Hot Chocolate with the Carolina Reaper

Carolina Reaper Dark Chocolate

When on holiday, I’m always interested in different teas and chocolates. I happen to come across urbandeli when seeking brunch and decided to go back and check it out in full. I saw a whole shelf of chocolates but one stuck out a mile away, mainly because it had a tag underneath it saying something in Swedish about danger not for Children!

To be honest I thought it was some gimmick but as I love chilli & dark chocolate I bought a bar and decided to try it out in store, as the store is part of a bar and hotel, meaning anything you bought you could consume too (they even have microwaves).

On further investigation I realised while eating my first tiny bit. This wasn’t a joke, the chilli flaked bars I had in the past were nothing like the heat this was delivering to my tongue and mouth. It was the real deal, proper heat from a small chunk of chocolate.

It wasn’t till I looked it up, I realised everything. I heard of the Scoville number but didn’t know the scale of the numbers. I had also misread the number on the packet as 1.569 not 1569300! Massive difference!

The name of the chocolate came from the chilli with the same name.
With a Scoville value of 1,569,300 which was officially the hottest chilli in the world 5-7 years ago. Gizmodo did a nice piece about the chilli which I found interesting.

I finally found it on Cocoarunners site with a review

This is not just a chilli chocolate bar, this a Carolina Reaper chilli chocolate bar.

Bred in South Carolina, the Carolina Reaper has held the Guinness World Record for the world’s hottest chilli since 2013. When tested for the record, the batch of chilies had an average heat level of 1,569,300 Scoville Heat Units. The hottest individual pepper measured 2.2 million Scovilles. For comparison a Jalapeno generally has a heat range of 1,000 – 20,000 Scoville units.

The dark chocolate is a blend oh Ghanaian and Dominican beans but honestly this serves as nothing more than a base for the chilli. Break off the smallest piece imaginable, put it on your tongue and discover what is almost certainly the world’s hottest chocolate (and certainly the hottest chocolate we’ve ever tasted).

There is no question of subtle flavours and different tasting notes. The chilli flavour starts deceptively slowly and keeps on building and building. Waves of heat pass across the palate, overwhelming anyone with a low spice tolerance. Long after the chocolate itself has melted away you are left with a tingling sensation on the tongue – a piquant reminder of the Carolina Reaper’s passage. A unique chocolate experience, this is not a bar for the faint-hearted.

Always good to find these type of things…!

How many countries have you been to in the world?

Worldmap in flagsA interesting question was raised at a recent away day at work…

How many countries have you been to?

Of course the best of the group was someone obvious with 50+, although even he can’t take on Graham. But it got me thinking… as I started to list them out, I certainly have travelled maybe much more than most people?

I originally said about 20 and I was close but with some time and a world map, here’s the full list.

    • United Kingdom (not going to divide up England, Wales, Scotland)
    • Ireland
    • France
    • Canada
    • United States
    • Spain
    • Iceland
    • Germany
    • Netherlands
    • Portugal
    • Belgium
    • Bosnia and Herzegovina
    • Denmark
    • Sweden
    • Estonia
    • Turkey
    • Jamaica
    • Japan
    • Mexico
    • Poland
    • Romania
    • Switzerland *
    • Finland *
    • United Arab Emirates (UAE) *

*  is ones where I have passed through a airport for more than a couple hours, so technically yes I have been there but not really. Finland I will make official later this year with a trip to Helsinki.

Its interesting to see the places I’ve not visited like most of the African countries, India, most of Asia and south America.

Data portability and GDPR, been waiting a long time for this

EU GDPR 2018

One of the things I always wanted but never couldn’t see how it would happen without the good will of companies. Was real data portability of my own data.

Google, Facebook and others do provide a data dump but I found it really interesting to see the difference in my Facebook dump/zip/archive. I request it every year or when something changes. This year I did one while Facebook struggled to deal with the impact of Cambridge Analytica and the new GDPR changes.

In 2017 my zip was 31.4 MB (31,425,658 bytes)
In 2018 my zip was 171.3 MB (171,267,617 bytes)

Unlike previously FB included ALL the media in the messages I’ve exchanged with friends. All those gifs and videos friends have shared are now in the dump. I find it interesting they were not included previously. Which always raises the question of ownership. Something we (dataportability group) talked a lot.

I’m so looking forward to similar with other services… Although I’m still unsure if you can legally create services which use the data exports to import or not. It should be possible, as its your data.

Having already crafted a email to send to OKCupid, POF, Bumble, Tinder and some other dating sites similar to when the journalist requested every bit of data they had on her. Its set to send on May 25th which is the day when GDPR comes into effect aka tomorrow!

Thanks to Ubergill for much improving the email I originally drafted…

I’m looking forward to the replies!

