My new years resolutions for 2021

Ian Forrester selfie with a mask

Its been quite a year and everybody is looking for a better year in 2021.

Following my review of last year… here’s my New Years Resolutions for 2021; which follows on from 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 ones.

  1. Live in another country for a short while
    Regardless of the pandemic, I’m still keen to spend a serious amount of time in Europe. I know we just left Europe (don’t get me started) and its now even harder to do what I had planned last year. Regardless I got to try and apply for the Estonian digital nomad visa.
  2. Head further a field with the scooter
    A follow on from the last lot of resolutions, even with Covid19 and Brexit, I’m holding out hope that I can find a way to either the Netherlands or Ireland. I almost went to the Netherlands over the summer but the rules changed meaning I would need to self isolate for 14 days after coming back.
  3. Take better care of my skin.
    face creamsThis is a follow on from last year, my sleep, alertness, etc are great but I for decades have neglected my skin. Since I was young, I would use petroleum jelly on my face and hands. I only really noticed the issue with this while shaving. But I was convinced by my barber to stop doing this and use proper face moisturisers. My family were amazed my skin turned out as well as it did we 30+ years of petroleum jelly. So its time for something new and less harsh?
  4. Step up my gratitudes
    My lovely ex-colleague Nicky told me about a book shes been using, called the 6 minute diary. Last time we talked about my gratitudes. So from new years I’ll give it a go. It will likely the most I have handwritten in a long time. Thanks Nicky again and look forward to seeing what hits the paper.
  5. Host more film nights and dinner parties
    This is a repeat of the last year but even with Covid19, I’m going to put this on the list, as I could do much better. Heck I got enough Chocolate to do a tasting night every month right now.
  6. Spend even more time with the Diabolo
    Diabolo whip
    The pandemic has given me so much time with the Diabolo. Its amazing to see how fast I have improved in the community garden. A while back I wanted to learn the Vertex and now I’m getting confidently doing it but got a long way to go before I start throwing genocide vertex’s. Although I feel I can watch a video on youtube and pick it up within a week or two now. However I still don’t get the infinite suicide, it should be easy but it never works for me.
  7. Send a email out to friends and family once or twice a year
    I’m slightly preparing to spend even less time in Facebook and looking at the alternatives to substack and medium. Most likely I will selfhost it now I’m running yuno host on a raspberry pi4. Either Writefreely or something with Activitypub.
  8. Self host and move to more decentralised/fediverse services.
    Its something I’ve been doing for a while but its time for the big push. As I’m spending more time at home, I got more time to learn and now my main services are running on the NAS. The RaspberryPi is a great platform for self-hosting. While thinking about the previous one, I posted something on Mastodon.
    Someone suggested this Github project and someone suggested Friendica might have what I need.
  9. Find an alternative to the pebble watch
    My Pebble with Sugru

    My friends have been really good to me, giving up their old pebble smartwatches to me. But as I’m now on my last pebble, its time to move over to something else. I enjoyed not having to pull out my phone to read a message and to even reply directly from the watch. But I can’t buy another one now. I had pinned my hope on the hybrid smartwatches but they don’t seem to have the ability to send a reply. Anyway, no more pebble after this one dies.
  10. Listen to a Audiobook every month.
    Another advantage of being at home is the amount of audiobooks I’m listening to. Right now I’m listening to one every week but 12 is a basic target and should be do able with the sheer amount of podcasts I’ve been listening too. This also fits with Audiable’s monthly subscription.
  11. Take a more political & strategic view on the status quo
    George Floyd 7 months later

    There’s been a number of books and podcasts, which have led me to the fact people around me think things are generally ok. Yes with the pandemic, they changed their minds for this year but I hear again and again – “Next year things will go back to how they were and all will be ok.”
    No I’m 99% sure it won’t and frankly how it was, was not good enough. We need to fight harder for a better future for all. Its also clear to me the right has found a formula which is working but its easily broken by taking a active role in our democracy. May this year made this ever so clear to me.
  12. Finish my dating book
    Yes that book is being worked on between myself and Hannah. The latest draft is looking great. Honestly it reads like a real book! I’m now considering writing a epilogue but unfortunately my relationship ended during this year. Meaning a rewrite and rethink how to end it as such.
    There are other considerations like photography/artwork, formats, checking for consistency, where to publish, how to publish, etc, etc. Any thoughts do get in touch (like to avoid Amazon if I can and it makes sense)Here is a tiny sneaky paragraph from a draft chapter (Hannah is such a great writer and editor, you should hire her!)

