Social networks and project collaboration

Jacques Yves Cousteau’s documentaries would have done well in the social media age, especially if the social media age moved away from profit and money. Imagine that social media companies such as Facebook and twitter were Not For Profit Organisations and imagine that instead of having advertisers they had sponsors. The quality of content and discussion would increase and the time wasting element that so many people worry about would be gone.

Alexandra Cousteau, grand daughter of Jacques Yves Cousteau is on twitter and she shares articles related to conservation and related topics. Not for profit organisations such as MSF and UN organisations such as the United Nations Development program all share content and articles that provide their followers with valuable resources for bringing conversations forward.

Social networks should be seen as anything but a waste of time. Their purpose would be to find clients, to find collaborators and to find mentors. In having these three resources finding new projects, employment and collaboration opportunities would increase. We would eliminate viral videos, tabloid content and keep high value, high return on investment prospects. Rather than PR and marketing specialists flooding our timelines with emotional but useless content we would have high value content worth responding too.

The aim would be to demonstrate our strengths in a high brow environment where conversations are possible and encouraged. From the time I was ten years old I have lived in the international community, between school, where I worked, university and more. As a result friends are distributed around the world rather than driving distance. Imagine that this network stopped seeing social networks as tabloid as commercial and a waste of time and instead saw them as useful work tools.

For me this is nothing new. When I was in London when twitter was in it’s infancy and when facebook too was in it’s infancy I saw both social networks as networking tools. I met hundreds of people via both networks and I continue to do this today but at a less efficient pace than I would like.

The aim would be that for every four or five days of social media use I would get two or three in person meetings with people to discuss projects and collaborations. I would also like to be inspired and encouraged to work on specific projects.

The Game Ingress by Niantic labs is a perfect example of what I would like to see within a professional context. Through the game Ingress I have met people in Paris, Fribourg, Lausanne and Geneva to mention just a few. If I go to Paris on the 22nd I can meet agents. If I follow mission days or First Saturdays then I can meet people in a number of cities. I mention this because although ingress is not a professional network it is still a project network. It requires geographically based teams to collaborate to achieve goals. If we could distribute that kind of network for documentary production and collaboration then employability and familiarity would both benefit.

It’s a shame that with all of the communication tools we have today we see social networks such as facebook and twitter as PR and marketing tools rather than collaboration and relationship tools. I have web designers, musicians, camera operators, writers, journalists, photographers, fundraisers, financial analysts and digital analysts as friends on Facebook and yet it is hard to see what people are working on. Imagine social networks that are optimised to benefit from your existing network.


The Bellevaux Via Ferratas

This year I went to the Bellevaux Via Ferratas in June and the area had been damaged by the intense storms and rain from weeks of rain. I went there on Tuesday and the via Ferrata des Cascades was different. For a start there was no water in the cascade. As a result those who were canyoning down the waterfall were dry. It was also much quieter and the sensation from the via ferrata was different.

The section with the slight overhang.
The section with the slight overhang.

Water is dynamic, constantly moving and making noise. As a result it provides a sense of motion and danger. When water is not flowing footholds are easy to find and your focus can remain on the via ferrata. The Cascade is my favourite beginner via ferrata. The conditions I think beginners will appreciate are: 1. Easy access. Within 200m you are at the via ferrata ready to climb and 2. Proximity to the ground. This via ferrata does climb quite a bit but you are never that far off the ground so vertigo will not add badly to how exhausted you are by the end of the path.

This via ferrata has two thick beams you cross over the river and one nepalese bridge (one cable for feet, one cable per hand, fourth cable for the carabiners. There are short bits where you are climbing vertically and then one section where you negotiate a slight overhang. After this you have two more beams and the VF is finished.

The Village of Bellevaux an hour's drive from Geneva.
The Village of Bellevaux an hour’s drive from Geneva.

If you have energy left over you have two more via ferratas to enjoy. These are the Via Ferrata du Chatelard and the Via Ferrata “La Grotte De Cristal”. These are harder via ferratas. In the case of Chatelard the estimated completion time is about one hour and fourty five minutes. I completed it in over fourty minutes so I am not a reference. This via ferrata starts by ascending diagonally for a bit before continuing horizontally a bit further. Hand holds are not always easy to access and there are certain portions where you have an excuse to dyno (propulse yourself) to grab the next hand hold.

