Amazon halo…be afraid be very afraid

There is so much I wanted to say about the Amazon Halo health/fitness tracker. The Twit.tv video above pretty much sums up my thoughts. I haven’t read through the halo privacy policy yet, but others are picking bit out already.

Amazon Halo privacy concerns

Wherever there are body scans, always-on microphones and a tech giant in the same service, there’s bound to be security concerns. Amazon knows this, and has already outlined what privacy will look like for future Halo users.

Halo health data is encrypted in transit and in the cloud, and sensitive data, like body scan images, are deleted once processed. Meanwhile, voice analysis is processed entirely on the user’s smartphone and deleted after. Nothing is recorded for playback — users can’t even listen to their own speech samples.

All Amazon Halo data can be managed and deleted in the Halo app. Your Halo account is also separate from your Amazon Prime one, so anyone you share your Prime account with won’t be able to access your private health information.

This for me is one of the things people in the Quantified Self movement were always worried about.

Do you trust Amazon with this much personal data?
Whats the actual pay off?
Is it all actually worth it?

Then you have to ask the question what makes it different from other quantified self devices and systems?

Civilization is falling apart?

Junk found on the beach
Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

I like a lot of what Umair Haque writes but this one titled 2020 is a Warning That Our Civilization is Beginning to Fall Apart. I will be frank is pretty terrifying. I say terrifying not from a fear point of view although its pretty scary for that. Almost all the points Umair makes, I find it very difficult to counter them in any reasonable way.

Are you beginning to get what I mean by “accelerating pulsation of disaster” yet? As we head into the age of catastrophe, a new range of calamities will become our dismal new normal. They’ll recur, in cycles. Only each time the cycle spins, they’ll get worse and worse. Megafires, megafloods, pandemics, extinctions.

His lasting point is strong and draws lot for us to think/reflect on.

Its extremely sobering to read and worth it even if it doesn’t offer any strong solutions

John Ashton on Boris Johnson’s sick responsibility

This is quite a powerful monologue by John Ashton as part of Double down news’s great coverage. He’s right all that good will during the lockdown is going to be massively tested as the furlough scheme comes to an end in October, a second wave for winter (although we haven’t finished the first one honestly) and the aim to get us all out is fine but eating junk food is almost laughable.

This government is a sick joke and John Ashton is right, the messages are mixed, muddled and deadly!

What american’s think of socialised health care?

I did find this short video of voxpox’s on the streets of New York interesting. Not only to hear what they think of the NHS but also the difference between the people interviewed.

In US news and current events today, NowThis News hit the streets of New York to ask everyday Americans about the universal health care debate. A recent video featuring British people commenting on the health care system in America went viral, consider this video the answer. These people gave their thoughts on private healthcare vs public health care. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, health insurance is more available in the U.S., but without a public health care or National health care system like the U.K. or Canada, many people in the U.S. will still be uninsured and at risk.

We were overdue a pandemic, public health is absolutely critical

There has been many signs of the current pandemic which is upon us now, in retrospect. Bill gates talk from TED is a popular one people mention. But there has been many more including this one, Fowl plague from how we get to next.

One of the questions in the FAQ is spot on.

At this very moment the USA has surpassed China with the most amount of people infected. It doesn’t take a lot to see the problem of a pandemic with no public health care system.

USA tops the Covid19 chart with most infected

Has a case has been made for universal health care providing a better defense against pandemics, as people are less likely to stay away from medical treatment over fears of the costs involved?

The case for universal health care was made in the years following the Spanish flu in 1918, when more people died at the hands of avian influenza than in both world wars combined. This event made it abundantly clear that, in the midst of a pandemic, it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, insulated by health insurance or not: Everyone was at risk unless society was treated as a whole. This is, I believe, the strongest possible argument for universal health care; by definition ideas of individualism disintegrate in a pandemic scenario.

When I mention public health that extends to sick leave too as Vox’s video also explains so well.

Talking of Bill Gates, just this week TED did a follow up interview.

Community parks for the community of inner Manchester

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Cities are always in flux however, our values/needs as humans don’t flux so much. Green space is important to us, even a total city boy like myself loves green nature space at times. This is beyond gentrification and more about city planning. Something Jane Jacobs knows plenty about.

Its clear green spaces are essential and lets say Manchester like London doesn’t have a lot of them. There’s got to be a connections between the mental health epidemic and the state of our biggest cities.

There are 3 spaces in the very local area which have been marked for building of some kind of redevelopment.

  1. Former Central Retail Park Great Ancoats Street Manchester M4 6DJ
  2. Green space at New Islington tram stop
  3. Mayfield train depot park plans

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I joined the talk yesterday at Central Retail park

From friends of the earth Northern Quarter

Currently Manchester City Council plans to turn the old Central Retail Park on Great Ancoats Street into a 440 space carpark with the application going to planning on 22nd August, we have until 17th August to make our voice heard.

This is a 10.5 acre space, half the size of Whitworth Park.

There will around 1000 cars moving in and out onto already busy Great Ancoats Street. This will increase pollution including known carcinogens such as Nitrogen Dioxide, in a city of appalling childhood asthma rates and one which consistently ranks amongst the worst air quality in Europe.

