The Distraction of our Digital Eyes


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Digital EyeAs the world evolves our need to consume information grows at an exponential rate. Since the advent of the screen our  for appetite for smaller, better screens to display information has increased.  Developments in Virtual and Augmented Reality have provided a way of displaying information in different formats.

We have in recent times been distracted by the mobile phone and the ability to view information 24×7 on what we want and need. This has become a distraction to many whilst walking , eating and unfortunatley whilst driving!

Recent developments in technology have introduced smart glasses that can project information from your mobile device on to the glass such as Focals 2.0 by North which will soon be available as version 2.0. If glasses are not your thing then contact lenses maybe and Mojo Vision recently announced a smart contact lens.

Used in the right way and environments these advancements will bring great benefit to us, such as giving work instructions, directions whilst walking, words to a speech whilst presenting. The list goes on.

The risk of using these technologies with things we should not is already known in some cases, such as Mobiles and Driving.

Tracking of eye movement is also becoming more main stream and are being added to cars to check our ability to look at the road and also control things. Companies such as SmartEye is developing solutions that are looking at identification, alertness to sleepiness for vehicles.  Within business use the latest version of the Hololens uses eye tracking to help display and select items within the headset. Perhaps this type technology will detect the use of Smart Eyes technology in the future and not start a car until removed.

Heads Up Displays are being used to project information to glass in the car to allow the driver to maintain road contact with their eyes whilst seeing vital information such as speed.

I hope that the future should see the next level of developments bringing interaction with the environment or things we are interacting with. For example the ability for a device for our eyes to switch off automatically whilst driving or at least display information in a Heads Up Display format from the car.

Intergration will be key between these types of systems going forward to increase the usefulness in the right environment and reduce the distraction elements in the wrong environments.






Sageous Advice from Daily Stoics



See Hear SayFurthering my Personal Journalling I have decided that for 2020 I would give the “Daily Stoic” book and journal a go.

I am doing this along side my normal daily journaling and keeping the two separate for now at least.

I’m up to Journal number 28 with 4380 pages written so far and still going strong.

A couple of colleagues have tried the Daily Stoic before and gave it good reviews. The books basically take passages and quotes from Philosophers/Stoics  Epictetus  55 – 135 AD, Seneca 54 BC- 39 AD and Marcus Aurelius 121-180 AD and provide translations into modern life.

Stoicism is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world – Source

3 Days in and its going well so far starting my day with the relevant dated page in the book, followed by writing down some Morning and Evening reflections into the Journal. It will take all year to complete the book so will need some habit forming to do this morning and evening. I can see times where this is not practical and would need some planning as carrying the books around is not something I really want to be doing too much. This is where some of it may end up as a digital entry added in at some point in the future.

The advice so far has been on self reflection on choices, learning and saying no to get to those things that matter. You could say it is common sense, but for me its getting the right mindset using some guidance.

Is it worth doing this? At the moment I would say its a bit early in the journey and writing to decide, however so far I have found the advice to be good and the use of the reflection time to be worth while. Writing down notes on what I have read/learnt is a great method of remembering and does reinforce my thoughts. It will be interesting to see if I am still doing this in a few months time and look back against what I have written.

I would like to hear if you have used these books and your thoughts.


The Daily Stoic Website

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living: Featuring new translations of Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius

The Daily Stoic Journal: 366 Days of Writing and Reflection on the Art of Living


Personal Knowledge Management System – Revised for 2020



As the new year has begun, its time to review my Personal Knowledge Management System (PKMS) on how I consume information and knowledge, I have blogged about this before and have updated for 2020.

I still split and keep apart my personal and professional lives on Social Media, although occasionally they may cross where appropriate.

Since the last time I wrote about this the amount of information and data that is available has grown and multiplied on a huge scale. Keeping track of what you need to drink from the fast flow of the firehose of information is itself something that needs managing. This is why I have set up my feeds in the manner illustrated below.


Personal Life

Personal Journal

Journalling in both a Personal and Work life is a useful tool to keep notes on your thoughts and ideas. In my personal life I still opt for recording these in a Moleskine – See my blog post No batteries required for further details. I find the Moleskine a great notebook to use and the pocket version a good size to use.

Social Media

I separate from my work life from my personal life using things like Instagram and Facebook for friends and family with appropriate security settings in place. Even with those settings you still need to consider that once something is online, it could be public in the future. Wikipedia lists 186 Social Media Websites and this list is out of date. I choose a few mainstream that I am comfortable with. 2020 may see me have a look at some of the others to see if there is any benefit or other data I am missing.

Professional Life


This is split into several areas and these are a few of the inputs that I use to grab information, feeds, data from:

  • Podcasts
  • Audio subscriptions
  • Videos
  • RSS Feeds
  • Web Searches
  • Blog Posts

Podcasts cover both Audio and Video casts that I watch/stream online or download to my Media Player (Audio and Videos) to listen to on journeys (Audio). The mobile is a great device for using as a media player across these casts.


