Computational photography, wow?

Dublin

I recently got the night shot upgrade on my pixel 2 smartphone.  Just as I got the chance to give it a try in Dublin (I only noticed it in Dublin).

As a Nikon D3200 digital SLR user, I’ve had a lot of respect for the lens, manual controls, etc… But the promise of computation photography is quite impressive.

Trinity College Dublin at night

Computational photography takes a swarm of data from images or image sensors and combines it algorithmically to produce a photo that would be impossible to capture with film photography or digital photography in its more conventional form. Image data can be assembled across time and space, producing super-real high-dynamic range (HDR) photos–or just ones that capture both light and dark areas well…

…But as much as computational photography has insinuated itself into all major smartphone models and some standalone digital cameras, we’re still at the beginning.

The images are pretty great  but thats only the start…

The coming developments will allow 3D object capture, video capture and analysis for virtual reality and augmented reality, better real-time AR interaction, and even selfies that resemble you more closely.

The idea of the smartphone capturing much more than just the light and sound is something very different from a DSLR cameras, and I don’t just mean a lytro light-field thing.  Understanding whats in the viewfinder, where it is, what angle, what material, etc, ect clearly puts them into a different category? To be fair my DSLR doesn’t even capture the location which is annoying when sorting out pictures later, for example finding the pictures from when I first went to Berlin in 1999.

There is a slight concern about using cloud based computational power. But with the pixel devices there is a special onboard chip providing local processing. This seems to be the way forward right now, although I heard others are hoping to do it via a 5G connection on a server. I can see half see why to do it, but as computational photography increases the load on the server will force companies to charge fees for server capacity. Expect extra charges added to your smartphone bill? Thats not including the costs of sending the data (but luckily the costs are dropping on this).

Its fascinating area but I wonder how much actual data will be shared with the creator/user? How much will be addressable by applications/services? Will it be locked up or funnelled out to the manufacturer, for their benefit only? I also wonder if computational photography plays havoc with the notion of the original untouched image?

Lets meet Ian Forrester

For a while I’ve been thinking maybe I should have a Wikipedia page, not because I’m some kind of celeb but rather to capture all the different things which have been mentioned or interviewed. However I know this is a very bad idea. So I’m trying to keep a log of them in standard notes and maybe add them to my aboutme page. Currently it feels like I’m writing the history of me (or even the story of me).

Anyhow, its interesting to write and read over. I’m trying to be objective and use the wikipedia rules for verified sources. Theres some key points including my brush with death, the inclusive board top 100,  but also some more fun parts like the recent blog from the BBC GEL team, lets meet Ian Forrester.

In this instalment we speak to Ian Forrester, Senior Producer (and ‘Firestarter’) at BBC R&D. Ian recently made the Inclusive Board’s top 100 list of most influential Black, Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) leaders in UK tech. He talks about his journey to the BBC, memories of epic food fights and his interest in empowering the citizen.

I know everyone has a story/book in them, but I certainly think mine will make a interesting reading.

Bloody Mountstevens! I really hated that job, but loved going to replay records to spend my hard earned money on vinyl.

Arriva trains changes to their onboard wifi service

transport for wales terriable wifi

I noticed Arriva trains (now Transport for Wales) have changed their policy on board wifi usage. I had problems with it in the past…

Now instead of cutting you off when you hit the shocking amount of 20meg (yes you heard me right – 20meg!) They throttle the internet to your device at 20meg.

Its still not ideal but I do feel its a better compromise that cutting the internet completely. Especially because frankly the signal from tethered phones during the journey through south Wales can be pretty poor for miles and miles.

Manchester’s crazy crane skyline

Manchester cranes at Oxford Road

Its pretty crazy to see the amount of cranes in skyline right now. Its extremely noticeable and picked up by many including the Manchester evening news.

Its good to see things moving on and up, but wow! My young boy wishes to live in the centre of a skyscraper city may come true…

The dream has become their reality

Inception Mombasa

Imran posted a link to me from Wired magazine around Lucid Dreaming.

I had a good old read and found it very interesting and similar to how I’ve understood the current state of lucid dreaming.

