Thursday, November 30, 2017

NaBloPoMo 2017 - The Round Up

I can hardly believe that a month has gone by and I have completed the challenge I set myself with this NaBloPoMo thing. And thank you if you've made it this far on my journey this month. There were a couple of hiccups along the way when I got behind and had to play catch-up, or I've had to schedule my blog posts as I was going away for a few days. Mostly though, I've written and published on the day itself.

Some observations about the experience are that some days it's very hard to write anything at all and other days, the words just flow. There's no particular rhyme or reason to that. It helps to feel inspired to write. And I really need to be interested in the topic to write about it. Regurgitating press releases are definitely not my thing.

I've enjoyed the experience a lot more than I thought I would and it's reminded me of some of the reasons why I started blogging in the first place and reminded me of what I used to enjoy about blogging regularly. It's also challenged me to stick to a routine, it's made me more aware of what a month is and what can be achieved in a month (and also what can't). I think (hope) my writing skills have improved. And I've read more widely this month whilst finding inspiration for things to write about. That's also meant I've ventured over to Twitter again on a more regular basis.

The downside of this challenge is that things ain't what they used to be. The traffic isn't here or at least, it doesn't feel like it. And that's because there isn't nearly the same engagement as I might get on Facebook or LinkedIn if I post something there. And if there's no engagement, it's hard to imagine that anyone is reading or is interested in what I have to say. That's my vanity coming through. I write for myself first - this is my personal archive, and you, the reader, come second. I think that's the right way around for a blogger. I don't think it would feel nearly as authentic if I tried to write in a particular way for a particular audience. Or maybe that's the difference between a hobbyist and a pro?

Another thing I'm missing is meeting new people via their blogs. In the early days of blogging, I met many people by commenting on their blogs and getting into conversation with them. I'm still in touch with a lot of those people. Reading someone's blog was a useful way of quickly working out what they were about and where your common interests may lie. Those conversations have now moved to other social media. We all know that. I miss that element of blogging, nevertheless. Maybe as I continue to write, that interaction will start to happen again. And maybe in some small way, I can encourage others to pick up on their blogs again.

And finally, I miss the easy ways there used to be of reading blogs. I used to check in on my RSS feeds most days and catch up with what friends and people I followed were saying. I haven't found a replacement for Bloglines. I probably need to look a bit harder. And I also need to accept my own media habits have changed over the years I've been actively blogging. Something to ponder for another day.

I will continue to write and I plan to write more frequently again. I hope you'll keep reading too.

In case you missed any of my posts this month and fancy catching up, these are the posts in order.

Day 0. Why I decided to do NaBloPoMo and what it is 

Day 1. Swedish Beers (Not Tears) - a shameless promotion for my event on 21st November in memory of Carlo Longino

Day 2. Rodelinda, a Tale of Obsession, a review of the ENO production - it was brilliant!

Day 3. Security, The Internet of Things and The Future of Humanity

Day 4. Two posts today that are connected:
Here are some easy Christmas Presents to sew (as written by an AI)

The Future of Blogging and Communications - some thoughts after the #blogclub panel session

Day 5. Big questions for Big Tech

Day 6. Maps, open data and the call for cleaner air 

Day 7. Children, their mobile habits and the Monqi phone

Day 8. Showing up. Some thoughts on advertising

Day 9. The 25 Most High Tech Cities in the World

Day 10. Tis the Season. A round-up of this year's Christmas TV adverts

Day 11. Are Smart Meters as Smart as they like to think they are.

Day 12. Complex Writing is Good for You

Day 13. On this Day. A look back at Carnival of The Mobilists over the years

Day 14. Mobile Ad Campaign Best Practices

Day 15. Love Theatre Day is Today

Day 16. Thursday Thoughts. Some links I thought worth sharing

Day 17. Bose, Indiegogo and the Noise-Masking Sleepbuds 

Day 18. Is Technology Impacting on Human Joy? 

Day 19. Two posts today

Online Privacy, a Battle that Can't be Won? and
Demystifying Data Analysis

Day 20. What do you do when your boss is an alogorithm?

Day 21. A reminder about Swedish Beers

Day 22. WIP's 5th Annual Developer Relations Survey

Day 23. Watching Good Theatre is Good for your Heart

Day 24. IoT - The Internet of Textiles?

Day 25. What Three things should we teach in school?

Day 26.Will we be experiencing theatre via VR in the future? 

Day 27. Walking is good for you. A round up of my walking weekend in Yorkshire with the Glamoraks

Day 28. On Setting Goals.

Day 29. I'd love to know more about your air travel habits

Day 30. Well, you're reading it!

Day 30/30 NaBloPoMo

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I'd love to know more about your air travel habits

I'm working on a project for a new client. She's exploring airline travel habits to help her assess market need for some start-up ideas she's brewing up. As such, I'd be very grateful if you would complete one or other of these surveys. This is a global survey so feel free to share with your friends and colleagues far and wide.

If you ever travel by air with children, please complete this survey:

If you usually travel by air without children, please complete this survey:

Neither survey will take very long for you to complete and we've tried to make it as straight forward as possible. Once we have enough respondents to make the results meaningful, I'll share some of the topline findings on this blog.

Thanking you in advance.

Day 29/30 NaBloPoMo

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

On setting goals

It really seems to come around far too quickly, but here we are again and it's less than a month to go until Christmas. It sneaks up on me every year. Just when I think I'm getting organised by getting some presents in advance or by starting to sew my Christmas decorations and gifts, time seems to run away from me and before I know it, there's barely any time at all to do anything.

At the beginning of the year, I set myself some challenges. I've never done this before but since I was going to hit a milestone birthday in January, I thought it would be a good way to focus my year. I was skeptical about doing this. I'm not sure I was even that committed to all the challenges but I put the building blocks in place. Thought through what I wanted to achieve in my life and downloaded a little app, Keep Track Pro (the old version which had the functionality I wanted), to keep track of the numbers and to log when I'd done something towards each challenge. That last bit is important. Having visibility of the numbers and making it really easy to log was key to some of the early successes.

The good news is that I beat my theatre-going goal back in June. I will reach my blogging goal and my making things goal by the end of the year. The fitness and getting into nature goals are about half way there and I'll get a few more sessions in, but they won't be reached, but that's ok. I got part-way towards those goals.

What I've learned about the process is that goal setting can work but you need to do more than just decide to do something. It's important to be clear about the goal, be able to measure it, and, in my case, I shared my goals with some friends so they could help me along the way. I'd go on to say, that I've done rather better with this goal setting than I'd ever anticipated so I'm going to do it again for next year.

