Digital Fit in 2018: Get Social

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SocialFollowing on my series on Digital Fit in 2018, being social is an important part of building your Digital Profile. There are two main things which spring to mind when you mention the word social. Going out with family and friends, and using tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc.

In this post I mean the latter. Using these social tools to gain an understanding of what is going on in the world, industry and your focus areas, as well as using the platforms to broadcast your own views and opinions.

There are groupings of favorable social tools which depend upon your age range and have become the defacto tools you use. For some its Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. For others its Snapchat, Flickr, YouTube, Pintrest. There are many different combinations and its mainly down to what we have been comfortable with for a period of time.

There are many different social platforms available and some are more mainstream than others. Some are new and some have fallen out of favour with people and usage has decreased on them. Which ever platforms you use will be down to how you want to evolve your usage of them.

Social tools provide an abundance of information that you can consume real time and through historical views. Choosing what to view will be down to personal preference.

Using the social tools as a broadcast channel is a good method to getting your voice heard on subjects that you want to discuss. It will take time to build a following or readership so don’t be put off by this or the fact that people may follow then unfollow depending if your messages are useful to them. The main thing is to keep up a regular drumbeat of postings or tweets, even if its once a week.

It is important to remember that social platforms are relational not transactional – understanding your audience is key.

Here are some tips to help you:

  • Check your messages before posting
  • Respond to comments
  • Give credit
  • Pick who you follow and regularly check to see you have
  • See who is following you – Are your messages pulling in the right audience – do you need to change anything
  • Don’t over hashtag your posts

Here are my top 5 tips on being Social Media Savvy

Social Channels – Choose the channels that you want to use and look at the audience on those channels. They type of things being posted. Split your channels between personal and professional work.

Listen, Research, Listen Again – Listening to what is going on in your channels is important to understand the trends and topics being talked about.

Be Authentic And True – Be yourself – don’t try to be someone your not.

Keep It Regular and Relevant – Posting a couple of times a week is a good measure. Making sure that your posts are relevant to what you want to say and what your audience is looking for.  You could always automate your posts – e.g. writing some blog posts and having them published during the week via a scheduler.

Think Security – Would you want anyone outside your friends network seeing that post? Eventually your post could be public as once something is posted you don’t have control on what other people can do with it.

Source: A-Z of Digital – S is for Social

Further Reading:

Digital Mindset

Digital Fit in 2018: Start Blogging

A-Z of Digital – K is for Knowledge

A-Z of Digital – S is for Social

Technology Couch Podcast – Episode 1

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Technology Couch Podcast

Launching my new podcast “Technology Couch Podcast” with Episode 1 – Technology Social Change Agents.

In this episode I am joined by Graham Chastney (https://grahamchastney.com/)

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

Podcast References

Link to Grahams blog mentioned in the Podcast:

https://grahamchastney.com/2018/01/03/youtube-is-now-your-mum-dad-practical-friend/

Building a 3D Printer: Part 1

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GeeetechTowards the end of last year I decided to invest in a 3D Printer for home. There are a few projects that I want to start on and other family members are keen on using one as well.

After some usual research into printers and choosing one using reviews, blog posts, videos etc to help this decision, I opted to buy a kit version of a printer.

The one I choose was based on the Prusa i3 Pro model and came from Geeetech. My main reason for this was as this is my first 3D Printer build its a generic model with lots of product support and build information so if stuck there is bound to be a YouTube video or blog about it.

The other reason is the support for printing in  ABS, PLA, Wood, Nylon and flexible PLA. Yes Wood! Okay – it wont be in the form of 3×2″ that you feed in the top of the printer, but in that the filament is made up of around 40% recycled wood fibres. The finishing looks like a wood product when printed.

Printer ordered, it only took a few days to arrive. I decided to build the printer over a weekend starting on the Saturday, so with the parts carefully laid out across my dining room table in number order, it was time to start making. The instructions are in a PDF format so had my laptop on reading through the parts and instructions. There were links to a series of YouTube Videos that took you through the assembly which came in handy several times.

A small number of  tools are supplied with the kit, however a couple of spanners and screwdrivers are helpful additions.

