Fixing the pebble buttons by leaning on the community

My Pebble with Sugru

I am still holding on to my pebble 2 smartwatches, although I have said in my new years resolutions. I was going to find an alternative to the pebble watch.

I still haven’t found anything. I had hoped the new Android Wear 3.0 and the Fitbit buy might have done something positive in this space. However its not happening.

There was a study I took part in recently from Dr. Susan Lechelt of Edinburgh University about IOT & connected devices after they become non-supported, unusable, broken, etc. Of course I won’t go into details but through-out the study it made me revisit my ongoing task to fix the pebble smartwatch.

Broken pebble 2 smart watches

The pebble community is incredible, you only have to look at rebble to see how amazing. iFix it came up with guides to fix most of the most common problems including my pebble 2 button failures. So with this, I finally decided to skip the 3D print your own buttons which I had planned once I get back into work and bought them at Shapeways.

Pebble 2 and new buttons

After ordering 2 buttons and identifying two of my pebble 2 watches really just need new buttons, I’m ready to go this weekend – or maybe one of these weekends in summer.

Looking forward to extending the life of the pebble smartwatch like how I have extended the life of my Pacemaker device way beyond its limitations.

Its too hot to work in my flat

I have said my piece about Islington Wharf multiple times including recently in a piece for the Sunday Times (!).

I usually disappear to a coffee shop in Manchester, but I didn’t want to risk going out on Freedom day (if I could say it with a super ironic voice I would). Especially just a head of my 2nd Covid19 vaccine. I know so many people are so looking forward to not wearing a mask, social distancing, etc but I’m still carrying my mask and using it when going into places or walking around Islington Wharf.

Interestingly, I found my mask so much more breathable in the heat than the surgical mask I had to wear when getting the 2nd jab. Once again I had the power of music (Binary Finary’s 1998 this time) and Anbesol to thank for a good experience.

Isolation in the fast lane mix

Diabolo tricks in the garden

After a week or so in isolation although negative throughout, I turned to the Pacemaker device for a new mix. Something different from my usual progressive trance style. There’s some tunes I’ve been playing out recently mixed with some classic trance, all at a slightly uplifted 133-134 bpm. Listen out for the Armin van buuren mashup of Eat Sleep Rave repeat drumming through Grotesque.

Enjoy the mix, which is another entry in the locked down, mixing out album of mixes.

  1. Mezzanine – Gareth Emery
  2. Go Fast! – Organ Nilsen
  3. Invasion (ASOT 550 Anthem) – W&W
  4. Strange Bends (Kyau & Albert remix) – Sebastian Sand
  5. Go (Extended mix) – Protoculture
  6. Made of love (Extended mix) – Ferry Corsten feat Betsie Larkin
  7. The system – Inertia
  8. Take everything (Extended mix) – Emma Hewitt
  9. Floyd (Extended mix) – Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor
  10. Halcyon (Alex M.O.R.P.H remix) – Andy Moor
  11. Eat sleep rave repeat vs Crushed vs No good (Armin van buuren mashup) – Cosmic gate & Mark Sixma vs. Fatboy slim
  12. Grotesque – RAM & Alex M.O.R.P.H

Toxic masculinity at a level I can’t comprehend

Man with wheeled suitcase

A few things have based through my wallabag/read it later which has sadly surprised and sometimes shocked me. I doubt few wouldn’t (but sadly I know there will be a few who are not)

I read about the Mystery of wheelie suitcase (how gender stereotypes held back history of invention) in the Guardian and couldn’t but could believe it.

Why have some brilliant innovations – from rolling luggage to electric cars – taken so long to come to market? Macho culture has a lot to answer for

Ok it was in the past but as the piece says at the end…

Today, less than 1% of UK venture capital goes to all-female teams. Among the very few women who do get funded, a very large majority are white. Of course, venture capital isn’t everything – there are other ways to fund and scale innovation – but the fact that men, more or less, have a monopoly is certainly a symptom of an economy where women’s ideas are not heard.

So lets be honest little has changed, if you haven’t been paying attention.

Talking about history I found Do NOT Pass GO! with Tim Harford, super enlightening.

Lizzie J. Magie (played by Helena Bonham Carter) should be celebrated as the inventor of what would become Monopoly – but her role in creating the smash hit board game was cynically ignored, even though she had a patent.
Discrimination has marred the careers of many inventors and shut others out from the innovation economy entirely. Could crediting forgotten figures such as Lizzie Magie help address continuing disparities in the patenting of new inventions?

Coming back to this decade, this Vice piece titled Anti feminist gen-z boys who hate women, had so much in it I was sadly disappointed. I always hoped the next generation would learn the mistakes the previous had made. Of course as a whole things are getting better, its just disappointing to read.