I'm still mulling over what the goals should be. I know fitness has to be on there but I need to find a way to make it more enjoyable. And I'd like to include walking again but I think I'm going to get a list of specific walks I want to do and tick those off as I go. I also want creative things to be on there in some shape or form. I'm also going to keep a list of shows attended, but it won't be a goal as such. I think the habit is already ingrained. I'm wondering about making a goal of visiting a specific number of different venues or fringe shows instead of just 'shows' but that may be taking too much on. I'm also going to have the blogging goal in there. 

What I haven't decided on is what work goals I'll set myself. I deliberately didn't set any work goals at the beginning of this year. This experiment wasn't about work success, this was about living more of the life I want to live. But having seen how effective it can be, I'm going to think through what those work goals might be. 

Barcelona and the events I do the week of Mobile World Congress are on the agenda for sure, but I'm mulling over what else would be relevant next year and the year after in terms of events but also some consulting and maybe something else. Who knows? I'm still at the thinking stage.

Do you set goals? Do you use apps to help you with reaching those goals? What works for you?

Day 28/30 NaBloPoMo

Monday, November 27, 2017

Walking is good for you

Of course, you knew that already. I've just spent the last weekend walking in North Yorkshire taking in Malham Cove, Gordale Scar, Janet's Fosse and Kirkby Malham. As you can imagine, it was very cold indeed. I was glad of my merino wool base layers and sturdy walking boots even though it was sometimes cumbersome to be wearing so many layers, especially when walking up a steep hillside. I felt, and looked, like a Michelin man but at least I was warm enough. We had all weather thrown at us at some point in the weekend - sunshine, wind, rain and snow. Sometimes it was a battle of wits to combat the wind and rain and eating your lunch in a biting wind is no fun, but then you're blessed with magnificent views when you get to the top and you can marvel at the wonder of nature from the huge to the tiny.

It's good to get back to nature. I don't do it nearly enough being a city girl. It was one of my challenges this year to do 50 walks in nature. I'm ashamed to say that I'm only half way through that challenge and realistically, I won't reach the target. But it's given me a good indication of what to improve on for my challenges for next year. More on that another time.

The weekend wouldn't have come together at all had I not stumbled across Glamoraks - a blog by Melissa Talago and related Facebook group aimed at women walkers. I joined with the thought that seeing others talk about their walks, I could be encouraged to do it more to fulfil my goal for the year. It didn't quite work out that way, at least not yet.

I am rather glad I decided to join the group's first weekend away in a YHA Hostel in Malham - a place I've never been and didn't know I wanted to visit until I got there. I persuaded one friend to join me, but apart from that, I didn't know anyone else in the group of 15 women from all over the country. That can be daunting. I wasn't sure who I might end up sharing a room with or what the other women would be like and could I hack walking in the cold. As it happens, I had great roomies and made new friends and ate good food over the weekend whilst getting some (very) fresh air and exercise. And all because of the serendipity of social media and having stumbled across the Glamoraks blog.

I'm not sure what lessons can be learned here. Perhaps it's about taking (calculated) risks and trying something new. Or maybe it's about the reach of social media and the power it has to connect people and join them together in a common purpose. Or is it learning that the challenge is worth it as you get rewarded with fabulous views and a sense of achivement. Or is it about finding out how good the Ordnance Survey subscription is for walkers as it works offline and you can zoom in on the screen? It's probably a bit of all of those and more. Whilst I mull that over, take a look at some of the pictures I took. If you click on the image, it will take you through to the album on Flickr.

Walking Weekend in Malham

And here's the official video of the weekend.

Day 27/30 NaBloPoMo

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Will we be experiencing theatre via VR in the future?

RSC Titus Andronicus 2017
I've been reading about a study by the RSC and Ipsos Mori done during a run of Titus Andronicus in Stratford earlier this year. They were exploring uses of new technology, such as VR (virtual reality) in the theatre.

In the experiment, a group of participants viewed a 360 degree film of Titus Andronicus via HTC Vive VR headsets and wore heart rate monitors. The film was created by Gorilla In The Room. The experience allowed participants to move their head and could view any aspect of the theatre, stage, audience as they wished as if they were seated in that position at the theatre. This was compared with a previous project to monitor the emotional engagement of a theatre and cinema audience by the same research team.

The 360 degree filmed VR experience was viewed in 5 parts – rather than in the usual 2 parts that you would experience in the theatre or cinema. There were a mix of short breaks as well as a main interval where you would normally expect to have one.

These results are based on the data from 107 participants and some of the findings include:

There are more people with a raised heart rate in Theatre at the very start of the performance than we see for Cinema and 360 filmed VR experience - this is perhaps driven by higher levels of anticipation and excitement.

Watching Titus Andronicus raised heart rate to a level equivalent of a 5-minute cardio workout”
Audience heart rate is raised to the level of a cardio workout zone for an average of 5 minutes (3% of time) across the full performance of Titus Andronicus[1]. This is consistent across participants in Theatre, Cinema and the 360 filmed VR experience. This chimes with my piece earlier in the week of research into the Dreamgirls audience.

Men showed a greater emotional reaction - The heart rate data of the men in the study suggests a very slightly greater increase in reaction compared to female participants. I wonder if this was down to the subject matter. I can't say I've ever been drawn to watch Titus Andronicus.

A 360 degree filmed VR experience has the power to transport you into the theatre. 91% of those watching the performance via the VR headset felt there were times when they were physically present in the theatre. This compares to approximately 63% for those watching the show live on screen in the cinema. That sounds very promising for the future of theatre and having the ability to bring a very full experience of the theatre to the living room.

Theatre wins out over cinema in overall positive engagement and empathy. Participant feedback indicated greater overall positivity (excellent/awesome etc.), engagement (gripping, thought provoking, empathy etc.) and shock in Theatre – with more attention to the elements of staging, costume, set, plot, music and choreography. Those watching via 360 filmed VR also had a higher level of emotional engagement than the cinema audiences.

Lower shock levels in the cinema may indicate that viewers feel further removed/desensitised to the violence/gore. However, cinema was perceived to be significantly more ‘moving’ than either theatre of 360 video - possibly due to the cinematic style directing the viewers eye to the details of actor expressions (e.g. tear rolling down Lavinia’s cheek) which are often missed by theatre audiences due to the distance from the stage. You can't get close-ups in the theatre like you can on a cinema screen.

There are still issues with VR. It's not for everyone as it can trigger nausea and vertigo. The headsets are heavy and they're isolating so you need to be in a safe environment to use it as you're completely cut off from all other audio or visual clues as to what may be going on around you.

