Tag Archives: manchester

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?

TEDxSalford

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.

TEDxSalford

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

Madlab

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”.

Hallucinating…!

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.

Manchester stand up and say something!

Black and White.

I know how TV works, heck I’ve had more than enough experience of how engineered certain shows can be. But Channel4’s new show right after firstdates is eye spy.

Stephen Fry narrates this new series which tests to see if the people of Great Britain really are ‘great’ and can be heroes when faced with a particularly challenging situation. Eye Spy features ingenious hidden camera stunts that throw up assorted moral dilemmas and psychological conundrums to wrestle with, challenging the notion inherent in many news stories that our ‘once great nation is going to the dogs’. You may say you’d do the right thing in a highly-pressured situation, but only when you’re actually in the moment can you ever really know.

One of the situations was a racist waiter who couldn’t deal with mixed race couples. Actually as the site says, outrageously racist waiter.

The things he said were so direct to the mixed race couple and so loud everyone could clearly hear everything being said.

And he’s the main point of concern for myself…  They ran the test in London and in Manchester. Not just Manchester but Salt & Pepper in Castlefield, a place I would go to with a date (and to be fair most of my dates are European woman)

In London, a place which is more racially diverse (as the programme points out too) the waiter got told to shut up before the couple got up and left. Actually although they ran the experiment a few times the result was the same.

However in Manchester the couple had to endure the out and out ball faced racism of the waiter. In the end they got up and left, after they were told they were upsetting the rest of the restaurant!

No one stood up and said a word, no one said anything, not a single person. They just sat there in silence eating and not saying a word. Not a single person would stand up and say your bang out of order to the waiter. Heck even getting up and walking out would have sent a clear signal that people were not happy, which is what happened when they ran the same experiment in reverse with a white couple in an Indian restaurant.

So it drives me insane to know that if I and a lady was facing such racism, no one would get involved. Not only that people would sit there in silence! Not a single word… (Shocking!) And it wasn’t like the people were old, the people seemed like students into your mid 30s type and should have known better… There is no excuse for saying nothing!

When I first looked at Manchester I did worry about being in a northern city. I seen programmes about other cities near by where separation between the races are closer to something I’ve only experienced in parts of America. Don’t get me wrong growing up in Bristol wasn’t easy. My parents amazingly moved into a area which was very white and survived through all the NF sprayed on the house, brick attacks, etc. I was also one of only 2 Black guys in my primary/junior school. I could tell stories of running away from the National Front (Kingswood was well known for being their stomping grounds) and the different brushes I’ve had with racism including in London a couple times.

What bugs me is like David Starky’s ranting is these people do/should know better. My parents and our old  lovely neighbours supported them greatly and stood up for them. Without their support things would have been a lot worst… So you can see why I’m pissed at those people and I guess the fact Manchester for not doing better.

What kind of society are we if we don’t all stand up for each other?! And yes I know the Bystander effect.

I imagine some of you are saying, stop getting so worked up… its a TV programme and one social experiment (although they did run it 3x to the same effect). Maybe I should remember the benefits of moving to Manchester but its hard to be happy and defend the great city of Manchester in the face of such a obviously bad thing, even if staged for TV…

A singles gastro club night

Barbecue Ribs Green Well Food Macro July 18, 20104

When Josh originally tweeted me, I got to say I looked but was in too much pain to look at in detail. Now looking at it again, I like the idea of the gastro club and I won’t lie foaf dining is a take off that but for people who never met before. This one certainly attracts me like never before. I had considered it in the past but having to get someone to go with was always a issue. On top of that most of my Manchester friends are in relationships so that was always a problem.

A member approached me asking if we could do a special  ”singles” Gastroclub dinner. So I want to get an idea of how many people would be interested in attending. I am only doing this for purely selfish reasons – I want a Gastroclub wedding. NO PRESSURE.

How would it work?

