My birthday delayed but bigger things are coming

Barcamp Berlin 2

Every year I plan something a little special for my birthday but this year I’m going to delay things for a number of reasons.

  1. I’m going to Tokyo right after my birthday
  2. This year is 5 years after my brush with death and it deserves

So because of this, I’m planning something pretty big for May/June time. Would be interesting to have it the day after the general election, to go with my last memories, but thats very unlikely.

Once I know more details, I’ll share widely. But expect something which lasts all day and most of the night, so people can drop in and drop out.

Pebble, time to dump Apple?

Pebble time

Iphone users who bought a pebble have been complaining that the pebble smartwatch’s connection with the phone is getting more and more flaky.

While on the other side the connection with Android phones is getting tighter (especially with some support for Android wear). I’m Apple are also going to/has restricted access to more apis since they want exclusive access for the apple watch.

This makes me wonder how long pebble will support the iphone?

Its great they support both operating systems but when one of them wants you off their closed platform? How long do you stay and keep struggling to support it while the walls close in, crushing your development efforts and driving your customers against you?

Food for thought, pebble?

Dating after a long relationship

Chess on the High Line

Lifehacker has a well reasoned piece about returning to dating at a older age. Its something nobody really wants to think about, married and happy then things go wrong. Before long you are separated or divorced and you are pondering what to do.

For me I decided to get back into dating as its very easy to slip into a endless cycle of regret and depression. To be fair I wasn’t really dating much beforehand just like the Thorin.

I’ve always felt dating was a weird experience in general, but somehow, coming back to it in the last few years feels different. I was married for several years in my late 20s, so I missed out on the earlier days of online dating sites. It was also a much more carefree time, when if you liked someone, that was enough. But now that I’m in my 30s, the rules and expectations are completely different—making it a lot harder to get back in the game.

I have said it before many times, this is why when talking to people in long term relationships, its hard to explain why things are different now.

…you have billions of other human beings at your fingertips through a variety of channels. As always, you can hit up bars, clubs, and shows. You can venture off to parties and barbecues. You can also go online and have access to loads of single people in your area. It’s a far cry from even high school, when your dating pool was largely pretty much your friends and their friends.

Online dating gives you more options than ever. Not just in people, but in sources. Dating sites like OkCupid, Tinder, Match, eHarmony, and Plenty of Fish all give you access to other single people in a matter of seconds.

I have a talk inside of me all about this and much much more. I gave a 10min overview at Best of British, which you can watch on youtube.

There are some really good points raised

The Deal Breakers Have Changed, and They’re Much Bigger Deals.
Yes the deal breakers are serious now, if something isn’t right for you. There are enough other people to give try. There is the downside to this of course, paradox of choice and people seeking the greener grass on the other side.

The “Game” Is Different, and Bluntness Is King
No body likes time-wasters and you need to be blunt and to the point otherwise things will drag on.  It doesn’t mean you have to be super rude, just honest and direct. People will thank you for it deep down, even if its painful at first. Of course you got get a think skin and be prepared for honest and direct feedback too. This is why getting over the fear of rejection is so important.

Perceptive advertising is coming…?

not too much h20

Google wants to bring TV ads into the 21st century. The company has quietly announced a new local advertising service for Google Fiber that will make TV ads behave a lot more like internet ads. Using data from its set-top-boxes, Google (and advertisers) will know precisely how many times a particular local ad has been watched in homes with Google Fiber service. That might not sound like a big deal, but the industry-standard Nielsen ratings simply don’t offer that kind of information. Like on the web, Google will only charge for the number of views an ad receives.

We all knew it was coming but I always wondered why Google and the other data driven companies hadn’t really done anything about the massive opportunity of personalised marketing?

It’s not yet clear precisely how the system will work, but, similar to Google’s cornerstone AdWords business, algorithms might determine the best time to show you a certain ad. For instance, if you’re watching the news before flipping over to the football game, the system might determine that you should be served a different ad during halftime than your buddy who switched over to the game from Pawn Stars. Google says it will even be able to swap out ads on DVR’d programs, so you won’t be served an old or irrelevant advertisement if you watch a program a week after it originally aired. Fiber customers will have an option to disable ads based on viewing history

But that is just the start. There is still the notion that the adverts are solid pieces for media which must be played from start to the end. This is a mistake, which will break down over time. Context is king yes, but there is big question about how personal you should get?

Something Doc Searls talks a lot about… and cue the Uncanny Valley graph

Uncanny_valley

I am worried that in the rush to deliver context sensitive advertising and marketing, there will be too much which falls into the uncanny valley space. So much it will ruin the great uses of data and context like Perceptive Media. I always said it was little friendly touches not a sledgehammer to the face or other senses…

Think IOT + Trakt + Shazam for video

Here’s one for anybody to take on…

Imagine a device like Amazon’s echo which ambiently shares what you are watching and also at what point…

It would operate similar to Trakt.TV’s live progress but rather than be constrained to an online web service, it would be a physical connected thing (IoT) which uses acoustic fingerprint technology similar to Shazam to automatically recognise what you are watching and where you currently are.

