Another busy month or so

Its going to be another busy month or so…

Tomorrow we start to Build a healthy public service internet in the first forum during Mozfest weekend. This will be further explored at Mozfest in the decentralised space on Saturday afternoon.

Not long afterwards I’ll be going to Skopje along the same lines as last year when I was in Sarajevo. This time we have the results of last years workshop, the living room of the future.

Then Berlin for Most wanted music with a adaptive narrative conference talk more focused on audio than video and our first perceptive podcasting workshop. Now this exciting but scary as its completely beta and being developed right now.

I’m back in Berlin not long afterwards for a look at object based media and how machine learning can work together for the future of storytelling, quite similar to TOA 17 but more exploring and more I can talk about now compared to then.

Finally wrapping up with a critical panel discussion titled New platforms, new ways of storytelling at the future of the book in London. I expect a few things I said at Oreilly’s Tools of Change in 2012 are still very relevant. But also Perceptive podcasting will be much more mature by then.

All exciting but quite a bit in one go…

Dormouse Chocolate now has a shop in Manchester

Cocoabeans

A hidden chocolate shop is now open just off Deansgate https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/whats-on/food-drink-news/hidden-chocolate-shop-manchester-dormouse-15283210

I read about dormouse chocolates in my feed and was excited to hear they have opened a shop in Manchester. I met them at the cococarunners event in takk a while ago and quite liked their chocolate although generally too milky for my personal tastes but they have darker too and they are good too.

My trainers have a problem

Adidas springblade problem highlighted
Noticed the green glue which makes clear the problem with Adidas Springblades.

I love my Adidas springblade trainers but the fault in them is pretty major.

Originally I thought it might be a technical problem with that one trainer but it turned out to be much more that just a one off. I actually bought 2 of them in different colours and slightly different style but had to send one back to Adidas for a full refund. They also offered a refund on the other one but I wanted to keep it as I kinda hoped superglue would help things. They did give me a part refund anyway.

They were excellent about it all, can’t point the finger at them for customer service. but I’ve carefully wore the other pair.

Adidas springblade trainers

However in almost a 2 years since I bought them and wearing them here and there mainly during summer, I looked at them again to see if I could fix things with glue, sponge or something else. I noticed something else was not right with the other shoe too.

To explain from the pictures; the blades (as they are called) are quite solid to support the weight of the wearer. The blades are set at a angle, so they slightly bend giving an amazing but slight bounce to walking and running. I can’t tell you how amazing it feels, and I’ve worn all types of trainers including Nike Air. I still remember wearing them on a walk form Check point charlie to krutzberg while on the Mozilla retreat in Berlin.

Adidas springblade trainers

But the rigidity nature makes it not good with the usual bending of shoe. There is some give but not enough and ultimately the rigid blades break away from the base unit. Not in a loose your heel in a street vent style but rather it cracks away from the base. This is where I was applying super glue but it would last a certain amount of time before the glue would break again.

To be fair the reviews are not that impressive either, no idea what they would write if they had it longer. To me it was  clear as day for me when the blade break had happened on the opposite shoe in the exact same manor.

I think Adidas may have gone too far with the blades and the Adidas A3 & Bounces were a better idea for general use. Especially when it came to traction with the floor. Having too little actual contact with the floor made any hint of rain on the road a hazard for walking on. It s a real shame because they are incredibly engineered trainers.

Some will say over-engineered? Maybe thats why I love them so…?

What its like living with a series of allergies?

japanese nut allergy card

There’s been a increase in the number of allergy related news stories recently which I’ll be honest I welcome but its also really sad news too.

Allergic woman died after eating burger

Amy May Shead’s family warn ‘allergies can cause life-changing damage’

Pret baguette allergy cases before death

I felt very strongly as someone with multiple allergies of different strengths including the deadly nut/peanut. Its interesting reading Jessica Pan’s piece about what its like living with a severe nut allergy.

