Some of the excellent books I read in 2020

I watch a lot of TV and Films but I also consume a lot of Audio (likely more than visual media). As mentioned in my new years resolution for 2021, I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks now I’ve been working from home for 10 months now.

Its worth noting I don’t really read fiction books for entertainment (this seems to be a common thing with some dyslexics?) because I think I get the fiction or entertainment part from TV & Films? Or maybe I was put off in earlier age by stuff like Lord of the rings?

So I thought I’d share some of the great books I read/listened to, not in order as such.

  • Winners Take All
    Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas
    Anand’s book is a excellent look at the corruption of power. Its a great true story which is inter-sliced with cases from history of how Anand came to tell the people who he points the finger at, during their own conference.
    Anand also makes clear the problem of inequality and how its driving a lot of the ills, just like the book the inner level which I also read and highly recommend to everyone!
  • The Inner Level
    The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Well-Being by Pickett, Kate E and Wilkinson, Richard G.
    This book is incredible, I can’t stop not thinking about it and recommending it. There is so much in the book but the examples really make the overall backbone of the inner level and the previous book the spirit level. Inequality is the bedrock of so many problems and ills in this world, I’m very convinced by this now. For example here is the start of chapter 5: The human condition.

    Larger income gaps make normal social interaction increasingly fraught with anxiety, and, as we have shown, stimulate three kinds of response. Some people are overcome by low self-esteem, lack of confidence and depression; others become increasingly narcissistic and deploy various forms of self-aggrandizement to bolster their position in others’ eyes. But, because both are responses to increased anxiety, everyone becomes more likely to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol and falls prey to consumerism to improve their self-presentation. As social life becomes more of an ordeal and a performance, people withdraw from social contact and community life weakens. Crucially, we have seen that the bigger the income differences between rich and poor, the worse all this gets.

  • How To Be an Antiracist
    How to Be an Antiracist by Kendi, Ibram X.
    What a book, as said elsewhere its not great if its your first book on systematic racism. Ibram X, makes some excellent points and later gets right into the subjects of feminism, LGBTQ+ and ultimately intersectionality. He makes very clear you can’t be antiracist if you are against queer rights for example.

    To be queer antiracist is to understand the privileges of my cisgender, of my masculinity, of my heterosexuality, of their intersections. To be queer antiracist is to serve as an ally to transgender people, to intersex people, to women, to the non-gender-conforming, to homosexuals, to their intersections, meaning listening, learning, and being led by their equalizing ideas, by their equalizing policy campaigns, by their power struggle for equal opportunity. To be queer antiracist is to see that policies protecting Black transgender women are as critically important as policies protecting the political ascendancy of queer White males.

     

  • White Fragility
    White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – Robin DiAngelo
    I read this book again just after the murder of George Floyd. I know some people are not keen on it but I found the examples and approaches extremely useful when talking about racism. For example the notion of white women tears.

    …well-meaning white women crying in cross-racial interactions is one of the more pernicious enactments of white fragility. The reasons we cry in these interactions vary. Perhaps we were given feedback on our racism. Not understanding that unaware white racism is inevitable, we hear the feedback as a moral judgment, and our feelings are hurt. A classic example occurred in a workshop I was co-leading. A black man who was struggling to express a point referred to himself as stupid. My co-facilitator, a black woman, gently countered that he was not stupid but that society would have him believe that he was. As she was explaining the power of internalized racism, a white woman interrupted with, “What he was trying to say was . . . ” When my co-facilitator pointed out that the white woman had reinforced the racist idea that she could best speak for a black man, the woman erupted in tears. The training came to a complete halt as most of the room rushed to comfort her and angrily accuse the black facilitator of unfairness. (Even though the participants were there to learn how racism works, how dare the facilitator point out an example of how racism works!) Meanwhile, the black man she had spoken for was left alone to watch her receive comfort.

     

  • The Guilty Feminist
    The Guilty Feminist: From Our Noble Goals to Our Worst Hypocrisies, Deborah Frances-white
    I am a keen listener to the podcast with the same name and the book is well written with guests injections now and then. Like Ibram X, Deborah talks a lot about intersectionality and its absolutely importance.
    In a earlier chapter Deborah breaks down feminist by waves (second wave feminism for example) its quite powerful and makes super clear how different things have been over time. She also dispels some of the awful common stereotypes (bra burning & men hating for example) but thoughtfully uses intersectionality too.
    I listened to most of the book while waiting in long queues at Alton Towers. Well worth the read even if you listen to the podcast.
  • This Could Be Our Future
    This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World by Yancey Strickler
    Previous co-founder of Kickstarter Yancey Strickler’s book is a welcomed read while looking at the state of the mainstream internet. Its a rallying call for longer term focus and is a refreshing read coming out of the epicentre of America’s hyper-capitalistic silicon valley. Yancey starts the book this way

    This book is about a simple idea.That a world of scarcity can become a world of abundance if we accept a broader definition of value. We recognize that there are many valuable things in life—love, community, safety, knowledge, and faith, to name just a few. But we allow just one value—money—to dominate everything else. Our potential for a more generous, moral, or fair society is limited by the dominance of money as the be-all and end-all. It puts a ceiling on what we can be.

