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.

The chili-chocolate face off

Carolina Repear vs Instant Regret chocolates
Its the Chilli-chocolate-faceoff, 1.5million SHV vs 6.4million SHV

There is one thing I love… Chili Chocolate.

I tried many times but the one which has my heart is the Carolina Reaper, first discovered in Stockholm and available from Cocoarunners. However I was told by a friend about Instant Regret.

So I bought a bar. Before I even open it, I didn’t realise it was milk chocolate bar. Something which is very off putting. I am wondering if the 6.4 million scovilles is slightly cancelled out by the milk and sugar? But more importantly, I’m wondering if it will be actually good to savoir?

I described it to my friend Hannah the other day like this from my mind… A Indian vindaloo curry is very hot but ultimately has little taste, especially the after taste just being fire. While a Madras, Dopiaza or Rogan Josh is hot but has a great after taste which you are pleasing to have. One is just hot for the sake of hotness while the other one is measured, warming and flavor-some. Don’t get me wrong, you can have very hot food which is flavor-some (curry goat for example) but Instant regret sounds like it might be all heat and little substance?

I promised to do a full review and maybe a video of me eating both sometime soon?

Its the Mozilla Festival, but not as we knew it…

At the start of March, the Mozilla Festival 2021 started for 2 weeks of Mozfest joy. Unlike previous years this was the year it went completely virtual. There was a lot of concerns how it would work in a virtual space? But we didn’t need to worry, it kinda worked.

I got a early bird ticket so the schedule was opened up to people like me. It was extensive and downloaded all the calendar events for sessions I was interested in. Unfortunately I missed the book a seat part and when I went back weeks later most of it was booked up (my own fault).

My calendar 8-14 march
My calendar during the first week of Mozfest

The Mozilla team worked very hard to keep the feel of Mozfest with a central place to start (the Plaza), the schedule with all the sessions, a number of social spaces (Mozilla slack and spacial chat), skill shares everyday and art/media tracks running throughout the whole 2 weeks. It was full on, just like Mozfest always has been. Its FOMA overload, but don’t worry there is a help desk – which seemed to be almost 24hours a day via slack.

I did go into a couple spacial chats and check out a skill share but most of my time was sat on zoom and many miro boards during sessions. To be honest I have a love hate relationship with miro but I finally got around to half liking it once I spent time with it for my own session. I did find miro bugging me to signup kind of annoying however.

My mozfest Adaptive podcasting miro board

One shame this year was the Mozhouse events seemed to be dropped from the schedule. This meant the publicspaces conference was missed from the schedule, although it was scheduled around Mozfest months ago. The festival has always been a big magnet for people and the 3rd party events which sit around the festival for example 2 years ago.

Because Mozfest was over 2 weeks, I paced myself and made the decision to carve out time for the festival. It was a good idea as my working hours were running to about 10hrs a day. Luckily most of the sessions had a hour break between them, allowing time to catch up with emails, slack and other work stuff.

Sessions

Sessions ran from a early 7am – a late 11pm GMT, hopefully catching a lot of countries around the world. I imagine over that 14hours, only New Zealand might have been tricky to attend sessions?

I ran a workshop/session during the 2nd week, which was interesting as chrome took down most of my display in a GPU bug I reckon. There was also the neurodiversity art work but I didn’t get enough entries to make something interesting unfortunately.

The advantages of neurodiversity

In total I went to 45 sessions. Here are some of the highlights in the sessions I went to.

Lasting thoughts

The 2 weeks of Mozfest was great. It was a shame some of the sessions which claimed to be full were not. I noticed this changed a little bit later but I missed the social aspect, which slack and spacial chat just doesn’t cover. I quite liked the vibe of BarCampManchester 10 which could be done if narrowed down by the spaces. I noticed Creative AI had aspects of this but its something which could apply more widely if next year is the same?

There is a question which came in 2017 when Mozilla picked Slack over Matrix & Mattermost (which they were using internally). The questions comes up again, about using Zoom, Miro, Slack, etc. Like the publicspaces conference, balancing the practicalities with the  values is hard work. But maybe next year if its virtual/hybrid, Mozilla could really lead the charge here.

When I first knew it was going to be 2 weeks (well really 12 days), I gulped but it worked out well. I never felt rushed and having most of the sessions recorded is super handy, as I’m finding now watching the ones I missed (plus I found the youtube secret playlist which means I can easily watch them back on my chromecast). Not every session was recorded of course and its a little strange when the breakout sessions happen. Ideally the recording should have been paused but the whole festival is community focused and I’m happy its not clean cut because that would have gone against the ethos of the Mozilla Festival.

Talking about the community, it was great to see a minimal amount of sillyness/zoombombing. Also the welcoming of so many different people, cultures, languages, etc. This was also the year when neurodiversity really kicked into high gear!

Where does the festival go from now, is a big question…

I’d like to see a hybrid conference next year. I certainly want to see a combination of the reach of Mozfest 2021 with the social parts of the last 10 years. However, please Mozilla keep the pretext system as it worked so well and hopefully we can finally have a permanent record of all the sessions over the years (one of the things I quite liked about using Github)

Big thanks

Massive thanks to everyone who made the virtual festival so good (especially looking at you Sarah & Mark!). Those working behind the scenes making sure things run smoothly. To all those spacewranglers who likely didn’t know if it was going to be in person, hybrid or virtual. Of course all those people who ran the sessions.

