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Happy New Year Readers! Welcome to 2014

Yes you guessed it…it’s about time for my yearly blog.  If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the last 18 months it’s not to over promise. 

We’re in the year of the World Cup (although not everyone is on board, mainly the Brazilian people), the coalition is somehow still together and Apple has added “Air” to all of it’s products.  We said goodbye to 2013, a year which saw twerking and selfie added to the dictionary, that’s probably enough said really, right?  

Recap. Over.

It’s time to turn our attention to the current tech climate, and with #CES2014 underway right now there is no better time to talk gadgets. Here are the biggest trends of 2014…

  1. Wearable tech: Companies literally want to have us by the balls, by balls I mean wrist or anywhere you can fit a 2gb micro processor. See here for more.
  2. Automated home: My absolute favourite. I’ve been waiting for this for years. Most of my setup is automated but home infrastructure has always been immune to tech…not anymore. Enter Belkin and a host of others. Check for yourself here.
  3. 4K TVs/Blu Ray..blah blah: This is the latest revenue grabbing/bonus inflating idea from the tech high and mighty.  It promises to give us pictures with so much detail that we will finally be able to see the rogue nose hair that’s been holding Gary Lineker’s nose to ransom for all these years.

Disclaimer: Anything touting “4K” will likely cost 4 times that, and side effects may include Michael Bay coming into your house…losing his script and jumping out the window to EXCELLENT special effects.  You have been warned. More on that later.

So in short there’s a lot to be excited about.  

Wearable Tech:

Ever since Apple announced the iWatch (and then didn’t make it…there’s a lot of that going around) consumers have been dreaming of wearing silicon about their person.  So step in Apple’s Asian nemesis…no not China, but Samsung to deliver the goods.  As you can see, the GalaxyGear links up to your Samsung mobile and alerts you about texts, or BBMs from your BFFs and such.  

It looks seriously cool, however I’m skeptical of a few things:

1. I don’t need another reason to be robbed.

2. If you wear it people know you have a high end phone in your pocket. This equals: Double bubble for the opportunistic wrist magician. Double insurance claim/begging for you. 

3. You can only use it with Samsung stuff, which is all great but some of us want to rock a Nokia 3210.

Automated Home:

I am a huge fan of this concept and once again the masters of screens AKA Samsung Corp are all over this like a middle-class bee to Waitrose brand honey.  Things like light bulbs, fridges, washing machines even vacuum cleaners are RIPE for an tech upgrade.  Imagine if you wanted to boil your kettle over wi-fi like a boss? Well now you can! All these utilities are brilliant pieces of tech but have been left out in the cold when it comes to having a processor placed in them. Enter the Smart home

Some of the concepts are truly amazing at #CES14 and I hope to see some more great stuff this year. If you’re ready now check out the Belkin WeMo series which I can say from owning a couple are incredible.  I can turn my lights off by voice or by making a gesture on my phone screen.  Lavish.  Check out Lifehacker’s excellent article on how to do it.  Also, If you have kids, you can also use the WeMo baby monitor to keep an eye on your precious toddler.  Niiice.

4K Everything:

HD came and it wasn’t enough…3D came and it STILL wasn’t enough…so what now? What do the TV guru’s throw at us.  Well I’ll tell you, 4K. It’s being termed as “ultra HD” and all sorts of other ridiculous terms.  I’m going to be honest, I’ve been to John Lewis to see some of these bad boys in action and I wasn’t blown…away.

Don’t get me wrong, they look incredible and they are ludicrously sized. However the price point and the lack of readily available 4K content is a drawback for budding consumers like myself.  At #CES2014, against the run of play, a possible game-changer was thrown in as Netflix announced that they would start streaming 4K content later this year. This includes the very popular House of Cards. So let’s not write it off just yet.

So there you have it, a round-up of what sexy tech has been shown off at #CES2014, which will largely shape the tech trends of 2014!

One last note, the highlight of #CES2014 has already happened. I’m sure you’ve heard the rumours and perhaps seen the footage.  It would take something very special to top the Michael Bay FAIL. Remember that joke earlier? That wasn’t on a whim, the Transformers director had the nightmare of his life…and it involved Samsung + 4K TV.  Priceless.

Until next time/year! Enjoy.

 

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Fair morrow readers another month another article. At this rate I’ll get 12 out this year! If you’re reading this from within the UK you may have noticed something happening recently. No, not the duet between One Direction and big Dave, but rather that the high street is disappearing… Where is it going? Why is it going? And what’s going to replace it?

Fresh from the sorrow of February, the January credit card bills, the broken Valentine’s Day promises and more snow than we needed, I’m here to continue the “Whatever Happened” series and this time concentrate on the endangered species known as the British high-street.

I will endeavour to answer some of the questions posed in the first paragraph in this article. But before I do let’s take a trip back in the time vortex to a time where jeans weren’t fitted or skinny and everyone listened to Alanis Morissette, Blur or Oasis. Nothing else. If you haven’t guessed it, I’m of course talking about the 90s.



The Prelude - The Good Old Days

Remember the high street in the 90s? Remember Steps? It was a tragedy what happened to that group. On a wet Saturday you perhaps took a trip with the family just to browse, maybe even purchase a suspiciously itchy woolly jumper from BHS. If you were rich enough you possibly even swiped some hi-grade pick and mix from Woolworths and a deluxe copy of Come On Over by Shiana Twain on the sly. Man, we all felt like women back then.