Half of young men in the UK now believe that feminism has “gone too far and makes it harder for men to succeed”. These are the results of a significant study published in July 2020 by anti-extremism charity HOPE not Hate. The study, Young People in the Time of COVID-19, surveyed 2,076 16- to 24-year-olds on their ideological beliefs.

Then when you think its can’t get worst.

This totally shocked me. I discovered it via A.M. Darke’s fairly intelligent machine learning. It was one of the examples and I wondered what on earth is septic masculinity? I clicked and was horrified at how awful and low some parts of masculinity has gone. Warning its not nice at all.

Welcome to the Manchester high line

Manchester castlefield viaduct

The news broke a while ago about turning the Castlefield Viaduct into its own High line public garden.

Its a great idea and to be honest I wondered for almost decade why it had not happened already. The disused bridge was growing wild for a long time but was far enough away from the train and tram bridge to cause no problems. Even getting on to the bridge was pretty simple except the artificial barrier blocking the way.

Castlefield is a good place to be when its sunny in Manchester and the planned garden is going to be quite something and I’m just glad its going to be public not some private space for footballers and the wealthy.

Playing by the rules in a pandemic

NHS Track and trace app telling me to self-isolate for 8 days
I am very much looking forward to Breakfast on Sunday morning

For the last 5 days I have been self isolating due to coming in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid19. It was a team mate during outdoor Volleyball on Wednesday last week, so the risk was low especially because I was using hand sanitizer and still avoid touching my face, etc.

We only found out on Thursday they were positive and then on Saturday I got the NHS track & trace notification, ironically just after coming back from Moss side Volleyball.

I have been using the rapid testing for Covid for a long while every 3-4 days and logging my negative tests results with the NHS. Regardless, I’ve been self-isolating and happy the weather hasn’t been so hot making working from home bearable.

The thing I have found (lets say) interesting is, my phone with the Contact tracing/Track and Trace app was on while in the park playing (in my bag on the ground). While other players did not, although we all knew the person had tested positive. Long story short, the NHS finally got in touch and told the rest of the team to self-isolate but a good 3 days later. The others only needed to isolate for 5 days instead of my 8 days. It makes sense but…

…I find it interesting and reminds me of the DRM discussion of how DRM only effects those who play by the rules.

The basic problem is that DRM is trying to keep honest people honest

Before you message me about the difficulty of epidemiology. I know I know, trust me I know!

This is also not judgement/shade on my fellow volleyball players. Someone from a coffee shop messaged a friend I was with, saying a staff member had tested positive. My friend decided to self-isolate while I decided not to because I hadn’t gotten a alert from the NHS (yes I do check in on the app every single time). If I had, I would have self-isolated like my friend, while still doing my rapid tests every 3-4 days.

I just find it all interesting, the judgement calls and personal decisions made during a pandemic.

Its only 30mins before I’m free to go

Self isolation ends soon

Hooray! I have big plans starting with Brunch and maybe a trip to Toolstation to get some bits for my new wifi changes. Exciting eh?!

One of my favorite diabolo tricks recently

The long sequence for this is a hand grind to spinning top to vertex whip to vertex to vertex suicide to vertex around the legs and above. Quite a mouthful?

Although things are opening up in the UK, I’m still in the garden doing the Diabolo when ever I can.

The moves are getting more dangerous based around what I can do with a vertex. There is a lot more that I can do for example I haven’t really got into vertex genocides yet, for the diabolo to leave the string in the middle of a vertex seems insane. But to be fair I remember when I first tried to whip a vertex diabolo. Its easier when doing the spinning top to be honest.

Diabolo vertex spinning top

One trick I’m turning my head to is the infinite suicide. I’m just not getting it and its frankly annoying me. Especially as you have to start slowly making sequences or combinations interesting.

Meet the author event: Ethics in Tech with Mozilla

Meet the authors of the ethical dilemma cafe

I’m very happy to be asked by Mozilla to be a featured author for an upcoming “Meet The Author” MozFest session on ethics in tech in a post-pandemic world.

Airing your dirty data at Mozfest
Airing your dirty data at Mozfest (2014)

Myself and Jasmine will have a open Q&A LIVE on Wednesday June 23 from 11am ET/4pm BST/5pm CEST, as we discuss the MozFest Ethical dilemma cafe (2014) and post-pandemic ethics in tech.

The cafe listening to your chatter
The cafe listening to your chatter in exchange for free goods

Its going to be an engaging conversation and your input will make the conversation that much more interesting.

You can sign up and join us here.

Dynamic diabolo pictures at dusk

I have been filming my diabolo tricks since the very start of the pandemic. Every once in a while I stop on a frame and just think wow that looks so great. Today at dusk while doing a new trick – Spinning top to vertex whip to vertex suicide to vertex around the legs.

