Archive for the ‘Personal Posts’ Category

An Update With Some Good News About My Epilepsy

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

It’s coming up on six weeks since my last ‘full body’ seizures and ‘just the leg’ tonic clonic seizures. Things are going well.

As I noted in my last post on the subject, I have been diagnosed with epilepsy and there’s been nothing since to suggest otherwise. What’s not know yet is what triggers my brain into electrical overload, and that may never be known unless the seizures start up again (something I’d like to avoid). In general my Doctor says I’ve to avoid alcohol, keep to regular sleep patterns, and avoid getting over-tired.

What is not a trigger is ‘bright flashing lights.’ Although this is the classic epilepsy thing only three percent of those diagnosed with epilepsy have photo-sensitivity. If the strobes, lights, pyro, and projection effects at Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix selection show for the Eurovision Song Contest failed to trigger me, I doubt anything visual will. Last weekend’s trip to that show allowed me to road-test the modifications my body has made, and all seems to be in order.

That said my enforced rest has meant that I have lost a lot of stamina, my right leg is weaker because of the twitching and seizures that it suffered, and my left arm is still recovering from secondary injuries. There are some side-effects from the anti-seizure medication (Keppra/Levetiracetam), including fatigue and a touch of vertigo. As my body gets used to the medication I’m expecting the effects to continue to diminish.

Up next are a few more short trips to cover some conferences and music events during March and April. I expect to be match fit to join the ESC Insight team in Lisbon to cover the Eurovision Song Contest in May.

By all means ask how I am and how things are going if we meet, I’m happy to talk about this. Just give me a little bit longer to walk anywhere and I’m not going to be staying out late.

You’ll find a lot more information at Epilepsy Scotland, including first aid advice on what to do if you are with anyone when they have a seizure.

What’s Going On With My Body

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

I had posted this on Facebook, but of course it’s now a week later so is impossible to find. And you wonder why old hands like me prefer our own blogs on our own servers…

TL/DR: I’ll be fine. I’m staying at home for a bit to get the right level of medication in my body, and then I’ll be back out reporting on the real world.

Thursday 18 January, I was rushed into hospital following an unexpected full body seizure/fit and loss of consciousness for 12 minutes. Although discharged the same night with a referral to ‘first fit’ clinic I had a second full body fit the next night and proceeded to spend two nights in hospital for monitoring.

I was released the Sunday afternoon after starting out on a course of sodium valproate to broadly target the seizures – which meant fit number three on the night of Sunday 21st was about a minute long, had no loss of consciousness, and was restricted to the full length of my right leg.

Multiple focal fits followed (restricted to my right leg) as I increased the sodium valproate dose to 300mg twice per day, which first reduced and then stopped the fits, I’ve not had any since Saturday 27 January

Following my visit with the Neurology consultant in the first week of February, I’m now lined up for some more investigations (including an MRI), and I’m in the process of switching to an alternate medication better suited to my symptoms (levetiracetam). The next two weeks will be all about switching over safely, and getting medication and body back in balance. Given the number and type of fits in close succession, there’s no question on the diagnosis.

I have epilepsy.

And once the medications are all balanced, there’s no reason I won’t be getting back on with life as before.

On Publishing Five Hundred Podcasts

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

Last Friday saw one of the moments where numbers conspired to mean something. Over on ESC Insight, I posted the five hundredth episode of my Eurovision Song Contest podcast. There was nothing particularly special about the contents, it was a regular episode of ‘ESC Insight News’, covering the last two weeks of news in the world of the Song Contest.

The only concessions to the episode number was a sad party twizzler sound effect at the end of the show, and the subtle use of a Fiat 500 as the key image in the post and shared social images.

And while it is podcast #500 on the RSS feed of ESC Insight, I’ve done more Eurovision podcasts and audio that have been sent down other channels – the podcasts and radio shows for the SBS Eurovision pop-up radio station, the work with Radio Six International, the syndicated radio preview shows each year, and even the commentary work I’ve done have all been part of the audio adventure. These shows are not in the core 500, but they all arose because I podcast about something I love and became one of the ‘go to voices’ in the space.

