Halt & Catch Fire Season 4 looks super good

Halt & Catch Fire
Halt & Catch fire has been one of those shows I’ve raved about over and over again.

This seems to be the final season and I have to give AMC credit for the great cinematography. Season 4 episode 1&2 was something you would see on breaking bad. Episode 3 was also good too, there are too many good things to say about the show really…

Story of privilege and entitlement… why gender equality is good for everyone

Yes, we all know it’s the right thing to do. But Michael Kimmel makes the surprising, funny, practical case for treating men and women equally in the workplace and at home. It’s not a zero-sum game, but a win-win that will result in more opportunity and more happiness for everybody.

This is such a great talk, so well told and so many things I can pull out but this one sums it up perfectly…

Feminism will make it possible for the first time for men to be free.

Using Twitter in online dating….

I was reading about Loveflutter Relaunches With A Surprising New Way To Meet Your Match: Twitter.

Once upon a time, the world’s great lovers wooed with songs and sonnets. Today, we express our deepest feelings in 140 characters or less.

Or at least you do if you’re on Loveflutter, a dating service that has partnered with Twitter to prove social media feeds are the new windows to the soul.

Originally founded in 2013, London-based Loveflutter relaunched this May with an updated approach to modern matchmaking. Like other popular dating apps, users swipe left or right on candidates in hopes of scoring a mutual match. But unlike the competition, where singles pay attention to little more than looks, Loveflutter takes appearance out of the equation.

Images on Loveflutter are blurred until you click on them. Instead, users are invited to swipe left or right based on each other’s 10 latest tweets.

Its a interesting idea and similar to some of my thoughts way back when… Soon as heard this I thought about Tweetfoxxy, which is the thing I was trying to find on the tram wifi last week.

Why VPNs are essential regardless what others say

I tweeted during a ride on the Manchester Metrolink tram but things didn’t seem to come across as I was hoping.

My main point is the image from the mainstream media is VPNs is for pirates and the darkweb. But in actual fact its part of modern day web usage.

I was trying to tweet something but needed to look for a slide presentation which I thought I had on slideshare.net. When looking at slideshare on the metrolink wifi I got a Cisco page about content filtering.

I thought this was just because some of my slides might trigger something but nope its the whole of slideshare.net.

I was pretty annoyed about the whole thing and fired up my home VPN.

Done…

Only took my journey from MediaCityUK to St Peters Square to do all this, hence the confused tweeting. Plus I couldn’t work out where the new Google assistant saves the screenshots.

Didn’t find what I thought I had on my slideshare but I did find it elsewhere, I’ll go into details in my next blog post.

 

OkCupid without the explicit data?

I was reading through OKCupid’s interview on the Wall Street Journal. I highlighted a few things which got me thinking about whats wrong with OKCupid.

WSJ: Could you explain the “substance over selfies” focus?

MR. SEIDMAN: If you look at what we have seen in online dating in the past four to five years, there is a huge increase in speeding up: Let’s get people to go faster, let’s get people to spend more consideration over booking a restaurant on OpenTable tonight than choosing someone to connect with on an app.

We said, we are actually going to double down on what is fundamentally true for a large part of people dating, which is, I want to meet someone based on who they are, not what they look like. One of the ways we do that is during sign-up we take you through a minimum of 15 iconic OkCupid questions. These go through religion, culture, sex and gets to what you are like.

Our questions emulate what is happening in the real world, like a conversation you would have at a bar or dinner party.

There are a lot of people who have strongly held beliefs but no overlap, and we don’t want to waste their time. We push people into not just answering these questions but creating profiles that are more than just their photos. The real issue now is, how do we make that easy and enjoyable on a mobile phone?

We recently renamed our swiping product from Quickmatch to Doubletake, because we realized the name doesn’t support the values of our community: We don’t want people to be quick, we want them to be slow. We look at it proactively through the lens of product and marketing, so when you get to OkCupid it’s clear it’s the place for you.

Nice in theory but as I pointed out a few times, the days of when people would spend time filling in the questions; has kind of gone. Even OkCupid doesn’t really put any emphases on the questions. Instead they seem to be pushing for more implicit data collection. Which leads you to a place where swiping left and right works in favor of both parties I guess? Although I obviously have a total distaste for this mechanism.]

