Thursday 30 October 2014

Pop Will Eat Itself; Pretend office roleplay, Deep tissue failiure recovery & Making $500,000 a year on twitter.

When you work for yourself, you tend to make your workspace in a number of places. Primarily, you have some sort of base somewhere, such as a room in your residence, which is your home office.

You may also have another office somewhere else, which is in a more commercial vein, and replete with a sign on the door and so on. Of course, the aforementioned can be switched around, with your domestic place of work being the secondary one, and so on.

Then there is the 'laptop, charger and bag' scenario. Basically, it's anywhere on the move, with or without a wi-fi internet connection. The coffee shop in a motorway service station, the lounge at the airport, the tabled seating on a train and even the seat of your car; all these are ideal examples of the modern 'on the move' working individual. And it's a way of life, which I've embraced quite happily. It adds variety, colour, and the opportunity to make some fantastic connections along the way.

But what I've never done, is this :-

Office Role-Play? Meet The People Who Pretend To Work At An Office Together

This is in turns, surprising, funny, ironic and ultimately refreshingly daft and absurd. I'll try to remember BLARPING ( Business Live Action Role Play) for the future, but in all honesty I've been fortunate enough to not come across some of what has been mentioned here, in person. The biggest irony, is how it all ends up not quite going to plan; now that is very funny indeed.

In a sense, when things go wrong, even with the best of intentions and planning, there is a need to take stock before we can move on. But we all want to move on as fast as possible.

For example, I can think of a number of times where I've thought that something has gone missing and I'm furtively trying to find it or even replace it, or a hard drive has failed and I cannot execute a system restore fast enough and so on. Failiure isn't something we are taught to dwell on, and I can see a lot of merit in that; after all, who wants to keep turning the same fiasco over and over in their minds. That's a surefire route to miserablism and even depression.

But this next item, reframes that paradigm :-

Recover from Failure with a Deep-Tissue Post-Mortem

Which reminds me, that I must book myself in for some actual deep tissue massage, as I've got a bit of knotting in my shoulders. I blame the slight hunching that happens when you're using a laptop in some odd environments, mixed in with hard ad-hoc workouts at the gym.

I could always get into the whole 'correct posture' scenarios, for example when typing things out at a desk, but nah..I'll live. I'm not able to sit back and watch the coins fly in, so to speak, so the show must go on.

Speaking of making enough and sitting back, here's a very innovative way to bring the bacon in, with extra coffee, metaphorically speaking. All using twitter, too, which makes me smile and give it an extra thumbs up :-

How To Make $500,000 A Year On Twitter

At first I couldn't get my head around this. The simplicity of it was just blowing my mind. 23 year old former dancer Kris Sanchez has just taken something so obvious, brilliant and simple, and cashed in on it. His application, UberFacts, which  churns out “unimportant things you’ll never need to know”, as the article and indeed the application's twitter page itself announces, is monetizing for him, like no tomorrow. He's not a man to rest on his laurels, as the article suggests, and..have a 'look-see', and get the vibe, if you can.

And on that note, I'm getting a vibe of my own. My main laptop is overheating a fair amount these days, due to a combination of age and useage. Now I have another laptop which I don't use as much, because I haven't replicated everything that's on my main laptop, on to there. That's my 'travel machine'.

I think it's time I did something about the old machine, and fast. After all, I don't think a deep tissue failiure recovery will work on the hardware.

Wednesday 29 October 2014

I Need To Drink, More Than You Seem To Think ; The bottle without water, the world's most expensive bottled water & It's time for academic tea

I love a glass or two of wine now and then. Actually, I'd love a glass or two of wine everyday, but unless it's a night out, then I stick to a no alcohol policy during the official working weekdays. I could talk about other spirits I enjoy imbibing, and how beer ( or lager) is something I hardly ever drink now, but guiness is still great, especially in Dublin.

But that's not what this is about. It's all about the other component that makes up an alcoholic drink, and is 70% ( or thereabouts) of our bodily contents. It's about  H2O, or water as it's more commonly known. 

I buy bottled water in 50cl bottles in bulk, to throw in my kit bag when I go to the gym. I could buy one of those reusable bottles, which are quite voluminous in size - they look like more aerodynamically advanced versions of ye olde racing bike drinking bottles - but the cost to me isn't as much of a deal breaker, as the aforementioned unwieldiness. Which is why I found the next item fascinating :-

Meet the Bottled Water Company That Will Happily Sell You the Bottle Minus the Water

That really shows some chuztpah and smarts. More so because the company who is marketing the bottle, are ironically also supplying bottled water themselves. On the face of it, it could be argued that they're shooting themselves in the foot.

But no, they're very cleverly diverging into covering a base of the market, that not a lot of people within the sector have or are doing. The cost can be an issue, but the pricepoint here looks just right enough to give this a welcome shot in the market, as opposed to a shot in the dark.

The next item, on the other hand, is most certainly NOT in the dark :-

The World's Most Expensive Bottled Water

There is actually a link to this item in the aforementioned article, but I put this up just in case it slipped you by. The shocktastic value is mindblowing, but on another note, this is consumerism at it's absolute zenith. Not only is the cost of the top level product quite earth shattering, but even the bottom tier product isn't something you'd want to haphazardly misplace or lose somewhere. At least, I wouldn't want to. That is of course assuming someone would give me the product, which I'd probably be too bamboozled to want to open and least to begin with.

Ultimately It can be looked at as some sort of object d'art filled with drinkable water. Or, it can be looked at as an example of hubris run riot, but with a pragmatic twist.

Speaking of pragmatic, I'll end with this, which is all about making a cup of tea :- 

How to make a cup of tea for an academic

I'm not as exacting when it comes to my own methodology. As long as I can get a splash of milk in there, and the mug is clean, then I'm a happy man. Earl grey and yorkshire tea are my current favoruties. And no sugar required, which is a hangover from when I gave up smoking over six years ago.