Really making good on ethos of… Arrive with an idea, leave with a community!

Understanding makes all the difference

What a difference the police reaction to the vigil of Sarah Everard.

blm protest in bristol

Last year in Bristol with the statue of Carlton

Speaking on a live webchat, the Avon and Somerset Police chief constable said he “doesn’t condone any criminal activity” but intervening would have “risked a violent confrontation”.

Reclain the streets

Last week in London in Clapham Common

The Met Police chief has said she is not considering her position, after the force was criticised over its handling of a vigil for Sarah Everard. Officers handcuffed women and removed them from crowds on Clapham Common in London on Saturday.

The big difference is cultural and emotional intelligence. I seriously don’t understand how the police thought, it would be a good idea to arrest women during a vigil against the death of a woman who was killed at the hands of a police officer!? Someone in the Met police team should have said turned to the chief and said “don’t you see the tragic irony in this all? We need to rethink our tactics here

I know these are isolated cases but I was thinking this while watching

We got to do better than this… Webcam covers

Camera cover on the new XPS13
How attractive on a new laptop

I agree this is a privileged thing but I got a replacement for my aging Dell XPS 13 work laptop. Another Dell XPS 13 but the updated version with much better support for Ubuntu. Its a great machine!

Dell XPS13 with that camera cover
My Dell XPS13 with that SD card, I mean camera cover sticking out

One thing I did look forward to was the new position of the webcam from the hinge alongside the keyboard. To the top of the screen like most laptops. There is a problem however, as the bezels get smaller the camera covers are not keeping up.

This isn’t just my new Dell XPS but also the Chromebook I got last year.

Chromebook camera cover sticking out
Looks like there is a SD card sticking out of my Chromebook

I gather there is sticker packs which don’t leave that usual glue stuff, which I’ll give a try but I certainly feel like I’m putting a plaster (literately) on a much deeper rooted problem. Camera should never be possible to enable without the light coming on full stop.

The tale of Amazon and the imported Qnap Nas

2 Qnap NAS boxes
Which one is the grey import?

I have almost no words for what’s happened recently with my Qnap NAS.

I decided a while ago that it was time to replace the server in my bedroom with a QNAP NAS. I had it with the heat during the summer and frankly it was long overdue. Plus a few people recommended them to me, plus pointed me at NAS compares. I bought the NAS from Amazon.co.uk as it was the cheapest by about 100 pounds, plus they had the 8gig version of the TS653D. Almost everywhere else had a 4gig only version. I knew I needed a bit of memory as I was going to replace my ubuntu server, which ran at 45-70c depending if it was transcoding for plex.

I bought the NAS from Amazon.co.uk https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0896YVN5L. There was no mention this was coming from America as a grey import. After I bought it I noticed it came from Texas, USA with via UPS and it took about 10 days. I didn’t think too much about it once it arrived, got it set up and moved all my data over (this took weeks!). However when I tried applying for the 5 year extended warranty thats when things got interesting.

5 years of warrenty

Having applied to Qnap, answered their questions, I sent them the invoice which I got from Amazon. However Qnap replied with.

From the invoice, this is sold by Amazon Export Sales LLC, and the customer also pay the import fee, the customer should know the unit is not from local distributor.
The note says: “Only products that are sold and purchased from the same region are eligible for a warranty extension.”. 

Please confirm with Amazon.co.uk that the NAS unit came from UK (distributor) and not from US.

We went back and forth for a while but I got back on to Amazon. They insured me the NAS is a UK model. Qnap of course were not budging, the serial number wasn’t right and regardless if I bought it form Amazon.co.uk it was a grey import. I did think it was strange it was coming from America but I just thought it was where the stock was from. Plus Amazon kept confirming its a UK version.

Then finally I got into an exchange with Amazon customer services.

10:53 PM QNAP won’t provide a warranty for the NAS because its not a UK/EU NAS I bought it through the amazon.co.uk with pounds but say its a US version
10:54 PM Rizzwan | I can see it is Amazon global store order. Allow me a moment to connect you with them for further help.
10:55 PM Global order? I bought it through amazon.co.uk

