Arriva trains changes to their onboard wifi service

transport for wales terriable wifi

I noticed Arriva trains (now Transport for Wales) have changed their policy on board wifi usage. I had problems with it in the past…

Now instead of cutting you off when you hit the shocking amount of 20meg (yes you heard me right – 20meg!) They throttle the internet to your device at 20meg.

Its still not ideal but I do feel its a better compromise that cutting the internet completely. Especially because frankly the signal from tethered phones during the journey through south Wales can be pretty poor for miles and miles.

FREE Volleyball taster – Sat 26th March

ralfoh-222

To celebrate Manchester Community Games Day

Moss Side Volleyball club are hosting a FREE volleyball session. Its open to all Manchester residents this Easter Saturday.

ALL WELCOME (over 18’s only), male/female, young/old, experienced or total novice!
Moss side is a very friendly mixed club! proud of our inclusive culture with players from all corners of the world!

Here is a chance to see and play, all those friends who ask me about volleyball! (You know who you are)

See you on the court?

Moss Side Leisure Centre between 3pm – 5pm on Saturday 26th March.

Ello and welcome to no pesky ads

inspired by ello, the network

Been keeping my eye on the move to create ethical social networks which don’t take the living piss with our data. Things like Tent.io, Known and now Ello are gathering some momentum…

We originally built Ello as a private social network. Over time, so many people wanted to join Ello that we built a public version of Ello for everyone to use.

Ello recently got quite serious about its non-ad and no selling of personal data.

Ad-free

Ello doesn’t sell ads. Nor do we sell data about you to third parties.

Virtually every other social network is run by advertisers. Behind the scenes they employ armies of ad salesmen and data miners to record every move you make. Data about you is then auctioned off to advertisers and data brokers. You’re the product that’s being bought and sold.

Collecting and selling your personal data, reading your posts to your friends, and mapping your social connections for profit is both creepy and unethical. Under the guise of offering a “free” service, users pay a high price in intrusive advertising and lack of privacy.

We also think ads are tacky, that they insult our intelligence and that we’re better without them.

To be fair its way off being something massive, but thats what makes it interesting I feel. I’m now on the network, so if you are interested in a invite and we are friends, drop me a email or tweet…

Your own personal cloud

The personal or private cloud is growing in popularity and I’m starting to see it spring up in the popular tech press more and more. Interestingly I keep starting a blog post then not finishing it because theres not quite enough to talk about. Then I heard Bruce Sterling’s 2012 South by south west talk (recommended to me by Imran)

The bit which really got me was the 5 stacks part.

“[There’s] a new phenomena that I like to call the Stacks [vertically integrated social media]. And we’ve got five of them — Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. The future of the stacks is basically to take over the internet and render it irrelevant. They’re not hostile to the internet — they’re just [looking after] their own situation. And they all think they’ll be the one Stack… and render the others irrelevant. And they’ll all be rendered irrelevant. That’s the future of the Stacks.

People like the Stacks, [because] the internet is scary now — so what’s the problem there? None of them offer any prosperity or security to their human participants, except for their shareholders. The internet has users. Stack people are livestock — ignorant of what’s going on, and moving from on stack to another. The Stacks really, really want to know you’re a dog.

They’re annihilating other media… The Lords of the Stacks. And they’re not bad guys — I’d be happy to buy them a beer. But really, a free people would not be so dependent on a Napoleonic mobile people. What if Mark Zuckerberg trips over a skateboard?

This structure won’t last very long… But you’re really core people for them and their interests. You are them. I’m them.

Bruce is right on the money. The 5 stacks have been trying to outdo each other for many years and see the whole thing as a zero-sum game, death to the end. This is not the way the internet or human society has to work or has to be. On the face of it, they are friendly but like a vicious dog (remember I’m not really a fan of them) they need a certain amount of caution.

Even myself are weary of how much data I hand over to Google. It may seem like I don’ t care but you would be very wrong. If I didn’t care I would sign up for Google Drive storage (I like the idea of being able to search across all my files, something which is tricky with Dropbox), would have moved from Evernote to Google Keep, etc, etc… I tend to keep my data across different stacks and deal with the migration and syncing myself. Its a bit of a pain and boy would it be easier to just dump it in Google’s cloud/stack. But I don’t want that.

