Children and Technology…

We take a number of ‘actions’ as normal, and assume (never assume…) that it’ll be housing the latest technology.

For example, we now expect all screens to be touchscreens. Be able to interact with them, pinch and zoom the content on the screen, etc…

Children, moreso… take this as the norm! They’re more ‘digital savvy’ than most folk… with the ability to swipe on a smart phone screen to unlock it from the age of 1, to when they’re putting their games and apps into their own folder a few years later, on your tablet.

The speed at which children can pick up and understand tech is becoming quicker and quicker… and this is down the simplicity. Technology is making everything easier to understand and explore.

Google, earlier on in the year were able to do a program around the UK, where they invited schools to participate in exploring cities around the World using Google Cardboard.

Imagine, seeing all the wonders of Rome… without actually being in Rome! – It’s a great start to exploring the city.

And so… there’s various other programmes that encourage children to get involved with technology. Apple were providing some free classes to teach children how to code in their stores. There’s a number of apps and programmes available that you can download… learn the basics and begin to code your own game.

Understanding how to code, why to code… and most importantly, what can be delivered by coding… is great learning. For the children, they can use their imagination to create the most wonderful games!

Back in my day… I used to be on my Raleigh Grifter – (for those who don’t know what one of those is… it’s like a BMX bike)…. and indoors, I used to enjoy playing with my Lego.

That’s right – constructing all sorts of buildings, objects and items from various pieces of Lego. As a company – they’re still going strong… and recently, I noticed, they’re embracing the whole ‘Kids in Technology’ scene.

Now, there you go… even your Lego builds are becoming ‘smart’.

Why just build? – go one step ahead… code and then play! That’s right, build something… maybe a robot? – then code it, using your parents tablet/smart device… and watch it do things you want it to do… and play with it.

Wonder if you could connect your Lego build… to your Echo… and then by using voice commands… have the build perform an action!

Because, as children learn coding, become more aware of technology and take, recent hand and motion gestures which we’ve become accustomed to over the past few years, as the norm… the world is fast changing… and if children can learn… by play… then that’s only a good thing!

Any Ideas for Christmas Presents, Bal?

Well, I did say a few weeks ago – I wouldn’t be going down the road of recommending what tech items you could buy for Christmas… mainly because a) you’ve got Philip Schofield (for those in the UK) – who’s presenting a great series on TV which is all about – ‘what you can buy for Christmas 2017’ and b) i’d be here all day, because there’s so much out there you could buy!

But you know what… after speaking to a friend of mine, who’s just moved into his new home… and how it could be a ‘Smart Home’… I’ve decided to share with you the Top 5 Smart Home Items you could buy for Christmas.

Coming in at Number 1…

Amazon Echo.

I feel it’s the natural first step into making your home, ‘Smart’.

You can say, ‘Alexa…. ‘ (followed by a command, question, etc..) and then have an answer or action performed.

For example, Alexa tells me jokes…. sets a timer for me…. plays music… answers questions (by finding answers on the world wide web)… turns the lights on and off… heating, up or down…. milk into my shopping basket…. etc..

You could have a few around the house if you wanted…. perhaps the Echo Dot in the bedroom? – it is a little thing.

I feel ‘Alexa’ is like someone who is really close to me. Does so much for me… but doesn’t spend all my money. And doesn’t love me. I’ve asked it….

Moving on… and coming in at Number 2….

Nest Home Heating.

Once you’ve brought Alexa into the house… you want to pair it up with something. And I would suggest… as the winter months are here, maybe something to keep you warm?

Okay, the Nest, itself, won’t keep you warm… but it’ll talk to your heating system… and make life so much easier for you… and warmer.

That’s right – it’s a little device, that connects to your home heating… and not only can you control it via your phone… you can control the heating by connecting the Nest to your Echo….it can learn your heating habits… be optimized for when you are away from home and so much more….

There are other, similar, Smart Heating solutions available, for example, Worcester Bosch have their equivalent… named the ‘Wave’. I would suggest, talk to your local heating expert to find which one is the best match for your current heating system.

Coming in at Number 3….

Hue Lights.

So, you have a Smart Voice Controlled Personal Assistant (Echo) in your house, and you’ve got Smart Heating (Nest)… now for some Smart Lights.