Dear {service}

I am making this request for access to personal data pursuant to Article 15 of the General Data Protection Regulation. I am still concerned that your company’s information practices may be putting my personal information at undue risk of exposure or in fact has breached its obligation to safeguard my personal information.

I would like you to be aware at the outset, that I expect a reply to my request within one month as required under Article 12, failing which I will be forwarding my inquiry with a letter of complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Please advise as to the following:

  1. Please confirm to me whether or not my personal data is being processed. If it is, please provide me with the categories of personal data you have about me in your files and databases.
  2. In particular, please tell me what you know about me in your information systems, whether or not contained in databases, and including e-mail, documents on your networks, or voice or other media that you may store.
  3. Additionally, please advise me in which countries my personal data is stored, or accessible from. In case you make use of cloud services to store or process my data, please include the countries in which the servers are located where my data are or were (in the past 12 months) stored.
  4. Please provide me with a copy of, or access to, my personal data that you have or are processing.
  5. Please provide me with a detailed account of the specific uses that you have made, are making, or will be making of my personal data.
  6. Please provide a list of all third parties with whom you have (or may have) shared my personal data.
  7. If you cannot identify with certainty the specific third parties to whom you have disclosed my personal data, please provide a list of third parties to whom you may have disclosed my personal data.
  8. Please also identify which jurisdictions that you have identified in 1(b) above that these third parties with whom you have or may have shared my personal data, from which these third parties have stored or can access my personal data. Please also provide insight in the legal grounds for transferring my personal data to these jurisdictions. Where you have done so, or are doing so, on the basis of appropriate safeguards, please provide a copy.
  9. Additionally, I would like to know what safeguards have been put in place in relation to these third parties that you have identified in relation to the transfer of my personal data.
  10.  Please advise how long you store my personal data, and if retention is based upon the category of personal data, please identify how long each category is retained.
  11. If you are additionally collecting personal data about me from any source other than me, please provide me with all information about their source, as referred to in Article 14of the GDPR.
  12. If you are making automated decisions about me, including profiling, whether or not on the basis of Article 22 of the GDPR, please provide me with information concerning the basis for the logic in making such automated decisions, and the significance and consequences of such processing.
  13.  I would like to know whether or not my personal data has been disclosed inadvertently by your company in the past, or as a result of a security or privacy breach.
  14. If so, please advise as to the following details of each and any such breach:
  15. a general description of what occurred;
  16. the date and time of the breach (or the best possible estimate);

iii. the date and time the breach was discovered;

  1. the source of the breach (either your own organisation, or a third party to whom you have transferred my personal data);
  2. details of my personal data that was disclosed;
  3. your company’s assessment of the risk of harm to myself, as a result of the breach;

vii. a description of the measures taken or that will be taken to prevent further unauthorised access to my personal data;

viii. contact information so that I can obtain more information and assistance in relation to such a breach, and

  1. information and advice on what I can do to protect myself against any harms, including identity theft and fraud.
  2. If you are not able to state with any certainty whether such an exposure has taken place, through the use of appropriate technologies, please advise what mitigating steps you have taken, such as
  3. Encryption of my personal data;
  4. Data minimisation strategies; or,

iii. Anonymisation or pseudonymisation;

  1. Any other means
  2. I would like to know your information policies and standards that you follow in relation to the safeguarding of my personal data, such as whether you adhere to ISO27001for information security, and more particularly, your practices in relation to the following:
  3. Please inform me whether you have backed up my personal data to tape, disk or other media, and where it is stored and how it is secured, including what steps you have taken to protect my personal data from loss or theft, and whether this includes encryption.
  4. Please also advise whether you have in place any technology which allows you with reasonable certainty to know whether or not my personal data has been disclosed, including but not limited to the following:
  5. Intrusion detection systems;
  6. Firewall technologies;

iii. Access and identity management technologies;

  1. Database audit and/or security tools; or,
  2. Behavioural analysis tools, log analysis tools, or audit tools;
  3.  In regards to employees and contractors, please advise as to the following:
  4. What technologies or business procedures do you have to ensure that individuals within your organisation will be monitored to ensure that they do not deliberately or inadvertently disclose personal data outside your company, through e-mail, web-mail or instant messaging, or otherwise.
  5. Have you had had any circumstances in which employees or contractors have been dismissed, and/or been charged under criminal laws for accessing my personal data inappropriately, or if you are unable to determine this, of any customers, in the past twelve months.
  6. Please advise as to what training and awareness measures you have taken in order to ensure that employees and contractors are accessing and processing my personal data in conformity with the General Data Protection Regulation.

Thank you,

Ian

Zonal fare structure for Metrolink

Manchester Metrolink zones

As I thought Manchester Metrolink saw sense and are looking into a zonal structure for charges.

