Quantifying your smartphone usage mentioned recently

There’s a recent BBC documentary titled Secrets Of Silicon Valley, its not a bad watch at all. In part 2, the presenter installs an app to see how much time he spends on his phone through out the day. Very similar to what happened at the Quantified Self 2017 conference, but even I almost coked on my tea when the final figure of over 5 hours was announced for the day.

My monthly smartphone usage

Looking at my own usage, over the last month I spent 19hrs 1minute over 384 pickups, looking at my mobile phone.

I admit this is so very low in comparison to others.

By the way I’m still looking for a decent way to do this without abundance of features, battery use and in a data ethical way.

My weekly smartphone use…

At the Quantified Self conference a few weeks ago there was a very interesting conversation & social experiment about smartphone use. Ever since I’ve been getting more interested in the good and bad uses of smartphones, even gave a summary of ideas collected over the different sessions.

But I’ve been thinking about my low usage at the conference and decided to seek out an app which just counts the usage and nothing more (most have other types of permissions to do all types of other things). Found Timefactory’s Time used did pretty much this (although I’d like a proper data export option), seems low on resources and very simple.

So above is my regular usage of my Nexus 5X over the last week, and this week was a regular go to work everyday and social event most evenings kind of a week.

Its low, agreed but I didn’t go out to not check it or anything. I carry my Nexus with me pretty much everywhere. But having my pebble smartwatch and other devices around me certainly has a massive effect on how many times I actually have to turn on the phone screen.

Look forward to sharing the month summary too.

Welcomed back to the Quantified Self

Quantified Self 2017

Everytime I go to the Quantified Self conference (2013 & 2014), I walk away with something more than I was expecting. Its been 3 years since I was last at the conference and a lot has happened in that tme. The Quantified Self has shifted from the heydays of super stardom on the front of wired magazine; to everywhere and nowhere. By nowhere, I mean its not really talked about because its actually everywhere. The amount of people with some kind of app or device which they are actively tracking something is so huge. This also raises the question of Self-Tracking vs. Self-Surveillance (which Jana Beck actually covered in her breakout session); are most people self-tracking or is some other entity surveying them? There’s also a debate about how enabling they really are for most people who received a Fitbit for a present.

Garry Wolf raised the topic of what is the quantified self at the start of the first day in the opening talk. Lots of people answered the question from their point of view and it was good to hear the diversity of answers and people building on the previous one.

When back with Gary, he concluded the conversation with a final thought on the subject…

“Everyday science through examination of yourself”

Gary also noted it’s been 10 years since the first conference and threw out 10 interesting points over the last 10 years, plenty to think about; including a Michael Polanyi quote and a request for people to take part in a live experiment around smartphone use. The results were revealed at the end of the day and were quite a shock. I personally only looked at my phone twice over the first day. But as I explained I have my tablet and laptop. It was interesting to hear I wasn’t the only one to have different apps on their different devices. This lead nicely into a group discussion about smartphone use.

Its so easy to feel the fear of missing out (FOMO) at the Quantified Self conference, as there is on average 8-9 things happening in parallel. You really have to pick and if its not for you, move on. Its very much the BarCamp rule of two feet.

Like the rule of two feet, here’s my highlights of the conference.

Session 1: Show & Tells

Quantified Self 2017

I missed the first one by Jana Beck on tracking crying but I got in to see Aaron Parecki kicked off the ignite talks; he later did a session which I’ll dig into the details of with data portability and data ethics in mind. The big things for me was the micropub plugs. I’m going to simplify micropub by saying its like ifttt but open, decentralised and a W3C standard supported by the indieweb community. That was the point when I thought I need to check this out in detail because it reminded me of the media pipeline thoughts I had a long long time ago.

Ahnjili ZhuParris gave a ignite talk which was all about her quantifying her psychedelic experiences. Yes you heard right…She quantified her drugs use to improve her trips! Truly shows how diverse the things track can be. It was captivating to say the least.

Session 2: Self-Tracking vs. Self-Surveillance

This breakout session run by Jana Beck and was full of interesting points. Of course Hasan Elahi was brought up and the group tried to understand the difference between tracking & surveillance. It seemed to boil down to judgment from which entity? Both have issues including the illusion of perfection which can drive self-tracking; and of course the issues of external surveillance are very well know.

This is where I first met the open university who are working on a project called monetize.me. I also bumped into Kley Reynolds who I’ve been thinking about since 2013, when I heard him talk about using QS data to create a fingerprint for data & identity.

Session 3: Connecting Self-Tracking Data to Home Assistants

In this session I helped a out with another person as the speaker couldn’t make it due to flight problems. Myself and Jacqueline took over the session hoping someone would come with some more experience in using home assistants to track something. I had some experience with Amazon Alexia & Google Home but not for quantified/tracking. I could see how it might be possible with something like ifttt but not directly.

We didn’t have to wait long till some knowledgeable people stepped in and a discussion kicked off. I kept going back to the fact these devices are in group/family spaces. Somewhere along the line, Jacqueline & me started thinking about how you could use these devices to bring together a family and nudge them to eat more healthy through dinner time checkins. I feel theres a unpolished gem somewhere there.

