Buying second hand bikes in Birmingham, at the centre car boot sale

If you’re looking to buy second hand bicycles in Birmingham, UK, your best bet might be the car boot sale in the centre. It opens for visitors at 8am, and best get there early to find the good stuff – although you’ll be glad to know a drive into Birmingham at that time of a Sunday morning is pretty quick. There’s parking at the multistory next door to the Wholesale Market where it’s held.

#bike shopping. #cyclespeedway

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The best way to approach it is look around all the stalls first – there are some just with lots of bikes, and some with various items, amongst them a few bikes. You can then get a sense of what’s on offer, tour the lot, and then return to the one you’re interested in. We found a reasonable BMX bicycle for my son at £20 – I’m sure we could have haggled him down a bit, but didn’t really feel the need to, it was worth it. Otherwise, there are all types of bikes to be found: mountain bikes, road, kids and adult.

There are food stalls as well, so you can get breakfast there. And there are of course tons of other things to nose through, not just bikes

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I haven’t blogged anything for over a year, most things can be said on Facebook on Twitter these days, but it felt that this needed a bit more time and attention. Because two days ago Steph Clarke passed away very suddenly and I wanted to somehow get something down in words. I was about to type ‘of WV11′ after her name there because that was one of the ways I knew here, and others did within my field of academic research, but she was of course so much more than that to so many people, as we’ve seen from the hundreds of dedications and memories over the last couple of days.

I don’t think we actually physically met until the 2012 Talk About Local Unconference, but by that time I was already living in Wednesfield, using her and James’ fantastic hyperlocal site and Facebook page. We had come into contact with them I think through the church, as we’d moved to the area when my wife became a curate there. When we did meet face to face, it felt like we were already friends though – as I’m sure is the case for so many people who mostly knew her online.

Then I got a research assistant post on the Creative Citizens project studying hyperlocal, and so they came into focus through that as well – friends and ‘creative citizens’ in their community. When I started my PhD looking at how people use hyperlocal sites, it made sense to make WV11 my case study. Steph and James were always welcoming with my questions, helping me to promote the work, answering whenever they could and had time in between everything else they got up to. We went out socially a few times, but all the online chatter and banter in between was just as significant, it must have been because it felt like really hard news to hear on Friday.

Many will have known Steph as someone on the estate, or in wider Wednesfield, or obviously as a family member. Her online posts always suggested she was great with kids, and I know ours were sometimes a bit sullen and blank when they met James and Steph, but I also remember Steph taking time at the cycle speedway world championships in 2015 with Ewan, taking photos with him.
Press team

As much as she seemed to make herself comfortable with whoever she spoke to, she was always herself, but also somehow professional when necessary, with a warmth that is sometimes unexpected from people involved in these kinds of things. She would present or speak with passion, in a group, or one to one. I remember her at Makeshift in Wolverhampton, at our Creative Citizens Fair event in 2015, and at our book launch event this year in London, for the Creative Citizens book. We wanted to make a point of bringing along some of the hyperlocal editors we’d been doing our work about, the people on the ground who do this amazing work, and, along with others, they did us proud. They even managed to slip into a quick photo opportunity with Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia fame. We got her to talk about hyperlocal in the video below, and hopefully this demonstrates just how much she was respected by her peer hyperlocalists (?) but also those who knew her at BCU, through the project or maybe in other ways. She was always honest, always open to say her bit (and then some), and always giving.

When we moved away to Rubery two years ago, we lost contact physically, but obviously it still carried on online. And as I’ve been writing up my PhD since September, I’ve felt close as I go through interviews with them, and with people who used their website and Facebook page. My only regret there is that I didn’t get to pass on all the great feedback they had from people, and as much as it wasn’t always plain sailing for them, people not always understanding the incredible work and effort they put in as volunteers on so many levels, I know they also knew they were loved and appreciated for it too. As someone said the other day, Steph has crammed more into her life than many would have, if they’d lived to double the age. She won’t be forgotten.

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Archers catchup on iPlayer Radio, vs podcast

You might be thinking, well what’s the difference? It’s the same show, right? Wrong. Well, kind of.

The other day I noticed that iPlaye Radio on my iPhone now allows you to download anything that you could previously only stream. Which is great news for people like me who listen to a lot of radio, or miss it and would like to catch up, but without using their bandwidth allocation – I’m always using up my monthly iPhone 3G.

Previously, I listened to The Archers on podcasts. The difference is that with the podcasts you get a ‘this is a podcast’ intro and a ‘that was a podcast’ type outro. Which is usually just a bit of fluff that tends to annoy, mainly because I hear it a lot.

But on the iPlayer Radio version, it’s ‘recorded’ as if straight from the FM radio show – so it’s introduced with maybe the end of the last show, and the continuity announcement into the show typically something like ‘Helen’s in a spot of bother’ – and then it goes into the show. Similarly, the last bits of the recording are a few seconds after the show.