Lucid dreaming has been slowly gaining prominence in recent years. The release of Christopher Nolan’s 2010 science-fiction blockbuster Inception— in which corporate spies sneak into their marks’ dreams to steal their secrets and implant bad ideas — was a landmark moment. (The spies use a top as a tool for reality tests; if it spins indefinitely, then they know they are in the dream state; if it falls, they are awake.) Nolan said that the film was inspired by his own experience of lucid dreaming and that its ambiguous ending—the camera lingers on a spinning top, leaving viewers to wonder whether or not it will fall—should be taken to mean that “perhaps all levels of reality are valid.” Google searches for “lucid dreaming” spiked around the movie’s release and have never returned to pre-2010 levels. And the internet, of course, has helped. A constantly updated Lucid Dreaming forum on Reddit has accumulated more than 190,000 subscribers.

Later in the piece there is some rough and ready double blind experiments with Galantamine in the equivalent Inception’s Mombasa dream den.

The workshops have also provided him with a way to move his own research ahead. They have given him access to a group of people who are willing to participate in his studies, even if they aren’t certified by a lab.

Eames: They come here every day to sleep?

Elderly Bald Man: [towards Cobb] No. They come to be woken up. The dream has become their reality. Who are you to say otherwise?

Extending REM has been a dream (pun intended) for many and Galantamine might be a step towards this. Its been mentioned on a few blogs and forums I’ve seen but never really looked into it. Any notion of a drug to extend this is worrying for me personally but like microdosing each to their own I guess.

Galantamine is not a magic bullet, though; it can trigger nasty side effects like headaches, nausea, and insomnia. And it can work too well—cautionary tales of galantamine-induced nightmares can be found alongside success stories. “It felt like my brain was being drawn and quartered,” one lucid dreamer wrote. “I kept falling back asleep into these bizarre dreams that I can only describe as my head being scraped against the bottom of a submerged iceberg.” “It felt like I was falling through my bed and all these loud screeching sounds and vibrations started happening,” testified another. “It was so scary and I felt paralyzed.”

The wired piece centres around Galantamine and the study of it on Lucid dreaming. The study to date is questionable, but like the quantified self community, its good to see someone trying something. Although I personally would have declared something under competing interests, as Stephen LaBerge did setup the Lucidity Institute.

Regardless its all very interesting and thanks to Imran for the post…

More gender issues I’ve spotted

http://nobaddatesjustgoodstories.tumblr.com/post/173444153673/the-insecurities-of-mankind

I had planned a series of blog posts about different gender items I’ve seen in blog posts, the news , etc but never got the time. Instead I kept adding them to wallabag and tagging them to blog.

So think of this blog post as a series of micoblog with little comments after each link.

No baby slings or bananas: are these the new fragile masculinity rules?

This one sums up so many things I hear and can’t stand. Shes right, how fragile is masculinity that eating a banana in a certain way can cause idiots to worry. Its frankly so stupid I can’t bring myself to say anything more that what I’ve said before.

We can’t want gender equality and still expect guys to pay for the first date and Viewpoint: ‘Why most men should pay on first dates’

Dare I say anything more…? To be fair its been a long time since I mentioned who pays on the first date. But to be fair there is arguments and tensions, which is why it keeps coming up. For example if you take the massive gender pay gap and then exercise it in who pays for the bill. Most heterosexual dates would have the man paying 20-33% more for the bill. This was noted to me and I pointed out the minority pay gap is pretty awful too making things even more tricky on a first date.

How thrillers offer an antidote to toxic masculinity and Flirting and you’ll be called a rapist? Oh please grow up, Superman

Lessons in how to be a good man? Maybe? Not so sure as the old-fashioned view from Superman actor Henry Cavill says it all. Generally the men in  thrillers I’ve seen, might be better than the toxic masculinity you see now but not exactly enlighten to feminism.

What Do Men Think It Means To Be A Man?

So this is very interesting research. I originally heard the love, sex and money issue a while ago, but didn’t dig into the survey till recently.