See, I started to stuff my face with lots of sugary, fatty cakes and biscuits soon after, and ended up putting on weight fast. To lost that weight, I started to do more cardio and then I had to..

Time out.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Come On, Take The Money And Run ; Social media networking changes beyond a swipe, tap and click.

 I can still remember being a newbie ( or NOOB, as the slang goes) at the whole social media malarky. It was back in early 2007, and facebook was my weapon of first choice.

Actually, that's not true. I have to account for MySpace ( rest in peace), for which I'd signed up to in 2003 or 2004. And if that wasn't the first, then there may have been some other chatroom, probably to do with music technology or I.T. related stuff, where you could interact with each other.

You know the drill. You'd pick a username, maybe chose a graphic for your online avatar ( or presence) and you'd just type your rhetoric in. Whether you were starting a topic, or issuing a response, it was all good stuff. Unless of course, you ended up in a 'flame war', with a hostile user(s), also now better known as trolls.

The journey from those times, all the way to twitter, seems like a lifetime ago :-

Game Changer? Imagine A Twitter Where You Followed Interests Rather Than User Accounts 

I love twitter. The level of instant response, plus the speed of it and the compactness of it's implementation, leave little margin for error. It also leaves little room for the kind of flame wars described already, and the other issue of what I call 'rabbit hole syndrome'. In effect, this is a debate that just goes on forever, which although illuminating and at times invigorating, is ultimately of no real consequence or value to anyone involved. Other than a temporary feelgood whilst it's going on, or the opposite feeling of being defeated, with anxiety, dread and so on becoming amplified the longer it goes on, it's best left to those who have the time, energy and drive to carry on ploughing through. Having been in one in the past at some point ( it may have been facebook or prior..i honestly cannot remember any specifics, which proves my point somewhat), I'm happy to NOT engage in rabbit hole syndrome, due to the aforementioned drain on time and energy, which becomes completely counter-productive.

It's Facebook where I've seen and participated in many a debate ( and rant) over the years. However, there may be other things on Facebook HQ's minds :-

So Facebook controls the way millions of people get their news. What should we do about it?

This isn't strictly news ( pardon the pun ) anymore. Facebook's plans for world domination, with its sights on all kinds of wonderful data, has been in the pipeline for a long time. In effect, they want all content publishers with their own sites to come and 'live within' the facebook ecosystem. This would then be monetized via their existing structural modes and the publishers would have a share of the profits.

I have reservations about this on a number of levels. Firstly, I suspect it will be facebook that controls the feed(s) and flow of the content and not the publisher anymore, because they need to maximise returns on investment. So effectively, they are now also the curator AND pseudo editors of this once-independent content.

If this does go ahead as intended, then there most definitely should be a lot of discussions as to the merits and consequences of this system, on both sides of the table, as to retain a level of valid independence and identity in the published writing. Otherwise for me, it'll make the concept of journalism, and 'the free voice' an eventual obsolesence from the existing network. This in turn would mean even more people doing more of their own reportage, with crowdfunded (or otherwise) groups gathering together for different rationales and voice, outside the mainstream. 

Ultimately, all social media useage is about effective communication. This encompasses networking at all levels. From raw socialising ( jokes, debates, etc) to the more business and work oriented linking, it's all part of the same construct. Furthermore, there's a wide variety and style of communicating interface available on the internet, for everyone. It's akin to walking into your favourite giant shopping store or mall, and finding every kind of item you want and need, at your fingertips.

It's up to YOU to then decide which of them to give your time and energy to. Having a strategy at hand, helps enormously. Having fun, whatever you're doing on there, is mandatory. And sometimes work and play can be integrated together. That's what effective social media network useage is all about.

She / He's Just Hanging Around ; Procrastination top 5, Superpower knowledge & stuff you really need and want

Some days I just don't want to do anything beyond the morning yoga, eat, surf the net and hang out with friends and family. But it doesn't happen. Not cause my workaholic tendancies haven't been fully expunged ( whisper it..they have) , but because I enjoy doing things that involve some form of interactivity. It took me a while to figure out what that actually meant, because I used to get this all the time :-

"Shekhar, you can't just sit there and do nothing, can you?"

The short answer to that question is..well, yes I can. Sort of.

The irony is, for someone who likes to have some sort of activity going on, which can amount to reading a book, whilst having the t.v. on, or watching/listening to the keiser report at some point/ the news/ some imported t.v. show, whilst eating ( that's not a lot really, is it?), I'm still prone to putting things off.

The words for this, used to be..well, the ones I'm more familiar with are unmentionable here. But ultimately it's all about procrastination :-

 Your 5 Procrastination Excuses, Debunked

And there we have it. All the best stuff, distilled and ready to ingest in there for you, you and you in the back, scratching their left shoulder noisily. At least, I think it's your shoulder.

On a more serious note, this nails it with panache, and I confess to falling into one or two of those excuses listed. I wont' say which ones, for obvious reasons. But in my humble opinion, most of us are heroes and heroines in the making, as we're all having to juggle more and more on a daily basis, than our parents' (and beyond) generation ever did.

That's not saying that they had it any easier; after all, there was a lot more labour intensive activity going on daily even 30 years ago, with a lot of tasks still requiring a large degree of human effort and activity. Remember there was no internet, so that meant.. well, the list is as long as both of my arms and legs.

So if we're always seemingly battling something ( or someone) somewhere, just to get through our day, because everyone else is also in a similar hyper communicated yet over-laden-with-tasks boat, how do we get to what we really want in life? I am, of course, refering to our working lives, although this could be applied across the board :-

Know Your Superpower? 5 Steps To Reaching Your Creative Destiny

I'll stand by Einstein's 52% quote in the article, because 'the happy accident theory' as I also know it, really is the panacea to a lot of creative unblocking. Of course, you have to be able to shape, chisel and polish that golden nugget of inspiration and then hope for the best, but I'll vouch for those moments when it all just falls together, and you have to run with it.