The RSC is naturally encouraged by the research. Theatre is outperforming cinema in terms of engagement, empathy and ability to shock. Sarah Ellis, RSC Director of Digital Development said: ‘This presented a unique opportunity for us to compare the emotional reaction to one of Shakespeare’s plays on three different platforms. The results have shown us that even after more than 400 years, Shakespeare’s work still packs an emotional punch to today’s audiences wherever and however it is experienced'.

Day 26/30 NaBloPoMo

Saturday, November 25, 2017

What three things should we teach at school?

It's not often that a stranger talks to you when you're travelling on the tube in London, but it happened to me the other night on my way to the theatre. A man, who had clearly had a drink, plonked himself into the seat next to mine. He had his open can of booze in a brown paper bag which is never a good look, and moreover, drinking alcohol is illegal on London Transport. He seemed harmless enough though.

And then he started talking to me. I felt a very mild panic. I mean, it's just not normal for anyone to talk to a stranger on the underground and I'm wondering why on earth he'd singled me out for a chat. I don't remember what he began to talk about. He was having a moan about something or other and I was humouring him a little. And then he asked, if there were only three topics you could teach at school today, what would they be? This was putting me on the spot a little and was completely out of the blue. I'd never given it any thought previously but my answer was more or less instantaneous. I guess this was based on instinct.

The three things I came up with were Reading, Writing and Thinking. The reason being that in our digital world, reading is a universal requirement. I read things all day, every day - on a phone screen, on my laptop, in the freebie newspapers, on posters, in shops, on road signs - the written word is everywhere. Writing - whether that's handwriting or on a keyboard is also a necessity. Learning to touchtype back in 1994 at South Thames College is the best £7 I ever spent. I know new voice-enabled interfaces are coming and even though I have Cortana on my laptop and OK Google on my phone, I still can't bring myself to use them, even if there's no-one around to listen to me.

On the third subject, Thinking, he challenged me asking if it could be taught. I was about to get off the train at this point and I said 'yes'. I didn't really think about it but my hunch is you can teach people how to think by giving them the space to think and giving the right examples and encouragement to do it.

When I was running my own mobile marketing agency, I recruited many young people, most of whom were still studying and were doing a placement with me, or they were new graduates. The ones who were successful were the ones who could think for themselves. Many of the young people I interviewed lacked critical thought and lacked the ability to work things out for themselves. We're talking 13 or 14 years ago now. Online social networking wasn't really a thing at that point for the mainstream. Flickr was the social network I participated in most. LinkedIn was a newish company. Streaming music wasn't a thing. But we did have email, we had Google and Amazon and we had mobile phones with SMS and java games and apps and the first cameraphones.

At the time, the education system was still geared up for more traditional type jobs in marketing and business. Even though the web was huge, it wasn't nearly as pervasive as it is today. Perhaps we needed people who could follow instruction more than they could think back then and that's why degrees were structured to produce those results.

In this current climate of constant change, especially when it comes to internet technologies, one of the key employability skills to have is adaptability. We need to see what's happening and adapt. The jobs we're doing now may not exist in the future. Or if they do, they will be vastly different on a day to day basis. And with increasing reliance on Google or Bing as our external brain, critical thought is essential. We need to work out what's fake and what's real, which things to take seriously and which to ignore, which way to build your software and connect your APIs and which APIs to ignore.

Of course, this is a hypothetical situation. We're not going to be limiting any school curriculum to just three subjects. But what I would like to see is some discussion and thought around what skills we need to perform well in the years to come and maybe use the topics such as history, geography, philosophy or physics to exercise those skills whilst learning a subject at the same time.

It turns out, I'm not the only one who thinks that Thinking is critical for being a successful human being. I've just discovered this article and podcast on the importance of thinking. Check it out for yourself. I think there are some good points in it.

Out of interest, what would your three subjects be and why?

Day 25/30 NaBloPoMo

Friday, November 24, 2017

IoT - The Internet of Textiles?

I think it's a fairly good assumption from a glance at my blog that I'm interested in technology, in particular mobile technology. What some of you may not already know is that I'm very keen on arts and crafts. I particularly enjoy stitching of all kinds. I started sewing clothes for my dolls when I was probably about 6 years old. I learned embroidery at age 9 when I made my first sampler. By the age of 10, I had my own sewing machine and had started making clothes for myself. I still enjoy all forms of stitching and textiles.

It would be about 10 years ago when I first met the Cute Circuit team who invented the bluetooth-enabled 'hug shirt' (pictured). This was ground breaking at the time. It appeared at Mobile World Congress a few times. I think I probably tried it there about 10 years ago. I experienced the sensors squeezing me based on messages the jacket was being sent. The idea behind it being that two people could send another person a virtual hug via the sensors on the shirts they were wearing. It remember it felt a bit weird. It doesn't feel like a human hug, but, like Pavlov's Dogs, one could learn to associate it with a message of love or warmth from a partner.

The same team then went on to experiment with clothing that lights up and have become pioneers, and perhaps, the world's best at doing this. The video below shows an example of their work for U2 from 4 years ago. They've also worked with other artists including Sarah Brightman and Katy Perry. These garments don't come cheap as they're labour intensive to create, but they're highly effective for a stage show or if you want to make an entrance. You can buy some of their items from their website now. The handbag is my favourite but a little outside my price range!

U2.COM - 'She's Gonna Dream Out Loud...' from CUTECIRCUIT on Vimeo.

There are other artists working in this space and it's growing. As is the #fashtech thing. #fashtech covers a wide range of fashion and technology cross overs from providing mirrors that show you in different outfits without you having to undress, to new ways of selling and distributing merchandise as well as technology you wear - from Fitbit devices to new fabrics to connected jewellery to 3D printed clothes and shoes and much more. Some of the innovations will never make it beyond an innovation lab, but some of these things will break through to the mainstream, but it's early days for most.

That's why I was very happy to discover the e-Stitches group who meet every other month or so at the V&A Museum (my favourite London museum). Apparently the group is now about 100 members strong and their focus is on e-textiles. I don't know a lot about this stuff at all, so I'm interested to find out more.

Their next meet-up is on 9 December, is free to attend and will be at the V&A in London (details will be posted here). I'm putting the date in my diary to check it out. I shall report back on what I discover there.

Day 24/30 NaBloPoMo

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Watching good theatre is good for your heart

This cheers me up enormously. This year, I set myself a challenge to see at least 50 shows. It turns out that has been both an enjoyable challenge and a goal I've managed to beat quite easily. If you include the concerts I've been to this year, my total is currently standing at 86. Check out my previous post about how I get to see so much theatre on a shoestring.

