Digital Fit in 2018: Build on your skills

Skills.jpgKeeping your skills up to date is a key part of being Digitally Fit. There is no definitive list of training that should be undertaken to become “Digital”, it depends upon your role requirements, however there are some topic areas that should be considered as a base set of skills to expand on.

These topic areas have come from my post on having the right Digital Mindset.

  • Business
    • Change/Ambiguity
    • Agile Business Practices
    • Business Strategy and Investment
    • Customer Experience
  • Technology
    • Modern Architectures
    • Coding/Development
    • Agile Development
    • Cyber
  • Social
  •  Personal
    • 21st Century Human
    • Human Dynamics
    • Design Thinking

The main this is to keep up a pattern of continuous learning and invest time into your learning to bring your skills up to the latest developments. This can be typically around 40-50 hours a year.

Recording your learning to show your advancement is a good way of keeping track of the topics and things you have learn’t along with the number of hours you have spent learning.

I use a CPD Cycle to remind me to reflect on what I have learnt and how I will apply it. Also what I need to relearn or expand on in future training.

CPD Cycle

 

What do you think at the key Digital Subjects and how do you record your learning?

Further Reading:

Digital Mindset

The Nature and Cycle of CPD

Recording your CPD

How much CPD/Training should you be doing?

Digital Fit in 2018: Balancing the Noise

Digital Fit in 2018: Start Blogging

Digital Fit in 2018: Get Social

Digital Fit in 2018: Build up a Readership

A-Z of Digital – K is for Knowledge

A-Z of Digital – S is for Social

 

Cardboard & Electronics Education

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cardboardCardboard has been a part of childhood learning for a very long time, however its use has evolved from building things, making dens or sliding down grassy hills on it. The evolution on how this material is being used in learning is changing at a fast rate.

Google have been leading the way with the Google Cardboard Viewer that you can put your phone in and experience Virtual Reality at a low cost (phone excluded). There is now an increase of  cardboard kits available and coming on to the market, especially with kits like the Raspberry PI.

Here are some of the kits:

Google Cardboard

A cardboard viewer that allows you to use your mobile phone as a VR device.

https://vr.google.com/cardboard/

Google Voice

A cardboard kit incorporating a Raspberry PI and speaker that uses Google Home as a Voice Assistant. The kit contains a Google Bonnet board that provides functionality to the Raspberry PI and components.

https://aiyprojects.withgoogle.com/voice/

Google Vision

A cardboard kit incorporating a Raspberry PI and camera that uses Machine Learning to recognise objects. The kit contains a Google Bonnet board that provides functionality to the Raspberry PI and components.

https://aiyprojects.withgoogle.com/vision

IBM TJ Bot

A cardboard robot that you can build and incorporate a Raspberry PI to experience AI using IBM Watson.

https://www.ibm.com/ibm/responsibility/initiatives/activitykits/tjbot/

Nintendo Labo

A set of cardboard modules that can be used with a Nintendo Switch

https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Nintendo-Labo/Nintendo-Labo-1328637.html

These kits provide a great platform to build on existing skills and learn new skills using reasonably priced components.

Move over Plastics – Cardboard is here (again) !!!

Do you know of any other cardboard kits not listed above?

Digital Fit in 2018: Social Data Security

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SocialDataWhen you mention personal data at the moment, most people think straight away of the recent Facebook/Cambridge Analytica new story and how your personal data is being used. However when you take a step back from this story and look across your own digital ecosystem you are generating a lot of data across a lot of systems. Are you really secure and do you help yourself over data security?

The drive of the social platforms has been to get people to post and upload lots of data about what they are doing and it has become a Social Norm to just tweet about this or post a photo on Instagram or Facebook, upload a video, Snapchat with friends etc…

As these things are now second nature to some people, the question of “Should I actually post that or say that” doesn’t get asked or thought about.