Act I - Desolation Row

But nowadays things are different, dark and desolate. The never breathing, blinking or flinching Internet juggernauts are making a mockery of the weary high street with their ludicrously low overheads and a level of convenience so high it should be banned. Throw this in with an obsession for automation that borders on the erotic for the likes of Amazon, you can see why the ageing high street is getting ready to wave the white flag. Now we know what Amazon meant with their slogan below. All other businesses are DONE.

Clintons, HMV, Game and Jessop’s are a few of the big names that have entered administration in the last six months. The fact that they went into administration however, is no surprise, at least not to myself. Bear with me here while I delve into some business type speak to explain in my own words the real key challenges facing traditional bricks and mortar retail businesses at present.

1. Increasing costs – The cost of traditional floor staff, the cost of utilities and everything else that goes into maintaining a retail store fits into this category. The real pow in the kisser here though is that this cost is multiplied by the number of stores that the chain has, and if you’re HMV that’s a hell of a lot of stores to keep running.

2. Increased competition – you already knew this one. Basically it goes like this:

HMV = Amazon

Jessops = Amazon

Clintons = MoonPig

Woolworths = Don’t know so probably Amazon

In the face of increasing competition high street retailers are facing a sharp drop in revenues and profits and no let up in variable costs OR fix costs for that matter!

3. Rent – even though this is a running cost, it deserves its own paragraph. One thing that accountancy has taught me is recognising costs that regularly tip businesses and consumers over the edge. Rent is without a doubt the number one cost in this category. As adults, no matter your level of financial knowledge or intuition, if you cannot pay your rent you know one thing: You are in trouble and deep trouble at that. You never want to end up in an establishment like the kind seen below…Wowee! Pretty scary!

Business landlords like their consumer counterparts periodically increase rent costs so in turn businesses must match this with increasing sales. Take a store like HMV in Oxford Circus, a flagship store steeped in great historical tradition. Sadly I imagine that it simply does not deliver anywhere near as much revenue as it needs to to justify the likely extortionate Oxford Street rent rates in the current climate.

Online businesses on the other hand such as Amazon and Play.com are centralised, automated and efficient beasts. With minimal amounts of staff to oversee the warehouse and delivery and only one portal ie a website. No physical stores are needed therefore costs are dramatically reduced.



Act II - Positively 4th Street

The problem is well known and this is probably not the first time you’re reading such an diagnosis. However what is interesting is the direction the high street is going to take in the next few years and the changes it must make to remain profitable and to remain current, as well as a part of the Great British culture.

The best way to think about strategies for the high street going forward is to think about what we use it for at present.


Why do I go to Oxford Street?

Apart from shouting uncontrollably at unsuspecting tourists there are a couple of key reasons why I find myself in such places.

1. Annual clothes shop – One area where Internet shopping fails miserably for me is clothes, when it comes to clobber I always head to the high street. We all know jeans sizes are a magical myth created by some mad jeans size OverLord with different empirical versions of measurements and a 34R for Diesel is actually a 42.56L for Calvin Klein. That particular example is irrelevant to me because of course I don’t own any expensive clothes.

2. Eating/drinking/meeting up with friends/general shenanigans - Believe it or not this is primarily what the majority of city centres are now used for. General binge drinking, kebab spilling and mild to heavy debauchery depending on how close you are to either Newcastle or Newport. The main reason that I tend to find myself on a high street is the fact that I’m either meeting friends or on a night out.

3. Going to John Lewis – Just because they’re so fu*king great. Don’t even say their not. You know full well they are.

That’s pretty much it to be honest. So using that as a shady benchmark what is the future for our towns and cities most coveted streets?



Act III - Highway 61 Revisited

1. More restaurants and cafes – Of course this is been happening over the past 10 years. The more retail shops that close down, the more trendy Mexican mocktail bar’s or Fro-Yo joints open in their place because they are usually revenue turners and always a good reason to get people onto the high street.

2. A more interactive shopping experience – This is been seen by the whole ‘click and collect’ culture that’s happening a lot. It can further be extended to make shopping more fun on the high street and actually make you want to leave your house and not click quietly on Amazon, letting it read your mind through it’s recommendation engine as you drift off into an easy sleep.

Aside from this personally I would like to see more high-streets containing more specialist experiences such as music, sporting, and communal areas. One thing I love in London currently are the public pianos scattered through the city for anyone to play. A truly genius idea. See for yourself. A lot of the British high-street is in bad need of regeneration, If you don’t believe me go to Middlesbrough town centre and see for yourself.



Finale - Closing Thoughts

It’s a vicious circle of sorts because in order for people to be attracted, the high street itself needs to be attractive, for this to happen regeneration must occur which in turn cost money, which they need from the consumers. In economist terms it’s a negative multiplier effect.

I would be very keen to know your thoughts readers on what you use your local high street for, and what you think should be the future of it. It’s a very interesting area and I’m sure that it will be a hotly discussed topic in the times to come. One thing is for sure - it is in danger.

In times past I have sworn by on-line shopping, but now there are certain items I pick up at local stores mainly to support them, as in the back of my own mind I know they won’t be there much longer. An example is for some reason I always get my headphones from a physical HMV store. In 5 years time, that choice may not exist.

Until next time.

P.S To be safe though, when buying vouchers, stick with Amazon. It’s basically like giving someone cold, hard, faceless cash. Maybe even a little better.

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Hello my well read friends a very happy New Year to you! I hope 2013 brings you more of want and hopefully less of what you don’t.

