Sunday, December 24, 2017

Geo-Graffiti reappears for Christmas

I do love it when people subvert technology and find a completely different use case for it. I first came across geo-graffiti back in 2005 when I attended the Freqout exhibition at the ICA. There were a selection of different exhibits created by young people who lived in and around the Ladbroke Grove Estate and engaged with the Vital Regeneration charity there. I wrote up my impressions of the evening here. My favourite exhibit that night was the geo-graffiti one.

Geo-Graffiti output from Battersea Park.
Freqout Exhibition, London 2005
"Geo-Graffiti - this was my favourite. Led by artists Jeremy Wood and programmer Hugh Pryor, kids went around with mobile GPS (global positioning systems) devices and traced their path on earth to create drawings. Back at base the 'drawings' were translated into a manageable size so that the likes of you and I can see them and make some sense of them. They started with creating simple shapes and then graduated to creating their signatures up to 400m wide at Battersea Park. Another project in this installation was to map the local area and mark the places most significant to them. In doing this, they created a map of the Churchill Gardens Estate including the best chip shop in the area. All good stuff." I've found an article here with some images of the output.

We're seeing more of this kind of thing now as mapping apps are more pervasive. And especially for the festive season, according to the Evening Standard, cyclist and Strava Artist, Anthony Hoyte, has created a giant snowman using the exercise and route sharing app, Strava. It took 10 hours to complete - that's pretty gruelling. One of the lovely things about it though is that it goes right through my local neighbourhood in South London! It's lovely to see that 12 years on, humans are making art out of whatever tools they have to hand. 

Day 24/25 Blogmas

Friday, December 22, 2017

It's predictions season... Here are GP Bullhound's Top 10 for 2018

GP Bullhound, a leading technology advisory and investment firm, has released its 2018 Technology Predictions Report. Their Top Technology Predictions for 2018 include (comments are mine):

1. Tech giants face political scrutiny 
Inevitable I think. It's not just political scrutiny, I think tech giants will be under greater scrutiny from their customers and users, especially around ethics and security issues (see next point).

2. Consumer cyber security becomes a number one issue
About time - our digital lives feel so precarious when so many companies and organisations are getting hacked for personal details.

3. Mobile usage will exceed TV in China 
I haven't followed the Chinese market much to date but this is certainly interesting if China is one of your (potential) markets.

4. Language recognition and translation becomes everyday 
Hmm, I've never really thought about this much, but I do like the automatic translations of Facebook posts. Some of the translations are pretty good.

5. The death of email 
I've seen this prediction in the past, but it never seems to happen. Email is still very effective when it comes to marketing, I can't see it dying in 2018. I think we're reducing reliance on it, but death is probably too strong a word.

6. International labour arbitrage flourishes
This is interesting. As cost of living increases, small tech companies move to cheaper tech hubs. This bodes well for UK cities like Leeds and Manchester and European hubs like Berlin and Barcelona. This kind of activity has been touted for a year or two now but I see no sign of tech start-up activity decreasing in London. If anything, it's still growing.

7. Organic expansion and consolidation of software sector 
The return of SAAS. If SAAS is your thing, then I highly recommend Mark Littlewood's Business of Software conferences in the US and Europe.

8. Industry 4.0
The digital transformation and manufacturing i.e. the next industrial revolution. Not my area of expertise but feels kind of inevitable. The rise of the robots and AI etc.

9. The rise of Blockchain and ICOs 
No big surprise there base on activity in the last month alone. ICO stands for Initial Coin Offering (Wikipedia definition here) and is the crypto currency equivalent of IPO. Blockchain and crypto currency are topics I plan to learn more about and cover more in 2018.

10. Augmented reality breaks through 
I think this will happen. Arguably, it's already happened as the little dot on Google Maps that moves according to our position is Augmented Reality. It's so pervasive, we hardly notice it. Note that AR is not VR. They are similar but different.

The report is well researched and each point is examined in some detail so I think it's well worth a read. They also review their predictions from last year and they weren't far off... You can download the report for free from the following link in exchange for your contact details.

Day 22/25 Blogmas

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Ever stuck for where to go for a late night drink or meal in London?

My friend Emma has the answer for you with her 24 Hour London app (available on iOS and Android). The idea behind the app is to provide people with information about bars, restaurants and clubs that are open late at night with the added bonus of special offers of discounts and even free drinks at some of the establishments listed.

