ckd


Every advert counts – Fast cars work too

Whilst waiting for Halo5 to drop last night at midnight I spent a little time on Forza 6 creating another custom paint job. This time for, yes, you guessed it Reconfigure It is part of my immersion in my own product to use it in places that I already have done similar things and provide a little twist on the traditional.
I have done Eightbar (in 2007), Epredator, Feeding Edge, Choi Kwang Do and Cool Stuff Collective decals in the past. It is a complicated process involving layering stickers and resizing them not just paining and uploading. It makes for an interesting challenge to get the spirit of an image if not the exact replica.
Here is a lambo done up with Reconfigure.
Reconfigure book paintwork on a lambo
Reconfigure book paintwork on a lambo
Reconfigure book paintwork on a lambo
Reconfigure book paintwork on a lambo
Reconfigure book paintwork on a lambo
I also recorded a lap of Brands Hatch just for a bit of fun too.

Whilst this car will appear, and show Reconfigure when I race, and also appear on a drivatar racing in someones living room I doubt anyone will buy the book on the basis of this, but it is what I do, so I did 🙂
I was attempting to promote the book and get up the sales rank a little by natural sharing.Many thanks to those people who have supported me with a purchase. It means a great deal.
Having always tried to help and support other people in their projects and sharing all sorts of things that may be interesting to colleagues and followers out there I found I succumbed to having to advertise. The book numbers could reach a tipping point with just the people who I have worked with or shared time with popped £1.99/$2.99 in the help epredatar out project. People don’t just buy books, or ebooks for no reason. They are not impulse buys. You have no idea what is in it, unless there are reviews, or people are saying good things about it. Me just wibbling on and enthusing probably sounds more like a noise of “here he goes again”. However, this is a book based on metaverse concepts, on software and game design as well as adventure. When I help people out I don’t expect anything in return so I feel guilty for even asking. Anyway, Facebook ads have been my first forays into the weird world of online targeted ads.
I created 3 ads each with a very low maximum spend. One is a page like for the Facebook page. The other two are direct links to the Amazon book. One targeted at US and Canada the other to the UK. It will be interesting to see what happens there. My numbers are such, at the moment, I can see a one to one relationship between and add and a potential sale.
I had targeted people into tech, my old company, Unity development and Second Life and virtual worlds. It obviously worked as I got sent the ad myself, as did elemming.
Got advertised at by my own advert. So I meet the demographic
I didn’t click on my own ad as its the click to go to Amazon that calls off against the ad budget. It is a pity it does not relate to the sale of a copy, but Facebook is just pushing a URL and the shop is Amazon.
It’s early days, and I am non established author. I like to think I have a bit of reputation as a forward thinker who might make something interesting. I welcome all feedback, good and bad. I will try some other advertising options as the months go on. This is all an experiment after all 🙂

Promoting a product – Reconfigure

It is only a few days since Reconfigure went live on the Amazon store. I need to apologise for the single minded promoting of this 2 month project. It has been a both nerve wracking and exciting time. I have spent many years promoting other peoples ideas, getting buy in and passionate about what they have produced. Now I have to do that for my own product. From a standing start, not having written like this before it is an intriguing position to be in. I believe I have some social capital across social media and the tech industry, but it will be the sales figures that tell me that or now. The Book is only £1.99 so I hope friends, family and followers just support it with a purchase to help the sales rank. A good ales rank draws other people to the book.

However to promote it properly I have done the following.
1. Share the fact it was happening. This was form the outset, helping me through the writing and editing process with people retweeting or asking me about the book.
2. A URL for Reconfigurebook.co.uk. This links to a page on Feeding Edge but it acts as a central point for sharing the book before it was live on Amazon.
3. A Facebook page for the book too. It is replication but some people share those things and not blog posts or tweets. You have to try and be everywhere.
4. When it went live tweeting the link and pinning that to my profile
5. Instagram post of the front cover and the URL
6. Creating profiles on Author central in the US and the UK I now have amazon.com/author/epredator
7. Author central suggested creating a video. So I did, and also then put that on youtube. A bit of editing and bit more information and background to the whole project is in this mini advert.

