Showing posts with label events. Show all posts
Showing posts with label events. Show all posts


grindfest 2019 and the big ol prototype

it's been a long time since i wrote anything for you guys. i will get the health stuff over with first: i'm having the Mental Health Fun Time, basically. things have escalated pretty badly in the last couple of months, & when this happens i pretty much can't do anything else. once again, i'm really sorry if you've been contacting me & didn't get a reply. the bigger my inbox & DMs get, the worse it is, and stupidly i know i'm making it worse by not checking them but that doesn't make it any easier to break through the barrier. right now the biggest problem is me, really. i shan't go into gory details, but it's been rough. i am very grateful for the access i have to doctors, psychiatrists, hospitals etc. - but also for the care & support i get from everyone in the biohacking community who knows me. you have all been fantastic.

as for Grindfest: it was incredible. i haven't been as happy as that since i was a kid. i got to travel to a beautiful place - the desert was gorgeous, and the butterfly migration we saw was like something out of a fantasy novel (a river of thousands of red and black butterflies all flying towards wherever their destination was. it was awe-inspiring.) i also got to meet Cassox, and see many friends, and everyone was lovely. we had a BBQ, we learned some useful practical techniques, there were electric knife fights, i tried every American junk food item i could. it turns out Twinkies are weird, but tasty. i brought back Lucky Charms too.

more importantly, i also had an experimental device installed. for legal reasons i'm not going to go into which of us did what during the actual install procedure, but it started off when my friend Mixael brought this little "pirate box" device in. tiny little guy, has USB storage and wifi antenna, users just connect to it via their phone or PC and they can download / upload files, anonymously chat, etc. we started to think about taking the cover off it, and at that point we all sort of looked at each other because it was immediately clear this might make an interesting subdermal device. so over the next few days it got gutted; more talented people than me took off any extraneous components, replaced the battery with a wireless charging coil, soldered the USB storage down, and filed off the corners. because we took the battery out, the device is now operated through use of a wireless charging pad held close to it on the skin; that's not ideal, but this is a prototype after all. Cass coated it with about a hundred layers of resin-type stuff (it's proprietary, i'm not sure what exactly it IS but it performs like a dream) to bioproof the device. after that had cured it was time for the installation.

there's film of this somewhere around, but the op was done very professionally in Cass' lab. the lab is an absolute dream - spacious, easily cleaned, with two main working rooms and one sort of clinic room. it's all organised to perfection and has pretty much any equipment or supplies you could possibly want for a biohacking project, from weird cell biology shit to full on opening someone up and stuffing in large electronics. the latter, obviously, being what we were doing.

we chose to put the device in my upper right arm, rather than the thigh as intended, due to worries about chafing. then we injected shitloads of lidocaine, and made a horizontal incision in the arm, which was then held open with retractors while a pocket big enough to hold the device was carved. at some point i recall we had to stop and put more lidocaine in, i think because the corners hurt more to carve out than i thought they would? anyway i bawled like a big baby at some point but it got installed in the end, and stitched up with a drain to help get rid of some of the fluid. i went off home (via a missed flight, but friends helped me sort it out & it was all OK in the end) and once i got back, pulled out the tube. this caused a large backup of about 50ml of fluid to spurt from the incision, completely overwhelming the little bit of sterile gauze i was trying to clean it with, which in turn surprised the hell out of Paul and kind of ruined the rug. was worth it if you ask me.

the incision healed up well, but slowly. this is probably due to me smoking or something rather than the quality of the work done, which was excellent. i took the stitches out a couple weeks later with no problems. the fluid buildup did cause the implant to look very raised, but this has subsided over time & didn't require draining like i thought it would. overall the install went pretty smoothly, i think. it's all healed over now, save one corner that's still a little red. no idea what's up with that but if the device fails, it fails, & we've gained some valuable information about how long these devices can last, positioning, usage and things like that.

here is the device while it was healing up:

looks pretty dramatic, no? it's all gone back to the right colour now, & there's a badass scar where the incision was. this is what it looks like today:

kind of gnarly still but i wasn't a beauty queen to begin with, ha. hopefully the device remains in situ for a good six months or so, i'd consider that a success. (and the scar is cool as fuck.)

speaking of gnarly, the janky finger was also fixed at Grindfest, much to my surprise. a lot of weird shit came out, all tiny pips of neodymium scattered throughout the white tissue making up the lump. the incision wasn't too big, probably about 1cm length, and sealed up perfectly. i took the stitches out on the plane home & had to explain what i was doing to the poor woman seated next to me. i don't want to get the person who did it in trouble so i'll just say that this procedure (and the installation of the device above) were done with superlative skill and care, and i'd recommend them any time.

