…bring 100 euros in cash and your passport?!

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Myself and Kate have had this long running dare to take each other out of comfort zone, it all comes from our recording on the listening project. A part of it made it to BBC Radio Manchester and  BBC Radio 4.

Its been a while and Kates decided to take me somewhere in March. I say somewhere because I literally know nothing about where we are going ..except a few things.

I’ve been told to bring..

Comfortable & warm clothes, a waterproof coat, a pair of sturdy trainers or walking shoes.

I don’t have much when it comes to rugged wear like waterproof coats, I’m more an umbrella man. But I did buy a pair of Gortex trainers just incase.

On top of those… Kates told me to bring

My Passport, 100 Euros in cash, addresses to post postcards, snacks, tunes and some sunglasses?

I am in the total dark!

Kate has confirmed there might be some mains power but no wifi and little to little to no mobile signal. Meaning I’ll be off the grid for a short while in March. This also means you shouldn’t be alarmed if you don’t see me tweet for a while. I already have 3 mobiles on 3 different networks in the hope one will get some data. Tunes and snacks I can do but sunglasses? I do wonder where we are going?

Part of me finds it exciting and the other side finds it terrifying. I have the idea we might end up on a island somewhere off Ireland. But that doesn’t really explain the sunglasses. I’m also assuming you need a passport for Ireland (which isn’t strictly true) but might explain the 100 euros in cash?

Why did I sign up to this again?

Update on being turned away from home sweet home

I did a little update since being turned away from home sweet home nq last year…

Here’s the update…

Since I wrote the blog last year, a lot has happened. Someone in the social media team picked up on this blog post and got in touch with the owner. The owner (Marie) then got in touch with me and we met one morning in the Home Sweet Home at the great northern. We talked through things and she explained the Northern Quarter kitchen is a lot smaller, the chief may not have felt comfortable with cooking for me; but none of that was an excuse for being turned away. Especially since I was happy to take the risk after everything was explained to me by the manager on the day.

She brought along the current allergy menu (as things change every few months) and I went through it with her and a couple chief’s (I wasn’t quite sure if one of them was from each restaurant or not) to see what I could and couldn’t have. After the exchange, I dashed off to work with a copy of the allergy menu. We then kept in touch over email and we double checked different foods for allergies. I was very confident about what would be fine.

I had always planned to revisit home sweet home after our exchange but with the winter holidays, etc, didn’t quite make it. I also got into the habit of making a big salad from bits from the supermarket on the way to werewolf at Madlab. However this month I arrived back from Liverpool early and decided I’ll finally test Home sweet home again.

This time I was shown to a single table and I asked for the allergy menu. I was asked about my allergies and I produced the allergy card. This was passed on to the manager who took my order and warned me about cross contamination. I said it was fine and she went away. She came back pretty soon afterwards and told me the beans are obviously a problem but what would I like instead? I laughed I would love halloumi instead, she said not a problem and went away.

It took a while, which is fine as I had time on my side. The Wifi was a little bit of a pain as I had to register for it. But generally I sat and drank my cocktail. Then the moment came, chicken fajitas with halloumi. It was very nice and came with dips which I wasn’t sure about, so left them as it was great without them

I paid when I finished and gave quite a big tip for a cocktail and main, but I was impressed not to be turned away again and was happy with the service.

The blog post had certainly helped and I’ll be back at Home Sweet Home more often now. Thanks Marie and the team!

M14 impresses all the dragons in the their den

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I have to give a massive congrats to John Kershaw from M14 industries, who took the previoulsy mentioned Bristlr app from niche dating to hosted matching platform (very much selling shovles during a goldrush). Yesterday he appeared on the BBC’s Dragons Den and struck a great deal with Peter and Nick for a reasonable percentage of the business.

Of course John had a viewing party with friends, investers and family. Its season 14 episode 15 if you are looking for it.

John’s written his thoughts up here.

Before Nick showed his hand, and it was looking like I might get investment from all five dragons simultaneously, I started to internally panic. This isn’t how this happens.

After all the Dragons had given their offers, I knew I’d have to go with Nick and Peter; they have the experience and if they’re not willing to share, I don’t have much choice.

