Google maps you have a speech problem

Google Maps

I love google maps but it has a problem.

I use it as a GPS when travelling around on my scooter, which means I don’t have a screen in front of me. Instead I’m reliant on the audio output to tell me where to go and when. I imagine for most people this sounds kind of crazy because they want to see the map and directions, but when it works it really works well. It says before the turning and then again just at the point of the turn. Pretty much once you get use to it, its just great and I find it weird sitting in peoples cars when they are not listening to the voice.

However there is a bug/problem.

I use to think it was just my Nexus 5X but its happened with my Google Pixel2 making it clear its a google maps issue.

Every once in a while, google maps stops talking and leaves you with silence.  This seems to be solved with a restart, which is hardly great when driving along. I imagine most users tend to have the display and don’t care too much about the voice. But if you are reliant on it, when it suddenly goes quiet you start to wonder. Worst thing about it is Google maps doesn’t say anything when you don’t need to take a turn. Meaning if you are going down a motorway you have to assume everything is fine.

Google maps fail

This is what happened as I drove down the M6 towards London not Bristol on Monday afternoon, wondering when the M5 turn off was coming. Now to be fair I was on the right motorway but when I came across the M6 toll road, I took it and that led me towards London.

M6 toll
Taking the M6 Toll road
M5 from Birmingham
The M5 I should have took

Google maps said nothing, so I just kept going expecting something over the headset when the turning came. To make things even more difficult I had my pixel 2 phone locked in the scooter charging, meaning I couldn’t see the phone unless I pulled over and turned off the engine. Once again not ideal.

Ok this example is quite extreme (but it happened) and you could say I should have been aware but I honestly didn’t see a sign for the M5 south. Its likely I wouldn’t as I took the M6 toll road.

Google maps has a speech problem and I’m not the only one who has experienced this.

Anyone else?

So much good at AfroTech Festival 2018

Afrotech Fest 2018

When I first heard about Afrotech festival, I was impressed with the idea. I’ve always been in the minority at tech conferences. Its been so common that I just don’t (try not to) think about it. Its very common for tech events to try and encourage more women to be involved but even with gender diversity its poor to bad. Calls for racial diversity tend to end up falling on slightly deaf ears. Its not always unwillingness but it does have a slight effect, and makes you think… should I be here?

In actual fact the only times I have been in a tech event where the dominate people weren’t white males has been the girl geekdinner events. For example last week Sunday I was a girl geek tea party with all women and myself, I felt comfortable enough and hopefully everybody else felt the same (there was no indication to suggest any issues).

Its very rare when I haven’t been in the minority, especially around tech. At Afrotech fest, for the first time I was in the racial majority although interestingly a minority in gender.

I was giving one of the two keynotes and I’ve posted the slides and thoughts in a previous post. The other keynote was given by Ade Adewunmi who talked about similar issue I brought up.

Afrotech Fest 2018

The festival ran over Friday & Saturday. It felt more like a unconference with clear tracks. The sessions were varied with topics ranging from An introduction to cryptocurrency to What the Matrix can teach us about Diversity & Inclusion. There were panels for example The Good and Evils of Machine Learning. All the sessions focused on a slightly different view, for example the machine learning panel included lot about algorithm bias and transparency. Issues which directly effect the lives of minorities.

Afrotech Fest 2018

Another great thing beyond just the make up of the people was the diversity of personal backgrounds. There were developers, artists, people working in law, etc, etc. There was also a youth track on Saturday afternoon (which I obviously didn’t attend) it was great to see young people wondering around like you see at Mozfest.

I was impressed with everything especially the 6 black female organisers and lots of helpers, who made everyone feel at home in Richmix. The festival was very welcoming to those not from the black community with everybody was respectful alongside the lines of the code of conduct. Its also the first time I’ve had to agree/sign my presentation and keynote will not break the code, something others should do.

I had a great time, learned a lot and even my non-technical sister took away something. The conversations I had were great and look forward to the next one.

