I have been to Portugal quite a few times previously but only spent 2.5 days in Lisbon and really enjoyed it. Not only that I find the Portuguese pretty relaxed and easy going, with the benefit to myself that most people can understand some English (which massively helps me). The process is quite straight forward compared to other digital nomad visas at least.
So I need to spend time time really getting to know what its really like in Lisbon, under all the tourist stuff.
You have a terrible night from suspected flu and have to cancel plans to head down to Bath for a festival you are talking at. You are slightly concerned it might be Covid but having recently survived it, expect its not. Regardless you are hot and cold then decide to leave your 31c bedroom for a living room with a bigger fan and window which opens wider.
In your light dressing-gown, you attempt to open the window which you left open the night before. Thinking well maybe I got it wrong, heck flu does that to you. You go to the window and its stuck, looking at the inner restrictors which can be taken off if you choose so with a little key, which was given to us. The restrictors is off but one bent like someone pushed the window back on its self under some pressure from outside. This something which couldn’t have been done with the wind you puzzle.
Its not long after trying the window you come to notice a white plastic wire attached to the outside window and the outside frame. The temperature is high (31.8c) and the 20inch fan is simply blowing around hot air in the apartment. You start to wonder why this has happened?
You start to think its the window cleaners or builders as a temporary solution for me opening the window off its inner restrictors. So you look at the facebook group for the development. This is when you see a large thread about the exact same thing, which has happened to others.
So of course I demand answers from the management agent (who didn’t know anything about it) and also the owners (Waterside places). It turns out that at some point they may need to put extra restrictors on windows for when they are changing the glass on the building but failed to gain any consent from any of the residents. It was decided the day before and that was it! Zero notice.
This is the email response I got from Waterside places…
MS will be removing these first thing tomorrow and a formal notification of this will follow next week before any restrictors are reinstated.
Apologies for the inconvenience caused today. We have acted as soon as we were made aware of this.
In the meanwhile I had already started cutting my way out, I just don’t trust that they will do it the next morning. Plus its still a greenhouse in my flat.
The biggest problem is anything which could cut the cord was too big to fit between the window and the frame. So ultimately I was left to using tiny pliers, knifes, etc.
The next morning, they did remove the restrictors but they float around like they can be reapplied at any time. Foreshadowing whats coming back soon?
Here is their message the next morning, with some kind of apology?
You may be aware that Morgan Sindall Construction installed window restrictors on a number of Block B apartments yesterday. The purpose of these restrictors was to ensure that the mast climber could safely operate on the façade of Block B without clashing with open windows.
Due to the high temperatures currently, residents raised concerns regarding available air flow into your apartments.
Accordingly, Waterside Places immediately instructed for these external restrictors to be removed promptly yesterday, and we have had confirmation this has been completed this morning.
We are awaiting our contractor’s revised proposals for dealing with the safety of the mast climbers. We will come back to you shortly on how we intend to proceed, ahead of the restrictors being re-instated and sincere apologies to those affected.
Due to the architecture of Islington Wharf, when we have window cleaning (meant to be 3-4x a year, lucky if we get even 1) the window cleaners abseil down the building. All residents are informed this will take place and to not take their windows off the safety restrictors. This mainly works but there is lots of notice beforehand. Obviously this wasn’t true of a few days ago and I like others think this might actually be illegal?
Wall climbers, abseiling window cleaners, whatever it may be. You can’t actively restrict peoples windows from the outside.
I have always wanted to go to Burning man but don’t think I could ever do it due to the extreme heat. I remember hearing about a similar type event in the Netherlands (what the hack) ages ago then soon afterwards Electromagnetic Field in the UK.
EMFCamp is hacker conference over 3 days in glorious sunshine complete with power and wifi to your own tent. In theory it sounds amazing right? Well it is but for a city boy like me, its less appealing. However this year I put in a free 2hour workshop around Adaptive Podcasting and it was accepted. I had planned to stay in a hotel and go back and forth with my scooter (although I didn’t really fancy those country lanes in the dark.
