Replacing Instapaper with Wallabag

WallabagI’ve been meaning to switch from Instapaper to Wallabag a long while ago but been so busy. Originally I was going to install it on my own server using Docker as a container then looked into Rkt after a talk with Jack from work. Lofty goals but I did install Rkt and installed the Docker app via Rkt. But thats as far as I got…

Then I tried using framabag.org server but couldn’t get it to connect to any of my clients because its version 1.x it seems. Then I saw a email about app.wallabag.it.

I joined, ported all my instapaper archives over and paid.

Now I have Wallabag on my Eink Android tablet, Nexus 5x, Nexus 7 and Chrome. The only problem I’ve had is getting the Firefox add-on to work with it. Theres some really nice features like the ability to add automatic tags on the fly, custom RSS feeds, 2 factor auth and a kind of Oauth for new clients.

Generally I’m pretty pleased. I would like to see IFTTT support (although RSS helps with this), Gnome shell support and federated server support. I haven’t quite killed my instapaper account but I’m pretty close now. Give it a few days and its goodbye!

Smithsonian nonsense, instapaper spam?

instapaper-spam-from-smithsonian

When instapaper got bought by Pinterest, I always wondered what would change. The first thing was the end of preminum subscriptions. I got my email telling me I had a refund and the paypal subscription was now terminated. But I also noticed I seemed to be getting a lot of spam or ads in my instapaper.

Some may say, well you accidently clicked something or you got some external thing making this happen. Very unlikely, especially since each one links to a different page.

As you can see above I’m getting a lot of Smithsonian links. Of course I never added it myself, never even heard of the site and if you search you will find 408 results in my instapaper! Interestingly my public profile doesn’t show of them and to be fair its not got a lot the stuff I’ve shared with instapaper. But I did actually go through deleting a load of them on my instapaper app and they are back!

This is why I don’t have a good feeling about what Instapaper has done. I got a good mind to read the End User licence agreement to see what the difference is between the previous preminum one and freenium one (which is the only option now).

I know correlation does not imply causation but this is so weird, I can’t seem to find anyone else with the same problem but I’m seeing lots of questions about instapaper spam.

Its not about change Tony, its about forcing the users into a corner against their original intention. This is why I have to leave instapaper and now I invested in a Android epaper tablet, there really is no need for instapaper anymore.

Goodbye instapaper it was good but now its not.

Pokemon Go: Return of the ARG?

Looking out my window watching small groups of people playing Pokemon Go and listening to yet another podcast talking about it. I started thinking does the mainstream success of Pokemon Go, indicate it would be time for alternative reality gaming (ARG) to make a come back?

I mean there’s been a whole ton of successful ARGs in the past and the dynamics got watered/broken down into transmedia (which isn’t meant in disrespect, but a must read from Dan Hon); but they are quite different beasts (pun intended). Looking back at previous ARGs they didn’t take advantage of mobile. Mobile data was expensive and was quite unreliable back in the early days. This is before you even look at many of the other things mobile can give you.

Of course there’s a lot of debate if Pokemon Go is augmented realty or location based gaming. The later would put it in the same ball park of Google’s Ingress and many others. But does it matter? There will always be privacy concerns (here’s a fix for those early adopters) and those who seek to take advantage for their own gain; but it’s certainly getting people out and about, for now at least.

If I was to design a ARG say for example We Dream The City (swear I wrote about it somewhere, but maybe I haven’t yet? findery.com is close);  I would be using the phone and building in functionality which brings groups together into little adhoc clouds like Firechat. Pokemon go shows there is appetite for these types of games and the technology can scale to this extent. Now’s a good time to build these systems and hopefully think about what useful things we could do for local community and society, not just collecting virtual goods?

My photo used in Seattle and Ride Sharing article

Match, OkCupid, Tinder and now POF?

Swallow your fish

Big news on the online dating scene… The picture above sums it up

The Match Group, the global operator of digital dating products such as Match, Tinder, OkCupid and Meetic), and a subsidiary of IAC, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase PlentyOfFish for US$575 million in cash.

