In memory of Damian Cox

Damian with a pie butty
Only in Manchester can you get a pie butty, held by the late Damian Cox.

Damian Cox was more than a character, he was an incredible outspoken figure and a joy to be around. It was a shock to hear the news that he had died suddenly.

The funeral is this week and unfortunately I’m in Maderia Portugal for ICIDS 2017 and can’t be there. Death is always shocking and scary but having been so close myself I tend to have a slightly different view on death and want to celebrate life more than ever.

Because of this I wanted to share a few of the reasons why Damian was just such an amazing person.

When I first moved up to BBC Manchester on Oxford Road I met quite a few people and I did some publicity work for the BBC as they wanted to recruit more locally. Now I don’t know for sure, but Damian claims he joined after seeing my mug shot somewhere. He use to call me the pin-up boy, which use to make me laugh, even many years later.

I clearly remember him showing me some of the northern delights like the pie butty which without realising made it to the top of the only in manchester list in buzz feed.

At BarCampMediaCity, I clearly remember Cristiano coming to me and someone else on the Saturday evening and saying, we need to talk to security because someone is clearly drunk; he was joking, laughing, touchy and being loud about everything.
I asked who (wondering) and Cristiano didn’t know his name but described him having a flat cap, northern accent and cheeky smile. Within a single heart beat, I remember saying with someone else; is it Damian Cox? Christiano looked puzzled.
Thats just Damian, he’s always like that… we laughed.

Damian was fun, full of spirit and a joy to be around. He told it exactly how it was, wouldn’t hold back and wouldn’t be without his flatcap. Even during the heat of of Hacked.io in the O2, he stood out due to that bloody flatcap!

Hacked 2013

He will be so missed by not just by his family, friends and colleagues; but BBC North and Manchester. He embodied the reason why the BBC moved to Manchester.

Rest in Peace Damian Cox

Was helpling actually helping or just causing hassle?

Alexandra Depledge

I had a cleaner, shes a friend and before her another person who became a friend. However the last cleaner left the city centre, it became clear it wasn’t fair to have her clean once a month when the travel was so painful in Central Manchester.

Some of you maybe thinking or want to ask,

why the heck have you got a cleaner Ian?

Well I do clean the flat but I’m extremely busy, don’t like it and have a level of cleanliness set from my parents (aka close to perfection). To get close to that would require constant cleaning every few days. So thats why I outsource this and happily pay someone else to do a big clean once a month/every 3 weeks-ish. On top of this I do Airbnb and its simply not on to charge how much I do for a semi clean place.

I heard about hassle.com via Alexandra Depledge at Thinking Digital Newcastle. Signed up and got a message saying there was no cleaners in my area (Central Manchester!) anyway about a year later I gave it another try this time with some success.

In my original query, I asked for once every 3 weeks rather than every 2 weeks. At the time the options were weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Hassle support put the request to my cleaner and she accepted it, we were all good – or so I thought.

My cleaner was Portuguese but African decent. She was good but out of 7 scheduled cleans, only cleaned 4 times. 3 were missed because of problems her end. The last time, she didn’t even text me to say she wasn’t coming. (I usually wait in the flat then leave them in there while I go get breakfast or brunch). Just nothing! I enquired what happened through the helpling dashboard (when I started using it, it was hassle.com but somewhere along the line changed to helpling.co.uk). But in the end had to speak to help support.

After a few days they told me, my cleaner was no longer available and I would need to get another one. But the kicker was the information that I hadn’t hit the minimal number of cleans and my deposit wouldn’t be returned!

Firstly I would like to apologise for any confusion caused here – When you make a regular booking with Helpling, you agree to commit to bookings with a Helpling cleaner for a minimum of 3 months, this counts for a minimum of 10 cleans for weekly bookings and five cleans for fortnightly bookings, as outlined in our terms and conditions. (https://www.helpling.co.uk/terms). If you are unhappy with the cleaner that you have been matched with, we will be happy to assist with finding a more suitable replacement at No extra fee. However if you choose not to complete the minimum number of cleans required, we reserve the right to charge the full value of the remaining bookings to your registered credit or debit card (up to a maximum value of £60).

Of course I was pretty peed off about this and told them exactly what I thought. They said if I get another helpling cleaner, it would be returned. So I tried. I really did try!

Short story is I did this 3 times (trying once a month and once every 2 weeks). I even had cleaning agreed and secured by 2 different cleaners but everytime on the day or day before they cancelled or gave an excuse why they couldn’t come and clean.

Hi Ian — we wanted to let you know that all your future bookings with S*** ******** have been cancelled.