When I read,

Pop culture was a source of inspiration for an understanding of manhood for younger men (42 percent of those age 18 to 34), while only 17 percent of men 35 to 64 and 12 percent of men 65 and over said the same.

My instant thought was something of a worry, as I’m not seeing the best examples in pop culture (although I have to admit I don’t spend much time in pop culture so maybe I’m automatically biased).

The society pressure and daily concerns was another key one, which I’d love to have similar results from a decade ago and a decade before that.

The question How would you say it’s an advantage to be a man at your work right now? Blew my mind…

59% of men surveyed didn’t think Men are taken more seriously, Men make more money, Men have more choice, Men have more professional development opportunities, Men generally have more support from their managers, Men are explicitly praised more often?

This is delusion at its worst, even Even with the #metoo movement making this super clear. But it is consistent with a conversation I had in my barbars a while ago to be fair, when I mentioned going to see the Guilty Feminist live recording in Liverpool.

All of the survey data is on Github, which feels like could be more data to add to the Modern Romance reddit data. Some of this may appear in my book one day.

Its a night with A Guy Called Gerald not Trafford Parsons

A guy called Gerald and a annoying person called Trafford Parsons

I booked on Funzing to see and hear from the amazing legend A guy called Gerald. Originally I booked to see him on the 10th October but on my journey on my scooter back from work caught a text message on my pebble watch that Gerald was in a motorcycle accident and the event would be cancelled.

FUNZING EVENT UPDATE: We are very sorry to inform you that A Guy Called Gerald has been in a motorbike accident and will not be able to hold the event tonight. The good news is that A Guy Called Gerald will make a full recovery and be able to hold the event in the future. We will be in contact in the next 7 days with a new date. Apologies for any inconvenience caused – Funzing Team

Quite spooky being on a motorcycle when seeing this but great to hear he was fine.

7 days later another text message from Funzing.

FUNZING EVENT UPDATE: A Guy Called Gerald: Acid, House and Hacienda.
Due to Gerald being in a traffic accident the talk was postponed. Gerald has since made a full recovery and the talk will now take place on 21st November. The talk will be held at the same venue as before – The Frog and Bucket, Manchester.

Great it happens to be on a day when I can make it I thought…

The day comes around and I’m looking forward to it. After settling down in a chair with a drink. Things start with a guy in a massive hat and dungarees climbing on stage, closely followed by Gerald who is looking very cool in his sunglasses and relaxed style.

A guy called Gerald

Its clear that the guy with the massive hat and dungarees is there to keep Gerald on track and ask questions. As Gerald talks, he draws on the backdrop but he gets annoying when he’s not spelling the words correctly and asking how to spell words to write (now I understand why). As a man with dyslexia, I would avoid writing things on the back if it wasn’t necessary and I wasn’t sure how to spell it. Heck I would let it go. But it happened again and again. It started interfering with the Gerald’s talk. Worst still this man was interrupting Gerald more and more.

Frankly it got worst and worst, his interruptions and rambling was getting out of hand as he started telling his own story. Some people shout for him to shut up and let Gerald talk.

A guy called Gerald
Finally Gerald gets his story out, while talking to his cousin.

They were right we had came to see and hear Gerald not this other guy, who called himself Trafford Parsons? To be fair the first time he said his name I heard Trafford Parsley. I never heard of him and frankly never want to hear from him again after ruining my and other peoples night.

He took the option to turn an event about a legend into a story about himself and that is unforgivable, disrespectful and just bang out of order. I only came back in the second half because I hope it would get better. It only slightly did but I also did wonder why for all the talk about Geralds music, nothing was played at all. The first half had no music and the second half had a random playlist from the late 80s. Like a Spotify playlist or something on low volume for background.

It was simply a car crash to watch and deep down frustrating to see every time Gerald was interrupted. I think if Trafford had not shut up in the second half more, I might have walked out for good. I wanted to ask a question but by the end of the night I was so annoyed that I couldn’t be bothered and Trafford didn’t leave enough time for proper audience questions.

Later looking him up, I realise he might be a Manchester icon in the same way when I first time came across Gordo.

