Stellar’s freedom mix

Looking into the universe
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Not really had the time to do many mixes in the last few months. I did this one while wondering around the Manchester when the Covid19 lock down was lifted. Its not very long (less than a hour) but its a interesting quick blast through a few newer tunes.

I haven’t yet setup my funkwhale or airsonic instance, so its mixcloud for now. Although I am making cue files along side my nfo files.

Enjoy!

  1. Stella – Jam & Spoon
  2. Natural (extended mix) – KhoMha
  3. The Dark night – KhoMha
  4. Floyd (extended mix)  – Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor
  5. Opium (quivver remix) – Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor
  6. Open up – Leftfield
  7. Follow me (Roger shah Extended deeper translation remix) – Jam Spoon
  8. Running up the hill (Jerome Isma-Ae bootleg) – Placebo
  9. Freedom (extended mix) – ARTY vs Muvy
  10. Tears (protoculture remix) – Dakota

John Ashton on Boris Johnson’s sick responsibility

This is quite a powerful monologue by John Ashton as part of Double down news’s great coverage. He’s right all that good will during the lockdown is going to be massively tested as the furlough scheme comes to an end in October, a second wave for winter (although we haven’t finished the first one honestly) and the aim to get us all out is fine but eating junk food is almost laughable.

This government is a sick joke and John Ashton is right, the messages are mixed, muddled and deadly!

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Aug 2020)

Dark estonia
Photo by Kevin Lehtla on Unsplash

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed watching the twitter hack fall out and the cult like increase in conspiracies theories.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this happening with the new Estonian digital nomad visa and a steady drive of transparency questions levelled at Facebook.


Protocols, Not Platforms

Ian thinks: This paper really sets out the problems of the current mainstream internet. Platform building opposed to open protocols which everybody can use. Its well thought out and substantial in its arguments.

The growing changes in robot technology, iot and 3D printing

Ian thinks: I am impressed with the bio-mimicry in some of the robots. Its certainly the way to go, learning from nature. If only we could save it too.

Estonia launches a new type of visa for digital nomads

Ian thinks: Estonia was the first country with e-residency and they have flatten the world one more time with a new type of visa, allowing people to work for a remote company for up to 90 days.

If I earn a bitcoin everytime some asked me about the darkweb…

Ian thinks: Although the speaker doesn’t do himself any favours with a blurred out face, he crushes a lot of the typical questions I have been asked about the darkweb

Insight into the dark world of shadow brokers

Ian thinks: Its fascinating to hear about the unsolved puzzle of shadow brokers who sold NSA surveillance tools on the open market. Another reason why government encryption back-doors are such a bad idea.

What are the applications using blockchain technology right now?

Ian thinks: There is a lot of scepticism about crypto technology but I found this video from Crypto startup school, useful looking at the direction and focus of the actual applications which currently exist. The questions are pretty intruding too.

An atlas of surveillance

Ian thinks: Ok this is mainly American but its quite a unique database of different types of surveillance, how they are used and for what purpose. Good work by the EFF.

Emerging tech overview with Node

Ian thinks: Starting with drone delivery and ending with human assisted tech. Node is a great place for summaries on emerging open tech advancements.

Mozilla wants your advice on how to make the internet healther

Ian thinks: If you had only one question for Mozilla, what would it be? Well here is your chance to think and submit that one question.


Find the archive here

5 years imprisonment for damage including to my scooter

Silverwing Scooter

The Criminal justice system have kept me informed about the case involving my scooter break in.

Scooter break in again…

One of the people received 5 years imprisonment, 7 years of driving disqualification and a criminal behaviour order for 10 years.  So it was worth the effort I put into chasing the police and doing a part of their work for them.

Obviously I now have 4 different and separate locks including chains of different thickness. Because I have scooter wheels I purchased the most thick chain and lock which goes through my wheels (not quite 20mm thick but close). On top of this, I use my alarm everyday and still have that gps tracker.

