Uncut Gems

January 15th, 2020

Uncut Gems. Great movie, the pressure just builds and builds and builds. The style of it though is great. I love that they used New York as a set and let the public just walk through it, oblivious to the filming going on. Massive spoilers at this link.

The Safdies found that their laid-back approach swiftly caught on and they proceeded to shoot largely unbothered, in the centre of New York City. Whenever they did encounter members of the public staring at the camera, or at Sandler, an incognito PA would slide over and ask for directions to the nearest subway, or the best local eatery, pulling that individual inside the reality of the film, instead of ushering them away. “It creates this bubble, wherein the fiction ends up feeling very real.”

I made the wave, didn’t I

January 14th, 2020

Lord Rutherford, one of the great pioneers of nuclear physics, was a man not unduly self-conscious about his worldly success.`You’re always on the crest of a wave, my lord,’ one deferential interviewer said.`I know,’ said Rutherford, ‘but after all, I made the wave, didn’t I?’

From Acid Drops by Kenneth Williams.
While this is meant to be a witty response, I do like it.
Be your own wave.

Apple Glasses, Apple Car, Apple Medicine?

January 12th, 2020

What are Apple up to next?

Apple really are pumping out the patents for Apple Glasses and VR headsets. Interestingly they’re still releasing patents around car technology. What interests me more are their patents around health. They now have a set of apps on the phone and the watch but I wonder is health going to be the main selling points for all future products?

Apple glasses holographic elements.

Apple Glasses detect free fall and ready the glasses for impact.

The ability for Apple Glasses to change the colour or transparency of the lenses. Also patent here for detection of liquid inside a device and to blast the liquid out with heat.

Apple eye tracking patents. Multiple applications.

FaceTime volume goes down or up based on who you are looking at. Clever that.

And this one is interesting – In surgical settings it allows display information to follow around staff based on their position in the operating theatre. Combine this with their Smart Bedding: Vital Signs Monitoring System. A sheet under your bed sheets that can record your vital signs like heat rate and respiratory rate. Then the Apple health Parkinsons app which seems really well considered.

Apple car safety system pre airbag deployment.

Fluffy Links – January 6th 2020

January 6th, 2020

Not done one of these in a while.

I love this. The patriotism angle. American magazine likes our skin cream that we use for everything.

And another example of very local news but it’s going to get you coverage online and in print.

True story behind The Irishman. Lot of stuff in the movie is true it seems. Wow, America was/is riddled in corruption. The balls the way they carried out the killings too. You know your killer.

Seán Moncrieff is planning his funeral. It’s a good idea. Not only will it reduce the stress of loved ones on what to do but it gives you more control too. In addition it allows you to mark your end point and then plan back from there so you set objectives for your life.

Good thread from the Abortion Support Network on the state of play around abortion in Ireland. Lots more needs to be done to support women.

Big fan of A16Z and their content is always fantastic. Here are some of their consumer tech best posts of 2019.

Instagram ads for doo dahs and gadgets. Take a screenshot and open AliExpress app and do an image search. That €15 product is there for pennies. Paul shows you how to do it:

Max Richter:

The key word for The Leftovers is “departure”. It is a question of expressing the passage from existence to non-existence. That is why I used instruments such as the piano, the harp or bells, whose sound decays quickly to nothing.

The Leftovers is one of the best shows I’ve seen in years. It’s so sad. There’s so much grief and I think shows how humans will react to tragedy. I must rewatch. Well done to the showrunners for letting the writers do what they did.

Another great show of the decade was Pose and I love that Patti Lupone was on it and played an 80s business person that she would hate in real life.

My 20 best business posts through the years, in my view.

January 3rd, 2020

It seems I’ve written a lot of things on business over the years and to be honest I’ve forgotten most of what I wrote. I’ve gone though my archive and have pulled out posts I think are worth reading. 20 in all from 2008 until 2019. I have cringed a few times though.

2008. I suggest we should run our own good conferences in Ireland. And years later I put my money where my mouth was. I still think the same today. Loads of opportunities and loads of people want to know new things. For me my next conference will pay the speakers for their time so that adds more cost but is doable.

2008. Kind of “be the change you want to see in the world” but I suggest that maybe we should be our own hero. Take example from your heroes but then make yourself one too.

2009. I came up with the wacky idea of me being a Summer intern in your company. My company was obviously making too much money at the time but I was also getting bored. The idea was to get me into new industries to understand them which would allow me to broaden my knowledge and could then work with more companies. Stories I have from a trading company in particular are still being used by me today.

