Those grey advertising boxes in Manchester

Those grey advertising boxes

There has been a lot said about Manchester’s grey advertising boxes. For a lot of people it will be annoying but as someone living in the city centre, having one right outside your flat isn’t annoying but damn right stupid.

The patch of pavement is already full of parked cars which you need to dodge, then Manchester council add to the problem reducing pavement space.

No wonder why people are culture jamming them.

And you can even imagine that lovely highline in Manchester. Which just got official backing. Hopefully without the advertisement…

https://twitter.com/Paul_SLG/status/1463582931243442186

Facebook’s metaverse is a petting zoo for control

Matrix Deus Ex Machina

Right, there is so much about the metaverse, I can’t help myself but comment.

Although I do love the Iceland tourist video piss take.

Lets be clear, the metaverse and what Facebook (bloody Meta) are planning is not a metaverse any one really wants. I’m calling it the corporate metaverse, as I do think there is some useful parts which are worth exploring. However there is too much which isn’t because its always described in a commercial/capitalism space.

Neal Stephenson who coined the term in Snowcrash, did proposal a virtual real estate owned by a global commercial group. So Meta isn’t that far off the mark, especially with Ernest Cline’s Ready player one making the metaverse the literal Oasis from the real world. Leading me to the conclusion that the metaverse is not a good idea for humanity.

So I thought about it and picked out some parts, framing it within mainly the Matrix.

The metaverse under capitalism

Morpheus with a battery

This is pretty damning but in the arms of a commercial company or market, you don’t need to look far to realise the Matrix has a lot of the answers.

Quoting Morpheus in the Matrix

“What is the Matrix? Control. The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to turn a human being into this.” *Holds up a battery*

I won’t go as far as to say a battery but rather a resource of data or funding (almost a cash cow?). The computer generated dream world is apt and the control statement is spot on!

While immersed in the computer generated dream world, we can/will  be controlled. Complete surveillance of movement, emotion, discussion, everything. Something of the big data pipe dream, but within the tight (fist) environment of a corporate provider (overlord). The temptation is there to maximize all the data (batteries).

Morpheus with agent smith

Quoting Agent Smith also in the Matrix

“I hate this place, this zoo, this prison, this reality, whatever you want to call it.”

Agent Smith complains about the Matrix the computer generated dream world. What got me was the idea of it being in a zoo (although prison and reality is perfect too), and even more so the idea of a petting zoo. The animals are always surveilled and controlled with fences and systems. So much so, it changes their behavior, the way they think, react, etc.

The reason why a petting zoo is because the corporate owners allow their extra paying customers to pet/play with the animals. Remember this is on top of the on-going surveillance. Petting zoos are fun for the customers but I’d say less so for the animals?

Some will laugh but frankly I’m not the only one (thankfully) thinking this.
While the rest of the media does its cheer-leading and stone throwing of meta’s metaverse. The debate (its not really a conversation) isn’t going anywhere useful.

The metaverse for the public interest?

I have thought quite a lot about what public service elements could exist within a public metaverse (oppose to one owned by a corporate entity, although I don’t actually think this will happen because companies don’t want to share and we know monopolies are very bad).

I remember when I first came across the fediverse, which thanks to the use of interoperability at different levels, allows you to move between different instances with minimal pain. The other absolute fantastic thing is being able to have different friends on different instances and having no real differences (Just like email). Whats this got to do with the public interest? Do you think the corporate entity would be interested in supporting this free form of communication? Can the animals in a petting zoo, talk to each other?

Thinking about the Matrix (there is a loose theme here).

“Your appearance now is what we call residual self image. It is the mental projection of your digital self.”

Residual self image and portability of identity is something a public metaverse could/should provide. Your self image is something you control and manage and across different instances/nodes/spaces or within the bigger metaverse. I can see modification based on the public space, in the same way most people change the way they look at a funeral or wedding. There will be spaces/nodes/instances where rules/cultural/ethos. Similar to the way, Mastodon have instance/server level rules.