This is the point where inspirational posts would suggest some grand lessons over the last six years of ESC Insight. I’m not sure there are any, beyond find a passion, keep the quality as high as possible, always ask if you can do more, and say yes to every opportunity you get.

The ESC Insight podcast has taken me on some amazing journeys, from a midnight flight into Yerevan to armed guards blocking my path into Azeri press centres; from commentary booths around the world to talking to TV and Radio executives across Europe and beyond; to be welcomed by a community and to create a new community, it has delivered all that and more.

As for what comes next, I’d highlight podcast #499. This is part of a series called ‘Eurovision Castaways’, where host Ellie Chalkley interviews members of the Song Contest community about their favourite records and finds out more about them. That episode arrived in my podcast player with no input at all from me.

I may have started the Eurovision podcast many years ago, I may still contribute, but the podcast is now something much bigger than just myself, a microphone, and some passion.

Now that personal passion is the shared passion of tens of thousands.

I’ll Be Hosting Overnight General Election Results Coverage

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

When the snap General Election was called in May, I wrote at the time that my first thought was about the result. Or at least how to cover the result. It was this.

I need to get behind a microphone to do the results show from 10pm on June 8th.

Since then I’ve been working on how to do just that, from finding studio facilities, co-hosts, guests, statisticians, the odd politician or two, and some broadcast partners. I’m delighted to announce that I will be hosting a General Election Results show on Thursday night… not only will you be able to listen in on lie, you’ll be able to watch as well.

Broadcast Details

Radio Six International (www.radiosix.com) will handle the radio and audio side of things, offering seven hours of coverage to stations across the UK and further afield (get in touch if you are interested in picking up the coverage). You’ll be able to listen to the stream direct from the Radio Six International website, and we go on air at 10pm UK time (2100 GMT).

The National newspaper is providing studio facilities through the night in their Glasgow newsroom, which will allow us to stay on top of the results as they come in through the night. We’ll also be talking to The National’s reporters who will be at the Glasgow and Edinburgh counts for immediate reactions and interviews. Our studio is going to be wired up not just for audio, but also for video, so you can watch the Facebook Live stream which will be shared from its Facebook Page.

During The Show

There’s no way to fully script out seven hours of live broadcasting in such a fluid environment as the results of a General Election. What we do have are a number of elements that we can call on through the night to keep the show going along. It is a UK Election and the first Scottish seat isn’t due up till around 2am, so while our primary story will be about Scotland, it’s not the only story and we will be looking across all of the UK.

Like any good election show we have our spreadsheets, swingometers, fancy graphics and maps to make predictions and help us try to make sense of what is going on. Once more Steve Griffin is dealing with the numbers through the night. The livestream also means we need something visual to show off.

What’s an election show without lots of voices and opinions? Leading our ‘Pundits Corner’ will be Benjamin Howarth bringing different viewpoints and discussion points from all corners of the political spectrum from a hopefully packed sofa of guests through the night.

The National’s Stephen Paton will be watching social media for reactions from the public, and by the nature of Facebook Live, we’ll be able to ask questions of our audience around the world.

The key thing for me in all of this is that we tell the story of the night, and through that we re-tell the story running up to the vote, and where the story is going. After previous overnight Election shows and various Edinburgh Fringe broadcasts, Dan Lentell will be in the co-host chair to keep the focus on the story, with Ross Middleton floor managing all of the different elements.

Get In Touch

It’s still not too late if you want to get involved as part of the show, and of course you can drop me a line (mail me at ewanspence@gmail.com).

And now, back to reading lots of background material….

Planning A New Kind Of UK General Election Results Show – Can You Help?

