Farhan Rehman on October 7th, 2012

If you’ve ever had to manage, or look after more than one or two wordpress sites, then you’ll know how annoying it can get when software or plugin updates are rolled out.

You’ll have to log into each site manually, and then run an update on each site, making sure that all the sites are upto date. It’s something that you get into the habit of doing, to make sure you’re website is as secure as possible, and that you’re benefiting from the latest features, and updates that the WordPress community has been working on. If you’re also using plugins, then chances are, there’s a whole bunch of plugin updates that need to happen too. Finally, you could also need to update your themes, as they often get updated as well. (Just make sure you have a ‘child’ theme with any customisations, before you start updating a theme that you personalised for your site, otherwise all the changes you painstakingly made will get wiped away in a single update, losing you all your hard work, and effort to look unique and special online).

The other challenges with managing multiple wordpress installations is the regular review of the comments, which can sometimes amass into the hundreds, once the spammers get hold of your site, and add it to their list.

Enter ManageWP.It’s a simple, easy to use online tool (and now with an iPhone App too), designed to help you manage and maintain all of your wordpress sites from a single place.

As well as allowing you to run updates, across all your sites simultaneously. (Though be warned, updating all the plugins at once, can ‘break’ your site, and so you may want to be sure to test your site, after you run the updates and make sure everything’s still working as it should). You have the possibility of backing up all your sites from a single location. (Admittedly you have to upgrade from the ‘free’ plan, that let’s you have upto 5 wordpress sites connected to your account, with a limited feature set, to run the regular backups), but once it’s there, a single scheduled command, means that you can have a regular backup of all of your sites run, and downloaded either to a designated email address, a dropbox account, or now a google drive account.

I must admit, before ManageWP, I had been painfully looking for a solution that would let me manage all of my WordPress Sites from a single location, and had fallen short for far too long.

Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t have to spend just as much time writing blog posts, or creating the content. But now that I don’t have to spend as long ‘managing’ and ‘maintaining’ my websites, I can focus more of my attention on the writing and engagement with the community, allowing me to focus on the things that I want to do, rather than the things I ‘had’ to do, to keep things ticking along.

I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts if you do give ManageWP a go on their free trial account, and let me know what you use, to manage multiple WordPress Sites, how you backup, upgrade, and manage all your comments ad posts across a number of different wordpress installations. So far, I think ManageWP is probably the best tool I’ve found – but if you know better, I can’t wait to hear about it in the comments below.

Farhan Rehman on November 11th, 2011

So I’ve just read this really interesting article on Wired, that talks about the potential for a human engineered ‘leaf’ equivalent, that takes energy from water, and can release the hydrogen from the oxygen, using photosynthesis.  That hydrogen, can then be readily used as a ‘fuel’ source.. i.e. electricity, plus fuel for hydrogen cars/fuel cells.

Reading about it, I ended up finding this YouTube video, where he talks about it in a bit more detail

 

A bit more digging around, and I found the business, Sun Catalytix that Dan Nocera set up.. I can’t wait to see this technology developed commercially and deployed!! Finally, the year of Solar could be upon us next year!!

The fact that it works with sea water, and river water, as well as tap water, means that this could be the ideal solution, for cheap, low cost, sustainable energy sources that can finally bridge the gap between the poor, and the rich, when it comes to fuel/energy availability.

The material is even ‘self-healing’, i.e. it can repair itself.. And it’s possible to even use human waste water as the fuel source..

Can’t wait to start using something like this :)   It’s cutting edge technology at it’s best!!

Farhan Rehman on August 10th, 2011

From the Arab Spring, to the London Riots, there appears to be a serious disconnect happening between huge swathes of groups of people who are supposedly meant to be living together in the same parts of the world, usually between the youths and the governments in power in their respective countries.

Whilst most people would say that there’s no comparison, or connection between the political activism that occurred in the Middle East, and the looting and rioting that’s been occurring on the streets of London, I would suggest looking at it from a different perspective, to see the common thread, that does occur between these two.

In both situations, if we take motives, and actions out of the equation for a second (assuming that the cultural norms in each society led to different actions and behaviours), we see groups of young people expressing a united opposition to the ‘authority’ and the social status quo.

Whilst in London, and the UK, we’re not exactly murdering and torturing people on a physical level who are not in agreement with our government and political leadership, as was happening in some parts of the Arab world, what if we are destroying the lives, and removing all opportunities for joy and happiness from the people that need it the most?

What if the social disconnect that has occurred between impoverished communities and the ‘rest’ of society, is as mentally and emotionally jarring to the kids in London, and the UK, as the absence of democracy and threat of speaking out had been to the youth in the Arab world?

For ultimately, what was the reason for the outcry in either place? To say, we will not tolerate this any longer.

Admittedly an onlooker with some education, living in a society with certain levels of acceptable behaviour, and social conditioning wouldn’t just take to the streets and take to looting, and vandalising. But what if the people taking those actions in the streets of London don’t have any education? What if those kids haven’t been conditioned socially? What if their education has been at the level of tribal warfare, and their socially accepted conditioning is that it’s ok to take what you want, as long as you’re stronger, in bigger numbers, and more threatening than the people in front of you?