And speaking of feet, I liked the first item here in the picture on the left :-

Essential Objects: For Commuters & Those Stuck Indoors

I like the neck cushion at the end too. But then I would, as there are days in the week, when I feel like I need a snooze.

And on that note, it's time to kick back for a while. With a book. And my smartphone will have something running on it as well..

Actually, no, I think I'll watch it on the tablet..well, Ill be listening to it, whilst I read the book. 

I'm just hanging around. 

Friday 24 October 2014

Put pen to paper; Hand Letterings, RCA Studio A & Finding Your Purpose/Doing What You Love

Here's a question. When was the last time you picked up a pen and paper and actually wrote anything beyond a post it note worth of scribble? Do you keep a jotter or project note style pad and write reams of stuff on it?

Ok, that's two questions. And that's why I'm starting with this :-

Brilliant Hand-Letterings Designed To Reflect The Meanings Of The Words

I just loved the fact that in our tech saturated world, someone went to all the effort to do this. And yes, I'm still part of the contingent that uses a pen, a jotter pad and a project book ( or books), to formulate ideas, and concepts.

It's strange in a way, cause even when getting things down on paper, I end up asterisking things and/or bullet pointing stuff, which is a by-product of years of using word processing software. So there's a basic example of the analog implementation of a way of doing something, being influenced by the digital world.

It's great, cause it's made my notebooks a lot neater for me to follow and refer back to, when required. I write slower, too, which may or may not be a by product of seeing such a neat, crisp iteration of rhetoric for 20 plus years, in using computing technology on screen. So subconsciously, I want the same or as close as, replicated on paper. Man to machine..and back again.

And on the subject of preserving some traditions and even institutions, the following link came into my orbit via my twitter feed, and immediately struck a chord with me  :-

It's too costly to save Music Row's RCA Studio A, new owner says

I was quite thrown by this, as the musician part of my brain doesn't ever want to this sort of thing happening en masse.

In short, RCA studios (both A and B, which is also supposedly up for demoiltion as well), are the home of some of the greatest classic rock ( and other genre) recordings from the inception of rock ' n roll ( and beyond), which can happily be now put around to almost 60 years. In other words, was it when Elvis first recorded his first album?  or was it the sun sessions in 1954, or.. you get the picture.

In any event, it's definitely a very special place and like EMI'S Abbey Road studios in the UK, where The Beatles recorded their first album, and subsequent recordings, which set off a trailblaze for all the other artists to follow.

'The magic' as it can be called, is something all musicians chase at some point. Wether it's a favourite guitar, synthesizer ( I have one of those here ), drum kit, microphone or even the actual studio itself that can help to create or instil that feeling, it's all part of facilitating a level of expression of the feelings within, so they can be more effectively interpolated, with minimal effort and strain.

In writing the last bit of rhetoric,  you have no idea how I winced a little at having to try and conceptualise something that has been going on for a very long time, and is just something you 'do', because you just 'have to do it'. It really is that simple. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that any creative activity, wether for work or for play, that involves you getting into it beyond a casual dip into the pool, is because there's some innate desire to share it with someone, if not the world at large. That in itself is another topic in waiting to explore, but I sincerely hope that RCA studios isn't demolished so fast. I hope someone somewhere has the means and the magic to help them to keep it open as it is for just a little while longer. After all, it's a place of work, even if it's now just waiting in slight vain to be worked in and (renovations considered), upon.

Speaking of work, doing something you want to do and trying to find your true calling, is covered here  :-

How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love

There are a lot of this style of article and book around on the internet and in the physical world, with one of the oldest being Dale Carnegie's "how to win friends and influence people", even if it obviously wasn't touted as such at the time.  This stuck out as it contains a really well delivered TED talk by the author & philosopher Alain de Botton, halfway down. In short, there's no right or wrong way to do this and some of us are probably finding that we're really good at lots of things, and in our current, slightly socioeconomically edgier times, are perhaps spreading ourselves a bit thinly as a result. Ultimately,however, there usually are a handful of things you're so good at, you feel very 'pumped' to use an expression, when doing them, and these things can be performed, sometimes with some tweaking or just off the bat, in the name of work.

Ultimately what might be right for you, may not be right for your best friend of 20 years who has walked many of those life miles with you, for example, which in a way contradicts some of what is in the article, but that in itself assumes that everything else is in some sort of constant state as well, which it sometimes isn't and can't be; change affects all variables around it, even at a small level.

Finding your calling is a very complex issue and it's all about change and how you embrace change, and the challenges it can present. It's also about luck and making your luck and/or embracing your luck, which is a harder concept to grasp at times. Ive had a number of career switches in the last fifteen years alone, and some of them were forced upon me. Im lucky/blessed that most of them we're just honouring a 'hunch' or gut feeling style situation, but none of them were an overnight situation.

As the age old saying goes, you don't get too far in life without a lot of hard graft ( work), so having the nous to get your head down, and roll those sleeves up and pitch in is half the battle. The rest of it is about what drives you at your core.And that in itself, can change over time.

Speaking of drive, I've got to hit the road to meet up with an old friend. Actually, this person feels like an old friend but I haven't known them as long as some of the other people in my life.  There's that familiar affirming feeling with good friends, similar to when I pick up a pen and paper, and can just doodle or write a load of waffle on it, which will make sense to me at some point quite soon on in. And when I look back it at, it will raise a smile.

Sometimes the things that make the least sense, can make the most sense in hindsight. The journey from A to B is always more colourful, than it appears to be.

You Don't Say? ; bloggers are journos, future ennui & bloody mary garnished with another bloody mary

Years ago, I used to wonder why people created and maintained blogs. I thought it was just for the sole purpose of keeping some sort of online diary which you were happy to share with people. My naivety in that respect, has thankfully vanished.

