Manchester Werewolf chapter – Wed 25rd Jan

Manchester Werewolf Chapter

Manchester Werewolf Chapter is back for 2012 and were teamed up with the guys at Larkin About again.

On Wednesday January 25th, the Manchester Werewolf Chapter and Larkin’ About will be running the first Werewolf game of 2012 at Barcelona Bar in the Northern Quarter. For 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 expert.

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

Hello, do I know you?

Since my brush with death its hard to remember all the people I have met in the past. I’m rubbish with names even though I do recognise them. Its noticeable because I was ever so good at holding peoples names in my head previously

I find Evernote Hello a slightly interesting concept, but I won’t be using it because its iOS only. I also don’t really think the idea of passing your phone across to remember details is a good idea.

However what I do find useful recently is quick follow in Tweetcaster… Add the name, save them to a list for future use. Yes its not going to beat having a photo, etc but its a lot less intrusive. Only issue is I sometimes end up calling people there twitter name rather than there real name. Specially when they don’t have very distinctive names or use a picture of themselves when they were a child (not going to point at anyone).

I’ve been playing with the idea of putting pictures next to peoples names in my contact book but frankly do I want to be looking at my phone each time I recognise someone? Which also concerns me with Evernote Hello…

Mapping the creative industries

Mapping the creative industries

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino has drawn up her first thoughts on the creative industries and how they are connected. It comes from her experience at the V&A’s Power of Making symposium.

In her own words….

As I work my way through my notes on the event, I also wanted to start to unpick who was using the word “make” and what they were making. This is a first stab and not really about creating collaborative connections yet. I might also be missing some things, do let me know. In this, I think we can see where the “creative industries” overlap and therefore where skill sets overlap. This also proves perhaps that one should be quite careful with using any one term. Designer, artists, engineer…when you look close enough, can become one and the same.

I personally think its a great map and a very good stab at a difficult subject. Great to see Artist, Designer, Hacker, Developer, Engineer, Crafts person all given the footing as one another.

I specially like the fact Hacker is sandwiched right between designer and developer… Something I certainly like to class myself as.

Maybe if I was to change two things it would be the notion of 2D and Crafts person. Digital is maybe different from 2D and certainly from 3D. Crafts person strikes me as too descriptive and tied down to a format. However I don’t really have another name to suggest…

Imagine if you could remix books?

Cooking for Geeks cover

There is something about Simon Lumb, something that everytime we chat creative juices start flowing (wipe that smile off your smutty face, you know what I mean)…

Off the back of a conversation in Wagamama about Richard St John’s 8 Traits to be great, which I have a physical signed copy of after a TEDx. We got talking about how I tend to own a physical copy of most books although I also own the ebook version. Then we got talking about Instapaper and Readitlater, how they give you the ability to pull together elements from a range of sources…

Imagine if you could do the same thing as a published book? Remix books!

Books right now are like Albums, but imagine if they were more like singles and EP’s?

They could be like the Mixtape of the written word? Fits perfect with the self publishing trend.

  • Example 1: Custom cookbook. Pick a your favourite menu items and self publish your own cookbook. A bit of Jamie, dash of Heston and a lot of Nigella (yes please). Arrange them into a new type of cook book which is custom for you, or reflects your cooking style. It could be a cookbook for you or for someone else…
  • Example 2: The best of… Many times in the past, people have said the best way to learn about Z is to read chapters Y & X of book W and chapters A, B and C of book D… Want to know the best to learn how to skateboard or surf? I recommend reading my custom book which is made up of… you get the idea
  • Example 3: The best places in the world. Could be a nice mix of places you’ve never been to before, places you inspire to go or places you have been to before. Actually it kind of reminds me of off beat guides, but instead of building it from raw components its from previous decent reviews.
  • Sure there are many more including books for young children, books for different learning styles, etc, etc…

The remix methodology is actually very apt, because instead of building your own from the components, your remixing parts of others. Like a Dj remixing other peoples tunes.

The copyrights framework will be a nightmare to work out (we’re not kidding ourselves about that) but to be honest it could be something like the music rights framework for albums and singles? Might even increase the amount of readership for some books? It could be massive changes, or little changes like the art work in the book. Instead of lovely glossy pictures of food in a cook book, it could be technical diagrams for those more interested in seeing those? Maybe the remixes will cost more than the originals but to the person who gets it, its worth so much more. You get the idea…

Crazy idea? Tell me and Simon why? Maybe you love it and want to run with it? Well all we require is attribution… This idea is open to the world… Run with it and tell us when you get rich by changing the publishing industry. This is what places like Lulu have been crying out for right? Just like… My lifestreaming dating idea and my dreamscape idea. Go get them, change the world or go Lazy web make it so…!

Getting things done with Gnome!

Example of GTG

Why on earth have I never heard about Getting things Gnome?

