A different kind of holiday, thanks Kate

Holiday with Kate in Ireland

Almost 2 years ago me and Kate took part in the BBC listening project and part of our recording was broadcasted on BBC Manchester and BBC Radio 4.

We’ve been thinking about how to take each other out of our comfort zones for a while and Kate finally pulled the trigger first. So everything was set, Kate had sent her list of things I should bring without telling me where we were going or what we were doing. Some said it was exciting, some said I was crazy…  What ever it was, I did so and without falling to the temptation to find out exactly where by peeking into my parents email (my parents insistented on knowing, just incase. I may have disappeared without telling them a few times in the past).

Anyway Friday with one last blog warning people that I’ll be offline and not to worry. Kate and myself drove off to Holyhead. She told me a few hours earlier that we were going to Dublin, Ireland on St Patricks day (perfect planning Kate). Once on the ferry and remembering how seasick I get, especially on such stormy waters (so stormy irish ferries cancelled the ferry we origianally were booked on due to the stormy waters), Kate outlined some of the things for the day. Mainly go to the hotel, drop our luggage, grab a nap, then head out and enjoy St Patricks day in Dublin.

That night was pretty hectic and although I remember most of the evening and night, it certainly included a 3am walk through temple bar, finding irish people and convincing strangers that the word estrogen was more sexy that pecs (long story, ask Kate).

The next morning after a lovely breakfast, we hit the road again. I had no idea where but we were going south. It wasn’t till Kate asked to use google maps on my phone to look up a place called Lazydays, google described it as a VW Camper hire site. It didn’t sink in till we got there and we were introduced to our own VW Camper called Daker.

VW camper DAKARI honestly thought we were just going to ride some horses and then head to a another hotel, b&b or guest house. But this blew my mind.

Daker had bedding, electricity, a fridge, gas hobs, 2 spaces for seperate beds, moveable seats, a cold water sink, etc etc. It was full of lots of mod cons. I worried it would get cold while sleeping, oh was I wrong!

I made a joke a few times it was like the cover of layer cake, bright yellow and frankly it attracted a lot of people where ever we went. You could see peoples heads turn as we drive by…

We took to the open road and headed to south Ireland. We stopped a few places to eat, pick up some cheese, wine and supplies; then headed to Hook head lighthouse in Wexford. I learned from Sue (Lazydays) and Kate’s conversation, you can pretty much camp anywhere in Ireland aka we were wildcamping, a concept I certainly wasn’t aware, never would imagine of or ever tried.

Holiday with Kate in Ireland
Look how close we parked to the cliff edge!

I got the full effect of wildcamping when Kate parked up between the rough sea and the lighthouse which was already in full action. That night we had maybe too much wine and cheese from Vine restaurant in Wexford; but more importantly the howling wind shaking the van and there was this fear the top which pops up, would blow away in the middle of the night. On top of this, having no where to actually use the toilet in the middle of the night was just too weird! That night, I tracked a total of 4 hours sleep and only 2.5 hours of deep sleep! On top of that I woke up 9 times and my sleep cycle was a joke.

I certainly was out of my comfort zone….! I have no problem with admitting that!

Holiday with Kate in Ireland

Wildcamping certainly isn’t for me, I thought as I sat opposite Kate in the oldest lighthouse in the world and had breakfast. It was challenging waking up and doing the tour of the lighthouse, but I didn’t see the point of leaving before checking out the place we had camped under last night. Afterwards it was a long journey around the River Barrow to Waterford. Yes there is a little ferry but frankly me and Kate agreed it was best not to take the ferry with the rough waters and the journey around would be more fun.

Once we found the camper site, Dunmore East and I could finally have a hot shower, things got better again. There was even sunshine as we walked up and down the small waterfront.

That night I slept far better with 8hrs 20mins of total sleep and about 5.5hrours of deep sleep nicely split up into even sleep cycles. I appreciated being only 10 meters from the toilet block, no stormy winds and there being no chance of the roof blowing away.

