In memory of Damian Cox

Damian with a pie butty
Only in Manchester can you get a pie butty, held by the late Damian Cox.

Damian Cox was more than a character, he was an incredible outspoken figure and a joy to be around. It was a shock to hear the news that he had died suddenly.

The funeral is this week and unfortunately I’m in Maderia Portugal for ICIDS 2017 and can’t be there. Death is always shocking and scary but having been so close myself I tend to have a slightly different view on death and want to celebrate life more than ever.

Because of this I wanted to share a few of the reasons why Damian was just such an amazing person.

When I first moved up to BBC Manchester on Oxford Road I met quite a few people and I did some publicity work for the BBC as they wanted to recruit more locally. Now I don’t know for sure, but Damian claims he joined after seeing my mug shot somewhere. He use to call me the pin-up boy, which use to make me laugh, even many years later.

I clearly remember him showing me some of the northern delights like the pie butty which without realising made it to the top of the only in manchester list in buzz feed.

At BarCampMediaCity, I clearly remember Cristiano coming to me and someone else on the Saturday evening and saying, we need to talk to security because someone is clearly drunk; he was joking, laughing, touchy and being loud about everything.
I asked who (wondering) and Cristiano didn’t know his name but described him having a flat cap, northern accent and cheeky smile. Within a single heart beat, I remember saying with someone else; is it Damian Cox? Christiano looked puzzled.
Thats just Damian, he’s always like that… we laughed.

Damian was fun, full of spirit and a joy to be around. He told it exactly how it was, wouldn’t hold back and wouldn’t be without his flatcap. Even during the heat of of in the O2, he stood out due to that bloody flatcap!

Hacked 2013

He will be so missed by not just by his family, friends and colleagues; but BBC North and Manchester. He embodied the reason why the BBC moved to Manchester.

Rest in Peace Damian Cox

300seconds at the BBC Media City

Becky, Rosie, Jasmine - The R&D girls

It wasn’t Ted and it wasn’t TedXSalford (still need to write up my thoughts on that conference). It was something new and fresh… 300seconds I wrote about a while ago announcing its first regional (outside of London) event at Media City UK. New fresh and something which would actually help the people giving the presentation as well as inspire the audience.

The line up for the event was great balance of talks by women who all had different levels of talking experience. They all had reasons why they wanted to give it a try and frankly all did a fantastic job! Nerves and all!

Kylie Hodges, Bliss, The World of Social Media, Premature Babies and International Engagment
Jasmine Cox, BBC, Maker of Things
Ciara McVeigh, Discerning Digital, You Don’t Have to be a Geek to Work in Tech

300Seconds at BBC North

Victoria Sorzano, BBC, Confessions of a Digital Witch: Finding your Niche
Amy Lynch, ThoughtWorks, The underrepresentation of women in tech conferences
Rebecca Gregory-Clarke, BBC, How to Build a Weather Robot

Rosie Campbell, BBC, Using Game Theory to survive in a hungry tribe
Catherine Jones, Science Museum, Turning a 1920′s radio into a 21st Century Exhibit

The videos for the talks will be up on the 300seconds you tube channel in the near future.

Robin and Amy Lynch

I wanted to say thank you to BBC R&D who supported the project along with BBC North. Louise Blythe for her lovely hands off coaching and great 3 useful points for communicating an idea to someone. Robin Cramp who has seriously become a superstar MC for conferences, he’s so funny and so entertaining I think he may deserve his own show. His wheel of feedback was simply hysterical.

Fantastic night and I’m happy to say we’re already in talks about doing another in 2014, so look out for your chance to sign up and put yourself forward to talk for 300seconds.

BBC FM 2012 Christmas Party mix

Its the season for Christmas parties and the BBC is no different. Yesterday (Friday 8th) it was time for the BBC North Future Media Christmas party at the Deaf institute. To change things up we had a different DJ every 30mins. Of course the Dj’s were from the BBC Future Media (FM) staff.

I was 3rd from the end and threw down a mix of some dance right up to proper trance via some tech trance. Because I was doing this on the pacemaker device (seems a lot of people thought I was using my phone on stage) I was able to record the mix at the same time.

Hardly my best mixing or best choice of tunes but it was right for the time as the dj before was playing commercial house. I was in two minds about some of the tunes but by the end of the 30mins, I decided screw it, here comes the trance.

