​Cambridge analytica: The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda

cambridgeanalytica

I’ve been studying this area for a long while; when I talk about perceptive media people always ask how this would work for news?  I mean manipulate of feelings and what you see, can be used for good and obviously for very bad! Dare I say those words… Fake news?

Its always given me a slightly unsure feeling to be fair but there is a lot I see which gives me that feeling. In my heart of hearts, I kinda wish it wasn’t possible but wishing it so, won’t make it so.

It was Si lumb who first connected me with the facts behind the theory of what a system like perceptive media could be ultimately capable of. Its funny because many people laughed when I first talked about working with perceptiv whose mobile app under pinned the data source for visual perceptive media; I mean how can it build a profile about who I was in minutes from my music collection?

I was skeptical of course but the question always lingered. With enough data in a short time frame, could you know enough about someone to gage their general personality? And of course change the media they are consuming to reflect, reject or even nudge?

According to what I’ve read and seen in the following pieces about Cambridge analytics, the answer is yes! I included some key quotes I found interesting

The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine

Remarkably reliable deductions could be drawn from simple online actions. For example, men who “liked” the cosmetics brand MAC were slightly more likely to be gay; one of the best indicators for heterosexuality was “liking” Wu-Tang Clan. Followers of Lady Gaga were most probably extroverts, while those who “liked” philosophy tended to be introverts. While each piece of such information is too weak to produce a reliable prediction, when tens, hundreds, or thousands of individual data points are combined, the resulting predictions become really accurate.
Kosinski and his team tirelessly refined their models. In 2012, Kosinski proved that on the basis of an average of 68 Facebook “likes” by a user, it was possible to predict their skin color (with 95 percent accuracy), their sexual orientation (88 percent accuracy), and their affiliation to the Democratic or Republican party (85 percent). But it didn’t stop there. Intelligence, religious affiliation, as well as alcohol, cigarette and drug use, could all be determined. From the data it was even possible to deduce whether deduce whether someone’s parents were divorced.

Some insight into the connection between Dr. Michal Kosinski and Cambridge Analytica

Any company can aggregate and purchase big data, but Cambridge Analytica has developed a model to translate that data into a personality profile used to predict, then ultimately change your behavior. That model itself was developed by paying a Cambridge psychology professor to copy the groundbreaking original research of his colleague through questionable methods that violated Amazon’s Terms of Service. Based on its origins, Cambridge Analytica appears ready to capture and buy whatever data it needs to accomplish its ends.

In 2013, Dr. Michal Kosinski, then a PhD. candidate at the University of Cambridge’s Psychometrics Center, released a groundbreaking study announcing a new model he and his colleagues had spent years developing. By correlating subjects’ Facebook Likes with their OCEAN scores

What they did with that rich data. Dark postings!

Dark posts were also used to depress voter turnout among key groups of democratic voters. “In this election, dark posts were used to try to suppress the African-American vote,” wrote journalist and Open Society fellow McKenzie Funk in a New York Times editorial. “According to Bloomberg, the Trump campaign sent ads reminding certain selected black voters of Hillary Clinton’s infamous ‘super predator’ line. It targeted Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood with messages about the Clinton Foundation’s troubles in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.’”

Because dark posts are only visible to the targeted users, there’s no way for anyone outside of Analytica or the Trump campaign to track the content of these ads. In this case, there was no SEC oversight, no public scrutiny of Trump’s attack ads. Just the rapid-eye-movement of millions of individual users scanning their Facebook feeds.

In the weeks leading up to a final vote, a campaign could launch a $10–100 million dark post campaign targeting just a few million voters in swing districts and no one would know. This may be where future ‘black-swan’ election upsets are born.

“These companies,” Moore says, “have found a way of transgressing 150 years of legislation that we’ve developed to make elections fair and open.”

The Data That Turned the World Upside Down

When it was announced in June 2016 that Trump had hired Cambridge Analytica, the establishment in Washington just turned up their noses. Foreign dudes in tailor-made suits who don’t understand the country and its people? Seriously?