Here an example of this – I often see my feeds full of holiday snaps and people “Checking In” at a location such as an airport with a line off “Off on Holiday for 2 weeks”. Not the best plan if you haven’t secured your settings on your social feed of who can see your post. This doesn’t cover other people re-posting your post though to their friends.  This is evident in the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica news as once someone used a web link the system went out and picked up details of that persons friends details.

There have been lots of stories in the news of postings being directly related to house burglaries. How many people know that these types of social posts could effect your house insurance.

  • Check your social platform security settings
  • Remove any location tagging from photos you take (Check your camera apps as well – it may be putting gps locations into the photo metadata)
  • Consider posting after the event if you can
  • Think about your location check ins
  • Think before you post

 

References

https://globalnews.ca/news/2831282/are-your-vacation-pictures-putting-your-home-at-risk-of-robbery/

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/04/john-terrys-mansion-burgled-footballer-posted-holiday-pictures/

https://www.confused.com/home-insurance/guides/burglars-turn-to-facebook-and-twitter-to-target-victims

 

Further Reading:

Digital Mindset

Taking a Leap into Quantum – Hello World with Q#

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Quantum.jpg

Back in December 2017, Microsoft announced a Quantum Development kit which uses Q # (Q Sharp) as its language. It is designed to be used with Visual Studio 2017.  Recently I decided to install the development kit and have a go at the usual “Hello World” example.

The development kit is explained as being capable of developing Quantum code using a Quantum Simulator on your device.

“The development kit contains the tools you’ll need to build your own quantum computing programs and experiments. Assuming some experience with Microsoft Visual Studio or Visual Studio Code, beginners can write their first quantum program, and experienced researchers can quickly and efficiently develop new quantum algorithms”

Source: Microsoft

Overall I found the tutorial well laid out, with lots of good explanations and shows how some functions are equivalent to others in C, C#, Java. If you are used to C#, then Q# will be immediately familiar as it uses semicolons and braces to indicate program structure.

With this demonstration the “Hello World” is in the form of qubit, so the output on the screen is in Zero and One. the example also takes you through changing the program to create Superposition and Entanglement.

We’ll start with the simplest program possible and build it up to demonstrate quantum superposition and quantum entanglement. We will start with a qubit in a basis state |0⟩
, perform some operations on it and then measure the result.

Output:

Init:Zero 0s=1000 1s=0
Init:One 0s=0 1s=1000

Creating Superposition

Output:

Init:Zero 0s=484 1s=516
Init:One 0s=522 1s=478

Creating Entanglement

Output:

Init:Zero 0s=499 1s=501 agree=1000
Init:One 0s=490 1s=510 agree=1000

Source: Q# Worked Example

Q#

A good introduction and first steps into programming Quantum Computing.

Resources

Technology Couch Podcast – Episode 3

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Technology Couch Podcast

Episode 3

In this episode I am joined by Steve Nicholls (https://twitter.com/nichosteve1971) and discuss podcasting.

The podcast is also available in iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/technology-couch-podcast

Podcast References:

Discussing STEM subjects in the Classroom

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STEM in the Classroom

Its been a while since I last blogged (apologies for that), but  I have had a lot on recently. So here is a catch up on one of the activities I have been doing.

Recently I have had an opportunity with two colleagues, to attend a school and take 4 classes (1 hour each class) and talk to them about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math’s) and what is happening in business around Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality. I also took some headsets along for the pupils to try (HTC Vive, Hololens, Gear VR and RealWear) as well as a hand held scanner for taking scans of real world objects to put in to the virtual world.

I ran 20-30 mins of discussion followed by the rest of the time with the pupils trying out the items I had taken along for them to look at how they can be used and to inspire them in looking at STEM subjects in their subject choices.

It was a great experience to take 4 classes and effectively being a teacher for them and it was certainly different to be called “Sir” instead of “Max” and took a bit of getting used to.

