Archive for October, 2011

QR Code #FAIL or not?

Friday, October 21st, 2011

QR (Quick Response) codes are becoming ubiquitous in advertising (and business cards – I even have one that has only a big orange QR code on it), and yet many people just don’t know what they are. As a geeky kind of guy, I’m interested in how they can be used and in finding interesting applications for them (one of the nicest uses I’ve seen is on this board – all the points of interest were marked with QR codes that contained location information).Info Map with QR Codes

So, when I saw the article linked below, I found myself first of all being a bit annoyed that the writer was criticizing the use of these codes, and then more and more agreeing with him, as he’s absolutely right. We’ve mostly only done boring and stupid stuff with them. It’s a great article, and also contains some creative ideas about how they could be used. If you’re in marketing or advertising, you should certainly think about some of the points raised:

If you have an iPhone (as I do) you’ll need a third party reader for QR codes – my favorite is “Red Laser” which is also available for Android. So next time you see a QR code somewhere, pay a bit more attention – it might be the start of something cool.



Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Trust is a gift, often given only once, that can be lost in an instant, but if kept carefully will last a lifetime.

Sometimes change is just not fast enough

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Today brings the terribly sad news that, once again, a teenager has taken his own life because of bullying about his sexuality.

So much has changed in the last 50 years or so; we’ve moved (here in America at least) from a country where slavery was legal and black people were considered sub-human, to a better world where slavery is a receding memory and we can have an African American (in the truest sense of that descriptor) president. That is not to deny that, sadly, racism is still found in some measure.

However, we still have so far to go as a society (globally) in our acceptance of diversity. We need teachers and schools to adopt a positive attitude towards LGBT individuals, and to help them support such young people as Jamie (whose lives are hard enough just with going through their teens). We need to be tougher on bullies, and we need to teach more positively around homosexuality.

But, school reflects society as a whole. Children have all the biases of their parents, in concentrated and unfiltered quantity. Therefore, a big part of the change that is needed is going to have to be the decline of traditional religious attitudes towards homosexuality. Teachers can only do so much, but much more needs to be done in churches, synagogues and mosques around the country (and world), to help to build a more tolerant and accepting environment. Parents need to teach their children that slurs like ‘faggot’ are simply unacceptable, no matter their private beliefs about the subject. Surely if you truly believe in ‘god’s love’ you should teach your children to love others without judgement – lest you be judged yourself?

Of course, I’d rather that nobody felt the need to cling to any religious dogma at all; particularly where it impinges on the freedoms and safety of others; but recognizing that many people of belief are essentially good, and sincerely believe while wishing no ill to others, I have to accept that change will be slow, and that perhaps it can only come from within the belief systems themselves. Most ‘true believers’ will not accept the pleas of an atheist, but perhaps if their pastors/rabbis/imams and other leaders begin to teach a more welcoming religion, one tolerant of the natural diversity in our society, then perhaps there will be hope that we won’t have to see another Jamie.

My sincerest condolences to Jamies friends and family, he was a truly brave young man.

Sirious business

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

It’s probably no secret to anyone who knows me that I am a big fan of Apple. While I recognise there are some legitimate criticisms that could be leveled against them (for instance their approach to security could probably be a little more accepting of the fact that malware exists), I think that, on the whole, they are a great company, making wonderful products that people want to use.

What it’s tempting to forget, in the world where the iPhone and iPad now exist, is just how incredibly innovative Apple is, on a regular basis. The latest iteration of the iPhone garnered a lot of attention (naturally), and some of it was negative – based on the fact that Apple hadn’t called it iPhone 5 (ok, not quite that, but if Apple had called it v5, then maybe the criticisms would have been quieter). However, the people who criticize Apple for the similar form factor etc, have really missed the point. Even the camera being 8megapixels and full 1080p video capable isn’t the ‘main meal’.

What’s really revolutionary, is Siri – the personal assistant. I’ve been playing with Siri since yesterday, when I got the new iPhone 4S, and I have not yet ceased to be amazed by its power and ‘intelligence’. Ask it what the stock price for¬† Apple is, or what the weather in Hong Kong will be and Siri will be ready with an answer. Say “How about some Italian food?” and she will come up with a list of restaurants in the area that serve that cuisine. You can dictate email, instruct her to send SMS (Send Gerald an SMS saying “Thank you” – and it works), or ask for a reminder or alarm, Siri will know what to do and how to respond. But the most fun thing? She has a sense of humour, as witnessed by the screenshot below.

Siri answers the most important question

I love technology, but I don’t mean I like complexity – just the opposite. I love technology that makes life easier because it is well designed and it ‘just works’. That’s why I love what Apple does, because this seems to be their main rule. Siri is yet another quiet revolution from the Cupertino company. I’m sure we’ll see more, though Steve Jobs was an inspiring figure, he was only one individual, and Apple is a very big company. There are plenty of people there who will want to see his legacy maintained.

The Domino Project

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Seth Godin’s new book “We are All Weird” is a truly excellent read. I don’t think I’ll ever again think the same way about the company I work for. I hope to be able to spread some of the ideas around, and a good way to start is to point people towards the blog related to the book’s central idea.

The Domino Project

The book is available in limited hardback edition, but you can get it digitally too, for a really amazing price. Don’t let the price fool you though, this could be one of the most important books you ever read, if you’re in business.

Steve Jobs 1955 – 2011

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

R.I.P. Steve Jobs.

Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

9.61% interesting…on Twitter

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

So, according to this quite amusing graphical ‘twitter profiler’, this is me as of today:

Penn Jillette

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Penn & Teller are my favourite magicians. I love many magicians, especially Derren Brown (ok, so he’s more of a mentalist, but whatever),¬†Lennart Green, Jerry Sadowitz and Paul Daniels, but Penn & Teller are my absolute favourite. I’ve seen their show in Vegas live more times than I care to mention and I’ve watched almost everything they’ve ever done on TV (Collection of some rarities here).

So what? Well, it just so happens that Penn & Teller are also well known for their atheist (anti-theist?) stance. Penn, the larger and louder half of the two (both by volume), is especially outspoken on the subject, and has now written a book “God, No!” which is doing very well in the NY Times bestseller list. It’s on my Kindle, along with about 5 other books I’ve yet to get to, but I’m saving it, like leaving the best part of a meal until the last moment.

However, Penn also writes on a more ad-hoc basis on the subject of atheism and religion. As I live in America (but am not yet a citizen), I have noticed the increasingly bizzare antics of American politicians (not just on the right), who constantly ‘namedrop’ god. Penn’s latest article is a really excellent examination of why it is that, since Carter, almost every presidential hopeful has had to have god on his (or her) campaign trail.

I agree with many of his points, and would only add that it seems pretty likely that politicians are also reflecting the national mood of worry about identity and the threat of terrorism (the new communism). People, when they are scared, flock to the familiar, retreat in into xenophobia and nationalism, and the familiar arms of a comforting religion where no thought is necessary. That, coupled with the rise in scientific thinking, the increasingly vocal atheist community and a suspicion of all things middle eastern and Islamic, has brought out the very worst in the religious right – a large and motivated portion of the voting population. Expect things to get even stranger from here out.

By the way, if you’ve never heard Penn in full flow, you should check out this appearance on PBS some years ago. His incredible oration and flawless delivery is really wonderful to behold. He’s a giant of a man, and has a brain to match. Did I say that he’s half of one of my favourite magical duos?

Sorry if I’ve neglected Teller in this post…I’ll make up for that in a future blog, he surely deserves it!