Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

“Had a great, and very cultural evening with the wonderful Arani at the Barbican. I would tell you what the show was about but a drone stole my program…. And it was wearing feathers!”

This was my Facebook post following a performance I saw on Friday 12th September. My friend Arani and I embarked on a bit of culture after completing our working week in the city. Well I say “completing” for some of us Friday’s can mean taking a break and then going back to work either that evening or Saturday morning.

Arani had sent me an email the week before asking me if I wanted to go and see a show. Arani has an eye for gigs so I knew that I could always trust her judgement, however I was not expecting this type of show.

It had been years since I last walked through the doors of the Barbican in London. Thirteen years prior I worked in a building opposite it at my very first job.  The venue itself had not changed; it was still as confusing to find anything as it was several years before.

When on our way to the theatre on the ground floor, we passed an interest exhibit which consisted of clear rubbed tubes hanging like elephant trunks, connected to a flat base from the ceiling. The trunks were moving by themselves.

Being a former artist I know that a captivating piece can spark the imagination of most, but in completely different ways. You see what you want to see. I looked at the tubes like they were elephant trunks and what good toys they would be for the prospective ferrets my husband and I are planning on getting. As they moved they then reminded me of some of the scenes from War of the Worlds (Tom Cruise version), when the tripods were scoping people out of the water. Arani saw this too.

We made our way to the bar to get a few ciders, and then entered the theatre to take our seats. We were near the front and in the centre so we had a great view, the attendants pointing people to their seats were insistent that we switch our mobiles phones off and that there was no photography of any kind. I cheekily turned to Arani and said:

“What type of show have you brought us to?”

She just laughed.

As I sat in my seat waiting for the show to begin, I noticed that the audience was covered in thick black netting. Literally there were nets in front and over us, with further netting covering the higher tiers of the audience and the actual stage.

“Seriously Arani, what type of show have you brought us too?” I repeated.

“They need the netting there just in case…. For the drones!” She said interpreting my look.

“It’s like we are in an episode of Doctor Who. The attendants are here to lead us into a holding area while we wait for the stage to open and cybermen to appear to convert us.”

Flickr - law keven - Resistance is futile...

“Turn your imagination off.”

“But you think about it, it would be the perfect way to do it. They have lured us into a netted area and told us to turn our phones off…. Not that mine has any signal in here anyway…. See that’s confirmed it, what type of show have you brought us too?”

“Turn your mind off! What did you think you were coming to?”

“I don’t know, I didn’t open the link you sent me.”

The show began by the stage opening up at the centre, with the horizontal wooden doors exiting upwards and downwards, but alas there were no cybermen standing behind, just a band. To be more precise it was John Cale and Liam Young’s LOOP>>60Hz: Transmissions from The Drone Orchestra.

John Cale 2010 Urban SimpleLife Festical

The performance was described by Cale himself as a ‘Drone: a bleak tapestry of unholy noises, searing into the listeners ears and – with any luck – transporting them to a place they’ll not want to leave for long while’. If you had never seen a performance by this team before, it wouldn’t take you long to realise that these individuals were multi-skilled instrument players, where several of them began with a guitar, for example, and then moved on to something else.

Accompanied by their laptops, the powerful and moving composures featured inaudible vocals which contributed to the darkness of the pieces more. I have seen over the years a lot of musicians try this style in their music but be unsuccessful each time. That was not the case here. The band, digital effects and instruments worked in harmony together and complimented each track.

But wait, there is more.

The drones, when the first soared into the air above our heads (this was a rather large one with florescent tubing coating its exterior), I did comment to Arani:

“You see, now they are stealing our secret thoughts with the distraction of music,”

To which she replied;

“Switch off your imagination”.

Unfortunately as the music continued and a variation of different drones took flight, it just made my imagination go into overdrive. However this is a good thing, for only true artists can inspire the creativity of others.

For just over two and a half hours we sat through what could only be described as musical genius. It may not have been for everyone but no one could deny that the compilation of digital music, and drones was an act of bravery – especially as they were hovering over the audience and let’s face it the UK is renowned for its health and safety. In fact, Cale actually commented when leaving the stage “Thank you – and no casualties”.

So what was the reason for the drones?

The conclusion is based on musical frequencies and how the technology has been structured into the performance to enhance the melodies. Not only that but they look quite cool too, particular the one with feathers, and from a practical point of view (though this may have been accidental), the fans elevating the machines provided an amazing cooling method for the audience below, which I was really happy about.

Described on the Barbican’s event listing as ‘unusual tunings and unorthodox audio delivery. Liam Young’s collection of drones escape their associations with surveillance and the military, becoming instead choreographed, disembodied instruments which take flight in the auditorium to create a profoundly immersive live music performance’.

Overall, this was a fantastic performance, and one I would happily see again. Good job chaps!

It’s always fun reading a post where an advocate for technology finds negativity about it, but I genuinely do believe that it is a main cause of society’s anger and lack of consideration nowadays.

