Tuesday 30 September 2014

We're All Human ; Team work, Two sisters cookin' it large & Staying home from work.

If I'm honest, I struggle with being a team player sometimes. The reasons for this could be traced back to when I was a boy, and felt that I didn't have the courage to speak out too loudly, lest I get beaten up or laughed at for sometimes having an opinion that wasn't part of the shared consensus.

But that was over 30 years ago, and only lasted for a few years, so that's not it. No, it's because I feel that occasionally teams, particularly large ones, can end up drowning out or blurring over some valuable and crucial insights into a situation, especially when there are problems to solve, and everyone is trying their hardest to remain positive in the light of a difficult and challenging scenario; it's what I call a level of 'comfortable cowardice'.

It's rare, but I've personally seen it happen when working with groups of people who have been around each other for a long time and there is just other emotional stuff that is periodically ( even if covertly), contributing to a bottleneck somewhere and so on.  Consequently, objectivity can be diffused or lost, and that's part of the human condition, which is life itself.   That's why the next link caught my eye immediately :-

The Science Behind Why Jeff Bezos’s Two-Pizza Team Rule Works

The article states that the optimum size can vary from 5 up to 10, and I'd agree with that. It's not a hard and fast rule, however,  and from personal experience, unless I can get the vibe/energy or the rythym of the people I'm working with, then I'd rather go it alone. That sounds a bit hardline, but unless you get on with each other at least at a cameraderie level, then you can end up spending more time just fixing what I call 'hidden subversive drawbacks' rather than just pooling your energies together for the greater good of the bigger picture. 

This doesn't mean I don't ask for opinions and advice ( I've excluded google and my expertise at running search strings using it, as it's not a person, even though it is very valuable when used in context), but I tend to go to people who aren't normally from the vein or pool of resources I'd logically require.

In effect, I go to people for more of an emotional yet neutral standpoint, which sounds like a contradiction in terms, but it just sort of works more than 90% of the time for me. It's this element of detatchment that can provide a different frame or perspective on a situation, that an incumbent who already has pre-knowledge, cannot necessarily give you. It's paradoxical in so many ways, but it's worked for me many a time.

A while back, I discussed a concept called Groupthink, which I.L. Janis coined many years ago and covers some of what I discussed at the start about group decision making pitfalls, more clearly. Have a look-see over here, if you so desire to read further.  The irony in all of this, is that some of my closest friends are also ready to be 'lone rangers' if required to be, and it's that very reason why we get on with each other, and even love and respect each other, most of the time.

In effect, teamwork can be a bit of a mixed blessing, but when it works, it is absolutely glorious, as these two beautiful sisters are illustrating here :-


I could say more here, but it's all in the article; these two are just 'going for it!' and making the best of their time and energies together. The keyword here, is TRUST. Without that, you can't get too far in too many avenues in life, wether personal or professional.

Leaving people to get on with it, is essential to get the best out of them and being with them. That takes courage sometimes, especially if you're used to being in control most of the time and have to let the reigns slip a little, without giving up your ability to be constructively objective. And occasionally subjective, too. After all, we're all human.

Speaking of which, I'm going to finish on a bit of a tangential curve, as this also resonated, but on a different level. :-

The Case for Staying Home from Work

It's about being sick at work, which is something that's apt for me right now. Currently I've been under the weather for about a week, and I'm now allowing myself to just 'get sick', by not fighting the cold via too many medicinal things and taking the foot off the gas a little, so to speak . Hence, it can just run it's course and I can soldier on.

An interesting read this, and for me an odd one, as I'm self employed, which means if I don't chase up, run around, and do the work I need to do, I don't get paid. However, this is balanced out by allocating my own time off, which I'm much better at. No more 14 hour days, 'eight days a week', as the song goes.

As others who work for themselves know, it's no dictatorship of absolute power, and you are always answerable at some level to someone; wehter it's those in your employ or those working with you. The key as always, is actually wanting to as well as needing to, get along with your co-workers and teams of  people, both outside and in-house.

I cannot stress this enough, and that really is the absolute elixir of all transactions. Everything very much boils down to finding like minded people to make for a happy galleon to sail  the journey of life on. It's getting there that can be a myriad of complexities and nonsense, but trust your hunches and instincts and you'll eventually get to each destination stop, with less bruising and fatigue than is necessary.