Ok Cupid's top bar in mid 2017

The mobile app and website are more similar but its interesting to see the questions pushed to the far right of the page now. Even the top menu now is just Browse Matches, Double Take and Purchase A-list.

So my take away thought especially with the recent changes around visitors is frankly this whole thing about creating a community around online dating, is just PR nonsense.

Oh Plex, why oh why?

XBMC media centre

I know the picture above isn’t Plex but rather XBMC/KODI but this shot sums up how I feel about Plex right now.

I have been using Plex server quite a bit and decided that I would snap up a lifetime PlexPlus pass a while ago. So I was pretty peed when they updated their policy around data collection. From Plex’s Highlights of what is changing:

Upcoming features and services involving third-party and ad-supported content will require Plex to collect and, in some cases, share information about the third-party content you are streaming. For clarity, third-party content is content that we deliver or stream to you that is not contained in your personal media library.

Ok thats annoying for me but not too much of pain as I don’t really use the Plex addons/plugins. I know others are more upset about this.

In order to understand the usage across the Plex ecosystem and how we need to improve, Plex will continue to collect usage statistics, such as device type, duration, bit rate, media format, resolution, and media type (music, photos, videos, etc.). We will no longer allow the option to opt out of this statistics collection. Again, we will not collect any information that identifies libraries, files, file names, and/or the specific content stored on your privately hosted Plex Media Servers. The only exception to this is when, and only to the extent, you use Plex with third-party services such as Sonos, Alexa, webhooks, and Last.fm.

We will no longer allow (including paid lifetime!) users to opt-out! Also usually when you get something like this, its anonymous data collection. I know later its makes it sound like anonymous but it never actually says this. I still need to read through the privacy policy in full again. But this feels like it might break a EU data law and for sure the ones coming soon. (Plex is based in Delware & Switzerland)

To be fair I’ve had a task to try out Emby for a long while, but this begs the question of what happens to my Plex pass and why don’t Plex share collected data with us? Luckily plex data portability isn’t such a pain. Also its another reason why most of my media consumption is through Kodi not Plex.

Deja’Vu or generated reality

I saw ai artist conjures up convincing fake worlds from memories via si lumb and instantly thought about my experience of watching Vanilla Sky for the first time.

Could be incredible and terrifying for perceptive media, but alas the best technology always sits right on the fence, waiting for someone to drag it one direction or another?

Quantifying your smartphone usage mentioned recently

There’s a recent BBC documentary titled Secrets Of Silicon Valley, its not a bad watch at all. In part 2, the presenter installs an app to see how much time he spends on his phone through out the day. Very similar to what happened at the Quantified Self 2017 conference, but even I almost coked on my tea when the final figure of over 5 hours was announced for the day.

My monthly smartphone usage

Looking at my own usage, over the last month I spent 19hrs 1minute over 384 pickups, looking at my mobile phone.

I admit this is so very low in comparison to others.

By the way I’m still looking for a decent way to do this without abundance of features, battery use and in a data ethical way.

Human & AI Powered Creativity in Storytelling from TOA Berlin 2017

I already wrote about TOA Berlin and the different satellite events I also took part in. I remember how tired I was getting to Berlin late and then being on stage early doors with the multiple changes on public transport, I should have just taken a cab really.

No idea what was up with my voice, but it certainly sounds a little odd.

Anyhow lots of interesting ideas were bunched into the slide deck, and certainly caused a number of long conversations afterwards.

How to DJ with the Pacemaker device and a real mixer

Mixing with the pacemaker device

I love mixing with my Pacemaker but I have to admit there are some limitations like the crossfader and effects are a little tricky to do at the same time. So when I bought another pacemaker off ebay cheap and upgraded the battery and HDD to a SSD, I also upgraded that Pacemaker firmware, to include other features like beat-aware loops. That firmware can’t record mixes in the same way unfortunately.

So I’ve always thought maybe I could use the pacemaker with a mixer and record the mix over analogue means. Si gave me one of his old mixers a while ago, so for ages I thought about it but done little about it.