Now this is a type of camping just outside my comfort zone but I could cope for a day or so.

Holiday with Kate in Ireland

Lots of things happened over those 3 nights/4 days including losing to Kate twice while playing pool, teaching kate how to play texas holdem no limit poker, talking frankly about dyslexia, writing postcards, ordering off the menu cocktails, etc, etc… We squeezed a lot into those days. But although I’m very very happy to be at home in the warm and with hot showers. It was certainly an adventure which I won’t forget.

I was honestly blown away by the camper van and thankful for the night in Dublin. I know Kate spent a lot of time driving and pretty much arranged everything way in advance. I also know she could have picked some really crazy stuff for me but decided not to. She was a great partner in crime to have on our shenanig-tour

Ireland also surprised me, I was expecting some weird looks but generally it was fine and I didn’t ever feel in-danger from people or the environment. Ok the ferries did make me feel sick and that first night of wildcamping was plenty but otherwise I was pretty cool with things.

Holiday with Kate in Ireland

Of course its now my time to take Kate our of her comfort zone on a holiday away. The concluding half may not happen till next year now, as I think a massive eastern metropolis is required. New York & Vegas was an option but it won’t have the same impact I don’t feel. Nope its got to be Tokyo. I mean I’ve always wanted to go back, so this might be the perfect excuse.

As Kates pillow says… Adventure awaits!

Adventure awaits
Kates pillow she slept on throughout the holiday

Massive thanks again to Kate and all the people I met along the way including Sue from Lazydays, the people in Hook Lighthouse, the people we messed with in Dublin, etc, etc… But biggest thanks goes to Kate for making the effort and planning everything out but giving enough slack to allow for flexibility around my own concerns. Thank you again Kate and look forward to raising the bar soon…

Es…tro…gen!

Some little highlights of the holiday in Iceland

I recently went to Iceland for a holiday. It was quite an eye-opening experience. The landscape was very different to what I’ve ever experienced recently and the cost of food and drink was shocking. The people were mainly friendly and the Reykjavik although small was full of interesting corners and little boutique stores.

Rather than writing a bunch of stuff, I thought I’d pick out some interesting points in my many photos (over 800 believe it or not) I took.

Iceland

The food in Reykjavik was bloody expensive only topped by the price of alcohol. I never quite got to the bottom of why everything consumed was so expensive but a normal meal which would cost you about 20 pounds here, would come to closer to 35 pounds there.

Theres some odd things I found too, including the pork scratching puffs on the meal above.

cIceland

The Harpa is an amazing concert and conference centre and is stunning to look at and be inside of. I was there for a whole just snapping away and gained access to a private party, as I just wonder around. Decided not to take the free champagne as that would be too much I felt. Especially once the black tie party started coming in and someone took to the piano.

Iceland

At Harpa I was able to soak up some jazz from a visiting group from America. They were good but felt slightly stiff in their white shirts and ties. Afterwards the local Reykjavik jazz band took to the stage in a much more colourful attire and to be fair they were a lot better.

Iceland

Because of the barren landscape (learned all the things we think of as trees in Iceland are imported, as their trees are usually about waist high and more like bushes), the transport very different. They ranged from crazy moon buggy truck like things to Nissan leaf electric cars. I gather the price of electric is quite cheap due to lots hydro-electric and energy from the natural landscape.

Iceland

Iceland is a beautiful country but so weirdly different. Everywhere you looked was mountain rages which were huge. Always covered in snow and surrounded by clouds. Unlike elsewhere I have been, there this black material which I think was like tar. It was amazing and very robust unlike soil/dirt I have seen elsewhere.

Snow was everywhere and there was lots of frozen water but interestingly it was easy to get around because the roads and pavements in Reykjavik were heated from the naturally hot water. Snorri was talking to me about how much closer to the environment you are growing up in Iceland, and it shows

Iceland

Seeing the Northern lights I have already spoke about, after going hunting with Snorri was simply amazing. It was a great experience and so great being out with a total pro was enlightening to say the least. An experience which I will never forget…

Iceland

Dawn in Reykjavik was also beautiful, and I was lucky enough to be in a Airbnb room with a skylight which opened wide enough to maybe even climb out of. So one morning, I woke up to use the toilet and snapped a few shots before going back to sleep.

