Proving it – “If it’s obvious prove it. If you can’t prove it, it’s not obvious.”

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I first wrote about this phrase back in December 2014 – “If it’s obvious prove it. If you can’t prove it, it’s not obvious“, which is one of the phrase tools I use when writing things down for others and I have been using this alot with others to help them with writing documentation and helping fill out applications.

I am republishing this blog again as it may be relevent for others, so here is the blog:

This is a phrase that I use a lot and I first came across many, many years ago from someone I previously worked with. Since then it has stuck with me.

When writing documents how often do we assume that the reader will know what we mean or understand that just because we know something is there that they do. I have seen many occasions and have fallen into the trap occasionally myself where you write about something in the manner that you know all the facts but don’t convey them.

An example of this could be a proposal or technical document;

The device has two power supplies;

  • To a technical mind the instant reaction might be that this will probably be connected to two separate power supplies and backed up by generators and UPS.
  • To a financial mind the instant reaction might be that this is extra cost not justified.
  • To the engineer who checks the proposal – I wonder how thats going to be configured?

Where in fact the writer forgot to mention that the device was a chassis that needed two power supplies to provide enough power to all the devices placed into that chassis and is fed from one power supply.

OK – in reality you should always look for redundancy and in this example that could equal four power supplies, but this example shows how easy one statement can be misinterpreted because it was obvious to the writer and not the reader.

Just food for thought… Try running that phrase against the next document, email, CV, Application, etc that you write and put yourself in the readers place.

Hope this helps you with your writing.

STEM – Hypothetical Big Questions – Robots

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Back in June I wrote some hypothetical questions for an online STEM event. These are meant to provoke discussion.

Setting the Scene

In todays world there are lots of advancements in the technologies in areas such as 3D Printing, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence helping to solve problems. Examples are the use of robots to build cars more efficiently and quickly, to now being able to 3D print the parts needed to make the car and now being built with the ability to drive themselves. Robots are not always mechanical things, software can also be a robotic process that automates something.

Hypothetical Big Questions

Will Robots eventually take over everyone’s jobs?

How would you feel if robots did all the work and what would you do all day?

How would you earn money to live?

My View

I have previously discussed this in a past post in the form of a short story “I Lost my Job to a Robot“. Whats your view?

Orignial Tweet

Technology Couch Podcast – Episode 7

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Technology Couch Podcast Logo

In this episode I chat to Aman Kohli about “Remote Learning and Lockdown”

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

To confirm, I am not getting any funding/promotions from any products discussed in this podcast.

Avatars – My Digital Selfie

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The ability to create avatars has been around for sometime, but more recently more platforms have provided this ability to create them. Facebook being one of the latest to introduce a create an avatar based on some standard forms that you can then modify to your nearest look. This has caused a recent splurge of posts on the social media channel as everyone is keen to show off their new avatar.

Some people find using an avatar more comfortable than using their real picture

Other systems use a photo of yourself either uploading or taking a selfie to create your avatar and try to make the avatar more realistic to you.

Most avatar systems are based on a set of generic shapes and colour choices. One of the challenges with using a fully custom avatar in channel where the avatar is an active part of the actions, such as in Virtual Reality and Gaming is the downloading and rendering of the images. Multiple versions of avatars may have an impact/slowdown on a system as it tries to cope with the additional images and polygons to render and process.

I have brought some of my avatars together below to show the different types. These are by no means a comprehensive list of avatars, but a sample of whats available.

In brining these together the differences in how the systems either see me or allow me to interpret my face and features. There is quite a difference across all the systems.

Ready Player Me

The avatar from Ready Player Me is my latest one and create as I needed a virtual version of myself for a virtual experience. Running the web page from your PC/Laptop or phone and take a selfie or use an existing photo creates an avatar that you can then change appearance and colour on.

The output is a .glb file that can be used in creating virtual environments.

Avatar in https://readyplayer.me/

Spatial.io

The avatar from spacial produces a floating version of yourself using a photo of your face using this as a skin to the model. Out of all my avatars this is the most realistic, but is platform specific.

Avatar from Spatial.io

Samsung

The Samsung Avatar runs on a Samsung phone (Using an S9 to create these). Taking a selfie you can create a set of AR Emojis/stickers for use in your social channels. It creates a avatr that you can then customise.

Avatar from Samsung Phone

Facebook

Using the facebook avatar creator within the Facebook application you can choose from a number of face shapes and skin tones to set your initial version that can then be customised to be as near as it can to your image.

Avatar from Facebook

X-Box

The X-Box Avatar is built up from a standard avatar set that you can then customise the look. This was the nearest I got to myself using the platform.

Avatar from XBox

There are lots more platforms out there that you can set and customise your avatars in. For me there is a lot of variation in the avatars and only a couple are near realistic for me. The others are good fun though.

The future may see the option to standardise on a set of avatars. Until then happy avataring.

Everyone needs good Cyber Security knowledge

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Padlock Gates“Everyone needs strong good Security knowledge”. With the increase of connected devices that are entering our lives and the number of vulnerabilities being found in technologies that are becoming common place in our homes, people will need to be more savvy around Cyber Security and know what is going on with our devices and information.