that's pretty much everything. i won't be able to make it to Defcon, for those asking, but may well be able to come to "Please Try This At Home" in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in September. i'll figure that out in time. meanwhile love and best wishes to you all, especially D, Vicarious, Mixael & Cyberlass. you have all been wonderful people.




i've been back for about a week and i miss BDYHAX a lot. i did have some travel problems getting in - there were 3 flights to get in and 3 to get out. the first flight was no problem but at the end of the transatlantic middle flight, there were thunderstorms over Atlanta, Georgia which stopped us from landing on time. after that the security queues to check our documents for entry to the USA were more than an hour long and the combination of those things made me miss my connecting flight on to Texas. i ended up sleeping on the floor of the Atlanta airport then taking a flight to San Antonio (instead of Austin), then getting a paid-for taxi to Austin to find my hold baggage. the taxi man had no idea what was going on and kept asking me questions in Spanish and saying he didn't like the looks of my airline taxi voucher, and in the end i had to ditch him at baggage claims and run around looking for another taxi to take me to the hotel.

America was so strange. the taxi rides showed me a barren, mostly empty desert wasteland with many abandoned construction projects, ones in progress, and land lots for sale; but then we crossed a bridge and suddenly we were in a fully built-up city centre. i found the hotel and checked in to what was absolutely the nicest apartment i have ever stayed in - bigger than mine, with better amenities, and it even had a little terrace on the balcony outside. a dear friend had even sent a package with some Sergio Aragones cartoons to distract me from my impending panel appearance and some delicious gourmet biscotti. it was amazing to arrive in this beautiful place - the kind of place i'd never be able to afford on my own - and not have to worry about money.

that day some Austrian TV crew wanted to meet for an interview and even paid me for it, which was ace and never usually happens. there was a pre-meetup thing at a sausage restaurant where i got to meet some friends, which was pretty chill except i got lost when i went for a smoke and missed like half of it.

the panel the next day went well, i think. people on Twitter seemed to like it, even though i kind of thought my responses were kind of just fancy ways to say "gender isn't relevant to me" or "i don't know enough about that" or "that isn't really my conversation to have". but the rest of the con was incredible. i met so many amazing people doing amazing things, and everyone was so friendly. i never got used to being recognised by people i didn't know, so i ended up just saying hi and talking with absolutely everyone and anyone. i had some really interesting conversations, then and at the Wormhole after party thing that night which was also pretty chill.

my talk the day after was called "Fun with Self-Surgery", just a basic overview of how to keep things as sterile as possible and relatively safe while you're working on yourself. it was packed, as was my longtime friend Vicarious's talk just before that on RFID programming, which i think is an indicator that it went well. there were a lot of questions at any rate. i used the money i got from the Austrian crew to get a VivoKey Spark implant installed, and spent the rest of the day just hanging out smoking and talking to everyone. i went for a burger with Vicarious and the lovely Anastasia Synn (at Hut's Hamburgers, the tastiest burger i have ever had in my life, no joke.) i met Tim Cannon of Grindhouse Wetware, who was completely lovely, and acquired a Northsense unit i need to install sometime soon. c00p3r let me have a couple of prototype magnet implants to test out and promised i could test out something truly revolutionary if i managed to get to Grindfest - more on that when it's installed. i had dinner that night at a vegan place with a huge collection of fellow grinders.

mostly, i was just amazed that the community has become so big and achieved so much. i was told i'm "the spark" that set everything off - if that's true, i am so proud of you all that it hurts my heart. all i ever wanted was to pass on knowledge and ideas to smarter people than me, who'd do better things with it than i was capable of doing, and it's come true. people are doing so many utterly amazing things. i'm so proud of all of you and so happy, i ended up having a cry when i had to leave. it felt like i'd found "my tribe" and i truly didn't want to leave and go back to crappy Birmingham. but i have some things to be getting on with now, and i've booked my tickets to Grindfest thanks to some lovely people crowdfunding last year. at least i can meet up with friends again come May.

i know i keep saying it, but i am so so proud of you all. this is exactly what i wished would happen fifteen years ago.



the road to America

applying for passports turned out to be quite difficult the first time i ever did it, way back in the day, and it also took a ridiculous amount of time. i remember taking really ugly pictures for it in a photo booth which was jammed into the side of a corridor in the mall. luckily, you can now do it online, so the only problem was the pictures. i did all my makeup and headed out to get some from a similar little booth in the enormous Bullring Mall. it didn't go well since i had neglected to plan for my absolute loathing of reflections and/or pictures of myself. if you have zero self esteem, it's hard to keep taking picture after picture of yourself all unexpressive and unemotional and not just give up and exit the booth shamefaced at your own ugliness.