In memory of Paula Vettori

Paula Vettori memory
Paula was always full of love, joy and energy, guess which one she might be?

Today Moss Side Volleyball was informed that the heart of Moss Side Paula Vettori had died of a brain tumour.

I’ve know Paula for a long while and shes always been such a delight to play volleyball alongside and spend time with. Its been a shock but can’t even imagine the shock to her kids and husband.

She was always smiling and laughing. Especially when I accidentally thought she was Portuguese not realising she was actually Brazilian. To be honest, there was a lot we could all learn from her…

Rest in peace Paula x

If you know Paula or just want to help out the family and kids, please do add funds to the gofundme which was setup by the team.

I always said Facebook was used for dating, why so surprised?

Facebook dating tinder

Facebook announces dating and some are surprised?

At F8, Facebook’s annual developer conference, Mark Zuckerberg announced a new dating service, simply called “Dating,” that will exist right within the social network’s own app. It will allow Facebook users to create separate profiles from their main Facebook accounts to pursue romantic connections. The two profiles won’t interact, meaning your Facebook friends won’t be able to see what your Dating profile says. And it should make dating app incumbents like Tinder and Bumble anxious.

Hummmm, really… from previous posts I wrote

When will social networking dethrone online dating?

Facebook is being used for dating… full stop!

Of course I certainly wasn’t the only one writing about this, you only had to look at the way people were using Facebook. I guess you have to give Facebook credit for understanding what its users were doing. That or the amount of data the likes of Tinder & Bumble were using; convinced Facebook that screw Cambridge Analytica, this is a way to get in on the action before its too late? Just as they started to rethink things?

Is Matchgroup worried? They should be, because there attitude for their customers sucks big time and Facebook may scoop in and convince those customers easily. On top of that Bumble is suing them for 400 million. Not a trivial amount…

10 Years in Manchester this week

Hulme Bridge

What on earth am I still doing here?

10 years ago I made my way up to Manchester. I hadn’t really spent much time there. First time was staying in the Copthorne hotel in Salford Quays for a BBC Innovation lab and i wasn’t impressed. But I gave the city another chance deciding its going to be a new challenge, new place to discover and a better lifestyle than staying in London and moved. I was more or less right…

Why I moved to Manchester…

Time has gone by quickly and if I didn’t have blogs and calendar events going back that far I might have forgotten. To be fair a lot has happened in the 10 years, here’s just a few picked randomly.

I have visited both Manchester City & Manchester United stadiums, although not a football fan. Seen the Manchester riots and the same city come together to clean up. Likewise for the Manchester Arena attack and how the city rallied together.

The weather I have to admit is sometimes pretty dire sometimes. I tend to bring my windproof umbrella everywhere with sunglasses if there is a hint of sun. From what I can tell most Mancunians, refuse to take an umbrella which seems insane to me. Manchester sits in a bit of a bowl and so although the mountains are clearly viable but the rain does gather over the high land.

The people have been generally good, I was worried about diversity but weighted up everything and decided it wasn’t any worst than a lot of places in the UK. Ultimately I didn’t feel like I would be in danger due to my race, especially in the city centre. I was right.

When I was first introduced to Manchester and looking for somewhere to live Hayley from the BBC showed me around a place called Cholton and I remember asking her about the city centre, to which she laughed and said no one lives there. She was likely right at the time but I made the right decision at the right time. The city centre is so walkable, skateboard-able and crammed with so many bars and cafes. Weirdly I hardly drunk booze in London or Bristol but in Manchester I started to indulge my cocktail tastes. You could say Manchester drove me to drink, but in a comfortable relaxed way.

Public transport in Manchester still baffles me. The tram is great and living near Piccadilly station is a great location. But the lack of a viable Oyster card type system is frustrating to say the least. I still remember taking a bus down Oxford road for 80p then being charged £3.20 on the way back. Something about a magic bus although operated by the same company and the exact same route. The city centre free buses are good too but generally you can walk from one end to the other in 30mins. The scooter had been great for longer distances not easily covered by the tram or train. I also find it crazy you can get back from Leeds at 2am but the last train from Liverpool is 11pm!

Equally baffling is the amount of gravy put on anything from meat to chips and the Mancunians & Liverpudlian accents which even now still has me scratching my head, even now!

Like a friend, who told me to go back down south, soon after I moved up; I should stop moaning frankly life is good. There are always frustrations, but the city and people of Manchester have been good to me.

It was a good idea to move up really early instead of later; I know many who didn’t come and for many reasons but I was just at that moment in my life when it wasn’t difficult to up and leave London. Life has massively improved and I generally think some of that is down to new friends, the costs of living and being able to make choices which fit. I also seem to have a knack for picking places which get gentrified.

