It’s about that time of year where you can’t escape lists of the best of the previous 12 months of what’s going to be hot in the next. In order to slightly lessen the risk of being completely wrong, I’d like to offer up my thoughts for what I think the trends are going to be over the next few years. So without further ado here we go:


Automated vehicles. Google’s been running trails of its self driving car, and various other manufacturers have been sending cars around test circuits without human hands at the wheel for some time now. Recently Amazon - in an admittedly obvious, but rather well crafted publicity stunt showed how they could use drones to deliver packages. There’s clearly a need for us to move physical items around and really we don’t want to be sending a chaperone with every parcel. I could see how small drones could be amazingly useful for post or medical delivery in hard to reach places.


The self driving car is a curious case. Assuming that it can be developed to drive around without hitting anyone or anything it’ll have to fit in with people’s enjoyment of driving. Will the Jeremy Clarkson character who insists on driving himself be relegated to the granny lane while the computer aided boxes whizz past? Will driving yourself turn into a leisure activity like going for a walk?


Battery technology - I can’t pinpoint one particular technology but this has got to improve - the amount we rely on batteries, even now is staggering - and if we’re honest they don’t really deliver what’s needed. If the battery powered car is going to take off, the battery technology needs to change. I admire Tesla for pushing the idea of what a battery powered car should be but as much as I want to the idea of a battery powered car is just impractical at the moment. The idea of a petrol powered car was impractical 100 years ago too - so I’m not writing it off, but the there needs to be some innovation in the electrical storage and delivery field. It’s not just cars. Increasingly we’re going to see small devices with more sensors around us and they’re going to need power. It’s likely their batteries are going to be the things holding them back.


3D printing - This isn’t exactly new - my library has a 3D printer. But we’re still in the discovery stage. Making models and prototypes. It’ll be incredible to see “printers” capable of handling multiple materials perhaps even operating on the atomic level, building objects to spec. If these devices can operate at a suitable speed, could they take over production lines? We could see objects more specific to individual requirements without the massively increased production costs. Objects built to order, without the need to stockpile warehouses full of items you hope to sell.


Security - a lot more accounts will be hacked, hijacked and tapped. The current password system we use for online security will become unmanageable. More centralised authentication providers will start to offer services. At present these providers are the large social networks but how long people are willing to trade authentication services for personal information remains to be seen. An open standard that allows for multiple providers would be preferable. A centralised system could be pushed by governments as a way to reduce anonymity online and make people more traceable and accountable. Some countries already using banking infrastructure for authentication for government websites. If a wide-scale adoption is going to take place it needs to be an international system and by any stretch of the imagination it's going to be a monumental security task.



 
 
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I'm pretty sure I remember Tomorrow's World telling me that everyone was going to be video calling in the near future from the phone in the hall. I'm pretty sure I even tried a BT video phone. Didn't beardy - I don't like fuckwits - I don't like myself - Alan Sugar try peddling one? From what I remember they were all shit balls. It was like having a conversation through one of those gate intercom things. Only you didn't have the godly power to open your footballers wives style gates in front of your visitor. But it wasn't just the poor technology was it? No one seemed interested in showing themselves to their telephone counterpart. But now we have a front facing camera on nearly everything and it feels pretty normally to video call people. It's not like I'll click the video button all the time - me post shower, you know just kicking back isn't a sight I wish to share with the world and I'm sure the world doesn't want it either. But it's certainly good for communicating with family that live away or chatting with a group of people. 

Perhaps the original video phones just didn't make sense. They were wired into the wall and unwieldily. Trying to video call with your mother on the sofa with one of those would have felt like you were bench pressing her. Now that's not a situation any of us want to find ourselves in.   But Skype on an iPad? That's quite workable. I wonder if we'd be in the same situation if we all had to buy a dedicated video phone device? I very much doubt many people would want to drop 500 watsits on another device just to gurn at someone on the other end. It's incredible that in an a few years so many of us have devices in our hands or bags that can be repurposed into incredibly sophisticated instruments. We've gone from a world where a device was tailored to a particular task to one where one chameleons itself into others - I'm not convinced my watch needs to tell me I have an email though.  

