Friday, February 25, 2011


Last night I went to an event called Pecha-Kucha. It's an event started by two Japanese architects in which people come to talk about... well anything really. The format is simple, 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide. The slides roll on automatically.

It's an interesting way of presenting; the speaker isn't in control - they have to practice... or not. What's very interesting is the slides people choose (images? Text?), do they ad-lib, do they rehearse, do they wing it, do they read from cue cards, do they just read a script.

I think the most engaging talks last night were ones where they had obviously thought about what they wanted to say but it was mostly ad-libbed, no cues, just talking.

The talks are great, check some out: 

It made me think a lot about how I present. Generally I like big images, a bit of my personality / humour, and a bit of winging it. Reading from a script looses the passion, and cue cards just fluster me.

What's your style? Do you rely on script and words on the pages? If you do then try building a presentation without any words next time;  just pictures. You'll find you deliver a much better pres! And of course, like all good stand-ups, audience participation is always a winner! Engage your audience!

I definately think I'm going to give the Pecha-Kucha style of presenting something a go at work one day. I'm wondering if it would be a good format for presenting to clients... definately different!
Can you pronounce Pecha Kucha? It means conversation or "chit chat" in Japanese. I thought it was a kind of Pokemon.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Apocalypse now

It's 2012 next year and if you're to believe the Mayan calendar or the Bible or numerous other prophets it's due to be the end of the world. There are those who believe that current turmoil, starting with Egypt and Tunisia, in the Middle East is a sign of the Armegeddon yet to come. The doomsday clock is currently close to midnight. Oil is running out, the ice-caps are melting, the climate is changing in a way we cannot predict, polar bears are dying out, wars are breaking out, birds dropping from the sky, Google (aka Skynet) is preparing for judgement day, the ground is tearing apart, countries are pointing nuclear war-heads at eachother, the coral reefs are disapearing, fish stocks are on verge of collapse, Bees are disapearing threatening our global ecology, China is on the rise set to over-take from the USA (Cold war II anytime?) and Britain are in charge of the LoOlympics.

All in all it's an uncertain future... apocolypse, I'd say not, but a time of revolution, history making, change and potentially a milestone in our history that will affect the planet for thousands of years yet to come?
Perhaps we should pray that aliens invade and sort things out.

I try to look at things in a positive way and assume that we'll wipe ourselves out when we're good and ready and not at a set time defined by which ever deity you may herald. I am not alone in this outlook but there are plenty of people out there who will probably spend the next year forming theories, starting cults and proclaiming prophecies of doom and destruction. I'm looking forward to seeing what emerges over the next months / years.
Catption: You knew there would be cats in here somewhere!

Unlike during the time of the Mayans there will be a bigger role for digital this time around. At the time of writing, if you search "Apocalypse" on Twitter you mostly get references to Zombie Apocalypse. A subject dear to my heart which I have written about before. I'm starting to wonder if Zombie Apocalypse is as likely as I first thought. Still if you want to watch for the Apocalypse I'd say watch for it trending on Twitter first.

Who will take over after?

Point of this article? None!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tweets in your calendar

I'm just trying out an app called Twistory which let's you sync your tweets with your calendar (including Google and iCal). Why you'd want to do this I'm not sure, but Techcrunch swears ""You didn't realize it, but you really want those Twitter messages in your calendar." I'm not sure I'm convinced but no doubt in a few weeks I'll wonder how I ever lived without a calendar record of my ramblings.

Ok ok, so I could just go on twitter and look and my tweet history - but this is my tweets in something else. That's exciting right?


Perhaps even more useful - an app that tells you where you checked in 4 years ago via foursquare (again a techcrunch article). Personally I'm not a Foursquare fan - it's all about Facebook Places!

If you can't beat them join them

Hoorah, for Microsoft??? Yes Microsoft are going to open up Kinect to let hackers play around with it according to the BBC. This is great news for everyone, Kinect is a great peace of hardware with enourmous untapped potential. Check out this article for potential uses for kinect (google for more, there are heaps out there). Everything from controlling Windows 7 to controlling robots!!!

My favourite potential use for Kinect is that it provides the technology to build Minority Report style interfaces.

To my knowledge the ultimate use of Kinect has yet to be applied. That is of course to allow cats to use the internet. Due to a lack of opposable thumbs cats have thus far been excluded from the net. They have to do with make do with manipulating their owners into managing their social presence with some success. An estimated 10% of all internet traffic is now related to cats.

The iPad was the first device that handed control over to our future feline masters (with so far, limited success):

It won't be long now until some fool owner creates software that connects Kinect with cats. Then we're doomed; 99% traffic will be cat related and 99.9% of e-commerce traffic will be cat related, mostly ordering kibble.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Photosynth - Bristol office

Today I'm still playing with Photosynth. I've recreated the ThirtyThree Bristol office this time. Synthy!

I'm thinking this could be used with a client we're working with. No idea of the commercial limitatios Microsoft might impose on using this. It's just a modern twist on the panoramic really. It requires JS and Silverlight so we'd have to build a fall back - still, it's got potential!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dream time for gamers

Just as Sony have announced the arrival of their first Playstation Phone and their next generation PSP the NGP I've started thinking about what I would want from the next generation of consoles.

