Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Dec 2019)

Mr Robot: control is an illusion

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking at the next UK general election or at the endless denial about explainable algorithms.

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 2019 turner prize cooperatively shared between different 4 artists.

Meet the real Mr Robot

Ian thinks: Listening to Elliot, you can’t help but be quietly impressed with where his curiosity takes him. Which came first Mr Robot or Elliot?

Lancaster University’s Gogglebox of the future

Ian thinks: Lancaster University’s take of the living room of the future is quite something. Really getting into the meat of the smart home data ethics conversation in a fun, accessible but critical way. Look out for their next research

A more generous world?

Ian thinks: Heard Yancey talk a few times, wasn’t convinced but he making the right noises about values. However still not convinced about Bentoism.

Mozilla explains the possibilities of facial recognition

Ian thinks: stealingurfeelin.gs is in a similar vein to do not track, Mozilla expose the effects of facial recognition which the big corps hide in their EULA’s. One reason why I’ve never willingly used snap chat ever.

Are we all to blame for the state we are in?

Ian thinks: I quite like rushkoff’s post-rationalisation, but more importantly his call for us to be adults and make things right.

Roar for the public-interest technologists to unite

Ian thinks: Technologies for the public benefit against asymmetrical power systems that lead to the weaponisation of technologies against vulnerable communities.

What obligation do social media platforms have to the greater good?

Ian thinks: If we are talking about the mainstream ones, then its got to be a big fat zero. How many state their principles and actually back it up with yearly accountability and transparent reports?

Password patterns

Ian thinks: Our passwords say so much about ourselves and its time we stopped using them when possible. Time for the alternatives.

Where the human race needs to be

Ian thinks: Umair’s thoughts about turning money back into life is spot on, as he points at the problems in the metrics we have regarded highly for so long.

Questioning why is there only one winner?

Turner prize winners 2019My partner today told me about the annual turner prize and how they all clubbed together and wrote a letter to the judges asking to share the prize.

I could imagine some people would say this is awful, there has to be a winner But this is great….

The status-quo says there must be a single winner but thats not true. As we move into the next decade, its time for more collaboration, more understanding, more sharing, more human?

Welcome to #teamhuman.

Chemical Brothers: My first concert?

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Thinking back, I don’t think I have ever been to a concert for popular music with a single group; I was explaining to my partner the other day while walking to the Manchester Arena.

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I have been to many raves, club nights, festivals but not really a concert unless it was classical music or something like a opera. I might be wrong because I saw Portishead in Ashton Court, Bristol a long time ago but I think it was alongside other arenas.

Chemical brothers may have been my first music concert, and it was very cool. Although others disagree.

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I was interesting to see how the music and visuals were custom set for the chemical brothers. I imagine this is what something like Armin only is like. But to be fair Gareth Emery’s Lazerface looks amazing for this exact reason.

My booklist challenge

Every once in a while you get some viral challenge, where you have to tag someone else in. Its a little annoying but I thought this might be interesting. From a friend on Facebook…

I have accepted a challenge to post seven books I love, one book per day, no exceptions, no reviews, just covers. Each day I will ask a friend to take up the challenge. Let’s promote literacy and create a book list!

Tagged in ianforrester

I just seen this and I’m more than a few days late… As I only ever use Facebook for signing up to my volleyball team events and the monthly occasional post of the public service internet notes. I pretty much missed it and very unlikely to post anything daily. I decided to do the challenge on my own blog.

So here is my booklist with books which were pivotal…

SundayRebeccas world

MondayFree culture

TuesdayStrange attrators

WednesdayUncertain vision

ThursdayMindbenders

FridayDesign for community

SaturdayThe dyslexic advanage

 

Eating out with an allergy can be hellish (part 1 of many)

My first Japanese meal with allergy card

Recently I have had a number of experiences while eating out which have caused me some real concern. I have an allergy to quite a few things as most of you know if you been following my blog for a while.

A colleague suggested I should blog about my experiences in different restaurants while a friend also pointed out that I should be reporting them.

I like both ideas I just need to find more time to do both.

So I thought I’d start by blogging about a few recently and maybe in the future create batches of blogs with the worst offenders reported to the environmental health agency.