8. Linkedin. Sharing there too. Adding it to the publications I have listed
9. Pinging a few people privately. I did not want to spam everyone, but just a few hello’s to some nice people who might like the book, or like the fact I have done the book and share a bit wider.
10. Empire Avenue, I created a little mission for people to click through
11. With the video uploaded to Facebook is can be linked to an action, just as there ar links in the youtube version to the site or to amazon
12. Make a print copy of the book. This is in process at the moment. CreateSpace is part of Amazon and helps you put together the different layout and parts for a print on demand. I will have to see how that goes as it was not in the original plan. It might be nice to have a few copies.
13. What next? Well if the social network and everyone out there helps the sales figures this may not need much more, it may tip. However, next would be the costly options of advertising. Where and how and with which service I have yet to work out. I can see direct sales figures so have a good idea of how many people have been good enough to support this for me, not and hopefully with some more sales over the coming weeks.
14. Write another one. It seems having more than one book or a series can attract more people to what you are doing. As with all these things it can be a case of ‘yeah so what you wrote a book’ 🙂
15. Get positive reviews. These are important. It has already started but more would be lovely.
Update 28/10/2015
16. I realised I had not actually advertised on Amazon. It makes sense to be there after all. So I just did started an ad run there too.

I am going to explore and keep an open mind. The story is out there, it feels like I am at the end of my own box set series and now I am looking for the next thing. I did not go down the agent route as I wanted to see and experience this part. Doing everything form start to finish using the tools available to me. I did some unusual twists in that path. e.g. the swirls on the cover are actually effects in Unity with a planetary plugin. I created the layout and background, removed some parts added others and snapped the 3d view into 2d. It forms a backdrop for the cube, which was also Unity3d. It fits with the story in a nice meta way too.

Forza 6 – 10 years in the making

Today Forza 6 arrived on the Xbox One. I have been a long time fan of Forza. It is now in its 10th year. A decade of what, at the time it came out, was considered to be a poor mans Gran Turismo. It has, in my opinion, surpassed all expectations and been a fantastic franchise. The driving feel and the exhilaration is always spot on. I have also been a big fan of their decal customisation. It was little annoying moving to the xbox one and not having my various logos I had created for forza 5 a few year ago. I still carried on and re-created most of my ‘art’ work on the cars in 5. I had a nice cool stuff collective TV logo back on the 360 and forza 4. However instead I created A Choi Kwang Do logo.
I was very pleased, once I got back to the main menu on Forza 6 to see the custom decals and the layouts for specific cars were available to import from Forza 5 now.
I did my first races in a very old impreza using one of the community designs
Forza 6
Now though I am back in a 2005 Impreza WRX complete with some feeding edge words and a logo on the back long with a bright CKD logo. So thankyou Turn 10 🙂 It now means my drivatar will be appearing random races advertising CKD across the world. Also any network race I am in I can show off the logo for my martial art of choice and also advertise feeding egde at the same time. It is an odd concept that there is still a lot of mileage in (Excuse the pun)
Forza 6 CKD scooby
It was also quite amusing to hear James May and Richard Hammond’s voices, albeit labelled at “Automative Journalist” as opposed to Top Gear presenters. I guess all the voice work was done before the demise of Top Gear as it previously existed.
**Update here is some video of one of the cars in action. It looks better in the flesh as this has been Xbox DVR captured, sent onedrive then uploaded to youtube 🙂

***Update
A longer video using the Forza vista, some driving and a photo of a newer scooby, with a black spoiler to represent a belt and orange wing mirrors to represent a belt tag 🙂

**Update 21/9 I noticed during night races another level of detail that impressed me. I have not noticed headlights behave quite so headlighty before. These my car had different bulbs and cast a different light to the other car on the track with me.
Forza6 headlights
I am going to reward myself with a massive driving session this weekend after I complete writing this #reonfigure novel first draft. Near there, the chequered flag is waving and I can see the finish line.
**Update I just finished the novel !