Session 4: Using Your Data to Influence Your Environment

Quantified Self 2017

I ran this session and I knew with a brief skim through object media and perceptive media, Questions and thoughts would come from a very data literate crowd. I wasn’t wrong.

Lost of thoughts about the role of public in a media landscape which can be changed and modified. There was a lot of discussion about why and the true benefits of using personal data in storytelling. In retrospect I should have shown parts of my interview back in 2013: We research how personal data and storytelling can be combined.

Points were made about customization vs personalization; people felt that was a big difference and could be the cause for some backlash. There was also a feeling that they would want to know how much things are customized and why if interested. Also there was a sense negotiation was a key aspect in this all, something we are exploring with the Databox project. There was a sense you could try it with little data shared then decide to ramp it up later to see what difference it made to what you saw first time.

A interesting fact was mentioned that fruit machines can be skinned in as quick as 20seconds. This was mentioned when talking about customization of the reality around you. Which led to Minority Report discussions.

It was a positive discussion but lots of worries about how to tell stories with enough richness/depth to work with the diversity of personal data that may be shared or used.

End of the first day

There was lots of discussions following the smartphone experiment at the start of the day. A small list of good ways to stop being distracted by your smartphone started to emerge.

I used Quality Time and as said previously clocked up 2 checks and only 20secs of actual screen time. Some people ran into multiple hours.

Quantified Self 2017

This crossed with Aaron’s list deserves a blog of its own really… (coming soon – honestly!)

More than optimization (day 2)

Quantified Self 2017

The over optimization intrigued me on paper as there is always a dark sense of over quantification in the hope of perfection? I hadn’t really thought how it could be used in team sports to create personalize routines for each rugby team member instead of applying a routine to the team broad brush; it makes perfect sense right?

Session 5: Making money from your own data with Monetize.me

After meeting Monetize.me in the second session, I went along to a dedicated session. I think the plan for the session went slightly out the window but it was fruitful and it all came down to data negotiation. I did talk about the databox project and wondered how they hadn’t come across each other?

There was a lot of questions about how much is data actually worth? I pointed at Jennifer Moore and her position as the first personal limited company. I also mentioned how fresh/realtime is the data.

Of course this all lead to questions asking if you could treat all data the same? What about data discrimination and finally what are the business models which can emerge and what needs to change for it to be?

I also learned about Bitwalking which generates a crypto-currancy from the amount you walk.

Session 6: How to plan for data access with choosing a QS tool

Quantified Self 2017

I mentioned Aaron Parecki’s ignite talk earlier, and there was plenty more depth in his workshop. Aaron started out explaining the process he’s gone through with quantifying himself. He talked about the pain of data portability through broken devices and closed services. This all lead him to a checklist he uses.

  • How much effort is required?
  • How does it Sync?
  • What is the sustainability of the service/product?
  • What is the data portability options?
  • Whats the competition like?

Each point had a bunch of issues under them for example in how does it sync; breaks down to questions about centralized servers vs direct sync to a local computer/device. Sustainability was focused on business models of the likes of Apple, Google, Fitbit, Jawbone, etc. All very different and it all depends on the user which once they are comfortable they are with it (if everything is made transparent, and the user can make a real informed choice!). I talked about Gadgetbridge in connection with effort and syncing.

Hopefully Aaron will make his slides public (but this needs some more thought!)

Session 7: Self-Tracking for the Good of the World

With my public service hat on, I went along to Justin’s session. We explored some of the issues with the internet and I did say, we should be looking at the work Mozilla are doing around the internet health report, but we focused on other things.

One of those things was the packages; packages being things which are a mix of hardware, software and service. This was intriguing to me and got me thinking about opinionated software.

We talked about the public benefit of quantified health but there was a large conversation about how you compare data when the different black box devices can’t agree on a step actually is. This was when someone suggested some governance and that the Quantified Self site has a large number of devices/services/packages reviewed. Maybe there should be some kind of ranking system and clear indicator of different aspects of that thing (you could use Aaron Parecki’s indicators) . You can imagine the QS community making it clear what devices are to be avoided and best practices.

I tweeted Gary to say its time the Quantified Self got political.

Session 8: Quantified Self meetups

I drifted around a few sessions but settled on a session about the meetups, as the Manchester Quantified Self meetup stalled a little while ago. Last time I was at the conference I was inspired to setup a QS meetup. I’m still inspired to run the meetup but it was great to hear from those new and old to the meetups.

Sharing stories and hearing from Steven who is well known in Quantified Self circles was very useful. There was lots of questions about the choice of the format, use of meetup, etc. Steven pretty much said the Quantified Self will support any changes the organizers make. That would include format, event, description, etc changes.

Like Gary said at the start of the first day, things are always changing and they are flexible to these.

With this in mind, I have kicked off another Manchester Quantified Self with a different format.

