I have finally listened to more of Serial, the podcast that seems to have taken over the world, and though the above illustration was funny. I’m impressed by Serial, definitely worth listening to. This week concludes the 12 episode long series, so binge-listening is possible.
If you have no idea what Serial is, Fiona Sturges writes:
Researched and presented by Sarah Koenig, a producer on the long-running podcast This American Life, it concerns the death of a young woman, the high school senior Hae Min Lee in 1999, and her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, who was convicted and jailed for her murder.
(Fiona Sturges, The Independant)
Why does Great Britain blow up fireworks every year on the 5th of November? Wikipedia knows why:
Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night and Firework Night, is an annual commemoration observed on 5 November, primarily in Great Britain. Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure.
I thought this was a great quote from the movie You’ve Got Mail (1998). Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) says:
The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.
Anyway, here’s me enjoying a hot chocolate in 1998. I was a kid, of course I had no decision-making abilities.
Do I have decision-making abilities now? Maybe, maybe not, but until I figure that out, I’ll let Starbucks help me feel like I do as I enjoy my 120 calorie short Pumpkin Spice Latte, no whip, easy on the syrup, extra warm. After all, they do say happiness is pumpkin spice…
I must admit I mistakenly use ‘less’ far too often. BBC’s style guide:
Use ‘fewer’ when you can count something, as in The committee wants to have fewer meetings next year. If you cannot count it, use ‘less’, as in Voters are calling for less bureaucracy. The same rule applies for percentages: hence, you would be correct to say Less than 30% of the hospital survived the fire and Fewer than 30% of the patients were rescued.
Do not use ‘no less than’ with numbers – say eg: He attacked her on no fewer than 12 occasions.
However, ages, heights and weights take ‘less’ eg: Tom Thumb was less than 3ft (91cm) tall; Police say the man is less than 30 years old; She weighs less than seven stone (44.5kg).
GCHQ’s secret “arrangements” for accessing bulk material are revealed in documents submitted to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the UK surveillance watchdog, in response to a joint legal challenge by Privacy International, Liberty and Amnesty International. The legal action was launched in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations published by the Guardian and other news organisations last year.
The government’s submission discloses that the UK can obtain “unselected” – meaning unanalysed, or raw intelligence – information from overseas partners without a warrant if it was “not technically feasible” to obtain the communications under a warrant and if it is “necessary and proportionate” for the intelligence agencies to obtain that information.
The rules essentially permit bulk collection of material, which can include communications of UK citizens, provided the request does not amount to “deliberate circumvention” of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which governs much of the UK’s surveillance activities.
This point – that GCHQ does not regard warrants as necessary in all cases – is explicitly spelled out in the document. “[A] Ripa interception warrant is not as a matter of law required in all cases in which unanalysed intercepted communications might be sought from a foreign government,” it states. The rules also cover communicationsdata sent unsolicited to the UK agencies.
I’m not really surprised by much of the news we’ve lately been seeing, but it’s one of the first times that we’re seeing news come straight from the courtroom as opposed to leaked documents.
I finally made it to [Northern Lights Conference](http://northernlightsconf.co.uk “Northern Lights Conference Homepage”) this year! The event was last Friday 17th October. It was my first ever attendance at this conference, which was now in its fourth year. In a nutshell (as stated on their website):
Northern Lights is always a little different, this year is no exception. We have an exciting programme of speakers, open space sessions, and a couple of new surprises planned.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the day, but I was pleasantly surprised. I unfortunately didn’t manage to get a photo of the first speaker, Greg, but I’ve got a random selection of photos from the day posted just above. The speakers were:
Greg Hoyna Kozakiewicz, Head of Design and User Research at The Scottish Government (not pictured above)
Dave Hibberd, 57 North Hackspace
Laura Walker, IFB Wearable Tech
Rory McCune, Ethical Hacker
Kate Ho, Project Ginsberg
After lunch, Northern Lights Conf shifts its focus from presentations to Open Space Sessions. I really enjoyed these – there were 3 sessions I attended, each lasting around 30 minutes. The sessions were open for anyone to suggest a topic, and a time-slot/room matrix was filled with suggestions from about 15 people. All were great, but I ended up going to try out Google Glass and Oculus Rift, discussing the pros and cons of reinventing the wheel (i.e. when to take off-the-shelf libraries and when to write your own), talking about Hacklabs and Maker Fairs, and also talking about balloons and radio equipment. It’s really great to get such like-minded people together every once in a while and the discussions and talks were really great.