I know the word for peanut in Spanish, German, Italian, Greek and Icelandic. When I lived in Beijing for two years, the first sentence I learned to master in Mandarin was, “If I eat peanuts, I will die.” Then, to really get the message across, I would mime death. I’d clutch my throat, roll my eyes back and stick my tongue out. My audience, usually Chinese waiters, would laugh or look bewildered, but it was the most effective way to get the point across. It was blunt, but it had to be. I had a severe peanut allergy and I struggled to convey the gravity of the situation to locals in China, where nut allergies are rare.

I’m pretty much the same but having travelled around a lot. I have to be very clear when I say I’m allergic to nuts, peas, beans, coconut, fish and seafood. It was Japan when I learned to print out my allergies on a piece of paper.

Why paper? Because its something I can give to the wait staff to give to the actual kitchen instead of relying on the wait staff to convey all the allergies I have. One can be easily missed and all hell is unleashed into my body.

At dinner on my first night in Beijing, I told the waiter, “I’m allergic to peanuts. I don’t want peanuts.” He brought over my food and I peered into a dish, which was sprinkled in peanuts. “Peanuts?” I asked, pointing, knowing they were peanuts. He glanced at the dish and said, “Just a little.”

“Just a little” is the difference between alive and dead. Between the best holiday ever and an emergency trip to the hospital.

I’m happy to say this is less and less happening in the European countries I go to, due to the change in the law around the 14 allergens. Although I’m also getting some slightly more intolerant responses too like those in LEAF.

Now to be fair I’ve been told a few times especially in Japan, go away (more or less) but having to sign a wavier just makes my blood boil.

I’ve learned a few survival strategies along the way, though some of them I learned the hard way.

Friends who travel with me know that they must be my designated “tasters”. Most often, this task is left to my poor husband. So many holidays, so many memories, and so many moments of me shouting in his face, “Do you taste peanuts? Do you?!” A curry on a beach in Malaysia, hot pot in Chengdu, a baklava on a balcony in Greece, all with me staring at him intently, praying for the green light.

I have similar starting with the allergy card, ask friends, a touch to the lips and then a nibble. Wait for 3-5mins with water and antihistamines at the ready. I tend to eat between 2-5 depending on how certain I’ve eaten something allergic. I never leave home without antihistamines now.

There will be foods which I just won’t take the risk with and that does include some of the thai curries. If I think it might have something I’m allergic to in it, I will weigh up in my mind how close I am to my home, does the restaurant practice good separation in food preparation, how much is an allergic reaction going to ruin the rest of my day?

Maybe I should just stay home and not travel, but I love Asia and I really, really love Asian food. Instead, I take precautions: I nearly always carry an EpiPen with me. I also have a routine I do when I meet new friends or colleagues: I show them where I keep my EpiPen and I say, “Guys, just not through the heart, OK?”

The one and only time I was sick in Japan due to peanut sauce, I downed about 4 antihistamines drunk a lot of water then jumped in a taxi back. There is no way I want to be sick in a restaurant bathroom again! Especially because I tend to fall a sleep straight afterwards and trust me theres almost no where worst you want to fall a sleep. I assume its the antihistamines taking effect but it helps, just like a full sugar pepsi/coke after I wake up. Maybe its the sugar and the goopiness of the cola which helps line the throat and stomach.

allergy tests bottles

I don’t carry an Epipen due to having high blood pressure and idiots watching too much pulp fiction. (not the heart for goodness sake!). Given at the wrong time and I’m dead full stop. I’ve managed to stay alive by being super cautious and its worked for me.

Just because I don’t have an epipen doesn’t mean its less serious by the way. I’ve seen many people instantly think it cant be that bad if I don’t carry an epipen. No I’ve been very fortunate, cautious and suspicious of everything I eat or drink. Trace amounts don’t have enough of a effect fortunately too.

I sometimes cook with small amounts of Soya sauce but give me Tofu and its game over. Likewise I can eat Tuna chunks out of a can but fresh fish will have my body forcefully getting rid of it in the quickest way possible.

I try my best to avoid peanuts, but they lurk in so many dishes. I never order massaman curry, desserts with praline, anything with mole sauce, trail mix, granola or Thai salads. No to anything that even looks like satay, no to exotic alcoholic spirits. All foreign chocolate must be studied meticulously.