I have been experimenting with my own cloud but not found anything yet which works the way I really want it to. The thing about clouds is they should merge and split or in other terms they should seamlessly blend. A personal cloud should consume and work with the other clouds. Now I understand the 5 stacks don’t really want to work with anyone else and will make there clouds/stacks difficult to inter-operate with but it can be done.

Some of you may say “Ian your dreaming…” but I point you at Trovebox which use to be Openphoto. The original idea was that you could store the photos in your own cloud and simply using an a bit of http linking and authentication, build your own decentralised flickr without handing over your actual photos. Another example is the absolute power of ifttt.com.

The lure of having a cloud which is as powerful and ubiquitous as other the other 5 clouds would be amazing. The advantages are all there but unlike the 5 clouds, you wouldn’t have to worry about it snooping on you and selling data to others. Increasingly more and more of us post Edward Snowdon.would like to something which we could exist and support our own ambitions not the shareholders.

Revelations that many governments of the world are able to collect personal data on-demand has called into question our desire and need to keep everything online. While we want to access and share our content, we want privacy and security as well. Whether it is photos on a social network or work documents in an online storage account, we want to know that we have absolute control of our data because it is ours, regardless of what services we use and regardless of how they choose to manage their Terms of Service.

Ok so were all down with Personal clouds? What are the projects I have been keeping an eye on? Cozy.io, Sparkleshare, Owncloud, Tonido and Amahi. Weirdly the last one isn’t really a Cloud but I’ve looked into turning it into a personal cloud platform.

The problem with the personal clouds is they are a long way off that ready state. They require a lot of hand cranking and can be a massive time and money hog. Which means only those knowledgeable and with enough money can afford the privacy…?

Its a shame but whats new?

Well nothing much but its fascinating what else you can do with your own cloud. I have seen a lot of activity around the idea. For example you have things like tent.io and you got to admire what Bit Torrent inc are doing in the labs, if only it was open source. Would love to use Bittorrent sync across the board but I just don’t trust it more than dropbox. In which case I might as well keep using dropbox? At least they have 2 factor authentication now and full support for Linux. Plus the amount of other cloud services which support dropbox is very high.

Ultimately if the personal cloud is going to really make a dent. It needs to be super flexible, work with others and support features which the others wouldn’t dare (bit torrent is one such feature)

Is free online dating catfish central?

26/365: A tribute to nosy aunties and aunty-like uncles...

I listened to Radio 4’s women and mens hour special about online dating. It wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t great either. Anyhow I kind of got into a discussion/debate with C_T_S to do with her (I would suggest) somewhat unique experience of talking maybe dating a person who was a catfish.

Now to be fair we have a small twitter history of disagreement. But when I put the idea of never paying for online dating sites out there, she responded with…

As a victim of an emotional fraudster on a free website, I’m totally the opposite.

The best dates I had were from paid sites, without question.

Fair enough thats her experience, but I still feel from my experience and others paid for online dating is a bigger con, as the panoroma documentary revealed recently. I do have friends who have met up via match.com and others paid for dating sites but I have many more who met via free dating sites and the likes of Facebook. I also have never had someone catfished me as such. I’ve had some timewasters but generally I’ve spotted the signs of any kind of scamming.

So the question comes into focus…

Is free online dating inherently more prone to catfishers than the paid for dating sites?

On the face of it, it would seem more likely, however it also seems likely that people willing to pay will be more serious about there dating? In my experience this isn’t necessarily true. I’ve been thinking about this and one such reason is because of the focus on time the sites add to the equation. A lot of people pay month by month (wish I could find the survey which talked about this). Knowing in the back of there minds that the month is coming to an end, the mentality could be to speed things along a little more. While on the free dating sites, you can sit back and relax. Take it all in and decide to go full on or not when it suits you.

So theres a slight paradox… Could there be a slight paradox around catfishing on free sites too?

But how do/can you judge sites for their catfishing potential? Of course none of the sites are going to shout about there catfishing…

I guess you could look at the way they monitor their users, usage policies, etc… But this is data which we just don’t have. Its interesting that OKCupid resorts to crowdsourcing. While others seem to resort to alerting the likes of eharmony via the spam/abuse buttons. Looking a little further theres quite a lot of stuff about this catfishing from online dating sites. Reddit has a dedicated OkCupid subreddit, with some very interesting related threads. On the Match.com front theres some stories in the subreddit relationships but not a dedicated subreddit, however theres relevant court cases and views.