 
 
When I think of vote rigging and corrupt elections my imagination goes to shady men swapping anonymous black boxes or furiously ramming home wads of illegitimate crosses on paper. In the modern age it would appear the tedium of counting mountains of fake ballots  has been sidestepped - well at least in Azerbaijan, who appear to have published the results of their presidential election, before voting had even started. Current president, Ilham Aliyev was winning by a landslide, funny that. 



 
 
I'm really not the type of person quick to boil. I'm really very placid and enjoy helping - getting things fixed. I'll quite happily sit for hours helping people sort out an issue. But some people really do make it tough to stay calm.

Earlier today: 
them: *Pong Can you you give me a hand with some code?
me: Sure, what's up?
them: this: <code stuff>
me: for a start that's wrong-> *points out mistake
them: ok I'll try
them: still not working..
me: ok I'll check it out *go and run it myself
me: works for me
me: I'll take a look at your code *has a look at their commit
me: erm it's not there you sure you've uploaded it?
them: one sec
them: I can see it now can you recheck
me: *See it now? How do you expect me to help you if it's not there for me to see. I'm not a fucking wizzard.*oh look there it is, I know you've just put that up. WTF that isn't the same as you asked me to debug
me: ok for starters you haven't fixed that bug that I pointed out first off
them: ok I can see that bug
me: *yeah I know you can see it, I can see it too and told you about it. The thing is you need to fucking fix it before it'll work

We all make mistakes, forget things. but c'mon if you've asked for help make it easy on the other person.  
 
 
I get it, I know. Brothers' got to make some money. I also know that I shouldn't try to pretend that I can be urban in any way that it remotely plausible. Do those ads that take a steaming dump on your ears while you're listening to a youtube playlist, Spotify, or thrust themselves into your visionary plane in the offence that is known as a modal window actually work?

By work I mean do you get the warm fuzzy feeling of connection to the company, or do you just want to rid it from your life as quickly as possible? I was pondering this question the other day when Youtube excreted another ad at my ears. Embarrassingly enough at the time I did remember what the ad was for which sort of undermined my opinion that they were useless. Happily now I have no recollection and no impulse buys so all is well. The odd thing is that the very reason I was listening to said playlist was because I'd heard a radio show on Northern Soul and fancied hearing some more. Someone had gladly disregarded copyright and provided something to satisfy my curiosity. I'm well aware of the dodgy moral ground here - but the point is, had I not been annoyed by the ads so much I might have bought the album I was listening to. 

I have no problem with advertising as a revenue stream, I understand that stuff costs money. But I do take issue when your business model devalues your product, when it inserts itself like a needy toddler into your quiet little conversation. Is it too much to ask for a little more creativity or do we just have to put up with someone shouting at us for ever more?

Interruption Advertising Published by Pablo Ardila
 
 
Of all the productivity pieces of advice I have ever read the one that's always stuck with me and I continue to use is that outlined in David Allen's book Getting things done . In essence it boils down to - get stuff out of your head and onto paper in a todo list form. It's pretty simple and of course the book does cover a whole 'system' but that was my take away from it. It has been a while since I've read it and think another flick though will be a good idea. 

The one thing that you need to remember when writing your GTD todos is not to just dump down abstract goals like 'finish project'.  You have to break down everything into an 'actionable task'. At first this might seem like you're spending more time writing lists than getting on with stuff. But once you get in the habit it's remarkably effective. How many times have you had those todo items that just sit there and look scary or you sit down to do them then realise there's a whole load of stuff that needs to be done to prepare for it and you leave it for another day?

Once you have a load of bit size tasks things suddenly become manageable or you realise quite how much work you have to do, it really does force you to face reality. It also makes it easier to deal out tasks because you can quickly grab bits and hand them off to someone else. 