Everything is studied heavily by me and if there is no ingredients, I will likely avoid it. This means street food or stuff made on the fly almost impossible. Everyone talks about the street markets of Osaka in Japan but I found it impossible to eat there.

To be honest, although Japan was very tricky. Rules like avoiding all soup/noodle things helped reduce the contact with allergens. I think I would have a even more difficult time in China or Thailand. The pure thought of having to deal with a barrage of allergens makes me not want to go. Something most people barely think about when flying to places. I would love to be one of those people trying different things but its super dicey and not worth the risk, so I avoid them.

The puking bit is actually fine. It’s the waiting bit that is the worst. It’s looking for hives on your tongue and swelling in your lips and wondering, “Is this the stupid mistake that ends my life?”

Puking is the worst I’ve had for a long long time, aka its been a long time since I ended up in hospital. I’m one of the lucky ones where my allergy doesn’t send me straight to hospital. However this should never be dismissed as those hives on my lips and tongue are nothing compared to the endless scratchiness of my throat. Then the swelling and before long its difficult to breath. This is also when I desperately need my inhaler (not something I carry around all the time) but can’t pull enough air through my throat to breath correctly. At that point I realise its all down hill, its the point when I start to make mistakes due to the lack of oxygen going to my brain.

Its scary but I’ve only had a few times when I was much younger and it does mean slowing down and doing less.

I recently had to learn the Polish for peanut, frantically searching for it on Google Translate after carelessly taking a bite of chocolate in my hotel room last summer, although I already knew it was in the chocolate. It was that same ominous tingle on my tongue and my throat, followed by hot fear racing through my body.

Google translate is my friend, its not perfect and in some languages slight wrong but it gets the point across and thats all I need.

Look, I know allergies are boring. While visiting Koh Samui, I mentioned my peanut allergy so much that the Thai staff at my hotel greeted me every morning with, “Hello, Miss No Peanut!”

Its something most people never have to think or deal with. For example I’m writing this on a train from Bristol to Manchester with a change at Birmingham. On the previous train a woman sat eating cashew nuts, then dropped the bag on the ground (litter bug). Now on my last part a woman sits eating a Kitkat peanut across from me. I lean back in my chair but the smell of peanuts is heavy and I dying for her to finish the bar quickly instead of little bites at the edges.

The smell of death just hovers around and it makes you want to run for cover. I’ve drawn comparisons to when someone is smoking in your face, you might be able to deal with it for a short while then you have to move away.

Its something most people never think about but I do all the time! I’m also consciously watching where she touches on the train, to make sure I don’t touch it too.

Allergies are boring I get that, everytime I have to pull my allergy card out at a new restaurant or place. But its deeply dangerous for me and many allergy suffers to underestimate them.

My hope is stories like mine and Jessica will put a human face to the jokes about throwing peanuts at people. Pret’s labelling is just horrible as I found out that the Korean BBQ soup included fish. But I only found that out when asking for the actual legal allergy menu and not trusting the ingredient menu they include in store.

Next few weeks, are a busy one…

Ian Forrester

Its another busy few weeks and to be fair few months for me (lets not go there now).

This weekend I’ll be hosting the living room of the future in the V&A Museum in London. I can’t tell you how excited I am about the 150+ people who have signed up already.

Then the week after I’m keynoting about the living room of the future at Hello Culture Remix at BBC Digital Cities in Birmingham.

This right before I head to Bristol for a Object based media workshop at Encounters short film festival. I’m also really happy to be judging the xR short films for Encounters.

After a short break its off to the York Mediale to see a commissioned Object based media project with the University York’s Digital Creativity lab, this may also involve a public talk.

Not too long afterwards, theres Mozhouse/Mozfest (however this time I’m not wrangling) but October/November is another post maybe…

Shambhala, hypercoasters dream

Shambhala

I certainly have a love for B&M Hypercoasters like Shabhala in Port Adventura. Currently the 3rd highest in Europe at 249.3 ft. I assume we don’t have any in the UK due to the massive amount of space it requires?

