My New years resolutions for 2016

The BBC Radio 4 Listening project

Following my review of last year… here’s my New Years Resolutions for 2016; which follows on from 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010.2009, 2008 ones.

  1. Be taken out of my comfort zone by Kate and take her out of comfort zone
    Back in September me and Kate took part in the listening project. I had hoped the recording would be on the site by now but instead I’ll say somewhere in the recording, we agreed to take each other out of comfort zone for a weekend.
  2. Host film nights and more dinner parties at mine
    I bought a projector and about to fashion a projector screen out of ikea blinds. As the TV screen is lovely but not big enough for lots of people gathered around on my hopefully new corner sofa. I already have the cinema system for it but you can’t be a projector size screen. I also want to host more dinner parties for friends at mine.
  3. Head further a field with the scooter
    Where next is a question. I feel like a weekend in Ireland would be easy and good. Although further in to Scotland would be a good move too.
  4. Improve my circus skills
    More time is needed at Manchester Quirkus I think, but I do really need to practice the vertex in the garden or park more.
  5. Stay better in touch with old friends
    Jennifer emailed me after a long while of radio silence. She was interested in meeting up for a catch up. I thought it was a great idea… We met up and had a really good and productive catch up. I was a great idea and I’m going to follow by doing a similar thing in 2016.
  6. Redecorate the flat
    Same as last year, its about time and I might need to get some professionals in to help sort out things including network conduits and shifting radiators.
  7. Ride a roller coaster in another country
    I had a great time riding rollercoasters in Japan, and since the smiler crash been thinking about looking at the amazing array of coasters in Europe. Germany, Spain and many others have some great rides which I’ve never been on.
  8. Work on the book/serialised blog
    I have written about 26 chapters and shared a few chapters with close friends. I’m thinking about just realising it as a series of blog entries because I have had interest from others about sharing their stories too. I could even ask for contributions further a field.
  9. See the Aurora (northern lights)
    I have spoken to people and Brian Suda has done a great job sending me media about the northern lights. I’m thinking about going to Iceland to see it and of course him before summer. Iceland in April sounds like a great holiday for my birthday maybe?
  10. Make some bold moves with my love life
    I got to sort it out, its been a while since I did back to back dating and got really stuck in. It time consuming but in short bursts it can work. But it starts with refreshing my online dating profiles and trying out a few of the new dating services such as Bumble.
  11. Kick start the emerging technology event
    I pretty much said most of the details here and started the meetup group already. Now its a matter of keeping my ears to the ground and put together its first event. Thinking something with the Open rights group and iot would be a good start?
  12. Think humanity
    So many things I want to explore, which I summaries under the humanity title. Data ethics, going beyond systematic thinking, emotional angles, diversity, using our other senses and deeper conversations… etc etc…
    They all deserve attention and focus in 2016 and beyond. Expect to see more focus in the future.

What is it with the trend for small dogs in flats

My little dog

I know most of you are saying something like awwwwww…. but I see a dangerous animal with teeth and claws chasing somebody down.

I get most I’m most likely quite bias on the matter of dogs…

I’m terrified and hate dogs generally.

Having been bitten quite a few times over my life (luckily nothing which has caused a scar). Last time it happened I had it put down by the police. It was the only option for this little dog which walked calmly out of a garden while the owner was cutting the hedges, walked up behind me and took a bite out of my lower leg as I walked by.

If I had a pound for every time a owner said something like (feel I could turn this into a buzzcard bingo)…

  • He’s harmless
  • He will lick you to death
  • He’s just be friendly
  • He’s just curious of you
  • Maybe he smells something on you?
  • He’s just saying hello
  • blah blah

I don’t blame the dogs, but rather the owners for not keeping control of the dogs. Many times the things would have been much easier if they had kept the dog on the lead or in a closed door room.

But saying how much I’m terrified by them, its simply not fair… as there seems to be a trend for having small dogs in a flat. At least where I live it seems the dog ownership has shot up. Now there seems to be a dog on every single floor including mine.

I don’t really care about the bit of noise (there was a dog under my flat which barked when there was another dog out the window, which living next to a canel/path was all the time) but what I do care about is the them running around loose in public areas of the flats and frankly them being trapped in a 41c hot apartment all day.