Philips, in my opinion, are leading the way with Smart Lights. The Hue… from Philips, is great. You get a ‘bridge’ which talks to your Wifi and the Light Bulbs around your house.

Control the lights via your phone… and/or Alexa…. programme light timers… connect it to IFTTT (If This Then That)… put on location  – so the lights come on, when you’re near home…. there’s alot you can do.

You can get bulbs which do different colours…. mine only do white. You can dim the lights… you can have different settings for different rooms… etc…

Now we’ve got some ‘light’ on this topic… Coming in at Number 4…

Ring Door Bell.

Now, for a bit of home security… Ring Video Doorbell. Does exactly that, it’s a door bell, with a camera, that’s all connected…. and you can view who’s on your doorstep from your phone.

Why would you need this?

  1. If you’re lazy, you can sit on the sofa… see who’s outside, and then decide if you need to get up from the sofa or not.
  2. You know who’s come to your house…and when.
  3. If it’s a delivery… you can provide them with instructions where to leave items…

To make you even more lazy…. And finally, in at Number 5…

Wemo.

For those items.. like your TV, Kettle, etc… you can make them Smart also! – How, Bal?

Well… Belkin have a device called the Wemo. You plug it into your normal socket. Turn it on. Then plug your device into the Wemo device… which then, when all connected – you can view & control your devices on your phone!

There you go.

My Top 5… Smart Home… Christmas Present ideas.

There are different variations, makes and models available to those I’ve mentioned above… for example, Google have an equivalent to the Amazon Echo…. there are many (and probably cheaper) alternatives to the Belkin Wemo.

I’ve recommended the above… because they’re the ones I have or have used.

I would always suggest, you go and research… see what would work for you… your environment… your style and most importantly… your needs – I researched and tested a number of items before settling on the ones above.

Have fun shopping! – and making a house… a home. Smart Home.

 

Holidays are Coming…!!!

That’s right – for many folk… it’s when the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck appears in the commercials on TV… for some, it’s when X-Factor finishes, for others… it’s when discussions start in various WhatsApp groups about what to cook on Christmas Day.

Holidays are Coming!

I’ll still be posting articles on this blog… but like many others, I will be taking some time off.

Mainly to reflect on the year…2017, what a fabulous year. Also, to spend good quality time catching up with family and friends – as they’ll too, be enjoying the holidays.

And… I hope you also get some time to yourself. Time to sit down, enjoy a mince pie or two, and watch a film on TV.

More than watching a film on TV, we’ll probably be on social media, sharing photo’s of our Christmas Dinners…. and that’s fine! – Honestly, because sharing is caring – right?

But don’t be spending too much time on Social Media. Make sure you spend it with the people in your life. People around you. People who appreciate you. People who care about you, and those you care about.

And it’s you guys – who’ve been reading this blog, taking time to write comments, coming up to me – saying how you enjoy reading my posts… how sometimes they make you laugh… i’d like to say Thank You! (not going to say too much now… will do a Review of 2017 in a few weeks!)

So, what’s in store for the next few weeks… well, i’m trying to finish a video that I can share with you… where i’m talking about electric cars! – and why I think, we’re not ready (the car manufacturers are doing great… but it’s us!)

There’ll be some blog posts, where I reflect on the latest Technology News… and naturally, some Bal’s Friday Thoughts.

So… make sure you’ve got your holiday plans arranged… hope you are able to take some time off, to enjoy the festive period… and more importantly, to remember…. don’t be getting stressed out about food… what to cook, plans (if they’re not arranged)… etc…. Santa has to deliver presents to all the children around the world in a very short space of time. Imagine what he’s going through!

Start-ups can learn from Rak-Su…

Some of you, may have been viewing the X-Factor 2017 Final… I know I was… in fact, I do most years… it’s good entertainment for a cold Sunday evening.

And i’d like to take a moment to congratulate Rak-Su for winning the competition.

I’ll be honest. I’ve been watching it – from the moment they (Rak-Su) first walked into the audition room, to them performing when they’d won.

There’s been a few things I’ve picked up on… that I think, made them favourites quite early on… to win.

And these attributes, I thought, could be related to business… and especially start-ups. Because… start-ups are in a similar situation when they enter the market – or in X Factor words… ‘the audition room’.