I’ve been using Wunderlist because it ran on most platforms (more on this soon) and at the time Google Tasks client support was a mess (specially on Linux). Although I always knew it was always the wrong way to go about things, I went with it because I needed to Get things done (pun meant).

Anyway I’ve almost dropped Wunderlist because frankly it was exactly the same application across all platforms which meant it was heavy as hell on certain things (65meg! for a bloody task list?) and what drove me nuts was the fact it couldn’t be installed on 64bit Ubuntu without some serious messing. The only reason I started using it was because it was in the Ubuntu software centre, but after Ubuntu 11.04 it was removed.

Now I’m using Getting Things Gnome on my laptops and syncing to Remember the Milk. I’m also forced to use RTM type applications on my Android in the meanwhile. RTM is the weak link in the chain (it also does some weird things to nested tasks)  and I’m now investigating syncing with Google Tasks and the good old TomboyNotes sync with Ubuntu one again. Ideally I would use GTG on my laptops Tomboynotes to sync and something like Tasko on my Android devices.

Interesting to also see the integration with project hamster, actually thats how I first heard about it… Although its good to hear from Rescuetime they are working on there own linux uploader.

Gnome Extensions vs Unity Lens

Fedora 16 & Gnome3

For sometime I’ve been trying to get Gnome Extensions (still alpha) going but for some reason most of the good ones failed to install. However when I head home (after Christmas in Bristol) I give it a try, and it suddenly all works.

Its a bit of a hassle to get it working without Firefox but now I got quite a few installed.


  • Activities Button Text – changed the text to say cubicgarden now
  • Music Integration – useful to know whats playing and change the seek
  • Coverflow Alt-Tab – Back to the Compiz style switching
  • Calculator – Great for quick calculations
  • Journal – Seems to bring up relevant stuff in the overlay mode
  • Jump Lists – You can search for categories not just apps
  • Notes Search Provider for Gnote/Tomboy – Search notes (more on this in the next post)
  • Recent Items – Rearranges the search by recent items
  • App Search – Searches for available apps not just installed apps
  • Status only icon – Removes your name from the top right

Generally I’ve installed many of them but turned off the ones I don’t really like.

Although I really like Gnome3 Extensions, I’m really liking the look of the Unity Lens extensions (for example, Youtube, Piratebay, TomboyNotes Lens) I’m seeing going by in my Google reader via sites like OMGUbuntu and Webup8.

I’m not totally sure how hard it is to create the Gnome Extensions but I gather its mainly Python with a smidgeon of JS and CSS? It would be great to see even more extensions including some of the Unity Lens ones. Certainly could make use of some of the internet connected ones…

Generally I like what the Gnome team is doing, installing a Unity Lens is much more trouble than a Gnome Extension, now all we need is many more of them and a better way to search and sort them.

Wouldn’t it be great if Zeitgeist and Project Hamster had a love child?

Following my new years resolutions… I’ve been investigating other means to better track my time and effort.

I still love Rescuetime but getting it to work on Ubuntu has turned into a bit of a task in its self, it would seem. So while I investigate how to get it play nicely in Ubuntu and under Gnome 3. I’ve been looking at alternatives

The big opensource one seems to be Project Hamster… which has its core in the right place.

But I started thinking why isn’t Gnome Zeitgeist/Activity Manager used instead of a dedicated piece of software? Seems I’m not the only one asking this question… Wonder what the Gnome Zeitgeist team say…

Although I like Project Hamsters ideals, being able to track multiple machines over different operating systems is very useful for someone like me who uses Windows, Android and of course Linux. So I’ve been looking at Time Doctor but the point of view is at odds with what I’m looking for I think. I imagine it would be something my manager could ask me to install.

I think I’ll try and get Rescuetime uploader working… for now…

Hacking my john lewis umbrella

I bought another John Lewis Umbrella recently while in Bristol.

My good friend Ross (recently joined twitter), said I was nuts buying such a expensive umbrella, but I explained its the only way to deal with Manchester’s changeable weather. The Umbrella is strong and seems to deal with the gusts much better than most other umbrellas. Plus its small and compact so fits in my laptop bag, or my inside jacket pocket. Yes it was in the lady section of John Lewis but only because theres this stereotype than men carry golfing size umbrellas.

He made the point that I could buy about 17 cheap pound shop umbrellas for the price of my John Lewis one but I love the up and down button and you can’t beat it when going in and out of doors. I did try the M&S umbrella but it felt cheap and unstable in comparison, plus it didn’t have the up and down mechanism (manual sucks).

Anyway, after using it straight away after buying it to keep the rain off in Bristol. I noticed it wasn’t so snappy as the ones I’ve had in the past. Which got me thinking maybe theres a way to hack the umbrella so its snappy and much more responsive?

Yes folks, its time to hack my umbrella… and I’m not the only one but I’m doing it for different less flashy reasons

Of course if I do start hacking it, there will be photos and a detailed analysis of the hacking.