Then Rizzwan was replaced by Tamsyn…

10:55 PM Tamsyn has joined and will be ready to chat in just a minute. Tamsyn | ​This is Ta​mmy from Amazon. ​ I’ll be assisting you.​
10:57 PM Here is the email I got from QNAP… (same as above)
11:00 PM Tamsyn |  Yes it is from a UK distributor
11:01 PM I need something from Amazon to prove this, as QNAP won’t extend the warranty otherwise I have given them the invoice already
11:03 PM Tamsyn | what is the for the return ?
11:05 PM I don’t understand?
11:05 PM Tamsyn | what is the reason for sending the item back ?
11:07 PM I can’t get a extended warranty for the QNAP NAS
11:08 PM Tamsyn | Reason I’m asking is because I can refund you
11:09 PM Its a sub £1000 device and want to make sure it doesn’t go wrong, so the extended warranty is important Can I exchange it instead? because all my data is on the device now
11:09 PM Tamsyn |  cannot exchange
11:10 PM Do you have anything else I can send to QNAP to prove its a UK/EU version? They want proof – “Please confirm with Amazon.co.uk that the NAS unit came from UK (distributor) and not from US.
11:12 PM Tamsyn | We can send them an email what is the email
11:13 PM Its done through their support forum- as the email is no reply – noreply@qnap.com. If you can send me something I can try and get a email to send to them I’m sending them this… “I am talking with Tamsyn | Customer Service Amazon.co.uk and they confirmed it is from a UK distributor – Tamsyn is asking for an email address to forward you details of the UK distributor”
11:17 PM Tamsyn | yes that is fine
11:17 PM Is there a email I should ask QNAP to contact you on?
11:18 PM Tamsyn |  yes
11:18 PM Thanks… you understand why I don’t want to send it back but I really want to get this sorted out because I want to keep it for at least 3 years 11:19 PM Tamsyn |  Yes I understand 🙂
11:19 PM Thanks QNAP are slow to reply, so is there a way of holding the return based on the outcome of this conversation with QNAP They usually take about 2 days to reply
11:20 PM Tamsyn | okay that is fine
11:24 PM Thanks, and I guess once I hear back from QNAP I join this chat again Just for reference I’m talking with Gerry ********* from QNAP… “From warranty information, it shows the NAS unit was sold from Amazon US and not Amazon.co.uk
Please confirm with Amazon.co.uk that the NAS unit came from UK (distributor) and not from US.

Then out of nowhere Tamsyn was replaced by Collen…

11:30 PM C Collen has joined and will be ready to chat in just a minute. Collen | Customer Service Hello, Ian Please note this was a global store order Sold and shipped by amazon US Order Placed: Tuesday, 3 November 2020 (GMT) C
11:33 PM Hold on Tamsyn said it was sold from a UK reseller a moment ago
11:34 PM Collen | Customer Service Please look at email from Tuesday, 3 November 2020 01:51 (GMT) C
11:39 PM Collen | Customer Service Global Store Amazon Marketplace order with Amazon Export Sales LLC C
11:45 PM Collen | Customer Service Do you wish to return the item for a refund? C
11:45 PM I would like to do an exchange as I am using the NAS, Ok I see it says Amazon Export Sales LLC This was not clear on the site when I bought it.
11:48 PM Collen | Customer Service We can only refund a USA item only on return We cant replace it C
11:48 PM Right I see, can I get a UK version then return the old one?
11:49 PM Collen | Customer Service Yes C
11:51 PM This was not clear at all when I bought it on the site
11:51 PM Collen | Customer Service However you will need to re order C

So in short Amazon mislead me by never making clear this was a grey import QNAP NAS. Yes when I got the invoice, I could see it was coming from Texas but it was too late by then. Simple as this, customer service lied to me and to QNAP.

Cheeky!

In the end Amazon/Collen did send me the return details and I had 7 days to return the QNAP NAS back to Texas. Annoyingly I had to print the return slips and I don’t own a printer, luckily colleague Jimmy helped out by printing them out for me. In the mean while I got in touch with QNAP, they pointed me in the direction of Scan.com and I was able to buy and get almost the exact same model sent to the next day. I say almost exact because I opted for the 32gig version as I was considering add more memory anyway and this would save me a lot of hassle.

Telling enough, Scan.com when I called them to confirm the speed of delivery, told me a few other customers have had the same problem with Grey imports sent from America and bought from Amazon.co.uk.

With the clock ticking, I was worried it was going to take forever to move everything across but I found it was super quick when I found this guide to move from one device to another. Pretty much start the NAS, update the firmware and slot the disks in the same slots. The migration took about 2hours in total, which is amazing. I was wondering about taking time off work to get this sorted but there was no need.

QNAP nas's
Which one is UK and which one is American?

Just enough time to take some pictures of them side by side then box up the grey import/amazon one, add all the labels then take it to the UPS drop off which just happened to be in China town. Can’t tell you why I didn’t get a taxi or take the tram half the way there, but it was certainly a work out for my lockdown arms.

4 weeks later I received my full refund from Amazon.co.uk and I’m sitting pretty with my QNAP NAS with 5 year warranty.

The ever long line of minorities taken advantage of in Silicon Valley

Club house

I saw the story about Clubhouse recording conversations (Found via @aral@mastodon.ar.al of #smalltech).

1. New VC-backed startup enters the scene
2. People flock to it
3. They discover it’s a surveillance capitalist (and still have no clue what that is)
4. They’re shocked (because, see 3)
5. It’s too late, they’re too big and they’ve exited
6. Goto 1

Likewise, I am not shocked or surprised. Its surveillance capitalism in full effect. Worst still, they made their base off the back of minorities like black creators, which is another nasty trend in Silicon Valley. Once the mainstream pile in, the original creators are dashed to the wind or forcefully rejected.

This narrative needs to change…

Facebook removed iCal feeds quietly

Facebook Dislike

The other day a good friend mentioned a birthday invite to me. I was confused, I knew it was their birthday but it wasn’t clear what they were talking about as I asked what they were going to do in UK lockdown number 3.