I could go into enormous detail as to how useful blogs have become and their inherant power, combined with the risk and bravery taken by the writers, but in the interest of reporatage, I want to share this link, which shows another side to the blogging experience :-

Court Determines that Bloggers Are Journalists, Then Screws Them Over

Interesting stuff. More so when you're not based in the united states, but have a blog published worldwide. I'll have to look into that aspect a little further at some point. And on the subject of further, the next link goes straight into the future :-

Future Ennui

I spent years in I.T. as a working 'systems guy', and ironically spend even more time around I.T. and tech now, as a creative who has to multitask and be multi skilled. So is it the fact that I'm having to be multiskilled and be up to date, which is bringing on the occasional malaise? No, it's something I've occasionally talked about a bit in pubs and bars, during the longer chinwag sessions.

In short, the rate of change is now exponential. In layman's terms, that means innovation is now reaching some sort of crescendo, in terms of growth spurts. The leap in the last 20 years, for example, from walkman to smartphone with mp3 player built in, has been enormous.

But the leaps from smartphone to smartwatch, aren't as great by comparison. As a result, people are perhaps a bit dissatisfied, with the lower 'wow' factor of progression. Like a kid watching a firework display, you expect each successive arial shower of sparks and bangs to be incrementally more spectacular. So when you're not getting a greater wow-factor each time, you start to yawn a bit. Only in our tech-laden world, there's an element of always wanting to be wowed, because that's what we've become used to for a very long time.

I suspect that some of this is also age laden. Im 41, and am naturally wowed a little less by every new update and development in technology than say, someone in their 20's would be, who perhaps doesn't have the 'lived in' experience of seeing a lot of the history of what I've already touched upon above, which is the journey in real time to our current points of interest.

However, I'm still genuinely fascinated by a lot of tech developments across the board, which I wouldn't have necessarily been a decade or even five years ago. For example, I always look forward to see how tech can fill genuine social gaps and needs to encourage people to congregate in the physical world, and help them to help themselves go further in life.

My rationale, which is obviously paradoxical considering I'm writing this on a digital tech platform and it will be read on digital tech devices, is that people need to spend more time together in the real world, away from tech, as to keep on being human and for want of a better phrase, keeping it real. That may seem a bit simplified and naive, but I touched upon this here.  It goes into more depth regards the aforementioned.

On the theme of paradoxical, I'll finish with this absolute gem I came across, completely by accident :-

It Only Took America 80 Years to Turn Bloody Marys Into a Complete Joke

I thought the title was a bit harsh, then saw the picture and thought 'is this some sort of very early april fools joke?' Thankfully it was a joke, by a comedian named Randy Liedtke.

It's been years since I had a bloody mary. Or at least I think it has. The mind can play tricks on you when you try to recall certain alcoholic beverages consumed, ironically whilst already 'well on the way', so to speak.

On that note, Im off to get the car sorted out. One of my tyres looks a bit odd at the front. It could just be too much air sat in the sidewall, somehow. Or it could be something else entirely.

In any event, it won't be a bloody mary stuffed in there, with or without garnishes. That much I do know.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

I .. Take.. Pictures ; gonna ride my camel, bra cam with a surprise twist & quirky peculiar camera.

In my office desk, in the top left hand drawer, I still have a working, excellent condition Sony Cybershot camera ( a DSC-T100, with 8.1 megapixel pic definition, to be more precise) , complete with it's cables and a soft case. I even bought a mini tripod for it, soon after as well. I've had it for just over seven years. Here's a picture of it :-

I took this picture from my Samsung phone, which ironically has a faster processing speed and a greater resolution. It's also an easier device to carry around and use, because it's integrated into a smartphone. But of course, my phone was made several years later, so innovation and tech development was and is to be expected to increase the functionality and format of the camera within it. 

Goggle have adapted to the innovations in camera tech, in order to bring us their mapping application, replete with satellite photos of the terrain, and in the last few years, the good old 'street level view', which we've now become accustomed to. But what about when their 'car-cam' cannot go across the terrain with the same ease it could go elsewhere? How about a drone-cam?

No, it's time to think again :-

Google hires camel for desert Street View

What a nifty way of photographing the terrain in a desert. Of course, it could be argued that it's a bit counter-productive; after all, how many really notable relics or structures are there basking in amongst the sand dunes? But it's a comfort to know that it's still being covered. It's also made me realise that, according to the article, google have been doing this since 2007, which funnily enough is the same year I bought my cybershot. 

And on the theme of capturing moments, here's a very nifty method that Nestle' ended up implementing in an ad campaign. All is not what it first seems, let's put it that way :- 

Nestlé's 'Bra Cam' Catches People Stealing Glances, but There's a Fun Twist Ending

What a great way to get the message across. 

Speaking of quirky and peculiar, HTC, the makers of smartphones, have decided to branch out into..

How HTC plans to sell the quirky, peculiar Re camera

..a very odd looking camera indeed.

I'm not convinced that this will sell like their phone range, and as the article itself states, Jeff Gattis, the head of marketing for the emerging devices business in the company, says they have a lot of work to do to get the product into the market.

In short it's $200, so it's not an impulse buy. Also, there's no way to see the quality of the results or pre-fix the focal range using the camera itself as there's no viewfinder, so you'll have to pair it with a phone for real-time viewing. It also looks like a cross between an inhaler and a periscope. But it can shoot video too and is also waterproof. Let's see what innovative marketing and advertising HTC come up with to shift such a peculiar looking, standalone combi-cam device. 

Now normally I'd wrap it up about here, with a denouement, but in a strange, cosmic sort of synchronistic twist, I came across this link, only hours earlier today, just as I was about to finish writing this :-

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III Pocketful of Miracles

I (hopefully) intend on acquanting myself with this beauty, before the end of the year.

Isn't it remarkable how technology just marches on? Before you know it, the device you bought and used only last year, becomes rapidly out of date?

Time out.

Monday 20 October 2014

Knowing Me, Knowing You..who are you following, and why?