Watch this space…

New Years Resolutions 2012

Me in Manchester

Taken by Becky Davis in Cloud23

Following my review of last year… here’s my New Years Resolutions for 2012

  1. More public talks
    I quite like public talking although I personally think I’m not very good at it. I’ve forced myself to talk more in public and so I’m going to push my public talking more in 2012… Its starts with Ignite Leeds and a few others in the first half of 2012. More will come soon after.
  2. Keep my calendar more clear
    I find if I keep my calendar clear, adhoc things pop up and I quite enjoy this. So hopefully keeping it as empty as possible will help this happen. I’ve been known to use twitter a lot to arrange adhoc meetups and this year I’ll keep this going. This also fits with my idles about focusing more and removing the stuff which doesn’t matter so much, from my life.
  3. Play more
    Like previous years, I hope to play more games but unlike last few years I’m considering real life gaming like Werewolf, The thing, etc… I’m already playing Werewolf once every two months in the northern quarter with Larkin About. And the venue we have has bags of potential for other types of real life gaming experiences.
  4. Inspire through what I do
    I still love the simplistic of I feel there’s a lot more what I can do to inspire others through what I do. Hopefully some of this will come through what I do at work. Lots of friends say to me, why don’t you setup your own company? But to be honest I love my job and I feel like I’m in a bit of a startup environment within BBCR&D. This has its advantages and disadvantages, but either way hopefully it will show theres more to life than money. This also means even more oversharing or overlistening. But I’ve decided to pump more information into Google Plus (because of their Data Portability) instead of Facebook or Twitter. I think the circles are a good idea, and I think I could use them over another service like Path. Even considered documentating things like dates I go on just like 52 first dates.
  5. Don’t settle for mis-information and totally bogus arguments
    Quite a few times I’ve been having a debate with someone and they throw in something which is totally bogus. I mention it but we carry on regardless, then later on it comes back but worst. The other person builds a argument off the back of this mis-information. I then have to build a argument to counteract this mis-information. No more! The debate isn’t going to carry on now.
  6. Never shy away controversy / push social limits (including complaining myself)
    I understand social limits or boundaries but can’t help but push them. I don’t do it to be deliberately a pain to others but sometimes I use them as a transport towards something much more enlightening. In my blog post about VivID lounge, I faced a lot of angry people, but in the end I’m starting to see comments which confirm some of the points I was making. Its not about me, I’m just pushing the conciousness into the public where others can give a better reasoned argument. Someone needs to be the person who lights the match I guess, and thats me. I’m also adopting Senior Troublemaker as my title at work, which is very fitting. I’m sure my plans for will also cause some controversy. Lastly complaining is important (within reason) My ex-wife use to complain when something grated with her and you know, it always ended positively. So its time to shake off the British stiff upper lip…
  7. Drink only when they serve decent cocktails or wine I actually like
    I’ve already stopped drinking stuff I think is so-so, by extension I’m generally only going to drink when I’m really up for it and looking forward to enjoying the taste. This means no more drinking cherry beer just because theres nothing else to drink, no more settling for crappy cocktails made out of packets.
  8. Improve my circus skills
    I still loving my Diabolo and when I was off sick I was going to Manchester University Circus Skills. But when I went back to work the timing (2-4pm on a Wednesday) was never going fit with work. Now there’s the circus house next to me, and I’m hoping to make full use of it. On top of that, when it gets warm in MediaCity again, I’ll be pushing for Circus Skills classes again at lunch times. Maybe there’s a way to combine the two? Or even move one of the after hour classes away from South Manchester to East Manchester?
  9. Buy more non-black shirts
    If you know me, I tend to wear a lot of black shirts. Hey I like them and I have many of them (maybe I should take a photo of my wardrobe just to prove it). However I’m not against other colour shirts (I wear Orange/Yellow/Green/Red Tshirts for example), but they do need to be short sleeves and not dodgy cheques like you see on a lumberjack. So time for different shirts and you know what? Maybe even different colour trousers now and then…
  10. Be more careful with money
    I’m spending right now about 6 pounds on lunches bought at Booths at MediaCity (Booths is the Waitrose of the North) , this has got to stop. Not only that, I’m treating maybe too many people with free meals and drinks. Cool but I do need to limit the number per month.
  11. Bake a cake
    I don’t understand why but there seems to be something about engineers and baking cakes. I don’t personally get it, but the guys all bring in cakes every week for everyone else. I’ve not contributed to this and to be honest I can’t bake because I can’t help but mess with the recipe. Maybe its the creative side of me… or something. Anyway, sometime this year I’ll bake a cake and bring it in for BBC R&D, can’t pledge for its quality however
  12. Eat healthy
    Been consistently loosing weight at a slow pace, and to be honest my NHS dietation/nutritionist has been good. And we’ve identified the only time I eat bad is when I’m far enough away from decent quality food. So I’m going to avoid all the rubbish food places and stick to decent places (even if its at odds with number 10). I’ll also do more smaller shops, so I can pick up more fresh fruit and veg.