It might be a lot for a second hand Honda Silverwing but its mine and I’m not letting some idiots break my scooter for the 3rd time. I was happy to stand up in court and say what I saw. Ok I didn’t get any pay out for it, I didn’t claim on the insurance but I’m glad some justice was served.

Why NHS’s world-beating app was always a going to be awful but 10+ million!

Contact tracing api
Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Even if you forget the thoughts are coming from a ex-googler who has interests elsewhere this blog is pretty damming and I  can imagine how the NHS really bought their own nonsense about it being world beating. Of course in the end they had to back pedal and use the Google & Apple decentralised contact tracing api.

But there are parts even I was shocked at…

It worked 4% of the time.

Thats not even funny, its not just unreliable but a total waste of time. Even if thats exaggerated, double would still be a bad joke at 8%

The British effort did find workarounds that most other developers could not: They used “keepalives” (messages sent by one device to another) to circumvent restrictions on having apps in the background on iOS. Notifications were sent between two Apple devices running the app to keep the connection between the devices alive and therefore having the ability to detect each other’s keys. The NHS tried to develop with a hacker’s mentality and shared its progress through its GitHub page.

There is a reason why keepalives are a bad idea, battery is one of the number one reasons why people find their smartphones deeply frustrating. Having a app keeping the system awake is just a terrible news. Although I assume as most people are staying at home, they will be closer to a charger at least

in May it was reported by the Financial Times that the British government was simultaneously exploring a solution with Apple and Google’s decentralized system as a backup, indicating that, even within the government, there were doubts that the centralized effort could work.

And this is when I heard they were testing both systems, leading to the fact they were going to drop the centralised app soon. This would be fine but…

The development of the app has taken months and cost millions of pounds from taxpayers…

…around $15 million spent…

I have no words to sum how I feel about the UK government throwing this money down the drain in the middle of a pandemic where people are losing their jobs and dying. Its not just wasteful, its incredibly disgraceful and pretty much sums up the UK government right now.

Child free: Whats wrong with you?

Its great to see the Guardian covering the decision of people who want to go children free. Really interesting to see how society pressures people into having children, I mean why would you not its natural right?

…When you get married, when you settle down, when you have kids…

I’m personally not bothered about having children, society needs to get a lot more accepting of people who choose not to have kids. I’m lucky to be male and not have so much pressure on me but the stories of women is just awful to read.

Whats the cheapest way to fix Islington Wharf’s latent defects?

I don’t write this lightly and been writing it over the last week or so. I recognise I’m privileged owning a place in Manchester with a full time job but this needs talking about.  I also get it will have an effect on housing prices in Islington Wharf but to be honest I’m so sick and tried of the way residents are being treated. Its clear from the amount of times residents have been lied to, this is most likely going to play out in the media. Even our MP (Lucy Powell) being involved hasn’t had the same effect as media attention. Its clear Waterside places like most companies don’t like media attention, especially when they have phase 4 on the line…

 

Imagine you live in a lovely flat in the centre of Manchester. Overlooking east Manchester and phases 2 and the new phases 3. great but like all modern flats there are problem. However the problems are not just problems but actually latent defects.

The lovely floor to ceiling glass walls on 2 sides are heating up the flat to such an extend that during the winter months there is no need for heating; but on the other hand during the summer months turning the flat into a oven with temperatures inside +2-5c on the ambient temperature outside. As its a modern flat, you imagine some air-conditioning, nice large windows, etc…

Dream on!

Lets talk about the heat

The aircon solution
The aircon units solution which is the size of a washing machine

One window per room with a opening distance of about 7-9cms with the safety locks on and 40cms with locks off. Enough you can jump out, which of course is not recommended at 20 stories high. There is a thing called a Airvac which circulates the air around the flat but its very loud and if you are circulating hot air around its not great. Note as there is only one window per room, the only way you can have a proper draft is opening all the doors and windows.

The heat is painful but to be honest I can tolerant it to a certain extent because I face north east from the the sun rises on my flat and before it gets to midday its already gone. This of course doesn’t make much difference when the ambient temperature is high of course. Which is a general latent defect, as anyone can tell you having walked in Islington Wharf’s corridors which has the hot water pipes running along the celling of each one.