If you're reading this, the likelihood is that you're using social media. That's the obvious part. But I'm also hedging that you're more into social media than the perfunctory browse, swipe and tap. I'm also betting that you may be familiar with a certain Nordic pop group, who were Sweden's biggest export during the 1970's, and wrote hit after hit, for nearly a decade. But that's not important right now.

What is important, is that when time is at a premium these days, you can feel the cut and buzz of information whizzing by you, as you switch from social media toolbox, to social media interface (e.g. from blog page or WordPress to twitter and Instagram). Consequently, you need to know who you are following on your chosen networks and why.

I'm not talking about romance ( there are other websites for that), but who is it that you are connecting with ( or trying to connect with), messaging and what is the intention behind it?

Think about it. If you're going on twitter, for example, then why are you tweeting? If it's as simple as letting your followers know what you're doing, then that's fine; you've in effect, kept it all simple. 

But if you're pushing yourself and a product or service, then what is it that you're conveying?

Is your message authentic and congruent with your project, task and your business? More importantly, is it authentic and congruent with you?

If it is authentic, then you will see the reciprocals sooner or later, cause you've communicated clearly and your idea/concept, will have reached your effective target; the rest will be a matter of time. 

One thing to avoid, is getting into the concept of  'buying followers' or similar, as this will give you an uplift for a short period, but it won't create sustained traffic and interaction; the interest in you and/or your message, product or brand will suffer over the long term. Also, other skilled social media users will spot the false follower numbers boosters within seconds, which  I wrote about here

As already mentioned, sustained effort pays off dividends on social media. Yet ironically for such a fast moving and growing medium, tangible results don't normally occur overnight. however,  there are some fantastic, glorious exceptions to the rule, but they're just that..exceptions . 

The reasons for this are obvious; there is a lot of saturation or 'noise' on the platforms, amongst all the mineworthy information and people. So it takes a more concerted effort to reach your audience. 

So if you take regular dashes of sheer brilliance in your sharing and posting, and mix together with luck,( and/or good karma) and you should be well on the way; almost like a wash, rinse repeat, and wait . All of the aforementioned can be generated by everyone, but to sustain this all, requires patience, which is the hardest part of the formula in my opinion.

Does some of the above sound obvious? I hope it does, even though it might not be an immediate realisation. We all coast, and coasting is fine for a while, but when you need to grow onwards and outwards, you have to keep a consistent momentum going. That applies across the board; just like flexing a muscle, and keeping it in shape.

If something resonated in you and made you think, smile, and ponder for a while whilst reading this, then pass it on to others by retweeting/emailing it to others who you feel will benefit from it.

Sunday 19 October 2014

Take On Me, Take Me On; carrot based technology, Elvis' album of stage banter & LED nobel prizeworthy

In a reverse of normal 'news like' scenarios , I'm going to tackle the funniest finds first. That doesn't mean the last story will be devoid of anything to make you smile, but it means that the first few items will ( or should) make you laugh out loud. Literally.

The first slab of curiosity is all about the technology based world, and how its marketing can become something that starts to veer towards becoming ripe enough to parody :-

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of the Tech Industry

It's pretty obvious as to which particular brand is being lampooned here, but the message remains the same. It's not easy to market a newer version of a product when there are now so many newer versions of every other product also using a similar style of promotion to get their own branding across. So how do you innovate and keep within a brand identity remit? That's a problem I'd love to see solved in real time.

Speaking of time, the next slice of goodness comes from 1974. It's an album of..

Elvis Presley's Bizarre Album of Stage Banter

..spoken word bits , that have been culled from a plethora of concerts that The King ( I was and always will be a fan), performed at during the early 1970's.

Elvis was a supremely talented singer and always believed in delivering a good show. But this record gives you zero indication of that. It's supposed to be a part of the pantheon of recordings that were very common from that time, which is a 'Comedy Record'. There was a whole slew of them, with The Monty Python team doing a few , and of course Peter Cook & Dudley Moore doing some too, as Pete & Dud. This, however, doesn't quite fit the bill.

The self-styled Colonel ( Tom Parker,which was'nt even his real name), who managed Elvis, was responsible for this misstep. And it is shocking. From the sublime to the ridiculous and back again, all at the speed of sound. It's just wash, rinse and repeat of a load of disconnected blatherskite for thirty seven and a half minutes. One of the most notable performers of the 20th century, is reduced to a crap working men's club performer. 

Whoever was responsible for taking the razor blade to the hundreds, if not thousands of hours of tape to cobble this together, doesn't seem like he got on too well with the Colonel, or just didn't want to stick around for longer than necessary. A lot of the banter is also juxtaposed at jarring, ill-timed intervals which make no sense whatsoever, unless you were actually there. So you're left laughing out of a mixture of bona-fide, heartfelt confusion and schadenfreude, all of which happen simultaneously. The whole shebang is almost worthy of a prize.

And speaking of prize-worthy :-

Why A Blue LED Is Worth A Nobel Prize

Now I could go into a very lengthy discourse about why three scientists won a Nobel Prize for their work on blue LED's ( light emitting diodes) because I have some electronics knowledge in my academic background, but I'd rather you discover it all for yourself. Besides which, I have a feeling you'll be smiling at the end. Especially if saving energy, and looking at the screen of your smartphones and tablets is a godsend to you, these days.

And on that note, I'm off to have a look at the news. On three different channels, but not all at once. 

Unlike Elvis, who back in his prime, supposedly had a wall with a lot of t.v. screens on it, so he could watch it all at the same time. Little did he know how people would be emulating that kind of information saturation technique, in a few decades time. 

The King got there first. Well, kind of. 

Thursday 16 October 2014

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go; wake up with a stranger, the floor in the store is no more & keeping online distractions at bay

I used to find it a real chore to get up in the morning. Some of this is down to the fact that I seldom get to bed at what many might call  'a reasonable hour', during the weekdays.