There is a ton of real/virtual places type things where I’d lean on public architecture, thinking of Jane Jacobs incredible book.

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

There must be a clear demarcation between what is public space and what is private space. Public and private spaces cannot ooze into each other as they do typically in suburban settings or in projects.

The metaverse must be created by everybody not just a privileged few or a corporate overlord. In a interconnected virtual space, it should be much easier to build your own and work together in a public way but this needs a lot of thought. There are lessons to be learned from our semi-democratic physical city/town planning.

With the metaverse being placed directly in the xR (extended reality) space. I certainly think its time we got to the infrastructural side of the metaverse. Everything from how data is used, how, where, etc. A long time ago I talked about X-Ray mode, so you can see the underlying data & infrastructure. Something like when Neo can finally see the Matrix code while still inside of it.

Matrix code of agents

Part of the data/code is of course the algorithms which should be public and transparent for the public benefit. Is something I’ve seen in parts elsewhere but not really in the xR space. It certainly would even up the scales. Its something we build into the living room of the future funny enough.

In summary

Although very messy thoughts, there are parts worth exploring. As mentioned at the start I think there is interesting parts to a metaverse but the corporate petting zoo is something which has become the dominate view. I see similar when people talk about social networking and social media. Their frame of reference is pinned to a dominate corporate wet dream and it clouds what it really could potentially if you start from the public interest at the core.

Fixing the Sundia Diabolo LED kit

Both fully working

A while ago I blogged about trying to replace the battery on the Sundia Diabolo LED kit.

Lots of friends tweeted me and helped.

I learned a lot including LiPo is always 3.7v and the configuration of the numbers which were faded out on the current battery. With that information I finally bought some batteries from ebay.

The battery I bought from ebay

They took a while to come but I did a few rough tests and it seemed to work and then not work. So I left it, however I now know the reason why it was on and off is because of the wiring.

Black tape to fix the LED kit

The wiring was small and trying to bind the wires with my large hands was always going to be a problem. In the end I finally got it hooked up and stripped the wires back further than originally planned. Once done, it was stable and I was able to make it work consistently.

Sundia LED kit working!

What it really needs is soldering because lets be honest its going to be thrown around a lot and the impact on my black tapped connections will be high. Because of this, I’m considering adding foam or bubble wrap to the inside of the case to put less pressure on the inner elements. Ultimately they should be soldered and the battery stuck in place with something stronger than black tape.

Ironically I decided to get a fire diabolo, at long last. There is something about Fire which is much more impressive but infinitely more dangerous (in a good and bad way).

Update on the Sundia Diabolo LED

Jasmine's magic touch on the Sundia LED kit

With the mess which kind of worked, I thought I need to talk to a professional about it. My good friend Jasmine was the natural choice, so with chocolate, a takeaway and some good conversation. Jasmine lent her professional eyes to the LED kit. Fixing everything so well, I was blown away with the results as you can see above!

Now thats how to fix the Sundia Diabolo LED kit!

The inaccurate link between body ideals and health

This video has been the rounds recently and I really appreciate whats being said. There is so much which has informed the decisions of peoples idea of  the ideal body shape. Nancy does a great job touching on these.

Anyone who knows me, knows I prefer curves and frankly from a Jamaican background (which is mentioned) it just makes sense to me. The notion a traditional supermodel isn’t of much interest, but worst still in the illusion that this is a healthy body is just criminal.

A few times in the recent months, I have had to correct someone who has automatically connected the two.

Facebook interest categories unveiled

My FaceBook interest catergoriesI heard today via Daily Tech News that Facebook was finally stopping Advertisers target users via interest categories.

These categories a pile of junk as you can see mine before I removed them all.

I mean thought? Dyson? Information?

If you want to remove/see your own.

Users can see their profile’s interest groups by navigating on desktop to Settings and Privacy > Settings > Ads > Ad Settings > Categories used to reach you > Interest Categories. If you don’t want to receive ads based on a certain interest, you can opt out.

