Shenanigans in Bucharest

Stay wild stylised

You’re in a bar in Bucharest during the summer, its about midnight and you can’t speak Romanian. The bar is quiet enough but outside in the smoking area its pretty busy.

Shenanigans in Bucharest

At the bar you spot a man with a dummy leg in his back pack. Its hardly discreet, as its sticking out the top like a beacon. I imagine most would note it and carry on drinking, like everyone else.

Of course thats not me, my curiousity is peaking and I strike up a conversation in english with the man.

Shenanigans in Bucharest

We talk about the leg and why? I mean why go to a club with one dummy leg. Why only one? These are the questions in my head. Turns out he’s a local artist and the bar tender also knows him. We have a good natter, his english is good and the bar tender’s english is perfect.

Shenanigans in Bucharest

During the conversation (about 20mins) and drinks, the artist drew me a doodle on the back of my bar reicipt. Something that will stick in my mind when ever I think about Bucharest again.

Its the little things which make life fancinating and wonderful, you just need to engage.

If you look up shenanigans, its defined as…

Secret or dishonest activity or manoeuvring.
Silly or high-spirited behaviour; mischief.

I don’t see it like that at all… Stay wild!

The drinking society of the geeks

Moët Dom (DOM?) Perignon

Who could forget the night during the end of the @media social in 2006. To cover the bar minimum we had to drink £1300 of champagne in 90mins! That night was messy and will go down in geek history forever

 

In the blog “how to be a right old plonker”. I put the hammer down on the notion that being a man, should be defined by the drinking your doing.

Be a regular at more than one bar and A glass of wine or two with lunch will not ruin your day

So I wrote…

Please! Come on, being a man shouldn’t centre around drinking

Then @jmurphyuk wrote in reply to me…

“Please! Come on, being a man shouldn’t centre around drinking” unfortunately for MOST in this country… It does

Slightly chilling thoughts from Jmurphyuk i think. You only have to watch a episode of 24hours in A&E to get a glimpse of the problem at large. But most of those people are drinking for escapism, its sometimes what they look forward to (not my words some once said that on 24hours in A&E)

So whats the modern geek’s excuse for the drinking? This is something which hasn’t been missed by others. Does Our Industry Have a Drinking Problem? by Rachel Andrew on alistapart really brings home the problem in our industry and geek culture.

At a conference recently, I had to leave for part of the afternoon to take care of some technical support for our product. When I returned to the venue, at about half-past five in the afternoon, everyone was holding plastic glasses of whiskey and cups of wine or beer.

At an event where I spoke earlier this year, some wondered whether one of the other speakers would be able to make their talk after having drunk so much the night before.

Almost every conference’s second day opens with attendees being asked how their hangovers are. Second day early-slot speakers joke that no one will turn up anyway, or they’ll all just be staring into their coffee. It has become normal, in fact expected, that drinking and staying out late is what we do while at conferences.

And Rachel is right… it is slightly worrying how this is the norm of the conferences.

I originally thought it was just the UK and maybe parts of western Europe but that certainly seems untrue.

The alcohol-fueled nature of our industry events therefore raises an issue. As a speaker, I want to be available to people who have bought tickets and attended the event I’m speaking at, and if the parties are the place to do so, then I need to be at the parties. For me this doesn’t raise any moral or personal quandary, although I’d sometimes rather be in bed so I can go for an early run before day two begins. Some speakers or participants, however, may find it hard to attend social events where alcohol is the main theme. Of course it’s possible to attend these events and not drink, but being the sober person at a party gets tiresome.

Yes its a dilemma because you do want to socialize and also be fresh for your talk on the next day. There have been a couple of times when not so much the drink has caused me to wake up slightly unprepared, but rather being up chatting over late drinks in the hotel bar. The Mal in Newcastle, Encore in Gateshead, Holiday Inn and in Greenwich, London are included in my list of late night minimum sleep. Great times but boy oh boy could I have done with some sleep instead of debating the ins and outs of Perceptive Media.

Drinking is part of our culture/society like it or not. But I got to say the last paragraph does sum it up.

Meeting up in pubs and attending conference parties will always be part of our industry, and an enjoyable part for many of us at one time or another. If the conference you attend is your only one that year, then having the chance to let your hair down with peers you rarely meet in person is not a bad thing at all. However, I’d like for drinking not to be what defines these events and those of us who attend them. We become more inclusive the less we look like only a certain type of person is part of “us.”
Well said Rachel

What a difference a year makes… Vivid LoungeUK

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Fran of Vivid Lounge UK welcomes you with that warm smile, while Sam hides in the Kitchen (maybe to keep his head from exploding)

Over a year ago I wrote a blog post which made me one of the most hated people in my apartment block (islington wharf). It wasn’t deliberately made to piss anyone off but I guess no one wants to hear the truth, specially when things are on the line. Some said I was in-sensitive and my timing was very bad. No matter what they think, I wrote a number of points which I suggested could be to blame for the rapid shutdown of Vivid Lounge.

