Manchester Werewolf chapter joins Larkin’ About – Wed 23rd Nov

Manchester werewolf chapter poster for november

Manchester Werewolf Chapter is back after a long delay and this time we’ve teamed up with the guys at Larkin About. Larkin about are the Manchester equivalent of Hide & Seek. They do social experimental games in and around Manchester. So its a perfect match. If this goes well, there will be many more…

On Wednesdays November 23rd, the Manchester Werewolf Chapter and Larkin’ About will be running a game of Werewolf at Barcelona Bar in the Northern Quarter. It’s totally FREE!

Werewolf is a simple game of strategy and deception, played by a large group of people.
The game is all about making accusations, lying, bluffing, second-guessing, and social engineering.

All are welcome! We have a great location with a bar because we all know deception is thirsty work. The event is suitable for all levels of experience from absolute newbie to Werewolf pro. We hope to continue to host games of Werewolf as a regular event from this date onwards.

To register your interest, please visit our Facebook event page, or send us an email to


Nothing spreads like fear

Contagion (2011)

Had the joy of seeing Contagion last Wednesday at the Salford Cinema Club.

After which I had to call my ex-wife to discuss.

Sarah had applied to join the Centre for Diseases and Control (CDC) back before we ever met and although she didn’t get the position, she later did get into the Heath Protection Agency (HPA) which seems to be the UK equivalent. So we use to sometimes talk about her role on the Tuberculosis register. Most people don’t know but tuberculosis is still a major killer…

Around 9000 cases of TB are currently reported each year in the United Kingdom. Most cases occur in major cities, particularly in London.

Although TB infection and Epidemiology was interesting it was generally not so bad (relevantly talking, specially if your one of the people unlike to spend time in a crack den or a shady part of the inner city) when Alexander Litvinenko (the russian spy) was poisoned using radiation. The whole of the HPA went into overdrive.

Sarah was working something like 18hour days 7 days a week while they attempted to track what happened, who he had been in contact with, who they had been in contact with, for how long, where, etc, etc…

Contagion lasts 31 days and its so clear how the panic and fear spreads so quickly.

I won’t spoil it for anyone, but lets just say it seems so hollywood how quick it spreads and the mis-information which spreads with it. I say hollywood but actually I remember Sarah telling me some of the serious concens people had when phoning up the HPA hotline. Of course, I expect all those are confidential, but the thing which got me was the fear and confusion in peoples questions. The frequency of questions was also mind blowing… 100’s seems low from what I remember Sarah saying.

Panic grew when the HPA tried to track down people who possibly might have been infected. Many more called to check there own status. (I think I’m ok saying), some people who happened to be in the same bar 7 days before the poisoning called because they were deeply worried about themselves. I’m not a epidemiologist but this has got to be panic and frankly stupid (waiting for someone to say actually I’m wrong).

Anyway, I felt the film give a true but fictional account of the issues with tracking down sources, which information to spread and how difficult it is to synthesis cures fit for humans. In fact on the last one, it seems quite a few of our cures started life by being tested by its creators.

I did feel the film didn’t take advantage of the mutation of viruses specially when vaccine is available in only a smaller set of the population. Sarah use to point out this problem with parents not allowing there kids to get the MMR vaccine. (once again I’m not a epidemiologist) from memory, Its becomes a problem when there are parts of the population which are protected and others which are not. The virus can mutate, become stronger and even over throw the current vaccine. This is not good! I won’t say which part of the film but I thought this was coming…

During the credits, the cinema going public was silent. The dead silence just hung there in the air, people got up and left with the minimum of fuss and noise. It was like everyone knew this was going to happen and each of us was powerless to stop it.

Sarah always said and did say again, we are well overdue another worldwide epidemic. I felt the film, did a very good job of reinforcing this…. I certainly will want to see this again, and I’ve offered to take Sarah and her new husband along because I really want to get the insiders perspective on what they think of the film and how it covers parts.