    …I studied her face to see what her intention was. Maybe it was a spontaneous comment that didn’t really mean anything. Perhaps she was playing to the cameras that surrounded us?

    The longer I looked, the more smug her expression became. She might have been pretty before but that dirty grin said it all. If she was trying to push my buttons she had found them alright. What happened next was not my finest hour.

    Maybe the combination of divorce, Mr Tango and the button pushing had something to do with what happened next. It felt like I was thinking it but it came out.

    Regardless, I do take responsibility for what happened next…

    Bet you are dying to know what happens next right? Hopefully this year you will know.

So that’s the 12 for 2021 (still no real reason why its 12, it just is). Its a tough one because I wanted to include things like visit a new country but I decided its unlikely this coming year. I was also going to add one about getting the Covid19 vaccine/jabs but I just learned one of the ingredients includes pea protein? So it might be a even longer wait for me to get the vaccine.

Have a good new year all!

What does the Brexit deal mean for most people?

Dublin

Everytime I think about Brexit, my heart sinks and I can’t help but shake my head. But a deal has been done, which is better than no deal (which was looking so likely).

The guardian and BBC have reasonable summary but I found the TLDR news a very good friendly summary.

Here’s their summary from the UK point of view

And there is the European point of view, which I’m glad they did because like during the debates before the Brexit vote; there was too much focus on what it means for the UK and not for our friends and neighbours.

Mapping the ecosystem but in a collaborative way?

This map of Dyslexia associations went around a few social circles recently but I got to say its quite impressive work.

I’m currently looking to do something similar but for organisations working in the space of the public service internet (best way I can describe it right now). But its got to be collaborative and the connections between them isn’t just their location, but their focus, their specialities, etc. On top of all this is the common connections between them.

I’ve been considering a number of things including Tagtool, some light semanticweb technology, a distributed model like Friend of a Friend and Human.txt. Been also considering scraping or getting the data from other sources like linkedin too.

What I’m doing is really recreating a customer relationship management system (CRM) like Salesforce but open, collaborative and distributed. Someone must have done this already?

Timelapses I recently taken

I am privileged to have an amazing view across East Manchester to the Pennines. It is a great view and nothing large has been built in between, obstructing the view. This is part of the reason why I have a small TV and went for the projector route for big screen view.

Recently I had a conversation with my Newcastle friend Oli Wood and we got talking about his timelapses. I mentioned I had entered a timelapse into the life in a day documentary. Oli suggested I should do more, especially because its built directly into the Google Pixels camera.

Since then I’ve been doing some experiments behind my black out blinds so I can use my living room hue lights as usual without it messing with the timelapse. I would say they are pretty good, but I’d like to sort out the autofocus and position it somewhere a bit more towards the Pennines.

I will certainly do one for New Years with a quicker shutter time. Hopefully to pick up some of the great fireworks I usually see during my new years eve parties.

Channel 4’s Deepfake queens speech raises tons of questions

When I first heard Channel4’s alternative speech was going to be a deep fake of the queen. I laughed but had a ton of questions. Some of them are covered in their behind the scenes video.

I felt the deep fake was a good thing to do, as so many people can’t tell the difference between real and fake. This has a big impact on the democratic process. But of course if you are reading this, you most likely know this already. It was good they made it deliberately fake rather than pass it off as a real speech, but of course some felt it was disrespectful.

Deep and shallow fakes are here and getting better every day, there is a important public service angle putting this front and centre. We got to get better at understanding what we see may not be what’s actually true.

Worth watching: Death to 2020

Death to 2020

Death to 2020 was hysterical on so many levels, this missed out on my list of things you missed out on by a day or two.

I think of it like Screenwipe (if you haven’t seen the antiviral wipe, I highly recommend it) with black mirror budget and mockery running through it all.