The gang culture that has been developing in some parts of our societies, here in the UK, coupled with no doubt, endless hours of violent video games, movies that glorify violence, and crime, as well as no sense of accountability or responsibility would indeed end up generating groups of children, that act in herds, behave like animals, and have no sense of regard, or respect for others.

In their mind they’re taking what they’ve somehow justified they’re entitled to, and whilst we need to use force, to stop them, put them behind bars, and put an end to the violent disruption, that is clearly not going to be enough to solve this problem.

Just like dictators in the arab world were using violence to maintain their control and power, the children on the streets of London have been rising up, to show they deserve respect, and can command power too. So much so, that for the first three nights, the violence in London continued to escalate, with the police watching on almost helplessly from a distance.

But as Laurie Penny so rightly points out,

“Violence is rarely mindless.”

she goes on to say:

“In one NBC report, a young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything:

“Yes,” said the young man. “You wouldn’t be talking to me now if we didn’t riot, would you?”

“Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you.”

Eavesdropping from among the onlookers, I looked around. A dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere.

There are communities all over the country that nobody paid attention to unless there had recently been a riot or a murdered child. Well, they’re paying attention now.”

If we look back over the last few months, just in November and December of 2010, the Student Protests in London eventually led to a minority of troubled youths engaging in violence, and disruption caused by people reacting increasingly to a government that they felt was acting in an unjust manner, making decisions about the future of their education system. Yet even then, there was no clear rhyme or reason. One of the students convicted, Edward Woollard was clearly not of your typical youth with a troubled background, unstable family, or with no prospects. And yet was able to get caught up in the wave of emotion, and frustration that the crowd acted with. Whilst the judge thought he was making an example of him, and others like him, no one really examined or bothered to ask the question what could possibly provoke someone to so readily engage in such public violence?

Then earlier in March 2011, more people took to the streets, in outrage and in protest to the government spending cuts.

This is an unseen social tension that has been brewing and brewing for some time now. This didn’t just happen overnight. The events themselves may have, but the causes, and the environment that allowed for this to break out in didn’t.

Whilst the ‘rule of law’ is enforced, and police and politicians partner up to clamp down on the ‘trouble makers’, it is a shame to think that all that will happen is the denouncing of the violence, and covering up of the real issues that plague our society.

There isn’t a single reason or cause that’s singularly responsible for the situation that’s occurred across the UK. (Violence and looting now on this 4th night occurring in Salford, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Nottingham and Liverpool to name but a few.) But there are many many reasons that all compounded to create this reaction.

There’s the school holidays – which means more children are out of school, and have nothing to occupy their times with.

The fact that people are looting high value goods and targeting stores like Curry’s, JD Sports, and other Fashion and Designer clothing stores suggests that money or wealth may be part of the problem.

Large numbers of unemployed people, feeling worthless, living off benefits, could be part of the reason. However, with evidence of some of the people being tried in courts pointing to people having jobs, studying at university, and even meant to be joining the army, you can’t just use wealth inequality as a reason for this looting.

Looking at the targets of the crimes, they all seem to be focussed on property of value, so there’s always the potential that there’s some underground crime scene being masterminded behind all the violence. Especially if the crimes were in response to a possible network that lost approx £300m of Cocaine, from the boat from the caribbean that was apprehended on it’s way to the Netherlands, but I’m just speculating there.

That said, it’s hard to imagine so many of these kids being part of some international crime cartel. Often fear, and violence go hand in hand, with people who are afraid, or frustrated lashing out. Perhaps there’s some social cause that’s being made known for the rest of the world to start to pay attention to.

The lack of a social fabric bridging these disparate communities together.

It’s easy to attack, deface and vandalise the property of people who you consider alien, or the enemy. If they had genuinely considered themselves a part of the society that they attacked, they may not have been so violent. However, if they live with this fear, lack of trust, and the constant need to earn respect, in their own backyards, then why would they be any different out on the streets?

It’s easy for us to sit back and blame them for causing all this violence and crime. It’s much harder for us to see ourselves as responsible. For cutting funding to key resources like Libraries and Youth Centres that they rely upon. Some children even went so far as to predict the riots, after the closures of youth centres.

Is it any wonder that when we’re pulling out the support and network that is responsible for helping them cope, then leaving them to roam the streets with no-where to go that the youth in our society aren’t going to start causing trouble?

To top it all off, to then expose them to a constant barrage of advertising that creates desire for products they can’t afford, taunting them of a lifestyle that is inaccessible to them, and creating cravings for the finer things in life, whilst all the time making it harder and harder for them to be inspired by any of the life choices that lay ahead of them, it’s not hard to believe that violence looting and theft are some of the only ways they see themselves as being able to ‘have’ the things that matter, in our ‘material’ world.

The sad fact of the matter is, that the world is falling to pieces (supposedly, according to the rising inflation, and global depression), people don’t feel like they belong in the society they’re living in, and they lack the role models, ambition or desire to do much more than live an ‘easy’ life, with all the luxuries they yearn for, but without the debt that normally is associated with it.