Build pictures above

There is a certain satisfaction on building something like a 3D Printer, a bit like completing a Meccano or Lego construction. Building the printer in this way I have also learnt a lot about how the printer works and functions. This has made it a worthwhile learning exercise.

As I was finishing the assembly, I found that the Z-Axis screw threads were slightly bent. Rolling them on a flat surface confirmed this. The net effect was that the movement up and down of the printing head mechanism would get stuck at the top and bottom of the printer. An email off to the supplier and some excellent customer service later, replacement parts were dispatched.

Due to Christmas Post and distance being sent the replacement parts have only just arrived so Part 2 of this blog will be completing the printer, alignment and testing. The build time so far has been around a days effort.

 

Digital Fit in 2018: Start Blogging

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Blog TilesThis is the first in a series of posts I will be doing in 2018 about getting Digital Fit. By this I mean achieving the right Digital Mindset for your current or future role and honing your skills to meet the demands of the Digital Era.

There is no single course or video that can achieve this goal, however there are many that can help you along the journey.

“To Blog or Not to Blog!”, Blogging isn’t for everyone and may not come naturally, however it plays a big part in the Digital Era, whether you are reading them or publishing them, you will read blogs at some point. Your reading this one!

One of the biggest issues with starting a blog is what content should you be writing about. Having an idea about what your blog is going to be about is the first step. Here are some ideas:

  • Work based subject area
  • Re-enforce your learning areas by blogging about them
  • Hobby or interest

The main key points to blogging for me are:

  • Be Authentic
  • Be yourself
  • Don’t be afraid on posting that idea or thought
  • Don’t be afraid of posting different opinions
  • You learn things doing research for your blog posts
  • Post regularly
  • Blogging helps build your confidence
  • Blogging helps build an audience

The next stage is to choose where to host your blog. There are many different blogging platforms available that you can choose from. I have listed two Free Blogging Sites below, but there are many more that you can find using an internet search. There are already lots of reviews on which blogging site to choose and it really depends upon your needs. I’ll leave the choice down to you and your own research:

I myself have chosen WordPress* as my blogging platform as it is well established and has a set a great features available on the free tier:

  • Sharing with Social platforms
  • Scheduling posts to be published at a later date
  • Good site usage statistics
  • Search indexing

 

When you publish a blog, you should use other social platforms such as Twitter, Linked-In and Facebook (to name a few) to share the post which will help build your audience.

References

 

(*I am not affiliated with WordPress or receiving any kick back from this post from them)

 

Pen based Productivity Tools – The Chronodex 2018

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ChronodexIts good to see that Patrick Ng has released the first part of the Chronodex for Jan to Jun 2018. Now in its 6th year of production. Still a favorite of mine due to its design and ease to use.

This is primarily meant for the Midori Traveller Notebook system, but it can be used without.

There is still a place for journalling using a pen rather than a blog post as discussed here No Batteries Required: My Personal Journal.  I’m now on Journal 22 and still going strong with those daily entries.

Link to downloads:

http://scription.typepad.com/blog/2017/12/scription-chronodex-weekly-planner-jan-jun-2018-released.html

 

Digital Mindset – Millennial Mentor

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Mentor

As we head towards the New Year and think about our New Years resolutions try setting one to have a Millennial Mentor.

Mentoring is traditionally thought of as top-down or older-younger mentoring, but this barrier is being regularly being broken now with mentoring working as an equal arrangement and skills learning.

Millennials coming into businesses are growing up with the latest trends and technology, and it is second nature to them. For those who are of an older generation, its often a learning path to get up to speed with the latest trends and technologies.

For some people their mentors are at home in the form of a family member, for others this could be a Millennial who is in your business.

A conversation on twitter I was having around Digital Mindset   Replying to @Max_Hemingway – Talk to a millennial – my son said last night ‘gosh mom, you had to learn this stuff…I don’t even think about cuz I grew up with it in my hands ‘

This can be a two way mentoring setup with you learning about the latest trends and technologies from today’s young people, whilst they learn business skills and how a business could adapt and use the trends and technologies.

You may already be mentoring and your mentee could become your next mentor.

