Platonic friendship is totally possible

The Friend Zone
I was lying in bed reading my eink tablet while listening to a podcast. One of my saved blogs to read was from doctor nerdlove – Why men & women can never be just friends is bullshit.

I swear I was pretty pissed off (like Dr Nerdlove) reading about how the state of platonic friendship was a lie and how men will always want it to be more. Heck Hans Fiene who wrote the original piece Dr Nerdlove was reply to; goes on to justify everything as not only being biological but bad for society. Seriously WTF!

Let’s review the logic on display here. Male relationships are inherently transactional. Men barter time for friendship with other men. Men cannot be friends with women because they need to fuck her. Therefore, by not dating or fucking them, women are cheating men by not giving them the goods that men have been paying for. 

In Fiene’s world, a woman not putting out for her male friends is bad enough. But there’s a worse crime being committed: because he’s stuck in this quagmire, he’s not fucking other people. And to be sure: that’s not his fault. He’s just too stupid to overrule his boner.

No. For real. That’s Fiene’s argument.

Repeat the “We’re just friends” mantra a thousand times. It won’t rewire the circuits of the male mind. All it will accomplish is deluding you into thinking he’s content to stay in the Friend Zone quicksand and deluding him into thinking he can break out of it by sinking even deeper.

But let’s get back to the premise. Men are trapped in the Friend Zone because being told that they’re just friends isn’t enough to make them realize that she will never sleep with him. Being friends is the trap that women, bless their hearts, can’t help but ensnare men into because Lord love ’em those boners are just SO POWERFUL. It’s only because women don’t frame the rejection in just the right way  – as is incumbent on them – to free men from their snares.

Of course its not just Hans crazy ideological view, I see it everywhere. Even my friends talk about the friendzone like I’ve been put in it like a naughty child. Most of the time its for the best of both people and friends is not lower on some imaginationary ladder. Its also not to help me ascend the status hierarchy!

My biggest problem is people treat love as binary. You are either in love or not/you are in or out. If you have been paying attention you will know love is much richer than this, it also doesn’t count for evolution, society and cultural changes.

Ruth Libby quote from Hackers film 1995
God gave men brains larger than dogs so they wouldn’t hump women’s legs at cocktail parties – Ruth Libby ~ hackers 1995

As a male feminist who isn’t a slave to his dick and can engage his brain, I find the whole discussion hateful of women and wholly offensive to both sexes. Men and Women can be good friends full stop, if one chooses to take it one step further or backwards, thats just relationships (sometimes unequal).

Typifying people (male & female) is just bollox and it needs to end here!

Perfect 1000? is this really a thing?

perfect-1000

Ryan congratualted me on having 1000 facebook friends.

Ian did you know that you have exactly 1000 friends at the moment on Facebook? Any time you add someone you now are going to have to delete someone else to maintain this perfect number! … You’re part of an exclusive club!

I said “Ha! Is that really a thing?

Of course it’s a thing haha when you have the perfect 1000 why would you want anything else?

I have never heard of this and had not really noticed I was now at 1000 friends. I’m assuming this maybe fits with some of the stereotypical very mild traits of OCD, people think about? Same as when some people like solid numbers, absolutes, perfection? To me it makes no difference and I’ll carry on adding friends adhoc.

Data & stats from Plex Mediaserver

A while ago I wrote about having so much bandwidth from hyperoptic gigabit broadband, means I can now share my media collection with friends.

Its great but its interesting looking at the data my friends are generating through their use of my sever. But it’s not all super smooth, mainly due to my poor single core AMD Sempron 2800 processor doing transcoding on the fly. The biggest problem is the Xbox Plex client, which we discovered doesn’t support x.264 at all, meaning transcoding the whole thing is the only way to view anything. My poor CPU maxes out at 100% during the whole thing. This seems to be a massive bug bear for many people out there… I dread to think what happens with H.265 encoded media.

I installed PlexPy a while ago and decided it was time to have a look.

plexpy Screenshot from 2016-04-042

The Chromecast isn’t anywhere as bad but still triggers transcoding, but to be fair I’ve not really played with the settings but I think theres a way to force the chromecast to play directly (Directstream). Some Smart TVs seem quite happy to take the direct stream putting absolutely no strain on my CPU.

plexpy Screenshot from 2016-04-041

Because of the strain on my CPU, I’m considering changing my CPU to something better. I mean even a quad core or six core processor would be ideal.