Hi Ian — we wanted to let you know that all your future bookings with J************* have been cancelled.

Hi Ian — we wanted to let you know that all your future bookings with K********* have been cancelled.

This of course meant I changed my plans to stay in each time for no reason.

My last email reads…

SEP 30, 2017  |  03:03PM UTC
U******:

Hi Ian,

Hope you are well.

I just wanted to get in touch with you in regards to your request for a cleaner from Helpling.

We have been in touch with all cleaners in the area, but unfortunately, nobody has accepted. I am very sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Please let us know when you are available for a cleaner to come and I will be happy to help find a great cleaner!

Looking forward to your response.

After the 3rd time I have given up but want my deposit back again!

I’m seriously wondering if Helpling were/are actually helping because it seems my experience was strangely problematic for a simple idea of a cleaner in central Manchester?

My honest thoughts is in the buy out of hassle, something changed?

9 extraordinary days of the Manchester International Festival

All my Mif2017 events

When I first came to Manchester, one of the many reasons I stayed was the international festival. It wasn’t just the festival but it was kind of mind blowing to have so many premiere art events in such a short distance and reasonable priced. The big one which I will never forget is Marina Abramović’s presents which surprised me at the time and then blew me away i retrospect. 2 years I watched a contemporary ballet called the tree  of life and there has been plenty more great experiences.

I bought quite a few events early May in between my travels. I missed the opening of the tickets, so a lot of events were sold out so I grabbed what I could even if I didn’t know so much about the events.

Here’s all the events I went to and really enjoyed…

MIF Opening: What is the City but the people? : Thursday 29th July

What Is The City But The People

I actually applied to be one of the people to cross the massive yellow catwalk which was constructed in Piccadilly Gardens. But while applying for it, I received a form asking a ton of questions about my profession. There was about 25 points and I couldn’t say yes to any of them, so I assumed I most likely wouldn’t be selected (rightly or wrongly).

I actually shot a ton of footage for the event, which I won’t lie was incredible. Each and everyone had a fantastic story, from a refugees who have made their way across europe and parts of the middle east, people who have had sex changes, people with chronic diseases, drag queens, teachers, 2 people on a blind date, cyclists, nurses, beekeepers, cake makers, a woman with a new-born baby, Ian Hislop the Architect, Noel from Oasis etc. It was incredible but the two which really got me was the woman who was celebrating her 100th birthday this year; and a man who was raped and in the attack passed HIV. Just incredible and as the screens said, maybe this is just cities – but it is this city.

It really reflected the diversity and of the city in such a great way. It was a real high and well worth watching the video although you couldn’t beat being there. So great it didn’t rain, because that would have ruined everything.

Not related to MIF but after the high of the MIF opening, at the barber the next day. A man walked in without an appointment and when he was offered one with female barber could cut his hair. He refused saying he wanted a male barber. Felt like a bump back from the previous high.

Party skills for the end of the world : Friday 30th June

Party Skills for the end of the world

I had no idea what I had set myself up for. It wasn’t till I saw a poster while taking the tram one day. I knew it was immersive theatre but I had no idea how immersive. So the vague ticket description saying wear suitable shoes had me wondering for a long while.

When I got to the secret venue, my Uber driver was confused and asked if I was in the right place? To be fair I was thinking the same thing too.

Of course I can’t describe all which happened because that would spoil it for others and frankly it would be pretty impossible to do this justice.

So here’s some pictures

Party Skills for the end of the world

It started with a good classic martini or in my case a few (I also made a dirty martini, that was the cloudy martini I had before the alarms went off).

Party Skills for the end of the world

We were moved deeper into the derelict building and then free to try a number of skills to take forward to the end of the world.

Party Skills for the end of the world

At some point more alarms and we were moved quickly through the building. Now I see why suitable shoes are required

Party Skills for the end of the world

Finally we ended up in a big room with a band playing something I imagine Underworld would play at the end of the world.

Party Skills for the end of the world

Then after a speech and blessing we were free to play in a vast building, and play we did till about midnight. I rejected the idea of going to the old pint pot because I had another MIF event at 1030am the next morning.

Party Skills for the end of the world

Interdependance: We need to talk about Power : Saturday 1st July

Interdependence: We Need to Talk about Power

There are so many things to be said about these series of talks and what better place to have them that in the Ancoats Halle, which I have never visited although I can see it from my window. I went along 2 years ago in the old Granada site but these talks were far better and the everything about them was +10 on the previous ones.

Interdependence: We Need to Talk about Power

Seeing Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and David Olusoga together on stage was pretty incredible. Each talking about power from the angle of race. Then when you can’t imagine how it could get better, Bad Language presented Jason Hickel (Writer of the Divide), Andrew O’Hagan and Deanna Rodger.