“It is my privilege to speak to you today about the power of Big Data and psychographics in the electoral process.” The logo of Cambridge Analytica— a brain composed of network nodes, like a map, appears behind Alexander Nix. “Only 18 months ago, Senator Cruz was one of the less popular candidates,” explains the blonde man in a cut-glass British accent, which puts Americans on edge the same way that a standard German accent can unsettle Swiss people. “Less than 40 percent of the population had heard of him,” another slide says. Cambridge Analytica had become involved in the US election campaign almost two years earlier, initially as a consultant for Republicans Ben Carson and Ted Cruz. Cruz—and later Trump—was funded primarily by the secretive US software billionaire Robert Mercer who, along with his daughter Rebekah, is reported to be the largest investor in Cambridge Analytica.

Revealed: how US billionaire helped to back Brexit

The US billionaire who helped bankroll Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency played a key role in the campaign for Britain to leave the EU, the Observer has learned.

It has emerged that Robert Mercer, a hedge-fund billionaire, who helped to finance the Trump campaign and who was revealed this weekend as one of the owners of the rightwing Breitbart News Network, is a long-time friend of Nigel Farage. He directed his data analytics firm to provide expert advice to the Leave campaign on how to target swing voters via Facebook – a donation of services that was not declared to the electoral commission.

Cambridge Analytica, an offshoot of a British company, SCL Group, which has 25 years’ experience in military disinformation campaigns and “election management”, claims to use cutting-edge technology to build intimate psychometric profiles of voters to find and target their emotional triggers. Trump’s team paid the firm more than $6m (£4.8m) to target swing voters, and it has now emerged that Mercer also introduced the firm – in which he has a major stake – to Farage.

Some more detail as we know from the other posts previously

Until now, however, it was not known that Mercer had explicitly tried to influence the outcome of the referendum. Drawing on Cambridge Analytica’s advice, Leave.eu built up a huge database of supporters creating detailed profiles of their lives through open-source data it harvested via Facebook. The campaign then sent thousands of different versions of advertisements to people depending on what it had learned of their personalities.

A leading expert on the impact of technology on elections called the relevation “extremely disturbing and quite sinister”. Martin Moore, of King’s College London, said that “undisclosed support-in-kind is extremely troubling. It undermines the whole basis of our electoral system, that we should have a level playing field”.

But details of how people were being targeted with this technology raised more serious questions, he said. “We have no idea what people were being shown or not, which makes it frankly sinister. Maybe it wasn’t, but we have no way of knowing. There is no possibility of public scrutiny. I find this extremely worrying and disturbing.”

There is so much to say about all this and frankly its easy to be angry. But like Perceptive Media, it started off out of the academic sector. Someone took the idea and twisted it for no good. Is that a reason why we shouldn’t proceed forward with such research? I don’t think so…

Pokemon Go: Return of the ARG?

Looking out my window watching small groups of people playing Pokemon Go and listening to yet another podcast talking about it. I started thinking does the mainstream success of Pokemon Go, indicate it would be time for alternative reality gaming (ARG) to make a come back?

I mean there’s been a whole ton of successful ARGs in the past and the dynamics got watered/broken down into transmedia (which isn’t meant in disrespect, but a must read from Dan Hon); but they are quite different beasts (pun intended). Looking back at previous ARGs they didn’t take advantage of mobile. Mobile data was expensive and was quite unreliable back in the early days. This is before you even look at many of the other things mobile can give you.

Of course there’s a lot of debate if Pokemon Go is augmented realty or location based gaming. The later would put it in the same ball park of Google’s Ingress and many others. But does it matter? There will always be privacy concerns (here’s a fix for those early adopters) and those who seek to take advantage for their own gain; but it’s certainly getting people out and about, for now at least.

If I was to design a ARG say for example We Dream The City (swear I wrote about it somewhere, but maybe I haven’t yet? findery.com is close);  I would be using the phone and building in functionality which brings groups together into little adhoc clouds like Firechat. Pokemon go shows there is appetite for these types of games and the technology can scale to this extent. Now’s a good time to build these systems and hopefully think about what useful things we could do for local community and society, not just collecting virtual goods?

Nexus 5 with that X factor

Nexus 5x

My Nexus 5 which I have still but developed a problem a little while ago needed replacing. With that I decided the Nexus 5x makes the most sense and tried to get one over the holiday period. The Google Play Store had a discount, but there was a problem with the store and I missed out on the discount.