And on that note, I'm off to grab some soup and soft cheese sandwiches. Both of these can go together in such great combinations (I've no idea which soup yet, hence the vagueness). I sometimes dip the bread into the soup as well, just like I did when I visited Cannery Row about four years ago, during a coast to coast trek of California. But more about that, at a later date.

For now, the soothing softness of the bread, combined with the warm nourishing flavours of the soup, are all I need to make things feel better.

Sunday 28 September 2014

You got to give it away / Let the music play

Firstly, I'm not posting this up to seethe and spit, so to speak. Rather, Im posting this up as 'food for thought' :- 

Neil Young releases three versions of environmental protest song

As noble a gesture as this is, and from what I've read, seen and heard, Neil Young is the real deal regards this scenario; he cares and wants to do something bona fide, and that matters a great deal in these tougher times, where people are more cynical about putting their hands in their pockets for a lot of things other than their own living expenses. 

But I cannot help but be a bit riled by this wanton 'giving away' of music by the top names in the game. When I read the article further, with a mention of an orchestra and so on, it made me think hard about what music means to people, in terms of performance, payoff and so on. 

I know a lot of people who have worked themselves silly in the last 10 to 15 years, including myself on many an occasion, to make good on their creative abilities and talents. I've told (even shouted at, out of love, care and exasperation) many friends old and new to never do gigs for nothing; at the very least get some food and petrol, because if you do a 'zero gig', then you've also lowered the bar closer to the ground for all the others who are slogging away and want to make a living out of  it.

Furthermore, if everyone is then successively making peanuts or less, then what incentive is there in wanting to be a musician anymore? That may seem a bit over dramatic in the context of referencing the above article, but think about another 5 to 10 years of giveaways, just to get heard and noticed. Not good. Not when you think about how many other
ancillary industries this affects down the chain. Less earned, means less spent on updates and innovation, both in terms of hardware, software and other business related developments.

I'll end this here, rather than get into the whole streaming arguement ( it's been all over the 'net for quite some time), and also U2's giving away of their new album to potentially '500 million customers' for nothing. They didn't give it away for nothing, as you can deduce when reading various scribes on this, again on the 'net; that's good street smarts, irrespective of the quality of the music and whatever else you think about them as a group.

And I can only hope that no one else is going to start doing the same thing , and create some sort of 'one upmanship' style trend or game, where it all becomes about dubious gestures mixed in with genuine fundraising. Cause if it is about the latter, then why not just write a check from a large gig's profit margin or make a pledge to donate a percentage of the profits of the sale of the recording instead?

At least that way, all the millions of musicians who aren't making millions or even hundreds of thousands of pounds or dollars, won't gulp hard and silently cry inside a little bit more, than they may already have been, because of how difficult it has gradually become to make a solid living out of being a musician. At least let the wheels of the recording industry remain more fairer in the turning for others who aren't so higher up in the echelons of the earnings stream.

On that note, it's time to get some music on. Something from my cd collection, which in some instances, I've paid for twice, cause I've loaned things out and not gotten them back, so I bought them again. I think the remastered DEFINITELY, MAYBE will do the trick. A great album with an ironic title, which is apt considering the state of flux the industry has been in for a long time. 

Thursday 25 September 2014

You Got Stuck in a moment you CAN get out of..and it's up 2U

Creative blocks are nothing new. Not for me, and not for anyone else I know, who is involved in any industry where you're required to pluck ideas 'out of the air' and give them tangibility and/or cohesion. I love the latter part, but as already mentioned, I try to inject some variety into my regular routines for inspiration elsewhere.

The link below offers 20 different methodologies to get the motor re-engaged, or shift gears into a higher state where you can 'catch the rythym', as I like to call it :-

20 ways to overcome creative block

And speaking of variety, multi-tasking has always been some sort of paradigm to assess or seperate 'the men from the boys' for want of a better phrase. My position on it, is that if you're reading this and swiping or zooming in and out, you may well have a few more tabs open in your browser and will eventually switch to them, too and that's multi-tasking...isn't it?

Joking aside ( only half joking ), the following link runs a point of view regarding doing more than one thing at once, but from a much larger perspective. It concerns your working life :-

Doing Two Things? That’s One Too Many. 

