Material Design in Android 5: Lollipop

Nice use of natural materials

All my Nexus devices have been updated to Android 5: Lollipop and I’m getting use to the changes.

My old 2012 Nexus 7 was first to be upgraded, about a week after the release of Lollipop. Then a week and half later my Nexus 5 was upgraded. I thought the Nexus 5 would be first honestly.

The Nexus 7 had problems, the upgrade was fine but it got really really slow afterwards.  I wiped the cache a few times and that helped but after a day of use, it would go back to super slow. In the end I had to wipe the whole device and just start a fresh. Luckily Google made the process much quicker and easier. Using NFC on my Nexus 5, it sets up an adhoc network and transfers most of the settings across. Only real issue is setting up all the individual apps.

Android 5 is actually really nice, its like the jump from Android 2: GIngerbread to Android 4: Icecream sandwich (we don’t talk about Android 3: Honeycomb). Icecream sandwich’s Halo interface was great and to be honest Material design is a little weird to get use to. But you get use to it and the way it works. In actual fact the interaction design of the interface is well thought out.

I basically think of everything being pieces which are viewed from a top down view. The shadows help with this and the motion makes things very clear. My own gripe is the flat colours but the edge to edge pictures help break things up quite a bit. I would say its not as revolutionary as the Windows Metro interface but its smarter and is a lot clearer.

Quite interesting when you look at the other human interfaces guidelines in software.

You can help us make it digital

BBC Sign - MediaCityUK

In 2015, the BBC’s Make it Digital initiative will shine a light on the world of digital creativity and coding. Why are we doing this? The BBC has already inspired a generation to get passionate about computing. Back in the Eighties the BBC broadcast hundreds of hours of TV, created a new coding language, and gave millions their first taste of computing with the BBC Micro.

As you may have heard, the BBC has finally decades after the BBC Micro phenomenon. To make 2015 the year of making it digital.

But the BBC can’t do this alone, we need partners…

As part of Make it Digital, we’d like to create a hands-on learning experience that allows any level of young coder from absolute beginner to advanced maker to get involved and be part of something exciting. We are looking for partners, large and small, who are both willing and able to contribute services and/or funding to the delivery of this project alongside the BBC. This initiative will involve the BBC working together with the market as a public value partnership…

Think this sounds like you?  Well time to get those expressions of interest emails in.

Please submit expressions of interest by email to learning.makeitdigital@bbc.co.uk at your earliest convenience and no later than 2pm 8th December 2014.

What’s been troubling recently, #Ferguson

Ferguson Protest in Palo Alto: Stanford Students Shut It Down

Everytime I hear about Ferguson, I grow that little more angry. There are literary no words I can say which sum up the feeling of unease,  worry, fear and anger. While most of the people around me carry on their lives not really thinking about the massive injustice which is happening again over the ocean, I wonder about the progress we have and have not made. I wonder about the corruption and how we are going to tackle that? Boycotting Black Friday is a start I guess.

I wasn’t going to write anything because I couldn’t really put it down (The closes thing I could compare it it to was the killing of Stephen Lawrence, something which keeps on giving) and there is so much better people to hear from.

But then after watching the guys behind singleblackmale.org talking over email, I needed to break the silence on my part and join the rest of the people in solidarity… As Dr J writes…

None of the bloggers on this blog have been immune to interactions with police officers. Most, if not all of us have encountered white police officers in our travels. What troubles me about this issue is that I’d like to think that our police officers are here to keep us safe. What we know now is that isn’t always the case and it’s not an exaggeration to say we feel like feeling safe is a minority opinion for Black men in this country…

…People always ask me how I’m doing and my response is the same, “Given my circumstance, the best that I could be.” That holds true today. Now brothers and sisters in the fight; Black, white or indifferent please channel your efforts positively or at least effectively…

Ferguson protest in downtown St. Louis

Celeste Little’s email caused me to breakdown for a bit while reading it on my phone.

…All I could think about, as I was walking along 7th avenue with the 1600 other people who were hurt and appalled by the decision, was my grandmother.

She was born in Mississippi into a family of sharecroppers and when she witnessed President Obama’s 2004 win, she was thrilled, to say the least. She died several years later, and as she was passing all she talked about was how she was happy all of her children and grandchildren were well taken care of.

