A better way to review books online?

A good read

Angela is absolutely right in her post about the sorry state of Goodreads.

Last year, I lamented the poor design of Goodreads — a much-needed platform where readers can review books they’ve read and track those they want to. Poor search functionality, ugly aesthetics, an embarrassingly terrible recommendation algorithm, and buried club and group features make the site unpleasant to use. Since the story came out, Goodreads hasn’t done much to improve its deficiencies. Instead, it seems content to rest on its laurels as a near-monopoly owned by Amazon, benefiting from its massive existing user base while being, apparently, deserted by its design team.

It is a joke, even ebay has made changes to improve not just the look but experience of their system (not to say its great however). Goodreads feels like sites before web 2.0 boom. Regardless it has a massive audience, I can’t work out why either?

The post talks about all the different examples people are doing to create their own goodreads alternative using sites like Glitch and Medium. Its a good-read (pun intended) but I found it interesting there was no mention of some of the indieweb (hreview microformats) and fediverse systems (Bookwyrm).

Of course all of them require more technical effort than a webly, glitch, etc but I thought it would be worth mentioning.

Trying Indigenous social timeline app

IndieWeb ecosystem
When I first saw this last year, I instantly thought about small pieces loosely joined

Last year I went to IndieWebCampBerlin, I learned a lot and really enjoyed it. One of the things I found most interesting is the indieweb ecosystem and in the indieweb way, how people were creating parts of the ecosystem. This is quite a different to the way existing social networks are built, dare I mentioned protocols not platforms again.

There was an app which was mentioned a few times as a example of how it could work. Indigenous, which supports micropub (publishing) and microsub (subscription) across the different pub/sub supporting services. It was neat but I couldn’t get it working on my Android phone. Mainly down to the Indieauth which didn’t work well with this blog. So I kinda left it till this week.

Indigenous allows you to engage with the internet as you do on social media sites, and post on your IndieWeb powered website or a federated instance like Mastodon, Pleroma or Pixelfed

Using Indigenous on Android

Unlike last time, there is a better more user-friendly introduction to the app. It seems to set up a default user for you and allows you add other accounts to it. I assume once you finally add a indieweb account it will release the default user and move the added accounts.

I added my Mastodon and Pixelfed account did a test post using Mastodon in Indigenous.

I did try and post it via Pixelfed but it didn’t seem to work, so I used Mastodon instead. So far so good, but I hoped to still get IndieAuth working but still no dice unfortunately.

It was only a day ago when I realised there was a desktop version, a electron app for Linux, so I gave it a try.

Its a bit different but I recognise parts. Although I couldn’t find the account part s wasn’t able to try the indieauth.

Expect more posting as I explore more, of course if anyone has pointers…? Do jump into the comments/web mentions or drop me something on Mastodon or Twitter.

Rethinking the user experience in age of distributed networks

Planetary.socialIt was David who reminded me to blog about planetary.social, which recently was announced on twitter by Tom Coates.

I feel this is one of many to come. Not another social networks, but the idea of rethinking the advantages of decentralised, federated and distributed networks.

When I saw Aral’s talk a long time ago at Thinking Digital, I have been wondering why don’t more designers look at the advantages and rethink them into completely new user experiences?

Imagine:  Decentralised, Its not a bug its a feature

I like what planetary has done with the FAQ page. You would also expect them to shy away from the underlying networking technology of Scuttlebutt (which is hard to explain to people use to centralised models of social networks). They took the underlying technology and turned it into a competitive business advantage, without breaking the ethos/promise of the technology.

So you got Aral, Tom and many more examples coming out of the Indieweb movement including Aaron

This is the future… Good ethical technology, good ethical design and good ethical data practices = Great new user experiences.

This might sum up the talk I’m thinking about for Agile Manchester 2020.

https://twitter.com/agilemanc/status/1219991870899675136

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Jan 2020)

Greta Thunberg

Good day, happy new year and looking forward to a new decade with you all!

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking at the next US election or at the endless denial about explainable algorithms.

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 Finland’s new prime minister, Sanna Marin at the age of 34, focusing on climate change.