The Chatelard is physical but the views of the valley are nice. As you can see from the picture above you have a nice view of the town to the right if you have your back to the cliff and a nice view of the valley if you look to the left.

View from the Nepalese bridge
View from the Nepalese bridge

The Nepalese bridge offers a nice opportunity to admire the landscape. After this point you soon reach the combination point where the medium and hard via ferrata combine. From here you continue towards an excellent tyrollean. I tried it with both the red and the silver devices. With the red device I went fast and only had to pull for the last metre or two. With the silver one which I tried twice the ride is very fast. You hit the wooden ramp running. With a friend we did this twice each.

I strongly recommend that you try the tyrollean if you’re with a group of people that have the required equipment. It’s a highlight of the day.

When I do the third and hardest part again I will write about it. I tried it one or two months ago and did find it fun. I may write about it this weekend.


La Cascade Via Ferrata in Les Diablerets

This year I finally got to see the Via Ferrata of the Waterfall (La Cascade Via ferrata) in Les Diablerets Switzerland. As a child it is a place where we would walk as children and experience the freezing river water. A few days ago I went for the via ferrata.

It was amusing to be with friends rather than family. As I know this landscape so well the effort felt minimal. The Via ferrata is a nice medium via ferrata. I’m tempted to say that I found it easy but that’s going to mislead people and I don’t want them to get stuck. According to the geotrails post this is a demanding VF because of the overhanging bits. That’s where doing one or two VF a week pays off.

If I was to do this via ferrata alone I would park at the Montée mecanique of Isenau, take the egg up to the top and then walk down by the lake and towards the Glacier 3000 lift. From there I would cross over to the via ferrata on the other side. Access to the via ferrata is quick and the path is easy. The Via Ferrata has some vertical moments but most of the time you are moving laterally. You have a very nice view of the valley below. 1050206After you have completed the principal part of the via ferrata you come to a clearing where rock climbers have a number of routes. I recommend keeping yourself attached to the via ferrata cable. Two people slipped on the soil and it’s a useful habit always to stay attached when the option is available.

From the flat section you climb a little and then head back down through a split between two rocks. From this point you can head down and consider the via ferrata complete or you can have fun and try the tyrollean. The tyrollean will require you to walk along some slippy rocks to where the platform is. Here you can attach yourself and enjoy the first tyrollean across to the other side. It’s not the fastest tyrollean I have done but it’s the first time I pass under a waterfall and that is fun. When you get to this side you detach, walk down for a short distance and can cross over again. The second tyrollean is slow and there is a good chance that you will have to pull yourself across as I did.

At this point you can follow the path down towards Les Diablerets along the river and back to where the car is parked.


Fribourg was liberated by Fribourg, Lausanne and Geneva Ingress resistance fighters

This weekend teams of Resistance Ingress agents from Fribourg, Lausanne and Geneva met in Fribourg to neutralise and capture all Enlightened portals. Some teams were on foot to liberate portals from the centre of the city. I was with the bike team and we took care of liberating all of the portals on the outskirts. It involved cycling up and down hills, a thunderstorm and being rained on.

I really enjoyed being part of the cycling team. It’s a fantastic way to get around and it’s a good way of seeing a big portion of unfamiliar cities with a minimum of effort. My team members were on electric bikes and I was on a mountain bike. This was great for me. I had to work hard to keep up with them. This was a good workout. There were moments where I generated up to an estimated 1300 watts of power for very short bursts and got the fifth best time on a segment.

I enjoyed this experience so much that I would love to do this again in other cities around here. Cycling gave me a workout and playing Ingress gave me time to recover. It seems that if you’re creating fields having a bike is ideal. You can get almost anywhere from anywhere within a city within minutes with a minimum of effort. By car this would be dangerous and impractical and on foot it would be slow and impractical.

Has Social Media made us less sociable?

As an extrovert of course you'd believe this. As a mid to late adopter you'd also believe this.
As an extrovert of course you’d believe this. As a mid to late adopter you’d also believe this.