Iceland

Reykjavik and most of most of the icelandics seemed to have quite an interesting sense of humour. Its kind of deadpan funny and refreshing

Iceland

I also find the icelandic humour playful too, as seen in the single gloves dating site and coloured houses.

Iceland

The street art of Reykjavik was great to see and plentiful. Brian said a lot of the bigger stuff comes from the Iceland Airwaves festival, which is a big thing every year. I imagine in a small city like Reykjavik it really would take over.

Iceland

I still find the new Icelandic traditional of Hotdogs after a night out, very weird. I guess others would find the same of the british idea of kebab’s strange. Heck I find the idea of gravy and chips weird enough myself.

Of course things like the Swimming in the outdoor pool while it was 3-c, the Golden Circle was great and generally I was lucky not to be caught in a snow storm or even much rain. It was cold yes but not as bad as I thought it would be. I took too much winter clothes but really enjoyed myself, even with the weirdness of my airbnb experience once again.

Hope to go back, maybe with some food and drink of my own…

The gig economy is killing us…

banksey Street art

Found via christian heilmann

This sums up so much of the problems with the so called sharing economy. Normalising what is simply not right, even if you are a super millennial and survive on red bull, soylent and bullet proof coffee (heck we all been there, some of even lived to tell the tale).

Normalising this lifestyle is frankly crap and will end up killing more people (especially men who are too proud, stuben, old fashioned, alpha or just stupid to admit there is a problem). I’m see it too much and ultimately the only people who gain are the short sighted, hyper capitalistic services which want you to consume more, act like a there algorithms suggests and live a meanless life of little reward and social capital. Yes and then you die!

Choose a bloody life!

I know trainspotting t2’s choose life speech got slated by some but the core of realism is all there including the zero hour contracts

Choose life
Choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and hope that someone, somewhere cares
Choose looking up old flames, wishing you’d done it all differently
And choose watching history repeat itself
Choose your future
Choose reality TV, slut shaming, revenge porn
Choose a zero hour contract, a two hour journey to work
And choose the same for your kids, only worse, and smother the pain with an unknown dose of an unknown drug made in somebody’s kitchen
And then… take a deep breath
You’re an addict, so be addicted
Just be addicted to something else
Choose the ones you love
Choose your future
Choose life

Although not a zero hour contract, its something to keep in tabs on. I would almost go as far as to say this idea they sell is the middle class zero hour nivania. 

Careful who is selling you the candy…

Finally, the northern lights…

The Northen Lights above Reykjavik

I have always wanted to see the Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights but never really seeked them out till this trip to Iceland.

Brian sent me a DVD and was more determined than ever to go and see them. Last afternoon, Brian the great man that he is, introduced me to the man/legend Snorri Por Tryggvason. Snorri is an incredible man, who talked about his joy of capturing the northern lights and how he’s always raising the bar in his pictures & movies. Some of the pictures on his phone were incredible especially the ones with a formation of distant stars nicely positioned in the background. He’s a humble man with tons of experience under his belt.

At some point Snorri, looked at the cloud cover for the area. He suggested chasing/hunting the Aurora and asked if I wanted to come? I hadn’t really thought about hunting for them in the way storm chasers do, but I jumped at the chance. So it was set, 9:30pm pick up and we drive out of the city to chase down the northern lights in between the clouds.

I got quickly cooked, eat and put on 5 layers on my top half and 4 below. Wore two thick socks and my gore-tex adidas trainers. I was ready for the elements at -1. Snorri took me to some great spots tourists miss out on, while keeping an eye on the skies.