Nothing better than filming this at dusk.

This is the Islington Wharf update you have been waiting for

Double rainbow in Islington Wharf

For many years I have written about the problems at Islington Wharf. Part of the reason for writing about these flats is to force some change in my way, while others try other things. A lot of people don’t like its all out there for all to read but frankly its been out there for over a decade. The most important thing is to get the latent defects fixed to the comfort of all the people like myself who bought or are renting. Its been way too long!

Following on from this large post and the last post. Things have changed again…

The temporary aircon solution

…This time for last time hopefully

Waterside places came to the Islington Wharf committee with a proposal after the last one with Laing O’Rourke which was awful didn’t pass. It took some time but after the meeting in April, we were all ecstatic. The next day a email was to everybody

In short all the work which was planned with Laing O’Rourke would go ahead but with Morgan Sindall Construction. They will not use the garden as their workers yard instead use part of the old central retail park and phase 4 space, which is next door. They will do all the latent defect work in 18months instead of 2 years and the best part is they are going to replace all the glass, not stick a film to the outside. The cost of this all to the residents? Zero! Yes no cost. Lets be frank Islington Wharf has a ton of glass, so this is no cheap operation but was always needed. It would likely be easier if done years ago because now phase 2 & 3 makes access much more tricky.

Islington Wharf
Imagine replacing all that glass

Now you can see why we were ecstatic! This is a massive win and I find myself very fortune I am in the position where this is a option when so many flat owners are having to pay to replace their cladding.

The next part is to get agreement from all the flat owners they will allow access. As you can imagine with support from the committee and mailshots, emails, fb, etc. We have pretty much everybody in agreement. Although some haven’t replied back, likely forcing Waterside places to consider legal action to gain access.

Heat check while working
28c while working away with two fans and window wide open

This is most likely the last summer of heat (hopefully), which would be great as I’m experiencing 28c heat while working at home and its 24c outside.

Once things get going, I’ll start updating the older blogs as I do get the occasional press attention, which was the point of writing.

Update (Monday 14th June)

I was prompted to wrote this blog just after being interviewed by the Times journalist Emanuele. I had meant to write it for a long while but being interviewed pushed me to do, mainly to set the record straight and give a fair update of where we are now. I see the article went live in the Sunday Times thanks to a friend’s mum.

Although not quite what I said, its mainly there and glad the last part was included about the developer (Waterside places) agreeing to fix the latent defects.

Photo in the Manchester Evening News

Manchester City stadium with Lasers

This photo ended up in the Manchester Evening News, of course they didn’t tell me and it took a google alert to notify me.

Not that I really cared too much but Chelsea won, so there was no light show afterwards.

Life and joy in metropolis mix

Manchester City stadium with Lasers
Nice of Manchester City stadium to put on a light display for my latest mix

A mix with pace and some great old and new tunes. Its short and sweet but packs a punch. Recorded as the UK opens up after its third lockdown. The cases have dropped and the vaccination is going strong. You can get a real sense of the joy in peoples faces and living in the city is once again a great place to be, no matter what Anne Clark says.

Enjoy the mix, which is another entry in the locked down, mixing out album of mixes. You can also now listen to it at its original high quality and advert free on my personal mix site.

  1. Sleeper in Metropolis (Club mix) – Anne Clark
  2. Untenthered (Jerome Isma-Ae remix) – Alastor & RUE
  3. Love Stimulation (PvD Love club mix) – Humate
  4. The Descent – Protoculture
  5. Silence (Jerome Isma-Ae Extended remix) – D-Nox and Baya featuring Lenn V
  6. Groteseque – RAM & Alex M.O.R.P.H
  7. Go (Extended mix) – Protoculure
  8. Shnorkel – Miki Litvak & Ido Ophir
  9. Wrist block (Joey Beltram remix) – Side Four
  10. Labyrinth (Paul Keyen remix) – Lee Cassells
  11. 1998 (Gouryella remix) – Binary Finary
  12. Freedom (Extended remix) – ARTY v Muvy

2 jabs and a blood test

My vaccination card, lidocaine cream and headphones

Its clear 2021, is going to be the year of 2 covid19 jabs and a blood test. 2 more jabs that I would expect and 3 more than I would actually like. Certainly not a good year for me, someone with a extreme needlephobia.

The one thing which clearly has changed is using lidocaine cream. Its a real game changer for myself. I’m not saying it makes things easier but the instant pain of the prick is less intense, making it less likely for me to react.

1 jab to go…!

Plotting and harvesting Chia cryptocurrancy for a more green crypto future?

