Inequality and the Covid19 vaccine

Here it is again, inequality is in full affect around the Covid19 vaccine.

The figures of the vaccine buying in richer nations is insane, and on the other side I really hope the Covax scheme is successful. However its clear there is a big question of timing, how many people will die in developing nations while the developed nations vaccinate themselves?

As the video points out vaccinating the world has never happened before. This a critical as we saw with the EU considering article 16.

Inequality affects everything.

VPRO documentary: How did Brexit happen?

Brexit: The Uncivil War
The UK left the EU on January 1 2021, big ben chimed and there were fireworks at 2300 on December 31st in some places.

There are so many things I have said and want to say but I found the VPRO (Dutch public service broadcaster) really worth watching.  As always its good to see Brexit from the view of our neighbours.

Good documentary, hard to watch but very fair leaning on Brexit: civil war, the horrible class divide in the UK, the lies of the Boris bus, targetted advertising, the problems with nostalgia, etc..

 

Channel 4’s Deepfake queens speech raises tons of questions

When I first heard Channel4’s alternative speech was going to be a deep fake of the queen. I laughed but had a ton of questions. Some of them are covered in their behind the scenes video.

I felt the deep fake was a good thing to do, as so many people can’t tell the difference between real and fake. This has a big impact on the democratic process. But of course if you are reading this, you most likely know this already. It was good they made it deliberately fake rather than pass it off as a real speech, but of course some felt it was disrespectful.

Deep and shallow fakes are here and getting better every day, there is a important public service angle putting this front and centre. We got to get better at understanding what we see may not be what’s actually true.

Worth watching: Death to 2020

Death to 2020

Death to 2020 was hysterical on so many levels, this missed out on my list of things you missed out on by a day or two.

I think of it like Screenwipe (if you haven’t seen the antiviral wipe, I highly recommend it) with black mirror budget and mockery running through it all.

Although very much around America and part of the UK, there is key issues are there. , , , #vote2020, #RuthBaderGinsburg, , , , , etc, etc.

Good work and something to laugh at while we head into 2021.

A review of my 2020 resolutions

Ian Forrester selfie with a mask
The new normal, mask, umbrella and coat

2020 has been one heck of a year for me and pretty much every single person on earth. The Covid19 pandemic effected so many peoples lives from people dying to people having to operate around nationwide lock downs. People I know have had covid19 and a couple people are still suffering with the long covid19. From memory no one I know has died but I’m not certain.

The thing about the pandemic is its like background radiation. Its always there and it affects everything. Even if its small things.

Then in the middle of everything the police in American murdered a bunch of black people and the whole thing was captured.  May 2020, was a turning point for many, finally we could talk about systematic racism and people were listening. Not to say they did a lot about it but in some places the light was shone and people finally understood what it means to be an anti-racist.

George Floyd 7 months later
Remembering George floyd on xmas night

So with all that how was my year from the  Quantified Self data  point of view?

  • My average sleep duration has increased from 7 hrs 20mins to 7hours 50mins.  Average deep sleep was 4.03 hrs now its 4.35hrs.
  • This year I started moving away from Gmail, so the numbers make sense. I had 32,601 conversations, have 20718 emails in my inbox and sent 7841 emails this year.
  • Have 114,564 photos and 4,269 photos albums in Google photos.
  • Tasks wise I have 304 open tasks and completed 3,315 over the year
  • Been on all of 6 trips including Manchester, Warrington, Lancaster, London, Alton towers, Blackpool this year.
  • According to Trakt, my most played show is Dave and film was Tenet, Most listened to podcast is the Daily Tech News Show.
  • I spent 742 hours watching films (61.8hrs a month) and 1221 hours watching TV series (101.8hrs a month) – that is a lot, but understandable with being locked down.

Diabolo whip

Here’s my review of  my new years resolutions from 2019.

