How Twitter is changing how we treat each other

Anita Sarkeesian is a media critic currently responsible for the production of the video series Tropes vs Women in Video Games where she presents commentary and analysis about gender representation. This Tumblr blog post of hers  features a small collection of some of the tweets directed to her on an average day. There are more than 50 tweets on this page, ranging from ‘so basically you’re a cunt’ to ‘please die in a car crash’ and back to ‘Feminist? That term can only be used in real women. Stop soiling what that ideology stands for ya dumb whore.’ Anita receives these insults and threats daily and every time news of these tweets against her hit the news they simply increase.

Zoe Quinn is a game developer interested in how depression effects people and released the game interactive fiction game depression quest exploring the issue. A series of tweets, reviews, blog posts later Zoe and her family where receiving serious death threats revolving around the Twitter hashtag #GamerGate . This BBC interview from October last year was given while she in the UK too scared to return to her home . It is a hard interview to watch, Zoe’s life is ruined and the she is clearly distraught. When asked if she things that the backlash has made people aware of the ethical issues (in the game industry). Zoe is clearly disturbed by the question and gives an interesting answer, which is that any concerns that are raised are aimed at the people with the least power in the industry and any of the real concerns about ethics and journalism have been completely ignored, such as the relationship between publishers and journalists.

It does not matter what you think of the work of Anita or Zoe, this harassment is plain wrong. Twitter plays a big role in this harassment, not just by the constant barrage of insults and threats through the same medium in which they are trying to present analysis of their work, but also helps the victimisers to create a narrative (in these instances a largely anti feminist one) that can then be used as a focus for Youtube channels and their associated crowdfunding tools. Jay Allen, writing at Boingboing has a good description of how some of these victimisers manage to turn their Twitter bigotry in something that pays bills, its a disturbing read but a good insight to how Twitter is the key in making the whole thing work and helping to create this ‘cottage industry of professional victimizers’.

I feel that in the education sector we should looking at this harassment and over these communication channels and asking why it is happening. How and why is the medium fueling this kind of treat of treatment of each other. Zoe’s answer to the ethics interview was an interesting one because while it was about games she pointed out that it isn’t really the individual victimisers that need investigation, its how the big players are talking to each other and treating the consumer as a result. I think what she is saying is true, the victimisers themselves are following a lead or example set by organisations further up the chain.

I feel that in academia use of Twitter has become a bit of a theocracy, we see academic papers everywhere on amplification, I read a blog post I recently entitled ‘can academics manage without Twitter’ that filled with comments about without Twitter your not really an academic. As academics are obsessed with how things are implemented? Do we love Twitter because it can be implemented and works? Did we forget the bit where we work out what it is doing to us as people?

All that being said, I do actually think that Twitter is an important tool and I don’t really mean for this post to sound so negative! The issue I take is that important tools have big consequences and it is not good enough to say that it implements well in to a domain and that it seems to be working. Zoes point about looking at individual actions instead of the large organisations really hit home. If one thing is theologized as much as Twitter in academia then its Big Data,  and it feels the way the big corporations are treating us through analysis of our Twitter/Big Data setting a precedence the way we treat each other. Not only do we need to work out what is going on and how it is affecting us but we need to avoid our academic institutions doing the same.

(Writes a clickbait heading for a blogpost on how communication mediums change us as people.)

Posted in Big Data Tagged with: ,

Installing Cordova (PhoneGap) on Windows 8.1 for Windows Phone Development

Some notes on installing Cordova

1) Install a Windows Phone SDK on Windows 8.1, I installed it with Visual Studio 2013 Professional because it is free to students.  But you should be fine with the latest community ed

2)Download and install both git and node.js

3)Open a command prompt (Windows Key +” S CMD”) and install Cordova using the command

4.) I created a directory on the root of my D directory to store all my cordova project, then created a project:

5) changed in to project directory and added Windows 8 output, built and ran on device

For some reason it worked, when I did the same with Android I had a nightmare with certificates which didn’t seem to be a problem Windows Phone 8, but on the other hand Windows Phone Store doesn’t allow self signed certificates. I guess it might be because I already registered the device for development.