Of course Facebook has much more data points but frankly removing some of these is good. Although I do wonder how many people will actually investigate their own interest categories?

My Rollercoaster top 50

My rollercoaster top 50 listI voted in Coasterbot‘s Votecoasters. You can too!!!

Its clear to me that I haven’t written enough coasters in America, France, Netherlands or Germany.

I also know lots of people will take issue with my list but generally I love steel coaster over wooden. My first woodie is Wickerman at 25 (half way down). I also have a slight hate for those 4D wing coaster with Joker and Kimu pretty much at the bottom of the list. Intamin ZacSpin suck after a few go. Likewise those skyloop coasters are just as bad. I only gave Ukko the advantage over Abismo because of the park.

You may have also noticed a big difference between Rita, Red force and Stealth. Rita annoys me, as its not a great ride, I hate standing in line for a hour for a poor ride. Stealth is much better and has the height, while Redforce is very fast but at 100+ mph the G force is pretty heavy on arms and your face, especially in the hot Barcelona air.

The hypercoaster sit nearer the top with Steel Dragon 2000 and Shambhala at the top, beating the best coaster in the UK, the Smiler. I do love those point to points coaster like Vertical Velocity and Stunt drop. Deja Vu would be on there but it no longer exists. Just like Thunder looper. Some will be surprised about Icon being at 7 and lower than Nemesis but if Icon had more in the later part of the ride it would be higher. Nemesis is full on right to the very end, likewise for all the rides above it. Worth noting Nemesis is the best inverted rollercoaster on my list. Only Infusion comes close.

The Votecoaster system is good and theres good grounds why it works over existing systems. I did wish there was the ability to export and even import the data as XML or CSV, as I’d like to add to do more with it generally. I also wish the coasters linked to the Roller Coaster Database

Don’t like my list? Start your own…

Mia Mottley’s speech at COP26

I found this incredible speech from the Prime minister of Barbados via Derek on Mastodon.

Am I convinced about what came out of COP26 will make a difference? Not really. The problem is we have pretty much run out of time. Channel4 said it best.

The big picture, I leave you tonight with some analysis from the international energy agency which suggests that if the promises made at this COP 26 are fully delivered then global warming shifts down from around 2.7 celsius to 1.8.

We all know all those promises are going to be broken again. Maybe Ece Temelkuran is right because Climate collapse looks almost impossible to avoid now and capitalism & inequality plays a massive part in this all.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Nov 2021)

Digital Nomad

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed hearing about decentralized blogging, reading through the twitter thread of underacted google & facebook advertising complaint and of course  Facebook and its effect on gen-z with yet another whistle blower leaving the sinking ship.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this with seeing John Oliver covering misinformation outside the English language, some young people questioning our capitalistic society, Mozfest 2022’s call for proposal and experiencing unified messaging on my devices


Personal data stores in the lime light

Ian thinks: Wired do a reasonable job explain some of the benefits, there are a lot more important aspects of personal data stores than beating others, like sovereignty and trust. Said as someone who worked on related work in the past.

The future of social networks with James Vasile

Ian thinks: James is a seasoned expert in this space and this interview is good covering a lot of ground including Project liberty’s DSNP. Even if you are new to this space, its accessible and understandable.

Visa & Mastercard regulate the internet by stealth?

Ian thinks: No matter what you think of adult sites, there is a complicated problem which should not be left companies which are only interested in maximising their own profits.

Misinformation works in all languages

Ian thinks: Its good to see mainstream John Oliver covering the huge problem of dis/misinformation outside the English language. Also great to see them not jump to the conclusion encryption is the problem.

The clear amplification of social media

Ian thinks: Adrian’s kickback is something I wasn’t super aware of but its a clear sign of the massive amplification of social media for good and bad, depending where you stand.