The dying plant pots in the extremely hot corridors
The dying plant pots in the extremely hot corridors

As mentioned I am actually doing well because of the position of my flat. Others including neighbours have to put up with +2-5c on top of mine. For example if its 25c outside, it could be closer to 28c in my flat, while my neighbours could be dealing with closer to 32c in their flat!

I have 4 fans in my flat and always have to take off the safety locks to circulate enough air with all the inner doors open. Having the garden is a thankful refuge from the heat. They offered us aircon units as a kind of acknowledgement of the problem with heat but as you can see previously they were the size of washing machines and suited to industry not a 2 bed room flat. You should hear it going!

The temperature modelling/algorithm (we have many) was made for people not working from home during the day (certainly not built for covid19). It was also setup for a professional different couple with no children. Although Islington Wharf has apartments ranging from 1 bedroom to 4 bedrooms duplex’s! Talk about bad data!

Repairing a glass pane again
Repairing a glass pane again at Islington wharf

Its also clear the problem lies with the incredible floor to ceiling glass panes. Those apartments without the glass don’t have such a heat problem. We have found the glass seems to be different if replaced from all the shattering we have had (there has been too many, more than average). We have also noted some of the glass as been installed backwards (the kite-mark is different in different flats)

What about the water?

Water droplets residue on my window frame

I said I am lucky, and I really mean it. Another latent defect is water ingress. In short there is water leaking from all over the buildings. There was a point recently when there was so much water leaking down the emergency staircase it was leaking into the lobby (wish I took a picture).

Others experience drips of water from there windows and there are many cases when it rains (and it does it Manchester a lot). There is water coming down the walls causing damp and unliveable conditions (aka they have had to put up plastic tarpaulin to separate the living space from the wall and in the end been rehoused.

I personally have seen spots of dry water droplets by the window but never experienced anything like the pictures I have seen from others. Theres a video of a patio with the paving stones pulled up and the rain water just gathering there. As you can imagine, most of the time the water leaks down into levels below.

Water damage from a previous flood

The building isn’t just leaking, its flooding in parts every time there is rain. Its clear the building wasn’t constructed in a way to handle rain as this has been happening from day one.

And there is more…

There are many other problems but these are the main ones… But a little reminder Waterside places (use to be ISIS, made up of Muse and the Canal river trust) are also responsible for Islington Wharf Mews, the flats which had no fireproofing! To be fair Islington Wharf did get a mention in the MEN during the Islington Mews scandal.

The M.E.N. reported how Waterside Places had had to evacuate all the residents in its brand new Islington Wharf Mews developments earlier this year after the homes were found to breach fire safety regulations.

Meanwhile over the summer, a huge pane of glass fell 200ft from next door Islington Wharf, with residents warning it was only a ‘matter of time’ before it happened again.

Residents at Islington Wharf, in New Islington, have been engaged in an ongoing battle to get their windows replaced after temperatures repeatedly soared in the summer months. At one stage they had threatened legal action.

Currently the window from which the pane fell in August is still boarded up and Waterside has handed out air conditioning units to the affected apartments.

What about insurance? Let me tell you about insurance!

We recently found out that Zurich/East-West insurance, who cover the insurance for the building went to court last year. The person who worked for Zurich David Mather, had signed off multiple buildings in Manchester and Salford from 2007 – 2011 but had never actually visited the site to do the inspections. In short the building was signed off but 99% sure it was never checked. Had he  visited the Islington wharf building with such extreme heat and water ingress it theres no way it could have been signed off?

There is serious thoughts about putting together a court case on this front but raising the money to start the case is a big problem

Where do we go from here?

After 10+ years of fighting with Waterside places about the latent defects,  they sued the builders Laing O’Rourke, for some unknown amount of money. Now with some unknown amount of money and a judgement call Waterside places has to fix the residents problem (their term not ours) and Laing O’Rourke will be re-doing the work.