I looked into what happened and realised the new Facebook redesign removed ical feeds. This was further backed up by google support and  Reddit. Worst still the facebook help page doesn’t actually exist any more.

The key seems to be getting access to the old facebook page, which I have tried and tried to get access to, but can not get anymore.

This means all my friends who invited me to events and all my volleyball events will no longer appear on my calendar, unless I see it then export it as a ical. I always thought of Facebook as a massive walled garden but this is getting stupid.

The reasons to be on Facebook just got a lot closer to zero!

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Mar 2021)

traveling with a passport and boarding pass

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, hearing Bill Maher rip through a bunch of websites and people looking for new ways to track users now 3rd party tracking is on its way out?

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 more nuanced privacy depth being discussed, participating in Mozilla’s challenges moment and hearing Solana talk through the internet health report.


The background story of Tony Abbotts boarding pass

Ian thinks: We all heard the story about the former Australian minster who was hacked after posting his boarding pass on instagram but here is the incredible background story, told by the hacker.

Vaccine passports are not as simple as the media are suggesting

Ian thinks: Heather gives plain and clear reasons why vaccine passports are not the panacea its being made out to be. Its also great to hear Lillian Edwards framework mentioned (May 2020 newsletter) as a way forward.

Gamestop? Rethinking the whole rigged system

Ian thinks: Douglas Rushkoff’s monologue about gamestop needs a listen for a different view, but stay around for the interview with Yaël, previous head of political advertising at Facebook. She tells all and I like the approach of trying to fix it before criticising.

Lets talk about Sharenting

Ian thinks: Shareting is when parents share their kids photos and private information without their consent. Its become a real problem now the millennials are growing up with a digital footprint without knowing.

How Facebook joined the splinter-net while Google throw the open web under the bus?

Ian thinks: Hearing about the absolute mess over news in Australia, its easy to point fingers. But its important to look deeper at whats really happening for the sake of profits not people. I’m with Shoshana Zuboff and others, but I know many people get their news from these massive corps.

A big step for gigworkers, but lets be diligent of next steps

Ian thinks: The Uber case is great news but in a similar legal play to Facebook & Google with Australia, there might be more going on that most are reporting? We got to look a little deeper as monopoly is Uber’s end game.

Ian thinks: This is a devious way to force a take-down of a live stream or any recorded footage. Theres got to be a better way and I think its related to using alternative platforms or self hosting with syndication.

The centralisation of power is the problem

Ian thinks: I like this summary of so many of the problems with Facebook, but it misses the important point of centralisation. It also highlights Noam Cohen’s quote “Mark Zuckerberg is deluded by his own faith in Facebook’s ability to be a force for good in the world”

Public value and purpose into the future

Ian thinks: Mariana is on fire and this summary of work around the BBC puts value under a microscope. I love this line “Value is not just the income generated at the end of the innovation chain–– it is also the creative input at the upstream end, the vital investment in talent, content creation, digital innovation and R&D at the early stages

Google fires another outspoken AI research, who will be next?

Ian thinks: Margaret Mitchell and Timnit Gebru show there is something going on with Google AI research. It doesn’t take a lot to guess what is actually going on behind close doors.


Find the archive here

Kubricks systematic percussive sequence mix

Kubricks systematic percussive sequence mix
Photo credit by @dizzyd718 – Drew Graham on unsplash.com

I have been loving a bunch of tech/progressive trance and decided its time for a nice mix using some of the tunes. I know there is some disagreement about the term, which I guess is closer to the techno category. Especially the tunes by Carlo Ruetz.

Either way its a good mix breaking into some classic trance by the end. The title of the mix is parts of the playlist, and the start is a long lost tune found after listening to one of the very first live mixes I did in Manchester. Roots is a killer start to a mix and sets the vibe perfectly. Reminds me how much I like Tomcraft actually.

Mixcloud restrictions

Hosted again on Mixcloud but unlike the last one, hopefully it won’t fall foul of the mixcloud rules over using the same artist too many times. (note to say I have got a new self-hosted platform but anonymous web access isn’t ideal)

Enjoy the mix and here is the complete playlist.

  1. Roots – Tomcraft
  2. Trick – Carlo Ruetz
  3. Percussive thinking (Meat Katie & Elite force remix) – Frome
  4. Kubrick (Extended mix) – Jerome Isma-Ae
  5. Rheninkraft – Oliver Klien
  6. System hack – Carlo Ruetz
  7. Running up the hill (Jerome Isma-Ae bootleg) – Placebo
  8. Opium (Stan Kolev remix) – Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor
  9. Sequence (Extended mix) – Estiva
  10. Floyd (Extended mix) – Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor
  11. Outlaw (Extended mix) – Fatum
  12. Tears (Protoculture remix) – Dakota

Update: Feb 28th 2021

Kubricks systematic percussive sequence is now 95th in the global Tech Trance chart
As I thought, without the Mixcloud restrictions mentioned above, this mix has made it to the 95th place in the Tech trance chart.
Very tempted to see what happens if I rename the playlist for Pattersons pandemic run.

Mozilla Festival 2021 – Its all virtual and you are invited!

Me with a face covering in 2016
Even in 2016, I was ready for the pandemic?

Its finally here, Mozilla Festival 2021 and its looking excellent.