Posted in Mobile Development Tagged with: , ,

Register Windows Phone and fix 'Windows Phone IP Over USB Transport(IpOverUsbSvc) service is running'

One of the things I liked about Android development was that it was very easy to get up and running, you could get a phone for very cheap and you could sign your own applications so they would run on any phone. I liked the beta testing in the store so anybody you invited could download your applications before they went public.

It could also be a bit of a pain though, Google are so relaxed about what happens on Android phones that people who were new to development had to start worrying about things such as certificates and the such. One of the things I’ve found about Microsoft Phone 8 development is that Microsoft take care of annoying things such as certificates and signing for you. It means that the phone is slightly more locked up (but not to the extent that I have to pay £100 a year just to put an app I’ve developed on my own phone, Apple!) but the process is so much easier for new mobile developers like myself.

Well, it is easier up until the point where something in Microsoft’s automagic app signing goes wrong. I had trouble unlocking my phone and got the error

‘make sure that the Windows Phone IP Over USB Transport(IpOverUsbSvc) service is running’

There are plenty of pages on the web telling you how to fix it, the most popular is to reset the IpOverUsb service, however this still would not work for me.  In the end the key for me was to make sure that I had internet access on both my computer with Visual Studio on it and the phone. It seems quite obvious looking back, but I had forgot to set up the wifi for the phone in the location I was working from. In case you are stuck registering you Windows Development I recorded the process. As you can see I got stuck with the error message but managed to fix it:

Here were my steps:

1)Plug Phone in

2)Open Visual Studio

3)Go to ‘Register Phone’

4)Make sure that Internet Access is on both the phone and computer

5)Restart IpOverUsbSvc

Posted in Mobile Development, Technology Tagged with: ,

Transferring Data From a Microsoft Phone App using ISeTool.exe

A while ago I wrote some revision apps for the Android Market place, these are not currently on the store as I have parted ways with the Android Marketplace and have started working with the Windows Phone tools instead. One of the things that used to annoy me about my Android application was that the application used to ship with CSV files. Then during its first boot it would load its local SQLite datastore with the contents of the CSV files. I always wondered why I couldn’t just ship my application with a loaded database.

In Windows Phone you apparently can, although it is not recommended to ship it with a SQL CE file you have made yourself. It appears instead that Microsoft want you to create a ‘helper’ application that creates your database, you can then ship you database with your application. While I am still relatively new to mobile development I still don’t really get why there isn’t just a database creation tool that can help me design and populate my database, I guess it has to do with the Windows Mobile 8 database storage APIs and needing access to Windows Mobile 8 itself to create and populate the database? If anybody knows I would appreciate an explanation. Still, having an helper application makes me code feel ‘cleaner’, and the creation of the data is separate from the application that does stuff. I’m still getting used to the MVVM model, but it doesn’t seem a million miles away from MVC.

As I say, I’m new to this but my work process for creating an application is now

1) Build helper application as per the instructions here. If you poke about on Google you can find the Visual Studio solution download for the project.

2)Edit the application so that it has your data model.

3)Run application from Visual Studio

4)You now need to transfer the data from the emulator or physical phone. I’m using a physical phone because Microsoft have this stupid layered windows scheme where you can’t do simple stuff without the version of Windows above what you have I don’t have Windows 8.1 Pro.

To transfer from the phone you need a tool that is installed with the Windows Phone SDK called the IsolatedStorageTool and the GUID of the application, I found this in the output dialog of Visual Studio. It is a command line tool and can be run from the prompt like so:

C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft SDKsWindows Phonev8.1ToolsI
solatedStorageExplorerToolISETool.exe” ts de 77A80316-384D-40DC-A8C3-C4054676E8
5C d:

ts is the argument to download the filesystem and de dictates a physical device, just run ISETool for a list of commands.