Internet Of Things – Choi Kwang Do – Fitbit

This may be a bit late to one of the party but @elemming and I have got ourselves Fitbit Flex HR wearables. This little devices track all sorts of walking movement, sleep patterns and most importantly heart rate. The idea is you wear them all the time and aim to do 10,000 steps a day. I was more interested in the heart rate monitor though and what it meant to my Choi Kwang Do training. Whilst this may stray into exercise bore territory I though it worth showing our martial art in internet of things (IOT) terms with some nice graphs.
It is easy when devices and numbers are in place to over fixate on the numbers, but it makes sense to use instrumentation as a check and balance for your own personal experience.
The last few weeks I have ramped up my training at home, having practiced this art for 3 1/2 years I am still very much learning, but I do have a body of experience to draw upon and some degree of consistent feeling to how particular techniques are going to how much extra I can put into a pattern or speed drill. I have used heart rate monitors before. I used a chest strap one about 18 years ago when I had a little burst of getting fit. (That’s part of the article in may portfolio piece virtual athletes – Sports Technology and games). It was where I came to understand it the different heart rate zones based on age.
I had considered other sports wearables, the Apple Watch was a little to expensive, and other people we knew had fitbits so it added to the game side of things with leaderboard and comparing data.
Yesterday was the first half of a day with it, I had already done 1 hour of Choi in the morning so missed that session. Just before our full class at Basingstoke I did a 17 minute warmup and PACE drill at home.
This involved around 5-6 minutes of stretch. Then 2 minutes of moderate pace punching and kicking on BOB, 2 minutes rest, 1 minute faster harder pace kicking only, 1 minute rest and then 30 seconds flat out with everything. I then warmed down a little with my current combination.
Home Choi Kwang Do Session” alt=”” />
The trace of the heart rate certainly fits the level of work and where I felt I was with my heart rate. PACE drills (Progressive Accelerated Cardio Exertion) is a high intensity short burst training method gradually extending and layering your range. We train for speed and power in short bursts as part CKD rather than long repetitive exercise.
The class session ended up as a very intense one too. We have a number of soon to be black belt students in their run up to a grading. So for the lesson I joined them to do our entire set of patterns. This is around 8-10 minutes of going through each coloured belt curriculum pattern. The pattern is a defined set of movements that build techniques up and up. We can all do this at a good steady pace to maintain the form and technique. After that we had a specific blackbelt recap and evaluation of our current belt. That involved current hand techniques, current kicks, combination and pattern. This then ended with a very high intensity PACE version of the speed drills. This are what they say, fast defined sets of moves. We each had a slightly different set but performed them at the same time. We did inaccessibly fast and multiple sets with a final full on blast at the end of one set flat out (when already feeling flat out). The class then went on with both shield drills and focus mits.
Intense CKD class session
As you can see the initial ramp up is the start of the patterns with almost no heart rate increase, then as it progresses the heart rate starts to climb. The trough after 15 minutes is the rest period before the black belt sets. The plateau at 125 from just before 45 minutes is when the speed is and power are still the same but the body seems to accept this is going to happen. This is when techniques flow the best. It is also when the effort is in holding the equipment for others and encouraging them. It shows the benefit of an intense PACE session soothing into learning mode and technique efficiency.
My resting heart rate is showing at 64bpm after the exercise and sleep which is not too bad.
By contrast, and in not was worse is the walk to school and back
School Walk
It shows how a nice steady activity, not over doing gets the heart rate in a comfortable fat but position.
So armed with this information, and now with a reference point I can use the device to reflect on various elements of training and hopefully make my techniques better and more effective.
With some improvements in the sensors that detect out body movement we should be abel to make some great strides in how specific body movements are delivered with great effectiveness but being mindful of the more pure nature of a martial art in just doing it and being in the moment.
Pil Seung!

Martial Arts, Science and Tech for Secondary School

Having returned for a great snowboarding and skiing holiday with the family,

I dived straight back into presenting and explaining science and tech. This was a slightly different request through STEMnet though. A local secondary school teacher asked if I could come and take about biomechanics and martial arts to try and help her students see why science is still an important subject to stick with.

I ran two sessions but built a new presentation specifically for this audience and reason.
Usually I am explaining tech, the future, metaverses etc but putting things like Choi Kwang Do and learning guitar into the mix to make things a little more human.
This time though the hook was martial arts. As Martial arts are not generally taught in school (though the should ideally be part of the curriculum) they are something that has a degree of intrigue to people. Choi Kwang Do in particular is based around a lot of ground up application of scientific principles. It is also not a combat sport, but a defence art aimed at improving your overall mental and physical well being. i.e. it’s idea; for this sort of talk.
I am not going to post the presentation as it featured a lot of video, very few words on slides and a lot of talking and demonstration.

The format though was….
1. Intro to who I am, what I do. I was wearing my Dobok and belt as part of the impact, but indicating my background and work as a techie. I also showed some custard pie throwing from The Cool Stuff Collective. My aim was to show that breadth of knowledge and experience is important and the ability to change is key.
2. I gave a potted history of CKD and showed some of the variety of people performing CKD. I showed predlet 1.0 in a video at a showcase event. It had all ages, sizes and abilities of people in it. The aim to remove the macho, teenage boys only, type of image and engage the entire class. I explained the classes that Master Scrimshaw runs in basingstoke too. I also had the values and pledge on screen to mention.
3. Next up was to talk about Psychology. In part this was about mental states. Dealing with the transition from relaxed, to wary to fight or flight. How the fight or flight state causes massive physical and chemical changes. How being aware of those changes, finding ways to avoid or positively use those is a fundamental part of any martial art. How being in the red and stressed when you don’t need to be will make you ill etc.