And it’s at this point where an interesting thing happens: I forgot everyone’s names.

Certainly another great story for Manchester’s Startup community and the early investors who saw the potential of M14 industries early on. I personally was always impressed with John and although we sometimes disagreed about what should be next on the task list, its great to get the validation that it wasn’t just a silly app!

Scratching the disappointment of masculinity on radio

BBC Merseyside debate

Its been a long time since I was last on BBC Merseyside.  has flown by, but I’ve done a lot in that time. Ngunan has asked a few times if I would come back on the show, and with Valentines day coming up, I agreed.

Theres a lot of history between us, especially when it comes to who pays on the first date. All we needed was Jody to complete the trip down memory lane.

In the middle I did give my 4 things for Valentines day from a singleton to the other million singletons in the UK.

  1. Get busy and don’t dwell on previous relationships
  2. Reconnect with old friends
  3. Get out of you’re comfort zone
  4. Do something constructive

Things took a interesting turn as we started to unpick why… I won’t spoil it but I’ll be back to talk more about the disappointment of masculinity, something I picked up from Trainspotting T2 a few weeks earlier.

Trainspotting director Danny Boyle has revealed that its long-awaited sequel is going to be about “manhood and disappointed masculinity.”

I have clipped the audio without the music on archive.org but you can hear it in full on BBC iplayer.

Zoosk data breach? Or something else?

Sell the data?

I recently got a message from you’ve been pwned, suggesting that its likely some of my personal data has been leaked via dating site Zoosk.

In approximately 2011, an alleged breach of the dating website Zoosk began circulating. Comprised of almost 53 million records, the data contained email addresses and plain text passwords. However, during extensive verification in May 2016 no evidence could be found that the data was indeed sourced from the dating service. This breach has consequently been flagged as fabricated; it’s highly unlikely the data was sourced from Zoosk.

I had a idea what fabricated meant, but I had a little read…

What is a “fabricated” breach?

Some breaches may be flagged as “fabricated”. In these cases, it is highly unlikely that the breach contains legitimate data sourced from the alleged site but it may still be sold or traded under the auspices of legitimacy. Often these incidents are comprised of data aggregated from other locations (or may be entirely fabricated), yet still contain actual email addresses of unbeknownst to the account holder. Fabricated breaches are still included in the system because regardless of their legitimacy, they still contain personal information about individuals who want to understand their exposure on the web. Further background on unverified breaches can be found in the blog post titled Introducing “fabricated” breaches to Have I been pwned.

Sold or traded!

People laughed ages ago about the idea of selling user data but lets say dating site z had lost a lot of the market due to new players in the space. They needed to stay a float, prove to their investors they are still profitable? User data would be a useful resource for revenue… Of course this is illegal but you would cover your tracks… right! Make it look like “hackers!”

The example Tony Hunt uses is Justdate.com as a example

There’s a whole other discussion to be had about what causes a bundle of data to be fabricated and called a breach in the first place. Attempts to monetise the data by selling the alleged breach, extortion of the company involved or just simple big-noting by individuals seeking notoriety are all feasible explanations for many of the fabricated breaches I see. For now, the important thing is that if your data is circulating in one of these dumps, there’s now a way to know about it.

To be clear I’m not saying Zoosk is doing this, but someone is certainly pointing the finger.

The arrival, arrived and must be seen

Arrival

It was actually Si who recommended to me Arrival. It’s very unlike him to recommend films as he’s not really into non-interactive media, so I went and watched the film and was pretty much blown away.

I promise not to spoil the film but the film reminds me of 3 other great films, and I mean great! Interstellar, which was influenced by Contact and finally Donnie Darko.

Well worth watching before they do a weird donnie darko directors cut on it.

Its a 8/10 or even 9/10, and so many other people agree.

It’s dangerous to say an alien movie achieves any level of realism. That is, we won’t know which ones are realistic until the aliens show up in real life and confirm it. With that caveat, Arrival feels like an uncommonly realistic alien invasion movie, if only because it understands a simple fact of life often misunderstood by Hollywood: few of life’s biggest mysteries can be understood through conventional thinking. Too many alien movies assume that our interplanetary visitors will look, sound, and communicate like some gnarled version of ourselves. Arrival rewrites the rule book. Instead of filtering the aliens’ intentions through our understanding of human behavior, it asks us to put our thinking caps on and luxuriate in the unknown.