Spreading yourself too thinly is a risk we all take and I covered this in an article here , which is all about change, and the need for it. But there inevitably comes a point where efficiency in many areas starts to be stymied by an easily distractive nature.

Consequently, you end up going from finishing three things within an hour of each other, to leaving a mess of unfinished scenarios and 'i'll do it all later, whilst i just scribble this idea down', which is something I've done myself on occasion. Perhaps more so than I used to, which may well be since the introduction of hand held tech such as smartphones and the inevitable hyper march of social media, which is something the next link illustrates all too well :-

5 Crazy ways social media is changing your brain right now

The aforementioned video just solidifies the point home with panache, and style. Again, it highlights many behaviours I've since succumbed to and reduced, along with my own smartphone useage, because I found all this activity  was starting to mentally tire me out to a degree, and all without actually having done any serious productivity in the same duration.

It's an odd one, as I even end up using my phone to do bits of research or 'follow up work' on ideas and concepts due to the wireless, easy access to the internet these days, more or less anywhere, but I couldn't write anything beyond a basic 'two liner' email in rsvp, just using my phone.

Each of us is different, but a friend of mine has often put the following conundrum to me, during ad-hoc weekend brunches. To wit, how would you cope, if you couldn't use any social media for a week? She works in the medical profession and has no social media engagement whatsoever.

The irony is, that I've gone from laughing at her semi-luddite attitude towards what I still see as a natural progressive arc, albeit with a number of potentially heavy duty long term sociological flaws, to actually envying her flippant attitude towards social media engagement. She even owns a smartphone , and yet has no desire to '..get into twitter, facebook and all that jazz!', to use her parlance.

And on that note, I'm off to get on the train to visit Stone Island's flagship store, for an event tonight, featuring the new a/w '14 camouflage range of clothing. By the time this goes out, i'll have come back, and be ready to hit the sack.

Maybe i'll uploadsome pictures of the night, to the cloud server, whilst on the train home. That all depends on how much beer  I've consumed during the event and
then the coffee needed to stay awake until i get to my front door.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Just For The Fun Of It; Rules for students, teachers and life, 9 principles to keep calm & a babushka doll of iphone reviews ( or should that be a smorgasboard?)

Last week, a friend on facebook made a point that only struck home when I was out and about to grab some lunch during my unofficial day off, which was a friday as I worked on saturday and took sunday off.. well, sort of. When you work for yourself, you never really stop working in a way, but that's for another time.

Anyway, he put up a couple youtube videos, which showed a man in his advancing years drumming along to a couple of well known songs, and he was neither in strict musical time, or adding much to the songs in question. Obviously, they were pretty funny to watch. But he very validly in my opinion, said that the guy was just having fun, didn't really care who was watching, and ultimately just enjoying himself.

And it got me thinking as to what was wrong with that? Absolutely nothing, is the obvious answer. Of course, he may have had other agendas on his mind..maybe he wanted to be famous cause of it, for example, but no, I have to go with the aforementioned reasoning, which is as simple and as clean as it can get.

In our day to day lives, it seems that we're always chasing something, doing something to get somewhere else, planning ahead, strategising, and just thinking a great deal; sometimes with no aim or end in particular. It's what my father calls  'the constant spinning mind'. Now I consider myself fortunate that due to over three years of daily yoga/meditation, I don't go into the realms of overthink, like I used to, which was just an occasional spiralling of thoughts and associated fragments of memories which lead into occasional worrying.

I've also as a side effect of the aforementioned yoga/meditation, just enjoy the stiller periods a lot more than I used to. Even little things like actually taking the time out to enjoy my meals, rather than wolfing them down whilst reading emails or paper based correspondence, or the worst culprit, which is trying to have a phone conversation - usually work related or similar - whilst trying to eat, which is not a good idea.  I've seldom enjoyed my food whilst being on the phone and eating, so I've stopped doing it, period.

Just 'being in the moment' as it were, is far more important to me now, than it was even two years ago. It doesn't mean I don't have an agenda for the week or month or even the year. But it does mean, that there's more flexibility in my approach to things and situations, than there used to be. And Im grateful for that, because it allows me to take a different and more daring approach to solving issues in a lot of areas in my life. It's almost as if the more relaxed inner state has allowed me to very gradually just subconsciously accept what is there, and not be too gung ho about what isn't happening in my life, as a norm. That leaves more room to do things just 'for the fun of it' now and then, too.