4. Physics was next. I pointed out that in a martial art Force = Mass x Acceleration is key. Learning ways to project as much of your mass as possible, as fast as possible is what the techniques are designed to do. Understanding forces and what they are apply to any sport, golf, football, tennis. However I also broke out into showing how we need to understand forces like gravity and cohesion in game development and animations. Here I was aiming to jump subjects to show that the same science and understanding is needing in something very physical and in something, like games development, that is more sat at a desk. The same science.
Also here I played a little trick. Whilst talking about the forces I suddenly jumped into stance and gave a very loud guttural kihap (Martial art shout). This made pretty much everyone jump. A fairly drastic pace change but the aim was to then remind everyone of the conversation about fight of flight earlier on. I pointed out that for me as the shouter, I had gained control, I had positive vibes and chemicals flowing and I was ready. For the class they were for a fraction of a second confused. Their body will have gone straight to code red, in fact jumping was part of fight or flight but almost taking them into tonic immobility, frozen in fear. A simple loud noise, out of context had caused metabolic changes in all of them. i.e. make the science personal and relevant.
Those that already did martial arts, there were a few in each class, were less bothered, seemed more relaxed as they were subconsciously dealing with the threat assessment.
5. I continued to talk about physics and relate that to biomechanics and anatomy. Understanding how to flow movements across your body to generate the acceleration.
6. This led to the neuroscience part. I shared how we learn patterns and sequential movement fits with the way the brain likes to absorb information. Moving from short to long term memory and able to operate when in flow mode works better if the thing you are learning has a completeness to it and a known pattern. In CKD we start and finish in the same place in most moves, we also follow a rounded non stressful sequence. Again I related this to video games and how we learn patterns to deal with situations in games. Discovering the pattern is the joy of play, followed by the mastery of that pattern, getting faster and better scores. Good games need to layer new patterns on old to avoid boredom. Likewise in CKD training we layer onto of mastered moves and patterns with new ones. At its root it all goes back to basics.
I also discussed contralateral movement, working the whole body on both sides for both parts of the brain to create cross hemisphere pathways as the brains neuroplasticity is exercised.
I used the example from Heston Blumenthal of the cinnamon and vanilla ice cream too. Again this was to break the subject, change the mental senses used by the group. With the ice cream made from both vanilla and cinnamon if you sniff cinnamon before tasting the ice cream you will only taste vanilla, like wise with vanilla sniffed first you will only taste cinnamon. This illustrates how you brain and neurochemistry is rigged to look for large changes. You brain filters things out to avoid overloading. The familiar is relegated in favour of the new.
I also discussed how the brain goes into an intense learning mode after a burst of exercise. This seems to be related to reflecting on what a situation was that caused you you be stressed and to escape, how you did it and how you won’t get eaten/killed/caught next time. So we can use our naturally evolved mechanism to increase out learning ability by piggy backing on that fight or flight calm down state.
7.Last up was metabolism. A basic example of the Krebbs cycle, the production and use of ATP as a mini fast access energy source in cells. I did not major on this but used it as a framework to discuss the 15 second bursts of exercise versus the 30 minute aerobic ones. In a defence situation you need to be explosive and able to release the ATP energy, quickly and efficiently and then get away. (Or not be there in the first place which is much better!)
Before heading into the last section I also shared the amazing journey of Sabunim Robbie Close. He went from a very quiet and shy teenage to an assistant instructor then a blackbelt and was then picked to go to Hanseo University in Korea to study a Degree in Choi Kwang Do. This martial art had transformed his outlook, and his life. We had the pleasure of him popping along to Basingstoke for a visit. As the class I was talking to was the age he was when he started it was great to have such a positive role model to share.

8.My final section moved more into the normal territory of discussion using the kinect to see how the body works. I related this again to biomechanics and then also to how we animate game characters and rig bones and joints. I ended up showing Microsoft HoloLens as a mandatory virtual world/metaverse, look here is the future and you can be part of it… the of conversation.
It was a very productive session I think on both occasions, and I hope to run some more. It covers all sorts of science and tech and it may help a few people see the relevance of science in life, or even better see the relevance of a martial art such as Choi Kwang Do.

Learning to teach – CKD and suppressing ego.

This weekend both @elemming and I, along with 140+ fellow Choi Kwang Do practitioners in the UK met for the annual instructors course led by Master Nigel Brophy (6th Dan Black Belt). @elemming has been promoted, along with her fellow cohort of willing students to an assistant instructor at Basingstoke CKD and so now wears a blue dobok. I along with 2 other fellow blackbelts were promoted to Chief Instructors and now wear black and gold.