My Chia farming setup

I have admit over the last 2 months I setup a cryptocurrancy rig in my flat. Now when most people think about cryptocurrancy they think of bitcoin and the absolute insane amount of power going into mining bitcoins. This is why when I saw Bram Cohen (creator of BitTorrent) talk about creating something different (proof of space+time) I was always interested. To be fair I since BitTorrent I’ve been watching what he’s been up to, Bram is just one of those serial entrepreneur I keep an eye on.

After hearing about Chia, I downloaded the Linux app and got it up and running on a old laptop I use for bits and bobs. I would have used one of my my Raspberry PIs if I had Ubuntu installed. I plugged in a external USB to SATA SSD which I was using to run my old Dell XPS13 work laptop, when the internal drive got screwed up. Then plugged in a old USB to SATA caddy/docking bay with one of my old 2TB mechanical hard drives from my old server (pre NAS).

My Chia plot

Then left it plotting and harvesting my 1 single plot for a month or so.

At the time, the estimated time to win a Chia was 8 months. As I had the laptop on doing other things all the time, it wasn’t a big deal for me. Actually removing my server and replacing it with the NAS, 2x Raspberry Pis and this laptop  is actually less electricity than my single home made server with 7 drives and 4 fans. I hear most of you say wtf! I do have a lot of devices on in my flat and my electricity is high compared to typical single person but everything else (heating, water, etc) is low.

It was about 4-5 weeks when I was telling someone about Chia and noticed I had harvested 2 chia’s unbeknownst to me. To be clear I have 1 single 100gig plot and although I tried setting up 2 plots afterwards in parallel, I decided it was too much for my old laptop’s little quad core CPU and switched back to a single 100gig plot again (to be clear its more the parallel part which was the problem and CPU is only really used)

Chia CPU and Memory load in Htop

With all this in mind, I was introduced to the Reddit subthread for Chia, where I saw people building massive rigs to plot and harvest. Its quite insane and then hearing how Chia is being blamed for shortages in HDDs and SSDs. Of course why most people are interested in Chia (including myself) is the proof of space & time rather than proof of work. This realistically could be far more sustainable than proof of work models like Bitcoin. I say “could” because seeing these massive rigs seems to throw oil over the notion of Chia’s green attributes.

Although its tempted to add some more plots, I’m not going to change my setup because its sustainable for me. Little has changed on my network or on my physical desk. Getting in early was something very good but I got lucky with 2 Chia already.

Yesterday a friend mentioned Elon had tweeted about Tesla not taking Bitcoin for their electric cars.

I can’t say anything profound about Chia except I’m more than interested because its not just a speculated currency like Bitcoin. Although the price is super surprising for a new cryptocurrency. I said similar about Ethereum because of the smart contracts, NFTs and other things. The currency side is only slightly interesting while things like ChiaLisp for Identity spikes my interest.

My Trypanophobia and my first Covid19 vaccine

My vaccination card, lidocaine cream and headphones

I got my first Covid19 vaccine shot today.

I wrote about this in my last blog because I wanted to provide some helpful support for people who have trypanophobia/needlephobia. Here is how my day went today.

Feel free to skip to the vaccine centre part by the way

Setting things off in the right way

I packed my bag yesterday night and booked myself a early massage to get into the right frame of mind.

Today I spent most of the night not dreaming which is odd because I usually dream a lot since I started gong to bed later. My Oura ring said 77/100 and Sleep as Android said 92% shut eye. Although to be fair I did go to bed early (12:20am) and wake up early (8:50am). After the hot oil massage at Manchester massage (don’t judge me, it relaxes me and its just a massage, not what you are thinking) I went for breakfast at Ezra & Gil outdoor (it didn’t rain which was great). I applied the Anbesol to my left arm in the toilet and then I walked up to Sports city (Manchester City’s stadium where the vaccination centre is. I was running a late, so walked very quickly building up quite a sweat with my winter coat on.

The Vaccine centre

After finding the centre which is in the tennis centre I entered the reception space had to clean my hands, change my mask to a standard issue surgical mask. This was a pain as I hadn’t wore one in the pandemic and found them awkward. This didn’t really help the levels of anxiety to be fair.

When it came to giving my information and checking I am who I say I was, I told them about the allergies and also my trypanophobia. This is when things massively changed. The man asked me some questions and asked if it had taken a lot to come forward to this point. I said very much yes, giving a summary of my experiences with injections. He jumped up and said he will happily fast track me through the lines to make sure I get my injection rather than let the time build the fear in my mind and I get up and leave. I was shocked but knew this the right thing to do. As trying to block out what was happening around me would become increasingly difficult, even if you can’t actually see whats happening. Fear does a great job of clouding the mind.

