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.

 

 

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.

 

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.

The Selfie Stick cutter

In some cities you see a strange set of creatures and the selfie stick cutter is there to resolve this issue. People carry long poles at the end of which they stick their camera. They look at the phone held at a safe distance and smile, do victory symbols and other such gestures. These sticks would be really interesting if they were used to provide people with interesting images. Instead they are used to take pictures in interesting places with ordinary people in front. As a camera operator I photograph landscapes or monuments. It is an old fashioned habit.

The selfie stick is so endemic to some parts of the world by now that pranksters run around and cut people’s selfie sticks with the phone still attached. You can watch as dozens of phones fall to the ground in this video. Mobile phone repair shops must really enjoy watching this video. Look at all the work they will soon have.

I think that this video is meant to be seen as a joke but can you imagine how much anger such an action would generate. Can you imagine how fast you would have to run away from some of these people. You see these people look surprised and in some cases betrayed.

They have a quarter of a million views so far and it will grow from tomorrow onwards, as people in offices share the video with their friends and colleagues. Maybe by next week it will have more than a million views. Selfie sticks are popular and so are pranks. With the money they could make from monetising this video they could compensate the people whose screens they broke.

The story is not viral yet
The story is not viral yet

Selfie sticks do have one practical purpose. You can fix 360 cameras to them and take pictures without the giant index finger getting in the way. That is how I use one. You can get them for cheap from certain types of shops. You do not need to spend 29 euros.

Watching independent film rather than mainstream cinema

When I saw the Wired headline below I was happily going to say that I haven’t been to see a film at the cinema in years but that isn’t strictly true. As you have seen from my blog I have been an active appreciator of independent films. I was at FIFAD earlier this month and I was at the Montagne En Scène a few months ago. I have been to a few film screenings at the Graduate institute among other places.

I have been to see quite a few films this year
I have been to see quite a few films this year

I love watching good films and I love going to the cinema but at the moment there isn’t a single mainstream film that I want to see. Every single film is filled with CGI and fantasy and as I have joked about why would I spend 25 swiss francs on a film ticket to go to a film screen at a specific time when I could watch youtube gameplay videos and discover the story at the same time as the youtuber.

Last week I decided to stop my netflix subscription for two reasons. The first reason is that the content is crap. As they have a selection of films that have recently been shown at the cinema there is nothing that makes me think “That’s what I want to spend the next 90 minutes of my life watching.

Imagine if Netflix showed more extreme sports, adventure, environmental and other films. Imagine if they showed films that make us dream and aspire to more. Films need to be for other people than sci-fi geeks. They need to be for sports enthusiasts, for people that follow current affairs and for people that live in the real, rather than fictional world.

When I was living in the South West of England I went to the cinema ninety times in 9 months and what burned out was not my passion for the cinema but my ability to watch the same story line over and over again. The lack of creativity and originality is destroying people’s desire to go to the cinema. I have no reason to go to Pathé or other cinema complexes around Geneva because they do not show the films that I want to see. They do not address my niche.

Montagne en Scène, FIFAD and I think the Coupe Icare film festival fulfil my desire to watch films. They cover topics that I am either interested in passionate about.

Les Icares du Cinema 2015 from coupeicare on Vimeo.

Doesn’t the trailer for the film festival make you want to go? Don’t you want to watch people pushing themselves to the limit of their courage and endurance? I watch a trailer for an event like this and I definitely want to go. It fills my desire to challenge myself through the sports I do but also to see beautiful scenery and lanscapes. Why would I want to go and see CGI films when I can see extreme athletes challenge themselves and their equipment to the limits. Watch the video below.

Coupe Icare 2016 from coupeicare on Vimeo.

I watched this video at least twice and you see that whilst hollywood is filling its films with make believe the independent sector is documenting those with a real adventurous spirit. Imagine going to the event for the film festival and staying for the aerobatics.

For years now the film industry has been re-hashing the same content with no appreciation of societal changes. As a result they fail to capture our imagination and our desire to spend money. They need to inject new blood and find new creative directions that will make us want to go to the multiplexes rather than independent events. I enjoy the multiplex experience but the content dissuades me.

A Climbing Two year Old

A Climbing two year old is ordinary. They try to climb on to chairs, they climb to stand up. They climb up the stairs and the swings. What is less ordinary is for a two year old to rock climb like a grown up. As I watch the video below what inspires me the most is to see such a young human climb like a grown up. She learned by watching others and by being given the opportunity to practice at home and in climbing gyms.

This video makes me happy because it is nice to see such a young person learn to climb. If I had been given the support and opportunity, and if the sport had been more evolved, then I too would have started climbing at a young age. I used to climb trees, climb on to garage roofs and occasionally climb rocks from which I could eventually get down. I had to wait until I was more than 20 years old before I could climb my first “dalle”. This child was given access to that world from a very young age. Her first memory will surely be of climbing.