I would suggest its still undecided due to the lack of data available…

The big problem with most online dating conclusions and results. I would also include the fact most men are willing to put up with some crazy issues. Maybe someone should do some research how men and women react to being catfished?

So much to research, so little data…

The cocaine of dating – The 3 day trial?

Match's tube free 3 day adverts

Lots of times you see free membership weekends too. Now to be fair its a trial but if you think about it, what can you do in a few days?

Say you see someone you like and write them a message. And your lucky they happen to be online the next day and reply. If your very lucky, then your online and reply the next day. Thats pretty much 3 days gone. You will fork out money for a month membership and they got you! And thats if your not replying to another non-member who decides to actually purchase a membership. So the person you were talking to chooses not to buy one!

Yes it sounds over dramatic but I’d point to the 3 day trial or free talk weekenders as the crack cocaine of the online dating world.

Get people in, get them talking and then lock them out, lock the door and charge them to keep speaking to each other… I only pick on Match because I noticed the advert on the tube but all of the major online dating sites do this!

What a lovely business model!

Reminds me of drug dealers who let you have the first one for free to hook you in the future.

The things Hugh Garry says

Recently Hugh Garry has been writing in his blog more often than usual. Not sure what has prompted him but he’s writing some amazing stuff. Everytime I read something I want to comment or blog it straight away, but I’ve decided to take a few bits and comment on them here.

From Rules of watching a movie

Switching ‘on’ your phone during a movie is something that the film industry is going to have to get used to. It’s a new rule of cinema – people like to share their lives and that includes capturing screen shots of the film they are watching – it’s happening and it’s creating spreadable media.

I hate it when people turn on there phone so you can see the glow of their screens in the darken cinema but love it or hate it, its not going away. Its actually spreading.

I watched Argo yesterday as part of the salford cinema club. In the darken cinema, you could see people sharing thoughts and the like. Ok no one was pointing the phone at the screen but they might as well have. I really wanted to capture the new anti-piracy advert because I kid you not most of the cinema was laughing out loud when it came on the screen. At that moment I had to resist the instant temptation to tweet it.

Capturing the anti-piracy advert surely can’t be bad? Its not like I paid to watch this propaganda. In fact it leads nicely on to Hugh’s next blog…

From Banksy on Advertising

On Friday night I stumbled upon this great quote from Banksy on advertising via the excellent The Fox is Black. Wish I’d had it in time for the lecture.

“People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.

Fuck that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs. Banksy”

Hugh and ultimately Bankey is right. F them. I’m sure I mentioned somewhere how growing up in Bristol. Clever defacements of public advertising was a everyday thing. It wasn’t just Banksy doing it, everyone was doing it. It was just a way of life. It wasn’t till I moved to London, that I noticed it was a uniquely Bristol thing.

Bristol has always been a counter-cultural city and the counter advertising has always had a big role. They are less a cheap shot and more a highly educated shot at some entities which need cutting down to size.

These entities are not above the law and specially above the law of common sense. No one is… The moment they think they are, things start to break down and get really ugly. I won’t mention the serious stuff which is happening about now.

Hugh’s Popup ideas shop concept is really interesting… and the weird thing is, I think I’ve been doing it without noticing.

I’m running a series of pop-up idea shops in Manchester and London. It’s not really a shop – more like me at a table in a cafe with an empty chair waiting to be filled. It’s free ideas for anyone who needs them. I’ve never done it before, and I don’t know if anyone else does them, but I’m giving it a go to see what happens.

So here’s the idea…

This Friday (November 16th) between 1pm and 4pm I’ll be sat at a table in Fyg on Tibb Street in the Northern Quarter, Manchester. If you need ideas, a new perspective or a fresh set of ears for whatever you’re working on then do drop in. You might be taking your first steps in digital or social media and don’t know where to start. You may need help shaping the story of your brand – come say hello. There’s no charge for this. I may be able to help you or I may not. Either way I’m happy to have a brew with someone new if you are.

I tend to push all my adhoc meetings to Fridays in the northern quarter. Some of the discussions are very relevant to my work in the BBC and sometimes its less so.

