My User Manual

Profile pic 2019

Hi I’m Ian and I’m referred to by ‘he/him’ pronouns

Here is my user manual, as first discovered in Cassie Robinson.‘s blog post and written about in my new years resolutions for 2020. Everything is work in progress and I may move this to a page instead of a blog entry.

Last updated on 31/12/2019

Conditions I like to work in

  • I like a medium busy working environment. I find it hard to work in dead silence.
  • I like having my own desk space but pretty flexible as I can work in coffee shops or on my sofa.
  • I like to wear headphones and listen to music mixes, podcasts or audio books while working if its too quiet.
  • I like flexible spaces, with adjustable seating

The Times/Hours I like to work

  • I am trying to start my work day at 10am, I am not a early riser at all.
  • I work best in the afternoon and evenings
  • Think better at night
  • I don’t mind being contacted at most times but I will likely only respond when not busy or have the time. I expect people to respect my decisions when I decline calls.
  • My calendar is private but I prefer if things are set in my calendar so I don’t double book myself.

The best ways to communicate with me

  • Text or instant messenger (signal & text) is the quickest way to get a response from me, but you will get a quick and short reply.
  • Twitter Direct message isn’t the best due to the changes Twitter made to their APIs making my Android & Linux clients slower to get direct messages.
  • Mastodon is better than twitter for communication
  • I will answer my phone and prefer to talk over more complex issues
  • I deal with emails all week and usually respond within a week, unless I’m busy
  • Narratives are generally better than raw data

The ways I like to receive feedback

  • I’d rather have conversations than leave things unspoken or at an inauthentic level.
  • I like receiving feedback face-to-face
  • I respect people with humanity & respect, and expect the same back
  • I see all feedback as a learning opportunity so I like any feedback to include examples and also suggestions on how I / it could be better/different

Things I need

  • I love ideas sessions with people, where we can freely think about what is possible without the if’s and but’s
  • I do need a little time to reflect
  • I need longer paper work in digital form, so I can re-shape it or have an app read it to me
  • Authenticity, I find it harder to take people seriously if there is no authenticity

Things I struggle with

  • Too much critiquing and logical reasoning drains my creative energy
  • If I don’t understand the bigger picture, I find it harder to understand why I should be involved.
  • I find unnecessary opaque processes draining
  • Maintaining the status-quo
  • Surface level conversations over a longer period of time
  • Superstition

Things I love

  • Hearing what others are working on and connecting up the dots of what we are doing together
  • Human conversations over administrative tasks like replying to emails
  • Understanding peoples experiences and influences behind projects
  • Team away days
  • Blue sky thinking
  • Working on the cutting edge
  • Collaboration
  • Working “in the open”

Other things to know about me

  • I am an ENTP
  • I have dyslexia
  • I use interconnected, narrative and dynamic reasoning to make decisions on problems which are logically taxing.
  • I approach problems in a learning as doing way
  • My favorite saying is “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
  • I bring my whole self to work (we should chat about what this means)
  • I am quite expressive and say what I feel and mean quite openly.
  • Fairness and justice matters to me. If I think someone is not being treated fairly, or someone is having an unfair impact on others, I will call it out.
  • I believe hyperlinks subvert hierarchy, with a rich network of people.

The 2010s: When the Media Lost Their Gatekeepers

Reason’s video post is spot on and charts how the 2010’s started with such promise but ended on such a low. However there are options on the horizon if we can get our heads around decentralised and distributed technologies.

Media theorist Marshall McLuhan’s work best explains how the world changed in the 2010s—and what we can expect in the decade ahead.

I’m doing what I can to fore-fill that mental shift in the 2020’s by focusing on trust, transparency, accountability, data ethics, etc.

After all that hunting for new headphones, Bose make good

Black Bose on ear headphones

After all that time trying to get new headphones, after the problems with my 4 year old Bose on-ear headphones… I contacted Bose Support on Twitter and after a long direct message conversation they agreed there might be a problem with the battery.