One of my other goals this year was about health and fitness. I've not done as well on that score unfortunately. I've been partially derailed by some health issues which are now being sorted out. But there is good news in that recent research shows that going to the theatre is good for your heart!

I've been reading today about a recent small-scale study where 12 individuals were monitored using wearable technology whilst watching a performance of Dreamgirls at The Savoy Theatre. They claim:
"Watching a live theatre performance can stimulate your cardiovascular system to the same extent as doing 28 minutes of healthy cardio exercise, a new study has found.
The research, conducted by University College London and the University of Lancaster in association with Encore Tickets, the UK’s leading independent ticket provider, monitored the heart rates, brain activity, and other physiological signals of 12 individuals at a live theatre performance of Dreamgirls, the Tony and Olivier award winning musical.
During the performance, the heart rates of audience members spent an average of 28 minutes beating at an elevated range between 50% - 70% of their maximum heart rate. The British Heart Foundation identify this level of heart rate as the optimal heart rate to stimulate cardio fitness and stamina. So, although they were seated for the performance, audience members spent an average of 28 minutes engaged in healthy cardio exercise."
Heart rate graph from participants in the study

I'm not entirely convinced one could class this as 'exercise' but it sounds like it's better for you than slumped on a sofa mindlessly scrolling a screen in your hand with another screen on in the background.

What's particularly interesting for me is how we can use wearable technology similar to a Fitbit or smartwatch to measure people's physical response to something. That opens up a whole new range of research that's now, potentially, much simpler to achieve and doesn't need complex, medical grade equipment to do it.


Day 23/30 NaBloPoMo

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

WIPs 5th Annual DevRel Survey - please fill it in! Closes 28 Nov 2017

Do you currently work in a developer relations  role or as part of a developer relations programme at a company/ organisation / government agency ? (If you're after a definition, this article may be useful.) If so, this survey is for you!

The developer relations craft is still relatively new and the community is still learning about it. As part of that effort, WIP has an annual DevRel survey which is now in its 5th year and they're asking all of you who work in developer relations in some shape or form to fill it in.

There isn't long to complete it - the closing date is next Tuesday 28 November 2017 and the early results will be shared at the upcoming DevRel conference in London. Caroline Lewko from WIP will be there to comment on the headline findings. The link is here:

The survey is completely anonymous and no contact information is being collected. The answers given will help people working in developer relations to get better at what they do, how they do it, what's important, best practices and more. You can see 2016's results here:

More about the organisation, WIP Factory, behind the survey can be found on their website. I've known the team for a long time and we've worked together a number of times. They've been immersed in developer relations for more than 10 years.

Day 22/30 NaBloPoMo

Monday, November 20, 2017

Ping pong robot, prizes, beer, mobile chat and more at Swedish Beers on Tuesday 21 November

Not long to go now until the next Swedish Beers bash in London. We'll be back at the Nordic Bar, our favourite London haunt, and as well as the usual chat, drinks and mingling, we will also have a Ping Pong Robot competition to raise funds for Bloodwise.

We're busy sorting out the prizes for that, but I can confirm that two of them are these latest release books.

The first is a copy of The Startup Way by Eric Ries of Lean Startup fame. I heard him speak at an event last week and wrote a few thoughts about that over on my personal blog. I managed to come away with an extra copy of the book which will be one of the prizes tomorrow night.
The other book that's up for grabs tomorrow is Rough Diamond: Turning Disruption into Advantage in Business and Life by Nicole Yershon.

We will also have some collection buckets, so please bring your small change - every coin counts.

If you prefer, you can donate on the justgiving page here

Or you can text in with your donation (UK only). Text BEAT01 £x to 70070 to donate to Bloodwise. The amount can be edited so that you choose how much you wish to donate, so if you're donating £5, then text BEAT01 £5 to 70070 or if you'd like to donate £2, then text BEAT01 £2 to 70070 - you get the idea!

The guest list for tomorrow night is shaping up nicely. If you haven't already registered, please do that here.

Entry is free and we'll have free drinks courtesy of Kindred Capital and Inspiring Interns for as long as the bar tab lasts. Everyone working in, around or interested in the mobile industry from a professional or academic point of view are most welcome. Do spread the word with your friends and colleagues.

Until tomorrow night then!

What do you do when your boss is an algorithm?

I was lucky enough to go to Business of Software's great event in London with entrepreneur and best-selling author, Eric Ries, talking about his new book, The Startup Way. The house was absolutely packed which is a testament both to the popularity of Eric Ries and how well Mark Littlewood and his team organise their Business of Software series of events.

I'm still mulling over much of what Ries was saying and I haven't yet read his book. The question that really stuck in my mind was about what workers will do when their boss is an AI or an algorithm. I've thought quite a lot about working with an AI as a colleague. Arguably, we're already doing that to some degree with our use of online tools such as search, productivity tools, graphic design software etc.

My boss is an algorithm
But what if the algorithm is our boss? Ries cited the example of an Uber driver. Who is the driver's boss? Who do they report to? Who tells them what to do? The answer, to all intents and purposes, is an algorithm (putting aside recent UK legislation about their legal status).

Imagine the scenario whereby a customer uses the app to hail a taxi in a high traffic area where there is a choice of driver. The algorithm decides which taxi driver(s) to show that too. That could be based on reviews (perhaps unverified), where the driver was the previous night, how frequently the driver chooses to drive for Uber, how safely the driver drives, who the driver is connected to on social networks and much more. And in that instance, who do you complain to anyway and what could they do? These algorithms are getting ever more complicated and anyway, this isn't a technical bug, this is an ethical question as much as anything.

I'm afraid, I don't have the answers, but I'm thinking about the implications of this in different aspects of work life.

Free book giveaway
Everyone at the BoS event last week got a copy of The Startup Way. I was lucky enough to come away with an extra copy which will be given away tomorrow evening at Swedish Beers in London as part of the Robot Ping Pong challenge. I do hope you can join us!

Eric Ries' Lean Startup talk & BoS archive
You can see Eric Ries's talk for BoS from 2010 when he'd just written Lean Startup. It's well worth revisiting.

Business of Software has archived all their previous talks and it's a fantastic resource. You can check it out here.

Day 21/30 NaBloPoMo (publishing a little ahead of schedule!)

Demystifying Data Analysis

In the world of media, marketing, apps and software, we are inundated with data. Arguably, we have more data than we'll ever know what to do with and it gets increasingly difficult to make sense of it all. It can feel overwhelming, and if you're not well versed in working with data, it can feel too much and you end up reverting to instinct rather than data. It's fair to say that instinct did ok for Steve Jobs but most people don't have his genius so are better off relying on data.