I have noticed that there is a SQLite download for Windows Phone 8. I wonder if all this was worth it? I guess so, I’d never even heard of LINQ before I got started! I recorded myself downloading the database:

Posted in Mobile Development Tagged with: , , , ,

VBA script to loop through directory of CSVs and create separate PowerPoint presentations for each file

As per the very long title, this is a Visual Basic for Application that will loop through directory of CSVs and create separate PowerPoint presentations for each file script which I am saving this for future reference.  VBA script to loop through directory of CSVs and create separate PowerPoint presentations for each file based on the contents of the CSV. Because many of the questions in my CSV have a comma I have used ; as a delimiter, I set this when exporting from my original data source (MySQL) , but you can also change the delimiter in OpenOffice without messing with the operating system.



Posted in Data Analytics, Uncategorized Tagged with:

Auto generating PowerPoint presentations from CSV

I recently held an activity that captured responses to questions from a questionnaire in CSV format. I wanted to be able to convert these answers in to slides on a PowerPoint presentation. Rather than rewrite them all I remembered that Visual Basic for Applications used to be able to do this thing so I jumped on to a Windows machine to try it out. Overall I was quite pleased with how quickly I was able to get some code working, it took about 2o minutes to read through the Microsoft developer documentation and get some working code.

This VBA script will read from one CSV and create two slides for each line, a question slide with a question and a choice of answer, followed by an answer slide that had the response on it. The code is not documented well, but you should get the gist.

ToDo: loop through a all the CSVs in a directory and then save a powerpoint file for each.

Posted in Hacking Tagged with: , , ,

Big Data and Procedures

Perhaps you may work in an environment where you can see immoral/unethical actions that are justified with the saying ‘I was following procedure’. Maybe you see the people at the top of your organisation creating procedures to tie staff to their authority and ideology? Some people I know would say that in their institution procedures are a fixed way of doing things that people follow in fear of their jobs, ruling out any kind of spontaneous or progressive work.  Whatever you think about the word, in an troubled institution does not always conjure up the best thoughts, or the best people.

I am not saying that ‘procedure’ should conjure up dark thoughts.  I took away the human element from the word and thought about procedures in my code, a place where procedures are absolutely vital in it working. I started by looking up what ‘procedure’ meant in computer science on Wikipedia. I found the entry for procedure in computer science now forwards you to the article for ‘subroutine’ described as:

 a sequence of program instructions that perform a specific task, packaged as a unit.

Now that sounds handy and efficient, we need more of them! Now I feel conflicted when I think of procedures, I think of control and efficacy, humans and machines. Machines are good at being efficient, tell them to do something and they will do it. I have been thinking about procedure for a while and I it was funny that friends had too, yesterday Mark Johnson in his latest blog post said:

Universities have become bureaucratic on the back of technologies. Increasing efficiencies have left little space in the lives of academics to think. If we only paused for breath, we know what really matters, what we ought to be doing with the few years that we live on this planet.

I think he is right, there is a danger that we don’t think and we just do – like the machines. Listening to the consultants it would appear that many of the policies driven by technology are created by looking at data, or at least they claim they can sell you something to make procedures from the data. The analytics dashboard, based on Big Data says that students do X, so our policy must be Y. Big Data and the algorithms that use it to create the institutions increasingly efficient policies are justified in almost a religious matter. The policies come from messages from our supreme being of Big Data through the church of algorithms to the head bishop of the institution (and his board). Big Data and algorithms might be good at pointing out efficiencies for policy, but they are not good with thinking, ethics or morality.

A few days ago I jotted down some thoughts on how Big Data and the models of institutions/Google/whatever are exploiting us and making it feel culturally acceptable to treat each other the same way. In that post I thought about the role that server-less technologies and data protection frameworks play in that space. I feel this matches up somewhere.  Mark’s final thought of his post, thinking about ‘ ..a way of addressing the real problem of our plague of functionalism’ is a absolutely a key issue.