I sent it to them earlier this year and just before xmas, they sent me the Bose triple black on ear headphones, as they didn’t do my original on the ear ones anymore.

IMG_20191229_121624

Not a bad result for 4 years of headphone use. Very glad I registered my headphones with Bose after coming back from Tokyo, just wish I contacted them earlier and saved myself all that hassle. Thanks Bose support for everything.

I’ll keep my other ones but really happy to not have noise cancelling as default now. Not ideal for walking the streets of the UK.

Hardware-Accelerated Plex media server on Ubuntu?

Plex logoI have been using Plex media server on my AMD six core machine for a while and its good but cooling is a issue. About 9 months ago I installed a Nvidia graphics card hoping to take advantage of the new hardware acceleration option. However I realised its a non-starter as it required a Intel chipset not AMD.

Then over the last few months I got my hands on a secondhand HP Z800 workstation with 4x quad core 2.8 ghz processors (yes 16 cores in total). It came with 12 gig of memory which I was planning to upgrade if things work out. It came with a PCI-Express Nvida Geforce graphics card, so I was thinking everything is set. just install Ubuntu with Plex media server, install the proprietary Nvidia display drivers and sit back and enjoy?

I wish…

Here is Plex transcoding inception from 1080p with DTS (Blu-ray sourced) to something suitable for my Pixel 4 (I had to turn off play original, to force it to do the transcoding)transcoding with htop

You can see it much clearer in the htop terminal. Look at those cores running transcoding tasks.

Plex with transcoding

Here is Plex not transcoding inception from 1080p with DTS (Blu-ray sourced) to my Pixel 4

not transcoding with Htop

Quite different from the above, the machines is hardly doing anything over its 16 cores. But the bandwidth is a problem outside a local network environment

Plex not transcoding

If anyone has successfully got hardware-Accelerated Streaming working on a Ubuntu server, let me know!

My New Years Resolutions 2020

Profile pic 2019

Its been 12 years since I’ve been blogging my new years resolutions and I’m still going.

Following my review of last year… here’s my New Years Resolutions for 2020; which follows on from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010.2009, 2008 ones.