It was the 3rd place (Elliðavatn) when we started to see the green rays in the sky, so awestruck I fumbled with my Nikon D3200 manual settings while kneeling into some thick snow. Snorri snapped a great photo of me trying to get things ready (its a fantastic picture, and shows how much experience he has to grab such a photo with my own gorilla pod). Snorri then helped me setup my camera just in case of a second showing. We didn’t have to wait long as they danced around the sky again 5mins later. Shame I didn’t level the camera correctly, but it’s easily fixed when shooting in 24 megapixel raws.

The Northern lights was stunning and with the city in the distance, it was quite an amazing experience. I was surprised that although it was cold, lying in the snow wasn’t as bad as I’d first imagined it would be (those waterproof clothes had done their job well).

As I drove back with Snorri along some frankly amazingly snowy roads which only a 4×4 should take. We talked about what had led me here, my brush with death, life and my next Holiday with Kate, it was a wonderful experience and I can’t praise the man highly enough for his knowledge, experience, friendly conversation and patience. It’s a true geek who always wants to better themselves but also wants to share the knowledge along the way; as he has in icelandaurorafilms. Of course Snorri’s not stopped there, his latest project is FlowVR – meditation technology.

I feel extremely excited (so much that I can’t sleep at 2am), lucky and amazed by last night. Something I will never forget!

Updated… Here is that shot from Snorri with me taking the shot above.

me taking a shot of the northern lights
Yes that’s certainly me with that distinctive sockhat and large coat, nealing in the snow…

The silent generated power mix

Orange Sky

Another mix for those keeping up… This one is a more chilled mix, which I’ve been playing with on my recent travels. Theres some new tunes and some very old ones for your listening pleasure. Love those times with the pacemaker device

Its a nice mix ramping up and down in places, but I especially love the last 2 tracks Mass Noise and Generate, which don’t mix well but work so well. Talking of tunes which don’t mix… Anomaly is a great tune but a bloody nightmare to mix, seems the bpm shifts quite a bit. Anyhow, what a tune! Enjoy!

  1. Fractal – Bednar
  2. Troy (Push remix) – Sinead O’Connor
  3. Arisen – Arksun
  4. Prosac – DJ Tomcraft
  5. Mirrors – Trilucid
  6. Body Of Conflict (Cosmic Gate Club Mix) – Cosmic Gate
  7. Call the Galaxy Taxi (Martin Roth Nu Style remix) – Plastic Angel
  8. A Thousand Beautiful Things (Gabriel And Dresden Tec – Annie Lennox
  9. Anomaly (Eeemus’s Higgs Boson Remix) – Gordey Tsukanov
  10. The Strings That Bind Us – Arnej
  11. The Day Before – Basil O’Glue, Gordey Tsukanov
  12. Mass Noise 2015 – Fred Baker & Seb B
  13. Generate – Eric Prydz

My highlights of TedxManchester 2017

TedXManchester 2017

I had the joy of being one of many in the main theatre in Home for TedXManchester 2017 (number 5 I believe?). Once again arranged and produced by the incredible serial successful event organiser Herb Kim and the thinking digital team, with a varied range of people plucked for their interesting stories, projects or surrounding concepts. I got my ticket late because the first lot sold out in under an hour! But I was very lucky and looked forward to the line up without really looking into each speaker.

Of course last year was special to me, as I took to the stage to tell the tales of dating in the new millenium with dating against humanity. But it’s always interesting to sit in the crowd and experience the whole thing as an audience member.

The whole event was good but here are the talks which really stood out for me.

Mr Bingo

TedXManchester 2017

I had no idea who Mr Bingo was or what he had done, till he took the stage. He is just a funny guy who does funny things with analogue media; like drawing extremely rude things on cards and posting it to people who request them. I mean he’s trolling them but only because they requested to be trolled. Sounds like self abuse almost?

Its weird but I thought the whole thing was hysterical. I took a shot of one of his cards and been getting a little attention for it, can’t think why? (pleads innocence but of course I know why!)

Sophie Scott

TedXManchester 2017

There was a host of things Sophie said which was fascinating, but the bit which stuck for me was the detail about our attention and our voice. She told us when we talk our brain turns off the listening part. I’m sure this isn’t strictly true but an interesting thought, specially when thinking about how we hate hearing our own voices and why certainly people tend not to realise others are making points too.

