Part of the reason I don’t watch much TV news

While major news networks have struggled to figure out the right way to cover the Trump administration, political satirists like Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, and Seth Meyers have demonstrated why comedy can be such a powerful antidote to bullshit.

I was thinking the other day, I don’t really watch much TV news. Ok I don’t watch any live TV anyway but News would be very low in that tiny percentage.

However I do watch a lot of Comedy news from last week tonight, the daily show, realtime with bill maher, etc. That backed with reading news from credible news sites makes up most of my news. News sources which take a longer view on things, rather than whats happening right now.

Boris Brexit Bus
I will never forget the Boris Brexit Bus

The nonsense from our politicians is alarming and theres only a certain amount I can personally take. The only way to cope is to laugh at how stupid the whole system is and not breath in too much of it.

I guess because of this I sleep pretty well at night (especially with my new hours) I certainly don’t do the  doom scroll thing, worrying about what I saw on the news.

Government says stay in doors, how I make it work

Working from home
Me on my Dell XPS with that hinge camera

As the UK tonight goes into police lockdown, I reflect on staying in my flat.

I have been working at home since last week Tuesday, a few days after most of my colleagues at BBC R&D. Like most of the country/world who could work from home, we work from home in the middle of Covid-19 pandemic.

For a lot of people working from home is very challenging, for a number of reasons including having kids, job which requires access to specialist equipment, trying to separate work and personal life for a long time. Theres also the mental, social and physical health sides of this all.

So I thought I’d share how I’m managing with staying at home most of the time. Of course take from it what you think is useful.

Work wise

I now switched to my natural working time of 1030-11am till 7pm. I do get up and do all the things I usually do when going to work including getting dressed, having breakfast, playing podcasts, etc. Where usually I am in a rush for the door, I now relax playing a few podcasts in a row and across my flat.

Physically working I switch between using my standing desk in my bedroom and the sofa in the living room. I also have my dinner table but haven’t used that yet.

I take breaks when ever I want rather than a lunch break as such. It makes sense to me but I’m sure others will disagree

I’m using my Dell XPS 13 to the maximum memory wise (if I could add another 16gig to it I would, but it tops out at 16gig). Because of that I have to keep opening and closing the virtual windows 10 machine to check email. This is actually quite good because I’m answering emails then closing it while I do other things like writing gdocs, a lot of zoom calls.

Media beyond the news

Talking about media, I am currently playing podcasts as theres lots of podcasters recording from their homes, just like the mainstream media. At some point I will start listening to some of the audiobooks I have saved.

Been watching a lot of films and may start watching more TV shows but generally its audio in the morning and videos in the evening.

I have also ignoring most of the news media because I hate that news cycle and there is so much good stuff out there. For example Mydata just upload their videos, the Singularity University did a summit about Covid19, There was a activitypub conference with videos on peertube. This is just in the last few weeks.

I had also planned to do some training by watching and listening from Linkedin learning and other sources.

I’m very happy I opted for the 1gig bit hyperoptic fibre link, its paid for its self massively over the years and being able to share my media with friends is fantastic. I’m also considering using my icecast server to maybe put up a live web broadcast every weekend as its been a while since I did a mix.

The Manchester futurists which I’m a part of are considering podcasting while events are not allowed. So look out for those. I did float the idea of techgrumps again but no dice yet.

I’m also considering getting more into gaming as I’m not much of a gamer, but do have a Xbox 360 and Playstation one classic. I actually do have a steam account but never used it so theres something I might explore. I’m also looking for a good gaming site for casual gaming which can be played together with my partner or friends, but is respectful of my data? Any ideas do drop a comment…

Staying in shape

I’m lucky to have a communal garden so can sit outside with minimal risk to myself and others. Its also where I’m going to start doing the diabolo now its getting warmer (thankfully). I have been outside a few times, mainly to get food, post letters and go riding in the pennies on the scooter. I am planning to do some more serious walking for shopping and exercise.

Been wondering if now is a good time to order those Rollerblades to go with my skateboard?

Staying connected

I don’t live with my partner but we are talking everyday. Its good and we find new and good ways to do things together over the phone and videochat.

I have always been in regular contact with my parents but also connecting with my sister more. Been thinking about the massive family I have and I should reach out to them more too.

I’m also making a very conscious decision to everyday get in touch with people I haven’t spoken to in a long time. Think about it, everybody is at home and likely will be very happy to hear from an old friend. Its not like they are out or on holiday. So far its been great and I expect it brings delight to others too.