Till now!

Here’s the mix I messed with around earlier.

Ok its not great but I was tweaking the setup while I was recording.

Mixing with the pacemaker device

So how did I do it…

The pacemaker has two outputs, so I pushed deck A to the main output and deck B to the headphone output. This means the pacemaker crossfader can never be used or touched while mixing. You only use the deck selection to choose the track you want to adjust or play with.

Mixing with the pacemaker device

Deck A the main output is cabled to the Channel 1 on my mixer, while Deck B the headphone deck is output to Channel 3 on the mixer. (Channel 2 is mainly for the microphone and other things on the mixer)

Mixing with the pacemaker device

I had to adjust the volume and gain on each channel and the pacemaker its self but generally I got it right with some tweaking. I hooked up the output of the mixer to my amp and speakers, while the monitor went out to my laptop with a splitter as its a combined mic/headphone jack.

Mixing with the pacemaker device

I recorded everything with Audacity and checked the levels on the laptop.

The results are not bad… It does feel really weird to be using the Pacemaker device and not using the crossfader on the device. In actual fact I messed up a few times earlier on, by using the devices crossfader. I also decided I needed some kind of stand for the device and used a box to mount it half way through the test set.

It was odd but worked, more experimentation is needed…

There’s life in Pebble still

Pebbles growing in work
Me, Jimmy and Alex – Photo credit to Jimmy Lee

Its ironic that since Fitbit bought Pebble and even Vector. There has been a bunch of interesting projects to keep Pebble going. Even Fitbit have been friendly to the idea of keep it going once they switch off their servers later this year.

At least two projects are hot on my task list.

What I find really interesting is the amount of Apple watch users who have switched to Pebble. First it started with my line manager (phil) who bought a pebble 1 a while ago, scratched it then sold it to me. He then bought a Apple Watch to go with his new apple phone; but it wasn’t long till he was frustrated with the charging and not being able to see the screen without the shake. I made clear my reasons for kickstarting the Pebble 2 and left it at that.

One day he totally surprised me one day with a pebble 2 watch in white and green. Good choice I said, even with the fear of what Fitbit would do with Pebble still looming.

I also sold my old pebble 1 watch to Andy at work with the warning of what Fitbit might or rather not do, but he was happy with the price.

Third was Jimmy, who had a old classic Casio watch he use to wear. He one day rocked up with a black pebble 2 watch and suddenly I felt the waters was turning.

Pebble 2.0

But the final surprise recently was with a Apple die-hard, Alex. Alex has apple stamped on his heart; me and Jimmy once had a conversation about the turning tide of pebble watches in work and thought who could be next? Jimmy did suggest Alex and I said nahh never, too tied to Apple. I even remember having a conversation with Alex about the Apple watch vs Pebble. I somehow forgot Alex use to own a Samsung Galaxy S4 plus a long time ago, mainly for VR.

He agreed on the advantages, and as designer to designer we critiqued the design decisions of the LCD screen and wondered if jobs would be happy with the one day battery? (to be fair me and Jimmy had a similar discussion before he turned up with one) Any way, that was a while ago and I almost fell out my chair when recently Jimmy announced Alex had ditched his Apple watch for a Pebble 2. I honestly thought he was kidding then I saw it on him.

Jimmy & Alex also have found services doing interesting custom watch faces, but I’m on the look out for more diverse apps (makers would be a plus). As I’d really like to see more things like ifttt on pebble. For example why not Monzo, Paypal balance status?

Pebble 2

Right now you can buy a Pebble on Amazon for between £40 – £90 depending on which one you get. I’d also say if you were considering a smartwatch, the pebble is still the only one I would consider even now.

Ferry Corsten presents Gouryella: From The Heavens

Found via Si Lumb

Just a incredible and ever-so touching documentary about Ferry Corsten, the man behind some absolute trance classics such as Out of the Blue, Gouryella, Tenshi and simply the best trance song of 2015 – Anahera.

Its so weird that I pretty much closed out my last pacemaker mix with Anahera.