There will be no talk of resolutions in this post or any post coming any time soon, I find it easier to hold myself accountable to as few things as possible. A bit like this guy really:


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This post really covers one topic: Whatever happened to PCs?  

There used to be a feature on a well-known football program on Sky Sports called Soccer AM which was called 'Whatever happened to Johnny Foreigner?'  The point of the bit was in joke form to name a very old and then well known footballer who was foreign and wonder what they’re doing now. Such as for instance “Henning Berg” who recently got fired as a manager of Blackburn.

So as the 2013 Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas took place earlier in the month, I asked myself that question again: Whatever happened to PCs?

Remember PCs? Our old cuddly friends. First desktops, then laptops, then netbooks (RIP), then ultra books (soon to be RIP) and here we are…Windows 8 was supposed to save them all, yet have you seen anyone actually running Windows 8 apart from people in technology writing about Windows 8?!

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Further to this, ask yourself when you actually use a desktop computer or PC, be it in any of the forms mentioned above? I expect the answer to this for most of you would be at work. Most of us spend large parts of our lives at some sort of desktop or laptop running Windows - watching YouTube, stalking on Facebook, and occasionally dipping into Excel or Word to do some work.

So where is the PC love? What happened to it? Where did it go? I’ll tell you where. We all discovered smartphones and tablets. We all heard about this post PC World like it was the late Steve Jobs and his merry men riding through an apocalypse to rid us of these cumbersome screens and devices and give us all the computer we really wanted that could fit into our pockets or be held in our hands.  


But there still was a problem however, I was sceptical.

I wondered is it actually feasible do all our 'proper' computer on these tiny little things with touchscreens and their ridiculous notifications about whose birthday it is in 10 weeks time  or when someone has liked your photo on Instagram, or when one of your birds is slightly less angry than the other bird who is also quite angry?!?

As many times before however I was mistaken -  for two key reasons. Each of them as important as the other.


One. Most people’s computing needs are less complex than was first imagined.

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Two. The complexity of the tasks that can be accomplished on mobile devices is growing exponentially.

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As it turns out (see the graph above) the main activities that people do with computers when they aren’t working tend to be checking emails, futher Facebook stalking , YouTube browsing, Instagram liking and Tumblr dipping. Of course there are the other things like browsing the web which is fairly easy, newsreading and communication through social media…twittering and such.  These are very easily achievable on small devices and some even suited towards smaller screens, no PC needed here.

But it’s really the second reason that has been the Silver Bullet in the head of the PC. It’s the one that’s really pushing the limit and essentially why I’m currently writing this very sentence via dictation through an iPad.  

The sophistication of the Android and iOS operating systems and their applications has grown by an unbelievably incredible amount in the last four years. Blogsy the app that I am publishing this blog through has more than enough features to be a fully fledged blog editor with absolutely no requirement anywhere for a PC.  When you look into other areas such as notetaking - notability for instance, musicmaking - GarageBand and Korg Synthesisers (to name but a few of the wonderful musicmaking apps), it really is startling what you can actually get done on these devices, and at times a little bit unnerving.

See this example below on you tube, it’s literally insane. Arkham Asylum levels of insane.

Where Now For The PC?

Of course there are still geeks like myself, and maybe some of you reading this who still love a good file system and a tangible mouse and keyboard. We know that the PC will never quite be dead (apps need to be coded on PCs for a start!), but its importance is fading fast. So in the words of Bob Dylan the phrase that PC makers can maybe take some slither of comfort in (or not) is ” It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there”.

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For those of you with laptops I suspect that you won’t be replacing them any time soon, and those of us who don’t really need laptops I can almost guarantee that the next piece of technology you buy will probably be a tablet (a mini one at that).

But lets never forget the laptop on the tube, the netbook in the lecture theatre or the desktop in the family room.  

We’ll miss you PC, but will make sure to take some pics of you with our smartphones and stick them on Instagram. (which you can only access on mobile devices… Oh the irony.)

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I hope you enjoyed reading this on your tablet or mobile device.  Until next time.

Kwaz 

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Happy Holidays….!

Firstly, happy holidays to all and I hope you are having a peaceful and joyful festive period. I hope you didn’t commit any major faux-pas at your respective Christmas parties and that your belly’s are full of meat/quorn and or alcohol/J2O. If you’ve got a drink in your hand while reading this, even better, it will probably be funnier that way.

You may notice that my last entry was quite a few months ago, 5 months to be exact…great article mind you. While it would be both informal and entertaining to comically explain the almost laughable periods between my blog posts, I’m not going to go in that direction. Not today at least.

All I’ll say is this: I definitely wasn’t having one of these.

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What’s Been Happening?


In other news I have finally become a qualified accountant, so if you have a drink in your hand (its Boxing Day so it seems likely) raise a glass to that heartwarming fact.

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In my absence the tech world has kept on spinning on its Silicon Valley axis and no doubt Santa brought many of you something technologically related.

If St Nick did bring you some gadgetry I’d guess it was a tablet, due to the fact they are the hottest items of technology at present. They are literally hotter than Megan Fox covered in hot sauce standing inside a volcano. Scorching.

 

Here are a couple of my favourite technological highlights of late.

1. Apple maps the world spectacularly poorly. Causing no end of issues and spawning so many meme’s and cartoons it’s quite unbelievable. Here’s one of my favourites.

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2. Windows 8 & the surface finally makes Microsoft something it’s always wanted to be. Sexy.