However my wonderful partner suggested going together and somewhat glamping in her huge tent. On top of this we had a bunch of friends coming from Manchester, so we created a mini village together. This with fridges, BBQs, power and amazing wifi made my festival/camping experience well worth it. Can’t imagine doing it any other way now.
I’ll be honest we packed too much and the second tent was useful for our bags, duplicate items and things we didn’t need. If it wasn’t for my partner and friends it likely would have been a completely different experience.
Because of this I had a great time. Everywhere I went I bumped into old friends from all over – going way back to my time in London and the many conferences I went to during the BBC Backstage days. It was a total blast and I’m sorry to anyone I missed.
So much talking and socialising, I didn’t get much time to join the talks and workshops. However I did attend a few including one about trackers (music mod trackers), although with my Ubuntu Dell XPS slightly broken at the moment (it doesn’t know any of the onboard devices including the keyboard unless plugged in) it was going to be a big hassle installing an Amiga emulator on my Chromebook just to run Protracker. Instead I spent time trying to find a Android app, then blowing away my Debian setup on the Chromebook and starting again (for some reason I couldn’t sudo at all). Once I got that working, I ran the incredible Fasttracker2 and Milkytracker.
We also got to see Interstellar on the big screen again, although I really wished I brought my sock hat and gloves! But the Q&A with the SFX artist was great, even if the question I wanted to ask might have spoiled the film for others (of course I didn’t ask it). I think the assumption was that everyone had seen it but the moderator asked and lots of hands were raised saying they had not seen it before, including my partner.
I do have to say my biggest highlight was djing live in the null sector. I followed a DJ on a laptop playing hard house till midnight so the BPM was high but I started with the classic Stella and the shock to the dancefloor was self-evident. So I threw together some tech trance and kept the BPM about 135-ish. Unfortunately I forgot to record the pacemaker set as I was messing around with the mixer and trying to make the transition smooth.
The slot was the last one of the night (0000-0130) and it was about 0115 when I asked how long I got left. He replied well legally we need to stop at 0200. So I played for 2 hours-ish… I say-ish because there was 4 mins when the electricity to the mixer was over loaded and people were trying to fix it. Also I had planned 90mins and was absolutely bursting for the toilet. Unlike a club where the toilets are only a few minutes away and most DJs would stick on a longer track (in my case 11mins of Acid Trax might have worked in retrospect) I knew the toilets were outside in the camp site somewhere. So at 0156 from the end, I faded down Ferry Corsten’s Anahera (only the very end). Although the crowd shouted one more – one more. Packed up quickly and make a quick exit.
Loved every moment of it and lots of people wondering what on earth the pacemaker was… Its 15 years old and still going strong!
EMF Camp was great generally, even for a city boy like me. There were some interesting situations but as a whole it was great with good people, good facilities and a wonderful partner to explore something new with too. As EMF is once every 2 years, its very likely I may go back.
Massive thanks to everyone and the massive amount of volunteers which make the whole festival work. I’ll be back but not too soon…
Ian thinks: Mozilla’s research into those apps many people used during the pandemic and varies lockdowns is simply a horror story. There has to be a better solution which doesn’t rely on misplaced trust?
Ian thinks: Dove’s self esteem project is consistently doing great things for society. Deep faked mothers talking to their daughters while sitting next to their real mothers is just incredible and so well thought out.
Ian thinks: Andy Yen Proton’s CEO gave a talk in the European Parliament hinting at this announcement. Taking on Google with a non surveillance business model is intriguing as scale isn’t as critical for success?
Ian thinks: The Dutch collation, Publicspaces had their 2nd conference in May and a good number of the English language sessions are well worth your time. Always challenging and full of good threads to tug on.
Ian thinks: This is a sobering and some what recently forgotten side of the digital revolution. If left to market forces, I can’t see things getting any better. Only a public service internet can really make the difference.
Ian thinks: Although the register adds a level of snark to the idea, there is something which does speak true. Regulating algorithms could really provide a level of trust, comfort and agency which just doesn’t exist right now.
During the pandemic, I picked up the Diabolo and did a lot of practicing. First in the community garden during the lockdown and then when things opened up again out and about.
