Life Cycle by Northcube AB

Life Cycle by NorthCube AB is a life tracking application available on iphone. It allows you to keep track of your sports activities, time spent at work, sleeping, shopping, socialising and more. At first it knows nothing about it. It learns of your home location, your work location, where you go climbing and do other activities and then automatically logs the time spent doing various activities.

At the end of the day you can see how much time you spent at work, at home and running errands. If you go for a walk, a bike ride or a run it detects the difference in cadence and will log that sport. I did get false positives when riding the scooter. It logged this as cycling.

It also keeps track of the time you spend in transportation as well as the time you spend commuting to and from work. They are separated so that you can see how much of your day is devoted to commuting as opposed to travelling between locations for other activities.

If you practice sports such as swimming or climbing you can tell it that at this location you practice that sport. From this moment on every time you go to this location it will log it as being for that sport. This is valid for socialising, coffee, the cinema and more.

At the end of the day you can see a summary of how long you spent doing each activity. At the end of the week you can see how much time you spent on each activity. The bigger the donut slice the more time you spent on an activity. Assessing whether you spend too much time commuting, at work or socialising is simpler. As a freelancer working in a number of locations you could mark the locations where you worked and at the end of the week log your hours to double check that they are correct.

This app is simple and intuitive to use. Unlike Foursquare/Swarm and other apps it requires minimal interaction. This app is a natural progression from apps such as Google Latitude.



Reaction to Social media and the loss of identity

My answer to:

Social media and the loss of identity

From 1996–2007 I saw the World Wide Web, discussion forums and other places as opportunities to socialise with like minded people. Over the years we went from one platform to another using nicknames rather than our real identity. in 2006–2007 there was a shift. When Twitter came about I would post about my dissertation progress and eventually converse with more and more people. Eventually the @ symbol started to be used for answers and then we discussed meeting in person.

The online conversation moved from being about ideas and a virtual self to meeting in person. Twitter changed us from anonymous web users to friends in meat space as it was called at the time. At the same time as this occurred we also had Facebook and here the opposite took place. We took friends whom we drank, studied and collaborated with and added them to an online network. In effect social media extended our real life and our real life extended our online life. Social media became a lounge.

This was short lived. Within a year social media experts, marketers, celebrities and other characters took social media from being a conversation medium to being an observer/follower medium. The things that you worry about in your post are a consequence of the loss of engagement. We went from social networks where the more time you devoted to a network the more connections you had to a social environment where the more famous you had the more followers you had. Those followers don’t know you as a person. They know you as a projection. You become an illusion, an ideal. You lose your identity.

In a sense those of us that are still relatively unknown can be genuine. We follow those we know and they follow us. We also have mutual friends.

The Work-Visa program and US tech domination

Trump’s next steps could strike even closer to home: His administration has drafted an executive order aimed at overhauling the work-visa programs technology companies depend on to hire tens of thousands of employees each year


Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple, Microsoft, Fitbit, Garmin and other companies benefit enormously from the international appeal that their products have. Not only do the products have great appeal but the environment within which they work is envied globally. Tech entrepreneurs from Europe and other regions migrate from Europe to the US precisely because they want to be part of the most influential tech landscape. By making this migration more complicated it could encourage technological development internationally.

According to a recent article in Le Temps scientists are considering a move from the United States to Switzerland, to continue their research at the EPFL.

By blocking migration from the rest of the world to the US people like Trump are reducing the flow of intellect and ideas for an industry that owes billions of dollars per year to international audiences. We saw the stories about Apple, the European Union and Ireland from a few months ago.

Under the Trump administration the US is saying “We want your money but not only will we not pay taxes in your nations but we will also not hire your skilled workers”. They are practically monopolising the global social media landscape at the moment. It would be nice to have European alternatives.

With the Trump administration I wish that I had EU alternatives to social networks. Could this be an encouragement to revert to blogging?

On the rise of disinformation through the dumbing down of Social Media

For years I have been complaining that social media has shifted away from conversations towards marketing. It has shifted away from peer to peer conversations towards a broadcast model where crowds listen to and share individual sources rather than interact within a social network. As a result of this communication shift people re-share content rather than create their own.