I can’t wait for next year – I’ll definitely be coming along again!
Adam Savage’s 10 Commandments for Makers
I love lists, and I particularly enjoyed listening to Adam Savage’s Maker Faire 2014 Speech in which he listed out his 10 commandments for makers. I sometimes require a little kick in the back and inspiration to get me going, which listening to him really did. I’ve got a couple of ideas he’s inspired me to work on, and maybe now’s a good time to join Make Aberdeen!
Here’s his list, but I’d strongly suggest heading over to Tested.com and watching the whole video, as he goes on to explain each point quite clearly. (Don’t worry, although the video is just over 43 minutes, his 10 commandments are listed in the first 10 minutes. The rest is Q&A.)
1. Make something. Anything. 2. Make stuff that improves your life, either mechanically or aesthetically. 3. Don’t wait. 4. Use a project to learn a skill. 5. ASK. Ask for help. 6. Share your methods and knowledge and don’t make them a secret. 7. Discouragement and failure are intrinsic to the process. 8. Measure carefully. 9. Make things for other people. 10. Use more cooling fluid!
I attended last nights TechMeeup at which Jim Killock (@jimkillock) provided an introduction to Open Rights Group, a UK-based non-profit organisation that campaigns on digital rights issues. With all the news in the past year on mass government surveillance and GCHQ’s wire tapping into private email and digital communications, there isn’t a more important time than now to support activists who campaign for our right to preserve traditional liberties in the digital world.
What’s happening now? Well, ORG is expanding into Scotland, with our help;
We are responding to the strong call we’ve had from our supporters for us to expand and hire a new staff member to work specifically on Scottish digital rights threats. But we need your help!
What’s the situation?
Many people are concerned by the direction the Scottish Parliament is taking with civil liberties. There are growing plans for Entitlement Cards – a scheme that looks rather like ID Cards by the back door, attacks on Freedom of Information law in Scotland, proposals for massive data sharing across the Scottish government, and laws ordering the blocking of sectarian websites.
No rights organisation is currently working on these issues in Scotland.
Whether we hire an activism organiser, a policy expert or a part-time ORG Scotland Executive Director, we hope to begin working on Scottish campaigns very soon.
The more new people joining ORG, the more we’ll be able to work for digital rights in Scotland.
The bottom line is: stay strong. 21 days is a myth; habit formation typically takes longer than that. The best estimate is 66 days, but it’s unwise to attempt to assign a number to this process. The duration of habit formation is likely to differ depending on who you are and what you are trying to do. As long as you continue doing your new healthy behaviour consistently in a given situation, a habit will form. But you will probably have to persevere beyond January 21st.
A simple little tool to help you manage a habit is to use sticky notes. If you’re desk-bound, put 66 small labels along the side of your monitor (each marked 1-66). Simply tear one off each day you managed to get closer to the 66 day mark. Tearing and throwing away the little label helps you get a sense of achievement and hence helps you stick to your goal (whether it’s starting or stopping a habit).
I’ll be working towards stopping a bad habit, so fingers crossed I keep tearing off those labels and managing to stay bad-habit free each of the 66 days! After this, the bad habit should be a thing of the past, or so the theory says…
New years resolutions come and go, but I decided that this year I’d actually set a goal and stick to it. Unlike other years, I wanted to set myself a goal that would be relative easy to achieve, and one that would benefit me by year-end. Money saving seemed a great idea, and I found a tip online over at onebusywahm.com.
The idea of the 52 week money challenge is simple: once a week you put a set amount of money aside and by the end of the year you will have saved up £1378. The amount to set aside is the same as the week number, i.e. in week 1, set aside £1, in week 2, it’s £2, etc.
I’ll be twisting the rules slightly since I find that setting aside £51 and £52 around Christmas time is a bit much. The way I’m approaching this challenge is set aside £52 in week 1, £51 in week 2, etc. – i.e. in reverse order.
Natalie over at onebusywahm.com posted a great printable here, so hang it somewhere you’re most likely to see it (e.g. your fridge or office desk). I’ve decided to add them as to-dos to my weekly diary.