There's a whole host of GTD apps and services, but to be honest I always keep coming back to paper and pen. There's nothing more rewarding than looking at a page of A4 at the end of the week with big 'ol lines though all those tasks. 
 
 
Git has worked its way into my workflow and is now an everyday feature of my routine. Initially it can be intimidating. Especially if you only have command line tools to work from. Being a distributed version control system, you have to remember there is not central 'god' store of your code. You have to decide where and how your team pull and share code. A common pattern is to use a hosting platform like github which you may have seen with people sharing gists of code samples. My favourite for commercial projects is bitbucket as they give you free private repositories where as github charge for anything that isn't public. Github is great for discovering or working together on open source code though. The social element of it is really useful if you're working in a team. 

If you haven't tried git for your source control I recommend giving it a look. It's an incredibly powerful way to manage your code and keep on top of your changes. More and more GUI tools are emerging and improving if the command line gives you nightmares. 
 
 
And  so it keeps on tumbling out. Like the remnants of the previous nights curry. Everyday seems to give birth to a new leak from Snowdan's stash of NSA files shortly followed by a dismissal by the US government. In all honesty I can't say I'm surprised that the Internet has been widely tapped. It wasn't that long ago that Lolzsec et el. were wilfully taking aim at anything in site. If governments weren't investing considerable effort in getting a grip on online behaviour I think we'd all suspect they were neglecting their duties. 

However the leaked Snowden documents would appear to show that the US at least is more than putting in measures to police crimes, they are hooving up vast amounts of, what I would consider, personal information without proper over-site, controls or respect for the law.

It's difficult to know exactly the extent of what's being gathered up. The initial leak centred around a presentation hinting that the NSA had access to the main properties on the Internet and could siphon off data at will. Its difficult to know how far that access goes and where marketing starts and the technology picks up. Further details have come out about specific key-stores and percentages of information that's tapped.  I doubt we'll ever know the full extent of what is being carried out. But as it's already known that NSA staff have used access to the information to spy on partners I'm pretty sure that the various taps have been tested on some very large amounts on traffic just to see what they can do. 

I wonder how we got to this situation where intelligence agencies have turned into mass surveillance agencies. I know it must be tempting if you're working in that environment to sit there and think - you know what would make our job a lot easier - if we could know pretty much everything about everyone. Unfortunately for us that question seems to have got an answer in the form of our global communications being listened to with some strategically placed packet sniffers. 

When I watch politicians debating about the economy or the latest banking cock-up there seems to be an endless line of them offering the answer to the problem and deep insights into the problem. No matter if they really do know what they're talking about. (Our modern day financial system is far far more complicated than a lot of people seem to give it credit for). But when the issue of technology comes up that bravado goes away and is dismissed as something only the nerds talk about or something that is far too complicated for them to wrap their heads around it. Perhaps that's why we're here. The people who have been elected to safeguard privacy, have for too long dismissed the power of what is possible, not bothered to ask the right questions - and now we're here probably with a lot of them asking, oh, they can do that? 

But this is all in the name of defeating terrorism? Right? Well according the the NSA files they can monitor anyone who they are 51% sure is foreign. So what's that flip a coin and if you've ever eaten humous, that's it, you're labeled Johnny Foreigner. That sounds less like a targeted attack and more suck and see. It's a farce. The Internet is a global system and as an end user you have very little control over where your bits travel off to. Even if you're not using a US service your traffic may go through the US, and that makes you fair game to be spied on. The outcry in America from what I can see at the moment is twirling around how often the NSA ballsed up and captured US citizens data. Being a non 'merican I'm far more concerned that they seem to have cart blanche to shove their sniffer up wherever they please on the rest of the world
 
 
This has absolutely nothing to do with technology but I wanted to preserve it here for posterity. Most comments on the Internet generaly fall out of brain before you've even finished the sentence. But for some reason this one caught my eye. When asked "Hey Reddit, what job sounds awesome but in reality sucks." this was one of the responses:


"Strip club bouncer. The customers were always telling me, "Man, you've got the greatest job in the world! You get paid to stare at naked women all day." To which I would reply, "Have you ever had a really needy girlfriend who's constantly complaining about everything? Well I have 40 or 50 of them, and they never sleep with me. Well, most of them don't."