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Tuesday’s announcement of a General Election in the UK for June 8th caught me a little by surprise and set off a riot of emotions. I tend not to talk about politics too much online, so many of the thoughts I had yesterday are mine, or for friends and family.

But I’ll happily tell you my very first thought, because it’s one you can all help with.

I need to get behind a microphone to do the results show from 10pm on June 8th.”

I’ve anchored a number of overnight election shows on community radio here in Edinburgh since 2010. These have been broadcast out to the capital but also syndicated to other radio stations and streamed online for those in the UK (and beyond) looking for something a bit more rock and roll in their election night coverage.

I am confident I’ll be running an election night show this year. Now I need to get to that point, get a team together, sort out logistics, and all the other little bits and pieces in the way. Time is tight.

Putting The Team Together

The Election Results Show will be a collaborative effort, so I’m looking for people to be involved in the broadcast. The rough plan is have a core hosting team of two or three people working through the night, an ‘experts and pundits panel’ to discuss the results and keep the sparks flying, someone to stay on top of the constituency results and trends, another to watch over social media for a more interactive show, and a tech or two to keep the video and audio streams running.

If one of those roles sounds like something you want to do, get in touch – ewanspence@gmail.com is probably the best way to do so.

Finding Our Temporary Studio

The first order of business – and one that really needs sorting out before the end of April – is the venue. Short of finding a radio studio suite, the show will need a decent sized space for up to 15 people, with tables and chairs, good lighting, and a rock solid internet connection (preferably with a mix of wi-fi and wired access).

My initial thought is that the show will be Edinburgh-based, but as the broadcast will be streamed online I’m open to other locations around the UK, including London.

Other Ways To Support The Show

Obviously there are some costs involved in the show, so I am very much open to partnerships. That could be co-working spaces, start-ups in a ‘broadcast’ space, publishers or other media organisations, sugary energy drink manufacturers, and so on. Again get in touch if this sounds like a contribution you can help with (ewanspence@gmail.com).

At the very least I would love to cover volunteer expenses and potentially the venue hire.

What About A Name?

The Election Results Show’ is functional but not incredibly descriptive. ‘Rock and Roll Results’ suggests musical content, and that’s unlikely to happen. There’ll be a good name that talks about the open nature of the show, the slightly rough at the edges feel, the move away from mainstream media coverage, and the online nature of the show. Right now I can’t think of it. Once more, suggestions welcome.

Over To You

I could do this alone, but it’s going to much more fun with a big group of people. Join me?

SXSW Breakfast, Anyone?

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

I’ve been a regular at Austin’s SXSW for far longer than I care to remember. It’s a heady mix of music, film, and ‘interactive’ stuff and I’ve always met many old friends, made new ones, and had my creative batteries refilled from spending a week or two in Texas.

This year is no different, and I’m flying out today.

The other thing that happens every year at SXSW is Saturday morning breakfast at Magnolia Cafe on South Congress. As usual I’ll be there a little bit ahead of 8am to grab a table and see who else turns up. A few of you have already asked and got the date in your diary, for everyone else reading let me know if you plan on turning up.

And if you want to meet at SXSW for any reason, I’m there for the full duration through to Sunday 19th March.

Gene Cernan RIP: Speaking To The Last Man On The Moon

Monday, January 16th, 2017

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Gene Cernan died today.

He was the last man to walk on the moon, an astronaut from a time of heroes, a pilot from a time where best friends didn’t come home. He also drew his daughter’s initials in the moon dust. They’re still there…
 
I was very lucky to speak to him in 2014 as he promoted Mark Craig’s documentary/biography ‘Last Man On The Moon.’ 

I’ve posted it above, and I’m going to listen to it again.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

The modern day grind of a blog writer

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

TechCrunch’s John Biggs on what he has learned after writing 11,00 blog posts. There’s a lot here that I can relate to:

Nobody cares. Nobody will read you. The only way to make them care is to keep doing it, day after day. Write 1,000 words a day. Don’t stop. This holds true in everything. Can you write more words per day? You can, but start at 1,000. Once you do that, day after day, people will notice. Then people will read. Then people will come back. Then you’ll gain a following. You probably won’t make any money but you will have a marketable skill that you can sell.

