Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (June 2020)

Boy looks at a possible cure

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by re-reading Anil Dash’s the web we lost essay and hearing doteveryone is closing up after 5 years.

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 Luxembourg becoming the first country to provide free public transport.

 


The way Covid19 is changing how we use the internet

Ian thinks: Seeing the charts on how Covid-19 has changed our use of the internet is quite telling and could be a forecast for the post Covid-19 future? I’d like to see different countries than just America of course.

Mozilla puts $75000 into Fixing the Internet

Ian thinks: Mozilla works by actively doing, and their new Incubator programme targeting the toxic venture capital problem of new startups chasing the unicorn dream.

Malcolm Gladwell’s thoughts on how people adapt to radical disruption

Ian thinks: Channel4 news piece with Malcolm Gladwell has some good news how people react and adapt to radical disruption like a pandemic.

Genuine world changing ideas

Ian thinks: Its impressive to see genuine smart and sustainable world changing ideas all lined up together (here is 2019). They deserve so much more attention than some of the junk some other CEOs tweet.

How Indigenous Thinking Can Save The World?

Ian thinks: Thoughtful conversation about where western culture made the wrong steps. Another good episode of team human.

China’s proposal for a new internet explored by American security expert

Ian thinks: Didn’t get around to reading the China proposal for the redesign of the internet in last months newsletter? Let American security expert Steve Gibson talk you through the main points in 20mins instead.

Cory Doctorow foreshadows his next book?

Ian thinks: Hearing Cory talk about corruption, monopoly in the midsts of the covid19 pandemic; sounds like the perfect start for his next science fiction book. Or maybe like Charlie Brooker said about Black Mirrror, its all just too real right now.

Could a state run Airbnb actually work?

Ian thinks: There are many startups which grow to a point they could be better off state/public owned. If France do go ahead with their own Airbnb, it could be a blueprint of what or not to do for the future. Silicon Valley will make a point of saying this is why Europe isn’t financially competitive of course.

What is the optimum ethical public media stack?

Ian thinks: Matt and many others have been talking about an ethical guide for public service media for a while. Now its launched theres a lot to learn and like about the approach taken. Really interesting timing with doteveryone closing its doors.

CRISPR: the movie

Ian thinks: I haven’t seen a better way of explaining how important the Crispr revolution is and ultimately the concept of programmable genes. (here is nature review ) if you can’t access it elsewhere.


Find an archive of previous public service internet notes here.

Google’s COVID-19 contact tracing api

I tooted a while ago about the update and setup the blog entry but forgot to post it. So here it is… short and sweet.

Here is the only API details in Android

Android Covi19 API

Of course without an app its not active… Manchester Futurists talked about this on the latest podcast btw.

Time to talk about Covid 19 and ethnic minorities…

A Face protection

There has been a quite a bit said about the fact ethnic minorities are more likely to catch and die of Covid19. The UK office of national statistics recently released a study which was quite shocking and hard to read.  Its a harsh reminder this virus was never a equalizer and as BBC newsnight said, shows the widening divisions.

t discovered that after taking into account age, measures of self-reported health and disability and other socio-demographic characteristics, black people were still almost twice as likely as white people to die a Covid-19-related death.

Bangladeshi and Pakistani males were 1.8 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white males, after other pre-existing factors had been accounted for, and females from those ethnic groups were 1.6 times more likely to die from the virus than their white counterparts.

Personally I am taking a lot of sustainable steps to stay safe. I say sustainable because unlike some people who think we are going to revert back to the old normal, I know this isn’t going to happen. Without going into too much depth about PPE, contact tracing and an actual vaccine. If you want that, its worth listening to the Manchester futurists podcast which is going up in the next few days.

I’m washing my hands with liquid soap pretty much all the times, not touching my face (I know its really really hard but not impossible and I have managed it but don’t have long hair and have a deep routed thing about dirty hands) and I’m disinfecting everything I have touched and brought back into the house including my headphones, smartphone, pebble watch, keys, etc… However I am not using alcohol hand sanitizer, unless essential because it makes my hands so bloody dry I hate it!

Even before the recent theories about Vitamin D, I have been taking Vit D as its generally good practice for darker skinned people living in northern hemispheres.