Let’s leave out the fact that we have a government who want the UK to be the most technologically advanced in Europe – well let’s put it this way I would feel safer with a bunch of chimps running the country, but everyone, and I do mean everyone, walks around with some form of mobile device strapped to them like it is some wanted growth.

I am guilty of that too but, not to the point where I sacrifice my manners and awareness just so I don’t miss the latest post on Facebook and end up bumping into people walking down the street.

The corporate business bods paved the way for this so I don’t know why I’m complaining as I am partially at fault here if we want to the picky. The Blackberry for office workers meant we could get outside of the office and not minimise productivity, we actually went back to having lives, or as close to one as possible.

Now everyone is doing it, we are connected all of the time to the web, and Facebook and Twitter allows us to make our voices heard to the masses. This is to the extent where I see couples on a train sitting opposite one another, and they are programmed into their mobile phones rather than actually having a conversation. Make the best of it, they are probably having a conversation on Facebook.

The art of conversation is also becoming a dying…Art.

Modern day electronics provides us with a good escape from life, economic crisis anyone, what economic crisis? But I do genuinely believe that concentration levels are at an all-time low, after all why would you want to do boring work when Burty your friend is updating Facebook with mediocre drivel. But it is not all like that, I have some friends who post hilarious things on Facebook which is great at lifting your spirits first thing in the morning.

I do have a good way at quantifying this theory though, observe:

I have swim for over 30 years and each year the awareness in the pool gets worse. Albeit we are now at that time of year where we have to deal with January swimmers. Even though they will be gone soon I am seeing a complete decline in lane discipline, barging into each other etc…

Another example, my car was virtually stationary and some idiot destroyed my wing mirror when driving past. My car is built like a tank! Now this one could have been down to bad driving on their part but still the lack of awareness is shocking.

But alas things can always change. Maybe the Google goggles might help us all see more clearly while still being tapped into our mobile devices.

Google Glass detail

I am a fan of Blackberry, well I was until their most recent models. I throw everything I have at mine and whereas before previous models could take it, now with the new devices trying to take down iPhone and every other competitor, I think they left out a few bits. My current mobile device is somewhat “overwhelmed”.

But that isn’t really what this is about….

Blackberry were one of the first commercially to take the scene for businesses to go mobile. Creeping out of the shadows of HTC PDAs and Palm-Pilot, the original, which symbolised that of a flattened Blackberry took the business world by storm. People could leave offices, go to the pub, go home and see the family even, I remember it was like some amazing revelation in the legal world.

On top of that, from a business perspective productivity was increased, and at the same time you had happy workers because they could go home and have a drink etc.

But, then there was the inevitable extreme! As with many things in the world we had to go overboard.

Productivity turned into obsession, businesses took on more work, theorists and marketers enhanced the benefits of the new digital age, the mobile device crossed over into the consumer world as well and the possibilities were endless….

From that extent, most have adopted the “Cyber man” way of life, and we have caged ourselves in our very own mobile device prison.

Emailing, texting, social networking, business networking, multi tasking, where will it all end. We are hungry for information, we want to know what the other is doing, and with that we have positively turned ourselves into zombies. We are now an extension of the mobile device not the other way around, it is a novelty on the train not to see someone with an iPad, smartphone, Blackberry eReader, iPod or MP3 player or headphones into the smartphone or even all of the above.

A book made of paper what is that?….. Ok I suppose we cannot neglect the free commuter newspapers they are often read.

But what about the breakdown in human interaction? I have seen couples sit opposite each other on the train on their phones, they may have even been on the same page of Facebook.

But whether for business or for pleasure we have turned ourselves, and in some instances trapped ourselves, in the world of technology. The art of conversation is gone, its only there when we have to force it, an increase in spectacle wear, and devices that are so advanced soon we won’t have to think for ourselves.

Its great cutting corners and utilising technology, it saves lives, it gives us joy it helps us out, but unlike the Lawnmower man I very much doubt our end goal is to make all of the telephones in the world ring…..

On that note, how long can you go without picking up your phone?

There is of course the serious element here, those that are trapped by their mobile devices for work. You feel tagged and lashed to say the least.

I think we can agree to disagree and at the same time acknowledge that a happy medium in all things is necessary, and like several other novelty items, technology can also be addictive.

Electronic Cigarettes – A True Saviour for Smoke Addicts – Lotus Magma.

Facebook Fan Pages How Do You Create Them – Lotus Magma.

Computers And Cars Make Big Moves On The Stock Market – Lotus Magma.

I think most of us have been there, perhaps you have had a rant on Facebook, posted a review, updated Twitter with a snotty status because someone or something has annoyed you. That’s not a problem, that is what social networking/ review websites are for are they not? The only problem is when you receive an email from the one(s) you were complaining about as a result.

That one subject line can invoke a lot of reactions from remorse, to embarrassment to anger, but the benefits of email are that you can ignore them, filter them, or just delete them without reading.

