Things which google have done which bug me in the last year

how google perpetuates itself

Most people would say I’m a fan of google services but I just find them the best of a bunch. Don’t necessary buy their old do no evil stance but they do a good job on most things. One of my favourates is of course Google Now. However there some thing which have bugged me over the last year, heres my list…

  • Offline maps
    I don’t quite understand why they got rid of offline maps but its frustrating, as it use to save me tons of money in roaming charges. If I go on holiday somewhere, I could make a offline version of that city and happily know I have most places to hand. The best thing is it still worked with GPS, so I could be in a taxi or on a bus and track where I was going to the exact moment. Now Google have removed the feature and I’m aware of the “OK Google” trick but its not the same.
  • Hangouts vs Gtalk vs Google Voice
    I know Google have changed Gtalk to fit into Hangouts. Great but whenever I say lets hangout, people assume you mean video and audio, which is a hangout on air? Where does Google Voice fit into this frame? I have no idea… Don’t get me wrong, I love hangouts but the application does kill batteries and I quite liked Gtalk, as I could use it with Pidgin.
  • Google Voice for the UK
    The one thing skype has over hangouts is the ability to call and text phones. Google Voice does this but its not come to the UK still, even after years. I also don’t understand why it works on my android tablet (I have £10 worth of credit) but it won’t work on my android phone?
  • The built in browser in Android
    On Android there is the built in browser but you can install multiple alternative browsers. So I have Browser, Chrome, Firefox and Opera on most of my android devices. You can make any of them the default but I don’t really understand why Chrome isn’t the default?
  • Circles vs Categories for contacts
    Google Plus has been on the market for some time now and I like the circles, but what I don’t get is the categories which run parallel to the circle methodology. Ideally would be able to convert your gmail contact categories into circles. But Google have done nothing. Worst still Circles acts like taxomomies rather then folksonomies meaning there a duplicate scheme to sort contacts. If one was tag/folksomy based then it would be understandable.
  • Google Task API
    I know there is a Task API but it seems so flaky or at least all the apps which connect to it like any.do
  • Inconsistency of staring something in Drive vs making it offline
    In the past, anything you stared in Drive/Doc would automatically be downloaded on Android devices. Some time recently that stopped being the case and you now have to manually select download on every device you want it on. This also can not be done remotely (from what I’ve seen). So I might have made it offline on my phone but not my tablet. The star system was better
  • Offline access generally
    Offline access generally isn’t ideal, its almost like someone at google hasn’t really experienced offline for long. Take for example Google Calendar. Offline mode, generally works without internet access, so you can go forward and backwards over a few months. But if you want to add or edit a something, forget it.
  • Google reader
    Of course no list about issues with Google wouldn’t be complete without a dig about Google Reader!

Top 10 tech hangouts in Manchester

Madlab

Inspired by The next web and Martin’s Tweet for the Top 20 tech hangouts in new york city. I thought well I’ve not really done one for Manchester’s geek/tech scene. I’ve done some posts for top first dating locations which seems to get a lot of search engine referrals. Heck I’ve even talked about coffee shop clashes.