I have a ton of videos with my go pro 5 session camera but every once in a while I found a certain shot which looked quite impressive. Especially during dusk with the camera pointing into the last of the sunlight.
I have heard so much about Berghain, which I have never been to but remember it being called something else (Ostgut/Snax?). It certainly wasn’t a place I was that interested in going to as a young twenty old to be fair.
The drugs is something worth talking about. I remember going to raves and the absolute dangerous politics around drugs testing. Its not ideal but with the drugs laws as they are, anything to help drug users make more informed choices is important I would say. I remember spending lots of time in the rave first aid rooms (mainly with a asthmatic attack) and seeing ravers who have had spiked pills, overdosed, etc. I couldn’t understand how the laws could be so mindlessly and badly written in the face of reality.
Would Jennifer and Carlo have made the choice to take the ecstasy knowing the dosage was so high? Who can say? But I like to think they might have reconsidered taking two?
My finally setup was something I was playing with for ages but mainly via a self installed wordpress on my raspberrypi. I found problems when installing hyperaudio and in the end decided to go with a static website. I choose Publii as it had a linux client and I could just write the HTML easily (so many use markdown and other things, which would have made working with hyperaudio more difficult than it needs to be)
With the site creation out the way, I needed somewhere to host it.
Originally I was going to use Yunohost but I couldn’t find a simple webserver to just host the static files, instead I found a proxy server, which points at my NAS, which is running a very simple webserver. Of course the NAS has plenty of space, its also where the mixes sit, has a excellent redundancy and backup system.
Originally I always saw Hyperaudio for its ability to tie a knot between the written word and the audio (& video). It wasn’t till I saw a demo of the WebMon functionality is when I understood it could be the thing I need for DJ mixes.
With correctly written HTML, I can tell Hyperaudio what it should do, and with Mark’s help we had a prototype up and running.
<li class="active" data-wm="$ilp.uphold.com/B69UrXkYeQPr">
<span data-m="0">Activator, I know you can (That kid chris mix) - Whatever girl</span></li>
<li data-wm="$ilp.uphold.com/3h66mKZLrgQZ"><span data-m="127000">Air traffic (Erik De Koning remix) - Three drives</span></li>
<li data-wm="$ilp.uphold.com/B69UrXkYeQPr"><span data-m="445000">Chinook - Markus Schulz pres. Dakota</span></li>
<li data-wm="$ilp.uphold.com/3h66mKZLrgQZ"><span data-m="632000">Opium (Quivver remix) - Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor</span></li>
Each tune has a time configured using the attribute data-m, this is in milliseconds. As I have all the data in the old CUE files I created a long time ago. Mark helped me out with a nice script which saved me manually copying and pasting. (I also considered writing a XSLT to do the conversion). In between sleeping and relaxing with Covid, I got a number of mixes up, changed the theming and finally got to grips with the static file uploading process, and the results you can see on the site.
Payment and royalties
You will also notice each tune/list item also has data=”wm” attribute with a $ilp (payment pointers). Currently they are pointing to myself and Mark Boas. Obviously I would change them to the payment pointers of the artists/producers/djs involved but I don’t know any which have them so far. Which leads nicely on to the next challenge for WebMix.
I did/do have a plan to do a mix with dance music from artists which have payment providers but that is still in the pipeline. Along side this, myself and Mark thought about some kind of database/airtable/spreadsheet/etc with payment pointers crossed linked to their discogs profile.
Back to the current experiment, here is Opium (Quivver Remix) – Jerome Isma-Ae Alastor. You could imagine one payment provider decided between all involved which could be used to pay for each time its played on the site. (I am very aware this is very simplex and the royalties of music is a total nightmare!) but the point of the payment pointer is to hide the complexity behind one simple payment pointer, how its divided afterwards is up to each of the parties involved. I’m imagining a management agent, organisation or even dare I say it DAO; responsible for the payment pointer. There’s already things like revshare, which means you can have multiple people/entities behind the payment pointer and theres interest in this space. Long tail economics certainly could benefit here.