We are all volunteers, but are willing to forego some of our personal training in order to help and explain Choi Kwang Do to others in the class. I think we all generally find that teaching, having to explain how something works, responding to questions and helping others is as rewarding as just getting on with your own techniques. IT is what makes CKD such a friendly and interesting environment to learn in.
Different people have different approaches to teaching, but everything we do is done in a positive way. This is about a journey, and meandering turns and detours are all part of it. We do have discipline, but it is more of a positive re-enforcement of the good. Who ever is out front guiding, teaching, calling etc is in charge.
One of the hardest things to work on, is not the punching and kicking, but the removal of ego. Watching and listening to Master Brophy I noticed it is possible to be a highly passionate speaker and presenter, an expert in an art form and yet not do it for the applause or the instant buzz of being the ‘star’. To motivate and educate a large body of people they have to believe in you. To do this you have to show your credentials, give them something to say, aha! they know what they are doing. If you truly have the skills, time served, awards etc that is really the easy bit. However it is so easy to tip over the top and let your brain, and mostly your ego, slip into a comfort mode of adoration, or celebrity.
When I do presentations, or evangelise about things, such as the metaverse or STEM in schools I have to switch to a more amplified version of me. If you are put in front of a camera on a TV show, standing on stage with a conference hall full of people, in a classroom full of pupils, you have to enthuse, you have to say look at this and look at me, otherwise it won’t be very interesting. I remember when I used to not want to stand up in front of people and talk. Thinking, well everyone must know what I know, I will just be boring them with the obvious. I also know the feeling of election that people do want to hear what you have to say. When what you are saying is getting a lot of traction and you are very much in demand. It is there you have to check yourself. Unless the thing you sell, enthuse etc is just your own fame and celebrity, in which case just carry on 🙂
So I came to CKD at a time when I had felt a lot of demand for me presenting, but the classes gave me a chance to empty the mental cup and just learn, just be part of a group with no specific responsibilty. It gave me time to practice the off switch.
The problem is, when I get something, when I believe in something and enjoy something so much I have to share it with others. I have forever been told I should be a teacher, but I prefer to not lecture but bring people along with me, help them discover their own path. Luckily, that is precisely what working as an instructor in CKD has enabled me to do. In class I get to both be part of the class, to switch off and focus, I get to teach individually or small groups and I also get to stand up front and do the whole thing. I feel the balance of expectations to please others, or duty to get it right and that little good part of the ego that gets fed by helping others and seeing them progress.
Master Brophy put it well, he mentioned the more you know the more you realise how much you don’t. That is the experts dilemma. He also tempered that with pointing out than when you stand in front of a new student in your blue suit or black suit to teach them something they have never done before, they may well look at you and think you are Bruce Lee.
I think the trick here is to use the fact your are Bruce Lee to them, without deluding yourself you are in fact Bruce Lee.
As with all aspects of CKD other than the physicality of the martial art it is a constant learning experience and evaluation of how we work as humans. The technology, in this case, is our bodies and minds. We explore what we can do with them, for ourselves and others. We deal with scary situations all the time. It may be not being able to remember a pattern, counting out load in Korean in front of others, wondering how to reach a distracted fellow student or holding a shield for a powerful kick. All these prepare the brain to deal with adversity. Teaching and instructing gives the scary part of ego to deal with.
So it seems to me the sooner we get people to experience this sort of thing, in schools and offices, the better. We have a cult of celebrity. This feeds directly to the ego, to the wow I want to be famous feeling. Either wanting to be a premiership footballer or a big brother winner seems to be many a kids ambition. The trappings of fame at a major level can be experienced and felt in a much simpler way, in a safe environment. Stand out in front of class and have everyone follow your every word, then stand back in the class with everyone, whilst the next person takes the stage. That I think teaches a little humility. Having felt that, the next time up front starts, just a little, to become more about the audience.
Whether you believe me or not, that is how I feel about all my evangelising, the TV show was that. I wanted to everyone to know how cool all this tech was, to feel it, to take it and do something with it. I had dabbled with the “fame” thing as one of the corporate poster children for virtual worlds. I had seen the jealousy that created in others. I felt the pressure of the spotlight. I also felt the waning of the “fame”. I dabbled with various ways of exploring my outward persona, trying very publicly to keep aligned with my private persona too, whilst also dealing with these conflicting pressures. It was a a feedback loop though, the more I had done the more I had to do to keep it going. That is not a bad thing though.
I see in Master Brophy a fellow evangelist, though one with much more experience!. Evangelists believe in something, know that its the right thing and the right way forward and want to help, really help, people to see that for themselves. What I hope to do is take my still fledgling knowledge of this martial art and make it as much a part of my willingness to share and enthuse as any of the other cool technologies. The tech I talk about has always been about how people can benefit from it, get some fun or productivity from it. Obviously I have written and blended a few time with the two like here and here. CKD is a scientific based martial art, from the neuroplasticity or the brain, to the biomechanics of the human form to the psychology of teaching and inspiring.
In all that, trying to keep that ego in check too 🙂 (though here is a picture look at me!)