Introverts who are not going to compete with extroverts, through social media, have an opportunity to have friendships and interactions that would otherwise not occur. To say that Social media makes is unsociable is a fallacy.

When I was a uni student the second time around I was socialising with fellow students all throughout the day and I was also active in social media. In 2007-2009 facebook was my university friend network. Twitter was strangers. Facebook was an extension of my physical social life.

Twitter was an opportunity to meet new people. It helped me meet people from tuttle. It introduced me to Seesmic when it was in Alpha. I conversed with some of the big names of the time and went to podcamps. I was invited to Leweb in Paris in 2009 and we met had seesmic meetups a number of times

More recently playing Ingress by Niantic Labs has helped me meet people in Paris, lausanne, Fribourg, Geneva, Nyon and other places. To say that social media makes people less social is to ignore that people use social media for conversations, not for brands.

The fallacy of most “social media professionals”, “Social media experts” and other “social media” snake oil practitioners is that they go home to a spouse or better half. They have no need to create a relationship with the people they are interacting with. As they do not create relationships with those who use social media they are kicking dust in the Atacama desert in the hope to raise enough dust to create a nucleus to which water will collect and fall as rain water.

There is a shift in social media today. It is a shift away from conversations especially on websites such as twitter and facebook towards brand brainwashing. As a result of this facebook and twitter have lost engagement.

That is not to say that other niche social networks are not benefiting from the ground broken by Facebook and twitter. In particular I am thinking of websites for slow ups and other group activities. I’m thinking of OVS (on vas sortir), Glocals (Geneva Locals) and many other social networks. I notice that the expatriated and international community benefit strongly from websites that encourage groups of people to do communal activities. Thanks to Glocals I scuba dived every single weekend for more than a year, I learned about Via Ferrata and loved the sport, I finally got to rock climb, I enjoyed canyoning and more. The idea that luddites can constantly bash social interactions via computers and electronic devices fatigues me.

You know what the most amusing thing is about the people who say that social media reduces conversations is? Their one word answer. :-D. Don’t you just love the irony?

The Bulle Slowup

Bulle is a city by a lake in the Canton De Gruyère in Switzerland. Last weekend they held their annual slowup event. A slowup is an event where roads are closed to motorised transport in favour of cyclists, roller bladers, skate boarders and other self propelling sports. The loop is around 26km long and there are ares to stop and enjoy food every few kilometres.

At this event you can also get your bike maintained for free except for parts that need replacing. It’s a great opportunity to take an old worn out bike and have it reconditioned. As I spent several days getting mine back in to condition I did not abuse of this opportunity.

The first climb
The first climb

The landscape around Bulle is nice. As you cycle you can see the Moléson mountains in the distance, and without clouds for a change. You can also enjoy a few climbs and descents. The gradients are not steep and the climbs are not long. A friend of mine was on rollerblade and it impresses me that she did around 30km.

Father and daughter
Father and child

The best feature of slowups is the ability to enjoy a wide road and cycle anywhere you like without the usual cars overtaking too close and too fast. As a result parents and their children can enjoy this beautiful landscape.

BYOB, not bring your own bike or beer. Bring your own barbecue
BYOB, not bring your own bike or beer. Bring your own barbecue

It’s amusing to see someone take a cool box and barbecue for such an event. I didn’t see them stop and start preparing food though.


France Télévision Coverage of the Tour De France

The Tour De France is a 3600 kilometre race over 3 weeks with one independent race each day. They start in an international city and then make their way to France within two or three days. The programmes are built around three specific shows. There is the pre-show Village programme followed by the first part of the race before the depart until well after it. The last segment is moved to France 2 for peak viewing and audience.

During the first of these programmes you learn about the city the tour de France is leaving. You get artist interviews, food preparation and other small animations. During the second programme, the first part of the race you see the cyclists and the landmarks and places worthy of note. You get landscape shots of the countryside, aerial shots of castles and learn about where they are cycling for future tourist visits should you be in one part of France or the other. You also get to see the cycling.

Today they’re cycling through the Pyrenées so you will see the cyclists face the challenge of climbs at the same time as working on making their endurance last long enough.