Drugs, Alcohol, and crime, as much as we don’t want to admit it, are all part of the social fabric that leads to the violence, looting, and crime that has been happening.

Most of the looters were carrying off large quantities of alcohol. Alcohol which they presumably would never be old enough to buy in stores.

Perhaps it’s time to admit that we don’t really know what’s happening in our back yards, and in our neighbourhoods. Many of us work too much to have time for our families, let alone our neighbours. Most of us live in neighbourhoods, where we don’t make time for the people around us.

Our virtual communities, coupled with always on communication channels means we’ve gradually been slipping away from the real world, from the physical community that we inhabit, and just as we’ve been slipping away into our own worlds, so have those steeped in their own communities of violence, crime, and gangs gotten ever deeper into theirs.

Unfortunately, we all have to live together, and it’s become really clear that the answer is not to just step away, or live in fear one of the other. In order to overcome this fear, this segregation of social groups, we need to start bridging those gaps. We need to start connecting together all the different elements of society. Recognising that sometimes the mental and emotional traumas of living in our western world, are sometimes more perilous than the physical challenges of famine or drought.

Why is it that people on the verge of starving can remain humane and composed, whilst those with everything to live for, in the developed world are the most likely to commit suicides? Is it because whilst the absence of food might lead to starvation of the body, that is nothing compared to the starvation of dreams, ambitions, and hope?

Faced with a monotonous life of petty theft, crime, selling drugs, living on benefits, or being indentured in servitude at minimum wage, because of inescapable debts, and no possible light at the end of the tunnel, you too might have taken to the streets and considered it appropriate or even your right to take what you could, when you could. Especially if you’ve been conditioned through films, video games, and popular culture that crime is a part of life. (Go on, admit it, it did remind you of Grand Theft Auto, didn’t it?)

Those people suffering for lack of food, and clinging on to survive don’t have the benefit of TV, internet, Cable television, Sky, Cinema’s, Magazines, DVD’s and the constant barrage of advertising and marketing making them feel inferior, and inadequate if they don’t have the latest TV, or the latest trainers. They’re only able to focus on what they have around them, their challenge to find food. Their challenge to stay alive. To keep their children alive. To stay warm. To find shelter. To make it through another day. They exhibit the innate human spirit that wishes to survive. That wishes to better itself.

If we took those kids that were on the streets of London, and across the UK, looting, and breaking into stores, and we gave them challenges to learn from, discipline and structure to work with, and a sense of belonging in the wider community we probably wouldn’t have had the expressions of outrage, fear and violence that we saw on the streets.

We’re as responsible for this situation as they are. As people, as politicians, and as members of this society it’s our responsibility to reweave the fabric of society to include everyone in the process. Not just the educated, and cultured.

The question is are we yet mature and grown up enough to admit it?

Farhan Rehman on July 13th, 2011

Google+ is loved by some and hated by others.

Ever since news of the trial invitations kicked up a buzz on twitter, and sites started blogging about every mundane feature left right and centre, I’ve been curious to see what all the fuss is about.

Unfortunately, Google, in their infinite wisdom, just aren’t ready to share their treasures with all of us, and the frequent invitation to ‘wait’:
Google+ Limited Trial Screen
means that even people who have received invitations aren’t able to sign up and trial the service.

It’s a bit of a ‘pot luck’ at the moment, and whilst I’m sure it’s all very interesting, and new and shiny, I’ve gotten tired of the way that Google releases a service, to the general public, and then ceases to make it available to the actual people that they have invited to come and try out the service. If you can’t deal with the load, then don’t send out so many actual email invitations Google!

I’m sure the publicity is great for Google, in the way that Gmail invites only trickled out to people in the start, and made them all the more desirable.

But in the long term, the real value from these services isn’t going to come from who signed up first, but rather from how do you use it on a day to day basis.

I don’t really have an opinion on Google+ right now. I’ve resisted the temptation to actually read all the posts, and articles that are making the rounds speculating, and postulating as to where Google+ will land, and all the great and wonderful features it posesses.

When I do finally receive an invitation from Google+ that I can actually use, then I’ll indeed consider taking a look at it. Until then, it’s just ASNW (another social network), that we’ll need to add to the list. In practice, only a few platforms will own my relationship, and ideally those will be differentiated by context. Perhaps Google+ will be an appropriate context for something, perhaps not, for now, I’ll hold off on pressing that plus button repeatedly to find out..

And in all honesty, when I eventually do log into Google+, the amount of effort it takes for me to connect to my disparate social graphs, across multiple platforms, contexts, and communities, will dictate just who I do or don’t connect to on it.

Farhan Rehman on June 10th, 2011

June 8th, 2011, Mark Zuckerberg gave a speech to the eighth graders at Belle Haven Community School in Menlo Park, CA, as Facebook plans on moving to Menlo Park, and was keen to get to know the neighbours.

During his speech, Zuckerberg, shared a few things that he’s learned, that has enabled him to not succumb to the attitude of “I can’t”.  He talks about how building a company, or a product like Facebook is about determination, and believing that you can.