Wagamamas Media City UK, Salford

I didn’t have a big problem with Wagamamas and not really had too much of a problem in the past. This time I wasn’t that pleased about the fuss while taking my order (chilli chicken) and finally when the food came out. Wagamamas draw numbers on your paper place-mats which is fine and helpful. This time I got a big A which later when asked meant allergy (I could have guessed that) but the one I was more confused about was the AA to the side of it. Later they explained that AA meant Against Advice to reflect how I had asked for the standard chicken not the super plain chicken with nothing on it! There was no way I was doing that!

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3 A’s. Allergy and against advice…

My meal took a long time to come out, compared to my colleagues.

It was fine and to be fair I took the mick a little when they came around and kept asking how I was doing.

In short less fuss would be nice, I felt a bit crap about the whole against allergy thing. Like it would be used against me if anything happened. Its not as bad as the Leaf sign a contract thing however so it was minor

Manchester Chinese Restaurant, Chinatown, Manchester

The next day after the whole Wagamamas thing, I went to lunch with a friend. Having Chinese at lunch quite different for me but I went with it. Been interested in the results of having a larger meal earlier in the day.

Now to be fair I didn’t actually disclose my allergies because of the fuss the day before and I ordered 3 meats (pork, chicken and duck) with egg fried rice. It was pretty straight forward and checked with the waitress if there was peas in the fried rice, which was a no.

It wasn’t long before I could feel my stomach feeling rough from the food. The back of my throat was feeling scratchy and I was consuming a lot of free tap water. Time to pop a single antihistamine see if it will get better. About 10mins later it was getting worst, I needed to take 2 more antihistamines and head home.

At home I was sick, luckily not violently sick but enough and soon after I was out for the count for about a 90mins.

It was my fault for not saying but I didn’t want the fuss of the day before.

Las Iguanus, Royal festival hall, London

I never really had a problem with Las Iguanus, like Wagaamams these chains are not too bad about having allergy menus. Because of Manchester Chinese Restaurant I decided to disclose when the waiter asked if anyone was veggie or gluten intolerant.

The results were a little usual.

Usually they switch so only the manager can take my order, everything has be explained to me about trace amounts in the kitchen… etc.

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#allergenaware?

This time I had to read a disclaimer on a tablet and click yes I understand. I looked for the whole we are not responsible and you wave your rights stuff but didn’t see anything like that. I was quite short but also small. I have good eye sight so could read it all clearly. Once I did that, I could look at the allergen menu on the same tablet screen. Lots of scrolling back and forth but what I ordered was so simple (Tacos with meat and veg) it was pretty much allergen-less.

Afterwards my food took a long time to come out but was good. It was clear they were busy and although I had to click the button it was reasonably quick and didn’t need the manager to check through things.

To a Tea, Farringdon , London

This place is what prompted me to write this blog today. I went in for lunch and choose something which was meat free. At each table there is a tablet with the menu and the ability to order from there. I looked at two things (mac & cheese or vegetable tart/frittata).

At the bottom of the screen was a message saying…

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Food Allergies and Intolerances Please speak to our staff about the ingredients in your meal, when making your order. Thank you.

So I did and it was an awful experience. I just don’t understand why the ingredients are not listed on the tablet. It could be perfect but no…

First there was no Mac & Cheese so that was out. Then I wanted to know what was in the frittata? They couldn’t tell me. I was low on time so I ordered and check if it had most of the things I expect might be a problem. No Nuts, Beans and Peas I was told. So I ordered (I should have left and gone elsewhere but I already had my flowering tea). When ordering I had a problem with the menu, as I had to add 2 salads to it too. In the end I choose Mushroom & Greens and then Tabbouleh. Checked again about the common stuff which might be added.

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No worries, when it finally came it looked like it had pesto on it. Checking before I touched it was basil. Started eating the salad and it was fine. However when I took a bite of the frittata, my spidery senses went wild.

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I asked they what is the ingredients in the frittata which seemed to be made on site or not far away. They couldn’t give me an answer except vegetables and pastry. Not at all helpful in anyway. I gave them my allergy card and the chef went back stage to check if it was ok. They returned with a box full of tabbouleh and a new frittata, muttering something about some cross contamination. I paid and left with my food box, later I had the tabbouleh no problem but one bite into the new frittata, instantly sent my allergies going.

It wasn’t all bad the tea was very good…

Expect more of these in the future.

The smart home needs a narrative

living room of the future

I was reading this post and was thinking living room of the future in my head.