    1. Head further a field with the scooter
      Missed this last year, so its high time for a ride into Europe. I have plans to stay with a friend in Rotterdam then drive around and maybe into Belgium & Germany for some coasting. However, more importantly if the secondment was to go ahead. I’d highly likely drive my scooter in the Netherlands.
    2. Visit another new country
      Fitting with the previous one. Luckily last year, I finally got to Italy for the first time, but that was pure chance I think. There’s a lot of places I need to go including Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Croatia, etc in Europe. One thing I’m doing for sure is South Korea & Japan (again) in April with my partner this time.
    3. Make some changes to the flat
      As mentioned previously, I have bought a few bits for the bedroom including a new desk. I bought a lot of my furniture when I first moved in and its time for a few changes now I’m much more settled in.
    4. Host film nights at mine
      I have my new projector, the surround sound system and even the popcorn machine to go with it, so its time to actively do some film nights. For real this time!
    5. Spend less time in the UK / Live in a new country
      As mentioned previously I’m putting together a strong case to move to Amsterdam for a year. Unlike previously its not just because of Brexit. There is a unique opportunity under the BBC to bring together other public focused organisations for a wider “public service centric network.
      This also fits with my previous resolutions around being a stronger advocate for New forms of Value/Public Service Internet/Team Human; and even more with find the others. Making this a reality is going to be difficult but if it works out its going to be amazing for many reasons I can only imagine right now.
    6. Find the others and connect them
      Directly related to the previous one. I mentioned in my 2019 new year resolutions about . Its not so much team human per-say but a more non-perfect human outlook on the world. There was something which Eric Nehrlich wrote a long while ago. Find the others, its been echoed by Douglas Rushkoff here and here.
    7. Play a new sport somewhat regularly
      I love Volleyball and could play it over and over again, but I know people around me don’t dig it as much. So I’ll try a new sport as long as its not Football, Rugby or Cricket. Mainly to bridge between people around me who may like to play something different. Currently Badminton, Basketball or Netballl are looking most likely. However with moving to the Netherlands,Korfball and Handball (which I played in the past) could be new options?
    8. Drink more fizzy water
      I have fallen love with carbonated water. Maybe its the amount of time I spent in Berlin but regardless its great stuff and much more healthy than most of the stuff I use to drink. I decided to invest in a SodaStream after seeing the amount of plastic water bottles I was recycling. This year I’m going drink a lot more carbonated at work, home, out and about. Its 25% health related and 75% because cold fizzy water is just the best!
    9.  Look after myself better
      I’m going to start walking more, I noticed how many more steps I do when going for coffee with colleagues at work. Parking in the multistory and walking to work actually adds another 1500 steps daily. Manchester is pretty walk-able and public transport is pretty good to be honest. I’m still waiting for the UK transport laws to change to allow things like electric scooters. This also fits with my drink more water one.
    10. Be even more aware of the environment and what I can do to help
      Following the fizzy water one too, I’m far more concerned by our lack of ability to recycle and reuse what we have around us. We recently had compost bins in our flats which were emptied into one large compost for the recycling. However if one person misused the compost, the compost would not be emptied and was left rotting. As you can imagine over 200 apartments, that compost wasn’t emptied for weeks.
      So I’m going to see what else can be done from my end. Maybe theres somewhere else I can drop my compost? Maybe there is something else which could be done? Who knows but its worth explore.
    11. Put my money/resources where my values are, with platforms like Patreon
      Theres a lot of things I like reading and listening to and its about time I started supporting their use and development through systems like Patreon. A few years ago I finally kickstarted the Pebble 2 smartwatch, till that point I never joined Kickstarter. In an ideal world, they would gain support through the public service network but we are a long way from that in certain countries. One example I keep thinking about is the Guardian which have lots of options for payment and will take anything to support journalistic freedom.
    12. Change my email signature with important information
      I’ve been thinking about adding pronouns to my different things for a while. I have already added them to my mastodon profile and will slowly add them to other profile information where I can.
      Theres been a lot of talk about work life balance and self care recently and I agree with lots of it whats been said. But I also would add a level of self awareness can really be useful if possible; to this end I’m going start he-himby publishing a user manual for myself, which will be linked to in my email signature and elsewhere. Outlining all the meta things which can’t fit into a signature.

A review of my 2019 resolutions

Me with birthday ballons

2019 has been quite challenging for me and I know many others!

Looking from the Quantified Self point of view

  • My sleep deficit over the whole year has massively decreased to 36 mins,   My average sleep this year has been 7 hours 20mins (down from 2018). Average deep sleep has been 4.03 hrs now only 48% of my sleep.
  • According to Gmail I have had 54,325 conversations, have 33345 emails in my inbox and sent 7241 emails this year
  • Have 111,540 photos and 3,971 photos albums in Google photos.
  • Tasks wise I have 267 open tasks and completed 2,876 over the year
  • Been on 52 trips including Manchester, Edinburgh, London, Bristol, Guernsey, Madrid, Amsterdam, Venice (first time in Italy), Berlin, Helsinki, Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp, Nottingham, The Hague, Bath, Newcastle this year.
  • According to Trakt, my most played show is Supergirl and film was John wick 3, Most listened to podcast is the Daily Tech News Show.
  • I spent 655 hours watching films (16.2 a month) and 300 hours watching TV series (37.5 a month)
  • This year I started a gratitude diary which now has 7,303 words

Regardless of the data he’s the review of my new years resolutions from 2019.