Feeling a Ferry megamix is in the pipeline maybe…

Children in the midnight city mix

Robert Miles: Dreamland (Experimental)

Its sad to hear Robert Miles died a while ago. Children was one of the most famous trance tunes ever and I remember many nights dancing to Children.

Most people know the story behind Children; but if not…

Children is one of the most iconic tracks in the history of dance music.

It launched a new genre – “dream house” – and although that did not last long, the more melancholy, cerebral sound opened the door for trance music, which would come to dominate clubs in the late 1990s, going fully mainstream into the new millennium.

That sound was a very deliberate choice by Miles, whose real name was Roberto Concina.

Although Children was initially written in response to images of the child victims of the Balkans war as Yugoslavia tore itself apart, the track then took on a different life – and a different motivation. Miles wanted to make it big to help save the lives of clubbers.

So on a journey back from TOA Berlin, I decided to pick up one of my old and favourate mixes. Adding the old classic Children from 1995 (used the Tint remix) and nearly ending with a modern classic Ferry Corsten’s Anahera; which was the biggest trance tune of 2015.

20+ years of trance, incredible to think about.

Here’s the tracklisting and mix for your listening pleasure.

  1. Children (Tilts Courtyard Mix) – Robert Miles
  2. Shadow World (Original Mix) – Thomas Bronzwaer
  3. Resound (Original Mix) – Thomas Bronzwaer
  4. Intuition (Martin Roth Remix) – Marninx Pres. Ecco
  5. Amino Acids – Tau-Rine
  6. Body of conflict (Cosmic Gate Club mix) – Cosmic Gate
  7. The Evil ID – Max Graham
  8. The Labyrinth (Part One) – Moogwai
  9. Summer Melodies (Frequence Remix) – Frequence
  10. The Pride in Your Eyes (Martin Roth Remix) – Tillmann Uhrmacher
  11. Mass Noise 2015 – Fred Baker & Seb B
  12. We Are One (Instrumental Mix) – Dave 202
  13. Anahera (extended mix) – Ferry Corsten
  14. Grotesque (Alex MORPH and RAM mix) – RAM

Enjoy!

Are we still asking who pays?

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I have expressed my opionion on this for many years and it seems more and people are catching on.

Maybe Ngunan will catch on too… till then, here’s some sensible rules for those who are a little more liberated. The thing you should always do on a first date if you want a successful love life

  1. Leave gender stereotypes to Donald Trump
  2. Whilst it’s kind for someone to offer to pay the whole hog, for the sake of ease it’s always better to split or take turns buying rounds, regardless of who asked who or who has a nicer handbag
  3. Save champagne and caviar for another time, or at least until you know their last name.

Exposition, versions and the story of sad API lookups?

Donnie Darko

I recently watched Donnie Darko again. Always loved that film so picked Donnie Darko out of my movies, only to find something wasn’t right. Killing Moon was gone in favor of Never tear us apart. I was watching the directors cut of Donnie Darko not the original cinematic cut. Without spoiling it, the directors cut is full of scene explainers which makes a great film suddenly a bore, this is called narrative exposition.

As someone else said

For me this movie was a masterpiece that the director ruined by changing the music and adding too many scenes/extensions.

The movie worked as is so everything he extended seemed to drag it. It’s 20 minutes longer as a result.

And I thought the opening upbeat song “the killing moon” was perfect instead of “never tear us apart”.
In story-telling, you start with “world in balance” (happy 80s) in order to create the contrast when things go array. So “Killing moon” was the a much better choice than “Never tear us apart.”

But whats painful about the whole thing is, looking at my movies. I find 2 donnie darkos. Both named the same, same cover art, fan art, etc. Its not till you look at the folder names you can see the difference. As you can imagine this is very frustrating as it leads to trial and error to get the one you want.

Of course its not just Donnie Darko, I also have the directors cut of Lock Stock, Human Traffic and a few others. Each are identical till watched.

I asked on Twitter about this issue and actually got a message back from themoviedb, which is wonderful to read and hear.

Certainly can’t wait for this to come, as there seems to be no real alternative to this trial and error method at the moment? I don’t envy creating the API point for this as, some films have so many versions and variations. What even counts as a version or variation?