Interdependence: We Need to Talk about Power

I’ve already made a note to go along to the monthly bad language events, when it doesn’t clash with Volleyball or Werewolf.

MIF tour: Identity and the Fabric of the City : Saturday 1st July

Idenity and the fabirc of the city

After Interdependance in the Ancoats Halle, there was just enough time to head home have breakfast then walk down to Festival Square for a tour of inner Manchester.

My thought was I lived in Manchester for 9 years and still don’t really know much of the history of Manchester (as clearly noticed when going to the Salford Lads club and asking who the man was on the photos? Yeah I know!)

The tour was short but very insightful, as we walked from festival square/albert square to the central library, through St Peters Square, along princess street then china town. Finally we headed to kings street and on to deansgate. Many facts and interesting stories. Will have to go on another one of the tours soon.

Fatherland preview : Monday 3rd July

Fatherland

With my upcoming conversation on BBC Merseyside about the crisis of masculinity. I got a ticket and wasn’t quite sure what to expect; but what I got was quite a surprise and a fantastic theater performance in the excellent royal exchange theatre. I was very fortunate to have snatched a 2nd row seat too, giving real impact to everything I was watching unfold.

The play was funny, tragic and held together really well. I saw the preview, so I expect by the time it was out of the preview it would be even tighter than what I saw. I was also shocked to find out that quite a few of the cast were not professionals.

What if Women ruled the world? : Thursday 6th July

What if women ruled the world

This is the one ticket I couldn’t get first time around. I loved the concept and tried my best to blag a ticket. But luckily after seeing the previous MIF events, I went back to the site and found a bunch of tickets had been released. So I instantly snapped up one and pushed my other commitments for that night (sorry residents committee) but it was so worth it.

What if women ruled the world

Like partyskills & fatherland I don’t want to reveal too much although I am finally writing this on the last day of MIF 2017 (I got back from Berlin too late to really go to any of the ending events). We weren’t really allowed to take pictures too, but as soon as it was finished no one was bothered so I grabbed some of the amazing set and what an amazing location to host it (mayfield depot) which is the same place I saw Adam Curtis vs Massive Attack 4 years ago.

What if women ruled the world

The best way of thinking about what if women… as partly theater play and partly serious panel discussion. I’m planning to watch the other ones just to see how different they were from the one I went to.

My only negative to the event was the chairs were pretty sore on the bottom after sitting for so long. At least with Adam Curtis vs Massive Attack you could shift your weight around a little, although I remember that being too long for standing.

Interdependance: We need to talk about Technology : Saturday 8th July

Interdependence: We Need to Talk About Technology
After going to the first interdependence event in the Halle, I decided to grab a ticket for this one as the theme was technology in Stoller Hall (another place I never been to before).

Interdependence: We Need to Talk About Technology

The introduction of the robot from Sheffield University, and the reaction from the panel especially Joanna Bryson who verbalised her reaction as, ahhhh cute but wait why has it got a feminine sounding name? And why is it trying to act like pet? I’m now fighting not to treat it the way you want me to react. It reminded me of the very first time I saw a Aibo (sonys robotic dog, which I later owned) at the ICA in London. Everyone was so besotted by it then a member of the panel walked across the floor and kicked it off the stage. Of course Joanna wasn’t planning on doing this but her reaction turned to slight anger about the robot.

Interdependence: We Need to Talk About Technology

I was also trying to squeeze in more MIF events before going away for a week. I wasn’t wrong, another great series of talks hosted by the Aleks Krotoski. If I didn’t have to rush off to Volleyball to coach, I would have tried to catch up with her and some of the incredible guests.

Interdependence: We Need to Talk About Technology
I was very taken by Birgitta Jónsdóttir (who I heard so much about but never met or seen her live) and Laurie Anderson (who I hadn’t really come across before), who were just fantastic in everything they said. Joanna Bryson in the AI debate was off the hook, certainly someone I want to hear more from in the future.

Interdependence: We Need to Talk About Technology

On reflection, MIF pretty much couldn’t do no wrong. From the start with the decision to put the people of the city front and centre (I kind which I’d filled that form out now) to the amazing contemporary theatre productions. From deep note taking conversations in great spaces to immersive experiences in derelict buildings.

I was explaining to my sister how incredibly wonderful MIF is and why she should make the trip up to Manchester in 2 years time for MIF 2019. I said this while having dinner at the London Barbican after going to the into the unknown exhibit, which I was looking forward to.