The actual moment (Trigger warning for my fellow needlephobic)

The man stayed with me all the way through another ask of my details, another clean and I remembered I need to apply another lot layer of Anbesol to my arm. So we stopped while I did that. Next stop was straight into a booth. He handed me off to the staff and I sat in a chair talking with a nurse who did one more check (they did offer if I wanted to lie down on a bed too). I don’t think I thanked him because the adrenaline was going, but he explained my fear and disappeared.

Sat in the chair, 3 people (2 women and another man) were in the booth explained to me what was going to happen. One sat in front of the computer screen and asked my details. The other woman stood in front of me and asked which arm and explained when I can put my headphones on. She explained the vaccine and needle will come in from the left side and I will never see it unless I look over. It will be given to me by the man. Once I removed my shirt, I put my headphones on and the woman stood in front of me distracted me by gesturing to focus on her and not look around. She could see I was trying to tune out but there wasn’t quite enough time.

I did feel the needle in my arm but the distraction of the nurse gesturing, the soothing sounds of Tears (Protoculture remix) by Dakota running through my head and likely the Anbesol. I had no idea how deep it was or anything, I didn’t count the seconds but it was over before the beat started (so roughly 1 minute). It was quick not painless but manageable for me. I thought a lot about the holiday I already booked and being able to go see my parents soon. I never once saw the needle or anything medical, except the bed. This includes those yellow used needles bin, which usually freaks me out massively.

Afterwards

Afterwards I was given a tissue to wipe my hands is they were sweaty (which they certainly was but I didn’t notice till they passed it to me). Afterwards they gave me water, chatted for a while, explaining some of my previous experiences (even they were shocked by one of them) and then one of the women took me outside for fresh air. We stood outside for about 5mins before I made my way home.

On the way home via Asda to use the toilet and pick up a few things. On the walk home, I had to stop for a short while and have a quick cry (i’m not going to lie). The tension was too much and finally the feelings came out.

I would say as a whole the experience was Good (thats what I pressed on the way out) I think it was great compared to what I was expecting in my head. There were a few things which were not clear to me for example I only knew it was the Tennis centre because my friends had mentioned it before. It also seemed very geared up for car drivers not people walking or using public transport. The fast track was a great move and the distraction was a good too. I like I never saw anything even when leaving.

I am looking forward to part 2? No but I’m more ok with it, although I’m already feeling the flu like symptoms and had to pop a flu pill, drink some tea and might start on the oranges for sure. The plan of rewarding myself with some ice cream has gone out the window (or is still in the freezer).

Hopefully this will be helpful to some?

Updated visited countries

Countries in 2021A while ago I did a count of the countries I have been to. I know I’m privileged to have visited a lot of these countries. It was always strange to me because its not like I planned to do it, till I started putting in my new years resolutions visit a new country.

I updated the list to 2021 (although there’s not going to be much updates for a while I suspect). Its strange looking at the map because there is whole continents I haven’t even crossed on a flight.

South America, Africa and Australia. All I’d like to visit sometime, for example South America, love to visit Argentina, Brazil and Chile. In Africa Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. Finally Australia is a strange one for me, as I’m not so focused about Australia but I’d like to see Tasmania and New Zealand mainly to visit people I know. I was considering Singapore for a holiday as its in the UK green list for travel and I have always wanted to check it out (you know how much I love cities) but decided not being able to go into Malaysia would be disappointing with Kuala Lumpur being a few hours away.

Of course this may all change in the next few months but I decided to revisit Lisbon after my brief stop over 3 years ago.

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Been thinking about machine bias again recently

Amazon AR haircut

Yesterday I met up with some friends to celebrate a birthday. We went to the Wharf in Castlefield, Manchester. Nice outdoor space with a massive teepee to help with Manchester’s typical rainfall.

I had a few drinks so visited the toilet a few times and of course washed my hands well so needed to dry them. A few times I tried the hand dryer but there was a red light, so assumed it wasn’t working from a fault or due to the spread of germs? Once I noticed the paper towels were refilled and used that.

However the last time I went in there was white man using the hand dryer, I was surprised and naturally thought it must be fixed now. So afterwards attempted to use it. Did it work, did it heck!

This doesn’t come as too much of a shock as its not the first time and there are many examples on youtube. However with a lot more knowledge now, I’m pretty peed off about it. I wanted to record it but needed a white hand to trigger it and at the end of the night, very few people would join my video experiment. I can tell you I moved, flipped, waved, even touched the sensor with my hand. Nothing would trigger it.

After returning to the table, I asked if the men had used the hand dryer but didn’t get a clear yes or no. So I’ll have to go back to the Wharf soon to film this I think.

Another interesting point also came up after the hand dryer discussion.