But what do you do when you're faced with loads of data after interviewing lots of people about a certain product, website or general day to day habits? This is a core part of anyone who works in user-experience. They're the people who work out what customers need or want or how they're using something and translate that into improving how your website or app will work. Of course, sometimes the advice is ignored, but in the main, it's advice you should be listening to.

If you're an SME or start-up or, perhaps, pre-startup, you can't always afford a dedicated user experience person to work with you but you need to start somewhere. This article from Rachel Hinman is a great starting point to give you a simple structure to working your way through your data to gain insights from it. Check it out now.

Day 20/30 NaBloPoMo

Online privacy, a battle that can't be won?

The party I went to at the weekend was interesting from a sociological point of view. Inevitably when at these kinds of things, I spent some time people watching and part of that was spent observing their mobile habits. Everyone had phones, even a lot of the children

The good thing was that people didn't seem to be using them too obviously and conversation was the order of the evening. There was a seated area outside the main room and that seemed to end up being the 'taking a break from the party and checking my phone' space. Every time I walked past, there were 2 or 3 people checking their phones. It was interesting that these people had chosen to step away from the party in order to do that. Is that a new social etiquette? I did it too. I stepped outside for a few minutes to call my Mum although I didn't succumb to browsing my social feeds for once.

The other habit worth noting was the lack of people taking photographs. Hardly anyone took any photos with their phone at all. I didn't take any either. I think much of that was down to the types of people who were there. They were mostly parents of children under 12. As such, I think they will have had so many letters from headteachers about not taking photographs at school events that they've stopped taking photos when children are around for fear of inadvertently taking a photo of a child without permission. I missed a cracker of a shot of a group of the children with their backs to me at the bar. I was very close to taking the picture but because they were all under 10, and even though you couldn't see their faces, I kept my phone in my bag and didn't take the picture.

I think it's right to be mindful of other people's privacy and I do try to do that but it's not always easy. But sometimes the big companies we use daily make that hard. Their growth hacking often relies on us sharing our lists of contacts with them so that services like Facebook and LinkedIn can join the dots to connect us with people we know. I, like many others, have learned the hard way, not to do that. Most of us have clicked something that triggered or nearly triggered a mass email to all the contacts on our address book.

I thought I'd turned off all of those contact book sync settings in the apps and online services I use. However, on checking, I did find some very old contacts on my Facebook sync which I have since removed. I was prompted to do this following a post from Techhub's Elizabeth Varley. Here are the instructions to check yourself.
Did you ever upload your phone contacts to Facebook? Can't remember and want to check? You may want to delete them all. You can find out if you've uploaded contacts here: .
None of this will delete any of your contacts as being Facebook friends, don't worry.
If you're doing this on desktop, use
Make sure to click on the messenger contacts too and delete those. I didn't think I'd uploaded any to Facebook, but had clearly slipped up ages ago and didn't realise some old contacts were still lurking there.
These uploaded contacts are one of the ways that Facebook does the "people you may know" thing.
If you're wondering why this might be an issue, here's a very good article about how Facebook uses data to figure out everyone you've ever met.

I don't know if we'll ever win the battle for online privacy. We can but try.

Day 19/30 NaBloPoMo (yes, I'm still behind but aim to catch up today!)

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Is technology impacting on human joy?

It's an interesting question and this topic came up in a conversation I was having last night at a party in London. There is a lot of seemingly mind-less-ness when it comes to digital media. I don't know about you, but I often find myself scrolling mindlessly up and down my social feeds and following links and reading things that I am neither particularly interested in nor remember once read. It's not healthy and I aim to keep this habit in check by asking myself what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.

Not only that, but with every login comes a decision on passwords, how much data to share, who has access to the data, what will my friends see or think of me if they see this, who should I share my picture/status/blog post with, wondering what's in the privacy agreement I just agreed to, clicking on products you might buy and then never buy and perhaps were never really interested in, or you buy and regret. And there are many, many more.

These are often micro decisions that we barely notice but they are decisions nevertheless, and I think make us more prone to decision fatigue (definition here) which makes us, in turn, more prone to make poor decisions. Research from Cornell suggests that we make over 200 decisions about food on a daily basis. Ramp that up with decisions about what we wear, what we do, what we watch, where we go on a daily basis and that ramps up quickly.

I'm wondering how much that decision fatigue is impacting on our human joy. Does it lead to poor decision making about the things that we know make us feel good or feel better such as spending time in nature, hanging out with friends and enjoying creative pursuits?

I'm not sure if that's where JoyTech are going with this survey but it was an interesting exercise to complete it this morning. It got me thinking about whether or not technology brings me joy or not. I think sometimes it does - I enjoy writing (well, when I'm in 'flow' at least) and I enjoy getting inspiration for sewing and fabric projects from craft blogs and instagram. Although on the latter point, I know I spend too much looking at other people's work rather than working on my own projects. And I think that's partly down to decision fatigue and partly down to how powerful the digital dopamine hit has become.

Anyway, check out the survey yourself. They will share the results with you if you're interested at the end of November.

If nothing else, by reading this post, hopefully you'll reflect a little on what brings you joy and act on it.

Day 18/30 NaBloPoMo (posted a day late)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Bose, Indiegogo & the noise-masking sleepbuds

Do you buy stuff off Indiegogo, Kickstarter or any other of the crowdfunding sites out there? Or have you ever tried raising funds that way either successfully or unsuccessfully? I've only dabbled as a buyer a couple of times for things that friends have been raising money for. I've looked plenty of times but I've never been sufficiently tempted to part with my cash.

I'm not a huge buyer of stuff these days but I do like to see campaigns like this one from Brita Hirsch and her mission to produce British bred and woven top quality merino wool fabric. It seems to me that that was what these sites were built for: small companies, often start-ups, raising cash via buyers interested in their products. It's a useful way to find new customers and raise finance at the same time. Plus you can test market sentiment and get some initial feedback. In fact, I'd say it was an elegant solution for the likes of Brita.

I do feel a bit uneasy when I see the likes of Bose Corporation crowdfunding their latest new product on Indiegogo - a pair of noise-masking sleep buds. I see Bose as a very well-established brand and corporation with decades of experience in designing, producing and distributing new products. I would even go as far as to say they're one of the best audio brands out there, so why on earth are they on Indiegogo?

I get the commercial rationale... friends have reminded me that it's a good way to test the market and to make sure they're on to a winner before going into production. The customer feedback they get is invaluable to improve the product before finalising it. And it derisks all of that.