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Where the F*ck Are the Flying Cars?

So enough of a recap, let’s dive into the festive subject matter of this post.

Where the f**k are the flying cars?! This is the literal future. 2012 was the year they went to in the future, in Back to the Future. June 27th 2012 to be exact.

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Well let me tell you the top 3 reasons why I think we haven’t yet managed to conquer the sky in automobiles.

1. Google haven’t mapped it.


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We know how the world works, since the era of tech one rule has become eternal: If Google hasn’t mapped or indexed it, it doesn’t exist. Or if it does, no one gives a flying f*ck.

So until the Google choppers map the sky, how the hell can we drive up there?

 

2. IBM Would go out of business.


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As the main technology source for cities and their whole ethos on “building a smarter planet” which I’d like to change to “building a smarter planet (if you can afford it)” their infrastructure is found on roads worldwide. Flying cars would mean there would be very little need for said products as we would all be in Delorians living the dream. As a result, IBM would go out of business and like EVERY bank in living existence “it’s too big to fail” so it simply can’t.

 

3. Manual Gears Would Be History

The human race simply won’t allow this. Why? Because humanoids, mainly motorists worldwide have an insane obsession with gears for no apparent reason. They ecstatically proclaim things like “IT’S THE THRILL” and “it’s the only REAL way to drive”.

Really? Last I checked it’s moving a stick around to change the gear of a vehicle at certain speeds. I don’t drive, but when/if I do I’ll likely get an automatic car. I’ll probably have my head put into a guillotine by a judge for officially ‘not living life to the max’ but so be it. Last I checked a car knows exactly when to change it’s own damn gears, hence automatic cars!

I’ll never understand why us humans want EVERYTHING automated, we have robots to VACUUM for crying out loud, a job much better suited to manual intervention. Yet when it comes to gear changing, a task determined mainly by speed and a few other factors of which the car is completely aware, we rebel furiously screaming “THHHRRRIILLL” as we go from second to first to turn right at a roundabout. Rant over. Bottom line, flying cars would obviously be automatic and the world won’t allow that.



Conclusions

So there you have it ladies and gents, my synopsis of why we’re not all charging our flux-capacitors and putting on our flying goggles. No maps, no revenue for IBM and a love of gears that borders erotic.

I’ll try to write another blog within the next 5 months, but I won’t promise anything.

As the saying goes “he who expects nothing, shall never be disappointed.” (aka all Blackberry users)

 

I wish you a great end to 2012 and I hope 2013 brings us some proper map, some more kick-ass android tablets and maybe just maybe one of these….!

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Happy Holidays!

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Hey Hey Woody Guthrie I Wrote You A Song

 
 

Recently passed the centennial of Woody Guthrie’s birth. For those of you who don’t know who this man is, in my eyes he is the grandfather of folk and country. His music legacy embodies everything thing that he stood for, a fighter of inequality and a master of the political verse, his effect on music was far reaching. Joe Strummer, Bruce Springsteen and my personal hero Bob Dylan all site him as major influences.

Such was his influence on Dylan that Bob spent many hours visiting Guthrie as his health was deteriorating with Huntington’s disease, playing him songs in his final days.

Why am I telling you all this? A few reasons, firstly the student and master relationship shared by Guthrie and Dylan is a very symbolic one and one that should be explored further.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you how Bob Dylan changed the face of music, I’m sure you already know this. What this article is really about is Dylan’s journey from student to master, and the trials and tribulations along the way.

In I’m Not There, a film about Bob Dylan’s life there was a moment when a young Dylan is venturing around playing the songs of his idol Woody Guthrie. He’s then questioned about his motives and given in my opinion one of the best pieces of advice he was to ever receive, ‘Sing About Your Own Time’.

I’m not sure if in reality an old woman did tell a young Bob to sing about his own time but the message is still clear, at some point he was told that in order to realise his greatness he had to sing about his own time, his own issues, and the worlds issues which were different to that of when Woody Guthrie was growing up.

Sing About Your Own Time

 

There’s something very special going on in technology today, people are singing about their own time. The companies and individuals within technology who refused to do this are being slowed down, or even worse disregarded altogether and swept by the wayside. RIM, Yahoo and Nokia are all examples of companies who did not maintain their once greatness or adapt to a changing climate as a young Guthrie or an ageing Dylan did.

Singing about your own time can sometimes be doing something completely alien to you, in 1965 at Newport Festival Dylan outraged his fans by playing a fully electric set and shunning his acoustic guitar. Some years ago Marks and Spencer’s started selling food, why? It was the right time, and now their food division is the fastest growing in the whole company. HP said they were going to stop making PCs, but they continue to make hardware to this day. Even though the margins are pitiful and the market is shrinking. Why? Because singing about your time is not easy, it takes courage, sometimes even stupidity.

There is fierce competition between the big three (Google, Apple and Microsoft) maybe the big four now with Samsung doing so well. Fanboys argue furiously for the superiority of their favourite brand, typing frantically on gaming keyboards to get their point across complete with expletives. Trolling is mandatory in the battlefield of the comments zone.

For me however, there is one reason that these three or four tech companies have outstriked, outlasted and outperformed all of their competitors over many years now…yet you’ve guessed it by now. Singing about their own time.

 

Microsoft owned the desktop, Google owned the web, and now Apple rules the post PC World. None of these phases lasted forever nor will any future such phases stand the test of time . It’s the continued adaptabilities of these companies to their competitors runaway successes that keeps them in the game. All the time realising that at some point they will go from being the student to being the master, more importantly they will be ready to do it.