I’m very conscious I am at higher risk being a black male, having a survived a bleed on the brain, asthmatic and all with high blood pressure. But I am however very fortunate to have a career which means I can work from home while living in a city centre where I can go out and get exercise and food. I’m not socio-economic disadvantaged thats something which I have going for myself. I have been getting Tesco delivery again (maybe once every 4-6 weeks again). Been avoiding the large supermarkets and going to local high street shops, Booths and M&S food market (This is certainly not true of a lot of people!). I do pop into Aldi but am always aware people are much less likely to social distance unfortunately. Especially around the fruit and veg isle.

There was a decision made not to wear a mask, when the one I ordered for the holiday to South Korea and Japan never came (according to Amazon its still on its way – 4 months later). Me and my partner decided we didn’t want to be the westerners not wearing a mask, when we still felt we could go. But for me personally I decided there was more risk in having a mask than not when out and about in Manchester. I expect there will be places in the future where I will have to wear face protection/mask to enter, and thats fine (maybe my mask might actually arrive) but till then taking the mask on and off is just much more risk than not touching my face at all. I’m also very conscious about not coughing, sneezing, etc in and around people.

Whats happening is no joke and clearly points to the horrible inequality. I’m very fortunate to be born in a country which (at least currently) has a national health care system.

But there are clear problems/differences and the people with the power to change the fate of millions are doing little about it! Some would say it could be to the benefit to certain governments even?

Films and TV for the lockdown or films you may have missed in late 2019/early 2020

Uncorked

Someone recently said to me, there can’t be that much films since all the film studios are shut due to Covid19? There will be a delay but people forget how much media is made everyday (no idea where the hours of youtube videos per hour is now).

Anyhow there’s a lot of media to watch and here’s a few noteworthy ones

Films

The assistant

Empathy, Inc

Quite indie sci-fi shot in black and white, its a interesting  pretense which plays out to a surprising  ending. Well worth seeking out.

Vanilla

Romantic comedy as such but with a edge, quite fun and charming.

The half of it

Another romantic drama/comedy which although not as edgy as Vanilla, still has something different to bring to your mind. The end church scene is some divine intervention.

The Rhythm Section

I quite like these films like Anna, La Femme Nikita, etc and this one is well told and executed well.

She never died

Never really a horror fan but I like this indie horror/thriller which has a great feel to it. The film feels like Black Mirror’s Metalhead crossed with Jessica Jones.

Official secrets

My friend recommended this one to me and its quite something. Always love these court room battles but know this is very true is just insane. No wonder there was such a worry about the UK – American relation.

Just mercy

Like official secrets, court room battles around real cases is always compelling. Just mercy touches so many emotional levels and does it without actually tugging on them.

The assistant

Slow and calculated film timed perfectly around the movement. What I find interesting is to see the everyday attempts by women to stop harassment knocked back in subtitle ways.  This won’t be a surprise for most women and any minority of course.

The platform

Most people have heard of this one and its actually quite a interesting take on the nature of human and kindness. Well worth watching a couple of times once you get over the shock value it provides.

Uncorked

I liked this one because of the relationship with the father. It could have easily been a whole film about prejudice but its so much more.

Dark waters

This one dropped under the radar but it very apt as we all discuss the importance of human values in our capitalist society. Is the money worth peoples lives?

The good liar

Such a smart and compelling story. I can’t say anything more about it than just find it and watch it. You won’t be disappointed if you like thriller dramas.

The coldest game

Good fun drama around around a chess game during the cold war. The tension and cinematography are great  and well worth your attention.

TV series

Gangs of London

Devs

I mentioned here already. Fantastic TV series by Alex Garland (the creator of Annihilation, Ex Machina and other great films. Stunning to watch and lots of deep routed theories.

Gangs of London

I was tipped off to this currently running TV series by a friend. I usually find some of the UK production lack the levels of realistic violence (sounds weird saying that) but I’m impressed with this TV series as it has the right balance of standout moments, character development and narrative.

The last dance

A documentary about Air Jordon? You got me! Annoying ESPN have spun it out over 10 episodes.

Watchmen

If you haven’t seen the Watchmen TV series, I highly recommend this to all, especially those who are fans of the original comic and film. I won’t spoil this TV series but its as deep and meaningful as the film and comic book.

Its been a while… the mayday rave up in your flat live mix

 

Its been a while since I uploaded a mix to mixcloud. I have plans to self host my own mixes using funkwhale or airsonic. But its not quite happened yet. So in the meanwhile I have done a few mixes and I’ll do the posse thing and upload it to mixcloud with a smaller amount of metadata.