The app is in early stages but is gaining a following and Emma's on a mission to capitalise on that. Londoners, if you're ever out and about at night, then do download the app - it's free and I expect you'll find it useful.

As part of Emma's initial marketing push, she's using Thunderclap to help spread the word about 24 Hour London in January. Thunderclap simply posts a tweet or a status update on your feed at the time and day allotted and that's it. It doesn't ask you to connect your contacts or spam your friends by email. It costs you nothing save for a few moments of your time.

Your assistance will mean more downloads for her and more footfall for the venues she works with and maybe free drinks for you and your friends if you use the app. Plus, you'll probably find out about places near where you live or work that you never knew opened late at night. I'm also really interested to see how this campaign works. I've never tried Thunderclap. If there's any insight from the campaign, I'll share it here in due course.

Click on the link here or the image above, you too can add your voice to the campaign.

Day 21/25 Blogmas

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A century of voting for women in the UK and the #BEGC campaign

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan
announced his major new gender equality campaign
#BehindEveryGreatCity #BEGC
Photographer: Caroline Teo.
I've just been reading about London Mayor, Sadiq Khan's new campaign. To mark the centenary of the first women in the UK winning the right to vote, and to drive forward gender equality across the city of London, the Mayor has launched a year-long women's equality campaign called #BehindEveryGreatCity. You can read more about it here on Marie Claire and here on the Mayor's website.

The campaign includes a year of promoting women's art on the underground, a series of events, initiatives to tackle gender pay gap, including men in the conversation (after all, this is about equality for all and not men vs women) and in Parliament Square, the first statue of a woman will be unveiled - Suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett. If you're ever wandering around London, you will see that although there are a lot of statues in Central London, there are very few statues of women. This sounds like a great campaign and I look forward to participating in it next year. Maybe 2018 will be the year of the woman, at least in London.

It's hard to believe that both my grandmothers were born in an age where women did not have the vote. And although they got the vote as they grew up, their mothers and their grandmothers did not. It is worth noting that it was only some women who got the vote in 1918. You had to be over 30 and fulfil certain property criteria. It wasn't until ten years later in 1928, that all women over 21 got the vote and had voting equality with men. That's not very long ago.

I shall be mulling over all of this during the Christmas Holidays and thinking about how to support both the Mayor's initiative and also support the female entrepreneurs and female execs working in mobile. There will at least be some more of my meet-ups for women working in and around mobile, but with a bit of luck, I'll come up with something new. Meanwhile, if you have any ideas, feel free to share.

Day 20/25 Blogmas

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Blogmas, Bitcoin, Grantcoin and Steem Dollars

I've been doing so well on the blogging front last month and so far this month. But yesterday and today, I just didn't have anything to say that I was happy to publish or that I felt worthy of publishing. I did start to write a blogpost and then deleted it after writing two paragraphs. The stars weren't aligned or something and it just wasn't flowing. Plus, I was really busy trying to get some Christmas decorations finished to send to relatives and friends. Embroidery takes a long time to do. I like that it's slow and painstaking as it doubles as a kind of meditation without having to sit cross legged and chant.

Of course the buzzword du jour is bitcoin. My geekier friends who invested in bitcoin early on are now celebrating that a single bitcoin is now worth just shy of $20,000. Bearing in mind that this is a completely made up currency, that's pretty impressive. It's also fair to say that some people are having trouble converting their bitcoins into cash that can be used for everyday purchases. Another friend's status says that Visa is not allowing any bitcoin transactions so she's switched to Mastercard. It all seems a bit bonkers.

The only dabbling I've done in virtual currency is with Grantcoin. I've accrued some Grantcoin over the last year or so but have no idea if or when it will be worth anything. I like the idea of a virtual universal basic income and doing that in a virtual way may seem more palatable to those who see UBI as freeloading. A friend was signed up already so I signed up too in an attempt to get more of a handle on crypto currency. I can't say that I know much more about crypto currency than I did a year ago. I'm an observer and as an observer, I find it hard to get my head around not only how it works, but why it's working. I can't help feeling that Bitcoin is a bubble and it feels too good to be true but I'm hopeful that other crypto currencies have legs too, especially those with a more ethical or unique stance, such as Grantcoin. Grantcoin is currently mid-way through revamping their systems but it's still free to join and you can do that here. You'll get some free currency if you use that link to join and I'll get some too. Once you're signed up, you'll get the odd email but there doesn't seem to be anything else (currently) that is expected of you in order to participate.