 

The iPad is the current master of tablets but if the situation changes Microsoft have the Surface tablets, and Google the Nexus 7, both worthy students to be master. At some point I really believe the Surface will be.

I recently read that Paypal was in a lot of trouble, which doesn’t surprise me. I’ve always found it a clunky, out of sorts payment platform. PayPal was and still is the Master in many regards, but it’s songs are dated and irrelevant and it’s time is short. As far as I’m aware there are solutions which are eager students ready to crawl out from Paypals shadow with Stripe being the current leader, I welcome it’s minimalistic API and it’s new take on an old problem.

As mentioned at the start this metaphor isn’t limited to technology, but applies itself to most areas of our lives. You don’t have to sing about your own time, most of the time it means moving out of your comfort zone. I know I should play more modern music about our time, but everytime I pick up the guitar and harmonica I inevitably end up plaing the songs of Dylan. Even I can’t take my own advice and branch out, but when the chance comes or the oppurtunity arises, you like I must be ready to do just that if we are to succeed.

We live in an exciting era where you can fly on a spaceship 50km above the earth and have the entire history of the universe in your pocket. If that’s not worth singing about then I don’t know what is.

It’s the reason that the big three powers of tech have won their place firstly in our homes, then on our screens and now in our pockets. They refuse to hide under a rock and sing old songs, it’s not their style. At somepoint Bob Dylan decided that it wasn’t his style either, this writer thanks God for that.

Thanks for reading,

Kwaz x


Song To Woody

I’m out here a thousand miles from my home

Walking a road other men have gone down

I’m seeing a new world of people and things

Hear paupers and peasants and princes and kings.


Hey hey Woody Guthrie I wrote you a song

About a funny old world that’s coming along

Seems sick and it’s hungry, it’s tired and it’s torn

It looks like it’s dying and it’s hardly been born.


Hey Woody Guthrie but I know that you know

All the things that I’m saying and a many times more

I’m singing you the song but I can’t you sing enough

'Cause there's not many men that've done the things that you've done.


Here’s to Cisco and Sonny and Leadbelly too

And to all the good people that travelled with you

Here’s to the hearts and the hands of the men

That come with the dust and are gone with the wind.


I’m leaving tomorrow but I could leave today

Somewhere down the road someday

The very last thing that I’d want to do

Is to say I’ve been hitting some hard travelling too.

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Summer has come (and gone) ladies and gents and I have to say I’ve been looking forward to the summer of 2012 for a while. We’ve also seen about as much sunshine as a Scottish highland fish, but the Olympics are soon so the suns got to come out right?! It was in the contract…

The European Championships crowned Spain as champions and Wimbledon almost gave us a British winner,but the Swiss quality of Roger Federer paid off.

Aside from the sport we’ve also had the Apple’s worldwide developers conference and Google I/O as well. With announcements such as OSX Mountain Lion, iOS6 and some very powerful new Macbook Pros. Google announced further updates to Google’s android operating system, codename (M&M bagel probably, jokes its actually Jelly Bean) as well as a new Nexus tablet which look excellent. I’ll cover that in a separate post, for now we are going to concentrate on sport. So get your gym app out, calibrate your nikerun sensor and prepare your tempo perfect running track.

 

Technology and Sport - Friends and Enemies (Frenemies)

 

As with most areas of civilisation technology influence on sport has grown rapidly, to a point now where it is firmly embedded in the very fabric of competition. From hawk-eye to video replays to physical and national analysis software, it’s safe to say that tech in sport is no longer a ‘gimmick’ as it once was. Its now the law and the brains of most sports.

Coverage and Decision Making

 

Technological coverage has improved vastly over the last 10 years with companies such as sky sports, ESPN greatly investing in their technology infrastructure to bring the viewer more angles, better cameras and of course high-definition. It is clear that this trend is set to continue with the rising emergence of 3-D television . It is evident that sports coverage has been vastly improved by tech, Sunday used to be Sunday now it’s super Sunday!

Regarding decision-making we only look so far as tennis to see that fantastic advantage of having systems like hawk eye and all those slow motion replays. In rugby we have video referees and across the board we have slow motion replays super slow motion replays in the case of sky sports oh my God this is ridiculous let’s move on motion replays where you can see that atoms literally move through the air because that’s how slow sky have made it. All in all it’s fair to say the technological decision-making has greatly aided the accuracy, transparency and accountability of sporting decisions which most fans are indebted to. Thanks coders.

Controversy and the Future

 

 

Technology isn’t without its controversies as you imagine and some argue including the football legend Pele in this months T3 that such technology is not always good. It may sometimes effect the speed which the sport is played and sometimes the tech makes generally make bad decisions. However in my case I say bah humbug that’s what humans are for isn’t it? We have officials and referees to pick up after tech if it goes wrong and conversely we have droids to pick up after humans when humans go wrong, which seems to be happening all the more often. More importantly the human mistakes are coming at a higher cost for the sports.

The future can only bring more sophisticated and clever technological assistance, and more importantly better training and development for the athletes, helping them to stay fitter, faster and stronger for longer due to technology. Examples of these already include things such as the Milanlabs, and thorough conditioning in a lot of the top teams that relies on data analysed in real time on computer systems paired with physical tag such as Nike ID to track the players movement and fitness, and to provide said data.