Of course I’ll be keep a copy of my metadata for when I get my own system up and running. In the meanwhile the mixes will form not travels with pacemaker but locked in mixing out.

I present the mayday rave up in your flat live mix. Recorded live while mixing live on R&Dio the other day. The volume levels were a bit high sorry but its not horribly distorted

Here’s the tracklist… (at about 133bpm) as always enjoy!

  1. Gouryella (fall from heaven remix) – Gouryella
  2. The Desert – protoculture
  3. Arise – victor ruiz & d nox
  4. Switch (oliver klien & peter jurgens remix) – beckers
  5. Special K (timo maas remix) – Placebo
  6. Prosac (original mix) – Tomcraft
  7. Floyd (extended remix) – Jerome isma-ae & alastor
  8. Soundbar (extended mix) – Giuseppe Ottaviani
  9. Cuckoo – Jon Mangan
  10. Breathe (Blake Jarrell remix) – Anna nalick
  11. Cut and run feat Emma lock – Beat Service
  12. Freedom (extended mix) – Arty vs Muvy
  13. Tears (protoculture remix) – Dakota
  14. Megalodon – MaRLo
  15. Grotesque – RAM & Alex M.O.R.P.H
  16. The Legacy 2.0 (alphazone remix – Funabashi pres Saltwater
  17. Anahera (extended mix) – Ferry Corsten pres Gouryella
  18. Echoes (extended mix) – Henrik B, Niklas Gustavsson, Peter Johansson
  19. Higher State of Conscientiousness – Josh wink

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10th Anniversary of #mybrushwithdeath

I honestly can’t really believe its 10 years since my brush with death.

Its been a long time and something I will never ever forget, 10 years ago after the general election of 2010. Will never forget how different the world was after I woke up in hospital and someone (pretty sure it was my sister) told me the liberal democrats have gone into collation with the conservatives.

5 years ago I did a catch up of what happened 10 years ago.

Even closer to the time, I wrote a reflective blog with thank you posts (part 1) (part 2)

I still have the cards and plan to put them up again, so look out for them if you happen to be on a zoom with me.

As we are still in lockdown due to Covid-19, there won’t be a party. To be fair last years 3 birthday celebration was pretty epic. But I do have plans for a zoom call or something later in the month. Look out for the invite…

My favorite dark chocolates for a lockdown

Being locked down in our homes is everything from awful to a joy for people depending on individual circumstances. One thing I can recommend is a bit of chocolate heaven from Cocoarunners (I never take ads on my blog, just been impressed with their monthly delivery).

A lot of them are sold out but I did buy a bunch of the ones available for my friends, family and partner to give them while in lockdown. Hasn’t really thought about how to get it to them but regardless I will find a way…

If you love Dark Chocolate, you may enjoy my recommendations.

Not even an epidemic will stop the scammers

The other day I got a request to book my Airbnb spare room. I had completely forgot that I had blocked it out for my holiday to South Korean and Japan, which were cancelled. But hadn’t done anything after those dates, not really thinking my airbnb was still technically open.

The message was a mess…

Hello! Due to the situation in the country, I was sent from my company as a nurse to your city. I really liked your place, it seems really nice. It will be very suitable for me. I’m already waiting for this trip. But I have a couple questions. Please text me in Vhat is a * pp number + F0-ur, tvvo and z-еrrо, then sееve’ntys even, then goes tth_ree, 1’ 5” and 0ne, thre;e, ends with 98. See you soon!

Of course I could smell a scam from a mile away and responded, why don’t you ask the questions you have in Airbnb chat? Then added its lockdown in the UK and I won’t be taking any guests till things change with Covid19.

No reply of course and I rejected the request. But a week later airbnb contacted me.

Hi, Ian,

We’re reaching out because you were recently in contact with an account that was removed for violating the Airbnb Terms of Service.

Airbnb will never ask you to verify a listing or pay for anything outside of our site, through email, or through a third-party booker. If you sent money outside of Airbnb, you may have paid for a fraudulent reservation. Let us know what happened, and we’ll recommend next steps.

If someone asked you to communicate directly by email or through Facebook, or copy and paste a URL (http://www…) into a new browser window, or otherwise pay or communicate outside of the Airbnb website or app, we ask that you stop communication with them immediately.