Amazon opens its first hair salon, where customers can use augmented reality to experiment with hair colors

I instantly wanted to know if Amazon’s AR app will actually work on non-white people? From all the press pictures, its all pictures of white skin women. If it doesn’t work on non-white skin, expect an explosion of coverage, but it would speak volumes about the total bias of this whole industry. Something many have covered but watching Coded Bias during Mozfest made super clear.

My own mixcloud, finally?

Mixing live in Skopje

I have been for a long time looking for an alternative to mixcloud. I have tried many things including some self hosted solutions like navidrome, subsonic, madsonic, airsonic and ampache. They have all been good except they are best for private sharing. I really wanted to use funkwhale but it was so geared up for single tracks it just didn’t make sense to run a node with my own mixes on it. There is so much I could suggest for  making these software/services better for DJs rather than musicians. A DJ version of funkwhale could be pretty cool, especially seeing the amount of DJs using Youtube and paying for Mixcloud premium to mix live during the pandemic. Heck you could even use web-monetization too (just done).

So with all this and finally thought I have the bandwidth and the storage, I just need a site and some simple software which can share the music files. So I decided to actually setup WordPress with it looking at the local file system (which I can easily have tons of storage). I was going to explore the static file generators again but decided to get something going.

Over the last few days between helping someone out with Linux and cryptocurrencies, I setup WordPress on my RaspberryPi 4 using Yunohost again. As its pretty much static, I think it makes sense.

So here is my own mixcloud site, which I’m still populating, but the latest mixes from my locked down, mixing out album are up complete with artwork. Expect to see more changes over time including a better audio player, more mixes and more everything.

Its not exactly a mixcloud replacement to be fair and my plans to use the .cue files and make better use of playlists, is put on hold for now. I’m sure there is audio plugin which will make use of them. Love to have UPnP and Subsonic apis access from wordpress, but I dream?

Do enjoy and let me know what you think could be improved.

Little update

Following my point about making it work for DJs and mixes. One of my biggest bug bears is playlists. I have been through many of the wordpress plugins for audio playback and I can’t find one which allows me to specify points in a long mix, when different music is played. Its simply a tracklist but all of the ones I have seen and tried are focused on single tracks. Meaning slicing the mix into pieces instead of marking out areas. None of them seemed to support CUE files or things like Ogg vorbis chapters. If there is one I should be looking at, do send it my way because it seems like such a simple thing to do, but I guess theres not enough interest to make it?

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (May 2021)

a dark forest

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing Facebooks dismissal of 530 million users data leaked and actively being exploited, joining the general dismissal of data leaks this month.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this with Google maps providing eco-friendly routesEurope seeking to limit AI use in society and how Ben & Jerry’s combine activism with business.


Facebook/Nick Clegg attempts to gaslight us all

Ian thinks: Nick’s blog post is cleverly written ultimately saying the right things even touching on algorithmic transparency. However the key message is, you are the problem, and ignores the power dynamic an entity like Facebook really has over their users lives.

What is the dark forest theory of the Internet?

Ian thinks: Yancey (co-founder of kickstarter) shares his thoughts about the dark forest theory in light of a year plus in a pandemic and our ever increasing reliance on the internet. Recently followed up with more thoughts.

Is more data or a more human outlook the future of shopping?

Ian thinks: Data use is a worrying trend and it reminds me how Ford decided the data was the goal of the car sell, but maybe shopping is missing the human element?

How is remote working going to effect the future of work?

Ian thinks: A good summary of the development work if you are a office/knowledge worker. Little for other types of work which seemed a obvious hole in this all.

The doomsday machine: scale is the enemy of human progress?

Ian thinks: The comparisons of Facebook to the doomsday machine is quite a leap but the points made are clear and re-enforces my thoughts about scale being the enemy of humanity

Those face filters were never fun

Ian thinks: I turn off the filters as they are usually not flattering for black skin. However there is much greater affect on women who have their faces and bodies under the microscope every moment of the day causing anxiety and even worst.

A new decentralization pattern library

Ian thinks: Its great to see a pattern library focused on decentralised, distributed applications and systems. Its still early days but do get involved if you see something obvious missing from the current 22.

The future of 3D printing is truly impressive

Ian thinks: There is so much covered in this video, everything from 3D printed houses, food and organs. The most impressive for me after the organs is the bio-mimicry printed structures.

If you don’t know dark patterns, this will explain it all in moments

Ian thinks: Really good to share this with people are not clear on the effects of dark patterns, also interesting to see Trump using dark patterns recently.

Sudhir explores the motivations, mistakes and conflicts of mainstream social media

Ian thinks: Although nothing new, its interesting to hear someone who has spent time with gang leaders and street prostitutes; lend his thoughts to the ugly side of social media from the inside out, in new podcast.