  1. Head further a field with the scooter
    Again I missed this one and its very unlikely this will happen before the UK leaves Europe.  Theres still an idea of visiting my  friend in Rotterdam then drive around and maybe into Belgium & Germany. But this may change massively if I move to Amsterdam?
  2. Ride a roller coaster in yet another country
    This also didn’t happen this year, although I did go to Madrid again and ride lots of coasters in the scorching 41c sun. Also I decided to give the rollercoaster park in Helsinki a miss this year. Next year I’ll be in looking out for coasters in other countries including South Korea.
  3. Look after myself better
    Didn’t do so badly but theres a lot of room for improvement. I do a lot of walking when away from home but Volleyball isn’t as intense as it use to be due to not being in the team now.
  4. Spend more time in the UK
    This happened I think and my partner agrees.
  5. Enter the bake off at work
    This is a yes, I baked some banana bread with chilli chocolate inside and it was very nice except when I took it to work things didn’t quite turn out as expected.  But I did get six peoples vote and there’s photos of the caroline reaper chocolate volcano cake here.
  6. Explore more about the brain using neuroscience
    This needs some work, as I didn’t go to any events this year at all from memory.
  7. Do more with my Estonian e-residency
    I did extended my e-residency another 2 years and I do use it as ID when entering some physical businesses. Its not quite what I was thinking about but it slightly counts. I did also look into using it as another form authentication for some services and finally setup a email address for it.
  8. Explore the future of decentralised and distributed systems
    I spent a weekend at IndieWebCampBerlin and the following days at Republica19. It was quite an amazing and my follow up to R&D with a lunch time lecture with this presentation.
  9. Make some changes to the flat
    I finally started by finally removing the filing cabinet to the local dump, getting a large Billy bookcase in my partners new car (with the roof down in the Manchester rain). I bought a sitting and standing desk which is smaller but yet to put it up due to having the existing one still in place. I didn’t realise my Jerker desk is over 20 years old! I’ll be offering it on ebay in the new year if anyone is keen to have it?
  10. Host film nights and more dinner parties at mine
    This needs to happen in 2020, I had a couple of evening with my new projector, but nowhere what I was hoping for. My partner and friend had not seen Inception so we had fun with that one evening. Another friend suggested she had never seen Kill Bill, so that could be a back to back session with the projector and surround sound system.
    When it comes to the dinner parties front, theres been a bit. Likely the best was the chocolate tasting party which was great.
  11. Work on the dating book
    Since Hannah offered her copy editing skills to help make it a real book, I have done what I can. She suggested ghost writing the book and we have agreed thats a way forward. When I last spoke about the book, I saw 11+ chapters of my previously badly written nonsense, rewritten and re-imagined. Its going to be amazing!
  12. Be a stronger advocate for Team Human
    This is summing up so much of 2019 for me. Not only in daily life but in work. Its appeared in presentations, in talks I’ve given and the way I go about things. Ok its not really about team human but new forms of value or rather. Its one of the reasons why I’m considering a secondment.

Why one client is a bad idea

 

I recently saw this in my email and elsewhere…

We recently fixed a vulnerability within Twitter for Android that could allow a bad actor to see nonpublic account information or to control your account (i.e., send Tweets or Direct Messages). Prior to the fix, through a complicated process involving the insertion of malicious code into restricted storage areas of the Twitter app, it may have been possible for a bad actor to access information (e.g., Direct Messages, protected Tweets, location information) from the app.

We don’t have evidence that malicious code was inserted into the app or that this vulnerability was exploited, but we can’t be completely sure so we are taking extra caution.

We have taken steps to fix this issue and are directly notifying people who could have been exposed to this vulnerability either through the Twitter app or by email with specific instructions to keep them safe. These instructions vary based on what versions of Android and Twitter for Android people are using. We recommend that people follow these instructions as soon as possible. If you are unsure about what to do, update to the latest version of Twitter for Android. This issue did not impact Twitter for iOS.

We’re sorry this happened and will keep working to keep your information secure on Twitter. You can reach out to our Office of Data Protection through this form to request information regarding your account security.

Its clear to me, twitter’s plan to restrict API access to limit the clients and ultimately force people into using their own appis and always was a bad idea!