Flipboard provides another stream of data that I consume bringing in news feeds from many sources around a series of topics. It does work well on a mobile device allowing you to flip the pages through the articles.


Feedly provides an aggregation tool which I use to collect the stories from blogs and web sites I regularly pull information from.  This provides a list of stories that can be scanned tin a few minutes on a single screen without going via multiple sites. Clicking on a story will bring up a snippet from the source site and provide the link to read the source article if required. Using a series of key strokes you can read the headlines, then move down the articles at a reasonable speed, stopping and opening when needed.

Sources can be categorised to allow an all view or just whats new in a category.


IFTTT (If This Then That) provides a level of automation to my lists from saving articles to creating alerts on topics and triggering different actions as needed to my devices. I would like to automate more of this PKMS to bring the information I need, but it can also help to scan other information to help innovate and see other points of views.

Thinking / Learning Time

This is where view the data streams through the tools and assimilate and think about what has been reported/said. I also use this time to learn and take courses.


Coursera is a great site to used, but there are lots of others from Industry and Vendors to open learning sites that I use as needed. Relative exams and certificates are then added to my LinkedIn pages.

Blogging and Being Social

From thoughts and research I will write about things through my blogs and publish these into Social Media streams such as Twitter and Linkedin.

I have also been producing a few podcast episodes with other technologists and will look to do some more in 2020.

I have been using GitHub to mainly support some courses but its there as an option to publish data and code in the future.

Do you have a Personal Knowledge Management System or using tools not mentioned above?

Knowledge Fit for 2020

learnHere we are at the start of 2020 and the time of many New Years resolutions and good intentions. A good proportion of these will be about dieting and getting fit, but what about getting a learning plan for the new year and boosting your knowledge.

Depending on your life, career path this can be something simple as reading more books on a topic or taking some courses to learn a new skill. This is something you dont have to set at the start of the new year and could be set at anytime, however we normally feel more motivated at the start of a year to set these goals.

Keeping to them can be challenging as when we fall back into our normal cycles, however this is something in your control that can be changed so you can have time to do some learning and boost your knowledge.

“Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our actions. The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free, and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you not be harmed.”

― Epictetus, Enchiridion and Selections from the Discourses

I have written about having a growth mindset in a previous blog which may help you with planning your 2020 learning plan and the infographic helps understand the concept.

The term Growth Mindset comes from the study and theory of Dr Carol Dweck that intelligence can be developed. This can be applied to every person young and old to reach higher levels of achievement.

Adopting a Growth Mindset by taking every opportunity to experiment, embrace failure, learn, change and seek challenges will enable yourself to realise potential and success.

Below is an info-graphic from Dr Carol Dwecks work and theory:



Set a schedule of learning for a few hours a week and stick to it by putting time in your diary and blocking it out.

What will you plan to learn for 2020?


Some further reading from previous blogs

Further Reading

Six Lessons on Bouncing Back


Occasionally I have written about supporting STEM and Scouting in my blog around computing and science, however this piece from Bear Grylls in the Times newspaper in response to a Young Peoples survey has swayed me to write about it.

At a recent Scout meeting the context of this survey was explained to the Scouts, then I read out the article.


We then went on to explain how we were meeting each of the six points at our group.

The response was amazing from the Scouts as they all reflected on what they had done in Scouting that related to each of these points.

I wanted to share this incase you havent read it.

Encouraging Young People to join youth organisations is a great way for them to gain experiences and learn new things.

Its not just Young People, Adults can join as leaders or helpers. Youth organisations need adult volunteers in order to run. Don’t worry if you feel you don’t have the skills that are needed. You learn these on your journey as a volunteer.

These are Six great lessons for anyone – not just Young People.

Yes even spending a night under the stars. A great time for reflections.


A night at the Museum – Late Session



latesI recently had the opportunity to help run a stand at one of the Science Museum in London, Lates sessions with some colleagues.

The topic of the table was “Privacy vs National Security”. This was a drop in table to provoke discussion around this topic. The main point of this topic was to engage with the general public and understand their view points whilst discussing things in the news and the consequences that happen.

The brief was “Where does privacy start and end? How do you protect privacy and also provide national security? How do you monitor the bad guy? What do you think?”

The discussions ranged from the recent stories around the facial recognition cameras at Kings Cross, London to GDPR Post Brexit and is Alexa listening to everything I am doing?. A wide range of discussions. The discussions were going on and engaging that we still discussing as we dismantled the stand and left the Museum. the topics covered were discussed at length and I will write some future blog posts on some of these.

As well as the discussion I had a Raspberry Pi 4 and a USB Camera running Tensorflow and OpenCV to perform a level of people recognition displaying on a large screen in the Museum. This also helped generate conversation on the night and bring people onto the stand.