 

The threat of quantum computing explained

Ian thinks: This is a serious challenger for so much of the encrypted systems we rely on daily.

Why do people listen to Greta?

Ian thinks: Makes a really strong point about creativity. It something I also worry we forget as it doesn’t conveniently fit our tired metrics.

A critical look at economical value

Ian thinks: Mariana makes some great points about different types of value.

Anarchy, Federation, IndieWeb the Fedverse

Ian thinks: Defining yourself in opposition to something else, doesn’t give you enough conceptual space is why I always quoting Buckminster Fuller

EFF’s deep dive into public key encryption

Ian thinks: Its one of those things which is banded about but few people when asked can explain it as well as the EFF

Webxray gives an insight behind the webpage

Ian thinks: The Webxray tool which runs on Linux & Mac is quite impressive to use. Gives a real insight into whats going on in the web when it comes tracking and the advertisement ecosystem

Decentralisation isn’t just about the internet

Ian thinks: The importance of decentralised networks applies to more than just the internet

Jason Silva interviews Kevin Kelly

Ian thinks: Technology, drugs, spiritualism its all in there and its quite a interview too.

Real People, Doing Real Things segment on teamhuman

Ian thinks: The new segment is welcomed on teamhuman and botsentinel is a good project to start with.

Jack Dorsey funding a decentralised twitter

Ian thinks: When I first heard this I almost fell off my chair, then thought this is classic innovators dilemma or twitter seeing the writing on the wall?

Why one client is a bad idea

 

I recently saw this in my email and elsewhere…

We recently fixed a vulnerability within Twitter for Android that could allow a bad actor to see nonpublic account information or to control your account (i.e., send Tweets or Direct Messages). Prior to the fix, through a complicated process involving the insertion of malicious code into restricted storage areas of the Twitter app, it may have been possible for a bad actor to access information (e.g., Direct Messages, protected Tweets, location information) from the app.

We don’t have evidence that malicious code was inserted into the app or that this vulnerability was exploited, but we can’t be completely sure so we are taking extra caution.

We have taken steps to fix this issue and are directly notifying people who could have been exposed to this vulnerability either through the Twitter app or by email with specific instructions to keep them safe. These instructions vary based on what versions of Android and Twitter for Android people are using. We recommend that people follow these instructions as soon as possible. If you are unsure about what to do, update to the latest version of Twitter for Android. This issue did not impact Twitter for iOS.

We’re sorry this happened and will keep working to keep your information secure on Twitter. You can reach out to our Office of Data Protection through this form to request information regarding your account security.

Its clear to me, twitter’s plan to restrict API access to limit the clients and ultimately force people into using their own appis and always was a bad idea!

Jack talks a good game about a decentralised twitter but lets be honest, its not going to truly happen. Their company interests are too tightly wound up in this all. Of course theres already standards for this, just that twitter refuse to support micropub, activitypub, etc… Rosemary mentions this on a twit recently.

 

Looking back at Republica 2019 and IndieWebCampBerlin

A personal view from republicamp

It was a while ago now since I was in Berlin for both IndieWebCampBerlin and Republica19. As I needed to report back to BBC R&D, I created a slide deck which I finally gave today at work. It would have been earlier in the month if I wasn’t sick when it was arranged.

I posted a modified version of the slide deck on slideshare, but its pretty much there. Of course like most of my presentations, its better with me delivering it but you can get a sense of what I found interesting and why.

The slides are divided into 2 parts. Indiewebcamp is slides 4-23 and Republica is slides 24-73.

Enjoy!

Going to Indieweb Camp Berlin 2019?

Ian Forrester
Ian Forrester
:
RSVP yes
to Indieweb Camp Berlin

 

I am!

Just RSVP’ed (did it via this post and via a webform) to IndieWebCamp Berlin. Its the first one I’ve been to and I have massive professional and personal interest in Indieweb technologies. Its such a big thing I added it to my new years resolutions.

Explore the future of decentralised and distributed systems
This one is a combination of 2 of my  previous resolutions. Exploring the future of online dating with decentralise more. So more mastodon and more exploring Indie web technologies like Bridgy and Kinds. I’ve been really interested in these things for a long while.