The wrap ups

Quantified Self 2017

The last keynote talks were fascinating and centered around circular/cyclical time. The picture of the complexity of patterns summed up so much of it.

The people

The best thing about Quantified Self conference is the people, they are so amazing. No edge, just open and all so geeky. No matter where we were it was great conversations which spilled out from the many sessions I didn’t get a chance to attend.

Quantified Self 2017

On the first evening we started at the Casa balcony bar then had dinner at the Café-restaurant De Ysbreeker and ended up Canvas again. Love that place and its so weird seeing it become this incredible place now from the squat it use to be.

On the second night, we headed out in search of cocktails (theres a story behind this, which I never actually posted till now). We almost ended up at Prik and Blue boy which will make 3 people laugh. This time we ended up in a Amsterdam festival and then a speakeasy place called Door 74. Being a geeky quantifiers, we decided to hack friendship by trying the 36 questions in a group.

We didn’t get far, but I actually think it worked…

Quantified Self 2017

Another great time at the Quantified Self… So much learned so much to think and act on. If I have anything to do with it, I’ll be back next year for sure. Massive thanks to everyone who I bumped into over the 2 full days. It was emotional, fun and exciting all at the same time. Special thanks to the newbies who I spent a lot of time with.

Quantified Self 2017

The inner child in us all

The inner child in us all

Everytime I go to the Quantified Self Conference, I take away so much more than just knowledge. I will write up what I saw later

But we were in a bar after the conference and people got talking. The conversation turned to the 36 questions (yes those ones) and the answers were open, frank & refreshingly honest (what else would you expect from quantified selfers?). Later in the night, we all started digging into relationships at a much deeper level and the question was asked how people deal with arguements in relationships?

I mentioned the fact I like to buy hour glasses for wedding gifts, because from previous relationships; sometimes you just need a time out for a short while. Maybe enough to stop think, drop the ego, etc.

That was when someone (can’t rememeber her name) pointed me at the Burning Man exhibit above. My mind was blown. Its breathtaking and sums up so much about life and relationships. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since, to be honest.

Alexander Milov's Burning Man 2015 scupture

I can’t quite explain the connection but when I saw it, it made me think about the Watchmen scene with the Nuclear Kiss. I’d say something about revealing the true self in a moment of intimacy or something?

Atomic Kiss from Watchmen movie

A review of my 2016 resolutions

are you a good kisser - undressed

Its that time of year when I reflect on a frankly pretty crappy 2016 politically but a massively packed one for me personally. Seriously March, May, September, October, November were so full (I still need to write up my own personal Mozfest 2016 experience).

Although I did spend a lot of time in other countries, according to Google I’ve done 39 trips but that includes going to places in the UK. With the most visited first…

London, Nottingham, Bristol, Newcastle, Liverpool, Sheffield, Windermere (Phil’s wedding), Cambridge, Northampton.

And further a field, with the longest time first.
Berlin, Amsterdam, Lagos/Faro (1st time I’ve been to Portugal), Bucharest (another first Romania), Stockholm and Hannover.

  • I usually do steps but since I switched from Fitbit to the Xiomi band recently, and the steps are quite different from the fitbit, it makes little sense.
  • 259mins of sleep deficit over the year, which is down from the previous year.
  • Average sleep this year has been 6 hours 50mins.

Trakt.tv added the year in review, and there’s very detailed data points there.
446 hours of film watching, which is 37.1 per month and most watched film is x-men apocalypse.
379 hours of TV watching, which is 31.6 per month and most played TV series is Louie. My highest rated TV were Limitless and 11.22.63 both ended.