Anyway its a long complex area which I’m best staying out of…?
The main point is its all working and expect more updates soon… I know Mark has other ideas, while I still need to get older mixes up. I also would like to tie the whole thing to something federated or at very least setup a activity-pub feed.
I finally got Covid19, where from exactly? I gather somewhere in Brussels or else where on my travels. Its been a super busy few weeks and my immune system wasn’t exactly in top form with the shifting sleep patterns recently.
To be clear, I am ok. Its not mild like a bit of a cold but its also not a case of going to hospital. I’ve had my 2 shots of the vaccine and a booster late last year just as omicron took hold in the UK. But I was shocked when the 2 red lines appeared on the rapid tests which has always been one red line. To be fair 2+ years without catching Covid once is good going.
While in Brussels, I started feeling my feet blowing up with large bumps, sometimes it became a bit painful to walk with pace. I thought it was an allergic reaction because my fingers started getting something which I would class as hives and I couldn’t even wear my Oura ring on the usual fingers. That plus my lips felt puffy and everything felt super dry no matter what I added to them.
The café offered popcorn, juice, and smoothies not found anywhere else at the festival, but to enter the café, you had to cross a boundary that required a ridiculous data user agreement. As part of this agreement, your personal information would be plastered through the festival’s halls hours later. This experience was about getting out of a chair and experiencing the dilemma in a real, tangible way. Would you read the agreement in order to obtain a glass of juice? Ignore the agreement and quench your thirst in ignorant bliss? Or read the agreement and walk away, and try to find snacks elsewhere because the agreement was unacceptable?
People scanned a QR code, signed up to a fake cafe ordering system with their email or social media login. After that, they are forced to answer a question before being presented with a QR code which can be scanned for a hot drink (or looking at the very very long receipt, cold drinks). If you went for a second, third, etc drink you will get more and much more personal questions. We had 5 levels of questions and the single 5th question was deeply personal. Is the coffee really worth it
Talks included Designing the Internet for Children with the ICO, Keeping Trusted News Safe Online with BBC R&D, Trustworthy AI – what do we mean when we say with Mozilla.
Talks were kept to 15mins as it went out to the whole cafe and people were encouraged to take a table to keep the conversation going afterwards. In typical Mozfest style.
Finally the workshops included Materialising the Immaterial with Northumbria University, Designing the Internet for Children with the ICO, Why might you personalise your news with BBC R&D, Common Voice / Contribute-a-ton with Mozilla.
In the usual Mozfest style there was plenty of great moments for example when the traffic warden came to check out the Caravan of the Future.
There was plenty of interest in the reverse metaverse (presence bots), which was one of the projects which run through out the 2 days. Like the original ethical dilemma cafe, we wanted to expose people to work in progress rather than a museum, where everything is perfectly working. When they worked it really worked well.
To get a real sense of the reverse metaverse / presence bot, I recorded Jasmine for a short while with a remote person.
Does it understand me, is a speech to text system trained using the similar/same algorithms as the Amazon Alexa. It was so weird to see how when it got the wrong word, it guessed with something so strange. Like Deliveroo and Kindle?
Having the public come into the space was a positive, as many of the regulars popped in and end up going to a workshop or checking out a few of the interventions. Even better was having the staff of the feel good cafe joining in and enjoying the event. There’s a few times, when I overheard people asking what was going on and then the staff suggesting checking out the loom, human values postcards, etc.
The concept really came together well over the two days. Its something which will come back in other forms. Keep an eye out for future iterations of the ethical dilemma cafe soon.
Massive thanks to everyone involved in the Ethical Dilemma Cafe, so many people from the Mozilla Foundation, who took over a hotel in the northern quarter (it was so strange seeing people I usually see on Zoom or in London only 10mins away from my home), all the partners who took a leap of faith with the concept bringing their research and passion to the cafe. The cafe and the amazing woman (can’t remember her name) who really went with the concept. All the people who helped promote it and encourage others to join us over the 2 days. My colleagues who pulled out a number of stops to make things like the coffee with strings, reverse metaverse bots, etc. All amazing along with the talks and workshops, which nicely fitted with our partners. Thanks to the security guard who worked 2 full days and his presence was just right. Finally thank you to all the people who traveled sometimes from quite far to make the event, because without you there would be no ethical dilemma cafe.