Oversharing and living in public

I was listening to Twit networks Triangulation number 28 with Jeff Jarvis recently… Jeff Jarvis’s way of approaching the world is similar to the way I see things. Funny enough Leo Laporte also lives his life mainly in public too.

Known as an American journalist, co-host on This Week in Google, author of What Would Google Do?, and his new book Public PartsJeff Jarvis, is this week’s guest.

Most of the talk is generally about Jeff and his work on Buzz machine and other mainstream news organisations. Where it gets interesting is when he talks about blogging his cancer therapy and the series of following concerns which followed.

This certainly chimed with me because of my own experience when my ex-wife convinced my family to post updates of what was happening with me last year during mybrushwithdeath. I also experienced people who felt it was all too public and they shouldn’t be doing such a thing. They also experienced many people who were happy things were not as bad as the wild rumours suggested.

I specially liked the quote… by Jeff in response to someone who complained about Jeff oversharing…

“Really what he was doing was over listening.”

It was a excellent interview and reminds me why I do follow Jeff Jarvis on Twitter… Might have to go buy the book now

Steve Jobs… what more can I say?

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates

I’ve said nothing about recently Steve Jobs, his death was very sad just like anyone who dies earlier than there potential age. His cancer wasn’t just life threatening it was a killer.

Saying all that, however I do have serious problems with his late view point on the world and I have a lot of agreements.

He was a smart guy and what he did for Apple and the industry speaks for its self but…. there’s some things which I can’t help but remember…

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,” Jobs said.

“I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

What on earth…? Who says this kind of thing and really mean it? Frankly I would suggest rightly or wrongly, a psychopath? This psychopathic nature is something most people ignore or overlook. I can’t, I mean can you imagine Bill Gates saying the same about Linux, with such venom? (I’m assuming not, but I’m sure someone will prove me wrong).

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Yes this is quite spooky but I’ll be honest and say death will do that kind of thing to you.

When I was lying in bed after my brush with death last year, I thought damn hard about my life and made quite a few decisions.

It sounds like Jobs had a similar thing but I can’t understand why he would hold on to his fear about Android?

As Yoda says

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

It pains/saddens me that he went to his death bed worrying about the challenge of Android. Letting go is essential and not doing so, just seems like a very sad thing.

He seemed to have forgotten his own words…

all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

I never want to go to my death bed thinking how I wanted to right the wrong of Apple. Its ludicrous… Yes I’m not a fan but you know what I’m not a fan of a lot of things including crappy fluff filled TV. I would never want to go to my death bed thinking must see a end of Xfactor or something.

Sure some of you are saying, yes but you almost went to your death bed hating Apple? Well not really, even in previous blog posts I’ve expressed happy feelings for Apple. The question should be, if I could stop Apple with all the money I owned, would I do it? Answer is a absolutely NO!

The plan was to buy the Steve Jobs book which was released but frankly I won’t really read it (plus the media has pretty much uncovered most of the book for us all) and as I said before, its very tragic but I’m personally not going to dwell.

He was a genius but also made other peoples lives hell and frankly if he was doing this still after learning about his cancer, he has certainly gone down in my estimations.

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.

I know he strived for perfection but at what cost? The misery of others around him, was it really worth it in the end? Remember the way he treated his child? Once again was it really worth it in the end?

Life is such a precious thing and so many people never face the reality of how precious life really is…

I will remember Steve Jobs as a super smart man who was driven, who even on his death bed loved what he did, and did everything he could to building his own personal dream. I’m still convinced he was nuts to fight the opening up of the world and the more human engagement everyone is finally adopting…

RIP Steve Jobs

Human insights in the data of Qriously

could the chromebook be googles ipad

Data is a really interesting but you already knew that… I hope…

Qriously insights reminds me of the excellent insights we use to get from OkTrends (okcupid’s blog) before bought it (wheres the cool insights now then?). In aggregation there are some really amazing things which can be pulled out. Qriously puts the power to ask the questions and define the sample and scope in a very simple way.