This should be great news but of course they are doing it in the cheapest way possible and ignoring the fact we have been fighting them about these latent defects for 10+ years. They actually feel like the savours not the problem.

However they are doing it in the cheapest way they can… in short

  1. They plan to put a UV film on the outer side of all the windows including mine.
  2. They plan to convert all the windows which open into 2 windows which open. For example my one window pane in the living room will be replaced with two windows one on top of the other which can be independently opened
  3.  I can’t get a straight answer out of them about what exactly they will be doing in my flat personally. I’m assuming not much compared to others.

Sounds reasonable right?

A test pane of glass in the garden
A test pane of glass in the garden with the UV film on it. Like that will tell us much over a week.

Lets add all the things you would expect.

  1. There will be zero compensation!
  2. This will take over 2 years and we will be expected to live in the building/site, no moving out temporally
  3. On top of the previous one, we will be expected to share our key with Laing O’Rourke. No clarification of when and how long for.
  4. Laing O’Rourke will turn our communal garden into their workers yard for 2+ years, meaning no garden access. Waterside places don’t want to use the site for phase 4, which was also used for phase 3 (Islington Wharf locks) because they have planning permission and don’t want anything holding up phase 4. So they are passing their lack of action on the latent defects upon us.
  5. Oh and this all starts in the next couple of months!

With all that would you sign a contact allowing this to happen?

The test window in the garden
The test window in the garden with the UV screen, it looks pretty dark but it will survive years of Manchester weather and abseiling window cleaners?

Didn’t think so…

I posed the question of not signing and they (Waterside places) was taken a back like why wouldn’t you sign it? After a while of that awkward silence on the Microsoft Teams conference call (don’t get me started about this), they have no idea what to say. Except there is a clause in our tenancy agreement giving them access in certain circumstances.

As mentioned at the start, this is on going and looking forward, I can only see going public as the way not to be steam rolled into a position which suits them and their budget but will end up massively inconveniencing residents for 2+ years. I’m sure other residents will write their experiences, I’ll be urging them to do it in the public rather than on facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg under pressure

I found Mark’s replies pretty bad and I’m glad to see him under pressure for facebook. Its also interesting to see his advisors reactions too.

Great questions by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and nice pressure too.

Mark Zuckerberg faced a gruelling examination from the Democratic lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday, with questions over the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Facebook’s reluctance to police political advertising. The Facebook CEO declined to disclose when he found out the company was harvesting and selling user data to influence elections. She also asked Zuckerberg about his ‘dinner parties with far-right figures’ and if at those meetings he addressed the popular rightwing theory that Facebook cracks down on conservative speech, a question Zuckerberg also dodged

Signal’s catch 22 problem?

I have been introducing Signal to friends as a proper alternative to Whatsapp. Its mainly been ok but my friend Hannah has hit a catch 22 problem, in her own words…

Signal should be a great app. It’s secure, easy to use and even my most skeptical and tech-suspicious friend uses it. But since I forgot my pin, I’ve not been able to get onto the app, not been able to reset my account or even been able to delete my account to start again!

I did email to get some advice about this problem but what I got back (after nudging to get a response) wasn’t really helpful. Apparently, you can reset your pin once you’re in the app but since I don’t know my pin, I can’t get into the app to reset the pin I don’t know. I also need to be in the app to delete my account. So basically, in order to access the information I need, I need the information I need. And yes, I did query the logic of this advice but it was just repeated to me!

This is really frustrating because even after deleting the app and waiting 7 days as suggested, the problem remains. In fact, I’ve done this a few times, waiting longer periods and it still hasn’t worked. Signal is effectively holding my phone number hostage, not allowing me to use it to create a new account or access the numerous messages I’m informed I’m missing (through other less secure – but at least reliable – platforms).

I get that not revealing my pin to me is a security thing but to be honest, it seems daft that I can’t even reset that pin using other means. For example, Signal already texts me a confirmation number when I try to sign in – surely this is enough to know that I’m the owner of the phone? They also have my email address.