Of course FYG deli is a great place to do it and I’ll be there enjoying a deli platter and meeting with a few people while I sort out a few things to do with Perceptive Media.

Maybe I’ll sit next to Hugh to keep him company in between the quiet times.

Free documents and Slideshare

I received this email the other day and I thought it was quite interesting…

Hey cubicgarden,
nomnex sent you a private message on SlideShare.
“Thank you to make and upload your latest presentations in an open source format (.odp) Anyone can view them, anyone can look at the content (pictures resolution, text effect, etc.) All the best, nomnex “
You can view nomnex’s SlideShare profile.

In his/her/it’s profile is this funny little story.

Linux Fedora 15 LXDE. Unfortunately for me, my system freezes when I watch the flash presentations directly on slideshare.net (the Flash plugin is not resource friendly on Linux). I have to download and play them with my player (mplayer)

If I knew I’d get this response everytime I uploaded a Open Document I’d do it more often 🙂

Broadcasters Block Google TV…

but they can’t block the future.

It was no big surprise that broadcasters like ABC, CBS and NBC would block Google TV devices from accessing their content online — or at least, it shouldn’t have been. What’s at stake, of course, is the $80 billion TV advertising business that fuels the creation and distribution of prime time TV.

Just like Boxee earlier in the year, there starting to block the networked TV devices. Boxee CEO says it all.

“We think that it makes much more sense for the business model to be based on the content and not on the device or the screen size. If someone paid for a video (or is watching the video with ads) it should not matter which device (or) browser he is using.”

Exactly…

Pay a voluntary contribution or suffer the shame?

The Real Hustle being filmed in Brighton

So I'm really late to the whole Radiohead price experiment. Many people have said how great it is, others have said there just copying what smaller artist have been doing for years on sites like Amiestreet, some of pondered interesting questions and others have moaned about the quality. But what I found interesting was Ben Metcalfe's post which asks the question Would you pay a voluntary contribution for your BitTorrent usage?

Having pushed for so long for digital distribution methods that afford us our full rights under copyright (ie no DRM), it’s kinda time that we step up to the plate and prove that today’s digital media consumers are not looking to freeload… or are we?)

I was just chatting about this issue with a heavy BitTorrent user I know well, who’ll remain anonymous. For her, she finds BitTorrent the most convenient way to select and consume media – she watches a lot of foreign TV and also occasionally enjoys watching video on her PSP (which doesn’t support any DRM-for-video technology even if the content she wants to watch is available in a DRM’d format). Downloading torrent files from sites across the world and transcoding them into a PSP-friendly format has become a simple and painless process which she finds quicker and more convenient for her needs than any DRM system out there right now.

She is frustrated that she has to use what are currently deemed ‘illegal methods’ to obtain the media and can’t do anything to legitimize the content she is viewing.

So I know Chris Anderson is writing a new book called Free but honestly if I could pay the artist or production company for my DRM free download I would. Depending on the content I would pay between 1p – 2 pounds. 2 pounds for heroes, dexter, Dr Who, IT crowd, etc. 1 pounds for Ugly Betty, Apprentice, The Real Hustle, etc. 30p for Prison Break, Daily show, etc. I would also pay for podcasters and videocasters for their efforts if it was conveient and simple.

There was something interesting I heard at the wealth of networks conference in Boston. The Social Facebook application, called Causes. So the thinking behind the causes application is that the person can indicate what causes they support. But that application also tells people if you've donated money or helped that cause recruit new members. The idea being that if your friends have all donated loads of money over months, and you nothing. You would be shamed into taking the cause off your list. Now if you imagine something like this for TV, Music and even Film I guess? (I know Tioti is thinking about badges to indicate you like a certain show) you could have some site like last.fm or tioti/sharetv which tracks your tv/music but also shows when you donated money or helped out in someway. I guess the people who just want stuff for free will not sign up, but for the rest of us this is a way of showing your really a fan and enjoyed the show so much you paid or did something in return. This would also show the producers how popular there show/tune is and you could build grassroot graphs and charts I guess. If the real hustle series 1 rakes in a load of money and series 2 double that, you know your doing something right. If its less and less then its time to change something or give up. Its like voting for a show but the financial decision means votes are not given in vain or lightly. Hey and its helping out the people who work really hard. Just a idea, not really formed yet.