Until the election of Trump and Brexit it was unpleasant but had to be seen as part of modern life. We had to accept that sensationalism and dumbed down content were popular. We had to accept that most people saw social media as RSS rather than conversation.

Within the last year we have seen that the shift from social media being conversational has shifted towards trolling, disinformation and misinformation. We see that people speak about living in a “post truth” age and more. In such an environment we see that people hear what they want to hear and vote for what they idealise rather than what makes logical sense. Brexit and Trump are consequences of people following idealism rather than realism. In such an intellectual environment social media, rather than encouraging the flow of information and context has had the opposite effect. When Obama was running for President the blogosphere was seen as a gate keeper, as part of the fourth estate, as part of the checks and balances.

With Trump and Brexit we see that the Tabloid press in England and Troll armies in other countries have deliberately misguided people, deliberately made them vote against their own self-interests.

For years I saw the web as a place to socialise and make new friends but within the last year, with troll armies, marketing and more I see that conversations are declining. The Return on Investment that I used to enjoy as a human rather than a marketer justified the time I spent socialising via social media. In 2016 the Return on Investment of using Social Media became negative. I watched youtube series, I read books, I read mainstream media, I listened to podcasts. In 2017 I want to replace the time that I spent on social media on reading books. In this day and age the cost of social media exceeds the potential return on investment. I finally find that social media is a waste of time. It took a decade for me to fall out of love with social media.

The Tiny House movement and travel

The Tiny House Movement and travel combine well together. In this video a Czech couple bought a fan and transformed it into a self contained home to live in for a year. They chose it because they wanted room for the surfboards, wet suits and more. It has space for cooking lamb shanks, socialising and sleeping. You can enter the van both from the front and the back.

I really like the idea of this van. It would be fun to travel for a few months from place to place, do what there is to do, see what there is to see and then move on. This would adapt well to hiking, climbing, via ferrata and other sports. It allows you to live comfortably without spending money on hotels, villas or other places.

The project cost them around 10,000 dollars to build so if you work and save up for a few months you could easily take a gap year and afford to do such a project. Working on such a project does require some skills in wood working. He said that it took hundreds, if not thousands of hours to prepare the van. If you’re travelling then a few steps a day for a few weeks would get to this final result.

At one moment they speak about the herb garden that they have in the glove box. As they had the space they planted some mint and other herbs for cooking. As a result of this herb garden they said that when driving on rough roads the Mint plant gets shaken about and in the process the van smells of mint. It’s a natural air freshener.

In a month they will move on and sell the van to continue travelling. If I was travelling to New Zealand I’d like to try living in a van like this and use it as a base to go hiking, climbing and enjoying other sports. This seems like a pleasant way of travelling.


The Golden Dream – The Golden Cage

The Golden Dream, known in Spanish as The Golden Cage is an observational film that follows three teenagers as they travel to Guatemala along railroad tracks north towards the United States. During the journey they need to work to make money, face attacks from the police, immigration police and gangs. When one of the characters finally arrives in the US he works cleaning a slaughterhouse after the workers have finished their shift.

Trump supporters and Brexit voters need to watch these films because the trip from economically less developed countries to economically more developed countries is not an easy one. It requires the taking of risks. In this context they face organised crime, heat and other challenges.

I watched this film at the Graduate Institute yesterday night. It was shown within the context of the Global Migration Film Festival. During the discussion at the end of the screening the panel spoke about some of the other challenges that people face such as human trafficers and more. Two aspects we do not see are the injuries that people sustain falling off of trains and rape is alluded to rather than shown.

The Invisible City [Kakuma] – Trailer (ENG) – Lieven Corthouts from Cassette for timescapes on Vimeo.

People need to watch these documentaries and films. Awareness of these issues needs to be endemic to the Western World. Yesterday they said something to the effect that “This is not a crisis, this is a norm.” They said that because this was a situation that has been going on for decades changes need to be made. Permanent solutions need to be found to improve the lives for all of those that are affected.

It is a shame that rather than see a growth in compassion and cooperation we are seeing people like Trump elected and ideas like Brexit adopted. The trend needs to be reversed and that is where documentaries and films can help open peoples’ eyes. Society needs to move away from populism and fast.