after the second booth had taken its max allowance of three pictures and they had all been marked as "not passport compliant", i was beginning to get a little bit irritated. i had to pay for both sets of failed pictures, of course, and the whole reason i was out here was that i'd already tried to get regular pictures taken with my phone to work with no success. i took my two sets of crappy pictures and went home trying not to cry like a little bitch.

of course when i got home, more phone pictures wouldn't work either. eventually someone suggested to just try putting one of the failed photobooth ones in. it worked. i sort of sat there surprised for a while, like a dog after you bop it on the nose for being bad. but it worked! my application was away! there was no need to cry over crap photos!

in a couple of weeks my brand new passport made its way to me. the picture does of course make me look less "bright youthful tech person" and more "Baba Yaga bought a new liquid lip colour" but it's so good to have an in-date passport again. now i can actually accept invitations to travel, maybe go see friends and fellow biohackers who live on the Continent or in the States, anything. it's something i wanted for a long time & thanks to kind, generous friends i can go anywhere now, within budget.

after the passport the next step to BDYHAX was the ESTA application, thankfully another thing you can do online. i'm not gonna lie, i was bricking it filling the form in. images of American bureaucrats with guns stopping me at the border filled my head, in case i'd inadvertently lied about my details or they considered me a disgusting drug addict who shouldn't be in their country or something. but i paid for the application and three or four days later it came back as approved, to my relief. now i need a travelling prescription for some of my meds, which is in the works, and a letter from the doc to show why i need them (i have an appointment to see them in early December.) it's all in progress which is both exciting and terrifying to me.

i'm really looking forward to BDYHAX, and Grindfest too which i still need to arrange. it's so good to be doing something after being ill for a long time, & i'm so excited for all the people i'm going to meet at the event itself. even just the plane ride makes me excited. more as it happens



Manchester Science Festival

so Thursday 18th i was at the Manchester Science Festival's "You Have Been Upgraded" event. it was absolutely fantastic. i was part of a panel of speakers talking about the various facets of transhumanism, alongside the futurist Ghislaine Boddington and the Spanish cyborg artist Manel Munoz, both of whom were great to share a conversation with - many other awesome people were there too. it was really good to get out and talk about my shit with some other weirdos. the highlight of the evening was a live chip implant done by Jenova Rain (someone i really highly recommend if you want magnets done or xNTs put in!) but it was also ace to hear from the prosthetics and futurist bits of the panel, and watch a gorgeous tattoo being finished by the amazing scientist-tattooist Rebecca de Cadorette. it was such a good night.

in other news, i'm also gonna be at BDYHAX 19, a conference in the States about body hacking (obviously.) it will be a bit of a bitch getting a passport and visa sorted but as soon as my payment for the last event comes through, i'll be sending a passport renewal off ASAP. i'm really looking forward to it and there's also Grindfest 19 so a lot of things are kicking off from my point of view. it's all good.

carpe corporem



crappy news re. Grindfest 2018

it looks like i'm not going to be able to get to Grindfest this year guys. i am so gutted. i've been looking at requirements for travel today and it seems like there isn't any way to get all 3 of what's needed within a week from now (that's a renewed passport, a travel-permitted prescription for my painkiller, and an American visa.) there is a fast track visa system but its terms seem to be saying that if you're a "drug addict" you can't travel, and i don't know that i'd be able to prove to them that i'm not: i've never taken heroin or whatever but currently i'm being taken off methadone, which is primarily used for treating heroin addicts and is basically unknown outside that use in the States. the people on the phone agreed and said i'd really want to be using the regular non-fast-track visa system which would take far far too long. i could get the doctor to write a note maybe but i don't know if that would suffice either given that the doc doesn't prescribe the methadone, the fucking methadone centre does, and again its primary use is to rehabilitate fuckin heroin addicts (i'm one of two people in the centre who weren't given it for heroin addiction)... incidentally this is my main reason for switching painkillers to a non-opiate called pregabalin, it's something that doesn't require a specialist to monitor you and can be overseen by the GP, plus doesn't have a main use for addicts & therefore a massive stigma that stops you travelling to places you really wanted to go.

i'll be able to get to it next year, if there is one next year. by that time i'll have been on solely pregabalin for a long time, & will be taking much less medication overall (a lot of it is for side effects, managed to ditch a fair bit already), plus i will have time to get a passport sorted and do the long form visa if they want.