Here is my wish list so far:

Firstly, interaction - don't drop the humble controller but do make it awesome from the start (don't release the rumble pack edition months after you've paid for the lame-ass edition). I don't want anything half-arsed, if you're going to build in motion sensitivity build it in properly! I love the speakers in the Wii remotes. Please copy this Sony and Microsoft!

Of course the Wii has shown that there is a market for other forms of interaction (and Playstation Move and XBox Kinnect have been launched so that MS/Sony can get their cut of this market). The Wii really changed everything. I doubt these new ways of playing games will disappear as a gimmick. I just hope that traditional gaming doesn't die as a result.

Innovate - has anyone created a game with audio control before? What about touch screens, is there a place for this sort of tech in the gaming domain yet? Certainly touch has opened up new gaming possibilities not available before, can Angry Birds work with a controller? I doubt it (although I've yet to try it on the Ps3)

Have fun - of course there are other ways of controlling certain games that require specialist equipment, e.g. Karoke mics, drum kits, guitars, dance matts, balance or fitness boards, etc - these are all great and have their place. So basically carry on as you were here please Sony/Nintendo/Microsoft/Newcomers?

Secondly the hardware: I want to see some kick-ass graphics and massive processing power in any new system. The Wii's only flaw was a lack of power. The PS3 and XBox rule here, but even they are being stretched these days. 

Blu-Ray player - This is one of the most expensive parts of the PS3 but to drop it would be mad. People like owning things i.e. disks, I want a console I can play my old games on (dropping a disk player would make this impossible), and I want to play Blu-Ray's - part of the attraction of the PS3 is it's a Blu-Ray player, and regardless of how big my hard-drive is one day it will get full! (and no - we're not interested in another format). 

Massive harddrive and cloud computing - A massive hard-drive is ideal to store all those updates and downloads (I've one of the larger PS3 drives and it's clogged; and seamingly with absolutely nothing). Cloud computing could allow my most frequently used data to be stored locally for quick access and my less frequently stored data to be stored elsewhere but not lost. i.e. infinite space on your console via cloud but no lag via hard drive. Cloud computing would allow for back-up's in case of system melt-down. In theory cloud could replace a HDD but only if broadband allows; personally I hate lags of any kind. Users still need locally cached data and lots of it.

Thirdly, I want an entertainment system. - I want my new console to be a practical media server, web-browser, family and indvidual games system, I want IP TV, apps?, social networks? (PlayStation Home had so much potential, as did platforms like SecondLife. I'm hoping the next gen consoles can deliver hi-res, Tron/secondlife-on-speed-eque social networking). I can already do most of this on my PS3; the PS4 I hope will take all of this to the next level (and hopfully integrate with other tech, i.e. my phone, TV, laptop...)

Fourthly, the visuals have to be great. I'm thinking HD and 3D, ideally without the need for silly glasses.   Saying that, is the time right for virtual reality helmets to make a return? Why not, with Kinnect/Wii/Move like controls a VR helmet could fully immerse you into the gaming world (of course the potential for bumping into coffee tables needs to be worked out!)

Finally, make it work - no red rings of death, no half-arsed attempts (yes, I'm talking to you PlayStation Home) - just get it right!

The TechRadar articles are great for some further reading on the next gen consoles:

I'd love to hear what extras you think they should have have. Does anyone have the word on what they are planning?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lady Gaga's new single! Whoop Whoop

I heard it first on YouTube having been told it exists on Facebook... yes the new Lady Gaga single, "Born this way", is out, check it out on YouTube. I'm rather looking forward to the new album. Nice one Gaga.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Cat laser team explosion

Tip of day: Wireframes make life easier

Before jumping into a website design it pays to think about the structure. This doesn't just mean scribbling out a sitemap, it means laying out a proper blue-print before you start the site design.

It can save you a lot of time and money too - just like when you build a house, if the blue-print exists, and is well thought out, then the build will go a heck of a lot easier.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Google museums

The Google is continues to learn. It's latest offering is to start mapping our art galleries.

Check out to explore museums around the world. I have been exploring the Gemaldegalerie in Berlin but so far have been unsuccessful in finding the "Fallen Madonna Mit Zie Big Boobies" by Van Klomp. I'll keep looking!

Crime maps

In other news, nicked directly from the BBC, "New online crime maps for England and Wales have been launched, allowing users to see which offences have been reported in their local streets."

You can find the maps by typing your postcode into  - judging by the lag on returning search results I'd say the press atttention is making their servers struggle. I'll try again later.

O I just got the notice "Sorry, we couldn't find policing data for your area" - well I've never seen a policeman in my area, so perhaps we're a dead zone. Best go buy some extra locks!

With new savings made by cutting on the street officers the police have rolled out their new fleet of traffic cars.

Talk like an Egyptian

Egyptians are bypassing the internet blockade by using old tech such as ham radios, fax and dial up.

I wonder how it would feel if I woke up tomorrow and I found all internet and mobile access had been turned off. Admittedly if it was because the UK was in a state of revolution I'm sure my mind would be on other things - but if it was just an ordinary day and things were just off I imagine it would be rather weird.

Small living space

As my housemates contemplate moving out in April so do I contemplate my living arrangements.

One thing that always bugs me is space, or rather lack of - instead of playing for a bloody large house can I reduce my floorplan (and rent) and yet retain the feeling of space and utility? A few handy tips on this TreeHugger slideshow have given me ideas on how to better use my space.