By the end of the evening we really did have a Night at the Museum, but without the exhibits coming to life.

If you are in London on a last Wednesday of the month I recommend that you visit the Lates sessions at the Museum. Book early as spaces do go quickly.

If you have any thoughts on the topic, please add comments on this post.

Transforming operations with mixed reality – Future Decoded 2019


liveThis year at Microsoft Future Decoded 2019 I joined Microsoft on the Live TV with a colleague to discuss “Transforming operations with mixed reality”.

Here is the video:


The full days playbacks from the event can be found at

Neural Interfaces – How far should we go?

Digital BrainA report out today from The Royal Society looks at the history, advancements, challenges and risks of neural interface technology.

The report asks for input from the general public via a consultation on what their views in shaping the future of neural interface regulation.

We have visualised the connection of humans and machines in Science Fiction for a long time from books to films. More recently with films such as Johnny Mnemonic and The Matrix, (Yes I just referenced 2 Keanu Reeves films). Are we ready to become Borg and be assimilated?

Medicine is evolving at a fantastic speed with new developments that are helping patients to help treatments for a wide range of conditions using non-invasive and invasive technologies. Should we now use the same techniques for connecting a human brain to a computer to make us more efficient and responsive to information?

“Neural interfaces connect the brain or nervous system to

equipment, typically digital devices or IT systems. Some act to
record physiological activity, such as brain signals or movements,
while others stimulate it. Some technologies, known as ‘closedloop’ systems, record activity and deliver stimulation in response.”

Source: report


We are already doing this with devices we use on a daily basis such as a mobile phone, reality glasses and cars with heads up displays. Moving this information closer to the brain is the next technological evolutionary step in this area.

Elon Musk’s Neuralink is looking at how its possible to connect computer chips to the human brain and has already connected a Rats brain to a chip and USB port.

The report represents some of the advancements made and possible ways forward that are helping people today and helps set out some principles and practices. A worthwhile read.

For me there are still a lot of areas to discuss ethically around moving forward – Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.  I think that the quote in the report by Paul Virilio covers this and what we need to think about and accept the outcome possibilities:

“ When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent  electrocution… Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress.” – Paul Virilio

Source: report

Further Reading

Facial Recognition – here to stay?



Facial RecognitionLove it or Hate it Facial Recognition technology is here to stay. What is now being recongnised is a need for governance and controls over systems that use it and in line with any current country legislations and data laws.

The ability to recongnise objects and faces is not new, but an evolving technology that is getting better at what it does.

When the use of ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) systems came out similar debates were had and these systems are controlled and governed by a set of strict guidelines. ANPR systems are now widely used across the world from Police Forces to Car Parks checking the time you have stayed against the ticket you have purchased.

Our acceptance of these Facial Recognition systems may take a similar route.

There have been a lot of stories recentrly about Facial Recognition and its use such as the UK Kings Cross Development which is now under investigation by the ICO around the storage and use of the data.

Many Police forces in the US have been using it and in the UK there have been trials of the technology with some trials not going forward due to human rights discussions and also some technology not picking up everyones faces correctly. Advancements are being made in the systems to resolve these issues and increase the ability to capture and recognise the information.

Some states in the US have banned the use of the technology (or are considering banning) and the EU are also starting to consider bans.

The UK Home Office and Border Force are currently looking at a version of Facial Recognition to help cut down on the queues at the border. The e-queues already do facial matching from camera pictures to passports to automate the system.

For me I am okay with the technology as long as its being used to help us police and keep us safe. Also the ability to recognise for financial and security systems. You can build your own system that you can teach it to recognise your face using a Raspberry Pi,




Moving to a world of Interactive Viewer Choices



tvWhether it be books, visual or audio, we have been kept on the edge of our seats by gripping storylines and turned off by uninteresting ones that don’t grasp our attention.

The ability to choose storylines has been around for sometime now with adventure books. My favorite was “Deathtrap Dungeon” by Ian Livingstone from the Fighting Fantasy range of books.  These were my entry level in to gaming, however there are earlier versions of this type of themed book.

A couple of experimental programs have been broadcast on TV where the viewers choose the next actions are taken. This input can be via an mobile application or smart TV and the shows editors broadcast the next scene as per the votes. We have had this ability for a while though with voting for winners of a program or to send someone home. These types of viewing does bring pressures into the lounge with who has the controller or who asks the voice assistant to vote.

On-line content is easier to collect the choices and stream out the next scene. This allow each viewer to make their own choices and stream choices to individuals.

The BBC Click on-line program has now offered content based on choices and starts with a Fighting Fantasy book as their introduction before allowing you to choose which content you want to view.

Are we ready for interactive programs or will there be a increase of arguments over Eastenders or Love Island. For me this works well with on-line content, until we get to a general population of Smart TV’s with the ability to stream individual outcomes to households.

Our choices will also be a good indication back to content producers as to what works and what doesn’t.