Digital nomadic dreams and border-less countries

Ian thinks: Although the digital nomad lifestyle is something I am personally interested in, I think the notion of Plumia is a worrying trend of a new kind of digital elite dream. Which needs to be put in check before it runs wild.

The mystery of Satoshi bitcoin creator, solved?

Ian thinks: I have to say this is the best case for the mystery of Satoshi (the creator of bitcoin). Recently it looks like his wallet has been used too?

Facebook: a little empty, a little sad; a place where a few voices get most of the attention

Ian thinks: Although turning your Facebook timeline back into a timeline doesn’t even start to touch the fundamental problems. I loved the end quote, which speaks volumes.

NFTs challenging the status quo

Ian thinks: Beyond the hype, scams and general nonsense. I am seeing signs of NFTs being used to genuinely disrupt the status-quo. From the portability of bought in game goods, new models of film making and of course the new NFT royalties standard.


Find the archive here

Mozilla Festival’s call for proposals ends 5th November

Mozilla Festival - Dzifa Kusenuh - MF Studio Host

This weekend is usually Mozfest weekend when it was in London. It was always a special time full of wonder, joy and great people.

Its now moved to a March date since moving to Amsterdam. However its still well worth not only attending but also participating in.

Every year there is a call for proposals to join the many great sessions in some fantastic spaces at Mozfest 2022.

Submit A Session Idea for MozFest

MozFest is a unique hybrid: part art, tech and society convening, part maker festival, and the premiere gathering for activists in diverse global movements fighting for a more humane digital world.

There are 9 Spaces created by the Wranglers that address urgent issues such as: digital privacy; neurodiversity and wellbeing; intersectionality in tech; and climate and sustainability. MozFest is looking for collaborative, participatory and inclusive sessions, workshops, skillshares, immersive art projects, and more that interrogate these issues and drive forward the conversations around Trustworthy AI. 

Connect with Mozfest

Excited about leading a session? You can learn more here about the process here.

Pixel6 magic eraser, pushed to the limit

I posted a quick picture on Mastdon of my Google Pixel 4 using my new Google Pixel 6 magic eraser feature.

Pixel 6 image

Here is the original shot, no edit no filters in my living room as I setup my Pixel 6.

This is the same picture just quickly wiping my finger over the Chromebook at the top right of the picture.

I guess I could have tried the other objects but I thought the reflection in my Pixel 4 would have looked very strange. The nice thing is I can go back and make that change at any time. So here is the that picture

Pixel 6 magic

If you hadn’t seen the other pictures, you might think the reflection is from objects much further away but knowing the fact it looks a bit strange.

magic erase looking strange

Finally magic erase can only go so far and you won’t get away with this picture at all.

Regardless of everything, its super fast and took longer for me to resize the photos (I reduced them down by 5x) on my laptop than use the tool. Computational photography has certainly stepped up a gear since my Pixel 2 days. I look forward to removing all those people who photo bomb my photos.

Growing up in the age of the search

Gnome shell search

This has been massively shared on the internet but I did find it interesting as something to look at how I organise myself.

Generally I use folders of hierarchy on most of my systems including my Android devices. I find the linux operating system encourages you put files in certain locations, especially when you are using different applications and different app systems. For example using snap, flatpak, apt and appimage. Its quite a diverse (sometimes complex) ecosystem compared to OSx and Windows I found.

I do use symbolic links (shortcuts) a lot on my systems and find it useful to link things within remote locations like my NAS or online storage.

Gnome shell has search built in from the super key (windows key on most laptops). I don’t tend to use the search for files or folders, which in hindsight is a bit silly because its much quicker. I guess it just wasn’t as good & quick as it is now, and so never got use to using it. Even now I still would put the files in a certain folder to be clear where it is for my mind.

I use dropbox, which kind of forces you to use a folder hierarchy. There is most of my files on there and that includes personal, work, app, etc. I have my Google drive mounted as a folder inside of Linux, so I also manage that in a similar way.