If I really can’t reset my account, I would be more than happy to delete the current account and start over again. But until there’s a way for me to do this without entering the app in the first place, I’m stuck in limbo.

I’ve sent one last email to try and sort it out… fingers crossed!

If anyone has a solid answer what Hannah can do, that would be massively helpful. Even I’m lost to what she can do now.

Special editions of Tech for good live podcasts coming your way

Black Lives Matter - Cancelling cultur

About a month ago a few friends cc’ed me into a conversation with tech for good live on Twitter by friends

After a while we finally got talking agreed a schedule and I went about getting people to join me on the agreed 3 podcasts. I won’t lie, getting time with busy people in the middle of lockdown was difficult but I managed.

Now I’m very happy to see the first one with David EastmanErinma Ochu, Ethar Alali and Naomi Mwasambili

Enjoy it, email and rate techforgoodlive on google podcasts and itunes. Look out for the next two and thanks to pod.co for sponsoring techforgoodlive

I did talk about doing more around previously and now you can see some of the action I took to date.

Control experimentation with dreams

It was Imran who sent me a signal message, although I did actually see it on twitter via flokk

“…we induce these creatively beneficial dreams on purpose, in a targeted manner.” https://link.medium.com/1nPMioFVk8

The blog talks about MIT’s research into dreams

In a new paper, researchers from the Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces group introduce a novel method called “Targeted Dream Incubation” (TDI). This protocol, implemented through an app in conjunction with a wearable sleep-tracking sensor device, not only helps record dream reports, but also guides dreams toward particular themes by repeating targeted information at sleep onset, thereby enabling incorporation of this information into dream content. The TDI method and accompanying technology serve as tools for controlled experimentation in dream study, widening avenues for research into how dreams impact emotion, creativity, memory, and beyond.

Of course I find it all fascinating and I’ve been thinking more about mydreamscape and being doing some experiments myself.

Absinthe with sugar melting

One which I always wondered about is Absinthe and dreams. Its most likely the most out there I personally would ever be prepared to experiment.

I marked down my dreams were so vivid and intense I couldn’t clearly remember them (yes there was multiple). I remember trying to control them and I couldn’t do it, as it was so intense. Looking at my sleep graph, you can clearly see a large block of REM sleep about 8am.

My lucid dreams with absinthe

A few weeks ago midweek, I experienced a dream inside a dream. As you can see there was a heck of a lot of time in REM. I remember having a dream sat at a desk somewhere, felt it was a dream and took control. Something happened (can’t remember now) then I woke up but not in my bed but in another dream, which I was able to check as I took control.

I certainly need a better way do control experimentation… Bring on TDI?

 

In layman’s terms, how does Dormio work?

The system is conceptually quite simple. The aim is to influence and extend a transitional state of sleep. To do so, we must track this transitional state (hypnagogia) and interrupt when it is ending. So,  a user wears a device which collects biosignals that track transitions in sleep stages. In our new device, those signals come from the hand, where we can gather data on loss of muscle tone, heart rate changes, and changes in skin conductance. When those biosignals appear to signal the end of a transitional state, audio from the social robot is triggered, and that person is knocked just a little bit back into wakefulness, but not into full wakefulness. We use this audio cue as an inception protocol, doing this slight wake up with words (like “fork” or “rabbit”), and have found that in the subjects we tested, those words reliably entered the hypnagogic dreams as dream content. Pretty happy about that! After this slight wake up, we initiate a conversation about dream content with users via the Jibo social robot and record anything that is said, as hypnagogic amnesia is reported and we don’t want people forgetting their useful ideas. After this conversation, the system lets users drift back towards sleep, only interrupting again when their biosignals appear to signal another transition into deeper sleep. This is done repetitively to incept dreams and extract dream reports.

 

Clearview AI GDPR’s reply

Today I got my reply from Clearview AI after I submitted my request

Clearview AI GDPR request submitted

The reply was short…

Subject: No Results

Hello,
You are receiving this email as a response to your request for data access. After running the photo provided through our algorithm, no results were found.
You can click here to learn more about how Clearview collects the images that appear as search results, and how those images are used and shared.
Regards,
Clearview Privacy Team
I don’t buy it… and feel like I should try again with a slightly different picture for reference. I was looking forward to reporting them to the ICO, although they never followed up on my houseparty complaint.