Yes if you didn’t already know IAC own Match, Okcupid, Tinder and now Plenty of Fish.

Plenty of fish has had its ups and downs… but $575 million isn’t bad for a dating service which was independently run and managed. Remember Instagram was sold to Facebook for just under double that at $1billion, which goes to show.  The community aspects certainly made it stand out from the rest and this was emulated by some of the others. While the freenium approach back then was quite unique.

Cheers Chris for the heads up

What happens when your dog is no longer serviceable?

Aibo meets Nabaztag: first meeting

The Aibo went the way of the Nabaztag

When Rob told me about Sony shutting down the last one of its service centre for Aibo robotic dogs, I instantly thought about the consequences of a locked down iot device. This is going to be bad

Back in 1999, Sony released a robotic dog called Aibo, a canine companion that didn’t crap everywhere and only ate electricity. It sold pretty well — 150,000 units, despite the $2,000 price tag. Some owners became remarkably attached, which makes it even more sad that Sony has stopped repairing Aibo. Slowly but surely, they’re all dying.

It was bad in my mind but then I watched the NYtimes video and remembered how the Japanese think of most things having a soul/spirit of some kind.

The New York Times has recorded the plight of current-day Aibo owners in a completely heartbreaking video. They interviewed a series of owners, whose Aibos are a central part of their lives, but are slowly having to come to the fact that their dogs have a life expectancy.

What you are left with is something which is kind of heart breaking to watch. Seriously, especially having experience the culture first hand, I can just imagine. I liked my Aibo but nothing like the Japanese love theirs.

Still remember the first time I saw a Aibo in real life. It was at the ICA in London and some guy kicked it off the stage to the outrage of half the audience. Just to make a point about humans attaching human emotion to artificial objects or robots. Fascinating in the face of UK remake of Humans on Channel4.

Social Media’s Common ground

Commonground

Social media cafe Manchester was a diamond in Manchester’s tech scene for a long while. It was inspired  on Loyd Daves’ Tuttle club which was in turn inspired by my own Geekdinners. Who says you can inspire, eh?

Started in 2008 Social Media Cafe became an institution. Meeting regularly on the first Tuesday of the month, it ran for over 5 years bringing an eclectic and sometimes bizarre selection of topics to discuss. From emoji madness and a requiem for Ceefax to more grounded subjects. Through , Manchester kicked off its open data journey and became a stopping off place for people passing through, who had projects and passions to share. Most importantly was a place where anyone with a passion could pitch up and propose a topic that they wanted to share with others – either to inform or to find help. Because of this developed an unConference format that allowed multiple subjects to be discussed at the same time.

Fast forward to November last year in the snug of the Briton’s Protection a group of ex-#smc_mcr types came together to discuss how this venerable event could be reinstated. So Common Ground was born, an event with the same goodness with a more pronouncable name.

Common Ground Launch Event – On the Cluetrain

To kick off Common Ground we look at The Cluetrain and the enigmatic release of new clues after 15 years.

The Cluetrain manifesto was written in an age before social media, when user generated content was but a tiny fraction activity banded around by a tiny number of people. The Cluetrain manifesto went beyond the current day thinking of the dot com boom – 1999 and the catastrophic bust – 2001. It rewrote the rules for a hyperconnected world and it could be argued, is as relevant today as it was then.

The new clues attempt to do the same, taking our thinking into the next 10 years. The event will discuss the new clues and asks if they will have the same impact as the original clues have now. Did Doc Searls and David Weinburger, undermine or add another chapter to the brilliance of the Cluetrain?

Join us

Why the need for another event in Manchester? Its similar to the problem of why Manchester Technights started. The current selection of events are too narrow. Don’t get me wrong its great if you are really into that thing but if you want to get a variety of ideas and thoughts, then you are stuck. I bang on about diversity and how critical it is, this also starts to answer the problem of the filter bubble. You should join us and invite friends…

Event link

Welcome to the MMU Shed

The first event is Tuesday 17th February at its new home, the shed.  The Shed is a new space by MMU (Manchester Metropolitan University)  just opposite where the old BBC just off  Oxford Road on Chester Street.