I was deeply disappointed as I didn’t even get see the black mirror exhibit (they turned it off 5mins before the end and I went and visited everything else (theres 3 parts) before being told the exhibit is actually in the public lobby. To say I was peed off was an underestimation. From what I can see of the long turned off screen in the lobby, it would play visions of the black mirror universe.

My thoughts of a box with advertising surrounding you like 15 million merits, where the screens would pause and play a high pitch noise till you look again, certainly was over-thought. I guess? Maybe a suggestion for 2 years from now, as I can imagine creating this for MIF 2019 using existing technology.

I said it before but the MIF (Manchester International Festival) was one of those things which makes me very happy that I moved to Manchester. Yes could do the same in other cities but the size and culture of Manchester makes it seem like the ideal match. If you haven’t been before, mark it down in your calendar for 2 years time!

What a excellent 9 days! Just excellent!

Mobiking in Manchester my first experience of bike sharing

Mobike in Manchester

Mobike came to Manchester on Thursday and I decided to try it out after seeing them next to the MediaCityUK stop.

My scooter was having a service and I was at various MIF 2017 events, so I gave it a try on Saturday afternoon between events (long MIF2017 blog coming soon).

Generally it pretty painless, install the Mobike app (make sure you get the right one!), pay a one time deposit of £29 (which is refundable at anytime) then point your phone at a bike’s QR code; moments later it will unlock and you can ride it. It costs 50p for 30mins of ride time.

It’s not bad but the app feels badly skinned with english, there’s still chinese language bits and paying the deposit could be a lot simpler. Theres also more evidence of its chinese  legacy with the share options only being wechat, qq, qzone and sina weibo. No sharing with fb, twitter, g+, etc…

The apps refreshes and shows the bikes near you, which is useful. I did have a serious problem with the app’s permissions which only really needs your location and camera for the QR code reading. thankfully Android 6+ can change the permissions and my app works fine with just those 2 turned on.

The bikes themselves are ok if you are going a short distance but for example I rode 1km which also included a few small hills. The hills were killer as the bikes have no gears and are not very comfortable but practical. The little basket is useful for small things but I kept my laptop bag on my back and put my summer coat in the basket. I didn’t fancy waiting at the lights and someone grabbing my laptop bag.

Honestly I didn’t enjoy riding the bike on the road, on the pavement it handled a lot better. There is no suspicion and the wheels pass every bump straight into your arms and legs. So I stuck to riding on the pavement and canal towpath’s.

When you are finished, you simply lock the bike with the built-in lock and walk away. Simple…

However I didn’t know this at the start but there is a whole system/scheme/behaviour mobikes users have to sign up to.

What are Mobike Credits?

Mobike’s mission is to provide an economical, environmental friendly mode of transportation using innovation and technology. To achieve our mission, we encourage proper usage and do not tolerate misuse and inappropriate behavior. Below are the Credit Points Guidelines:

Each new user will be entitled 100 Credit Points and is able to hold a maximum of 10,000 points and a minimum of 0 points. Higher credit points indicate proper usage and good conduct whereas low credit points indicate misuse and inappropriate usage.

Having low credit points will affect the fare for your trips. When your Credit Points are 80 or lower, the fares for usage will be $100 per 30 mins. (You will be awarded 100 Mobike credits upon registration. For more information on Mobike Credit Point Deduction, refer to “My Mobike Credits”)

All credit point deduction can be found under “My Account” -> “My Mobike Credits” -> ”Deductions”. If there was an error in your credit points deduction, please report the error at the lower right corner of the App.

Gain Credit
Each ride +1
Report broken bike +1
Report incorrect parking +1
Using another user’s invitation code when registering +1
Successfully invite a friend to use Mobike +1
Lose Credit
Park in a compound -20
Abandoning the bike when intercepted by police -50
Forget to lock, but eventually retrieve the bike Reduce to 0
Use a private lock Reduce to 0
Forget to lock and bike is lost Reduce to 0
Illegally transporting the bike Reduce to 0

The interesting part is you can earn credits by reporting other uses who have broken a rules, like parking the bike where it blocks the public walk way.

Help others find where you last park

On the trip summary page, you can upload a picture of where you parked the bike and a comment, to make it easier for the next user to find the bike. If you indeed help the next user to find it, they’ll have the chance to validate your information and you’ll get an extra 2 Mobike Credits!

Report bad parking practices
If you see any illegal or poorly parked Mobike, please send us feedback and you will be rewarded with Mobike Credits. To report, you can click the “!” icon in the bottom right corner, click on the “wrong park” button and send your feedback! Please do remember to include the bike number in your feedback.