Will I be here another 10 years? Its hard to tell. Considering Cardiff, as the BBC is moving its base to the centre of the city. Its also closer to my parents which is a plus. But I certainly feel the effect of Brexit and unsure how long I can put up with the change of attitude. If an opportunity came up I’d certainly give it some consideration but it would have to be in another city for sure.

Less blogging recently…

You might have noticed less blogging from me recently. Theres a number of reasons mainly to do with being on holiday in Portugal & Spain. But also I’m working on the living room of the future project. Something I highly recommend you should sign up to experience.

I did about 6 pacemaker mixes while away on holiday but I would say only 3 maybe 4  are worth publishing. So look out for them on Mixcloud.com.

Leaving Madrid, recorded on the plane back to Manchester

  1. First attempt – Tomcraft
  2. Energy Flash (Graffiti on mars remix) – Joey Beltram
  3. Flight 643 (oliver klein remix) – Ferry Corsten
  4. Fractal – Bednar
  5. I feel wonderful (cosmic gate’s from AM to PM mix) – Cosmic gate feat Jan Johnston
  6. She wants him (Blake Jarrells panty dropper mix) – Moussa Clark & Terrafunka
  7. Opium – Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor
  8. Suru (martin roth electrance remix) – super8 & tab
  9. Anomaly (Eeemus’s Higgs Boson remix) – Gordey Tsukanov

The heights of Lisbon, recorded during on the evening nights in Lisbon.

  1. Open up – Leftfield
  2. Loneliness (club mix) – Tomcraft
  3. Whites of her eyes – Simon Patterson
  4. Delores – Indecient noise
  5. From Russia with love (matt darey mix) – Matt Darey pres DSP
  6. Jump the next train (Vadim Zhukov dub) – Young Parisians feat Ben Lost
  7. Labyrinth (Paul Keyan remix) – Lee Cassells
  8. Strange world (M.I.K.E’s rework 2006) – Push
  9. Souvenir De Chine – Fire & Ice
  10. Take me away (into the night) (purple haze remix) – 4 Strings
  11. Sweet little girl (Voolgarizm remix) – Mario Piu
  12. Tenshi – Gouryella
  13. Uncommon world – Bryan Kearney
  14. We are one (instrumental mix) – Dave 202
  15. Why does my heart feel so bad (Ferry Corsten remix) – Moby
  16. Anahara (extended mix) – Ferry Corsten pres Gouryella

Raving in Albufeira, recorded on a long bus ride from Albuferia to Faro

  1. Sunset (bird of prey) – Fatboy Slim
  2. Rheinkraft (extended mix) – Oliver KleinDj Cul
  3. ture (Joey Beltram mix) – Kevin SaundersR
  4. evolving doors (club mix) – Ronski Speed
  5. Wrist block (Joey Beltram remix) – Side Four
  6. Running up the hill (Jerome isma-ae bootleg mix) – Placebo
  7. Flat Beat – Mr Ozio
  8. Shnorkel – Miki Litvak & Ido Ophir
  9. Valhalla (tonerush remix) – OneBeat
  10. Higher state of consciousness (dirty south remix) – Josh Wink
  11. Aumento – Joey Beltram
  12. EDM Death Machine – Knife Party
  13. A9 – Ariel
  14. Brainwashed (Club mix) – Tomcraft
  15. Gouryella (extended mix) – Gouryella
  16. Anahera (extended mix) – Ferry Corsten pres Gouryella

I finally took up the Gratitude habit and started publishing them here. Standardnotes has quite nice system to publish notes but also keep parts secret if you choose to. Its like I imagined for mydreamscape ages ago.

Living a conscious life?

manchester skyline may 1st

I hadn’t really considered that I might be living my life in a conscious way. But the more I look into it, the more I see the difference between my life previous to my brush with death.

So what is a conscious life? A life which is deliberate and thought-out, by listening to yourself and making conscious choices.

There’s no absolute, but rather a number of common elements which point in a certain direction. After some research and thought here’s a small incomplete list.

  • Do what makes you happy
  • Feel comfortable with saying no
  • Accept yourself and stop comparing yourself to others
  • Ignore the messages of the mainstream
  • Live in the moment
  • Be choosy
  • Focus on what you have
  • Practice a life with gratitude
  • Don’t let your ego lead
  • Spend your time and resources wisely
  • Let go of negativity and judgement

Its easy to see how all of these can seem either obvious, patronising or some hippy spiritual nonsense? I get it, maybe 10 years ago I would be thinking a similar thing. Maybe its just one of those things which you are ready for or not?

So how does this manifest in my life?