Now I’m looking at the list of Gnome shell search extensions and thinking about using it much more. Heck I can search my email, files, music, etc from Gnome shell (no Joplin however) time to start using it more.

Cocktails to never order, if you can help it

espresso martini with style

I saw this in my feed, 5 Cocktails Bartenders Say They Would Never Order. I had a read and thought I’d add my spin to the list.

Bartenders avoid ordering certain drinks for a number of reasons, be it out of respect for busy staff caught in the middle of a rush or fear of being judged for wanting to drink something that might seem basic or uncool, among other reasons. Of course, many bartenders strive to offer a judgment-free environment to guests both inside and outside of the industry, but drink-shaming still happens, and self-consciousness can get the best of all of us once in a while. Regardless of the rationale, there are a select few cocktails that seasoned bar professionals unanimously steer clear of ordering

Generally the list in the article is…

  1. Ice cocktails
  2. Dirty vodka martini
  3. Anything with an offensive name
  4. Long Island Iced Tea
  5. Ramos Gin Fizz

I am very much in agreement about most of these. When I was behind the bar, I hated making Long Islands or Porn Star martini’s. So when ever I hear seeing them someone order one I can’t help but cringe. Especially the Long Island Ice Tea.

Long Island Ice Tea Jar

Of the many bartenders that Best Life interviewed about the topic of drinks they’d never order, a large number responded with one of history’s most notoriously boozy classics, the Long Island Iced Tea. It’s certainly possible to make a drinkable (and even good) Long Island Iced Tea riff—the traditional includes vodka, tequila, light rum, triple sec, gin, and a splash of cola—but you’d be hard-pressed to find a bartender who would voluntarily order one unless that were the case.

“It’s just a dumb drink that tastes pretty much only like cola, sour mix, and raw booze. It is somehow less than the sum of its parts,” says Dan Adams, a bartender in Florida. Fellow industry pro Cillian Wintula agrees: “I’ll never order a Long Island because there are so [many] tastier ways to get drunk.”

I agree, lots will disagree but sorry anything with vodka, dry gin, tequila and rum is just a total mess. Might as well add some Sambuca for added headache effect? Of all the cocktails, I never understood that one. I also found when left alone for a long while for it to taste very weird depending on how much cola you actually add.

Sour cocktails are great now you can get pre-made egg white. I remember having to make the sours with fresh eggs and thinking, this is a real pain in the backside, as I tried to separate the egg white from the egg yoke in the back of a busy bar. I always thought that place was full of it.

Old fashioned are great (one of my favorite) but I always ask if its a good time to make one in a busy bar. Nothing worst than making one while people scream at you that they just want a beer. Pick your moment.

Bartender

Remember the more of a pain in the backside your cocktail the less love the bartender will spend on it. This also goes for your attitude. Respect and a nice smile goes a long way.

Google’s material you: be together not the same

Android: Be together not the same
I spent some time in the spa recently and listened to a conversation about Android vs iOS in the stream room. I didn’t partake but found it interesting to hear how people were describing both and their dis/advantages.

There was a point when one person mentioned the customization of Android vs iOS, something like “you only just widgets last year”

But there is something which I have been thinking about in that general space.

Most phones are super similar and the software is what makes it different, its why I stick to the Google phones. I’m not keen on the Samsung opinionated software choices, although I understand people do find much comfort in the per-installed software and decisions. I think of it like Debian vs Ubuntu (of sorts). When Ubuntu came with Unity, I always installed Gnome Shell. It was easy enough to do, but its very difficult to do on a phone (replace Samsung’s UI with plain Android).

But back to phones…

The customization is key… I was originally concerned when Google was following Apple’s approach a while ago but then they seemed to understand the power of Android being yours and leaned right into customization.

Having upgraded to Android 12 a couple of days ago, I really like the system. Material you is surprising and is just right even in dark mode.