I'm not really a fan of Radiohead, but if this helps the content producers and owners into considering other business/revenue models, then put me down for 5 pounds…

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Free your phone a few words from OpenMoko

Open Moko phone

Dave forwarded a very clever email from the guys behind the OpenMoko project. I have quoted a lot from the email but left out the part in the middle about the specs of the hardware and software.

“The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.”

Mark Weiser wrote those words almost 15 years ago in a Scientific American article titled, “The Computer for the 21st Century.” In it, he coined the term “ubiquitous computing”, and proposed a set of ground rules for devices of the 21st century. Temporally, we're here. Technologically, we're close. But everyone still seems to be talking about ubiquitous computing like a mirage on desert road: it's always the same distance away. Sometimes looking at common every day objects with a fresh perspective yields interesting
new ideas. Today we're going to propose that the foundation for ubiquitous computing is already here. All that is stopping us from going forward is change of context.

Almost everyone we know has a mobile phone. Mobile phones have become part of the fabric of everyday life. Does this mean that the mobile phone is the ubiquitous computing device we've all waited for? Currently, no. But with a subtle change we would argue, yes.

Mobile phones are closed environments created with a mobile context in mind. But this concept is limiting; a mobile phone has the potential to be a platform that can do anything that a small computer with broadband access can do. If mobile phones were based on open platforms, they would have the potential to bring computing to people in a ways traditional computers cannot. Mobile phones can become ubiquitous computers.

Ubiquitous computing, however, does not simply mean computers that can be carried to work, to the home, to the beach, and to the movies. Ubiquitous computers must know where they are, and then must be able to merge into the environment.

We put GPS functionality into the Neo1973, because when your phone simply knows its location, it can adapt its behavior in significant ways without even a hint of artificial intelligence. How can devices disappear into the background? To be honest, we have far more questions than answers here. But do we know what is needed for exploring this idea. Developers must have unrestricted access to hardware at all times. Being able to control the microphone, for example, will allow phones to sense ambient noise. A simple
program could prevent your phone from ringing while you're in a conversation.

We will always try our absolute best to give you devices that are as open as possible. Our goal is freeing end-users and businesses alike from proprietary constraints. We're about encouraging people to modify and personalize their software to support their individual needs. Building products as we do, we strive to enable people to connect and communicate in new and relevant ways, using their own languages and their own symbols.

We want your involvement in OpenMoko. Now is a great time for us to work together. You'll have our full support. We're dedicated to helping you “Free Your Phone.” And we're always looking, listening, and hungry for new things. It is our goal to be totally market driven.

To be market-driven requires a willingness to experiment. OpenMoko will provide discounted phones to people in “improbable” markets. We're interested in what people in these markets can do with our products, whether they can use them at all, or what it would have to be like for them to become customers.

We will start out with the assumption that our product may find customers in previously ignored markets; that uses no one imagined when the product was designed will be found; and that Neo1973 will be bought by customers outside our field of vision and even unknown to our sales force.

We need you to talk to us. Tell us what you want. We promise we will listen. Your feedback will help evolve our roadmap. The real power of an open phone comes not from any one of these devices; it emerges from the interaction of all the users of “freed phones.” We can create true ubiquitous computing in Weiser's terms. This will be the computer of the 21st century.

At this point, we should tell you why we chose the name “Neo1973.” “Neo” means new. Dr. Marty Cooper (the inventor of the mobile phone) made the first call ever in 1973.

We believe that an open source mobile phone can revolutionize, once again, the world of communication. This will be the New 1973.

Join us. “Free Your Phone.”

Sincerely,

The OpenMoko Team

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Skype offers free calls to the UK for next 6 months

Skype offer free uk calls

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To qualify for the offer, Skype Credit must be paid for via PayPal or with a UK-issued credit card with a UK billing address. You'll also need to be signed into the Skype software while buying credit. Broadband internet connection required.

I was using JaJah for a while but using skype on my mobile phone to call landline numbers for free is going to be great. Now if only Orange would offer a decent all you can eat plan like 3 just did. Rumours are that it will be more like 30 pounds a month rather than Orange's 75 pounds a month. My last bill on GPRS was 59 pounds because I forgot to turn off automatic hourly downloading of my 391 rss subscriptions!

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