This is essential as on-demand viewing is changing the way we watch and consume media. This similar in concept to BBC prototype the Olinda. Think trakt crossed with Shazam and Olinda.

Whipclip reminded me of this, but I have been using Yatse with  Kodi or the Chromecast to share the shows I’m currently watching.  But I’d like to share the part of the video I’m watching really… This causes some issue with spoilers, but that could be worked out if you knew the episode and position of the person who is looking.

Lazyweb… make it be!

 

The barbershop world is ripe for disruption

I was talking to a guy in VividLounge recently and we were talking about the new trend for barbershops to create high quality promo videos for themselves. In actual fact when I was getting my hair cut last week at Barberboutique, Damien mentioned the new trend for  videos to be taken out side the shop rather than inside. The whole idea of pictures of people in the chair having their hair cut is old news it seems.

Look at whats on Youtube, theres some serious videos and theres a certain house style which is starting to emerge. Lots of them have taken the gentlemans therapy to another level with Coffees, Whiskey and even Champagne. But I feel theres plenty of room for disruption… Especially around the business models.

The energy in teams and collaborations

Saw this tweet from Adewale and it got me thinking…

When thinking about collaborations, I tend to seek out people who provide their own energy and drive to overall project. This sounds simple but its surprising how many people don’t. When it comes to the moments when everything seems to be going slightly wrong, that external energy really can make all the difference.

There’s also so much to be said for generators and capacitors, but even more for the switches and resistors.

A smarter city called Bristol

Giant mirror ball

The city of Bristol has announced a multi-million pound experiment to create the smart city of the future.

As soon as I heard this, I was worried. As there is something about Bristol which I hadn’t really got till I left. Bristol is a city where things are done differently. Where art and business are in conflict with each other and that conflict drives the continuing disruption and creativity.

I needed not worry…

Bristol is Open, the project will effectively turn Bristol into a giant laboratory and look at how big data can be used to solve problems such as airpollution, traffic congestion and assisted living for the elderly. The network could also be used to collect and understand data from the city’s trial of self-driving cars. Bristol is one of four UK cities currently testing driverless car technology as part of a government scheme.

Sensors and other internet of things devices will be hooked up to the network to collect huge amounts of data from the city. In one example it would be possible to use tracking technology to collect location data from vehicles used by the health, education and city transport sectors to try and solve the city’s traffic congestion problems.

I only recently learned Bristol was the 2nd most congested city in the UK and hated by many of car drivers. Hopefully the artistic, creative and playful nature of the city will persist throughout.

Bristol's Park Street water-slide

Got to love Bristol

Alternative user interfaces

I studied interaction design in university and always had an imprecation for good interaction and interface design. Recently I seen a few examples which have got me a little excited.

Ubuntu’s scopes
I like ubuntu’s unity paradigms of scopes and lens, even though I prefer to use Gnome Shell as my default on the desktop. The scopes and lens really make a lot of sense. It was fascinating to see Ubuntu apply it across their phone and tablet. Be interesting to see how it works on Ubuntu TV if thats still ongoing?

Pebble timeline
When I first saw the pebble time interface, I instantly thought, when are they going to roll that across there existing line of smartwatches? If not, maybe I might invest in one of the new ones. Division of a interface by future, present and the past on a watch makes a lot more sense than anything else I have seen to date including the Apple Watch.

Android Material Design
Ice cream sandwich or Android 4.0 was a massive step up in style for Android but Android 5.0 Lollipop really was the first Android when the interaction design was thought about at a deeper level.

I don’t necessarily  like the style of flat plates of colour for example the Google hangout app is just the wrong kind of green for my pallet but the interaction model is nice. Although I have spotted a few places where the rules are broken by certain apps.

Inside the mind of a catfish

Its funny most people haven’t really heard of the term Catfish. I wrote about the term a while ago and mentioned it a few times in passing.

Now you don’t become the wikipedia of online dating without bumping into a few here and there. But I have been lucky to never really fallen for it, but I have been known to play along waiting for the moment when they suggest I give something up. Be it money, photos, phone number, address, etc.

I quite enjoy fishing the catfishers, trying to get into there minds about why they do it. There’s certainly warning signs, just like the scams. In my experience its started with a message out of the blue like “How are you?”, “You like what you see?”, “hey daddy!”, etc

Before long they try and move away from the original platform to something more free like text message, snapchat, facebook, etc. Most of those other platforms don’t really have the protections of the original, and you have to tell them something about you. For example the latest catfish suggested a number of ways to keep the conversation going. Usually romantic or dirty talk, nude pictures, etc.