His three key learnings, were:

1) Everything that’s worth doing, is actually pretty hard and takes a lot of work.
2) Focus on surrounding yourself with great relationships and friends that you trust.
3) Do what you love.

In a bit more detail:

1) Everything that’s worth doing, is actually pretty hard and takes a lot of work
Anyone that tells you it’s easy, or you can do it overnight, is just wrong.
Whether you’re an Athelete, or a musician, or you’re building a company, it’s not about a single moment of inspiration or brilliance it’s about years and years of hard work, before you get there.
It’s really the hard work that underlies everything that you do.
If you want to do anything  great, that’s just something that you need to remember.
Anything that’s really awesome to do takes a lot of work, and a lot of practice to get there.

2) Focus on surrounding yourself with great relationships and friends that you trust.
Things are hard – only your real friends, and the people around you are the ones who will tell you that you can do it, and support you in doing it.
It’s not about the one person, or the lead singer of the band, because no one ever does anything alone, they always do it with their friends, and partners.
Those relationships enable you to build awesome things.
So focus on those, and have fun.
Great friendships are what makes life fun and meaningful and enables you to do awesome things.

3) Do what you love.
You can make yourself do things that you don’t like doing.
You can overcome things, that you don’t like doing.
But it’s a lot easier to focus on  challenges that you really do enjoy doing.
If you have the option to play a game, even if it’s really hard, if it’s something that you like, you’re going to power through that, and find a way to do it.
Life is like that a lot of times.  You can make yourself do challenging things that you don’t like, but if you actually do stuff that you love it’s a lot easier, and takes on a lot more purpose.

Some great words..  I’ll be adding my own thoughts later, but for now, I just wanted to share the video, with you all..

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Farhan Rehman on June 4th, 2011

On Saturday, I weighed myself, and I was 131.5kg = 290 lbs = 20 stone 10 lbs.
My BMI is 37.23.
In 116 weeks, I’ve lost 1 stone and 9lbs net (According to the Nintendo Wii!).  That doesn’t take into account any weight that was added on in between, and then lost subsequently, as I hadn’t been keeping track of my weight all that closely.

It also doesn’t take into account any muscle I’ve gained, whilst losing fat.

But it’s a start.

I know that I’ve been losing weight, gradually but surely, and now I’m going to start actively tracking and sharing my progress.  My goal is to lose 1st 8lbs within 6 months.. which means I need a net loss of 2lb every 2 weeks, to be on track.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress, and start sharing more about some of the interesting things I learn about food, and health, along the way..

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Farhan Rehman on June 24th, 2010

I predict that today, as the iPhone4 is being released global sales will mean more than a million handsets get sold in the first day.

I also predict, that by December, the iPhone4 will be the ‘must have’ christmas gift of the year.

I’m also gonna predict that by the end of this year, it will start to become more mainstream to make video calls, rather than just audio calls (especially because of FaceTime, and the prevalence of WiFi availability everywhere).

I think also, the number of people who start vlogging (video blogging) is going to start to increase signficantly, as the iPhone 4 just looks like it’s going to make it easier for people to capture content, edit it on the device, and then upload it directly.

I hope that the front mounted camera will make it an ideal device to see yourself, whilst you’re recording, and that the software tweaks, and adjustments internally in the device that allow you to zoom in and focus on different images/parts of the scene your recording mean that the quality of content produced makes for better overall video creation. If the new iPhone 4 really does work well with all sorts of different lighting, etc, then I really do believe that there will be a massive influx of more video generated content, and that particularly in my mind, people will start relating to video content and responding to video content in a whole new way.

Whilst it’s been primarily people with video recording devices, or web cams, in the past, and only a minority of mobile users pro-actively generating, and capturing content on the go, I think the iPhone 4 is going to see a huge shift in the sheer volume of real time video content that gets created, in part because of the planning and thinking that’s gone into making the software smarter, but also, because I believe the ‘Apple’ experience of producing and editing a video will be a lot easier, smoother, and more manageable than it currently might be with other mobile devices.

I think also that the way that the iPhone has built up a solid financial eco-system around itself, with regards to the money it gives back to developers, and the amount of developers who are earning a substantial income from the iPhone App store makes it a much much stronger contender to Android, Google’s operating system, and whilst there might be a greater proliferation of mobile devices out there using Android, there’s a lot more Apple users out there that are actively advocating their user experience, just directly with friends, and through Word of Mouth. I firmly believe that the level of customer service that you get from Apple, when you go to one of their stores, and you have a problem with your device, just can’t be replicated by Google, or Nokia, with their respective platforms and devices, and as much as it is about being a mainstream handset, the numbers of people flocking to an iPhone are going up, regularly.

I myself would have never considered an iPhone before this one.. But now that it does video, as part of the design, and it lets me edit the content on the device, and upload them directly from the handset, I’m finally delighted at the prospect of acquiring a personal iPhone 4. The Apps eco-system means it will always be the first platform people think of developing for when it comes to mainstream consumers, and whilst the lay of the land may change 5 years from now, for now, I’m putting my bet behind Apple, and the iPhone 4, as being the most prolific and widely used device for 2011. Even though I thought this was going to be the year for Android, I now seriously have my doubts about that.