Jack talks a good game about a decentralised twitter but lets be honest, its not going to truly happen. Their company interests are too tightly wound up in this all. Of course theres already standards for this, just that twitter refuse to support micropub, activitypub, etc… Rosemary mentions this on a twit recently.

 

Have you ever noticed the overwhelming whiteness? Yes!

Employees stand up to racism

I remember reading through Dan Lyons archived blog entries after reading Lab rats recently.

He asked the question in this entry while looking through the Business Insiders “50 Best Small Companies to Work For of 2017, According to Employees.”

The companies that end up on lists like this are often the pep-squad types who work really hard to get on lists like this. It’s free marketing. It helps them recruit. But mostly, they totally think that they’re totally awesome. They’re the best.

Presumably the photos you see above were provided by the companies themselves. Which means someone gathered up the whole gang, took a bunch of photos, chose the best one, and sent it along.

Then concludes with …

And no one ever noticed the blinding, overwhelming whiteness. Which kind of says it all.

This is old (2017) but its every day I see this all the time as I scroll through pictures of cool new startups. The 2019 version is better but its not massively different?

 

The best films of 2018 and 2019 you may have missed

I meant to publish this list of great films you may have missed in 2018, but never did. So instead I’ve edited the draft and included the best films of 2019 you may have missed too. Enjoy!

2018

Spiderman into the spiderverse


Fantastic take on spider-man which includes some cutting edge graphics combined with a great soundtrack and a clever plot line which keeps you going. The diversity really shines what different people from different backgrounds could do together.

The Mule


I got to say I didn’t want to really like this one but Eastwood is great as that guy love to hate. His interactions with others is something which you can’t help but question; but with an understanding of why.

Boy Erased


Its a story which is shocking to the core and although like many think this couldn’t happen in this day in age; this story makes it super clear we are very wrong. Shocking and done tastefully.

The Hate U Give


There is something about this film which says “oh its one of those films for minorities.” But it escapes the stereotypes and manages to paint the tricky relationships between races in America very well. Well worth watching for a slightly deeper message.

Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer


Its cheaply put together and feels like a TV movie (it might be) but the impact of the America’s biggest serial killer is lost when you first met the man involved. Over the course of movie it hits you wants really going on. Quite a shocking story, worth watching especially if its remade my someone else in the future.

Unsane

Never want to spoil movies, but I’d say Soderbergh pulls off this thriller/horror in fine style. The plot is simple but the acting pulls the boot strings up tight. I’m not a fan of horror but this was smart and very watchable if mindbinding at the same time.

2019

The best of enemies


Quite an incredible story about how two people of different backgrounds can agree to disagree when it comes to their child but end up being best of friends in the end. Well worth watching, especially looking at the current state of the world. Watch to the very end for a treat!

The public


This is not a great film but its an important film to watch. A film which really talks to the human value work  and movement. The plots is slow but settles in for the long journey focused on the people and the interactions between people and corporate interests.

Selling Isobel


This is a truly horrific true story which at the very start the real women behind it said thank you for watching. Being tricked into sex slavery isn’t a light topic but a very important one.  I didn’t realise till my partner pointed it out, the woman in the sex slavery is played by the same woman who it happened to! I was completely blown away! Unbelievable and something I could only watch once a year. Just like the public an important film to watch!

Untouchable


Following selling isobel, a documentary about the start of the movement with Weinsten. It really shines a light on the horrific abuses of power. Its really puts into perspective everything which has gone on to date and could easily be updated with more in the future.

The room


I would class this as something  like inception and a few films I have mentioned in previous editions of films you missed. Its a simple plot point, a room which gives you what you ask for. But the fall out is pretty well thought out. I certainly would have liked another 20mins of film to really dig into the mind bending inception.

Shadow of the moon


This gritty story about a serial killer is well told and you can’t help but feel wrapped up in the detective story as the drama unfolds over time. The story is paced perfectly with surprises and dead ends along way.