Although very much around America and part of the UK, there is key issues are there. , , , #vote2020, #RuthBaderGinsburg, , , , , etc, etc.

Good work and something to laugh at while we head into 2021.

Films you may have missed during the later part of 2020

Matrix on the big screen
Watching the matrix on the big screen during lock down

Following on from my previous post about films to watch during covid19 and again during mid 2020. Some of us have been consuming a lot of media. Its never been a better time to own a full home cinema.

Having just gone through my trakt year in review and its almost 2021, it might be worth another blog post for the locked in. Believe it or not there has been some good stuff to watch on the small screens in our living rooms.

Films

Just mercy

Just Mercy

This is a genre which always gets me, court room dramas. I didn’t think that much about the trial of the chicago 7 especially after watching Small Axe’s Mangrove and this film. Its powerful and emotional, it deserves a lot of respect and perfect timing with the on going anti-racism protests. Don’t miss this film!

Parallel

As the name suggests its a film about parallel universes. This film comes across off as a lower budget movie but the concept is neat and it has legs. It surprises in different ways and within the serious plot points still has elements of comedy. It reminds me very much of the film Time lapse.

Run

This took me by surprise. Not usually into horror but this is clearly more on the thriller side. I can’t even start to explain how messed up this film is on so many levels. As the film develops you get a real sense of the subtitle, you can’t escape a mothers love!

The honest thief

Nice easy going action film which isn’t too stressful but has its moments of action too. Liam Neeson is wooden than his usual roles in Taken, but still has edge. Nice plot and the actors do carry the film well. Good quality hollywood action.

12 Hour Shift

This film is a bit of dark humour and comes across as serious. Its a simple film about staff in a hospital but the things which happen are, lets say intriguing and there reactions are hilariously dark. Been a while since I seen a dark comedy like it

The Secrets We Keep

I wasn’t quite sure where this one was going but its a thriller which strikes where it hurts. Partly revenge film but its not for the faith hearted. Not an amazing film but strong and worth watching.

Love and Monsters

Another fun hollywood film which I would say is similar in notion to Zombieland but less adult. Its a fun teen flick with some enjoyable moments. Light relief from the pandemic.

Follow Me

I’m a bit of a sucker for these escape room type films and this one has all the right ingredients to keep you guessing. Part of you wants bad things to happen as this youtuber is just the wrong side of arrogant. If you don’t like follow me, try escape room.

Opening Act

A film about stand up comedy with stand up comedians. Light entertainment again but with the strength of everyday life as a comedian. Heckling, trying out jokes, fighting for spots, its all there in the film.

Black Box

Psychological thrillers, some hate them and sometimes they are awful. This one is good, not great but challenging. Its great to see Mamoudou moving into the prime time. Its a good film but be prepared for a small mind screw.

Boss level

A fun film which reminds me of a three way between Shoot’em up, Groundhog day and Scott Pilgrim vs the world. Light entertainment but good entertainment on these dark nights.

TV

A Teacher

A interesting story about a student and a teacher. The emotional side is treated well and respectful over the episodes. Usually these type of things are rushed and A teacher doesn’t do that. The topics are adult and dealt with in that way.

Small Axe

There is so much to say abut Small Axe, the director worked on these 5 almost feature length episodes showcasing different aspects of Black British culture in London. Each episode is unique with for example episode 2 having a completely different tempo and feel from episode 1. Each one is worth while watching alone, together they marked a excellent series.

The Queens Gambit

The Queens Gambit

Such a beautiful and short TV show. Most people have seen or heard of it but honestly watch it on a big screen at the highest resolution you can. You will notice every short is just beautiful. The story is great too.

Industry

This was recommended to me and its quite a interesting series, looking at new graduates aiming to permanently join a investment bank. What I like is its not too stereotypical. Yes theres drugs in the bathrooms, yes the women get a much rougher experience than the men. But each character has more depth than you first imagine.

The Flight Attendant

A fun comedy drama with Kaley (known for the big bang theory) with a bit of a edge. The story unfolds slowly but the comedy elements keeps the flow. There is a message about alcoholism there but its not clear cut and well produced. Worth watching but don’t expect something deep and meaningful or even light entertainment. Look forward to second series?