There are a lot of sports on television but very few of them have the intensity and landscape of cycling. Tennis is in a court, Football is in a stadium, golf is in a park. Only Cycling provides television audiences with a journey, a voyage. I love this voyage and love the “French Landscape programme” as I like to call it, for this very reason.

Cycling with the Cateye Stealth Evo+

I bought the Cateye Stealth Evo+ a few weeks ago because this summer I am rediscovering my passion for cycling. I made this decision because the Suunto Ambit 3 is not optimised for cycling. I wanted to have a way of checking my cadence whilst at the same time having a GPS track and easy data transfer with a service such as Strava.


I chose the Cateye Stealth Evo+ because of it’s wireless technology and price. I saw that the Garmin 500, 510 etc were offering all the same features but at a slightly higher price.


The hardware takes a minute or two to set up. I first set up the speed and cadence sensor on the frame before aligning both the speed sensor and cadence sensor. I then tightened everything once I had tested that everything was working properly.

The cateye device has two menu sets. Menu set 1 is for cycling and menu set 2 is for configuring the device. The first step is to go to menu 2 and pair the heart rate monitor and Speed and cadence sensors. Once this is done go to a computer and configure the device. You can tell it which timezone you’re in, whether DST is valid or not, wheel size and more. This takes seconds with the computer interface.


To turn on the device hold the power button for 4 seconds and then wait for the stop indicator to blink. It starts to blink once it has acquired your GPS location. At this point you can click the power button once and the indicator will change to go. Once you start moving you should see the timer move forward a second at a time and the odometre mark the distance travelled. The speed and cadence sensors will automatically activate when they detect that the wheels and pedals are moving.

The device automatically pauses when you are stopped and starts again when you are moving again. If you stop for an extended period of time you can power off the device and then power it on again when you resume the journey.

When you complete your journey stop logging the ride by pressing the power button and then holding the menu button at the front of the GPS for a few seconds, until you see the metres back at zero.

Online service synchronisation

The Cateye Stealth Evo+ and computer software make it easy to synchronise to three services by default. These are the Cateye cycling atlas, Strava and Training peaks. As the people I cycle with and share trip information with are using Strava I sync to this service first and then to others. I export the data file from Strava and import it to Sports Tracker almost flawlessly. Cadence data is not transferred.


I have used a number of mobile phones and sports watches and this is one of the fastest devices that I have dealt with. I really like that the heart rate monitor and speed and cadence sensors are on almost instantly and I love that the device is so simple and intuitive to use once you get the hang of it.


The key thing to remember with this device is that it has two modes/menus. Cycling and Setup. All of your navigation is done via the front button. I wish that I had set it up via the computer rather than via the menus on the device as the computer interface takes seconds.


While the Suunto Ambit 3 is my primary device for all sports the Cateye Stealth Evo+ has replaced it for cycling. I like that it provides a dedicated hardware solution that is easy to install and small and light to carry and potentially install on another bike. Integration with Strava works flawlessly so I am happy to keep using this product.

Cycling in the Vallée de Joux

Cycling in the Vallée de Joux is an enjoyable way of taking advantage of the summer heat we are currently lucky enough to experience. The Lac de Joux is a small lake and the ride distance is around 22 kilometres. In winter this lake freezes and I have walked over it whilst others have taken the opportunity to ice skate. It is located in the Jura after the Col De Marchairuz if you are coming from the Léman region of Switzerland.

The cycle around the lake is relatively flat for most of the journey. I cycled clockwise starting from the western side of the lake. There is a 13% grade climb to contend with so be ready for it. It is not long but it is steep and you’re almost to the top when you get to the train tracks. Traffic is sparse so you can meet the challenge without stress from cars.

There are two sets of sign posts that you can follow. One is for cross country bikes and the second is for road bikes. I had some fun doing a little of both as my bike allows for this.

Cycling around this lake is pleasant. As you travel to the North of the lake you climb through the mountains with the occasional glimpse of the lake with it’s wind surfers, pedalo and other related sports. You can smell the pine trees and have a number of places to stop for a drink and rehydrate yourself.