Absolutely!

I also found the gender dynamics really interesting too… Amy Adams is incredible, strong and very thoughtful when most of the men around her are reaching for their guns or jumping to action. Shes confident of her own abilities and knows what needs to be done. Funny enough, another film by the same director is Sicario, with Emily Blunt who also command total respect by everyone around her.

Amy Adams is magnificent as the linguist at the centre of a world-changing event; Jeremy Renner turns in a quiet, introspective supporting performance as a mathematician brought in to help solve the visitors’ mysteries. The interplay between the two, as they seek to understand an unfathomably complex alien language, feels effortlessly natural; as well as a sci-fi movie, Arrival functions as an astutely observed relationship drama.

Go watch this film!

The dyslexic success which is IKEA

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It was Zoe who pointed me at the secret taxonomy behind IKEA’s product names. I always knew there was something behind the product names but had no idea it was all the idea of a dyslexic man thinking about the world and where things fit within it.

Bookcases are named after professional occupations (Expedit means shop keeper) or boys’ names (The bestselling Billy bookcase is named after IKEA employee Billy Likjedhal). Outdoor furniture is named after Scandinavian islands (Äpplarö an island in the Stockholm archipelago and Västerön is in Aaland). Rugs are named after cities and towns in Denmark or Sweden (Ådum, Stockholm, Silkeborg), while bed sheets, comforters and pillowcases are named after flowers and plants. (Häxört or circaea lutetian is an herb in the primrose family).

The rules for naming were devised by IKEA’s founder Ingvar Kamprad, who struggled with dyslexia and had trouble remembering the order of numbers in item codes.

This lead me to find out more about Ingvar who I knew had a checkered background, especially with the Nazis.

I didn’t know he was dyslexic but this strikes such a cord.

One day, it is reported that Ingvar Kamprad overheard one his draughtsman (a kind of designer or engineer) named Gillis Lundgren. The man had difficulties fitting a table into a transport. After many unsuccessful trials he shouted out loud: “Oh God! Let’s pull off the legs and put them underneath!” Ingvar Kamprad understood that his employee was correct in his assessment of the situation. Moreover Kamprad understood the potential of this remark.

Soon afterwards IKEA introduced new product lines of furniture which were designed to be sold unassembled. In this way the cost for manufacturing (no more assembly) and logistics (standard transport costs due to optimized measures) could be reduced significantly.

Great insight, which started a great business… Should have known

 

The broken promise of one power supply

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I recently got a Dell XPS 13 to replace my slightly aging Lenovo thinkpad X230, which has been giving me a lot of head aches recently. Its a very attractive machine, being super thin and mainly metal instead of plastic. I thought about it long and hard before ordering it because of the lack of ports and extendable battery. In actual fact its got a similar battery to those seen in phones and tablets, aka non-removable. I guess Mac users will say “so what?” but no laptop I’ve ever had, has had nonremovable batteries.

The thing which nudged me about the Dell XPS 13 was a USB C port. USB C I’ve had ups and downs with since my Nexus 5X, but a year later I like the technology and want everything with USB C. I had imagined charging my laptop & phone with my new portable battery pack with Solar Power. But plugging my Nexus 5X into the laptop with my nice new USB C to USB C cable, selecting reverse charge; expecting something to happen but nothing. I thought it might supply a tiny current at least. I wrote it off as not enough current and waited till I got home.

At home I tried my solar battery charger with USB C, once again thinking this would supply enough charge to power the laptop even for a short while. Once again I was disappointed to find it not charging.

What gives! My dream collapsing, I hot the web and found a reddit thread and the PC World piece which made it crystal clear.

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Seems the dream isn’t dead but its not looking good for portable batteries packs. Maybe it might work with some of the wall chargers however, will have to try my Nexus 5X wall charger later.

I won 2nd prize at #Smutslam Manchester

I already wrote about smutslam manchester  and how I thought it was a fun idea. So I went along (alone, due to friends dropping out for various reasons).