She then went on to suggest our voices are wired for much more than just communication, using beatboxing as the ideal example of our voices as instruments.

Lots to take away and well delivered…

Jennifer Arcuri

TedXManchester 2017

There is little I can say about Jennifer which I haven’t already said about her at the last Thinking Digital Manchester. She talked passionately about hacker culture and how important knowledge was in the internet connected world we inhabit. Always a pleasure and wish I could make it to the first HackerHouse/Madlab course in March.

Jonathan Kay

TedXManchester 2017

Jonathan was a weird one and divided people from what I heard in the break later. He started his talk/act at the back of the stalls by heckling Herb as he gave his introduction. Then moved forward to the stage followed by a remote camera person, so people in the upper levels could see what on earth was going on.

His aim of the act was to get the audience to speak to each other and heck even touch each other (I know shock horror!). Ok at one point he did suggest kissing the person next to us but that didn’t go down so well. It was entertaining and the bigger point of actually talking to the people around us, wasn’t lost on myself and others.

What really brough the whole thing home to me, was the fact a friend sat in the seat next to me was feeling extremely uncomfortable about the act and wondered if someone would be picked out of the audience; because that would be terrifying. Thinking back to Carrie Green in TedxManchester3 and I said would it be so bad?

I think the point was made…

Helen Czerski

TedXManchester 2017

I have heard Helen a few times at previous Thinking Digital’s and honestly every time I hear her talk, she just oozes wonder and excitement for science and the universe. You can’t help but feel excited when she talks. Always enlightening and always reignited my interest in sciences.

Michelle McGagh

TedXManchester 2017

I don’t know what to say about Michelle, except wow and wtf! basically Michelle decided not to buy anything for a year. She did point out buy nothing day which is the same day as black friday; but one day is easy right? Why not spend nothing year?

This really got me going because she made very good points about our quick fix consumer culture and the logical conclusion of this all. But unlike the a preachy lecture about how bad we all were, she put herself through a year of trying to live it.

The results were funny and sometimes tragic. I’m not very frugal at all but I typically don’t spend much money on buying stuff. Tend to spend more on experiences and doing things. But recently I made the decision that if was getting old or causing too much effort to keep it going, I should trade it in earlier than later. I’ve spent too much time, fighting to keep things going when I should have just got rid of it and moved on.

So to hear someone actively trying to not to spend anything, and not because she couldn’t afford it – was a little shocking. The full extend of her frugaleness was quite something and reminded me of when I left the hospital almost 7 years ago and seeing my bank balance, because I simply had not spent a single penny except paid my usual bills etc; It was amazing… Maybe there was something to it, I thought as she left the stage.

Andy Burnham

TedXManchester 2017

It was a surprise to see Andy Burnham on the TEDx line up, knowing how TED doesn’t like politic talks, but I have to say although he spoke with passion and made some good points. I couldn’t help but feel the us and them argument a little too simplistic. Centralised power does have a tendencancy to turn corrupt but there is also some good things about it too. If I was talking to Andy directly, I would point to examples like the states, where each state can pretty much set their own rules but the united states system can over rule them; and in some cases thank goodness otherwise slavery, marital rape, etc would still be enforced (although then you get crap like the bathroom nonsense, with the centralised power making backwards decisions).

I also think Andy a few times pointed the finger at the south vs the north, when what he really meant is the country vs westminster. Anyway it was interesting and good to hear, even if I’m not certain on everything said.

Dan Machen

TedXManchester 2017

I liked Dan’s talk, it was a number of things I’ve been thinking a lot about. Attention and Intimacy. I was surprised he never mentioned Sherry Turkle but the quote from William Bernbach was a good place to hand a lot of thoughts. I had never actually checked out Tristan harris, but after Dan’s talk I had a deeper look at him.