 

So go forth this summer into the hills and greens of the UK with your 3-D glasses, your NikeID chip, and all other technological goodness to help with your sport. Don’t forget to catch some of the olympics in its full 3-D glory, or if you’re up to it have a jog out to the Olympic village to offer team GB your support.

We’ve also recently covered sport. In our first themetime of season 3 of the 100% Natural Goodtime Podcast Solution, the video is embedded below!

Enjoy the summer rainy period of sport readers!

Kwaz

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Ready, Steady DRAW!

Good day to you lovely readers, the main topic for discussion is as promised drawsomething! The game that has literally changed the way we all look at everyday objects. I was talking to a friend of mine recently and they said, “now when I look at something the first thing I think of is how can I draw it?!”. They aren’t alone. Draw Something has literally taken over the world.

This again has ALL happened during my extended blogging break. Let’s have a quick look at some quick draw something facts.





  1. Made by OMGPOP (neither a joke or a drug) Reached 50 million downloads in 50 days! Watch the first minute of above video for the hilarious low down.
  2. Bought by Zynga (the social gaming machine) after around 43 days for $180m. That’s around $4.2 million additional company value per day of existence. Numbers that even Apple wouldn’t mind.
  3. Fastest growing mobile app of all time.
  4. Spawned a competition accross mankind to be the best at drawing random words, see this website (which provided all these photos) and many others if you are skeptical.


What Made Us All Want To Draw Something?

This is the truly the $180m dollar question, where did it succeed where others failed? I believe they are 3 key areas where draw something won our hearts and fingers.



Facebook Integration

If you want a social app/trend/video to take off you have to bow to the Zuckerburg army, theres simply no choice. The point of social itself is friends! You need buddies to play with else its just sketching frantically on a device cackling like a mad man as the next word appears. This was the key dealbreaker for draw something, they did their homework. Most people like myself installed the app, noticed that they had no-one to play with then clicked to the dreaded ‘connect with Facebook’. Suddenly you see all your pals and so it begins…you draw till you drop.

This app went viral when people discovered they could play with their Facebook BFFs, once you go viral you’ve made it. Just ask this guy.

 






Cross-Platform Goodness

This option isn’t for everyone, let’s not forget that Instagram derived a lot of its values because of its iOS exclusivity. However draw something is about connecting users regardless of platforms, furthermore the simple nature of the app lends it to being run cross-platform without too much loss of functionality. Regardless of whether you’re a droidhead, or a iOSNUT you get your drawsomething fix regardless. Happy days.





Original Form Of Entertainment

This is a tricky one to explain, but essentially ‘Pictionary’ (original draw something) is a very poplar pastime. People the world over all enjoy drawing objects and then allowing strangers or friends to guess said drawings thus amusement follows. Its hardwired into us, drawsomething just further plays on that weakness and allows us to do it on our phones, everybody wins.











Where Next For Draw Something??

You would think there is only so long that drawing a set list of words can amuse mankind, so people could start to lose interest. OMGPOP are obviously aware of the fickle nature of apps, people and crazes, this is why they keep adding new words to keep it fresh as well as a couple of new features such as commenting on your buddy’s drawings.

They will need to up their game of they want to keep folks interested, even the holy angry birds who have been spotted in space stations, have had to keep releasing versions in order to keep the masses interested. The fact that each ‘new’ version is the same bird in a different outfit doing the same thing (ie being flung) is completely irrelevant. So in the same way maybe drawsomthing needs to add some wacky quirks, here are my suggestions. Let me know your thoughts.

Draw something 3D - This is the default strategy to add a feature, and we know its only a matter of time before those birds are in 3D goggles so best to get ahead. I also feel it would enhance terrible artists such as myself who struggle with 2D.

Draw Something The Movie - If in doubt make a movie, period. Here is my proposed plot.

Jim Drawerton must find his loved one with the only clues left by her being a series of sketches. In order to decipher these drawings he is armed with a stylus and must battle for clues against his loved ones captor and his arch enemy Lord EvilFountain. As they exchange drawings to reveal more clues an even worse secret is uncovered…PG 15 Coming June 2013 Probably Starring Robert Pattinson. You’re welcome Universal Studios.

There you have it readers, a look into the epic world of draw something. Keep drawing readers, and even though you may not be able to reproduce the sort of drawings in this post, rest assured that there is literally NO WAY they can be as bad as mine. See if you can guess it…



Until next time readers, keep drawing.

P.S The drawing I’ve included is one of my better ones, you should have seen my Madonna effort…

 

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ReBirth





Okay, I know what you’re thinking…where have I been? Or maybe you’re not, if so then don’t worry. If you are particularly bothered about my questionable absence, I’ve got more answers for you than Scott Thompson had for the Yahoo board on his C.V.

To be honest, I’ve been working on another #goodtime project, namely the goodtime podcast which is now moving onto its third season and is really worth your fine listening time. The second reason is that I’ve had those pesky finance exams again, with studies causing nightmares since the beginning of the year, but as of last week they are over (for now). As an aside, if you’re reading this and are stuck in a exam hell of your own, read these tips and tricks to keep you fresh.

Okay enough of reasons for my Houdini stunt, all I know is that I certainly have not been building theme parks with Kanye West (not a joke). Let’s talk tech news.



Don’t Like Boring Reality? Try These Google Glasses




Just to be clear, this is not escapism…this is augmented reality. There is a clear distinction. Using magic mushrooms is NOT cool, however if google is your dealer in warped reality, its TOTALLY cool.