I am using Yatse remote which changes the background of my phone depending on what I am watching.That change will persist till I watch something else. I thought it might cause a clash but it doesn’t and still manages to look good always. The colour palette works no matter what. What would Joney Ive and Steve Jobs make of this design approach? Can’t imagine they would be a fan. Its one of the rejections I had about objectified the film/documentary is the lack of customization.

I found this video which sums up what I’m thinking. I look forward to seeing Material you on my new Pixel 6 soon.

 

Beeper makes Matrix bridges into a business model

After the long wait and some wonder if anything was going to happen. On Monday I got my invite to join a very small number of people on Beeper.

I am impressed…

I thought I had a blog post about Beeper but I didn’t write one. So in short this picture sums up Beeper in one go.

Beeper bridges

Imagine if you could use one client to access all these different networks, but unlike pidgin or trillian which needs software plugins to connect to them all. Beeper is actually a Matrix client which connects to specific Matrix bridges (server based, instead of client based) to other messaging networks.

Its one of the thing which blew me away when I saw Matrix at Mozfest 2017.

Matrix is open source and you can run it on your own infrastructure (we will get back to that soon). You can even install your own bridges.

In short Beeper is the Matrix dream in a managed service which you pay $10 a month. You can self host it and its something I may do after a while but right now I’m happy to give some money to get use to things

First thing I did is install the appimage for Linux, set it up using the code I had received via email. Then setup a few networks. Within a few minutes I was replying to friends

I tested Slack using Storyteller United and was quite impressed, although I ended up disabling it due to the amount of channels and how busy the slack can be.

I may enable it again for a few slacks I am part of but don’t want the whole of slack on. Currently I have the Slack app on my laptop and work phone but I like the idea of the messaging parts without the heavy slack app.

I noticed you can input Gifs, emoji’s, attachments, etc in almost every single message in a unified way. I haven’t hooked up my SMS yet (mainly because there is no RCS bridge yet which I would miss). I also would like to see scheduling as I’m so use to it now.

Of course the phone interface for beeper is similar, Gif and all. You can use the unified inbox which puts everything in one timeline. The spaces cuts everything by network.

To be frank, Beeper is impressive and if I could change a few things they would be.the ability to have multiple accounts. For example I would love to be able to finally have one client for the multiple Signal accounts (I have one for my personal and work mobiles). This might be a limitation of Signal, but it would be great if I could spin up 2 bridges. I say this as I added 2 slack accounts and could add more with ease.

Right now Beeper is very much work in progress, but its got most of the key features.  I don’t feel like I have fully added the networks yet as I hold on to apps like Android messages due to RCS and scheduled messages. I could add Twitter and Discord but I’m quite happy with my Mastodon clients and cross posting to Twitter. Although I might hook up my ianforrester account on twitter just to see what its like in beeper. I even consider setting up Telegram, i-message, etc accounts just because I can now without the stress.

I forgot, Beeper doesn’t replace the existing messaging systems, meaning when I finally hooked up Android messages, I can still send scheduled messages and RCS from the app. But reply and send general messages from Beeper.

The network diagram at the very top is actually slight wrong because Beeper sits within the Matrix network and once I understood this via the support channel. It became clear I could easily share things between all my mobiles and laptop with ease. Bit like how I use Signal’s personal space/notes to yourself. I haven’t tried connecting to any of the Matrix systems I’m part of like publicspaces, sdeps or redecentralise. But I’ll give it a try over the next few days.

I like Beeper, but do long to setup my own bridges in a docker container or rasberrypi in the near future. Is 10$ a month quite a bit expensive for this? Maybe but only because I am still getting use to it and not fully using it. I think if I was using it for everything, 10$ a month would great value. Its a good business model, as most won’t or can’t run their own bridge server. (I have already looked to see if Yuno host has support or not)

I look forward to the regular updates and seeing it mature into something unique.



Funny enough I heard Beeper on Twit.TV’s all about android too. The person who wrote in didn’t blur any of his conversations and contacts which I would say is super brave or not thinking things fully through? However its interesting to see someone else also using Beeper and the reaction to it from people not fully aware of