And speaking of fun :-

10 Rules for Students, Teachers, and Life by John Cage and Sister Corita Kent

The Stoic: 9 Principles to Help You Keep Calm in Chaos

There we go, two list type posts. It's good to break my own rules now and then.

What's that? You want me to describe what's in the content?

That's too many question marks for one day. Instead, I'll finish with this :-

The One-Paragraph iPhone 6 Review

Actually it's over a dozen reviews with links to 14 of them towards the end of a very short round up of Apple's latest incarnation of their smartphone. Which I've never owned to this day. That's possibly cause I have my own built in mental and emotional 'firewall', which tends to make it's own mind up early on and then finds it very hard to change over to something else. That has it's strengths and weaknesses, depending on the situation in hand.

Right, time for some kip. You don't know what 'having a kip' is?

having a kip

(My feet never hang over the sofa like that.)

And that's four links. You can't be too predictable in life.

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Play To Win ; Disappearing updates, Bad ideas made good & Computer gaming on a printer.

Years ago, I used to have a flutter on the coin operated fruit machines when I'd be out and about in bars, pubs and more themed sort of places like bowling alleys and so on. I used to win a lot on a regular sort of basis and sometimes lose, too. I'd believed somewhere in my mind, that there was some kind of system that had to be beaten.

For example, if the machine said '72% payout on average' and each game was 10p or 20p ( now you can pay a lot more per game, and I tend to steer clear as it's out of my league and interest these days), I had some rough or odd calculation that £5.80 worth of credit may kick the machine into payout repeat mode and I might get some of what the previous players may have put into it as well. An odd and naieve way to spend a couple of hours at times, but it used to bear fruit. I have no idea wether it was just pure luck that eventually ran out and/or so my interest in all that just fizzled out, too.

But I'm still of the belief that the odd calculated risk, can work wonders. I put that down to some sort of 'hunch' or instinctive thing, where you just get a feel for a situation or what have you. Some have had careers out of just gambling and upping the ante all the way, but that's as far away from what I'm saying here, as geneva is from my house, on foot.

Speaking of gambles, the most popular social networking site in the world is trying another innovation to keep ahead ( or abreast) of current social media trends :-

Disappearing Status Updates Might Be Coming To Facebook

On the one hand I found this to be a real gamble, in terms of any potential metrics and stats that a lot of companies using analytics may be currently using, because  if status updates disappear, then the main emotive core of interactivity on facebook, will rapidly disintegrate.

As a result, any corporation following a cluster of fan based updates, for example, would be less able to track them away from the fan page, for example, and be solely reliant on fan page based activity. That's going to be interesting for the companies involved with huge fan list pages on there, who may now have to come up with ever newer and innovative ways to keep interaction with their customer base, so to speak, fresh and keep them coming back for more.

On the other hand, this is great  news from a security perspective and enters into a sort of 'neutraility' paradigm, where the individual's 'net based footprint will now rapidly start to disintegrate, making facebook a very 'happening now' social media tool. Of course, all of this is on the assumption that the 'disappearing' algorithim can be manually tweaked to some degree by all end users.

I can't help but suspect that some of this may also be driven from some kind of economic viewpoint, insofar that the volume of stored data  per profile and group account, for example, is now heading into gigabytes as a minimum . I downloaded all my data from my own profile almost a year ago, and I think it came to about 300 megabytes, and that was after some prior judicious trimming down across the board. I can hazard that it might be another 100 or so megabytes larger, at a push ( I hardly use it these days, as mentioned in an earlier article here ), which may be all photgraphs and responses to posts and so on.

But my point is, that all that data for over a billion profiles has to be stored somewhere, and all that storage costs money. If facebook has or is starting to plateau out from a commercial perspective, then apart from generating more interest for it in terms of a medium and ultimately a product, ways have to be found to keep the bottom line buoyant too, so to speak. In this instance, I have to commend them for taking this step, cause that's not an easy thing to do when your product is potentially reaching the mature phase of it's lifecycle, which in my mind facebook is now heading towards

Speaking of  maturity phases and changes to the product, apple's new watch has created a lot of hubub, which is to be expected, with a lot of rhetoric and analysis on the topic. What was a bit surprising for me, was noticing that there was either thinly veiled irritation, more hardended 'is that it?' style basherama with comic overtones, or just a general sense of apathy towards the whole keynote.