However, over 3 years of concurrent yoga in the mornings has also rewired my cerebral cortexes somewhere, and I'm now much better at getting to bed by midnight, because I'm automatically awake by 6-6:30 am, about 95% of the time. This is necessary in order to get some solid 'quiet time' in, which includes the yoga. Resultantly, I've found that true to well-documented form, I'm far more productive in the first half of the day, than I used to be.

For everyone else who occasionally struggles first thing in the morning to rise and shine, there's always this:-

App helps you wake up with a stranger

I think it's a great idea, and once I'm more comfortable with the potential security issues (the website does say that the app is totally anonymous in terms of caller numbers, but then it's up to you to decide your own I.D. etc), I might even try it at some point. Which is more than can be said for the following link, which literally threw me a bit off-kilter, when I read the headline :-

This North Face Store's Floor Disappears, Forcing Startled Shoppers to Climb the Walls 

Fantastic stuff. A very bold marketing move and kudos for that. Now if only health & safety regulations would allow this to happen in the UK stores..

Speaking of keeping alert and focused, which isn't always easy if the ground beneath your feet is about to give way (cough) , there's also the very real problem of maintaining concentration whilst you're working, especially if using computing technology is part of the equation .

This used to be something that many pooh-pooh'd about up until the advent of social media exploding en masse, but productivity has been affected by it, which has lead to some of the backlash over social media engagement in recent times. I've talked about this myself a few times, just in the last month alone, both here and here . So anything that can remind you to keep on track, is always worth a look :-

Manage Online Distractions

It's ironic that something which purports to help you keep online distractions to a minimum, contains a few links within itself, which would mean a few more distractions are added into the mix. Still, they're all in context, and it's a great read.

Ultimately, of course,  the best way to avoid internet distractions, is to not use the internet at all, whilst working. Now I could do that if I used a word processing program to shape this up before putting it up on here, but I wouldn't then be able to accurately preview what it'd look like before anyone else. So it's six of one, and half a dozen of the other,as the saying goes.

Speaking of which, I've got half a dozen emails to rsvp before I head off for lunch. Something sandwich-y, beckons. With crisps.

Tuesday 14 October 2014

A Click-Check; the only way to be sure.

Recently on twitter, I found my follower count going up in some odd intervals, and whilst I fully appreciate the genuine account holders out there who are curious, hungry for knowledge and information, wanting to interact and grow etc, there's an awful lot of what looks like generated or spambot style accounts hanging around too. If this is news to you, then perhaps you haven't been using twitter that long, or don't use it beyond a quick update of your social activity, ad hoc. 

But it can be a concern when you're trying to gauge who is following your output, in terms of feedback and metrics. A few months ago, I mentioned tweet metrics to a friend, and he matter of factly said 'just divide that figure by four', which sounded like a rough and ready way of aggregating. But it makes a level of sense, if there are lots of spambot style accounts on there, just following, clicking and retweeting to other sites to potentially generate revenue, rather than build content and become a genuine participant and customer/consumer, and vice versa. 

So what can you do beyond just accepting everyone willy nilly, so to speak?

Run a CLICK-CHECK. It really is that simple. If in doubt about the authenticity of the account and wether you'd want to interact with the identity ( or person) behind it , click on the link, if available, in their bio and see where it takes you. Also, have a look at their content and interactivity. Alternatively, the other way to CLICK-CHECK, is to rsvp ( respond) to one of their tweets. Notwithstanding their shyness, people don't always have the time to respond immediately, so patience is required. And repeat any or both of the two aforementioned, as required. It goes without saying, that it works right across the board for most, if not all, forms of social media.

There we have it..a few paragraphs of what I like to call 'stating the obvious', but if it helps someone along in their way to sorting the wheat from the chaff on social media, then it's been worth the time spent in writing it. Come to think of it, I wish someone would develop an app to help with this, or twitter and the others would tighten up their coding to weed some of this stuff out. Some form of randomised authentication could be implemented, too. 

Until then, Click, and click again ( if necessary).

Monday 13 October 2014

Over The Top - Hyperbole On Social Media

Firstly, this :-

If you're still there and wondering 'what the..' ( or not as the case may be), allow me to explain.

In essence, this was a public information film ( or PIF), and most developed countries still make them via a government funded department. They're produced in order to make the population acutely aware of sociological dangers that are of far greater importance and relevance at the time, than anything else. It's rather like having a stern yet media enriched mini-lecture, between episodes of your favourite show.

This particular short film was made at the peak of the 1970's U.K. COI  activity, and was part of a series on road safety messages. Apart from a few continuity issues here and there, and some trully magnificent (cough) early 70's styling on all the incumbents, it hits the message home with an ominous, authoritative voiceover and a generous helping of hyperbole.

Which is exactly what the next link is all about :-

This awesome dissection of internet hyperbole will make you cry and change your life

Charlie Brooker is brilliant. I daren't use any other adjective, for risk of falling into the same trap as what he's described in the article.

Actually..why not? I mean we all do it, wether knowingly or unknowingly. So to recap then, this is a trully magnificent piece of writing, and really hits all the high notes, as far as I can see, hear and smell.

More seriously though ( but without the gravelly,  perfectly clipped and shaped, RADA infused voiceover in the aofrementioned PIF) ), hyperbole has become a part and parcel of regular social media useage. I'm guilty of it, and can only hope I'm not as guilty as the next human being, because that would make me feel a lot better for occasionally succumbing to it.

And effectively, there's only so much 'super-hyper-talk' you can give or take online. Which explains why I'm using social media less than I used to. Or at least I hope I am.

Maybe I'm just switching allegiances away from one platform to another, because it allows me to talk endlessly about things like this, and be noticed for my wisdom, wit and brilliance.

Or an attempt at the aforementioned.

And now it's time for a late breakfast.