So here’s my list of the top tech hangouts in Manchester…

  1. Madlab
    Go there anyday almost anytime and it will be full of geeky/tech interested people. Its amazing the diversity of people and interests.
  2. North Tea Power
    Although a coffee shop, its usually full of people on laptops working away on startup ideas and new types of projects. Excellent coffee with plentyful types of tea. Owners are lovely people and take their coffee seriously.
  3. TechHub Manchester
    You heard of Techhub, well its the same formula just in the north of England. Of course this is where serious tech startups go to be taken seriously by investers of all kind. Its not the kind of place you can just rock up but they do have social events including Silicon drinkabout every Friday evening. There is also a Northstar Cafe (thanks Angie) below which you can sometimes find tech people and its only 5mins from Piccadilly Station.
  4. Takk
    New on the scene, and forms part of the new Northern Quarter or new Piccadilly Basin area. Putting the old Drip coffee to shame and taking a clues from North Tea Power. This rapidly is becoming the coffee shop work and be seen at. Now if only they can sort out the opening hours, like NTP.
  5. The Classroom
    The coworking space which is along side bakerie’s pie and ale store. This coworking space is membership only but pretty cheap if you want somewhere more social to work but not have the hassle of ordering coffee every hour or so.
  6. Common/Home sweet home
    When Edge street wasn’t so cool and didn’t have street lighting (I still think it doesn’t?), there was a bar with the full title, a place called common. Common has been around for years and hosted many social events in the past. Right next door is home sweet home which has established its self as a great place for the more chilled nights out. Of course both face Madlab, so its easy to go from Madlab to Home sweet home to Common in one evening/night.
  7. Castle hotel
    I am not a fan of the castle, but if you want to find techies, hipsters and digital folk, the castle hotel is a must. People seem to like it a lot while I always wonder where the cocktails are. But I’ll give it something, it certainly attracts tech people in the know. Oh and I have no idea if it really is a hotel or not.
  8. Cornerhouse
    The cornerhouse cinema is one of those places which is full of art people but you sometimes find an event which attracts tech people. Its generally a very cool place and one of those places which really attracted me to live in Manchester all those years ago.
  9. Kim by the Sea
    Just around the corner from Manchester’s Technology park, I’ve been there a few times and each time theres a mix of hippies, artists and technology people. Nice big portions and earthy feel which makes a difference.
  10. Terrace
    I haven’t seen it yet, but Madlab and terrace have come together to do a co-working space of there own. Meant to be a nice space, a little better than the classroom I hear. Terrace is of course another cool bar, usually quite loud not ideal for a chat

 

Remix with a new Surface

Surface with the remix project attached

Simon tweeted me about the Microsoft’s idea of a new remix platform. Some instantly thinking I wouldn’t be interested because heck its nothing like the now legendary pacemaker. My negativity is centred around things like Armin’s project which to be honest isn’t so great (still don’t know what he put his name to it).

The Surface remix project isn’t a DJ platform but rather a remix platform. Yes you could do a little mixing on it but realistically it for making music. The thing which got me interested was the interface. From what I understand about the Microsoft surface is that the keyboard is clicked on, but what if you could click other types of inputs in? It would certainly beat the problem of touching glass.

Will this extended beyond the one smart modified smartcover? I doubt it, Microsoft are well known for wanting to control everything but then again what they did with the Xbox Kinect was good news, although I’ve not seen anything like this recently. If it was a open source project with open and published hardware and software specs, I would be a lot more interested.

I’ll keep an eye on it but I don’t hold out hope for anything ground breaking…

Riding down the Hope Valley


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On Sunday afternoon, it was nice and warm and after 4 hours of Volleyball training, I decided to give Tim’s advice of doing the Hope Valley road a try.

I have to say I need to find a way to attach my Xacti Camera (thinking this could be the hardware project I’ve been meaning to do with FabLab all this time) to the Silverwing or maybe get a Go Pro. There were some stunning views which I wanted to stop and capture but while driving the dangerous path of Snakes pass from the Glossip end, its not advisable to stop a lot. Got to say the trip from Hope Valley into Lancaster was very hilly and amazing to drive, just a shame I was looking directly into the Sunset…

Anyway you can see the path I took which is a lot cleaner than my last one.

A long ride out to sheffield and back

Ride across the Peaks

So this time I went through the mountains of the pennines along the woodhead crossing, stopped in Sheffield and then back through along the forever talked about Snakes pass.

To be honest Snakes pass, wasn’t as scary as I imagined. But there certainly were some corners which I can totally see someone less aware getting caught on. I think I prefer the woodhead crossing for its pure speed and pleasure of driving on top of the mountains but I can see why Snakes pass is a heck lot quicker.

I was amazed at the lake in the middle of the pennines, from my brief look, it seems like there is a pebble/rocky beach too. I might be wrong, I imagine its maybe all just sinking mud and thats certainly not the place to get caught out.