There’s alot of competition. Everybody wants to win. Everyone is ‘new’.. and this is the start-up scene!

Everyone wants to be noticed. Everyone wants their product to stand out. Everyone wants investment.

So, there’s a lot of similarities between the X Factor Audition Room… and the Start-up scene. But what makes a small company, a start-up a success… well, let’s see what Rak-Su did, and if we can learn anything from them.

  1. Rak-Su sang their own song. 
    • Rarely done – especially in the previous years auditions, but in 2017 as a whole, many of the artists up’d their game, and sang their own songs.
    • Points for originality and points for standing out and not singing another Ed Sheeran cover.
    • What can we learn from this  – Well, it’s simple… stand out by making sure you are original. You’ll have a higher probability of being remembered and noticed, if you are doing something new…
  2. Rak-Su had their own style
    • When they performed, there was more rapping, subtle choreographed dance moves, each member had a unique offering, but the group performed very well together.
    • I’ve mentioned before, let’s move away from the Minimum Viable Product… you should be working on the Minimum Loveable Product.
    • What can we learn from this – Well it’s simple… don’t look around and copy.. .bring your own style and flavour to the game. Ensure you have the diversity and the subtle moves that will make you, a ‘MLP’.
  3. Rak-Su stood in a line.. and waited.
    • You got to be in it… to win it!
    • Just like all the other contestants, Rak-Su stood and queued in a line… got their numbers… and then auditioned. They followed the process… 6 chair challenge… live shows… etc… before being named as the winners.
    • What can we learn from this – Well it’s simple… have some patience. Go network, stand in a line and meet some interesting people. Investment, success and customers may not come over night… keep working towards the goal… and importantly… keep growing… keep learning. (By the way, Rak-Su were quickly able to have their songs on iTunes and it was charting quite high up – early on – due to the publicity via the show).

So there you go, a couple of things to think about from Rak-Su… & their journey to winning the competition.

Now… at the start, I did say… some folk may have not watched it… and I know, many folk from around the world – who read this blog – may have not had the opportunity to see Rak-Su.

For you guys.. here’s one of their performances. Enjoy.

Bal’s Friday Thought…

On Tuesday, my father and his good friend, were on the phone to each other – chatting away about old times and having a good laugh. He told my father – ‘on the dialysis again tomorrow… catch up later in the week’.

On Wednesday, my father’s friend, went to the hospital for his usual regular dialysis treatment.

As normal, sits down, the nurses hook him up… and the dialysis process begins. The nurses bring over a cup of tea for him.

The lady next to him realises, his cup has fallen and tea is everywhere – she calls for the nurse. The nurse comes, calls for the doctor – checks him… and quickly establishes, he’s had a huge heart attack.

He’s no more.

‘Enjoy everyday… don’t worry about tomorrow.’

And the Winner is…. no, not you Bal… sit down please.

You may remember, I shared with many of you how I was selected as a ‘Finalist’ for the Nachural Entrepreneurship Awards 2017!

Like always, I was going for the win… and by reading the title of this blog, you’ve probably already guessed…. I didn’t win (crying emoji!)

That’s right. Saturday night, I got suited and booted and headed over to the Awards ceremony in Leicester, UK.

So, there I was… when the category was announced, to get up… collect the award and have a few photo’s taken.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

I was announced as a finalist… and then, well, I remained seated.

I would like to take this opportunity to say, Well done to the winner.. in fact, all the winners on the night.

It was a lovely evening…

…just slightly disappointed, that I wasn’t walking away with the award.

I shared the news with my son in the morning – that I didn’t win. This is what he said… (he didn’t use bullet points or numbering, I’m just doing this so it’s easier to read)

1. Dad, it’s the taking part that counts – That is absolutely right. I’m forgetting for the moment, that I was a finalist. How do those people feel,  who were not even selected as a finalist!

On top of that, being at the evening, I was able to meet Sir John Peace – listen to him and have the opportunity to talk to him afterwards, also – meet some great people from various other businesses and organisations.

2. You’re still young – That is absolutely true! – I’ve got time to do some more great work, share it with people… & continue to learn  and grow.

That’s right – if there ever was a challenge for me… it’s to continue, to learn. Learn more by reading, collaborating, sharing and exploring.