Islington Wharf gets really hot, there is a lot of glass on the outside and in the summer its not unusual for the internal flat temperature to go up wards of 34c. We ran a small test a few years back with people recording the temperature and posting pictures. I think the hottest measurement was 46c! Of course this is getting sorted finally.

Regardless of it getting sorted, imagine a dog in the flat all day right through the midday sun. Its not on…!

Jack in Hyde Park

Its worth saying I lived with a dog for a year, yes even with my massive fear of them. But we (me and Sarah) had to send him back to America as it simply wasn’t fair with us out of the flat for sometimes 8-9 hours at a time. Jack wasn’t even subjected to the extreme heat but he would go slightly crazy anyway.

Small dogs seem to be the ultimate the fashion item this season? Some people need reminding of the old christmas message – a dog isn’t just for Christmas day or rather a dog isn’t just to increase your ego.

There is something not right about keeping dogs in a small hot flat most of the day. Maybe the RSPCA needs calling?

New years resolutions 2015

Ian Forrester

Still can’t remember what prompted me to start blogging my new years resolutions but its become a good habit (as far I’m concerned) and I’ve always got friends, family and followers to keep on reminding me.

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

  1. Go to a new part of the world
    I’m scoping Tokyo and think I got the flight sorted, some friends who maybe interested and I’m looking at Airbnb for somewhere to stay. My cousin has mentioned eastern europe is cool…  regardless, I got to try going somewhere new and further east
  2. Improve my circus skills
    I have completely neglected  my circus skills last year. This year I’m aiming to be able to perform a basic vertex. This will mean going to down to Quirkus or seeking out the Circus House. I’ll also be watching and practice in front of Youtube (i mean tricks like the vertax gunslinger have got to be tried)
  3. Scooter into another country or new area
    Last years trip down to Bristol via Snowdonia was amazing and I got to go do it again but go further a field. The issue really is weather but I think early summer in Ireland or up through Scotland could be fun. I’ve also been thinking about how I have never been to East Anglia (except Kings Lynn), so maybe its time on the scooter?
  4. Explore my sapiosexual and datasexual sides
    I like new ideas and also like data, its time to explore how far this can go, with a linked up approach to my self-directed career.  This links up my thoughts about surrounding myself with smarter media/people, with my aspirations linking up my career.
  5. Quantify more and make better use of my data exports
    Off the back of the last one…I collect quite a bit of data but its still in a lot of silos. When I was doing the metadating, it became clear how distributed it all is. So I’m going to do something about it. Maybe aggregate it all together under my own control. Also I’m going to sort out the Manchester Quantified Self meetup.
  6. Do something for other dyslexics
    Another connection to number 4? I manage my dyslexia in a not bad way, yes there are better ways but everywhere I look there are still stories of people struggling to manage. Somebody once suggested I would be a great mentor and to be fair I have done a little ad-hoc mentoring. I’m not sure exactly what yet, but something.
  7. Improve my health and alertness
    2015 is 5 years after my brush with death. I’m forever thankful for the chance to change things and live the life I want. I’m not doing too bad, consistently at my lowest weight and feeling quite active. Of course I can always do better and that is happening. But I’ve been wondering about my alertness. I use to be quick and I’m seeing signs that its coming back. So I’m going to make 2015 about alertness. This may include the flu jab and better sleeping patterns.
  8. Hire somebody to ironing my clothes
    I have a cleaner because although I do clean my own flat, there are things which I don’t have time for or simply forget. Likewise I usually keep my clothes in a reasonable state by shaking them and hanging them up when out of the washing machine. But I have a lot of cotton now and it just gets wrinkled and there is little you can do. I bloody hate ironing, so its time to just hire someone. Looking at you hassle.com
  9. Try dating younger (and progressive) but central located women
    Recently I seem to be going out with women my age who live further a field and seem less progressive about their thinking. Its time to try something different, theres lots of single women in Manchester. I hadn’t really considered younger (don’t know why really), although most men do. My parents have a large age between each other and it works ok, maybe it could work for me?
  10. Decorate the flat
    When I first moved into my own flat in Manchester, I was told by the estate agent, the furniture would be easier for them to leave it there. Of course this was a lie and I had to run around in my recovery period getting furniture from IKEA. My parents and good friends (sheila/glyn) helped me put everything together. And the lovely Jane, rearranged my living room a while ago. I always said I would replace things like the sofas, but 4 years later its pretty much the same as most other apartments. Time for a new look, touches and some new furniture.
  11. Read more
    I still tend to read non-fiction type things but recently my instapaper and greader is getting quite busy as I’m certainly not finding the time to just sit and read. Thats going to change in 2015.
  12. Discover more music via Djs and Podcasts
    Chris tweeted following my review of 2014 about my top music listening from Last.fm. I have to admit my music discovery last year was a little crap. I don’t listen to music radio or go out to clubs where trance or serious house is played, so don’t really get a chance to discovery new stuff.  In the past I use to listen to Armin van buuren and gareth emery’s podcast because I use to walking alot. However I walk less now due to the scooter (can’t quite get headphones under the helmet yet). So you know what I’ll be listening to while working. Be interesting to see the difference next year.