I can’t tell you how long I have spent this evening looking at the hu

My adaptive podcasting workshopImagine being able to craft personalised podcasts which take advantage of data and sensors to wrap the listener in a story. Then imagine being able to do this for many people at once. This is what we call adaptive podcasting and the best part is its free, open…

I can finally tell you two of my three submitted sessions were accepted. The big one is a workshop around adaptive podcasting which will happen Monday 15th at 2015-2115 GMT. Don’t worry there is calendar invites for all the sessions including mine.

Its a hour workshop and its unlikely we will get the point of creating podcasts but there will be follow up sessions on the Mozfest slack and Storytellers United community.

Of course Adaptive podcasting will appear elsewhere outside of Mozfest, so keep an eye on the blog for more information around that.

My other session is the advantages of neurodiversity, which is a follow up to 2019’s the advantage of dyslexia, which is highly influenced by the amazing book by the same name.

Advantage of Neurodiversty - ArtLast year we explored the advantages of dyslexia at the brand new Neurodiversity space. This year we are back looking for people to explore and understand the advantages of different types of neurodiversity.

Look out for this one, as this art piece relies on your thoughts around the advantages of neurodiversity.

Port trunking/Link aggregation on a TPlink AC2300 router

My new NAS comes with dual 2.5gigabit LAN ports (providing a total of 5 gigabit of bandwidth). Its not much use to me because its plugged into a 1gigabit router, attached to 1gigabit internet and a 1 gigabit internal network.

However I noticed a feature on my router called link aggregation. In theory I can plug both LAN ports into the router and get 2gigabits of bandwidth to the NAS. Ok its only mainly useful for multiple connections to the NAS because everything else is sitting on a 1gigabit networking. But you can imagine uploading a lot of data from the NAS and also editing video on my LAN connected laptop.

Link aggreation on TPlink

When looking at the TPlink help page,  it looks pretty straight-forward. However when looking at my router there is no options. No link aggregation options. I checked I have the latest updated firmware and I was thinking of sending it back… till I spoke to a friend and he convinced me to set up port trunking from the NAS side just in case the router has it enabled by default now.

Port trunking

As you can imagine, it worked… I mainly write this as I couldn’t find an answer when I searched for details previously.

Next upgrade for the switches will be from 1gigabits to 2.5gigabits.

Adventures in the Metaverse with Immersive Arts lab – Feb 11th 2021

The Bridge: metaverse

I will be giving a keynote talk at the Immersive Arts lab’s Adventures in the Metaverse

Fancy an adventure in the Metaverse? Or interested in what the next evolution of the internet is going to be?…

As computing becomes spatial, virtual and more mobile, and as the building blocks of the internet changes to a blockchain network, in the next decade – the internet as you know it, is going to fundamentally change. Come and learn more and join the future.

I’m going to focus on the public service internet side of things, rather than the layers on top of it. Other speakers will cover that better than myself. Imagine what kind of data can be collected in Virtual reality systems like the Oculus Riff by Facebook. Imagine the possibilities for awful abuse  There is also the big risk of pushing out smaller platforms who are more focused on civic and public purposes.

We are only scratching the surface here… I recommend getting a ticket and hearing more on the 11th Feb.

Time for better masks?

Ian Forrester selfie with a mask

I was reading through my feeds and saw the piece from the Guardian titled Everyday Covid mistakes we are all still making.

Covid-19 infections in the UK are reducing but remain stubbornly high, despite a month of lockdown measures. So could we be doing more as individuals to curb transmission of the virus? A virologist, a psychologist and a public health expert share their views on some of the Covid-19 mistakes that we are all still making.

The rest of the article gives some interesting tips for hopefully avoiding Covid19. Most are common sense but they are well made for example failing to appreciate what ‘airborne’ really means.

If you can smell someone’s garlic or alcohol breath, or cigarette smoke, you’re inhaling air carrying not just the smell of the garlic, alcohol or smoke, but any virus that’s leaving their nose or mouth if they’re infected, said Julian Tang, a clinical virologist and honorary associate professor in the respiratory sciences department at the University of Leicester. “How much virus depends on different people and their different immune responses. But if you stand there for long enough, you’ll inhale enough to possibly infect you.”

And just as you’ll eventually detect the smell of cigarette smoke if someone lights up on the opposite side of the office, airborne viruses gradually accumulate in stuffy indoor conditions, which is why ventilation is so important.

Ventilation doesn’t just mean opening a window. “The clue is in the name: vent, or wind,” said Gabriel Scally, a visiting professor of public health at the University of Bristol and a member of Independent Sage. “You do need a draught going through. People should be conscious of ventilation in the workplace, shops, or any enclosed space – including at home, which is where most transmission takes place.”

During the summer months I thought about this quite a lot, especially with people vaping. Sometimes the cloud of stream/smoke will spread a lot way. I kept thinking lets really hope they are not asymptomatic or tomorrow going to develop Covid19.

How ever the big one I have been thinking about is face-covering, or as the guardian headlines Inadequate face-covering

The mantra ‘hands, face, space,’ is really the wrong way around. All are important for preventing virus transmission, but physical distancing – including preventing small and large-scale gatherings – has the greatest impact, said Tang: “Masking is kind of in the middle. But, if the mask is used as a backup for when you can’t physically distance, or in poorly ventilated areas, it can help a lot.”