I ask Trafford, wheres your self-awareness and respect for Gerald?

It was like he wanted to share the limelight! Sorry no you can’t that night was about Gerald not Trafford. If you want your own, speak to Funzing and get your own night. For me this is unforgivable. He ruined the event and my night. I’ve already asked for my money back!

I’m not the only one looking at the reviews of the event.

Would’ve been a whole heap better without Trafford Parsons! A rude man who didn’t allow Gerald to tell his story or share his experiences. Boring and a waste of money

 

Interesting journey through Gerald’s music history. Co host was a little irritating at times although I appreciate he was trying to keep Gerald on track, it wasn’t always necessary

 

The Skopje Jetstream mix

Another strange mix of trance from across the spectrum of trance. Recorded from Skopje (SKP) to Berlin (SXF) recently, I tried to pick a few different tunes but also double down on the obvious as I do currently love that tune. Sound levels are not idea along with some of the mixes but a good mix generally.

I have another mix from Skopje to come but that might take some time to upload. Till then sitback, ensure your seat belts are fasten and enjoy the smooth Skopje jetstream.

  1. Love (Vocal mix) – DJ Eco Feat Lira Yin
  2. Solarcoaster (Protoculture remix) – Solarstone
  3. The Obvious – Muhamed Sherief & WAAJII
  4. The Situation (Liquid life remix) – A Situation
  5. Please save me (push remix) – Sunscream Vs Push
  6. Tears (Protoculture remix) – Markus Schulz presents Dakota
  7. Perpertual Motion – Protoculure
  8. Take me away in the night (purple haze remix) – 4 Strings
  9. Torrent – Dave 202
  10. Winter Falls – Calgar C
  11. Time of Our lives (Paul Van Dyk club mix) – Paul Van Dyk
  12. Underlying feeling (Adam K & Soha Club mix) – Sylvia Tosun
  13. The Obvious – Muhamed Sherief & WAAJII
  14. Barcelona (Gene Xander remix) – Addictive Glance
  15. In and Out of Love – Armin Van Buuren feat Sharon den Adel
  16. Humming the lights – Armin van Buuren presents Gaia

The Skopje sunset mix

Another series of trips means another series of new mixes on my pacemaker device. This one was done one evening in Skopje, Macedonia. Slightly cut short by having to get somewhere for dinner but its a different kind of mix with a number of ones I’ve played over the years.

  1. Empty Street – Late night Alumni
  2. Columbia – Paul Van Dyk
  3. Ephemeral – Nakhiya
  4. Cream – Blank & Jones
  5. Humming the lights – Armin Van Buuren pres Gaia
  6. The Dark Knight – Khomha
  7. Nailed (James Dymond remix) – Paul Webster
  8. Emotional Life (Elite Electronic Remix) – Armos
  9. Nardo (Jorn Van Deynhoven Mix) – Jorn Van Deynhoven & Manuel Le Saux
  10. Going Home (Jorn Van Deynhoven mix) – Cosmic Gate & Emma Hewitt

Enjoy!

Living life to the maximum

Ian Forrester #ib100

The last few days have been quite incredible, mainly due to being added to Inclusion boards top 100. Its been quite a whirl wind but my feet are still solidly on the floor.

I want to say thank you to everyone who posted, liked, retweeted, tooted, left a comment, emailed, texted or verbally said to me congrats. I means tons to me. Every-time I look at the list and all the other people on the list, I’m just ever-so humbled.

But being on the list is one thing, I’ve been pushing for a long while for diversity and to be honest this has massively helped even in the short few days since it was public. Imagine what else could/can be done?!

But I wanted to stop for a moment and tell you why this means a lot to me, part of it was in my previous post.

Without technology I would be a very different person and I want to help many others realise there true potential without prejudice and without fear. If I can be a part of this, I will hopefully inspire others to join us as we drive the much needed change…

I’m very conscious that just over 8 years ago I was almost dead. I always vowed never to let things stop me, if its truly important to me. And this is super important to me! I can’t even start to express how important. Not being entered as such, but rather the fact I’m doing something right. Its easy to get inside your own head and lose track of whats really needed in this world.