There's a wonderful, exciting, superbly rich, tantalising and mouthwateringly aromatic cornucopia of eggs and bacon, with beans, being cooked in a spectacularly impromptu fashion. And there's a glistening portion of mushrooms to accompany it, on the side. Sheer perfection on a plate.

But hold the fried bread.. I'm on a diet.

Sunday 12 October 2014

Complicating, Circulating, Operating, Generating ; Snapchat leakages, Privacy & being open to all, Chuck Jones' ways of working

 'Something is rotten in the state of Denmark' is the first thing that sprung to mind, when I found about about this :-

The 'Snappening': Explicit Snapchat images leaked via third party, reports say

 I always tend to have what can best be described as a 'knee jerk glee' reaction when I find out about this sort of thing, which is a sort of big relief that I'm not a part of any of this. But then I wouldn't want or need to put up the sort of pictures they're alluding to in the article. That in itself is a cause for concern, but I'm not here to lecture or hector people about the 'youth of today' as I'm confident that their parents and guardians will take the appropriate measures to redress any balances and checks in that regard.

In effect, this is just another 'shot across the bows' regards internet based social networking, and the resultant issues surrounding privacy. We've already had celebrity photo's leaked out, and I have a sneaky feeling that facebook may be next. Clearly there is a bigger message behind all this,  but the simplest message is best illustrated in the following article :-

We Want Privacy, but Can’t Stop Sharing

This really hits the nail on the head, and I've touched upon this myself in different ways over the last few months, here, and here . Our wanton need to reach out and connect, also dovetails with Andy Warhol's oft quoted  prediction that we'll all get our 15 minutes of fame. But conversely, we're all starting to have our fill of overexposure..or are we?

I don't think generation Y (also known as THE MILLENIALS) , who were born from 1977 onwards according to one brief I read somewhere, or 1980, which is more the de rigeur definition as per a search engine research of the aforementioned term, are too encumbered with the loss of privacy per se. They seem to be more open and receptive to 'share and share alike', which was what Tim Berners Lee had in mind as the original remit of what the internet was supposed to be all about.

In any event, the aforementioned scenario seems to be taking other twists and turns, and I don't think we'll be seeing/hearing the last of any of this sort of discourse, from here on in. I cannot help but try to fathom what exactly has triggered this sudden volte face regards social networking in a number of quarters, other than maybe it hasn't been so sudden and the potential boredom, ennui and just lack of it leading to a more fullfilling connection in the physical world, such as genuine friendships and relationships, has now started to become more apparent. The analogy being that a video or a pictures of food, fire, clothes and so on, for example, cannot replace our real need for these tangibles either.

Going from tangibles, to comedic cartoon interludes does'nt seem so obvious at first, but the next item brought a wave of nostalgia with it. Being a child of the 1970's , I was all too familiar with this name, as a young boy, who loved his cartoons :-

4 Things You Didn't Know About Chuck Jones, Brilliant Creator Of Road Runner And Wile E. Coyote

The link itself , should tell you all you need to know. However, I didn't finish with this as a 'soft news item' , but moreso to correlate it to the weirdness that is currently happening with regards privacy, which is almost turning into a cartoon caper in itself, with all these random hackings and leaks, all  coming at us like sudden anvils, falling out of the sky onto an already infotainment overloaded, and now increasingly beleagured, Wile E Coyote.

And whilst I should be more concerned  about all this (perhaps at some level I am a bit perturbed by all this stuff coming out), I think that as it's becoming more apparent as to the 'side effects' and other issues surrounding the lasseiz-faire use of social media technologies, it will open up a more honest platform of debate for the consumer to decide what they want from their 'net based interactivity experience.

And on that note, I've just recieved a text from a friend I haven't spoken to in nearly two months. Not cause we fell out, but more because we became too busy. Ironic really, as we both could have just called each other. But this is becoming the norm, where the warmth of even a voice at the other end, is being replaced by an SMS or email.  It's convenient, but it's just not the same for me, even today.

It's time for me to make some calls, and as usual, I'm starving. A catch up drink or even a meal, is in order.

Thursday 9 October 2014

Happy Birthday, John Lennon; you shine on in the work you left for the world to enjoy and think about.

I'm not starstruck per se, and there's valid reasons for that. To idolise people can be a bit unhealthy in my opinion, but respect and genuine adoration of their talent and humanity are a more healthier proposition. That in itself encompasses a lot of individuals and teams, both living and dead.

And there are a few people I wish I had met, if only to just get a bit of an essence what they were really all about / made of. John lennon was one of them. If he was alive, he would have been 74 today.

Happy birthday to the 'essence/soul/spirit' of John Lennon. He still shines on via his legacy, both with and without his work with The Beatles. A genius, in my opinion, and like most geniuses he was often misunderstood. He wore a lot of his emotions on his sleeve too, which was a very brave thing to do for a public figure. But that made him more human, and more real, for want of a better phrase, and that's what truly matters. :-

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Wednesday 8 October 2014

Which Way To, Now? - Unwritten rules at work, Nobody knows what they're doing and Manhattan memory from 2007

We talk a lot. When I mean we, I mean all of us. That includes you, you and you in that red cardigan/ green skirt/ tan brogues ( that's three different people, in case you're wondering), thumbing away at your phone, or using the handsfree kit, just to get my point across.

It wasn't always this way, but whichever way you look at it, that's how it is right now and until there is a shorthand developed for social networking use, people will be thumbing, pointing, pinching and swiping their way throughout a connected day. It's not something we talk about, ironically, but it's something we all do. It's an unwritten, unspoken sort of rulebook.

Just like the unwritten protocol of dating, parenting and more importantly in this instance, work :-

The unwritten rules of work and why you should break them

Some of this is comical, and I'm grateful for that. But the rest of it did make me think about work culture in a bigger context. In effect, there are all sorts of idiologies, invisible diagrams and topologies in the working environment, which vary according to the size and style of the organisation.