I did the usual googling, image search, etc to see if I could find where things are coming from. But found nothing, it was actually Chris which found and linked the pictures to the twitter account.

With my latest catfish, we moved to Facebook but messaged only in the other inbox (aka I never added her as a friend). Lots of pictures were shared from a glamour model with the same name (NSFW! Thanks Chris), but I shared not a single thing.

Unlike most catfish, there was a push to hook up quickly. This kind of surprised me, and I agreed to meet up. Outside Tesco metro supermarket in Salford Quays (weird location but there was no way I was going to director her to my flat, she/he suggested it). Unlike other times before, I thought I’d better inform people just in-case.  Anyway the long and short of it, was I popped by Tesco with Chris and nobody showed up.

I thought there would be a no show (she/he/it never replied to messages after yesterday) I assume the fun was done. But to be fair in the past, when they have turned up and sometimes we’ve had a fascinating discussion about why they lied and used somebody elses profile.

It is a shame I didn’t get the chance to find out who was behind the scenes but they have been blocked and reported now. Like I should have done, many of you are saying instead of entertaining there warped scene of fun.

I did elude to this happening before multiple times (you will be surprised how many messages) . Usually I find there stolen/ripped pictures or trip them up on something. One such time was with a woman I’ll call Cat. I found her pictures easily enough and started calling her a scammer. She got very defensive and I convinced her to meet in a public place.

Here’s a extract from my ever elusive fictional book…

We met up in Piccadilly Station. As you can imagine, she was nothing like her profile pictures. I could have had the pleasure of telling her so over and over again but it didn’t seem right. I asked her how she was going to pull off the fact she was nothing like her profile suggested. She said she was so frustrated by me calling her a scammer and she decided to meet.

She was overweight, young and had a friend in tow. She was like one of those girls you see hanging out with skater guys at the park. Over baggy clothes, piercings, slightly frumpy with a bag load of self confidence issues.

I wanted to rip into her about using someone else’s identity but I just couldn’t do it. She was young, foolish and her friend even more so. After a cup of coffee, a pastry and a quick talking to it was time to leave her and her friend to it.

Simon suggested I could seek out catfish but unlike the MTV show, offer support and get into the meat of why they do it. I’m obviously not the man for that but its a interesting thought anyway. Although I do worry some people can’t help themselves, not that counts as a excuse!

The Business of Film with Mark Kermode

Mark Kermode and Ray Winstone

I have to give film critic Mark Kermode’s series about  the economic realities of the film industry, a thumbs up. Its in 3 parts and available forever as a podcast. Its well worth listening to if you are a film fan

Ep 1: Development Hell

Mark Kermode charts the cycle of ‘development hell’, where producers turn in scripts, listen to conflicting opinions and resubmit their work hoping for that magical green light.

I especially love the donnie darko reference and I do think Matthew Vaughn has a very good point.

Ep 2: Getting to the Screen

Mark Kermode examines how films get financed and distributed. The challenge, of course, is that nobody knows the ultimate appeal of the film.

I’m really feeling this as I try and put a project I’m working on forward (I’ll explain more in the future).

Ep 3: The Business of Showing

Mark Kermode considers the crucial moment in a film’s life – the opening weekend. Marketing may convince us of a film’s merit but a tweet can ruin even the most inventive campaign.

I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about this type of thing many times over this blog but its fascinating to hear regardless.

What to do with super fast broadband?

Consume Superfast fibre broadband?

I snapped this while waiting for the tram back home last night in Cholton. I read the side bits and thought to myself, they are all about consumption except maybe the the “connect more?

I don’t have a big problem with this but it does make me wonder, that super fast broadband is being sold as a quicker way to consume even more.

For me Superfast broadband (which I’m still waiting for due to the Manchester council highway authority not allowing Hyperoptic to connect it to the loop) isn’t about consumption. I’m already considering what I can do like vpn, plex, hosting, streaming radio station, etc…

Bruce James summed it up via Facebook…

Tragic waste of an opportunity since every TCP/IP based computer has (in theory) the capacity to serve data in a truly decentralised way. But we handed it all over to the commercial interests who gain by centralising and controlling what we watch, play, listen to and buy.

It is tragic and with so much bandwidth the usual excuse of asymmetricity holds far less ground. Hate seeing wasted opportunities.

The science of popularity in dating

I recently watched Hannah Fry: The mathematics of love and I thought it was fascinating, especially the part about beauty, which is taken almost directly from OKCupid’s mathematics of beauty.

It was only a few weeks before I ended up  at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester, on their evening sexology event. They had a number of free talks about sex related topics but they also had speed dating.