the main thing i'm worrying about here is that people started a GoFundMe - that wasn't actually me that started it, i don't like asking for money & i actually only noticed it when the organiser sent me an email about it and a couple friends alerted me to it on Twitter. please don't put any more donations into it, as i won't be able to use them this year. if anyone sent me anything via PayPal (i've checked & there's nothing in it so far, thank fuck) that hasn't cleared yet, i'll return it to you as soon as it clears into my account. i'm gonna email the guy organising the GFM to ask if he can return your donations to you all, if that's not possible, maybe he can hold it in trust for next year. if anyone has any preferences about that, maybe email him or put comments on the GFM page. i don't want anyone to go out of pocket because of this.

sorry in addition if i've not been great at contact this last month or so (as if i ever am). as i've said on twatter, there's been a family tragedy involving my brother's little 3-year-old girl Z, who's been diagnosed with a degenerative brain disorder. she's very fundamentally disabled now and the docs don't know whether the degeneration will plateau off so that she lives a shortened life as a person with a profound disability (around the physical/cognitive level of functioning of a 6mth old baby, right now, and ofc it continues to degenerate), or whether it will not and she will die. naturally this is fucking horrible for my bro and his partner, for their other kid G who's only 4, and for my parents, who live in the same place and do a lot of surrogate childcare for them (my bro and his girl live with their kids in like an annexed house that's part of my parents' place in rural Wales.) i'm worried about my mum in particular since she's trying to hold all this together with no support for herself. this clusterfuck has been 50% of my attention for a good couple months now, alongside trying to look after Paul (he is thankfully getting better, it's just slow, which is exactly what the last gastroenterologic specialist guy we saw said was gonna happen, so no huge medical worries there just a lot of caring to do.) i've been neglecting my actual work so to speak, & i'm sorry.

so once again, bearer of bad news. heartfelt apologies to those of you who got your hopes up for hanging out and listening to a talk at Grindfest, i know i sure as fuck did too. i'll let you all know what happens with the GoFundMe, & i'm gonna try to get in touch with the actual organisers of the fest to see if i can like reserve a place for next year or something. if i organise stuff far ahead enough in time, i can make it happen.

take care sibs



talk results

woefully underattended! it was like a paedophile's funeral, as my cameraman said. about six attendees and one of them was the poor guy organising the event in the first place. it took place in the lower floor of a nice little indie-type cafe place, and having tried in vain to recruit the two sweet old ladies who occupied the lower bit and the small collection of Hallowe'en hating hipsters typing on their laptops in the upper half, i ended up giving a talk to the organiser and five or so people who weren't doing anything for Hallowe'en.

not that the organiser didn't try to publicise it, mind; he was pretty apologetic about the crap turnout, and about the (egregious) mistake of having scheduled the talk for the biggest party night of the month thereby almost guaranteeing that nobody would be interested. you live, you learn. he was a really nice guy & a good host, and the group he's set up seems like it's probably going to be a decent little H+ group once it's matured a bit and attracted some more members, so if nothing else i spose this was an OK talk for those five or so people and a pretty good lesson for me (in that i should have realised much earlier that the date was a bad idea and warned the guy so he could change it).

we did film it, both as something to share if people wanted it and as food for the documentary, but owing to the location lighting and the interference of sound from the floor above us, the film's not of very good quality and will apparently need a fair bit of editing to make it watchable. i'll put it up for sharing as soon as it's finished.

as requested, here are the slides to the talk, entitled "Biohacking 101" on Google Drive. they're free to view for anyone, so feel free to spread the link around. i think the talk contains some decent info for beginner biohackers or people just interested. it also has some stuff on ethics, etc that i didn't go into in the 27C3 "Cybernetics for the Masses" talk, although they're similar to each other.

film will follow when i have it. might post the raw unedited stuff if the edited one takes ages, though it will be godawful.

also as a few people suggested: if any group around wants, i'm happy to give similar talks to whoever wants them & can be arsed to arrange them, like university societies, interest groups etc. if you want a specific topic that's fine too. i don't charge money, just a drink and a toke if you're having em.



ETA, 22.12: i did not ever actually get that footage, something happened to it with audio levels such that it wasn't usable. apologies. the slides are still OK though


talk on 31st October, Lee Rosy's Tea Room, Nottingham

i have a speaking engagement coming up on the 31st of October, at Lee Rosy's Tea Room, 17 Broad St., Nottingham NG1 3AJ. it will be a short-ish talk about transhumanism and biohacking (as i see/practice it personally of course). it begins at about 6:30. as far as i know members of the public are welcome to come along & there's no entry fee (i'll update this if i'm wrong.) there will be a LibreOffice presentation and everything. i will be discussing past and present projects, basic steps to basic implant procedures, risks and ethical qualms, etc., as well as taking any and all questions (i plan to leave a fair bit of time for an extended Q&A session, since that's not something i normally get to do.)

it would be awesome to see any readers there. i invite you all if you can be bothered / are in the area / have an unhealthy interest in my intimate personal life!