So I get why Google has backed off the smart home moniker and instead begun labeling the connected home as “helpful.” It needs to dial back expectations to something it can deliver. That’s likely to consist of an assistant pulling in device data so it can remind you to lock your front door when you go to bed, or lowering the heat when you leave your home so as to save on electricity. Even things like Amazon’s Guard, which listens for glass breaking to determine if a burglar has broken in, is only of minimal interest to consumers.

Because while these are nice functions, they are not glitzy functions. And they are not going to persuade people concerned about privacy, longevity, added complexity, security, or costs to shell out for connected devices. Another good example of this ambivalence to the smart home could be seen on a panel about smart TVs, connected displays and voice. The panel featured executives from Warner Media and Fox representing the content business. Neither of them were able to offer a compelling reason for being at a show all about the IoT other than wanting to make it easy for people to access content around the house, in their car, and on their phone.

I’ve felt this lack of creativity for a while. Everyone who has been watching this space has. Maybe it’s because the first decade of the smart home has been such a messy free-for-all and we need some space to clean things up, lower expectations, and focus on making devices and integrations usable

That lack of creativity is felt everytime I look at the new silos which are being built. The whole thing is being driven in the wrong direction and ultimately into the ever so cold arms of surveillance capitalism.

Its currently difficult to imagine IOT without some kind of service which is either monetizing or hoovering up data. But its exactly that which holds everything back?

Google Stadia early reviews

There’s been a rash of reviews about Google Stadia but I found Android Authority one of the best video reviews. The verge have good coverage if you prefer to read.

I found data usage quite surprising…

Stadia data usage at 720p

When playing Stadia on my Windows PC through the Chrome browser at 720p, Stadia used between 12 and 20Mbps. In contrast, a Netflix stream used about the same amount, but Netflix can buffer content to stop streaming constantly. Because Stadia is always pulling data and can’t buffer, it will use a lot more data.

You could technically use Stadia connected to a mobile hotspot, but I’d strongly advise against it if you have a limited data plan. Playing Stadia at 720p used about 7GB per hour.

Don’t expect to be playing Stadia at your local coffee shop without some comments or a lot of lag. I wonder if most of the cheap routers can sustain bandwidth like that anyway?

The secret ecosystem of my personal data is being prepared

Recently in the last public service internet note, I posted…

The secret ecosystem of personal data is being unfolded

Ian thinks: People are having fun with this right now, wonder how many people will actually request their data? I put my request in a few days ago, will you?

I sent my requests off a few days following my GDPR dating data template. I’ve had quite a few replies from Sift in the last few weeks.

Starting with this one a day after my formal GDPR request

Thank you for reaching out to Sift. Due to recent press coverage, we are experiencing a high volume of data access requests. We are scaling our operations to accommodate all requests and appreciate your patience. Please expect a followup email to help us verify your identity so that your data does not fall into the wrong hands. Separately, we’ve answered a few commonly asked questions below.

What does Sift do?
Sift provides fraud prevention services to online businesses, e.g. e-commerce. Our goal is to make the internet a safer place so that businesses and their users (like you) don’t have to worry about fraud. You can learn more about our mission here.

We only use your data to provide fraud prevention services to our customers – we do not sell, share, or use your data for any other purpose. For more details about how our service works and what types of data we process, please see our Service Privacy Notice.

How may I access the data that Sift processes about me?
In order to process your data access request, we need to verify your identity to ensure that we are sharing your data with you and not a fraudster impersonating you. As unlikely as that sounds, it happens more often than you’d expect. Please expect a followup email with instructions on how to verify your identity.

How soon will Sift process my request?
Once we verify your identity, we will honor all requests under the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) within ninety (90) days per Article 12(3) of the GDPR for verified EU citizens only. Please note we are extending this period by sixty (60) days due to the high volume of requests.

All other requests, including those from the United States, will take more time. We thank you for your patience as we must give priority to those requests for which our timely response is legally required.

Can you provide my score?
If you have requested your “Sift Score” or other type of consumer score, we’d like to clarify that Sift does not have a “Sift Score” for you (or any user) because we don’t score users; we score user interactions on a specific website for a specific type of fraud. We calculate the likelihood of whether actions you have taken on a Sift customer site are associated with specific types of fraud. The actions we analyze depends on the particular Sift product our customer uses.