Although part of me is thinking maybe I should block all client which require transcoding, or maybe just block the Xbox Plex client. This doesn’t seem to be a problem with the Sony Playstation, from first tests. But I also wonder about DTS, MKV and h.265?

plexpy Screenshot from 2016-04-045

I mean its not like its heavily used anyway. Sure my one friend will like that (smile). The Chromecast is far and away the biggest client and we tried the Xbox 360 once just to see if it was any better (which it wasn’t)

plexpy Screenshot from 2016-04-044

The other stats generated are quite interesting to look at…
For example when most of my friends watch my media by hour of the day and which day.

plexpy Screenshot from 2016-04-043

Theres much more interesting stats but of course privacy of my friends is the up most importance. Maybe I should craft a EULA (End User Licence Agreement)?

Its really interesting to think about the ethics of data when you are the provider.

Find interesting people? Set up a second-degree dinner…

dating-against-humanity-62-638

Out of the blue I got a message from the mysterious Sam. I have known Sam for a while and sometimes we have chats in coffee shops while I work on Fridays. We are quite different characters and that always makes the discussions we have interesting, sometimes too interesting as I’m slightly distracted from my work.

The message read

I was a bit busy when I got it, doing user testing on visual perceptive media (paper coming) but later in the day, I checked it out.

dating-against-humanity-7-638

Second degree dinners is a concept by Nat Eliason while getting to know interesting people in a new city.

Four months ago I moved to Austin knowing no one in the city but my 9 coworkers and a couple of acquaintances.

The problem I immediately needed to solve was:

“How do I find interesting new people?”

I tried Meetups, bars, events, all the typical places. But in almost every case, the return on investment in terms of “interesting people met” to “time spent” was terrible.

The best way to find people seemed to be to meet someone interesting, then try to meet as many of their close friends as possible.

But getting your friends (especially new ones) to throw parties or invite you out to things doesn’t scale and makes you feel needy, so how do you get looped into everyone’s friend network at once?

Ok the quantification of time vs effort in this case is a little awkward. But he does have a point. This is something I found when I moved from London to Manchester and in part when moving from Bristol to London.

I guess if you quantified the time, it would be pretty poor but I got to do crazy things like eat at every single Chinese restaurant in London’s China town over a period of a year. Good use of time, well I guess not but heck I enjoyed most of them. Quantification of enjoyment and experience is hard to do…

But back to the point!

What is a Second-Degree Dinner

A Second-Degree Dinner brings together 6 people who, mostly, don’t know each other.

There are two “hosts.” Both hosts invite someone who they enjoy spending time with and that they think is interesting.

Then, both of their invitees are expected to invite someone that they think is interesting and send them the invitation as well.

This way, the two hosts and the two initial invitees only know two other people at the dinner. They get to meet three new people.

The second-degree invitations will know only one person and get to meet four.

Best of all, you’re only meeting pre-vetted people. No weirdos, not some rando who’s trying to sell you on their social media consulting, only cool people.

Once the dinner starts, everyone goes around and says:

  • Who they are
  • Where they’re from
  • What they’re working on
  • Something they’re excited about. It could be a new book, app, relationship, anything that has them jazzed up.

The intros usually happen during ordering / getting drinks. It’s a good way to break the ice, make sure that everyone knows each others’ names, and give a bit of a background for the next portion.

Then the real fun begins. You go back around the circle, and each person talks about one thing that they’re struggling with or that’s a challenge in their life.

As soon as I read this, I thought of Me & Jodys dating idea where we have 8 strangers together for dinner with each other. It was similar an idea and we called it the starter, but romance was the core reason for them being put together. We did a test run with friends and it worked quite well, everybody seemed to have a good time and the feedback agreed with this. Yes its similar to Table8 but they are not the first to think of bring singles together in a group blind date type thing.

Unfortunately when we actually tried to run it at the Manchester flirty weekend, we failed to get enough men to sign up. We actually had 32 women! signed up and waiting and only one man (not including myself)! I’m actually suprised I haven’t wrote about this but I did spill the beans in a Lovegrumps podcast a while back. and my let down in mankind.

So I know this can work and I’ll actively be encouraging Sam to make it happen, even if I have to arrange most of it myself (ha!). Talking of which Nat has lot of tips on how to go about this. Lots are very much the social event stuff I’ve picked up running things like geekdinners, barcamps, etc.

I especially like…

Be Vulnerable First

As the host of the event, it’s your job to set the tone for how open everyone can be. You should share first during the workshop, and you should open yourself up through your challenge. Talk about an insecurity, weakness, fear, something that people wouldn’t expect a stranger to be comfortable talking about.

It’s scary, but people appreciate the openness and respond in kind. If you just talk about something very surface level, then no one else will open up either.

I’m not sure what Sam’s plans are but if he wants to make it a monthly thing, I wouldn’t say no. Thanks for highlighting this to me, I like it a lot and more I think about it, the more it makes me more excited and happy. I got a whole ton of people I could invite along but it all depends on the details.

Serendipity don’t you just love it?

Will you find more interesting people through this idea?