  1. Be taken out of my comfort zone by Kate and take her out of comfort zone
    Our challenge has yet to start really. I had plans to take Kate to either Bucharest (shes never been to eastern europe and I only went for the first time last year to Poland). Then I thought about Stockholm (although not really going to push the challenge, its a very cool place). Although Kate has already dropped hints of staying somewhere near Scotland. I did ask if it was a tent and she said it has walls, to which I ask if it has a roof? Of course I got big grin.
  2. Host film nights and more dinner parties at mine
    I put up the projector screen with help from my lovely neighbours and to be honest I’ve not really used the projector much. Mainly as it needs to be setup on the coffee table and I can’t leave it there all the time. Its also XGA meaning things get cut off when sending a widescreen 1080p signal. But I will sort this next year. I did do a showing of undressed too, which counts right?
    Dinner parties? Well I’ve had a few but they generally end up as cheese and wine evenings. Someone recently pushed me to do a dinner for her, so the challenge is on. Time to pull out the Japanese food spark I think I have.   
  3. Head further a field with the scooter
    This one is frustrating as I had grand plans to drive into Northern Ireland. However the scooter is getting old now and I have plans to replace it with another scooter. So maybe when I get the new one, that will be the chance to go for a long journey? My scooter is still ok but there is so much body damage and to be fair its done over 70000 miles and I’ve had since 2005!
  4. Improve my circus skills
    At last this has been greatly improved. The much mentioned vertax are still as difficult to do as always but I’m getting closer and tend to get too excited when close. I’m also picking up other tricks and getting far more confident about my suicides. More room for improvement!
  5. Stay better in touch with old friends
    I realise I’ve been a little poor with this one, I need to spend some time reading what my old friends are up to in their lives. I’ve been shocked to learn things about old friends which I can’t believe I didn’t know about. This shouldn’t be just about reading their facebook walls but generally keeping in touch.
  6. Redecorate the flat
    Last year I still had the old sofas and old stuff, now I have a proper corner sofa and changed a few things. I still have bigger plans but paining the walls isn’t really one of them.
  7. Ride a roller coaster in another country
    Didn’t happen, but will next year for sure. Heck I don’t think I even rode a rollercoaster all year! Sad times, although I almost did renew my Alton Towers pass now the smiler is now open again. Still really like to see a new coaster before I renew it properly.
  8. Work on the book/serialised blog
    I started datingyarns.com but I’ve been so busy. Modifying the entries to make it as unrelated as possible to the date/person(s), but isn’t as simple as it may seem. Anyhow, I will keep putting them up, although I do maintain it would be better as a group blog with some incredible yarns from some of the women I’ve had the pleasure of dating.
  9. See the Aurora (Northern lights)
    This should have happened, I missed going to Iceland then when I got the go ahead for Sweden. I was thinking about taking the overnight train up to Lapland to see it and stay over. However due to clashes with the Christmas partys etc, I couldn’t stay long enough to make the trip up there. But I guess my research has shown how easy it would be if I did want to go via Stockholm, although Iceland is still number one choice.
  10. Make some bold moves with my love life
    Bold moves with my love life. Well this certainly was the right year! Where do I even start?
    I already knew I was going to be taking part in the Horizon dating experiment but it was shown much later than I thought. In between I took to the stage for TedXManchester4 to tell it as it is about dating services/apps. This all before Jane sent me the email encouraging me to put my body/money where my thoughts were in a new dating show – Undressed. Ok ok I hear you ask, what’s actually changed in your love life? I would suggest although quite confident about myself, all 3 of these things have really made me even more confident in myself, surroundings and love life. Its quite difficult to explain but every experience really brings new insight.
  11. Kick start the emerging technology event
    I did kick start the #etechmcr event, first event with a new VR Manchester meetup and then second one with Erik Lehmann. There hasn’t been another one for a while, although there’s plenty of opportunities but I’ve not been around to do anything about it. My hope is next year will mean more time for this and other events.
  12. Think humanity
    I feel this is a solid tick…

Not happy with Pebble being bought by fitbit

Pebble 2.0

I recently bought a Xiaomi Mi band because I got fed up of the Fitbit ecosystem not interoperating with anything else I used. You can see evidence of this on the Quantified Self website, with one of the number one querys being how to get data out of the Fitbit ecosystem. Fitbit although useful to see my daily steps wasn’t much more use than that. I didn’t really pay attention to the leaderboards with friends or use the sleep tracking feature (I used the Pebble and Sleep as Android for this). I did like the fact it wasn’t a watch/on a wrist, This was a major selling point for when I’m playing volleyball. When I saw the Mi Band could be attached in a non wrist way, I was sold.

The Mi Band isn’t perfect but I like the magnet system, which is better than the clip Fitbit used.

Anyway, although I moved away from Fitbit step tracking. I also relied on my Pebble smart watch to do sleep tracking (maybe I should enable the step count now I upgraded to pebble 2).

Then I heard the news Pebble is being bought by Fitbit.

Digital health and fitness-tracking company Fitbit has just officially announced that it is buying key assets from smartwatch startup Pebble, after reports emerged last week that a deal between the two was close to being completed.

Fitbit co-founder and CEO James Park said in a release that the company “sees an opportunity to build on our strengths and extend our leadership position in the wearables category.”

Not great news for myself and others… Then the kicker (pun intended) was worst still, knowing Pebble was under some major financial strain. My Pebble 2 was delayed 2-3 months for example but I did get at least. Happy I didn’t get the Pebble time 2!

But Pebble has been struggling to stay afloat financially for the past year, according to three sources, and the new Pebble Time 2 had been delayed. In a statement released on its website this morning, Pebble said that it is “no longer able to operate as an independent entity” and that it had made the difficult decision to shut down the company. It will no longer make hardware. Its newest products, the Pebble Time 2 and Core, are canceled, with refunds expected to go out to Kickstarter backers in the next four to eight weeks.

Existing Pebble smartwatches will continue to work, the company said, but functionality will be reduced in the future due to a lack of support.

Reduced functionality deeply worries me, as the pebble OS is very centralised, although I have seen other operating systems loaded on to the generic enough hardware. Of course others are already thinking the same thankfully.

Do I think Fitbit will ruin Pebble?
Yes I do and this interview certainly confirms some of my fears.

Fitbit hasn’t explicitly said it is making a “real” smartwatch, one with more advanced capabilities than the is-it-or-isn’t-it-a-smartwatch Blaze. But all signs point in that direction. First, the Pebble acquisition earlier this week: Fitbit has said more than once that it bought the company for its smartwatch software platform, not its hardware.