There is likely people I have forgotten and I have deliberately not named anyone in-case I miss anyone by name. But I thank everybody especially Sarah, Lucie, Jasmine, Marc, Henry, Iain, Julian, Sam, Laura, Paul, Jesse, Bob, Steph, Lianne, Jimmy, Bill, Zach, Michael, Juliet, Georgina, Todd, Charlie, etc.
There is so much I can say about the film but I gave it 8/10 because its truly incredible. Not only is the multiverse and quantum science really interesting in it, not only is the film a genuinely different from everything out there, heartfelt (Its super touching in parts) but also funny as hell (absolutely hysterical in parts, and doesn’t take its self too seriously).
You might also note in the picture above both directors opened the preview, which was a total shock because I knew the BFI IMAX in Waterloo had a Q&A with the director’s (the Daniels) but this was a big surprise!
Ian thinks: This reminds me of the community WiFi initiatives, which filled in the gaps of big internet companies which refused to support smaller communities. However I can see these growing, with the backlash against generic speedy delivery systems.
Ian thinks: Not my usual interest but shrinking fast fashion’s carbon footprint is interesting. However its the community focus and peer 2 peer model which elevates it into this line up this month. Expect this business model to be duplicated over and over again.
Ian thinks: Much has been written about the recent announcement to sell off Channel 4 but the misunderstanding of the business model of Channel 4 isn’t just embarrassing but shocking that people assume the model is one way.
Ian thinks: The joy of tinkering, making, and sharing is part of the human condition. In modern times, this creative freedom too often is stifled by secrecy as a means of monetization – from non-compete laws to quashing people’s right to repair the products they’ve already paid for.
Question: What do you value most in a friendship? Answer: When Ian Forrester gives chocolate 😉
The screen was part the ethical dilemma, where people use a QR code to register for free hot drinks but in return they need to answer personal questions getting more and more personal/intrusive the more hot drinks you have.
Do I know who wrote the answer?
Actually I do not, but I have a small number of people who I do think it could be…
Look out for a full blog post in the next few weeks.
I am super skeptical of any new social network claiming to be more ethical.
These days social media seems to be full of pictures that have been filtered, photoshopped or altered in some other way. But that’s not the case with BeReal, which is all about sharing an unaltered snapshot of your life in real time.
That means no filters, no editing, just an authentic look at what users are doing at any given moment. Wrinkles, messy hair, smudged makeup (assuming you’re wearing any at all) is all on show for your followers to see. The real you, in other words.
Its a interesting idea but I do wondering about the public shaming and nudging part of the app to get you to post on the app’s schedule. Something to consider…
Its been a very busy few weeks and theres little let up heading into May.
I noticed I haven’t blogged for a while. Not out of choice, its just been a super busy time.
Between the creation of the ethical dilemma cafe in Manchester, developing the adaptive podcasting app and web creator (more on this soon), suffering with a cold (not covid, I even got my first PCR test just incase the 4 rapid tests were all wrong), my birthday and dating an amazing woman (now my partner).
Of course I’m ok but its amazing how things I use to do all the time like booking trains, hotels, flight, etc have become more tricky than in the past. In the coming month I’ll be in London, Bristol, Newcastle/Gateshead (for the covid delayed Thinking Digital conference), Brussels (for the Exit platforms hackathon) and maybe even Amsterdam (for the in person Publicspaces conference #2). I’m also trying to go by train when ever possible!
My sleep cycle has become a bit of a mess and things keep pushing earlier starts into my calendar. If I could show a graph of my quality of sleep, sleep length, weight and effectiveness… It would be so telling.
I’m keeping a eye on this all and have a holiday booked for Lisbon. Not using my airline credit which was a total con for short haul flights. Ultimately I had to pay a large fee from the airline credit and I was able to book with another airline for cheaper than the fee! What a joke!