I used a mobile phone as a basis to explain why STEM subjects are important as all the pupils had one and went through how Science, Technology, Engineering and Math’s subjects/skills are used in the creation of the device and why they are important.

The pupils certainly enjoyed their experience trying the different types of realities and using some voice controls instead of keyboards to invoke applications and tasks. I hope that I have helped inspire some to take the subjects going forward and wish them all well with their choices, exams and future careers.

 

STEM – Gaining Inspiration

Tim Peakes Soyuz CapsuleEncouraging young people to take STEM subjects is not always an easy task when you are speaking with them at career events.

Finding talking points is a great way to start the conversation. Normally this is based around the roles I have carried out in my career and my own experiences at school, however this will be one of my references in future conversations.

Last weekend whilst on a trip I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to go and see Tim Peakes Soyuz capsule (Soyuz TMA-19M). The spacecraft that brought him back to earth on 18th June 2016, following his mission on the International Space Station.

This is a great example of all the STEM subjects coming together. For example:

  • Science – working out how to get someone into space and safely back again. Also what to do whilst they are in space.
  • Technology – to control the craft and communications.
  • Engineering – to build the craft and ensure its durability leaving and entering the earths atmosphere.
  • Maths – to work out all those complex calculations behind the Science, Technology and Engineering.

The capsule was once white and its current colour is from the burning and charring caused by the intense heat during re-entry.

The capsule is on tour so if you are in the UK, it may be coming to a location near you https://group.sciencemuseum.org.uk/our-work/tim-peakes-spacecraft-tour/

What do you use as subjects and topics do you use?

Digital Fit in 2018: Balancing the Noise

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Sound DeskListening is one of the key skills in life and it is also the same across the various information streams, however you can get flooded with “noise” that you need to filter out to get to the messages and content that you want to hear about.

I have written in the past about a Personal Knowledge Management System that can be used to help filter out noise and focus on the streams and information that is relevant to yourself.

We have many forms of information streams that can be tapped into such as email and social media platforms. It can take time to keep looking at each stream in turn and scrolling through the history. Many of the streams change at a very fast rate – for example how many people you follow on twitter and who you follow can make a difference. If your following a bot that basically picks up other tweets about a subject and re-tweets them you will be picking up a lot of traffic from many accounts.  This can be to coin and old phrase “drinking from the firehose”. You are only able to take in so much information.

Top 4 tips for Balancing the Noise:

  • Manage who you follow. If they get too noisy about things that you don’t want to know about you can unfollow them (and re follow them later)
  • Be wary of following too many bots as they can fill your streams quickly.
  • Think about using tools such as feedly to bring some streams together for viewing in a list.
  • Set up your own Personal Knowledge Management System

Further Reading:

Digital Mindset

Digital Fit in 2018: Start Blogging

Digital Fit in 2018: Get Social

Digital Fit in 2018: Build up a Readership

A-Z of Digital – K is for Knowledge

A-Z of Digital – S is for Social

 

Technology Couch Podcast – Episode 2

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Technology Couch Podcast

Episode 2

In this episode I am joined by Miranda Webb (https://twitter.com/mirandakaywebb1) and discuss Women in IT and Leadership, gender pay gap and STEM.

The podcast is also available in iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/technology-couch-podcast

Podcast References:

Suggested Reading from Miranda:

Digital Fit in 2018: Build up a Readership

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binocularsIf you have been following this series of blog posts, you should now have a blog and a set of social channels. That’s a great start, however how do you get noticed? How to you get a readership? How can you increase your Digital Profile? These are questions that I was asked yesterday following my last post. Here are my thoughts on this topic.

Have you ever Googled yourself? (other search engines are available). Did you appear in any of the search results or not? Did you check the images as well?

If you already have a presence in a blog or social channels the chances are that the search engine has found one of these – unless you have a name that competes with someone with a stronger profile, where if you go through the results you should be there.  If you do not have any social presence its most likely you will not feature in the results.