Islington Wharf, a 1gig fibre internet wonderland

Fibre optique

Yes you heard me right…

You may have a nice view, a large balcony, heck a swimming pool on top of the building. But have you got 1gig bit fiber to your flat?

No? Thats a real shame for you. Maybe you should give a hyperoptic a call now…

I just got conformation that Islington Wharf will be getting hyperoptic’s 1gig fibre connection to each and every flat. Yes thats 1GIG per flat!

This is perfect timing as I’m just about to order myself the Almond plus router. I’m just hoping I can move with UKFSN or Andrews and Arnold’s too.

What will I do with this much bandwidth? Well self hosting is a consideration along with being able to access all my media anywhere and everywhere with Plex. I’m also wondering if a more distributed model is viable, cutting out the 5 stacks?

Ikea hacker, turn your studio flat into a one bedroom apartment

The new look room

I saw this on Ikea Hacker the other day while reading my Kindle.

A guy converted his studio flat into a one bedroom flat using the PAX sliding cupboard. The exact same one I got at home in my new place.

I can’t imagine anyone wanting to have their bed in their living room, so we started to brainstorm. We discussed ever type of foldaway bed and room divider. Then we found IKEA’s PAX sliding cupboard doors.

I wish I was better at the DIY but I’m rubbish. I had to pay a guy to put up my shelves in the kitchen the other day. But hey we can’t be good at everything…

Window Cleaning Islington Wharf

Window cleaners

We got a note in our letter boxes on Thursday that the window cleaners would be doing our block on the weekend. I did wonder how they were going to do it because the top of Islington Wharf is not level or very friendly for window cleaners. Actually after a talk with the window cleaning team, they are actually using the penthouse gardens on the top floor to tie there ropes, hardly ideal. The building is also a weird shape, making cleaning it even more of a challenge that say something like Beetham Tower. Although they did point out that the over hang certainly makes things tricky. Islington Wharf has lots of overhangs and angles, so it requires many “drops” according to the window cleaners.

I took a load of shots with my new Nikon d40x. Nice guys and what a job, I certainly wouldn’t do it, my fear of heights would be a killer.

My new home in New Islington

The stunning view from my new flat (islington wharf)

So I’ve finally got the new flat about right, there was plenty of unpacking and even more putting together of furniture thanks to my great parents and lovely friends Sheila and Glyn (who traveled all the way up from London to see me and help me move in, I will never forget that)

I just last Friday put up the last piece of Ikea furniture (the Lack coffee table) and shifted things around in the flat. I expect theres plenty more shifting needed for everything to fit and work in the spaces I have put them in. I still have a ton of flatten Cardboxes in my main bathroom because the recycling is totally filled up and there too large to take somewhere else for recycling.

One of the best parts about the new flat is the amazing view I have in the main room. There is 2 walls of double glazed glass so you really get a fantastic view of North East Manchester (including the New Islington area aka Ancoats). I can easily see the Manchester City stadium, Chips (the weird shaped urban splash flats), 3Towers (another urbansplash set of buildings), Tutti Furti (the self build scheme), Royal Mills flats, the new east Manchester tram line and lots more. On a clear day, you can see the mountains/hills which are the start of the pennines which split Leeds from Manchester. The clouds are also pretty amazing at this height. You can almost see the rain clouds coming in slowly and the thunder storm we recently had was pretty impressive. You could almost see the lightning hit the ground in some places. Wish I had found my camera earlier, as it was simply stunning.