I’m hoping to be able to use it at Ignite Leeds to finally decide who should pay on the first date?

More details are due soon… but the Leeds digital festival looks great, well done to Imran and others. Thanks to Monica Tailor too…

Tweet digging the rules


The concept is simple… Imagine if your Twitter client was crossed with your mail client?

Tweetdig is exactly that.

Currently in private beta although it feels slightly more like a alpha. I was lucky to gain a activation code when they previewed it at BarCampBlackpool last weekend.

So how does it work? well it works very well. Like most twitter clients you have the tweets going up the screen but theres a few options to do a bunch of things including create a filter based on the tweet you’ve selected. You can just write a filter but the best way is to start with something.


So in the screenshot above I have a folder called BBC discussions which usually come from my boss Adew, Si_lumb, or a number of other people. I actually added a bunch more people from the BBC, so now any tweets from them containing one of the others is classes as a conversation which I might want to be aware of.

The filters are pretty much what you’d expect but there a great start. I’d really like to see a better way to group people, so instead of listing everyone on each line, I could say if anyone in my BBC list says something to 2 or more BBC people, drop a copy of the message in a folder. In actual fact I’m not seeing much in the way of the twitter lists being used in tweetdig. Most likely because they haven’t got around to them yet or maybe because lists are not used much?

I’m sure the team will be all over lists at some point, they may even make it transparent, so when you create a grouping in tweetdig, it actually creates a list automatically?

To be honest, it really needs a lot stabilising, and I know there all working on that right now. But they certainly have plans to make a mobile client and maybe a desktop client. Once you start using it, its hard to go back and even more frustrating to use a mobile client without the rules and folders. In fact it would be great if you could assign clients to a folder. For example my mobile client would only show certain folders instead of everything and me having to cascade through it.

I did have a word with them on the side at the barcampblackpool and asked if they knew of any clients which support filtering or rules? Got thinking it would be good if you could simply export your rules out of the site and into your choice of client instead of waiting for them to create a client for your platform.

I’ve already created the dream filter which removes all tweets with the hashtag #sxsw to the bin so I don’t have to hear how much fun people are having in Austin next year. I’ve also setup the same for #iphone5 #iphone4s and #ipad3. Yes it may sound a bit crude but what I really need a little more structure so I could say, ignore all those unless @bbcnews tweet something.

As usual I’d also like to see a more Xpath type logic and the ability to do conditional things like, if @tdobson tweets a link to a video and its retweeted by at least 2 of my followers tell me about it (usually I can never trust what @tdobson links to, as its usually balls or great). Also like to see stuff like the ability to mute someone if they tweet more than x times in a set period of time. Automatically send anyone who tweets the same thing over x times in a set period of time to the junk folder.

Lastly I’d really like to be able to feed Facebook/Buzz/Google+/Idents status/updates/messages into the same thing. Maybe these guys are sitting on the perfect idea of the social operating system (stowe boyd?)

You get the general idea…


The humour of the startup is fun and reflects the people behind it. Its great to see a original idea being pushed forward by these guys who are regular barcampers and such friendly people.

I wish them lots of luck and I think they got something that in the end may be copyable by others but at least they can say, we had the original idea and followed through with a decent product. I can already imagine Tweetdeck or Seesmic with rules which span across not just twitter but also Facebook and Buzz.

So impressed with this service, I’ve closed down Tweetdeck (for now) and made this my number 2 in Top10 interesting tech startups. Novel service with a good solid concept, although I do feel the email methodology will trap them in the end. Its all about the rules 🙂