Of course, these are just my predictions, and I’m basing it on my own long term experience of using both Mac and PC and how easily my mobile phones in the past have integrated with my physical and online eco-systems. I think it’s time I stopped trying to get it to work, and just get an iPhone, and start syncing my iTunes, and/or spotify playlists.

Now the only question left is, do I wait for the end of the month, or get one today?

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Farhan Rehman on November 14th, 2009

And it’s you!

That’s the premise of a film that I’ve just watched last night. We Live in Public, a documentary styled film, that’s just been released in the UK yesterday, through DogWoof is a truly insightful film.

I find life so amusing at times. Thursday evening, I was at the YesAndClub listening to Shed Simove, the editor for Big Brother. The following day, I was sat watching We Live in Public, seeing how the original Big Brother idea had been done, long before, in New York by a man named Josh Harris.

Josh Harris, a name that most people nowadays don’t recognise or know, was a man who was far ahead of his time. In the early days of the internet, Josh was already creating streaming video content, embedded with chat windows, and real time conversations. The film takes you through Josh’s various projects, and businesses, some hugely, lucrative, others massively successful, and some which just seem completely off the wall.

He started off with founding Jupiter Research, after understanding what sort of market survey data was needed in the Internet sector, then following the trends, and knowing the direction that things were headed, after he became a success with Jupiter, he worked with Prodigy and established their chat rooms. Being given creative license, and the freedom to be a little more risque than the traditional corporate types would have been comfortable doing, he got sex chat rooms going, and eventually ended up having close to 25% of Prodigy’s traffic happening as a result of people in chat rooms. From there, he went on to founding Pseudo.com where he started live streaming video, and having chat rooms alongside the live video. As you watch We Live in Public, you really start to see how even though this was all happening across dial up modems, and this was the late 1990′s Harris really had a vision of what would be emerging, or the direction that things be going in from an industry and tech perspective.

At it’s peak, Pseudo was creating multiple channels of live streaming content each with their own embedded chat rooms, and each one on different topics or subjects. It was an achievement, if you look at it, like no other. He had managed to create more channels than were publicly available through any other medium at the time, and because the tv channels all ran autonomously, the folks producing and editing the shows had an unprecedented level of creative control, and came up with some compelling viewing. But being so far ahead of it’s time, Harris was unable to sell Pseudo off to one of the bigger players, and never really established the dominance in the market place that other media channels had at the time.

Following on from Pseudo, Harris launched into a project called ‘Quiet Place’ which was essentially a ‘closed environment’ live in community in the depths of New York, having taken an old factory, and repurposed it internally to accomodate his ‘under ground’ experiment. Being notorious on the New York scene for throwing wild parties, and perhaps in an effort to further his ‘work’, Harris recruited in something like 100 people, who were each interviewed, screened, and then became inhabitants of this underground community. Everything you wanted was supplied, for free, including food, drink, drugs, and even firearms. But once you came into the community you couldn’t leave, and everyone had to wear the same clothes. Josh himself was a member of this community, but subversively so, as he would often be shown ‘off set’ behind the scenes, getting feedback from a group that was helping him enforce control, and order in the environment, from outside.

The set up was impressive, in so much as it was a full ‘Big Brother’ style experiment. There were cameras everywhere. From the loos and showers, to the beds, there wasn’t anywhere that you couldn’t go, or hide, and not be seen. But more interestingly, he had set up a ‘pod style’ bank of beds, essentially a hundred bunk beds all stacked tightly next to each other, and each contained a tv screen in one corner and a camera in the other. From any bed, you could flick through all the channels, and see what people were doing in any of the other beds, with the idea being that if two people were watching each other at the same time, then there would also be live audio between them. The experimental community ran for the month of December, 1999, right through to the Millenium New Year, but given that they also had a ‘church like’ room, rumors reached police that there was a massive cult and that there would be mass suicides, and so came down to investigate on the morning of either the 1st or 2nd of Jan (the exact date escapes me). Fortunately for Harris, he had grown tired of the project, and so it was the perfect excuse to just shut things down and move on.

His next experiment was in living in public (hence the title, We Live In Public). He found himself a ‘girlfriend’, and played out the drama of being a couple under the scrutiny of the camera. It’s interesting in the movie that the filmmaker Ondi Timoner chooses to show Harris’s girlfriend/public romance as being something that genuinely happened, and genuinely fell apart. In Harris’s own words, after the film, during the Q&A, he confirms that he had pre-meditated the whole experience. Deliberately finding someone to recruit into the role of ‘girlfriend’ for his staged experiment of living publicly. He even claims to have the footage of him going over the moral dilemma of putting someone through that experience, and clearly, as is evidenced by the snippets of footage that’s shown of the experiment, he didn’t hesitate to follow through. Eventually the relationship breaks down, and Harris is left ‘alone’ with his viewing public which whilst at it’s high of as many as a 1000 people when he and Tanya, his girlfriend at the time were in love and all lovey dovey, drops to as little as 10 folks.