Find the archive here

Mozilla Explains: Dating apps, AI and collaborative filtering

Ann Marie Carrothers from Mozilla is absolutely right, its something I have mentioned many times and recently decided enough is enough. Weirdly I have never had the discussion with Ann-Marie in person?

I avoid all dating apps and services which don’t allow me to search my own way through the people. I’m so sick of the systems forcing one way of interacting usually the tinder swiping.

For example OKCupid on the mobile app won’t allow you to search for people who use geeks in there profile. I can hear people say, “why on earth would you want this?!”

Uniqueness!

I’m personally not interested in generic people, I’m after unique people.

Uniquness in dating

Instead of searching through millions of profiles, why not cut through noise by finding someone who cares enough to add it to their profile? For example geek with my other filters in the website (like gender, age, distance, etc) got down to two women.

Uniquness in dating

My search for feminism got down to one woman.

Its not for everyone but thats fine, because the notion of swiping left and right looking at profile pictures isn’t for everybody either.

Chilli Chocolate showdown: Carolina reaper vs Instant regret

Carolina Repear vs Instant Regret chocolates
Its the Chilli-chocolate-faceoff

I said I would film a video of me eating the some of the hottest chilli chocolate. So here is the video complete with my nose slightly running from the chilli. Not so pretty.

With some further time, I decided Instant regret was pretty horrible chocolate and I actually had some more Carolina reaper to try and remove the taste of instant regret. It just didn’t have anything about it, maybe a hint of chocolate which disappeared quickly and you are left savoring chilli. Not exactly what you want to savor…

Another thing I didn’t get around to saying on the camera was the chilli was quite different like the difference between Tabsasco and Sriracha. I guess thats due to the different chillis which are used.

If you want something which will make you have some regret, then look no further than instant regret. However if you want something which actually tastes good then Carolina reaper is calling your name.

Where I’m reading information about allergies and the vaccines

Covid19 vaccine

I have mentioned a few times previously about allergies and covid19 vaccines. A few people have asked me about my sources, so I’d thought I’d share the biggest ones.

Anaphylaxis.org.uk’s Covid19 vaccine update is a good overview and not too difficult to understand. The site is gear for people with severe allergies for many things including different vaccines.

The NHS Specialist Pharmacy Service is a very technical detailed site including the exact ingredients and some terms I needed to be looked up. But it cuts straight through the noise.

Hope these are useful to people too.

New Thinking for the New Generation

Edward Bono's New thinking book

There is a book I have from a long time ago, New Thinking for the New Millennium by by Edward de Bono.

I never fully read it but I liked the name and liked the concept, plus I did read a couple of his other books in the past. Recently I have been thinking about the critical narratives in this space right now.

Theres a bunch of podcasts and projects related to the books too, for example Yancey Strickler’s ideaspace, which funny enough had Kate Raworth and Mariana Mazzucato as guests. The new thinking isn’t quite right because this all goes beyond thinking and more into doing. Kate and the doughnut economics in Amsterdam. Doughnut economics is also mentioned as a big driver for the post growth entrepreneurship. Listening to Mariana and Yancey’s books, I can’t help but point at the BBC R&D Human Values work.

I’m sure there are many more but these seem to be the ones many people have read at least 2 or more. It was something I noticed while watching the chatter and the sessions during the publicspaces conference and some key sessions at the Mozilla festival.

Want to re-watch a session from the publicspaces conference, or the whole conference? They are all uploaded here: https://vimeo.com/publicspaces. If you got a Mozfest 2021 pass? You can still catch all those sessions you missed for a few more weeks.

Excessive energy drink use, symptoms include…

Caffeine under a microscope
What Caffeine looks like under a microscope

There was a time when I would consume upwards of 5-14 cans of redbull every night on a weekend, while going out clubbing and raving. So many I would add Tabasco sauce to slow me down if I was in a bar not a rave (imagine trying to smuggle in Tabasco sauce into a rave!). At the time there was no sugar free redbull and I was aware of the threat of diabetes.

I never touched any illegal drugs although I was surrounded by them, nope my drug of choice was caffeine (it was useful for those 12 hour raves, although I was wide-awake on the coach home when most were coming down). In retrospect maybe I would have been off with ecstasy (I half joke) Reading about the student who had heart failure from excessive drinking of energy drinks, I got away lightly, even with my brush with death.

For two years, the man drank four 500ml energy drinks a day, according to the BMJ Case Report. He spent 58 days in hospital, including the intensive care unit which he described as “traumatising”. Before the hospital admission, he suffered with shortness of breath and weight loss for four months.

Doctors treating him considered a number of diagnoses, but concluded: “Energy drink-induced cardiotoxicity was felt to be the most likely cause.” An organ transplant was considered after tests revealed both his heart and kidneys had failed – with the kidney failure linked to a long-standing but previously undiagnosed condition.