How I roll at work

I recently filled in a group of people at work about how I work, and I thought it might be interesting to readers of my blog…
I have the Thinkpad X220 which is a BBC R&D laptop and running Ubuntu 11.10 (as of this week, but its going back due to hardware problems).
I switch between the BBC R&D network and the BBC R&D wireless network when I want raw (un-proxyed) internet access. This actually works well because I don’t need to use my BBC desktop machine unless I need to accept a calendar request and send it to my gmail (which is pain, more details about this soon).
I’d hoped to get Gnome Evolution working with the socks5 proxy as it should be able to deal with my Calendar as it has Exchange support but currently no Socks5 support (why I have no bloody idea!). So I’m trying out sockisfy and Tsocks… But right now I’m using Mozilla Thunderbird 7.1 with the IMAP interface to get emails when I switch to the R&D network.
This also means it limits the time I’m in my email and means I get more done… (Something I know from using Rescuetime in the past and tracking my usage at work) I tend to switch to the R&D network about 3-5x a day for about 20mins each time but most of the time I’m on the non proxied wireless network.
This means I automatically get disconnected from IRC, Tweetdeck, Gtalk, etc when changing to the R&D network but I do have the essential things like Twitter and Gtalk on my mobile phone which is always connected to the Wireless network. I could change the proxy settings but I kind prefer it that way, although I did add foxyproxy to Firefox because it was a pain not being able to browse a site someone sent via a BBC email without digging around the preferences.
It does seem a bit of crazy way to do things but I quite like it and means I’m not watching and replying to emails all the time. Now I just have to wait for the Thinkpad X220 to be fixed…

Online Werewolf, the Manchester Chapter and the Thing

The Thing game

One of the sessions at BarCampBlackpool was the idea of playing werewolf, mafia or even the thing (which I will get into in a second) online. There’s been many attempts at this including the commercial ones. But every once in a while theres an attempt by someone to setup an open online version.

Werewolfapphb is one such example. Now to be honest I only walked in half way through the talk but from what I can see it was a lot like the IRC style werewolf games I’ve seen in the past. Seems perfectly fine but I started suggesting a whole bunch of things including status about players and leaderboards. All suggestions seemed to go down well.

I did also point out that there’s a trend towards playing werewolf using Google Plus Hangouts, which to be honest is a lot neater than doing it on IRC or even a Jabber/XMPP conference room.

I was introduced to a new style Werewolf game which seems to work well with a smaller number of people. Its called the Thing and has the advantage of people being involved through-out the whole game.

People also noted there was now a Leeds & Preston Werewolf Chapter which begs the question, what happened to the Manchester Chapter? Well fear not, it will be back and I’ve got ideas and scenarios… Watch this space…


Wunderlist instead of Google Tasks?


I recently got fed up of waiting for someone to create a Google tasks application for Ubuntu/Linux and so when I read Wunderlist was available for Linux, I decided to switch.

Wunderlist I had heard about before but this was the tipping point. It already runs on most other platforms including the web, Android, iOS, Mac, PC and now Linux.

Everything was fine up till the point I switched over to using Ubuntu 11.10. Now I got a problem, but it looks like it won’t be long till its sorted.

I hoped Tomboynotes which comes as standard on Ubuntu would be apt for this all but it never quite got the traction and the Android app doesn’t let you make changes or edits which is almost useless for general use, I’m sorry to say… The ability to share the tasks is also a big plus… The only real shame is the size of the Linux installer (85meg!) as something lighter would be great.

Why you should go to the Mozilla Festival

mozilla festival poster

Just in-case you had any reasons why you shouldn’t be at the Mozilla Festival? Here’s a whole bunch of reasons why you should be there. As most of you already know, we’re running the Dj and Vj Challenges during the Mozilla Festival event in association with Future Everything, Mozilla and BBC R&D.

We’re going to explore possible futures in the fields of Dj and Vj cultures with a aim to go live with something next year at the Future Everything Festival.

The whole event is at my previous college (Ravensbourne) which moved to its new location next to the Dome in North Greenwich. I’ve never checked out the new look college but if its anything like the new Salford University in Media City UK it looks to be something special and a great place to do a challenge like this.

Of course you want to be part of this… So why not sign up now and I’ll see you there in just under a months time…



FLOSS software things which I wonder about…

“FLOSS” (Free/Libre/Open Source Software), and “FOSS” (or F/OSS, Free and Open Source Software).