Little update

Myself and Ade Adewunmi are on BBC Click briefly talking about Afrotech Festival.

Afrotech Fest is a two-day tech and digital festival in the UK by and for black people of African and Caribbean heritage. It explores the intersection of technology, the arts, history, news, activism and representation. In particular Afrotech Fest aims to provide a platform for people across a variety of backgrounds to imagine a future free of the present biases whether conscious or unconscious. Click talks to Ade Adewunmi and Ian Forrester about Afrotech.

Afrotech Fest 2018 keynote: Diversity and the joy of being different

Ian Forrester at Afrotech 2018

The slides are now public on google drive (unusual but I do tend to create and edit them on google slides to be honest) and of course in the usual place of my slideshare presentaion. Its a long one but I could do it with all the videos a tad over 30mins.

They are thought provoking and full of references to some excellent research worth reading and digesting.

Massive thanks to the organisers and the audience for bearing with me through the keynote of 106 slides…

Continue reading “Afrotech Fest 2018 keynote: Diversity and the joy of being different”

Tips and ideas for Madrid & Lisbon please?


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

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

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

Nexus 5x issues ongoing…

Google Nexus 5x
I like the irony of the good place paired with the problems of the phone

I recently got my Nexus 5x back from Carphone Warehouse. This follows the sudden bootloop of my Nexus 5x in November.  They replaced the motherboard as it was still under its 2 year warranty. I was hoping they would just refund me for it, as I bought the Google Pixel2 on its launch.

But it will do for now, till it happens again and I’ll be demanding more. Right now its a spare/backup phone with my pay-as-you-go 3 sim inside. I did pause to think if I should upgrade to Android Oreo, but decided I should do it.

In the mean while its interesting to see some of the solutions people have come up with including this one using salty ice to keep the CPU cool.

Nexus 5x under ice

Talking at Afrotech festival 26th Jan 2018

Afrotech Fest 2018Afrotech fest 2018I haven’t been blogging much recently, mainly because I am writing 3 different presentations. My first big one is for the Afrotech festival, which I have the absolute joy of keynoting at on Friday 26th Jan. I spoke at a much small one in Manchester awhile ago and you can see the presentation here.

When Florence asked me to talk, I jumped at the opportunity and its turning out to be quite a festival. Love the fact its being arranged by 6 amazing black women too.

The festival is a response to the underrepresentation of black people in the technology industry – especially those who are marginalised in additional ways – as well as tech conferences and festivals being too expensive for many to attend. We want to create a festival that is intentionally diverse and inclusive of those often excluded.

We look forward to welcoming you, whatever your age, gender, class or ability. Whether you’ve never written a line of code or regularly contribute to a huge project, Afrotech Fest is for you.

Tickets are available now, if you are in London end of this month (Jan 2018). Get yourself down to Richmix to discuss and see the future.

If you think this is just for the blacks.

We welcome people of all races, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds to attend Afrotech Fest.

So no excuses!

15th Feb, a evening about the future of dating with myself?

Future of dating with Ian Forrester

I was asked by Ahmed and other Manchester futurists to talk about the future of dating. Of course I said sure thing…

So I have combined a few of my blog posts, thoughts and foresights into a combination which I actually think could be or could lead towards a possible future of the way we match and connect in the future.

Should be fun as it won’t be just a talk like the TEDX talk 2 years ago but a workshop involving people in creating their own dating service on the night.

Quantifying my attention across devices

Rescue Time in Jan 2018My frustration with tracking my smartphone use, the apps permissions and data use; drove me back to rescue time.

I decided it’s time to combine the time I spend on different devices together in a sensible way. Previously I had used rescue time even with the bulk collection of personal data a worry. But a long time ago there was no sensible rescue time tracker/scrobbler for Linux. I remember trying the early betas and not being impressed at all.