  1. Head further a field with the scooter
    Even with Covid19, there was a brief chance to go on holiday to the Netherlands in August. I had planned to take the scooter across from either Hull or Felixstowe. I checked out the pricing got the emergency kit, arranged my stay with a friend in the Netherlands. But then Greater Manchester went into a tier where leaving become problematic. I push on but then suddenly the Netherlands become a country when I could need to isolate for 14 days after returning. At that point I decided its all too much.
    Its a shame as I also considered Ireland too but the season had changed and didn’t fancy driving in Ireland in the rain.
  2. Visit another new country
    This never happened for obvious Covid19 reasons. Maybe next year will be better?
  3. Make some changes to the flat
    Lots of changes to the flat, from a new desk, a network attached storage, reconfiguration of some basic things. I still have a number of tasks related to this to go through for 2021.
  4. Host film nights at mine
    This didn’t happen for obvious Covid19 reasons. Although my bubble might break this somewhat.
  5. Spend less time in the UK / Live in a new country
    Yeah Covid19 killed this but who knows what might happen next year
  6. Find the others and connect them
    This has started to happen, but theres more work needed on this front.
  7. Play a new sport somewhat regularly
    Another Covid19 killer, but I did spend a lot of time with the Diabolo.
  8. Drink more fizzy water
    This happened, maybe too much and I had to stop drinking copious amounts of fizzy water late at night. I’m not drinking so much that I needed a subscription but I’m getting through a bottle of gas every 3 weeks?
  9.  Look after myself better
    I believe this one happen starting with my focus on my sleep patterns. Being able to make that decision about working later has made a massive difference to the quality of my sleep, even with the background humm of the pandemic.
  10. Be even more aware of the environment and what I can do to help
    This believe it or not had happened, from spending much more time sorting out what I can recycle. Tesco also have been delivering my shopping with bags so been using them for many things for recycling.
  11. Put my money/resources where my values are, with platforms like Patreon
    This happened, I signed up to Pateon as there is a number of podcasts I regularly enjoy and gave them small amounts of hard cash to help support them. I also donated time and some money to other places like anti-racist, feminist, neurodiverse organisations.
  12. Change my email signature with important information
    Done, my signature now includes my pronoun, my user manual and status. I keep thinking about adding my free/busy time but don’t really like the fact google calendar reveals your email address when doing so.

In lieu of trust at the top…

There was something which John Ashton said at the end of his video for Double Down News.

He mentions during the first nation wide lockdown in the UK, people supporting each other with pick up of community shopping, lists of help on different social sites, etc, etc. The trust between each other and the NHS was high.

As we went into the second national lockdown, all eyes were looking to the top. Rather than looking at each other for support. I think part of this comes from the formulation of the tiers which seemed to turned people against each other, in lieu of any transparency from the top. There was a lot of finger pointing from Tier 3 Liverpool at Tier 2 Manchester back 2-3 months ago for example.

Its clear countries where the government are more trusted seem to be doing much better in their R number rates. But in lieu of this, we need to work together to make it work for ourselves and our communities.

I recently saw a great example of this with the total mess of lorries trying to get into Europe. Its the kindness of people and communities which can make the difference.

Covid19 vaccine, I’m happy to wait

Theres been a bunch of press with older people and key workers having had their first shot of the Covid19 vaccine. This is great news of course but I got to say everytime I see someone having a injection in the press its still scary for me. Love to have something of a trigger warning for this all. But then again I’m not anywhere as bad as I use to be thanks to hypnotherapy.

I have always said I’m happy to wear a mask and will be wearing a mask till October next year I predict. The vaccine needs to go to the people who most need it, the people who protect the vulnerable, front line works, yes; but that list needs to include other nations.

The rush to get the vaccine is locking out poorer nations and I’m glad to see this is being highlighted and being acted on?

To be clear when its my time, I will get it even if it does mean yes I will need 2 shots within a month, not great for someone terrified of needles. I have no doubts about the vaccine(s) just the injections. Really wish I could take a pill or like Contagion, could be delivered via nasal spray. (you don’t need to write to me to explain why that couldn’t work, its been explained to me over and over again to me)

I won’t be surprised if having the vaccine will be a requirement for travel on planes in the near future. If not expect getting travel insurance to be troublesome to say the least. I don’t think it will be mandatory in the UK but

Alton towers and social distancing?