Recent times have also seen an increase in the usage of devices, applications, social media and video calls. It has also seen an increase in the number of scams and security issues increase.

Sales of technology to allow remote working and to stay in touch with family and friends was rapid at the start of the pandemic and this also saw the cost of some devices increase as stocks reduced. The rush to buy was huge and lots of items were quickly plugged into devices to get online and talking. A lot wont have looked at updating any versions of these add ons firmware, drivers etc to the latest versions, which may cause issues later.

Security however cannot be an after thought and should be one of the first things you think about. Also helping your family and friends to make sure that they have updated to the latest versions and are secure.

Our devices are only as good as the last updates/patches applied and security measures that we have in place. The UK Government has previously reported planning new laws to cover smart gadgets sold which includes stronger passwords and length of time before an update. There are already a large number of devices already installed and in use. A number of these wont have had any updates or changes applied since first being installed if they are a manual process for the user to initiate.

Good practices to adopt are

  • Check the manufactures website for firmware or driver updates on a regular basis
  • If the device software allows a check to be made for updates on a regular basis make use of the tool.
  • Use strong passwords
  • Change any default passwords
  • Don’t use the same password on different systems
  • Use passwords on your video calls
  • Use a VPN if working from home
  • Turn on two factor authentication on applications that allow it

If this is all second nature to you thats great, however it may not be to others. Reach out to your family and friends and talk them through what they need to do so it becomes second nature to them.

Further Reading

 

 

Your Digital Exhaust – The data we share

Dont say a wordEveryone who uses a computer or mobile creates their own digital exhaust in the form of data that we leave behind and spew out of our devices – from location data to social media posts and videos. Other things we own such as cars and houses are also generating data from SatNavs to Smart Meters.

If we could measure individual volume of data and information against todays climate change measures and visualise it, we would probably call it an ecological disaster on a person by person scale, however we go about our daily lives creating data with and without knowing it.

To be clear creating data does have a climate effect as there are systems behind what we create and they all need power, cooling etc. However, putting any talk to the side around the ecological effects of this as there is enough said already about climate and climate change and focusing on the data itself.

At the beginning of 2020, the digital universe was estimated to consist of 44 zettabytes of data, which is 44 trillion gigabytes and growing. That’s a lot of data!

We go about generating data without knowing or thinking until a news article catches our attention about something someone said many years ago. Recent times have seen an almost doubling of the use of the internet. This in turn increases the amount of data being created as people discover ways to help elivate lockdown with video calls to new dances on TikTok.

To put this into perspective a bit, with a trolley full of phones you can create a virtual traffic jam, but dont try that at home. This example illustrates the data being generated from a device and how others are using it, in this case to look at traffic patterns

In this increase of posts and data about people across the many different platforms available, are you stopping to think about what your posting?  We go about generating data without thinking until a news article catches our attention about something someone said many years ago that has been found on a social platform somewhere.

Sci-Fi moment alert! – Having watched an episode of “The Orville” by Seth MacFarlane called “Lasting Impressions” where the crew of the Orville open a Time Capsule and recreate someones life in a holodeck using just the data from a iPhone (after accessing a video on the phone where the person who’s phone it is, gives their consent for the data to be used in the future) and recreate and interact with the phones original owner. This provides the crew with a view into that persons life and what they were like.

Have you through about what would happen to your data in the future?

This concept can easily be recreated today and there are TV programs that investigate and look at people to check who they really are (Catfish the TV show). Its easy to see how people leave a trail of digital evidence and clues from what they post and are not secure on what they do or think about what they post.

Here are some good tips to help secure your online presence:

Privacy and security settings exist for a reason: Learn about and use the privacy and security settings on social networks. They are there to help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience in a positive way.

Once posted, always posted: Protect your reputation on social networks. What you post online stays online. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents or future employers to see. Recent research found that 70 percent of job recruiters rejected candidates based on information they found online.

Your online reputation can be a good thing: Recent research also found that recruiters respond to a strong, positive personal brand online. So show your smarts, thoughtfulness and mastery of the environment.

Keep personal info personal: Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your data or commit other crimes such as stalking.

Know and manage your friends: Social networks can be used for a variety of purposes. Some of the fun is creating a large pool of friends from many aspects of your life. That doesn’t mean all friends are created equal. Use tools to manage the information you share with friends in different groups or even have multiple online pages. If you’re trying to create a public persona as a blogger or expert, create an open profile or a “fan” page that encourages broad participation and limits personal information. Use your personal profile to keep your real friends (the ones you know and trust) up to date with your daily life.

Be honest if you’re uncomfortable: If a friend posts something about you that makes you uncomfortable or seems inappropriate, let them know. Likewise, stay open minded if a friend approaches you because something you’ve posted makes him or her uncomfortable. People have different tolerances for how much the world knows about them respect those differences.

Know what action to take: If someone is harassing or threatening you, remove them from your friends list, block them and report them to the site administrator.

Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system is the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats.