Its a great space with a lot of potential for all types events and can hold between 2 and 200 people depending on the event and space you require. This does mean there are lots of spaces, so you could go back to the original unconference style of social media cafe. Theres also plenty of room, so noise won’t be a massive issue.

To be fair its a great space and just right for a barcamp, but I’m not doing those anymore (of course).

So whats the first commonground?

The first one on the 17th Feb, will centre around the Cluetrain manifesto. Julian one of the key organisers asked me for a quick summary and I sent this via my phone.

On the Cluetrain

The cluetrain manifesto was written in a age before social media, when user generated content was but a tiny fraction banded around by a tiny number of people. The cluetrain manifesto went beyond the current day thinking of the dot com boom – 1999 and the catastrophic bust – 2001. It rewrote the rules for a hyperconnected world and I would argue is as relevant as it was then as it is today.
The new clues attempts to do the same and in some case does a great job taking our thinking into the next 10 years. The event will discuss the newclues and asks if they will have the same impact as the original clues have now. Did Doc Searls and David Weinburger, undermine or add another chapter to the brilliance of the cluetrain?

Ello and welcome to no pesky ads

inspired by ello, the network

Been keeping my eye on the move to create ethical social networks which don’t take the living piss with our data. Things like Tent.io, Known and now Ello are gathering some momentum…

We originally built Ello as a private social network. Over time, so many people wanted to join Ello that we built a public version of Ello for everyone to use.

Ello recently got quite serious about its non-ad and no selling of personal data.

Ad-free

Ello doesn’t sell ads. Nor do we sell data about you to third parties.

Virtually every other social network is run by advertisers. Behind the scenes they employ armies of ad salesmen and data miners to record every move you make. Data about you is then auctioned off to advertisers and data brokers. You’re the product that’s being bought and sold.

Collecting and selling your personal data, reading your posts to your friends, and mapping your social connections for profit is both creepy and unethical. Under the guise of offering a “free” service, users pay a high price in intrusive advertising and lack of privacy.

We also think ads are tacky, that they insult our intelligence and that we’re better without them.

To be fair its way off being something massive, but thats what makes it interesting I feel. I’m now on the network, so if you are interested in a invite and we are friends, drop me a email or tweet…

Back to instant messaging

instant messaging sites

I bet the figure above has changed in recent times, as everybody turned back to messaging it would seem. Maybe realising that using social networks as a way to do instant messages is a bad idea (not judging, as I have been lured into a one 2 one conversation quite a few times over twitter).

I use to be a jabber/xmpp fan and when GTalk adopted xmpp, I was pretty happy. However over time the xmpp standard was built upon and in the end removed. I was one of those people who ran a client (pidgin) which supported multiple im protocols.

I considered installing pidgin again but I thought I’d give the alternatives a try. However Josh tweeted something which I wanted to consider when choosing a client and protocol.

Looking at the list I decided to try Silent Text/Phone from Silent Circle and Telegram. Telegram has clients across operating systems and devices, while silent text/phone is mainly mobile. Telegram also has the option of working within Pidgin if I decide to switch back.

For me its not that I actively want to hide secret messages, I just want the option to flex my privacy. Instant messenger for me is more private than social broadcasting platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Do I trust facebook messenger? Do I heck! I actively don’t have it on my phone along with the Facebook app.

I know theres rumors twitter are due to spin out their direct messaging part but looking at the rest of the crowd, are we really expecting twitter to adopt a secure and private system? Their track record hasn’t be bad. Actually there are twitter direct messaging clients which is cool but how many times has twitter changed the rules of the system, how long till direct messages are treated differently?

Do you want to join Scoblebook?

Robert scoble at London's Geek DinnerIts worth watching or at least listening to this week in tech. Robert scoble tries to explain the twisted logic of the Facebook algorithm live. For 40+ mins!