Plus, you're not paid to watch the dancers, you're paid to watch the horny guys that are trying to turn that lap dance into something illegal. You also have to listen to more discussions about feminine hygiene issues than any guy who isn't an OBGYN should ever be exposed to.

The hourly wage sucks and your tips dry up at the end of every month, because the dancers making $500+ a night can't budget, and rent/mortgage/utilities are due. The best, is when you walk them to their brand new sports car or SUV and they stiff you because they just didn't make enough tonight.

They constantly complain to you about how terrible their boyfriends are, but they never break up with them. Those same loser boyfriends, all of them unemployed guys who spend a lot of time at the gym, come in all the time and expect to be treated like VIPs while simultaneously making sure their girl won't make any money that night. After all, he gets jealous and she doesn't want him getting angry again, so she doesn't try to take any guys to the VIP room.

By the end of a shift, you reek of a heady mixture of cigarette and cigar smoke, stale beer, cheap perfume, sweat, and just plain funk. You'll go through Febreeze like crazy trying to keep the smell from spreading to your car and home. Over time all of your clothes will become permeated by god damn glitter.

And good luck trying to carry on any kind of romantic relationship with a woman outside of work. Telling a girl that you work in a strip club, is like opening a date by detailing exactly why you are a registered sex offender. Or you could always date a stripper. She might even support you, so you could spend more time at the gym. You're nights are free, so you might as well drop by the club and keep an eye on her. You don't want some sleaze ball putting his hands all over your girl do you?

tl;dr Being a strip club bouncer is a smelly, sexually frustrating job, that doesn't pay as well as you might think. "
 
 
I've got to say. When it comes to packing for travel I have a hard time travelling light and it's not even as though I need most of the stuff. Often I come back with half a case of unworn cloths or unused nic naks. Recently though I've been making a concerted effort to take less of the needless stuff away with me. 

It started with leaving my bulky SRL at home and replacing it with a Fuji X100. That thing is a wonderful travel camera: quiet, small, discrete, lovely sensor and lens and I actually want to take it out with me rather than with an SLR where you end up leaving it in the hotel more often than not. It's not for everyone but for me it fits perfectly (ignoring it's quirks and stupid manual focus system).

New for this trip was leaving the laptop at home and just taking an ipad and my Nokia Lumia 720. The only real reason for taking a laptop away before was incase I needed to do any emergency work. I'm really not one of those of it'll all fall down when I leave types but I know from experience that me being able to get into a server for five minutes can save a whole lot of headache. So ipad with and ssh client loaded up and I was set.

One of my main reasons for choosing the Lumia was the bundled maps. You can download worldwide maps for free and get real offline navigation without any extra apps. I've had the phone a few months and am pretty impressed with it. When ever you read a review of a Windows Phone 8 device there's always the line about a lack of apps. I understand that. Yes itunes and play have a far greater number of apps. But just going by numbers is a bit deceptive. Once you start scrolling through a few pages on itunes you do start to see that a large number of them, well they're not all particularly high quality. I think the issue with Windows Phone apps at the moment is that developers don't really see it as a big enough platform to release to in the first phase. There's some good developers out there just getting apps out for WP8, metrotube - the youtube client is particularly good. So far I've generally been able to find an equivalent of something I've been looking for. The one app I'd really like to see come over is the VSCO cam app. Or another photo editor that allows a little more control than the standard instagram, Unicorn fart style editing. 

For navigating around it was really useful to be able to pin places on the map and get directions while out and about. The one issue was that searching was a little more limited when it doesn't have a network connection. Generally I'd mark restaurants etc while I had wifi then I knew I wouldn't have to search for them later. 

Holiday Gadgets appeared on Pablo Ardila's blog
 

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