Escapism aside, I do really like the idea of these, people may say you will look like a environmentally friendly version of robocop but I would get a pair. Google’s project glass is the next natural step in how us humanoids interact with technology. Touch is all the rage, reducing every piece of tech to being essentially a black mirror. This is why this tech overlay direct to your eyes is a refreshing look at the way we can digest our tech fix.

Of course there are sceptics, fanboys and parodies, I have links to all.

Will it tell you if that’s air your breathing, or if you’re part of a massive computer program built by a “architect” who looks like KFCs head colonel?

Probably not.



Paper Is Dead, Long Live Styluses and Note Taking Apps




The second tech prophecy that has effected me during my break is that paper is no longer needed. Of course this has been said before but I wasn’t buying it. The tools were shoddy, the tablets were literally bricks, the styluses don’t even bear talking about and the apps were non existent.

How times have changed. I bought a new iPad during my sabbatical, and around exam time starting thinking it would be great to have all my revision notes or questions in one place, organised and backed up. However in order to do this paper and writing were the weapons of choice, none of this typing bulls***. So the gauntlet was laid down:

The Device: iPad 3 - Mind-blowing screen and quad core goodness.

The Apps: Notability, Penultimate, Paper(to name but a few) - This is the area that really brings a smile to my face. Not just because these apps are all outstanding, but the ink clarity and power features coupled with the fact they all cost less than a packet of walkers crisps (Cameron’s Britain) is phenomenal. Also most serious contenders have palm rests which are key for using these apps as you would a piece of paper.





The Stylus: Wacom Bamboo Stylus - This was the glue. I bought a cheap stylus to test the theory (as I like to do) and it proved that the paperless dream was achievable, but i knew that to truly kill then pen I needed a better one. After much research, enter the Bamboo stylus pen. Its magical. Enough said.

Suddenly the trilogy was complete, I wrote all my revision annotations and past paper questions for my latest exams with the bamboo wand and notability my app of choice. Its been a game-changer, I now use it in meetings and I haven’t used paper in a couple of months. Im converted, like a mad scientologist just discovering the books of L.Ron Hubbard.


What Else Worth Mentioning Has Happened?




1. Facebook floated for $108bn dollars. Which from an accounting viewpoint seems totally realistic. If of course your accountant is SpongeBob Squarepants and happens to sh*t gold. But good luck to them. I’m sure their share-broker was ex-Enron.





2. Europe, especially Greece is running out of cash. Pretty self explanatory. Turns out relying on Zeus for a bailout was a bad idea as his cash came from a pryramid scheme he got into way back when with some Egyptians.





3. EVERYBODY is learning to code, including the mayor of New York. This is much thanks to codeacedemy which is an awesome new service to get people up and running, check it out if you’re interested. It was argued in a controversial piece that this craze has gone far enough but who knows.

That’s what you missed that I think is worth pointing out, best to check anything else out though to be safe.


Next Episode Preview

This should be relatively soon…heres to hoping. When it drops ill be talking about more of the latest life, tech and the universe. Also I’ll be talking in depth about a game that has us almost as excited as we were with those insane angry birds. That’s right, the #goodtimeblog will be looking at drawsomething.

That’s all for now amigos, in other news I turned a quarter century old in my lost period and haven’t had a quarter life crisis yet thanks to this excellent blog.

For now, go augment your reality and live in a dream world free of paper. While you’re there listen to this excellent podcast. You’re welcome.


- Cheers for reading,

Kwaz

P.S As I was releasing this I realised that my last post was 8 months ago. Even I admit that’s a pretty f***ing long hiatus!

Location:London

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I can imagine that the readers are somewhat shocked that I’m keeping to my fortnightly release schedule…shame on you for doubting I’m tempted to say, but my track record is about as clean as as the River Thames when it comes to releasing these things on time.

As the Great Brtitish summer disappears into the distance leaving us wondering whether it really actually ever came, so does the notion of traditional data as we know it. The topic of this fortnightly post is ‘Big Data’. This kind of data is not new, however what is fresh is the attention and backing that firms who can deal with this kind of data are getting.

As I enter more and more into the mass abyss that is data analytics and forensics in my day to day life, I’m now beginning to realise that big data isn’t just data that was exposed to more protein shakes and gymnasiums as a child.


So What is Big Data?




Very good question, heres the stock answer from our friends down at at Wikipedia, but here is a much better explanation (in my opinion) from a true industry pioneer in this area.

In short Big Data refers to data sets that have become too large and varied to be dealt with by traditional data management software ie databases and data warehouses. Examples include RFID, Social Networks and sensor information. The IBM article estimates that "Everyday, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data"

I don’t know about you, but 'quintillion' not only sounds made up but also sounds like a HELL of a lot of data! Basically it sounds like what Godzilla and King Kong use for their hard drives…Also worth picking out is that 90% of all the worlds data is estimated to have been created within the last two years. That to me makes a lot of sense due to the social revolution and the involvement of technology in everything we do these days.

If you think of all your lovely photos on Facebook where you’re always having an amazing time with all your BFFs, and all the midnight chats with your prospective new lover that’s quite a lot of data! Add to that your witty tweets about the #goodtime that you had last night and your retweet about the funny thing that that dude said once…how great was that?!!!


The point is that if you multiply this data a few billion times, that’s the sort of levels of data that are kicking around somewhere each day!