However, I was walking along Tottenham Court Road in London last week and saw Google had a special display in Currys. Funny enough the price they were selling it at was the same as the discounted price. I double checked the price on the Play store and it was still higher. So I bought it in store with additional bits thrown in, including a new Google Cardboard, £50 curry gift card and a android badge (yeah I know, not my thing either).

OnePlus 2

It was a reasonable deal but it was frustrating that I couldn’t buy a USB C cable in the Currys store. This was even more painful when I finally got the phone back to the hotel and found it was USB C on both ends, meaning I could only use the wall charger it come with. Could I find another USB C to USB A cable anywhere on Totternham Court Road or Oxford Street? Could I heck. Luckily I ordered cables and USB Micro to USB C from Amazon over the Holidays, so once I got back to Manchester I could use those.

It did remind me of when my HTC One X came with MicroUSB not MiniUSB. I would ask in shops and they would bring out MiniUSB or look at me with a question mark in their heads. I’m just very surprise Currys would sell the Nexus5X and not even supply accessories.

Advice for google, insist there is accessories and cases alongside a place you sell the phones!

Nexus5X_3

Ok so my thoughts about the actual phone.

Its good! But I really miss not having MicroUSB and having to replace a ton of my cables. I also haven’t seen the benefit of USB C (yet!) yes its reversable but without my MicroUSB adapter, I felt like a iPhone user, asking for some insane cable.

The actual phones construct is similar to the Nexus 5 in feel but looks like a Moto G with dual stereo speakers. Its also a tiny bit bigger at 5.2 inches with the headphone jack at the bottom instead of the top. I won’t lie the phone is big but not like the Nexus 6P, so it just about fits in one of man hands. It is a stretch to reach the top but with all the buttons on the side theres less need to do so.

Google Nexus 5X

The finger print sensor is actually in the right place. I heard elsewhere the Moto G’s area on the back was meant to be a finger sensor, and the finger does hover there all the time. You can also train the finger sensor at different angles, positions and fingers. I think you can do up to 10 configurations and the phone will unlock and turn on once its accepted. The nice thing is you can still apply other methods, such as smart lock, pattern and many other method. The time from finger to unlock is in the less than 500ms. Its bloody fast, needs no pressure and is the same quickness as pressing the power button! I keep forgetting its there and going for my lock pattern, its just muscle memory I guess.

The screen resolution has a crazy dots per inch and it really shows. Seeing my old Nexus 5 next to the 5x is quite something. Its like when I bought the new Nexus 7 and put it side by side with the old Nexus 7. There is so much extra space and google has used this space by include another row and column of icons on the home screens. The camera seems pretty good too, but not really played with it much. Surprising detail for low light and a shaky hand in the cold.

London with Nexus 5x
Shot of London from the south bank

On a whole the Nexus 5x is a great phone and I’m glad I waited for it. Now I just need to setup most of the apps again. I’m moving apps like Fitbit, Withings, etc off to my Nexus 7; as I noticed I only really use them when at home.

I’m sure once USB type C is everywhere, I’ll be a lot more happy. Also a shame I’ll have less use for my conductive chargers…

Data, dating apps and the harsh consequences of permissions

Tinder

Angie reminded me of something I forgot to wrote about many months ago. She pointed at BBC’s you and yours programme.

People who use dating apps to meet potential new partners have told You & Yours that they’re concerned about their privacy, after finding that Facebook has gained access to the details of people they’ve been speaking to. The names of people they’ve been matched with on the dating apps are appearing in their “suggested friends” on Facebook. We investigate how social media sites access our personal information and how users give their permission.

Yes, this isn’t new…! Dating apps like Hinge and Tinder use you as a matchmaker without your permission.

If you’ve got a robust Facebook friend list filled with single people who use dating apps like Hinge or Tinder, chances are you’ve appeared as a mutual friend between two different matches.

When your face appears as a link between people, you legitimize their connection. You become a topic of conversation, an “in” to launch a potential relationship.

Even if you don’t use these dating apps yourself, your personal information can still appear, because when your friends started using the apps, they gave the services permission to access their friend lists to display in-network matches.