So if you didn’t know already, I bought this place. So I’m now a home owner again. I won’t say how much I got the flat for but its a very reasonable deal with the old governments homebuy scheme. Unfortunately I can’t recommend it much because the new government got rid of it on the 1st August. Its a good scheme no wonder they killed it off. Either way, my monthly mortgage is well below my rent for the other place, I’m actually quite shocked how low it is. Of course its fixed for the next few years, which should give me plenty of time to re-morgage at a lower rate in the future.

All in all, I’m really enjoying the new pad at islington wharf and friends of me look out for the flatwarming party which will most likely take place in the secret garden instead of my flat. If the weather keeps up, I might turn it into a massive bbq instead….

Photos of my new flat at Islington Wharf

The view from my new flat

So this is the view I’ll be seeing a lot more of in the very near future. It is the view looking northward across the Ancoats, i mean new islington area which I learned on Saturday use to be the home of the italians who moved to Manchester in the early 20th century. Of course I’m nice and high in the islington wharf block of apartments. I would have like to have been on the other side but it was an extra £10k to be on the south side with a balcony. Hey at least I get to see the Manchester City stadium (sport city) and the rest of new islington including the planned beach which meant to be put in just next to Chips (the two tone block of apartments in the middle of the picture).

So to go with the floor to ceiling windows, is two bedrooms a nice large lounge with kitchen and two bathrooms. There’s also a huge community garden for everyone in the building. I took advantage of the governement scheme which is now ending this weekend. Basically its a interest free loan for 30% of the property while you put in 65% in a mortgage and 5% via a deposit. Its a good deal because the loan is interest free for 5 years then you can either pay it back via the sale of the flat or pay it back slowly at a low interest rate.

I get the keys on Thursday, so only a week now and everything seems to be swimming along nicely. Thanks in part to my sister (Sharon) and Billie Wilde (my estate agent and mortgage advisor). Billie kept trying to get hold of me on my mobile phone but couldn’t get through due to #mybrushwithdeath. So in the end my sister picked up the call and got back to Billie with the bad news about me being in hospital with the bleed on the brain. Billie informed everyone involved and held the mortgage for as long as she could.

When I was well enough to continue the flat buying process she came to my house with everything to sign before I went to Bristol. If Billie and Sharon had not done what they had, I would have lost the flat for sure or at least the mortgage which would have been a real lost. So thank you to both of them, I’m very happy to pay the small fee to Billie because she really did over and above what she needed, to make sure I got the mortgage and ultimately the flat. And of my sister for being my caring sister. I owe you one, hope you enjoy the flip camera I bought you.

A few noticeable recent changes

Islington Wharf

One step closer to moving to Islington Wharf, now I actually have a deposit down on the flat I wanted. I’m just waiting on Plumlife to agree I’m able to join there scheme (which was ok last year, so not expecting any upset) and then I can apply for the mortgage (which shouldn’t be a problem this time due to the highly motivated mortgage advisor I got). After which I should be able to get everything going and maybe move next month or so.

On the computer front, I just upgraded my Dell Laptop from a 120gig to 320gig and then gave it a brand new Ubuntu install. Not only did I upgrade it but I also switched to the i86_64 version as my laptop runs a Intel Core 2 duo 2 chipset. No idea why I’ve never done it before but early indication says so far the resource control over the applications and switching is much better and I’m shocked at how smooth things are. Don’t get me wrong the x86 version was fine but there is certainly something extra about the 64bit version.  What is strange is the amount of memory available to the machine, it still indicates there is about 3gig of memory available (3262meg) not the full 4gig. I also have a couple of problems with getting Dropbox and XBMC working. Plus settings for Firefox, evolution and gnome wifi networking didn’t transfer over so well. Which is a pain. I can still boot into my old 32bit partition using a usb enclosure which means if I knew where the correct files were I could drag them over easily enough.

Finally Orange are being a pain in the ass and I can’t now upgrade my phone till August, which means the HTC Desire isn’t the phone it is now. Even the HTC Incredible will be old news. Maybe the Dell Lightning and Mini5’s will be of interest? Anyway in the meanwhile, it seems Android running on the HTC Touch HD or Blackstone has progressed to a point where the screen does not always stay on and so the battery doesn’t die within a few hours. Actually if you turn off Wifi, it will last a day which isn’t bad. So most of the time I’ll have my phone running Android in the near future. I just need to get the settings for 3G/HSDPA and work out how to divert the sound to the headphones instead to the loudspeaker.