Theres a whole bunch of interesting technologies I’ve been keeping an eye on, but never really had the time to spend really looking in-depth.

As Twitter falls a part is it time to double down on Mastodon?

Dead twitter

Twitter is seriously getting up to no good.

Its super clear the openness of twitter is being stopped, told to stand against a wall with hands up and then shot in the head. Its not good and frankly, I don’t know about you but its starting to pee me off. I recently posted something to my facebook timeline about Facebook’s decision to stop automated posting under a persons account. Another frustrating thing as I was practising the POSSE method from the IndieWeb movement..

Facebook is no longer allowing automatically post to peoples profile. Meaning this timeline is going to get very quiet!
If you want to catch up with things check out www.cubicgarden.com and www.twitter.com/cubicgarden

Because of this my facebook interactions are mainly going to be checking my events including Volleyball training.

All this makes me think its time to double down on Mastodon? Of course I’m not the only one thinking this, cue Adrian and Naomia‘s mastodon 101 podcast.

The more I look at the more I think close my twitter account and just use Mastodon. Although the crossposter was helping till Twitter API changes broke that too.

It will be a shame to say goodbye but the more I see what twitter is about and see what Mastodon users are doing like listing the abuses/hate/rule breaks in different Mastodon instances into Github. I think this is the place to be and the whole setup/framework/infrastructure is what makes it all this possible. Heck with a bunch of the new W3C specs like WebmentionsFragmention and Micropub; I can see companies which enable/power their users really making amazing sustainable humane services.

Lessons from Starfish & the Spider, lets make a better internet together!

Best rollercosters I’ve ridden, so far…

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/43429302991/

I make no secret of my love for Rollercoasters, heck some call me a rollercoaster nerd?

I can trace back where it comes from but I just feel so alive when faced with the moment of impeding doom. Going around and doing it again and again, is exciting too. You get to feel the adrenaline rush and understand what the coasters design and imprecate it fully from different ride positions. On that topic, I’m a back seat rider. The pull of the coaster and the intensity is just amazing. Its a real shame when you are placed somewhere in the middle.

The rollercoaster geeks like me, tend to use some online resource to keep a eye on new coasters and where to head next. I found rcdb.com is great for this. I have considered hacking up a self quantified/tracking system like trakt.tv to capture how many times you have been on a certain ride, when and maybe which position. Instead I keep a track in my head while in the queue and post it to twitter…

For example from Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens

And from Stockholm’s Grona Lund

Theres a better way to do this i’m sure… I started wondering if my aspersions to do something with Mastodon or Micropub & Microformats, could fit with this too? Terms look ok too if its a free app, shame theres no api but the pages are simple enough to turn into a large xml store or what ever.

It could recommend stuff to you and you can start to pick out unique elements which you like or don’t like. In the my case looking through my rides I really hate Vertical Chain Lift Hill’s like you see on Abismo. They are trying to be too clever and actually feel really crap and short for me to enjoy.

Anyway a project for another day…

So with that out the way, here’s my top rollercoasters across the places I have been.

United states

Déjàvu

Six Flags great America

Vertical Velocity or V2

Deja Vu (no longer exists)

Raging Bull

Its funny because I have been to many parts of America but not really seeked out rollercoasters, so the main ones are in Vegas and Six Flags great America near Chicago. Six Flags is typical of a American theme park with lots of rides packed into a space. There were lots of choices for coasters but V2 and Deja Vu caught me, when I could stand the long queues. Raging bull was nice too but was less keen on the restraints, likely now I’d be cool with them.

Las Vegas

Speed: The ride (no longer exists)

Massive fan of LIM (Linear Induction Motor) and Hydraulic Launchs, so speed the ride is right up my street. I’d also add it was the best ride on the Vegas strip by a long way.