And on Fitbit’s most recent earnings call, Park himself said the company was planning to expand into “new form factors” next year.

Pebble’s timeline and OS was smart and made perfect sense for a smartwatch. I get smartwatches haven’t really kicked off but I did feel Pebble were the only ones which really got a sense of what could be possible. The Pebble core was just the start and I almost bought one myself, I don’t think Fitbit or Apple will really get what’s really possible with this new technology if its open rather than locked into their own ecosystems.

Shame…

I have a blog saved about mainstream’ing, venture capital, startup culture, the long tail and the nature of niches. Still needs some work but this is certainly one of the examples.

Updated

Fitbit confirmed the buying Pebble and they came out and said we got at least a year of functionality.

My 2015 media consumption in review

My most watched fim of 2015

During my new year resolutions 2015 review, I pointed out that I couldn’t access my year in media without some serious development of Trakt’s API. Well 15 days too late for the review unfortunately.  I saw this on twitter…

Sure enough you can now see my 2015 review in media on the web.

Lots of quantified data for my media consumption…

For 2015…

  • 686 media items played
  • 669 hours of played media

Thats a lot of media use, even I have to admit, especially since, this is does not include documentaries, youtube, vimeo, ted, chromecast use, etc…

My TV genres for the year,
my tv genres of 2015

TV wise… My most watched show is Last week tonight with Jon Oliver with 37 plays or 18 hours, 30 minutes. Generally. I clocked up…

A review of my 2015 resolutions

Harajuku

Its that time of year when I reflect on the amazing amount of things which have happened this year, even Richard Brandson is in on this now. While I’m not going to try out quantified self Stephen wolfram; as I mentioned in last years review, but heres some bits and bobs.

 

  • 2,653,347 steps this year so far
  • 2791 floors this year so far
  • 1,98.78 km of walked distance so far
  • 449mins of sleep deficit (this is what I should have
  • Average sleep this year has been 6 hours 50mins.

Trakt.tv recently changed their interface and are still waiting on their yearly dashboard. On Last.FM I listened to 255 artists  with an average of 3 scobbles per day.

Now on with the 2015 resolutions review

 

  1. Go to a new part of the world
    This was a big win this year.
    Not only did I make it to Tokyo, Japan at long last but I also went to Warsaw , Poland and even to Fife in Scotland; which was the 1st of 2 times in Scotland this year.  All were great and I’m sure to visit again in the near future.
  2. Improve my circus skills
    I started to learn the basics of the vertex during the early autumn months and learned quickly where I was going wrong with a visit to Manchester Quirkus. I was doing the whip with the wrong hand causing the diabolo to tilt away from me. Now I can kind of get the diabolo into a vertex but haven’t mastered any moves beyond that… yet!
  3. Scooter into another country or new area
    I  drove up to Scotland on my scooter, which isn’t bad. Yes it was only gretna green (just over the border but it’s still Scotland). I’m certainly thinking about next year driving further, as I saw signs saying Edinburgh and Glasgow less than 100 miles. I reckon I could get up to both in about 4 hours. Maybe stopping in Kate’s Yut again. I’m also thinking Ireland would be good, maybe even Northern Ireland?
  4. Explore my sapiosexual and datasexual sides
    Well thanks to Tom for the total destruction of sapiosexual term. Which I explored in the blog entry about myself. Friends and collages have commented (when asked) at the bravery of being so open about things like this. Which I sniff at because theres so much more…
  5. Quantify more and make better use of my data exports
    Didn’t do so much of this, I did less quantified self aggregation but added even more sensors to the line up including weight scales and even better sleep tracking. I also found the interest in Manchester around the Quantified Self also dropped and I had to put the Manchester QS meetup on hold, along with attending the QSEU 2015 conference. My data is still in silos but I’m certainly thinking about doing more in 2016. Especially around the homelab and media exports.
  6. Do something for other dyslexics
    This year I’ve been helping others and attending a dyslexic meetup in Manchester every first Saturday of the month. Its been good to discuss openly with others.
    As part of Mozfest 2015, I was also included a session about dyslexia and it was well attended and spawned an adhoc session with further talks with the Tate to be continued in 2016.
  7. Improve my health and alertness
    Yes things are getting better and better. Alertness is great but of course there is always room to improve. The electronic scale is useful and of course the sleep tracking is identifying patterns which contribute. Nothing scientific but interesting.
  8. Hire somebody to ironing my clothes
    Done… Just need to use her services more often I guess (only given her 3 big bags of clothes so far).
  9. Try dating younger (and progressive) but central located women
    Yeah my dating has certainly gone down this year. I’ve decided to give up on Plenty of Fish after the insane amount of Catfishing going on. OkCupid is turning up the same people all the times, so I’m thinking about redoing my profile and looking at the questions again. I also installed Bumble to see if the female pick first option was any good or not.
    As for younger, progressive and central. Well its not worked out too well, I seem to be finding older, progressive and central. Must try harder I guess. Dave says I need to try new places but I refuse to pay for dating services knowing little time I have and the way it works behind the scenes.
  10. Decorate the flat
    This is on hold till next year but I have plans since I finally got gigabit broadband from hyperoptic and a projector for the living room when watching films with friends. I also finally found a corner sofa from the new range at Ikea which is cheaper than I budgeted for, meaning more for re-decoration. Thinking about sorting out the internal network properly by getting a professional in to do it.
  11. Read more
    Well I did read more but once again I spent more time reading non-fiction not fiction. I don’t think I’ll ever really get into reading for fun but I certainly got into audiobooks more in 2015. Keep thinking about getting a subscription to Audible. But I find the Instapaper and Greader text to speech players actually good enough for generic reading. I also added a plugin to read any text from Android outloud on my bluetooth headset. This is handy and means I can close my tablet and wonder around like a audiobook.
  12. Discover more music via Djs and Podcasts
    I tried listening to youtube and mixcloud at work and its ok but pausing the music is a pain when you have it in the background somewhere over the 2 screens.
    On the other hand, podcasts certainly picked up in the later part of 2015. I’m subscribed to about 12 podcasts now and with gigabit I don’t even download them, I’m using Kodi’s built in RSS support to play directly.