Happy 6th Birthday Feeding Edge Ltd

It is now 6 years ago this month that I started Feeding Edge Ltd! 6, six, VI, Tasset, 3×2 etc etc. However you do the numbers the time has flown by. I like to look back at all the things that would not have happened, or would have been very unlikely if I had not left my then job of 20 years back in 2009. Of course I still do what I did then, with a lot more freedom to operate and explore. Of course it has downsides too. A corporate guaranteed regular high end salary pays for a lot of things, though you have no time to do them. A larger company has people able to cover you, to add to projects and to find other interesting projects. It does of course also have the chance to middle management to act in odd ways and for project scopes to be messed about by sales people.

So as a single person company I have to tread a balance between not over tendering or getting involved in too many projects, but also lay the foundations and seeds for other longer term chances. It is, as the photo about shows of my WWE wrestler a fight, with the chance of some scars 🙂
Right at the moment I am waiting on a multi year development project to kick off. Unity3d and lots of other stuff, it’s more of this. However, external organisations interacting, and being the end of the chain this process has dragged on since before christmas. It is my decision to stay with it, but commercially in the short term it is painful. It is a gamble as I could be spending time waiting for something that doesn’t happen. The previous phase of the project meant I had to technically leave Feeding Edge for a few months as the project did not accommodate “sub contracting”. This ended up just costing me personally as I got enrolled in a pension for a few months and I had left by the time I got any paperwork and never had a chance to reject the pension. Just one of those things.
However the worst feeling was not working for Feeding Edge. I was really, its still my company but officially on the tax books etc I was employed elsewhere on a sort of zero hours contract. I don’t think I will be doing that again. It just means more paperwork and less income 🙂
So while I am waiting I try and not go off selling my services or getting wrapped up in projects. I know full well if I do I will end up not being able to deliver either. There is no such thing as a short term piece of work for me usually as I get embroiled in the whole project very quickly. Quick contract coding no strings attached is not really my style.
So downtime between paying work is spent exploring, learning. I try to do something interesting and learn something everyday.
I am of course available to do other things like TV, Radio, Writing etc. In many ways they make the ideal counter balance for development work. When you are building things you tend to have to block time out to code. I gathered together all my Flush Magazine articles into a portfolio book recently. It was really interesting to see it as an entire body of work

That is only from a few years or writing, so maybe, just maybe I need to write a book after all? A different book to the one I expected to be writing about leaving corporate life 6 years again and telling all, and one that instead focuses on the style of writing I have arrived at with Flush, looking at past patterns and experiences and projecting them forward as a sort of Historic Futurism.
After an interesting twitter discussion with friends old and new today I was still as evangelical as ever about the metaverse and the exiting times ahead as VR and AR headsets demand virtual environments and it starts to become even more normal to expect that sort of interaction. It’s not going away, and neither am I!
Right time to go and get ready to learn and teach my chosen martial art Choi Kwang Do. For over 3 years now this has been a major part of my life and my families life. I have to share this picture as Sabunim Close came to visit Basingstoke CKD this week. He, at 17 was accepted to a Korean university to pursue a degree in Choi Kwang Do. He upped sticks and went there knowing full well it was the right path for him, as there rest of us did 🙂 It was great to see him return on holiday and come and visit us all. Pil Seung (certain victory)

CKD has provided the social contact that working at home and in isolation (despite lots of digital contacts) as well as re-enforcing my own guiding principles of trying to do the right thing and help people.
So, on top of. spending more quality family time, the freedom to operate, the chance to have done 3 series of kids TV, presenting to lots of groups of interesting people, exploring startup life, learning, exploring and building virtual environments I have achieved a life time ambition of a black belt (a life changing experience) and I also get to teach and mentor. Not a bad move was it in 2009 🙂

Black Belt experience

Last sunday 7th December 2014 I achieved another life ambition and graded to receive my Choi Kwang Do Il Dan (1st Degree) Black belt. What is interesting about this is that the ambition and reason to get a black belt has turned out to be very different in almost every way than my initial thoughts. So this is not a post to say “look at me aren’t I clever” which is what many qualifications need to be for. Instead it is about a transformation and a journey and a whole set of other ideas.