That’s what all of our ancestors have prayed and wished and died for– that we would be better taken care of. And it is absolutely suffocating to think that, after all this time, we might not be.

Ferguson-10

So I wrote this…

I wanted to share a little perspective from outside the America.

I was really shocked and appalled to hear what happened, I didn’t know what to think really and what can a foreigner bring to the table what you guys don’t already know?
Nothing much, but there has been a whole discussion about police with cameras and using technology to aid solutions in the British media.

Every time I hear this my hand gets a little tense, as using technology to aid or solve human problems is not a good idea.

Its far too easy to turn off cameras and get around systems which are only there to keep those who play by the rules.

You only have to look at piracy to understand this.

Ferguson protest in downtown St. Louis

Talking of rules, what makes things worst is the rules don’t seem to apply to the police in the states.
You don’t think a police officer which has no problem gunning down innocent black men, wouldn’t break the camera lens, remove the power or find another way?

Technology can help but only when people are willing to be helped. Its like an addict, you have to admit you need help before you can be helped.
The police are clearly not willing, the courts are clearly not willing and the system just backs them up.
Lawrence Lessig a Stanford lawyer turned his head to understanding the endemic corruption and although not directly applicable is worth thinking about when talking about what’s wrong.
I’m not saying the UK is any better but the system out there is so corrupt and so broken, something has got to give…

Keep on fighting the good fight people and never give up.

#MichaelBrown - #‎TCShutItDown #‎ShutItDown #JusticeForMikeBrown by Fibonacci Blue, on Flickr" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fibonacciblue/15691932038">Minneapolis rally for <a rel=#MichaelBrown - #‎TCShutItDown #‎ShutItDown #JusticeForMikeBrown" width="500" height="375" />

Lucy is CPH4 real?

Lucy

The average person uses 10% of their brain capacity. Imagine what she could do with 100%..

After watching Lucy and (to be fair) Limitless, you can’t help but wonder… what if? So I looked into it, where better than skeptics exchange and quora.

Generally it looks like, the term CPH4 is made up but there are tiny tiny amounts of something which are produced when women are pregnant. What ever it is, its certainly not going to/can not be mass produced. Although you could argue the limitless drug may be possible at some point.

 

Lets change the world?

I won't change the world....

Its not unknown for me to say “Lets change the world

But Umair Haque writes about why this kind of thinking drives him up the wall.

Auughhh. Like yours, my skin crawls every time I hear it. “Changing the world” is the latest nails on the chalkboard of Modern Life…an eye-rolling platitude…a gut-churner of a buzzword…shouted daily by thousands of high-fiving business-class wannabes in chinos…the worst invention since the Company Theme Song.

Ebola? Who cares!! Dude!! We’ll call them emergency Ubers!! Climate change? Buddy, chillax!! We’ll send the flood victims tacocopters!! No life? No problem!! Everyone can have robo-friends!! They’re better than humans!! Unemployment? Let them Taskrabbit!! Who needs a career…an education…a life…when you can be a butler?!

Don’t worry, bro!! Dude!! Don’t you get it? Digitally connected superwatches will rescue us!! They’ll make us transcendent superbeings!! The Human Condition?! We’ll app our way out!! Glory be!! Hallelujah!! Sing it with me!! We’re not just here to make money, we’re…changing the world!!

I do see what he saying and his examples picking out the mentality of Uber, Taskrabbit, AirBnB and Tinder is spot on. Maybe the creative disruption these guys hide behind isn’t really creative disruption at all?

Think about it for a moment. Do you think Travis from Uber or the creepily misogynistic guys from Tinder “changed the world” more than Jonas Salk…Galileo…Einstein…Gandhi…Martin Luther King? Do you need a brain transplant…and asoul? Are you a dummy? There have always been billionaires, tycoons, hucksters. But there haven’t always been polio vaccines…cosmologies…theories of relativity…civil rights.

Those are the guys who really changed the world, and to be fair they didn’t shout creative disruption as they went about it.

Changing the world isn’t helping your bro find a date by coding an app. Changing the world isn’t feeding your frat house by building a tacocopter. Changing the world isn’t turning life into a perma frat party by making a shot that can fulfill all your daily nutritional needs.