Scoble says… “Facebook is running away with the game!

Really? As Clayton Morris says, the amount of curation Robert needs to do is shocking… Out of the 1 billion people who use facebook, the percentage who use lists is so close to zero even Mark Zuckerberg admitted it was kind of broken (thanks Nicole).

Nice try Robert but I certainly won’t be following suit… I’m actually trying to get off it or at least using it as a dumping ground again.

Do you really think Facebook will be around in 15 years?

me on facebook

I still have this strange relationship with Facebook. I don’t really like it but I end up using it because lots of friends are on it and for them its a core part of the Internet (rightly or wrongly). My volleyball teams also use Facebook to book sessions (yes so popular is volleyball in Manchester) and I do get comments from many more friends when I post things into  Facebook.

In the past I used Facebook as massive dumping ground and didn’t really care to login. My view that Facebook is the modern equivalent of the walled gardens of AOL. Although I still stand by this, I have also noticed my usage increasing too.

So when I read the piece titled I Left Facebook, And You Can Too. I reflected on my own increase usage.

Imagine, for a moment, that you must quit using Facebook forever, starting right now. No more posting to Facebook or checking Facebook for the rest of your life. But don’t worry, you can still e-mail all those friends. Does that make you feel panicky? If you’re panicky, it’s a clue. Maybe you’ve been on Facebook for most of your life, so this kind-of-addicted feeling seems normal to you. It’s not normal. I was talking with a woman in her 50s this weekend, who said to me, “I wish I could quit Facebook but it’s so addictive: ‘Oh, this person said this, that person said that, and oh, this person is taking boating lessons, let’s look at all the pictures of the boat,’ and then before I know it two hours have passed and I don’t even KNOW the person taking boating lessons!” This is what it feels like when your connections with a platform are being strengthened, as opposed to the connections with the people you love: you can spend two hours on Facebook looking at the boating lessons of people you don’t even know. This is very convenient for Facebook.

I barely look at the timeline/newsfeed as I’m generally just looking at the notifications. I can feel the lure of the notifications in facebook, this is why I removed Facebook from my mobile phone and only had it on my tablet (plus it was a massive battery hog). Then very recently I removed Facebook messenger from my phone too.

One of the things I have been thinking about recently is, Facebook as a dating site? The evidence is lots of people meet through facebook and lets be honest, its not any worst than the dating sites? The same sites which say they don’t really know what they are doing

Anyway the question I pose, is if Facebook will be around in 15years? Their move to split up the mobile app is frustrating but I can imagine a Facebook dating app in the next few years. Along with their photos app (I said it first!).
The next 15 years, I expect it will still be around but I’m expecting the innovators dilemma to come into effect at some point. And even splitting up the experiences into more niches won’t save them.

Uber drives its way on the UK scene

2014-01-26 | 23-52-16

Uber has soft launched (I guess, is the best term for it) in Manchester and the impact is interesting to watch. Uber is basically a ride sharing network (legally I don’t believe they can call it a taxi service Thanks Chris for pointing out UberX is a legal and licensed Taxi service).

Its quite simple, you sign up and install the app and you can see all the uber rides around you. To order one, you simply request that one pick you up from your exact location. Then say where you want to go. That simple. Unlike most taxis, you can see exactly when and when your ride is coming and heck you can even start walking somewhere and the driver will see your exact location change (great for when trying to get out of the rain for example). No phoning an operator, trying to get through and trying to explain where you are.

There have been apps for taxis but most of them suck and although Uber isn’t perfect, its better than 99% of whats out there.

The fact your payment is done through a connected credit card rather than cash or even debit card is a massive advantage. Frankly these guys have something which is pretty useful. I can’t tell you the amount of times, I have had the taxi driver pull over at a cash machine because I don’t have the cash or they don’t cards. Heck once I stopped at my destination and then had to get back on the road to find a cash machine because their card machine wasn’t working! (seriously!)

But its not all good news, I’ve been tracking Uber’s problems in America and theres even recent problems in Europe.