As a kid I thought martial arts looked amazingly cool. The 70’s posters of Bruce Lee and the occasional glimpses of stylish fighting on TV certainly left their mark on me. We didn’t really have much in the way of martial arts near my home. I also, and this might sound strange, wanted to avoid learning them because the techniques were so potentially deadly. I never experienced full on physical bullying for very long at school as I was always willing to fight back if need be. Being relatively mild mannered it was usually a shock to a potential bully if I retaliated. I thought I might learn things and then turn to the dark side and go and use them, or go all vigilante.
As I got older I then wished I had started younger and was probably put off by the fact that the later I started the less high a level I would be able to attain. If it was worth doing something I wanted to make sure I was really really good at it. All very odd reasons and excuses not to do something.
My friend Jamie and I got a self defence book from out local library when we were 8 years old and occasionally practiced what you do if someone came at you with a bat or a knife. It was all very informal, and a bit scary but us would be super heroes had to learn some stuff 🙂
Zoom on a good few years, I was feeling very overweight (and actually very overweight) and I also wanted predlet 2.0 to get a chance at a martial art that I never had. Something father and son could do together. I thought there would be no chance for me of rocking up at a place of fighting in the state I was in, so strangely I trained for about a year to get ready to go and do a martial art. That and the tech I used features in the article I wrote in Flush The Fashion in 2012
A leaflet in Predlet 2.0 school bag for Choi Kwang Do got my attention. It was coming up to his 5th birthday and I was intrigued as Choi Kwang Do looked like something new. I like new!
The trepidation and nervous excitement with which I took myself and predlet 2.0 to our first session is something I will no forget. 40+ years of wanting to try a martial art but not, plus a year of getting in some sort of shape and learning some fight moves so I didn’t get whooped straight away all bundled together.
Within seconds of walking into South Coast CKD and meeting Sabunim Webster for the first time, and all the other students and instructors I realised how completely and utterly incorrect my perceptions of all martial arts had been. Everyone was calm, happy and above all friendly. I had nothing to worry about with respect to getting beaten up or schooled in front of predlet 2.0. CKD just isn’t like that. So having stepped into an art with thoughts of gaining some sort of prowess, a degree of domination and aggression to get something, to win something… all that was suddenly not what I wanted to do, nor happen and we were in a place where that was not what it was all about.
This particular AHA! moment is only the second such one I remember. The first was when I suddenly realised what you could do with computer code and how it all worked, from just one little concept. It is when something clicks, and the excitement that there is a world of answers out there waiting to be discovered and visited. That set me on my career. It led to a degree in Information Technology, twenty years in IBM with some amazing people and equally amazing projects and firsts in the world. It still keeps me going to day and is the cornerstone of Feeding Edge Ltd.
My CKD aha moment has not had quite so many years to bed in but is unfolding nicely. The learning in Choi has proved to be so much more than just punches and kicks. It has been, and continues to be constant personal challenges. We all learn how to defend ourselves in what is a very dramatic, fast and potentially deadly way. That though is just a small part of the journey and experience. We learn to help our own bodies physically and mentally improve. We have have think faster, think and operate calmly under all sorts of conditions. we learn how to help other learn. Teaching and sharing is done in a completely positive way. We all aim to point out the good things, offer a tweak in technique or attitude, then strengthen with more positive comments. That creates a virtuous circle. It means all the things we learn feel good. Frustration, anger, pressure to conform etc all are out of the equation. We all push ourselves just a little bit more each time because it is a safe environment to explore what we can do. As there is no competition, there is no need to hunker down into the particular ways in order to survive.
The family nature, and subsequent family involvement in Choi (all 4 of us do it now) was a major stabilising factor when we upped and moved house. Whilst we had to say goodbye to South Coast CKD we got to say hello to Basingstoke CKD and to Master Scrimshaw. (Master is a term used for anyone with a 5th Dan (i.e. 5 levels of Black belt) or above). That family atmosphere and friendliness we experience on day 1 applies everywhere. So it is alway great to meet and train with new people, but you do know it is going to be good and welcoming.
As months pass for each belt rank we all learn a piece of syllabus. Each thing we learn builds on everything that we have learned before. At a grading you show you belt syllabus. You don’t go to a grading unless you do know it. So gradings are not exams, they are not there to trick you but to offer a place to focus on what you know. Before you know it though 3 or more years of training, of experiencing the art form, of practice and sharing lead to a Black Belt grading. This is where I found myself last Sunday.
I would say that most people, even if they are not into “fighting”, action movies, or martial arts get what a Black Belt can mean. It is, rather like a university degree, a qualification. It is not obscure, in that clearly it is about physical effort. It is not a quota system either, you do the work, you can achieve a black belt, but you do have to do the work, for real.
I was excited and nervous, but very focussed on getting to the black belt grading. I wanted to make sure I had prepared mentally and physically for it. I received lots of help and focussed training from Master Scrimshaw and my fellow students and assistant instructors. So there we are lining up doing the same pledge and principles we do in every class. I am thinking about everything that led me to this point. Yet I am not thinking about me and what I needed to get out of it. I felt pressure in that I did not want to fail, or mess up, but I felt an overwhelming need to do this for everyone who I have trained with, taught, shared time with in Choi. I was expecting to switch to my “performance” persona and brain. The one that I go to on stage on when doing TV. That is a kind of focussed mental state but directed outwards and towards the subject and to the crowd. That, however, did not happen. I wasn’t there to put on a show. Instead I felt something else. It was as if the original aha moment came back. I was very much there and doing the grading, making adjustments when the automatic elements were not tweaked quite right, but I was also off experiencing the potential. I had some time to ponder all this as I was grading with some people who were doing their 2nd and 3rd Dan black belts. This meant we all did my stuff in each section then I stood down whilst they continued to do 2nd Dan, then finally the 3rd dan was left to do his thing. Keeping warmed up, keeping on task was tricky because I tend to have always just carried on with things, as we do in class. Short breaks then intense action. Whilst watching them and seeing what was coming in the next few years I got to understand that it was the aha moment and joy of the future journey, of learning more and those constant achievements that felt so unusual. I then related to it back to my passion for tech and for understanding where it fits in the world and where it is going. I had always though my tech aha moment was purely in the past but I realise that it happens to me every day as I explore the future.
When the grading was done and we stood lined up Master Brophy, who brought CKD to the UK, built it up and whom we all owe a lot too, explained to us that the Black Belt is not just a test of memory and physical ability, as he explained it is also a test of character and much more I felt I had a true understanding of his words.
It is my black belt, it has my name on it, but it is not just my qualification to crow about, or to wave to prove my worth (as we have to do with school and university qualifications). It is the sum of life experiences that have led up to this point, it is a the sum of all the effort of all those who I have trained with in whatever capacity. It is the start of the next part of an even more interesting journey. It is an indication that anything can be overcome and just getting on with it, applying a positive attitude to things, not getting disheartened just works.
So this is a constant and eternal thankyou to everyone. as we say in CKD Pil Seung! (certain victory).

