App hacks

I’m enjoying exploring ifttt.com and zapier.com. I’m also loving Evernote. One cool thing I have set up using ifttt.com is using Siri and Google Assistant to voice command a note in Evernote.

If you are curious about how your apps can all work together – check out the two sites I mention above.

Happy Wednesday chimps.

Covid 19 Video Calls

A four way video call with some old friends last night means I have some homework to do. I was recommended two books to read.

In my quest to connect South African and Kenyan businesses they seem quite relevant, so I bought them on amazon while i was still chatting on the call:

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It (Grove Art)

and

It’s Our Turn to Eat
Follow the links for Kindle editions of the books

One thing this Covid 19 virus has shown us is how useful virtual meetings can be. The various services available (Skype, Hangouts, Zoom etc.) have experienced a massive surge in demand and use over lockdown periods around the world. Zoom in particular has become very popular and very varied in its use cases. Security issues are popping up due to the scale and choices they made with their software. Still, it’s changing the options for work and socialising – all due to a lockdown.

Last night we swayed between a Whatsapp chat group and a Google Hangouts chat. Hangouts was clearer and easier through the laptop compared to Whatsapp.

Our call was full of stories about Kenya days growing up, nostalgia, catching up on news. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to read the books I was recommended. The call was cut short by my friend who needed to join another Zoom call straight afterwards. A sign of the times.

Those times are changing fast. Stay safe and keep in touch out there! Chats like this are golden and good for the soul.

Happy Thursday Chimps.

Embedding a track

Continuing with the podcast preparations, I am going to try and embed a Soundcloud track on this blog post.

This blog will be the primary place to go to hear my podcast. Therefore I want to be able to embed tracks so that they are playable without having to leave this site. This involves getting HTML code and pasting it into WordPress. I’ve never done this before, so here it goes with an old track I digitised from an LP a while ago:

Cute song. Radical embedding of audio!

One step closer to my podcast.

Software

Software is eating the world. A popular line. In my world it feels more violent. Software has eaten my brain and spat it out onto the pavement.

The net effect of Microsoft, Apple and Google in my life is grim.  I have an inability to concentrate on anything for more than one minute. I blame the software.

Blurgh.

Good if…

Drinking is good if you can stop after a couple.

Listening to podcasts is good if you have set a time and a place for regularly listening to them.

Technology is good if you use it, rather than it using you.

Exercise is good if you have had enough sleep and food to carry you through.

Relationships are good if you can look after yourself.

The internet is good if you create as well as consume.

 

Web strategy

Unfortunately, we don’t have one by default.

Whether we are publishing, socialising, photographing, working – our default setting seems to be to just use a device as it is given to us, and without discrimination to pay attention to any and all notifications that show up on the screen.

The thing is, just like any tool, the internet can be used in the wrong way and achieve unwanted outcomes. Wasted time, wasted money, misinformation to name a few.

We all have exposure to the internet, whether we like it or not. Therefore forming a strategy to turn it to your advantage is worth it. This goes for the individual, the family and the corporation.

Worth noting also that on the internet privacy is dead, so “default public” is the best stance on anything web-based.

Ethereum…yumyum

How to get your head around the blockchain and Ethereum? Tokens? Ether? Cryptocurrencies? Sheesh….

Here’s my take on how Ethereum tokens might work:

The tokens allow application builders (coders) to set up rules for an exchange of value within an app’s network. Hypothetically, if a Facebook competitor was created on the Ethereum blockchain (rather than the internet), a token (or a fraction of a token) might be exchanged each time you liked something, or shared something. More likes = more tokens. Maybe there is a shop on the same token system to exchange for goods.

For another real life example – an application such as civic (www.civic.com) which seeks to secure online identity will trade a token as a marker of a user’s true identity details. Anyone or any company that is part of the Civic network can exchange tokens and be assured that these tokens represent true, non-fraudulent proof of identity (I think…not quite sure on all of this).

Trying to write your own understanding of something helps you to learn about the subject. I am not sure I understand this subject completely, but I am getting there.

Happy weekend ūüôā

Hacking out of the box

One of the biggest annoyances in this life is when someone puts you in a box which you don’t feel like applies to you. For example, Insurance companies, governments during visa applications, teenagers picking on each other at high school.

Any tech which helps alleviate this pain is most excellent, which is why I think this product might just be the way of the future for insurance: https://www.sanlam.co.za/gocover/Pages/default.aspx

Being able to pick and choose elements of insurance for your specific needs through a mobile phone sounds a lot less box-like to me than the existing models of insurance.

The most important tech is not always where you think

We are inundated with stories of Google, Alexa, iPhones, VR, AR, and autonomous cars. But the most impactful tech is often less exciting and personal, more functional and industrial.

Take the rather unexciting field of electricity transmission. China is leading the way in implementing technology which is better suited to carry high voltages over long distances (the technology is called Ultra High-Voltage Direct Current, or UHVDC). These high capacity links make the grid greener and more stable than the usual alternating current transmission which works well over shorter distances, but becomes tricky with high voltage and longer distance.

Concerns over pollution have driven the Chinese government to set up coal fired power stations in remote areas away from urban populations. Hence the need to transmit.

This all just struck me as a technology story which is saving the planet, and is happening as we speak – but for some reason it is deemed to be¬†uninteresting compared to consumer tech….which is quite interesting.