Eventually he leaves that experiment, packs up, and just disappears. Later it turns out he had bought an Apple Farm up north from New York, and was just working the farm, working the land. Almost as if he was unplugging himself from the grid, and just getting back to nature. It’s interesting, as I was watching that I was thinking about the Schumann Resonance and how as people we tend to ‘feel better’ in nature, because we get to discharge all the energetic charge we’re carrying from being exposed to technology and the ‘stresses’ of modern life, and have our energy almost ‘neutralised’ or ‘grounded’ and end up just feeling more peaceful or calm in the presence of a natural environment. (As an aside, some folks would also chalk that upto the ‘Aura’ being grounded in a natural environment, and all the energy that hadn’t been properly anchored or discharged from being in an electric and tech filled physical space, and from being deprived of being exposed to the natural base background frequency/radiation gets all balanced out, the way nature knows how to. But since this isn’t a review of Aura’s or energy fields, I’ll leave that as an initial thought for now – will perhaps one day write a more detailed review of some of the evidence to suggest it’s existence.)

After working on the Apple Farm, eventually Josh Harris ends up selling up, upping his roots, and disappearing to Ethiopa, where later we discover he’s bought himself some land, and has made his home. Deliberately living somewhere that isn’t wired up, and technically as forward, it affords him the opportunity to rediscover community, and his own humanity which almost feels like he’s lost at times, when living under public scrutiny in some of his experiments.

The film itself, whilst chronicling some of Josh’s past, and background, doesn’t do justice, in my opinion to his vision, or inspiration to create these experiments in ‘public’ living. After the film, we’re fortunate to be able to have a Q&A with Josh Harris, the ‘subject’ of the movie, and slowly it starts to become evident that Harris really sees himself as an artist, rather than a technologist, or futurist, though it seems he’s aptly positioned to fill any one of those roles. But unlike Orwell, and his vision of Big Brother, in 1984, Harris’s visions, and ‘experiments’ were attempts to understand our own innate desire to watch and be watched. Harris describes post screening how he wanted to capture the experience of losing yourself in the collective consciousness, of the people that are observing you, and relates how in the couples experiment, living with Tanya, in a flat, when he pushes her a touch too far, she goes completely out of character, and acts out the suggestions that her fans provide her, through the chat rooms. It seems that everyone else in the chat rooms is starting to influence Tanya’s thinking and behaviour, and she insists that Josh sleep on the couch, and that she get to stay in the bed. Eventually Tanya makes the decision to leave the flat completely. But Josh identified the moment where Tanya forced him to sleep on the couch, as a direct consequence of the user feedback and not something that she would have otherwise considered. It’s this nature of hyper connectedness, that your own mind, and your own control over what you say or do gets lost in response to the community around you that Harris was trying to capture, understand and express, through these experiments.

Whether he does that or not is a different matter. But it’s understandable why some folks would liken him to the ‘Warhol of the Web‘. Especially if he describes himself as an Artist, and when asked what his motives were he shares that he aspires one day to be in the major Art Galleries, being exhibited. He does make a valid point, that most great artists are never appreciated in their own time, and even shared that he was almost hoping that his content will one day be looked back upon and seen by people as being the revolutionary, ahead of his time visionary that he seems to be, by documenting and capturing in such detail all the content from all of these cameras from all of these experiments in living publicly. He also jokes about the cost of storing all this information, and refers to the half life of the video medium he’s stored all this content on, describing museums as being those repositories that are paid to store our history and keep our art alive.

Personally I had so many questions that I wanted to ask of Josh, but given that the Q&A was for a limited time only, and that there were other people in the audience, I didn’t ask more than a few questions of him, but as I let the fullness of the film sink in, and start to take some of my own background/experience and perceptions into account, I really get a sense of just how cutting edge Harris was with his work, and how his latest project, which he’s now pursuing, since the film is opening doors for him again, is really an attempt by Harris to understand and see through his project who’se name escapes me at the moment. It’s an attempt to recreate the ‘Quiet Place’ experiment, but this time to have ‘work’ for the people to do. Harris reflected that one of the reasons why Quiet Place descended into anarchy and chaos was partly because there was nothing to occupy people’s time and attention, and so apart from being ‘watched’ all the time, people had nothing else to do.

His latest vision is of a ‘wired city’ which will have everyone being watched under the camera, given everything, and also be given work, or tasks and activities to occupy them.

In brief, I think the guy is trying to create real life experiences of what might happen if everyone’s thoughts became conscious and everyone was plugged directly into each other. He even suggests that perhaps that’s what they Mayan 2012 is all about a firmware upgrade of the human CPU, so that we no longer operate as single autonomous units, but as an interconnected hybrid type massive parallell computer. Personally I’d been saying the same thing to my own friends. That all this technology like mobiles that allows us to be uber connected all the time, in any place, at any time is a way for us to physically train ourselves to start experiencing that ‘always on’ moment in preperation for some form of mass telepathy to emerge that will allow us to always be connected with each other. Some folks are already talking about such phenomenon through Indigo Children, and a coming of a new age type talk.. Others recount Mayan prophecies and ‘end of times’ type forecasts to mean just a transform of such a scale that it’s unprecedented, and beyond our imagination.