The current UK government advice is to pick a face covering that covers both your nose and mouth. Ideally, it should include at least two layers of fabric – although a scarf, bandana or religious garment is acceptable. The World Health Organization recommends three layers for fabric masks.

That advice could change in the face of more transmissible variants, said Scally. “I think there will be very strong voices saying that the three layer face coverings that we’ve got used to are really not adequate, and we should probably have the FFP2-type ventilator masks.”

These are already mandatory in shops and on public transport in Austria and Bavaria. In France and the rest of Germany, surgical masks are required. The main problem with fabric masks is that their quality varies a lot. Some three-layered masks are as good at blocking particles as surgical masks, but flimsy single layers of fabric block far less.

Just a week later the Atlantic’s Zeynep Tufekci and Jeremy Howard ask the serious question why aren’t we wearing better masks?

Don’t get us wrong; everything we said about the efficacy of cloth masks stands the test of time. Wearing them is much better than wearing nothing. They definitely help reduce transmission of the coronavirus from the wearer and likely protect the wearer to some degree as well. But we know that not all masks are equal, and early on in the pandemic, there was a dire shortage of higher-grade masks for medical workers. During those emergency conditions, something was much better than nothing. There are better possibilities now, but they require action and guidance by the authorities.

Even all cloth masks are not equal. Construction, materials, and fit matter, and these can’t be tracked or certified with homemade masks. Unlike cloth masks, medical-grade masks (also called respirators) that adhere to standards such as N95 (in the U.S.), FFP2 (in the European Union), and KN95 (in China) do a much better job of protecting the wearer and dampening transmission. Ideally, they should also come with instructions on how to wear them and ensure that they fit properly.

I don’t think masks are the sole problem but its a good point that maybe its time we started wearing better masks now. Some clear direction on this from experts would be useful too. Although people will still wear them around their cheeks and have their noses poking out the top no matter what directions are said. I’m hearing from multiple sources (one includes a doctor) about the importance of sealing the mouth and nose, as the ones which droop around the ears don’t provide enough of a seal for the wearer. If you look at the PPE hospital staff (finally?) can get their hands on to treat Covid19 cases. It completely seals off their lower face.

Its clear we are going to be living through this pandemic for another year (sorry to say) and even with the vaccine, the advice is to still protect yourself and the public around you. Now feels like its a good time for a serious upgrade on masks (but not that Rich Guy COVID Helmet!)

The BBC recently put out a video surrounding the better face covering space…

Adaptive bedtime lullabies

Oura  lullabies

I gave Oura’s sleep story a try the other night. It was pretty good, I was pretty much a sleep in under 10mins. I say 10mins because I couldn’t help but think how this could be so much better as a adaptive narrative or even a adaptive podcast?

Especially with the subject being around the moon.

I get the bedtime/sleep story is meant to be something to fall sleep to, but imagine it fitting/adapting slightly to the moon phase, how your day has been, etc. Oura is sitting on a ton of personal data and their system keeps that secure to the user.

Perfect for personalised adaptive narratives.

Pattersons pandemic run mix

Here is the first mix of the new year and its a Simon Patterson special. If you liked the previous Patterson’s panic attack. Its likely not going to play in certain regions as its all the same artist and mixcloud thinks I’m uploading a whole album.

Its a very heavy trance mix which whips along at a speedy 138 bpm and never lets up for 50 solid minutes.

Try going for a run with this mix playing, avoid those people and wear a mask.

Here is the playlist for Patterson’s pandemic run mix, enjoy!

  1. F16 – Simon Patterson
  2. Latika – Simon Patterson
  3. Brush Strokes – Simon Patterson
  4. Smack – Simon Patterson
  5. Whites of her eyes – Simon Patterson
  6. Panic attack – Simon Patterson
  7. Opulence – Simon Patterson
  8. Dissolve – Simon Patterson feat Sarah Howells
  9. Strip search – Simon Patterson
  10. Taxi – Simon Patterson
  11. Us – Simon Patterson

https://www.mixcloud.com/cubicgarden/pattersons-pandemic-run/

Schedule messages on Android

Happy to see Google messages getting schedule messages at long last. Its been a long time in coming after Gmail’s schedule send last year.I have been using the beta and enjoying sending messages at 1am for a quite some time now.

Be great if Signal also added scheduling, although I did buy tasker to solve the scheduling of text and signal but haven’t sat down and played with it yet.

Lets be deadly honest about whats happening behind the dating sites

I had hoped I wouldn’t be back dating again but thats the way things go. Stepping back out into the online dating world I’m shocked how worst things have gotten.

Now OKCupid is now very driven around the hot or not mechanism. If you are on the web site, it is possible to search via questions and a keyword. But thats about it. I got sick of Bumble which once again wants way too much attention and removed the app. I requested my GDPR data again, as I’d love to get to the bottom of the cisgender male issue I had.

However saying all this… It was good to see the buzzfeed post and the connected Reddit thread which was pointed to me via Herb Kim.

Before I say anything, sadly almost zero of this was a surprise to me. Its exactly why Herb sent it my way, having the past talked a lot about the problems with dating.