This space is right next door to a Primary School.

This seems in total contradiction of Manchester’s campaign for clean air when Manchester City Council has declared a Climate Emergency.

Legally the land is owned by Manchester City Council making it public property, meaning you can walk on it. The fence around the old units is fenced off and there is a security which keep an eye on the space; but the advice from the talks was to build a park on top of whats there already.

Currently the plan is to use the space to show potential use. Events, guerrilla gardening, market, skateboard park, etc. I’ve already been thinking about a massive community bring your own BBQ type event – if I could sort out the toilets?

Anyway you can learn more at treesnotcars.com, and if you get a chance do drop in and see the space and the chalked ideas people have for it.

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Inception, distraction and the war for your attention

Inception

Its been hard keeping on track and not being sucked into all the other things around me. Of course the biggest thing has been the Manchester arena bombing which was shocking and of course ever so sad (especially for those involved or lost their lives to this mindless act of violence). But generally the amount of noise/static, peer/social pressure and people telling you to pay attention to their thing is pretty bad.

Of course this also has a massive bearing on the happiness and wellbeing of people too (feel like I should have been writing this a few weeks ago during mental health awareness week). I’ve watched how colleagues & friends have struggled not to stay distraction free from stuff others have pushed their way. I have offered to help and sometimes suggested removing certain apps or changing certain settings. Sometimes its been useful, sometimes its worked for a short while but theres not the motivation or drive to follow it through.

I totally understand why… heck we’re all human!

It’s not easy, heck there’s a whole industry setup to shift your attention/reality into their world. Some of it is the bubble where you are like Silicon Valley, but also the systems/pressures around us as summed up so well by Tristan Harris and Sherry Turkle. It’s really dark patterns stuff but it’s so ubiquitous we don’t question them. It’s like a friend who messaged me and asked if I was in a place because she couldn’t see me on Whatsapp, or the notion that if it’s not on Spotify it can’t/doesn’t exist. Someone seemed a little puzzled when I mentioned Spotify doesn’t have most music (crazy but true)! Or even when I decided I wasn’t going to do the icebucket challenge.

yoga

Once the mind is bought into the system and ultimately their opinionated world, its extremely difficult to leave it. (The book – The confidence game, I’m currently reading which is about cons actually has a bit to say about this all)

Magic Trick

I would actually go as far as to say for all the difficulty of stringing together system and services yourself (like free software/open source/decentralised/federated systems). Its forces you to come up with your own world narrative and thoughts; and I’m very sure independent thinking is critical for wellness, health, self-confidence, resiliency and character!

Its slightly ironic only 9 days ago I was in Sarah Raad’s Gratitude Habit workshop during Thinking Digital Newcastle. I’ve been practicing my gratitudes most days including the Monday night of the Manchester arena bombing. Even been thinking of Tweeting them or Tooing them via Mastodon, because most are not secret or really private. I also want to establish that having a gratitude about places which are not full of nature, noisy and busy is as valid as the typical stuff you imagine when you talk about wellness and health.

yoga sunset

Its the point of independent thought. I’m sure Sarah would say deep down underneath most of this will be common human traits or those of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

La Défense, Paris

I guess the point I’m trying to make is… develop your own mindset and don’t be directed into someone elses. Yes it will be difficult but ever so rewarding in the long run.

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.

Health/care.data

NHS care.data

The state of care.data is a unbelievable and sorry tale. The more you look into it the more you think something is seriously missing. Its almost like the UK government want to sell off the NHS in return for an American style health care system (tin foil hats at the ready). I would suggest thats not the extreme view it sounds like, going by the mess which is on the table.

Following getting the NHS leaflet telling me I have a choice about where my medical records exist and the stellar work the likes of the Open Rights Group and others have done. I decided to look a little deeper into what is care data? I went to Threats to your medical confidentiality as I wanted to understand the other side which seemed to be hidden from public view.

What I found was something almost acute to the practice of health care.

The NHS will be legally barred from selling personal medical records for insurance and commercial purposes in a new drive to protect patient privacy, the Health Secretary will announce next week. Jeremy Hunt will unveil new laws to ensure that medical records can only be released when there is a “clear health benefit” rather than for “purely commercial” use by insurers and other companies.

Its important to note these facts…

  1. Care.data has nothing to do with medical care, you will get the same care regardless
  2. This is all about extracting confidential medical information from the GP-held records. Once they have it will never be deleted
  3. Identifiable data can/will be sold to almost any company. Medical research will get another slice regardless
  4. There is no medical lost from opt-ing out, this is all about access to data
  5. You can opt-out using a form or using the new FaxyourGP service but you can also opt-out people you look after/care for or are dependent on you (like your children for example)

To make things worst if you did decide to opt-out (remember its your lawful right to do so) the NHS made it extremely tricky to do so, they finally gave us 6 months more to decide.

Awwww what nice people… Nothing to do with ill thought-out communication or patient data going to insurance companies. No of course not… Whats also shocking is the lack of mass publicity this is not getting.

Me personally, once fax your GP is back will be using that service to make sure I’m opt-ed out, unless something dramatic happens. Even got a google task to remind me to opt-out…