Kinect 2.0 and Choi Kwang Do

My kinect 2.0 arrived this afternoon so I got straight to trying it out. The previous Kinect was less able to cope with shoulders and some of the subtle extra s of joints.
The new Kinect 2.0 seems to be able to cope much better. Though maybe not with the speed of a martial art like Choi Kwang Do.
However, with the basics of form it is doing a very good job just in the Kinect Studio. This enables developers to turn on and off features. As I was using this out of the box it may well be doing more than it needed to do. e.g. just focusing on the skeleton might be smoother than dealing with all the point cloud data and and the ghost image.
The studio has the same thing I tried in my previous example of being able to change the view form front to side to top. The video shows this in this order. The side view is about 40 seconds in and I think is the most useful in terms of technique. We often train with mirrors or looking at another person but seldom see side on unless it is recorded and played back. This is a live mirror from the side view 🙂
I seem to confuse it with a twisting kick too 🙂

Now to look at specific code and trying to match movements to a reference move. Spotting the weight transfer etc.
Still it looks like this might be another step forward to another helpful tool for training.
Lets see how this goes. I have not seen if there is a unity3d plugin yet but thats next on the list.

The future of broadcasting via super8, Wimbledon, CKD Road Trip, twitch and tango – flush 13

Another exciting monday morning as the new edition of Flush The Fashion magazine goes live.
As usual there are loads of great articles and also some great prizes to be won in the magazine. This time Kano raspberry Pi kits 🙂
On page 74 I have my article “We go live in 3.2.1…” which once again looks great with the layout and the images that @tweetthefashion put together.
I discuss the evolution of home movies from the 70’s and super 8 film to the amazing changes in being able to broadcast live right now to everyone. On the journey are the experiences of trying to some early multi platform broadcasting and virtual worlds elements at Wimbledon (which starts today so that’s good timing) to the ability to just say xbox broadcast to share your game play with commentary to anyone anywhere. Being an emerging tech section I also have to consider the wonderful Project Tango from Google too.
The full magazine is here


The ipad version will be live very soon.
This will get you to my little article