But this article, takes a refreshingly different approach :-

The Secret to Apple’s Innovation? Bad Ideas

Apple's widely mooted 'since jobs has gone, it's all over for them now' predictions are now reaching their third year, and whilst the launch of the new Apple watch will stymie that for a while, as already mentioned, the link to the article illustrates that Steve Jobs' raison d'etre was NOT doing what others think or thought they should do.

If the articles and various interviews are to be believed wholesale, Jobs was a mercurial and quite temperamental man, with flashes of belligerence interspersed with an amazing intellect and an ability to pick the right thing at the right time. Whilst Tim Cook seems to be a more even keeled leader, it's still early days in my mind, to write a huge pioneering company - especially in the last twelve years - such as Apple, off within a few years of the leadership passing on to Cook.

Ironically, I don't own any Apple products at all, because I've always had an issue with a locked-in  hardware and software ecosystem, which is the ethos behind the entire range of products. I just don't see it as absolutely beneficial to the end user, particularly in terms of freedom of hardware peripheral choice and price competitiveness.

But then I've come from an I.T. background which was primarily windows related, which has ultimately influenced me at numerous levels. I can see the benefits to those who just want to take it out of the box, plug it in, switch it on and not have to faff around with the odd tweak here and there, which may well be the majority of it's customers, but for me, there now needs to be something more than just another iphone 'redux', and a watch that needs the iphone to get the best out of it.

Speaking of tweaks, I'll end this lunchbreak of thoughts and opinions with this :-

Clever hackers put Doom and Donkey Kong where they don’t belong

If only just once, I'd love to play DOOM on a printer user interface screen. Who knows..maybe someone will put out a downloadable version for all sorts of devices, including a monochrome version for the digital controls on central heating systems. You never know what people can come up with, when bored and thinking out of the box.

And it's on that note, that I'm off to have my own lunch. I always make sure there's more than one flavour of something going on. Eg, even if it was cheese sandwiches, then apart from pickle and onion, i might even go for a bit of grape in one of them, and then have two flavours of crisps or potato chips as accompanyment.

You can't beat a bit of pandemonium for the tastebuds. But I draw the line at fish flavoured ice cream, which is something I spotted at a place in California. 

But that's for another time and place.

Monday 15 September 2014

Coming To The End Of Something ; graciously saying no, requiem for ipod & stonehenge underground mapping

I used to really struggle to say this word. And it's a simple word to say. It's just that it can really take the wind out of..

Enough hyperbole. Saying 'no' (in inverted commas as it's as important, if not more so at times, than saying YES), as I've learned in the last decade or so, is essential at times to get the work done, that holiday booked, that house cleaned and to have that hour or so in the day to savour one good, hot cooked meal. I'm serious.

Think about the last time you felt a little burdended by something you committed to, and then sort of regretted later. You know the sort of thing I'm talking about; saying yes to everything, for fear of not wanting to appear rude or impolite or just not wanting to miss out. That's why the following article resonated with me immediately. Or at least the part of me that reminisces about the old days :-

How to Graciously Say No to Anyone

There's also a cultural thing I feel, about being the one who says no a lot, or even at all. For example, I've seen the 'polite refusers' in a large extended family become treated as covert pariahs ( think about that one), many a time, with invites to weddings and so on, eventually becoming scant in their direction. Modern life is much more of a juggling and balancing act, which some may argue is a scenario we have self perpetuated with our own increasing needs and desires, but in any case, to use myself as an example, saying yes to everything would mean i'd need 8 days in a week. Which I don't have.

None of this is to be confused with the positive/motivational aspects of 'going for it!' and saying yes to opportunities, as that's more to do with targeted effort and prioritised thinking and execution of energy. But saying no is ultimately an artform; getting it right is heartfelt common sense, in my opinion.