2009. I think this could do with editing and a re-write but it’s about finding your own groove or your own flow and working in that. I guess it’s about breaking out of the frequency you existed in if you worked for someone else. Sometimes it’s your frequency, sometimes it isn’t. I know why the Caged Bird sings.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

2009. I’m happy to share all the training documents I’ve spent hours and days and weeks putting together. This is about making your work available for free. When I did that, I got lots of work back. If you give something away for free it spreads far and wide and it gets you more customers in the end. It also shows your confidence in your ability and ensures you have to keep updating your work to stay ahead of people. I’m actually going to do this for all my documents in 2020. Stay tuned. Now, don’t devalue yourself either. Do charge for work, do not work for exposure.

2010. Business communications document. I was on to something with this. Precursor to me figuring out strategy documents. Showrunners have documents that describe the characters in the universe their TV show is in. A character would never do X but would definitely do Y if this happened. Now you do the same for a customer. My strategy documents now talk about psychographics and demographics but I might come back to this as companies might get this more.

2010. Speaking as an introvert or former introvert, public speaking can be tough. Some tips on how you can do it. It’s about the slog. Just keep doing it. Short bits that eventually turn into longer bits. I reference the documentary about Jerry Seinfeld getting back into stand up and he just works so hard doing lines in every club, many times in one night. Eddie Murphy recently talked about there not being short cuts and for him and his new show, he has to go back out and work from the bottom up. Now I love public speaking. The thrill of getting up in front of a crowd and winging it!

2010. No excuses, just start something. That poetry, that new business idea. Just do it. There have been a few of them over the years. I guess nowadays it’s almost the opposite of what is in the post re: cheap office space but you can still do it. I may do a 2020 version.

2013. Pork in Every Fucking Dish. This is about being your own authentic self and not letting people dictate what you are about. This is a mantra that I remind myself of a lot. I think for the past few years I put that away. No more! Must get this made into a badge.

2013. Moments of Truth. A quote from a Netflix strategy document. Building an experience and prior experiences so that people when they want to be entertained or to pass time, decide on Netflix.

2013. Starting before you know what to do. A quote from a young enough Zuckerberg. As relevant now as it is then. Have an idea and then build it. Today we have people being brought into “pre idea” startups. Would ya cop on!

2014. Starting a business in 2014, some thoughts. Linking back to other posts. Getting very meta.

2014. Thoughts on creativity. We’re all creative, we just need to massage it out of ourselves after it was beaten away deep into us over time. Sometimes we need to learn a language or a skill to extract it.

2014. Just Fucking do it yourself. Less of the “someone should do something” or “why didn’t you do ..”. The tech is there for you to do it yourself. No to the gatekeepers.

2008. And? The fear of failure. The worry that you’re not good enough. Every idea you don’t execute is a failure. Do it for even one day and you’ve done better than before.

2015. Starting a startup is hard though and some thoughts that might help you along.

2016. Mentoring, get mentoring someone but maybe become a mentor. You learn lots from doing both.

2017. Pattern recognition. I need to refine this idea. I think some of the best business ideas come from people seeing patterns and systems and then tweaking those systems. Software will eat the world is all about automating those systems with software or routing those systems to somewhere else. AirBnB lets everyone rent out a “hotel room” in their home. It might be you’re good at spotting short cuts or speeding up your work tasks by using an online too. I think you can learn to spot patterns over time. Business biographies work like that as a form of training databases though they need to cover how the business was formed and the struggles. the 5th book from some business bore won’t cut it.

2017. Fuck you, pay me. My time is precious. Wanting to meet me for a coffee costs me dearly. I know my value. I think a lot of people do not see their value. Own your value!

2018. Just a band. Route around obstacles. The Internet was built so that if there was a nuclear war, you could route around damaged parts of the network. If you are prevented from doing something, route around it. Don’t be dictated to by old standards and old rules.

2019. Training data. Books, YouTube videos, talks, podcasts. They can all help inform you to start or be better at business. The same way we give machines training data, we can feed ourselves training data too.

Not a phone, a tricorder

January 3rd, 2020

From Wikipedia

In the science-fictional Star Trek universe, a tricorder is a multifunction hand-held device used for sensor scanning, data analysis, and recording data

I’m reminded of the launch of the original iPhone:

An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator… these are NOT three separate devices! And we are calling it iPhone

It was such a leap, bringing about an interface of a glass screen with no physical keys and it had a simple menu system with everything available via touch and all in a nice thin (for a phone at the time) shape. It did well but really took off once people were able to develop apps for the phone. Then cheap and fast mobile data became available with 3G, 4G and now 5G.

Supercomputers and smarthorses
Now you have it or other smart phones as a core part of everything. I checked in to a hotel the other week and the staff checked me in via smartphones. They also took payments via smartphones. Square built their company on top of the iPhone and iPad. The iPhone is a platform that industries sit on top of now. Safecast launched to be a radiation detector after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Via an iPhone app radiation data was logged and shared. And another radiation detector powered by iPhone. Square brought out the cute card reader device that plugs into the headphone jack but pretty soon you won’t need that hardware device I should think.