Very interesting stuff which I agree about quite a bit (expect a longer blog about him soon). I’ve also been thinking about people not platforms, putting more emphasis on human time and less on productivity. It’s all very interesting in the face of machine learning and AI; I can feel the quantified self/movement (they are quite different) right in the middle of all this, along with data ethics.

Back back to Dan’s talk, I did find the point about the smartphone being a hammer and would we take our hammer out in a meeting? Put it on the table? Interesting… To be fair when he talked about it, I did picture the business card scene from American Psycho, when he mentioned the hammer on the table.

Lots to take away and think about…

TedXManchester 2017

Of course there was plenty more good talks including Isaiah HullVolker HirschSquirrel NationTash Willcocks and Ukebox; which made the ukulele actually interesting. The only one I didn’t enjoy was Nic Cary from Blockchain, which actually has made me want to move my bitcoins from my blockchain wallet to somewhere else. I was actually thinking maybe its time to have my own personal offline wallet?

Another TEDxManchester with plenty to think about and another high bar for TEDx’s to try to achieve, well done to everyone involved.

Liverpool Life talking about Perceptive Media

I have recently spent a quite a bit of time in Liverpool, mainly for work but also slightly for pleasure . There were a few lectures/talks at FACT and Liverpool John Moores University.

Most of the presentations are on slideshare, as per usual but I also had joy of being interviewed as part of a podcast talking about object based media.

Of course most was edited out but there’s a big chunk of the interview, mainly focused on the experience of perceptive media, which sits right on top of object based media.. They described it as on the verge of a revolution, no less.

You can listen to the whole thing online at the Liverpool life audioboom channel from Feb 24th.

Seems even at 36000ft you can’t escape?

At 36,000 feet you can't escape me?

I always knew Horizon was syndicated widely but seeing it on a plane is kind of insane. a Thanks to Claire for the very freaky tweet.

I did say in reply, its a good thing it wasn’t undressed!

I’ll have to give something to the person who happens to watch season 1 episode 9 of undressed on a plane, using the in flight system and then grabs a snap… What exactly is uncertain but I’ll think of something.

Scary stuff eh!

…bring 100 euros in cash and your passport?!

p03pqkfy

Myself and Kate have had this long running dare to take each other out of comfort zone, it all comes from our recording on the listening project. A part of it made it to BBC Radio Manchester and  BBC Radio 4.

Its been a while and Kates decided to take me somewhere in March. I say somewhere because I literally know nothing about where we are going ..except a few things.

I’ve been told to bring..

Comfortable & warm clothes, a waterproof coat, a pair of sturdy trainers or walking shoes.

I don’t have much when it comes to rugged wear like waterproof coats, I’m more an umbrella man. But I did buy a pair of Gortex trainers just incase.

On top of those… Kates told me to bring

My Passport, 100 Euros in cash, addresses to post postcards, snacks, tunes and some sunglasses?

I am in the total dark!

Kate has confirmed there might be some mains power but no wifi and little to little to no mobile signal. Meaning I’ll be off the grid for a short while in March. This also means you shouldn’t be alarmed if you don’t see me tweet for a while. I already have 3 mobiles on 3 different networks in the hope one will get some data. Tunes and snacks I can do but sunglasses? I do wonder where we are going?

Part of me finds it exciting and the other side finds it terrifying. I have the idea we might end up on a island somewhere off Ireland. But that doesn’t really explain the sunglasses. I’m also assuming you need a passport for Ireland (which isn’t strictly true) but might explain the 100 euros in cash?

Why did I sign up to this again?

M14 impresses all the dragons in their den

vlcsnap-2017-02-20-00h55m42s512

I have to give a massive congrats to John Kershaw from M14 industries, who took the previoulsy mentioned Bristlr app from niche dating to hosted matching platform (very much selling shovles during a goldrush). Yesterday he appeared on the BBC’s Dragons Den and struck a great deal with Peter and Nick for a reasonable percentage of the business.

Of course John had a viewing party with friends, investers and family. Its season 14 episode 15 if you are looking for it.