 

Having the Right Digital Mindset

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Digital BrainDigital is used as a title to cover the current business and computing era. Being Digital is about having the right mindset. There is no magic course or exam that you can take that will pronounce you as being “Digital”. Its how you apply yourself against the changing landscape of business and technology.

There area many areas that could be included to help shape your Digital Mindset, however for me these fit into six main areas:

  • Business
  • Technology
  • Social
  • Personal
  • Application
  • Learning

The Digital Era is enabling “A Growth Mindset in the Age of Abundance”.

Business

The business area covers the skills and thinking that are needed in your workplace and what you need to succeed. Businesses are being constantly challenged in the way that they operate today and look forward to tomorrow against what their customers demand, the market wants and competition are doing.

There may be a number of business processes that are in place that have been there for a while and are expensive to change constrained by a number of factors. This has meant that the processes haven’t grown. The changes that the digital era is bringing helps to remove these constraints and costs, allowing business to rethink how they achieve these processes. With the constraints being removed through innovation and advancements, with costs coming down, how can you change/transform these processes to meet the market challenges of today. What can you change/transform/automate?

Technology

The technology area covers existing, new and emerging technologies in your life. What you use in everyday life and what you could use or imagine that would help you complete tasks and achieve goals quickly and efficiently. Defining which technologies you should be using and learning will depend partly on what your job role is and the road maps and trends for the industry/sector. The aaS (as a Service)  economy is providing the ability to consume technology at a faster easier route with an abundance of choice of service to go with. The need for a growth mindset is key to navigating a direction and path through this and making decisions on which technologies best meet your needs. The key is to understand and keep up with the trends and technologies.

Social

The social area covers how you interact with the rest of the world, including your work and family life. Reading everything that is going on Social Media is literally “drinking from the fire hose” – so much happening you can get easily swamped with noise.  Building a Personal Knowledge Management System is one way of keeping in touch with what is happening and trending on topics that you are interested in on Social Media. Setting yourself a series of Social Media Rules will help define when and what you should put in the public domain and when not to.

Personal

The personal area covers yourself. Ensuring that your health is good and you are living life to the full or best you can helps. Eating well and keeping fit help keep the mind fresh and positive.

Understanding that change is happening everyday and we need to embrace this with a positive attitude and work through the ambiguity that it presents. A blog post by Richard Branson recently wraps this up nicely “You can’t control what happens to you but you can control how you react”

Fear of failure is another area that often lets us down and stops us from trying things, however we can learn from our mistakes so it is important to experiment and innovate. Doing small things and trying them – Theory of small bets – allows you to fail fast if things don’t work and keep any cost/consequences small. “Successful entrepreneurs don’t begin with brilliant ideas — they discover them.” ~ Peter Sims

Application

The application area covers how you apply these mindset areas into your everyday life using method that are well documented such as Agile and Design Thinking. The key is choosing the right method for the situation you are in. Using aids to help you may be one way of doing this – Playing a game with innovation and thinking.

Learning

One of the biggest areas is learning. Keeping your skills up to date with the latest advancements in all the areas above. You should be looking to do 50 to 60 hours learning a year as a minimum (some professions require higher number of hours). Learning is easier with the internet through online courses, videos and podcasts allowing it to be undertaken at anytime. Re-enforcing your learning through explaining it to someone else or blogging about it is part of  The Nature and Cycle of CPD.

There are arguments for and against learning to code, however having an understanding of what is going on in the coding world helps with today’s advancing technology.

 

Further Reading

Twenty First Century Digital

 

 

Challenged to build a Raspberry PI Laptop – Part 1

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Raspberry PIToday I got a challenge from Lewis Richards (@Stroker on Twitter) – A selfie with a Raspberry PI Laptop that I have built. Okay – Challenge accepted.

Turning a Raspberry PI into a laptop is not a new thing but does look like an interesting project to undertake. If you don’t want to build your own you could buy a Raspberry PI-Top and use this pre-built case to save a build.

Awesome DIY Raspberry Pi Laptop I want to see a selfie of you with one of these you’ve built!