There’s no way to avoid appearing as a mutual friend unless you unfriend everyone using these dating apps or delete your Facebook account. Even if your friend list is private, you’re still visible to these apps as a friend of a user who opted into sharing that information.

The potential consequences could be discomforting. Let’s say there’s a person on your friend list whom you added years ago and about whom you no longer know anything. If he matches with one of your good friends, she might decide to go on a date with him in part because of your online friendship, which can be misconstrued as approval from her social group.

The fact is Facebook has access to that data and when we install these apps, we are givng permission to them to do what they like with that data. Permissions is something which can add a bandaid to things but its not a permanent solution. I must find the bit in the FB EULA which says it basically snoop on and use the data requested from a 3rd party app. You didn’t think FB was doing it out of the kindness of their cold heart did you? Wake up and smell smoke. Its a harsh reality which I think people are still only just waking up to…. Linked data is still a concept which has really been picked up.

Ambient intimacy the new loneliness?

A few weeks ago I took part in the eye contact experiment in Sheffield. The purpose was to connect with a fellow human being in a way we usually avoid in modern society.

I have already wrote about the use of Mobile technology in Japan and crossed it with the selfie craze. But I have to admit although the selfie/narcissism was bad. There was a low level almost ambient undertone to the silence of people looking at rectangular LCD screen.

Japan is always known as way ahead of the curve. When most of us were still using desktops and laptops to connect the internet, residents of Japan were using their phones. Theres many other examples but I spotted something which deeply worries me. Sherry Turkle’s connected alone was playing out everywhere you went.

I was in the queue for a rollercoaster and 4 guys were standing in silence through out the whole 40-50min queue. There were each transfixed to their phones not uttering a single word till we finally got on the ride and then they were best buds, laughing and chatting away. I saw them again later (the theme park wasn’t that busy and isn’t that big – about the size of Thorpe Park) and it was more of the same.  They may have been playing the same game but together they were alone.

Alone together

Sad as it may be (you could say its part of the Japanese culture, but I’m not so sure), you are seeing more and more of this. And its not just a age thing. The online world can be very seductive and some people forget the offline world for many reasons. Maybe things are difficult there, things are not going so well, they can be somebody else?

Sounds familiar right? Some people have been calling it ambient intimacy, something I heard a lot time ago but hadn’t really stop and thought about.

I  forgot the term, which I saw as the logical conclusion of what I saw in Japan and seeing to a lesser degree here. I first wrote about it when listening to Leisa Reichelt talking at the future of webapps 2007.

This thought catalogue piece sums up quite a bit is the new loneliness

Our generation of sadness and loneliness is of the unchecked variety. Of wallowing. Of letting ourselves be disconnected from both others and ourselves. Learning to soothe more than heal. Learning to put a band-aid on problems instead of working through and solving our problems. If something is not immediate, we don’t want it, even if it’ll make us stronger. We’re not growing as people, not really. We’re shoving away “bad feelings” we don’t want to face by clicking, refreshing, scrolling until we’ve numbed ourselves out enough. It’s addiction.

I was talking to a friend recently and she was telling me about the massive effect grindr is having on the gay men of Manchester. The once vibrant gay village of canal street is now full of hen parties and hetrosexual men chasing them. The gay men so addicted to the new reality of grindr, they don’t waste time meeting/socialising down canal street, when there is a sea of faces and other parts of the body on the comfort of your screen. Of course there is human contact but its short lived, fleeting but also highly charged and very exciting.  If its not, don’t worry theres other fields to go explore and why not?

This is something I talked about during my ragged talk.

In years, decades to come will we see the ambient intimacy the same way as we see smoking now? Or if Adrian Hon is right, eating meat?

I’m confident that in a hundred years, eating meat will be regarded in the negative way we now view racism or sexism – an ugly, demeaning, and unnecessary act. Like smoking, it will simply fall out of fashion because we’ll find better and healthier alternatives, although we’ll still occasionally eat humanely reared-and-killed animals. Note that I still eat meat even though I should know better.

If there was one picture which sums up this slow backlash, it has to be this one… removed.

