Putting the old Drip coffee to shame and taking a clues from North Tea Power. This rapidly is becoming the coffee shop work and be seen at. Now if only they can sort out the opening hours, like NTP.
  5. The Classroom
    The coworking space which is along side bakerie’s pie and ale store. This coworking space is membership only but pretty cheap if you want somewhere more social to work but not have the hassle of ordering coffee every hour or so.
  6. Common/Home sweet home
    When Edge street wasn’t so cool and didn’t have street lighting (I still think it doesn’t?), there was a bar with the full title, a place called common. Common has been around for years and hosted many social events in the past. Right next door is home sweet home which has established its self as a great place for the more chilled nights out. Of course both face Madlab, so its easy to go from Madlab to Home sweet home to Common in one evening/night.
  7. Castle hotel
    I am not a fan of the castle, but if you want to find techies, hipsters and digital folk, the castle hotel is a must. People seem to like it a lot while I always wonder where the cocktails are. But I’ll give it something, it certainly attracts tech people in the know. Oh and I have no idea if it really is a hotel or not.
  8. Cornerhouse
    The cornerhouse cinema is one of those places which is full of art people but you sometimes find an event which attracts tech people. Its generally a very cool place and one of those places which really attracted me to live in Manchester all those years ago.
  9. Kim by the Sea
    Just around the corner from Manchester’s Technology park, I’ve been there a few times and each time theres a mix of hippies, artists and technology people. Nice big portions and earthy feel which makes a difference.
  10. Terrace
    I haven’t seen it yet, but Madlab and terrace have come together to do a co-working space of there own. Meant to be a nice space, a little better than the classroom I hear. Terrace is of course another cool bar, usually quite loud not ideal for a chat


A long ride out to sheffield and back

Ride across the Peaks

So this time I went through the mountains of the pennines along the woodhead crossing, stopped in Sheffield and then back through along the forever talked about Snakes pass.

To be honest Snakes pass, wasn’t as scary as I imagined. But there certainly were some corners which I can totally see someone less aware getting caught on. I think I prefer the woodhead crossing for its pure speed and pleasure of driving on top of the mountains but I can see why Snakes pass is a heck lot quicker.

I was amazed at the lake in the middle of the pennines, from my brief look, it seems like there is a pebble/rocky beach too. I might be wrong, I imagine its maybe all just sinking mud and thats certainly not the place to get caught out.

Hope valley is next on my list, but if the weather gets any worst I certainly won’t be driving around the pennines. It was pretty treating when I went out on Saturday, cant even imagine what its like in rain and in the dark!

View Larger Map

For some reason, my phone went a little nutty in the middle, so I ended up with 2 KML files, using Oxygen XML I was able to put the data together. You can’t beat side by side view…

Should have gone dutch when I bounced

November 28th

I’m cursing myself for falling for the stupid mistake of paying for the bill in one of my previous dates in the last few months.

My mistake was paying for the bill in total, something which I don’t usually do.

So what happened?

Well we were having a good time, chatting away and I suggested how about having some food? (because we were in a place where we could switch from drinks to food without moving) she agreed, time had flown by and she was also hungry.

After eating and deciding yes its about time we actually went home, we asked for the bill. Bill comes and I can’t remember exactly what happened but I’m pretty sure I said “Hey no worries I got this one…”

Of course I never really heard from her again. Except shes actually a friend of friends (trying not to give away who it was)

Anyhow months later we bump into each other and I ask her what happened?

The crux seemed to be she wasn’t comfortable with being paid for… Something I can relate to, and something which I usually go out of my way to avoid. What had happened is I thought I’d try paying and seeing what happens, maybe things will turn out different if I listened to thoughts of Ngunan Adamu and others over time.

Well I was right! Her original thoughts of a modern gentleman, was dashed when I picked up the whole bill. And the only person to blame is myself… Yes it was a bit of an experiment on my part but it felt weird for me and I assume felt even weirder for her. Its a shame because although not my usual type of woman, I was certainly interested and would have liked to have gone on a second date…

Moral of this little tale… Should have gone Dutch…!

A good time to be in New Islington?

From the Manchester Evening News via Steve on Twitter,

An ambitious plan for a multi-billion pound regeneration around a new-look Piccadilly station can be revealed by the M.E.N. Town hall chiefs want to unlock the rewards of the planned High Speed 2 rail link long before it arrives – in a regeneration bonanza dubbed the ‘opportunity of the century’. Planners want to create a new ‘gateway quarter’ modelled on Amsterdam and New York.It would be centred around the new HS2 terminal – and a grand new entrance plaza replacing the existing front of Piccadilly station.

The plan would also include:

  • A leafy boulevard linking London Road with east Manchester, ending in a park on Fairfield Street – creating a green corridor between the Medlock Valley and the city centre.
  • A ‘Spinningfields-style’ business centre between Great Ancoats Street and the Rochdale and Ashton canals.
  • An ‘East Village’ of waterside homes, shops and offices in Piccadilly Basin.
  • 10,000 new homes between Piccadilly and the Holt Town area of Bradford.
  • New homes, green spaces and offices on the former Mayfield Depot site.
How Piccadilly station could look after the arrival of HS2

Sure there will be some kick back on the plans but honestly from Piccadilly Station to Great Ancoats Street is pretty poor. Heck part of it is the red light zone. I do wonder about Piccadilly Basin which currently is a nice quiet part of the city but as long as none of the Northern quarter is taken over, I don’t have much of a problem.

If the plans go ahead along with the new retail park which will include a cinema, it will be a great time to have bought at Islington wharf.

Adam Curtis vs Massive Attack

What can I say about my experience of Adam Curtis vs Massive Attack

Connecting the dark, intense music and visual work of Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack with the thought-provoking vision of filmmaker Adam Curtis in an atmospheric space never before opened to the public, this haunted, captivating production promises to completely redefine the very idea of “the gig”.


In the middle of a disused space only 10mins from my own flat, we are treated to a immersible audio and visual masterclass of both. I won’t spoil it for you, but its well worth going and experiencing. It did feel a little misguided in parts but with a little tightness I can imagine it being something of a master piece.