Happy Programmers

Do what makes you happy

I pretty much do what makes me happy and ignore much else. Its not out of ignorance but rather feelings of overload. I guess this is why I can sleep well at night? Don’t get me wrong, there are feelings/tensions about this being selfish but I tend to balance it out in my head by helping people when possible.

Help takes many forms but trying to encourage more people to be a little more conscious is something I quite like. Although I guess in retrospect, it can seem like I’m pushing my ideology on to others? Of course its about balance and also if the person is receptive to the advice.

Going back to doing what makes me happy. My trip to Japan was a great example. I got much advice about where I should go and visit from a great number of people & places. Although I took them on-board, I spent most of my time in Tokyo wondering the streets of different prefectures of the city. I visited every single roller coaster park except the Disney ones. I did what made me happy and still ended up trying new things. So this isn’t about the filter bubble. Its not uncommon for me to end up in the middle of a new city and just go exploring, alone or with others. Usually on a quest for the best cocktail establishment in that city.

This also applies to what I see and experience. This does unfortunately means making some tough decisions about places, things, friendships, etc…  Doing what makes me happy also means I tend to go and do things which others wouldn’t do alone. Its not unknown for me to go to the cinema, city, dinner, holiday alone. I’m quite comfortable with my self and don’t need others to reaffirm my happiness.

Feel comfortable with saying no

Following on from the previous one, saying no and personal happiness are connected. Saying no means theres less guilt and less mental pain. Saying no does mean being honest and rejecting people, but in the long run, its a much better place to be. Its great being strong willed too, great for the character. This has also stopped me from ending up in places/doing things I honestly wasn’t happy about.

Accept yourself and stop comparing yourself to others

This is something I learned very early on, maybe back when I was in primary school to be honest. I was taken out of class to go up to a special room, where a teacher/specialist would give me tests for dyslexia. That combined with being one of about 3 black kids in the school, all this made me less focused on comparing myself. I also wasn’t the most photogenic person in school, but it didn’t matter so much to me. This followed through into later life and

I’d argue this also fits well with not letting your ego rule, because what others do with their lives doesn’t concern me much. Its only when it affects others or myself I start to wonder.

Every once in a while people near me, have said they are jealous of one thing or another. I always say,

“don’t be jealous, focus on how your going to get better”

I try and get people to rethink the situation by turning that early stage envy around. Be happy for the other person and use them as a pointer. This does require some re-framing but is important and directly fits with the notion of being conscious not just reactionary.

Live in the moment

I alluded to dyslexia and links to living in the moment, but honestly my personally has expanded quite a bit to seek out more opportunities, now I notice them more. Its one of the big noticeable differences after my brush with death. Lisa Upton talked about it too, so did Derren brown’s in the secret of luck and of course there was what happened at TedxManchester3 with  Carrie Green.

Funny enough I recently found where the coffee conversation with Carrie went; into her book She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur.

From the chapter – The little voice in your head

A guy called Ian Forrester climbed up to the stage, I handed him £20, the audience applauded and he went and sat down. A few weeks later we met up over a cup of tea and he told me how a brush with death a few years earlier made him make the decision that he was never going to let anything stand in his way. He said, “People are paralyzed by their fear of what might happen, and so they won’t reach out and grab what’s in front them. And that’s pretty much what I did.”

I also remember a while ago hearing about smutslam and decided to give it a try. During the course of the evening, I decided to give it a shot. I ended up winning 2nd place. Totally living in the moment, just going with the flow.

Practice a life with gratitude

Been thinking about this one quite a bit, especially since I attended Sarah Raad’s workshop at Thinking Digital Newcastle. The benefits are huge for such a simple practice.

There are many gratitude apps and platforms, I’m just trying to pick one which contains all the things I respect like being opensource, decentralised, multiplatform, etc.  Currently I’m drawn somewhere between using Mastodon and trying Micropub.

What ever I decide, I’ve started writing weekly in Standard Notes, which also has a nice little micro blogging system called listed.

Let go of negativity and judgement

This is a big one. It was a workshop talk from Bobby from the happiest which unfortunately closed not long afterwards. (still like to see a distributed take on happiest); which got me thinking about negativity and how much we hold on to it (or it holds on to us?). He said something like 65 million thoughts we have everyday, 85% are negative. Although maybe not right, it got me thinking quite a lot about the possibility of changing our thought process.  Could we learn to accept and let go? Why do we hold on to negative feelings so tightly?

For me the totally irrational fear of injections was overcome by conscious thoughts of the same mind which was hosting that fear.

Although still fearful, I do feel much lighter because I was able to let go.

Tips and ideas for Madrid & Lisbon please?