Sneakerheads

Following the flight attendant, something actually light and fun comedy. If you are a sneakerhead or take your trainers a little more serious than most people… this short series is for you. Funny and entertaining, some light relief.

Ted Lasso

Another fun TV series but with a heart. I’m really not a football fan, so I was expecting this to be a bore. When I first came across it, I thought this is going to be a joke which will get old. But it surprised me as the characters backstory holds up well and keeps you interested. Like the flight attendant sure there will be a second series.

A review of my 2020 resolutions

Ian Forrester selfie with a mask
The new normal, mask, umbrella and coat

2020 has been one heck of a year for me and pretty much every single person on earth. The Covid19 pandemic effected so many peoples lives from people dying to people having to operate around nationwide lock downs. People I know have had covid19 and a couple people are still suffering with the long covid19. From memory no one I know has died but I’m not certain.

The thing about the pandemic is its like background radiation. Its always there and it affects everything. Even if its small things.

Then in the middle of everything the police in American murdered a bunch of black people and the whole thing was captured.  May 2020, was a turning point for many, finally we could talk about systematic racism and people were listening. Not to say they did a lot about it but in some places the light was shone and people finally understood what it means to be an anti-racist.

George Floyd 7 months later
Remembering George floyd on xmas night

So with all that how was my year from the  Quantified Self data  point of view?

  • My average sleep duration has increased from 7 hrs 20mins to 7hours 50mins.  Average deep sleep was 4.03 hrs now its 4.35hrs.
  • This year I started moving away from Gmail, so the numbers make sense. I had 32,601 conversations, have 20718 emails in my inbox and sent 7841 emails this year.
  • Have 114,564 photos and 4,269 photos albums in Google photos.
  • Tasks wise I have 304 open tasks and completed 3,315 over the year
  • Been on all of 6 trips including Manchester, Warrington, Lancaster, London, Alton towers, Blackpool this year.
  • According to Trakt, my most played show is Dave and film was Tenet, Most listened to podcast is the Daily Tech News Show.
  • I spent 742 hours watching films (61.8hrs a month) and 1221 hours watching TV series (101.8hrs a month) – that is a lot, but understandable with being locked down.

Diabolo whip

Here’s my review of  my new years resolutions from 2019.

  1. Head further a field with the scooter
    Even with Covid19, there was a brief chance to go on holiday to the Netherlands in August. I had planned to take the scooter across from either Hull or Felixstowe. I checked out the pricing got the emergency kit, arranged my stay with a friend in the Netherlands. But then Greater Manchester went into a tier where leaving become problematic. I push on but then suddenly the Netherlands become a country when I could need to isolate for 14 days after returning. At that point I decided its all too much.
    Its a shame as I also considered Ireland too but the season had changed and didn’t fancy driving in Ireland in the rain.
  2. Visit another new country
    This never happened for obvious Covid19 reasons. Maybe next year will be better?
  3. Make some changes to the flat
    Lots of changes to the flat, from a new desk, a network attached storage, reconfiguration of some basic things. I still have a number of tasks related to this to go through for 2021.
  4. Host film nights at mine
    This didn’t happen for obvious Covid19 reasons. Although my bubble might break this somewhat.
  5. Spend less time in the UK / Live in a new country
    Yeah Covid19 killed this but who knows what might happen next year
  6. Find the others and connect them
    This has started to happen, but theres more work needed on this front.
  7. Play a new sport somewhat regularly
    Another Covid19 killer, but I did spend a lot of time with the Diabolo.
  8. Drink more fizzy water
    This happened, maybe too much and I had to stop drinking copious amounts of fizzy water late at night. I’m not drinking so much that I needed a subscription but I’m getting through a bottle of gas every 3 weeks?
  9.  Look after myself better
    I believe this one happen starting with my focus on my sleep patterns. Being able to make that decision about working later has made a massive difference to the quality of my sleep, even with the background humm of the pandemic.
  10. Be even more aware of the environment and what I can do to help
    This believe it or not had happened, from spending much more time sorting out what I can recycle. Tesco also have been delivering my shopping with bags so been using them for many things for recycling.
  11. Put my money/resources where my values are, with platforms like Patreon
    This happened, I signed up to Pateon as there is a number of podcasts I regularly enjoy and gave them small amounts of hard cash to help support them. I also donated time and some money to other places like anti-racist, feminist, neurodiverse organisations.
  12. Change my email signature with important information
    Done, my signature now includes my pronoun, my user manual and status. I keep thinking about adding my free/busy time but don’t really like the fact google calendar reveals your email address when doing so.