When you get to Le Lieu you can follow the road to a second lake along a nice easy road or you can choose the VTT (mountain bike trail. You have a short climb up until you get to dirt roads. These take you over the hill and back down the other side with a very nice view on a secondary lake.

You have a nice descent from Le Lieu to Le Pont.
You have a nice descent from Le Lieu to Le Pont.

From here you go around and arrive on the Eastern side of the lake where you find two or three restaurants and an epicierie. That’s where I stopped to get a refreshing drink. It felt so good to ingest cool liquid and I was pleasantly surprised by the relatively low price.

Lac de Joux

From the Eastern Edge of the road you can cycle along the foot path or you can cycle on the road. Out of respect for walkers/hikers I chose to go along the road. On the Southern side of the lake the road is rising slightly so you won’t get too tired. It’s from this side that you have some really beautiful landscapes to appreciate.

Now that I have cycled around this lake I hope to make my way up to larger and larger lakes. Switzerland does have healthy opportunities. Eventually I want to cycle around the Léman once I feel my physical condition is right.

Comment on “The BBC is under threat because its success challenges market ideology”

Imagine for a moment that television did what other industries did. Imagine for a minute that every program you watched was so good you wanted to pay money for it. If people want to pay money to watch it then your content is valid and worthwhile.

Commercial peak time television is rubbish placed to fill the space between adverts. As a result when people say “TV rots your brain” and “Television is a waste of time” and “Television makes you dumb” they are for the most part right. I’m thinking of those endless copycat programs. There is little program diversity on commercial television.

I love specific BBC content. I enjoyed watching DR WHO which is rather low brow. I also love the output by the BBC natural history unit, so much so that I have bought all of these documentaries. I used my dissertation exploring Cousteau and Attenborough documentaries as an excuse.

The BBC is a cultural icon of what Great Britain stands for. It produces thousands of hours of radio and television content. As the article points out people listen to 18hrs a week of content.

I used to like listening to the From Our Own Correspondent podcast/radio program but have lost the habit as I have changed from one mobile phone operating system to another. I also listen to more audio books instead.

Murdoch bullies ceaselessly for a subscription system, to shrink the BBC to the tiny size of America’s PBS.

It has taken Murdoch 25 years to get someone like Cameron in power to undermine and try to scuttle the BBC. I sincerely hope that Murdoch and Cameron fail.

The BBC needs to be preserved for two key reasons. The first reason is the cultural heritage. They have hundreds of thousands of hours of material that need to be digitised and preserved so that future generations may access them. By cutting costs and corners now we stand to lose thousands of hours of material which future generations have a right to access.

The second reason is the factual legacy of the BBC. As I studied the BBC’s factual output and specifically the BBC natural history unit I saw how they hired camera operators to shoot and document nature before it is destroyed. That documentary brings to life parts of life that our children may never see. Look at deforestation in Madagascar and look at Attenborough’s commentary when he went back. He said something like “This row of baobabs is all that remains from a tropical forest. These are the only trees that remain after loggers took away the rest of the trees”. He goes on to speak about Lemurs and how their environment has shrunk.

When I was working on my dissertation on the BBC output I started to think of various documentaries as volumes of an Encyclopedia. When documentary producers have the budget to produce a documentary like that of the BBC they can afford to spend weeks or even months to get that perfect shot. Think of the Birds of Paradise segment as one example or the mountain leopard segment as another. Think of the knowledge and information that previous generations had in books and how that knowledge is now in audiovisual form.

BBC documentaries are produced with licence fee paying money at such a high standard that they can then be sold as documentary collections to private individuals as well as to other broadcasters. Blue Planet, Planet Earth and other documentaries are currently on Netflix Switzerland for example. Well produced content has a shelf life. People want to acquire the rights. When the BBC produces high level content that others want to purchase they help fund future productions.

As a last thought documentaries that are made for public service broadcasting rather than commercial television are edited to be watched 52 minutes in a row. They don’t need to waste 30 seconds at the end and start of a commercial break to remind viewers of what they are watching. Murdoch is already using an old fashioned model. If you record content on your PVR for later viewing you might as well go to the netflix model rather than feed Murdoch’s disinformation machine.