John’s written his thoughts up here.

Before Nick showed his hand, and it was looking like I might get investment from all five dragons simultaneously, I started to internally panic. This isn’t how this happens.

After all the Dragons had given their offers, I knew I’d have to go with Nick and Peter; they have the experience and if they’re not willing to share, I don’t have much choice.

And it’s at this point where an interesting thing happens: I forgot everyone’s names.

Certainly another great story for Manchester’s Startup community and the early investors who saw the potential of M14 industries early on. I personally was always impressed with John and although we sometimes disagreed about what should be next on the task list, its great to get the validation that it wasn’t just a silly app!

The arrival, arrived and must be seen

Arrival

It was actually Si who recommended to me Arrival. It’s very unlike him to recommend films as he’s not really into non-interactive media, so I went and watched the film and was pretty much blown away.

I promise not to spoil the film but the film reminds me of 3 other great films, and I mean great! Interstellar, which was influenced by Contact and finally Donnie Darko.

Well worth watching before they do a weird donnie darko directors cut on it.

Its a 8/10 or even 9/10, and so many other people agree.

It’s dangerous to say an alien movie achieves any level of realism. That is, we won’t know which ones are realistic until the aliens show up in real life and confirm it. With that caveat, Arrival feels like an uncommonly realistic alien invasion movie, if only because it understands a simple fact of life often misunderstood by Hollywood: few of life’s biggest mysteries can be understood through conventional thinking. Too many alien movies assume that our interplanetary visitors will look, sound, and communicate like some gnarled version of ourselves. Arrival rewrites the rule book. Instead of filtering the aliens’ intentions through our understanding of human behavior, it asks us to put our thinking caps on and luxuriate in the unknown.

Absolutely!

I also found the gender dynamics really interesting too… Amy Adams is incredible, strong and very thoughtful when most of the men around her are reaching for their guns or jumping to action. Shes confident of her own abilities and knows what needs to be done. Funny enough, another film by the same director is Sicario, with Emily Blunt who also command total respect by everyone around her.

Amy Adams is magnificent as the linguist at the centre of a world-changing event; Jeremy Renner turns in a quiet, introspective supporting performance as a mathematician brought in to help solve the visitors’ mysteries. The interplay between the two, as they seek to understand an unfathomably complex alien language, feels effortlessly natural; as well as a sci-fi movie, Arrival functions as an astutely observed relationship drama.

Go watch this film!

The dyslexic success which is IKEA

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It was Zoe who pointed me at the secret taxonomy behind IKEA’s product names. I always knew there was something behind the product names but had no idea it was all the idea of a dyslexic man thinking about the world and where things fit within it.

Bookcases are named after professional occupations (Expedit means shop keeper) or boys’ names (The bestselling Billy bookcase is named after IKEA employee Billy Likjedhal). Outdoor furniture is named after Scandinavian islands (Äpplarö an island in the Stockholm archipelago and Västerön is in Aaland). Rugs are named after cities and towns in Denmark or Sweden (Ådum, Stockholm, Silkeborg), while bed sheets, comforters and pillowcases are named after flowers and plants. (Häxört or circaea lutetian is an herb in the primrose family).

The rules for naming were devised by IKEA’s founder Ingvar Kamprad, who struggled with dyslexia and had trouble remembering the order of numbers in item codes.

This lead me to find out more about Ingvar who I knew had a checkered background, especially with the Nazis.

I didn’t know he was dyslexic but this strikes such a cord.

One day, it is reported that Ingvar Kamprad overheard one his draughtsman (a kind of designer or engineer) named Gillis Lundgren. The man had difficulties fitting a table into a transport. After many unsuccessful trials he shouted out loud: “Oh God! Let’s pull off the legs and put them underneath!” Ingvar Kamprad understood that his employee was correct in his assessment of the situation. Moreover Kamprad understood the potential of this remark.

Soon afterwards IKEA introduced new product lines of furniture which were designed to be sold unassembled. In this way the cost for manufacturing (no more assembly) and logistics (standard transport costs due to optimized measures) could be reduced significantly.

