Using tech for good, not evil

I was running a little quiz and a guy made a joke about looking up answers on his phone.

Him: But you’re a digital person aren’t you? It’s technology!

Me: I believe in technology for good, and not evil.

I can barely remember what life was like before search engines. Not because I am young, but because Googling has become so automatic.

There is barely a nanosecond between thinking “I wonder …” and someone tapping on search engine results. We have no time for pondering and musing. And everyone is a proxy expert.

Here are some things I Googled this week. Was this using technology for good?

  • Balayage. Freehand hair colouring technique. I’ve recently fired up my old Instagram account again , and there are entire accounts filled with bespoke heads of highlights.
  • Getting chicken fat out of suede. It happens.
  • Seokmin Ko. A Korean artist who holds up giant mirrors in beautiful places. See his wonderful art.
  • Harpy. Mythical bird women. See photo below that I took at The National Maritime Museum. Who knew that they were so well-proportioned?
  • Female astronauts. Because my daughter wants to be one.

   

 

Only slightly mentioning Star Wars

So the new Star Wars was good. Very Good. Top class space opera with amusing droids, old friends and sparky new characters. Now we can all relax, without worrying that our kids would never feel the genuine Star Wars love.

If it had been disappointing, all of our Christmas-themed gifts would have been tainted by the unsightly hand of Jar Jar Binks. I am most proud of the Imperial Death Star Manual by Haynes. We’ll be fighting over that one on Christmas Day …

H5372_node

Merry Christmas!

Here’s one I wrote earlier

How Star Wars took over my lifeI used to like Star Wars quite a lot. As a young-ish urban childless New Media professional, basic Star Wars knowledge was mandatory.

A Christmas cat and snowman videoHusband and daughter have collaborated on a wonderful Christmas video. Enjoy the magic of plasticine and patience…

 

Keep the water in your mouth

Yesterday I found a Post-It note in the kitchen with these words of wisdom: Keep the water in your mouth.

post it note

Keep the water in your mouth.

I assume it was part of some weird game the kids have been playing. Otherwise, as general life advice, it’s not particularly useful.

I’ve had some crappy times this year, when I have been almost pressed flat under the weight of must do/should do/forgot to do. Advice from others hasn’t been as valuable as advice to myself.

  • Be nice(r) to my family. One day my kids will choose my retirement home. Husband has seen me through my worst and best.
  • Look after my health. Watching others watch their parents and partners cope with serious illness has reminded me of how we really are ‘bone clocks’ (as described by author David Mitchell).
  • Do things I enjoy. Books, music, art and any combination of noodles in soup will win.

Simple, isn’t it? And don’t forget to keep the water in your mouth.

Here’s one I wrote earlier

My Last Night of the Proms
Last night I went to the *Last Night of the Proms. I didn’t realise that the evening included two world-class opera singers leading a full Royal Albert Hall audience in a jolly singalong.

Judgemental as anything
It’s not cool to judge, unless you are a legal official or preside over hotdog-eating competitions.

My Last Night of the Proms

My Last Night of the Proms

Last night I went to the *Last Night of the Proms. I didn’t realise that the evening included two world-class opera singers leading a full Royal Albert Hall audience in a jolly singalong.  For me, even more remarkable was the range of nationalities represented at such a traditional British event.

  1. Danielle de Niese “was born in Melbourne to Sri Lankan parents of Dutch and Scottish descent, and grew up in Los Angeles.” She led us in a joyful Sound of Music medley. This is an American film set in Austria with the very British Julie Andrews and her excellent diction.
  2. Jonas Kaufmann, a German tenor, belted out (in a top class opera sense) Rule, Britannia! This is a traditional patriotic anthem from 1740, celebrating Britain’s naval dominance. The original poem describes a ninth-century British king defeating Danish invaders. It felt oddly exhilarating to be singing “Britons never will be slaves!”
  3. Marin Alsop was an electric conductor. She is an American who divides her time between Baltimore and Sao Paulo. She chose to teach us an old American children’s song by Copland called ‘I bought me a cat’. One of the lines was “My pig says ‘Griffey, griffey'”. Weird. [Aside: at the end of the concert she swapped her baton for a selfie stick! Read her guide to taking concert selfies...]

I had expected the Last Night of the Proms to be awash with Union Jack flags. There were a lot, with a few novelty waistcoats too. But there were also flags from all around the world, and a very large, simple “Refugees welcome” too.  Story via The Guardian, obviously http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/13/refugees-welcome-banner-steals-show-last-night-proms-royal-albert-hall

My Italian friend and I felt rather pleased to be part of this charming event. We even stood up to sing Jerusalem. This was absolutely the musical equivalent of a warm ‘upper body only’ British hug, with a firm back pat.