If you did share personal information, like a password, please update your password immediately. If you use that same password for any other accounts (like your email), we recommend changing your password there too.

Of course I shared zero but I did find it interesting the scammer pulled on the strings with some urgency and being a nurse. Of course they had only signed up to be on Airbnb that same Month of April (meaning they had only signed up a few days before), had no vertifications, no reviews and the pretext of whatsapping them was straight from the airbnb scammers book.

I imagine there is a lot of desperate Airbnb hosts who might have sent a message to see whats possible?

Illegal zoom bombing is out of control

Zoombombing

This is part of the endless story of zoom, a story which is true as it happened to me and about 100+ other people.

The open rights group run an event every Friday afternoon related data privacy and ethics. Its been hosted on zoom for the last few weeks and the guests have been good. When I heard Lilian Edwards and Rachel Coldicutt were going to talk about a possible way forward for the debate around covid-19 contact tracing. I was onboard to watch again.

It centers around this proposed legal document which Lilian spearheaded with Rachel and others.

The Coronavirus (Safeguards) Bill 2020: Proposed protections for digital interventions and in relation to immunity certificates

I highly recommend you have a read…especially since some promises seem to be broken.

Back to the incident on the zoom call…

I joined a bit late but setup my chromebook casting to my TV via the chromecast. Settled in to watch while working on my Dell XPS laptop. As Lilian finished her presentation, someone drew a cock and balls on top of her final slide. Lilian laughed it off while the hosts the open rights group went about blocking, booting and changing the permissions of the zoom call.

As things moved forward, someone was attempting to draw a swastika on the video. Someone was using the zoom overlay feature or something but it was removed before it was fully drawn. It was about then when we moved to Rachel and before she could really get going someone hijacked the video and showed child abuse/porn. It was shocking and I couldn’t believe it. I looked at the chat room and people were equally upset. It lasted about 10-15 secs but it was just vile/horrible.

Someone pleaded that the hosts take control, and they replied they are ending the whole thing now. Then it was all gone. The lasting effect was felt and although I felt truly shaken by what I had seen, I also knew I had to reach out to others.

Since then, I called my partner for support, line manager to report what happened and check he wasn’t on the call too. I also wanted to check other BBC staff wasn’t on the call I knew. I had previously shared the link around our internal slack and with others interested in contact tracing. I’m lucky the BBC has a employee assistance programme, where I was able to talk to a trained professional who suggested I might feel some comfort in blogging about it (hence this blog)

I noticed while blogging, theres a twitter thread about the whole thing now. No ones blaming the openrightsgroup but this guide written by Michael J. Oghia. But there is a good list of all the things to lock down and change on zoom for anyone before it happens again. Its likely the people behind this illegal act were going zoom to zoom.

I recently noticed that a few organisations are using youtube for broadcasts and discussions, with another system for feedback and questions. It certainly cuts down on abuse compared to zoom and you can easily share the public link out. The idea of switching to jitsu or skype may not necessarily help solve this type of problem. But changing the way its done completely could.

18th April 2020 – 1am

I got a email from the Open Rights Group…

This afternoon an unknown actor severely disrupted our public online discussion about Covid-19 and we were forced to immediately end the call.

We were horrified by what occurred and would like to apologise for having exposed viewers to such horrific imagery. We are deeply sorry that this occurred on ORG’s watch.

If you would like to speak with us directly I am personally available to speak to anyone and everyone that was on the call.

We have reported the incident to the Police and are taking necessary steps to secure our systems. We will be reviewing the way we conduct meetings to ensure this is never possible again.

If you would like to speak to a counselling or advice service, the Police recommend contacting Samaritans. They accept calls from anyone on any emotional issue at this number 116 123.

Sincere apologies.
Jim
_______________

Jim Killock
Executive Director
Open Rights Group

How capitalism is supposed to work?

Thanks to Herb for sending me this clip from CNBC. The news anchor literally can’t believe what Chamath is saying. But there is so much sense in what he saying.  You can feel the old world thinking (pre-Covid19) talking out of the news anchor’s mouth.

Ironically if you put aside the new normal, big companies being bought by others is the way capitalism works. Its super clear capitalism has been warped to such an extent in favor of the 1% of billionaires.

So much for the American dream.

Learning diabolo tricks during the Covid-19 lockdown in Manchester

One of the things I have been doing while in lockdown from the Covid-19 virus, is learning new tricks on the Diabolo. I’m lucky enough to have a nice large shared garden and green spaces around me. So in between working, walking, etc. I’ve been getting better at the Diabolo.