    On a similar topic, I also had a read of Amy Lui’s Abolish Silicon Valley. Both are good reads and fit right alongside the R&D work into human values. Yancey is also one of our extremely knowledgeable guests in our Human values podcast series.

 

Mind the Gap, How Common Medical Symptoms Appear on Dark Skin

Me and Claire who I haven’t heard from in a very long time got talking about last year. From the covid19 pandemic, to the vaccine, systematic racism and to trypanophobia. It was during that conversation mind the gap was mentioned.

I had never really imagined or thought the images and books medical students might be learning from, may not have people with dark skin. Meaning an unbalance in the treatment of dark skinned people simply because of education.

Simple things like finding veins which are relatively easy to see under white skin can be challenging under black skin (generally). There were other aspects which I hadn’t ever thought about…

This where mind the gap came up… from the root

A Zimbabwe-born medical student living in London is filling in an important blind spot in the medical community: informing healthcare providers and patients how symptoms for a broad range of conditions appear on darker skin.

It’s the kind of problem that feels shockingly outdated for the 21st century, but as 20-year-old St. George student Malone Mukwende recently told the Washington Post, the lack of teaching about darker skin tones, and how certain symptoms would present differently on nonwhite skin, was obvious by his first class at the University of London school.

“It was clear to me that certain symptoms would not present the same on my own skin,” Mukwende told The Post, referring to conditions like rashes, bruises, and blue lips. He quickly extrapolated that the same would be true of other people sharing similarly dark skin.

Malone Mukwende
Malone Mukwende

If this was dated in the 80’s I would understand but Mukwende started the book which is free to download in 2020!

Shocking but so glad of the solution, although its worth noting there is things missing from the book where you could help.

Learn the Diabolo during a pandemic?

Glad someone else did a video about learning the Diabolo during the pandemic. Its something I have really enjoyed and look forward to when ever I can.

Here’s my advent calendar of Diabolo tricks for example.


The shared reasons…

  1. The Diabolo is good physical exercise
    Weirdly enough, I’m doing roughly about 3500+ steps while with the Diabolo for 45mins. The big difference is my heart rate, its raised during the Diabolo and thats a good thing.
  2. The diabolo is good mental exercise
    Its a good distraction and being in a state of flow while doing a trick is great. Like others, I’m doing it with headphones on, so able to listen to some of my trance mixes (haven’t done any recently) to get into a zone.
  3. Its the perfect social distancing device
    Especially when learning the vertex, can’t tell you the amount of times I almost lost the Diabolo over the fence or its ended up in a bush. Its part of the reason why I use one for practice and the more expensive one for the camera.
  4. Its not a expensive device, but you can pay a lot for better
    Talking about Diabolos, I have a lot of them. Some going back to when I was in college and a bunch of triple axis bearing Diabolos. Even considered a fire Diabolo. The sticks are also worth a thought. Originally I had quick thick wooden sticks then they got thinner before switching to aluminium and now carbon fibre is my style.
  5. Its fun and rewarding
    The benefits of fun are well known but theres also side effects like amazing hand eye coordination, agility and of course style.

Even if you are not convinced about the diabolo, consider the devil sticks, yoyo, hoops, poi or heck just juggling.

My new years resolutions for 2021

Ian Forrester selfie with a mask

Its been quite a year and everybody is looking for a better year in 2021.

Following my review of last year… here’s my New Years Resolutions for 2021; which follows on from 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 ones.

  1. Live in another country for a short while
    Regardless of the pandemic, I’m still keen to spend a serious amount of time in Europe. I know we just left Europe (don’t get me started) and its now even harder to do what I had planned last year. Regardless I got to try and apply for the Estonian digital nomad visa.
  2. Head further a field with the scooter
    A follow on from the last lot of resolutions, even with Covid19 and Brexit, I’m holding out hope that I can find a way to either the Netherlands or Ireland. I almost went to the Netherlands over the summer but the rules changed meaning I would need to self isolate for 14 days after coming back.
  3. Take better care of my skin.
    face creams

    This is a follow on from last year, my sleep, alertness, etc are great but I for decades have neglected my skin. Since I was young, I would use petroleum jelly on my face and hands. I only really noticed the issue with this while shaving. But I was convinced by my barber to stop doing this and use proper face moisturisers. My family were amazed my skin turned out as well as it did we 30+ years of petroleum jelly. So its time for something new and less harsh?