Own your online presence: When applicable, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s OK to limit how and with whom you share information.

Source: https://staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/securing-key-accounts-devices/social-media/

Additional tips are available at this source.

 

Further Reading

Tips on being Social Media Savvy

 

 

 

Covid-19 and the World of the Digitally Disadvantaged

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Adjusting to life at the moment can be hard, for many they can turn to the internet, face time, news, online entertainment, statistics etc. A world outside at our fingertips. For some however this isnt an option as they dont have the technology or means to buy it.

mindthegap

Bridging the gap to the Digitally Disadvantaged is a challenge that modern society faces but often ignores. Its easy to concentrate on the mainstream and push aside those challenges that are hard to address. In normal times access to technology through a library, a friend or  internet cafe type place was possible, but current measures means these are not available.

For some a TV and Radio are a lifeline that provides them the information they need and they can rely on a landline phone to speak to people, family and friends. For others they may rely on a newspaper. Not everyone has a smart phone, laptop/computer they can use.

The UK Government sent out letter to every household with information in to help those who cant access it. A move that some questioned as to why, probably as they have access to technology. For some people this is the information that they need to help understand what is going on and why we need to take these drastic measures to keep everyone safe.

Digitally Disadvantaged doesnt have to mean that you dont have access to technology either, just the types of technology you have. For example parents who are now home schooling having homework set by teachers and some of this may be to make and build things, print things out etc. Lots of people have smart phones and do alot of their daily lives on it, but not everyone has a printer they can use and in times like these not everyone has everything at home to complete the work they need to do and some things needed are not classed as essential items so cant be easily purchased. There is a mindset that this issue highlights of  “I can do this so others must be able to” or naturally assume that everyone can do it. This is just an example I have seen though some social media posts over the past couple of weeks.

There are no easy way’s to address these issue and many issues to address. It will take time, however as a Society we must think about these issues going forward and look for solutions to help others.

There is some help at hand if you know anyone who is over 70 and is isolating and doent have any TV/Radio, the BBC has teamed up with and organisation called Wavelength to provide digital radios to help fight loneliness, and you can nominate people for help.

https://wavelength.org.uk/

Taking Scouting OnLine – 1st YouTube Scout Group

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ScoutsWith all that is going on in the world a the moment everyone is thinking outside the box to work differently and interact virtually. As some of you may have seen from some of my posts I spend some of my free time as a Scout Leader providing experiences and opportunities to young people.

Now that regular Scouting nights have rightly been stopped to help with the stay at home directives Scouting is rethinking itself and moving on line. As such initatives such as The Great Indoors have been created.

https://www.scouts.org.uk/the-great-indoors/

With the current situation in mind I was asked by a friend to help him set up and co-host an online Scouters meeting for all the sections (Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers). From our discussions, 1st YouTube Scout Group was created.

We have now run three sessions online and also had some guests on. The engagement of these sessions has helped young people earn badges towards their Chief Scouts and Queens Scouts awards which for each section are top awards they can achieve.

We will continue to stream each week and help keep your people engage and provide activities for them to do whilst at home. Parents are also joining in to help.

Stream each Thursday at: https://www.youtube.com/bigmaninthewoodsuk

Session 3

 

Session 2

This session was effected by some internet issues at the time

 

Session 1

 

 

3 Resources for Entertaining your Children whilst Working from Home

imaginationIn these unprecidented times everyone who can is staying at home. Firstly a big thank you to all those essential front line staff our Health Services and those key workers that keep the country working and support the national infrastructures around the world.

With Schools closed and Working From Home (WFH) becoming a normality for the time being, it can be hard to keep young people entertained, so here are some free resources to help that are work a look.

Reading

World Book Online have made over 3,000 ebooks and audio books available for children of all ages and can be searched by age.

https://worldbook.kitaboo.com/reader/worldbook/index.html

Zoo Cams

13 Zoos have WebCams to view a selection of the animals online

https://www.holidaypirates.com/travel-magazine/13-zoos-that-offer-live-streams-see-giraffes-koalas-pandas-tigers-penguins-more_35765

Virtual Museum

Take a trip around Pitt Rivers Museum and look at the artifacts in a virtual museum

https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=ns3yCKpUzSq&help=1&fbclid=IwAR2gx2M7UoASHQ9Fy6cIns7oAIQEe-r2yvrq7rD2V4ECcXHyNrPmiExKI80

STEM Activity 2018-19

STEM-Ambassadors-30-hoursHaving just received my STEM Badge for 2018/19, I was very pleased to be awarded a “30 Hours of Engagement” badge.

Over the year I have visited schools, events and other youth organisations such as Scouts to promote STEM, run and take part in activities and show why STEM subjects are important for young people to learn in School, College and University.

Being a STEM Ambassador is an important role and and its not just the young people that gain from sessions but teachers as well learning how businesses are using these skills for students in their possible future careers.

Here are a couple of videos and pictures from some of the events I have helped with.

Stemettes Hack Chorley with DXC and Stemettes

Chorley Hack with Chorley Council

 

Coding with Scouts for their Digital Badges