The Global Migration Film Festival
The Global Migration Film Festival

The Frankfurt School of thought and blaming social media.

When we were at university studying the media we learned about the Frankfurt School of Thought. We studied Adorno and others. We learned about the public sphere and more. I see a lot of articles today discussing whether we live in a post-fact and post truth age. Social media are given the blame but this is over-simplistic. In the Frankfurt school Knew Trump was coming Facebook is blamed for the proliferation of fake news when it is an aggregator rather than the source of disinformation.

For years the American news industry has shifted increasingly towards entertainment and audience rather than fact and context. As a result of that shift mainstream media in the Anglo-Saxon world has been dumbed down. Through putting commercial interests ahead of hard news mainstream media have lost some of their authority. By authority I mean trustworthiness and fact based reporting.

Rather than look at social media as the culprit I would look towards Fox News, Sky News, the tabloid press and right wing propaganda. Assange, Snowden and others wanted to undermine the democratic party and in so doing undermined Democracy as a whole. As a result of that undermining they encouraged people to shift their media consumption habits from hard news sources towards opinion news sources where facts were optional.

Lies have long legs: they are ahead of their time. The conversion of all questions of truth into questions of power, a process that truth itself cannot escape if it is not to be annihilated by power, not only suppresses truth as in earlier despotic orders, but has attacked the very heart of the distinction between true and false, which the hirelings of logic were in any case diligently working to abolish. So Hitler, of whom no one can say whether he died or escaped, survives.

If Adorno were to look upon the cultural landscape of the twenty-first century, he might take grim satisfaction in seeing his fondest fears realized_

We see this as a key discussion point today with Trump, Brexit and the defeat of the Si vote in Italy. Lies are spread and reinforced so that empty promises win campaigns, rather than logic and reason.

_The failure of Facebook to halt the proliferation of fake news during the campaign season should have surprised no one; the local hirelings of logic are too enamored of their algorithms—and of the revenue they generate—to intervene_

Social media did not fail. The Fourth Estate failed. We have two choices. We can read the over-simplified sensationalist crap or we can delve deeper to the content that is based on fact but may put us to sleep. Not everyone is reading news for entertainment. Some of us switch between media sources to avoid being narced (pardon the diving term). We see certain sources are anti-European on a daily basis so we switch source, we switch language. Social media is not the problem. Blind belief and trust is the problem.

I hold a strong belief that the study of history and the necessity for people to study current affairs are essential. I also believe that educational systems need to encourage people to think critically and to understand the media landscape. They need to understand how propaganda works and how disinformation can go into a positive feedback loop whereby lies become truth. “positive feedback loop” in this context is a term taken from environmental science. It describes how a small negative change, over time can gain in amplitude and feed into itself.

_Fake news is an extension of the same phenomenon, and, as in the Napster era, no one is taking responsibility. Traffic trumps ethics_

For years people have worried about privacy but from what we see today privacy is not the problem. Disinformation is the problem. Mainstream media and their audiences need to be more critical. They need to read numerous sources and use ethics and morality to see which sources they trust and which ones they disregard.

It is too easy for


Steep – A Snowboarding, skiing, Parapente and Base Jumping game

Winter is coming and snow has fallen on the local peaks and then melted again. The temptation to go snowboarding in real life is back. While waiting to go and do sports in the real world Ubisoft give us the opportunity to simulate the experiences of snowboarding, skiing, base jumping and paragldiding.

I know three of these sports. I ski, I snowboard and I recently tasted my first paragliding flight.As I watched the trailer above and Jack Septiceye’s video of the game it reminded me of so many of the extreme sports videos I have watched. It also reminded me of the FIFAD event as well as the Montagne En Scène events. It pays a nice tribute to the culture of snowboarding and extreme sports that many of us have grown up with. It also harkens back to the days when I would edit the events that are mentioned in the trailer to this game.

This would be a good game to have in the chalet while waiting for the snow to fall or the conditions to improve.