Somewhere between getting food and riding Shambhala, I caught a candid shot of this lady sitting on Shambhala’s landscape with a nice pictures of Shambhala in the background. If it wasn’t for Dragon Khan in the background, it would almost seem like a snowy scene in the himalaya?

Shambhala

Great sunset on a excellent ride….

Shambhala

Airbnb illegal audio monitoring?

Airbnb monitoring warning

Me and my partner decided on Airbnb for our trip to Barcelona. We found one  and booked it. Generally the flat was ok,

However there was a warning on the kitchen door, stating they are listening for noise 24 hours a day and will cancel bookings if there is loud noise. Looking around I think the device is this thing…?

Airbnb monitoring warning

It certainly put a terrible taste in our mouth and made us feel uncomfortable. Although we didn’t complain straight away and by the time we thought about it, the internet connection was down and if its really connected and not a poor joke; it was no longer going to work. Didn’t cause the host(s) to come and find out what was wrong, even with us complaining about the lack of internet (I debugged it as much as I could, but ultimately we had European roaming data and wasn’t in the flat that much)

This has to be a breach of privacy and I’ve finally complained to Airbnb. Especially after rethinking and re-reading things like this.

Update – Thursday 13th Sept

Since my tweets/toots and this blog post. I had quite a lot of people and journalists get in touch… But I still have seen nothing from Airbnb or the host. So I decided to take one of the journalists up on their offer in a form of social justice. No idea how what I wrote will come across or be edited but as I was seeking out the legal ramifications of what the host had done, I saw this on the Airbnb help site…

Rules for hosts
If you’re a host and you have any type of surveillance device in or around a listing, even if it’s not turned on or hooked up, we require that you indicate its presence in your House Rules. We also require you to disclose if an active recording is taking place. If a host discloses the device after booking, Airbnb will allow the guest to cancel the reservation and receive a refund. Host cancellation penalties may apply.

With that I rewrote to Airbnb and Airbnbhelp to demand a refund on top of everything else I previously complained about.

Sure to update everyone once I hear something….

Update – Friday 15th Sept

I was contacted by Airbnb by phone, the woman ran through a few questions and we talked about what happened again. She agreed this was clearly a breach of the Airbnb terms and could see the listening device and the warning in a few of the photos (as like me, knew what to look for). She said they would block/ban that listing which they have done. They also issued a refund to me and my partner, which is great news as our un-comfortableness certainly had a slight affect on the holiday in Barcelona.

Personally I’m glad I found the Airbnb term above, as that drove things along much quicker. Previous to that, it seemed not a lot was being done?

In our conversation, it was worth noting an Alexa, Google Home, Baby monitors, etc would count as listening devices which must be declared upfront before the guest books.

From Airbnb…

To summarize, we will follow up and investigate the host’s account following your report of a surveillance device in the listing. We take these reports very seriously, once again, thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. Your participation helps keep Airbnb a safe and trusted community.

The Pepsi challenge is back but will it work this time?

Pepsi Challenge in Stockholm

The Pepsi challenge is one of those things people of my generation remember well. It caused a fuss and likely upset a lot of coke-cola fans. But over the decades since, people like Malcolm Gladwell have reasoned why the test its self was broken.

In his book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005), author Malcolm Gladwell presents evidence that suggests Pepsi’s success over Coca-Cola in the “Pepsi Challenge” is a result of the flawed nature of the “sip test” method. His research shows that tasters will generally prefer the sweeter of two beverages based on a single sip, even if they prefer a less sweet beverage over the course of an entire can.

Regardless Pepsi has decided to do the whole thing again comparing Pepsi Max against full sugar Coca-Cola. The taste test is next week in Manchester at Market Street on Saturday 25th August and then Sunday 26th in Piccadilly Gardens.

Take the diet pepsi challange and I will make it easy by forgetting to cover the cans

I’ll try and make it to one just to see what they do different this time around….

Best rollercosters I’ve ridden, so far…

Jetline at Grona Land

I make no secret of my love for Rollercoasters, heck some call me a rollercoaster nerd?