Messaging in general whether it be by email or instant messenger on the computer, virtually everyone does it everyday, and as a result where we once had restraint and decorum, because it is so integrated in our daily lives we have lowered the barriers. Some of us no longer maintain our subtly and I would be a hypocrite if I said that I was innocent in this.

The scenario that brought about this post led from my partner and I trying out a new club at the weekend. We had heard great reviews about it, but when we got there we found it not to be our cup of tea, so we promptly left.

The reasons were that it was very basic in facilities, not many looked to have taken pride in their appearance, the music was unbelievably cheesy and we seemed to be the youngest ones there.

This may all sound rather minor but on top of that, the gate personnel who also took the admission payment were a little too personal for my liking – they basically implied that I was checking out how much money my partner had in his wallet when he was paying, and proceeded to call me pet names and treat me like the ‘little woman’. I have no idea who these people were used to dealing with, but it certainly was not us.

Two things that really tick me off, generalisation in the genders and being personal to someone when you have only just met them! Proximity is key when building relationships!

Anyway, I ended up posting on a club review website that we use. I put my journalist and business heads on and wrote a constructive review highlighting the pros and cons. I don’t believe in being sarcastic about a venue, granted we did not like it but others might so I finished with ‘give it a go, you never know’ – rather cliche but I wanted it to end on a neutral note.

A day later I received a text from my partner. The owner of the club had emailed us – cue the awkward feeling and gulp of the throat moment!

Overall the email wasn’t bad, in fact it thanked us for our honesty and they said it was a refreshing change. They would like to speak more as well.

My aim was not to get into a ‘club-improvement’ discussion, I had said what I wanted to say, but it was nice to be acknowledged.

So, moral of the story:

1) Not all emails are bad even if you are dreading reading them – always have a look at them, you may be surprised.
2) Always be constructive in reviews, just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean others won’t too.
3) Don’t get mad at the content if it is negative. If all else fails there is a delete button, and on most systems a restore function if you don’t read it in the first place but then finally pluck up the courage to read the email at a later date – perhaps with a glass of wine or vodka.

Google No Longer Providing Browser Support For IE8 – Lotus Magma.

Here’s an oldie but a goodie, it is one that I have seen on many occasions and no matter where my career takes me I think I will always continue to see it time and time again.

When someone hasn’t learnt a piece of software, gadget, or new technology in general, do they blame themselves or the person who taught them?

Status Busy Now you may have guessed here that I am not referring to reading the instructions on how to use your iPad (do they have instructions?), my reference is more of the corporate sense. For example, if you work for a software house, technology company or in-house IT department.

For those of you who work in such environments you may have also experienced a person’s frustration when they want to use a new piece of software and feel that they have either not been trained properly or they just cannot grasp it, and this in addition to time restraints and general work-related stress often is a recipe for a disastrous outcome.

I was speaking to a friend the other day who had gone through something very similar recently. A lawyer had decided to use their company to provide some software to aid with one of their cases. The idea behind this software (without giving too many details away), was to save time as they had millions of documents to sift through – this is no exaggeration. However the lawyer had lost faith in the software because they just could not get to grips with it.

In this scenario we have to ask, was the cause of the problem due to inadequate training, or was it the lack of time dedicated by the lawyer to learn the software effectively, or was it a mixture of both?

In this case, I knew the full story and looking from the outside in, I would say that it was a bit of both. Knowing the software too, I don’t think the lawyer was pointed fully in the right direction, they could have been shown other functions that would have helped them further, but on the other hand, the lawyer was used to doing things a particular way and I think there was a lack of trust that an alternative way would have saved time.

It is a very difficult situation to be in, as whether it be an external client or someone in-house that you see most days, it is tricky to know whether anyone is to blame or perhaps everyone is at fault.

You have a person who is set in their ways and does not want to change even though it will hinder them, and as a results the frustration turns into panic which wastes more time when really if they had carried on down the path they were directed to do so in the first place, their work would be done by now….

OR there is the other situation where they have been guided the wrong way or perhaps not thoroughly enough. The instructions they have been given could have been catered better and then they become annoyed once they find this out, which again (and you guessed it), results in more wasted time.

I think there are a few good morals to this story though:

1) Even in a gadgetry world, people are still scared of technology;

2) If you see this situation happening, invite some outside eyes to help resolve it, you will find that this actually does save time; and

2) No matter how much you try and utilize time, try and plan ahead where possible. Everything may go swimmingly, but at the same time if you are dealing with technology you have to (and nearly everyone does not) account for technical problems, downtime and so on.

Glossy 3d blue hourglass no shadow

Even if it is a case of not willing to learn, lack of understanding, failure to teach, another key factor which always comes into play is good old communication. Communication is the key to most industries and I suppose we could easily say that if we communicate effectively then situations like the ones above do not happen – but I think we all know in reality they do no matter what we do – we just have to minimize the discomfort.

 

Enjoy Funny Ringtones on Android Phones – Lotus Magma.