We call them phones or smartphones but they’re supercomputers wirelessly connected to millions of other super computers and millions of databases of all the world’s information.
Phone, smartphone. It’s like calling a wizard’s wand a stick. Or calling a Tesla a smarthorse.

Tricorder
Now the latest generations with so many sensors in the cameras and wireless chips for GPS, proximity, low power near communications and very high speed broadband mean that these devices are also tricorders from Star Trek.

via GIPHY

I think in the next few years phones will be used more like tricorders in that we’ll point or put them near things to get data. Remember those lenses do more than detect the stuff we see, things we can’t see like infrared and other light waves, maybe even heat can be seen by these lenses. So very like a tricorder. We’ll also use them as lenses thanks to augmented reality. This in fact is already happening with Google Maps, have you seen the AR interface when walking down a street? I used it in London recently and it’s great. Like up to then you’d come out of a train station and you don’t know are you walking left or right when you come out, not until the map says turn around. Now, just arrows. Like God mode in a computer game.

Google Maps AR

For a while now you can scan QR codes with your phone without using a special app. In China QR codes are a core part of doing anything with your phone. A16Z go through all the amazing things. But that is just one very basic way of using your lens. I say basic but wow, you can do so much with your lens by just scanning a 2d printout. Open your camera and look at the below QR code. It will allow you to log on to a password protected WiFi network:

QR code for WiFi network

We’re unlocking our phones using facial recognition and Amazon allows you to scan objects with their app to find the product on their site. They’ve actually been doing that for nearly a decade but integrated it into their main app only recently. I’ve been showing off Flow for years.

Sick Bay
And now let’s move on to your wrist. The Apple Watch, already predicting heart attacks it seems. Nagging you to get up and move about. Telling your about your sleeping patterns. Calling 911 when you crash on your bike and get knocked unconscious. So the health element of the tricorders is already here and blood sugar testing is around the corner. And we have the Qualcomm prize too though the outcomes have yet to be reached.

The Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE was a $10 million global competition to incentivize the development of innovative technologies capable of accurately diagnosing a set of 13 medical conditions independent of a healthcare professional or facility, ability to continuously measure 5 vital signs, and have a positive consumer experience.

via GIPHY

As the tech shrinks and becomes more powerful the footprint of your iPhone/Tricoder will shrink to your wrist and probably a ring around your finger. Or just a removable band on your wrist that you place on another person for monitoring.

What can you do?
So what can you to as a person or a business to prepare to our Tricorder future? Start playing around with QR codes to start with anyway. Add them to your branding. Do clever things that will get PR interest like that farm to table QR thing on products.
Come up with an app or idea that utilizes the full power of your pocket supercomputer with tricorder sensors.
Consider the near future and how people will use these devices to interact with the real world and the virtual world.
Just dream of this future.

Rigging the Christmas number 1 – Alexa, play Christmas songs

January 1st, 2020

This reminds me of when Apple put a U2 album on everyone’s phone.

“Alexa, play Christmas songs”

Amazon put an Amazon exclusive song from Ellie Goulding on all their Christmas playlists. Those streams counted in the official charts plus it helped sales of 78,000 singles and it got to number 1. Loads more detail here. But that makes me think, could this be done again for everyone with a smart speaker?

Amazon rigs the music charts

Ones to Watch 2020

January 1st, 2020

Previously on Ones to Watch: 2019 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 2008, 2007.

My 2019 Ones to Watch did pretty well. I’m happy with them. Sinéad Gleeson was a juggernaut but I wasn’t expecting Gav Reilly to meet and beat my expectations by helping Ciara produce the future President of Ireland.

Ones to watch 2020

Aimée Felone and David Stevens
Deirdre O’Shaughnessy
Stephen Ryan
Aoife Martin
The Cotter Brothers and Pat Phelan
Niall Mcgarry
Ian Power
Lynn Boylan

Aimée Felone and David Stevens
I thought I had mentioned Aimée Felone and David Stevens before actually in a Ones to Watch. Knights Of were massive in 2019 so this is a bit of a cheat mentioning them now but 2020 is going to be bigger for them. Momentum is building for them. Next will be established wrinkly corporations trying to copy them. So the deal with Knights Of is that they are all about making kids books for kids in the world today.

to make sure the books we publish give windows into as many worlds as possible – from what’s on the page all the way to sales copy.

And my that model could be copied for every industry that wants to do something for kids. I love that they opened up their own bookshop to sell their own books and the books of other authors. Built it, they people came along. More new authors and experiences, more books, more deals in 2020.