Removed

As the author says…

The joining of people to devices has been rapid and unalterable. The application of the personal device in daily life has made tasks take less time. Far away places and people feel closer than ever before. Despite the obvious benefits that these advances in technology have contributed to society, the social and physical implications are slowly revealing themselves.

I saw it a while ago but frank reminded me of the picture while we were talking about the eye contact event.

There was a number of talks at Thinking Digital Manchester which strayed deep into this area., including our own workshop.  Authenticity was the word of the moment. Be yourself and talk with a human voice. Something the Cluetrain Manifesto talks a lot about.

I have bounced back and forth and about this whole thing, creating many revisions (62 to be honest) and drafts of this blog post.

Part of me wonders if this is just the new reality and I’m actually just getting old?

Who couldn’t be excited by the new possibilities to be connected to many people at the same time? Jason Silva called itcollapsing geography with cellphone wormholes. However this also pulls us out of the moment (must finish reading Douglas Rushkoff’s Present Shock) creating physical barriers with the people we spending time with. Maybe its the intent or even the lack of intent which is the problem?

Like checking your phone at the table, your subconscious intent is that the current situation isn’t interesting enough to fully engage? Or a sign we feel strangely lonely?  The fear of missing out is a double edged sword, and is a really strong motivator in this all. Then throw in the paradox of choice and you have a recipe for long term problems. This is what I thought when I first heard the term present shock to be honest.

Mozfest Global Village

This was some of the motivation behind a short pathway of two great sessions at Mozfest 2015. Hacking Mental Health: Changing Views in Tech and Happiness in the digital era. (reminds me of  The Practice of Happiness workshop by Bobby Paterson at Thinking Digital 2011). We even ran our own eye contact experiment in the crazy space of Mozfest.

Eye contact at Mozfest Global Village

With all this playing on my mind (and the fact its a link between all the events over the last few weeks)…

I bought a copy of Alone Together and Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. I decided enough with the drafts, I’m putting this thought on hold for a further blog post or maybe a discussion some day?

What happened to Ubuntu Unity across all devices?

Ubuntu devices

Interesting to think about while watching the Microsoft Windows 10 launch… What even happened to the Ubuntu on Android?

Update: A number of friends commented on my blog entry.

Jas finds an engadget entry talking about how the launch will be limited to Europe and the East.

No more Orange Wednesdays

Orange Wednesday say goodbye

EE which is Orange and Tmobile combined recently announced there will be no more Orange Wednesdays from Wednesday 25th Feb 2015.

“Orange Wednesday launched over a decade ago and at its peak was a massive success and an iconic promotion,” the company said in a statement.

“After 10 great years our brand has changed and our customers’ viewing habits have also evolved so it’s time to move on.

Yep I thought so…

Recently cinemas have been offering their own 241 deals on days like Tuesdays and Mondays to boost attendance. O2 tried emulate Orange Wednesday with their own thing.

Although something smells like the cinemas may have wanted more of a cut that originally agreed. I wouldn’t be surprised…

This would also mean (if it still ran) no more Salford Cinema Club.

Firefox OS on a new phone

Firefox OS upgrade

One of the big things which came out of the Mozilla Festival was the brand new Firefox phone, the flame… I heard about it but to own a version was frankly kind of exciting. I believe they gave out about 500 to the people who attended the festival. You also had to be there early on Sunday morning if you wanted one.

Unlike the previous version which was made by Geekphone and was technically a developer edition, this one was closer to 4.75 inches. The build quality had also been upped from the previous one.  When in my pocket, it feels very much like my Nexus 5 but a little less polished. A little frustrating to move the power button to the top instead of the right hand side to match the Nexus 5.

Firefox phones

When you open up the phones back cover (because you can do that, the novelty!) you find not only a micro SD card slot but also 2 sim slots! 2 Sims in Europe, what on earth? How great is that? I can finally buy a crappy sim from another country and still use my number for everything else. I currently have my work sim and a spare pay as you go sim in place. Another thing which surprised me about the phone also was the NFC support. Now that was something I was not expecting at all. Haven’t tested to see if the Bluetooth is 4.0 LE (looks like it maybe 3.0) or not but everything else looks good. It feels like last years chipset, not quite but comparable to my HTC 1X.