Great insight, which started a great business… Should have known

 

The broken promise of one power supply

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I recently got a Dell XPS 13 to replace my slightly aging Lenovo thinkpad X230, which has been giving me a lot of head aches recently. Its a very attractive machine, being super thin and mainly metal instead of plastic. I thought about it long and hard before ordering it because of the lack of ports and extendable battery. In actual fact its got a similar battery to those seen in phones and tablets, aka non-removable. I guess Mac users will say “so what?” but no laptop I’ve ever had, has had nonremovable batteries.

The thing which nudged me about the Dell XPS 13 was a USB C port. USB C I’ve had ups and downs with since my Nexus 5X, but a year later I like the technology and want everything with USB C. I had imagined charging my laptop & phone with my new portable battery pack with Solar Power. But plugging my Nexus 5X into the laptop with my nice new USB C to USB C cable, selecting reverse charge; expecting something to happen but nothing. I thought it might supply a tiny current at least. I wrote it off as not enough current and waited till I got home.

At home I tried my solar battery charger with USB C, once again thinking this would supply enough charge to power the laptop even for a short while. Once again I was disappointed to find it not charging.

What gives! My dream collapsing, I hot the web and found a reddit thread and the PC World piece which made it crystal clear.

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Seems the dream isn’t dead but its not looking good for portable batteries packs. Maybe it might work with some of the wall chargers however, will have to try my Nexus 5X wall charger later.

I won 2nd prize at #Smutslam Manchester

I already wrote about smutslam manchester  and how I thought it was a fun idea. So I went along (alone, due to friends dropping out for various reasons).

I had no intention of talking, but Cameryn and helpers really put me at ease. I looked at the form with my drink in hand on the top floor of the kings arms in Salford. People were encouraged to fill in a question for Cameryn’s fcukbucket, which she would pull out during event.

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So I thought about it and asked Cameryn if the story had to end in a sexual manner? She said no, real life isn’t like that! Perfect answer, so I put my name in the “Smut slammers” glass.

The evening really started with a bang, Cameryn gave a entertaining talk about a sexual experience on a british train. Then explained the rules to be very clear. The evening move forward with talks by different people but what surprised me was having my name read out right before the break.

I was quite shocked even though I had only put it in the glass about 30mins before. I thought about a couple story’s but I remember Ross saying how good the disabled toilet incident story was (haven’t posted this one). It was fun but a little nerve racking with no slides or notes. I just talked and removed the less important details.

Like the other storys, I’m not going into details I can never do them justice, you needed to be there… Some were tragic, some hysterical, but all true and told from the heart. I described mine as somewhat Adrian Mole, which was picked up by a woman after the break. She told a story of a missed opportunity too.

In the second half, four more storys were told including the winner which was closely tragic and full of thought. The whole room was gripped by the story.

By the time the judges had decided, I was very convinced my story wasn’t going to be in the top 3. It was annouced there was a tie for 3rd place, then the lady who also described her story as like Adrian Mole with another man. Still thinking, I know who would be 1st and a idea who might be 2nd, I was gobsmacked when my name was announced as 2nd.

I was simply blown away, especially since there was some great well told stories and mine was much closer to rating 15 rather than 18.

The prizes were sex toys and the overall winner picked something which I couldn’t really described easily (I think its something for the very sexually mature I assume). I choose the purple vibrator, thinking it might be a nice gift for one of my female friends.

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The whole event was fun, cheerful and I felt extremely welcome. I had thought it might be heavily kinky but it wasn’t, it was both kink and vanilla (I picked that up from what some people were saying on the night). Its going to run every month now and theres going to be monthly events in Manchester, London, Brighton, Bristol and Edinburgh.

Honestly it was a fantastic evening and so glad I went along, highly recommended for a good times, good atmosphere and good stories. Thanks to Cameryn, the judges and the whole team which made it happen.

Worth saying Cameryn is looking for a more accessible venue and a local sex toy supplier.