Signal what are you up to?

I love Signal and never used Whatsapp because of many reasons included in this great opinion piece. Its gotten better and better but the recent pin number is a worry. I’m not the only one.

“Notably, things we don’t have stored include anything about a user’s contacts (such as the contacts themselves, a hash of the contacts, any other derivative contact information), anything about a user’s groups (such as how many groups a user is in, which groups a user is in, the membership lists of a user’s groups), or any records of who a user has been communicating with,” Signal wrote in 2016.

That, according to critics, has now changed.

“They should have a dumb network that knows nothing because it can’t be compromised then,” The Grugq told Motherboard. “[Having contacts] is a lot. It isn’t messages, sure. But I don’t like it. I don’t want them to have anything. Make the networks dumb and the clients smart.”

I do understand why they have done it, but I don’t know where its going next. Marlnspike (head dev of Signal) replies.

Marlinspike defended the decision to enable PINs and give users a way to migrate to a new device and keep certain data, and will increase the security of users’ metadata, “new features Signal users have been asking for.”

“The purpose of PINs is to enable upcoming features like communicating without sharing your phone number. When that is released, your Signal contacts won’t be able to live in the address book on your phone anymore, since they may not have phone numbers associated with them,” Marlinspike told Motherboard. “For most users, this also increases the security of their metadata. Most people’s address book is syncing with Google or Apple, so this change will prevent Google and Apple from having access to your Signal contacts.”

Smartphone use
Photo by Gilles Lambert on Unsplash

The changes Signal has made show how there can be a tension between messenger usability and feature set and security. It’s too early to say whether you should stop using the messenger. For most users’ threat models, it’s still one of the best options. But one of the key things that set Signal apart—that it collects almost no information about its users, appears to be changing.

Convenience is the enemy of security and I would say privacy. I wouldn’t be surprised if signal gets forked.

It was always clear to me Twitter direct messages was never secure in anyway, hence why I tried to move private conversations over to another medium. If thats not email or signal what else? Recently I have been looking at a couple others…

Session which is decentralised messaging and Criptext, which is actually secure email. Both need work but have decent security.

Flokk contacts app

I recently gave flokk a run on my laptop as a snap. I was surprised how different a concept it is and also the decisions they made.

Its simply a google contact manager but its focused around social. Its not perfect but I wasn’t sure about it at first, I didn’t want to enter in additional information if it wasn’t actually syncing with my google contacts. I checked and all the details I entered into my contacts were correctly synced and not dumped into additional data. They were!

Quite a few friends have complained that I don’t follow them on twitter. This is a really neat way to see what they up.

Its got some work to do on the contact management but as a social tool its good. Currently it only supports Twitter and Github but I can imagine Mastodon could be easily added in the future. I know Facebook would be interesting for other people too I guess.

Looking at flutter more and more now

Is it about time twitter was put under a public remit?

Twitter: Handle with care
Photo by Ravi Sharma on Unsplash

You can’t have missed the twitter (social engineering) hacks.

It was pretty bad but no where near as bad as it could have been. Others have thought exactly the same as I have, bitcoin and direct messages was just the start, they could have started world war 3.

Ok this is still a live hack with new information coming out every hour but its clear as sight. International and even national politics shouldn’t be announced on twitter or any social media really.

However lets be clear, that level of power in one place is just too great one  company. Another example is Facebook and what happened with Cambridge Analytica.

I know Jack was talking about decentralising twitter a while ago but something as big and powerful likely needs two things.

  1. Be decentralised or federated
  2. Be something more like a public utility than a profit making company

I know many will disagree but honestly I would feel much more safer with twitter under a different remit, a public remit? (I do not mean government control)

Not to say the social engineering wouldn’t have happened but there would be a stricter understanding of the importance and more accountability for the attention & power it has currently.