However, these interactions do not add up into a single Sift Score about you. A single score is not an effective way of assessing fraud. Instead, the best way to predict fraud and provide users like you the best possible experience is to analyze each specific interaction. For more information on scores, please read our blog post here.

And then a few days later…

Thank you for contacting Sift support! We received your email and typically respond within one business day for questions related to Sift’s suite of products. In the meantime, you can browse our Help Center for answers to some common questions: https://support.sift.com/hc/en-us

Best,

The Sift Support Team

Finally I got the email to verify my identity, which needed to be done within 14 days of the email with a unique link. Which I needed to type in my phone number for the service to then send another unique link to my phone.

Verification is done via a 3rd party service called Berbix inc, and required me to scan my driving license or passport then a selfie and the site tells you to strike a pose and take a selfie (prove its not just a photo). Its all done on the phone using chrome browser rather than an app (thankfully). I had a read of their privacy policy of course and Sift’s.

Now I’m looking forward to seeing what they send me back…

The underground inception mix

London underground inception map

I did this pacemaker device mix over 2 separate mini mixes while in London last year. I joined the mix together and walla you have the underground inception mix. A mixture of tech-trance reflecting the maze of some of the London underground stations.

Enjoy…

  1. Opium (Quiver remix) – Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor
  2. Open up (Full vocal mix) – Leftfield
  3. Intruder – Armin van Buuren vs M.I.K.E
  4. One for you (Oliver Klein remix) – Oliver Klein
  5. Into the dawn (James Holden remix) – Accadia
  6. Godd – Marco V
  7. Fall to pieces – Jonas Steur feat Jennifer Rene
  8. Lunacy (Extended mix) – Stoneface & Terminal
  9. Nitric (Division one remix) – Hybrid system
  10. Stellar Perspetive – Hawkwind Light Orchestra
  11. Opulence – Simon Patterson
  12. Verdi – Mauro Picotto

Updated – Saturday 23th November 2019

55th in the global tech trance

One of the highest rated mixes to date, and I don’t rate as much as the Quiver in the underground mix.

Have you ever noticed the overwhelming whiteness? Yes!

Employees stand up to racism

Dan Lyons asks the question in his blog while looking through the Business Insiders “50 Best Small Companies to Work For of 2017, According to Employees.” Then concludes with …

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

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

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

This is old (2017) but its every day I see the same everyday. The 2019 version is better but its not massively different.

 

Down to my last Pebble smartwatch

Pebble 2 with and without a glitch

It was bound to happen but the last few days my pebble 2 watch has experienced a number of very bad glitches. The last glitch made it unreadable and although it was still working as normal which makes a difference from when the last two caved in on themselves.

So I think its time to stop buying old pebbles and maybe look at the hybrid smartwatch market instead.

To be honest I haven’t bought a pebble for quite some time, as I have happily taken from friends who no longer have use for them. The one which broke came from my line manager and my friend Ahmed. Gave me his colour Pebble time, which wil be my last after my pebble 2 white, which I had in storage.

My last lot of pebble watches side by side

Facial recognition technology stealing our feelings

Stealing ur feelings

I really loved do not track, and was happy to see Stealing Ur Feelings.

Stealing Ur Feelings is an augmented reality experience that reveals how your favorite apps can use facial emotion recognition technology to make decisions about your life, promote inequalities, and even destabilize American democracy. Using the AI techniques described in corporate patents, Stealing Ur Feelings learns your deepest secrets just by analyzing your face.

It narrowly missed out on November’s public service internet notes.

Could a hybrid smartwatch be a replacement for the pebble?

fossil hybrid HR smartwatch face

I was reading about the Fossil hybrid HR smartwatch recently, and on the face of it (pun intended) it looks like a good smartwatch with all the features I would be after to replace my pebble smartwatch.

What’s the difference between a hybrid smartwatch and a regular smartwatch? In the hybrid category, Fossil’s Hybrid HR mixes physical watch hands with an always-on display that shows information and notifications. It almost feels like an old-school Pebble watch fused with an everyday analog-style watch.

I always swear by eink for these type of things, and I’m happy to hear its using eink too.

Keeping a smartwatch charged is incredibly annoying. Fossil’s newest line of hybrid smartwatches may have found an answer, and it’s E Ink. The Hybrid HR’s added display feels less like a screen and more of an extension of the watch, the sort of basic readouts that you might expect on a digital watch. Or, like what Google’s Wear OS watches offer, but in E Ink. To be clear, though, this isn’t Wear OS. It almost reminds me of what the TicWatch Pro tried for by layering an always-on display on top of a feature-packed smartwatch, but the Hybrid HR looks a lot nicer.