If anyone wants an idea of what I do for my job, BIggs has pretty much summed up what I call ‘the grind’.

Nostalgia is typing everything exactly as you see it printed

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

Usborne computing have released two new books for children to learn about computers and programming (they are Key Stage 1 level, if that means anything to you). ‘Lift The Flap Computers and Coding‘ and ‘Coding For Beginners Using Scratch‘ may be popular in school libraries in the next year or two, but it’s what Usborne released for free download next to these titles that excites me.

The full range of their early 1980s Computer Guides… some of the books that started me programming on the ZX Spectrum. Including the classic ‘Computer Spacegames‘, which was the first of the guidebooks I remember.

The full collection is here. A more civilised  time with better artwork and lots of ‘guess a number’ apps!

When I’m ready to buy a new Filofax…

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

I’m leaving this link to Van der Spek more for my reference in the future, but if you’re looking for a customised Filofax/planner/diary (especially if you’re looking for the old one and a quarter inch rings) in a choice of colours, materials, and sizes, you might want to check them out as well.

When did Coldplay realise they were the ultimate support act?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

I wonder if Coldplay were… “in on it” and realised they were the cover story and opening act for the Beyonce Political Rally? There must have been a moment they went from ‘we’re doing the whole show’ to becoming the warm-up act that nobody ever mentions in the gig review.

That’s the story I’d love to hear about the half-time show at Superbowl 50.

Disney’s Cowboy Bebop

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

It’s taken me a while to get round to Disney XD’s Star Wars animation ‘Star Wars: Rebels‘, partly because I’d ignored the Clone Wars series, but also because there was another Star Wars episode to see last year all the focus was on that.

So it was a delight to settle down with Rebels and discover a almost piratical crew led by rough-edged Jedi with amazing gun control and close-quarters fighting skill, a heavily muscular ‘Second Mate’, a feminine sharpshooter, a street-wise urchin, and a cute puppy-like droid that knows far more than it tells.

That crew sound awfully familiar to us Space Cowboys.

No empty bench in Soho Square

Friday, December 18th, 2015

I fell out of favour with Heaven somewhere. And I’m here for the hell of it now.

Boys and girls, can you see which way Twitter went?

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Nothing says Christmas (in the UK at least) than a pantomime. And nothing says innovating online than successfully holding an online pantomime as a piece of performance art. How about a pantomime on Twitter I hear you say-

…traditional wait as you all shout ‘how about a pantomime on Twitter?’ at me…

Been there, done that, it was cutting edge in 2008. Jon Bounds recalls the bleeding edge of comedy 2.0:

 Looking back at the first Twitpanto, which was organised haphazardly and quickly. It stands out for me that it had no commercial or charitable goal. It was purely for the enjoyment and to see if it was possible, and more than that it was able to break across social groupings and filters. A nib in the Birmingham Post the following day reminds me of the cast: some people whom I was friends with mainly online and had never met; some people I had worked with; some journalists, and a cabinet minister. The cabinet minister was Tom Watson, MP for West Bromwich near Birmingham, a ferocious advocate of digital technology’s place in the real centre of social discourse – but this was no demonstration piece, this was for laughs. This era, is sadly over. Could the now deputy leader of the Labour Party play Barron Tweetup today?

A Quick Trip To San Francisco… Who Has Interesting Things To Show Me?

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

This weekend I’m nipping over to San Franciso and the Bay Area – as you do – with a view to meet as many people as possible for coffee, snacks, lunch, and dinner. If you’re reading this and around between Sunday 27th and Wednesday 30th, let’s meet up, you all know how to reach me.

And anyone who has something interesting to show me with my Forbes hat on that pushes new technology in mobile, and social media, reach out to me via email (ewanspence@gmail.com).