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.

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.

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.

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.

 

Estonia to implement a digital nomad Visa

My Estonian e-residency ID

How on earth did i miss this!?

The Estonian parliament on 3 June adopted amendments to the current laws to create a digital nomad visa that would allow people to come to Estonia as a tourist and at the same time continue working for a foreign employer or as a freelancer independent of location.

This is the step I’ve been dreaming about… Digital ID becomes useful for physical ID

Would I work in another country while doing my current job? You darn right I would. The last few months have made it super clear that I could work completely remotely quite well. A tourist visa is about 90 days within a 6 month period, I just spent 3 months mainly in my flat!

This is very doable and heck if I can also wonder across into other parts of Europe?! Now that would be incredible..!

 

10th Anniversary of #mybrushwithdeath

I honestly can’t really believe its 10 years since my brush with death.

Its been a long time and something I will never ever forget, 10 years ago after the general election of 2010. Will never forget how different the world was after I woke up in hospital and someone (pretty sure it was my sister) told me the liberal democrats have gone into collation with the conservatives.

5 years ago I did a catch up of what happened 10 years ago.

Even closer to the time, I wrote a reflective blog with thank you posts (part 1) (part 2)

I still have the cards and plan to put them up again, so look out for them if you happen to be on a zoom with me.

As we are still in lockdown due to Covid-19, there won’t be a party. To be fair last years 3 birthday celebration was pretty epic. But I do have plans for a zoom call or something later in the month. Look out for the invite…

CRISPR: The First Truly Allergy-Free Cat

Cat face

The notion of a truly allergy-free cat, I won’t lie sounds amazing although there is a lot of questions I certainly have. This before even thinking about CRISPR concerns.

Although I found this sums it up…

If the new drug works and doesn’t have any major side effects for our feline friends, it could eliminate nearly all cat allergies. If you’re allergic to cats, however, you probably shouldn’t go out and get one now in the hopes that your allergies will be cured soon.

 

My favorite dark chocolates for a lockdown

Being locked down in our homes is everything from awful to a joy for people depending on individual circumstances. One thing I can recommend is a bit of chocolate heaven from Cocoarunners (I never take ads on my blog, just been impressed with their monthly delivery).

A lot of them are sold out but I did buy a bunch of the ones available for my friends, family and partner to give them while in lockdown. Hasn’t really thought about how to get it to them but regardless I will find a way…

If you love Dark Chocolate, you may enjoy my recommendations.

Not even an epidemic will stop the scammers

The other day I got a request to book my Airbnb spare room. I had completely forgot that I had blocked it out for my holiday to South Korean and Japan, which were cancelled. But hadn’t done anything after those dates, not really thinking my airbnb was still technically open.

The message was a mess…

Hello! Due to the situation in the country, I was sent from my company as a nurse to your city. I really liked your place, it seems really nice. It will be very suitable for me. I’m already waiting for this trip. But I have a couple questions. Please text me in Vhat is a * pp number + F0-ur, tvvo and z-еrrо, then sееve’ntys even, then goes tth_ree, 1’ 5” and 0ne, thre;e, ends with 98. See you soon!

Of course I could smell a scam from a mile away and responded, why don’t you ask the questions you have in Airbnb chat? Then added its lockdown in the UK and I won’t be taking any guests till things change with Covid19.

No reply of course and I rejected the request. But a week later airbnb contacted me.

Hi, Ian,

We’re reaching out because you were recently in contact with an account that was removed for violating the Airbnb Terms of Service.

Airbnb will never ask you to verify a listing or pay for anything outside of our site, through email, or through a third-party booker. If you sent money outside of Airbnb, you may have paid for a fraudulent reservation. Let us know what happened, and we’ll recommend next steps.

If someone asked you to communicate directly by email or through Facebook, or copy and paste a URL (http://www…) into a new browser window, or otherwise pay or communicate outside of the Airbnb website or app, we ask that you stop communication with them immediately.

If you did share personal information, like a password, please update your password immediately. If you use that same password for any other accounts (like your email), we recommend changing your password there too.

Of course I shared zero but I did find it interesting the scammer pulled on the strings with some urgency and being a nurse. Of course they had only signed up to be on Airbnb that same Month of April (meaning they had only signed up a few days before), had no vertifications, no reviews and the pretext of whatsapping them was straight from the airbnb scammers book.

I imagine there is a lot of desperate Airbnb hosts who might have sent a message to see whats possible?

Learning diabolo tricks during the Covid-19 lockdown in Manchester

One of the things I have been doing while in lockdown from the Covid-19 virus, is learning new tricks on the Diabolo. I’m lucky enough to have a nice large shared garden and green spaces around me. So in between working, walking, etc. I’ve been getting better at the Diabolo.

I decided to make use of my GoPro camera and throw together a number of tricks together with some music (Hit The Decks Volume 2 (htd2 A2) Nightfall at the edge of chaos (bonus mix)).

Here are the tricks with difficulty rating

  1. High throw (2x) – Easy
  2. Around the foot – Easy
  3. Over arm rubber arm to stick grind to whip catch – Tricky
  4. Over arm rubber arm to stick grinds to whip catch (3x angles) – Difficult
  5. Vertex – Very difficult
  6. Suicide – Tricky
  7. Stick grind to finger grind to whip catch – Tricky
  8. Duicide (2x) – Difficult
  9. Stick grind to finger grind to big whip catch (2x) – Tricky
  10. Handy grind drop to whip – Difficult

How Manchester’s Northern quarter on lock down looks

Believe these days will pass

I have been staying at home for the last 3-4 weeks but every 3-4 days I go shopping for fresh food. It also makes good exercise walking around. and decided as its my birthday soon, to get a very nice steak from the Northern Quarter butchers.

On the way back I had a wonder through the northern quarter and take some pictures of the usually busy streets in Manchester. Of course I’m not the first to do this… but with my social distancing of over 2 meters from others. I shot some quick pictures on my walk back.

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The public messages instead of adverts were interesting too because frankly advertising has falling through the floor. Nice culture jamming works.

Be kind lets look out for one another

What to do on a birthday during a lockdown?

Me with birthday ballons

I was lucky to have my big 40th birthday last year, I still have the cards up funny enough. I know others who had their 40th birthday in doors.

But one year later under Covid19 lockdown, I’m considering my options. My partner suggested a mass video call which I could cast to my TV. I could buy one of those going cheap cakes or get a nice takeaway from somewhere special. Also been thinking about ordering a very nice steak from the northern quarter butchers and having that with some lovely eggs. Talking of the northern quarter, I would pay some serious money to sit in a coffee shop right now. I’m not the only one…

Talking of coffee, I finally caved in and started having coffee at home after a nice Airbnb left me a bag a while back. Just in the mornings before work.

And the last leap Airbnb, made me a superhost again?!

Airbnb superhost

So weird, because no one is going anywhere right now. I don’t think I could accept anyone if they did actually book my spare room anyway. Maybe I should block out my calendar but theres little point right now.

Anyway back to the point, what to do on my birthday in lockdown.

I’m open to suggestions…?

Living in the age of Covid-19?

My partner asked me how I was doing on the phone. She remarked how I was managing with the changes well and I mentioned a quote I heard recently.

I won’t/can’t take credit but it speaks volume about right now… The quote came from the head of R&D which he was reminded of via the chief scientist.

“Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Be safe and stay connected…