  4. Step up my gratitudes
    My lovely ex-colleague Nicky told me about a book shes been using, called the 6 minute diary. Last time we talked about my gratitudes. So from new years I’ll give it a go. It will likely the most I have handwritten in a long time. Thanks Nicky again and look forward to seeing what hits the paper.
  5. Host more film nights and dinner parties
    This is a repeat of the last year but even with Covid19, I’m going to put this on the list, as I could do much better. Heck I got enough Chocolate to do a tasting night every month right now.
  6. Spend even more time with the Diabolo
    Diabolo whip
    The pandemic has given me so much time with the Diabolo. Its amazing to see how fast I have improved in the community garden. A while back I wanted to learn the Vertex and now I’m getting confidently doing it but got a long way to go before I start throwing genocide vertex’s. Although I feel I can watch a video on youtube and pick it up within a week or two now. However I still don’t get the infinite suicide, it should be easy but it never works for me.
  7. Send a email out to friends and family once or twice a year
    I’m slightly preparing to spend even less time in Facebook and looking at the alternatives to substack and medium. Most likely I will selfhost it now I’m running yuno host on a raspberry pi4. Either Writefreely or something with Activitypub.
  8. Self host and move to more decentralised/fediverse services.
    Its something I’ve been doing for a while but its time for the big push. As I’m spending more time at home, I got more time to learn and now my main services are running on the NAS. The RaspberryPi is a great platform for self-hosting. While thinking about the previous one, I posted something on Mastodon.
    Someone suggested this Github project and someone suggested Friendica might have what I need.
  9. Find an alternative to the pebble watch
    My Pebble with Sugru

    My friends have been really good to me, giving up their old pebble smartwatches to me. But as I’m now on my last pebble, its time to move over to something else. I enjoyed not having to pull out my phone to read a message and to even reply directly from the watch. But I can’t buy another one now. I had pinned my hope on the hybrid smartwatches but they don’t seem to have the ability to send a reply. Anyway, no more pebble after this one dies.
  10. Listen to a Audiobook every month.
    Another advantage of being at home is the amount of audiobooks I’m listening to. Right now I’m listening to one every week but 12 is a basic target and should be do able with the sheer amount of podcasts I’ve been listening too. This also fits with Audiable’s monthly subscription.
  11. Take a more political & strategic view on the status quo
    George Floyd 7 months later

    There’s been a number of books and podcasts, which have led me to the fact people around me think things are generally ok. Yes with the pandemic, they changed their minds for this year but I hear again and again – “Next year things will go back to how they were and all will be ok.”
    No I’m 99% sure it won’t and frankly how it was, was not good enough. We need to fight harder for a better future for all. Its also clear to me the right has found a formula which is working but its easily broken by taking a active role in our democracy. May this year made this ever so clear to me.
  12. Finish my dating book
    Yes that book is being worked on between myself and Hannah. The latest draft is looking great. Honestly it reads like a real book! I’m now considering writing a epilogue but unfortunately my relationship ended during this year. Meaning a rewrite and rethink how to end it as such.
    There are other considerations like photography/artwork, formats, checking for consistency, where to publish, how to publish, etc, etc. Any thoughts do get in touch (like to avoid Amazon if I can and it makes sense)Here is a tiny sneaky paragraph from a draft chapter (Hannah is such a great writer and editor, you should hire her!)

    …I studied her face to see what her intention was. Maybe it was a spontaneous comment that didn’t really mean anything. Perhaps she was playing to the cameras that surrounded us?

    The longer I looked, the more smug her expression became. She might have been pretty before but that dirty grin said it all. If she was trying to push my buttons she had found them alright. What happened next was not my finest hour.

    Maybe the combination of divorce, Mr Tango and the button pushing had something to do with what happened next. It felt like I was thinking it but it came out.

    Regardless, I do take responsibility for what happened next…

    Bet you are dying to know what happens next right? Hopefully this year you will know.

So that’s the 12 for 2021 (still no real reason why its 12, it just is). Its a tough one because I wanted to include things like visit a new country but I decided its unlikely this coming year. I was also going to add one about getting the Covid19 vaccine/jabs but I just learned one of the ingredients includes pea protein? So it might be a even longer wait for me to get the vaccine.