However, Uber is the perfect example of how the internet when embraced is disrupting traditional business forever…

From the Cluetrain manfesto… rule #89

We have real power and we know it. If you don’t quite see the light, some other outfit will come along that’s more attentive, more interesting, more fun to play with.

I do feel for the taxis company’s but they had their chances and may have blown it? Just like the music business and many others, they really need to up their game or feel the heat from Uber, as their drivers leave for the Uber deal…

People’s enthusiasm for federated decentralised $WHATEVER

Adewale shooting me

Love following Ade and hearing some of the things he comes out with

People’s enthusiasm for federated decentralised $WHATEVER seems inversely proportional to the practicality of their plan for achieving it

And tell the truth he’s right… but one day someone will crack it and find a new business model which makes it all worth it.

On a related noted, suddenly everyones thinking about federated decentralised services with the discovery of what WebRTC is capable of doing.

One such use is decentralised chat rooms, which for some reason hit some of the smaller press.

The ICT division of NTT Group announced a free trial of the app, WebRTC Chat on Skyway, on Monday. WebRTC, or real-time communications, is a free, open-source project that turns supported web browsers into telephony engines so that devices can connect via IM, video, or voice chat.

Being open source, hopefully some of the enthusiasm will rub off on smart developers, and we’ll finally see non-vapourware?

Things which google have done which bug me in the last year

how google perpetuates itself

Most people would say I’m a fan of google services but I just find them the best of a bunch. Don’t necessary buy their old do no evil stance but they do a good job on most things. One of my favourates is of course Google Now. However there some thing which have bugged me over the last year, heres my list…

  • Offline maps
    I don’t quite understand why they got rid of offline maps but its frustrating, as it use to save me tons of money in roaming charges. If I go on holiday somewhere, I could make a offline version of that city and happily know I have most places to hand. The best thing is it still worked with GPS, so I could be in a taxi or on a bus and track where I was going to the exact moment. Now Google have removed the feature and I’m aware of the “OK Google” trick but its not the same.
  • Hangouts vs Gtalk vs Google Voice
    I know Google have changed Gtalk to fit into Hangouts. Great but whenever I say lets hangout, people assume you mean video and audio, which is a hangout on air? Where does Google Voice fit into this frame? I have no idea… Don’t get me wrong, I love hangouts but the application does kill batteries and I quite liked Gtalk, as I could use it with Pidgin.
  • Google Voice for the UK
    The one thing skype has over hangouts is the ability to call and text phones. Google Voice does this but its not come to the UK still, even after years. I also don’t understand why it works on my android tablet (I have £10 worth of credit) but it won’t work on my android phone?
  • The built in browser in Android
    On Android there is the built in browser but you can install multiple alternative browsers. So I have Browser, Chrome, Firefox and Opera on most of my android devices. You can make any of them the default but I don’t really understand why Chrome isn’t the default?
  • Circles vs Categories for contacts
    Google Plus has been on the market for some time now and I like the circles, but what I don’t get is the categories which run parallel to the circle methodology. Ideally would be able to convert your gmail contact categories into circles. But Google have done nothing. Worst still Circles acts like taxomomies rather then folksonomies meaning there a duplicate scheme to sort contacts. If one was tag/folksomy based then it would be understandable.
  • Google Task API
    I know there is a Task API but it seems so flaky or at least all the apps which connect to it like any.do
  • Inconsistency of staring something in Drive vs making it offline
    In the past, anything you stared in Drive/Doc would automatically be downloaded on Android devices. Some time recently that stopped being the case and you now have to manually select download on every device you want it on. This also can not be done remotely (from what I’ve seen). So I might have made it offline on my phone but not my tablet. The star system was better
  • Offline access generally
    Offline access generally isn’t ideal, its almost like someone at google hasn’t really experienced offline for long. Take for example Google Calendar. Offline mode, generally works without internet access, so you can go forward and backwards over a few months. But if you want to add or edit a something, forget it.
  • Google reader
    Of course no list about issues with Google wouldn’t be complete without a dig about Google Reader!