For me, someone who rarely hears the show live, in the way I was brought up with it, and cherish it most, it’s the closest I can come to the live radio experience. So ongoing, I’ll be sticking with the iPlayer Radio stream and/or downloads.

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Long time listeners left high and dry: the problem with The Archers Flood

A lot of people have been following with interest, or trying to, the current Archers story on BBC Radio 4: the floods. Or ‘the big flood’, as we might imagine it, swamping all and sundry. And that’s the problem. Whereas any other time listening to this show (where I’ve listened properly since 2003, but been a background listener all my life) it doesn’t really matter if you can’t picture where all the buildings are in relation to each other, who lives with who, etc, suddenly it is crucial to out understanding of what’s going on. So many conversations this week have displayed various levels of tension and panic, accompanied by water, but I can’t honestly tell whether someone is getting in a boat, up to their neck in water, or just running a bath.

And I’m not the only one.

Amusingly, I may have created a part of the backlash by my own post, which was incorrectly suggested to be part of the BBC’s transmedia around the event…

…which was cited in a story in The Telegraph.

Interesting they say that radio paints the best pictures, but when you’re not relying on your mind to fill in the gaps but want a bit more clarity and can’t get it, well it starts to fail a bit. Nonetheless, I’m still gripped. Keep it up.

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Parenting in the age of ieverything… and being a kid in the age of digital media documentation

Someone showed me this blog post about parenting in the age of kids having everything digital, and at a moment’s notice, which probably should also encompass ‘that’ concern about children not being inquisitive any more because they can look up everything on Google or Wikipedia. I don’t personally see that as being a problem, and we enjoy looking up things together when we don’t know the answer, want a bit of context or video explanation or evidence of something.

But I’m also interested in kids growing up in the age of simple digital documentation. I can’t think now where I would go to find or dig out any video of me as a child. My parents didn’t have a cine camera to my knowledge and the first video camera in our family was probably my own, much later. Photos are easier to come by, but were generally taken on ‘occasions’ such as birthdays, holidays, Christmas, etc.

But my kids will have it a little different. I’m a serial Flickr, Audioboo and Youtube user, often posting not just the important occasions, but what I like to think of as sweet tableaus of everyday life – you might just call them a bit dull but when it’s this free, easy, and tied into everyday technology like mobile phones, I just can’t resist. I might be criticised for being too open, giving too much away to the world on social media, even when I am making the more personal images private. The result of all this is that if they want, they’ll have thousands (in the case of Flickr at least) of images to go through at will, in their own time. No more pulling down dusty shoeboxes of old, printed photos. They’ll be pulling these up on tablets or computers that are part of everyday life. Even at this early stage of their lives they enjoy finding photos of themselves from just a couple of years ago. I wonder what they’ll make of it all when they’re in their thirties? We might have discussions about making some of that archive more private online, or decide to take less photos, or at least not post as many online. Or they might embrace it and continue in the same trend throughout their lives. Whatever, at this stage, it’s worth recognising the opportunity and making use of it as we will.

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The Twitter app is kicking people who follow links to the App store, and a William Hill app

EDIT: More info here:

Which is odd. I first noticed it earlier tonight  when I followed a link to a local newspaper story, and half way through reading it, without me clicking anything, the app store slid in, and showed me the William Hill app. I searched on Twitter, it’s happened to at least three other people.

And Sugarscape too apparently:

Is this a glitch in Twitter? It seems to be happening to all kinds of different links, not one page in particular. Or is it some kind of ingenious hack by William Hill to get people downloading their app? I doubt it, but it is intriguing.

For me it’s been on the iPhone Twitter app, but it may be affecting Android too…

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The BBC ‘relegation’ to online, and why that’s not such a terrible idea

I’m probably not exactly the core demographic for BBC Three anyway (mid-30s), but I wasn’t terribly distraught to hear it may be axed. The idea seems to be that programming might be available online only, but isn’t  that where the kids of today are watching their ‘TV’ these days anyway? Whether it’s through iPlayer, downloads, Netflix or Youtube series, I’d imagine it wouldn’t be a huge wrench for BBC Three TV watchers to adjust – in some cases it might be as simple as using their TV remote to watch a TV-based online service (rather than having to using a mobile/laptop/tablet). These figures from Ofcom suggest an increased use on mobile and tablet for watching ‘television’ (see page 205 onwards).

More to the point, pushing more people online for their viewing would have the effect of opening up and expanding the Youtube mini-series market. A lot of people out there are now making their own comedy sitcom / sketch / animation / opinion shows in short but regular forms, and while it won’t be doing the BBC any favours, I’d have thought it would appeal to that BBC Three demographic. A lot of them will be there already of course, and being an old fogey myself, I’m probably preaching to the converted, but here are a few gems out there you might like to subscribe to in this vein.

Long Story Short


Simon’s Cat

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