Most likely yes. Friends of friends is one of the best networks you have access to, this has been tested and proven to death. Add a level of serendipity and you are on to something. This why social networks are so popular and young people (use?) to find dates through friends of friends

Familar strangers from milgrams 1972 paper

Its important that the people are interesting in themselves (as in they are interesting, not in them-self). I have ideas about this which I wrote up in a follow up to Russell Davis’ original post. It was wonderful to talk about this at BarCampManchester6 and have katrina patel blog her thoughts afterwards.

Interesting people attract interesting people I’m sure… Its a attractor, like positive people tend to attract positive people?

Advantages of 1gig broadband: Plex media server

Plex Py

The advantage of having 1gig broadband (hyperfast) is the change of behaviour. Yes you can consume more and very quickly but its the symmetric nature which makes it interesting.

I have been running Plex media server for a while mainly to keep a track of my media, as I’m still running Kodi as the front ends.

One feature of plex media server is the ability to stream media to friends. Sitting on 1gig, I can share with a few close friends without even noticing. Its pretty seamless too, as long as they are using plex as a client. Luckily there are clients for many operating systems and devices including the xbox, playstation, firetv,  chromecast, etc.

Plex media server share

Its good, I once had 4 different friends watching media from my single core celeron server one evening. Did I notice? Nope, except when I noticed the activity indicator was lit up.

This got me thinking theres got be a way to visualise this stuff? Of course others have thought about the same and I installed Plex py.

Plex Py

Pretty cool eh?

The only downside right now is my single core server with 5400rpm drives (helps with the cooling) is rubbish at transcoding full HD content, especially burning in subtitles. Maybe its time for a server upgrade?

I’m also not certain about running everything through Plex, wondering what other solutions there might be which can work in a similar way.

Sharing is caring…

The endless pursuit for happiness

Had a great lunch conversation with Laura about her change of career

It’s scary as hell to not have a model of what that looks like yet but it begins with following the truth in my heart and my intuition.

I’ve given in my notice. Just 1 month left until, well to be quite honest I have no idea what will follow. Only that it’s the right time for me to look deep within and embrace the fear, and do my best to transform it into excited energy that will fuel my unknown future.

We got talking about following her heart and there were a number of things I wanted to throw into the mix while we were talking. Luckily Laura’s new medium blog has enough pointers.

Surely life is about the journey?

I sense a deep amount of dissatisfaction in people in respect to their lives and jobs. Most of us are focused on building an awesome career, getting bigger houses and nicer cars. But it’s never ending and often unfulfilling. We are as a culture focused on living for this awesome happy future but when we get there we have no idea we are there or how to appreciate it as we already focused on the next goal.

Absolutely!

I can’t tell you how many people I know who just work to get money. I’m not saying its wrong, just not really what I want my life to be about. I have to admit I’m one of those lucky people who is doing what they love. Don’t get me wrong its not always sugar and sunshine but I can’t really imagine doing something else. If I wasn’t getting paid to do this, I would do it anyway somehow.

I don’t agree with Laura on this point…

So as I think you can tell, I ’ve decided to give up a great job and a career with lovely people and company.

You can still have a great job and ultimately career. But also follow your own path, thats where the risk comes. Somebody once said to me I was a bit of entrepreneur within the BBC. I usually rejected that, only because it conjures up visions of  solo activity working to make the most money. But when thinking about it again in the light of social  entrepreneurship, it makes more sense. I guess the senior firestarter job reflects this a little.

I got use to the idea that I will have to carve out my own career a long time ago. That career is full of collaborations and passionate people with similar goals and aspirations. I didn’t want to make a choose between the two, so I combined them.

Laura’s aspirations, (Happiness Documentary Series,  School of Life style Social Enterprise and Wilderness retreat) could be a collaboration and a career in themselves. She’s going about it the right way but its a easy mistake to think of them in a exclusive way.

Unfortunately there’s no manual for this kind of personal quest but I’m hoping sharing my story will connect me with others who have or are in the process of changing their lives.

Following your own path is the key here and I think there is something big about documenting the experiences. I started blogging 12 years ago and I still do it, not just because of the halo effect but its useful to rationalise my own very busy connected thoughts to myself and sometimes to others.

The journey and the experiences/stories I collected along the way, really form my personality and  its important to never waste your life living someone elses life.

Si Lumb always says something like… “If there’s an opportunity to experience something which will make a great story and it won’t put you or somebody else in danger… you should do it

This drive to live life for the opportunities is powerful and transforming. I look forward to hearing how things progress Laura.

Mobile as a proxy for awkwardness?

