So yes, what exactly is GitHub?

Friday, 20 January, 2017

GitHub is a web-based Git repository hosting service. Git was created in 2005 by Linus Torvalds, the Finnish software engineer behind the Linux operating system. That much makes sense. If GitHub still confuses you, as it does me, this short video may help you understand it.

It’s good. It explains GitHub. But what about the links to GitHub pages, that I’m sometimes sent? This is an example of what I mean. What’s the deal there?

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Working from home is dead. Long live co-working

Tuesday, 17 January, 2017

Working from home is so 2014.

The good news though, you don’t have to take a job in a company, just so you can be among others. Instead, you can take your laptop, and other digital paraphernalia, to a co-working space, and tap into the workplace vibe, without becoming part of a workplace.

The first trend is how the shared office and the network have replaced the solo entrepreneur in her garage as the incubators for new companies and ideas. “Coworking” didn’t exist a decade ago, and today there are nearly a million people globally working alongside peers who aren’t necessarily their colleagues. Workers in these spaces consistently report making more connections, learning skills faster, and feeling more inspired and in control than their cubicle-dwelling counterparts inside large companies. They also have different expectations from cloud workers content to commute from their couch.

I don’t co-work as such, though I often work at a place other than my residence. Places where other people gather, though not necessarily cafes, that offer internet access, and somewhere to set up shop for the day.

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Some ideas for successful online businesses that are run alone

Friday, 13 January, 2017

If you want to establish your own online business, and are looking for ideas, then this Hacker News discussion thread may be just what the doctor ordered. There sure are some great one person start-ups and ventures out there.

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Uber Movement. The poacher becomes the gamekeeper?

Friday, 13 January, 2017

Global ridesharing network Uber recently unveiled Uber Movement, a new service that shares details of the trips its drivers and passengers make. According to Uber, such information will aid the urban planning process, and help cities to move more efficiently.

Given sixty-two million trips were taken in Uber vehicles in July 2016, across the seventy countries where they currently operate, this seems reasonable. The collected data may also be useful in places where information about traffic movements is difficult to gather.

The data, which is anonymised, meaning no one individual’s trips, or travel habits, can be identified, will no doubt help city authorities highlight spikes in road usage, and bottlenecks. In turn, this will permit them to better plan their roads, and transport infrastructure.

Aggregating ride information may not be enough to allay fears of privacy advocates though, who are concerned by Uber’s recent change to the location-tracking behaviour of its smartphone app. Passenger movements can now be tracked for five minutes after their ride ends.

Uber claims this will allow them to “improve pickups, drop-offs, customer service, and to enhance safety“. Having accurate data about vehicle movements around a city may be of use to urban planners, but at the cost of being tracked for five minutes after leaving the car?

That seems excessive, and may force passengers to alter their pick-up and final destination points, in the interests of preserving privacy. But that shouldn’t greatly compromise the integrity of the data Uber hopes to collect, at least so far as those they think will benefit the most goes.

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The return of film photography, is this peak digital photography?

Thursday, 12 January, 2017

Richmond Park, London. Photo by John Lampard

Technology company Kodak says it will resume manufacturing Ektachrome camera film for 35mm still frame, and Super 8 motion picture formats, by the end of the year. Does the move constitute evidence that we’ve reached peak digital photography though? Don’t be so sure.

While the return of Ektachrome will surely delight aficionados of film photography, are we all about to give up on the likes of Instagram, or stop using the now not too shabby cameras in our smartphones? I doubt it.

Here’s the thing. Film photography is for the patient. For those skilled in the art of capturing the right image at the right time, without using up the limited allocation of shots, usually thirty-six, that’s available to them on a single roll of film.

That excludes me. Then there’s the matter of the time and cost of processing. Some might call digital photography fake and cheap, and the domain of those seeking instant gratification. But not me. There’s simply too much quality digital photography for that to be possible.

Yes, we may be seeing more film photography, which is fine by me. And true, we have may reached peak digital photography, but I don’t think we’re about to see it spiral out of favour anytime soon. Also, I took the above photo, in London’s Richmond Park, with film. So there.

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Von Neumann Machines may be the emissaries of extraterrestrials

Thursday, 6 October, 2016

A Von Neumann Machine is more like an entity, an artificially intelligent device, that is capable of self-replication. They could serve all sorts of purposes, and we may one day use them to explore and colonise the galaxy.

It is also possible they may already be in use, right now, by other, more advanced alien civilisations. A bunch of these things might be making their way towards us, as I write this. Let’s hope not, things may not end well if they do show up.

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Minor technical problems

Tuesday, 4 October, 2016

I’m a little behind on things at the moment. An update to my operating system has hobbled my main laptop, and I’ve been forced to work from my older, much slower, backup device since. One of my wi-fi ports is also out, so that’s not helping either. I’m hoping all will back to normal soon.

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That person who isn’t on Facebook? There’s a name for them…

Friday, 9 September, 2016

Oh dear, the people who refuse to move with the times. Embrace social media. Or buy a smartphone. Things like that. There’s a name for these “holdouts”, that isn’t pretty, according to Stephanie Buck, writing for Timeline:

Laggards likely don’t start out being ironic. One trait that this group tends to share is skepticism, which is linked to “processing fluency,” the ease with which our brains can handle change or challenge. “While skepticism can generally be regarded as a very healthy,” says Enrique Dans, Professor of Innovation at IE Business School in Madrid, “truth is that most skeptics don’t go the extra mile to validate new ideas, and just become skeptics because they just refuse to get additional experience or information.”

I doubt that not having a Facebook page is a crime. However, I don’t think the group of people who go without an email account, or won’t buy goods and services online, needs to be as large as it might be. Some of these technologies have been around for decades now. It’s not as if anyone can feel as if they’re railing against something “new” by now.

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It might be an idea to hold-off upgrading your smartphone every year

Tuesday, 6 September, 2016

You might want to hold off upgrading to the latest model of whatever smartphone you use, until you’ve seen Death by Design, a new documentary by US television producer, Sue Williams. Not easy, I know, many people like to get hold of the newest phone every year, if they can.

The feature takes a look at the manufacturing process of these devices, and the fate that awaits phones ditched in favour of a newer model. Both take their toll on the environment.

Williams isn’t saying never upgrade, rather she urges people to consider keeping their current phone for a few years, before replacing it.

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Should there be a name for the last pre-internet generation?

Tuesday, 6 September, 2016

If you were born before 1985, then you have lived with, and without, the internet. What do you think your life might be like today, had the internet not come along? I’m not sure I could imagine a world without anymore. In fact, I’m not sure that I’d want to. Life might be simpler, but it would also be a lot more, well, cumbersome.

Think of having the world at your finger tips, which we do to a degree, against having to go out into the world to attend to everything yourself. That’s not to say there aren’t downsides to being constantly plugged into an all seeing, all knowing grid, so maybe it could be said we’re neither better nor worse off, overall.

These people, says Harris, are the last of a dying breed. “If you were born before 1985, then you know what life is like both with the internet and without. You are making the pilgrimage from Before to After,” he writes. It is a nice conceit. Harris, like your correspondent, grew up in a very different world, one with limited channels of communication, fewer forms of entertainment, and less public scrutiny of quotidian actions or fleeting thoughts. It was neither better nor worse than the world we live in today. Like technology, it just was.

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