Madrid

Over the last year, although I was away a lot; it was for work. It meant I have a lot of holidays left over to use. So I’m making the most of the holidays and heading to Portugal again (twice in 2 years, Lagos and Madeira); this time Madrid and Lisbon. I want to soak up the freedom to wonder around Europe before Britain cuts ties with Europe. (I’m have plans for Scandinavia later in the year)

I’m pretty free and easy about everything but I’m planning to check out the amazing culture in both cities.  There is one solid thing I must do and thats visit the amazing rollercoaster parks in Madrid.

Any tips, suggestions and places I should stay are very welcomed…

OKCupid starts screwing around with messages

Stop Screwing with okcupid

I proposed a few times in the past that dating sites may not necessary showing your messages to certain people because of a number of reasons (maybe you are sending too many messages, maybe you are deemed no beautiful enough!)

Well OKcupid quietly announced this change over the holiday season.

Hi! We’ve made some exciting changes to how messaging on OkCupid works. You see, from member feedback we found that our messaging system needed some help: members were getting too many unwanted messages, which was distracting them from the messages they actually wanted to respond to. After all, the conversations that end up leading to something are between people who actually like each other, so we wanted to make it easy for you to focus on just those messages. So now, although you can still send a message to anyone, you’ll only see messages in your Conversations from people you’ve liked. People who have messaged you but whom you haven’t liked yet will be highlighted in DoubleTake (and everywhere else, too) — just visit their profile to see the message. And if you’ve already liked someone, their message will automatically show up in your Conversations. Easy! And now for the best part — after testing these changes for weeks, we’ve found that this new way of messaging increases matches by over 30%! So thanks to your feedback, we’ve been able to make some pretty exciting improvements in time for the new year.

It sounds like a reasonable change, but I do wonder how much further they will go with this? It wouldn’t be hard to not show messages because of x reasons.

If you think about it also, OKCupid is slowly pushing people towards the ways it prefers to connect with people. No longer can you browse, read peoples profiles and send a message hoping to connect that way. I understand why but once again where does it lead us?
Update

After a little discussion with the amazing Lydia about this. I do think it’s good that okcupid is listening to it’s audience, but we do agree they may only be doing this due to falling numbers to the likes of tinder (owned by the same company) and bumble (match group tried to buy recently).

The skeptical me (anything okcupid does right now I am very skeptical about) thinks there might be a better way to educate users about their poor inbox filling messages. But it’s clear from okcupids founders own book Dataclysm, the mass produced non-personal messages seem to get conversations started (much to my dismay of humanity when reading this). Its also clear men are the biggest culprit of sending these and although a 2nd inbox (similar to Facebook?) to sorted by liked unliked people is a good for women. Maybe okcupid could educate the men before the message is even sent?

We seen (we see everything!) you copied and pasted this same message over and over again (5x times in 24hours), we are not going to send it till you think of something more original or read the profile!

Okcupid is a safe place for ALL its users…

Now that would be bold, helpful and move the emphasis from the victim to the culprits.

You could even quota the sent messages which resets when there is a reply and reduces further on blocks? But this all needs to be transparent and educational otherwise the user will just setup another account out of spite or frustration?

My new years resolutions for 2018

Ian at Sarajevo Unilimited
Talking Object Based Media from the Sarajevo Unlimited stage

Its been 10 years since I’ve  blogging my new years resolutions and I’m still convinced its a good thing to do.

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

  1. Take Kate out of her comfort zone
    Part 1 completed in Ireland in 2017, now its time for Japan or Hong Kong with a bunch of twists.
  2. Head further a field with the new scooter
    New Scooter, new waterproof wear, its time for a ride into Europe before the UK leaves Europe (said with a very heavy heart)
  3. Ride a roller coaster in another country
    Closely related to the previous one, its got to happen in 2018. I love them and its time to go further a field to see what others are doing.
  4. Go to a new part of the world
    Regular resolution and its a great one to have.
  5. See more comedy
    I can’t really believe I didn’t go to any comedy last year, got to make changes to include some comedy in 2018.
  6. Explore more about the brain using neuroscience
    Massively interested in the power, quirks and processing of the brain; from the dreams it creates to the way it processes memes. The recent talk reminded me how much I love this area. Certainly like to see more talks like that.
  7. Only eat artisan chocolate unless its Kitkat, Twix or Maltesers
    I like chocolate but I decided a while ago that I should only really eat a certain percentage or higher. My tolerance for lower cocoa is dropping and like my cocktail choices; its time to avoid the rubbish stuff. Chocolate tasting confirmed this and the cocoarunners subscription should offer enough to keep me away from the rubbish stuff. I decided I should give myself some outs.
  8. Do more with my Estonian e-residency
    I want to do more with my e-residency and its about time, I started using this state backed digital identity to do more. Even if its just signing documents as me.
  9. Make better use of the online services I have paid or invested in
    I have paid for quite a few services like Plex, Standard Notes, Trakt, etc. They have all passed the point of me thinking this is good and I should support it for what ever reasons. Certainly need to connect them up with local services like ttrss, etc using ifttt.
  10. Be more daring in matters of the heart
    Last year was a quiet year for me, mainly because I was away so much and frankly I’m quite disillusioned with the current online dating platforms. Its time to find something else. There has to be better and I need to find it.
  11. Explore the future of online dating
    Following on from the previous one… I have thought about this, written about this, talked about it and its time to try something.
  12. Decentralise more and use POSSE more
    Time to move away from these centralised services and look for open source alternatives which value a distributed, federated, loosely connected models. I take what I said about my role in Mozfest quite seriously. Started using Mastoden more and been using things like Standardnotes, Wallabag, etc… then syncing or publishing elsewhere under my own steam