I decided to make use of my GoPro camera and throw together a number of tricks together with some music (Hit The Decks Volume 2 (htd2 A2) Nightfall at the edge of chaos (bonus mix)).

Here are the tricks with difficulty rating

  1. High throw (2x) – Easy
  2. Around the foot – Easy
  3. Over arm rubber arm to stick grind to whip catch – Tricky
  4. Over arm rubber arm to stick grinds to whip catch (3x angles) – Difficult
  5. Vertex – Very difficult
  6. Suicide – Tricky
  7. Stick grind to finger grind to whip catch – Tricky
  8. Duicide (2x) – Difficult
  9. Stick grind to finger grind to big whip catch (2x) – Tricky
  10. Handy grind drop to whip – Difficult

Could Covid19 be the Airbnb host shake out which was needed?


Updated: 24/4/2020 – Enough said

Some Airbnb hosts are a bit screwed right now. Although the platform has had some trouble before Covid19. I’m sure the platform will keep on going but its going change for some.

Airbnb, a home-sharing website, has seen bookings fall by 40% in big European cities as the pandemic halted trips. It may delay its IPO, which was expected to be this year’s biggest. But despite racking up losses of late, it is well-managed, cash-rich and, thanks to an unmatched global reach that puts up a high barrier to entry, likely to make money again once people get back to travelling.

The Economist

I do not feel sorry for those Airbnb hosts who bought all those extra house/flats for the sole purpose of renting on Airbnb.  They took the living piss extracting huge sums of money and ruined local communities as they did. This could be the world wide shake out of the Airbnb money making mania?

Post Covid19, I’m banking on the emphasis being less on GDP and more on human values.

Imagine a public service video conference service

Its pretty disheartening to hear about people who seeking/getting help for addiction being trolled. Business insider’s article about Trolls breaking into AA meetings held on Zoom and harassing recovering alcoholics. Speaks volumes about where we currently are with our technology and society.

Its easy to blame the people who would troll people who are seeking help and support. Yes but also Zoom are to blame? Well thats a very easy target and they are not doing themselves any favors although they recently seem to be sorting themselves out. The problem with default settings is a well known problem and the easy thing to do is switch to another platform right?

Looking at the list in the Guardian, its clear the amount which are profit making businesses just like zoom. Its not exactly their fault, the scenario of the public using your service for to run a help group wasn’t in the business plan.

Maybe its time there was a business which did have that in their plans? Maybe not a business at all? Maybe an organisation with public interest & benefit at the centre of its remit?

This is something I was thinking through with Herb the other day, as we talked through the problems with Zoom. Could an organisation like for example the BBC run a video conferencing system for the benefit of the public?

Wouldn’t this conflict with existing commercial businesses and be a problem? Nope not if done correctly. I used healthcare when talking with Herb.

The NHS is a catch all and provide baseline health care. If you want to pay for better/quicker healthcare you can pay BUPA or someone else. In the same way, could the BBC or others provide baseline video conferencing aimed to give everybody a free platform which is  basic but focused on important things like privacy, security, anonymity, etc. This means no custom backgrounds, no filters, no full HD, etc. Thats the realm of the  commercial providers.

I know its a thin line but we can’t such important public services be hostage to commercial factors/models.

There is another aspect to this, the public sector could finally double down on services which preserve privacy and security of the public with software which is audit-able, has levels of transparency and is decentralised & distributed in nature.  For example I was checking out Jitsi with its webRTC support. Jitsi meet might struggling if everybody is hitting the main site but as its self installable, suits a more decentralised model. A public company could easily set it up and run it for under-served audiences?

Thoughts?

How Manchester’s Northern quarter on lock down looks

Believe these days will pass

I have been staying at home for the last 3-4 weeks but every 3-4 days I go shopping for fresh food. It also makes good exercise walking around. and decided as its my birthday soon, to get a very nice steak from the Northern Quarter butchers.

On the way back I had a wonder through the northern quarter and take some pictures of the usually busy streets in Manchester. Of course I’m not the first to do this… but with my social distancing of over 2 meters from others. I shot some quick pictures on my walk back.

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The public messages instead of adverts were interesting too because frankly advertising has falling through the floor. Nice culture jamming works.

Be kind lets look out for one another