I can trace back where it comes from but I just feel so alive when faced with the moment of impeding doom. Going around and doing it again and again, is exciting too. You get to feel the adrenaline rush and understand what the coasters design and imprecate it fully from different ride positions. On that topic, I’m a back seat rider. The pull of the coaster and the intensity is just amazing. Its a real shame when you are placed somewhere in the middle.

The rollercoaster geeks like me, tend to use some online resource to keep a eye on new coasters and where to head next. I found rcdb.com is great for this. I have considered hacking up a self quantified/tracking system like trakt.tv to capture how many times you have been on a certain ride, when and maybe which position. Instead I keep a track in my head while in the queue and post it to twitter…

For example from Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens

And from Stockholm’s Grona Lund

Theres a better way to do this i’m sure… I started wondering if my aspersions to do something with Mastodon or Micropub & Microformats, could fit with this too? Terms look ok too if its a free app, shame theres no api but the pages are simple enough to turn into a large xml store or what ever.

It could recommend stuff to you and you can start to pick out unique elements which you like or don’t like. In the my case looking through my rides I really hate Vertical Chain Lift Hill’s like you see on Abismo. They are trying to be too clever and actually feel really crap and short for me to enjoy.

Anyway a project for another day…

So with that out the way, here’s my top rollercoasters across the places I have been.

United states

Déjàvu

Six Flags great America

Vertical Velocity or V2

Deja Vu (no longer exists)

Raging Bull

Its funny because I have been to many parts of America but not really seeked out rollercoasters, so the main ones are in Vegas and Six Flags great America near Chicago. Six Flags is typical of a American theme park with lots of rides packed into a space. There were lots of choices for coasters but V2 and Deja Vu caught me, when I could stand the long queues. Raging bull was nice too but was less keen on the restraints, likely now I’d be cool with them.

Las Vegas

Speed: The ride (no longer exists)

Massive fan of LIM (Linear Induction Motor) and Hydraulic Launchs, so speed the ride is right up my street. I’d also add it was the best ride on the Vegas strip by a long way.

Japan

Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima

Nagashima Spa Land

Steel Dragon 2000

Spa Land is one of the best parks I have been to. Its large but not Alton Towers trek around the park size. Within the park is lots of rides including a bunch of thrill and extreme rides. However the crown of Spa Lands is Steel Dragon 2000, which hits a top speed of 95mph on the way down its almost 95 meter first drop (5th highest in the world currently) Then theres a 75 meter hill and drop straight afterwards. Thats higher than the whole of Blackpool’s Big One (62 meters drop). At almost 4mins for a ride, its still the longest track in history and the gravitation force over the hills is insane! There is nothing like it and it eclipses everything else in the park.

Fuji-Q Highland

Eejanaika

Fujiyama

I went to Fuji Q after Nagashima Spa Land and although its got some great coasters, I think I preferred Spa Lands. Fuji Q’s big ride at the time was Takabisha but I wasn’t convinced by it. Felt similar to Saw the ride in Thorpe Park (another one I was so-so about). I did like Do-Dodonpa but after going on Stealth lots of times, this felt poor in comparison. I noticed they changed the hill into a loop now, which might be better but at the time it was a hill.

Tokyo Dome City

Thunder Dolphin

If I could build a rollercoaster, I would do it like Thunder Dolphin. Right in the middle of a city but go big. The Dolphin is a rare surprise but it shuts early due to noise I expect? Its quite thrilling riding through a city centre in this way and quite special.

Spain

Parque Warner Madrid 126

Parque Warner Madrid

Superman / la Atracción de Acero

Stuntfall

Parque Warner Madrid, is a great park. Its not massive but they nicely grouped all the big rides close to each other for easy access to other ones. The theme nature of the park was good and very late opening really helps space out the day. The only thing is its quite a long way out of Madrid which means a coach or car only. The park is packed with rides but the two selected are the best. Stunt drop is just so much fun while Superman is as close to Steel Dragon 2000 as I’ve gotten in recent times.