How I learned the player was cancelled

Screenshot of my linux desktop

I have been watching quite a few new American TV shows and one of them was the Player with Wesley Snipes. But in the usual way, some turn into duds which I stop watching (minority report), some are hits and I can’t get enough of (limitless) and some just get cancelled before I can really make a decision either way (the player).

The weird thing was how I learned the player was cancelled.

I use Trakt.tv to quantify my media usage and it also tells me how far behind I am (handy if you have friends who like to spoil things for you or use social media a lot). I decided a while ago this kind of ambient information could make up my desktop as a picture via Wallch which grabs a url (in this case my trakt.tv’s progress page) pipes it to a image which makes up my background.

When the screen is locked, the background is un-obscured and I noticed the other day, the text surrounding the the player saying the show had ended. Ended I thought? Looked it up and yes the end, no conclusion or answers to the mysteries. Just gone.

Trakt shot end of the player

Of course American TV networks have a long standing for just killing shows. The most famous being Firefly or course. So surprised minority report was canned ages ago.

#MancQS What to do with all that data? Monday 6th July

BBC Dashboard

The theme for the July Quantified Self Manchester is What to do with all that QS data?

Talks are welcomed around this including.

• What do you do with the data?

• How do you import/export your data?

• What are data dashboards?

• Which data dashboard are worth using?

• What other uses of your data are there?

Be a great time to come along, meet other self trackers and discover whats possible with quantified data.

Tokyo… So what did I think?

shibuya crossing

On reflection on this post and all the posts I did during my time in Tokyo starting with I’m dying to experience Tokyo by 2016.

Forever I have wanted to experience Tokyo. For me its always been a place of technological progress. I know its not for everyone, but the culture is so wildly different and technology is at the core.

I wasn’t wrong there.

So why have I not already been?

Well its bloody expensive and to be honest I have this vision of going bankrupt just searching through the market bins of Shibuya

I lived with a Japanese lady for a while and we would talk about me going to Tokyo. She always pleaded with me, please go with someone who can speak Japanese because my allergies will kill me.

Technology like Google translate really made the difference on this front.People have asked what my high and low points were in Tokyo/Japan?

Low point’s

The Airbnb for the first week was fine, it was quite nice having a place with Rebecca. But the second week when Rebecca went off to western Japan, I moved to a smaller shared airbnb apartment. What I didn’t know was how small it really was. There wasn’t enough room to get out the door as my suitcase blocked the very narrow walk way by the futon. I did wish I had taken photos but I was so worried about it ruining my whole holiday, I went looking for an alternative hotel straight away. Luckily I met  Alexandra after Herb Kim told me she recently moved. And she was able to help me find a great room in Nippon. I did finally get a refund from Airbnb, although they thought I was in the wrong?

After reviewing the details of your situation, there is no clear violation of our host standards and we won’t be able to retract the payment from your host. However, because this was the first time you were experiencing Airbnb as a guest, I decided to refund you the amount you requested…

Trying to get to Nagashima Spa Land the first time and standing on the wrong bullet train between  Nagoya and Yokohama for over a  hour, was also a pretty low points too.

High point’s

There were so many…

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Right from the flight on the Airbus 380 to Dubai with USB, mains power and wireless internet to each seat. Also nicely got the exit row at the very front with more than enough room for the tallest NBA player.

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Meeting up with Andy Budd and Alice who happened to be in Tokyo too. Having sake in Shibuya with them and the rest of the UX workshop, then seeing the sights and sounds of Shibuya. It was exactly how I imagined Tokyo would be like and it didn’t disappoint at all. I couldn’t walk down the street without taking pictures every few steps.

2015-04-18 20.16.15

Experiencing the insanity of the Japanese passion for the make believe in Anime and Cosplay in real life via the Robot Restaurant and Harajuku. The Robot restaurant was totally mind blowing. It was a real world anime with every move being better with a bigger and better come back. Honestly nuts and the audience were loving it. I kept saying only in Japan would this work.