Of course, I can just imagine how this is going to turn slightly nasty and influence the way people use the service. It’s also not clear how far you can take the bike, not that you would want to ride it to the Airport, and carrying it on the tram would break the rules and leave you with no credits.

I didn’t upload my picture to share with the next person, so I guess some sad person could realistically report it as badly parked? (Although its been moved since!) Be good to retrospectively add a photo too.

The weird thing is, since the mobike is still outside the flats and I keep seeing people messing with it, I keep thinking maybe I should ride it back to somewhere else? Almost feels like my bike and I’m still responsible for it as such… Theres another one by New Islington tram stop, and I did consider parking my bike next to that one. Of course if I did, that would start the money timer again!

Between riding my scooter, catching ubers, walking, taking the tram and skateboarding; it’s closer to skateboarding,. The big advantage is not having to carry it around afterwards, especially if it suddenly rains (its Manchester, so this always happens)! It’s a in-between-er for trams and buses. You could walk, but walking will be slower. Uber will be costly and traffic can be a killer in Manchester. Also as its still new, the chances are, you can easily pick up the same bike when you want to head back.

Generally I think its good for short journeys. Its convent but I would hate to ride those bikes in the rain or any distance over 1km. I do wonder when they will get hacked and how Mobike will deal with that, can imagine some man in the middle attacks already.

My first LED diabolo in darkness test

Since the Firejam 2 weeks ago, I’ve been getting more into the diabolo with lights or even fire thing. Today I hit the garden to try out the LED kit on my old diabolo. The results are not bad, but it’s not quite what I was after. I’d like to see more blur with the diabolo moves really but I guess I can do this in post if I like.

Added some music and uploaded to youtube. Of course Youtube doesn’t like the music and theres a flickr version too incase youtube removes it from different regions.

I shot the whole thing on my Nikon D3200 using the standard kit lens, manual settings and gorillapod. Next time I’ll mess with the settings and try it during dusk, because then at least you can see what I’m up to and I can see what the heck I’m actually doing!

Fun times ahead!

Especially as I’m starting to crack the Vertex!

Fire, night and a diabolo, what could go wrong?

Jamming with a LED diabolo - Photo credit Ian Wilson
Thanks to Ian Wilson for capturing this one of me

On Saturday night I finally got myself down to the castlefield arena to join the firejam. I’ve had a diabolo LED kit for a while but never actually installed it to any of my diabolos before. After much work, I got half of one added to my Sundia diabolo and joined the mainly fire poi people down at the arena.

Sundia diabolo with half a LED kit

I was amazed at the fire especially with a DSLR camera, I mean the LED is impressive but fire just looks incredible.

Firejamming

My pictures don’t do it justice but I’m seriously considering getting a fire diabolo. I did try it once and of course it requires special strings and a special diabolo but I got a feeling it would be so much fun. Looking forward to the next Firejam already…

St Anne’s square, Manchester remembers

Manchester remembers Monday 22nd May

I spent some time in St Anne’s Square to pay my respects and remember what happened almost a week ago. I had thought about waiting till tomorrow but I imagine tomorrow evening/night will be a critical time for loved ones and those much closer physically/mentally.

We stand together, manchester

Of course they have the support of Manchester and the whole world, but the grieving process takes time and can’t be rushed, even with the best will in the world. No one will be forgotten, same as 10 years since 7/7 myself like many others still remember.

Manchester Arena bombing 22 May 2017

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.

A real, honest sincere thank you Manchester

I wrote about the Manchester Arena bombing on Monday night and how I personally been dealing with things. Of course I wasn’t directly affected and I guess its not hit me as hard partly because although it wasn’t far away, I’ve tried not to keep looking at the news and social media. Well actually I’m limiting my sources and general browsing.

Everyone deals with tragic circumstances differently and its important to seek out what helps and be open to it.

This is why I love Dan Hett’s piece in the MEN about the last 48hrs after trying to find out what happened to his brother. I call it real, honest and fitting.

I know a lot of people want some level of privacy during this type of thing but I think the manner in which Martyn lived, he was such a known figure, it’s quite fitting to who he was.

I hate going into clichés but Martyn just had this completely unstoppable lust for life, it was unbelievable. He was the most memorable character you could conceive of. Annoying as f*** all day but just the most memorable guy.

Rest in peace to everyone who died on Monday night, young, old, no matter what religion, ethnic background, sex or sexual preference. Everyone deserves to live life because life is so finite. Tragic attacks like this is a reminder of this and reminder to each one of us all.

Charity Speed Dating – Monday 12th June

Let's Talk About Sex

A friend from work is arranging a charity speed dating event in Manchester… yes, charity & speed dating… if you are single, whats not to like about this?