I always wanted to live life to the maximum and also have eyes on a future I wanted to see exist beyond me.

Thank you all again!

I’m in the Inclusive top 100 #IB100

I’m extremely happy to be announced as one of the top 100 most influential Black, Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) leaders in the UK tech sector. The list, produced by board appointments firm Inclusive Boards, was released today at the House of Commons as part of the official launch of the Inclusive Tech Alliance.

I have been sitting on this news for quite some time as it was embargoed from publication.

Inclusive Boards Logo

I’m unsure who(m) nominated me (lots of names come to mind) but I am very pleased they did. Maybe it was something to do with my keynote at Afrotech earlier this year? Maybe it might be something to do with Afrofutures a few years ago? Or maybe its a combination of different things and just me and my outlook. Its clear as day I have been fighting for diversity and inclusion at work and everywhere I go, its critical and I’ve become less and tolerant when theres a willful lack of it.

I say tolerant and it might be a strong word, even the wrong word but I do feel very strongly about it and every-time I read the figures of actual levels of racial diversity it just eats me up inside. There’s a real push to increase gender diversity which people keep confusing with actual diversity.

I’m always reminded of this picture when thinking about gender diversity in tech. Like gender, like sexuality, etc (Likewise for Neuro-diversity but thats another story.). Racial diversity needs an equal amount of people pushing for it too. The inclusive tech alliance can help make this a reality. Never underestimate how important this can be for young BAME children living in forgotten parts of the country wondering about their place in the future. I was reminded of this very recently in Macedonia of all places…

The Alliance has been set up in response to new research by Inclusive Boards that will show the sector is significantly lagging behind others on diversity within senior leadership. The founder of the Inclusive Tech Alliance (ITA), Samuel Kasumu, who is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Race Disparity Advisory Board said:

“Technology is increasingly playing an important role in driving our economy and there is a great need to ensure that everyone can fully participate in the jobs and opportunities technology brings. Ian Forrester and others featured in this list today are role models that will inspire the next generation, and hopefully help to improve diversity within the sector.”

I can do better, we can all do better, and being part of the inclusive tech alliance, will help greatly to get the message of diversity and inclusion out there. Especially in the tech sector which seem to shy away from the arts. A sector which dominates so much of our modern lives but fail badly with diversity.

Without technology I would be a very different person and I want to help many others realise there true potential without prejudice and without fear. If I can be a part of this, I will hopefully inspire others to join us as we drive the much needed change…

I won’t be at the event in the house of commons, unfortunately. But look out for the full list of people in newspapers and online.

Thank you!

The pebble maybe water resistance but not spa resistance…

Dead pebble

Sadly its the 2nd Pebble smartwatch I have lost to my love of spas. First one died during a spa visit in the Midland hotel, weirdly about a year ago. I instantly got another one exactly the same as my kickstarter version. It worked great but I didn’t learn the lesson and kept wearing the smartwatch at spas and swimming pools.

Then a few days in a hotel spa in London and Liquidrome in Berlin, caused my smartwatch to fail again.

Dead pebble

Looking at the damage I think its the intense steam of the steam room (to be fair, was in the steam room for over 30mins) mixed with the heat of a sauna. Then floating in a salt water pool just killed it for good. I really should have done the bag of rice trick but I was mitte, Berlin and well bags of rice wasn’t easily available at midnight while leaving Liquidrome.

After a few days in Berlin with no smartwatch I realised how much I missed it and looked online to get a replacement. Black pebble 2’s were closer to the 400 pound mark, while the white one was less than half that brand new. So I got a white one.

All the my pebbles
From left to right, My dead pebble from 2017, then my new white pebble and finally the one which just died in Berlin

I did spend some serious time looking at alternatives to the pebble but couldn’t find a decent alternative for anywhere near the price. My list was simply this…

  • Non LCD, so I can get more than 3 days battery on a charge
  • Basic apps to do sleep/fitness tracking, read Google tasks, etc
  • Clear display in sunlight and darkness
  • Replacement straps which are not custom to the device
  • Android WearOS support to get notifications, etc

Nothing too complex but the smartwatch still seems lacking in diversity. As most seem to be clearly copies of previous with beefed up specs. I even consider the Fitbit charge but I hated the straps and the size was massive.