Speaking of opinion, I enjoyed the following article as it resonated with the musician in me. I wrote a similar article myself, which is here. I talked more about not wanting the album to die, as a product. Mat Honan, the author of the following article, talks about how the mp3 revolution has lead to the death of your music collection as something that can define you as a person :-

On Death and iPods: A Requiem

What isn't mentioned here, is the knock on effect to the value of music per se, in terms of fiscal value, across a number of directly related and peripheral industries. There is a whole generation for whom the aforementioned value of music isn't a 'written in stone' rule anymore, and the early incarnations of mp3 related download sites had a lot to do with that.

As in my own aforementioned article, the value of an album of music is also hanging in the balance. In any event, im grateful there is still an industry around music and that people are still willing to pay for an album or indeed any form of music related product, because I feel and have always felt that it is one of the purest forms of expression available, and it'd be a shame if less and less people are supported to share their work.

Speaking of support,  I'll finish with something more revelatory on the whole mystery of Stonehenge, which I covered here, last week :-

Underground Mapping Reveals Secrets of Stonehenge

It's good to know that this location is finally going to be less of a mystery than it has been for at least a couple of centuries to the rest of the world. It's also heart warming to know that a lot of mystics and very deeply inclined spiritual types were probably more closer to the truth regards what the monument and it's associated location were all about, than previously thought.

There's obviously more work to be done here, and consequently, there's more to be revealed. I find the concept of the 'big reveal' really fascinating, and am personally looking forward to the 'what's how's and why's', so to speak, behind the entire scenario of the area.

And speaking of concepts, it's time for me to go over something in a nearby project book ( one of three at the moment), which sounds a little 'skool days', but I like keeping a pad or jotter handy to scribble stuff in and then flesh out things quite rapidly if necessary. Somehow this style of workflow gets lost in the ironically 'instant and fast' world of technology, even though I have two laptops, a smartphone and so on. I'm aware of the availability of various apps to aid in this, but not one of them have bitten me hard enough in order to induce a full on switchover or even a halfway house style methodology.

The pen ( and pencil)  is still mightier than the mouse or trackpad for quick-draw conceptualisation. At least for me. At least for now, anyway.

Is that odd? Well, it depends upon the perspective taken, which in itself depends on which side of the innovatory fence you're straddling at that moment in time. Ultimately, it all boils down to saying yes or no to the tools at your disposal, which in themselves are all means to an end.

Thursday 11 September 2014

Patience is a virtue; Doing vs owning, Panoramic cinema, and Robo-Vac

When you buy something on the internet, there is an element of waiting involved that can either send you a bit 'hrrumph!' or add to the eventual experience of when the item arrives on your doorstep. I fall into the latter contingent, and  even though I've bought a lot of things via the 'net, from clothes to holidays and beyond, I still get that sweet tingle knowing that the experience will be a little way away from the point of payment. That falls into the category of delayed gratification, and there must be millions of us who are willingly moving into those realms with ease, simply due to the pace of modern life not always allowing us enough time to grab all we need en route or daily routines. The other reason of course, is the level of price competitiveness the internet offers on so many items, which can be enough of a reason on occasion to negate the level of service you recieve at a local emporium. And when booking a holiday, for example, you're doing yourself a lot of good for your inner self, so to speak, as this article here elucidates upon :-

Doing makes you happier than owning – even before buying

In short, it's all about going more for experiences, rather than material goods, for a happier life. Id second and third that to a degree as I can still remember all my trips abroad and even the longer haul waiting and sleeping on airport benches waiting for the next connect flight was something I enjoyed at the time, and enjoy the memory of, even today. There is an element of 'rose-tinting' here, but that's not a bad thing. Im lucky in that respect, but most people might well be in the same boat. Even the weird car rental, feet blisters or odd taxi driver who tried to rip you off here and there and so on, will be a small blip in the WHOLE experience, which is what it's all about. As long as you're in one piece and 'match fit', then it's all good craic as far as I'm concerned.

Speaking of whole experiences, there's been a bit of a resurgence in another area of entertainment :-

Massive Panoramic Screens Are the Movie Revolution 3D Never Could Be

This brings to mind some of the 'lie down on the floor and watch the movie!' style experiences of some of the theme parks I visited as a child. The best by far was the Universal Studios tour, where you could see the Terminator Special film, complete with actors on cue that appeared in the auditorium as well. Now THAT took the whole experience to another level entirely.