Tickets are only £14 for a night too. Oliva is after 15 men and 15 women (its a straight event) and good on TV21 for giving Oliva their room free for the night too.

Join the event and you will spend the evening meeting and talking to up to 15 different people three minutes at a time. All the proceedings go to ICS and the venue is booked for the whole evening so once the main event is over there is nothing to stop you from getting to know that special someone a little bit more.

 

The Manchester Arena bombing – Mon 22nd May

Manchester before the arena bomb
Only a few hours before darkness and the Manchester Arena bombing

Its a difficult time being in Manchester at the moment. This time yesterday (Monday 22nd May) there were sirens, helicopters and a general unknowing. I had not heard the bomb blast, as I live quite far away (25mins walk) but can see the area of Victoria from my windows. I was also catching up with Supergirl, so maybe the bang was mixed in with the sound from that.

It was my wonder why there was so many sirens which led me to look at Facebook and Twitter. Before long it was clear something terrible had happened in the Victoria area. Then it became clear it was the Manchester Arena, somewhere I had visited on Thursday (Manchester after hours) & Friday (Silicon drinkabout) last week.

It was clear there were a lot of people and children shocked, hurt and at a lost to what they had seen and experienced. A lot had no way of getting home and just needed to be reconnected with loved ones. There were people posting they had spare rooms, and I really considered doing the same but decided I should go and help out if possible.  However, Greater Manchester police’s twitter account told us in no certain terms, stay away and stay safe, this was now a live crime scene.

I stayed up till about 2am, as unconfirmed reports flew in from social media and some news outlets. Although I wanted to stay up longer, I decided this would not be a good idea. So I sent my parents a message saying when they wake up don’t worry I’m fine (which they never saw till they contacted me this morning). Posted a few tweets and went to bed.

I was in London during the 7/7 bombings and experienced similar emotions of not knowing and listening out for more/any-news. It was a terrible time and I think the watching and waiting made things far worst. Its too easy to watch the news and be in a state of panic each time you see the breaking news banner. Or read something someones posted.

This is why the next day, although keeping a slight eye on what happened, I went to work and tried to carry on with my life as best I could. I know Manchester is no stranger to bombings but I felt it was ever so important to try and keep some normality, as thats exactly what the bomber was trying to disrupt.

Of course my heart goes out to everyone involved or loved ones who are still not found like friend Dan Hett.

But you really see the dark side of organisations, politics and religon in these moments.

But of course these out weighted by moments of absolute joy and delight by a factor of 10.

I believe Manchester, like London, like Paris, like many others… won’t let these acts take over our way of life and I’m very happy to be part of a city who come together when it matters the most.

I have hope people missing will be found, hopefully alive and well. We will not fall down the path

My highlights of TedxManchester 2017

TedXManchester 2017

I had the joy of being one of many in the main theatre in Home for TedXManchester 2017 (number 5 I believe?). Once again arranged and produced by the incredible serial successful event organiser Herb Kim and the thinking digital team, with a varied range of people plucked for their interesting stories, projects or surrounding concepts. I got my ticket late because the first lot sold out in under an hour! But I was very lucky and looked forward to the line up without really looking into each speaker.

Of course last year was special to me, as I took to the stage to tell the tales of dating in the new millenium with dating against humanity. But it’s always interesting to sit in the crowd and experience the whole thing as an audience member.

The whole event was good but here are the talks which really stood out for me.

Mr Bingo

TedXManchester 2017

I had no idea who Mr Bingo was or what he had done, till he took the stage. He is just a funny guy who does funny things with analogue media; like drawing extremely rude things on cards and posting it to people who request them. I mean he’s trolling them but only because they requested to be trolled. Sounds like self abuse almost?

Its weird but I thought the whole thing was hysterical. I took a shot of one of his cards and been getting a little attention for it, can’t think why? (pleads innocence but of course I know why!)

Sophie Scott

TedXManchester 2017

There was a host of things Sophie said which was fascinating, but the bit which stuck for me was the detail about our attention and our voice. She told us when we talk our brain turns off the listening part. I’m sure this isn’t strictly true but an interesting thought, specially when thinking about how we hate hearing our own voices and why certainly people tend not to realise others are making points too.

She then went on to suggest our voices are wired for much more than just communication, using beatboxing as the ideal example of our voices as instruments.

Lots to take away and well delivered…

Jennifer Arcuri

TedXManchester 2017

There is little I can say about Jennifer which I haven’t already said about her at the last Thinking Digital Manchester. She talked passionately about hacker culture and how important knowledge was in the internet connected world we inhabit. Always a pleasure and wish I could make it to the first HackerHouse/Madlab course in March.