Have a good new year all!

Films you may have missed during the later part of 2020

Matrix on the big screen
Watching the matrix on the big screen during lock down

Following on from my previous post about films to watch during covid19 and again during mid 2020. Some of us have been consuming a lot of media. Its never been a better time to own a full home cinema.

Having just gone through my trakt year in review and its almost 2021, it might be worth another blog post for the locked in. Believe it or not there has been some good stuff to watch on the small screens in our living rooms.

Films

Just mercy

Just Mercy

This is a genre which always gets me, court room dramas. I didn’t think that much about the trial of the chicago 7 especially after watching Small Axe’s Mangrove and this film. Its powerful and emotional, it deserves a lot of respect and perfect timing with the on going anti-racism protests. Don’t miss this film!

Parallel

As the name suggests its a film about parallel universes. This film comes across off as a lower budget movie but the concept is neat and it has legs. It surprises in different ways and within the serious plot points still has elements of comedy. It reminds me very much of the film Time lapse.

Run

This took me by surprise. Not usually into horror but this is clearly more on the thriller side. I can’t even start to explain how messed up this film is on so many levels. As the film develops you get a real sense of the subtitle, you can’t escape a mothers love!

The honest thief

Nice easy going action film which isn’t too stressful but has its moments of action too. Liam Neeson is wooden than his usual roles in Taken, but still has edge. Nice plot and the actors do carry the film well. Good quality hollywood action.

12 Hour Shift

This film is a bit of dark humour and comes across as serious. Its a simple film about staff in a hospital but the things which happen are, lets say intriguing and there reactions are hilariously dark. Been a while since I seen a dark comedy like it

The Secrets We Keep

I wasn’t quite sure where this one was going but its a thriller which strikes where it hurts. Partly revenge film but its not for the faith hearted. Not an amazing film but strong and worth watching.

Love and Monsters

Another fun hollywood film which I would say is similar in notion to Zombieland but less adult. Its a fun teen flick with some enjoyable moments. Light relief from the pandemic.

Follow Me

I’m a bit of a sucker for these escape room type films and this one has all the right ingredients to keep you guessing. Part of you wants bad things to happen as this youtuber is just the wrong side of arrogant. If you don’t like follow me, try escape room.

Opening Act

A film about stand up comedy with stand up comedians. Light entertainment again but with the strength of everyday life as a comedian. Heckling, trying out jokes, fighting for spots, its all there in the film.

Black Box

Psychological thrillers, some hate them and sometimes they are awful. This one is good, not great but challenging. Its great to see Mamoudou moving into the prime time. Its a good film but be prepared for a small mind screw.

Boss level

A fun film which reminds me of a three way between Shoot’em up, Groundhog day and Scott Pilgrim vs the world. Light entertainment but good entertainment on these dark nights.

TV

A Teacher

A interesting story about a student and a teacher. The emotional side is treated well and respectful over the episodes. Usually these type of things are rushed and A teacher doesn’t do that. The topics are adult and dealt with in that way.

Small Axe

There is so much to say abut Small Axe, the director worked on these 5 almost feature length episodes showcasing different aspects of Black British culture in London. Each episode is unique with for example episode 2 having a completely different tempo and feel from episode 1. Each one is worth while watching alone, together they marked a excellent series.

The Queens Gambit

The Queens Gambit

Such a beautiful and short TV show. Most people have seen or heard of it but honestly watch it on a big screen at the highest resolution you can. You will notice every short is just beautiful. The story is great too.

Industry

This was recommended to me and its quite a interesting series, looking at new graduates aiming to permanently join a investment bank. What I like is its not too stereotypical. Yes theres drugs in the bathrooms, yes the women get a much rougher experience than the men. But each character has more depth than you first imagine.

The Flight Attendant

A fun comedy drama with Kaley (known for the big bang theory) with a bit of a edge. The story unfolds slowly but the comedy elements keeps the flow. There is a message about alcoholism there but its not clear cut and well produced. Worth watching but don’t expect something deep and meaningful or even light entertainment. Look forward to second series?

Sneakerheads

Following the flight attendant, something actually light and fun comedy. If you are a sneakerhead or take your trainers a little more serious than most people… this short series is for you. Funny and entertaining, some light relief.

Ted Lasso

Another fun TV series but with a heart. I’m really not a football fan, so I was expecting this to be a bore. When I first came across it, I thought this is going to be a joke which will get old. But it surprised me as the characters backstory holds up well and keeps you interested. Like the flight attendant sure there will be a second series.