To make this story news worthy they had to add conflict of course. They had to speak about how some people who watch this think that it is dangerous to allow a child to climb. As the mother said “When she climbs in the gym we are watching her and she has 19 inch thick matts to fall on. The playground and the street are more dangerous”. They go on to say that she face planted on a street. Every single child does that. That’s the beauty of being a child. You’re bound to fall, cry, be picked up by your parents, and then a few minutes later start playing again. Climbing when you’re with the right people is no different. When and if I have children I will teach them about snowboarding and rock climbing and snorkelling. I want to pass on my passions. I want them to be the next generation of sports enthusiasts.

IFSC Climbing World Cup Villars 2016

I will be present at the IFSC Climbing World Cup Villars tomorrow. For me climbing has always been an active rather than a passive sport. It has been a sport where the landscape is nice and the crowds are small. Tomorrow will be the first time that I go and watch as other people climb.

It’s not that I don’t watch people climb. Between climbing gyms, bouldering gyms, via ferrata and Rock climbing it is a sport that I have explored in depth. What I haven’t explored in depth is climbing with an audience, climbing as an event, climbing as a competition.

Program

Friday 15th July
9.00 – 16.00 Men & Women’s lead qualifications
17.00 – 19.00 Men & Women’s speed qualifications
21.00 Speed Finals Women & Men (LIVE)
22.00 Award Ceremony (LIVE)

Saturday 16th July
10.00 – 12.30 Lead Semi-Finals Men & Women (LIVE)
20.00 Men lead Finals (LIVE)
21.00 Women lead Finals (LIVE)
22.00 Award Ceremony (LIVE)

Instinct tells me that lead climbing should be the more interesting discipline as it relates directly to the climbing I do. Speed climbing could be fun and interesting to watch but it has less practical applications in ordinary climbing life. If I want to be lazy then I could go up on Saturday and stop asking questions.

On Saturday from 1300 to 1600 there is the concours populaire, That’s when amateurs can try their hand at speed climbing.

Program of the event
Program of the event

Villars Sur Ollon is a place that I have visited a number of times but for once we should be welcomed by summer rather than winter temperatures. It will also be for climbing rather than skiing, hiking or après ski. I will take pictures and let you know what the experience is like. It’s nice after organising satellite distribution for sporting events finally to go on location. We’ll see how energetic the crowd is.

 

A Rock Crawler and Wildlife Film Making

When Gordon Buchanan was following bears in the United States we watched the resulting documentaries on television. We have seen him a number of times in episodes of countryfile as well. Now he is working on getting footage of wolves in the wild. For this project he is staying out in the wild and following a pack of wolves day after day for weeks. As part of this project he is filming with a broadcast camera and gopro cameras which he fixed on to a “rock crawler”. The Rock crawler is a remote control car with the body removed.

The BBC were working on a documentary about polar bears and for certain shots they created a den for filming purposes. It helped to tell the story but people felt that the purity of that documentary had been tainted. This genre of documentary aims to tell a genuine story with no reconstruction or trickery. Everything has to be genuine.

As we see from the footage above Gordon Buchanan was able to get the camera right up to the den and film the wolf cubs from the mouth of the den. This technology is great for story telling because it provides the camera operator with greater flexibility. He is able to get the camera to where he wants it to be without going there in person. In theory animal behaviour is genuine.

Sensory: BBC Wildlife Director John Downer & the technology of 'spy-cam' filmmaking from Getty Images on Vimeo.

With this technology a greater variety of shots can be achieved, from flying with specific birds to traveling under water with penguins and lounging in a pool with tigers. In essence spy creature cameras allow wildlife filmmakers to get genuine animal interactions without relying on luck. They can make their own luck and the natural history documentary genre benefits.

Post-fact Britain

I was in the graduating class of 2000 with 99 other students representing more than one hundred countries. As an individual I already have three nationalities and four identities. I am British, Italian, Polish and a foreigner living near Geneva, Switzerland. As a result of this mixture I said, when I was in Tanzania in 1999 that I was European because that was the simplest way to describe my identity. When I first heard about the Brexit Referendum months ago I thought that this was so stupid that I thought it was not a serious project. It did become a serious thing, especially in a post-fact Britain.

Because these narratives typically involve a selective use of facts and lenient dealings with matters of truth, they have given rise to symptoms of a post-factual democracy. A democracy is in a post-factual state when truth and evidence are replaced by robust narratives, opportune political agendas, and impracticable political promises to maximize voter support. source

For months I saw that The Guardian and other newspapers were heavily critical of the European Union. You couldn’t read an article from their website without getting the feeling that Europe was a terrible place. This bias, this message encouraged me to switch to French language media to get a less biased, less anti-European narrative. The Guardian is relatively open compared to the British tabloid press. The British tabloid press lied and misled its readership. Twice The Sun lied about the Queen supporting Brexit. Twice it suffered no consequences.