I think a lot of this is reactionary behaviour to some inner scenarios about the individual and how they feel about the organisation they're working at, which vary from frustration ( there's a spectrum of sorts, there), all the way to self sabotage, which may sound surprising, but can be the flip side of basic frustration.

For example, someone not happy at their job, may start to look a little sloppy, but may also start to do other little things, akin to the child in class who kicks the chair with his feet, cause he's not happy about something. Unless you have a short attention span, then unattended boredom tends to lead to all sorts of covert and then even oddly overt behaviours. Most of the time, things are at an even keel, but sometimes, issues can be complex and interwoven with all sorts of things.  But more of that, at a later date.

Ultimately at some level, we're all sort of 'winging it', to use a phrase. Maybe even in writing this post, I'm winging it too. After all, I'm not the font of human knowledge and If I were, I'd be very bored and also very boring :-

Nobody Knows What The Hell They Are Doing

From the start, this made me laugh out loud. A literal LOL, so to speak. I could go into this at length, but I'd rather not. Not because it's embarrassing to do so, but more because I think that if you click on the link and read it, you'll find something in there that will hit you somewhere in your psyche. I really enjoyed this, because it's gone out of the comfort zone, and into the area of where you can get inspired and have a 'wait a minute...' moment, if so required.

And finally, to break the flow a little, here's a picture from my own personal archive. It's from a road sign in manhattan, from when I was there in 2007 on a week long break :-

Of all the pictures I have stored away from various trips all over the place ( including many more trips to New York and other parts of america), I have fond memories of this.

What you can't see, is that it was raining at the time and that the camera's auto-sensing technology, threw a curveball on itself. As a result, the main sign is enhanced and highlighted.  

But beyond dipping into my artistic merits in using a digital camera from  several years ago,  there is a metaphorical reason why I've put this up, and it relates to the title of this post. 

I wonder how many people get the message.

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Changeling, See Me Change ; Light bulb automation, Ello & John Malkovich's photographic reproductions

When was the last time you changed a lightbulb? Ok, when was the last time you changed a lightbulb and you were happy to do so?

An odd question to ask, but I've asked it cause I don't think changing lightbulbs is something anyone is ever really prepared for. I don't know anyone who keeps an ample supply of the things in a cupboard or drawer, and just whips them out for replacement when that 'flicking a switch into a swathe of silence' moment happens, when the bulb just doesn't 'go on', so to speak. It can be followed by 'oh (bleep)' or a similar utterance, as well.

This next story may well alleviate some of that, by virtue of the innovation spearing many problems all at once:-

Stack's smart light bulb responds to the world around you

Putting aside the current price point, which is a tad heavy in my opinion, I think this is fantastic. Ultimately, it means savings across the board on so many levels. Your wallet, the environment, the replacement costs, the name it.

My prelude example refers more to the bog standard sort of energy efficient bulb, which although last longer than 60 to 90 days, aren't as cheap as the older bulbs which just blasted out their full on tungsten based swathes of luminescence across the board, without any nod to efficiency at a wallet level. Cost can be a big deciding factor when buying essentials, so once the price point has softened, then this and whatever offshoot or development this leads into, should hopefully become a 'must buy'.

Speaking of something new, and even completely different in a way :-

Ello, Ello? New ‘No Ads’ Social Network Ello Is Blowing Up Right Now

Until I read this, I didn't know what Ello was. I haven't joined yet, because It's enough for me to keep engaged on this blog, linked in and twitter profile, with the occasional dip into my facebook account, as per my article from an entry last month, which is here, as well as get on with the rhythm of life.

It looks interesting, and I do hope it does well. I can see the plusses as described ( no ads) and the minuses ( buy in features when the masses are used to an 'all in' for zero outlay), but hope that something that challenges the conventional way of doing things, can work out. I may not necessarily be the target audience for Ello at the moment, but I'm all for moving forward and calculated risk taking.

Someone has to and must be  up for innovation, which always involves an element of taking a chance, otherwise stagnation and even retrograding, becomes the norm. I talked about some of this in another post, and whilst things are a bit up in the air in some areas, such as internet security, data protection , the rights of the individual and the useage of their data and so on, I can say with confidence that there will always be something to connect us together with, via the internet, and if that experience can be less glut laden and sluggish and stay that way, it's a great thing to have.

I know it's all a bit of a paradox, as there's always a part of me that doesn't like spending too much time on social networking sites, because I'm aware of how time can just slip away on there without recourse to anything productive or spectacular, but then I'm also aware of how it can be such a smorgasboard of ideas and concepts, far beyond what you'd pick up from your regular or even ad hoc social circle in the physical world.

Speaking of ad-hoc and paradoxical :-

John Malkovich’s Hilarious Recreations Of Famous Photos Is Pure MALKOVICH

This is pure gold. I think John Malkovich is brilliant. More so, since I had the opportunity to spend some time on the same location shooting with him, as an extra in a scene, over a decade ago; this is absolutely true.

Back in the summer of 2003, the first Johnny English film was being shot and readied for future release. It just so happened that I was walking around St Albans with my sister and her husband around that time, and I spotted an 'auditions for extras' sign, which didn't say what film it was for. I just ran in, as there was no queue, and they took some shots and said we'll be in touch. They rang me a few days later, and a month or so down the line, I ended up in the church scene at the end, where Johnny has to expose Malkovich's character and  this leads onto the finale. 

It was a great week, I got paid, I got fed, met some wonderful people, and still have a piece of decorative metal I was supposed to wear all the way through it, on a purple ribbon. I grabbed a few autographs along the way, but not John's. Not because he wasn't approachable, but more because I just didn't feel right in wanting to disturb him. Not in a star struck way, cause I'm not shellshocked like that by other people, but more out of 'he looks really deep in concentration...let him be' level of respect.

And on that note, Im off to grab some food. And make a few calls. But I don't eat whilst making the calls. Well, I try not to.

Scrap that, I think i'll go out for a meal. And switch the phone off.