A review of my 2020 resolutions

Ian Forrester selfie with a mask
The new normal, mask, umbrella and coat

2020 has been one heck of a year for me and pretty much every single person on earth. The Covid19 pandemic effected so many peoples lives from people dying to people having to operate around nationwide lock downs. People I know have had covid19 and a couple people are still suffering with the long covid19. From memory no one I know has died but I’m not certain.

The thing about the pandemic is its like background radiation. Its always there and it affects everything. Even if its small things.

Then in the middle of everything the police in American murdered a bunch of black people and the whole thing was captured.  May 2020, was a turning point for many, finally we could talk about systematic racism and people were listening. Not to say they did a lot about it but in some places the light was shone and people finally understood what it means to be an anti-racist.

George Floyd 7 months later
Remembering George floyd on xmas night

So with all that how was my year from the  Quantified Self data  point of view?

  • My average sleep duration has increased from 7 hrs 20mins to 7hours 50mins.  Average deep sleep was 4.03 hrs now its 4.35hrs.
  • This year I started moving away from Gmail, so the numbers make sense. I had 32,601 conversations, have 20718 emails in my inbox and sent 7841 emails this year.
  • Have 114,564 photos and 4,269 photos albums in Google photos.
  • Tasks wise I have 304 open tasks and completed 3,315 over the year
  • Been on all of 6 trips including Manchester, Warrington, Lancaster, London, Alton towers, Blackpool this year.
  • According to Trakt, my most played show is Dave and film was Tenet, Most listened to podcast is the Daily Tech News Show.
  • I spent 742 hours watching films (61.8hrs a month) and 1221 hours watching TV series (101.8hrs a month) – that is a lot, but understandable with being locked down.

Diabolo whip

Here’s my review of  my new years resolutions from 2019.

  1. Head further a field with the scooter
    Even with Covid19, there was a brief chance to go on holiday to the Netherlands in August. I had planned to take the scooter across from either Hull or Felixstowe. I checked out the pricing got the emergency kit, arranged my stay with a friend in the Netherlands. But then Greater Manchester went into a tier where leaving become problematic. I push on but then suddenly the Netherlands become a country when I could need to isolate for 14 days after returning. At that point I decided its all too much.
    Its a shame as I also considered Ireland too but the season had changed and didn’t fancy driving in Ireland in the rain.
  2. Visit another new country
    This never happened for obvious Covid19 reasons. Maybe next year will be better?
  3. Make some changes to the flat
    Lots of changes to the flat, from a new desk, a network attached storage, reconfiguration of some basic things. I still have a number of tasks related to this to go through for 2021.
  4. Host film nights at mine
    This didn’t happen for obvious Covid19 reasons. Although my bubble might break this somewhat.
  5. Spend less time in the UK / Live in a new country
    Yeah Covid19 killed this but who knows what might happen next year
  6. Find the others and connect them
    This has started to happen, but theres more work needed on this front.
  7. Play a new sport somewhat regularly
    Another Covid19 killer, but I did spend a lot of time with the Diabolo.
  8. Drink more fizzy water
    This happened, maybe too much and I had to stop drinking copious amounts of fizzy water late at night. I’m not drinking so much that I needed a subscription but I’m getting through a bottle of gas every 3 weeks?
  9.  Look after myself better
    I believe this one happen starting with my focus on my sleep patterns. Being able to make that decision about working later has made a massive difference to the quality of my sleep, even with the background humm of the pandemic.
  10. Be even more aware of the environment and what I can do to help
    This believe it or not had happened, from spending much more time sorting out what I can recycle. Tesco also have been delivering my shopping with bags so been using them for many things for recycling.
  11. Put my money/resources where my values are, with platforms like Patreon
    This happened, I signed up to Pateon as there is a number of podcasts I regularly enjoy and gave them small amounts of hard cash to help support them. I also donated time and some money to other places like anti-racist, feminist, neurodiverse organisations.
  12. Change my email signature with important information
    Done, my signature now includes my pronoun, my user manual and status. I keep thinking about adding my free/busy time but don’t really like the fact google calendar reveals your email address when doing so.

In lieu of trust at the top…

There was something which John Ashton said at the end of his video for Double Down News.

He mentions during the first nation wide lockdown in the UK, people supporting each other with pick up of community shopping, lists of help on different social sites, etc, etc. The trust between each other and the NHS was high.

As we went into the second national lockdown, all eyes were looking to the top. Rather than looking at each other for support. I think part of this comes from the formulation of the tiers which seemed to turned people against each other, in lieu of any transparency from the top. There was a lot of finger pointing from Tier 3 Liverpool at Tier 2 Manchester back 2-3 months ago for example.