I am mother


The word mother conjures up many visions but a robot isn’t generally one of them. This movie centers its sights right at that point. Its a slow film but it really forces you to either side of the coin. You think its going one way then it goes another way. Its hard to decide how you feel at the end.

Do I like my Likebook Mars ebook reader?

Likebook mars ebook reader
Warning: There is a lot of Like puns ahead!

I recently bought the Likebook Mars ebook reader to replace my ENERGY SISTEM ebook reader. Why did I do this?

Well I liked my energy sistem as it was my very first android eink reader and fore-filled almost everything I was wishing for in a ereader. Its a great device but I found my reading habits changing. I mainly consume longer media content via audio or video rather than textual. I like text for reference, storage, retrieval and share ability. But my consumption was mainly aural. The Enegry sistem has no audio support at all, meaning I would use my phone for audio and occasionally look at the eink screen.

If I could have a ereader with audio too, that would be great for syncing and keep a track of things. Hence when I saw the Likebook (yeah I think its a silly name too) I consider it and bought it a few months later. Of course I’m selling my old ereader on ebay if interested.

After my research I knew I could do everything my previous one could do but also with the updated Android 6 operating system and more power might be able to run some apps which didn’t install or run previously. Its a very good device and the audio is spot on with my bluetooth headphones and a fallback analogue audio jack. At first I had some difficulty getting the google play store working but before I checked out the tutorials, I stumbled on the right settings, logged in and that was that.

The next problem wasn’t to do with the ereader but wallabag, which returned a error every time I synced. Finally after exporting then deleting a lot of archived pieces. This took a long time to diagnose and get sorted hence the long silence during the start of December on this blog.

Google play store on the likebook

Finally its all running correctly and I have almost everything on it.

I really like the fact there is now a lock screen because the previous one didn’t and I had to restrict a lot of its operations just incase. For example I disabled Gmail & Gdrive on it just incase. I know some of you will scream its running Android 6, so its game over anyway. But the previous one was running Android 4! I have taken care with the likebook but feel better about drivebys (as such). The amount of internal memory really helps as I can now stick ebooks and audiobooks on the same drive. Theres also a SD slot if more memory is ever needed. I can even put my VPN apps on it which is fantastic news.

Its a good device and now its settling down to its weeks of battery life after all the wallabag syncing.

IMG_20191220_191755

The only thing I miss really is the size of the device is 7.8 inches instead of 7 inches which makes it too big for my pockets including my jacket pocket. Weirdly enough, it almost fits in my headphones pouch, providing some protection from scratches in my laptop bag.

I like it so far… not quite over the mars about it but its growing on me.

Happy Holidays to family, friends and followers (2019)

Happy Holidays card
Image taken during 2019 from my window

Here is my holiday card for the festive holiday period; for family, friends and followers. Happy Holidays and although I’m concerned about 2020 from a political and technology point of view. I’m also aware 2020 is a new decade to really embed some of the smaller changes into our future.

Enjoy the festive period and lets fight for the future in the decade of 2020.  2020 needs to be about humankind or even not faceless corporations, fake promises, lies and political manipulation. The era of human values and when we reverse global warming.

Adobe audition uses XML like Audacity files

https://cubicgarden.com/2019/03/03/hooray-audacity-files-are-xml/

Today I tried to open a Adobe Audition file which a Salford student sent me for a potential perceptive podcast. I knew it wouldn’t open but I wanted to see which applications Ubuntu would suggest.

Instead it opened in Atom editor and I was surprised to find a reasonable XML file. It was confirmed after a quick search.

Similar to Audacity and FinalCutXML, all can be easily transformed with XSL or any other programming language. Extremely useful for future User Interfaces. Sure someone will do something with this one day?

A unscientific test: 90hz displays does it matter

I found this from Android Authority pretty good, I turned off 90hz display on my Google Pixel 4 ages from day one to help with the battery life. Its likely my good eyes would tell the difference but is it worth more than the battery life of the phone?

I think not… of course the comments begs to differ…