Hope valley is next on my list, but if the weather gets any worst I certainly won’t be driving around the pennines. It was pretty treating when I went out on Saturday, cant even imagine what its like in rain and in the dark!


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For some reason, my phone went a little nutty in the middle, so I ended up with 2 KML files, using Oxygen XML I was able to put the data together. You can’t beat side by side view…

Think who pays is meaningless?

So many people say, who cares who pays on the first date. Is it really a issue at all?

Well I’d direct them to the story of IT worker – Kishore Nimmala. Found via Tim Dobson

Mr Nimmala, from Leyton east London met Ms Sultana on dating website Zoosk. They arranged to meet-up for drinks in the West End on February 15. The IT worker said the evening was proceeding well and they had enjoyed two rounds of drinks by 11.30pm. Mr Nimmala paid for all the drinks spending £54 in total.

He said that when he asked Ms Sultana to pay for the next set of drinks she said she had not come out with any money as she had assumed he would be paying for the evening.

As a result, she cut the evening short and left.

Now if the date ended there, it would have been a crappy date agreed, and at least he could learn something from that experience. But of course it didn’t end there…

But he followed her to Charing Cross Tube station before snatching her phone in a bid to get her to stump up cash towards the drinks. He told the Standard: “I’m just very happy to be cleared.

“But it’s not just the money (£1,200), I have been struggling mentally for the last seven months. I could have lost everything had I been convicted. I feel like I never want to go on a date again.

“I don’t think you can get the right person online. You don’t know who you are talking to, I mean, I ended up in court.”

He added: “She said we would drink and dance all night, but she wanted me to pay for everything and I didn’t have enough cash to buy more drinks so she got upset.

“We had a heated argument. She took my money, I took her phone, but I never wanted to steal her phone and keep it.

“I just did it to get her attention and to get some money back. Then she started screaming very loudly, so I panicked and I ran (with the phone) for a few metres. When I turned back, the police were there and they arrested me.”

Yes he should never have followed her and took her phone! He should have cut his loses and walked away. Who pays is bigger than most people imagine and the politics wrapped up in the emotional issue is like a land mine. One day you will stand on it, and you will remember it forever more.

Mr Nimmala, who works on IT systems for major firms including banks, said the legal proceedings have cost him £1,200 in lawyers’ fees. He also said has not been on a date since February after being left emotionally scarred by his experience.

My general thoughts is if shes not going to buy some drinks on a date, then seriously its not going anywhere. You may be taken for a ride, get out quickly. A good relationship should be equal and both sides should contribute. This reminds very much of Nguna’s comments that she expects the man to pay for everything and she wouldn’t take her purse with her.

Whats in common with Tinder?

A while ago I wrote a piece for Single black male titled technology assisted dating.

A trip to the coffee shop or a bar is full of surprises. Who has not heard of the likes of Grindr? Grindr is/was extremely popular with the urban single gay males and it seems highly effective in meeting other people. You could see this as a digital wingman of sorts or a step on the way towards a technology assisted dating/hookup depending on what you’re actually after?

The likes of OKCupid and POF’s mobile apps use geolocation to find singles which match your profile. Grindr however seems to have that extra element of passive fun or hookup. So the question always has been? Wheres the hetrosexual version of Grindr? Those in the know, recommend Tinder. So I checked it out a while ago and recently gave it another try .

The thing about Tinder is its totally based on your Facebook profile. When I first saw this as a requirement, I read the privacy policy and though no thank you. But since I gave it a shot and found it weirdly interesting.

As said before the app requires (there is no other way to make it work) Facebook data. Once you hook it up every aspect of your Facebook data you get recommendations of people you may like. As I letter found out you can alter some of the settings in the app. Things like distance to search, sexuality and the age range.

The interface is a hot or not styled thing based on profile pictures from people around you. Its not exactly scientific in anyway.

However whats interesting is when Tinder finds something you like in common. This can be something you both liked or something you both have an interest in. It even points out any friends you both have in common. So instead of filling out loads of questions, its simply highlighting the commonality between you both.