It’s speed dating, but not as you know it. Although we can’t reveal the exact details of this experiment, you can combine romance with research in this one-of-a-kind speed dating night. It’s fast, fun and you might just find love…

Let's Talk About Sex

The speed dating was like the many times I have been before but this time, there was a number of small differences and a big twist which reminded me of the mathematics of love/beauty.

Unlike other speed dating events, we only got to meet/date 8 women in total. Everybody also moved around each time. I thought I spotted the twist by the women I met (most were from the University of Manchester or MOSI staff), I was expecting something along the lines of my experience first time I ever went speed dating in London.

Let's Talk About Sex

But … I was pleasantly surprised when after filling in my matches form. I was treated to a form with the popularity of the 8 women I had seen. To make this clear, out of the 8 women I had seen, there was a number of ticks next to them, so you could see how popular they were.

The hypotheses I guess being, would you change your votes if you knew the person you picking is very popular. Or even the opposite way around? This got me thinking, would I change my picks? I generally decide on women based on, would  I want to spend some more time with them beyond the 3mins we had?

I decided recognising what Hannah Fry and OKCupid served up, I’m going to play along and only go with the matches who really excited me in the 3mins. Looking at the tickets, there was a mix of unpopular and very popular, not much in the middle.

Right now we (Chris also took part in the exact same thing) don’t know how the matches work out, but I’m expecting the results in the next few days. Lets hope it worked out after filling out a 130+ questionnaire in the name of science, during the process.

Afterwards there was just enough time to catch the last talk which was about pole dancing. I do wish I could have gone to the other talks but they all ran parallel to the speed dating.

Let's Talk About Sex

Generally the whole event was great, but I got the feeling although the speed dating was well thought-out. There was a problem with getting people to commit to the speed dating, but regardless it worked out nicely. As I said before it was the most scientific dating thing I have ever been to, and I have been to quite a few in the past.

Well done to MOSI and I look forward to the next one! Great work… When is the next one?

BBC vows, to finally make it digital

BBC Microbit

Finally after so many peoples attempts to kick start the BBC Micro revolution for the 21 century. The BBC has finally announced its partnership with Google, Microsoft and Samsung to place the Microbit in the hands of children across the UK.

The BBC director general has pledged to do for coding and digital technology what the BBC Micro did for the emerging home computing era in the 1980s.

Tony Hall was speaking after he unveiled details of the BBC’s Make It Digital initiative, a partnership with 50 organisations, including Google, Microsoft and Samsung, that will give ‘micro bit’ coding devices – around 1m of them – to every 11-year-old in the country.

The BBC will launch a season of programmes and online activity, including a drama based on Grand Theft Auto and tie-ups with Doctor Who, EastEnders, and Radio 1.

Hall compared the initiative to the BBC Micro, built by Acorn Computers, which was many children’s first experience of computing 30 years ago.

I can tell you this has been a long time coming and there are some seriously amazing people who have been directly and indirectly involved in the very long run up to this.

So many in-fact, I feel if I was to start naming them, I would do a massive injustice to many many people who tried and etched away at the BBC to allow others to make their voices heard. I once tried to do a mind map of the people connected, and I still have it from many years ago.

I can’t wait to see the microbit in kids hands and see the unthinkable things they will do with it. Its been very well thought out and I love the fact its not trying to replace anything else including the RaspberryPI.

Parallels with American psycho and 50 shades

I watched American Psycho again recently and I thought to myself there are strong parallels with 50 shades of grey. The only difference seemed to be in 50 shades the man is a catch and romantic, while in American psycho he’s psychotic.

Zoe sums it up perfectly in her review of 50 shades.

All good relationships are built on respect, trust and consent – and the one at the centre of this film contains none of that.

50 Shades has been portrayed as a love story which has BDSM as central to its narrative. I disagree. The sex, kinky or otherwise, is actually irrelevant. This film, like the books, is solely about power – specifically, of a man having it and a woman not. It uses BDSM as a inaccurate metaphor to drive the story, but the sex is just a distraction for what is at its heart: an abusive relationship. 50 Shades is not about kink, but about control.

Let me be clear: Christian Grey is a stalker. An aggressive, jealous, controlling man. He is someone who, after meeting Anastasia Steele once, finds out where she works and shows up there unannounced; discovers her private home address and sends gifts to her; tells her to stop drinking when she is out celebrating her graduation; traces her cell-phone and turns up at the bar she is at. These are not romantic acts, they are abuse red flags.

And she is so right…

Patrick Bateman on the other  hand is a more real representation of what Christian Grey really is.

They both are very controlling (look at the way Patrick orders for Celia at the restaurant, and pleasure he takes in doing so. Then compare the with Christian picking the clothes of Anastasia), aggressive and over step any line of decency and humanity. BDSM is simply a smokescreen to mask over these troubled people but only one is classed as a psycho? I think not…