So coming back years later I was happy to see a scrobbler on every platform including android and Linux. Not even a tgz but a deb package which is easy as pie on Ubuntu. After installing it and recovering my old account; I was up and going quickly. It doesn’t use much resources on android or Linux and sits quietly in the background.

The breakdown is impressive and making changes to the categories makes things very interesting. For example here’s Monday time (bear in mind I was ill in the morning but you can see once I was awake, I was off and running)

RescueTime - Categories 10 jan

I also have Hamster time data which I can combine if I like to really understand and drill down.

My hamstertime data for 8th JanIt might seem like overkill but as most of this is automated, theres little I need to do.

Zuckerberg is so full of it?

Mark Zuckerberg points into space
Look this is where you will be if you use decentralised tech. Outside, cold and no one will care, believe me I have  money and power to make it so!

Mark Zuckerberg started posting his personal challenge/new years resolutions a while ago. He’s got a long way to go to catch up with myself and others, but regardless…

This year he said a bunch of things including this pile of nonsense.

This time, Zuckerberg talked about the importance of “centralization vs decentralization” in tech — in other words, who is benefitting from tech’s tremendous power.

“A lot of us got into technology because we believe it can be a decentralizing force that puts more power in people’s hands,” he wrote. “But today, many people have lost faith in that promise. With the rise of a small number of big tech companies — and governments using technology to watch their citizens — many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it.”

Oh how observant you are Zuckerberg. Yawn!

OKCupid starts screwing around with messages

Stop Screwing with okcupid

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

Well OKcupid quietly announced this change over the holiday season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okcupid is a safe place for ALL its users…

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

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

What WordPress & Medium could have been?

extreme sports and blogging

For ages I’ve wondered if WordPress was going to do something more decentralised/interesting with all those blogs loosely connected using WordPress?

The answer seems to be no, which is a crying shame but I recently noticed Standardnotes, added a new sub-service which seems closer to what I imagined from WordPress

We’ve put a lot of work into our note sharing platform called Listed. Listed allows you to publish and share notes directly from the Standard Notes web and desktop app. Best of all, it allows readers to subscribe to your new posts. Your subscribers are immediately notified by email any time you publish a new post. Unlike Medium, Listed allows you to own your content source, and have a more direct communication channel with your readers.

You can imagine this could be a neat way to keep a group of people connected, outside the prying eyes of a centralised service. For example it could be a neat email mailing system like mail chimp. Imagine something like NTK in this way?

Ok so listed is still in early days but theres some interesting decentralised blogging systems like Steemit which are doing something different with the community of writers.

My new years resolutions for 2018

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

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

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

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

Beds with USB and Bluetooth

Smartphone and bedtime

Theres an advert on UK TV these holidays about a bed with USB ports. Of course this isn’t anything too exciting as there have been beds with Bluetooth for a while. But it got me thinking about a quote (which I can’t find now) but roughly goes…

“The aim of smartphone apps like facebook is to be the first thing you look at when waking up. Levels of success are measured by how long you spend in bed not moving just consuming.” – Power phrased….

Wish I could find the original quote because its sounded even more scary than what I could remember. Ideal ways to never deal with your smartphone addiction.


Shooting the Proscenium Arch

Stillwell Theatre, Brooklyn NY in 1927 - Proscenium Arch and curtains

I heard the term but never really understood what the Proscenium Arch actually was…

In his 1997 book “Architects of the Web,” Rhapsody founder Rob Reid calls this phenomenon “shooting the proscenium arch,” referring to the “proscenium” that frames a traditional stage. It’s the idea that when new technology arrives, the first thing people do is try and force old technologies onto the new format. He writes:

“The proscenium arch has many forms, and it lurks at the birth of all media. Early radio broadcasters whose announcers read directly from newspapers were shooting the proscenium arch. TV broadcasters who pointed their cameras at chitchatting radio announcers were shooting it as well. But the proscenium arch’s day always passes quickly, as famil­iarity with a new medium grows, and content evolves in directions that its earliest pioneers could not have foreseen.”