DSC_5356

Shibuya crossing I visited about 3 or 4 times at different days and times. Each time it was an experience. I didn’t bring my GoPro but I really could have done with it, to show how many people cross at the same time. I did shoot some stuff on my phone (uploaded to youtube 1st here, 2nd here, 3rd time and 4rd here.) but its not so great. Especially like my video from the mid point. I’m still working out what to do with all those pictures (I have about 120!)

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The many theme parks I visited including Tokyo dome, Nagashima Spa Land and Fuji Q highlands. Thunder dolphin at Tokyo dome was frustrating due to the crazy following of every single safety rule but when I was on, it was surprisingly fast and the drops were pretty epic.

Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima

Steel dragon 2000 at Nagashima Spa Land was the winner of all, having me grab the rails on the first and second drop. After that one time I was back to my usual hands up when the G force wasn’t so great.

Fuji Q highlands

Fuji Q had some great rides but if I hadn’t been on Alton towers smiler I would have enjoyed Takabisha more (which is very similar, understandable knowing the maker)

Riding the bullet train (Shinkansen 新幹線) was quite an experience. At first I thought it wasn’t much faster than most of our trains at full speed. But then it got out of Tokyo and suddenly you can feel the gravity pushing you into the back of your chair. It really shifts!

Tokyo from up high

The Olsen (Japanese Spa) I went to in Tokyo dome was great, yes it was very weird being naked and having to wear their clothes (which didn’t quite fit) when moving to the mix floor. But even with the weird looks from the also naked Japanese business men. I found the whole experience pretty good and I enjoyed it enough that I stayed from about 2230 till 0230! My experience was so rewarding that I’m going to seek out one in the Manchester area and visit at least once every 6 months.

Akihabara, Tokyo

Shopping and browsing in the electric district of  Akihabara. I spent quite a few half days there and it blew me away how big the district really was. I explained it to friends as the size of Manchester’s shopping centre but all electronic markets and shops. I also went looking for Nikon lens (where else better than Japan?) for my aging Nikon D40X DSLR and ended up finding a basement the size of my apartment in Shinjuku, stocked full of second hand lens which ranged in price from cheap (£15) to stupidly insane (£3000+). It was called Chuuko Box, the tip was to go downstairs, this place is a treasure trove! I was so blown away, I decided to duck out and learn more about lens because I was obviously out of my depth – in a way I’ve not experienced in a long time!

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I did Karaoke in Tokyo with Alex and Len after I moved out of my terrible Airbnb. I don’t usually like Karaoke because I don’t know most of the songs and never had much of a singing voice. But singing away while drinking sake after the nightmare I almost had, was such a great relief…  It was of course also great being able to share experiences to date.

As I spent 2 weeks in Tokyo, I also quantified my walking and sleep. Here’s the numbers from my fitbit.

  • Steps: 121,531
  • Daily Average: 14,504 steps
  • Best Day: 18,961 steps
  • Total distance: 86.05 km
  • Daily average: 10.86 km
  • Best day: 17.95 km
  • Total floor climbed:183
  • Daily average: 23 floors

The sleep quantified data is under lock and key but generally I slept less and less over the holiday but I spent more time in deep sleep than REM sleep.

Talking of sleep, it was scary how many people I caught sleeping in public. I assume its something to do with the very work loaded culture.

In other fun quantified numbers…

  • Saw one Shrine
  • One allergic reaction
  • Went up 3 tall buildings/structures in Tokyo
  • Went to 3 theme parks
  • Went on 26 rides. (rode 13 times at Fuji Q Lands, 9 times at Nagashima Spa Land and twice at Tokyo dome)
  • Visited Shibuya crossing four times and crossed it 12 times.
  • Went with 26kg of luggage and came back with 30kg + 11kg
  • Visited the beach
  • Had 9 days of sunshine
  • Hottest day was 32c and coldest was 9c
  • Eat roughly 16 boiled eggs
  • Eat goodness know much meat!
  • Went one weight and came back 2 pounds lighter!
  • Took 989 photos and uploaded only 628 to Flickr.
  • Tracked over 500miles over Japan (difficult to get the exact amount from google)
  • Took 4 taxis
  • Rode the bullet train 4 times

I was wrong on many counts with Japan but I’m happy to see the techno-wonderland I thought it was going to be. There are scary tales of where the technology unchecked will take us.

I will go back to Japan because it is unique and theres so much left to try and do. The culture is insane, lovely and weird all in one massive gulp. I’ll be interested to see what effect the 2020 Olympics has on the Japanese culture, I’d like to check it out a few years beforehand and maybe afterwards. There are some frustrating things and some wonderful, wonderful things. I’m going to watch Lost in translation again real soon…

Our rights in the data/digital/cyberspace

Doc Searls

We have two selves in the world at any given time now. We have the physical self, our flesh and blood, our voice, our presence in the world which extends beyond our bodies but lives in this physical space. There’s this other space, we started out calling cyberspace a long time ago, but it’s a real thing. It’s a data space.”