Anyway I wanted to run through some of the reddit thread and add a touch more.

“We used to create fake accounts and chat with users. It was everything from someone having a premium account that wasn’t getting responses, to bored employees.”

The amount of fake accounts on dating sites is a real problem. All the sites are affected by this problem but the site team blame fake accounts on spammers. Most people don’t realise the problem is actually being caused by the dating site its self. People don’t connect the fake accounts with being ghosted over and over again.

“The algorithms are less sophisticated than you think. … The main goal of the algorithm is always to get you to pay, never to actually ensure you meet somebody in real life, as much as we tried to lie to ourselves that it was.”

With everything we know about algorithms in recent times (bias). Its been mentioned so many times and I made the judgement that this is exactly the same as the birthday paradox.

“Female dating app users tend to sign off for the day several hours earlier than male users, which results in men who log in after about 10 p.m. generally not encountering many logged in female users. In order to keep these men feeling like there is genuine female activity on the site (and thus continuing to pay for memberships), dating apps can pay for entire armies of ‘ghosts.’ Ghost profiles use photos of real women, but are  operated by men, typically young men in their late teens and early twenties, living in France, Serbia, Ukraine, and Russia.”

The fake account problem again but targetted based on stats. Its something I’m aware of but I gather its different for different sites.

“Many apps seed attractive bots to keep people engaged. The bots will send/respond to a couple of substandard questions. ‘How was your week?’ ‘What are you looking for?’ and then ghost. Despite the ghost, the high of matching with a super attractive person who spoke to you is enough to get many people hooked and chasing the dragon.”

You start to spot a pattern with the chats. Heck you can spot pattens in the profiles. For example in OK Cupid, there is something I recently noticed with huge number of profiles which have answered the same 15 questions and in the same way. Their profiles were also pretty new.

“I worked as a software engineer for a dating site in the mid-’00s. Literally every single female profile was fake. They were ‘generated’ profiles using arbitrary data and paid-for lewd photos from various sources.”

I have actually seen packs of profiles (1000’s at a time) complete with photos and data you can buy to populate a new or young dating site. Most are grabs from different sources but when I last spoke to a person, they were suggesting some have been generated by machine learning practices.
As for the data, I have seen SQL and XML dumps but most are CSV and JSON.
Prices? I’m not sure but I gather a lot cheaper than getting real people to sign up.

“Most of the female users were fake. We would import thousands of fake profiles all the time to prop up the numbers and let the men think there were all of these women on the platform.”

I experienced this with Bumble a long time ago. For weeks I could get to through most of the users in my filters. Then suddenly there was a influx of model like profiles. They all had a similar style and shouted to me fake. That’s even before you read the small amount of written profile info, which could be a user or operator not bothered. Either way, its not necessarily someone I would be interested in contacting

“I ran operations for an online dating company (notably not affiliated with Match). IIRC, we were able to determine that it takes on average about three dates before sex happens (I don’t recall how we worked that out, I’m not a data analyst, but presumably it was some keyword-based algorithm looking at chat messages).”

Some people forget all messages between users are tracked and analysed. All those things you are sharing with another person is being logged and tracked. If you read some of the  terms, you will see they also sell the keyword data

“The most depressing stat…was the histogram of word count in messages. Something like 91% of opening messages were just one word ‘hey,’ and ~85% of conversations were just one exchange long (‘hey’ -> no reply ever). Looking at human, digital mating habits splayed out in data science form was really depressing.”

This is why I stopped reading OKCupid’s Dataclysm, I started to loose faith in humanity with the conversation lengths.

“My roommate used to work at one of the big dating apps and one of the issues they had was that their algorithm changed at one point to more emphatically enforce dating ‘pools’ where people who got more right swipes would only see profiles of people who get more right swipes, etc. With the idea being that it would put people in similar ‘tiers’ to actually match. One big issue they were having was…well, racial ‘preferences’ or sexual racism being pretty amplified as a result. Black women and Asian men especially were being overwhelmingly shuffled down the algorithm because there are a lot of people who will basically automatically swipe left on them as soon as they see they’re a Black woman or an Asian man, even if they were hot as hell.”

https://i2.wp.com/image.slidesharecdn.com/dating-against-humanity-ian-forrester-final-160214222131/95/dating-against-humanity-47-638.jpg?w=840&ssl=1

Its clear by algorithmic bias that users are boxed off from each other. This is why its important to be able to find your own way around the users rather than the way the algorithm presents things to you.
My recent ex made it clear I was found outside of the recommendations. If she stuck to the algorithm we likely would never have met. I know some of you might say, well not everyone has the time to manually go through the site. But if you look at this way, madness is doing the same thing and expecting different results.
I can’t tell you how good it was to read OKCupid members blogs and get in touch. Likewise I’ve been looking for abstract terms across POF to see where people have used it and how. Years ago I had a great conversation with a woman who included a circus skill in her profile. Unfortunately it wasn’t the Diabolo but the Poi is still cool.

My ex bf worked for the Yahoo Italy dating site back in the earlyish 2000s. His job was to pretend to be a woman, and message male customers just as their accounts were going to expire. This would encourage them to pay to renew their subscriptions. Once they renewed, he would ghost them.
He only lasted for a few months due to how unethical it was.