I'm still uncomfortable with it. Maybe it's an Indiegogo problem in accepting such a large company on to the platform. They know their commission is going to be great when a company like Bose gets on board and they need to make money. At the time of writing, they've raised $445,951 which is almost 900% over their initial goal. And that commission will help subsidise the products that fall by the wayside and the start-ups, that just don't make the grade. Nevertheless, I can't help feeling they're hijacking something that was meant to support and promote a completely different type of company. If you have big bucks to begin with, you can invest much more to promote your Indiegogo campaign. You can use it to generate new consumer interest in a way that advertising alone would struggle with. Arguably, it's great marketing that with the best will in the world a small company cannot compete with.

But is Bose's success at the expense of the underdog? And if so, does that matter?

I'm interested to know your thoughts.

Day 17/30 NaBloPoMo

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

I'm half-way through NaBloPoMo. It's harder than you think to write a blog post every day. It shouldn't be that difficult, but sometimes it just is. Sometimes, the words just don't come very easily. Sometimes you start a post and it's not the right time to publish it or you need more info or time to work on it before publishing. Today is one of those days. I have a couple of posts in draft that need a lot more work than just commenting off the top of my head. So today, I'm going to share some links with you and things I'm thinking about at the moment instead. You'll have to wait for the meatier posts!

Terence Eden's testcard set up for Shambala Festival
Use a Test Slide
Terence Eden, a fellow member of the NaBloPoMo club, has written today with some very simple top tips on presentations with the main point being about using a test card at the beginning of your presentation. It's a genius idea actually on a couple of levels. By using a test card, if you happen to have to test your AV when some or all of the audience is in the room, it's neutral in content and, Terence says 'easily ignorable'.

I would add that for those of us of a certain age, it will bring back lovely nostalgic feelings and may put me in a more receptive frame of mind to hear from that speaker. It also occurs to me that brands and companies that have nifty graphics, could put together a similar type of testcard using their own graphics. You can read more of Terence's presentation tips here and he's made his testcard available on github too.

Free university courses
Quartz magazine has been keeping track here of the 800 or so universities globally that are offering free or partially free online courses. And in the last quarter, 200 universities released 600 more courses to the general public. That's an incredible resource and goes some way to democratising education.

I don't know about you though, but I find online courses really challenging. My attention wanders, I find it hard to be disciplined about it and I miss the collaborate nature of working with other students, or at least having that personal contact. I think there's also something to be said about going to a specific place to do something. There's something intentional about that that helps me, at least, with the learning process.

But with university fees on the rise in the UK and the cost of living increasing, the demand for cheaper ways to get the same level of education has to increase. I'm no fan of university fees or the debt that lumbers the student in for many years to come. There is an emotional burden that comes with that alongside the financial one. So the future for some kind of online learning looks healthy but maybe the format needs to evolve. Or maybe I just need to get my head down and do one of these online courses. If I can do a daily blog post this month, then I can surely manage to complete one of these courses. Maybe that'll be my next challenge...

Digital Disruption
Apparently 50% of companies don't care about digital disruption. And 10% of them don't think this will affect them at all according to this post by friend and fellow mobilist, Monty Munford. He's citing some new research from Dell EMC. This chimes with a conversation I had with a friend a couple of days ago. He's recently left a large oil company and the main reason for his departure was their utter lack of acknowledgement of the digital world in which we live and the changes required to adapt to that. It's not so much about the nuts and bolts of the software requirements, but the culture change within the organisation. The latter point is so important and the one that so many organisations are missing.

There are plenty of businesses that are rely much more on word of mouth and personal contacts than anything else. And that's absolutely fine. And absolutely right for them. Not everyone needs an all singing all dancing website or mobile app. And some industries may not be affected as quickly as others by the ubiquity of digital. However, internal processes, monitoring and management are increasingly digital or algorithmic and, whatever the size of your organisation, you probably need to adapt to changing customer needs and changing ways in which customers want to connect with you or be served by you. And that's going to mean digital in some shape or form.

Global Mobile Awards at Mobile World Congress 2018
If you want to enter one of this year's 38 categories, you need to get in quick. Entries close next week on Wednesday 22 November. More information about the categories, costs and how to enter here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Love Theatre Day is Today!

Action shot from the fabulous School of Rock
Blimey, I nearly missed this. I've just discovered that it's #LoveTheatreDay and if there's one thing I do love, it's the theatre. I was even at the theatre last night to see Son of a Preacher Man in Wimbledon - great performances and music, the writing - not so much, enjoyable nevertheless. But I digress. What is this #LoveTheatreDay thing, I hear (some of) you ask?

This is an initiative run by Mar Dixon in association with The Stage newspaper according to this article. It's a social media initiative to encourage us to celebrate theatre around the world on Twitter and other social media platforms, hence the hashtag and it's happening today - Wednesday 15 November 2017.

There are three themes throughout the day:

1. #Backstage between 10am and midday to go behind the scenes and see parts of the theatre you would never normally get to see. I guess we've missed that one, but you can check the hashtag for what happened. I love backstage. There's a certain smell to it. It's very hard to describe. It's a nice smell and I'm guessing it's a mixture of wood, workshops and people, but it's unique to a theatre and unmistakable if you've ever experienced it.

2. #AskATheatre between 3pm and 5pm where you can talk direction to the creative teams about their shows and ask the questions you've always wanted to.

3. #Showtime between 7pm and 10pm when people will show what they're seeing at the theatre and what happens off stage during a show.

This campaign is for theatres, performing arts organisations and the general public to celebrate what they love about theatre and to encourage more people to go to the theatre. I think it's a great idea. And one that just wouldn't work without mobile phones. The ability to take pictures, write down our thoughts, record video and audio and distribute it easily and quickly to a wide audience is amazing. This certainly couldn't have happened 10 years ago. Technically, we could do all these things, but the uptake wasn't big enough to reach the mainstream. But today, it's a whole other story. One thing to be grateful for with the ubiquity of the technology.

There is something special about the theatre that keeps drawing me back and anything that encourages other people to enjoy that special something is a good thing in my book. So check out the hashtags, take pictures and share your stories from backstage, off-stage and in the audience and have a great #LoveTheatreDay.

The Safety Curtain from The Ashcroft Theatre in Croydon.

Day 15/30 NabloPoMo

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Mobile Campaign Best Practices 2017

I've always been one for best practice. We don't see enough of it enough of the time unfortunately, especially when it comes to mobile advertising. The amount of time we're spending on mobile devices at any time is not decreasing any time soon and so it should follow that the ad spend follows the eyeballs to mobile screens. It's not quite the case yet. But as an industry, the more we can inject creativity into campaigns and best practice into targeting and running those campaigns, the better chance mobile will have and the sooner the ad dollars will cross over.