Keeping my mind in gear

I have a large task list of things to do, not only because of covid-19 but generally. So I can slowly work my way through that while at home. Some of it is computer based, some internet based, some hardware and some physical DIY type things. Been thinking I should physically take up the art of motorcycle maintenance with my scooter.

Taking a look at the list, there is always something I could be doing and I ordered that raspberry pi 4 before this became a pandemic.

I’m taking time out to practice self-care, relax and sleep longer than usual which is helping a lot with my mental health. I’m avoiding the news cycle as mentioned previously but also avoiding lots of the facebook nonsense as I don’t need to use it now volleyball is off for the foreseeable future.

We need a PBS for the Internet age

PBS - Public Broadcasting Service Logo

Its quite amazing to read this opinion piece in the Washington Post recently… (if you like me are reading it in Europe, you might want to try this one)

Some bits I found amazing to read, especially since the united states’s public broadcast networks are so crippled. This says it all..

Americans like public media. NPR still consistently ranks among the most trusted news sources. Likewise, Americans have rated PBS among the most trusted institutions in the United States for the past decade and a half, according to polls conducted on PBS’s behalf. But these services operate in an increasingly challenging environment. Government cuts have forced public media to become far more dependent on listener contributions, sponsorships and private donors. These organizations have had to chase audiences migrating to private platforms along with the rest of the media, meeting audiences “where they’re at.”

To their credit, public media have made an impressive effort to upgrade on a dime. PBS states that its Digital Studios division averaged more than 38 million views per month on YouTube. NPR recently co-published a report about the promise of smart-speaker devices such as Amazon Echo for audience growth.

Rather than let public broadcasters who have accrued so much public trust languish — or, worse, be co-opted by a tech industry that has a vast interest in how its portrayed — both our federal and state governments need to play a more active role in public media’s health and digital future.

What the Internet needs is a fresh infusion of public media, properly funded and paired with federal policy that puts the public interest first.

Reading this piece, further reminds me why the public service internet research work is so critical. Without public media, we are lost. Can’t even really imagine what it must be like working for PBS and NPR consistently being knocked and sliced down. I mean the BBC has troubles but not like these (yet).

Straight from the drug dealers handbook

Learning from drug dealer

Recently there’s been a bunch of news pieces about the somewhat dodgy practices of silicon valley funded companies. I’ve found the language use really interesting, and if there was a drug dealers handbook (there might be a few of them to be honest?) they would be in there for sure; likely as case studies.

Free trial to hook new users

#1 – Free taster, hooked forever

While researching and writing my presentation for dating into the future, I found this which I knew was true but good to find the research to back up my assumption.

In a study on the brains of drug addicts, researchers found that the expectation of the drug caused more release of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine than the actual drug itself. Similarly, for those who may be expecting the next swipe on Tinder to lead to reward, serial swiping can start to look and feel a lot like addiction. Not surprisingly, in 2015 Tinder began to limit the amount of daily right swipes to around 100 for users who don’t buy into their premium service

 

Never get high on your own supply

#2 – Don’t get high on your own supply

Classic drug dealer 101 stuff, perfect words for how those involved in the business

Developers of platforms such as Facebook have admitted that they were designed to be addictive. Should we be following the executives’ example and going cold turkey – and is it even possible for mere mortals?

Lesson 2: Don't get high on your own supply

This instantly reminds me of so many films involving drug cutting including women in their underwear?

Does Cannabis Inherently Harm Young People's Developing Minds?

#3 – Get them while young

I was shocked to discover that tinder use to be open to under 18s. This is also going in my future of dating talk.

Dating app Tinder has announced that, beginning next week, they are raising the minimum age of users to 18.

Tinder spokesperson, Rosette Pambakian announced the changes in a statement: “On a platform that has facilitated over 11 billion connections, we have the responsibility of constantly assessing our different user experiences.”

“Consistent with this responsibility, we have decided to discontinue service for under 18 users. We believe this is the best policy moving forward. This change will take effect next week.

When the dating app was launched back in 2012 Tinder was separated into three age categories – under thirteens who were not permitted to use the service, 13 to 17-year-olds and over 18.

Of course since the restriction, others have stepped up to cater for the younger audience. Get them hooked early?

Lets not forget how much impact peer pressure can be in this situation too. Ask many people why they started to smoke while young…

The vulnerability of teens is intensified by the fact that as they move through the rite of passage that is their teenage years, the approval of their friends is increasing and eclipsing the value to them of parental approval.