Its clear countries where the government are more trusted seem to be doing much better in their R number rates. But in lieu of this, we need to work together to make it work for ourselves and our communities.

I recently saw a great example of this with the total mess of lorries trying to get into Europe. Its the kindness of people and communities which can make the difference.

Covid19 vaccine, I’m happy to wait

Theres been a bunch of press with older people and key workers having had their first shot of the Covid19 vaccine. This is great news of course but I got to say everytime I see someone having a injection in the press its still scary for me. Love to have something of a trigger warning for this all. But then again I’m not anywhere as bad as I use to be thanks to hypnotherapy.

I have always said I’m happy to wear a mask and will be wearing a mask till October next year I predict. The vaccine needs to go to the people who most need it, the people who protect the vulnerable, front line works, yes; but that list needs to include other nations.

The rush to get the vaccine is locking out poorer nations and I’m glad to see this is being highlighted and being acted on?

To be clear when its my time, I will get it even if it does mean yes I will need 2 shots within a month, not great for someone terrified of needles. I have no doubts about the vaccine(s) just the injections. Really wish I could take a pill or like Contagion, could be delivered via nasal spray. (you don’t need to write to me to explain why that couldn’t work, its been explained to me over and over again to me)

I won’t be surprised if having the vaccine will be a requirement for travel on planes in the near future. If not expect getting travel insurance to be troublesome to say the least. I don’t think it will be mandatory in the UK but

Some Indiewebcamp influence on my gratitude habit

Black heart

I attended IndieWebCampEast over the weekend and met some good people furthering the web. Like all IndieWebCamps, its well documented thanks to the amazing hosts Chris Aldrich and David Shanske.

I used the time I between the time differences (there was about 5 hours difference between GMT & EST) to make serious changes with my yunohost raspberry pi. Seeing how I mentioned how I wanted to understand more about micropub, indieauth and kinds. A good staring point is my own gratitude diary, as changing my blog is a bit more tricky.

So long story short, I setup wordpress on my Raspberry Pi, got IndieAuth working and was able to post from another micropub server. The most tricky part I found is actually replacing the placeholder image, which I had to SSH into the raspberrypi to replace as there seemed to be no other way?

Not bad for a weekend while locked down during a pandemic.

Massive thanks to all I met at IndieWebCampEast and the knowledge I learned and can now share.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Nov 2020)

How the fediverse deals with trolls

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing the next big social network using the exact same centralised model as the existing ones; while us privileged dive into our exit pods.

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 happening with do not track being rethought and getting some legal muscle.


The curious past and future of Signal CEO

Ian thinks: Good to hear more about the mysteries figure which is Signal’s CEO Moxie Marlinspike. His views of taking back our privacy, moving systems into the public infrastructure category and making encryption the default; is quite telling looking at his past. Unlike most, he has the knowledge and system to actually implement with others the reality he thinks about.

Is scale the enemy of human kind?

Ian thinks: This interview with Marina Gorbis from the institute of the future with Douglas Rushkoff is full of status-quo busting thoughts. The centre idea is how the allure of scale is actually the main problem the human race faces.

How to fight black box algorithms together

Ian thinks: Openschufa a project which aggregates your GDPR requested financial data with others to reveal bias, is the type of services I was hoping would come out of GDPR’s data portability rules. Look forward to seeing more like this.

Decentralized Social Networks vs. The Trolls

Ian thinks: This video is excellent and one of the reasons I have always been keen to use fediverse services like Mastodon and Pixelfed. This is another good talk from the Activity pub conference

How Ghent removed cars from the city

Ian thinks: When I visited Ghent last year I did notice the city centre was very quiet from the lack of cars. I had no idea but it felt like a place to live and walk. Lessons for other European cities?

Techdirt experiments with web monetization

Ian thinks: I personally have been following the web monetization protocol and grant for the web project for a while. Even adding it to my own personal blog, but its great to see Techdirt taking up the same protocol. Web monetization is growing and growing.

The role of design during Covid19

Ian thinks: This is a impressive list of 7 design based innovations which have helped and aided during the pandemic. All very different and all inspiration.

Understand digital identity beyond self-sovereign

Ian thinks: Centralised digital identity is easy to understand, but self-sovereign identity is being pushed as the way forward. However this essay by Philip Sheldrake, really shakes up the notions of identity in a way I’m still struggling to think about now.

Facebook won’t take the social dilemma lying down

Ian thinks: I thought Facebook would ignore the social dilemma as its not that great compared the great hack or after truth, plus there are many issues. But Facebook have hit back claiming the documentary as sensationalism. Seems to have touched a nerve I think?