Things that make people…butlers, chauffeurs, maids, courtesans…debtors, sharecroppers, zombies…don’t change anything. They are merely more of the same. They redeem no human suffering; enhance no human potential; spark no human accomplishment; transform no human being. They do not create anything truly worthy that might not have been otherwise. There is no greatness, nobility, goodness, justice, or truth in them. There is merely the same old ugliness, cruelty, despair, and self-deception that has always been.

I think what I took away from everything Umair wrote is the empowerment for all. Even I have been thinking a lot more about the gotchas when using Uber and even AirBnB. Everything is tied into an algorithm, how fast you reply, how slow, collecting and build reputation for you which you have no control over. Even when you decide to opt out, its a problem. This is all without even looking at the overall societal, social and humanity effect of dancing with algorithms (as I am now calling it).

Its all very good critique and quite a bit to think about next time I shout “lets change the world!

Back to instant messaging

instant messaging sites

I bet the figure above has changed in recent times, as everybody turned back to messaging it would seem. Maybe realising that using social networks as a way to do instant messages is a bad idea (not judging, as I have been lured into a one 2 one conversation quite a few times over twitter).

I use to be a jabber/xmpp fan and when GTalk adopted xmpp, I was pretty happy. However over time the xmpp standard was built upon and in the end removed. I was one of those people who ran a client (pidgin) which supported multiple im protocols.

I considered installing pidgin again but I thought I’d give the alternatives a try. However Josh tweeted something which I wanted to consider when choosing a client and protocol.

Looking at the list I decided to try Silent Text/Phone from Silent Circle and Telegram. Telegram has clients across operating systems and devices, while silent text/phone is mainly mobile. Telegram also has the option of working within Pidgin if I decide to switch back.

For me its not that I actively want to hide secret messages, I just want the option to flex my privacy. Instant messenger for me is more private than social broadcasting platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Do I trust facebook messenger? Do I heck! I actively don’t have it on my phone along with the Facebook app.

I know theres rumors twitter are due to spin out their direct messaging part but looking at the rest of the crowd, are we really expecting twitter to adopt a secure and private system? Their track record hasn’t be bad. Actually there are twitter direct messaging clients which is cool but how many times has twitter changed the rules of the system, how long till direct messages are treated differently?

World’s largest e-paper sign

Some of you may remember I have been asking the question, why is there no large eink/epaper displays/screens? Then I came up with a solution which could scale (maybe) by creating a kindle array.

Well someone nicely pointed me in the direction of this article which claims to have the world biggest epaper sign. As you can see its really an array but its still pretty impressive.

Its also interesting to see where else epaper is being used.

Data portability and uber

https://twitter.com/andybudd/status/535469437303156736

With all the recent stories about the already dubious (or maybe  devious would be more fitting) Uber. Even I am starting to question how much I can really ignore, especially the God mode (yes I was aware via friends but balancing out how much benefit it brought to myself)

Helen Keegan reminds me of what I have been ignoring (I added the links by the way)…

How about throwing their dodgy off-shore tax dealings and encouraging sub-prime loans to drivers for a shiny new car without guaranteeing any work or taking any responsibility? Or maybe the lack of insurance and vetting of drivers? I’m sure there’s a bunch of other things too. And they’re not the only big tech company behaving like this mind.

Shes right, theres a lot of black marks. To be fair it was Mr Sparks which highlighted the attitude as it was being trialled in Manchester. However if you don’t like what Uber is doing, best look at what most of the silicon valley tech companies are doing. Ok so say I wanted to leave because I am sick to the back teeth of what their CEO is doing (I left Godaddy for this reason to be fair) what happens now?

Uber Lux in Amsterdam

Delete the app fine, but what about the account, data deletion and where next? I have to start again at Hailo? Why can’t I take my  reputation with me?

Theres no way to kill the account in the app, so people have asked them to kill the account. Maybe you can trust, Uber will delete the data (haven’t looked at the Eula recently to see their policy around this).