I understand why the game filled me with passion. I liked seeing places that we know. It’s because the game developers are in Annecy so they’re playing in the same landscape as us. They’re snowboarders and skiers so they understand the sensations and they’re trying to emulate them in the game. When watching the paragliding sequences I like that we hear the flight computer’s beep as you ascend at different rates. It’s one aspect that you really notice the first time you try paragliding. That’s a nice touch for the game.

From the videos I have watched so far it looks as though they have managed to capture all of these sensations in the game. This looks like a really enjoyable game to play. The game should provide people with a nice amount of escapism. As they get used to the controls and as the community for this game grows so the ties that bind this community will grow. It looks excellent.

Learning about Tiny Houses

Learning about Tiny Houses is interesting. There are a number of features/documentaries online where people build their own tinyhouses either from shipping containers, trailers or other structures. The aim of these tinyhouses is to maximise space and reduce costs. Some of these homes are entirely off the grid. They collect rain water and solar panels provide power. The bedroom is often built above the kitchen and climbing wall holds are used instead of ladders or conventional stairs.

One home folds out from a truck to become a castle. One tower serves as a toilet and the second one serves as a shower. The space above even features a bath.

Another Tiny home is designed as a tree house providing a beautiful 360° panoramic view of the landscape around.

This tiny home is interesting because it’s built out of half a shipping container. For a change the bed is below and the living room is above. The kitchen and office are next to it and there is a shower from which to watch birds.

I have seen a lot of people speak about minimalist living, living off the grid and living out of cars, campers and other vehicles. By watching videos about tiny houses you begin to understand that there are certain basics that you need to have and that these basics fit in to small spaces. If you have a van, a caravan or other vehicle then you can live as comfortably as these people.

This last video would make for a perfect summer home for recent university graduates or high school graduates. It’s small, light and mobile. You’re self sufficient to a great extent and as long as it’s warm you have your own space. It’s amusing that in at least three videos we hear about people learning to be neater through living in such small spaces.

As a scuba diver, rock climber, cyclist and geek the biggest challenge for someone like me would be to find a place where I could store my diving gear and especially the scuba tanks. They’re bulky. Diving gear also needs to dry properly to avoid the smell of the lake (as I used to dive weekly in the lake).

My view of living in a tinyhouse has changed through the watching of these documentaries. It shows you that what you want is functionality rather than size. You want “gadgets” as these maximise how you use available space.

Black Mirror – A television series

Black Mirror – a television series

Black Mirror is a television series that was broadcast by Channel 4 a few years ago and made available to Netflix audiences recently. The series explores a variety of topics and issues to do with technology from death to crime and existentialism. It also explores themes like family and friendship.

We spend a lot of time thinking about technology and how it has changed our lives. Sometimes it’s fun to watch 80s series to see the world as it was before computers and the internet and sometimes it is fun to watch dystopian essays or short stories exploring facets of modern life.

In modern society we see that social media is affecting the discourse that is taking place between politicians and normal people. We see how social media and the lowering of the barriers of entry to the fourth estate have created a golden age for propaganda and disinformation. We see in The Waldo Moment that a CGI bear can mock the political system. It could be directly related to what we have seen happen recently.

Be Right Back deals with online identity and how a person can be emulated once they have died. The question is an interesting one. The more active we are on social media the more our character and personality can be understood and reflected back. This is limited. We are not entirely ourselves online. There are some things that we hide from the online world.

In Fifteen Million Merits we see a dystopian vision of the world where everyone lives in a small dark room. They get out of this room to go and peddle for a few hours to get Merits. Once they have 15 million merits they can “apply” for a different kind of job via a talent show.

Nosedive explores popularity and social networks. Everyone is constantly being rated based on what they share, how they interact with others and more. In such a dystopia people can progress or lose privileges based on reputation. In such a reality people are vulnerable.

A vertovian theme is explored in “The Entire history of You”. An implant called the Grain records your entire life and you have the ability to fast forward and rewind moments of your life. In so doing you can analyse what went well, what went badly and more. You can also see more than you were intended to see through other peoples’ recorded experiences. In this episode we see the Kino-Eye, the all seeing eye. Your life is no longer private.

I like some of the themes that are explored in this series and I recommend people to watch at least some of the episodes. I feel that they are relevant to our discussion about social media and online lives.