I had no intention of talking, but Cameryn and helpers really put me at ease. I looked at the form with my drink in hand on the top floor of the kings arms in Salford. People were encouraged to fill in a question for Cameryn’s fcukbucket, which she would pull out during event.

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So I thought about it and asked Cameryn if the story had to end in a sexual manner? She said no, real life isn’t like that! Perfect answer, so I put my name in the “Smut slammers” glass.

The evening really started with a bang, Cameryn gave a entertaining talk about a sexual experience on a british train. Then explained the rules to be very clear. The evening move forward with talks by different people but what surprised me was having my name read out right before the break.

I was quite shocked even though I had only put it in the glass about 30mins before. I thought about a couple story’s but I remember Ross saying how good the disabled toilet incident story was (haven’t posted this one). It was fun but a little nerve racking with no slides or notes. I just talked and removed the less important details.

Like the other storys, I’m not going into details I can never do them justice, you needed to be there… Some were tragic, some hysterical, but all true and told from the heart. I described mine as somewhat Adrian Mole, which was picked up by a woman after the break. She told a story of a missed opportunity too.

In the second half, four more storys were told including the winner which was closely tragic and full of thought. The whole room was gripped by the story.

By the time the judges had decided, I was very convinced my story wasn’t going to be in the top 3. It was annouced there was a tie for 3rd place, then the lady who also described her story as like Adrian Mole with another man. Still thinking, I know who would be 1st and a idea who might be 2nd, I was gobsmacked when my name was announced as 2nd.

I was simply blown away, especially since there was some great well told stories and mine was much closer to rating 15 rather than 18.

The prizes were sex toys and the overall winner picked something which I couldn’t really described easily (I think its something for the very sexually mature I assume). I choose the purple vibrator, thinking it might be a nice gift for one of my female friends.

Vibrator

The whole event was fun, cheerful and I felt extremely welcome. I had thought it might be heavily kinky but it wasn’t, it was both kink and vanilla (I picked that up from what some people were saying on the night). Its going to run every month now and theres going to be monthly events in Manchester, London, Brighton, Bristol and Edinburgh.

Honestly it was a fantastic evening and so glad I went along, highly recommended for a good times, good atmosphere and good stories. Thanks to Cameryn, the judges and the whole team which made it happen.

Worth saying Cameryn is looking for a more accessible venue and a local sex toy supplier.

T2 Trainspotting with Danny Boyle

T2 Trainspotting with Danny Boyle at HomeMCR

I had the absolute pleasure to gain an exclusive ticket thanks to Herb Kim, to see T2 Trainspotting with Danny Boyle (director) in Q&A afterwards.

We will be joined by director and HOME Patron Danny Boyle for a Q&A following the T2: Trainspotting screening at 20:00 on Sat 28 Jan.

Theres little I can say about T2 trainspotting without spoilers, it’s a very good film and I have given it 7/10. In the Q&A Danny said a few things which I found interesting, but no spoilers again except this was one was fascinating…

Highly recommended and what a great person Danny is; he seemed very happy with my brief thoughts about the parellels with Trance and T2 Trainspotting.

Just checking its 2017, right?

Day 18/30: Shoes

This certainly fits under John Oliver’s “how is this still a thing?” On last week tonight

I can’t quite remember who first pointed me at the UK petition; but glad they did because I read the petition, was taken a back and signed it straight away.

Make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work

It’s still legal in the UK for a company to require female members of staff to wear high heels at work against their will. Dress code laws should be changed so that women have the option to wear flat formal shoes at work, if they wish. Current formal work dress codes are out-dated and sexist.

Yesterday I got a email telling me 152,420 people signed the petition, which is great as 100,000 was needed to get it debated.

Parliament is going to debate the petition you signed – “Make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work”.

The debate is scheduled for 6 March 2017.

Once the debate has happened, we’ll email you a video and transcript.

Look forward to hearing the outcome on this throw back to the past.

Seeking the Aurora in Iceland

Northern Lights (Aurora)

I have always wanted to see the Northern Lights / Aurora Borealis and finally there is a very good chance this might finally happen. Flights and Airbnb is booked for this yearly quarter and of course I’ll be happy to catch up with Brian too, especially since he nicely sent me the Iceland Aurora DVD.