Jonathan Kay

TedXManchester 2017

Jonathan was a weird one and divided people from what I heard in the break later. He started his talk/act at the back of the stalls by heckling Herb as he gave his introduction. Then moved forward to the stage followed by a remote camera person, so people in the upper levels could see what on earth was going on.

His aim of the act was to get the audience to speak to each other and heck even touch each other (I know shock horror!). Ok at one point he did suggest kissing the person next to us but that didn’t go down so well. It was entertaining and the bigger point of actually talking to the people around us, wasn’t lost on myself and others.

What really brough the whole thing home to me, was the fact a friend sat in the seat next to me was feeling extremely uncomfortable about the act and wondered if someone would be picked out of the audience; because that would be terrifying. Thinking back to Carrie Green in TedxManchester3 and I said would it be so bad?

I think the point was made…

Helen Czerski

TedXManchester 2017

I have heard Helen a few times at previous Thinking Digital’s and honestly every time I hear her talk, she just oozes wonder and excitement for science and the universe. You can’t help but feel excited when she talks. Always enlightening and always reignited my interest in sciences.

Michelle McGagh

TedXManchester 2017

I don’t know what to say about Michelle, except wow and wtf! basically Michelle decided not to buy anything for a year. She did point out buy nothing day which is the same day as black friday; but one day is easy right? Why not spend nothing year?

This really got me going because she made very good points about our quick fix consumer culture and the logical conclusion of this all. But unlike the a preachy lecture about how bad we all were, she put herself through a year of trying to live it.

The results were funny and sometimes tragic. I’m not very frugal at all but I typically don’t spend much money on buying stuff. Tend to spend more on experiences and doing things. But recently I made the decision that if was getting old or causing too much effort to keep it going, I should trade it in earlier than later. I’ve spent too much time, fighting to keep things going when I should have just got rid of it and moved on.

So to hear someone actively trying to not to spend anything, and not because she couldn’t afford it – was a little shocking. The full extend of her frugaleness was quite something and reminded me of when I left the hospital almost 7 years ago and seeing my bank balance, because I simply had not spent a single penny except paid my usual bills etc; It was amazing… Maybe there was something to it, I thought as she left the stage.

Andy Burnham

TedXManchester 2017

It was a surprise to see Andy Burnham on the TEDx line up, knowing how TED doesn’t like politic talks, but I have to say although he spoke with passion and made some good points. I couldn’t help but feel the us and them argument a little too simplistic. Centralised power does have a tendencancy to turn corrupt but there is also some good things about it too. If I was talking to Andy directly, I would point to examples like the states, where each state can pretty much set their own rules but the united states system can over rule them; and in some cases thank goodness otherwise slavery, marital rape, etc would still be enforced (although then you get crap like the bathroom nonsense, with the centralised power making backwards decisions).

I also think Andy a few times pointed the finger at the south vs the north, when what he really meant is the country vs westminster. Anyway it was interesting and good to hear, even if I’m not certain on everything said.

Dan Machen

TedXManchester 2017

I liked Dan’s talk, it was a number of things I’ve been thinking a lot about. Attention and Intimacy. I was surprised he never mentioned Sherry Turkle but the quote from William Bernbach was a good place to hand a lot of thoughts. I had never actually checked out Tristan harris, but after Dan’s talk I had a deeper look at him.

Very interesting stuff which I agree about quite a bit (expect a longer blog about him soon). I’ve also been thinking about people not platforms, putting more emphasis on human time and less on productivity. It’s all very interesting in the face of machine learning and AI; I can feel the quantified self/movement (they are quite different) right in the middle of all this, along with data ethics.

Back back to Dan’s talk, I did find the point about the smartphone being a hammer and would we take our hammer out in a meeting? Put it on the table? Interesting… To be fair when he talked about it, I did picture the business card scene from American Psycho, when he mentioned the hammer on the table.

Lots to take away and think about…

TedXManchester 2017

Of course there was plenty more good talks including Isaiah HullVolker HirschSquirrel NationTash Willcocks and Ukebox; which made the ukulele actually interesting. The only one I didn’t enjoy was Nic Cary from Blockchain, which actually has made me want to move my bitcoins from my blockchain wallet to somewhere else. I was actually thinking maybe its time to have my own personal offline wallet?

Another TEDxManchester with plenty to think about and another high bar for TEDx’s to try to achieve, well done to everyone involved.

M14 impresses all the dragons in their den

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I have to give a massive congrats to John Kershaw from M14 industries, who took the previoulsy mentioned Bristlr app from niche dating to hosted matching platform (very much selling shovles during a goldrush). Yesterday he appeared on the BBC’s Dragons Den and struck a great deal with Peter and Nick for a reasonable percentage of the business.