Vape juice vaping

#4 – Sell the sizzle

or Always tell customers your drugs are the best make up stories about how good it is

Like most of these rules, they are super common across industries but its interesting to think about selling the sizzle. We tend to buy in to the utopian sizzle around these services and platforms without too much questioning. Then are surprised/shocked when we hear about negative behaviours; but think well that won’t happen to me or they were doing something wrong (victim blaming).

I love Tony Hunts idea of what would this all look like if it had warning like you get on cigarette packs? Mark Manson’s been say the smartphone is the new cigarettes, so I guess it makes a lot more sense.

Lawsuits, sell the data and get out!

#5 -Have a exit strategy

or plan escape routes if something goes bad aka Valley talk: pivot or sell

Remember the myspace sell off?

Myspace, once the world’s hottest internet firm, has been sold to an online ad company for around $35m, a fraction of the $100m its parent company was seeking for the ailing social network and billions less than its value five years ago.

or how about the on going story of Ashley Madison’s try to get back into our good books but not really changing at all…

The preferred website to find an affair, Ashley Madison, is teaching better infidelity through fitness in its latest campaign.

The leading married dating website launched its new year campaign advising cheaters that if not getting caught is one of their New Year’s resolutions, then staying fit should be too.

The campaign, titled ‘Morning Run,’ features a woman appearing to be out for a routine morning run. A voice over asks “Why am I out of bed before anyone else? Why do I run faster than I did yesterday?…I just don’t want to get caught.”

We see the woman running behind her chasing her down as she runs from her extramarital partner’s wife as the ad closes and the site’s tagline comes up – “Life is short. Have an affair.”

Ok its all a stretch and quite fun but there is some elements of truth in each rule and linking them to how different companies treat their users and how they think about the whole setup/game.

Panaroma barely scratches the surface

match.com - Make Love Happen

If there is something I would like to see regulated in some way, it would be online dating…

Panorama exposes the tricks of the UK’s online dating industry, worth millions of pounds a year. Reporter Fiona Walker investigates how some unscrupulous dating websites are preying on those looking for love and searching for their perfect partner. She reveals a world where millions of photos and private details are taken from social media sites without people’s consent and reused to set up fake profiles of imaginary potential partners to tempt the lovelorn. Celebrities, politicians and even children are among those whose personal information has been targeted. Whistleblowers reveal how they create fake profiles and adopt multiple personas to reel in those looking for love – all to boost profits.

And its about time….! Tainted Love: Secrets of the Dating Game (on BBC iplayer for 1 year)

BBC News and Panaroma did good but you’ve only just scratched the surface…

How about the bogus matching claims, The Major private data sharing including HIV and STD Statuses of Customers, The crazy amount of trolling on dating sites, The nasty online scams which come around all the time, Warning users that some members might actually be murders,  the catfishers and finally something which is too wrong I can’t even bring myself to describe how and what it is… 🙁

Once again… I say NEVER pay for online dating because these techniques are too common in the murky dark world of paid online dating…

Techmeme is pretty good to me

techmeme likes me

Been meaning to write about Techmeme for a while now, specially after Tom Morris's thoughts on Techmeme.

See for some reason Techmeme really likes my blog entries. I can't work out why, but I seem to get ranked pretty high along the likes of the mainstream press sometimes. Generally I do use Techmeme for catching up on the latest news, and although Tom is right about the business focus. Its reasonably ok and saves me flicking through tons of blogs about the same story, when I just want the headline stories. I rated it very high in Particls (Touchstone) for this exact reason.

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World Service cuts run deep

I wrote a nice long piece about the worldservice language services closures and Arabic TV. But somewhere along the line it got deleted by myself. I really need to invest in some decent Blogging software because using a Bookmarklet is not good when your writing a long entry. Anyhow, I'm not going to repeat or remember the entry. Plus it was timed just after the press officially found out about the cuts, while this obvioulsy isnt. Here's the main points of the day.

  • Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Greek, Hungarian, Kazakh, Polish, Slovak, Slovene and Thai language services will end by March 2006
  • There will be more investment in developing New Media
  • Increased funding for global FM distribution
  • Extra marketing for the other 33 languages services
  • Modernising bureaus in priority markets
  • Further exploring of TV service partnerships within other languages and countries

And here's the front of BBC news at 1pm today.

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Ajax powered BBC News RSS Reader

Nigal Crawley is looking for feedback on his BBC backstage prototype. Its a web client which will pull a RSS feed and display it as a neat little ticker type box. Just the kinda of thing our partners would love to see intergrated into there sites. I dropped Nigal a quick email asking if he's considered building a Widget out of it and if it would support multiple encodings and right to left languages like Persian and Arabic?

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