Earlier this year, Google reportedly paid $40 million for Fossil smartwatch technology that could enable hybrid watches. The Hybrid HR looks like it is, indeed, the watch tech that earlier reports thought Google was interested in… and it’s here now.

I will be keeping en eye on this category, because although I like the Hybrid HR, I’m not so keen on round faces and I’d need to get a sense if theres sleep tracking support? Or more so if theres going to be a standard for watch apps like WearOS and the Pebble OS.

Mozfest10: A sad moment for the last Mozfest in the UK

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There was a point while DJing at the last Mozilla festival in the UK, when I looked up and it hit me.

There will be no more going to Ravensbourne. A place with a million stairs and incredible spaces. Its also my previous university so I always bump into someone I knew. On top of that its just down the road from the last place I lived in South East London, so its always interesting to take a bus east and see whats changed. That bloody big Tesco in Woolwich is awful, but I completely missed the IKEA!

Back to Mozfest however…

Its been 10 years and I have been to 8 of them. I missed the first one due to being elsewhere during the drumbeat festival. Then the second one due to being slightly busy with my brush with death. After that I went every single year getting more and more involved. I still remember when the whole festival was around Learning, Freedom and the Web, heck I still have the book on my shelf.

At some point during 2014, I became a spacewrangler for 4 years [2014][2015][2016][2017]. I have to say Jon Rogers had something to do with this for sure.

Its been quite a amazing time and people always ask me, why?

Classic moment in Mozfest history
Never again!

I can now point people at the Mozfest book which charts the history and some of the unique stories from the people who make up Mozfest.

Honestly its the people and community which make it all worth it. As Greshake-Tzovaras said

“Even when coming to MozFest for the first time it felt like coming back to family, in the best possible sense. People are so welcoming and friendly!”

Its like an extended family and one of the best communities to be a part of. There are people I have met through Mozfest which have become incredible friends, collaborators and business partners. I have had critical time with people working at the very edge, people with great ideas/tech/plans. I have visited their homes, met their partners, spent endless nights plotting and shared the highs and lows. My contact book is not just full of contacts but full of people with authentic strong connections from around the world.

Mozfest 2015

Its all about the people and community of Mozilla!

Jons explaining why we need another 500 cardboard boxes?

Then in the words of Sarah, because one weekend isn’t enough…

There was Mozhouse and lets not forget Mozretreat (which I originally thought was Moztreat) which marks the officially first drum of the festival. I can’t tell you how much has come out of both of those too.

Where ever it goes next (my money is on Amsterdam), I will be making a very good case why I should be involved in some way or another. On to bigger and even better things…

To the future of internet health at Moz://a Festival

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Nov 2019)

The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band - Brian Eno
The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking down at our feet or at the endless attempts to regain our trust from the big corps.

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 hard work going into building an open hardware ebook reader.

 

A framework for human values

Ian thinks: This work is so essential for all public service, non-profits and government organisations. Starting to chip away at what value means beyond the attention economy.

Yancey co-founder of Kickstarter talks about a new framework called bentosim (full episode)

Ian thinks: Yancey  talks a good game about going beyond financial maximization and society changes but I’m not convinced about bentoism.

Another attempt at the decentralized file-storage system

Ian thinks: Its another attempt, good idea combining projects but wondering about the applications of use?

China’s free market system grab on other economies

Ian thinks: Maybe Jamies conspiracy is a little heavy but a good thoughtful podcast

Introducing the Dweb

Ian thinks: good introduction by ex Mozillan written a few years ago but parts later are up to date

Panel about sex-tech from Techcrunch (NSFW)

Ian thinks: Sex tech grows its own infrastructure to over come the adolescent thoughts of the tech industry

He used the tech and wasn’t used by the tech

Ian thinks: Vinnie and Douglas talk about the importance of the human element in music and everything.

Why you shouldn’t go to Harvard?

Ian thinks: Got to love Malcolm Gladwell’s analysis of the university system, although maybe not quite right. He’s funny and rolls the research into a great story.

The secret ecosystem of personal data is being unfolded

Ian thinks: People are having fun with this right now, wonder how many people will actually request their data? I put my request in a few days ago, will you?