Of course John had a viewing party with friends, investers and family. Its season 14 episode 15 if you are looking for it.

John’s written his thoughts up here.

Before Nick showed his hand, and it was looking like I might get investment from all five dragons simultaneously, I started to internally panic. This isn’t how this happens.

After all the Dragons had given their offers, I knew I’d have to go with Nick and Peter; they have the experience and if they’re not willing to share, I don’t have much choice.

And it’s at this point where an interesting thing happens: I forgot everyone’s names.

Certainly another great story for Manchester’s Startup community and the early investors who saw the potential of M14 industries early on. I personally was always impressed with John and although we sometimes disagreed about what should be next on the task list, its great to get the validation that it wasn’t just a silly app!

I won 2nd prize at #Smutslam Manchester

I already wrote about smutslam manchester  and how I thought it was a fun idea. So I went along (alone, due to friends dropping out for various reasons).

I had no intention of talking, but Cameryn and helpers really put me at ease. I looked at the form with my drink in hand on the top floor of the kings arms in Salford. People were encouraged to fill in a question for Cameryn’s fcukbucket, which she would pull out during event.

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So I thought about it and asked Cameryn if the story had to end in a sexual manner? She said no, real life isn’t like that! Perfect answer, so I put my name in the “Smut slammers” glass.

The evening really started with a bang, Cameryn gave a entertaining talk about a sexual experience on a british train. Then explained the rules to be very clear. The evening move forward with talks by different people but what surprised me was having my name read out right before the break.

I was quite shocked even though I had only put it in the glass about 30mins before. I thought about a couple story’s but I remember Ross saying how good the disabled toilet incident story was (haven’t posted this one). It was fun but a little nerve racking with no slides or notes. I just talked and removed the less important details.

Like the other storys, I’m not going into details I can never do them justice, you needed to be there… Some were tragic, some hysterical, but all true and told from the heart. I described mine as somewhat Adrian Mole, which was picked up by a woman after the break. She told a story of a missed opportunity too.

In the second half, four more storys were told including the winner which was closely tragic and full of thought. The whole room was gripped by the story.

By the time the judges had decided, I was very convinced my story wasn’t going to be in the top 3. It was annouced there was a tie for 3rd place, then the lady who also described her story as like Adrian Mole with another man. Still thinking, I know who would be 1st and a idea who might be 2nd, I was gobsmacked when my name was announced as 2nd.

I was simply blown away, especially since there was some great well told stories and mine was much closer to rating 15 rather than 18.

The prizes were sex toys and the overall winner picked something which I couldn’t really described easily (I think its something for the very sexually mature I assume). I choose the purple vibrator, thinking it might be a nice gift for one of my female friends.

Vibrator

The whole event was fun, cheerful and I felt extremely welcome. I had thought it might be heavily kinky but it wasn’t, it was both kink and vanilla (I picked that up from what some people were saying on the night). Its going to run every month now and theres going to be monthly events in Manchester, London, Brighton, Bristol and Edinburgh.

Honestly it was a fantastic evening and so glad I went along, highly recommended for a good times, good atmosphere and good stories. Thanks to Cameryn, the judges and the whole team which made it happen.

Worth saying Cameryn is looking for a more accessible venue and a local sex toy supplier.

Smut slamming stuff in Manchester

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It was through Girl on the net’s blog that I first heard about #Smutslam.

I checked it out and thought it was a great idea, especially since I’ve wanted to go to a Moth live and more #nsfw Risk live events. Both are fancinating insight into the richness of life and human connections.

… the idea is that people put their names down to tell one short (less than 5 minute) story from their sexual past, and then eight to ten names are drawn at random. If you’re picked, you go up on stage to tell your story, and then there are prizes and fun and all the good stuff. You don’t have to tell a story, though – if you’re shy you can just sit in the audience and enjoy listening to other people’s.

I checked out the London one and wrote a task to consider running one in Manchester, as I think its a great idea and theres plenty of interesting stories I’ve heard from others. But when looking into it over brunch in Ezra & Gil, I saw there is a Manchester one already setup.

In actual fact, Cameryn Moore, the “award-winning playwright/performer, sex activist and educator, and former phone sex operator.” is relocating from Montreal to Manchester, so I look forward to more of this. Certainly makes GeeksTalkSexy and Relationships 2.0 seem like a PG-13 movie.

I’m certainly going to check one out, I won’t be putting anything in the pot but listening and enjoying the evening.

Anyone want to join me?