Unless specified otherwise in this Privacy and Cookie Policy, we will retain your information until you cancel your Uber account, or until your Uber account has been inactive for a year. If you wish to cancel your Uber account or request that we no longer use your information to provide you services, please contact us at support@uber.com. Upon expiry of the one year period of inactivity, we will alert you and give you two weeks to re-activate your Uber account or retrieve any personal information you want to keep. After deletion of your account we will anonymize your data, unless these data are necessary to comply with a legal obligation or resolve disputes.

Ideally you should be able to take you’re trip data and give it to another company. Dataportability please! I’ve been in a similar position before. At the same time it should shutdown the account.

My only hope is Uber upped the game of the other taxi companies out there…

Don’t be Evil Uber indeed…!

Cloud Appreciation to the Cloud Atlas

https://www.ted.com/talks/gavin_pretor_pinney_cloudy_with_a_chance_of_joy

You don’t need to plan an exotic trip to find creative inspiration. Just look up, says Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. As he shares charming photos of nature’s finest aerial architecture, Pretor-Pinney calls for us all to take a step off the digital treadmill, lie back and admire the beauty in the sky above.

Lovely Ted talk and the interesting to hear the link to slowness, but watching the clouds makes me think about cloud atlas and the interconnectedness of life.

Beware the flying mistletoe drone strikes

TGI drone attackTom Morris drops me a message on Facebook.

Ian Forrester’s mission if he chooses to accept it.

1. Find a lady friend.

2. Go to this: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/whats-on/love-air-manchester-restaurant-launches-8130613

3. Blog about it.

Although its tempting, the idea of going to TGI Friday for a date fills me with rage. As somebody said… Their food is death and sadness.

Flying mistletoe from a mini indoor drone strike seems more likely than any kind of love interest on a date. Then again you could have fun with it I guess, but its certainly not the kind of thing I would do on a first date.

Tell you what, if anyone wants to do it for a laugh and are female, I maybe interested for the sake of blogging. This always feels like the start of an adventure… Who’s up for it?

Love, Sex & Alienation in Manchester

https://twitter.com/rosiewilby/status/534000374840307712

I heard about the Manchester Spring through Facebook (via Josh R) of all places. I guess he saw the topic (Love, Sex & Alienation) and decided I would be interested.

What are relationships? Why do we seek them out, and how can they enrich our lives? Spring invites you to a thoughtful matinee discussion on the borders and nuances of human interaction. From anthropological, biological, social and philosophical perspectives this event will explore the sticky and personal terrain of love, sex and alienation. What do human relationships have the potential to be? What do they look like when they’re going well?

The speakers were… Rosie Wilby and Don Milligan

It was the first time I had ever been to a spring and to be honest first time I had really heard of them. The subject reminded me of geekstalksexy event we put on years ago. Rosie talked about her experience and feelings about non-monogamy, as she did for BBC Radio 4 and elsewhere a while ago.

This view point on non-monogamy didn’t go down quite as smoothly as I thought it would with quite a left leaning audience. To be fair the spectrum of non-monogamy was boiled down to pretty much cheating or poly (we all know theres so much more to this field). The conflict was moved up a level when someone suggested that there was no way you could get the same level of love from multiple people and that you maybe poly people might be wasting their lives trying.

This was seriously upsetting and as a non-poly person, even I was slightly shocked at this. Thankfully a lady passionately responded and made the person rethink their narrow view.

Rosie then made the excellent point that even if you don’t think its for you, we must be supportive of peoples choices. She compared it to what people said in the 80’s and 90’s about queer people and the feminism movement right now. And she was dead right!

We must support peoples rights to make well informed decisions about what works for them. If that be serial monogamy, non-monogamy or anything else. As long as its not harmful to others and everybody involved are giving informed consent (something we talked a lot about on LoveGrumps yesterday which you unfortunately won’t ever hear due to the bandwidth issues we experienced).

Rosie was full of good points and she made one about communication and having the confidence ask for what you want and don’t want. I was going to make the point that its usually a relationship break up when the people involved stop communicating.

Then the talk turned to children, logical families, emotional faithfulness, assumptions about relationships and what we learn from media about relationships. A lot of ground was covered and likewise Manchester Spring looks like a interesting place for these types of conversations.

Who Cares?