Global mobile ad spend is estimated to grow from $108.9 bn in 2016 to $143.5 bn in 2017. However, according to my friends at On Device Research, most of that cash is wasted on ads that are ineffective that consumers don't engage with and don't recall. That's a lot of money to waste...

It's not all bad news though, as the top 20% of mobile ads in terms of ad recall record an average uplift between the exposed and control group of +20% points. The remaining 80% of mobile ads achieve an average percentage point uplift of just +3%. Similarly the best performing 20% of mobile ads in terms of purchase intent are six times more effective than the remaining 80%. So there are clearly some advertisers and their agencies getting it right.

So what are these key things that they're getting right?

  1. Logo presence on every frame is crucial
  2. A human presence can engage
  3. Product shots catch the eye
  4. Placing branding at the top of the creative boosts ad recall
  5. Be cautious with dual branding as it can distract and confuse
  6. A single clear message beats a text heavy ad overloaded with information
  7. Video grabs the user’s attention
  8. Inject a little humour in to your creative
  9. A bit of interactivity hold’s the user’s attention
  10. If you want to drive purchase, then unsurprisingly having a strong call to action helps
  11. There's a bonus point to consider too and that's emotion. If you can connect emotionally with the consumer, you will do better.

ODR tells me that the top performing adverts adhere to six of these principles on average yet few advertisers adhere to these rules. I'll be honest, this is pretty much advertising 101 for any visual channel, be that print, outdoor or TV with the exception of the interactive points around video and interactivity which specifically apply to digital.

The bad news from the UK's High Streets has seen October retail sales fall at their sharpest rate since the height of the recession in 2009. That suggests there will be a tough run-up to Christmas. We don't yet know what the knock-on effect to the digital ad market remains to be seen but this time of year typically sees robust ad spend and mobile can have a great impact.

Typically, Q4 campaigns outperform the rest of the year when it comes to unprompted and top of mind awareness. This is perhaps no surprise since well known household names tend to advertise heavily in this quarter. These brands will always have high baseline levels of awareness anyway so although they'll get a boost in Q4, it is not as much as some of the lesser known brands can achieve.

That said, the team at ODR have noticed that Q4 mobile ad campaigns are underperforming in terms of boosting ad recall. This is likely down to even higher ad clutter than usual and being bombarded with a greater quality of brand communications overall. That means you might struggle to recall specific ads compared to quieter times of year.

That means that best practice is needed even more than ever, especially if you don't have the same kind of budgets that the big guns have.

If you need some inspiration of some good campaigns, then it's worth tracking ODR's quarterly winners on most effective ads. This one from Blis for B&Q for Father's Day ticked 7 of the boxes from the Best Practice list.

You can get the full mobile creative best practice guide here (it's free and includes some nice examples for each point). And if you're wondering about how On Device Research measures brand effectiveness, you can find out more about their methodology here.

Can you remember the last mobile advert you saw? I can remember one and that's for the Business of Software event tomorrow to hear Eric Ries talk about his new book, The Start-Up Way. And that's where I'll be tomorrow afternoon lending a hand. Maybe see some of you there.

Day 14/30 NaBloPoMo

Monday, November 13, 2017

On this day...

I'll be honest, I was struggling a bit to think about what to write today. So for some inspiration, I thought I'd take a look at what I and fellow mobilists were writing about on this day in previous years. In doing that, I was reminded of the Carnival of the Mobilists. It started in 2005 and the idea was that a blogger would do a write up of the week's writing about mobile. If you were a blogger, you could submit your article to be considered for inclusion. In this way, readers could discover more blogs and writers could attract more readers and followers. And it worked I got to know many other bloggers as a result and it was a good discipline to read beyond your normal remit.

So let's take a look back at what we were thinking and writing about back in November of years past.

November 2006. Rafe Blandford, writing his All About Symbian blog back then, wrote CoTM #52. Links include thoughts on Ajax, java and flashlite. Youth trends are covered. There's an review of the Opera Mini browser (we had smaller screens and less capability back then, remember). There's also a review of the Nokia E70. And of course there's talk about advertising, this time embedding them in ringtones. Check it out.

November 2007 and it's Mark Hooft's Ubiquitous Thoughts turn to host CoTM #99. His specialism is mobile learning which he looks at but he also covers Google's Open Handset Alliance which was the previous week's big mobile announcement. He also talks about mobile marketing - needing simplicity and also a link to Jan Chipchase and thoughts about design based on what you know about your consumer. Check the links here.

Mark Hooft also hosts CoTM #149 in November 2008. There's been a US Election and Barack Obama is the President. There's been a conference about Handheld Learning in the UK and the Mobile 2.0 event in San Francisco. Round-ups of both are included. Money and the economy is a key theme this week also. We were right in the midst of the credit crunch at the time. Survival was key, and arguably, still is key. More here.

November 2009 and it's CoTM #200 at Jamie Wells' The main theme in this week is Google buying Admob for $750m. Wow, 8 years ago. Time really does fly. Anyway, there's lots of chat as to why it's a good thing (or not) and why Google got a bargain. There's also some good thoughts about the uptake of mobile banking. And some other stuff too. Check out the edition here.

In November 2010, Andy Favell of MobiThinking takes the helm. He must have had a reorganisation of his website as it's dated December, but according to Volker Hirsch, this was from mid-November 2010. Here's that week's Carnival. There are some interesting posts covered with topics including mobile music, network operators struggling to own the social graph, thinking about branding and marketing on mobile, mobile commerce and fragmentation and the legal issues around films on iPhone.

In stepping back in time for this post, I'm astounded about how much good writing and thinking about mobile was going on back then. But also sad to remember that at least two of the prolific contributors to the carnival have now passed on - Judy Breck of Golden Swamp and just last month, Carlo Longino of Mobhappy and TheFeature. I'm also sad to see some of the blogs linked to are no more, including the site that used to be the home of Carnival of the Mobilists. I think the history of our industry is important. We need to know where we've come from to help us work out where we're going and where we don;t want to revisit. Hey ho. Such is life.

Until tomorrow.

Day 13/30 NaBloPoMo

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Complex writing is good for you (or why I'm writing every day this month)

There isn't a lot of routine to my home life. I'm not rigid when it comes to meal times (although I do like to cook from scratch). I'm not a morning person at the best of times so work related tasks drift into the evening, especially now that the weather is cold and miserable. My work tends to come in fits and starts - it's the well-known feast or famine scenario. I think that suits my personality most of the time but not necessarily all of the time.