  1. Engagement with the residents and residents committee…
  2. Get Decor
  3. Environmental factors
  4. Taking feedback on the chin
  5. Celebrate every moment
  6. Its not just about us…
  7. Whats on the menu?

Each one I backed up with some of my own thoughts….

Anyway over the last year or so, I’ve witnessed a place go from closed to busy and delightful.

So what happened? Well frankly they did most of the things I suggested in the blog post. Of course I’m not suggesting I was directly responsible for the transformation but the owner(s) did read the post at least.

So whats changed?

Wooden Tables throughout

The decor of the old Vivid lounge was too plastic and white. It didn’t feel homey and because of that it suffered deeply. Well now the white plastic table/chairs are gone (good thing because they were falling apart anyway) and we have wooden tables and benches. Ok from Ikea but to be honest I and others couldn’t care less. Every single customer who has come in has said great things about the new look. More wood is planned and I’m sure it will be a similar effect.

The bright stark lights are all gone and now theres gentle hanging lights and plenty of tealights/candles. Its really making use of the space better now (at least on the ground floor). The top floor still needs to be sorted out as its basically a store room right now.

Feedback is less welcomed, but only because Sam the owner is convinced he knows everything. I guess its like telling Steve Jobs how to run Apple. And like Jobs, Sam has his own strong opinions which drive the momentum of VividloungeUK. He’s a bit of a perfectionist, so at least he can spot the problems. He also seems to be amassing the right people behind him (including a Fran who was a manager at Starbucks). On top of that the amount of staff has dropped down to about 2 -3 on the weekends and 1-2 during the week. Much more sensible levels of staffing.

Vivid Lounge

Saturday and Sunday before 1pm its possible to get a full english cooked breakfast and its even possible to have it delivered to your door if you call up or leave details on facebook. But there are limitations to the size of the kitchen, meaning the hugely popular vividboxes had to go. Now you have a couple choices from the specials which is every day now. There is also a menu with daily pre-made sandwiches in a fridge you can just grab if your in a rush. When I walked in today, there was some made menus on the table. I hear the full menus are coming real soon but generally you can see what they got from whats on the board and stuff in the fridge.

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Theres much more engagement with the other apartments in the area and they even deliver to Milliners Wharf, Vulcan Mills and Chips. Vivid isn’t reliant on just islington wharf anymore, theres a much more local pub feeling and they even play with the local and homemade idea in their branding.

I can’t praise Sam and VividLoungeUK enough (although I wouldn’t do the first one to his face because we regularly takes the piss out of each other). I do wish he got a proper website and there were changes to upstairs but honestly I’m impressed.

Well worth visiting and making your local if your in the New Islington area of Manchester. Look forward to a review update in another year…

Decent cocktails or nothing please

Which cosmo came out of a packet?

The one on the left is out of a packet (just look at the nasty cloudy bog colour). The one on the right is fresh (see the pink and consistent transparency) plus note the froth on top and finally the lack of straws because cosmos are meant to be drunk from the glass not through the straw. Ideally if the orange peel is burned, there is a thin oily skin which is lovely to drink, just in-case you were in any doubt

This was going back a while ago… last year while I was down in South East London.

The Novotel Hotel Bar in Greenwich served me a Cosmopolitan while I was at the bar one night with mark boas, thornet, cyberdees and others… I was so shocked at how bad it was, I complained and got the manager to make me a fresh one. They said it comes out of a packet and that most customers don’t have a problem with it!

Me on the other hand, well I was bloody horrified and couldn’t believe they would serve up that much as a cosmopolitan. Worst still they were charging £6 for it! I was truly outraged…!

Once the manager made me a new one fresh, we talked about lighting the orange peel but he refused, so I did it myself. Anyway to prove the point about the packet cocktails, we lined them up on the side of the bar and took sips of each one.

They did give me the packet one for free but I still refused to drink it instead giving it to other Mozilla fest friends to taste and get there feelings about.

As you imagine the fresh one peed all over the one out of the packet, not a single person said the packet version was nicer or better, even the manager and the bar staff agreed.

The amount of times I’ve referred to this true story is the last few months is untrue. Its also the reason why I won’t put up with crappy drinks I don’t actually want to drink. I’d rather go thirsty or drink water…

Manchester Werewolf chapter joins Larkin’ About – Wed 23rd Nov

Manchester werewolf chapter poster for november

Manchester Werewolf Chapter is back after a long delay and this time we’ve teamed up with the guys at Larkin About. Larkin about are the Manchester equivalent of Hide & Seek. They do social experimental games in and around Manchester. So its a perfect match. If this goes well, there will be many more…

On Wednesdays November 23rd, the Manchester Werewolf Chapter and Larkin’ About will be running a game of Werewolf at Barcelona Bar in the Northern Quarter. It’s totally FREE!

Werewolf is a simple game of strategy and deception, played by a large group of people.
The game is all about making accusations, lying, bluffing, second-guessing, and social engineering.