Weather is strange mix

Rain storm over east manchester

What a pacemaker mix, quite mix of tunes from previous mixes with some new ones. All with a changeable pace throughout.

I do love this one which was done during a period during April in Manchester with snow, rain and hot sun over a period of days. Weather is strange just like the choppy nature of this mix.

Listen to it on mixcloud here and enjoy!

  1. Sunset (Bird of prey) – Fatboy Slim
  2. Go (Extended mix) – Protoculture
  3. Running up the hill (Jermone isma-ae bootleg mix) – Placebo
  4. Prosac – Tomcraft
  5. Wrist block (Joey Beltram remix) – Side four
  6. Wilde (Extended mix) – Jermone isma-ae & Alastor
  7. Follow me (Jermone isma-ae extended remix) – Jam Spoon
  8. Ecstasy – Eddie Makrabi featuring Einat
  9. Outlaw (Extended mix) – Fatum
  10. Sequence (Extended mix) – Estiva
  11. Tears (Protoculture remix) – Dakota
  12. Alastor & Rue (Jerome Isma-Ae untethered remix) – Progressive Astronaut
  13. Sunrise – Marninx pres Ecco
  14. Tomahawk (Extended mix) – Maarten de Jong
  15. The pride in your eyes (Martin Roth remix) – Tillmann Uhrmacher

The universal remote I have owned for 15 years

Philips universal remote

I heard the news Logitech are not making or selling Harmony remotes anymore, it made me reflect on my own remote which I can’t really believe I have owned for over 15 years. The Philips SHU 5170, its not a Harmony as I always wanted one but couldn’t justify the price back then.

Its good news Logitech are supporting the remotes for as long as people are using them. Might be time to snag a Harmony before its too late?

17 years at the BBC

Ian PORTRAIT at work

I never thought I would stay at the BBC so long but today its been 17 years.

I have talked many times how little the BBC impacted in my young life as a young black man in inner city Bristol, immersed in the underground rave scene. So won’t drag that up again, except to say that drive to change the BBC is still very much there.

What keeps me going? Being in a the research and development department is key for me. Its fitting with my personality and my ambitions for a better world. A world where public service can be the viable alternative to the surveillance capitalism and government surveillance. We need different models to keep each one honest, accountable and transparent.

Working with personal data stores, human values, decentralised protocols/systems, in a collaborative manor with the likes of Publicspaces, Mozilla, Nesta, universities like Lancaster, Nottingham, etc. Keeps me excited.

So here’s to another year, maybe one day it will be 20?

National opera house Kyiv, looked quite different when I saw it

opera house Kyiv as I visited it in 2017

Back in 2017, I wondering around Tallinn, Estonia as part of Mozretreat. I came across a interesting structure not far from the centre on the coast. I didn’t know it was Linnahall.

opera house Kyiv in tenet

When I watched Tenet I thought the opening scene with the opera house looked familiar. Then recently I finally looked it up.

opera house Kyiv in tenet

The same place and what a difference!

A slightly better solution

xps13 camera cover
My Dell XPS 13 with the little microdot

A while ago I mentioned how the super tiny bevels on my new Dell XPS13 and Acer Chromebook make a camera cover look so silly. Some people mentioned to me about using duck tape, which I gather doesn’t leave as much stickyness after use.

chromebook camera cover
My chromebook with the microdot camera cover

But I also was pointed to little micro-dots which use the same glue as duck tape but are a lot more discreet than a slice of duck tape. The sheet I got has a number of them in different sizes.

lens covers

Its a lot better than what I had before but lets see how long they stick around with general use.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Contains mild spoilers…

I have seen Justice League a couple of times and didn’t like it at all. Pretty sure I gave it 4/10 in the end after the original 5/10. Zack Snyder’s Justice League got a well deserved 7/10 and seen it twice now.

Although not much of a comic book person but frankly I do like the darkness of DC compared to Marvel (I am aware there are many others, but its clear distinction). If you want the DC vs Marvel side, I’d suggest this review by this youtuber.

The plot is fully developed over the 4hours, yes a full 4hours. You thought Tenet, Interstellar, Dark Knight rises were long? So long there is a planned intermission. To be fair its split into chapters, so you could take breaks at natural points.

Justice league on my projector screen
Justice league on my projector screen

The one thing which completely surprised me and wound me up was the aspect ratio of 4:3. I actually thought I selected the wrong streaming option or something. But I get it and when its finally on the IMAX screen, I may go watch it. Even my projector screen doesn’t quite work at the 4:3 ratio.

So between the darkness, fully fleshed out character development and enough foreshadowing for a future DC universe. I’d look forward to Snyder’s vision of where the DC universe could really go.