The playlist is short as you expect in 30mins…

  1. Watch Out (Dirty South Remix) By Ferry Corsten
  2. Shifter By Timo Maas
  3. Shnokel By Miki Litvak & Ido Ophir
  4. Café Del Mar (Marco V Remix) By Energy 52
  5. Out Of The Blue 2012 By System F
  6. Uncommon World By Bryan Kearney
  7. Ecstasy By Eddie Makabi Feat. Einat

Why is there no large scale eink displays?

Data visualization in bbc Manchester

I took a picture of a paper display in the BBC Manchester office the other day

It seems like every week they may replace the old informational display with a new one. But it got me wondering… its quite a simple visualisation and yes you could project the same thing or even put it on a large lcd screen but why not a massive eink screen instead?

Then I did some digging around… Where’s all the large scale eink screens?

From wikipedia

Other proposed applications include digital photo frames and information boards

But where are the information boards? Sure they will be expensive but over a course of years they can’t be that bad compared to a projector or a large LCD display

My only thoughts are…

  • A large eink display won’t be as cheap as paper, so no ones really attempted it
  • eink is difficult to scale in some way?
  • eink power consumption ramps up the larger you go?

So odd because I can certainly find reasons to use a eink display, even a A3 and A2 sized display. Imagine photo frames which you can change every once in a while but very flat and light. Perfect for hanging on the wall…

Manchester’s first Northern Quarter street party (a R&D viewpoint)

The Official Northern Quarter Street party

Manchester’s Northern Quarter was transformed into a massive street party for the northern quarter hipster crowd yesterday. Billed as an alternative to the royal wedding It was all over the press which was great [men][guardian][cubicgarden].

With the help and support of Madlab, the BBC North ran a gaming wonderland during the street party.

The gaming wonderland included 2 wii’s running wii sports and a early glimpse of BBC R&D project called Virtual Maestro or Kinect Orchestra.

Wii Bowling

On the wii’s we had bowling running and the scores of everyone who played was put on the board just like they do on top gear with lap times. We had a total of 40 players put up there scores over the hours of play. Ages ranging from 8 to 55, but the winner of the day was Rachel Norris with a high score of 188 over 10 rounds. We will be contacting Rachel with her prize. There was some controversy with some of the players as they claimed a score of 210 but as it wasn’t seen by any of the team, we had no choice but to question it. So maybe Helena Rice will also receive a slightly lesser prize too.


Virtual Maestro, an installation we’re developing with the BBC Philharmonic. Using a Microsoft Kinect and some custom code, a person is able to ‘conduct’ the BBC Philharmonic in glorious HD video and 3D surround sound using nothing but their arms to control the tempo and dynamics of the piece…


The Virtual Maestro or Kinect Orchestra will be back soon for the Manchester International Festival in July. But at the street party it went down very well with lots of people trying it out. Lots of photos can be found on Flickr. On the version we removed the HD video and 3D surround sound but it didn’t stop the public interest in the system.Conduct

As Max said in the r&d blog post,

As well as being brilliant fun for the public to play with, demos like these are a great way to illustrate some the technical work that happens here at the beeb.

Not only did we have lost of interest in the bowling tournament and the virtual maestro, but we also had people asking about BBC R&D, Madlab and BBC jobs.

Although it was a bit of a solo effort (no disrespect to Andy, Nicole, Hwayoung and Dave as there help was great and very much needed) it was worth it. We had maybe about 150 people come through our ground floor madlab space, which isn’t bad for a bank holiday.

Look out for me in the Guardian next week

Me and the BBC

Yes I just about survived the embarrassment of being the face of BBC North’s recruitment event earlier this week. BBC North have stepped it up and are about to launch a series of adverts in the Guardian next week. So I’m preparing myself for people twittering and pinging me saying, hey I saw Ian in the Guardian today…

Oh and Happy Birthday to me… This weekend is my 30th Birthday Redux.

Me in the guardian today (11/4/2011)
Me in the Guardian today (11/4/2011), look for the Media Guardian pull out section.


Meet BBC North – 5th April

Myself on poster

Yes that is me before my bleed on the brain. Wow how scary did I look… Can’t imagine why they would want to use me to advertise BBC North?

Anyway things are going great at the BBC and we’re not far from moving into to Salford Quays. I got the chance to see the floor below where we are going to move to today and I was impressed. The space I thought would be like the broadcast centre or media centre in white city but it felt nothing like that. It actually felt very warm and cozy even with the huge amount of glass.

Can’t wait to get in to the space and make it ours.