Tues 12th – Sun 17th Sept 2017
So just 6 days of post-holiday ‘normality’ but lots happened (you can read about my Berlin holiday here). We arrived back from Berlin. Dave left to fly out to Australia for two and a half weeks. We had a farewell lunch on Fri where he insisted on ordering from the most expensive part of the menu. He never changes but I will still miss him. I’ve given him three things DON’Ts:
- Get stressed and have a heart attack or stoke
- Lose anything (he will)
- Binge eat to deal with the stress
The week finished with me in Brighton to visit my two old chaps. In-between: gym, jog-run, work, books, and Dr Who.
Health and Efficiency
Re-arranged my work hours so that I could get back to the gym on Wed morning. I really missed it with my travels to Madeira and Berlin. I worked out for an hour concentrating with weights on the main body parts and particularly trying to work on my legs with low-impact knee exercises. Back again on Sat for another workout. Again focusing on stuff particularly for upper body and legs but not pressurising the knees. Saving myself for my jog-run the following day. This was the same reason I also didn’t do any cardio such as sessions on the treadmill.
Sun morning and up at 6.45 for my first jog-run in about 3 weeks. The last one being a disaster where I had to give up after 4 km because of a calf muscle pull. Part of me wondered whether the break would have left me newly refreshed and relaxed to set a personal record. The answer is no. Clearly practice makes perfect. Started off OK and hit 5 km for a relatively slow 31 mins 15 secs. But then I really slowed down on the 6-8 km bit, I always do. Decided to stop at 1 hour as I was knacked. Distance covered 9.22 km and slow pace of 6.30 mins per km. Oh well, a decent enough start back. Video can be seen here.
Tech for Good
The value of partnership working for its own sake
In worked on Wed afternoon, all day Thurs, and a chunk of Fri. It is always nice to have catch-ups with colleagues. Lunch with Dilhani on Wed to talk over the work she is doing around the use of digital in her international communities work. Then on Fri, a meeting with my immediate team to discuss what we are looking for in our partnership development work. Fundamentally I believe partnership working is good in itself and we should all be doing more of it. Always disappoints me how the not-for-profit sector is supposed to be an alternative to for-profit working yet can be worse in not putting differences aside nor working for the common good.
Video workshop for crowdfunding projects
Thurs we ran a workshop for the projects we have offered a grant to who have to raise the equivalent amount via crowdfunding. The workshop was led by our professional creative team and was all about creating then using video. Real enthusiasm in the room for creating great vids. And also for the opportunities crowdfunding offers for small charities. Particularly around building up a local donor base and generating new funding opportunities beyond grants and contracts. Some great vids made by the participants on their phones during the day including a parody of QVC. The vid below for Squatty Potty is a fab example of how video can be used effectively to promote anything. This vid has had masses of viewings on the internet for a very unlikely subject matter.
Everyone is interested in video applications
Sort of linked to the above, I had another conversation last week with another funder who are interested in greater use of video for applications. They wanted to know how we did it, problems we found, how we overcame them, etc. It is really interesting and heartening when funders try to modernise. In so many ways nothing has fundamentally changed over the last 50 years in the way projects apply for funding, how it is decided who to fund, and then how the projects are managed. Lots of interest in us doing video only applications for the next Tech for Good programme.
Only one speculative meet last week. This was with Cypher, formerly known as Silent Secret. This is a digital mental health service for young people set up by a young people’s social enterprise. It is an anonymous peer to peer social network allowing young people to open up and share their secrets, build a network, support others, and connect to support organisations. Safeguarding is taken very seriously. Fascinating to hear how the future of this service is connected to the data it can collect. A lesson there for other social enterprises who obsess about IP and ignore the value of their products in terms of data generation and analysis.
Art and Culture
Several films seen last week. Unusual but partly linked to Dave going away and me identifying different things to do with my time.
‘God’s Own Country’
We saw this at the ICA cinema on Tues after we arrived back from Berlin. It has been called the British Brokeback Mountain. Quite a fair comment. Set in Yorkshire, a young man is looking after the family farm after his father suffers a stroke. A young Romanian migrant arrives to help out. After initial hostilities they cop off together. Things then fall apart. It has been claimed to be a film about man and nature. Didn’t make me feel any affinity for nature. Made me think about how I would hate to be living in the countryside and some people get dealt a shit hand in life. Trapped – one of my big fears in life. This is a key reason I hate Brexit, forcing me to stay on this little island.
‘My Journey Through French Cinema’
ICA cinema again on Sat afternoon. A documentary by filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier examining the great directors, actors, writers, composers, and cinematographers of French cinema. Over 3 hours long. Actually a sort of rambling journey through French film-making 30s through to 70s. I was not sure I could do it simply for the length. Decided to push myself into a space I feel uncomfortable about. Indeed seeing it was very much about helping improve my French language skills – immersing myself in the language. A good experience and an amusing wander though very much an acquired taste.
