Progress on all fronts: digital, exercise, DuoLingo, books, audio

It's not Trump, it's Putin

 Mon 27 Feb – Sun 5 Mar 2017

A back to normal week and it is amazing how quickly things can go back to routine. I was on top of my personal and work emails during my week off. But last week I had to revert on my private emails to doing mass deletes simply to ensure I don’t have a backlog I will never read. I’m always worried I’m going to lose the email that could change my life. The one with a piece of info so important. But that is a chance to take. Indeed, letting go of unread emails is an important lesson in life and marks progress. I read once that all through life we have little deaths. Small things that change and from that we learn we have to let go of stuff. That nothing lasts forever. And in a way that prepares us for dealing with big death.

Happy anniversary

10 year anniversaryBig personal news was that it was mine and Dave’s ten year anniversary – yaay! Ten years ago we started going out again. We had been out with each other before, about 14 years previously but it was only for six months and I moved to Brighton. Then we met again by chance when I returned to London and the rest is history. The celebration meal was at the Union Jack Club, good fun. It did mean I had to miss the Velvet Page Book Club which was sad. Especially as they had the brilliant Matthew Todd talking about his book ‘Straight Jacket – How To Be Gay and Happy’. But quality time with my partner.


Back to normal meant lots of digital progress last week.

Apps for Good

progress being madeOn Mon evening I attended the Apps for Good launch event. This had been postponed from a day when a tube strike was due to happen which then got cancelled at the last minute. This is the event where the winning app ideas have been turned into real apps and are presented to the world for the first time.

The six apps can all be found here. They are very cool and the young people are great particularly in ‘selling’ what they have done. My only criticism would be that, as with many tech for good ideas, there is very little thinking around how the apps create income to meet the costs of promotion, upgrade, patching, etc. As one young person told me, ‘that doesn’t matter because it’s for charity’. Perhaps more emphasis is needed on business models and creating revenue streams as well as just making great ideas into reality.

Busy digital Tuesday

First full day back at work on Tues after my week off. And straight to a meeting with fellow tech funders facilitated by Big Lottery Fund. Then onto Shift to talk about some research a group of us are funding that looks to detail the current UK eco-system for funding tech for good. Great to meet some new colleagues from Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Big Lottery Fund with a fellow enthusiasm for the potential of digital to go good.

Back at the office we went straight into a Lunch and Learn where staff and volunteers from across the organisation could come to hear Dan Sutch talk about CAST (Centre for Accelerating Social Technology) and the work we funded them to do around the Fuse Accelerator and their Digital Fellows programme. The day ended with a Skype connection to TechSoup in California to find out more about what they do.

Disability and evaluation

Couple of very good things on Wed. First, a briefing by a colleague on research about the need to adopt a social as well as medical model in supporting young disabled people to get employment. Skills training is very important but young people need more than that to be independent and earn an income.

Second, afternoon it was off to Paul Hamlyn Foundation to talk to the evaluators of our joint UK Tech for Good programme. Cassie Robinson of DotEveryone is doing it along with the agency Snook, both are well situated in the tech for good sector and have great knowledge. Another skype connect-up that took ages to set up and really only gave us half what we wanted. Ultimately everything had to be conducted by audio rather than video.


A lot of last week was generally about working with people around our TechVsAbuse grants programme. Deadline for applications is 13 March and you can find out more info here. Main thing has been emphasising to people this is a design challenge and applications must meet one of the design challenges without joining up challenges. It’s not an open programme where we are inviting ‘good’ projects to apply. There is also a slack group to encourage applicants and digital partners to talk to each other.


geographical africaCatch up on Fri around the research on Tech for Good Eco-Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. Went OK though eternal problem of skype and similar internet connect-ups – getting cut off and poor quality reception. Also embarrassing that I forget to include a colleague in the call who I had promised to bring in – oops! Worth noting that Oxfam has just brought out a piece of research on the role of NGOs (non-governmental organisations such as charities) in regards to promoting tech for good in east Africa. Details on the research can be found here.

Big news next Tues

Preparation for launch of Tech4Good Awards next Tues. Big news is that we are sponsoring a new award category to bring increased awareness of the use of tech to help tackle poverty and social injustice in sub-Saharan Africa. More news next week.

Health and efficiency


Homer does doh Three times: Mon, Thurs, Sun. Each day I did work on the bike and weights as well as around 20 mins on the treadmill. I don’t enjoy the treadmill as much as street jogging because it’s boring. Much like swimming. I vary the treadmill between walking and jogging as well as playing with speed and incline. I think this helps my dodgy leg muscles and joints. Funny incident in that I should have done four sessions. On Fri I was in two minds but motivated myself. Only to find when I got to the gym that I had forgotten my shorts.