Tinder app okcupids app

For example above, there are 3 common things me and Sally share. If I click the i, I can find out which things exactly. In this case Sally likes donnie darko, fight club, and the watchmen. If we had friends in common it would put a number in the other box too.

Once you’ve done all this, thats pretty much it. If the other person comes across your profile and also hearts you, then your both made aware of this connection.

Its simple but also quite effective, if your facebook profile is maintained and well used. The problem I have is I don’t really use Facebook and its apps much, so alot of it is more guess work than matching. Maybe I might consider updating and managing parts of my FB profile in future.

Using Facebook makes a ton of sense and I’ve always maintained that Facebook makes a great dating site.

So its pretty frictionless as a app and service. I have already seen people adding additional information like there twitter username and even email address to the one and only free text area. Which makes me wonder how there going to make any revenue from the app and us the users? Its also lot less realtime that Grindr, so I don’t expect to see people wondering around with the app open, so no real time adverts.

Is it all about the data and what they can sell on? Will there be a pro version on the cards? Will they start selling adverts? Or will they simply go for a walled garden type thing like most other dating sites? It would be good know before I can really recommend the service.

But as a whole, I’m quite liking Tinder and it will stay on my android devices for now. Its certainly not Grindr for us hetrosexuals but its something smarter and slightly clever.

Armin van Buuren and the Philips M1X

Well Armin Van Buuren launches a DJ device with Philips.

Its the M1X and on the face of it, it looks like a reasonable DJ device. 399 euros should mean about 299 pounds, which isn’t bad for a 100 watt boombox, with dj controller.

However, you must run it off an Apple ipad or iphone with lightning connection. This your suddenly talking upwards of 599 euros for something you can actually use (on the beach – as Armin said many times). The lightning connector slams the door on your Android devices. It also seems to only work with Algoriddim djay 2! So even if you invested in Traktor, Virtual DJ or what ever, your screwed? The only interesting feature is the ability to hook up multiple M1x’s to the same thing. How this works in practice is a massive question and I look forward to seeing people messing with this in time.

Armin said again and again, you can use it on the beach, but really? Are you going to carry that whole thing down on to the sand? A boombox with good speakers and amp is a lot cheaper that 399 euros. Plug in a Pacemaker and your laughing. Nope sorry its nice in concept but its not going to carve its way out of a tiny niche. That niche is smaller that the pacemaker and thats saying something!

Thumbs down sorry Armin… Either do something different like the Pacemaker guys or make the whole thing real cheap…

Its seems crazy that no one has a better device than the pacemaker, even with all the progression in memory, cpu speeds, display tech, etc.

Animals of the online dating world

cabbage patch cat.

Iz in youz inboxz with the veg, wat u gonna do?
No wonder your single…

I had never come across A(n)nals of Online Dating before… but I quite like it in a hand in front of the eyes and hide behind the sofa type thing.

Welcome to A(n)nals of Online Dating.  It’s a simple idea: Online dating is the worst.  Submit the horrific messages you get, and we will collectively laugh at them.  Points given for lack of basic spelling and punctuation skills; bad sexual innuendo; reliance on cliche; terrible taste in books, music or movies; use of twelve-year-old-girl text-slang; and creep factor.

Now I have to say few of my dates are worthy of being included into this tragic site but most of them are ok. It would be hard to get over the overall feeling of boredom or the consistent battle to get the conversation flowing. But I could certainly include a few of my total nightmares.

My faith in male kind drops to a all time low after flicking through some of the archive posts.

For example sorry i only do disco sticks….

Okay I’m going to just ask and hope for the best….. lets be honest. Do you wanna hook up and fuck? You seem like my type of woman, personality wise. And I really like you. Sexy, free time college student here.. I’m NOT looking for a one night stand… I’m possibly considering a friends with benefits relationship.