Looking yourself up on a search engine is also a good way of checking any security or privacy settings you have on your social platforms. Have you opened up enough for the search engines to find you, or have you exposed too much and need to dial it back a bit.

There isn’t a super magic sauce for building a readership and some of it will happen over time, however there are a number of things you can do to get started.

The content you post is only half of the story. People will often like to click through if the content is good to find out who has written it. Having a profile will help the reader understand who you are and your background.

Lets break this down into two main headings. Profile and Content.

Profile

Blog Profile

In most blogging platforms you can set your profile within your account. It is important to ensure that you have a good profile picture in place as well. Search engines love profile data as it tells them who has written the blog. Make sure you set the metadata on the picture as well. Name, Description, and Keywords which search engine pick up on.

Blog About

Setting your About page to a good description of yourself. Think about using other sites such as about.me Here is my profile as an example – https://about.me/maxhemingway. You will see that it links back to my blog, twitter and other sites. You can also set these on your blog site using icons to link back to other pages.

 

Social Channel Profiles

Again it is important to set your profile and picture. Keep consistency in your profile information, although an alternative profile picture can be used.

At the end of this you will end up with a small web of interlinks between your sites.

Content

Searchable Subjects – Blogs

Your subject and content are key in order to gain a readership. This will be down to what subjects you blog on, however using tags and keyword functions in your blog can also help search engines find your content. There are lots of search engines in use today and each has its quirks on how it ranks results and collects data, however using the standard features in your blog for Categories and Tags can help search engines. It also helps group content you write on your site and makes any local site searching using the blog search engine easy.

Posting regular content also helps build a readership and following.

Broadcasting content

When you write a blog or post something in a social channel you can link between the channels so one post can automatically be posted in other channels. For instance, when I post a blog, it also gets broadcast out on Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn using the Sharing function. You can link to a number of other channels as well.

Once a reader finds your blog post, they can have a look at the other content on your site. If its good, you can build a set of followers.

Timing

The time that you publish your blog or tweets can also have an effect on your readership levels due to different time zones around the world. I find that publishing after GMT 14:00 is usually a good time, but this may differ depending upon your own timezone and your target audience.

Headlines

Popular Press has mastered this art and provides its reader with a catchy headline to its stories. You need to think about the message your headine or tweet is trying to convey. Will it attract the readers you want, or is it not quite on message. Short snappy headlines pull in the readers.

Social Channels

Social channels can provide a readership and following for your content. For example Twitter uses hashtags which are searchable via twitter and let you view tweets of a similar hashtag. Love them or hate them, the hashtag is a useful tool in building your readership.

Following the followers

You don’t have to follow lots of people to get a good following, however if people are following you, its because they like the subject you are communicating. They may have similar views or posts, so following them back may help you with research into your next post.

The important part to remember (as mentioned in my last blog post) is that social platforms are relational not transactional. Following people in your field/subject also shows your readers that you are interested in your topic and the views of others.

Re-tweeted

Having good content and messages that are re-tweeted or re-blogged by someone else introduces your post to a different circles of followers. This only happens though if people consider your content and messages to be relevant to their followers and readership.

Talk

When your in conversation and a subject comes up that you have blogged about, tell people you have a point of view on that as reference your work. Send out links to people so they can find it easily.

Guest Write

Consider guest writing for a blog or channel as they often provider a link back to the authors blog/twitter. This usually needs you to be established with some good content in the first place before being accepted as a guest writer.

Lastly, time is a factor. It does take time to build up your content, build followers and getting the search engines to list you in the results, however once you start getting noticed, your readership does go up.

Try searching for yourself in a couple of weeks again. Any change?

 

Further Reading:

Digital Mindset

Digital Fit in 2018: Start Blogging

Digital Fit in 2018: Get Social

A-Z of Digital – K is for Knowledge

A-Z of Digital – S is for Social