‘The Omega Man’
Watched this on TV on Sat night. I love this 70s apocalypse film. Charlton Heston is the ‘only’ survivor of a plague. He is fighting against mutated humans. Thinks he is alone until he comes across a group of other surviving humans. Find a cure for the mutation but is killed in achieving this. That constant theme of apocalypse and disaster in literature and on film. This film is very similar to the brilliant book ‘I am Legend’ (I have not seen the recent film version). I remember first seeing Omega Man as a kid in the 70s and being knocked out by it. It is on of several great films of that period that really impacted me including The Warriors and Jaws.
Bit of a treat afterwards in that I watched the boxing on the TV. I know it’s ugly and primitive but I do enjoy a good boxing match.
After my jog-run on Sun, it was down to Brighton by train. Met up with my old mate Rob (aka Swing It) to go to the cinema to see ‘It’. I do like a good horror movie. Recently I finished the book by Stephen King and it is brilliant. I haven’t seen the other movie of the book made a few years back. This version was very disappointing. Not really a horror movie, more an adventure centred on a group of precocious American teenagers. As Rob said, ‘it’s Harry Potter’. That is exactly what it is . Frustrating because the book is so dark. FFS don’t forget this is about a child murderer.
To Pinocchio’s afterwards which is a Brighton institution. A cheap and cheerful Italian restaurant by the Pavilion. Then back to my hotel room to watch Naked Attraction. A dating show where everyone is naked. Stunning blond muscle man called Bjorn who adored the woman who chose him but she ultimately rebuffed him – crazy.
I feel like I’ve left my ambitions around this far behind. Over the past few weeks with travel I have let slip so many things. I started back on DuoLingo last week. Progress made Tues, Wed, Thurs and then nothing on Fri due to busyness. And no progress on coding practice. There is a potential issue here about the level of importance I am giving them.
One of the big issues in my life is trying to not feel overwhelmed by emails. I put a hell of a lot of effort into this perhaps to the detriment of other stuff. But not being swamped by emails is good for my mental health (I feel in control of things) and it is absolutely central to me keeping up with what is happening in the world of tech.
Books and Reading
‘The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet’ by Becky Chambers
I read this on my kindle. Not sure at first but it blossomed into a very pleasant and enjoyable read beyond throw-away sci-fi. Indeed, the reviews of it have been very complimentary. Fundamentally it’s the standard story of an inter-species crew making a journey in space. It actually feels like a really good episode of Star Trek and gives you the same feeling of niceness. It’s not life-changing literature but good books don’t have to change your life, just make it better (which perhaps is a way of changing it?).
Very much influenced by other TV, movie, and written sci-fi with some fun stereotypes like the headstrong humans including the captain of the ship. But there is also a lot of contemporary going on including around AI and at what points computers and robots should be considered as sentient beings. LGBT stuff is comfortably weaved in. The book ultimately takes us to a period in American life when things were so much better – the optimism, cosmopolitanism, and tolerance of the Obama era. Will definitely read the sequel.
Dr Who audio-adventures
‘1963: The Space Race’ (sixth Doctor Colin Baker + companion Peri)
The second in a trilogy of audio adventures set in 1963 to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the Doctor being on TV. And it’s really good featuring the cold war, the space race, and even the assassination of Kennedy. I sort of assume these audio adventures can be mediocre and particularly those of the sixth Doctor. This is linked to his less than brilliant TV period. But this was excellent and, if anything, had slightly too much going on with Soviet-KGB plottings against each other as well as animals given the opportunity for speech and human-level thought.
Stuff for this week:
- My week will start in Brighton as I go off to see Bob then Brian before returning to London
- In work all day Tues & Wed plus bits of Thurs & Fri
- Meetings lined up with Liam from Children’s University and Harriet from Lloyds Banking Foundation on Tues
- Wed it’s the briefing on doing a workshop at the upcoming ACF conference followed by the meeting of the Bond Tech Development group
- Thurs there is coffee with Alex of Beam and Fri a catch-up with Shift about research they have done on the phases of development in a social tech / tech for good project + appropriate milestones
- Gym at least once next week hopefully twice. And at the weekend, a jog-run and a return to yoga
- Finish my current reading book and start at least one more
- Listen to a couple more Dr Who audio adventures
- Make progress in keeping on top of emails
- Some Duolingo everyday and some coding practice
- Catch-up coffee with my mate Jamie on Thurs
- Getting to the cinema or catching up on DVDs whilst Dave is away