UK

Alton Towers in 2015

Alton Towers

Nemesis

Smiler

Out of all the theme parks, this is the most visited one. I like Alton Towers but its estate is vast making repeat rides tricky. For example; the distance between Smiler and Nemesis in time is at least 15mins by cable cart! Walking would be 20-30mins. However the number of extreme rides are plentyful. The SW (Secret weapon) series of coasters have been record breaking and a genuine joy to have in the UK. Nemesis for me is still the best inverted coaster I have been on. Its quite insane its 22 years old and hasn’t lost its roar and intensity. Its the reason why (almost) all other inverted coasters don’t appear in my list at all. Even Batman the ride although similar lacks the landscape which features so much in Nemesis. Nemesis is basically cut into the side of hill to keep it below the treeline. You can see similar with the Smiler which isn’t tall but super compact crossing over its self many times. I would include Oblivion and Air but they have fallen out of my ride book in recent times.

Thorpe Park

Stealth

Swarm

Thorpe park is a nice park and its small enough to quickly get high numbers of rides in a short time. Although it doesn’t have enough big rides in my opinion. I use to have a merlin year pass which meant I could go to Alton Towers & Thorpe Park over and over again. So on a long week in London, I would head to Thorpe Park on Friday or Saturday with my luggage then get the tube back to Euston for my train back to Manchester.

Blackpool pleasure beach

Infusion

The Big one

Blackpool is so close and unlike most UK theme parks, opens late. Its got some good rides but I haven’t been on the new Icon ride yet.

Drayton Manor

Shockwave

Its been a long time since I took a ride in Drayton Manor, but I won’t forget Shockwave which is one of the only stand up rollercoasters in the UK.

Sweden

Jetline at Grona Land

Gröna Lund

Insane

Jetline

Grona Land isn’t a thrill seekers paradise but its small opens late and you can easily run around to the entrance of each ride really easily. Jetline was surprisingly old skool but also had quite exciting elements including the out and back via a tunnel. Its also quite a smooth ride at the start. Insane is a winged insane coaster, even I had to take it easy after the 11th time. Its the first time I have been in a ball coaster and after a few breaks, quite enjoyed it.

Denmark

Dæmonen

Tivoli Gardens

Dæmonen

To be fair Tivoli Gardens isn’t really a extreme roller coaster park, but the one ride they do have is like a mini Superman / la Atracción de Acero. Same maker and coasters, just much shorter time and much less extreme.

You could be flirting on dating apps with paid impersonators

Cognitive burn-out

When I first saw the post about people flirting with paid people acting on your behalf. I won’t lie, I was quite shocked. But it makes sense, online dating is draining.

Online dating takes effort, and effort equals time,” he continued. “With [dating apps’] explosion in popularity, it means that you have a huge dating pool at your fingertips, but you’re also in direct competition with everyone else in your area. So if you want to have a chance at meeting your most intriguing matches, you need to have the best possible profile, photos, and messages.”

Although I understand it just feels unethical in a way I can’t describe. Its  similar to my reaction while reading OkCupid founder Christian Rudder’s book Dataclysm about the response rate to generic messages vs organic messages.

The company’s practices may be unethical—but they’re not illegal. Once the company obtains the client’s permission to impersonate them online, there are no laws against what Closers do.

Instead, it’s left to individual platforms to crack down on fake accounts. OKCupid, for instance, makes it clear in their terms of service that third parties are not allowed to open accounts, and it’s not uncommon for clients’ profiles to get flagged and deleted. But from a legal perspective, unless a Closer harasses or threatens a match, exposes a client’s confidential information, or asks for money, everything they do is legal according to US, Canadian, and UK law.

But legality aside, these cut-and-paste flirtations perpetuate negative gender stereotypes, and they reinforce an oversimplified (and destructive) view of romantic expectations.

Its well worth a read

You could be flirting on dating apps with paid impersonators

Some of the best chocolates in their class

Fine chocolates from Cocoarunners

I have been sticking to my new years resolution.

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.

And there are two very noticeable ones which I have to blog about.

Carolina reaper I wrote about briefly before, but I also want to give heads up on the Manufaktura Czekolady which is simply the best 100% chocolate I have ever tasted ever. This 100% chocolate tastes like 90% dark not 100%, making it far less bitter than others I have tasted in the past.

Both are well worth looking out for or ordering from Cocoarunners.

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.