It is well known that Murdoch is anti-European. Few men have done more to fuel anti-European frenzy than the Australian-American media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, owner of several newspapers and the UK’s most important private television news channel. In his book How Britain Will Leave Europe, former Minister for Europe Denis MacShane describes how former Prime Minister Tony Blair considered holding a referendum on adopting the euro, only to renounce the plan for fear that the “shadowy figure of Rupert Murdoch” would use his media empire to campaign against it. Source

When you control the media it is easy to push your agenda forward. Conspiracy theories are always about how our privacy is being invaded and about how our phone conversations, e-mails and other communications but few of them address the problems of indoctrination or brainwashing. They rarely look at the message that we are being given on a daily message. We have to ask “What is the root message that we are getting?” In the United Kingdom the root message was “Europe is bad”. Imagine if the BBC, The Guardian and other news sources had provided both sides.

The website notes that as an EU tier 1 area, “companies can benefit from the highest level of grant aid in the UK”. Earlier this year the sports car company TVR announced it would build a factory and create 150 jobs there. Will it still come? Will the Circuit of Wales, a multimillion-pound motor racing circuit a private company has been proposing to build on the town’s outskirts creating 6,000 jobs? Will the £1.8bn of EU cash promised to Wales for projects until 2020 still arrive? source

Imagine if the Fourth Estate in the United Kingdom had been used to provide people with clear examples of how the EU was investing in the UK. Imagine if instead of focusing on getting people to vote Leave the British media had provided a complete and unbiased view of the European Union. Wales voted against the EU and yet this article shows that they had a lot to gain by remaining within the EU. Between 2014–2020, Wales will benefit from around £1.8bn European Structural Funds investment. Source . 

In his first public comments since last week’s historic referendum vote, the owner of newspapers including the Times, Sun and Wall Street Journal said leaving the EU was like a “prison break … we’re out”… Source

There was a period when we could read about the imbalance in wealth and investment between Rural England and London. This imbalance was making people uncomfortable and one of the reasons for which the BBC decided to become decentralised was to address this concern. It is interesting that for a number of months the BREXIT campaign has focused all of that dissatisfaction at the EU rather than London. In a 2010 article by the BBC we find this sentence: But even fans of London admit it is too expensive, too dirty and too crowded. And its critics say that it sucks talent, money and opportunities out of the rest of the country. sourceBrexit has not resolved this issue. Could this explain why around 7 percent of the British population have emigrated from Great Britain?

According this this article 4.9 million brits emigrated from the United Kingdom to live as migrants in other countries. This figure is from the UN population division. In theory I am British migrant as I live outside the United Kingdom. Brexiters (I will not play their game and call them brexiteers) made such a big song and dance about migrants coming to the UK and yet  British people are the single most mobile population in Europe. In Switzerland you can’t go a day without meeting Brits. Can you imagine the backlash if Europe decided to behave like England did?

I believe that people spent so much time worrying about privacy that they forgot to think about the prominent message in the media. They were groomed to see Europe in a negative light and voted accordingly. By choosing to provide people with the message that they wanted to hear the Leave campaign won. In a Post-fact Britain the checks and balances to hold brexiters to account failed. A campaign was won on lies and instability has resulted. The silver lining for other nations is that pro-european sentiment has risen. They have seen what a farce anti-European movements are.

 

Watching clouds form as a 360 timelapse

Time-lapse videos are fun because we can see something happen faster or slower than real time. By watching this content we gain a better understanding of the world and how it works. For years I have been filming time-lapses and the results can be fun. In some cases we record time-lapses with video cameras and at other times we set an interval timer to take pictures every so many seconds. In this post you will be watching clouds form as a 360 timelapse.

I have chosen to share both the flat image and the spherical image. The reason for sharing both versions is to give you an overview of how objects move in both.

Spherical Version

With this version look to your right and you will be able to watch the clouds move through space. As they move you will see them grow thicker and then cover the sun. At this point everything gets darker. If you watch this video a few times you can watch the landscape change.

The next step would be to get a 360 camera somewhere high during a total eclipse of the sun by the moon. During such events you will see a grey mask cross over the landscape, you will see birds fly away and then everything will be dark. You can then turn around and watch totality, the corona and then the reverse process. The time is right for eclipse chasers to be at the right place to capture such an event as a 360 video.

Flat Version

With the flat version you can imagine where you would aim a standard camera. Would you try to get the clouds that are forming over the mast or would you prefer to look out towards La Dôle and watch as the large clouds form and float to block off the sun? In this image you can see from Villeneuve and Lausanne to Geneva and the Salève.

Having such a wide angle of view allows you to see everything that is going on in front of and behind the camera. The timelapse is a sequence of pictures rather than video so in future I hope to export the video in a higher resolution.