It would be a one off event so the normal Gastroclub dinner would still happen in the same month. We would allow for a longer time to mingle prior to dinner and after. It would be a relaxed event much like the normal Gastroclub except you’d know everyone in the room was single and looking to meet someone. There wouldn’t be name badges or any “speed” meeting of any sort. The only stipulation would be that you have to sit next to someone you’d not sat next to before – to mix it up a bit.

So I’m signed up to see what happens… #GCDinnerDate

Excited! Food and Love what more could you ask for? I wonder how the bill will be worked out… yes who pays on the first date, boom boom :)

Why is it so hard to find a normal, single woman I fancy?

Dating in the 21st Century

So I have been meaning to blog about Northern Lass 32 for a while, since Josh or Tim pointed me at it… She’s started writing a series for the Guardian which has got me going a few times.

Northern Lass, 32, wishes she could just do things the old-fashioned way – flutter eyelashes in a bar. Here, she opens an occasional series on navigating the new dating jungl

Ok so far so good, always good to have some more focus on dating in the 21st century, because it certainly needs it.

…as I quickly found out it’s very different in your 30s than in your 20s; things have changed. In my early 20s, I could rock up to a club and 50% of the guys would also be single. Therefore with a scientific combination of the power of averages and copious amounts of alcohol, it really wasn’t that hard to dance around someone at the Music Box (RIP), give them the eye, pretend you could hear what they were saying, then … BAM! Boyfriend! Well at least that’s how I remember it.

Now however, they are all paired off, settled down, off the shelf and there is the added minefield of multi-platform stalkfests such as Facebook and internet dating sites to navigate.

Yes those days are pretty much long gone. Many of my coupled friends say pretty much the same, go down the club and find someone ffs. Well its not that simple, specially when older and somewhat wiser?

a few of my friends had tried Internet dating and loved it. So, figuring I had nothing to lose but a subscription fee, I signed up to Guardian Soulmates and Match.com. That was 12 months ago, and wow has it been an interesting ride. The messages and dates have ranged from the lovely to the out-and-out bonkers.

I will say this now… I have tried both Match and Guardian Soulmates. Thinking was Match might have the biggest selection and Guardian Soulmates would be full of left leaning woman who might fit nicely.

Match.com for me was a total joke, I signed up for 1 month to try it out and although I did talk to a few woman nothing really got far. I did go on one or two dates but what that was about the time I really noticed how much people will lie in there profiles. Not just a bit but quite a lot… Lies about all types of things. Heck since then, I’m sniffy about all types of things.. Had a woman once lie about which country she was from, why? I have no idea!

Guardian soulmates… worst still. Why? Well its simple.

Everyone laughs at the uniform dating advert on TV. Uniform dating sign up if you wear a uniform, signup if you like people who wear them, heck sign up if you dont! Enough said really!

Well Guardian soulmates is pretty much the same. I met people who bought a guardian paper once, or those who honestly have never bought a guardian paper ever. Worst still I met a woman whose politics was right leaning. Don’t get me wrong I’m not going to reject someone just because there politics are not aligned with mine – that would be very bad. But you expect someone on Guardian Soulmates to have a slightly left leaning viewpoint on the world.

Internet dating is a bit like catalogue shopping for someone you want to hang out with. Little thumbnail pictures of, in the Guardian’s case: X hanging out with friends, or X building an African village and then X skydiving for charity. Or in Match.com’s case: X lifting up his top to show his abs and his ex-girlfriend’s name tattooed on his chest.

Among all the faces and messages, I started to communicate with a few blokes that seemed nice so started to meet up for the odd date. But a pattern emerged. All the guys I got on with and fancied didn’t come from Manchester. Derby, Sheffield, Kent, Liverpool – all great dates, all who I would see again. Manchester, on the other hand, seemed to be a hotbed of dating disaster.

If you are comparing online dating with looking in a catalogue, your maybe not taking it seriously? I do know what she means about the photos and I’ve already had my say about those. And I won’t lie a pattern is emerging for me too, mainly to do with the Cholton area of Manchester, although I wouldn’t say I have any hotbed disasters, there have been a few places I would be weary of in the future.