In very busy times, or particularly stressful times, I can and do adopt a more regimented routine and I've used the Fabulous app successfully to help me with that. One of the tasks that it has you doing every day is a to do list. They recommend strongly that you write this down by hand and not on a computer or phone. There's something about the act of writing by hand that is perhaps more mindful than typing. And maybe it connects to the brain differently. I'm not sure. Either way, when I've done this routine, it does work and has helped me maintain focus and manage a heavy workload. 

Writing by hand is also a key part of the famous book, The Artist's Way. A friend recommended the book to me some years ago. I've never managed to work through the whole thing as it takes commitment and I'm not quite ready to commit to being an artist (What is my media? Will my work be good enough? How will I pay the bills? And lots of other questions immediately spring to mind. And yes, I know that's what the book can help you answer!). 

One of the key tasks of The Artist's Way is to write your morning pages, by hand, stream of consciousness style, until you have written at least 3 sides of paper. This can be about anything at all but it's a recognised way of dealing with whatever is on your mind at the time whether that's what the weather's doing or because you've had a run-in with someone. There are times when I've started the process and done a few days or a couple of weeks, but never stuck with it. And once I've dropped the ball on it, I've never picked it up. Oliver Burkeman writes more about how he used them and how they're being used by business people too.

Despite my penchant for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, I have held on to this blog over the years and still see long form writing as important. That's one of the reasons why I committed to doing the NaBloPoMo thing this November by writing a blog post every day. I think it's healthy for me to write something every day, partly down to the routine and discipline of it but also because it helps me think things through in more depth.  

It turns out that complex thinking is inextricably intertwined with writing. According to this article from TES, if you discourage extended writing, you can damage deeper thought. And if we need anything right now in this age of instant gratification and algorithms making decisions for us, it is deeper thought! So on day 12 of this NaBloPoMo experiment, I'm reassured that I might just be on to something.

Day 12/30 NaBloPoMo 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Are Smart Meters as smart as they like to think they are?

My energy company in the UK has been bugging me at every turn, by email, post, notes through the door, random people knocking on my door, to persuade me to have a smart meter installed and to get me to book an appointment. This is part of a government initiative to have smart meters installed in every home in the country between 2015 and 2020.

The thinking behind these smart meters is sound. It allows a household and an energy network to better understand its energy usage and in turn, access different energy tariffs based on usage patterns and may help the nation use less energy by the energy companies being able to plan better and individuals to take more control over their consumption. It's part of the vision and thinking about what smart cities will look like in the future.

All the blurb makes it sound like having one of these meters is compulsory. The consumer ends up paying for the cost of the installation over time in their energy bill. Hmm. Not so keen on that extra expense thank you very much.

I checked. It is NOT compulsory to have a smart meter installed in the UK, not now, not ever. You can get on installed at any time in the future if you change your mind. You don't need to be forced into it by your energy supplier. There's more about it on the OFGEM site here (that's our energy regulator for readers from outside the UK).

The trouble is that British energy suppliers don't have a good reputation, especially when it comes to anything technology related. Their websites are clunky, unintuitive and often inaccurate. I know from friends working at large agencies how painful the process has been to rollout any kind of digital technology with energy company clients. Their culture and organisational structure has exacerbated this and made things worse. That's not to say they don't have helpful, intelligent people working for these companies. They do, but not nearly enough of them and with, I'm guessing, inadequate leadership and inadequate ways of innovating or putting the customer first.

My instinct with the rollout is to not have a smart meter installed. I don't want to be spied on. I don't want the hassle of a workman or woman in my house fiddling around. I don't want an algorithm deciding to switch off anyone's access to energy. And I certainly don't want to have my system vulnerable to hacking. That last one is probably the clincher for me. So many of our large companies and corporates suffer data breaches. I can't trust them with my personal data so I'm definitely not ready to trust them with managing my 'smart' energy supply.

I also  don't want to have to think about my energy supply except that I get it and the bills are paid. I'd rather we had a simpler pricing structure so the we can forget about it and not have to worry or check that they're on the right tariff. And the bottom line is that I just don't trust them that they're getting this right.

I've read too many reports in the news of massive billing issues of people being overcharged hundreds of pounds (often those who can least afford it), people being cut off inexplicably, of units failing and giving wildly inaccurate readings so I have to question why there is this insistence on rolling out a system that is clearly flawed.

In case my mind has been made up as a result of #fakenews, I did a straw poll of my friends, both techie and non-techie, and what they thought about it. The feedback was overwhelmingly negative from both camps.

The techies had real concerns over personal data and how they would (mis)use it and just couldn't trust them with it, worries about security and hacking and also the lack of ability to implement and manage. Non-techie friends were also very worried about personal data tracking and the vulnerability to hacking but also the health concerns around the radio waves they're emitting.

I think there's also a question around the units they're using, the cost of the programme when there are other, cheaper ways to do it. I'm sure there are more reasons that I haven't yet considered.

So, when it comes to smart meters, I'm being a refusenik. I've also signed this petition. I'd be really interested in your thoughts and experiences with smart meters too.

This lovely tongue-in-cheek animation from the campaigning site StopSmartMeters is a great quick intro to the issues.

Day 11/30 NaBloPoMo

Friday, November 10, 2017

Tis the Season

It's most definitely that time of year. I was out in Central London last night and stumbled across the opening of the Carnaby Street Christmas lights replete with free cocktails (too strong, tasted synthetic, threw mine away), DJ, a steel drum band and discounts in shops, bars and restaurants in the area. I've never seen it that busy so they were clearly doing something right. My friend and I tried to eat in one of the many local restaurants, but by the time we got there, the wait time was more than 45 minutes so we wandered further into Soho and found somewhere else.

But it's not just Christmas Lights that signal the festive season. It's the battle of the Christmas TV ad. I do love a good Christmas advert. One that tells a story, that is a short film and doesn't oversell the brand they're advertising.

I haven't seen a clear winner yet unlike previous years, and there have been no tear-jerkers yet, but there are some contenders nevertheless.

Very - Get more out of Giving

Debenhams, You Shall Find Your Fairytale Christmas starring Ewan McGregor

M &S Paddington Bear and the Christmas Visitor (I have a soft spot for Paddington!)

Argos, Ready for Take Off

The Vodafone Christmas Love Story with Martin Freeman. Parts 1 - 3 are great. Am eagerly awaiting part 4. Will he get the girl?

And of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without an entry from John Lewis with Moz The Monster

Although these may not be as strong as previous years efforts, they're still beautifully crafted with high production values. Please can we see more of that all year round whether that's on digital or on TV?

Day 10/30 NaBloPoMo