I just haven’t enjoyed the way I would want to with anyone yet, still looking for something promising, like a fwb relationship or something discreet that can be ongoing and not just a one night thing. She needs to appreciate my body and treat it right, I do have a six pack, I do a lot of track and running here at my college, so I’m a runner pretty much. I don’t see the point of anal if the girl just wants a big stick of love up right up stretching her labia apart… I like to take my time when I’m with my partner and not just rush into it all, like to caress her and tease her… a lot… before I even show it to her, that way she will want it more. But I haven’t found the right woman for that can satisfy me with what I need. And no one has wanted to meet me.. haven’t had luck 🙁

And when you think its bad, it gets a whole lot worst…!

Should have gone dutch when I bounced

November 28th

I’m cursing myself for falling for the stupid mistake of paying for the bill in one of my previous dates in the last few months.

My mistake was paying for the bill in total, something which I don’t usually do.

So what happened?

Well we were having a good time, chatting away and I suggested how about having some food? (because we were in a place where we could switch from drinks to food without moving) she agreed, time had flown by and she was also hungry.

After eating and deciding yes its about time we actually went home, we asked for the bill. Bill comes and I can’t remember exactly what happened but I’m pretty sure I said “Hey no worries I got this one…”

Of course I never really heard from her again. Except shes actually a friend of friends (trying not to give away who it was)

Anyhow months later we bump into each other and I ask her what happened?

The crux seemed to be she wasn’t comfortable with being paid for… Something I can relate to, and something which I usually go out of my way to avoid. What had happened is I thought I’d try paying and seeing what happens, maybe things will turn out different if I listened to thoughts of Ngunan Adamu and others over time.

Well I was right! Her original thoughts of a modern gentleman, was dashed when I picked up the whole bill. And the only person to blame is myself… Yes it was a bit of an experiment on my part but it felt weird for me and I assume felt even weirder for her. Its a shame because although not my usual type of woman, I was certainly interested and would have liked to have gone on a second date…

Moral of this little tale… Should have gone Dutch…!

Documenting a ride

HONDA SILVERWING

I now have my scooter (Honda Silverwing) back on the road, thanks to Matt.

I have been on a few longish journeys around but not anything major. So today I went for a long ride in the mountains (well there officially the peaks  but…). I keep meaning to go down the famous Snakes Pass. But there seems to be a number of different routes which are interested rides through the peak district.

Using my tracks on my phone I was able to create a map of where I had gone complete with all the riding info. I was surprised to find you could easily export it to Google Drive and therefore easily something/somewhere else.


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If the boot sequence was this cool

Hackers movie

Remember on Hackers when the guys all start up there laptops and your treated to a range of animated startup sequences?

How cool was it to have all those individualised, personalised startup sequences? Certainly beats looking at the Lenovo, Apple, Microsoft, etc logos.

Well someone is thinking along the same lines at least

Goodbye MyOpenID?

OpenID Logo

I received this email recently…

I wanted to reach out personally to let you know that we have made the decision to end of life the myOpenID service. myOpenID will be turned off on February 1, 2014.

In 2006 Janrain created myOpenID to fulfill our vision to make registration and login easier on the web for people. Since that time, social networks and email providers such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and Yahoo! have embraced open identity standards. And now, billions of people who have created accounts with these services can use their identities to easily register and login to sites across the web in the way myOpenID was intended.

By 2009 it had become obvious that the vast majority of consumers would prefer to utilize an existing identity from a recognized provider rather than create their own myOpenID account. As a result, our business focus changed to address this desire, and we introduced social login technology. While the technology is slightly different from where we were in 2006, I’m confident that we are still delivering on our initial promise – that people should take control of their online identity and are empowered to carry those identities with them as they navigate the web.

For those of you who still actively use myOpenID, I can understand your disappointment to hear this news and apologize if this causes you any inconvenience. To reduce this inconvenience, we are delaying the end of life of the service until February 1, 2014 to give you time to begin using other identities on those sites where you use myOpenID today.

Speaking on behalf of Janrain, I truly appreciate your past support of myOpenID.

Sincerely,
Larry

No more myOpenID, I guess it was on the cards and to be fair its surprising its stayed open this long? Shame openid has been pretty much co-opted by the massive internet corps. The same ones which seem to do little to protect our data.