So common and I know a few people in the past who have done this. However recently I met a person who did this for a while for a small amount of money. They are paid to engage with users as they close to the end of their membership period then once they renewed their membership disappear/ghost.
Of course the profile is a fake one, sometimes they are made up by the person or are rotated by the dating site (this has limitations of course, where the ).

A couple met on the dating app I worked on.
Unfortunately, the man passed away and the lady returned to the app where they met for remembrance.
One day, a bug in the system made some profile likes to be sent again after months and she received one from her deceased boyfriend.
Her bug report was heartbreaking.

This is horrible but I have seen similar examples of ex-members receiving emails by accident or their profile coming out of a dormant state. Mistakes happen but this should never happen

Good luck to all the singletons dating in a pandemic, its rough out there and to be fair the dating sites could make things a little easier if they wanted to.

I still have a strong feeling this is all too important to be left to the private sector. Imagine if the covid19 pandemic keeps us apart for another year? Or the next pandemic? We can’t rely on the unethical practices described above to connect people for the future…?

As if perfect timing… The Guardian has a piece about this…

Falling fertility rates have been a problem in the world’s wealthiest nations – notably in Japan and Germany – for some time. In South Korea last year, birthrates fell to 0.84 per woman, a record low despite extensive government efforts to promote childbearing. From next year, cash bonuses of 2m won (£1,320) will be paid to every couple expecting a child, on top of existing child benefit payments.

The fertility rate is also falling dramatically in England and Wales – from 1.9 children per woman in 2012 to just 1.65 in 2019. Provisional figures from the Office for National Statistics for 2020 suggest it could now be 1.6, which would be the lowest rate since before the second world war. The problem is even more severe in Scotland, where the rate has fallen from 1.67 in 2012 to 1.37 in 2019.

One of the most shocking Catfish episodes I seen…

Catfish Season 8 ep 32
Its all smiles now, but you just wait…

Its one of my guilty pleasure Catfish, I have seen it all over the 8 seasons but this one had me shouting no, no, NO!

Catfish Season 8 episode 32: Paul & Caitea

Paul met Caitea on Xbox and fell madly in love, but one day Caitea just disappeared! A decade later, Nev and Kamie help Paul find his first love. But what they find is one of the most shocking reveals in catfish history!

I seen a lot of them but there was something completely screwed up about this episode. Really screwed.

Kamie preys for some sainity
Kamie can’t believe what shes seeing and preys for sanity
Spoiler!

Between the fact Caitea’s mum was seducing someone 16 on the internet (although they say in that state its ok? Really?
The fact she was taking nude pictures off her own daughters phone and share it online with total strangers
The fact she did this for years!

I’m not the only one, its been talked about quite a bit including this youtuber who pretty much says it how I feel about it.

I understand the mum has gone through therapy but there is something which put a horrible taste in my mouth. More than the fights, devious trickery, ransoms, etc.

Although I know Catfish is somewhat setup for TV, this one is beyond the pale. What a season finale…

Biden/Harris in the white house at long last

Joe Biden being sworn in as 46th presidentKamala Harris being sworn in as vice president

I saw this post and had to add it..

Inspiring the next generation

Replacing Mixcloud with Funkwhale

Funkwhale mixes

For a long while I have been threatening to leave Mixcloud in favour of hosting my own mixes. I looked around and thought funkwhale looks great as its a federated network for music. With some help from JonT, I started to scrape the metadata I stupidly forgot to keep for myself.

I installed Funkwhale on the Yunoserver but spent too much time trying to work out how to mount my NAS on the Yunoserver. I gave Navidrome but  decided it wasn’t right as there was no way to listen without logging in, so went back to Funkwhale and got things up and running.

Seems Funkwhale might not be the best solution for the mixes, plus the developer is looking for new maintainers recently. Its really setup for single tracks not mixes. I could upload mixes but my plan to use cue files, won’t work. The only place to put playlists is in the comments. I also need to do more digging as I can’t change the year of the mixes. More importantly, the public sharing is a bit broken for me. You should be able to listen to the radio but its not working for me

Funkwhale profile

As I get my head around it all but you can subscribe via RSS and if you’re using Mastodon or other fediverse applications, you can subscribe to this account: @digitalitalicmixes@mixes.cubicgarden.info.

Enjoy, I’m one step closer to self hosting my mixes.

Why there is still an need for public telephones?

Red phone boxes

I found Jon Udell’s blog about public telephones funny but also quite telling of so much more.

Public infrastructure is important for so many reason including for equality.

If you take the telephone as communication infrastructure and apply that same thinking to the internet infrastructure. You see a clear rationale for public wifi, public internet kiosks at public libraries, etc – Yes and also the systems which surround it. This rules out the likes of Facebook free basics, which isn’t a public service.

Interestingly the public phone is also somewhat anonymous. Data is collected once used like where the call is coming from at what time, etc; but you don’t need to register first to use them or sign in to use them. Each of the companies setup to deliver these public infrastructures have a aim of coverage not profits (or they should). There might be legitimate and less-legitimate times when you want this, but this is a choice you can make, rather than be forced into.

These all seems so obvious if you live in a country which encourages public service but worth pointing out. Plus I’m focused on the notion of a public service internet.