Find the archive here

Mozfest’s call for participation 2021

Mozilla festival

Its been one heck of the year and to be frank 2021 is going to be pandemic driven too. While we all try and find our way in the new normal. Its worth looking at things which have delighted us all.

One of those for me is the Mozilla Festival which usually falls on October half-term. It would have been this week starting with Mozhouse and ending on Mozfest on the weekend, if it was still in London and there wasn’t a world wide pandemic of course.

With all that happening and not going to massively change come early next year. Mozfest will be mainly a virtual festival over 2 weeks in March. Being a community festival its time for the call for proposals.

Anyone can submit a session – you don’t need any particular expertise, just a great project or idea and the desire to collaborate and learn from festival participants. Since it’s online this year, we’re especially eager to see session proposals from those that haven’t been able to attend in year’s past due to travel restrictions.

If you or someone you know is interested in leading a session at MozFest this year, you can submit your session ideahere! The deadline is November 23.

So what you waiting for? Get in there…

Mozfest 2019

Lets make the Mozilla festival 2021, the most diverse, inclusive and incredible festival of the internet ever!

 

The pandemic is just the start

I have been looking at the brighter side of things but also been pragmatically thinking about the future.

Its been a while since I heard from Noam Chomsky and this speech with additional footage is powerful I have been thinking a lot about the near future beyond this pandemic.

First of all, I do think we are talking about a long run on covid19, I suspect it will be Q3-4 when the vaccines actually become available to everyday people (people who are not at high risk, on the front line or anything like that). Pinning our hopes on things going back to the old normal is not going to happen. Heck even my mum the other day said this to me on our last family call! We already prepared ourselves to not spend the festive season together.

The festival season also brings to the UK, the harsh ramifications of Brexit. Something a lot people have blocked out of their mind as they focus on Covid19. Don’t even get me started about the this as its deeply upsetting and really encourages me to just leave this country.

However as Noam talks about in his speech, the elephants in the room (I would say blackswans but they are not because we are very aware of these, or at least we should be!).

  1. Global nuclear war
  2. Environmental collapse

Its clear if Trump wins another term as president of America, the countdown to both global nuclear war and environmental collapse will be so much closer than we can imagine. The election is a concern for many reasons but nuclear war and environmental collapse is something we should all be aware and thinking about; and I don’t mean disappearing into our escape pods.

We already passed the point of no environmental change but we are actively increasing accelerating things including future pandemics. Imagine pandemics are simply a side-effect of our environmental impact. That I feel gives it the real scope of the challenge in front of us.

This can all be a harsh reality kick in the teeth. But honestly see it as a kick up the ass for us all. Together we can do it but we all have to acknowledge the reality and look beyond the current pandemic.

Whats happened in Islington Wharf over summer?

The test window in the garden
The test window in the garden with the UV screen

You might remember I blogged about the potential works at Islington Wharf.

So a little update, we received a letter about securing a different location for the builders yard. Originally Waterside Places was planning to take over our garden for 2+ years but I gather the council stepped in and they found another site. Where exactly isn’t very clear, like a lot of the comms from Waterside places.

Waterside places letter Sept

So with this there has been a lot of talk about the alternative, would releasing Laing O’Rourke of their obligation be the worst idea? Each person has different views on this all. To be fair now the garden is off the table I feel slightly better about things. Although its not super clear (I have asked directly this question).

As it seems typical in 2020, a blackswan event like the Covid19 pandemic? just hit Islington wharf.

HS2 the high speed two train system wrote a letter to most of Islington Wharf.

I am writing to you today to advise you that following further development of the design for High Speed Two (HS2) Limited, some or all of your land and/or property may be required in order to build and operate the railway for the Western Leg of HS2 Phase 2b.

Manchester Piccadilly East
The shaded area is my suggestion for the HS2 expansion. It also indicates a part of the red light zone

Its a proposal and its not clear how much of Islington Wharf will be affected as I thought the inner ring road and Ashton canal would be problem if they wanted to expand Piccadilly Station. On top of this, there is a lot of land around Piccadilly Station currently the Red light zone or Piccadilly East if you been watching Manctopia.  Between Fairfield Street, Chapeltown Street and Great Ancoats Street theres quite a bit of room and a lot of it is made up of old commercial places. Places which would be cheaper to move and are generally not that occupied either.

Its a interesting dimension on top of the saga with Waterside places. Wonder if they were even aware of the HS2 change?

A unforgettable summer in the city: the mix

A unforgettable summer in the city mix

Its been one heck of a summer, from the covid19 pandemic, national lockdowns to the protests for .