I attended the Floss Unconference fest yesterday at Manchester Conference centre (a location I had planned to use for BarCampManchester2 due to their ability to do overnights and excellent warren like structure).
The event was reasonable but not well attended, which was a shame. It needed about another 30 people to feel more busy and active. Not quite sure why people never came out for it…? But to be honest I only spotted it by hearing a tweet from Teknoteacher. Anyhow, at the end of the day there were lightening talks and I jumped at the chance to talk about software which really needs to be developed on Linux. I’ve adopted this post to apply to most Floss type things…

First up…

  • What happened to Say my name desert? The developer moved to announcefy but frankly its a downgrade and I’m just about to uninstall it because they’ve been talking about plugins for yonks and they still don’t exist. Instead I just installed Call Announcer which seems to do what I want, but we’ll see…
  • In the same vein, locale what happened? I’ve switched to the hyper geeky Llama which operates based on radio cell towers so in theory it shouldn’t eat so much power as locale. But to be honest I’ve not really had time to mess with it and tweak it.
Now to the desktop…

I’m sure theres plenty more but these are my thoughts right now…

End of the zune, ipod and the pacemaker?

The Pacemaker in use

I think we can pretty much say its the end of the road for the Mpeg3 players.

Microsoft pretty much ported the zune software to their new Microsoft Phone 7 operating system, Apple have done the same and look to be killing the ipod range finally. The single purpose music player is pretty much out for the count.

So what about the Tonium Pacemaker?

Well Tonium went bust a while ago… and the thread is tonium alive? charts the disastrous mistakes which were made over time…

Now everyones trying to get the source code, so we can try and extend the life of such a great product…

Can’t believe I’ve owned the product for over 3 years now, I was one of the first to get it. A whole year before Engadget even. I really hope the community can get the source code because besides the poor battery life and dodgy recording of mixes on the device. There’s already people hacking in SSDs into the Pacemaker, so there’s plenty of people up for compiling and hacking around.

Interesting segway – we’re finally setting a challenge for the next evolution or even revolution in djing at the Mozilla festival later this year…

Eink demos

Sriram Peruvemba, vice president of marketing at Eink, gives us the latest news from Eink, they announced that they will ship between 25 million and 30 million Eink screens this year, just for the Eink e-readers like the Kindle 4 and Nook Touch. Yup you read right, 30 million of those devices to be sold this year.

Is it only me but does the device he’s playing with look exactly the same as the new touch screen Amazon Kindle? Can’t believe I didn’t spot it before really. Anyway its a interesting little interview, but still odd there not going for the bigger display areas?


Build tech city or go one better?

rain rain go away

Not wrote anything about London’s TechCity and Silicon Roundabout for quite sometime but I’ve been thinking about it… The recent talk from Matt Brittin at MediaCityUK reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while.

The Silicon Roundabout thing slightly bugs me and the Techcity thing winds me up but not for the reasons you would imagine. Silicon roundabout is frankly a silly name but I can live with that. The area is full of hopeful startups and internet powered companies. Its great and to be fair east London was always a cool place. I actually spent quite a lot of time in the last startup boom.

My problem is copying the states… Not only copying the concept but somewhat getting it seriously wrong or backwards. I’ll save the reasons for others but this is different times, different circumstances and a totally different country. Part of the solution is diversity of ideas and process, something the UK is very good at in one way or another.

Its no mistake Google’s Eric Schmitt mentions “you’re either a ‘luvvy’ or a ‘boffin’.”

A cultural thing which has got to stop, along with simply copying…

To coin an old phrase, think differently…?

The next few months are very busy

I knew September onwards was going to be busy but this is getting a little out of control…

As you can see a whole bunch of them take place within or close to Manchester, so luckily i won’t have to go too far… However I’m also looking to finally go to Le Web for the very first time and maybe the Media Festival again.

Its cranking up to be a hectic autumn but hopefully a decent one full of lots of great experiences and people…