Phone Guy

You know the situation when you get into a lift and try not to make eye contact with anybody? The 21 century equivalent has to be, stare at your phone… Check your notifications and see what else is going on with your email or facebook. Because most lifts are mainly mirrored inside, its easy to see someone, looking for something to do. I hate to say it but its shocking how many people don’t have a lock on their phones and the simplicity of the code is crazy (4 ones anybody)

Oh no not you or me! Although to be fair I do when getting the lift down from the carpark at work check google now for what I’m going to be doing today. Not because I feel awkward, but I can’t check when I’m on the scooter driving (even with the pebble watch)

Not you? No of course not!

How about this one then?

Dinner, lunch, tea, coffee, breakfast, $whatever.  with a friend or date, you don’t check the phone as your eating and chatting. No because that would be bloody rude (although I have had a few dates do this and its driven me crazy inside, to the degree that I have had to say something like “oh sorry am I keeping you from somewhere?“)

No… they get up to go to the toilet and the first thing you do is reach for your phone. Either to text, tweet, check your notifications, check you don’t have something out of place in your teeth or just pass the time staring at the screen.

We all have done it! If you haven’t how about the other person. The person in the toilet. You’re all done with what you are doing then after washing and drying our hands (if your one of those flipping filthy people who don’t wash their hands after using the toilet, I have only nasty things to say to you!) After drying your hands looking in the mirror, we tend to reach for the phone. Same reasons text, tweet, check your notifications.

I’m sure you can think of many different other scenarios! Public transport for one. Social anxiety builds and its easier to just stare at the phone and be else where, anywhere? The viewing is different from wanting to retrieve and actively do something.

Our phones have become a proxy for awkwardness not just boredom… Sure Sherry Turkle would have lots to say about this.

Coffee and Bagel, future of online dating?

Coffee and Bagels

I heard about coffee meet bagel a while ago while researching online dating. The concept is simple and quite effortless. Less of a dating site and more of a way of dating in the modern world.

Coffee Meets Bagel launched in New York City in 2012, when three sisters decided there must be a better way to date in the Big Apple. They created CMB based on three guiding principles:

  1. Unless you want to tell others, your dating life should remain private.
  2. Your friends are the best conduits for your dates.
  3. Meeting quality people doesn’t have to be so awkward or complicated.

Users sign up through Facebook and receive one match – a.k.a. a ‘Bagel’ – every day at noon that is somehow connected to them. Members then have a time limit in which to respond with a simple LIKE or PASS. If all goes well, Coffee and Bagel are put in touch via a private company texting line and magical breakfast-y sparks will fly.

Reason why I would put bets on this could be the future of online dating is because it seems to hit most of the sticking points right now.

  • Friends of friends. Leveraging what already exists and what people are doing today anyway. Using the network for the right reasons.
  • Facebook. How many users does your biggest online dating site have? I bet its a drop in the ocean compared to Facebook.
  • It could be free, low risk and low effort. No need to create a new profile, lie about your past, its all there in Facebook. And catfishing will drop as your friends really know who you are. And what kind of a person would you be if you recommended a catfish? Your reputation would be crap.

At the moment its not free but it would be simple to bypass the company. This would remove the pressure to squeeze every penny out of the opportunities.

This is what my single friend should have been… (Imho)

Should you play money poker with friends?

I say no. I think there’s too many things which can go wrong in a game especially when money in involved.

Victoria Coren seems to disagree but considers that social rules should be considered up front.

First, you have to decide whether you and your friend are happy to play fully against each other: trap-checking, check-raising, punchy value bets, the lot. If so, don’t be surprised if your friendship turns a little tense for a while. But there is no need to tell everyone your life story. Plenty of casino cohorts know each other and, if you’re playing straight, there’s nothing to announce.

If you are not prepared to treat your friend as any other opponent, you shouldn’t play on the same table. I am still stuck in an ancient tradition with my old mucker The Sweep: if we are heads-up in a casino pot, we check it down. That kind of thing must be announced, but should be avoided. Luckily, The Sweep is a total rock. If he so much as breathes on a pot, I fold everything but aces anyway.

Its getting a little like this when playing Werewolf with friends too.

Trusted places launches to the public

Trusted places

The venture which I should have got much more involved in has launched to the public.

Trustedplaces.com is open for business!

Yes, our dear friends we are now one letter up; have moved from alpha to beta and have opened up the site so that anyone can join. What a difference a letter makes. You’ll see a new home page, some very useful options for your reviews, favourites and friend’s favourites, quite a few design tweaks, but you’ll also be able to search for places that are near you.

Trusted places is simply a place to put all your favorate places and then tag them for other friends to find. You can write reviews and post pictures too but the most interesting thing is the friends aspect. Yes I'm thinking really long tail stuff here. The trustedplaces team haven't quite made a point of drumming that up yet but its in the pipeline I'm sure. There's also some really other things which are planned which make sense when your not at a computer.

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