In effect, the cinematic experience is now competing with ever larger scale, content rich and more higher resolution television broadcasts across a swathe of channels. PLUS home entertainment or 'infotainment' as I call them ( interactive + entertainment), based T.V. sets, so apart from the fairly recent ressurgeance of 3D, which has been going for a while now ( about a decade or so, if not more), then the next step is to increase screen size, width etc and hopefully we'll see the film makers adapt to the extra space available.

I have to confess im a teeny bit cynical about the whole concurrent 'gizmoing' ( see this article here, for details on what that's all about) of cinema. Still, if it means an extra development in terms of entertainment value during the experience, then im all for it. However, as I speak to friends who are independent filmmakers and involved in different aspects, I can't help but feel that more support is needed to get more alternative projects off the ground, which can breathe some more life into the medium. I wouldn't profess to be an expert on cinema, and have gleamed knowledge via the aforementioned friends, magazines, and of course ardent watching of a lot of the classics, from orson wells' output, to capra to my all time favourites scorcese, de palma and all the others who were part of the independent 'new wave' from the late 60's UCLA 'mob' for want of a better phrase. In my opinion, there was a level of grit, realism and depth in the cinema of that period, that was exemplary, and some of them were made under some pretty difficult circumstances to boot. I suspect that more risks were taken and more importantly, were ALLOWED to be taken within the system back then, which may not be so prevalent right now. However, as already mentioned, I'm optimistic that there will be more kickstarter style funded projects, and as a result, more of them will break through and that is always a good thing indeed.

Speaking of other good things in the pipeline, this nifty little variation on a theme, should be an absolute cracker when it finally comes out :-

Dyson's First Robo-Vac Has Tank-Treads and a 360-Degree Camera

Again, the idea of a self propelling robot vacuum cleaner isn't new, but the development of the concept here is the most streamlined and user friendly to date in my opinion. It even comes with android  and apple smartphone compatibility, so you can schedule and even switch it on remotely etc. What's even more important, in my guesstimation, is that this will be a more street-price friendly machine, as opposed to the previous incumbents in this still, very niche market. Furthermore, it adheres to Dyson's well tried and utilised system of being bagless. That in itself means even more savings. There's loads more in the article itself, which you can peruse at leisure.

And on that leisurely note, Im off to the gym. That may sound like a contradiction in terms, but in the same way that delayed gratification is an inevitable product of internet based shopping, and is now more prevalent,  working out and indeed excercise in general, has a similar effect. Especially over time. Which is something I'm short of right now, so until the next ti..

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Earl Grey & Cappuccino ; Data leakage, Stonehenge & Follow me here, there and everywhere

On my way back from another half day of meetings and earl grey's, with a cappucino ( a very well percolated one, at that)  inserted into the mid morning, I noticed that the au current topic of 'hacked on line photos' has carried on for another few days. No I'm not going to link to any of the stories as there are loads of them, and it's not a good vibe for the individuals involved and on a personal level, I wouldn't wish that sort of thing on anyone, even if at the time they were done for whatever reason. Everyone's done a thing or two they've regretted at some point, and getting a bit vicious about it behind the veil of social networking as I've seen on twitter et al, ultimately helps no one. So with all the aforementioned being said and done, why am I referring to it? It's due to the pragmatic aspect, which is related to data and its storage.

In short, I was taken back to a conversation I had many years ago, about virtual data and cloud computing, over the regular weekend lunch I'd have with a learned friend of two. 

The whole notion of cloud computing was new-ish enough to be a topic worthy of digging into, and I can remember one of us saying 'hang on...what about if someone hacks into the whole thing...who'll be responsible for any damages caused?". There was a bit of silence, during which no one 'small-belched' or lit up another cigarette, and the worried looks said it all.

Im not much of a fan of online storage as an absolute or 'ultimate' solution, even though ironically everything we do using all kinds of what I call 'connected tech',  is stored online and the sheer volume of it is vast. We're talking close to getting into zettabyte territory en masse, with petabytes already being consumed by the likes of the search engines and their users (that would be ALL of us) on a DAILY basis. But the aforementioned is more generalised useage that is all building up a ton of data, which just cannot be helped. Even on idle, for want of a better phrase, all of our tech devices such as laptops, smartphones, desktops and so on are just blipping away, sending and recieving data. No one to my knowledge, does anything remotely interactive using their devices offline anymore, as we take our connectivity as a natural state of affairs, per se. The best example right now, is the fact that I'm writing this straight to my blog, WITHOUT using ye olde method of typing it out on to ( and into) a word processing software front end which would back then, be offline ( that now isn't the case either, but that's for another time), and then cut and pasting the finished rhetorical slab onto here. See, even I'm not going to knock the convenience and sheer ease of use of doing as much as possible, whilst connected.