On Sunday I went to Alton Towers as the park was open from 10am – 8pm (this is normal hours in Europe for most theme parks). Part of me wishes I didn’t bother, but as the UK is on the brink of another national lockdown I decided to drive there and back. Its not the first time I’ve done it and this time at least it wasn’t pouring with rain.

As I drove in to the car park I could see the huge long queue to enter with social distancing. I think the monorail was closed because of social distancing too. After 40mins, a bag check, temperature gun check and a check of my eticket I was in.

First stop the Smiler. This is when I spotted the sign about single riders. There will be no single rider queue due to social distancing guidelines join the main queue. I knew then it was going to suck…

Social distance markers in Alton Towers

Standing in the queue, which was extended up and around the top ridge of the Smiler compound. You could see markers on the ground of where you are meant to stand. Problem is most people were not standing on them no matter how much Alton Towers staff shout over the loud speaker system. Heck they even called out a few people and it made no noticeable difference.

One of the biggest problem with the Smiler queue is it exists underneath the ride structure and its setup to be like a maze for mice. Of course this isn’t good for social distancing at all. You could see there were obvious gaps to allow distance between the fences but people just took it as they were 2 meters from the people in front and back and that was enough.

The Smiler queuing system

I got on the ride twice and I’ll be honest twice I had to glare at the people following me to back off. I really should have worn my mask, which you only need to wear when entering the station. I honestly didn’t feel that safe while queuing. Of course all this queuing means you are in close contact with people for a long time. A hour each time for the Smiler.

The Smiler train has 4 rows of 4 seats (16 riders), I shared a row with a couple the first time (there was a seat between us) then had a whole row to myself the second time. You can easily see why queues were so long.

With two rides I looked around and saw the horribly long lines for food so decided to head over to Nemesis and Galactica (I didn’t bother going to Rita or 13). The queue for the cable cart was 60mins (Imagine it would be 1 household per cart), so I walked over. Nemesis had a queue time of 55mins and they had opened the line up to include the extended line right up in the field, last time I been up there was back in 1999! Usually Nemesis’ queue is no more than 5-10mins. The bunch of men/lads/idiots behind me stood within 0.5-1 meter. I did tell them to back off and they made stupid faces and silly noises. I couldn’t be bothered so popped my headphones on, pretty much ignored them. On the ride I had a whole row to myself again. No wonder it was such a long wait. For all that waiting, Galactica was only 30mins wait which isn’t that far off the last time I was in Alton Towers. I did share the row with another couple like the Smiler.

The killer for me was Wicker man which I have never been on and finally got the chance but there was one hell of a time cost. Almost 2 hours of queuing in to be fair a socially distance observing line. The line was moving so slowly, most people had given up standing and were sitting around. It was dire, make no mistake. After listening to 2 hours of the Guilty Feminist’s audiobook I finally got on the ride and it was clear why things were so slow. Each row had 2 seats and they were seating every other row. Meaning a maximum of 12 riders per turn, not the usual 24.

By the time I got my ride on Wicker man I decided I was fed-up and close enough to the entrance to drive home before the sunset and I didn’t fancy  driving at night through country lanes.

I’ll be frank Alton Towers is a horrible place to be during a pandemic, I felt a lot safer going to Blackpool Pleasure beach. The staff seemed a lot more knowledgeable, gels (for example there was no gel in the line for the smiler over 2 hours) and cleaning was a lot more visible.

I’m not the only one who had worries about Alton Towers.

Maybe I’ll revisit next year out of season…

UK Home Office to scrap ‘racist algorithm’

Black lives matter
Photo by Sushil Nash on Unsplash

I couldn’t help but see the clear connection between a conversation we had on the most recent tech for good live podcast and the UK home office’s not officially announced decision to scrap the algorithm for people applying for UK visas. BBC also reports similar.

The Home Office is to scrap a controversial decision-making algorithm that migrants’ rights campaigners claim created a “hostile environment” for people applying for UK visas.

The “streaming algorithm”, which campaigners have described as racist, has been used since 2015 to process visa applications to the UK. It will be abandoned from Friday, according to a letter from Home Office solicitors seen by the Guardian.

The transcript is online, now (massive thanks to tech for good making these). Ade made such a great point…

The Home Office response was, not only that they knew but that their focus was making the application simple to use, right? So, the overall performance was judged sufficient to deploy, and the home office told the BBC it wanted the process of uploading the passport application photo to be simple.