…Doc Searls

There is one charity I always give time and money to, the Open Rights Group. For me our human rights transcend (must/should)  into the digital domain. Its the new battleground. Its also something lots of people are not really aware of or take for granted. But every week there’s another news story of our digital rights being taken for granted and abused on unimaginable scales.

Digital rights are your human rights in the digital age. They are one of the most important aspects of your human rights today: privacy and free expression online are among the most contested. The digital rights movement exists because we need people to understand how technology is shaping our rights, for good and for ill, and who it is who is seeking to employ and capture technology for their benefit rather than yours.

There are positive and negative sides which I have written about many times.

Its becoming clear that the services we use, connected objects and spaces we inhabit are collecting our personal data. What they are doing with that data is only one of the question asked in ethics of data documentaries.

The documentaries which were put together by BBC R&D, exploring the implications for  digital right through the lens of the physical internet, personal data, data ownership and data management.

Alexander DS

Why the physical internet?

For many people the internet is still an entity which exists in a box, be it a desktop computer or laptop. This notion is pretty much broken by mobile devices and smart tvs. LG and Samsung have both been caught out using personal data in ways undesirable by most people were not expecting. But thats only the tip of the iceberg as Alex says…

You could make a good case for technology to be imbedded in everything we know. What kind of technology it is and what does it do, and what purpose does it serve is always the next question

Its time to consider a much wider context that most people think about when they hear internet of things. Think smart homes, cars, spaces and cities.

Jon Rogers

You’re personal data and privacy?

The comments made by the likes of Vint Serf about privacy being an anomaly and this being a digital dark age. It made sense to try and tackle the big issue of privacy in the digital age. There so much which could be explored as this is a very deep  and complex subject. There is only so much you can explore in minutes, but I feel Jon highlights why this is more critical than ever before.

We always make mistakes and we always want to forget them and the trouble with the internet is that we can’t forget them.”

Adriana lukus

Its about ownership and choice?

It all seems pretty scary and negative, and it never was meant to be. So to underline the choices people need/should make, we looked into ownership and choice. Something I have through a lot about especially with my history with dataportability. Early adopters are not only collecting their own data but also analysing it and quantifying it. As Adriana says…

“The quantified self is that, is the living, breathing part of the web or the technology scene where people genuinely care about data.”

The documentaries are made so you can comment directly on parts (thanks to reframed.tv), so please do. We look forward to the discussion and don’t forget to join our diigo group bookmarking related news stories.

What happened to attribution friendly Xpointer?

xpointer use for attribution

I was thinking while writing the last blog post. What happened to the Xpointer standard?

XPointer (the XML Pointer language) allows hyperlinks to point to specific parts (fragments) of XML documents.

I guess in the rush to move away from XHTML in favour of HTML5, the whole idea of compound documents got shuffled into a back alley and stabbed to death by the XHTML haters. So even if browsers supported Xpointer, it simply wouldn’t parse and therefore work.

Interestingly HTML 5.0 has embed but its not the same solution as Xpointer was solving. For example here’s wordpress creating a iframe which twitter (the 3rd party) can choose to put what they link in. I think originally it was oembed but got changed

I’m already slightly over the concern that one day my blog will be full of ads, spam, malware, tracking cookies and worst. The day that happens, I’ll be removing all iframes using XSL or a wordpress plugin.

Its a crying shame because attribution is the lifeblood of the creative industry and without it, were pretty much screwed. Its seems crazy that I can’t easily traceback my steps to how I found quotes, blog posts, etc. Right now this whole thing is broken, bookmarking isn’t the solution. It needs to be at the word level. Personal annotation style?

I have to favourite things on twitter, look through my play history and search my emails to find who actually recommended something to me. Maybe this can only be solved by the quantified self and lifestreams but I think there’s unexplored ways which xpointer was leaning towards.

Quantified relationships?

Tony asks my view on pplkpr.

pplkpr is an app that tracks, analyzes, and auto-manages your relationships. Using a smartwatch, pplkpr monitors your physical and emotional response to the people around you, and optimizes your social life accordingly.

Its a interesting project/art project. I don’t think it would work so well but I seen it all before in QSEU13 with Fabio who records every single person he talks to.

Well at least its not a complete system, it works with other wearable devices.

pplkpr has been extensively tested with the Mio wristband, but any Bluetooth LE (also called Bluetooth Smart or Bluetooth 4.0) device that transmits heart rate in real time will work. This includes the Polar H7 chest band and the Zephyr HxM.

What data is personal to you?

Alex data ethics

On International data privacy day, BBC R&D has posted a video asking a bunch of smart people what data is personal to them?

As I have been working on the project for quite sometime, I can happily say there is a lot more to come. Including ways to feedback. Go check have a look and see if you agree with the opinions of our industry experts?

You might have seen the theme of the work in the blog post ethics of data and what we setup at Mozilla Festival. Expect more in the future…