Entrance to 6ème's mairie

6ème has a reputation of being a nice arrondissement of Lyon. Like any area of a city, 6ème has its better parts and worse. When we moved here four years ago, I picked it based on research; the location had all we thought we would need.

6ème’s reputation reached further than we expected. An electrician involved in our house build knew of 6ème and joked that it was a nice area so he should charge us more.

On Monday, two men attempted to burgle our apartment while I was home.

The attempt was not the first incident in this building and our neighbours tell us this is not isolated to this building. Nearby buildings are also suffering increasingly from theft and vandalism.

Like any area, 6ème has better parts with buildings showing off carved façades and pretty squares. In particular I think of Brotteaux and towards the parc de la tête d’or; areas that sustain luxury car resellers and fancy boutique stores.

Brotteaux, Lyon, at night
Brotteaux, Lyon, at night
Entrance to 6ème's mairie
Entrance to 6ème’s mairie

The two men who tried to break into our home were opportunistic. The circumstances that led to them singling out our apartment are clear to us and unfortunate. I do not think they began their day considering entering another’s home but they did not set out that morning as saints either.

Numerous postboxes in our building were forced open or destroyed. What they were looking for I am not sure. What is of particular value in most people’s postboxes?

Our building is old, poorly maintained, and far from being considered a better part of 6ème. The residents are not wealthy or well to do. Our street has multiple laundrettes, a tattoo parlor has recently opened nearby, and graffiti provides a visual backdrop.

Woman walking near graffiti in 6ème, Lyon
Woman walking near graffiti in 6ème, Lyon
Tabac hoarding covered in graffiti
Tabac hoarding covered in graffiti
Man skateboarding along the street at night.
Man skateboarding along the street at night.

I should have called the police there and then.

Up until the last moment, I thought it a mistake. The actions of error or farce, not malevolence. Until the last moment I expected the situation to dissolve.

I was however ready. I knew I would have no opportunity to flee, so fight was my only option. The intruders would block my exit.


Being out of the apartment at odd hours shows you a different city.

Our early morning runs reveal an activity I suspect most are unaware of. Bins are systematically checked by organised groups. Those involved are often well dressed men, frequently dragging a wheeled shopping bag, who work their way through bins left out on the street for collection. When sighted, they shroud their activity but often too late to go unnoticed. The streets are long and a runner approaches quickly and treads quietly.

I expected them to extract cashable items, such as broken electrics or reusable items, but they do not. I do not know what they are fetching.


The two men suddenly gave up and ran back down the stairs.

Since then we had our first interaction with the national police. A new experience for us and one that I would like not to need again. A dossier will be created, a reference number assigned, and a record kept. Another statistic augmented.

What S Numbers Mean For Safety Footwear

I wear boots and I prefer steel toe capped boots. Recently I bought my first pair online sight unseen.

While researching my choices, I noticed many pairs of boots advertised an S number. Here is what those S ratings mean:

  • Basic safety
  • Closed seat region
  • Antistatic properties
  • Energy absorption of seat region
  • Closed seat region
  • Antistatic properties
  • Energy absorption of seat region
  • Water penetration and water absorption
  • Closed seat region
  • Antistatic properties
  • Energy absorption of seat region
  • Water penetration and water absorption
  • Penetration resistance
  • Cleated outsole
  • Antistatic properties
  • Energy absorption of seat region
  • Antistatic properties
  • Energy absorption of seat region
  • Penetration resistance
  • Cleated outsole

YouTube Content ID Abuse

My latest short film hit the brick wall that is YouTube’s Content ID system. This was the first time I have had an utterly misapplied copyright violation notice.

Other copyright notices have been raised on my videos but those have been for incidental recordings of music playing during public performances. I do not know the legality of those claims but they appear raised by the appropriate licence holder. Those claims are not my focus today.

I published my latest short film with a track of free music provided by The Passion HiFi. The music is appropriately licensed for use on YouTube:

  • Use them for TV, radio, Internet and film productions FREE of charge
  • Use these beats as backing music for your videos on Youtube as long as you state that The Passion HiFi is the copyright holder and the content ID is linked to the same beat on the iTunes store.

Sadly, YouTube’s Content ID system disagreed. A music label called Audiam claim The Passion HiFi’s content as their own – and can collect advertising income on it.

Audiam (label) claim The Passion HiFi's music.
Audiam (label) claim The Passion HiFi’s music.