Enough about the hardware how does it work? Well I have to say its not bad. Compared to the previous one, its far more quicker and snappy. Its was pretty much what you experienced on the previous phone but quicker and more responsive. I say it was… because recently I got an upgrade pushed through to the next version of Firefox OS. Now its zippy and looks quite a bit different from what Android, iOS and Windows phone are doing.

Firefox OS upgrade

Now the icons are very big and super colourful. To be honest although Iike it, I would reduce the size if it was my only phone. People like Aral will hate the setup process because there are some gotcha’s which still disappoint, but as a whole Mozilla have listened to the critical feedback and tried to improve the user experience a lot.

The biggest problem I find with Firefox OS is the lack of apps. Its frustrating as it should make grabbing parts of websites or services easy (or maybe I’m missing something).  Don’t get me wrong the marketplace has much more that it use to have but its no where near even the Microsoft app store.

That is the one thing holding back Firefox OS. I do believe the web as a platform for development is a good one but the APIs are not there yet. For example I looked at the Web NFC API spec and found this. I’d love to write something to take advantage of it but its still not there for serious use.

I did notice that some of the things like Ubuntu unity webapp stuff does seem to work with the phone too. So I assume it got supported by the W3C? This brings me a bit of joy, because I can write simple stuff which will have utility across Ubuntu and Firefox phone. My hope is since I have Firefox installed on my Android, some of those features will also happen on Android.

As a whole, I like the Firefox phone, it reminds me how important it is to be free of the clutches of the big 5 stacks who hoover up data for their own means and lock you in forever. Firefox OS can be pretty much run like a feature phone if required but there is the ability to sync and have accounts if you so wish. If the flame really is meant to be a 100 dollar phone, its not value for money. I would happily have paid about that for it, as a 2nd phone. Looking forward to the next update… Good work Mozilla.

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.

Do you want to know a secret?

Secret

I have installed the Secret app but everytime I look at it, can’t decide if I should sign up or not.

If you don’t know Secret app

Secret is a mobile app (iOS and finally Android) that allows people to share messages anonymously within their circle of friends, friends of friends, and publicly. It differs from other anonymous sharing apps such as PostSecret and Whisper in that it is intended for sharing primarily with friends, potentially making it more interesting and addictive for people reading the updates wondering if its a friend they know.

The problem I have is, do I trust them to keep my secrets secret? First clue is usually in the Terms of Conditions and Privacy statement.

Looking at the ToC and Privacy, theres nothing insane described but I’m sure when Facebook was first described in the EULA it was all smiles but….

We change these Terms of Service every so often. If we make changes, we will notify you by revising the date at the top of the policy and, in some cases, provide you with additional notice

I imagine after a few months the terms will change and suddenly the secrets are less ummmmm secret?

Finding your partner by smells

In the modern world of dating theres a lot of gimmicks setup to catch the eye of the potential singles market. Everyone knows about the free weekenders online daters get sucked into. But sometimes something seems so far fetched it might actually work…

One such idea a friend had was the idea of picking someone by smell. Now this concept isnt’ actually new. Pheromone parties were all the range a while back.

The get-togethers — which have been held in New York and Los Angeles and are planned for other cities — ask guests to submit a slept-in T-shirt that will be smelled by other participants.

Then, voila! You can pick your partner based on scent, or so the theory goes.

The parties started as an experiment in matchmaking by a California woman weary of online dating, but it turns out they also have a root in science. Researchers have shown that humans can use scent to sort out genetic combinations that could lead to weaker offspring.

The issue my friend thinks is the one dimension of the test. What you need is a range of things to smell and that rating is mapped against others who gave a similar rating.

So say I rated coffee beans (1), vanilla (2) and citrus (3). Then someone else who also rated them in a similar way would get matched with me. Of course the number of items to smell would be something like 10 , 15 or 20.

I know its not a perfect science, but its not much worst than 3mins of speed dating conversation or the hot or not style of dating currently being pushed by the likes of Tinder.

Prays said she’s learned from the experience that while scent is powerful, it isn’t enough to detect a good match.

“Animals have babies and they move on, and that’s what the pheromone party is,” said Prays, who may start including a few pertinent details on the index cards, like a person’s relationship expectations. “The most successful thing about it is, it opens up conversation.”