*Use of capitalisation as per the official programme.

Last Night of the Proms

The view inside Royal Albert Hall.

 

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Where do you go when you press Home?  Does your life have a ‘Home’ button? I’m back home (Sydney) after a brief visit to London (new home).

Happy Chinese Australian New Day Chinese New Year and Australia Day completely passed me by this year. Instead, we surrounded ourselves with cheese, mountains and snow in France.

 

Please make your way to your nearest procrastination station

The wonderful thing about procrastination is that the longer you put something off (like updating a blog), the better it feels when you actually do it (this blog post).

In the spirit of sharing my immediate achievements, today I have completed the following:

  • A plate of scallops fried with chorizo.
  • City of Death by James Goss.  Classy Dr Who pedigree as it’s based on an actual script by Douglas Adams. The book is a magical mix of time travel, aliens, jokes about Parisians and art history.Bonus points for mentioning one of my favourite sculptors Barbara Hepworth. (Full disclaimer: James is an old but still youthful friend, but even if I didn’t know that he hates fish with bones, I would still recommend this.)
  • My 2014 Australian tax return. Several months late, but DONE at last.
  • A tube of Yu-Be Moisturizing skin cream. I smell a bit like a mothball as it has camphor in it, but this stuff is good. (I need to shoe-horn more beauty products  in to this blog to make it more blog-y. )

Hooray. Done. Tick. Complete. Over and out.

A funeral from afar

A couple of weeks ago we went to a funeral service in our pyjamas. Thanks to the power of the internet, at 2:30 in the morning (UK) we sat in our dark bedroom, and tuned in to a webcast of an early afternoon funeral service (Australia).

I normally associate webinars and webcasts with work-related learning. “27 reasons why you should horizontally integrate your on-boarding data with your digital marketing ROI leverage opportunities”.

In contrast, this webcast was a fond remembrance of a loved uncle. We listened to the gently amusing, achingly sad and warm-hearted tributes to the unfamiliar other facets of this man – father, brother, friend. All from the comfort of our suburban bedroom, cradling mugs of tea, with a light scattering of pretzels over the duvet.

Technical issues

There were some technical issues. At first, although we could hear the service, the video was mostly an old-fashioned test pattern of bold coloured stripes. The experience of listening to the voices pausing and wobbling with emotion, in the silent dark made the eulogies even more moving.

test pattern

Later on, as the service began drawing to a close, we lost the audio, but gained video. We saw the people rising and falling and shifting and singing.

I don’t work for you

As interesting as this was, we thought that we would enquire about the simultaneous transmission of audio AND video. We called the funeral home and then it got a bit weird.

INT. BEDROOM. NIGHT.

The funeral home reception person has put us through to the ‘technical people’. A very efficient man listens as we describe the issues – what we previously could or couldn’t see or hear.  He performs some technical jiggling at his end, asks us some brisk questions, and we duly report back on what we can or cannot see or hear.

IT MAN: (businesslike) Right. OK. Seems to be some kind of issue with the cabling at (‘name of funeral home location’). I need you to get on to that straight away before the afternoon service.

US: (Baffled silence)

HUSBAND: (quietly) We don’t work for you…

(Pretzel packet rustles slightly. Mugs of tea are silent. )

ME: (confused) We’re calling from London, trying to watch a webcast of a service …

(Uncomfortable micro-pause.)

IT MAN: (mortified) I am SO SORRY. I thought you were calling from the venue. I didn’t realise … etc etc

US:  (Speechless with laughter.)

FADE TO BLACK.

I’m not sure if the tears in my eyes were from the strangeness of this last conversation, or the moving stories of a great man.

[– In memory of PJ –]

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Love is not dead, it’s just resting. How often do you tell your loved ones that they are loved? On a sliding scale, I think the most romantic medium are (with 1 being most lovely) …

A Christmas cat and snowman video

Husband and daughter have collaborated on a wonderful Christmas video. Enjoy the magic of plasticine and patience…

Here’s one I wrote earlier

12 reasons I don’t hate Christmas  My crying in front of the Christmas tree has been interrupted by the arrival of our online shopping order. Bags of quality produce to last us through the next few days of family, friends and festive-ness.

Step away from the shopping!  A heavy glossy Christmas shopping catalogue has fallen out of the newspaper. It’s from Liberty. I fear it.