The one other insight that occurs to me, when reflecting on this film was Sheldrake’s work on Morphogenetic fields, and the sense of being stared at. What if we do communicate information by putting our attention on something. What if when we look at something we’re communicating with it, energetically, and telepathically, but our sense are so numb, and dulled, that we can’t perceive that communication. There’s always stories of Aborigines being able to communicate with each other over vast distances, and even traditional indigenous people having a ‘hyper connectedness’ that allows them to perceive and understand the natural world in a way that escapes most of us urban city dwellers.

It’s indeed an interesting perspective that Harris offers up, and indeed only time will tell how true a visonary, artist, or prophetic futurist he was, but given his track record so far, I wouldn’t disagree completely with him at all. In fact my own thinking and understanding are very much in line with the tack that Harris takes on the subject.

My final thought will be to leave you with an excerpt from The Foundation for the Law of Time, where this is expressed far more eloquently than I ever could:

In its essence, time is a frequency expressed as a mathematical ratio constant, 13:20. This constant defines a whole new realm of reality, the synchronic order. This is the fourth dimensional realm where synchronicity is the norm and can actually be mapped out by mathematical codes based on the ratio constant 13:20.

By means of this constant it can be demonstrated that the present civilization is not coordinated by the universal frequency of synchronization, but by an artificial timing frequency which is a major factor contributing to the present global crisis.

Rooted in an irregular 12-month calendar and a mechanistic 60 second/60 minute timing program, this artificial timing frequency (12:60) drives the human species ever farther from the natural order with alienating effects on human consciousness. In this analysis, the evolution of the human species is dependent on a return to the natural timing frequency.

For this reason the primary social application of the Law of Time is the Thirteen Moon/28 day calendar. By making the Thirteen Moon/28-day cycle the harmonic (13:20) standard of everyday time measurement, replacing the irregular twelve-month global standard, the Law of Time establishes a new foundation for the reformulation of the human mind and its systems of knowing.

[http://www.lawoftime.org/law/law.html]

If you’re reading this, and the film is still showing, I thoroughly recommend you get out to the cinema and watch it. If you happen to read this on Saturday the 14th November, I believe the 6.30pm screening at the Odeon in the Panton Street Cinema in London will include a Q&A with Josh Harris, after the film, and if you feel so inspired, I’d thoroughly recommend you get down there to watch it, and ask him a few of your own questions ;) If you happen to live outside of London, there’s also nationwide screenings next week, for which you could win a ticket by entering the draw here.

Farhan Rehman on November 8th, 2009

So this is ‘Day 2′ for me, during this month of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), though I may just go backwards a little, and peddle in some posts for the first few days of November to fill in the gaps, and make sure I’ve published one post a day for the month of November, especially seeing as I only just discovered NaBloPoMo a few days after November started. (Yes, I know, I probably should have been paying more attention, but I was unplugged from the internet, so kinda missed it kick round!)

Yesterday (as in Saturday) was a pretty tame day by usual standards. There was no real networking, any hardcore event going, or even any real serious work done on my part. (Shocking I know! But occasionally it does happen ;) So having a bit of a ‘rest’ day, I ended up spending a few hours watching TV. Yes, it’s not something I do often anymore.. In fact, I think it’s been a few weeks since I last sat down in front of the tele, and just watched something, but figured it was time to do something that didn’t require too much interactivity or active engagement from me, and just passively absorb some entertainment for a change.

I ended up watching 3 films yesterday. Star Wars Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Around The World in 80 Days, and Zoolander.

Of the three films, Zoolander was probably the worst. I knew it was bad, but seeing as I’d never had a chance to watch the whole film, and given that I wasn’t too exhausted last night, I ended up staying awake to watch it. It was ok, but really not worth watching unless or until you’re really bored, and in the mood for a really lame film with a bunch of over the top dumbness of the airheaded fashion model type blondie emtpy headedness.

Star Wars, as ever, is always cool to watch. Dunno if it’s the geekness in me, or just the sheer coolness of the idea of space flight, and many planets, with different species all living alongside each other, but I just seem to love stuff that involves flying between planets, and through outer space. Especially if there’s different species involved ;) The 3rd episode really plugs the gap between the first trilogy and the main trilogy of Episodes 4, 5 and 6 – or the Star Wars story, as we’ve come to know it, having grown up with it in the 80′s. It’s a film that you can watch independently of the other films, but really, to appreciate it fully, you need to watch the other films before it, to really get the context. Watching any of the Star Wars epics, really makes me think that George Lucas would love working in Bollywood. The only reason I think that is because the average length of a film there is so much longer than Hollywood that he really wouldn’t have any trouble creating such long films, and he might even find some inspiration in some of the more traditional Indian Myths, that he could feed into his own films ;)

Of the three films I watched last night, Around the World in 80 Days was by far the most ‘entertaining’. Star Wars was a touch too serious and intense, whilst Zoolander was a bit too dumb, and stupid. But Around the World really was a good balance of some more light hearted moments, along with some cool action scenes, with martial artist Jackie Chan providing some awesome fight scenes, in amongst the more slapstick humour directed at the crazy Phileas Fogg.