Every once in a while I have been putting out a few mixes under the new album/category of locked down and mixing out. The mixes have been good but I felt they each had something missing, so this is the best bits of previous mixes put together into something extra special.

Its the mix I am listening to when I get out with the Diabolo or go for a long walk.

Enjoy!

  1. A new beginning – Marcus Schossow
  2. Chinook – Markus Schulz pres Dakota
  3. Opium (Quivver remix) – Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor
  4. Open up – Leftfield
  5. Intruder – Armin Van Buuren vs M.I.K.E
  6. My Beat (Ambassador extended remix) – Blaze
  7. Follow me (Jerome Isma-Ae Extended remix) – Jam Spoon
  8. Floyd (Extended mix) – Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor
  9. Opulence – Simon Patterson
  10. Numb the pain – Will Atkinson
  11. Seven Cities (V-One’s living in the cities mix) – Solarstone
  12. Halcyon – Andy Moor
  13. Tears (Protoculture remix) – Dakota
  14. Outlaw (Extended mix) – Fatum
  15. Amino Acids – Tau-Rine
  16. Freedom (Extended mix) – ARTY v Muvy
  17. Indigo – 4×4

Alton towers and social distancing?

On Sunday I went to Alton Towers as the park was open from 10am – 8pm (this is normal hours in Europe for most theme parks). Part of me wishes I didn’t bother, but as the UK is on the brink of another national lockdown I decided to drive there and back. Its not the first time I’ve done it and this time at least it wasn’t pouring with rain.

As I drove in to the car park I could see the huge long queue to enter with social distancing. I think the monorail was closed because of social distancing too. After 40mins, a bag check, temperature gun check and a check of my eticket I was in.

First stop the Smiler. This is when I spotted the sign about single riders. There will be no single rider queue due to social distancing guidelines join the main queue. I knew then it was going to suck…

Social distance markers in Alton Towers

Standing in the queue, which was extended up and around the top ridge of the Smiler compound. You could see markers on the ground of where you are meant to stand. Problem is most people were not standing on them no matter how much Alton Towers staff shout over the loud speaker system. Heck they even called out a few people and it made no noticeable difference.

One of the biggest problem with the Smiler queue is it exists underneath the ride structure and its setup to be like a maze for mice. Of course this isn’t good for social distancing at all. You could see there were obvious gaps to allow distance between the fences but people just took it as they were 2 meters from the people in front and back and that was enough.

The Smiler queuing system

I got on the ride twice and I’ll be honest twice I had to glare at the people following me to back off. I really should have worn my mask, which you only need to wear when entering the station. I honestly didn’t feel that safe while queuing. Of course all this queuing means you are in close contact with people for a long time. A hour each time for the Smiler.

The Smiler train has 4 rows of 4 seats (16 riders), I shared a row with a couple the first time (there was a seat between us) then had a whole row to myself the second time. You can easily see why queues were so long.

With two rides I looked around and saw the horribly long lines for food so decided to head over to Nemesis and Galactica (I didn’t bother going to Rita or 13). The queue for the cable cart was 60mins (Imagine it would be 1 household per cart), so I walked over. Nemesis had a queue time of 55mins and they had opened the line up to include the extended line right up in the field, last time I been up there was back in 1999! Usually Nemesis’ queue is no more than 5-10mins. The bunch of men/lads/idiots behind me stood within 0.5-1 meter. I did tell them to back off and they made stupid faces and silly noises. I couldn’t be bothered so popped my headphones on, pretty much ignored them. On the ride I had a whole row to myself again. No wonder it was such a long wait. For all that waiting, Galactica was only 30mins wait which isn’t that far off the last time I was in Alton Towers. I did share the row with another couple like the Smiler.

The killer for me was Wicker man which I have never been on and finally got the chance but there was one hell of a time cost. Almost 2 hours of queuing in to be fair a socially distance observing line. The line was moving so slowly, most people had given up standing and were sitting around. It was dire, make no mistake. After listening to 2 hours of the Guilty Feminist’s audiobook I finally got on the ride and it was clear why things were so slow. Each row had 2 seats and they were seating every other row. Meaning a maximum of 12 riders per turn, not the usual 24.

By the time I got my ride on Wicker man I decided I was fed-up and close enough to the entrance to drive home before the sunset and I didn’t fancy  driving at night through country lanes.

I’ll be frank Alton Towers is a horrible place to be during a pandemic, I felt a lot safer going to Blackpool Pleasure beach. The staff seemed a lot more knowledgeable, gels (for example there was no gel in the line for the smiler over 2 hours) and cleaning was a lot more visible.

I’m not the only one who had worries about Alton Towers.

Maybe I’ll revisit next year out of season…