Tweet: https://twitter.com/stroker/status/928259932373299200

However my challenge is to build one so I am currently working through the best way to do this and what functions and features I want to build in.
Current thinking around parts and screen are:
Things needed
  • Power supply – battery/mains and ability to charge the batteries
  • Raspberry PI 3 (inbuilt networking)
  • Cooling
  • Screen – 7 inch – Touchscreen
  • Keyboard – thin USB
  • Case
  • Mouse
  • Operating System
  • Applications
Requirements
  • I like the addition of other boards such as the arduino for connectivity as well as the Raspberry PI
  • Access to the ports on the Raspberry PI
  • I’m more into an external mouse but happy to include a form of track pad.
  • Suitable cooling for the laptop
  • Future expansion for the device or ability to swap items out
  • Portability of the device and solidity of the case
  • Do something unique/original for the build
Thinking about what else I can get into the device to add functionality and would welcome any suggestions to add to the device.
I will blog more parts to this build as I go through the design,build and get the relevant parts together.

Smart Home – How many Hubs?

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Planning a Connected HomeWith the typical home now being enticed into the world of the “Smart Home”, IoT (Internet of Things) and Connected Everything the number of hubs being offered with each service is growing.

So what is a hub? A hub is a device or service running on a device/computer that acts as a connection point for devices to connect to the internet.

Lets assume that you have 4 devices that need connecting to the internet so that you can control them via a personal assistant (Alexa, Siri, Google, etc) or an app on your mobile phone. For this example think of the devices as light bulbs.

The devices (light bulbs) connect using a wireless protocol to a hub. This will be a protocol that has been chosen by the vendor and is not able to be changed, such as:

  • 6LowPan
  • ZigBee
  • Z-Wave
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth

See “IoT Device Security Considerations and Security Layers – Network Communication

The hub will then be connected to your home router either by a wired connection or another wireless protocol (Wireless Protocol 2). This will typically be set to the same level that your home WiFi is set to (i.e. WPA2).

The hub will then send its data to which every internet service is providing the service and allow connection to your controlling devices.

Connected Home Hub Diagram

Typical device and hub design

As the number of services grows that you can consume, the number of hubs required will also grow.

Connected Home Multiple Hub Diagram.jpg

Multiple Hubs in the Home

There is currently not much drive for integration of the hubs or a central generic hub to bring these devices together and a home may have between 1 to 5 hubs as the smart home grows.

The services that we consume is currently down to personal choice, however there are developments that will force a level of connectivity onto home owners.  The first will be the Smart Meters, although this is sometime off as the target is 2020 for installations of Smart Meters.

One of the latest developments is the insurance market, looking at the use of IoT to help bring down insurance premiums.

We may not think too much about hubs as they may be hidden within another device, such as the latest Alexa with inbuilt Philips Hue Hub, however they are there.

The hub is here to stay, but how many do we really need within a connected home.

Further Reading:

Blog Series on:  IoT Device Security Considerations and Security Layers. 

 

Moving to a Smart Meter

SmartMeterHubI have been contacted previously about having a Smart Meter installed on my electricity and gas supplies, but have put off the switch until a recently contact by my energy provider. So I decided to go for the switch and in a way I am glad that I waited.

Why? Well its due to the fact that the device you get to read the meter is no longer an LCD screen running a set of data, but a hub that just connects the meters to the internet.

The image in the post shows the architecture for the setup and comes straight from my installed hub.

The installation was done in about 1hr 45 mins for both gas and electric meters and the hub set up took no time at all. I had preloaded the app on to my mobile and all I needed to sync the app was a code from the hub once installed.

With usage now done via an app on your phone, this means that the app can be updated regularly with new features rather than having an LCD replaced.

Unfortunately there is no data export option the moment so I cannot extract the map to model it or tag large spikes against certain items that consume a higher rate of power.

Also missing for me is linkage to an automation tool such as IFTTT which would also provide a capability to turn things off if the power draw reached a certain limit.

Hopefully these advancements will come along with future app release as we get nearer to the smart home.

In the mean time I will probably spend this weekend driving my family mad by checking the devices pulling energy and what is causing the biggest draws.