Simple as in white…?! Seriously!

I’m glad its scrapped but we have to ask serious questions how it even made it out? Is something we talked about in the episode and the absolute responsibility of developers and technologists to call these things out. Passing it off as a MVP isn’t good enough.

As Ethar says…

This does create a two tier dam. Do you think that does create.. Well.. part of that situation? It’s the fact that we technologists build to the greatest value first. In the event where we’ve chosen, we’ve made an explicit choice that white people have the greatest value in that context by doing what we’ve done and said that people of colour don’t matter.

I highly recommend listening to the whole podcast, its well worth your time. As there’s some great thoughts from Vimla and David too. Just listen and enjoy!

https://pod.co/tech-for-good-live/black-lives-matter-special-canaries-in-the-coal-mine-with-ian-forrester

#56blackmen in the age of #covid19?

Me in my mask

I remember when I first saw the 56 black men project, its impressive and well thought out. But with the recent (not soon enough) governmental push to get all UK citizens to wear masks in public indoor spaces.

I was thinking maybe its time to rerun 56 black men but using face masks? The reaction I received to my Bain mask during Blackpool was interesting to see.

Ian or Bane

Its also a shame I missed this call out a while ago.

https://twitter.com/56BlackMen/status/1269360379693608961

Why NHS’s world-beating app was always a going to be awful but 10+ million!

Contact tracing api
Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Even if you forget the thoughts are coming from a ex-googler who has interests elsewhere this blog is pretty damming and I  can imagine how the NHS really bought their own nonsense about it being world beating. Of course in the end they had to back pedal and use the Google & Apple decentralised contact tracing api.

But there are parts even I was shocked at…

It worked 4% of the time.

Thats not even funny, its not just unreliable but a total waste of time. Even if thats exaggerated, double would still be a bad joke at 8%

The British effort did find workarounds that most other developers could not: They used “keepalives” (messages sent by one device to another) to circumvent restrictions on having apps in the background on iOS. Notifications were sent between two Apple devices running the app to keep the connection between the devices alive and therefore having the ability to detect each other’s keys. The NHS tried to develop with a hacker’s mentality and shared its progress through its GitHub page.

There is a reason why keepalives are a bad idea, battery is one of the number one reasons why people find their smartphones deeply frustrating. Having a app keeping the system awake is just a terrible news. Although I assume as most people are staying at home, they will be closer to a charger at least

in May it was reported by the Financial Times that the British government was simultaneously exploring a solution with Apple and Google’s decentralized system as a backup, indicating that, even within the government, there were doubts that the centralized effort could work.

And this is when I heard they were testing both systems, leading to the fact they were going to drop the centralised app soon. This would be fine but…

The development of the app has taken months and cost millions of pounds from taxpayers…

…around $15 million spent…

I have no words to sum how I feel about the UK government throwing this money down the drain in the middle of a pandemic where people are losing their jobs and dying. Its not just wasteful, its incredibly disgraceful and pretty much sums up the UK government right now.

Learning diabolo tricks during the Covid-19 lockdown in Manchester

One of the things I have been doing while in lockdown from the Covid-19 virus, is learning new tricks on the Diabolo. I’m lucky enough to have a nice large shared garden and green spaces around me. So in between working, walking, etc. I’ve been getting better at the Diabolo.

I decided to make use of my GoPro camera and throw together a number of tricks together with some music (Hit The Decks Volume 2 (htd2 A2) Nightfall at the edge of chaos (bonus mix)).

Here are the tricks with difficulty rating

  1. High throw (2x) – Easy
  2. Around the foot – Easy
  3. Over arm rubber arm to stick grind to whip catch – Tricky
  4. Over arm rubber arm to stick grinds to whip catch (3x angles) – Difficult
  5. Vertex – Very difficult
  6. Suicide – Tricky
  7. Stick grind to finger grind to whip catch – Tricky
  8. Duicide (2x) – Difficult
  9. Stick grind to finger grind to big whip catch (2x) – Tricky
  10. Handy grind drop to whip – Difficult