I did float the idea with the guy behind the speed dating events, and to be honest he did laugh a lot. But even he could be pursued to give it a try in the right conditions. So who knows where this might go?

HTC 1x battery usage!

HTC 1x battery on super low usage

This is another problem I’m currently having with my HTC One X. Its not unique to that phone but frankly right now, it won’t survive half a day without being charged. This is fine when your at work but out and about its a nightmare.

Luckily I have a external battery pack but today I went to Brunch with friends then headed to Volleyball training and games for 5hours. I looked at the phone and it said 14% battery left. By the time I went to Warrington Ikea and drove back the phone was at 6%!

I have already turned off Wifi, Bluetooth, NFC and GPS. Most of the time off the charge, the phone was in my volleyball bag doing nothing. I hadn’t even looked at the screen for a few hours while I played Volleyball. I also set the CPU speed down using a root app to set the CPU down a lot (Max clock Freq – 640Mhz down from 1.2Ghz) so when it is running it shouldn’t be using much CPU.

I’m at a lost what else to do, but I do wonder if Aviate is maybe causing part of the problem, time to switch to the standard launcher?

Day later with some twitter messages, I had some advice from people thinking it could be the phone trying to get a GSM signal. However it wasn’t that I don’t believe if you look at the screenshot at the top. losttourist recommended a application which tells you whats keeping your android awake and therefor killing the battery. I installed it and interestingly…

Eventbrite why you keeping my phone awake

So I deleted Eventbrite and will be monitoring what happens…

In actual fact I’ve gone back to the idea of using my phone for the things I really need and the Nexus 7 for everything. The Nexus 7 has plenty of battery and I generally carry both around.

Phones On Planes Are Inevitable In A Connected World

WiFi on tube

Stowe Boyd makes a good point about the phones on a plane debate which has broken out.

Flying on an airplane is not some weekend escape at a spa where we place hot rocks on our chakras and seek enlightenment. It’s just another mode of transit.

Yes, air travel has gone downhill, like most things in the postnormal. And yes, airlines will exploit this opportunity to gouge another pound of flesh from the meat that waddles on and off their planes. That’s the way things work.

But to hold to some quaint, antiquated notion of peace and quiet in the air is laughable. Airplanes are loud in the first place — 60-90 decibels — so anyone with any sense will bring earplugs, hearing protection earmuffs, or noise cancelling headphones. This is especially true of road warriors, who otherwise can get cumulative hearing loss.

So get over your antiquated, 1970s attitudes about phones on planes. In a connected world, people will naturally use whatever technologies they can to remain connected: their livelihoods and relationships are at stake.

Just like wifi on public transport…

I don’t really like the idea of people yammering away on phones while on public transport but we got use to it and found ways around the noise. Sometimes we put headphones on, sometimes we tell people to stfu. Frankly we will deal with it because being connected for many of us is not just a nicety, but a must. And unfortunately that does mean dealing with idiots who shout down a phone.

Cyanogenmod on the playstore, Yeah!

Cyanogenmod

I knew there was a push to make installing custom rom Cyanogen easier to install but I didn’t know they had already gone this far… Thanks to Chris for bring it to my attention

Two months after raising $7 million to build a better version of Android, CyanogenModhas released a one-click installer to put its custom firmware on your Android device. Installation requires the phone to be tethered to a Windows PC via a USB cable. A companion PC app will be released later today as a free download. “Our goal for the installer has always been to allow more users to experience the benefits of CyanogenMod, without the hassles of technical guides and concerns associated with the process,”

So I look forward to Linux support real soon? And you got to love the FAQ

  • Do I need to root my phone before installing?
    • No. You can have a rooted phone, or not. The installer doesn’t care.
  • Do I need to unlock my bootloader first?
    • No, you don’t. If your bootloader is locked, we’ll unlock it for you.
  • Can I install if I’m running a custom ROM?
    • Provided the installer can identify your phone correctly, it doesn’t matter which ROM you’re running.

And I was just thinking about rooting my HTC 1X to join my Samsung Galaxy Tab 7+ on Android 4.2.1. Now I don’t need to bother. Excellent news!