The other bitcoin-esque thing I've been looking into is Steemit. It's a bit like Medium except you tip and receive using Steem Dollars. Unlike bitcoin, Steem's rate of exchange isn't going bananas and what you receive as tips is based on the content you produce and how well it's received. It's one of my resolutions to start using it to see how the Steem community works and to see if what I have to say is the kind of thing that would fly over there. I'm also reading that Steem Dollars are worth quite a bit of money. Since I'm already writing regularly, it would seem to make sense to do some writing over there. I think there is still a waiting list, but if you like writing or you like reading others' writing, then it might be for you. Check it out here.

If you have any tips about making the most of Grantcoin, Steemit or similar cryptocurrencie, feel free to comment.

Day 19/25 Blogmas

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Bloggers' Perks - going to a fashion showcase

Occasionally I get invited to interesting events on the back of having a blog. One of these instances happened almost a month ago when I was invited to the JD Williams and SimplyBe showcase of the upcoming fashion stories for Spring Summer 2018. It's not normally the kind of stuff I cover here on my blog but as I was in the West End that day anyway, I thought I'd pop over and see what they had on offer.

My first career was in fashion retail. I spent the best part of 10 years in a management role in both standalone stores in Worcester, Birmingham and London and in concessions within Selfridges and House of Fraser. An even before that, I has more than a healthy interest in fashion and clothing as I started making my own clothes at the tender age of 10. I still love textiles and the craft of making things, although I don't have as much time to devote to it these days as I'd like.

It's more than 20 years since I last worked on the shop floor but it's ingrained in me. One of those formative experiences that shapes who you are without you realising it. One of the assistants showed me around the different collections and explained how the pieces sat together and then left me to have a browse. And I was taken back to the early 1990s and working on the fashion floors of various London department stores. And just like I did back then, I spent quite a bit of my time people-watching. That was possibly the best bit. Oh and the gorgeous lavender lemonade.

I don't really go clothes shopping any more. I spent so long working in fashion that I accumulated a large wardrobe and stopped enjoying shopping for clothes as a pastime. It's fun to do occasionally, but it's certainly not how I want to spend my weekends any more. Plus, I still have way too many clothes due to a love of bargain hunting for interesting fashion pieces on eBay. So this made a welcome change.

For the ladies reading this, and those buying for the ladies in their lives, here's what's in for next season according to JD Williams and SimplyBe. 
  • Acid brights with denim and white. Lots of embroidery and folk styles. Hippy style blouses and tops. Embellished jeans with embroidery or chunky laces on the outer seams. Lace edges and braid trims.
  • Neutrals. Classic tones in beige, pale grey, cream and off white in silky fabrics. Simple, elegant styling that are easy to wear and easy to mix and match. Fantasy tweed in white with flecks is in and I spotted a lovely fantasy tweed handbag in a Chanel style but not at Chanel prices. Also I saw duster coats and long line jackets - the kind of which I haven't seen since the 1990s.
  • Florals of all kinds in blouses, dresses and the pyjama style unstructured suit is still a thing. 
  • Denim everything. Double denim, even triple denim. Pale and dark denim. I saw denim shirts, jeans, shirt dresses, jackets - jeans jacket style and also a quilted and embroidered bomber jacket in denim. My favourite denim piece was a trench style coat.
  • Cashmere and silk casual wear in grey, black and cream. My favourite was a cashmere mix two piece of knitted culottes and loose v-neck sweater. There were also some lovely ponchos and loose knits that looked both stylish and cosy to wear.
  • Summer sequins for day wear. Lots of them in both neutrals and acid brights. These were seen on tops and dresses in both the JD Williams and the SimplyBe collections. 
What I liked about the clothes I saw was that they were wearable, reasonably priced and didn't scream 'fashion trend' at you. What the fit or comfort levels are like, I don't know as these were all samples and not available to try on. The finish quality looked good though, especially for the price tags.

I didn't take many photos, but the few I did take are in the collection below. Click on the image to see them. The non-fashion images are of the art and lighting in the foyer of the building. Most impressive.

JD Williams SS2018 Fashion Showcase

Thank you to JD Williams and SimplyBe for having me.

Day 17/25 Blogmas