Dec 25: Diabolo advent calendar

Day 25: High and low Vertex Suns
Of course something special for the last day of my Diabolo advent calendar.
I am still getting my head around the vertex but one of the tricks I picked up quickly was the high and low suns.

When I’m going and slowly turning along with the vertex, it looks incredible but its very difficult to maintain the momentum.

Here is another better one I did the other day.

Thats it for the advent calendar, hope you enjoyed a little daily dip into the diabolo world?

Happy holiday where ever you are and what ever you do. Remember to stay safe!

In lieu of trust at the top…

There was something which John Ashton said at the end of his video for Double Down News.

He mentions during the first nation wide lockdown in the UK, people supporting each other with pick up of community shopping, lists of help on different social sites, etc, etc. The trust between each other and the NHS was high.

As we went into the second national lockdown, all eyes were looking to the top. Rather than looking at each other for support. I think part of this comes from the formulation of the tiers which seemed to turned people against each other, in lieu of any transparency from the top. There was a lot of finger pointing from Tier 3 Liverpool at Tier 2 Manchester back 2-3 months ago for example.

Its clear countries where the government are more trusted seem to be doing much better in their R number rates. But in lieu of this, we need to work together to make it work for ourselves and our communities.

I recently saw a great example of this with the total mess of lorries trying to get into Europe. Its the kindness of people and communities which can make the difference.

Dec 24: Diabolo advent calendar

Day 24: The Vertex
This is the new dimension in the Diabolo world, the Z dimension.
For the last few years I have added learning the vertex in my new years resolutions.
Its only this year with covid19 and plenty of time in the community garden, I really got to put the time into learning how this quite new trick actually works.
I’m still learning it but imagine all the tricks I have shown over the last 24 days and imagine them operating on the Z dimension! Thats all to come…
Till then I can enjoy finally being able to manage a vertex with a loop or as a open loop stick grind.

Could a Estonian PO Box help to keep data on European servers?

old EU map showing GDPR affected countries
Obviously in 2021, the UK will not be part of Europe any more

When we leave the EU in the new year, its clear almost all the American corps will shift UK data from their European servers to American ones. Not only because of cost but GDPR is a pain for them (boohoo).

Facebook are not the only ones, (Google too) but I certainly am considering removing a lot of data from Facebook before this happens. I already moved a lot out of google over the year. But I’m also considering  maybe its time to get that Estonian PO Box address?

I have been weighing up options and it seems all possible.

First I spotted there is a PO Box service for Estonia e-residents. It does seem to mean setting up a business however? Something I’ve been thinking about for a good 10+ years.  Its currently 10 euros a month

Spotted someone on Reddit who was just looking to set up a PO Box a couple years ago.

Registering a P.O Box in Estonia? from Eesti

If I find other options or anyone knows other ways, do comment or tweet me.

Still not 100% that Google, Facebook, etc will accept the PO box but its worth it at least to document it for others thinking the same.

 

 

Dec 22: Diabolo advent calendar

Day 22: High throw to whip to duicide
This is a combo which really gets people excited.
In single steps it should be straight forward but the high throw makes the diabolo whip very difficult and prone to being missed.
On top of this the momentum of the diabolo instantly makes a whip to duicide swing around very quickly, causing the duicide not to go back up.
Theres a closer up view here .

Dec 21: Diabolo advent calendar

Day 21: Diabolo Genocide
We are getting much closer to the edge of my skill set now.
The suicide can be difficult and the duicide was tricky to learn, but they all pale in compared to the genocide.
While in the suicides and duicides, the diabolo is still realistically on the strong.
In the Genocide, the Diabolo leaves the string and you are left holding one stick. Check out the side view to see it fully.
Its insane and I find it hard to pull off.