Deirdre O’Shaughnessy
Deirdre is one of the hardest workers I know. Always gigging, not that hustle bullshit like bearded clueless lads with sleeveless jackets, actual gigs, actually working hard. Deirdre has MCd events for me, events I was involved with and her rapport with the audience because she knows everyone. So much information in that mind palace. Be interesting to see what she’ll be doing in 2020. Lots of work no doubt but hopefully her network will reward her with some nice big gigs.

Stephen Ryan
Stephen is another slogger. Working away doing multiple gigs for years. His Narration business is doing very well and I went along to his 24 Stories conference in Cork, wow, two years ago. It was nice to be at a conference that I wasn’t organising. The stress of these things. Good to see things like this in Cork. The slow and steady build of his brand and the company should hopefully see the business do even greater things in 2020 and it’s great to see these things happen outside of Dublin too.

Aoife Martin
Aoife started to pop in to my timeline a few years back and the shy little kitten has turned into a tiger now. She’s put herself out there and taken no shit from people. Not being disrespectful but I’d met trans people online and offline before Aoife but Aoife was part of that online left leaning group of us, kind of the same social circle and I’m certain by coming out she’s inspired others to come out. With all the awfulness in the UK around trans rights and their stinky media stoking the fires, we are seeing some of that affect Ireland too. I’m in awe at Aoife and so many other trans people and TENI at holding their heads and not putting the heads of others into a guillotine.

The Cotter Brothers and Pat Phelan
The gabby fella with the disappearing jumper size (he wears skinny jeans nowadays don’t you know) teamed up with Doctors James and Brian Cotter to bring about Sisu Aesthetic Clinic. They’re all over Ireland and set to expand further in 2020. With Pat’s previous form, expect either a big collaboration in 2020 or a straight out acquisition. Tick tock.

Niall McGarry
One of the things that I think Niall excels at is spotting talent and then nurturing it. As well as the Irish operation of Maximum Media (which seems to have their own dedicated correspondent in the Sunday papers these days), the UK operation seems to really reach out to millions all the time. The PoliticsJoe video comparing UK NHS costs versus American hosts has reached over 40M people across various platforms. They have the most shared video of 2019 in the UK and two of their other videos were in the top 10. 2020 may see a partnership/merger or acquisition. And it may be Maximum Media doing the acquiring. Or maybe Niall will be brought on to run RTÉ2 and turn it around. When Attenborough ran BBC2, the amount of amazing content that still lives today tells you the power of someone young and with an ability to support talent.

Ian Power
Well I know Ian since his college days and knew him a bit more when I was on the board of Spunout for a few years. Ian has helped transform an organisation that was assumed by some not to have a future and turned it into a respected organisation that has the ear of many including the Minister for Health. This year he oversaw the launch of the Crisis Text Line Ireland and SpunOut is working with the likes of Twitter for online safety issues. Impressive, right? Yeah but I bet he’s not finished yet.

Lynn Boylan
I was gutted when Lynn wasn’t chosen by the people to retain her seat as an MEP. Someone with a strong work ethic and great credentials in environmental issues. The younger demographic especially gives a damn about the future and all things around sustainability. We’re not going to see Lynn go away you know and I’m sure whatever she’s going to be working at next is going to benefit the people of Ireland. And 2020 is an election year!

Songs are getting shorter because of the Spotify payment algorithm

December 31st, 2019

Using the algorithm to make more money. via Quartz

Payments from music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music made up 75% all US music revenues in 2018 … Streaming services pay music rights holders per play … Every song gets paid the same. Kanye West’s 2010 five-minute opus “All Of the Lights” gets the same payment as West’s two-minute long 2018 hit “I Love it”.

The amount of filler or interludes on some albums is crazy. But yeah if they are paying per song played and the money is shite, then why not have an album with 20 tracks instead of 10 and get paid double per album play?

Gaming Netflix’s recommendation engine

December 30th, 2019

via Hollywood Reporter

Norwegian Viking Comedy but done with 2018 dialog. It’s good too.
Netflix not really into spending money on marketing for acquisitions, how do you make it a hit?

The key to landing on Netflix’s radar, he knew, would be to hack its recommendation engine: get enough people interested in the show early. Then, hopefully, Netflix’s mysterious algorithm would do its thing.

with additional pushes in Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota, three states with large ethnic Norwegian populations.

Marketed the show to specific groups of people on Facebook ahead of the launch. Tested which ads worked. Spent $15k on the ads. Built momentum. It worked.

Netflix now wanted it to be an original and invested in pushing it. Kind of like force multiplication.

I’m reminded of a movie Danny Devito directed and was in called The Ratings Game where they rigged TV ratings to create hit TV shows.