Something Rosie said stuck with me long afterwards. It was the nature of love affair friendships. She made the point that she has a friend who she only watches films with, a close friend she goes out with, another one she knows is really into something she loves, etc, etc. The instant answer is… “yes but those don’t involve having sex/sleeping with them?” But is a relationship not complete without sex? Who are you to say the relationship I have with my friends and family doesn’t count? Point is, could it unrealistic to expect one person to fill all those roles. Maybe Helen Fisher is right? lust, attraction and attachment can be/is better achieved by multiple people?

I am personally not poly, into open relationships or anything on the map of non-monogamy but know quite a few people who are and considered what it would be like for myself personally. Could I really cope, would I end up jealous and twisted, do I have the maturity to really say what I want? Its a interesting one. Maybe we are more non-monogamous than we actually think?

One thing for sure is I wanted to talk about what a interesting weekend I had, but found it difficult to talk about it in a frank and open way. The idea of non-monogamy is still cast in the murky world of the unknown, maybe its time to be honest with ourselves and stop living the hollywood dream. Maybe we’ll feel so much better for doing so?

Does online dating work?

"Does Not Work"

It’s a simple question and a common one — one whose answer could determine the fates of both a multi-billion dollar industry and millions of lonely hearts. It’s a question that seems distinctly answerable: we have user data, surveys, clear metrics for success or failure, entire books full of colorful charts.

And yet, just this week, a new analysis from Michigan State University found that online dating leads to fewer committed relationships than offline dating does — that it doesn’t work, in other words. That, in the words of its own author, contradicts a pile of studies that have come before it.

Starts the Washington Post article… This is the start of much of my thoughts dotted throughout my blog. A while ago I stood up at a conference and said

There is no compelling scientific research indicating online dating algorithms work.

Well the new analysis by Michigan State, leads nowhere new. The answer to the question is complex…

We don’t actually know.

Some of the reasons for that ambiguity are clear in this latest study. For starters, there’s this greater cultural issue of how we define relationship success: Is it marriage? Is it monogamy, a la Patti Stanger? Is it what OkCupid’s data team calls a “fourway” — four messages back and forth between two semi-interested parties? That’s a tough one to parse, and different studies have defined it different ways

So the success criteria isn’t clear but if one thing was clear it would be around matching algorithms.

Most paid sites claim, for instance, that it’s their highly scientific matching algorithms that lead people to serious relationships; in his 2013 book on the subject, however, the journalist Dan Slater concludes that most of those claims are bunk. (“Everyone knows that all personality profiling is bull****,” a former Match executive told him. “As a marketing hook, it works great.”)

And as I’ve been banging on about for years… Why pay for online dating? They simply make bumping into random people more likely, just like most social networks.

In reality, dating sites are most effective as a kind of virtual town square — a place where random people whose paths wouldn’t otherwise cross bump into each other and start talking. That’s not much different from your neighborhood bar, except in its scale, ease of use and demographics.

Hence the popularity and rise of the social dating apps and services.

Visual Calendar for Tablets

visual calendar

I have been looking for a way to combine calendaring, tasks and mindmaps. It just happened that I was searching around and found visual calendar for tablets.

Visually link the things you plan to do, creating logical chains. Think Mind Map for your project turned into actual tasks and dates, or events and appointments from your organizer presented in an intuitive, task-oriented way.
You can easily see all your events arranged in time, prioritized with color and categorized with icons, linked together.
Events created in Visual Calendar appear instantly in your Google Calendar. If you already have something planned in Google Calendar, Visual Calendar will import that in on first launch.

Its £3.99 but the feedback isn’t too hot. And I’ve not even considered the lock-in and portability issues

I can only assume because its a new concept and the app isn’t too mature. But I was wondering if it would be possible to take Mindmup and combine it with Google Calendar or something else?

LoveGrumps?

geeky and sexy logo...

You may have heard or subscribed to Techgrumps in the past, and we are thinking about bringing that back. However there’s an appetite to do a version of techgrumps for love, sex and relationships.

Think geeks talk sexy crossed with Techgrumps with discussion and ranting. I think the pick up artist will be the main theme of this first podcast.

To kick it off, we are recording this Sunday evening/night maybe on Hangouts. If you are interested in taking part, get in touch with me or tommorris on twitter.