For example, Colonel Sanders was in his late 60’s when he was bringing KFC to life….

3. There’ll be more Awards – I know.. there’ll be more. It’s just the waiting. It’s one of the 7 wastes (Muda – Toyota… Google it). But it’s true. This isn’t the one and only, and the last award evening i’ll be attending.

So with that.. I was optimistic. Already thinking, about my achievements so far… and how I can add to them.

So for the moment, i’ll have to leave my twitter bio to ‘Award Winner….’ not, ‘Multi-Award Winner’…. but don’t worry, I’ve got it saved in draft 🙂

A Flying Car? – Really! – Yes Sir…

Back to the Future… has to be one of my all time favourite films. Remember watching it only recently, and how at the end, when the Doc comes to pick up Marty, and he says… we got to go back to the future, and then the car flies into the air and the wheels turn in… I thought to myself, wonder if I’ll really see that happen in my lifetime.

Highly unlikely I thought. There’s still a lot of development work to do…. before we can see cars flying.

But then again, the speed of technology advancement is quite something, it could be sooner than later!

Anyhow… switching topics from one of my favourite films and flying cars… to electric trucks! – That’s right… if you were not aware, Tesla made an announcement recently.

Elon Musk, announced a new 500 mile range Electric Truck, Called the Semi Truck.

It’s an impressive machine!  – but what’s most impressive is… the comparison against diesel trucks… and I mean, not just in speed and economy, but in total cost of ownership. Elon said, it’d be 20% cheaper to run than a diesel truck – $1.26 per mile compared to the diesel at $1.51

Let’s be honest – anything that reduces cost is a good thing.

Tesla are pushing the boundaries – and we’ve known that for a while.

Now, I do have a video to share with you of the press conference which was pulled together by my friends at the Verge… (at the bottom of this blog post).

There was also an introduction of the roadster at the conference.

Here’s some more stats… compared with the latest Bugatti Supercar.

I know what you’re thinking… 0 – 60 in 1.9secs? ! That is crazy!!!!

Isn’t it just! – you could nearly take off in something like that.

… I think I need to sit down.

Rocket tech applied to cars…. flying short hops…. maybe I will see flying cars in my lifetime.

As promised, here’s the press conference,

Don’t like that… or that… or that…

There’s a few things I dislike… for example, cold tea. Annoy’s the hell out of me when my tea has gone cold, and I have to get a new, hot cup of tea. Doesn’t happen often, but there have been times I’ve become side-tracked and totally forget.

Then there’s middle lane drivers on the motorway. That’s right. Those, that just sit in the middle lane, when the bottom/left lane is empty. Not only is it annoying, but it’s dangerous too.

I could carry on… but I won’t use this platform to share with you, all of my dislikes (well, for today anyway).

Instead, I could meet someone, who has the same dislikes as me… and we would get on… like a house on fire. Imagine that… reversing it… rather than finding someone with the same likes… how’s about, someone who has the same dislikes?

That’s right – Think Differently!

There’s an app, available, to bring together people who ‘hate’ the same things!

Isn’t this brilliant… riding the ‘Tinder’ wave… in bringing people together – you can be matched with someone who dislikes the same things as you!

I have to admit… I absolutely love this idea!

Why not turn something that really works and turn it upside down, on it’s head… over and under…. to see if you still get the same desired outcome.

The principle is… you want to match people. So rather than, things they like… why not, things they don’t like?!

And let’s be honest…Tinder has been a huge success

… with their swipe mechanism… swiping those whom you like.

So this app… understands the things you hate. Understands what others hate. Shares haters to each other… and if you like the look of someone with the same dislikes… you swipe!

Imagine starting the conversation… I hate middle lane drivers… Me too!!!

There were a few reasons I wanted to share this with you…. It’s not so much about the app, but it’s the idea behind the app.

  1. Think Differently – yes, famously used by the founder of Apple during his time, but indeed – look at something in a different light… turn it upside down… inverse, reverse, opposite… you get the idea… and see if the desired result is the same.
  2. Understand what’s working – If there is something that’s shown to be a huge success… don’t fear of using it’s basic principles. For example, Tinder… the swiping & matching mechanism.

Understand + Think Different = Success