It is worth noting Audiam is not a music label. Audiam is a company that enforces music licences and collects royalties. They describe themselves as:

Audiam is a music royalty collection agency trusted by the world’s publishers and songwriters.

Who gets to keep the money earned on incorrectly enforced licences?

Is The Passion HiFi represented by Audiam? Maybe but how can I tell? I have tweeted The Passion HiFI and await a reply.

The reply would not have changed my next step.

  • If yes, then new music is needed.
  • If no, then YouTube is in error and new music is still needed.

But knowing would be useful for the future. Should I avoid using tracks from The Passion HiFi? Might Audiam claim everything they produce; I do not know.

Move on.

The original version of my short film is gone. I removed it immediately from YouTube. Better to not give Audiam control. Better to not accept their claim. Better to not have to lodge disputes and risk my YouTube account’s standing.

I am not fighting. There are other choices.

Today I replaced the music and a new version of my Pérouges short film is available to enjoy. This time, I hope, the Content ID system will leave my work alone.

YouTube has a problem. The Content ID system is unbalanced in the favour of the claimed licence holder. The dispute process is broken and high risk for content creators.

I have no solution and propose none. I simply needed somewhere to note this passing moment of frustration.

Back to creating.

Update: 15 August 2016 – I have had no response from @Passion_HiFi.

Whirlwind Through Our Schedules

With our recent purchase of land in France, our world has become fiendishly busy. The sudden switch from waiting to action has taken our breath away. In a few weeks we will settle back into a routine but for now it feels like a whirlwind is tearing through our schedules.

Two regional French TER train engines.
Two regional French TER train engines.

This morning we confirmed an appointment, booked our hire car, and only then discovered potential train strikes may make our travels impossible. Having gone to some effort to clear our schedules for that appointment, the possibility of re-scheduling and moving the bookings is frustrating.

This is an uncertainly I dislike but have to endure.

Carnivorous Plant Eating a Bee

Bee on the edge of a carnivorous plant

This March we bought a carnivorous plant from our local garden centre. We wanted something to help keep down the number of tiny flies that like to buzz around our kitchen during the hotter months.

We ended up getting a sarracenia. This is not the traditional venus flytrap type of plant, but a lure down and digest them type of plant.

Until today, we had been wondering how effective the carnivorous plant was at trapping flies. The number of flies has dwindled to almost zero and the plant seems to be thriving, if growth is any indicator.

Despite these suggestions of success, we had not seen anything trapped by the plant.

Mother Nature

This afternoon’s performance would have been a good moment to show to children; a “teachable moment”, a phrase I hope never to actually utter. We watched enthralled as a sizeable bee flew into the kitchen through an open window, around the plant, then landed time and time again on the plant’s lethal tube like structures.

The bee was eating the sticky droplets around the edge of tube.

Bee on the edge of a carnivorous plant

After a few minutes of this, the bee became more daring and proceeded to crawl down one tube. Luck seemed to be on the bee’s side. The tube was too small and the bee was able to wriggle itself free.

Bee on the edge of a carnivorous plant

Bee on the edge of a carnivorous plant

The second time the bee ventured too far. The tube was big enough. We watched with mixed emotions at the sight of the bee struggling inside half way down the tube. Then suddenly the shadow of the bee slid all the way down. Firmly lodged, head first, into the tube. There it wriggled but with no possibility of escape.

Last moment before the bee slips into the sarracenia
Last moment before the bee slips into the sarracenia
The bee is trapped at the base of a sarracenia
The bee is trapped at the base of a sarracenia

A short film of the sarracenia and bee shows the final moments.

Exploring Home

Dawn in the United Kindom

It was the week before Christmas. Before visiting family for the traditional family celebrations, we took our chance to explore a little more of the United Kingdom.

We visited Birmingham, Bath, London, and Gloucester during our holidays.

Dawn over common land in the United Kingdom.
Dawn over common land in the United Kingdom.

It is easy to overlook your own country. Everywhere else feels more worthy, more exotic, and less predictable. But these are assumptions and prejudices that do not hold up to reason. On visiting more the United Kingdom, I have come to realise many of the cities and locations I know more by stereotyped reputation than fact, are actually fun destinations.

Our travels are not adventurous. We are picking easy towns and cities to visit based on their train lines and general proximity to each other. Our visits to Manchester and Liverpool made sense; they are right next to each other. The same with our Scottish destinations. Little clusters of places where we can spend a night or two and then move on.