A review of my 2017 resolutions

Ian in Iceland

2017 what can I say? Its been quite a different year from what I was expecting.

Looking from the Quantified Self point of view

  • 69 mins of sleep deficit over the whole year, which is massively down from the previous year.  My average sleep this year has been 8 hours 22mins (massively up!). Average deep sleep has been 4.18hrs almost 51% of my sleep.
  • According to Gmail I have had 41,481 conversations, have 26,442 emails in my inbox and sent 6,741 emails this year
  • Have 48, 142 photos and 2,688 photos albums in Google photos.
  • Tasks wise I have 231 open tasks and completed 2435 over the year
  • Been on 44 trips including Tallinn, Sarajevo, Funchai, Edinburgh, Reykjavik, Dublin, Amsterdam, Berlin and Cologne this year
  • According to Trakt, my most played show was Real Time with Bill Maher and film was Trainspotting T2. Most listened to podcast is the Guilty feminist.
  • I spent 417 hours watching films (34.7 a month) and 411 hours watching TV series (34.3 a month)
  • Spent 989 hours working in Media City UK, 129 hours working in many coffee shops in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, 116 hours working on a train and 113 hours working at home. Theres a very long tail with lots more locations like hotels, Nottingham Uni, York Uni, Ravensbourne, etc.

Regardless of the data he’s the review of my new years resolutions from 2017.

Be taken out of my comfort zone by Kate and take her out of comfort zone

Holiday with Kate in Ireland

Well half of this happened, in March. Kate took me literally to the edge of comfort in a bright yellow camper van. Rough camping on a cliff face in Ireland was too close to my limit. There was a point early next day when I had to insist on a camp site because at least they had toilets and was far less exposed to the gale like winds (remember the first ferry was cancelled because of the winds).

I had planned to take Kate to Tokyo next year but this has been put on hold a little longer.

Head further a field with the scooter

No Northern Ireland trip but I did make it to Ireland via Kate. I did ride to Hull to see how the new scooter would handle the long ride and get a feel what it would be like if I went on the ferry to Netherlands or Belgium. Recently I have been riding with proper winter clothes, combine this with the better handling of the new scooter and I’m more likely to go for long rides in the rain.

Improve my circus skills

Jamming with a LED diabolo - Photo credit Ian Wilson

Still the Vertex is still not quite there, more practice is needed. But I’ve also been going to the Firejam’s in Castlefield Arena. I’m now reconsidering getting a fire diabolo again. I know its bloody dangerous but fire is just so cool compared to LEDs.

Visit a Japanese styled spa at least once every 4 months in the UK

I knew every 4 months was achievable so this is a tick.  I went to Liquidrom in Berlin once, the Midland hotel twice and had the pool to myself at the Melia Madeira Mare. Still really need to find a better spa near Manchester but the Midland Hotel isn’t bad, especially when quiet.

Ride a roller coaster in another country

This will have to be a task for next year. However I noticed Alton Towers and Blackpool pleasure beach have new rides coming in 2018 now. My hope is to combine the trip on the scooter with going on a roller coaster park in Europe.

See the Aurora (Northern lights)

me taking a shot of the northern lights

This is a massive tick. Its always been on my list forever and thanks to brian suda who introduced me to the man/legend Snorri Por Tryggvason, who took me on a unbelievable journey which had us out and about near Reykjavik. Will never forget this.

Read more

This certainly happened thanks to Wallabag, Tiny Tiny RSS and Audiobook syncing using Plex. Was hoping to sync things to Goodreads but goodreads app is horrible on my ebook reader. According to Wallabag I’ve read 232 article over the year. Last of 2016 was Janet Street-Porter talking about routine not time.

Go to a new part of the world

Tallinn, Estonia

Another few places not planned at all. Reykjavik Iceland, Tallinn Estonia and Sarajevo Bosnia & Herzegovina. According to Google maps I’ve taken 44 trips in the last year, but that includes trips to London, Newcastle, York, Cardiff, Bristol, etc.