But I AM going to wibble slightly ( ok, a bit more than that), about the fact that on a day to day basis, not many of us actually consider what we're doing everytime we send some mail or pics etc, as to what is happening to that data. I've  talked/ written about all this before at length (check this article here out, for more of a flavour, if so desired)  so my wibble ends here. In short, if you don't want it out there somewhere, then don't put it on the machine without some sort of  heavy duty encryptive measure. That's not fear, but common sense. Even so, it could be counter-argued that shoving everything into a 'box within a box' rhetorically speaking in data terms, is just adding to the bloat of using data to streamline communication, but that's not what I'm referring to. It's more about just regular housekeeping at the very least and then using anti virus software on your devices, and also checking in with whatever data you've got up on your cloud backup systems, depending on whichever vendor you've favoured for your tech experiences (there's the two main ones, so you know which one, or indeed both, you've chosen). Ignorance isn't bliss when it comes to computing, and it never has been. People may moan and gripe about things now, but believe me, many years ago we had other stuff to deal with like things just not working properly on a regular basis and sudden freeze ups and 'screens of death' just forcing you to hit the power button. That still occours, but privacy is a more serious scenario in my opinion, and it's up to the individual to decide how much or how little it matters to them.

Still, using something where you can figure out what's going on and how little to how much you're going to get involved at all kinds of levels, even if you're not entirely sure of the details, is still mostly a comfort zone scenario for most people. But what about when NO ONE really knows why something is there, or what purpose it serves other than to be a timeless artifact that raises more questions than it answers :-

Mystery (Partially) Solved: Stonehenge Was a Complete Circle

I've never been to Stonehenge. And on top of that, from what I've gleaned from friends in the past that have been, combined with whatever I've read about it, there is supposedly something very magical about the the area in and around it. But how or why it got there, is a complete mystery to me and millions of other people. Unless some sort of archaelogical code book or other information is found or similar, It would take some serious computational algorithmic power to figure out the raison d'etre behind the original concept behind it.

And on to another 'completing the circle' note , it's back to one of the greatest original concepts post millenium. No, not the mp3 player or even the mp3 codec, which has been a pleasure and of course a massive pain in the (bleep bleep) for a lot of people, including me on occasion during my more musical endeavours ( have a 'see hear' over here ,  for further details & turn those speakers up and/or get some headphones, on as required). It's back to the most popular  social networking site in the world, and in many ways, deservingly so. Of course, it's facebook. :-

Facebook’s new click bait rule will totally blow you away (update)

I've mentioned the world's most popular networking site a few times recently, whilst trying not to 'hate' on them, which seems to be a growing trend, so I'm going to be brief. Also, I'm getting bored of wibbling on about it myself, so why did I put this up? Because to me, it seems like facebook may well be entering into the realms of google, in terms of its tracking tech, and may well be looking at building a search engine into the front end at some point. Why else, other than ad click optimisation, which to my mind they're entitled to do cause it's still a 'free play' experience, to use an old arcade term, would they be further developing the track and trace technology to follow movements away from the app? Think about it. Think about how effective google is at helping you find what you want, without having to type in reams of streams of consciousness type text anymore.

Speaking of which, I'm off to read stuff on six or seven other tabs I've got opened up to the further right of this page, which in themselves could do with being closer to the other twelve or so that are to the end-left. My emails are on a tab which is..somewhere amongst this lot.

I should learn to keep a tidier browser. Maybe I should write that..no, type it up ( or down) 50 times with my eyes closed, on this keyboard, as some kind of reminder ( sounds more like punishment). Nope, scrap that. In any event, thank god for the existance of auto corrective spell checking software, both with or without continual online assistance. Now THAT really is a godsend.

Right, time to grab a choux bun, and get the kettle on.