Japan

Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima

Nagashima Spa Land

Steel Dragon 2000

Spa Land is one of the best parks I have been to. Its large but not Alton Towers trek around the park size. Within the park is lots of rides including a bunch of thrill and extreme rides. However the crown of Spa Lands is Steel Dragon 2000, which hits a top speed of 95mph on the way down its almost 95 meter first drop (5th highest in the world currently) Then theres a 75 meter hill and drop straight afterwards. Thats higher than the whole of Blackpool’s Big One (62 meters drop). At almost 4mins for a ride, its still the longest track in history and the gravitation force over the hills is insane! There is nothing like it and it eclipses everything else in the park.

Fuji-Q Highland

Eejanaika

Fujiyama

I went to Fuji Q after Nagashima Spa Land and although its got some great coasters, I think I preferred Spa Lands. Fuji Q’s big ride at the time was Takabisha but I wasn’t convinced by it. Felt similar to Saw the ride in Thorpe Park (another one I was so-so about). I did like Do-Dodonpa but after going on Stealth lots of times, this felt poor in comparison. I noticed they changed the hill into a loop now, which might be better but at the time it was a hill.

Tokyo Dome City

Thunder Dolphin

If I could build a rollercoaster, I would do it like Thunder Dolphin. Right in the middle of a city but go big. The Dolphin is a rare surprise but it shuts early due to noise I expect? Its quite thrilling riding through a city centre in this way and quite special.

Spain

Parque Warner Madrid 126

Parque Warner Madrid

Superman / la Atracción de Acero

Stuntfall

Parque Warner Madrid, is a great park. Its not massive but they nicely grouped all the big rides close to each other for easy access to other ones. The theme nature of the park was good and very late opening really helps space out the day. The only thing is its quite a long way out of Madrid which means a coach or car only. The park is packed with rides but the two selected are the best. Stunt drop is just so much fun while Superman is as close to Steel Dragon 2000 as I’ve gotten in recent times.

UK

Alton Towers in 2015

Alton Towers

Nemesis

Smiler

Out of all the theme parks, this is the most visited one. I like Alton Towers but its estate is vast making repeat rides tricky. For example; the distance between Smiler and Nemesis in time is at least 15mins by cable cart! Walking would be 20-30mins. However the number of extreme rides are plentyful. The SW (Secret weapon) series of coasters have been record breaking and a genuine joy to have in the UK. Nemesis for me is still the best inverted coaster I have been on. Its quite insane its 22 years old and hasn’t lost its roar and intensity. Its the reason why (almost) all other inverted coasters don’t appear in my list at all. Even Batman the ride although similar lacks the landscape which features so much in Nemesis. Nemesis is basically cut into the side of hill to keep it below the treeline. You can see similar with the Smiler which isn’t tall but super compact crossing over its self many times. I would include Oblivion and Air but they have fallen out of my ride book in recent times.

Thorpe Park

Stealth

Swarm

Thorpe park is a nice park and its small enough to quickly get high numbers of rides in a short time. Although it doesn’t have enough big rides in my opinion. I use to have a merlin year pass which meant I could go to Alton Towers & Thorpe Park over and over again. So on a long week in London, I would head to Thorpe Park on Friday or Saturday with my luggage then get the tube back to Euston for my train back to Manchester.

Blackpool pleasure beach

Infusion

The Big one

Blackpool is so close and unlike most UK theme parks, opens late. Its got some good rides but I haven’t been on the new Icon ride yet.

Drayton Manor

Shockwave

Its been a long time since I took a ride in Drayton Manor, but I won’t forget Shockwave which is one of the only stand up rollercoasters in the UK.

Sweden

Jetline at Grona Land

Gröna Lund

Insane

Jetline

Grona Land isn’t a thrill seekers paradise but its small opens late and you can easily run around to the entrance of each ride really easily. Jetline was surprisingly old skool but also had quite exciting elements including the out and back via a tunnel. Its also quite a smooth ride at the start. Insane is a winged insane coaster, even I had to take it easy after the 11th time. Its the first time I have been in a ball coaster and after a few breaks, quite enjoyed it.

Denmark

Dæmonen

Tivoli Gardens

Dæmonen

To be fair Tivoli Gardens isn’t really a extreme roller coaster park, but the one ride they do have is like a mini Superman / la Atracción de Acero. Same maker and coasters, just much shorter time and much less extreme.