Don’t shy away controversy and get more political

Absolutely and I’ve been digging at the deeper issues facing society with data ethics, private & public and machine learning.

Go to more comedy clubs and contemporary theatre plays

What if women ruled the world

No comedy at all this year…

However the Manchester International Festival was great from a theatre point of view. Party skills for the end of the world, Fatherland and I guess Party skills for the end of the world counts as immersive theatre.

Take an improvisation class

No this didn’t happen at all, sadly…

Replace my scooter

Honda Silverwing at Hull

This happened and I’m looking forward to going places in 2018.

Happy Holidays to family, friends and followers

Happy Holidays 2017
Taken while on the hunt for the Northern Lights in Iceland in March 2017

Unknown to me, Facebook threw up a old post I created in 2014.

Why?

I have absolutely no idea, but honestly makes me trust Facebook even less. Usually Facebook and Google will surface stuff from the past and ask if you want to share/make it public. This isn’t one of those, it just appeared and friends started commenting and liking again.

Regardless, I was planning to do something similar again so here’s my holiday card for the holiday period; for family, friends and followers. Happy Holidays and look forward to 2018, as 2017 has been pretty poor (but not as bad as 2016)

Chocolate Tasting Evening with Cocoa Runners at Takk

It all started when I tweeted some chocolate I bought from Takk coffee shop in the northern quarter.

I was showing Brian Suda (Never was sure if Brian actually saw the original tweet, as I missed a space in the original tweet) that they have Icelandic chocolate from Omnom in Manchester. Out of the blue Molly (who I’ve never met or spoke to before) jumped in with

I was slightly shocked, Hershey’s KitKat is one of the worst Chocolates I’ve ever tasted. Of course I quested how she could make such a statement but at the same time savvy Takk jumped in, saying their partners Cocoarunners supply many types of Chocolates and they are doing a chocolate tasting night in December. I was sold!

Having been to another Chocolate night under Funnzing, I was very happy to see the format was very different and much more interactive. The whole thing was fun and less of a lecture. My worry about nuts was crushed when I asked at the start, to which the answer was none of the chocolates have nuts but may contain traces.

Chocolate Tasting Evening with Cocoa Runners at Takk

Cocoarunners ran through the different types of chocolates and dispelled a load of myths including the cocoa percentage myth. Higher percentage of cocoa doesn’t always equal more bitterness. The first two chocolates were similar percentage but from different locations changing the nature of the taste quite a bit.

She also talked about why we should consider artisan Chocolate over the others, comparing the choice to artisan coffee and artisan wines.

Chocolate Tasting Evening with Cocoa Runners at Takk

She showed us how to really taste chocolate (snap, smell, place on the tongue and let it melt). It was a great night and found some chocolates I certainly want to have.

Chocolate Tasting Evening with Cocoa Runners at Takk

A few of my questions I came with were answered including;

  • Why is there little chilli really dark chocolate?
    Trends in chocolate making have just moved on, some stick some don’t. Most people who have very high percentage chocolate want to taste just the Chocolate.
  • Why is American chocolate so horrible/why does Molly like Hershey Kitkats?
    Hershey tried to copy chocolates from elsewhere and got the milk slight wrong but it was too late to change the formula (that would be brand suicide if they did, as cokecola found out with new coke)
  • How is 100% chocolate classed as chocolate, and if its 100% how does it gel together without something else? The definition of chocolate is everything from the bean and doesn’t include fat, milk or sugar. Out of the bean you get cocoa powder and cocoa butter. Both combined keeps the whole thing stable enough to make a bar.
  • What is the trend for Raw Chocolate? Marketing nonsense and likely a not very safe one if it really was raw.

Chocolate Tasting Evening with Cocoa Runners at Takk

Ultimately I was half convinced of artisan chocolate before I even went along, and still like a UK Kitkat and Maltesers. But life is too short for rubbish wine, coffee, tea and chocolate. Even some of the white chocolate surprised me to be honest.

I was introduced to some very nice chocolates and I will be adding a category for great chocolates to my notes. From the same evening…

65% Naive Ambrosia from Boliva/Lihuania was good, balanced and tasted quite sweet.

100% Manufaktura Czekolady from Czech Republic was so smooth and took quite a few people by surprise. As they assumed 100% would be like “eating dirt” – someone said surprised. To me it was like eating a 85% dark.

70% Solomans Gold from New Zealand had a smoky Lapsang taste and was wonderful to eat. Can imagine it as a late night treat while drinking lapsang tea.

Chocolate Tasting Evening with Cocoa Runners at Takk

I’m signing up for a monthly chocolate delivery! Can’t wait! Just need to make sure they don’t send me any Hershey nonsense, no matter what others say/like…