I’ll be staying in Reykjavík, so if you think theres something I should be doing besides visiting the golden circlerelaxing in hot spas and of course seeing the northern lights. Do add a comment or tweet me.

Northern Lights

Can’t wait! Even got my winter trainers today, perfect timing…!

Cindy Gallop at #Futurefest – not so safe for work?

There is so much to say about Cindy Gallop (lots I already said), and this is the talk at Futurefest which really suprised me. Its not quite like other talks by Cindy, which are about one or two things. This one seems to include the kitch sink and each point is a talk in its self.

Its almost a shame I have to add #nsfw to the tags, but objectively it may not be…

Well worth watching as Cindy has plenty to say about a lot. She kind of reminds me of Pam who is also an incredible woman.

Smut slamming stuff in Manchester

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It was through Girl on the net’s blog that I first heard about #Smutslam.

I checked it out and thought it was a great idea, especially since I’ve wanted to go to a Moth live and more #nsfw Risk live events. Both are fancinating insight into the richness of life and human connections.

… the idea is that people put their names down to tell one short (less than 5 minute) story from their sexual past, and then eight to ten names are drawn at random. If you’re picked, you go up on stage to tell your story, and then there are prizes and fun and all the good stuff. You don’t have to tell a story, though – if you’re shy you can just sit in the audience and enjoy listening to other people’s.

I checked out the London one and wrote a task to consider running one in Manchester, as I think its a great idea and theres plenty of interesting stories I’ve heard from others. But when looking into it over brunch in Ezra & Gil, I saw there is a Manchester one already setup.

In actual fact, Cameryn Moore, the “award-winning playwright/performer, sex activist and educator, and former phone sex operator.” is relocating from Montreal to Manchester, so I look forward to more of this. Certainly makes GeeksTalkSexy and Relationships 2.0 seem like a PG-13 movie.

I’m certainly going to check one out, I won’t be putting anything in the pot but listening and enjoying the evening.

Anyone want to join me?

Ancoats… hip? upcoming?

The Ashton Canal by Ancoats

Ancoats is the area just north of the city centre in Manchester. It has a large population of people who have lived in and around that area for generations. From the things I’ve seen, it use to be the Italian Quarter.

When I first came to Manchester 9 years ago, it was seen as a place you don’t want to go too often.

I still remember talking to a taxi driver asking for New Islington (about 5 years before the Tram stop opened), he seemed very confused and when I finally showed him on google maps; he laughed and said “You mean Ancoats!

Although I don’t strictly live in Ancoats, I live between Ancoats and New Islington in the ward called Bradford. Basicilly for aguement sake, I live in Ancoats or on the edge of the northen quarter.

Recently its started going through the genertification phases. I assume it started once different groups of people started making it their homeincluding myself. So many changes than Rudys Pizza place has been named best Pizza place in Manchester and beyond. Vivid Lounge named second best thai restaurants in Manchester, although its a local cafe under my flat. I’m seeing the Ancoasts Coffee company beans appearing all over. Recently theres been a restaurant called squid, matcha tea room and some clean living restuarant called Kettlebell.

Kat with cocktail

And its not just the food places… The area is growing homes, unique flats, schools, hackspaces, nurseries, etc. No wonder its been featured among the hippest places in the UK.

Now listed among the hippest places in the UK , Ancoats has blossomed beyond recognition into one of Manchester’s best areas for independent food and drink.

The district was home to some of the largest mills in the city. It fell into disrepair after the slump of the cotton industry, and was more notorious than it was desirable. But the forgotten corner of the city soon attracted low-budget creatives. As the trendy Northern Quarter became satiated and prices rocketed in the city centre, young entrepreneurs looked slightly further afield to set up innovative new businesses.

Now, old mills are regenerated by indie cafes, restaurants and bars with a focus on high-quality, artisan products. One journalist for the New York Times heaped praise on the ‘ entrepreneurial spirit ’ of the area, while the San Francisco Chronicle named Ancoats as a must-see area for any tourist in 2017.

Some people are calling it the new Northern Quarter. But in reality, it’s an eclectic, inventive, and exciting foodscape all of its own.

Waterside # 2 - New Islington, Manchester

Certainly a shift from Ancoats very different past.