Last week we booked our flights for Christmas and again need to think about where to visit beforehand. We have a few days to play with. London is again a possibility – the city calls out to us. But we should also see somewhere new, somewhere unexpected, somewhere without expectations.

Quietly Waiting

Looking east on Lyon's pont de la guillotière

There are moments when the waiting becomes a papable being in your life. You feel its presence and you feel it consuming you as it grows.

There have been numerous waits since our move to France. We waited in Australia too but there it did not seem so nebulous. Those waits could be reasoned against.

Here we struggle to find a balance between knowing what to wait for and what to tenaciously hound along. Knowing the difference is key and we rarely know for sure.

Looking north on Lyon's rue de la République
Looking north on Lyon’s rue de la République
Looking south on Lyon's rue de la République
Looking south on Lyon’s rue de la République

For the most part, waiting patiently is the right choice. The system does work but it is slow. Attempting to chase will cause delays and stir up problems. Wait, and wait patiently.

This pace forms much of the slower-way-of-life that immigrants claim to seek. So long as you are settled and comfortable where you are waiting, then the wait can be put aside until it is ready. That lazy approach, that beguiling claim, that everything will sort itself out – eventually.

Assuming you are settled is the key. By the time you are settled, you have existed long enough in the system to have suffered, learnt, and adapted. At least you should have adapted; those that do not, or can not, are sure not to remain long.

Looking east on Lyon's pont de la guillotière
Looking east on Lyon’s pont de la guillotière

So what is this wait for? A dossier to move from one person to another until it reaches our hands. When it arrives, we expect to be able to breathe a little more freely. Until then the wait is papable and increasingly oppressive.

Photos – Connecting to Library

Apple Photos application icon

I logged into the computer this morning to discover a notification. The notification said new photos were available in my Shared Photos album. Excited and keen to see the latest snapshots from family in Australia, I launched Photos.

It took me a moment to realise the Shared section was missing. I hunted through the menus looking for something related to shared content, iCloud, or some such cloudy wording. Under the View menu, I found Shared. This seemed to do the trick.

The main window changed to showing the large message:

Connecting To Library…
Retrieving latest photo sharing activity.

And there it sat for a few minutes. Nothing happening, presumably waiting for a connection to Apple’s servers.

Apple's Photos: Connecting To Library
Apple’s Photos: Connecting To Library

After a couple of minutes, a new message appeared. It read:

iCloud Photo Sharing
Share photos and videos with just the people you choose, and let them add photos, videos, and comments.

Not a reassuring message. I have shared albums; I have hundreds of shared photos. I saw them only yesterday.

Apple's Photos: Start Sharing
Apple’s Photos: Start Sharing

Given horrific past experiences toggling iCloud on and off, there was no chance I would press the “Start Sharing” button looming underneath the new message.

I quit Photos feeling disappointed and went out to the market with Megan.

On our return I relaunched the Photos application and met with the same response. No shared photos and an increasing sense of annoyance.

This is not the first time I have seen these screens. It has happened before and I have simply waited out the problem.

I lodged feedback with Apple. I know it makes little difference but I like to imagine someone might read it.

Megan sat next to me with her MacBook and launched iPhotos – the application Photos has replaced. The same Shared Albums I could not access appeared on her Mac. The new photos shared overnight appeared.

While Megan could see the photos, I could not. We shared the same network connection and albums.

Fixing iCloud Photo Sharing

Frustrated I quit Photos and launched Activity Monitor. I filtered all running processes by the phrase “photos” and systematically quit each. Those that did not respond to a quit, were force quit.

Activity Monitor showing photo related processes
Activity Monitor showing photo related processes

With that done, I launched Photos. Seconds later the Shared Albums appeared.

So a fix of sorts. Some background process is causing problems. Force quit provides a quick solution but is a terrible course of action for anyone to rely on.

Emotional Response

I care deeply about my photos and my ability to share photos privately with family. It is important in feeling connected with family living in different countries to ourselves.

We use Apple’s photo sharing services because they typically work. Photos are available on family iOS devices and Macs. But I am painfully aware of family who use PCs and only have a non-iOS device and are locked out of these shared photos.

I stick with Apple’s solution because it promises to be easy for the majority of our family. Recently the balance between sticking with Apple’s solution and finding something new – with all the technical burden that risks – is shifting.