Posted in Big Data

Developing for Windows Phone 7/8/10 for Free (Students)

When I was in uni/college one of the things I really liked about the Microsoft development environment (it was Visual Studio 6 back then), was how cheap it was for students to get hold of the software for cheap. Growing a bit weary of both the Google and Apple way of doing things I’ve recently started to get back to grips with Microsoft development and I’ve noticed that the deal is still pretty good for students.

If you have a student email address the whole thing is pretty much painless, you need to sign up as a student at: If you don’t have a institutional email address you will need an ISIC card, or failing that you can supply documentation to them (when I did it a similar thing in college I emailed them a scan of college acceptance letter, took about a week to verify – but this was about 12 years ago..). Once you have signed up and verified your email you can browse the rather extensive catalog of student freebies and discounts.

Because there are so many freebies it is a little hard to work out what you can get to develop Windows phone apps. This is the route I am currently taking, I can’t tell you how well it works at the moment in time:

That should be everything you need to get developing for the Windows Phone Store for free. There are other useful bits you can get through Dreamspark. You might be interested in the github education pack for somewhere to put your code. I was also interested in the Microsoft Virtual Academy which Dreamspark gives you full access to, its full of really good tutorials and the such.

The one thing I can’t seem to get access to is the Windows 8 GameMaker Studio exporter, while GameMaker studio seems to be the tool for making Windows Phone games, the module that exports it for Windows Phone is $299, if students could get a discount or trial on this it would really make the whole Windows Phone development experience very cheap for students.


Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: ,

Getting started with Archi (again)

I’ve been trying to get my head around different ways that enterprise architects explore existing and potential business models. Being a complete novice I’ve found two major blocks to my progress.

The first problem I have is not really understanding the different different strategic management and entrepreneurial tools or the frameworks available for enterprise architecture. There seems to be lots of frameworks to help understand system complexity and deal with poor business alignment, according to the Microsoft Develop Network the big four are ArchiMate, TOGAF, Zachman and FEA. The problem is where to start, what advantages and disadvantages do the different frameworks have?

The second problem is which software to start playing with? As a developer the way I like to explore new concepts is playing with software. There seems to be lots of software supporting Enterprise Architecture, but this choice in itself brings a problem. Do I start with a piece of kit that supports a single framework, if so which framework? The cost of much of the software is so high that if you invest then you must be certain that you are investing in software which supports the way you want to work, not a good way to start if you are playing with software just to try stuff out. The complexity of many of these tools also makes it difficult for me to get started with them.

After quite a while having a poke around the available tools I ended up at the Archi modelling tool site. I have played with Archi before as it was originally developed within the group I work for, Cetis. The tool is now developed outside of Cetis by the original developer and I was pleased to see new versions being released.

Since my last session with Archi there seem to have been quite a few changes, but the most exciting one for me is the ability to create a model from a canvas or template, the default canvas’ shipped with Archi being SWOT and Business Model Canvas, which means I can get in to ArchiMate by using well know strategic management tools that I am also starting to get to grips with.

Posted in Business Modeling Tagged with: ,

Sim University ideas

I’ve recently been interested in developing a University simulation  game, the idea being that you play as a student battling the system to get your degree. The reason for this game is that in my mind somewhere the awful hoops that students have to jump through and techniques such as gamification go hand in hand. It would seem that most text on gamification sees it as a way to increase engagement of the students, but if we are going to start using gamification techniques to make them jump through these hoops, isn’t that more of a type of exploitation. Two years ago Gartner seemed to think 50% of organisations would be using gamification techniques by this year, I’m not sure where they stand now, but it really worries me that it is an excuse to get them through the system (and taking their money) without really thinking about why the hoops exist.

The aim of the game would be to complete University, it would be a simple game where all you do is press the buttons you are told to press and wait. You can jump through hoops faster by doing things the institution tells you, pay a little more money here, click a few more buttons there, supply us with this data we can use against you, etc etc.

I guess the game is a bit like cow clicker but is not only to put a mirror up to both gamification techniques and problems the students have with the education system, but to try and explore the fact that the combination of these things might end in disaster.

So, I could do with a clue where on to start, or perhaps even some assets that could help me out…


Posted in Computer Games