The Next Big Opportunity

Companies and tools that can make sense of this kind of unstructured data are in a very good position and are getting a lot of interest from various parties. One very high profile deal that I’m sure you have heard about is Autonomy, a Cambridge based data powerhouse scooped up by HP for the tidy sum of £7.1bn ($11.3bn). Mind you HP had a pretty crazy week, saying they wouldn’t sell PCs and denouncing a product they’d announced for 6months…However it sent out a message.


Making sense of Big Data is big business. For most of us that means that we may start receiving some very cutting edge analytics…such as how your lifestyle is affecting other factors ie, social and working life. All that data exists, but only some is structured, most of it is unstructured. I bet if you have a coffee maker it has a sensor of sorts, imagine if that sensor data could be married with your other time sensitive data such as updating your status, eating, productivity etc…it sounds like science fiction but it really isn’t too far away!

There is also another consequence of the growing importance and competitive advantage of being able to process and understand big data. Namely, people who work with a lot of data day to day, will have be sure to keep up with the developments and techniques used with big data. Remember when data warehouses/marts/cashandcarrys were a crazy idea…now they are paramount to efficiently dealing with most data in businesses no matter how big or small….

Big data is here to stay, it brings a lot of challenges but even greater opportunities for the people who can harness it fully!!




Cheers for reading,

Kwaz
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Well folks, I’ve decided that the sensible updating schedule for the 100% natural goodtime blog solution would be fortnightly (N.B I originally wrote this a week ago! Hence the fortnightly!!).  Originally weekly was my goal, but in these days of self cleaning ovens and location aware oranges there’s too much going on to keep up a weekly release cycle.

So here we are, summer is over (UK Summer that is) and schools back in session very soon.   Apple has finally lost its iconic leader Steve Jobs, who resigned earlier this week, HP announced that its flagship touchpad was a crazy thought on a night out and de-commissioned it and it’s WebOS software.  That’s the fortnightly news in brief but I won’t be looking at these areas in detail.  The main article is about Steve Jobs in a sense, but also about the bigger picture of dependence and collaboration even with your ‘enemies’.  This doesn’t just apply for technology but for every aspect of life.

No Jobs (In Apple and the Economy)


Steve Jobs is a legend, no matter if you’re an Apple fan boy with a tattoo in the back of your head, or you’re an apple hater with Apple fan boys locked up in your basement ready to cook them in an Android powered oven.  He has a great story to go with his success at Apple, where he was ousted and then returned as the prodigal turtle necked wearing consultant soon to become CEO.  He’s a legend in the same way Bill Gates, Michael Dell and more recently Mark Zuckerberg are.

His eye for design, showmanship and innovation have helped steer Apple to become the most valuable company in the world (briefly) and re-invent the way people use their technology.  As this news came out, many blogs and news articles covered the subject giving examples of Jobs’ leadership, both good and bad.

No Man Is an Island

What gets me about this crop of tech superheroes is that like the classic movie shot where you see the shot of the class of ’64…these men all crossed paths at younger ages.  This always excites me about insanely successful people…that at some point they all used to be pals.  They may have played rounder’s at Stanford against each other, or they could have been playing tiddlywinks at Harvard after a night out that one time.  The fascinating thing is that these ‘centres’ of excellence produce a disproportionate amount of visionaries and pioneers.

What is even more interesting is the dependence on each other; would Steve Jobs have risen to his level of leadership and innovation without Bill Gates? Simply put no.  Aside from the fact he physically invested $150m in apple when they were struggling, their competition fuelled Mac vs PC.  Both are tremendous visionaries and friends, despite the public nitpicking and squabbling they are of course friends with enormous levels of respect for each other.  Always knowing that without the other, they themselves would be a lesser force.  Sounds strange, but it’s true. 

Great leaders inspire and Michael Dell founder of Dell Inc. is one of my favourite CEOs.  I did a project on him at university and have also read his autobiography which is a great read.  Dell was influenced by Gates, and they crossed paths as young students selling PCs as a side business. 

The clue is in the title, no man is an island (thanks Bon Jovi).  People remember epic battles between companies, teams and individuals much more than they would have if that competition and bond did not exist.  The other side that some people don’t take into consideration is the respect between the two parties.  Take Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, both arguably the best tennis players of all time have fought epic duels over 8 years of tennis (so epic where’s a wiki on it!!).  Think how many times they played each other even from a young age, the respect levels are huge.

All we hear these days is that Google is suing Facebook, Facebook is suing Apple, Apple are suing it’s own mother, and Microsoft will suing everyone…even themselves probably! 

Did you know that while Apple is suing Samsung on one end, on the other end Apple pay them to make their key products?! Now that’s a relationship that definitely deserves the very shady ‘it’s complicated’ option on Facebook…

It creates this vision of complete lack of respect, distrust and hate between these people.  However we’re missing a trick, of course they are competing and the cutting edge, this is consumer technology after all.  People miss that they must work together and respect each other to truly excel. What usually happens is consumers form ‘groups’ to match this media segregation, so you end up with fanboys (don’t get me started). 

Truth is, the leaders at all these companies will have known each other for years, as will their families and friends.  All have respect for each other, and most actually probably even like the others (apart from Mark Zuckerberg of course who everyone says is an A**hole)

So when Zuckerberg eventually leaves office, think not only of his tremendous effort to change human interaction through Facebook, but also those leaders who competed with him, drove him further and eventually made him and Facebook stronger because of it.

No man/team/company is an island.  Always remember this; it’s remarkably easy to forget.

Thanks for reading GoodTime people,

Kwaz