Now all three films contained an element of mind control, and manipulation, looking to create a certain amount of compliance and render power to the person exerting the mind control. In Zoolander, the entire premise of the film is that the model has been ‘brainwashed’ and ‘implanted’ with a Pavlovian response like ability to murder the intended victim upon hearing a particular sound track. The one ‘controlling’ the models, and responsible for brainwashing them is a designer by the name of Mugatu. In Star Wars III, it is Anakin Skywalker, who’s mind is slowly corrupted by the Chancellor, who turns out to be the Sith Lord, that the Jedi have been looking for. The promise of being able to save his wife from death, through learning to use the Dark Side of the Force, corrupt Anakin sufficiently to turn him into the notorius ‘Darth Vader’. Whilst in Around the World in 80 Days, the head of the Royal Academy of Science, Lord Kelvin, the man who issues Phileas Fogg the wager to travel around the world in 80 days, coerces all the other Lords into agreement, and makes them all seem to want to conform, through bully tactics, which ultimately lead to the revelation that he has no friends in amongst his peers.

In all three films, the desire to have more power, and to control others to accomplish it really epitomizes the way in which fear, greed and a selfish regard of oneself makes one lose perspective, and ultimately leads to people’s downfall. Personally I’m a firm believer in doing good for others, and it comes back to you. Of taking responsibility to help your fellow man. Some of the ‘selfless’ ideals that the ‘Jedi’ display in Star Wars, are very much on track with how I see people needing to become for a society to evolve, and for us to collectively survive, as a species. Inherently a more caring, considerate and self-less frame of mind allows you to see how you can contribute to the world. Whilst in the films, the overwhelming desire or compulsion to gain more power, gain more control, meant people tried to force more, manipulate more, and coerce others more just in a vain attempt to be in charge.

The most extreme example, in Star Wars, with Anakin Skywalker, where near the end of the film he talks about becoming the most ‘powerful’ ever, even more powerful than the Jedi, and that he would overthrow the Sith Lord, the Chancellor, and take control, and rule the entire Empire. In start contrast to the desires of his wife, and mother to be, Padme, who wished for the Republic to remain a democracy, Anakin turns over to the dark side, and becomes consumed by the desire for more power. Ultimately, it is he, who is responsible for the death of his wife, a fear that came to him through his dreams, which ironically was responsible for him courting the dark side of the Force in the first place.

It makes me think, how often, do we in our own society and everyday life act out of fear, and lack? How often do we try to force things to happen in a certain way? How often do we get burned in trying to make things happen a certain way, and then discover later down the line, that actually in the long run, we should have just let things run their course, and just learn to accept that somethings are out of our control?

Personally, I’m a firm believer in there being an inherent pattern to the nature of the universe we live in, and ultimately, things will end up they way they are meant to, regardless of what we do or don’t do. That doesn’t mean we should just resign ourselves to inaction, and complacency. Far from it. I think we should focus all our energy, passion and enthusiasm into those things that inspire us. Into those things that demand our attention, and that we’re drawn to. Naturally they draw our attention for a reason. And if we pursue that, based on our own ‘inner’ desires, rather than manipulated, externally influenced, ideas and thoughts that have been implanted into our heads through society, social conditioning and social norms, then ultimately we’ll always end up exactly where we need to be. The only difference is how long it might take for us to get there ;)

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Farhan Rehman on November 7th, 2009

I know it’s not ideal to write a blog post every day, but inspired by @WhatleyDude, who is producing one video per day, for the month of November, I thought I would get stuck in and at least try to capture a bit of the flavour of my days, as they pass.

Today, I started off the morning, helping a friend get set up on a wordpress blog. She’s already an experienced blogger, and we caught up as friends, before then helping her to start to migrate her content from her old hosting to the hosting I had set up for her. (Yes, I do have web hosting, and my prices are really really reasonable, with unlimited usage).

After wrapping a pleasant enough Breakfast up in Waterloo, with some of the basics covered, I jumped onto a train to Richmond, and headed across to Paypal’s HQ for a Brown Bag Session with the finalists of SeedCamp.

I’m not going to list all the guys that presented.. but suffice it to say, there were some really deserving teams there. I was there with a few other folks, some familiar, some not so, but all aimed at providing extra help, advice, feedback, guidance and support to the teams. I met some really great people, shared heaps of advice and found myself being drawn into conversations around how to use Twitter effectively etc. Personally I’m looking forward to seeing the Patient’s Know Best service become something I can use with my local GP, or hospital (especially for my ongoing chronic illness), and one other startup that was there from the Seedcamp week, but not a final winner, was Kwaga – a service that is in the email mass overload solution space..

After spending some time giving people advice on how to use twitter, how to find interesting and useful content, the right people to follow, why not to auto follow, and also showing some of the startups some of their competitors already in their space on twitter, I gave a short interview to @heatherataylor who runs a community website for Paypal.

Then after much more merriment, and more advice giving about all things Twitter, and Social Media, we ended up having drinks and some dinner in a local Pizzeria after which it was time to head home, and now it’s time for some sleep.. Adventure recounted? Aye.. till tomorrow!!

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