All are welcome! We have a great location with a bar because we all know deception is thirsty work. The event is suitable for all levels of experience from absolute newbie to Werewolf pro. We hope to continue to host games of Werewolf as a regular event from this date onwards.

To register your interest, please visit our Facebook event page, or send us an email to larkin.about2009@gmail.com.

 

Startup your night in the best possible way

Startup bar AB Remix

Were at it again… The startup bar is back in full force.

This time we have 4 djs, starting up at 9pm and finishing at 2am. This Friday (22nd June) and every Friday (except maybe next week, 29th July TBC).

If your in Manchester and out on Friday night, you can’t do much better than experience the House, Electro and Trance played by some great up-shots in the Manchester scene… Feel free to RSVP here.

Hope to see you all there…

My leaving do at Souk Medina

Coffee gift tips

So I'm having a leaving do tomorrow night (29th Sept 2006). Its going to be at Souk Medina which is near Seven dials in Covert Garden. I have a space booked from 7pm, and expect to be there for most of the night. So feel free to come down and say hi or wave me off to my new position at backstage.bbc.co.uk. The lady holding the coffee tips will not be there, she had a leaving do there last year so it should be good fun. Hope to see you all there…

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Geekdinner with Scoble and Dotben

Ben and Scoble pause for a quick photo

So the first Geekdinner I've been to which was on a weekend was great fun. The conversations I had were fantastic through-out the night. I met some great new people and spent a lot with Sheila chatting away about life, XML and the universe. So odd meeting someone so on your level its actually pretty spooky.
The Geekdinner should have been renamed the Geekdinner with Ben Metcalfe and Robert Scoble, Z list meets A list but it works out ok this time.

Anyhow, so it was great catching up with Scoble again. He obviously didnt remember who I was at first but he actually did remember after a couple of seconds once I mentioned RSS and working for the BBC World Service. Can I also say did anyone get a picture of Scoble doing a flaming shot at that champagne bar we all went to afterwards?

The Sheila and Myself at Geekdinner

So this is how the night went. I got to the Texas Embassy about 6:30pm, after finding somewhere just around the corner to park. I was hoping to get my hair cut but it never quite happened due to Saturday football crowds through Charlton, I must remember that next time.
I was at the bar and heard a couple of guys talking about Google Books and it actually turned out to be one of the guys behind Searchengine Watch. I also got talking with a student of Computer Science from De montfort. I and he was concerned that his course was not teaching anything about webservices, internet conectivity or even modern developent methods. And actually I got speaking to another student who had the same problems. Geez no wonder a lot of computer science students have such closed minds to such things?
Moving on. I'll drop out the conversations I had for now, as I want to elaborate on quite a few of them.

So after dinner which was the usual Tex-Mex type thing, Robert and Hugh did a little speech and actually opened it up to the crowd of about 150. The rest of the time was spent talking and drinking. By the time we got thrown out of the Embassy, the plan was hatched to head up to a Champagne Bar in Soho and Microsoft paid for us all. Yeah expensive champagne for about 30+ people, cheers Microsoft. After about a hour or so, we were being kicked out again. So Me, Sheila and Shahid from google ended up at a coffee bar in Soho and geeked about XML and related technologies. Its so great talking out loud about this stuff. XML will rule the world…

The champange bar afterwards paid for my microsoft

There's a Flickr pool for fun photos from the night.

So about those conversations.
Well he's a few I remember, this is good for my own memory as well as it might be of interest to others.

Talking to imp, she told me there was a problem with trackbacks on the BBC creative archive site and even on my own. I assured her that Trackbacks do work on cubicgarden (I get enough spam to know this for sure) but honestly I've never seen any from Haloscan.

I met Tim from dotnetsolutions, he's one of the guys from http://www.DHTMLcentral.com. It was quite late but from what I can gather there doing lots of Ajax type stuff now and leaning on there DHTML past to do creative and useable things. I've not really looked at that site for about 6/7 years but I do remember going there for scripts when Netscape 4.x just came out. That was also the days when I never use to think about cross-browser scripts and web standards. Gald things have changed for the better.

Trying to explain to Sheila what OPML was without any tools except handwaving while walking up a packed Saturday night charing cross road. Chris from Microsoft seemed to think it was a great standard, while I was trying to explain its not really a standard just happen to be the default way to share Blogrolls and subscriptions. I was going to mention XBEL and XOXO but never quite got around to it. I also noticed Uche has wrote a few XSL's to convert between OPML and XBEL and XOXO.

A brief talk and handshake with Dan Gillmor who of course wrote the hughly successful We the Media. I should have talked longer but I was just coming back from the toilet and caught him while he was making a move to leave it would seem. I know the Global voice's people were at the geekdinner but I didnt really get a chance to talk to anyone except Lucy Hoberman (BBC Creative R and D) before we went to the champagne bar and met Nicole. Nicole is a german woman who podcasts and blogs in German and English. We had a very interesting perspective talk about the differences and how your percived when writing and talking in another language online.

Spent quite a bit of time talking to Kosso and Dr Jo Twist about various things.

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