But I did give myself a treat later the same day by having a massage. I love massage but I just haven’t found the time (and money to an extent) to have one done for several months. The masseur at my gym charges £39 for an hour which is pretty good. He was quite heavy last time and I asked him to be a bit gentler. He hit the right balance with pressure but nothing painful. I felt worked out though I fell asleep as normal and so was left feeling I had missed out a bit.

Jog run (and weight)

I stayed over with mum on Fri night and came to Dave’s early on Sat so I could do my jog-run. Apprehension in terms of my left knee hurting. But all went OK and I ended up with a decent time so progress though not a classic. Basically I think I need to lose weight in order to improve my time. Simply there would be less for my body to lug around. Weight stayed the same last week at 13-10.

Personal development


Great news in that I did some DuoLingo everyday – dead on target and progress. Strange how now I’m older I really appreciate things that I didn’t at school such as science, technology and languages. I still love the arts but I appreciate the importance of not being too reliant either on science or humanities. Also managed to do a little bit of coding practice but this is something I really need to do more of.


I got onto the pooter last Mon once public bookings opened for the Flare London LGBT Film Festival. Unfortunately I did not get all the films I wanted, some had gone to members with priority booking already. But I did manage to book 10 films. It helps that I like sitting at the front of the cinema whereas most people hate this.


Must mention a very inspiring footie result last week. QPR came from 1-0 down to win 2-1. Now that is progress and inspiration on so many levels – determination, perseverance, and not letting your head drop. Also good to watch the Indoor Athletics at the weekend for many similar reasons; so inspiring.

Books and reading

‘Gay Noir. Men of the Mean Streets’ edited by Greg Herren and J.M.Redmann

shadowy streetsSome classic gay literature. A collection of essays around the theme of gay noir. Dark crime stories with a gay slant. Lots of twisted relationships and people getting revenge. The stories were a real mix of  very good and pretty mediocre ones. A very good sci-fi type adventure from Felice Picano about what happens when people change their gender. Fun to read because of their brevity. They do show the darkness that hides in so many of us and every so often rears its head.

‘The Loney’ by Andrew Michael Hurley

book coverA strange book. Widely praised and indeed winning an award for book of the year. It’s about a group of Christians who go on a retreat. At the centre of their group is a disabled boy whose mother desperately wants to be healed via a miracle. It turns out the retreat on the Lancashire coast sits alongside dark local goings on. It’s really hard to work out what happens. I suspect the author has deliberately left it vague for our minds to fill in the spaces. What is the role of the old priest and is this really about Satanism? Slightly difficult because it doesn’t end with a clear explanation. But a very thoughtful book and one that I keep going back to in order to let my mind chew on it.

Dr Who audio adventures

‘Legend of the Cybermen’ (sixth Doctor Colin Baker + companion Jamie)

cybermenThis is a strange one. The final part of the trilogy featuring the sixth Doctor and companion Jamie. They are back in the Land of Fiction and re-connect with the other second Doctor companion Zoe. Both Zoe and Jamie visited this place with the second Doctor. However now it has been infiltrated by the Cybermen. And a battle is taking place for the control of the Land. The story is messy but fun featuring classic companions and monsters as well as crazy characters from fiction. I’m still not sure if Jamie was ever more than just fiction and if Zoe returns to her space battle. Oh well, probably best not to think too deeply about it and just enjoy.

‘Project: Destiny’ (seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy + companions Hex & Ace)

One of those audio adventures that I realised I had listened to in the past. I don’t really know a lot of the background so needed to take it as something stand-alone. Perfectly decent adventure featuring the team coming across an evacuated London due to an infection in which people turn into monsters. I think it all gets sorted but the story ends up inter-mingling with one about vampires. And Hex is introduced to his mother who is a vampire monster which the Doctor knew but never told him about. Cue Hex leaving the Tardis. A decent enough adventure but messy. Unfortunately it does feel like these Big Finish adventures are just churned out at times. Although I suppose with a lot of stuff you are bound to find one or two diamonds.

Looking ahead

Highlights I am looking forward to:

  • Days getting lighter and warmer – Spring is coming
  • Tuesday’s launch of a new award we are sponsoring at the Tech4Good Awards
  • International Women’s Day on Wed – a breakfast reception in the morning and a Tech for Good meet-up in the evening
  • At least three gym sessions possibly four. And either a swim or jog-run
  • DuoLingo daily and some coding practice
  • Continuing to keep work and personal emails under control
  • Watching at least one DVD / film
  • Reading at least two books and listening to at least two Dr Who audio adventures

This is the future that Liberals want

Yep variety, diversity, tolerance, mutual respect, and colour (plus a seat on public transport)

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