The further examples of dates further drive me to start “The Life and Opinions of a Datasexual Gentleman” (or some such title) – thanks Janet Davis.

Generally I’ve met woman like Northern Lass 32 (although I’ve never bumped into her directly I don’t think) and frankly they have taken everything for a joke including meeting up in real life. Usually its there first time ever meeting anyone through the internet and its all…

a little surreal..?

Chill and take your time, stop rushing and just let things wash over you as interesting experiences

Heck worst comes to worst you could write a fictionalised, very contemporary, digital 21st century story connecting the rollicking & romance of 18thc classic. But of course not before I do… *smile*

updated…

I had not looked at the comments for that post till Vickytnz made a interesting comment about them. Wow, seriously wow… Maybe I should reconsider my contemporary fiction…?

The first Manchester Quantified Self Meetup

Life logging

I can happily tell the world that Manchester’s first Quantified Self Meetup will be Friday 5th July at MadLab.

Madlab will update their calendar real soon but you can sign up using Meetup.com for free.

I will be giving a talk about my work time, foodfeed.us blog and fitbit to kick start discussions. Of course we’re looking for other speakers to join me and talk about there own experiences in quantified self.

When:
Friday, July 5, 2013 – 6:30 – 8:30PM
Where:
Mad Lab: 36-40 Edge Street, Manchester, United Kingdom

Details:
Manchester QS meetup consists of Show & Tell where people present or simply talk for 10-15 mins about their experience and experiments with self-tracking, quantifying and self-hacking whether it involves devices, applications or not.

This part lasts till about 8:30pm. We then move next door to Terrance or Common, which is an essential and integral part of the meetup, as important as the first part the ‘Show & Tell’. If you can join us, I encourage you to do so. Not only it’s always good fun, the conversations are equally interesting.

Peaktime trains vs Hotels

Overhead power lines

I can happily say I have to date never knowingly paid for a peak time ticket to London.

Even when going back and forth to London from Manchester for those meetings with the rest of the BBC, I just couldn’t do it.

Two questions bugs me around this…

  1. How can Virgin trains charge more than a hotel in Central London (booked within 24hours) for a peak ticket?
  2. Why is there peak time from 3pm – 7pm if you leave London but not the same if you leave anywhere else at the same time?

The current price of an Anytime peak return is £308! This means you can get on a train anytime and return anytime within a month. Even if you don’t need that level of flexibly, the cheapest peak time return tickets are roughly £217. Yes you can get 2 singles but there still roughly a total of £210 and you must go on that train there and back.

An Anytime off peak return is £77.30 with the same return anytime within a month. Giving you plenty of flexibility (just remember to avoid the 2nd peak time).

To be fair all these prices are based on a booking within a month of travelling and are for Virgin Trains to and from London. If you book over a month before the prices do lower and 2 months before can be reasonable. Just a shame the discount fares are not that great.

So saying all that, what I worked out early on while at BBC Backstage was, if you take a off peak train and stay in a hotel, its still cheaper than a peak time train fare. Yes believe it or not, and its not one of those crappy unknown hotels, I mean the likes of Holiday Inn, Ibis, Ramada, etc. So not your elite or boutique level hotels but a good hotel with a good bed and breakfast. Plus I don’t mean booking way in advance, I mean booking within 24hours.

The only issue is you have to give up your night before to catch the off peak train.

For many this is a absolute no way/no chance. Its hard enough going down to London to spend a night or two away from the family, let alone prolong it by adding more time away. I totally understand and who am I to judge, but for someone like myself, this is a great opportunity to save some licence fee, sleep soundly over night in a hotel and wake up early for that 10am meeting. Sometimes I even get the chance to meet up with old London friends on the Sunday, which certainly sweetens the deal some what. At least it doesn’t seem like I’m using my personal time for work then.

Frankly I hate getting up early, and there is nothing better than being able to get up later and still make that 10am meeting, without worry about delays or scrapping for the last seat on a stupidly packed peak-time train.