When Berlin was raw, unresolved and club culture ruled

90's Berlin

I am quite lucky to have visited Berlin in the 90’s. Ok it was at the very end of the 90’s but only 10 years after the Berlin wall had separating East and West Berlin (1999). It was quite a different place from now, but thats true of most of the cities in the world right?

I happened to have been in Berlin during the nineties.berlin exhibition last week and unlike Helsinki’s Amos Rex, actually got a ticket and visited.

It was quite something, the first room blew me away and taught me things I hadn’t really thought about but Carl (my East Berlin friend) had mentioned a few times. For example the impact of the clash of west and east on the police force and law. It was amazing to see and read about the world famous Tresor, which I never visited partly because I was somewhat musically intimated by such hard techno at the time.

90's Berlin

My dreams of visiting the Love Parade were lifted and then sunk as I read about the parade then heard about the commercial downfall of the parade. A lesson other parades should consider. When I actually planned to go in 2004 but it was cancelled. Always put Burning man and Love parade on my wish list but Love parade was actually do able. At least it was till it was shut down in the late zeros. Missed out on that one.

90's Berlin

I personally found the talking heads really interesting to hear, as there were a variety of them including a artists, swatters, police officer, hooligan, politician, djs, etc. I found Westbam and Danielle De Piccicotto really interesting as they mentioned Dr Motte, who I had heard of but completely forgot about. Also Westbam mentioned Eastbam, which makes sense there would be a Eastbam.

90's Berlin

My only issue I felt was the Berlin wall and the selling of parts of the wall. It felt really strange especially since the whole exhibit felt very critical of the whole gentrification of Berlin. I wasn’t the only one who felt this too.

90's Berlin

As a whole the exhibit is mind blowing and well worth the money to go visit. I would like to spend more time there next time as I got rushed through the last part due to the exhibit closing. The bot info system worked good and beats downloading some app or relying on QR codes.

It certainly captured some of the rawness of Berlin in the 90’s and made me realise how unresolved everything was back then. Still love Berlin.

A spy under the tree for the holidays?

The Observer on IOT and spying

Quite enjoyed Guardian’s piece about the raff of home iot devices coming to the home these holidays.

If you’ve so far withstood the temptation to install a smart speaker in your home, worried about the potential privacy pitfalls and a bit embarrassed about the notion of chatting aimlessly to an inanimate object, brace yourselves. This Christmas, the world’s biggest tech giants, including Amazon, Google and Facebook, are making another bid for your living room, announcing a range of new devices that resemble tablets you can talk to.

It was a real welcome surprise to read/hear Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino too. Her new book Smarter Homes: How Technology Will Change Your Home Life is pretty much on the money.

“It’s very clear what they’re trying to do: sell you more stuff through third-party use of your own information,”

The fear about whether or not such devices are actually always on causes some users to relegate their smart speakers to corridors. “Think about where in the home you want to use these things, particularly if you think they might be listening all the time,”

I had the joy of capturing some of Alexandra’s early thoughts while putting together the ethics of personal data video interviews back in 2015.

I think the only thing missing from the article is a link to Mozilla’s buyers guide, which charts in a friendly consumer fashion whats actually going on underneath the surface of the iot devices we may get over the holiday period.

Travels with Pacemaker… live from Skopje

Travels with Pacemaker Skopje
Taken by Adriangradinar

Its rare when I get the opportunity to Dj on a big stage in front of a crowd live but I certainly do enjoy it. This time it was live from British Council’s PlayUK 2018 in Skopje Macedonia. Someone couldn’t make it and I said well if you need a DJ I’m totally up for it.

Very enjoyable, shame I didn’t have longer and I started mixing during the sound test meaning I didn’t hit record. I did consider hitting stop and then hitting record but people were dancing and well the mix was pretty simple.